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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Happens In Vegas...

What do an Elvis Impersonator,

Gold Lame` is hawt!

A mysterious bruise,
Totally *not* from falling luggage

Bonus: Perky voices sang lovely songs in Japanese.
     And light up bridal bouquet have in common?


Not mine, of course!  I've been happily married to Hot Builder for twelve years, and the one time we went to Las Vegas, well...

She's almost eight now.

Now I'm not going to spill all the deets on what happened when I flew out there to celebrate my sister's wedding--I might not be let back in for breaking The Cardinal Rule of Las Vegas: What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.  And there might also be some other incentive to keep mum.

What my sister threatened to do to me if I revealed all.

However, I will share how a little bit of Vegas magic  transformed a soldier into a princess bride:

Action Figure not sold in stores

Isn't she lovely?

My sister and her fiance were given the three sacred rules that all marriages must uphold by Elvis:

  1. They have to love each other's hound dogs--even if they're cryin' all the time. Invest in earplugs; got it!
  2. Never leave blue suede shoes out in the rain. Obviously, Elvis doesn't know my sister wears combat boots.
  3. They can never go to bed without giving each other some hunka,hunka burning love. Ouch!
The almost newlyweds eagerly agreed and were pronounced husband and wife as Elvis serenaded (and celebrated) their love with a song.

The Carters

Have you ever been to Vegas? And if you have, spill the details. I promise I won't tell anyone!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ava, this is Houston. Are you there?

Sometimes I am a space cadet, and not in a good way. I mean, I don’t work for NASA, nor have they ever asked me to travel to outer space for my country. No, no. I am a space cadet in the Where-am-I-going?…What-was-I-doing-again?…or…Who-am-I-today?…kind of way. Not the best thing to say about one’s self, but in addition to being a space cadet, I’m truthful to a fault, and I’m also a pragmatist. So there you are.

I don’t know about you, but I lose everything. I mean EVERYTHING. My keys. My bank card. My phone.

That’s right…


I did *that* this week. Monday, to be exact. And losing my iPhone really means losing all of my contacts, my email, Twitter, and Facebook accounts… Needless to say I get the shakes when I can’t put my hand on my phone. (Which you would think would make me keep up with it better. But… Well, you saw the first paragraph about me being a space cadet, right…?) Everything I have is in my phone. I don’t remember anyone’s numbers, and it’s a good thing I don’t usually have to because… see paragraph one again.

Strangely enough, I can tell you every last detail about every character I’ve ever written. Not sure what that means, but I didn’t want everyone to get the impression that I’m a complete dingbat. Just about things happening in the real world in real time.

Anyway, I retraced my steps, figured out where I’d had my cell phone last and that was… the post office. Really?! The post office?! Where a million people come and go every day? That’s where I left my phone? Uh, yeah, it was. And, of course, by the time I realized I didn’t have my phone, the post office was closed for the day.

Yeah, the shakes set in. But not as bad as I had expected. Whether or not my phone was still at the post office, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it until Tuesday morning at 9am when I found out for sure. I was rather calm, actually. I went back over conversations I’ve had with various friends recently about people being inherently good or evil. I have friends in both camps, and I’m… Well, I *am* a pragmatist. I don’t think people are either inherently good or evil. I think some people are good and some people are evil. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt, until I’m proven wrong – but that’s the subject for a whole other blog.

I figured my phone would either be at the post office or it wouldn’t. It would all depend on who found it and what sort of person that person was. And no amount of worrying on my part was going to change the situation one way or the other. Whatever had happened had already happened, and I just had to wait until the next morning to find out which way it went.

I am happy to report that some honest soul turned my phone in and I had it back in my hot little hands at 9am the next morning. And so I would like to send out a big “Thank you” to the nameless person who discovered my phone. I would also like to say that I will no longer be a space cadet and I’ll keep up with my possessions better, but I *am* honest and I know myself too well to make that kind of statement, even though I would love for it to be true.

Are you like me? Do you lose things constantly? And what do you lose most? (Mine are my keys. I have to have several copies at various places so I can always get to where I need to be.) Or do you always know where everything is all the time? If so – do you have any tips for the rest of us? ... Nice tips that is. Don't tell me to get my head out of the clouds, because that's probably not going to happen.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest Interview with Paty Jager!

I'd like to take a moment to introduce one of my favorite western author Paty Jager, whom I've been a fan of for years. She writes the Wild West and makes it real. Her characters leap off the page and right into your living room as if they were right there with you. And the best part of her stories is she isn't afraid to break the rules and write uncommon plots and uncommon characters. I love that and I hope you will, too. So c'mon ladies and give a big "Scribe's" welcome to one of my favorite authors, Paty Jager! 


Thank you Lady Scribes for having me here today.

What genre(s) do you write?
I’ve published historical and contemporary westerns and historical paranormal. I’m currently writing a contemporary action/adventure and mystery series.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plantser. I plot a little and then fly by the seat of my pants. I start with an idea or character and stew and brew the story and/or character in my head a while. Then I start researching and writing bios on the characters and gathering information that will help with plot. Once I’ve determined the opening scene, a turning point or two and know the black moment, I start writing. I don’t make an outline or synopsis before I start writing, I just write keeping in mind the turning points and the ending.

Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?
I can’t tell you why to choose my book over someone else’s book. I can only tell you my books entertain with a smidgeon of humor, intriguing characters, and fast paced prose. And I like to have information in the book that might be enlightening whether it’s historical in nature or about a cause or lifestyle.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
If they put my book down and feel they’ve been entertained, perhaps moved(not all my books are written to move the reader) and enlightened, I’ve done my job.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
I tend to like to write about injustice and people finding justice or at least coming out better in the end than when the story started.

How long have you been a writer?
That depends on what you mean by a writer. I’ve written stories all my life but it wasn’t until the 80’s when I became a freelance human interest writer for the local paper that I became a “paid” writer. As for fiction, I started writing a mystery novel five years before I joined RWA(Romance Writers of America) in 1998.  I’m a wordsmith not a mathematician, so you’ll have to do the math. ;)

Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.
1)      I’ve driven in a powder puff derby
2)      I worked in a cosmetic department and a sandwich shop before I was married.
3)      I’ve owned a horse all but five years of my life.
4)      I hate skiing- snow or water.
5)      In high school I wanted to join the Peace Corps.

Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

She is a member of RWA, EPIC, WW, and COWG and has eleven books and a short story published. Her newest venture is self-publishing ebooks.  Part of her learning curve for writing happened during the four and a half years she edited for an e-book publisher. 

Her contemporary Western, Perfectly Good Nanny won the 2008 Eppie for Best Contemporary Romance and Spirit of the Mountain, a historical paranormal set among the Nez Perce, garnered 1st place in the paranormal category of the Lories Best Published Book Contest.

You can learn more about her at her blog; www.patyjager.blogspot.com  her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.

Logger in Petticoats – Fifth book in the Halsey Brothers Series
Hank Halsey believes he’s found the perfect logging crew—complete with cooks—until he discovers Kelda Neilson would rather swing an axe than flip eggs. As he sets out to prove women belong in the kitchen, he’s the one in danger of getting burned.

Strong and stubborn, Kelda Nielsen grew up falling trees, and resents any man who believes she’s not capable, until Hank. He treats her like a lady and has her questioning what that means.

As Kelda and Hank’s attraction builds, she hires a cook so she can sneak out and work in the woods. But will her deceit ruin her chance at love or will hardheaded Hank realize it’s more than his love that puts a sparkle in Kelda’s eye?

Excerpt for Logger in Petticoats
Kelda already stood by the door, a man’s black wool coat buttoned to her neck and a wool scarf wrapped around her head. Her flushed cheeks shone in the lantern light. Her gaze met his solid and unflappable.
 “If Kelda isn’t back in here in fifteen minutes you can come looking for us.” Hank said to appease Karl as he pulled on his coat,
 “I don’t know what you’re worrying about. No man is going to think of Kelda in the way you’re talking.” The door hadn’t fully closed when Dag’s voice cleared the threshold.
Kelda’s shoulders drooped proving she’d heard her brother’s comment. She walked around the corner of the cookhouse to a fallen log at the backside of the building. Hank wanted to catch up to her and wrap an arm around her shoulders. She was a fine woman. Any man would be dang lucky to have her for a wife. He stood in front of her as she sat on the log, her face pointed toward the men’s logging boots on her feet.
Hank crouched in front of Kelda, tipping her face up to read her emotions. “Your brother sees you only as his sister. You’re a woman any man would be lucky to marry.”
Tears glistened in her eyes. “I’m the size and body of a man. Men want a small delicate woman.” She wiped at the tears, and her hands clutched his. “Don’t make Far keep me out of the woods. It’s all I have to make me happy.”
Pleading in her eyes and voice sucker punched Hank. “Why would you want to work alongside men in the woods? Women belong in the home.”
“I don’t care to work inside. I love the outdoors and the labor of logging. Don’t keep me out of the woods. It’s the one thing I can do well.”
The strong grip of her fingers on his proved her strength. He had no doubt she was a skilled woodsman…woman. He pried her fingers from his hands and held them between his palms. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow you in the woods. It isn’t proper for a woman to work like that. And what if you prove too weak to handle a job and someone else gets hurt?”
“Ooooo!” Her hands ripped from his grasp and rammed him in the chest. He started tipping backwards and grabbed the first thing in reach—Kelda’s arms.
He fell back into the snow dragging Kelda on top of him.
The surprise in her eyes quickly turned to interest as she gazed down into his face. Her body sprawled across Hank, pressing him into the snow. Even with the heavy clothing, her curves were evident as her relaxed body molded over his.
Hank pushed the scarf back from her face and stared into amazing eyes that glistened from the moonlight bouncing off the snow. Her gaze searched his. The rise and fall of her chest quickened. She licked her lips…
He held her head in his hands. Inch by inch, Hank drew her lips closer, wondering if the heat and passion he’d witnessed in her eyes would be in her kiss.
The male voice broke through the insanity of his actions. Hank rolled, rose to his feet, and pulled Kelda up with him.

Buy Links:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Most Important Line of Your Life

The first line of a book is arguably the most important line. Most readers today give a novelist fewer than seven minutes to spark their interest. Most browsers in book stores and on the internet read the back cover /blurb of the book then read anywhere from the first page up to the first three pages. They rarely read beyond the first three pages to see if the book captures them, so if you have ever had the argument that your book really starts to get interesting on page ten, you better take up a new line of thinking. In today’s impatient world, the reader, agent, or editor may not spare you beyond that first line – so make it count. The reader wants to know immediately they will enjoy your book, and if the first sentence is dull or confusing what is that telling the reader?

Sol Stein, author of Stein On Writing suggest there are questions you can ask yourself about your own first sentence to see if it engages the reader’s curiosity.

  1. Does it convey an interesting personality or an action that we want to know more about?
  2. Can you make your first sentence more intriguing by introducing something unusual, something shocking perhaps, or something that will surprise the reader.

I think the most important thing Stein conveys that a writer should remember about first sentences is that, “Your entire story or novel may depend on that first sentence arresting the reader’s attention. A terrific sentence on page two won’t help if the reader NEVER gets there.”

Obviously, I’m a believer in the importance of first sentences. In fact, I blogged last year about first sentences that have stuck with me for many years from some of my favorite books. Would the novels have been some of my favorites if they had not started off with a bang? I venture to say no.

I’ve asked members of my critique group to share some of their favorite first sentences so I could quickly analyze them here, and see if the sentences stand up to the Stein test. The first sentence I’ll share is one of my all time favorites.

  1. “There was a scream, and the loud roar of fire enveloping silken hangings, then a mounting crescendo of shouts of panic that spread and spread from one tent to another as the flames ran too, leaping from one silk standard to another, running up guy ropes and bursting through muslin doors.” Author – Phillippa Gregory – The Constant Princess

What can I say about this opening sentence besides the fact that it is fabulously visual, conveys something shocking, unusual and an action that we want to know more about. Who started this fire, where is this fire, what is the deadly outcome of this spreading fire?

  1. “I’d never given much thought to how I would die – though I’d had reason enough in the last few months – but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.” Author Stephanie Myers – Twilight *Sentence contributed by Jerrica Knight-Cantania
Talk about introducing an unusual and shocking situation! How could you not read on? – And boy did we! Millions of us.

3. "In every life there is a turning point. Author - Julia Quinn – When He Was Wicked *Sentence contributed by Olivia Kelly
    Every person has experienced a turning point, therefore they can relate to how momentous it can be. This relation makes people want to read on to see what this characters turning point is.

    4. “The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.” Author – Mary Janice Davidson – Unwed and Undead * Sentence contributed by Louisa Cornell

    This sentence is funny and intriguing, a bonus! The reader has to read on to see how someone who is dead can think it could get any worse. The sentence introduces a shocking situation.

    5. "Scarlet O'hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were." Author – Margaret Mitchell - Gone with the Wind
    * Sentence contributed by Lauren Smith

    Now this is an unusual situation and person being introduced. The reader wants to know what’s so special about Scarlet’s charm that has men overlooking her beauty.

    6. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only." Author – Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities * Sentence contributed by Marie Higgins.

    This is an oldie but goodie. This sentence introduces a sweeping feeling of change and lets the reader know right from the start there is major upheaval going on. Humans thrive on problems, especially other peoples problems. Of course we will read on to see how the hope and despair, heaven and hell, and darkness and light play out.

    I wish I had time to share all the wonderful sentences that my friend’s shared with me, but that would take up to much space, and I’m only allowed so much!

    I’m about to embark on writing a new novel, and I’ve been playing with my own first sentence. I came up with three then asked myself which sentence lives up to the Stein test. Which one do you think I picked and why?

    1. When it came to concealing her feelings, Lady Audrey Cringlewood was much like a chameleon matching the color of a leaf to outwit its enemies.

    2. Lady Audrey Cringlewood had not driven the carriage that killed her father, but nevertheless, she was the reason he was dead.

    3. "What I'm about to tell you," Lady Audrey Cringlewood's mother whispered, "must never be forgotten."

    I’d love for you to tell my your favorite first sentence from a book near and dear to you and then tell me what it is you love about it.

    Go make your first sentences shine!

    Have a great day!
    Julie Johnstone
    The Marchioness of Mayhem

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    A few minutes with ... Jess Dee

    Today I am pleased to welcome Aussie author, Jess Dee, to the Lady Scribes Blog. Jess is a multi-published author of scorching hot erotic contemporary romance. She's an amazing storyteller and I'm so proud to have her with us today.

    1. Jess, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

    I’m a wife and mother and friend. I have a mad dog I absolutely adore, and a house with a (distant) view of the ocean. I grew up in South Africa, but Sydney has been my home for the last nine years. I guess you’d describe me as your average girl next door. Except for one teeny, tiny little detail. The books I write are not the kind of books you’d expect the girl next door to write. ;)

    2. What should new readers know before stepping into your world?

    Hmmm, I guess a new reader should probably know that those books I write are in fact red-hot and steamy adult romances. Yep, I’m a romance author, but my stories are all no-holds-barred erotic. I write classic M/F erotic romance, not-so classic M/F/M ménage romance, and not-at-all classic M/M/F romance.

    3. Describe your typical writing day

    Ah, a typical day always begins with a mad scramble to get the kids to school on time (no easy feat, believe me), continues with a very large mug of tea and usually veers straight into procrastination time. Yep, that’s my time for sitting down at my computer and doing everything humanly possible to avoid working. Sometimes I’ll be lucky and the procrastination won’t last too long. Other times it can go on for days. But eventually I’ll find a rhythm and start writing. Usually around the time I’m really getting going and have just found a good pace…I’ll have to break it to fetch the kids and start the regular troop through afternoon extra-mural activities.

    4. What is your writing space like? What tools, apps, or programs can't you live without?

    In a word? My writing space is a mess. I wish I was one of those people who tidied up all the time and had neat piles and papers stacked away in appropriate places, but I’m not. The truth is, I’m just too busy procrastinating to find time to straighten out my office. However…the room isn’t so bad that I can’t find my Mac. It takes pride and joy in the centre of the desk. I would be lost without it. I don’t use any fancy apps. Just Word, the net and me. (Okay, and email, Facebook and Twitter too.)

    5. What is the strangest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

    Well, one time at Band camp…

    Nope, the strangest thing? Hmm, that would be when I was visiting Sexpo (Sex Expo) with a couple of erotic romance author friends, and we stopped at one of the stores and asked the vendor to explain how we could use some of his toys in a ménage setting. His expression was priceless – and he never really did stop stuttering long enough to give us an adequate answer. The fun bit was hypothetically working it out amongst ourselves while he stood there, gaping.

    6. Describe your latest release for us

    My next book releases on the 31st of Jan at Samhain Publishing. It’s called Hidden Fire, and releases as part of the Red Hot Weekend Anthology, along with books by Lexxie Couper and Delilah Devlin. Hidden Fire is the sequel to Winter Fire, and is a contemporary, erotic, M/F romance set in Brisbane. I love the blurb for this one.

    Dirty desires, dark secrets…deepest love

    Fire, Book 2

    Well, this is an unexpected twist. Jenna Brooks is all set to spend the weekend wallowing in misery, repairing the cracks in the façade she’s maintained for twelve years. Instead she’s…tied to a chair. Kidnapped by her own twin brother and her so-called best friend.

    It’s for her own good, they say. She’ll thank them later, they say. But when they reveal her partner in captivity, she shores up her emotional barriers. It’s Garreth Halt. The one man for whom she let her guard down. What a fool she was.

    For one electrifying moment, Garreth had Jenna naked in his arms, on the edge of losing her legendary control. Could have kept her there forever, too, if he hadn’t felt honor-bound to tell her the truth. Before she’d heard the whole truth, though, she’d retreated behind the fortress around her heart.

    Now they’re knee to knee, with no escape. While he’s irritated he let his alleged best friend get the drop on him, a small part of him is thrilled. With one final chance to show her his love is real, Garreth methodically, wickedly, sets out to dismantle her defenses.

    One dirty word at a time.

    Product Warnings Garreth may have charmed you in Winter Fire, but this time around, his blatantly sexy demands, even sexier actions and heartwarming love for his heroine are gonna make you fall head over heels.

    7. What's next for Jess Dee?

    I have some exciting projects coming up this year. In May, a book called Office Affair releasing. I’m busy working on edits for that story now. And in July, the second book in my Speed series, Colors Of Love, releases. It’s the sequel to See You In My Dreams. There are two other books on the cards, but it’s too early for me to be chatting about those yet. (Although I am dying to tell you about them!!!)

    Thanks for visiting with us, Jess. If you’re interested in more information about Jess or her books, just click on these links:

    Hidden Fire excerpt

    Pre-order Hidden Fire: It’s available now for pre-order now at Samhain, at a 30% discount.

    Jess’s website
    Jess’s blog
    Down Under Divas blog
    International Heat blog
    Jess on Twitter
    Jess on Facebook

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Confessions of a Pre-Teen Book Junkie

    When I was growing up, my mother bought a bookstore. It was a tiny little shop, appropriately called a nook, which was situated just off our town's historic square, with its Victorian courthouse and Belle Epoque mercantile buildings. Our building was neither historic nor particularly beautiful, but that was fine by me. All I cared about were the books inside.

    My sister and I were avid readers, and this new source of material only whetted our appetites for more. During the long, lazy, scorching Texas summers, I would dust the shelves with one hand, while propping a new book open with the other. In those days, it was not unusual for me to devour two books a day. We could read all the stock we wanted, as long as we took care not to break the spines. I learned a special way of holding the book open one-handed, so that the book stayed in mint condition while I cannibalized the insides. To this day, I still hold books open in this manner--so while I am an avid reader, all my books remain straight and unbroken.

    I was in junior high, and that meant I discovered Young Adult series fiction. The Babysitters' Club and the Sweet Valley Twins' ghostwriters could not write fast enough to keep up with my demand. I started Sweet Valley High but never got as into it--the characters' problems were way over my head. What would I do if rich boy Bruce Patman got fresh with me? I shuddered to think. Instead, I turned to the Anne of Green Gables series and could not get enough of LM Montgomery. I read every book, every anthology, every scrap of paper that crossed her desk. I spent dreamy hours planning my trip to Prince Edward Island, and even sent away for a travel guide. In those pre-Internet days, that meant a handwritten letter and a series of stamps, my friends.

    But even LM Montgomery wasn't enough. My sister and I were fast depleting Mother's stock. So, when Grace Livingston Hill's books were reissued in the 1980s, we devoured them as well. I had one particular favorite, The Enchanted Barn, wherein a poor family moves out of their tenement flat into the country, fixing up an old barn so that it becomes a beautiful, cozy home. My sister never read this book and for several years insisted it didn't exist--"The Enchanted Barn" entered our vernacular as something vividly imagined but not real. "Must be an Enchanted Barn kind of thing," we'd say when, for example, we remembered a restaurant but not its name or location. Twenty years later, when Grace Livingston Hill's works were reissued yet again, I was able to track down a copy in a dusty thrift store, and waved it under my sister's nose in triumph.

    As a history nerd even then, I turned instinctively to books by authors who long since passed. Then I discovered the Sunfire series. Each book followed a similar format--set in the past, usually during a momentous event in American history, the plucky heroine must decide between a wealthy suitor or a dashing but poor young man. Usually, she went for the poor guy. If I close my eyes, I can still see the covers--the heroine in the foreground, her name in blazing script across the top, and her suitors in the background, one on either side of our beautiful heroine. My favorite was Darcy, because her story was set during the devastating hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900--at last, a story about Texas that was elegant and refined, and not about stomping around in boots with the cattle!

    These series not only entertained and beguiled me during my youth; they also set the foundation for the kind of fiction I wanted to write when I grew up. When I decided to try my hand at writing fiction, my heart immediately chose historical romance. What about you? What did you read when you were a child? Were you an RL Stine nut? Or did you prefer the Saddle Club? 'Fess up!

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    In It To Win It, Dawg!

    When I was growing up, in the 1980s, I can only recall having watched four “reality” shows.

    Sadly, we had no American Idol, but had to make do with The Gong Show (I freaking loved that gong) and Star Search (put me out of my misery). I got a kick out Totally Hidden Camera, which was pretty much the forerunner for Ashton Kutcher's show Punked.

    And we all remember Cops.

    *Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?*

    But nowadays, it seems like you can’t turn on the TV without hitting a reality show every other channel. We’ve got ones about cupcakes and motorcycles, singing and sister wives, lonely millionaires and spoiled toddlers clawing for first place in beauty pageants. There are shows about fat people, hoarders, plastic surgeons, housewives and billionaire CEOs who go undercover at their own companies...and somehow don't have a heart attack at seeing how the company is really run.

    Why are we so fascinated by other people’s lives? Do we love reality TV because it gives us a chance to live out our dreams through others, or because it’s horribly entertaining to watch people de-rail their own lives for fame and money? Have we become a nation of voyeurs or is it all in good fun?

    I don’t watch much reality TV myself- not because I’m so morally superior, but because it tends to bore me, or like a horror movie, I spend most of the show covering my eyes and squealing “No, no! Oh, you are making a fool out of yourself!”...which my husband just adores.

    I love American Idol, I love the singing and the back-stories, and now that Simon is gone, I love the FUN they all look like they are having. I even love Steven Tyler's creepy leering at the girls young enough to be his granddaughters. (A living lesson about staying away from drugs. That man's brain is scrambled like Saturday morning eggs.)

    I hadn't seen the show until last season, but between JLo and Mr. Good-Lord-What-Did-He-Say?, I found myself sucked in almost immediately. I watched obsessively (Scotty lives the next town over, I HAD to.) and I even voted, for the first time ever. I cried when James Durbin broke down when singing, I laughed out loud when Jack Black and Casey Abrams did a funny, silly performance in the finale and I yelled "He's in to win it, dawg!" right along with Randy every week.

    And I enjoyed every minute of it…well, okay, not the minutes that Jacob was singing, but all the OTHER minutes.

    But other than AI, I can’t think of a single reality show that grabs me. Certainly, I don’t have any others on my DVR list.

    What reality TV do YOU watch? What do you love about it and why should I add it to my growing list of DVRed shows that I barely have time to watch now?

    If you don’t watch reality TV, why not? What turns you off about it? (And I’m not just talking about the Kardashians.)

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Floating Away

    I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone who knows much about me to hear that I've been a wee bit stressed lately. The holidays are always a rough time of the year for me, and this year was exceptionally difficult with several family illnesses and the like.

    To add insult to injury however, I have...well...an injury. A hilariously pathetic injury, to be sure, but there you have it.

    You see, my entire life, I've had this really bad habit of sleeping on my stomach, with my arm stretched out above me and under my pillow, not to mention under my head. I can't tell you how many times I have awoken in the morning with pain in my shoulder because the weight of my head had kept my arm in a bad position for hours on end.

    That happened a little over a month ago, only worse than normal. I figured I'd slept on it really poorly all night, and after a day or two the achy soreness would go away and I'd be back to normal.

    I was wrong.

    The pain didn't go away, and in fact it kept getting worse. On top of it all, even though my arm and shoulder hurt like the blazes, I couldn't prevent myself from sleeping in that really bad, not good position. I'd fall asleep one way, and wake up with that same, hurting arm stretched out beneath me, throbbing and screaming for relief.

    Well, after a few weeks of this happening, I finally decided I'd better go to the doctor, because it didn't seem like I had just slept on it funny any more.

    Guess what? I've torn my rotator cuff. From sleeping wrong. Seriously.

    Like I said. Pathetic. Hilarious, perhaps, but pathetic nonetheless.

    Anyway, to help rehabilitate the injury I've been getting regular massages since I discovered the problem. Yay for massage! They feel great. They're helping with the rest of the stress, too.

    I've also bought some wedge-shaped pillows to put under my legs and my head, to keep me sleeping on my back at night so that I don't do more damage than I've already done. They're helping. It's all helping.

    But there are still some days where I wake up and I'm in pain and I can't concentrate and oh my gravy it hurts, and there's no massage on the schedule. I had one of those days recently, and it happened on a day when I'd just recently seen someone tweet about a place in the area where they'd gone "floating."

    Now, I'm as skeptical as they come, so I didn't know what this meant, but I did a little research. Because, owie of all owies, I hurt and I needed to do SOMETHING. Anything. I didn't care, I just wanted it to stop hurting.

    After a little research, I decided to give this floating thing a try. I made an appointment and I went...and it was the best thing ever. Seriously.

    They have these tanks filled with an epsom salt solution that is heated to the temperature of your skin. There's so much epsom salt in the water that it is impossible to keep your body from floating. Once you get in and put your legs out, you float. Period. Anyway, you go in and start floating, and within minutes you can't even feel where the water is touching your skin any more, and you relax and stop thinking...and it is the most peaceful thing I have ever experienced in my life.

    I spent an hour in my floatation tank, and thought about nothing at all. No stress. No worries. No pain. The epsom salt soak helped to pull the soreness out of my shoulder and arm.

    When I left, I still felt like I was floating for a few hours. But even better, my pain was diminished for several days...and I was able to start working again.

    I can't say I've ever experienced anything like it before in my life--something so relaxing and refreshing and stress-free. I'm sure I'll be doing it again.

    When you get stressed, what is your favorite way to unwind? How do you find a place where you can clear your mind?

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Are You Living Passionately?

    Did you see the recent articles about the woman in the UK who loves Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre so much that she goes about in her everyday life dressed as her? In long skirts and a soft chignon she broadcasts her admiration for her favorite author and the resourceful character she created.

    I saw the article, and it began to show up in links on social media, along with titters and exclamations of shock and amusement.

    About the same time, I caught the premier of a new show on TLC. Called Geek Love, it profiled the lives of a few attendees at NYC ComicCon, emphasizing their loneliness and often awkward social skills along with their love of sci-fi, fantasy and comic book lore. It followed as they did a round of speed dating with other attendees. I saw a smaller reaction to this show online, but the premise seemed designed to elicit a sense of condescension, or even superiority.

    Screw that, I say.

    No, I've never dressed as Jane Austen or been to a sci-fi fan convention. (Yet!) But I send a big, fat huzzah to the people out there who summon the courage to embrace their passions. I don't see a Geek. I see someone who has conquered shyness, maybe even feelings of displacement, and embraced the passions in their hearts. Put it out there on display. And has taken steps to seek out others who share their interests.

    I might be alone, but I find this courageous and incredibly interesting.

    I know people who live solid, ordinary, everyday lives. Some are happy. Some worry a lot about what others think or say about them. Some can't understand why-when they've done everything they should--they still feel restless or unfulfilled. I'm impatient with them. I don't want to talk to them at parties, meet for coffee or invite them into my home. I like people with passion. And I don't just mean sci-fi enthusiasts. Give me a conversation with a civil-war re-enactor or an avid hunter or a weekend motocross rider. Do you love history? Art? Books? Are you a quilter, a traveler, an amateur theater buff ? Come sit by me. I want to hear about your pirate alter ego, and share in your enthusiasm and joy.

    I may be biased, as I took my chance when it came, left a mainstream career behind and followed my love of history, books and romance. I'm married to a guy who loves his job and enjoys multiple hobbies, mother to kids who have followed their interests into unusual and exciting places.

    And I think we should all live passionately. We should listen to Luke Wilson in The Family Stone and fly our freak flags proudly. In this season of reflection and resolution, find what speaks to your soul, embrace it, find others who share it--and then come sit down and tell me all about it. :-)

    A big Thank You to the Lady Scribes--who have clearly followed their passions and found each other. I'm thrilled to become a part of your community. Now--what about you, our friends and readers? What are your interests? Are you flying your freak flag? Share your passion and I'll randomly choose a commenter to win a copy of the UK edition of Regency Rebels.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Filling the Bucket

    Slacker that I am, I am just now getting around to putting together a real website, as opposed to just my personal blog. Yeah, I know—I should have done this when my book hit Amazon for pre-order. I may have to legally change my name to Erin Procrastinator Knightley. Anyway, I was brainstorming today, trying to come up with interesting things to include, and decided to add “Erin’s Bucket List” to the “About Me” tab.

    It sounded like a great idea, until I sat down and tried to put one together. Number One I already knew: Visit all seven continents. So far I have been to North America (duh), Europe (England, France, Italy), and Asia (Russia), but I’ve always dreamed of seeing Antarctica (I’m a bit strange like that, but I do have that science background), Australia (Hi Heather!) and South America sounds interesting when it comes to some historical sights. Africa is last one my list, but perhaps a day trip to Morocco can be arranged so I can say I’ve been.

    The next on the list was to learn French or Italian to the point that I can navigate one of their respective cities without the aid of a dictionary. I have pulled up Rosetta Stone on my computer countless times, but each time couldn’t quite hit the purchase button. It’s so expensive, and seems so daunting! Still, its going on the bucket list, so I’ve got to do it now.

    After those two, I kind of blanked on what else to aspire to. Interesting, no? Well, I never realized that so many of my lifelong goals were travel oriented. When it came to personal goals, well, I wanted to write a novel, so that one was checked off the list. I wanted to do a triathlon, and I did that a few years ago. I wanted to meet Colin Firth and, well . . .

    So, clearly I need to come up with more life goals! I want to live a full, exciting, memorable life, and I’m a firm believer in the power of setting goals. After another brainstorm session, I added ‘Learn to Fly’ and “Learn to Ski” to the list, followed quickly by “Get over my deathly fear of hurtling down a mountain side with skis strapped to my feet.” It seemed prudent to swapped the order of those last two.

    Next is to touch a volcano, change someone’s life for the better, and become semi-famous. Since my singing voice sucks and I can’t act my way out of a paper bag, I’m really hoping this writing thing works out for me so I can achieve that last one ;) Oh, and to make it a more measureable goal, lets quantify it with the following wording: “Become semi-famous and be recognized by an unrelated fan.”

    So what else . . . I am waaaaay too attached to living to try skydiving, but I’d LOVE to do the indoor skydiving adventures. I’d also like to try rock climbing someday, and learn to pole dance (what? For fitness). And, silly as it sounds, it would be so much fun to do a 40’s pin-up style photo shoot.

    Other things I want to do… to win a major award (I’d totally be happy with the leg lamp from A Christmas Story), participate in a flash mob (a cool one, not a lame one), grow a vegetable garden (I try every year, and have yet to succeed at this one!), ride in a dog sled (preferably beside Paul Walker, but alone is fine too), see my first opera at the Sydney Opera House (two birds with one stone!), and walk the Great Wall of China.

    All right then – I’d say that’s a pretty good list! Now tell me, what is on your bucket list?

    Here are some fun things that I can already cross off my list:
    • Swimming with sharks
    • Scuba diving on a shipwreck
    • Zip-lining in a cave
    • Write a novel :)
    • Complete a triathlon
    • Experience 24 hours without the sun setting
    • Meeting my favorite authors
    • Finalist for a major award (Golden Heart!)
    • Given Christmas bonus to family in need
    • Mingle with A-listers at swanky Hollywood party
    • Live in a lake house
    • Visit the Kremlin in Moscow
    • Dine in the Eiffel Tower
    • Tour the Roman Baths in England
    • Stand among ancient ruins in Rome
    • Promenade on Rotten Row in Hyde Park

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    They Made Us Sigh

    The message posted to our critique group started out being called “Call me Stupid”.  I think the question had something to do with the historical accuracy of a word.  I could go back and check, but it isn’t important.  As with most messages within our critique group, the topic morphed into an entirely different subject until Louisa Cornell posted this within her comment. 

    “Cary Grant!! (For those of you youngsters in the group he was the EPITOME of the suave sexy hero onscreen!)” 

    To which my response was

     “Gary Grant (followed by the love-struck emoticon)”. 

    See, I told you our subjects morphed because really, what does Cary Grant have to do with the historical accuracy of anything?  Well, my comment or Louisa’s was followed by the names of actors who caught the attention, and heart, of my critique partners at one time or another, and apparently held it for some time since none of the actors are in their prime any longer, if even alive. 

    We’ve all fallen in love at one point with a character and/or actor on screen.  What was it about that specific person?  So, I posed the question to the group asking the who, the why and have you ever modeled one of your own heroes after him?

    Julie Johnstone - I haven't modeled any of my heroes after old actors, but I do so love Cary Grant. I love Indecent and I love Philadelphia Story.

    Jerrica Knight-Catania - For me, it's a toss up between Clark Gable and Howard Keel. I grew up on Gone with the Wind and movie-musicals, mostly from the 1950s.

    Suzie Grant - For me, and I think it goes for all my heroes, they're loosely based off Clark Gable and James Dean. Two of Hollywood's bad boys. It was that "look" that they had where they would tilt their face down and stare up. Be still my heart. I've loved and watched every film by them both but the two that stand out the most are of course, Gone with the Wind and Rebel Without a Cause. Most of my heroes have the dark hair but I think what draws me the most to these two men are the "bad boy" persona. There is nothing quite like taming a bad boy.

    Ella Quinn - Jim Hutton was a hunk. When I first met my husband I thought he looked just like him.

    Olivia Kelly - I had a MASSIVE crush on James Dean in high school. I papered my walls with posters and pictures, even hung up a JD t-shirt. Loved him madly.... :)

    Sarah Baker- I have a boyfriend in every era, but for me the one who will always trump every other man is Charles Farrell. Now he is too obscure nowadays for most people to know (he was an actor from the 1920s and 1930s) but I did take enough note about him to write an entire book about him! His biography, in fact. :)

    Ava Stone - Oh, wow. There really are so many to choose from. In fact, you recently asked me if the hero in my current project was based after Clark Gable. He's not. LOL. Don't get me wrong, I do love Clark Gable, how could you not? BUT my favorite swoon-inducing actor has been and always will be Paul Newman. He was such an amazing dramatic actor, with the face and eyes of a tarnished angel. I think the first old movie I saw him in was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor. WOW! As the broken down, self-loathing ex-jock, I could NOT take my eyes of Newman. His skills teamed with Tennessee William's dialogue... Well, I don't think that magic has ever been duplicated.

    For me, it will always be Cary Grant.  I am not sure when I fell in love with Cary, but he has yet to be replaced in my heart. Like Louisa said, he was Suave and Sexy, but he also had great comedic timing.  A few of my favorites (because it is so hard to limit them a short list) are: An Affair to Remember, Charade, His Girl Friday, To Catch a Thief, My Favorite Wife, The Bishop’s Wife, That Touch of Mink.  I don’t think I have ever consciously written a hero after Cary Grant.   

    Your turn.  Who is your favorite actor from days gone by?  What was it about him that made him, as Ava put it, swoon-inducing?  

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Reading Resolution 2012

    I am a member of several reading groups on goodreads and one of the moderators for the Historical Romance group asked its members to come up with their Reading Resolutions for 2012 and post them. We’re supposed to update on that thread throughout the rest of the year so that we can see our progress. I thought this was such a brilliant idea. We have diet resolutions, writing resolutions, family resolutions and so many more. Why not have reading resolutions while we’re at it?

    In my humble opinion this promotes reading and education and because of that I’ve introduced it to my kids. While my oldest boys just rolled their eyes at me, my youngest is delighted to read with mommy. I’m hoping to instill a healthy reading habit in him and hope that out of the three he’ll love reading as much as I do. My other two boys like to read to an extent but they have to be in a reading mood, which doesn’t come as often as I’d like, honestly.

    So with that said I’m introducing my New Year’s Reading Resolutions for 2012 and hope that maybe some of you will play along.

    1. My first resolution is to read in two new genres I’ve never read in before. I’ve always believed reading outside of your chosen genre can teach a writer or anyone something new. You never know you may find a new genre you love. I’ve chosen the Young Adult and horror genre for this year. Perhaps later this year I’ll report back in and let you know how it goes.

    2. My second Reading Resolution is to read at least one book a month just for pleasure. All too often I’ll crit or beta read for someone because they’ve asked or I need to catch up on my crits for the group because I am behind. Well, I’ve decided that I need to rediscover the joy of reading again, not because I have a quota to meet, but because I love it. It’s been far too long since I’ve picked up a book just because. I think last year I maybe read a half a dozen books that weren’t required of me. I need to increase that because it’s time I take a little more time for myself. And reading is a joy of mine but somehow over the years of trying to become an author I’ve forgotten that.

    3. My final Reading Resolution is to read to my four-year-old at least four to five nights a week. Somehow over the craziness of our lives we’ve strayed from that and I think he’s getting behind. I want him to be more than prepared to go into Kindergarten when the time comes. But that’s the least of it, I’m really hoping to inspire his imagination and a love of books. In my mind there’s nothing quite like the escape of a good book. I’d love to be able to pass on that love to at least one of my children.

    So here’s to a wonderful reading year and some time spent doing things for myself. I’ve already started on parts of my reading challenge. I picked up two new books this week, sat down yesterday morning with a cup of double Mocha cappuccino and snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa. Oh what a wonderful way to pass the afternoon. It was the best time I’ve had in months. I’m looking forward to a lazy weekend with my husband and children, as well as some time to myself with a good book. What about you? Have you thought of a Reading Resolution and what is it? Btw, I picked up The Last Viking by Sandra Hill and Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen. What about you? What are you reading right now?

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Letting Go and Saying Goodbye

    I feel like 2011 was a year of sad goodbyes and letting go.  I said goodbye to a wonderful man who died of cancer, and I said goodbye to an exceptional lady who died suddenly of a brain aneurism.  I came to terms with the fact that a long time friend was no longer a friend, and I let go of the obsession to help two different people who refuse to be helped.  Though, truth be told, I still hold out hope that both of those people will see the neon sign flashing in front of them that says: Danger Stupid, Quit Engaging In Self-Destructive Behavior.

    Today, I find myself saying goodbye and letting go again.  This time I’m saying goodbye to an era in my life.  My youngest child’s registration for pre-school is going on today, and guess who isn’t standing in line.  You guessed it – me!  I’ve been registering my kids for mother’s day out and pre-school for the last eight years of my life, but today I’ll be having coffee with girlfriends instead of standing in the long line to make sure my child has a spot at mother’s day out. 

    I thought I would be really excited for this time to come.  I mean, I have spent the last eight years of my life with basically only two personal hours a day, if I’m lucky!  So why do I feel a little bit sad?  Stupidity?  Selfishness?  I feel as if this is the first step in a lot of years of learning to let go of my children, and this seems like the hardest goodbye yet.

    My youngest son is only five, but I swear he talks regularly about who he will marry someday.  I’m envisioning him now standing at the end of the aisle of a church, and me blubbering as I let him go and start a life with some other woman who hopefully will adore him as much as I do. 

    So why is letting go, even if it’s just a bit, so hard?  I think perhaps it’s because, though we love to complain about the restrains on our time, or at least I do, we get used to the routine and even comfortable in it.

    My goal now is to enjoy the new adventures to come for my kids and myself and focus on the things I have been dying to accomplish, and just might have a bit more time to do so when my youngest starts kindergarten in August. 

    I will actually have several solid hours to write without having to skip things such as working out, the grocery store or cleaning my house.  I am going to start taking tennis lessons because I have always wanted to learn to play tennis, but have never had the time.  Maybe I’ll learn to paint or play piano.  These are two things I have always wanted to learn to do.  Or maybe I’ll find my days are just as busy as they were before both my boys were in school full time.  I’ve had several friends tell me this is the case.

    Have you had to say goodbye to a friend, a loved one or a period in your life?  How did you cope?  Did you learn something new you had always wanted to do?  I’d love to hear from you.

    Have a great day!
    Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Bring on the New Year

    2012 is hot!! Hot as in it’s the Aussie summer right now and I’m sweltering. The Christmas tree is down and packed away. Christmas bloating from too much rich food as eased and I’m desperately looking forward to the day my kids go back to school [19 days and counting].

    The New Year started quietly for us. We sat, drank and pondered the past and what our future might hold. We did our share of ambitious dreaming, one of which was to have a livelier next New Year. The others were more personal.

     In 2012 I will ...

    . . . read more. My to-be-read pile is out of control. I enjoy falling into other writers worlds but I haven’t managed to do that on a regular basis. My goal is 52 stories for 2012 -- roughly one each week. I’m up to three.

     . . . reclaim the menu. My hubby and I have different cooking styles and this past year he has done most of the cooking. Can you believe I actually miss cooking, AND shopping for the groceries to make them with (he’d taken on that chore too). I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve missed cooking quiches, pasta, and most especially desserts that my kids love.

    . . . write smarter. Almost a year ago I moved my working space down to the first floor. My thoughts were it was cooler in summer and allowed me to interact with the family more often when they were home. What I hadn’t factored into my thinking was how much I liked my privacy, space to pin inspiration and maps up on the walls. So, I’ve moved back upstairs to my pokey little corner of the spare bedroom. What do you think?

    . . . move more. Since I write full time, it keeps me still most of the day but thanks to ‘reclaiming the menu’ and ‘writing smarter’ I’ve actually increased the amount of steps I take in my day. Coffee is downstairs, conversation is downstairs, and when I return upstairs to work I’m jogging up the staircase. Shopping is a trip into town, and I park at a distance from the shopping center entrance. I’m hoping that these little changes, coupled with the Zumba class I’m taking, will see me in better shape for that livelier next New Year celebration.

    . . . take better care of myself. Like a lot of women, I put my family and friends first and get around to doing what I want when there is free time. But no more. This year I will run away from home more often, get my hair done, manicures and pedi’s when the mood hits me. I will remember that I do deserve little treats when I’ve been good or very naughty (in writing terms of course). Lets face it. If I don’t look after me no one else will.

    I think my New Years Resolutions are achievable. I know I’m loving the revamped writing space. Perhaps I might even exceed my goals this year. What about yours? Were they realistic?

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Brag About Your Kid(s) Day!

    Okay, I'm just going to come right out and say it…my kid rocks! Yes, I know…everyone feels that way about their own kid(s) at some point or another, but seriously, my kid is totally the best! :)

    My little girl turned two on Christmas Day (which makes her doubly special ;)) And ever since her birthday, I've been amazed by just how awesome she's becoming. Okay, okay, I'll stop saying that she's just "awesome" and get down to some details…

    Number One: She sings Ring Around the Rosie. Okay, sure, lots of kids sing Ring Around the Rosie, but no one does it like Bella. She bounds around and around in giant, spasmodic circles (spasmodic being the key word here), shouting at the top of her lungs, "ROOOOOSIE, ROOOOOOOSIE, ROOOOOOSIE, ROOOOOOOSIE." If that's not cute, I'm not sure what is…even if she is singing about the Black Plague (which she's actually not, but our nanny got reprimanded on the playground for teaching Bella such a horrible song. *eye roll* Mind your own beeswax, lady!)

    Number Two: At the ripe age of two years and one day, she fell in love. No, I'm not kidding. It's already begun. Am I happy about it? Well, let me just say that it was with a boy 11 years her senior, with dark skin, whose name is Jacob. Did I mention my daughter's name is Bella? My husband kept muttering under his breath, "If he imprinted on her, so help me…" #Twilight

    But really, all kidding aside, Bella was infatuated with this kid at first sight. If he was around, she had to be near him, holding his hand or in his arms. If he wasn't around, she was talking about him -- "Jay-cub? Jay-cub?" Poor Jacob. He was such a good sport, considering all he really wanted to be doing was playing video games with my nephew :)

    3) She knows how to b*tch slap. That's right. And no, I didn't teach her that. The kind of skill this kid has can't be taught. Yes, I know I shouldn't make light of her hitting, but please, let me set the scene….

    A quiet Sunday morning, the three of us lazing about in bed. Cartoons on quietly in the background while the kitty purrs at my feet. Bella and I are having fun giggle time while Eric tries to catch a few more moments of sleep. And then…Bella, with the cutest smile you've ever seen, reaches out, and before I can stop her, b*tch slaps my husband. It echoes throughout the room as I stare dumbfounded at Eric, waiting to see what he's going to do. Finally, he grabs the pillow, buries his face in it, and starts laughing uncontrollably. Every time I open my mouth to reprimand Bella for hitting, I burst out laughing myself. That's right…bring on the Parents of the Year awards! The plaque should read: For their inability to keep a straight face when their daughter b*tch slapped her father.

    Okay, enough about me and my little princess…it's your turn now. Brag away. Tell me your favorite stories about your kids, whether they be human or furry. What makes them special?

    -Jerrica, Her Grace of Grammar