Wednesday, September 27, 2006

One Hot Shot by Megan Crane

I have missed my posting day consistently for about three months now, thanks to a succession of Killer Deadlines.

This picture is my apology, and I believe it speaks at least a thousand words:

Gerard Butler: Good for what ails you.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weird Things

I just returned from a quaint regional book conference in the town where I was born. Loved the place, loved the people, but I did get the "you can't go home again, feeling." Not that the goat at the booksigning, or the very loud, very exuberent marching band crammed into a small banquet room while the attendees were supping on barbecue was a bad thing. It was just not something I've ever seen at a book festival.

Anyway, my contribution to the event was a talk on how I went from a small town girl in west Texas to a multi-published author. Most of the attendees were libraians and teachers, very few writers, so I knew not to talk much about the craft the writing. I decided instead to tell stories about my creative adventures. Once I got talking, everyone was fascinated, even the other writers on the panel. See, I thought all writers had these weird woo-woo experiences, but apparently not.

Woo-woo thing #1

My hero from LICENSED TO THRILL, Mason Gentry e-mailed me. Yep, you heard that right. I got an e-mail from a fictional character. I couldn't sleep one night and at 3 a.m. Got up, ambled to the computer as I'm prone to do when I can't sleep, and checked e-mail. There in my in box was an e-mail from Mason. Tenatively, I opened it up. He wrote, "Funny things happen when you google your own name. I'm glad you think I'm so handsome and sexy." Freaked me out. I closed the e-mail without responding.

Woo-woo thing #2

I wrote this suspense novel about domestic abuse that I never tired to sell. The alcoholic, wife-beating villian is named Jimmy Blue. About a year or so ago I got a fan letter from a prisoner. Guess what his name was. Yep, Jimmy Blue. I didn't have the courage to read the letter. Just handed it to my husband and asked him to take care of it.

Woo-woo thing #3

A few months before Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride, pulled the stunt where she pretended she was abducted--I came up with the following concept for a book--A high-society bride-to-be stages her own wedding day abduction only to discover the man who takes her hostage was not the man she hired. I was working on another book at the time and planned to pitch the idea to my editor at Warner when I got through. Meantime, Wilbanks goes AWOL and I think my story idea is dead because of it. Loving the little high concept pitch, but saddened I wouldn't be able to use it, I put the example in a workshop I was doing on writing high concept. I mention my workshop and the high concept in passing to my editor. She was so excited by the idea that Warner offered me a two book contract on the spot and when my agent anounced it on Publisher's Marketplace we received interest from eight movie production companies. That book, THERE GOES THE BRIDE, comes out in March 2007.

Woo-Woo Thing #4

At the RWA conference in Dallas a couple of years ago, my editor had taken me and another author out to eat at one of the most exclusive restaurants in Dallas. While we were there, my editor was asking us about how we became writers, our childhood influences, etc. I told her that when I was fourteen, my best friend and I used to lay on her bed scribbling our stories in notebooks while we listened to the likes of the Beatles and Rod Stewart on the record player. (Yes, I'm giving away my age.) Suddenly, a ripple went through the restaurant and everyone was whispering that Rod Stewart had come in with his fiance. Stunned, I excused myself to go to the ladies room, but it was merely an excuse to get a peek at Rod. Disappointed that I couldn't find him, I turned to go back to the table and as I started down the stairway, there was Rod coming up. We brushed shoulders as we passed.

Woo-woo thing #5

The whole Men in Trees things is the most recent woo-woo event. Check out my post from a few days ago for that story.

Woo-woo thing #6

At the RWA conference in Atlanta, I was giving a workshop and I referenced a quote from Morgan Free to the group. Thirty minutes later I was meeting someone for lunch at the Ritz-Carlton. I arrived a few minutes early and as I waited for the person I was meeting, I looked down the hallway and guess who was walking right toward me with his escort, headed for the restaurant. Yep, you got it. Morgan Freeman.

Woo-woo thing #7

Okay, this is the big one. In my book Mission: Irresistible, the hero is an archeologist. For the plot, I needed for him to to have found the remains of a mummy in Egypt. I realized no one had found any artifacts of consequence in the Valley of the KIngs in 80 years, but I thought, let's just pretend. So I had him find the remains of a mummy named Kiya near King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The book was published and right afterward, they found a new tomb near King Tut. But wait, weirdness does not end there. This summer, archeologists finally were able to get inside the tomb and indentify whose it was. They believe the tomb belonged to King Tut's mother and her name was, drumroll here . . .Kiya.

So am I weird? Do I have special intuitive powers. Or do other writers and creative people have these experiences? I'd love to hear from people who've experienced something woo-woo. Come on, let me hear from you.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Missed my day ... again!

But I did it on purpose this time, as opposed to my sieve-like brain just letting it slip through.  I decided since no one had been assigned the 22nd, I'd post my contribution to the blog today.  Why?  Because it's my birthday!  What birthday you ask?  Let's just say I'm older than Jennifer Aniston, but younger than Susan Sarandon (not real close to either, BTW).  I was born the same year as Disneyland and McDonalds ... does that make me the same age as Cinderella??  An interesting thought.
Anyway, I'm posting today because I want to tell everyone out there that it's never too late to chase your dreams.  I started my first career as a dental hygienist ... at the same age as most folks do when they graduate college.  I didn't begin writing until I was 36.  And to be perfectly honest, I didn't have much of a clue what I was doing.  They beauty of that was, I was blessedly ignorant of that fact.  Hey, I'd been an avid reader for my entire life; how much more did I need to know?
As it turned out the answer to that question was quite a lot.  But, as I had no computer and no contact with other writers, I plodded along in my blissful state, writing happily while my children were at school.  At that time, I actually thought the most difficult task ahead of me was actually finishing a manuscript.  Little did I know....
Then came the time when that manuscript was finished and began my search for a publisher.  Now here's the kicker.  You see, I've always been a high-achiever, the girl who made the As, the one at the top of the class (well, at least in the top ten), the one who succeeded in everything she went after.  And then came the rejection letters. <dramatic music here>  OUCH!
But, ever the perseverant, I marched forward, buying books on the craft of the novel, trying in vain to find a writing group near me who was interested in more than sitting down and doing free writings about stars and grass and other things that really didn't contribute to my novel writing knowledge (I'm not saying these exercises aren't helpful to some, just not to me.  You see, I'm all about not wasting my words.  If I put them together, I want them to work for me.)  And I began to look at the books I was reading differently, study them, how did the writer suck me into her story.  And then I did the thing that opened all kinds of doors for me, I wrote a letter to Diana Gabladon.  I mean, wow, after reading OUTLANDER, who wouldn't aspire to peek into her mind?
And then, (see my great storytelling skills here?) a miracle happened.  She called me.  She was kind and witty and so generous.  It was Diana who put me on the track of the two sources that finally, finally made this writing stuff all begin to gel -- RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the Compuserve Writers Forum.  Oh my gosh, there were so many people out there doing what I was doing.  And, even more surprising, were generous with their suggestions and mentoring.  Man did my learning curve improve!
Unlike Cinderella, Diana wasn't the fairy godmother who delivered my prince that very day.  It still took several years and lots of hard work.  But it did happen.  I sold my first book in 2001 (to Warner).  I was 46.  So, in effect, I began my second career at that "advanced" age.  I'm working harder now that I ever have in my life, and I love it.
I always worried that I started too late.  By my friend Jenny Crusie assured me that most romance writers are published in the fortyish arena.  Maybe she's just telling me that to make me feel better.  I do feel like I have to make every day count, to produce quality material and not mess around.  But, by golly, I'm so glad to be doing it.
So, everyone out there who thinks your ship has sailed and you're still standing on the dock, go ahead, jump in the water and swim after it!  You never know where it'll take you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Men In Skirts by Paula Quinn

While I certainly can appreciate the elegance of a man in a fine suit, I prefer my men in skirts. Everyone has a favorite part of the opposite sex's anatomy. Eyes, mouth, Mr. Purfoy's nose, etc. I love a man's legs. Shapely calves and muscular thighs just do it for me. Needless to say, I'm thoroughly enjoying working on my next book, Laird Of The Mist, where bare legs abound.

The kilt that has now become the standard dress for all "Highlanders" was developed in the nineteenth century and has its origin in an older garment called the belted plaid. (Personally, I prefer the belted plaid. It's one piece and comes off quite easily.) Men in skirts? It's nothing to smirk at. Highland "dress" (pardon the pun) was chiefly suited for war. In George Buchanan’s History of Scotland published in 1581, he describes the Highland dress this way:
Their ancestors wore plaids of many colours, and numbers still retain this custom but the majority now in their dress prefer a dark brown, imitating nearly the leaves of the heather, that when lying upon the heath in the day, they may not be discovered by the appearance of their clothes; in these wrapped rather than covered, they brave the severest storms in the open air, and sometimes lay themselves down to sleep even in the midst of snow.

Ladies, we're talking rugged men here. I have nothing against the well-groomed metrosexual , but I'll take the man in the skirt. But which one should I choose? I don't know who this guy is, but really, do we care? Lovely thighs. Ah, Mr. McGregor. Love the name and the killer singing voice. Rob Roy MacGregor. Don't know which is more beautiful, the man or the background. This gorgeous man, and I do mean GORGEOUS is Chris Capaldi, Scottish Rugby player. I had the extreme delight of seeing this man strut his stuff on Tartan Week in NYC. Let me tell you he knows how to work the crowd. He has a part in Laird Of The Mist, and will have his own story after that. These are the only pictures I can find of him on the net. If anyone knows where I can get more, let me know. Yes, they're all wonderful, but I will have to pick.... He has it all, legs, eyes, voice, smile, and a really nice kilt.

Man in Soccer Uniform

Here he is, Paula! Chris Capaldi!


Men in Trees, HA!

I've got to tell you Men in Trees is so similiar to my books from Harlequin called The Bachelors of Bear Creek, I have to wonder if someone in Hollywood wasn't doing a little filching.

In the first book, my heroine who's a journalist is on a laptop on a plane and discovers her fiance is cheating on her. She goes to Alaska to do a story on bachelors desperate for women. There's a quaint little inn and a radio station and tons of hunky men.

The heroine of the third book thinks she's a hooker (it's a long story.) Plus the heroine of the second book is a lot like Marin's fan who just showed up in Elmo.

The similarities are staggering. Even the raccoon--okay in my book it was a Huskie, but he served the same purpose the raccoon serves in the TV show.

And this week they're having a bachelor auction. Guess what's in my book four. Yep, bachelor auction.

I was robbed! So I'm getting a campaign going. To capitalize on the popularity of the show and the similarity to The Bachelors of Bear Creek--I'm asking readers who would like to read about Alaskan bachelors to write Harlequin at and tell them you'd like to see The Bachelors of Bear Creek reprinted. Do this, e-mail me that you e-mailed Harlequin ( and I'll send you a free book from my backlist. I'd send the Bachelors books but I don't have many left and they're out of print.

Men in Suits by Diane Perkins

While Candy has been watching TV (grin) I've been busy finishing up the revisions of my next Warner book, Desire in His Eyes. No time for Men in Trees but there is always time for Men In Suits.
Here's the man who started it all. Beau Brummell.

I've been reading the Ian Kelly biography of Beau Brummell. See my Risky Regency Blog.

In writing that blog I stumbled upon the news that James Purefoy played Brummell on a BBC special. Apparently there is a scene of Brummell completing his morning dressing ritual including bathing......(Showing not only his nose, Elizabeth!)

Interestingly (to me, anyway), Brummell felt the perfect silhouette for male fashion should be taken from ancient Roman statues. James Purefoy was in the HBO miniseries Rome! Ironic!

Beau Brummell never sat for a portrait so we only know what he looked like from sketches. The sketches all seem more like caricatures to me, though. I'd like to think he really did look like James Purefoy.

Before Brummell's influence on fashion, men dressed like this.

(see Brummell in the middle? Ha! How could you miss him!)

Of course, since I write in the Regency period, I tend to love Men In Regency Suits. This is Lord Grantham and I think he is pretty hot!

Here are two other Men In Regency Suits

Of course, Gerard Butler in a suit is pretty hot, too!


Sunday, September 17, 2006


Did anyone else see the pilot and the first episode of Anne Heche's new series MEN IN TREES?

Regardless of all the controversy in her private life - she's gay - nope, she's just confused - actually she's straight, WHATEVER, you still have to give old Anne her props.  I personally think she's one great actress and I hope Men In Trees will be an instant hit.

In case you didn't see the pilot or the first episode, think Sex and the City meets Northern Exposure.  Relationship guru Marin Frist (Anne's character) is on her way to nowhere Alaska to give a lecture when she grabs her finance's laptop by mistake.  BIG MISTAKE for the fiance it turns out, since he has incriminating pictures on his computer of him and the babe he's been boinking behind poor Marin's back.

The whole premise, I think, is hilarious.  Especially when Marin calls off her wedding, throws her wedding dress off an Alaskan-size cliff, and decides to stay in Alaska (where men out number the women ten to one) so she can really figure men out.  Add a pesky raccoon who keeps eating her designer shoes, a prostitute who shares a bath with Marin at the B&B where she's living, and one OH-MY-GOD-HOT animal control guy, and the only thing that could make the plot any better is if Anne (I mean Marin) decides to have an affair with BOTH the prostitute and the hot animal control guy at the same time!  

Okay, I'm kidding. :)

But could someone please tell me where people are getting these fabulous titles lately?  Snakes on a Plane?  Men In Trees?  How can anyone resist checking out titles like those? 

What will they come up with next?  Sex in a Blender?   Oops.  No, I think Sex in a Blender was that vodka/rum kinda drink that made my eyes cross once. 

Anyway, it's 2:00am, and I'm running out of things to say. 

But I'd sure like to hear what you guys thought about Men In Trees if you happened to catch the pilot or the first episode.

Candy Halliday

Friday, September 15, 2006

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Theresa N. for correctly answering "What facial feature is Elizabeth looking forward to watching this weekend?" The answer was James Purefoy's nose--NOT his chin or any other part of his anatomy, as some of you wags answered. I have the feeling that you all are not taking my educational study of ancient Rome seriously enough.

And in other news I have yet another contest on my website RIGHT NOW--this one involves wigs, which I hope will be a less inflamatory topic. And for the sake of the tiny storage space in my office, go, please, and enter the contest. I have three advance reader copies of THE RAVEN PRINCE left and I have to get rid of those suckers somehow . . .


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

From Sarah McKerrigan...

Sometimes I wish I was one of those writers with compelling idiosyncracies.  You know what I mean.  An author with rock star requirements.
Debussy on the CD player.  Soft velvet pillows arranged just so.  The scent of lavender-vanilla incense on the air.
Wouldn't it be the epitome of artistic temperament to scream, "I can't write like this--I don't have my double latte with extra foam and a sprinkle of cinnamon!"
I know an author who writes in her nightgown.  Another is inspired by medieval music.  One of my friends does her best writing by candlelight.  Even Nora Roberts has her trademark soft drinks and cigarettes.
Me?  Nothing.
Sometimes I drink coffee.  Sometimes green tea.  I always buy a new coffee cup when I start a new book, so that's something.  But I seldom remember to drink out of it.
I can't write to music.  I have a degree in music.  If I put music on, I inevitably start analyzing the chord progressions and picking out counterpoint lines.  Or worse, singing along.
I've tried scented candles.  I LOVE scented candles.  But I never remember to light them, or if I do, I forget to blow them out, and then I get wax all over my desk.
Pillows?  Forget it.  Pillows are for sleeping.  Five minutes in a comfy nest of cushions, and I'm slumped over my laptop, making Z's.
I suppose if anyone asks, I'll just have to make up some quirky idiosyncracy.  Maybe a bowl of M&Ms with the green ones picked out...
Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
Riding to the rescue April 2006
Coming for you October 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Last chance for $25 gift certificate to B&N

Today's the deadline for the drawing to win an e-mail gift certificate to B&N. Just scroll down to my previous post and leave a comment. Contest ends at midnight PST and I'll draw the winner tomorrow. Thanks again everyone!


Sunday, September 03, 2006

This book is stunning. Awful. Amazing. Boring. A Must Read!!!:

My very first book, Make Me a Match, came out on September 1st. On August 29th I got my first bad review. Well, okay, not terrible. Not, “Hey, you suck! Please, please, please don’t ever write anything again.” But lukewarm. Three stars. “Not what I hoped,” the reviewer said.


This review came after a barrage of terrific reviews. No matter. My life was now divided into two parts: before and after The Review.

Before The Review, life was good. Words like “amazing,” “stunning,” “a major new talent,” filled my growing head.

After The Review, all was darkness. Maybe I shouldn’t write. Maybe Warner won’t even print my second book. Maybe this reader is right and I was so very wrong to think I could write….

Wait. This was one person’s opinion. Only, it was one person’s opinion on Amazon. My sales began to plummet. (Not that I was obsessively checking ….)

My first impulse was to e-mail all my buddies and have them bury The Review with a sea of raves. I called my first buddy.

She said, “Oh, honey. That review’s nothing. Did you see what Romantic Times said about you?” She sounded as if someone had died.

This was odd, as Romantic Times gave me a gushing 4 1/2 stars review. I reminded her of this. She said, “Yes, but they rated you mild.”

Mild? How had I missed that? Mild meant there’s no sex in the book. But I have sex. Um, let me re-phrase that: my book has sex. Hot, vivid, interesting sex. Heck, there’s even a love scene in the Garden-of-too-Many-Lawn-Ornaments.

“I know they got it wrong,” my friend said, “A silly mistake. Typo, perhaps. But it’s really a shame.” The someone-died voice again.

I wasn’t going to call any more friends.

I drank a glass of wine. Walked in the rain with my daughter. Punched my pillow. Ate chocolate ice cream. Mint ice cream. Mocha chip. A few cookies.

“Mild…” said Romantic Times.

“Not what I hoped…” said dumbo on Amazon. No, just kidding. Not dumbo. Said a very thoughtful reviewer.

I had to think this through.

Okay. This wasn’t about the review. It was about me. How could I be so weak as to take this one (stupid! Lame! Wrong!—oops, sorry, more ice cream…ah, that’s better…) review and let it convince me that my career was over? That was pathetic. Especially with all the great reviews the book has gotten.

And yet, there it was.

So what do all you writers out there do when you get a bad review? And readers, when you read a review, what makes you trust the reviewer? Do you trust a rave more than a pan? Do reviews even matter to you? Chocolate-ice-cream stuffed writers want to know…

(Update: six days later, I resisted asking all my buddies for reviews, and got some nice reviews anyway...except for one. One Amazon review WAS my Mom. But I'm not telling which.)

Cheers! --Diana

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Help for design deficit

One day I got up from my computer, walked around my house with its mismatched furniture and gift items decorating shelves and wall space and decided it was time for a domicile face-lift. But how to do it? I'm what you call, design-impaired. Can't decorate. Hard to admit, but there it is. My sister's house always looks fun because she can take days to browse for just the right decoration to put on that funky tablecloth she bought at an out of the way store. I live two hours from any kind of store that sells decorating odds and ends so browsing is not an option for me. When I come into town I have a list on a clipboard. And a time-line. You can't just put "purchase knick knacks" on the list and check it off. Then I discovered IKEA. A one stop place for all things pine and cheap. Plus they have these rooms all set up so that someone like me can wave her hand at one of them and say 'That. I'll take that.' And then I can write wierd names with a golf pencil (supplied) on a piece of paper (supplied) and head down to the Marketplace and start tossing things into my cart. Then I can come home, unpack, rope my husband into helping me assemble said furniture using a screwdriver and an Allen wrench (supplied). So the house isn't an original work of decorating. Its coordinated and that's good enough for me. And I can get back to my writing secure in the knowledge that if, a few books down the road the house needs another face lift, I'm not out a lot of money. And IKEA will have all new stuff.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Elizabeth Meditates on James Purefoy’s Nose


Did you see all the people who wrote in to get a free Lori Wilde book? Wow. Who’d’ve thunk that many people even read this blog? A lesser woman would be made nervous by the thought that people other than her sister, Susan (HI SUSAN!) were reading her rather incoherent ramblings. Not me, though. I am a woman without fear. I want to try my own contest! So after you read my terribly wise and witty post, be sure to meander on over to my website, click on the CONTEST page and enter a contest for a FREE advance reader copy of my upcoming book, THE RAVEN PRINCE. Yes, YOU can be the very first on your block to read my book, thus making you the envy of the neighborhood. This contest is for a limited time. The deadline is midnight, Sept. 2. Don’t hesitate--enter NOW!

Okay, enough with the commercial.

I am very excited and not just because the fruit of my loins have—FINALLY—gone back to school. Disc 1 of the first season of ROME arrived in the mail! Let me confess here that I am a Classics geek. In middle school I had not only memorized all the Greek and Roman gods, I had sat down and made a diagram of their genealogy—what a dork! In high school I read I, CLAUDIUS. Several times, I might add, because if you put that sucker down for a few days you practically have to start from the beginning to figure out who has killed their mother and who married their brother. In college I was convinced that I was destined to get an advanced degree in Classics and only my utter ineptitude with languages saved me from the life of a Classics professor. Sigh.

But it’s not only pure love of history that has me panting to see ROME. Nope. I’m very much looking forward to seeing James Purefoy’s nose. Granted, the rest of his face is not to be scoffed at, but Mr. Purefoy has the sexiest nose on any man alive. Which, now that I think about it, is kind of strange. ‘Nose’ and ‘sexy’ are two words you don’t usually find in the same sentence.

Oh, well.

Go! Go forth and visit my website and enter my contest, and, heck, if you have the time you can let me know HERE if there are any other men with sexy noses. Or chins, for that matter. Meanwhile, I’m off to fire up the DVD player.