Wednesday, December 28, 2005
A couple of days ago, I posted my favorite romance novels of the year on Risky Regencies, and it put me in a nostalgic frame of mind, I guess. Maybe tomorrow I will post my fave non-romance books--that's a list that takes some hard thought, considering how many books I've read this year. In the meantime, some of the movies I've enjoyed this year! (It was a surprisngly good year, I think--last year I didn't have quite so many movies that I really liked!)
First of all, my very favorite was (big surprise!) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I just adored this film. Wasn't too sure about it going in--I loved the 1995 Colin "Wet Shirt" Firth version so much, and I'm sort of on the fence about Keira Knightley. Plus I had heard so many "advance opinions" on the various Regency and Jane Austen lists I'm on. But I shouldn't have doubted. KK captured Elizabeth Bennett's sass and charm so well (even though she's disgustingly beautiful and I hate her for that), and as for MM--well, he is now #2 boyfriend after Orlando. I saw it twice, and would have gone for 3 if the theaters here still showed it. Will just have to wait for the DVD.
In that same vein, I also enjoyed BRIDE AND PREJUDICE, the Bollywood-lite version that came out a few months ago. I have a strange fascination for Bollywood movies, and this didn't have the overblown spectacle I love, but Austen's story translates perfectly to modern-day India. Adorable. Especially that "No Life Without Wife" number.
Some others I liked:
ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (thank God the art museum has started showing "artier" fare in their theater, or I would have missed these two gems)
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (the best of the HP movies so far, no doubt. And I'm picky, too, since Goblet was my favorite book so far)
And 2 I liked that I didn't think I would: WEDDING CRASHERS and CORPSE BRIDE
One I liked, but could have been better: KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Movie I found to be a bit over-rated: Roger Ebert's #1 choice for the year, CRASH
And some I'm looking forward to when they finally open here:
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (and no, not just because there may be a chance to see Jake Gyllenhaal in the buff. Please. Snort)
MATCH POINT (I hear Woody Allen is back to form in this one. Finally)
THE NEW WORLD
And maybe CASANOVA. It has Venice, after all.
What were some faves of your own this year? i'm always looking for great stuff I missed!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I got some happy news today, to start 2006 right (and boost my ego a bit, too!). A TANGLED WEB, my February book, got 4 1/2 stars at "Romantic Times," and LADY MIDNIGHT is nominated for a Reviewers' Choice Award as Best Historical Mystery/Gothic (the longest category title ever).
Monday, December 26, 2005
I'm over at Risky Regencies today, talking about favorite romance novels of 2005. Check it out and see if you agree with my list! I may post some good non-romance reads and maybe some movies from the past year here over the next few days.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Christmas Eve has always been my family's big holiday-day. We get together for dinner, opening presents, cocktails, music. Christmas Day, though my grandmother used to make a big lunch and when I was a kid we got "Santa" that morning (waaaay too early, according to my parents, who had usually spent the whole night trying to put together presents!), is mostly for naps and fondling presents received the day before. Last year, I got a Hello Kitty toaster that imprints the face of Kitty on the bread. So, I spent Christmas day making toast. That kind of thing.
Have a great Christmas Eve, everyone! Have a pot of tea (or a chocolatini), spend some time with people you care about, and read a Christmas story. I hear that "Upon a Midnight Clear" in the Regency Christmas Magic anthology is pretty good. :) May Santa bring you what you want most this year. (I've asked him to sell my historical fiction project. Hardcover, preferably. LOL)
Friday, December 23, 2005
When I was a kid, we always had dogs--dachshunds. And I've always loved pets. But I always secretly made fun of people who spoiled their pets with clothes, fancy beds, shoes, whatever. Our dachs had a few chew toys, and sweaters when they got old and arthritic, but that was about it. But now, withVictoria and Abigail, I find myself scanning the Internet for a good deal on pink dog strollers, and buying booties when it snows. I'm crazy. I know it. :)
Here is Abigail's latest visit to Santa Paws, wearing her own snazzy Santa coat. Merry Christmas to you, and all your precious pets!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Every year my parents "do" Christmas Eve at their house. Sometimes for the extended family, which always turns into a zoo and trashes out the house, after my mother spent days cleaning, and sometimes just for the immediate family (parents, me, my dogs, brother, sometimes brother's girlfriend, but she's in Florida this year). It's better when it's just immediate family, because then we can wear our pajamas, drink copious cocktails, and sing along off-key to the Chieftains' Christmas album. For some reason, the holiday brings out the Irish in us.
I have one present that hasn't yet arrived, so I'm getting worried about that, but other than that I'm done. Finished. No more holiday insanity for me. I may have to run away to the movies sometime this weekend, especially after Christmas day lunch at my uncle's house. Pride and Prejudice wants to be seen for a third time. One good thing is that I have persuaded my family that our cocktail of choice this year should be chocolatinis. I found a few interesting recipes online. Anyone here have any good ones to share???
And check out my brother's knee socks. Isn't he too adorable to live?
Monday, December 19, 2005
OK, so my mother found out I posted a pic of her in a bathing suit, and she was not very happy, so here is a fully-dressed photo of her and me on our way to the family holiday party when I was 3 or 4. And a nekkid pic of my brother's first Christmas, because I have to embarass someone here. :)
And I'm posting at Risky Regencies today, go check it out!
Friday, December 16, 2005
Today is my mother's birthday! I'm forbidden to say WHICH b-day it is, though. :) So happy birthday, Mom, and thanks for being such a great mother. Even though I hate you for looking so good in a bikini just a few months after I was born. I'll be out to dinner with the Family Unit later tonight.
Today is also Jane Austen's birthday (and I was given a JA Little Thinker doll from the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild for the occasion! Yay!). And Beethoven's. So, read Pride and Prejudice while listening to the symphony of your choice (I like the "Eroica"), and have a great weekend.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Well, after all my Grinching yesterday about holiday music, someone gave me 2 new CDs today! Diana Krall's "Christmas Songs," which I really wanted, and Il Divo's "Christmas Collection," which I had never really thought about. Now, musically they're something of a joke, along the lines of, say, Andrea Boccelli or Charlotte Church. (After all, they were put together by Simon Cowell, of all people). As a serious opera buff, it should be my bounden duty to snark about them. But they're just so darned pretty I can't do it! Merry Christmas to me. :)
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I think I officially hit my Christmas music tolerance level today. At the beginning of the season, I always love the music more than any other part of the holiday, especially the weird Celtic and medieval CDs I have. But at work today we were playing this medley of Christmas songs done by the Empire Brass, and suddenly I felt like if I had to hear "Winter Wonderland" (in any form) one more time I would scream. And maybe grab up the phone and go all Rusell Crowe.
But I'm better now. :)
And my shopping is almost done, except for one item I ordered for my dad which hasn't arrived yet. Other than that, there's a plethora of packages for my cats to steal the bows from. Christmas is their favorite time of year. They pout for days after the tree comes down.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
OK. I'm off to give my new proposal a high degree of artistic expression. :)
Monday, December 12, 2005
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Here's one of the photos of my vacation! My mother, me, my cousin and her family, in front of the Tryon Palace. It was the colonial governor's residence until the Revolution, and was rebuilt in the 1950s (much like Colinial Williamsburg's governor's palace). Geeky history stuff is one of my favorite things on vacation. :)
Friday, December 09, 2005
OK, I'm back! Back from blog slacker-land, I guess (all right, so it was North Carolina, and then a few days here at home trying to wade my way through holiday hysteria). It was a good vacation, and I'll post some pics here this weekend. In the meantime, I', over at Risky Regencies, with a fun Christmas-Austen quiz to start the Jane Austen birthday countdown. :)
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
1) I don't usually buy books for the cover, but I probably would if I had the $$. A fab cover WILL make me pick a book up, though, and buy it if it sounds interesting. Does that count as buying it for the cover? I always buy books by friends (only I'm getting way too many darned writing friends), and a few auto-buy authors.
2) I don't crack spines. I like my books to stay nice and new looking. Just picky that way. I also don't loan out books much, except to select, trusted bibliophile friends.
3) Ooooh, there's nothing better than bringing home an anticipated new book! I'm dying to buy Phillipa Gregory's new one, "The Constant Princess". And I have Zadie Smith's new one staring at me from across the room. I could just live at Barnes and Noble if they would let me, roaming the aisles at all hours touching nice, new book spines. :)
4) I read one Nora Roberts. I think it was "Born in Fire." Or maybe "Born in Ice." It was okay, but I was never tempted to try another. Same with Suzanne Brockman.
5) I love covers that use real paintings, like the new Susan Carroll books. I hate those Avon clinch covers, with the women in the faux-Regency shiny satin gowns, their bosoms falling out, and the men with their doofus Halloween vampire capes. Eeek.
6) I don't often re-read. It's that whole "so many books, so little time" thing. But I do go back to Jane Austen, or parts of "Jane Eyre" and "Middlemarch". And bits of "Anna Karenina." I've re-read Loretta Chase's "Lord of Scoundrels" once (yes, it's that good), and Laura Kinsale's "For My Lady's Heart." That's about it.
7) I always have at least 2 books going. One in my bag for work breaks, one on my nightstand for bedtime. Sometimes more, depending on what I just picked up at the library. And I always have to plan my travel books carefully. You can't take just one book on a trip, because what if that one sucked? And it has to be good on a flight. I'm a bad flyer, and need distraction (right, Kay-Kay? I doubt she'll ever fly with me again...)
8) I can read and eat cereal at the same time. Does that count?
9) I read (almost) anything and everything. Romance, of course, though not as much as I used to. In high school, I could read 5 or 6 a week. And my parents wondered why my algebra grades were so bad. I read mysteries, non-fiction, literary fiction, a slew of magazines. Not much sci-fi or horror, though.
10) I do love lush, evocative description and world-building (like Kinsale's "Shadowheart") and wish I could do this sort of thing easily myself. And I appreciate dialogue where all the characters speaking actually sound like individual people, and not all the same. And if an author says her characters are "witty", they'd darn well better sound witty.
11) I don't mind kids in books, if they are neccesary to the plot (but not JUST plot contrivances), and if they really behave like children. Elena Greene writes about interesting, realistic child characters, while there is one Regency author who shall remain nameless whose books I had to give up on because her children were so egregiously obnoxious. I really hate contemp. secret baby books, though. And books where the heroine is heavily pregnant. Who really feels "romantic" then???
12) E-books--I read one once. It was a good story. But I guess I'm a Luddite where they are concerned. I like books, the paper, the ink, the covers, snuggling under a throw blanket with one on a cold afternoon.
13) I like the way trade looks--pretty covers (usually), classy-looking size, stuff like that. I hate the price, though, and don't buy many. Would love to have a book out in trade myself, though. Sigh.
14) I used to think I had to finish every book I started. Every. Single. Book. Now I know life is too short and there are too many books in the world.
15) Pet peeves--the aforementioned thing about when an author SAYS her characters are witty/brilliant/braniac, and then they go off and behave like morons at every possible opportunity. "Tortured" heroes who really have no complexity, they are just whiny. "Feisty" heroines who run off and nearly get killed, and must be rescued by the hero 10 times by page 200.
16) I look forward to the huge Friends of the Library booksale every year, even though I already have at least 10 storage tubs full of books in my garage, as well as all the volumes on shelves and piled on the floor. I can't help myself. It's an addiction.
17) The first book I ever read by myself was a story about a princess whose very long hair grew unwieldy. It tripped her, and wound around stuff in the palace, and caught all her servants and even the hairdresser in its curls. Can't remember the title--it had great pen and ink drawings of all those loops of hair. Is it sad that my first experience of literature was about mishaps in hairstyling? Maybe that's why I cut all my hair off. Some of my favorite books after that were the Eloise stories. I drove my mom crazy asking if I could move into the Plaza.
18) I sometimes read the end first.
And now, I tag Kelli.
And I'm going out of town tomorrow for a few days, but will try to post while I'm gone. Happy reading! :)
Monday, November 28, 2005
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! A few things I'm thankful for:
Good health (cliched, I know, but true!)
Good friends (no one has ever been luckier in their friends than I have)
Work I love
Great pets who love me, even if it's just because I keep them in Science Diet and little Burberry coats
A huge to-be-read pile. It would be terrible to run out of books!
Memories of my grandparents (see the pics I posted!)
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Orlando (and the guys on "Lost")
Have a great day, everyone.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Here is one more picture from my first Christmas! (I hope everyone likes seeing these--I borrowed my family's holiday albums, and will be posting a lot of them in the next few weeks. Saves time on deciding what to blog about in this crazy season). One more good gift idea: http://www.bn.com, and click on Gift Cards. :)
As you can see, books have always been a favorite present of mine. And while you're there at the website, be sure and pick up the Signet anthologies that yours truly had stories in--"A Regency Christmas" and "Regency Christmas Magic"!
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
There was also a post on Risky Regencies asking about our Christmas wish lists, and I came up with some great, Janeite stuff for mine:
A Jane Austen action figure at The Writers Store (http://www.writersstore.com). they also have a Shakespeare action figure!
The Jane Austen Little Thinker doll at my favorite online shop, The Unemployed Philosophers Guild (http://www.philosophersguild.com ) . My Frida Kahlo and Emily Dickinson dolls want her to join their unholy sorority. (There are also Shakespeare and Gandhi Little Thinkers)
And at Bas Bleu (http://www.basbleu.com), they have not only a Pride and Prejudice board game, but a beach towel printed with the first few paragraphs of P&P (thanks for pointing this out, Megan!)
Happy shopping, everyone! :)
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
They also serve to keep me from having to rake the leaves...
Monday, November 14, 2005
Saturday, November 12, 2005
1) "Canterbury Tales" (outright banned as recently as 1928; a few places still use editions with certain words deleted. As if anyone knows what they really are anyway...)
2) "Just Right Family: Cabbage Patch Kids Series" (used ungrammatical writing. Finally, a reason I can get behind, LOL)
3) Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" (encourages occult activities. Because every man wants not one but two nagging wives on his case)
4) "Diary of Anne Frank" (in 1983, it was declared a "real downer"; in 1998, pornographic)
5) Penny Hayden's "Confidence" (along with several other books in a public library was the target of a self-appointed censor, who whited out certain words and sexually explicit phrases. When I worked in a bookstore, we ran into this as well. Where do people find the time?)
6) "Myths and Their Meanings" (stories about figures like Zeus and Apollo "threaten Western civilizations foundations." Now, I am no classical scholar, but I thought that Greek myths were part of Western civ's foundations...)
7) Ibsen's "A Doll's House" (propagates feminist views. You know, things like individual choice and pesky concepts like that)
8) "Walter the Farting Dog" (used the words "fart" or "farting" 24 times. Who has time to count them??? And if you're going to ban a book for farting, you might as well go after Canterbury Tales. Oh, wait a minute--they did)
9) "Moby Dick" (in 1996, it was stated that MD "conflicts with the values of the community." What, they're against whaling? Or crazy seamen? Can I vote to ban it for being BORING?)
10) "Froggy Went a-Courting" (again in 1996, Froggy's "nefarious activities", including speeding away from the cat police, set a bad example)
11) The "Captain Underpants" books (teaches kids to not obey authority or the law--"including God's laws"--as well as improper spelling, making fun of what people wear, and poor nutrition. I always suspected I was going to hell for eating Twinkies, overuse of spell-check, and making fun of people wearing gauchos. Now I know it.)
12) Samule Richardson's "Pamela" (banned by the Catholic Church in 1744, still in effect in 1906)
13) "Twelfth Night" (again in 1996--what was in the water that year? It has "the effect of encouraging or supporting homosexuality as a possible lifestyle alternative")
14) Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic" (among many other things, it "encourages children to break dishes so they won't have to dry them")
15) Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" (burned by the Nazis for Sinclair's socialist viewpoint. But not, strangely, for his disgusting revelations about what is actually in sausages)
16) Bertrice Small's "To Love Again" (declared "pornographic". How do I get someone to declare MY books porn???)
17) "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" (challenged as recently as 2002. No funny reason given, I just really liked this book when I was a kid and would hate to see it removed from any library)
18) "Zen Buddhism" ("details the teachings of Buddhism in such a way that the reader could very likely embrace its teachings and choose this as their religion." And wouldn't THAT be horrible? I've been on the wrong path the last few years, people, and it must have been due to reading one book about Buddhism...)
19) Wallace Irving's "The Fan Club" (1974, someone was told it is "not library policy to purchases formula-written commercial fiction." If that was so, we would all be reading, say Frantzen or Foer all the time every day, and I would have to jump out a window)
There you have it. :) I went to see the new Pride and Prejudice movie today, and will blog about it tomorrow.
Friday, November 11, 2005
1) "Ida and the Wool Smugglers" (the mother is "neglectful" because she sent her daughter to the neighbors even though the smugglers were out and about)
2) "The Stupids Die" and other "Stupids" titles ("because children shouldn't refer to anyone as 'stupid'". Well, that's just stupid.)
3) Hans C. Anderson's "The Little Mermaid" (it's "pornographic" and contains "Satanic pictures")
4) "The Life and Times of Renoir" (because of the nude paintings--that wicked pornographer Renoir)
5) Jill Anderson's "Pumsy" ("propagates principles of secular humanism" and "new age religion" and also "drives a wedge between children and parents." Oh, noooo, not secular humanism!!!)
6) Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings" (among many other things, it "preaches bitterness and hatred against whites." Maybe on the grounds that it never actually tells us why the caged bird sings...)
7) Francis Bacon's "Advancement of Learning" (granted, it was banned by the Inquisition in 1640, but it still makes me mad)
8) Edna Barth's "Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts" ("interests little minds into accepting the devil with all of his evil works")
9) "Literature of the Supernatural", featuring stories by Poe, Bradbury, Dante, Shakespeare, et al ("promotes the occult, sexual promiscuity, and anti-Americanism")
10) Bonnie Bogart's "Ewoks Join the Fight" ("every page except for 3 has some sort of violence--somebody gets knocked down or the Death Star is blown up". Surprisingly, not on the grounds that Ewoks are the most obnoxiously saccharine creatures this side of Jar Jar Binks)
11) Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Aurora Leigh" (Boston, 1857--"the hysterical indecencies of an erotic mind". I wish someone would say that about one of my books)
Saturday, November 05, 2005
In news totally unrelated to trying to blow up Parliament (hopefully), someone sent me a list from Esquire magazine titled "59 Things a Man Should Never Do Past 30". It was funny, and, in many cases, oh so unfortunately true. Here are a few favorites:
Coin his own nickname
Name his penis his name plus "junior"
Hang "The Scream"--unless he stole it from the Munch museum in Oslo
Shout out a response to "Are you ready to rock?"
Use the word "collated" on his resume
Name pets after Middle Earth characters
Wear Disney-theme ties
Wake up to a "morning zoo"
Eat Oreo cookies in stages
Sleep on a bare mattress
Hold his lighter up at a concert
Propose via stadium Jumbotron
Google the word "vagina"
Sport an ironic mustache
Purchase at-home brewing paraphenalia
The John Travolta point to the ceiling point to the floor dance move; also that one from Pulp Fiction
Read The Fountainhead
Watch the Pink Floyd laser show at a planetarium
Refer to his girlfriend's breasts as "the twins"
Say goodbye to anyone by tapping his chest and even so much as whispering "Peace out"
So, peace out, dudes, and I'll see you tomorrow. :)
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
And be sure and help me round out my fantasy Byron movie cast. :)
Monday, October 31, 2005
Yay!!! Halloween is here! This will be a short post--I just posted at Risky Regencies (on spooky elements in classical music!), and am trying to get the dogs into their costumes. Victoria is a cowgirl this year, and Abigail is a ballerina, but she keeps trying to chew on her tutu. But the comments on my last post, re: movies like Haunted Summer and Gothic, and the new BBC version of a Byron biopic, had me thinking. The story of Byron and his Romantic poet pals seems ripe for a great movie--lots of weird, paranormal things, sex, great clothes, fabulous houses, sex, Italy, sex. But is it possible to get it "right"? Or is Byron one of those fascinating, charismatic figures from the past (much like Christopher Marlowe), who still fascinate us today but whose lives are realy sort of "unfilmable"?
My question is this--who would you cast as Byron? Is there anyone out there who would really suit the part? (Maybe Johnny Depp in his younger days--I dunno. And Jonathan Rhys Myers might be good as Marlowe). What about his friends, like Shelley?
Have a great Halloween! See you back here tomorrow when the cobwebs come down. And I don't remember this nurse costume at all, the note on the back of the photo says I'm 3 here. I do like the way the yellow plastic hair blends with our old "harvest gold" fridge. :)
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Tomorrow is the big holiday! I tested out my costume last night ( a"winter fairy" with a borrowed sparkly tiare), and it seems to work well. Those long, drapey sleeves are a pain for driving, though. The fog machine is ready, and the big orange pumpkin is full of candy.
Over at Risky Regencies, there has been a lot of talk about scary things in history, Gothic novels (remember those? Heroines running away along cliffs in their nighties?), lots of fun things. It reminded me of a movie I saw ages ago, probably in high school, though I can't remember the name or any of the actors in it (maybe Kay will remember). It was about Byron and Shelley and their pals, all gathered in Italy to talk about Frankenstein-ish stuff and have sex with each other. I remember it was huge fun, in a guilty-pleasure way, and might be good viewing for this season (since I am a wuss and can't handle things like The Exorcist).
My friend Rinda (who, BTW, throws a seriously great Halloween party) has a new website offering hilarious, writer-related items like t-shirts, mugs, etc. I especially like the "My Spirit Guide Thinks You're Hot" shirt. Check it out at http://www.cafepress.com/thewritesnark
And today's pic is Halloween in the third grade. :)
Friday, October 28, 2005
Just two more days until Halloween!!! This is now officially "Halloween weekend," since there are parties and other spooky things going on for the next three nights. This really is my favorite holiday, as it combines so many things I love--like dressing up and candy.
Mmmm--candy. So, yesterday I asked which was better, mojito or cosmos (I had just gone to a "mojito special" night with some friends, and thought they were pretty yummy. But not quite good enough to permanently replace those old standbys Cosmos and Chocolatinis). Now, which Halloween candy is the best? I like those tiny little Almond Joys and baby Heath bars, but there are things to be said for KitKats and Snickers.
And yes, I will be increasing those yoga classes from three times a week to four. And maybe taking up jogging. :) In the meantime, I'm posting a pic of Halloween in the second grade. I was a hula dancer, but I remember it rained so hard and was so freezing cold that night that I had to wear a coat over my costume and get my dad to drive my friends and me door to door to collect our loot.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
I noticed my friend Megan Frampton blogged a couple days ago about those "how to write/writer's life" lists and their questions about "The Muse", how to summon it, succor it, whatever. I have also seen posts like this, and they always make me feel bad because, well, I don't think I have Muse. Maybe this is my big problem as a writer. I do have a very tiny elf that sits on my shoulder and shrieks in my ear, "Dammit, Amanda, quit blog-hopping and write your stupid book! Car insurance doesn't pay for itself, y'know!" It's very irritating, and I'm pretty sure would never be placated by scented candles and annoying music. I'd much rather have a Muse, which sounds so pleasant and pretty. Maybe it could even look like Orlando.
The British magazine "Total Film" recently announced that they have a list of the Top 100 Bestest Films Ever (because no one has done THAT before), but thus far they have only revealed their Top 10. Here are the Tippy Top 5: GoodFellas, Vertigo, Jaws, Fight Club, Godfather Part II. To this list I can only say--WTF?
Which is better, a cosmo or a mojito?
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
If you're anything like me (i.e. facsinated by supremely goofy things) you've probably checked out this site many times before, but it's worth another look for such classics as Magical Trevor, Only in Kenya, and the badgers. Guaranteed to stick in your head and drive you insane. :)
Sunday, October 23, 2005
So, I got my Orlando fix yesterday, and went to the movies with my friend Kelli (another Orlando-phile) to see ELIZABETHTOWN. This was a bit of a mixed bag, though I would definitely recommend it, because the parts that were good were very good, and the parts that weren't so good weren't "horrid", just annoying because they took away from the good parts (clear enough for you?). I saw on Roger Ebert's review today (I don't really like to read too many reviews before I see a movie, but do check them out afterwards) that 18 minutes were cut from the original version, the one seen at Toronto. IMO, they should have cut more. The aunt and uncle, the "Free Bird" cousin and his annoying kid, the multiple discussions of cremation vs. burial in the blue suit, the long stand-up routine by Susan Sarandon that (I'm sorry) just brings the film to a screeching halt--they need to go. Orlando and Kirsten Dunst were adorable, and their super-cute romance and Drew's own personal journey should have been the number one focus at all times. The extra-long phone call and the road trip were terrific (he was in OKC, and we missed it!!! Waaa!), the goofy Southern couple Chuck and Cindy and their nuptial celebrations were hilarious. And Orlando was gorgeous. So--thumbs up, with a few reservations. Now I'm looking forward to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and the new Zorro movie.
It made a great break from the research fest on Tudor England, that's for sure. And now I can blog about it, and thus waste time not vacuuming or making the bed or getting ready for work tomorrow. Perfect. And speaking of tomorrow--I'll be at Risky Regencies, so visit me there. Back here Tuesday.
And, yes, I know the pic isn't from ELIZABETHTOWN, it's from KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, but I like it, so here it is. :)
Friday, October 21, 2005
Wow, have I just been the most boring blogger this week or what??? But really, aside from obsessing about Hello Kitty and what's going to happen next on LOST, I haven't been doing much the last few days. When I finish a book, I go through a short period of brain-deadness before I perk up enough to start the next one, and that's where I am now. Stuck in between-projects limbo land. But I did get a lot of reading done, including John Berendt's fascinating new book on Venice, CITY OF FALLING ANGELS, and a whole slew of non-fiction researching said next project, about the court of Henry VIII in the late 1520s. (And, boy, am I super-glad I didn't live then! Those wacky Tudors. But I wouldn't mind being some eccentric contessa in Venice, living in my palazzo with a herd of tiny dogs, a couple of Titians, and a boy-toy named Paolo)
So, I'm posting an older pic of one of the most exciting experiences of my writing life, meeting Barbara Cartland!!! Yes, that chick in hot pink chiffon is THE Barbara Cartland, not her wax effigy stolen from Madame Tussaud's. Granted, at the time she was about 176 years old and just a tad bit out of it, but heck, it was Cartland! I grew up reading her stuff, all those cynical, dark dukes and stammering young virgins. Not to mention the fab movie adaptations. I'll always be glad I had the opportunity to meet her, and get a couple of books signed. It was loads of fun. :)
Thursday, October 20, 2005
OK, so I don't have much for you today (I've spent most of the day wondering why, on LOST, the women in the cast we've been following for the past season look good, with clean hair and makeup, and even fairly nice clothes, while the newcomers look like they've been rolling around in a dirt pit for a month. Just wondering).
But I do have this fabulous new funny Bill sent me! It's my upcoming book starring Hello Kitty and Friends. Enjoy! :)
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
"Come sleep! O sleep the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
The' indifferent judge between the high and low"
(from ASTROPHIL AND STELLA, 39, 1-4)
"My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss:
There never was a bargain better driven."
Monday, October 17, 2005
Friday, October 14, 2005
Here are just a few of mine (and no, I'm not counting Hello Kitty Everywhere--that one just sits on the coffee table. I especially like the pic of Hello Kitty at the Eiffel Tower in her pink beret):
Middlemarch--it's sort of like going to a family holiday. I know everyone there, am comfortable in the surroundings, and I love those darned relatives, even if I sometimes want to strangle them for being eejits. I always hope Dorothea won't marry Casaubon, but she always does, the silly girl.
PG Wodehouse stories--these always cheer me up! I go back to favorite Jeeves and Wooster stories all the time, especially the one about the disputed cow creamer, or any time Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeline Bassett have a bust-up and Madeline decides she'll make Bertie "happy" and marry him. Of course, I can't read them any more without picturing Stephen Frey and Dr. House, er, Hugh Laurie, in the roles.
Jane Eyre--though I usually skip the dull bits set in the Rivers' house. I like the weird Gothicism of the nasty school and the wife in the attic. I also like it that Jane is short, but still gets the guy (for obvious reasons).
Childhood favorites, like Little Women (I wanted to be like Jo, like most girls, but I wanted Amy's clothes and was appalled that Jo had to wear a dress with a scorch mark on the butt to the ball). I also like the Anne of Green Gables series, because I was also a very dreamy and sort of annoying girl like Anne, but one of my favorites is Rilla of Ingleside, the story of Anne's daughter's coming-of-age during WWI. And I Capture the Castle--I really wanted an eccentric family like that.
And, of course, anything by Austen. Those books have gotten me through a lot. The Dashwood sisters, Darcy and Lizzie, Emma and her annoying-yet-endearing smugness, Catherine Morland and her wild imagination, Anne and her long-lost captain, even poor Fannie Price--they're all old friends by now.
So, what are some of your favorite re-reads? What draws you back to them time and again?
Thursday, October 13, 2005
1) Find your 23rd post
2) Find the 5th sentence
3) Ponder it for meaning, subtext, or hidden agendas
The 5th sentence is "What were we thinking?" Hmmm--that could have a wealth of hidden meanings. It could be the story of my life now. Some days I don't know WHAT I'm thinking, or what I should do, or what will happen next. Or even what to write in this blog. Or maybe it just refers to my 8th grade haircut. Who knows? The only constant is Hello Kitty, may she prosper forever. :)
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Right now, I'm reading a very fun book called Buddha Baby, an Avon chick-lit by Kim Wong Keltner (the sequel to the equally fun The Dim Sum of All Things). Now, my family is Irish rather than Chinese, as this heroine's is, but our families are equally infuriating and intractable (you know who you are, so we won't go into that here). Another thing we have in common is an inexplicable, overpowering obsession with all things Hello Kitty. There. Now you know my secret. One of them, anyway.
In this book, I came across a particularly apropos quote. "Alas, Hello Kitty was like kryptonite. Who knew that pink, plastic crap could be so intoxicating? But, oh, it sure was." One of my most cherished Christmas gifts last year was a toaster that, in addition to having a giant hot pink Hello Kitty face on the side, imprints that face on the toast. The glory of it! (One tip--you have to use white bread and turn the level up pretty high. You can't see Hello Kitty's face on lightly toasted wheat bread, which is what I usually eat. Of course, it renders the toast inedible, but who cares when you can see Hello Kitty???). I also have a Hello Kitty alarm clock/nightlight, trash can, throw blanket, stuffed animals, and underwear. Right now, my object of lust is a Hello Kitty bicycle, available only from the Sanrio website.
I never was Hello Kitty for Halloween, but I was once a cowgirl, on the first Halloween I actually have vague memories of, so I'll attach that pic here for fun and laughs. See you tomorrow (I swear, my days as blog slacker are over! For now)
Friday, October 07, 2005
Every day at work I start off by reading the NY Times (they give them away in the Journalism department, which is just down the hall--tough job, I know). It's far more informative than any local papers (one in particular, know not so affectionately as The Daily Disappointment), plus they have sections on fashion and the arts and travel and food. Very fun, but on the other hand I have to read about fabulous, interesting, eclectic, intellectual exhibits and performances and movies that I won't see, because I am hundreds of miles away. Last week, I read about one that sounded especially fun, and appropriate given the Halloween kick I've been on--"The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult" at the Met.
The author of the article states that "Hands down, it's the most hilarious, not to mention the most charming, exhibit the museum has done in years. Like all examples of great humor, it is, at heart, also a sneakily serious affair. Its subjects include the depths of human gullibility, and the conjuring power of photography...they inevitably sail past their intended goal, which is to document the unbelievable, and end up in a realm of higher truth. They remind us that art is a wonderment defying logic."
One of the more hilarious examples, "Henri Robin and a Spectre" (1863) is attached here. What a fun-sounding exhibit! If you're anywhere near the NY area, check it out and let me know what it's like. :)
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
You Know You Are Living in 2005 When...
1) You accidentally enter your password on the microwave
2) You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years (note from Amanda--you can play solitaire with CARDS?)
3) You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3
4) You email the person who works in the desk next to yours (note from Amanda--OK, so I have done this, but where I work the office is way across the hall from the studio. It would take at least 3 minutes to walk over there)
5) Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have email addresses
6) You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries
7) Every commercial on TV has a website at the bottom of the screen
8) Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it
10) You get up in the morning and go on-line before getting your coffee
11) You start tilting your head sideways to smile :) (Note from Amanda--I have actually said LOL instead of laughing)
12) You're reading this and nodding and laughing
13) You know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message
14) You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list
15) You scrolled back up to check there isn't a #9 on this list
Sunday, October 02, 2005
OK, I know I've been a terrible blog slacker the last few days, but I have a good excuse! I finally finished the Venice historical that wouldn't end, and hope to have it winging its way out the door to my editor's desk by the middle of the week. Chocolatinis all around!
I also have an interview posted today on Risky Regencies (http://www.riskyregencies.blogspot.com) and tomorrow is my day to think of something to post there, so I'll be back here Tuesday. In the meantime, I'm continuing the Halloween theme with two new pics. These were taken the Halloween I was 16, so it was (ahem) years ago. The pic on top is me with my friends Anne and Kay (just hope Kay doesn't kill me for posting it!) and the other is me with my brother, the killer clown. I think I'll have to show that one to his girlfriend, now that he's a somewhat respectable 25-year-old. :)
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Here is my dog Victoria on Halloween last year--she only wore the pumpkin hat for about a minute, long enough to take this pic, before she tried to eat it. With just the orange vest on, she looked like a crossing guard. Talk about a lame costume. :)
Bill (my now-official blog supplier!) sent me a couple of hilarious links about costumes no one should try. Ever.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
So from time to time this month, I'll be posting some old Halloween pics and a few spooky links. This photo is me with my little brother--I think I was dressed as a character from Little House on the Prairie. And today's link theme--ghosts! Bwahaha!
Monday, September 26, 2005
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Which romantic comedy heroine are you? Katherine Harrison, Julia Roberts' character in America's Sweethearts (I've never seen this movie, so I will have to take the quiz's word for it. At least I wasn't J.Lo in Shall We Dance)
Which Greek god are you? Athena (rock on! I always wanted an owl and some armor)
Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you? Napoleon Dynamite (sweeet)
If you were a Barbie, which messed up version would you be? Sorority Slut Barbie (that's hot)
Which famous boyfriend would you get? Orlando!!! (natch)
What is your theme song? Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows (actually, this is a good choice for me, I think)
What paranormal being are you? A vampire
What alcoholic drink are you? A cocktail (as opposed to, say, beer or vodka)
Anyway, check out this site, they have dozens of fun quizzes and it's one of the best sites for time-suckage I've come across!
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Here is the back cover blurb:
"The Dowager Viscountess Ransome simply must find something to fill the endless days of summer. So she invites a party of young people to her estate and sits back to watch the sparks fly. The guests look forward to a respite in the idyllic countryside. But instead they find treachery, secrets--and that most inconvenient bother, passion...
"Frederick Parcival wants to win over wealthy Lady Diana, but the young widow can't take her eyes off her long-lost first love, Sir Thomas Cole. However, Tom's ambitious mother is determined that he wed Lady Caroline Reid, who would prefer to marry Lord Edward Sutton, who loves Diana's sister, Charlotte, who is intrigued by rakish Roland Kirk-Bedwin. In such a very tangled web, tempers will surely flare--and desire bloom--as what should have been a relaxing holiday turns into anything but..."
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Are there any romance authors who could do this? Nora Roberts, probably; Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz, maybe. I'm sure there must be more, but it's late and I just got back from indulging my once-a-year corndog obsession at the State Fair, so I'm not at my sharpest. I'd love to hear your thoughts. (About branding for romance authors, corndogs, fairs, whatever)
Monday, September 19, 2005
Yes, it is the day you've all been waiting for--September 19, official Talk Like a Pirate Day. Bill kindly sent me this link, http://www.talklikeapirate.com/buzz.html. So break open some rum and enjoy! :)
This reminds me of the very first "real historical" romances I read, way too many years ago--Virginia Henley's The Hawk and the Dove. I was in about the eighth or ninth grade, and it was an amazing book. Set at the court of Elizabeth I, the heroine had the fabulous name of Sabre Wilde. She had long red hair and was very "feisty," always pitching fits and pulling pranks with the courtiers. I think she was out for revenge against the hero, but I can't remember why exactly. And the also wonderfully-named hero, Captain Shane Hawkhurst, was--what else? A pirate! Or privateer maybe, but it's all good. I LOVED it. Maybe I'll reread it in honor of this momentous day. :)
On the Risky Regency blog, I've also posted a list of some other great "pirate romance" titles. Check it out, or walk the plank!
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
The point is, I'm in need of some good news. Some happy thoughts. Like--Halloween, my #1 favorite holiday of all, is only a month and half away! I've started planning my costume. And I found a great pair of boots that actually fit, and they're just waiting for cooler weather. Just like me.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Anyway, the point today is a post he made a couple of days ago that I liked a lot, where he confesses that he has had to give up on reading Joyce's Ulysses. Bloom has gotten the best of him. My personal literary bete noire is Moby Dick. I have never, ever been able to get more than about 50 pages into that thing. There. I've said it. Maybe it's because I first read it in high school, a place that can suck the life out of the best books (if I didn't already love Austen by the time senior AP English rolled around, that reading of Pride and Prejudice would never have captured me). I kept falling asleep every time I started MD, but did get a 97% on the test after reading the Cliff's Notes. I'm not proud of this, but honestly, what is the point of counting how many times "whiteness" is mentioned?
I've always been a voracious reader, and will read almost anything and find SOMETHING to enjoy in it. After high school, I found a new appreciation for Hawthorne, even, which I hated in the 11th grade. I love Russian literature (it's the morbid in me, I guess), Middlemarch, Shakespeare, Proust, Flaubert, even Thomas Pynchon. Well, Mason and Dixon, anyway. Whatever. But MD--nope. It's my Ulysses, I guess. What's yours?
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
Bill sent me a link to a wondrous-sounding new show coming on this fall, Skating With the Stars (http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,17311,00html?news) As you know if you've read this blog before, I was obsessed with Dancing With the Stars--the cheesy costumes, the bright, glittery lights, the human drama!!! AND a dance-off is coming on Sept. 20, be ready to vote and make your voice heard. Skating With the Stars should be even better, aside from the threat of dire injury from a skate blade to the head during a poorly executed spin. Can't wait. Other than that, I'm not so fired up about the new season. Most of the shows either appear to be forensic/cop dramas (which I'm not much into) or paranormal things. Usually paranormal-type shows get hopelessly cornball on TV, and NOT in the good way Dancing With the Stars was. Though I have to say that Supernatural show on WB (the one with the dude who played Dean on Gilmore Girls) scared the s*** out of me just from the commercial. That's one I think I'd better miss.
I'll just have to stick with the tried-and-true from last season. Lost, House, Arrested Development, and my old guilty pleasure Gilmore Girls. Will the raft sink? What's in the pit? Will Luke marry Lorelai? It's all a great mystery.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Some of my favorites were ELIZABETH (Puritan girl), NICOLE (girl on the Titanic), EMILY (Gilded Age New York girl), and VICTORIA (girl at the Alamo). All of these women, despite their widely varied settings, faced some of the same problems--she was restless, smart (purportedly), and stuck in some kind of restrictive situation. She was always faced with 2 suitors, one who wanted her to stay with the traditional roles her background offers, the other who encourages her to break free. Guess which she chooses (BTW, if you look at the cover, the "right" suitor is always on the righthand side). Anyway, I really loved these books and collected them obsessively, but I lost them in a move. In recent years, I've been trying to rebuild my collection via Ebay and library booksales. (I still need a copy of the HTF KATHLEEN, btw, if you happen to see one around!). I guess I liked the idea that you could stand up for yourself, follow your own dreams and talents, and be more succeseful and happy than you could imagine. You could also find your very own hunky cowboy/doctor/American patriot militiaman/Creole pirate.
I've felt very much in need of some comfort in the last few days, and pulled a couple of these books off the shelf. It was fun to pretend to be 12 again for a little while, even if the books were not, er, quite as erudite and well-written as I remembered. I might even tackle a Cartland book next. Or maybe not. :)
Monday, September 05, 2005
At the radio station where I work, we have been getting announcements of various charitable opportunities to aid Katrina victims. Most of them are local and of limited time, but there are a couple I wanted to share. The Lone Star Steakhouse chain is donating 100% of its proceeds from all its restaurants today (Labor Day) to the Red Cross. And the ASPCA is needing donations for both expeditions to rescue stranded pets and to set up shelters where they can be reunited with their owners. I adore my pets, and know it must be horrible to be parted from furry friends on top of everything else. Help them out if you can by going to their website.
That's it for today! :)
Saturday, September 03, 2005
"Lady Godiva Chocolate Martini"
2 ounces Godiva Dark Chocolate liquer
2 ounces Creme de Cacao
1 ounce half and half
2 ounces freezing Goldenbarr Chocolate vodka
1 tbsp shaved white chocolate
2 well-chilled martni glasses
Combine Godiva, Creme de Cacao, and vodka in a shaker half full of cracked ice
Shake for one full minute
Add half anf half and gently swirl
Strain into glasses
Top with shaved chocolate
"Godiva Chocolate Martini"
1 1/2 shots Godiva chocolate liquer
1 1/2 shots Creme de Cacao
1/2 shot vodka
2 1/2 shots half and half
Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and pour into chilled glass
"Chocolate Martini" (this one skips the half and half, which actually sounds better to me)
2 ounces chocolate liquer
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce grated chocolate
Shake with ice to mix and chill. Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with chocolate. Makes 1 serving.
Mint Patty Martini (an intriguing variation)
2 ounces freezing Absolut Pepar vodka
2 ounces White Creme de Menthe
1 tbsp Peppermint Schnapps
1 ounce Godiva Chocolate Liquer
1 Starlight mint
2 chilled glasses
Add vodka, creme de menthe, and starlight mint to a shaker half full of ice and shake
Give 10 good shakes, add chocolate liquer and give another 15 shakes. Strain cocktail into glasses. Top each glass with half the Peppermint Schnapps. (I liek these instructions--they have such a "Thin Man" air to them!)
Friday, September 02, 2005
I've only been able to visit New Orleans twice in my life, but I was completely enraptured by it. How could I not be? It has so many things I love. A strong, strange, ever-present history; amazing food; glorious jazz; eccentric people; ghost-y, creepy things; and just a generally bizarre, weird, crazy-beautiful vibe. It's--special. Like no place else. That's all. Like so many others, I watch the news now in stunned, saddened disbelief and a rising anger. I have a hard time finding words to articulate these feelings, but I thought the last paragraph of this article summed it up well.
"I expect they, too, will return, and that life in New Orleans will go on, with all its precariousness and sense of fragility and, yes, with all its relish for the moment. That relish, by the way, which arose from the constant awareness of precisely such disasters as we are experiencing today, accounts for much of what gives the people of that city their reckless abandon, their devil-may-care attitude, and their zest for life. Rebuilding after Katrina will be just the next in a long series of events in which that spirit has been manifested."
To send aid, contact the American Red Cross at 800-HELP NOW; or the Hurricane Katrina Displacement Residents Fund, 877-387-6126.
Kay has reminded me of something we enjoyed back in high school, a made-for-TV movie that recalls the Cartland movies for sheer cornball delightfulness--HAREM. It stars Nancy Travis as a free-spirited American-Englishwoman, in about 1905ish. She goes to some unspecified Middle Eastern country with her father (some kind of scholar or collector) and her stuffy Brit fiance played by Julian Sands (of the wonderful bare-butt scene in Room With a View--distinctly less fun here). There she goes off into the desert on some harebrained adventure, even though (of course) everyone warns her not to. Predictably, she's captured by a gang of rebels.
The main rebel is played by an actor whose name escapes me, but he was in Jewel in the Crown. Anyway, this guy sells our heroine into the sultan's harem. Sultan is played by Omar Sharif (FAR from Dr. Zhivago). There are lots of scenes of gorgeous, pseudo-Moorish architecture, elaborate costumes, a eunuch or two, lots of sensual baths with floating rose petals, and the sultan's evil #1 wife, played by Ava Gardner (yes! Ava Gardner).
Then the plot thickens. Our hero goes to stuffy Brit fiance and offers to rescue heroine (who HE sold in the first place!) from the sultan--for a price. Evidently, it's pricey being a dashing revolutinary out to bring down Dr. Zhivago's corrupt regime. He pretends to be a eunuch, sneaks into the harem, and much scheming and double-crossing occurs. They fall in love (after a lot of arguing and bickering--hey, love is tough, especially when you start out a relationship by, er, selling your love object into slavery). She almost gets killed after being set up by Ava Gardner, HE almost gets killed, there's a daring raid on the palace... Oh, you get the picture.
Anyway, I LOVED this movie! Loved it. I don't know if it's available out there anywhere, but if you can find it it's a hoot.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Our heroine, an orphan with just her aunt for a guardian, has been raised in a convent all her life, and is astonishingly naive--even for a BC heroine. Hard to believe, I know. Her aunt comes to fetch her when she's 18 and takes her off to lead the glamorous life in Monte Carlo, but auntie has a secret agenda (of course). She's made all her moola by running a high-priced brothel in Paris under an assumed name and a disguise that seems to consist only of a red wig. She's also been scheming all these years to get revenge on the heroine's father, some kind of prince, I think (played by Captain Von Trapp, er, Christopher Plummer). She thinks he seduced and abandoned her sister, heroine's mother, before heroine was born, leaving her to die alone and sad in childbirth. The mother only left heroine a fabulous black pearl necklace ( a gift from heroine's father) to remember her by. And the aunt will now use the heroine (why can't I remember her name??? It's something vaguely faux-French) to get that revenge.
The hero is played by the same absurdly handsome-but-wooden actor from HoH. There's also a wicked Turkish pasha who lusts for the heroine and kidnaps her so she can be rescued by the hero (after nearly falling off a window ledge in her floofy evening gown), a brazen widow after the hero (hey! I think it's the same brazen widow from HoH, only with black hair instead of a weird orangey-blond), a blackmailer or 2, sinister servants, and, of course, Gothic goings-on on stormy nights. I could go on, but why bother? I don't think I have the energy. You just have to check it out for yourself! The Monte Carlo settings are really glitteringly gorgeous, and the costumes and hairstyles unbeliveably poofy (you can tell where my top concerns are in a movie, right? Costumes and good-looking actors, natch). I wish I had an excuse to wear the heroine's gray chiffon ballgown, or her lacy wedding gown at the end. Ooops---did I give away the ending?? :) Happy watching!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
OK, yesterday I told you all about Duel of Hearts, my personal fave of the Cartland movies. Today the subject is Hazard of Hearts, which in some ways is even cheesier fare. Although, sadly, Cara didn't like it. :) It stars Helena Bonham-Carter as our heroine Serena She looks about 16 but is just as sulky as ever. Her father gambles his estate and his daughter away to a nasty old villain (stop me if you've heard this before). The villain in turn, who has lusted for Serena for a long time (yuck) then turns around and stupidly loses her to our hero, a very handsome man with sadly wooden acting skills (but who really cares--he looks fab in a cravat). But before our hero can tell the idiotic father the good news, father kills himself. Alas alack.
So Helena--oops, Serena--finds herself transported to the hero's castle in Cornwall, which is under the dominion of his villainous mother, the deliciously eeeevil Diana Rigg. Mother runs a gaming hell in her drawing room to fuel her gambling addiction, and also leads up a group of smugglers. I'm not entirely sure why. Fun and profit, I guess, and also to give our heroine an excuse to be chased through twisty, scary underground tunnels. The evil villain of the first act turns up at the gaming hell, of course, and there's a scheming widow out to get the hero for herself, plus a lamebrained subplot involving the hero's father. And, as in DoH, there are Gothic goings-on on stormy nights, sinister servants, lots of chases and double-crosses. You get the idea.
The costumes aren't quite as great as in DoH--too many ruffles and flowers for my taste. But they ARE pretty, especially for a very young heroine, and the Cornwall setting is stunning. Lots of fun, especially if you've had a chocolatini or 2 while watching. Cheers!
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I'll start with Duel of Hearts, since it's the only one available on VHS (or any format) right now. (The other two I have on terrible recordings I made myself from the TV when I was in high school). The no-funski reviewer on Amazon calls it "A rather jarring mix of period drama, trashy romance, and all-star blockbuster, Duel of Hearts is a swashbuckling, bodice-ripping tale of slightly dubious quality." Well--yeah. That's the beauty of it all. In this story, Lady Caroline Faye (wish that was MY name) is in love with the also fabulously-named Lord Vane Brecon, but he doesn't know who she is, because they meet in the woods when she was fleeing from a pushy suitor and he's running from--oh, never mind. She finds out he's in danger from a murderous, jealous cousin (Michael York, chewing the scenery like no one's business), and comes up with a harebrained scheme to get a job as his mother's companion so she can live in his castle and, I dunno, protect him or warn him or whatever. But she still wears her fashionable gowns and hats, and her jewels, too. And no one suspects she (gasp!) might not be who she says she is. Even all his party guests in from London don't recognize her, even though she's supposedly the Diamond of the Season. Whatever. Anyway, there is scheming, madness, lots of Gothic goings-on during storms, a circus troupe, sinister servants, a masked ball, and absolutely beautiful, slightly accurate costumes. She has one white silk ball gown I lust for. That's one thing all the movies have in common--top-notch production values, and great settings in real English country houses.
I also am dying to tell you all about Hazard of Hearts and Ghost in Monte Carlo (which has perhaps the most labyrinthine plot of the 3), but I've already rambled on too long. Tomorrow--Hazard of Hearts. :)
Monday, August 29, 2005
Megan Frampton (of the Risky Regencies blog, and also of the fabulous vintage wardrobe I've been scheming to go to New York and steal) let me know that a great review of LADY MIDNIGHT was posted on the All About Romance site!!! (http://www,allaboutromance.com, and click on New Reviews). :)
Saturday, August 27, 2005
So, whaddya think? Should authors review other authors' books? Would we even want to?
Friday, August 26, 2005
1) Have a great product
2) Figure out your message points and what makes your brand unique
3) Grab their emotions
4) Build all aspects of your brand equally
5) Be consistent in marketing your brand
6) Deliver on your brand
7) Always continue to evaluate, build, and refine your brand
Thursday, August 25, 2005
First of all, we're supposed to find out what the underlying theme of all our work is. I took at look at my own books and realized that, despite the variety of settings and characters (artists, scholars, antiquarians, keepers of gaming hells, fake governesses, whatever), they all DID have a theme. And that is that love--real love--can make you a better person. It can set you free from the chains of the past and build a better life for the future. My characters aren't perfect people, they've made lots of mistakes. But love shows them a better way in the end.
Okay, so now I have my theme. I have what makes an "Amanda McCabe" book. Love can set you free. Now I have to develop a "public persona." Hmm, this will be a bit trickier, considering that I only go out in public as an author a few times a year! (Though I guess, now that I think about it, that this blog is a public space. Double hmm). I will just have to consult the celebrity bible, People magazine. (I only read it for the pictures, honest!). It's chock full of personas. I do know I would rather be a Gwyneth Paltrow/Emmy Rossum/Anne Hathaway type than, say, J. Lo (but talk about branding!). Aside from that tall, flowy hair thing--that just ain't gonna work for this, er, petite gal. But the "real actress"/classy/pseudo-European thing, that's what I mean. Obviously, this branding idea will take some practice, and also a lot more thought. I'll let you know how it goes.
I'd also love to hear how anyone else would go about "branding" their work and themselves. Writer or not, I'm sure it would be useful for just about anyone. :)
Monday, August 22, 2005
30 Things Guys Want Girls to Know (though 30 seems pretty long--I'm just going to list some of my favorites)
We're not as perverted as you think we are
No matter what YOU say, your ex-boyfriend is a loser (amen to that, brother)
Don't argue with us when we call you beautiful
Don't treat us like crap--what goes around comes around (right back atcha, dude)
We know you're pretty, that's one of the reasons we're going out with you
Don't go into detail about your period. It scares us. (Hey, it scares me, too!!)
When we tell you that you're not fat, believe us
We absolutely do not care about the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, 98 Degrees, ot what any other guy looks like (not even Orlando???)
Just cause you think you're always right, doesn't mean that you don't have to apologize when you do something wrong
You expect us to say and do sweet things for you, but it would be nice if you did the same every once in a while. We like to know you love us
We can't always be spontaneous, so try to help us make the plans sometimes
Don't ask us to beat up another guy for you, cause you might get what you wish for (Uh--okay. Gotcha there)
Never kick us in the nuts "just to see what we would say"--that's just mean (Eeeek!)
Pamela Anderson's boobs aren't fake anymore, but we like yours better anyway (Awww!)
Size doesn't mattter, except to idiots who don't want a relationship
Always remember--the way to a guy's heart is through his stomach, and maybe--oh, nevermind
We know you're not always right, but we'll pretend like you are anyway
(Bottom line here--it appears that dating doesn't change much, whether you're 13 or 30. Scary, huh?)
Sunday, August 21, 2005
BTW, I'm on a blog with Cara King, Megan Frampton, Janet Mullany, and Elena Greene titled Risky Regencies (http://riskyregencies.blogspot.com), we're just getting started with the fun, so come and visit us when you get a chance!!!
Now it's back to cleaning the house, and getting ready for work tomorrow. Sigh. Why do vacations have to end anyway? Hopefully I'll have something funny to post here tomorrow to start the week.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
See you next week!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
1) Emma Woodhouse
8) Catherine Morland
9) Heir At Law
11) A snug farmhouse
12) Gowland's Lotion
13) M and A
15) The Laconia
And don't forget I'll be in the chat room at The Mystic Castle tonight, 8:00 CST. Drop in if you have a minute! :)
Monday, August 08, 2005
Also, tomorrow night at 8:00 CST I'll be doing a chat at The Mystic Castle (http://www.themysticcastle.com). Stop by if you have a minute--I hate being the only one at these things, then I have to chat with myself!
Sunday, August 07, 2005
1) Which of JA's heroines had lived in the world 21 years with little to distress or vex her?
2) Name Mr. Rushworth's country house.
3) Which card game did Mrs. Jennings arrange for old friends while Marianne awaited word from Willoughby?
4) What was the maiden name of Mrs. Norris, Mrs. Price, and Lady Bertram?
5) Which bone did little Charles dislocated allowing Anne to avoid meeting Captain Wentworth?
6) Which manufacturer made the mysterious piano sent to Jane Fairfax?
7) What was the name of Colonel Brandon's ward over whose seduction he fought a duel with Willoughby?
8) Which of JA's heroine prefers cricket and baseball to books, particularly books of information?
9) Which play does Tom Bertram 5 times propose to put on at Mansfield before agreeing to Lover's Vows?
10) Which material does Henry Tilney claim to be an authority on?
11) In S&S, what does Edward Ferrars say he takes more pleasure in than a watchtower?
12) To what does Sir Walter Elliott attribute Anne's improved complexion, saying that it had done away with Mrs. Clay's freckles?
13) At the Box Hill picnic, which two letters of the alphabet did Mr. Weston claim were the most perfect?
14) In which town does Mrs. Bennett's sister Mrs. Phillips live?
15) In which frigate, captained by Frederick Wentworth, had Richard Musgrove served?
16) In what capacity did Wickham's father serve old Mr. Darcy?
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Friday, August 05, 2005
In the meantime, I am trying to figure out how to transfer Kelli's photo to this blog, but I keep getting error messages. Stay tuned.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I've heard the All About Romance site (http://www.allaboutromance.com) has more info about the RWA brouhaha, as well as posts of Jennie Crusie's letter, if you want to check it out.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Monday, August 01, 2005
1) Wednesday--the Beau Monde conference. This was very good, interesting workshops, fun people, way more cake than is good for me at the afternoon tea. Luckily for me, since I tend to get nauseous when I have to speak in front of a group, my workshop was early and I had the rest of the day to heckle, er, listen politely at other workshops. The literacy signing was a zoo, as always, but there was a bar (whoever thought of that was GENIUS), and I sold several copies of Lady Midnight. Some even to people I don't know. The Beau Monde soiree was a hoot, also as always, though I discovered that people now expect me to show up in a new Regency gown, since I did so at the last 4 soirees. This year I wore a modern evening dress and let them down. I'll need an extra-fab ensemble next year.
2) Thursday--I started the day right with a workshop on period sword fighting (very helpful for the upcoming duel scene in the Venice book), then went wrong by meeting a friend for a drink at 11. There's a reason people of Irish descent should not drink in the morning. But I was nicely giddy (and way too chatty) for lunch. That night--the National Reader's Choice Awards reception (I won!! And there were flaming desserts and champagne! The perfect party, IMO). Then more drinks with the editor. You see where this is all going, right?
BTW, at this point can I just say I have discovered I am NOT a casino person. The flashing lights, the smoking, the noise of the slots--yuck. But meanwhile, back at the ranch...
3) Friday--a PAN workshop on interpreting (and finding out) your numbers. Way too early in the morning for math (see champagne and flaming desserts above). Then Spotlight on NAL--not enormously helpful, no new news, but the people behind me were having a fascinating conversation on the recent contract travails of one of them. For a nosy-noserson like me, eavesdropping at conferences in usually more fun than whatever "official" is going on. That night--publisher party. Tiny room, very loud, too hot, free drinks. 'Nuff said.
Did you know that one of the bars at the Reno Hilton has a special called Margarita Madness? Four dollar margaritas. Should be called Tool of the Devil Express. Again, that's all I'm saying. But I am glad to know I'm not the only author with a Hello Kitty obsession.
4) Saturday--must have fresh air! So, I go to Tahoe for lunch with some friends. Gorgeous, gorgeous place. It helps me unwind a bit before the Nerves and Nausea Fest that is my pre-Rita ceremony state. I couldn't eat at all at the nice banquet, because then my gown wouldn't fit and I would get sick anyway. But by the time we sit through all those god-awful film clips, and my category actually comes to be called, the boredom has stupified my nausea. I lose (of course), but Sophia Nash, a good friend and very classy lady, wins, so I don't have the heart to be too jealous or snarky.
So, all in all, I'm not sure how much I gained out of it all on a professional level (though it always seems good to get in my publisher's face whenever possible!). But I heard some good news, and also some depressing news. I heard LOTS of gossip, and got to wear lots of evening gowns. This counts for much to a clothes freak such as myself, especially when my everyday world just calls for t-shirts and capris. Mostly, I just had lots of fun catching up with friends and then being able to call it "networking". That makes my CPA happy. And I only lost $1 at the slots. That DEFINITELY counts for something. :)