Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Barbara Cartland movies 2

Speaking of movies (guilty or otherwise) we're having a discussion of the upcoming new Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley at the Risky Regencies blog ( Check it out and let us know what you think!

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

Guilty pleasure?

Well, I noticed that Kelli blogged about a favorite "guilty pleasure" movie of hers (see, so, since I have no idea what to write about tonight on my own, I'll share some of my favorites, too. They are 3 absolutely wonderfully, gloriously cheesy movies made years ago for TNT, based on Barbara Cartland novels. See--just the concept is wonderful for those of us who cherish fine kitsch. They are: A Hazard of Hearts, A Duel of Hearts, and A Ghost in Monte Carlo. (There is also one that stars Hugh Grant--!!!--as a Restoration-era highwayman, but sadly I never saw it and don't know the title. It sounds fabulous).

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

Bragging moment

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,, and click on New Reviews). :)

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

Read an interesting article in the Arts section of the NY Times this morning. It seems there's a new "religion" out there, Pastafarianism, whose central figure is The Flying Spaghetti Monster. The creator of all things. It "resembles human brains" in its tangle of spaghetti (or linguini? There seems to be a schism). I got a big laugh out of this, which was good since work was very boring, and I checked out the website. Check it out. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Well, Tod Goldberg sure had an interesting post on his blog. Go to, and scroll down to (you guessed it!) "The Romance Writers Are Really Fucked Now." I do take exception to that Mary Kay remark--I only use Clinique, thank you very much. :) When I can be bothered to put on makeup at all!

So, whaddya think? Should authors review other authors' books? Would we even want to?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Branding part 2

I found my conference handout book, and the workshop is titled "Discovering Your Author Brand" by Theresa Meyers. Page 163, if you have your book. The recap at LERA was actually more clear and helpful than this handout, but it does help sum things up. These are some of the steps to branding:
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

Me with fellow RITA nominees Rhonda Woodward and Sophia Nash at RWA's infamous awards night (as you can see, I'm so short I had to sit on stage in order to be as tall as them, LOL!) Posted by Picasa

Branding (not the kinky sort, we're professionals here!)

At the LERA meeting last week (which was an RWA conference recap), I heard about a great workshop I missed in Reno. It's all about "branding" your work--you don't want people to look for just your next book by the book's title, you want them to want the new "Author's Name" book, because they love your style, your persona, your voice, whatever. Evidently, one mistake some authors make when they are interviewed is talking about the book itself. They're asked "Tell us about your book", and they answer "There's this heroine (X), and this hero (Y), and they do this and go here..." Yada yada. When what we should do is tie the book to our Brand. I'm not putting it very well, and at the moment I'm too disorganized to find my conference handout book, but I think this idea makes a lot of sense for building a long-term career. Obviously it works well in other areas of entertainment (movies, music, etc).

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

Things Guys Want Girls to Know

Hey everyone! Happy Monday. My 13-year-old cousin sometimes sends me jokes and funny lists. It's been more years than I care to think of since I graduated from high school, but since I like to think I'm still something of a youthful spirit, here's one I thought was pretty funny. :)

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

Home again!

Well, I got back from vacation late last night, and have just started to make a few inroads on the mountain of laundry I brought back! It was wonderful to get away, didn't get as much writing done as I wanted but I did get in a considerable amount of lazing by the pool. And I even did some business by going to the LERA meeting (so I can pretend to be a contributing member of the chapter!), and saw some friends there (hi, Gabi!). Then I took in the Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco in Santa Fe (a MUST for any dance fan, these people are amazingly talented--and the men ain't half-bad looking, either. LOL), saw Turnadot at the Santa Fe Opera, and had the best chocolatini ever at the Stakeout in Taos. The key is vanilla vodka, FYI. And finally got around to reading The Historian during those poolside afternoons. A long book, of course, but a very good one. It was a complete page-turner. And it tells you everything you ever wanted to know about 15th century Balkan monasticism. :)

BTW, I'm on a blog with Cara King, Megan Frampton, Janet Mullany, and Elena Greene titled Risky Regencies (, 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


I'm off for a week's vacation! Since I'll be up in the mountains with if-fy Internet access, I will probably wait until I get back to update the blog. I just want to say a bit thanks to everyone who entered the contest--I ended up giving away more copies than I planned on, but it's worth it to know at least someone reads this blog! :) I'll have to do it again soon.

See you next week!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

JA answers

Well, it seems that despite Kelli's efforts some of her answers were a bit, er, off. LOL. Here are the real answers:

1) Emma Woodhouse
2) Sotherton
3) Whist
4) Ward
5) Collarbone
6) Broadwood
7) Eliza
8) Catherine Morland
9) Heir At Law
10) Muslin
11) A snug farmhouse
12) Gowland's Lotion
13) M and A
14) Meryton
15) The Laconia
16) Steward

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


Well, Kelli says I should promote my books more on this blog, so here goes. :) I'll send an autographed copy of my historical Lady Midnight to anyone who goes to my website ( and tells me what the title of my first Regency is (see under Releases), and the name of my Pug (see under Photos). Deadline is Friday, since I'm going on vacation then.

Also, tomorrow night at 8:00 CST I'll be doing a chat at The Mystic Castle ( 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

JA quiz

Okay, in conjunction with my fab new Pride and Prejudice pic, I found this BBC Mastermind Quiz on Jane Austen's novels on one of my loops. I'm a proud Janeite, but was still only able to answer 8 correctly. Let me know how you do! I'll post answers soon. :)

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

My cherished new photo--thanks, Kells! I say, don't Orlando and I look fetching together? :) Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 05, 2005

Call for Help

As many of you in romance-land have heard, author Marianne Mancusi came back from Reno to horrifying news--her house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. If you'd like to help out, you can go to to find out how.

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

Almost Friday

In my quest to forget the abysmal awards ceremony and focus on the positive of the conference (it really was a very good conference, overall, and I had terrific fun almost all the time!), I've posted a pic of my editor and myself at the NRCA reception, complete with trophies and plaques. I do like trophies. :) I've also been doing a bit of writing, and started reading a new book that looks like it has some terrific potential--A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis by David Friedman.

I've heard the All About Romance site ( has more info about the RWA brouhaha, as well as posts of Jennie Crusie's letter, if you want to check it out.

My editor (Anne Bohner) and me at the NRCA reception! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I'm still trying to get over the post-conference doldrums, as well as get caught up on sleep, do some writing, and deal with a sick Puggy, so this will be a short post. :) For your reading pleasure, here's a link to Nora Robert's letter concerning her reasons for backing out of MCing that hilariously, outrageously inappropriate awards ceremony Saturday night. I just wish the rest of us had been given just a nanosecond of warning, too. I might have fled, despite the fact that I was a finalist. As it was, my liberal-Democrat butt was twitching in its seat.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Reno redux

So, I'm back from RWA in Reno. Or at least my body is back. My mind is still in that stunned, post-conference limbo where I really, really want a nap but it still seems like I ought to be running to another meeting! In a nutshell, here's Amanda's Conference Experience:

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. :)