Thursday, September 29, 2005

Costume madness 1

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

Almost October

OK, I know I'm getting ahead of myself a bit, but it's almost October!!! This is my favorite month, with the crisp, cool air, the changing leaves, the piles of school supplies and Halloween candy in the stores. And Halloween is my favorite holiday. No presents to buy, no cards to send, no turkeys and pumpkin pies to cook (not that I've ever actually cooked Thanksgiving dinner--I'm just saying). There are just costumes, scary things, and lots and lots of chocolate! What is not to love?

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

Gone fishing (but only at another blog)

Today is Monday, my posting day at Risky Regencies (, so since I don't have enough imagination to do TWO posts, I'll be back here tomorrow. :)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Quiz mania

I was supposed to finish up my WIP today (the Venetian book that won't die), but instead I went to and took a bunch of quizzes to help me on my path to self-realization. (Bad Amanda, bad!) Here were some of my results:

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

New cover

I got the cover for my January book, A TANGLED WEB, today! It's always such an exciting, suspenseful moment before ripping into that thin envelope that you just know contains a cover flat. And it's a very pretty cover, despite my bad scan and the fact that this scene NEVER takes place in the book. :) But it is also bittersweet, because this is my last trad Regency, probably one of the last trad Regencies ever, and this makes me feel so sad and nostalgic. Tomorrow I will try to make a list of some of my all-time favorite Regencies. At least I know they will always be on my keeper shelf.

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..."

A Tangled Web cover Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

One hand clapping, or is a book with no name still a book?

So, Bill sent me a link to an article that seems to tie back into the discussion I had about branding not too long ago. Here is the link( It seems that Tom Wolfe's publishers are going to release his next book with no title at all, just his name writ large on the cover. The gist appears to be that he is a brand unto himself now, his books will be so well-recognized that we don't need any clue as to what they might be about (not that, say, A Man In Full did much of that anyway). Very interesting. Branding spreads. :)

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

Shiver me timbers!

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, 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

Mid-week blues

So, I've been feeling a bit down lately, watching too much news, reading too many on-line articles, that sort of thing. And then yesterday I saw a statistic that said, with publishing in the dismal state it's in, a person has a 1 in 70,000 chance of getting published. I then took that to mean surely a person has a 1 in 70,000 chance of being RE-published, and that sent me into a new funk. What's a girl to do? Go to the movies, of course. So I saw The Constant Gardener. Not a good choice for a pick-me-up, you might say? And you would be right. But it was encouraging, because it was a GOOD movie. A very good movie, after a summer of mostly not-so-great flicks (though I did enjoy Batman Begins very much, and The Wedding Crashers. And March of the Penguins). Not exactly an upper, as can be predicted with most Ralph Fiennes movies, aside from the WTF? moment that was Maid in Manhattan. That one was certainly hilarious, though perhaps not in the way it was meant to be. :)

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

Romantic comedies

There's this blog I like to go to, just because it's usually quite entertaining and full of stuff I can relate to, Living the Romantic Comedy (, "In which Billy Mernit, author of "Writing the Romantic Comedy", explores the relationship between romance portrayed in the movies and experienced in so-called real life." Because I often feel like I'm trapped in some never-ending romantic comedy that never really gets romantic or funny. Sort of like many of the movies I find myself sitting through, LOL.

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


I posted on Risky Regencies today (, about travel for fun and research. Check it out! There is also a good discussion going on there about favorite lesser-known museums (I mentioned 2 great ones in England--Finchcocks and the Handel House). I'd love to hear about more, if you have any good ones. :)

Friday, September 09, 2005

TV Friday

Short blog today, as I get ready for the weekend! I have to get ready to go to my friend Sheila's wedding this evening, which I'm really looking forward to. Any opportunity for wedding cake is a good time, IMO. :)

Bill sent me a link to a wondrous-sounding new show coming on this fall, Skating With the Stars (,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

Guilty pleasure books?

Over on the Risky Regencies blog, there's a post about favorite "comfort reads" people go back to over and over again. I posted about some very old favorites of mine, and I started thinking maybe they count as "guilty pleasures" of a sort. I started reading them in about the 6th or 7th grade, a line of YA historical romances called "Sunfire Romances". They were my first intro to romance, along with Cartland and Heyer, but these were different from those. They dealt with young women in historical periods (they even had some vague historical detail sometimes), but these girls were very modern in their attitudes and ambitions.

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

Misc. Monday

I have a hodgepodge of news for you today! (I'm also supposed to be working, so it will be short!). First, the fun stuff: Janet Mullany and Elena Greene (two of my fellow Risky Regency bloggers) both got great reviews of their new releases at the Rakehell site. Cybil Solyn also has an excellent article there about the sad demise of the Regency genre. Check it out--

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

Chocolatini Saturday

Since I'm going to be busy for the rest of the weekend, I thought I'd help you get your holiday weekend started right with a few chocolatini recipes I discovered. I haven't tried all of them yet, but they all sound yummy. :)

"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!)

Enjoy! :)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Evening thoughts

I don't usually post twice in one day--mostly because I'm not creative enough to devise more than one topic. But I read an article in the NY Times that I found very moving--"A Sad Day, Too, For Architecture." The author, who himself owns a restored, West Indian-style 1826 plantation house in New Orleans' Ninth Ward ( now likely destroyed), traces New Orleans' unique history--and the story of its fiercely individualistic, never-surrender population--through its unique vernacular architecture and the people who live in those structures.

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.

Love in the desert

They're having an interesting (and very intelligent!) discussion of Jane Austen, especially Emma, over at Risky Regencies, and here I am revealing my inner cheesiness talking about bad movies. Oh, well, it can't be helped--it's the start of a holiday weekend and I'm in desperate need of some fun. :)

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

Ghost in Monte Carlo

And now we come to the last of the 3 Cartland movies that are my favorite "guilty pleasures," A Ghost in Monte Carlo. I think this one is Kelli's favorite, and it's probably # 2 on my own list. It's the only one of the 3 without a Regency setting. Judging by the costumes, I'd say it's about 1880ish. The plot is a bit more complicated (relatively speaking), but I'll take a stab at it.

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!