Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'll never be a diva

I did a booksigning on the weekend. Now, you may think this involves long lines of adoring fans, a cushy chair, an assistant kneeling next to you presenting each book to be signed, and a fountain pen. Maybe this happens in someone else's world, but not in mine. Yes, I did my job. I dressed in my best, put on a big smile, and greeted customers in the bookshop as though they'd really come to get a copy of my book.

Then I went home and mucked out the chicken coop.

Portrait of the author: lumber jacket, stained pants, flat-bladed shovel in hand, tossing out gobs of you-know-what, surrounded by interested hens looking for seeds to fall out of the newly opened hay bale. Now, this is real life!

It's also why I'll never be a diva. I used to worry about this, believe it or not. I used to be concerned that I'd take myself too seriously, would forget my old friends and where I came from. That was before I got chickens. They keep me grounded. Anytime I think I deserve someone else's contract terms, someone else's eight-pocket floor display, or even the rose my RWA chapter gives for every new sale, I just remember that I have to get out there and clean the coop every other week. It keeps me humble.

It's hard to be a diva with hay in your hair. And I'm glad.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Speaking of addictions…

Since we are on the subject of addictions, I have a few of my own to fess up to. So here are my addictions (and my total justifications.)

Addiction: Good wine.
What I tell my doctor: Wine had enormous health benefits for your heart and cholesterol.
The truth: Wine is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. So it's like a little adventure in every bottle. Plus it makes me happy.

Addiction: Peanut M&M's
What I tell my co-workers: It's a good, healthy energy boost.
The truth: Hello! Chocolate and peanuts! Duh!

Addiction: Aragorn

What I tell men: He's a fascinating, well-drawn character with a powerful yet sympathetic arc.
What I tell women: OHMYGOD! I LOVE THAT MAN!

Addiction: Bubbleshooter
What I tell myself: While I'm blasting little bubbles hundreds of times, my mind wanders into uncharted territory, and my muse comes alive.
What my muse knows: It's total procrastination.

Addiction: Mani-Pedi's
What I tell my husband when he gets the charge card bill: It increases flow of blood to my hands and feet. Which is good.
The truth: Ooooo bubbles, aaaaaaa massage, oh yeah….I wish I had wine…

Hey if those are my worse addictions, then I think I'm doing okay. How about you guys?

Samantha Graves

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hooked on Sudoku

It started innocently enough.

I knew my husband liked Sudoku puzzles, that during his lunch hour he did the puzzle in the newspaper. For his birthday, I bought him an electronic game that beeps (which can be annoying). My grandsons, naturally fascinated by anything with flashing lights and beeps, began doing the puzzles and now have electronic games of their own.

I resisted. I'd rather read than work with numbers. There's a reason I enter numbers in the checkbook but don't attempt to add or subtract (not without a calculator handy).

A friend of mine was doing them, too. She brought a large book of puzzles with her to a writer's conference we attended and worked on them in the evenings. Since we were rooming together, I was glad it didn't beep.

And still I resisted. Crossword puzzles are wonderful. They use words and that I can deal with. Did you know a pismire is an ant? Amazing the things you learn doing a crossword puzzle. But I was undone when all the evidence shows that the puzzles are good for keeping the mind sharp, and that I wouldn't have to actually add the numbers.

Confession time. Do you already Sudoku? Have you tried the circular ones yet? Have you ever cheated and looked in the back of the book to find the One Number Position that will allow you to solve the rest of the puzzle?

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Friday, January 11, 2008

My New Year's Revolution

I've foolishly bought into it again. Whether it's the superwoman hype on TV or the diets in women's magazines or those naggy gym membership specials, January is barraging me with the need to constantly improve my life.

Is it even possible to do all the things the experts advise? Let's see.

Here are my average daily requirements just to get by:
Showering and getting dressed–30 minutes
Cleaning house–30 minutes
Watering the garden–30 minutes
Preparing meals–60 minutes
Eating meals–60 minutes
Driving somebody somewhere–60 minutes
Doing laundry–30 minutes
Answering mail and e-mail and paying bills–30 minutes

Okay, that's already five and a half hours.

Now let's factor in all those things I'm supposed to do to be healthier, happier, and well-adjusted:

Exercise–30 minutes
Buy fresh groceries daily–30 minutes
Meditate–20 minutes
Get a bit of sunshine for Vitamin D–10 minutes
Network with business partners and/or friends–30 minutes
Walk the dog–30 minutes
Spend time with the family–60 minutes

That's an additional three and a half hours, for a total of nine hours. Add in a solid eight hours for a good night's sleep, and you have 17 hours. Most people work eight hours a day, so that leaves...

Hmm. Twenty-five hours. That's right. You need a 25-hour day just to meet the requirements for today's new and improved existence. That doesn't even take into account any extras such as facial exercises, coaching soccer, or becoming politically active. There's not even time to go to PTA meetings. Or have sex.

I suppose some things might be doubled up–walking the dog to the grocery store, meditating in the car on the way to work, but can sleeping really be considered family time?

I suggest we decide we're already doing enough. Anyone want to join me in my New Year's Revolution?

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007
DANGER'S KISS - Flirting with trouble May 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Going against type

It's no secret that I'm obsessed with Hugh Jackman. The non-smiling, broody, non-Broadway Hugh Jackman is the inspiration for my vampire hero, Thierry de Bennicoeur, from my "Immortality Bites" series.

That's how I like 'em. Fictional heroes, that is. Broody. Dark. Devastatingly handsome. Humorless to an extent. Usually suicidal in some way -- or at the very least, with a big old death wish. It's my weakness. I want my heroines to save these troubled men and bring light into their dark lives. I've noticed that it's a theme in my writing.

I've made exceptions for Gerard Butler, Clive Owen, and several others who look good scowling and angry before they take the heroine in their arms. Hugh hasn't had a problem sharing my imagination with any of them.

However, I've been seeing another man on the side. An actor, of course. He's completely different than my usual "type." He's shorter, not ripped-with-muscle, and he's young. I prefer heroes over thirty. This one definitely isn't.

Damn you, James McEvoy. You had me at the library scene. Why do you have to be so cute? So intense? So passionate? Such a good actor? Is it possible for you to be in a movie where everything works out really well for everyone involved instead of this literary, well-reviewed, but exhausting stuff? Might I suggest...a comedy? As much as I love you (don't tell Hugh) I am weary of your highly intense, passionate, deep movies. I need popcorn. A happy ending. You deserve it. I deserve it. However, I will still see anything you're in. Even if you're half-goat in it.

Let's do lunch. I think I love you.

Please tell me about your celebrity crush -- that might fall outside of the typical tall, dark and handsome... :-)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Male Chests, The National Book Award, and the Future of "Writing" by Diana Holquist

It's impossible to blog after Elizabeth Hoyt. Just simply impossible. I always have some vague blog in mind, then I come here, and see Elizabeth's brilliant and enlightening musings, like yesterday's on male chests--hairy vs. smooth, and I'm done. Positively done. Especially today, because I wanted to blog about Richard Powers and his National Book Award winning novel, The Echo Maker.

Wait--don't go!:

This is NOT Richard Powers. This is my contribution to the smooth/hairy debate begun by Elizabeth in the last post.

Anyway, what is so fascinating about Richard Powers, is that he wrote The Echo Maker using voice recognition software. He didn't type it. He spoke the book. He believes that speaking vs. typing are two completely different processes, and that typing is artificial and extremely unnatural. Like for instance, this man's extremely smooth chest:

Can anyone identify whose chest is above? Famous chest... Anyway, what was I saying? Right: When I look back on the likes of say, Jane Austen, writing away with her dip pen (historical authors note: no, I don't know the correct name for Jane's pen, that's why I write only contemporary), I wonder how she ever managed such a polished book. Will the writers of the future look back on us typists as completely quaint and retro? Like for instance, a man who looks like this?:

Anyway, this got me interested enough in male chests, I mean, in voice recognition software, to try it. Has anyone out there ever "written" this way? Anyone still use pen and paper? A typewriter? Do you think that Richard Powers is ahead of the curve and we'll all be speaking our books soon? Would you want to read a book "written" this way?

And who WAS that second chest? (The first chest is the model on the cover of Sexiest Man Alive--who, if you'll note has a smooth chest on his, er, "head" shot and a not-so-smooth chest on the cover of Sexiest Man Alive. Hmm...)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Elizabeth Discusses Male Chests. Again.

Happy New Year! Woohoo! Why not celebrate the new year by going out and buying my brand new contemporary romance, HOT?

Pretty subtle product placement, huh?

Okay, on to the main event. Today, whilst contemplating what I would write in this, the very first blog of the new year, I came up with two ideas. The first was New Authors I Really Ought to Try This Year. I thought this blog idea would set a nice, bookish tone for coming year. The second idea was Why Are Male Movie Stars Waxing Their Chest Hair? which I think you'd agree is not bookish at all.

Guess which won?

So, recently I saw a clip of Nip and Tuck (which I stopped watching after the second season because I was totally grossed out, not by the graphic plastic surgery, but by a main character having sex with a blow-up doll. EWWWWW!) and in the clip Julian McMahon had a bare nekkid totally hairless chest, and my first thought was, wah-huh? 'cause previously this man had a very nice hairy chest.

(And here I thought I should include a pic of Mr. McMahon's hairy chest which led to me searching for a pic for nearly 20 minutes. That's right: I just spent 20 minutes googling "Julian McMahon, hairy chest." What of it? Like you're doing anything better on New Year's day.)

First I found a teeny-weeny pic of what I think must be Mr. McMahon in his Younger Days:

Then I found this pic which I start giggling over 'cause his expression is so funny (and I have no idea who the woman is):

And then I found a pic of Julian and this anonymous baby:

Do you think they keep these babies around photographer's studios just so they can use them in the obligatory bare male chest shots?

Where was I?

Oh, yes. So, my question is: why? Why wax a perfectly nice male chest? Do women really hate male chest hair that much? I certainly don't. In fact, I rather like it. I realize that some guys are naturally bare, which is fine, but others certainly aren't. Which brings me to the most egregious use of hot wax in a movie:

300 Mediterranean guys and not a chest hair to be seen?


Elizabeth Hoyt