Monday, July 25, 2005

I'm off!

Well, I'm leaving tomorrow for RWA in Reno! I think I fit everything in the suitcase finally. :) Stop by and say "hi" if you're at the literacy booksigning Wednesday night. I'll keep a "conference log" to post when I get back!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Saturday funnies

I have to run out the door soon to get my hair cut and highlighted (part of the "make Amanda presentable for conference" process), so this will be a short-short blog! Also, I'm not sure what to blog about since no one but me is interested in my angst over fitting everything I need into one suitcase. So I'm going to post links to a couple of funny articles for your weekend pleasure. :)

First, the New Yorker article titled "My Dog is Tom Cruise" (I know, I know, it's mean to kick a guy when he's already been kicked around like a soccer ball, but this article is one of the funniest things I've read in ages!)

And my friend Bill sent me this article from the Guardian website--"Swimmers insured against Loch Ness monster bites". It seems that the participants in a race that involves a couple laps around Loch Ness can be insured for a million pounds against the possibility of a dinosaur taking a chunk out of their legs. Of course, "claimants would have to provide definite proof that the monster was responsible." And Nessie supporters are outraged that anyone would suggest he/she was anything less than gentle and sweet. You can check out the whole story at

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Adventures in fashion

OK, so next week I am off to RWA National in Reno, and that means one thing--I have to get together a respectable wardrobe before Tuesday. Despite my inordinate love of costumes and fancy gowns, my everyday needs are simple. I work at a radio station, where no one sees me but the other people who work there (nary a one a fashion plate), so in the summer I need shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops. At home, writing, I need drawstring pants and (again) t-shirts. But National is different. There are editors, agents, other authors there. I already feel like a tongue-tied fool while I'm there, anyway, I don't want to look like one, too!!! So I have to dig up skirts, heels, earrings, makeup (REAL makeup, not the lipgloss and mascara that usually passes for makeup in my everyday world). Not to mention purses, stockings, necklaces, all those fun things. Oh my.

To make things more complicated this year, I am up for a Rita, which means I might, conceivably, maybe, have to show my evening gown on stage in front of everyone. What if it's the wrong dress??? What if it looks horrible on me??? I'm freakin'. I did buy a dress, a great strapless number in black and white chiffon with a floaty skirt that I thought looked sort of Audrey Hepburn-ish (my # 1 criteria in evening wear). Then a friend of mine said she was wearing a vintage gown, and I started thinking that sounded cool. I have a gown that belonged to my gorgeous, stylish aunt in the '50s, a very Dior number in black velvet and taffeta with a crinoline skirt and sash. I haven't tried on this gown since I was about 12, but, hey, hope springs eternal. I got it out of the closet, where it lives cozily pazked in a garment bag, and tried it on.

Well, I'm sure you can imagine the rest. An I Love Lucy farce ensued. The zipper went halfway up my back and stuck, the fabric of the tiny-tiny bodice two inches apart. Not even a body shaper could help, I had to face the awful truth. But when I tried to unzip it and put it away, the zipper (circa 1953) was not going to move. Nada. I was stuck in this velvet, weighs-a-ton gown! And no way did I want to rip it. My dogs were barking at my frantic jumping-up-and-down motions, which was no help, let me tell you. I finally managed to wriggle it down, but it was a near thing. I almost had to live in it forever.

Needless to say, I won't be wearing vintage at the awards ceremony. Maybe next year, if I can figure out how to get back to my 12 year old dimensions. Maybe not.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Why can't Tuesday be Friday?

OK, I have now hit page 250 on the Venice book! Yippee! That always feels like a milestone, somehow, like I'm on the downhill slide and the end is in sight. Only now I have to pause in the writing to do a bit of research for the last half (if you know anything about Renaissance swordplay or Greek fire, let me know!).

Anyway, here is a bit where our heroine and hero, Julietta and Marc, arrive at a Carnival ball:

The Piazza San Marco was glorious in its festivities, ringed thickly on all sides by torches casting their glittering red-gold light on the equally bright throngs of revelers. Everyone was masked, clad in everything from plain black bautas to elaborate costumes of jeweled silks and gauzes. They swirled in the patterns of a giant, wild volte, faces of gold, silver, and ivory-white whirling past in a dizzying cavalcade. The tune rose faster and faster, ever more frantic, as the dancers called out "La volte!" and the men swung the women high in the air. Acrobats and players clad in tight, bright, beribboned garments gamboled at the edges of the dance, tumbling, miming, loud with bells and rattles.

Julietta took it all in, standing in the shadows, holding onto Marc's arm as the grand pageant played out before her, like a scene from some pagan fresco. It was all so--so wondrous. An enchanted dream. She had been part of Carnival before, of course. If a person lived in Venice, they could hardly avoid it. But usually she stayed closer to her home, dancing with her neighbors in her own calle. She seldom attended grand events such as this.

Especially not in the company of such an escort. Julietta glanced up at Marc, studying him in the torchlight. His face was expressionless, hidden beneath the silver mask, yet she could tell he watched the crowd intently. The muscles in his arm were tense and coiled beneath her arm.

As if he sensed her regard, he turned to her, a smile hovering at the corners of his sculpted lips. He leaned down to murmur in her ear, "It is like something out of Ovid, is it not? The pagan gods celebrating the feast of their gods."

Julietta smiled in return. "That is the sort of thing I was thinking," she said. Just then, a couple danced past disguised as Apollo and Aphrodite in swirling white and purple draperies. "Perhaps that is an even more apropos comparison than we thought, Signor Velazquez."

"Oh, come now. You can call me Marc, can you not? For this one night."

"I--suppose so," she murmured.

He leaned even closer, until she felt a cool, gentle breath of air stir the curls at her temple, and she shivered. "I suppose so--Marc," he prompted.

Against her very will, her desire to remain cool and aloof, safe, she swayed toward him. "I suppose so, Marc. Just for tonight."

He chuckled. "Va bene." He straightened the arm she held, until his hand caught hers and their fingers entwined. His were roughened, a bit callused, and she was again reminded that beneath his rich velvets he was a sailor, a man of the sea and wind. A man who was less and yet more than he appeared.

A man who suited this night of masks.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I know I've been quiet the last couple of days, but I have a good excuse--I, like 90% of the population, was absorbed in reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Then I spent the rest of the weekend curled in fetal position on the floor of my bedroom sobbing at the ending. Even now I feel my lower lip wobble a bit when I think about it! Ah--good times. :)

But I made up for it today, hitting the 250 page mark on my Venice book, which means I am on the downhill slide! Yay! New excerpt tomorrow. Maybe. If I can just get over that damn Potter book.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mega-cheesy, I know, but hey, it's Friday Posted by Picasa

To Edmond Memorial High's AP European History crowd

I guess that would mean you, Kay. :) I was sent a link to Tod Goldberg's blog today, This had me ROFLMAO! The latest post, about the Potter mania, was great, but it was the previous 2 that got me. In an imagined smackdown between Mark Sarvas and Steve Wasserman (funny enough in its own right), I read some words I would never have thought to hear--that Eugen Weber is "hella pissed" and "he ain't no hollaback girl." Whaaat??? And the previous post before that only gets better.

Now, anyone who was in Mrs. Harris's AP European history class in 199? will remember Eugen very well indeed, and I must agree that he ain't no hollaback girl. But I thought he was surely dead by now. You learn something new every day.

Since I'm at work right now, I can't actually post the new Gerald Butler pic I downloaded, but I will later. Promise. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Bastille Day!

Hope you're celebrating with some good champagne and an Edith Piaf CD, like I am! I may even drag out my beret and some Rimbaud poetry and make a night of it. Hopefully it will not end up like that beatnik scene in Funny Face. :)

Got an email notice from Barnes and Noble that my pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter is packed and ready to ship, yippee!!! It had darn well better arrive on Saturday as promised, or I'll have to go to the bookstore and knock over some Hogwarts jersey, black-framed glasses-wearing kid so I can steal THEIR copy.

A bientot!

Imagining I'm in Paris... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Elves among us

I read a very interesting article in the NY Times today, titled "Building in Iceland? Better Clear It With the Elves First." Apparently, the existence of elves in Iceland, Reykjavik in particular (a hotbed of elf activity), is well-known, or at least open for debate. One woman is quoted as saying "If you ask people if they believe in elves, they will say yes and no. If they say yes, maybe they don't, and if they say no maybe they do." Clear as mud, no? She then goes on to tell us about an elf who lives in a rock in her garden, a woman elf who dresses in "1930's national costume."

The article relates a few incidents where elves thwarted road work near their rock homes, making necessary the use of "elf communicators" to arbitrate, and related beliefs in spirits and the predictive powers of dreams. Bjork is even quoted, though not, as you would probably expect, with enormous coherence.

Now, I'm not trying to make fun of Icelanders here, far from it. I loved this article. I think our daily modern lives are sadly deprived of magic and wonder, and I would love to recapture some of that. Isn't that why so many of us write, to transcend, to imagine? I've never been to Iceland, or even thought about it much, but now I am quite keen to check it out one day. I like Bjork, and I've never seen an elf. If there ever WAS one in my own garden, I'm pretty sure my poodle would eat it, national costume and all.

Whaddya mean I have to live in Iceland??? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

August books

Got my August RT today, and I have to say my "to be bought" list for August looks a bit sparse. Good thing I have approximately 50,000 books already in my TBR pile. This is what I plan to buy:

Susan Carroll's The Courtesan (really, really looking forward to this one!)
Lynn Kerstan's Dangerous Passions
Judith Laik's The Lady in Question
Victoria Hinshaw's Least Likely Lovers (these last 2 from Zebra's almost-last batch of Regencies, sadly)
They also reviewed Ashley Gardener's Sudbury School Murders, but I think I already have that one.

And, since I've been a slacker about posting Orlando pics, here's a new one. Just because I feel like it. :)

Very deep thoughts Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday funnies

Since I subjected everyone to my rants over the outcome of DWTS yesterday, I thought I'd better keep things light today. :) The Washington Post recently published their winning submissions in the annual Neologism Contest. These are some of my favorites:

Coffee (n.)-the person upon whom one coughs
Flabbergasted (adj.)-appalled over how much weight you have gained
Abdicate (v.)-to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach
Esplanade (v.)-to attempt an explanation while drunk
Willy-nilly (adj.)-impotent
Negligent (adj.)-describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown
Testicle (n.)-a humorous question on an exam
Rectitude (n.)-the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists
Pokemon (n.)-a Rastafarian proctologist
Oyster (n.)-a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish-isms

Friday, July 08, 2005


What am I going to do on Wednesdays without Dancing With the Stars??? I'm so sad it's over. My friend Kay and I were discussing the outcome and have come to the conclusion that it was all a network conspiracy! The winner, who BTW was a very bad dancer and a contrived "underdog" story, who was almost always lowest scored and then suddenly got all 10s, just happens to be a soap actress on that very network!!!! Conspiracy, I tell you. :) But I still loved it, and hope they do another version very soon. J. Peterman and his partner (who were robbed!) would make good hosts.

What I just finished reading: Gaelen Foley's One Night of Sin. A great book, very steamy and action-packed! I've wondered through the other Knight Miscellany books how Alec would be redeemed. He was, after all, a bit of a mess (to say the least), but he came together nicely in the end. The heroine, Becky, was enjoyable as well, good without being obnoxiously Virtuous (as heroines can so often be in redemption stories, and where is the fun in that?). Also a very, very nasty villain. I gobbled this one up and can't wait for the next one.

What I'm reading now: The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunne. Another take on the Anne Boleyn story (I'm an utter sucker for Tudor history), it alternates Anne's memoirs (written for her daughter to read some day) and the observations of Lucy, a cook in the royal kitchens. I like the two differing viwepoints but am not sure about the very modern language so far. I've been on such a historical fiction kick lately, since I may tackle a proposal for straight historical fic. myself when the Venice book is done. If there is one thing I've learned from DWTS it is that you have to step out of your comfort zone sometimes if you want to win the very cheesy disco ball trophy. :)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A terrible day

This morning my heart and sympathies are with the people of London, my favorite city in the world. "This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England..."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


To avoid actually writing for as long as possible today, I decided to take an inventory of my desk top. Not an actual cleaning--don't want to get too radical here. Just a look-see to find out what I have. So far:

3 pictures of Orlando taped to the computer
4 sticky notes--there are words written there, but my handwriting is so bad that I'm not sure what they say. I'm sure they're very important, though
3 bills, only 1 overdue
1 pile of receipts
1 Snickers with almonds wrapper
2 notebooks
4 disks, 2 without labels but also very important
1 book on Italian art history
1 Glamour magazine
1 dancing hula girl figurine
2 framed photos
1 cup full of pens, half of which write
1 cup of tea with something suspicious floating on top
2 RITA pins

And, at the moment, 1 black cat who wants to know what's going on here. She loves it when I start muttering to myself and shifting things around.

Now I guess I'd better pop in a disk (one that has a label) and get to work.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Hope you all had a good Fourth! I went to family cookout, where my dad made his famous margaritas and (I admit it) we watched TV and made fun of Nick and Jessica's "tour of duty." All in all, a very productive day. :) Also hope you liked the pic of my cousins and me on a Fourth umpteen years ago. My aunt was very into the do-it-yourself bowl haircut back then, but luckily for me my mom went for the easier pig-tale option.

And here is another excerpt from the Venetian WIP! The first meeting of the heroine/hero.

The bell on the shop door jangled, announcing their first patron of the day. Julietta took a deep breath of sweetly perfumed air, trying to will color into her pale cheeks, and painted a bright smile on her lips before turning to greet the newcomer. "Buon giorno! Welcome to..."

But polite words faded from her tongue when she came face to face with her patron. This was not a golden-haired courtesan or a veiled matron, here in search of a special perfume or lotion, or something else, something darker, something poured secretly behind the counter. This was a man. And what a man indeed.

He was tall, taller even than her own frame, with powerful shoulders outlined by a fine doublet of dark red velvet, closely cut and unadorned by lace or embroidery. A shirt of cream-colored silk, soft and with the sheen of springtim clouds, peeked through the jagged slashings of the sleeves and the silk closures at the front of the doublet, rising up to a small frill framing a strong, sun-browned throat, a vee of smooth bronze chest.

Julietta's gaze moved inexorably, unwillingly downward, to plain black hose and Spanish leather shoes buckled with shining gold. No elaborate codpieces, no gaudy striped hose. No popinjay, him. Yet not a man unaccoustomed to luxury, either. His face was half cast in shadow by the brim of his red velvet cap, but she could see the large blood-colored ruby clasped in that cap, the teardrop pearl that dangled from his left earlobe. No--not unaccustomed to luxury at all.

Glossy, dark brown hair, streaked with the gold of the sun, fell in thick waves from beneath the cap, brushing his wide shoulders. And his lower face could be glimpsed, a strong jaw, close shaven, darkened by the sun, set off by the glistening white of the pearl. Not a soft merchant, then, or a banker who spent his days softly indoors. Not a churchman, assuredly, yet not a poor sialor or shipmaker from the Arsenal.

A man of power, certainly, of wealth and fine looks. Not a man who drenched himself in cologne, either; Julietta's sensitive nose told her that, even across the length of the shop. He smelled only of fresh, salty air, faintly lemony, clean. What would such a manm need from her shop?

Ah, yes--of course. A gift for a lady. And here she stood, staring at him like some lackwit, gawking at his shoulders and chest and lovely hair like some alleyway putta would.

Julietta straightened herself to her full height, reacching up to check the fall of her veil. "Buon giorno, signor," she said agin, dropping a small curtsy.

"Buon giorno, madonnna," he answered. His voice was deeper than she expected, rougher, with a hint of some strange foreign accent. Not a Venetian, then, or even an Italian. "I feared you would not yet be open for custom."

"We are always open for such eager patrons, signor," Julietta said, touching the tip of her tongue to suddenly dry lips. There was something strange about this man's voice, something that seemed to reach out and wrap itself around her with misty, enticing caresses. Something about his scent...

Stay tuned for more!!! :)

Monday, July 04, 2005