Friday, March 31, 2006

THE BARE MALE CHEST MOVIE RATING SYSTEM--or Elizabeth uses a flimsy excuse to post pics of nearly nekkid men

There was a time in my life when almost all the movies I went to were Serious. Movies so intellectual, they weren’t even in English. Movies so deep, all the characters died at the end. Movies so profound that, even after several beers, no one knew what they meant.

No longer.

It occurred to me, finally, that there was more to a fine movie viewing experience than subtitles, death, and confusion. For instance, there were male chests, preferably, bare. Therefore, I invented the Bare Male Chest (BMC) movie rating system, which, although I am too lazy to research the matter, I am fairly sure is unique in the movie reviewing world. The key thing to remember when using the BMC is that we are judging the movie by the quantity and quality of bare male chests ALONE. Thus, although any one of the LORD OF THE RINGS movies was chock full of male beauty, sadly none—and this is where having a male director can be problematic—had any bare chests. As a result, LOTR ranks a -7 on the BMC scale, extra points having been deducted out of sheer disappointment.

Contrast this with THE FANTASTIC FOUR, which was NOT one of the most well-written movies of 2005, but which redeemed itself—at least in the BMC—by the almost exuberant display of Chris Evans’ bare chest. It seems that when The Human Torch, masterfully played by Mr. Evans, ‘flames on,’ his clothes are burned off, leaving him naked. Personally, this led me to ponder, why, if Mr. Evans’ clothes were burned off, his chest hair didn’t go up in smoke as well, but I digress. On the BMC, THE FANTASTIC FOUR rates a solid 8.

Recently, I watched THE TRANSPORTER, which, I think, can be best described as a Hong Kong martial arts movie that takes place in France and stars an Englishman, Jason Statham. And, boy, does Jason star in it. It seems that when approached by a dozen or more bad guys, the first thing your English martial arts star must do is shuck his shirt. Naturally, I was in favor of this mode of self-defense and, in fact, was all set to award THE TRANSPORTER a 7—that is until the Oiled Fighting Scene. Oh. My. God. Men covered in motor oil—don’t ask—sliding around as they fight each other bare-chested. The homoerotic undertones were obvious, even to me. Fortunately, I was watching the movie on DVD and thus was able to stop the disc and re-watch the scene, the better to award it a 9 on the BMC.

And then there is Hugh Jackman. Sigh. Hugh deserves his own special room in the BMC Hall of Fame for his selfless willingness to take off his shirt on the smallest pretense imaginable. Case in point: SWORDFISH, a movie that, by any other criteria is pure dreck, but which contains the infamous Hugh Playing Golf in Only a Towel scene. He also happens to be on top of a trailer whilst playing golf in only a towel, but I must say that few women noticed this in the theater. They were too busy mentally willing that towel to drop. Ladies, I give you SWORDFISH, a perfect 10 in the BMC.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Saucy Life Changes

I'm from Texas and we're serious about our spicy stuff. And I'm here to boldly proclaim: this green sauce will change your life. I am not kidding.

Dip chips in it, pour it over grilled chicken, slather it on enchiladas. For the healthy folks, it makes a nice dunker for carrots and celery. It's excellent on fish tacos as well.

I got the recipe from a lifelong friend (thank you, Kristie!), and since I don't cook I immediately handed it over to my husband, the chef. He whirred it up in no time and I've been in saucy heaven ever since.

Kristie's Kickin' Cilantro Cream Sauce

1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 T. sour cream
1 (7 oz.) can tomatillo salsa
1 t. pepper
1 t. celery salt
1/2 t. cumin
2 t. garlic powder
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T. lime juice
Combine in a blender and serve. Refrigerate leftovers. (Leftovers? What leftovers?)

Have a favorite spicy food? Please share! (Besides, I need more stuff to pour this sauce on...)

Monday, March 27, 2006

I have a new crush by Lori Wilde

I have a new crush, but I can’t post sexy pictures of his washboard abs because, um . . . ahem, he’s not the washboard belly type and to tell the truth, those guys scare me a little. He’s Scottish, but he’ll never give Gerard Butler a run for his money. He’s a wee bit daffy and a recovering alcoholic. I can hear you saying eww, so what’s the attraction?

Maybe it’s the Scottish heritage thing I’ve got going on in my own family tree. Maybe it’s my own brush with alcoholics that’s left me admiring how he was able to overcome his demons and stay sober in Hollywood. Maybe it’s the endearing way he admits his own faults. But more than likely what I find so compelling about him is his honesty, his creativity and his sense of humor.

I’m talking about Craig Ferguson, host of CBS’s Late, Late Show. The guy who played Mr. Wick on the Drew Carey Show. The guy who wrote and directed I’ll be There and Saving Grace. And the guy who has just written the funniest, most fabulous book I’ve read in a long time called Between the Bridge and the River.

Do you have a crush on someone who is less than movie star perfect? Come on, admit it. Who, for reasons that escapes others, captures your affection and why?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Warner Women Rock!

A big congratulations to all the Warner authors who are nominated for the prestigious RITA and Golden Heart awards!

2006 RITA for Best Inspirational Romance Finalists
Pocketful of Pearls by Shelley Bates**

2006 RITA for Best Regency Romance Finalists
A Reputable Rake by Diane Gaston (aka: Diane Perkins)

2006 RITA for Best Romantic Suspense Finalists
Nothing To Fear by Karen Rose**

2006 RITA for Best Short Historical Romance Finalists
To Love a Thief by Julie Anne Long**

2006 RITA Finalists for a Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Ex And The Single Girl by Lani Diane Rich**

2006 RITA for Best Traditional Romance Finalists
Smart Boys & Fast Girls + Who Needs Boys? (double nominee!) by Stephie Davis (aka: Stephanie Rowe)

2006 RITA for Best Short Contemporary Romance Finalists
One Night in Texas by Jane Sullivan (aka: Jane Graves)

2006 Golden Heart for Best Short Historical Romance Manuscript Finalists
The Leopard Prince by Nancy McKinnell Finney (aka: Elizabeth Hoyt)

**Warner-published books

Friday, March 24, 2006

Congratulations finalist by Lori Wilde

I feel so honored. It’s my turn to blog on the RITA/Golden Heart day. I get to say congratulations to all the finalist, you’ve worked so very hard and you deserve this recognition. Enjoy it!

This day is always so nerve wracking as you waiting to hear if you own baby passed muster. You’re excited for your friends and colleagues who get the call, but when you don’t make the list its hard not to feel unworthy. Usually I spend the day asking myself why I’m not good enough and where I’m going wrong as a writer.

This year I decided to let whatever happens be okay. To that end two days ago I order myself a box of the most amazing chocolates. Really these things are a work of art and talk about delicious! Mmm, I wish you could all have one. My reasoning was this. If I make the finals I’ll want to celebrate. If I don’t, what better way to console myself than designer chocolates?

So woo-hoo to all those finalists! Way to go ladies.

And to the rest of us who didn't make the cut---chocolate anyone?

Check out the website of these most amazing delicacies at

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Please starring Gerry!

Click here: AtomFilms - Please!
Please! United Kingdom 15:11 Paul Black

As an aspiring young novelist, Peter Dunn made the tragic mistake of believing his wife and daughter would wait patiently for him to become a literary star. If it sounded good on paper, it was still pure fiction. Now he's living in squalor, without any meaningful dialogue, hell-bent on resolving the dilemma that best way he knows how: pure drama with a twist.

Pardon my interruption - the Gerard Butler Kilt Clip - found by Diane

To follow up on Paula's Scottish posting. The Gerard Butler Kilt story. View it. You'll love it! (And you'll lose weight!!!!)


Diets I Have Known, by Megan Crane

Nothing like the threat of spring to bring out the bikini panic in all of us.

(And when I say "bikini panic," what I mean is, "the fact that crazy people with far better bodies might be wearing bikinis, which will make me feel inadequate about the fit of my jeans.")

I have been looking for the magic weight loss pill since I entered the sixth grade and discovered that my tomboy skills-- which had previously accorded me some playground clout-- were useless against the sudden tossing of hair and the waifish pre-teen bodies. I am here to tell you that no magic pill exists.

And also that if you try this many diets, you are probably either insane or a normal North American female bombarded with too many mixed cultural messages. (Obviously, I choose to believe I am the latter.)

I present "Diets I Have Known (So You Don't Have To)":

The Diet Center
The On My Own For The First Time So I Will Definitely Be Having That Second Cheeseburger And Sundae At The Campus Dining Hall Diet
The Grunge Rock, If I Wear Huge Flannel Shirts No One Will See My Belly Diet
The Weeping Over A Broken Heart While Wearing Head-to-Toe Black And Channelling Tori Amos Circa 1993 Diet
Jenny Craig
The "Drink Like An Englishman" Diet
The Atkins Diet
The Diet In Theory Only: If You Visualize Your Thin Self, So Will Everyone Else
Weight Watchers: The British Version
The Vacation Calories Don't Count Diet
The Zone Diet
The Marilyn Monroe Was At Least A Size 12 Which Means I Am H-O-T Diet
The Cabbage Soup Diet
The I Can Eat Whatever I Want Because I Run Several Miles A Day Diet
The I'm Starting My Running Regime Tomorrow So I Can Totally Carbo-load Tonight Diet
The South Beach Diet
The "Organic Is So Much Better For You, So I'll Just Have Extra Helpings Of This Organic Lasagna And Tasty Organic Brownies" Diet
The Blood Type Diet
The Ice Cream Is Like Milk Which Does A Body Good Diet
Weight Watchers: The American Flex Point Version
The Oh My God I Feel So Sick I Hope I Lose Ten Pounds Diet
Body For Life (The I Read My Friend's Book And Totally Plan To Start Next Week Version)
The If I Have A Salad I'm Dieting So Who Cares If It's Awash In Rich, Creamy Dressing? Diet
The Sly Moves Exercise And Diet Plan
And the ever popular, I Am Listening To My Body And It Will Tell Me What It Needs Just Like Back In The Days Of Yore When We Were All Hunter-Gatherers (And What My Body Needs Is A Large Pepperoni Pizza With Vast Quantities of Chocolate, Hooray!) Diet

I feel confident that this time, I have it under control. What about you?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Scotland Or Bust! by Paula Quinn

April 1st celebrates Tartan Week here in NYC. A time when Manhattan honors my favorite place in the world, Scotland. For just a two dollar fare, I'm be able to step into the world of bagpipes, kilts, Robert Burns, and Haggis.

The celebration kicks off with a ceremony beginning Saturday April 1st at the Scottish Village in Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal. Events are free and include live music, cooking demonstrations, and fashion shows.

There's a 10k run in Central park on April 2 sponsored by he Scottish Executive. On April 4th, a Celtic rock band performs at the Nokia Theater in Times Square. The St. Andrews Society Cocktail ( a ticketed event), takes place at the New York Health and Racquet Club on April 6th, and on the 8th, my favorite event, the Tartan Day Parade marches down 6th Avenue.
Lots of Scottish men in kilts, playing bagpipes. How good does life get for a Scottish wanna-be, like me?

I won't be attending Dressed To Kilt, since a ticket at the Highlander table (which is where I want to sit) costs $5,000, but I may stalk about the outside of building, eyes peeled for you-know-who.

Dressed To Kilt 2005

All this Scottish goodness comes just in time for my fourth book. I wrote the first draft a few years ago and now I get to work on it again for Warner. I'm excited. There's something about a Highlander riding across wind-swept moors in all his alpha glory, on the brink of giving up his warrior heart to a woman braw enough to take it.
The burr, the knees, the pride...I can't wait to get started.
Writing transports me to different places and different times, but beginning April 1st, I'll be able to get to a tiny piece of Scotland on the A train.

I'd love to see you there!

Monday, March 20, 2006

More on Heroes by Diane Perkins

This just in, from the Jane Austen Centre (Bath, UK), A plea from the BBC:

"Are you an avid reader of romantic fiction? Has Mr Darcy made you leave your fiancé? Has Mr Rochester, Heathcliff or any other fictional hero changed your love life in a significant way? Does your partner want you to be more like these fictional male heroes?...Reader, I married him will examine the work of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Margaret Mitchell, Helen Fielding and Catherine Cookson amongst others, looking at how romantic novels have changed the female perception of the ideal man....”

The BBC was specifically looking for “...real men and women whose love lives have been transformed by romantic fiction for better or for worse...”

My initial reaction to the BBC question was asking myself, has the romantic ideal ever changed? I went back to refresh my memory about ancient heroes, like in the Iliad and Odyssey, and later writings, like Tristan and Isolde, the Arthur legends, fairytales like Cinderella and Snow White. If we think of heroes in those tales, are they so different than what we love about our present Romance heroes or the heroes listed by the BBC?

I don’t think so. I think throughout history, our fictional romantic ideals, the ones standing the test of time, have been strong men who have honor and compassion, who have the capacity to grow, and are capable of loving a woman as an equal. Heroes might be depicted with different temperaments, personality styles, and professions, depending upon the social expectations of the day, but my thought is that strength, honor, capacity to love and change, are archetypal, universal ideals that resonate throughout human experience. I’ll bet if we analyzed our favorite fictional heroes in today’s market, we would find these qualities present, just as they are present in ancient folktales.

I just don’t think this is new stuff. I think it goes deeper into those instinctual survival-of-the-fittest needs that drive more of our behavior that we’d like to believe. My idea is that romance fiction reinforces these archetypal male images, recreating them in a variety of interesting and exciting ways, and that this is part of the popular appeal that sells almost 50% of mass market books.

I hope the BBC’s show comes to North America so we can see what they discover. I think they have this secret hope that romantic heroes somehow spoil women for real men. I hope, however, that women tell them romance novels have helped them hold men to a rather normal standard. Honestly, what woman would want to say she chose a mate because he was weak and dishonorable, unable to change, unable to love? Not me! And what man would want to describe himself as weak, dishonorable, unable to change or to love? None, I hope.

A Hero

(Gerard Butler as Leonidas in the movie “300” Coming in 2007)


Saturday, March 18, 2006


I attended a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Raleigh last weekend, and a lady walked up to the table to tell me she was a devoted Nicholas Sparks fan.

As I was trying to decide if she was sharing this information with me because (a) Mr. Sparks also writes for Warner, or (b) Mr. Sparks also lives in North Carolina, she went on to say that being such a devoted fan she frequently Googled Mr. Sparks on the Internet.  She said she had recognized my name on the poster ad in front of the store earlier in the week, because someone on the Internet had listed Nicholas Sparks and Candy Halliday as their favorite authors.

I sat up straighter in my seat - until she said, "I've never heard of you."

BUT she said, out of curiosity she had gone to my website, read the excerpt from my current book MR. DESTINY, and decided to come to the book signing for an autographed copy.

THANK YOU, NICHOLAS SPARKS!  And thank you devoted Nicholas Sparks fan, Julia, for buying my book!

Now this is where I must confess that I rarely if ever google my own name.  Most of us authors (definitely me) are nothing more than fragile ships adrift in a sea of insecurities.  Translation - ignorance is bliss.  We all know it is impossible that everyone is going to like what we write, but it always seems to be the people who DON'T like our books who are the most verbal.  Call me the Queen of Denial, but the less negativity I have in my life, the better, thank you very much.

Anyway (out of curiosity, of course) I did go to Google later that evening when I got home.  I typed in "Nicholas Sparks and Candy Halliday" hoping to narrow my search, and low and behold third or fourth down the line the caption said "Nicholas Sparks and Candy Halliday are some of my favorite authors, too!"

WHOO-HOO!  I didn't even hesitate to click on the link.

And there - staring back at me with a beautiful smile - was MY devoted fan Megan - my lovely niece who had listed me on her webpage at

Thanks, Meggie, for my nanosecond of fame - AND for including me in such good company.

Candy Halliday

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Rites of Spring - or Shari's Cabana boy

Tomorrow is the first official day of spring! It’s also St. Patrick’s Day! Naturally, today we’re supposed to get about nine inches of snow. So tomorrow I’ll be sloshing around in my heavy coat and boots and mumbling under my breath about what I think of Mother Nature’s little joke.

For today, though, I’ll stay warm and keep my sanity by pulling down all the shades so I don’t have to watch the white stuff come down. I have the fireplace lit and put on a pair of shorts and tank top (I thought putting on a swim suit was overdoing things a bit) and drug out the pictures we took in Mexico this past February.

Sun and sand. Ah, yes. I highly recommend the Iberostar Tucan on the Riviera Maya, south of Playa del Carmen. It’s an all inclusive with a great staff, lovely rooms and a fabulous beach. The food is terrific and the bartenders don’t skimp on the rum and they have a fabulous beach.

Okay, we didn’t spend the whole week on the beach. We went to Coba, which is the site of Mayan ruins much like Chichen Itza, and to a Mayan village, and went shopping in Playa del Carmen.

Now back to the beach. I told everyone we were headed for Mexico to soak up some heat and sun and to store up enough Vitamin D to last me through the rest of winter. Yes, I know you can’t store Vitamin D but it sounded good to me.

My little secret – I added to my collection of Cabana Boys. And I’m sharing.

This is Fabio. Really. His name is Fabio and he’s from Argentina. His job, as far as I could tell, was to walk on the beach, talk to the guests and look good. He was very good at his job.

Note the white sand. Note the chef in the background making paella. Note the thatch-roofed umbrellas under which I was sitting on a comfortable lounge chair, sipping on a pina colada, watching Fabio stroll around on the beach. Hear my husband chuckle when I asked him to take out his camera and take this picture.

We’ll probably go back in two years. I doubt Fabio will still be on the staff. That’s okay, because someone as equally good at his job will be strolling the beach and I’ll have a new Cabana Boy to add to my collection.

Shari Anton

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sarah McKerrigan

A pierced punker cradling a delicate baby girl in his arms...
A blonde bombshell studying for the Bar exam...
A Russian bear of a man who sells crystal...
A five-foot-two inch, Asian, female, powerhouse CEO...
A white-haired grandma straddling a Harley...
Images of contrast and surprise are always my favorite.  They're living proof that you can't judge a book by its cover.  In real life, there are no stereotypes.
Maybe it's living in L.A. that has made me understand this.  It's forced me to embrace the incredible array of human beings who refuse to be boxed and labeled.  I dwell among people with dreams beyond the limitations of their size and color and religion and position in society.  In L.A., you accept that you may be buying a hot dog from a Persian immigrant, or sitting beside a gangsta at the movies, or ordering at Starbucks from a pink-haired songwriter.  L.A. is like a melting pot where worlds collide.  And I love being part of that diplomacy that helps find common ground.
I'm looking forward to an interesting intersection this month, in fact, when my first medieval for Warner Books hits the shelves.  You see, I'm promoting LADY DANGER in two contrasting worlds to which I belong.  On the one hand, I have readers who love the "one-man-one-woman-happy ending" aspect of romance novels.  And on the other, I have fans of my voiceover work for video games, who like the fierce action of roleplaying.
I'm thinking this may be my chance to marry the two.  I can imagine nothing more fulfilling and entertaining than to sit at a table, signing books for a line of people that includes 75-year-old romance readers and teenage gamers!
Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night.
Riding to the rescue April 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Michelle is a couch potato

My thoughts on some of my favorite shows right now.....


This is shaping up to be the best season since Clay and Ruben (Clay was robbed. Robbed, I say!) All the women can go as far as I'm concerned. Except for Mandisa who is the best of the bunch by a long shot.

The guys, however, mostly rock. I must admit that I am not on the Taylor Hicks bandwagon. There's something about that guy. I know he's all earnest and he loves music and yada yada, but I don't know. I won't be sorry to see him go.

On the other hand, hello Ace! I love this guy. I wouldn't say he's the best singer of the lot, but his sex appeal makes up for it. Hubba hubba! Let me be the Demi Moore to your Ashton Kutcher baby!

Ahem. Sorry. I lost track of what I was saying there for a moment. I suppose my Ace-love was in training last year. I will admit to being a bit Constantine fan. I'm in therapy right now to get over it. Baby steps. Baby steps.
But if Ace doesn't win, I would be happy for Chris to take it. He rocks.

--- HOUSE ---

I am a new fan to the show HOUSE. I'm actually just working my way through season 1 that I have on DVD. It's an awesome show, though I must admit to enjoying the first episodes the most when it was still "fresh." Now, I'm like: oh, new illness. They won't figure it out and it will get worse. They'll figure it out and the patient will get better. The End. But I must admit to having a big crush on the doctor himself. I love the sarcastic a$$holes. It's my kryptonite.

--- LOST ---

I hope the writers on this show know what they're doing. Every heard of something called "Lunch Bag Let-down?" That's when you're looking forward to lunch at school, open your paper bag up and realize your Mom packed you a brocolli sandwich on multi-grain instead of Lunchables. They've set so many mysteries up on this show and there's so much speculation that I worry that when we get the answers we'll be all, is that it? Yawn. But in the meantime I'm enjoying the ride. I love Mr. Eko. I love Sawyer -- even though I really wanted him to LET THE TREE FROG GO. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MAN. WHY??????? Oh, and would somebody please shoot Kate and put me out of my misery? Pretty please??

--- ROME ---

Best show on TV. And it's not just because I got to see James Purefoy nekkid. Though, it certainly helped. ::: Michelle's thoughts wander again ::: And I'm back! Okay, if you haven't seen this HBO/BBC produced show: imagine everything from drama, comedy, sex, violence, horror, politics, romance, history. The worse thing about this show? I missed the freaking finale. Which just gives me an excuse to buy it when it comes on DVD. Though, I think something bad happens to Julius Caesar. Hmmmm. I can't imagine what that could be....

So those are only a few of my favorite TV shows right now. What are some of yours?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Dresses, The Upset, The Jokes, oh my!

Watched the Oscars this's what I loved:

1)  Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin riffing like old school magic.  I wondered if some of the younger actors in the audience weren't thinking, "So THIS is what a star can do!"  Plus, how gorgeous was Meryl?  She wins my best dressed for working it so elegantly, with a class that makes you remember why she's simply the best.  Ever.

2)  Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter showing up looking like they'd stepped off a movie set or a retro eighties party.  You could tell they were having a fabulous time and didn't care two hoots for the fashion police.  Their ensembles fairly shouted, "Arrest me already.  I'm satisfied.  I'm brilliant."

3)  Uma glowed, Jessica Alba shined - and I hope someone will give her a role soon that goes beyond that otherworldly complexion of hers.  I liked J Lo's avocado and Keira's plum, but the jury's still out on Michelle Williams in butternut. 

4)  Dolly Parton strutting, sashaying, and literally busting out all over Hollywood's glitteratti.  Love the song, love the message even more.

5)  The smarmy campaign smear ads.  A great way to inject some funny into the less visible categories.

6)  Jon Stewart as host.  Yes, he was a bit stiff at the beginning, but when he loosened up he made for an engaging and truly funny front man for one of the best Oscar shows in years.

7)  Jennifer Garner saving a slippery moment with a bon mot:  "I do my own stunts."  I. Love. Her.

8)  All the tributes to the mommies.  Any thank you that includes a parental nod is a winner in my book.

9)  The chaos the Crash victory created.  A truly great surprise - the audible gasp from arguably jaded attendees capped a refreshing night full of excellent films and memorable performances.

Now, your turn.  What did you like, what did you hate, and, most importantly, if you could wear anyone's outfit, whose would you pick?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Public Service Announcement, by Megan Crane

I would just like to announce that Pride & Prejudice is, in fact, available on DVD.

Right now.

And for the record, I saw it seven times in the theater. Wasn't there a contest?