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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Monster Boy's Visit, or an Ode to Mothers

By Catherine Gayle

I wasn't really around these parts much last week. I'd like to say it was because I was so wrapped up in my WIP that I couldn't remember to come out and play (boy, do I need a week like that!), but it wasn't that.

It was something equally fun, though. :)

You see, my nephew (AKA the Monster Boy or the Nephew Monster) came to visit me in North Carolina.

For almost the first five years of his life, I lived all of 2 blocks away from him in Texas. But then six months ago, I moved 6 states away. It's been a big adjustment for both of us, so I was determined to make sure he had a good time while he was with me.

Our adventure began in the DFW airport, where of course, he found a McDonald's...one that had video games.

He's got a knack for finding the important things, this boy does.
 Our flight was only delayed a little bit, but he didn't care. This boy was going to go on an airplane, where he could look down and see "everything as itty as ants."

All strapped in and ready to go!

When we landed in North Carolina, Ava Stone was a good friend and picked us up at the airport, where she proceeded to lock her keys in her running car. But that is another story for another day.

Eventually, I took the Monster Boy to my apartment, where he proceeded to terrorize my cats as he is so very fond of doing.

Dakota tried to hide from him in the bag from his Lightning McQueen sleeping bag. Not sure it worked. That didn't stop her from trying.

Kiki wanted to avoid him...but she REALLY wanted his cupcake. Tough choices for this kitty.

It wasn't all bad for the cats, though. He gladly ran the laser light for them to chase until his thumb couldn't hold down the button anymore, and he helped to pick out a new toy for them at the pet store: a remote control mouse!

Hmmm...how can I play with this, WITHOUT the boy being involved?

When he wasn't driving my cats crazy, we were on the go non-stop. We went to see movies, went grocery shopping, found the Lego store and bought his first ever Lego set, played to his heart's content at the mall play area, went to the cupcakery where he could pick out his very own cupcake (nicely destroyed above), and so much more.

But that, dear friends, was far from the "bestest" thing we did all week. You see, Olivia Kelly invited us to go with her and Little Dude to the kids museum one day. The Monster Boy wasn't sure of this until I told him there would be lots of things to play with while we were there. He was still slightly uncertain...but then I got him a Batman lunch bag so we could pack his lunch, and he was sold. (Ah, the simple things.)

Here we are arriving on the bus he drove. Wait a minute...we didn't come on the bus. And he doesn't have  driver's license. Hmmm...
"Who needs those silly little Legos? I've got these giant ones!"

"Put me in, Coach. I've got a mean backhand shot."

Monster: "You're supposed to stand on it like this."
Little Dude: "Not until you paddle out to the waves."

"Just call me Captain Jack Sparrow. And feel free to fawn over me, ladies. I can take it."

We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine...
"Walking in flippers is hard work. How do those fish do it?"
On a different day, we met up with Tammy Falkner and her son, and joined them for gymnastics class. Somehow, the Monster Boy ended up even more exhausted after two hours of gymnastics than he did after five hours at the kids museum. (Lucky me! Haha!)

He's trying to sort out why they're stretching when the could be bouncing off the walls and jumping off the trampoline and climbing up to do a cannonball down the slide.
Every now and then, though, he needed a little time for a breather. That was when we would pop a movie into the DVD player or find a hockey game to watch, so he could have a little "chillin' and 'laxin' time," as he likes to call it.
Don't interrupt the Nephew Monster. He's watching Mater's Tall Tales.

After spending five days with his sole purpose being to exhaust me in every way conceivable, it was finally time for him to go home. I took him to the airport, put him on a plane, and waved goodbye though I'm sure he couldn't see me.


I managed to avoid crying until I got home. And saw THIS left behind.

Good grief, how does one little boy make this much mess???
Seriously, though, I only cried somewhat because of the mess. Okay, it was a lot because of the mess. But also because my Monster is growing up and can go on an airplane all by himself...without a hint of a tear.

I understand that he entertained the entire plane while they were in the air, too. And it seems he borrowed someone's iPad to play games? (Dude, your Nintendo was in your backpack!)

He went home home on Friday, and I still feel like I could sleep for a solid week without a problem. So my question is this: How do mothers do it? How on earth is it possible to keep up with one of these tiny humans without going insane, let alone more than one of them?

To all of you who have children, and you also have a job, and a husband, and maybe you somehow also find time to write...I salute you.

And I ask you this: Do you have any tips for me on how to survive the next time the Monster comes to town?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You had me at…



By: Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem

One of my best friends has an Oscar party every year and normally I try to watch the movies nominated for Best Picture. This year has been an especially busy one for me, and I only got to one movie. But as I drive my kids to school every morning I always listen to National Public Radio. Last week I caught an interview with Bradley Cooper who was nominated for Best Actor in Silver Linings Playbook. What really struck me about Bradley Cooper’s interview was the fact that he could pinpoint the exact moment he knew without a doubt that he wanted to be an actor when he grew up. In case you are wondering Bradley―yes, I consider him on a first name basis―knew he wanted to be an actor when he watched The Elephant Man.

The interview immediately had me considering myself and whether I could pinpoint the exact moment that I knew I wanted to be a romance writer. Without any hesitation the book Ransom by Julie Garwood popped into my mind. I could tell you where I was when I read it and exactly how it made me feel. I was at my dad’s lake house sitting upstairs on one of the double beds in the guest room, and I stayed up all night long to read that book. It was the first romance book I had ever read. I had always been a voracious reader but not of romance. Boy, I’m glad I discovered the genre! The moment when Gillian, the heroine, has to get liquid fire poured onto her arm to heal it, and the hero is so moved by her courage that he realizes she has gotten under his skin, I fell under the romance spell, and I knew I wanted to someday write a romance book.

The journey has been wild, rewarding, fraught with heartbreak, triumphs and lifelong friendships, and worth all the countless hours spent hunched over my computer keyboard. I would not change a thing, and I would do it all over in a second. I wondered after this mini epiphany did other writers I know have that same moment. I went straight to the best source I knew and asked some of my fellow Lady Scribes if they too had one specific book that had made them want to write romance. Today, I want to share with you what some of them shared with me.

“I loved Suddenly You so hard because it wasn't about the usual hero and heroine in England. No one' s nobility at all (not that I don't love those types, too. I do!). In fact the hero is a low class type of dude who claws his way to the top.  It's why I took a chance on writing a movie star as a hero in a contemporary romance.”  Marquita Valentine


“The book that converted me to romance and also made me want to write romance was none other than Johanna Lindsey's Gentle Rogue. I grew up reading books like Treasure Isle but when I realized I could take my love of adventure, the sea, and add romance to the mix, well...that did it for me. What is not to love about that combination? Besides, James Malory is simply irresistible.” Suzie Grant  

“I'll never forget the day I decided to bravely go where I had never gone before...the romance aisle at Barnes & Noble. I don't know what possessed me, but after a good while of browsing I found a book I wanted to try: An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn. I took it home, devoured it, and then went back for more. By the time I had finished the Bridgerton series, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to write Regency Romance Novels.” Jerrica Knight-Cantania

“Though I had read many romance novels, it was Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss that stuck with me more than any other. I could not get enough of her books and that was when I started writing my first novel.  The book was never finished and circumstances forced me to put the pen and paper away for years. However, the passion to write continually called to me until I couldn't ignore it any longer.” Jane Charles 

Johanna Lindsey's "Gentle Rogue" hooked me on historical romance. It's about an American woman that dresses up as a cabin boy to reach London. Of course, it doesn't take long for the rakish sea captain to realize his newest crew member is really a woman. I loved the banter between the hero and heroine, and the romance gave me butterflies. James Mallory was my gateway romantic hero. Once I discovered him, I was a goner.” Samantha Grace

"25 years ago (and - yes - I feel old saying that) I took my saved up babysitting money and bought my very first romance novel - Elizabeth Mansfield's A Grand Deception. The cover spoke of love, elegance and England, three things I adored and still do. I hid the book from my mother who wouldn't approve of that sort of reading (even though the big pay off in traditional Regencies was a kiss at the end.) But from that moment on, I was hooked. I had dreams of writing my own story someday, and I even started writing one in the 8th grade; but I wouldn't see my dream of being a published author realized until many years later. I am very glad I picked up that first book." Ava Stone

There isn't one book that I can point to and say "Oh, that one! That's the one that made me realize I'd like to be a writer. It was an accumulation of great books, a steady diet of fantasy and fiction and romance. There was Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, L.E. Modesitt and David Eddings. Tracey Hickman and Margaret Weis, Lisa Kelypas, Jane Austen and Dan Brown. I can say that one of my very favorite writers is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She writes contemporary romance, and has the ability to make me wish I was one of her characters, even when she's putting them through hell.” Olivia Kelly

“Kushiel's Dart made me realize that I could mix sex and love with my fantasy and not be remotely ashamed. At the time, I didn't know about this "paranormal romance" genre, but as soon as I read Ms. Carey's books, I knew I'd found my niche.” Hanna Martine 

“My favorite Regency novel was Affair by Amanda Quick. I really liked how the hero and heroine were intellectual equals. I had never read a romance where there was a true equality between hero and heroine and it made me want to read more Amanda Quick and write more stories like her--with strong heroes AND heroines.” Lily George

“Who hooked me on writing? Karen Marie Moning. I loved her Highlander series, but The Fever series consumed me. The back and forth, sexual tension, and love that bordered on hate that went on between these characters with every interaction pulled me into their world and I would race towards the end, desperate to know what would happen,  and then kick myself for finishing it so quickly.” Andris Bear 

What about you? Did you have a defining moment in your life where you knew with certainty what you wanted to be? I’d love to hear about it.

Have a wonderful day!

Julie

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Okiedokian

By Andris Bear, Countess of Sass

I'd like to talk about one of my favorite things. Most people don't know them by name, but have certainly come across one or a thousand.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know I have a serious, committed love affair with facts. I start every morning hunting down funny, shocking or informative tidbits to share with my peeps. But they're not my first love. Shhhh, don't tell them.

Uh, they get a bit territorial.

 I adore witty or thought provoking quotes (mostly witty. With this mouth, there's not much room for thinking). Which brings me to my topic--paraprosdokian sentences. What the ever-loving mercy is that, you ask?

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the second half of the sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part.

Nothing like a technical explanation to completely baffle me.


How about some of my faves?

"People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." ~ Isaac Asimov.

"If all the girls who attended Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be surprised." -- Dorothy Parker.

 "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it." -- Groucho Marx


"She looks as though she's been poured into her clothes and forgot to say 'when'." -- P.G. Wodehouse. 



"The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it's still on the list."


"I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong."



"You don't need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice."



"You're never too old to learn something stupid."



These little ditties bring me much joy.  It's to the point that if I can't get to my computer to scrounge up my fun facts in the morning, I turn into a real daisy. 
*pokes in reader in the side* Get it? Paraprosdokian? Not what you'd expect?


Yeah. We get it. Genius.

 So tell me, Scribettes, what lightens your day? What little thing brings you big joy?

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Makes You Want to Throw a Book?


By Samantha Grace

When I started writing five years ago, the unexpected occurred. Books lost their magic for me. I became entrenched in the learning process by reading craft books, taking online classes, and critiquing other writers’ work.

I would pick up a book—even when I really, really wanted to read it— and I couldn’t switch out of critique mode or relax enough to lose myself in a story. There was this constant drive to write or revise my own stories.

Prior to six months ago, there were only two books I can remember sucking me in: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella and Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros. I read several other good books, but these were the only ones I can remember not being able to put down.

Well, this past summer I rediscovered the joy of reading. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to learn something I loved all my life wasn’t ruined for me. 

Ra-ra READ!
Still, there were books I started and set aside at the midway point because I lost interest. Others never drew me in at all.

That made me start thinking about what the deal breakers are for me. I think it’s different for everyone. The great thing about books is there’s something for everyone. We don’t all have to like the same things. If we did, the world would be a boring place, wouldn't it?

My 5 Deal Breakers:

1. Too much backstory needed to understand the book. 
I like to be able to jump in at any place in a series and be able to understand that story. I don’t like long passages that tell me what happened in a previous book, and I don’t like when I need that information to know what’s happening in the current book. If I’ve already read the previous book, I’m annoyed by the lengthy recap. If I haven’t read it, I’m irritated that I have to wade through the history to get caught up.

2. Mundane dialog. 
You know the old saying if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? I’d like to tell book characters, “If you have nothing interesting or funny to say, don’t say anything.”

3. A hero that acts like the heroine’s father. 
I can take a little bit of bossiness in historical romance because that’s accurate. I get totally grossed out when the hero is much older than the heroine and treats her like a child. I know age differences were a reality and the heroine was usually younger, but I’m a modern reader with modern attitudes. I want the hero to relate to the heroine as an equal.

4. Illogical plots. 
It drives me bonkers when a story doesn’t line up. I especially don’t like when there’s a mystery involved and there are no hints about whodunit. All of a sudden the mystery is solved and the culprit is a two-bit player barely mentioned in the story.

5. A hero and heroine that won’t talk to each other. 
When a misunderstanding or avoidance drives the whole conflict, I roll my eyes and set the book aside. I don’t mind if that’s one element to the conflict as long as it isn’t the only issue. Some problems are complicated and can’t be solved with a conversation, or there may be compelling reasons to keep a secret, but if there isn’t, I’m finished with the book.

What are your deal breakers when reading a book?

  

Friday, February 22, 2013

You Know Who I'm Talking About...


Some people love their jobs, and some people hate their jobs, and some people love to make YOU hate their jobs. (Yes, that’s one more dig at power hungry TSA agents and local law enforcement, not that this is another one of THOSE blogs. I don’t fly again until April, though, so stay tuned.) No, today I’ve got a different target in my crosshairs – those men (because they’re always men) who love their jobs more than should legally be allowed in any state. (There are, of course, women in this profession, however, they always seem quite balanced.)

I don’t care if you live in New York City, Abilene Texas or Walla Walla, Washington. You’ve got one of these men in your area. I’m not sure why it’s always just ONE, but it is.  Perhaps there just isn’t enough oxygen in any given region for there to be two of them. This is actually a good thing. If there were two of them in a region, we might end up in some sci-fi paradox and the world would cease to exist. Each region gets only one. It’s some kind of law, I think.

You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?  A man who gets so excited about his job, it makes YOU a little uncomfortable watching him on TV in the privacy of your own home. I’m truly surprised more children don’t have nightmares about them like they do clowns because – honestly – they’re equally scary.

We got our first snowfall of the year a few weeks back. (I missed it as I was enjoying a nice cruise with Jerrica Knight-Catania and Catherine Gayle at the time. Yes, I’m rubbing it in.) Sometimes in Raleigh we only get one run-in with snow, sometimes we don’t get a run-in at all. So, I thought I’d missed all the wintery excitement this year, but I was wrong. We got a bit of snow this past weekend, and you’d think the world had come to a screeching halt. As Tes said earlier this week - in the south, the world shuts down for snow.  It’s just the way it is, and probably the way it will always be.

But that ONE man in our area always acts like the weather (whatever it may be) is THE singular most exciting, or scary event ever to occur. That’s right – I’m talking about your local weatherman. You know the one I mean. The ONE guy in your viewing area that gets a little wild-eyed and foamy about the mouth at the first sniff of cold air, or warm air, or wet air, or just about anything. This ONE guy loves his job more than everyone else in your viewing area combined loves theirs.

As I’ve said before – I’ve lived out West, the Midwest, the Southwest and now the Southeast.  And in each one of those places there was the ONE excitable weatherman who always seemed as though Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Mickey Mouse were waiting just off camera for him, waiting to high five him for his amazing delivery of the next day’s weathercast. He bounces a little too much in his shoes. He points at the map with a little too much vigor. And when he’s not  on the air, he LOVES breaking into scheduled programming at the drop of a hat.

He is your WEATHERMAN. The meteorologists at the other local networks are just pretenders, overshadowed by him. The other meteorologists at his own station are just poor substitutes until he’s back on the clock (always during primetime hours and occasionally in the morning, if he’s slumming it that day.)

And he totally and completely creeps me out.

Like I said, NO ONE SHOULD LOVE THEIR JOB AS MUCH AS THIS GUY DOES. Like it should be illegal in the lower 48. (I can see why someone might be excited about weather if they were in Hawaii or Alaska, but that’s beside the point.)  Instead of Santa Claus waiting off camera, I think there should be a psychiatrist waiting to administer a bit of valium as soon as he finishes his weather report. Being THAT excited cannot be good for his health, and it certainly isn’t good for MY mental health, and I’m just a viewer.

Watching him both exhausts and frightens me. I once found out I was attending the same boy scout event as our local WEATHERMAN, and I had to leave. Seeing him on TV is one thing, who knows what the man is capable of in real life!?! Honestly, I feel lucky to have gotten out alive.

What about you? What are your thoughts about your local crackpot…er…I mean…weatherman? Is he just as creepy as children's party clowns? Which one is scarier? Or is there someone even creepier than both, that I’ve somehow missed? 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Please Welcome Debut Author Ashlyn Mcnamara!


Posted by Erin Knightley

Today, we Lady Scribes are pleased to welcome debut author, Ashlyn Macnamara. Ashlyn and I became fast friends when we finaled in the Regency category of the Golden Heart, and I couldn't be happier to host her here today.  Oh, and if you feel like you've seen her here before, you probably have (lol). Without further ado, I give you Ms. Mcnamara:

Photo Credit: Elyse Bergeron
The majority of North Americans and the majority of the inhabitants of the British Isles may claim to speak the same language, but sometimes, you have to wonder. When I need to turn on the subtitles to get everything I can out of an episode of Downton Abbey, I realize there’s quite a gap between the variants.

When I was in university, I knew a young man who was born in England but moved to Connecticut around the age of ten. He liked to tell the story of his first day in American fifth grade and how he wasn’t quite prepared for class. Having made a mistake on his paper, he turned to the girl next to him and asked if he could borrow a rubber.
According to him, she nearly slugged him, when all the poor boy wanted was an eraser.

Photo credit Justinc via Wikipedia commons
And you all know about spotted dick, don’t you? Despite its name, it’s not a venereal disease but a steamed pudding. The spots are currents, but depending on your pudding mold, it might be cylindrical.

It goes both ways, though. An American who mentions knickers and pants to a Brit might come across as a pervert. To someone from across the pond, knickers are panties, while pants are men’s undergarments. Thankfully, I write historicals, and if you go back far enough, people just went commando under their clothes, which avoids the issue.

Unless you want to get into the subject of fag boys. Yep, I’m going there.

In spite of what it sounds like, the concept of a fag boy is a respected tradition at such public schools as Eton. Historically, the incoming first year students were each assigned to a boy in his final year at school. The younger boy was to perform such tasks as making the older boy breakfast, a cup of tea in the afternoon, blacking his boots, and keeping his room tidy. The idea was to teach the boys about service from both ends of the relationship.

Courtesy of Wikipedia commons
In theory, the senior boy, or fag master, was supposed to protect his charge and treat him with a certain level of decency. He was also responsible for his charge’s behavior, so if one’s fag got into a fight, the older boy was expected to deal with it, rather than bothering the teachers or headmasters about such trivialities. 

Naturally, such a system was open to abuse. In his autobiography, Roald Dahl stated he was required to warm toilet seats for the older boys. And if an older boy had a propensity to bullying, his charge became a natural outlet.

In my debut Regency, A Most Scandalous Proposal, the practice of fagging gets a small mention when the hero and the villain recall their school days over a family supper.

Tell me, oh readers of English-set historicals, has the terminology ever tripped you up? One commenter will win a copies of Tracey Devlyn’s (who was kind enough to give me an awesome cover quote) two books.

After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.

Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…

…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.

You can read an excerpt on my website, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. A Most Scandalous Proposal is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. It will be making its bow at your favorite bookstore February 26.