Posts tagged with: Jeanne Adams

A Generosity of Spirit…

wrong-girl-240hWomen, as Rudyard Kipling once observed in his poem The Female of the Species, can be deadly.  They can be mean (a la Mean Girls), they can be just as much bullies as boys or men.

They can.

But, most of  the time, they aren’t.

Most of the time, they will breathe their last breath before they let someone else go hungry, ill-clothed, ill-shod or unloved.  Women will literally take the shirt off their backs and run around, embarassed, in their underwear, if it means they helped someone, as many did in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. Humans, men and women, have a generosity of spirit that overarches the petty concerns of the everyday.

Now, that’s not just in grandiose, flowery prose that comes with tradgedy and loss. It’s in the everyday.

Writers are this way too.  Especially romance writers.  Now, I started to say women writers, but I don’t personally know many women writers who AREN’T romance writers so I realized I shouldn’t say that.  Most of the writers I know either are Romance Writers now, or they were before they branched into mystery or horror or thrillers.

Now, why the heck am I rattling on, and on, and on about this?51YgKUr-MKL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Well, this last weekend was the annual Nora Roberts Writing Institute at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD.    The “official” theme – if you could call it that – was COME LEARN TO WRITE!  The unofficial one was HEY, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!

People from all over the country come to the lovely small town of Hagerstown for this.  From Washington State and Colorado, from Philadelphia (2 hours away) and North Carolina (6 hours away).  To learn.  To get the basics.  To hear authors who’ve “made it” say, “You can do this!!” And they do say that.

Authors like Jana DeLeon talked about how they made it, and how “making it” is an everyday job.  Yes, there are things you can do to enhance your progress – if you ever get a chance to take a class about promotion with Jana DeLeon, regardless of your business, DO IT!  The woman is brilliant.  But Jana shared more than the nuts and bolts of writing and promoting what you’ve written.  She shared her time.  Her precious writing time (because when you write, time is the one thing you always feel you don’t have).  She shared her experience and more than anything, she encouraged. Longshot-Thumbnail

The guys did too, don’t get me wrong.  I’ll say the same thing about John King, former faculty member at Hagerstown CC.  If you can get him to do a class on police procedurals for you? OH. MY. GOSH.  DO IT!!  He was born to teach, and to teach about how the police/cops/mounties/etc. work, think, hurt, believe.   And he too was incredibly generous with his time and energy and knowledge.  And he came all the way from Provo, UT, back to Hagerstown, to teach us.

Then there were the very well known and highly thought of and totally cool Keynote Speakers.  That would be the internationally bestsellers, Sylvia Day and 01f8205dc6f90a900484df.L._V359400092_SX200_Hank Phillipi Ryan.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to conferences where the keynote whisked in, spoke, shook hands with folks who were brave enough to come down to the stage, then whisked off again, into the ethers, never to be seen.

Not these ladies.  Sylvia and Hank were present and answering questions throughout the weekend.  They took the time to talk to these beginning writers, to encourage at every step, to hug, to mug for the camera, and to share.  To generously share their journey.  They shared their trials and tribulations.  They shared that the work STILL has to get done, by you, the writer, even when your last book was on top of the bestseller list in 40 countries and translated into 41 languages.  :>

Sylvia still has to sit down and write the next book. Every writer does.  Hank does.  Susan Donovan does.  All the Romance Bandits do.  These writers reminded us all that glamorous as others think our job may be, we STILL have to sit down, grumpy and rumpled or coiffed and heeled, and WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

Hank Phillipi Ryan, who’s been a guest on the blog several times, is one who’s usually still in her work suit from her job as an investigative reporter, when she snags some writing time.  Hank is funny, delightful, insightful and yes, generous.  I’m diving into her latest THE WRONG GIRL and already anticipating her next book,  TRUTH BE TOLD.  (October) SylviaDay-001

Our own Bandita Donna MacMeans was a speaker, as were NYT Bestseller Susan Donovan, Gail Barrett, Agnes Jayne, screenwriter Jeanne Ford, historical writer Dennis Frye, media savvy Leigh-Anne Lawrence and Laura Reeth, and military historical writer Dr. Robert Savitt.

Every single one of them were wonderful, took the time to talk to and encourage new writers and pay it forward. They talked about how to stay in the chair with your hands on the keyboard and just DO IT.  They talked about their own struggles and foibles.  The audience learned that some are strictly regimented, and some take time to play.  Some write at night, some early in the morning, and some whenever they can fit it in around their day job.

Some plot the whole book out before they begin to write.  Some just fly by the seat of their pants.  Some “brew and spew” as PC Cast would say.

All of them, as writers, remember what it was like to be one of the audience at a program like this, and so they share what the journey is like going forward.  Time, energy, stories about editors and agents, about going solo, about when a story stopped on them, or fell flat in the middle.  They shared it all.

That’s a generosity of spirit, of time and energy and life, that I’ve seldom seen outside the writing world.

What about you, Banditas and Buddies?  In your field of work, do people share information?

Are your colleagues and co-workers generous with their time and energy and ideas?  (And what field do you work in?)

If you’re a writer, what successful writer would you like to hear talk about their journey?  Who do you want to hear?  (Living or dead)

If you’re a reader, whose journey would you like to learn about?  

Which of your favorite authors would you like to hear speak?

If you had your fav author in front of you, besides “When is the next book out!?!?”, what question would you like to ask? (And no, I didn’t learn when the next Crossfire book will be out…sorry!)

As a last note, I’ll say you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Bandita Donna read from The Whisky Laird’s Bed.  Grins.

Exclusive Excerpt from THE TENTACLE AFFAIR

TheTentacleAffaireFINALDon’t miss out on the exclusive members’ only excerpt from Jeanne Adams’ latest THE TENTACLE AFFAIR! Here’s the link: http://romancebandits.com/exclusive-excerpt-from-jeanne-adamss-the-tentacle-affaire/ If you’re not a member, why not become one. Great exclusive material and prizes and a fun Bandita newsletter every month. Just click on the Members button above and it will take you to where to sign in.

Exclusive Excerpt from Jeanne Adams’s The Tentacle Affaire

TheTentacleAffaireFINALSetup: Cait Brennan is the Slip Traveler (think alien hunter a la Men In Black). She’s in DC to catch a lost interplanetary pet that’s been dropped into the Potomac River or the Tidal Basin. This pet happens to be a cross between a squid and an octopus, six or seven feet long and pink/green/clear. It’ll eat just about anything, including people, and it has to go…

Magical Adept (Highest level practitioner) Aiden Bayliss is assigned as the regional magical Enforcer for the DC Metro area. Aiden’s suspicious of Cait since she’s just moved into his building, he can’t read her magically, and he’s trying to figure out who-or what—she is. He’s gone to the canal in search of an energy anomaly he’s sensed with a magical scan. He needs to find what it is and determine whether it’s dangerous.

And here’s what happens…

Aiden had been on the C&O Canal towpath for about an hour when he spotted a familiar figure.
“And there she is. And people wonder why I don’t believe in coincidences,” he muttered, slowing his pace to a more sedate jog.   He’d been stopping every so often along his run to send out feelers, trying to detect the disturbance. No luck on that score.

Now he sent out another probe, a different type, trying to feel Cait. He got the same “not there” wall from her as he did from her apartment.  His slowing steps brought him alongside where Cait was thigh deep in the water of the canal, and he stopped.
“Boo,” he said, then smiled at her when she startled. Perversely, his grin widened at the surprise and consternation on her face.  Interesting that he liked poking at this woman, seeing her reactions. He hadn’t actually meant to startle her, but…  “Hello, neighbor,” he said with a two-finger salute. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“Indeed. How are you this afternoon?” She looked professionally competent and more like a geologist in her khaki trousers, waders, and a dark jacket zipped over a lightweight shirt. It didn’t diminish her femininity one bit, something his libido noticed even if he refused to think about it otherwise.
“I’m great,” he lied. But he found himself wanting to pull the words back, wanting to not lie to Cait Brennan. Something about her compelled honesty.  And that was also suspicious as hell. Maybe she was an Otherworldly creature, a magical construct or one of the Lesser Fae who sometimes crossed the barriers between worlds to live among humans. That would explain his inability to scan her and the pull he felt today, just like the first time they’d met.
Either way, she was unclassified. And he needed to have a heart-to-heart with his hormones.
“It’s a beautiful day. How’s it going?” He gestured to the bottles she was filling.
“It’s going,” she said with a smile and a shrug. “Are you out for a walk?”
“A run. Had to get away from the desk. Clear my brain. You’re working too,” he said, to judge her reaction. “I should let you keep at it.”
“You work from home?”
“Sometimes. I’m a software troubleshooter. Computers and major systems. My clients call when they’ve been hacked or their data compromised. I close the back doors, restore the systems, and when I can, turn the hacker over to the authorities.” The definition served for most people.
“A geek then.” She smiled at that, as if it were some secret joke, proving she wasn’t most people. “A high level one, if you live in our building.” Her grin took the sting from that assessment, and made it friendly.
“Do you specialize in government, corporate or non-profits? Or are you a generalist?”
Definitely not most people.
“I specialize. I’d tell you but then I’d have to…”
“Kill me. Right. Very delicate stuff,” she said, and he saw that she was suppressing a laugh.
“Very.”
“Smart policy,” she said, nodding at his answer. “Not telling people. If you have to off them, it’s so messy.”
Shit, she was funny. He couldn’t stop his responsive grin, and he couldn’t take his eye from her either. Shit.

“I needed a good brain-clearing run before I got back to it.” He squatted so they were at eye level, with her still standing in the murky water.  All the better to See you, my pretty. Again he went for a needle-like magical probe. Again, he got nada.
“What about you?”
“Me? Oh, I figured I’d get right to work. I’m doing a research project sampling both the canal and the river for contaminants.” She held up a series of bottles strung together like a bandolier.
“Upstream of the city or down?”
“Both.”
A woman of few words. Damn. Just the sight of her in the waders should have turned him off, since he didn’t usually go for the outdoorsy type. Between that and the shadows in her background and his inability to penetrate her defenses, he should be running the other way.  Instead, he found himself admiring the play of light on her hair, thinking that the nut-brown color didn’t suit her as well as blonde hair and green eyes she’d had in his dreams and visions.
“So what about a break? Have you had lunch?” The words were out of his mouth before he could censor them.
“Lunch?”
“Yes, as in mid-day meal,” he managed, recovering quickly. “You want to eat?”
“With you?”
“Well, if you want to eat with the president, it’s too early. He’s not back in the country yet.”
Damn. He was flirting. Actually flirting with a person who might not even be human. Stupid. He’d long ago compartmentalized his life. No work/play combos for him. Not that she’d said yes, but his biggest rule was, don’t date someone you can’t read.  He was pulled back to the moment when she laughed, a full, merry sound, and he smiled in return.
“Out of the country is he? I hadn’t been keeping track. With Congress in session and the president out of the country…we’re doomed.”
“Ha! You got it. So, lunch?”  This time her smile warmed her eyes. He saw her humor again and, lurking back in her gaze, a whole boatload of sadness.
“Thanks,” she said, “but I brought some with me. I wanted to get a lot done today. Maybe some other time.”
“That would be fun,” he said as he rose, knowing that CEO, Adept or regular guy, “some other time” was girl-speak for get lost, buddy. “All right if I ask again?”
Once again she seemed surprised. He should be glad, since it meant she was buying his surface presentation of Harmless Normal Guy. He needed her to see him that way until he could find out if she was a danger to his city.
And if she was, take her out before she realized that he could.  That bleak though popped into his mind and he felt the joy at sparring with her fade out. There were screaming neon signs with arrows that said she wasn’t what she presented to the world, any more than he was.
“Sure, I’d like that.”
“Excellent.” Her answer surprised him out of his dark thoughts. He’d expected her to prevaricate, or flat-out turn him down. “I’ll let you get back to it. Have…fun?” he said it with a questioning inflection and was rewarded with an even wider, flashing grin. She had a dimple on one side. He felt his gut clench. He loved dimples.
“Thanks. You too.”
He waved as he walked back down the trail. Halfway to his car he stopped in his tracks. He’d been whistling. He quit, but still, it resounded inside his head, a happy tune.
Cait Brennan. PhD. Geologist. Mystery Woman in Waders. Hiding enough sadness to drown a person twice her size. She got more intriguing by the hour.
He couldn’t let his attraction take him down that road. Truth was though, no matter how he tried, he found it hard to think of her as a dark construct, or even a half-blood elf gone to the bad, or one of the rare a Lesser Fae. As rare as they were, it would be far more rare for one of the Lesser Fae to go to the darker paths.
Of course, he reminded himself, she could be all the more dangerous for that very reason.
“All the better to fool you with, Bayliss,” he repeated aloud. Somehow, it still didn’t change his mood, and he whistled all the way to the car.

“OH, Yeah, baby!” an Ode to One-Liners

SM“I do not think that means what you think it means!” (Princess Bride)

“Stop rhyming and I mean it!” “Anybody want a peanut?” (Viceni to the Giant – Princess Bride)

“Say hello to my little friend!” (Scarface)

“My Captain! My Captain!” (Dead Poets Society)

“I’m not angry, I’ve just been in a bad mood for 40 years!” (Steel Magnolias…I’m not sure I’ve got the quote exactly right on this one…)

“I’m pretty sure the answer to that one is going to be “I Am Groot”” (Guardians of the Galaxy)

“Take off the shiny suit and what are you, huh?” “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” (Capt. America & Iron Man – The Avengers)

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (Gone With the Wind)

“Buehler?  Buehler?” (Ferris Buehlers Day Off)

Ah! The snappy, witty come back.  The throw-away, one liner that ends up being the quote of the month/year/decade.  I love it!!

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend and I have to say that I immediately wanted to queue up and see it again.  It’s fun, it’s funny and OMGosh, the witty repartee!!  It was fabulous!!  And, OH!, the one-liners!!  There are so many, I’m going to have to see it again just to catch them all.JAWS_Movie_poster

One of the things I adore most in a book or a movie is wit.  Seriously, don’t you love it?  The snappy comebacks, the clever banter.  Great writing that translates on the page as brilliant back-and-forth between characters on the screen?  Fabulous!  I know I’ve mentioned before that we still snicker and snork over so many lines from The Princess Bride that it’s almost cultish.  (I’m not saying I want to build a summer home here…)  Same with a friend of mine and the unscripted line from Jaws, “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat!”  And with a college friend, it’s Monty Python.  (“Fechez la Vache!)

Sometimes they become a part of the lexicon.  A generation’s language, a shorthand of global proportions, comes from movies that become iconic and nearly universal.  “Life is like a box of chocolates.”   “Run! Forrest, Run!” (Forrest Gump);  “Yo, Adrian!” (Rocky)’  “Stella!” (On the Waterfront); “Heeeeeres Johnny!” (The Shining/Johnny Carson show)

And some are just between you and the person with whom you saw the movie like my sister and I, when things get heavy duty and more expansive than expected:  “Muah-dib, we have worm-sign the likes of which even God has never seen!” (Dune – terrible version of the book, but oh! Patrick Stewart!)

Guardians of the Galaxy is, I can tell, going to be one of those movies.  The quotable ones.  The one-liner-becomes-lexicon ones.  Yep, it’s that good.

It’s also really, really fun.  There are elements of the serious hero movies like Superman and the Avengers, Iron Man and Capt. America – hey there’s even the usual cameo by Stan Lee – but the flat out, don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously humor of it is just impossible not to love.   The moment you expect to be poignant is cracked by a joke.  The moment you expect to be a joke, suddenly becomes poignant.

6119c9ff591fc215015594162ed92301.w980.h290._CR0,0,980,290_Now don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY who are already panning the movie.  “Too slow!”  “Too flippant!” “Too cerebral!” (Seriously?  This movie couldn’t be cerebral if you spanked it with a spinal column!!)  But, for me, it’s so incredibly well done, and so carefully “timed” in terms of action vs. repartee, pathos vs. blatant laughs, and seriously clever humor (“Metaphor!”) that as I said, I want to see it again.  Grins.

What about you, Bandits and Buddies?  Answer a few or answer them all….

Do you love a good wit in your movies?  That humorous banter that just calls out to be used in everyday conversation?  (“Amok! Amok! Amok!” – Hocus Pocus)

Or do you like that more subtle insult wit like Cap and Tony Stark?  (“I’ll draw your blood for that sir!” “Tis I am the leech, yet you would draw my blood? I think not!” – Colonial Gov to Capt. Blood – Capt. Blood)

Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet?  (No spoilers!)  Or are you going to see it?

Do you like your humor mixed with other things – humorous action movies like Marvel – or straight up, as in Austin Powers, or Robin Hood Men in Tights?

Do you like the witty in those fab English Historicals?  Having recently read Donna’s Whisky Laird, and Christina Brooke’s Wickedest Lord Alive, I’m REALLY enjoying the wit of the English.  My pal Barbara Devlin is also a past-master at the witty repartee in her heroes and heroines.  I have laughed so much at some of the things Lady Rebecca managed to say without being “caught” at it in her My Lady the Spy!  Ha!  And our own Anna C’s books are packed with wit and sly innuendo.  I must confess that I have sometimes not even captblood1caught the best of them on the first read, they’re so clever.  Go, Anna!  Ha!

(While I focused on the historical here, each of the Bandits has that wit – sharp and pointy!  I love it! – in and of themselves and in their various characters.  I ADORE blogging with them for that, much less reading their books.  Ha!)

What’s the wittiest book you’ve enjoyed?  What book can you think of that has that great back and forth repartee in the dialogue?

What’s your favorite movie for great innuendo and wit in the dialogue?  (Thomas Crown Affaire!!  The whole movie is a study in repartee between the Renee Russo character and the Thomas Crowne character!)

What’s your favorite movie and book for one-liners? (Movie – Princess Bride; Book – Elizabeth Peters’ Crocodile on the Sandbank where Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson verbally spar whilst running for their lives!) )

So….what about YOU???

Conference Craziness!

Jeanne's I Phone 405It’s here!  Conference season!

Today (Wednesday) is the start of the huge RWA Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  Many of the Banditas are there, promoting their books at tonight’s Open-to-the-Public Literacy Signing!  They’ll be meeting up with old friends, new fans, and getting a start on learning what’s new in the writing biz.  Yay, Banditas!!  (That’s me and Nancy from last year’s Rita night….aren’t we snazzy?)

Virtually every field has a conference.  Most have one or two, depending on their size or location.  Miners have conferences, dentists and dental hygienists have conferences (Right Terry Brisbin?), doctors, morticians, romance writers, rodeo riders, cops, and probably robbers too.

Most fields have a group get-together to network, share new ideas, educate members on tried-and-true knowledge and, of course, to have a little fun.

I love conferences.  I feed on all that people energy and adore meeting new writers, new readers, and people of all walks, talks and ilks.  Grins.

I’m not in San Antonio this year as we were on vacation last week for Eldest Son’s last baseball tournament before he becomes a high school player.  It was huge fun, but I didn’t see how I could manage going to Myrtle Beach for a week, then turn around and head to the hottest corner of He…I mean San Antonio, for RWA.  Isn’t that a gorgeous view from our balcony?beach

Now that doesn’t mean that I’m not conferencing!  Oh, no!  I most assuredly AM!  As many of you know, I had a blast at Barbara Vey’s annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon in April.  If you’re anywhere near Milwaukee, you would LOVE this event!  It’s in April.  Check out the website here: http://barbaravey.com/readerluncheon/  2015′s keynote speaker is the fabulous Tess Gerritson.

The pictures of me with Sylvia Day – could we have picked worse tops to put together for a photo? – and with the lady herself, Barbara Vey below, were from the 2014 event.  Yes, I DO have alien head bobbers on my head.  Your eyes do not decieve you.  :>

sylThis year’s Nora Roberts Writing Institute (Aug 8-10)  is coming up as well.  This amazing weekend event is a brilliant way to give your writing a kickstart, especially if you’re new to writing, or you’ve been away from it for a while.  The keynotes at NRWI this year are the AMAZING Sylvia Day and the equally AMAZING Hank Phillipi Ryan.  Hank’s been on the blog with us a number of times and she has a new book out too!  Bandita Donna and I will both be presenting at the NRWI as well as the fabulous Jana DeLeon, Susan Donovan, Gail Barrett, Jeanne Ford, and Agnes Jayne (also a fab blog guest!!)

I’m really looking forward to NRWI this year, even more than last year, because I’ll be in the company of fabulous writers and great creative energy.  You should come, it’s going to be great, great FUN.  (Check it out at http://nrwi.org/ )

Since I won’t be at RWA (*sniffle*) I’m going to milk NRWI for all the energy and booksigning mojo I can get.  Ha!

(Nora’s bookstore, TURN THE PAGE BOOKS www.ttpbooks.com  is doing the signing on Sunday if you’re in the area of Hagerstown MD on August 10!)

I know Banditas Nancy and Trish will head, along with my WRW Pal, Jean Marie Ward, to Atlanta for DragonCon here before too long, and Comicon, Balticon and others will be rolling around in the fall.

What about you, Buddies and Banditas?

Do you love conferences, or do they just wear you out?photo

Is there a major conference in YOUR field?  Do you go?

What about regional ones?

I know our Bandit Buddies Helen and Barb are fixtures at the Aus Romance Writers conference, and Banditas Christina and both Anna’s have been….Anyone else?

Ever had a conference romance?  (Harder at Romance conferences, since there’s so few men…hahah!!)

What’s your favorite “It happened at a conference…” story?  Mine’s about a logging demo….me, 300 loggers, some Caterpillar heavy logging equipment, jello….yeah, that was fun.

Tell all!!

Did you ever see….?

100074_gal Did you see The Butler?  The movie, that is.  What about White House Down?  Or it’s equally ridiculous, but fun counterpart, Olympus Has Fallen?

What about Taxi?  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?

Or Princess Bride?  Or that perinnial favorite around our house, Robin Hood, Men in Tights?

Have you seen How To Train Your Dragon?  Kung Fu Panda? (1 and 2!) Or, what about Hotel Transylvania?

Two of my (nearly grown) nephews were here this weekend, one with his fiance, and we ended up in a fabulous discussion of movies and books and ranged out from there.  It was huge fun.  It was great to have company, and to have so many fun, funny discussions.  I totally enjoyed it!

There was grilling.  There was LOTS of baseball (Cubs vs. Nationals!  WOOT!!) and there were outstanding Fireworks.

Yay and hooray for the 4th of July!RobinHoodMeninTights_Poster

As to the discussions, we vociferously discussed who was the best Bond (Sean or Pierce? Lazenby or Nivens?), who was the best Captain of the Enterprise (Piccard allllll the way!)  and was there a difference in Cary Elwes character in Men in Tights vs. Princess Bride?

(Consensus was that Mel Brooks felt Robin/Elwes should be very Wesley-like to cash in on the popularity of Princess Bride).

There was even a rousing chorus of “We’re men!  We’re men in tights!”  Snork!!  The testosterone was almost more than I could stand.  Grins.

That led us to stories about movies – for instance,  The Piccard Manuver is what the crew called it when Piccard would pull down his uniform shirt.  It started because the original costume was too small.  That took us to The Red Shirt Phenomenon.  (If the landing party from the Enterprise has a red-shirted crewman, he’s the one who dies)

I really had the most fun with the book/movie discussion.  One of our nephews said that he’d re-read a book that had just baffled him in high school.  “Back then” it was required reading.  He decided that he wanted to give it another shot and see what he thought.  I understood this – I’ve done it – and so I asked him about the book.  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  He said that the first read was just to get through it and get the paper written for class and he didn’t understand it at all.  He made a decent grade (more probably because he at least tried, as much as for what he wrote, he admitted)

31nqYwGSzgL._SL300_ Now, however, on re-read, he said he got so much out of it.  The layers of the book.  Philosophy.  Fiction.    Motorcycles.  Life.

Yep.  He said he’d have to stop every few chapters and just absorb all that new thought processing.

What book did he hate?  Watership Down.  (I LOVED that book!  Kehar get you mudders!!)

Hubby liked most of those depressing things – Seperate Peace, Grapes of Wrath, etc.  But we totally agreed on To Kill A Mockingbird and being absolutely outstanding.
MV5BMTkzMDgyNjQwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTg2Mjc1MDE@._V1_SX67_CR0,0,67,98_AL_

I detested A Seperate Peace (as y’all have heard me whine), but the nephew, on the other hand, had loved Seperate Peace on first read, but agreed with me on the adult read.  That nephew likes Chekov and wants to read The Brothers Karamazov.  Hmmmm….

We also got into the total political incorrectness of some of our beloved favorites, such as Tarzan of the Apes (1914), The Bat (1920 and the origin material for Batman), and my all -time favorite, Silver Chief, Dog of the North.  OMGosh, to our 21st century sensibilities, these are wince-able in their prose demeaning servants in general, African-america servants in particular, Africans of any ilk, the Irish, the Italians, any immigrant from anywhere….you get the idea.

Then there were the movies.  OMGosh, the fun!  One nephew hated Taxi, loved Cockoo’s Nest.  The other just the opposite.  The Shining.  (Heeeeeres, Johnny!)  We all universally loved The Princess Bride – which then kicked off a virtual marathon of quotes, rebuttals, and ripostes.  Grins.

This also occured with Men in Tights, and the guys got into it with 21 Jump Street and some of the sillier “guy movies” that weren’t my cuppa.  (The Hangover.  Weekend at Bernies II.)  A favorite quote from Men in Tights –  “Henceforth all toilets in England will be known as Johns!”  Grins.

So what about you, Banditas and Buddies….

11819_galWhat book that you hated as a kid, have you re-read and liked?

What about the opposite?  Loved as a kid and either hated or winced over as an adult?  (You should have heard me verbally editing Tarzan as I tried to read it to Eldest Son!  Gave up.  Seriously, just gave up.)

Is there a book that “everyone loves and reads” (or at least finds deeply meaning ful) – Catcher; Misery; The Stand; Charlottes Web; Animal Farm – that you detest?   Have you ever tried to re-read it and see if its different as an adult?

What about movies?  Was there one that you loved that you quote all the time?  (Amok! Amok! Amok! – Hocus Pocus)

Did you love the Princess Bride?  What’s YOUR favorite quote?  (I’m not saying I want to build a summer home here, but the trees are really quite lovely…)

Is there a family/sister/best friend movie that you just LOL over and watch every time?

Is there one you quote to your children, or spouse or BFF?  

(Eldest son and I – Thanks for nothing, you useless reptile – How To Train Your Dragon; BFF – Have Fun Storming the Castle? Think it’ll work? It would take a miracle! – Princess Bride; BFF – Honestly, you should be the heroine of your own life – The Holiday; Hubby – I’m not a witch, I’m your wife! – Princess Bride)

And what did your school make you read that was “standard issue reading” when you were in high school?  (Illiad and Odyssey for me as well as Catcher and Flies)  Did you love it or hate it?  (Loved the Homer, you obviously know how I feel about the rest!!)

Can you even believe that there are people who are grown up, that haven’t read a book for pleasure since HIGH SCHOOL?  OMGosh, what are the doing??  Grins.  

Last but not least – who’s the best captain of the Enterprise?   Kirk Shatner; Kirk Pine; Piccard (Stewart); Janeway (Mulgrew); Archer (Scott Bakula)

The Joys of Chocolate!!

Trufa_de_chocolateHey gang!  You thought you were rid of me, right?  Snork!

Cassondra had technical difficulties with power outages in her area, so her blog didn’t get posted for today.  Instead, you get MEEEEEE!!!  Bwahahahah!

So, let’s talk chocolate.

I just read an article that said that people from other parts of the world think we here in America have terrible chocolate.  Having been in Hershey PA for a baseball tournament recently, and going through the neat-o presentation they do on making chocolate, I’m thinking we use waaaaaay too much sugar for most people’s taste.  Grins.  (This from a woman who loves sweet tea more than anything…)

Europeans, the article said, want their chocolate dark and with a slighlty bitter edge.

Asian countries prefer a milk chocolate, but not nearly as sweet as we like it.

And yet, somehow, M&Ms are universally loved.  Go figure.Candy-Peanut-MMs-Wrapper-Small

I’ve tasted some very high-end chocolate from Switzerland, and I know Caren has had that too, having visited the Swiss.  It ISN’T that sweet.  It’s very chocolate-y but, to our sugar-jaded American tastebuds, its bland.  I’ve also had some very dear chocolates from a famed New York chocolatier who was called upon to provide chocolate to the Queen last time she was in the US.  (One of their claims to fame!)  It too was not sweet, but it didn’t have that slightly bitter aftertone that some of the Swiss chocolates did.

What about you, Bandits and Buddies?

Have you had Chocolate from other parts of the world?  

How did it compare to our Sees, Whitmans, and dime store chocolates?  Too bitter?  Too sweet?

Do you love M&Ms?  I believe the green ones assist in the laborious editing process.  (They are far better for editing than the yellow ones, let me tell you!)

What’s YOUR favorite color of M&M?

What’s your favorite chocolate brand, and DO tell us the good brands from outside the US!?

Do Americans use too much sugar?

Car Trouble…

800px-Chrysler_Town_and_Country_SWB_--_07-09-2009 I have a love/hate relationship with my car.

I love my van.  It Goghs.  (Snork!  That’s a really old Mom Joke…When Vincent’s Van Won’t Gogh…)  

On any given day ’round my place, it will hold a lot of guys with baseball gear and get them to the game on time.  And on another day, it’ll hold a buncha guys with Tae Kwon Do bags arguing about the variations in Minecraft texture packs.  

It hauls mulch.  

It hauls furniture.  

It hauls friends for a girls night out if I get the short straw as designated driver.  

It is (*cue super hero music*)  uber-useful-van!

Except when it won’t go.  I hate it when it won’t go.  I loathe car repair experiences in general.

This is actually rare, thankfully.  Chrysler makes a good darn mini-van.  (As well they should since they invented the darn things!  Thank you, Lee Iaccoca!)  However, I was reminded of these occasional lapses of going by Bandita Nancy’s visit here to DC.  She had car trouble.  

Now she doesn’t drive a mini-van, for which I’m sure she’s grateful, but her car was not happy when she arrived.  640px-Lewis_Hine_Power_house_mechanic_working_on_steam_pumpWe got it to my mechanic this morning and by late afternoon, it was ready to get back to the good work of serving as Bandita Nancy’s sturdy transportation.  Grins.  Nancy, I know, was dubious, but I told her I had faith in the guy.  

Now this is a hard thing for me, to have faith in a mechanic.  but let me tell you a little story…

The last time my husband’s van wouldn’t go – yes, he has one too as you can see in the “double-parked” snow van scene below – we had taken it to this “new guy” mechanic at a gas station not too far from the house.  I was a bit concerned about this, but we knew the car wouldn’t get far (certainly not as far as the expensive dealership mechanics across town!).  This guy was handy, and not busy, and we needed the DH’s van to be fixed quickly.  There was a ballgame to get to, after all, and I had to go the other direction with youngest son, so BOTH vans had to work.

The young, unfamiliar-to-us mechanic, who had just bought out the grizzled, gruff, grouchy older guy who owned the place, assured us that he could do it.  He could get the van running and running well, for a decent price, and in the necessary time frame.  I’m not sure I’d’ve trusted “old gruff and grouchy” to stick to the timeline.  (He was a decent mechanic, but let’s just say that time ran differently in his shop than it does in my world.)

So we took it in, crossed our fingers and hoped, planning to get a rental car the whole time.

Young Mechanic called sooner than expected.  There was another part that needed fixing.  The DH and I rolled our eyes, thinking we were being scammed, but since we didn’t 800px-Helical_Gearshave much choice, we winced, grumbled, then gave our okay.

Less than twelve hours later, Young Mechanic called to say he was so sorry, that he was still behind and wouldn’t have it at 7 pm because the gas station had been robbed and he’d had to spend time with the police as he and his fellow mechanic had witnessed the robbery and the second mechanic had actually torn off on his motorcycle and followed the robber’s car, allowing the police to catch them!  

Well, hard to argue with that story.  We’d heard the sirens, heard the place had been robbed via the neighborhood grapevine.  

But….no car.

We planned for, and called in an order for, a rental.

The next morning, before the DH had to leave for the baseball game, Young Mechanic called to say the car was ready.  We were on our way to pick up the rental.  Dubious, we 2009 snow 007turned around and went to the gas station/garage.  

There sat the DH’s van, ready to go.  They’d also topped off the fluids and windshield wiper stuff.  He apologized for not having had time to wash it, he said, as they were still working with the management of the gas station to allow them to wash the cars.  

We were agape.  We canceled the rental.

With trepidation, we asked Young Mechanic how he’d managed to get the car done by that morning.

“Oh, I stayed here until about midnight.  I had yours and one other that I’d promised.  If I’d’a had to wait on parts, that would be one thing, but I had the parts.  Big delay was the police stuff.  So, I knew you needed it, so I stayed till I got it done.”

Young Mechanic now has our loyalty.  We recommend him.  Obviously, when a friend needs a mechanic, as Bandita Nancy did, we go to Young Mechanic.  This guy started his business with a van and some tools.  At first he’d go to the customer with his van and his tools and fix their cars.  He built a following, a clientele.  He got a second van, hired another guy who loved working on cars to drive that van and off they went, fixing cars.  

When grouchy, gruff old mechanic with his own sense of time decided to hang up his wrenches, Young Mechanic bought the business, lock, stock and lug-nuts.  How?  He’d been saving up a portion of his receipts from Us_flag_with_eagleevery job he did with his trucks because he needed and wanted a permanent location.

It’s such an American story, isn’t it?  I don’t know Young Mechanic’s ethnicity and don’t really care – he’s as American as American can be.  I know one of his mechanics is either Polish or of Polish extraction because his name, as he told me when I asked how to pronounce it, is Polish.  Another is, I think, originally Kenyan, and the fourth, another general mutt of an American like me.  I asked one of them how he came to work for Young Mechanic.  

“I needed a job.  He’d been open about a week and I came in.”

“He hired you?” I asked.  “Just like that?”

“He was taking down an engine.  I told him where the extra bolt was that was keeping it from coming down, so he hired me.”

Yep.  American as American can be.  

Hire people who are smart.  Hire people who are smarter, or more experienced than YOU are.  Treat your customers right.  Stay late if you need to, to get the job done.  When a good customer comes in and her friend from out of town has car trouble, help them out.  

If you see a customer struggling to put air in the tires, go help.  (Saw him do this one day when I was getting gas, and no, it wasn’t some pretty young thing he wanted to flirt with.  It was a mom with a van full of kids and dogs.)  

Price fairly, and make sure you don’t overcharge for things, because eventually the customer WILL find out.  Give good advice.  Tell the customer “You have to do this RIGHT NOW.  You need to do this other thing, but it isn’t as urgent.  If you can only spend XX dollars to keep it running, spend them HERE.”

THAT is a good mechanic.  That is also a superb businessman.  Worth his weight in gold.  And I assure you, he will make really great money, doing something he loves, and will prosper.  I send him business all the time.  I know other people do too.  He’ll own the whole property before he’s done, mark my words.  Probably still have his fleet of trucks too.

Sometimes, a little car trouble leads you to a great story.  Sometimes, it reminds you that the American Entrepreneur isn’t on the Endangered Species List or as extinct as the Dodo bird!   1280px-Oxford_Dodo_display

All good things.

Have you ever had car trouble when you were out of town?  Did some good come out of it, or was it a terrible experience?

Where is/was the worst place you’ve ever broken down?

Do you know how to change your own tire?  Your oil?  Or do you barely know how to get the hood open?

Do you own jumper cables?

Do you have a good mechanic, or is that as rare as Dodo eggs where you are?

Do you know a great entrepreneur like this guy?

(Photos are either mine or Wikimedia Commons)

Peer Pressure Strikes…Or, Sneaking Around.

Wine-1If you drink at all, when did you take your first drink?

What about sneaking out of the house or staying after school to “do homework” and kissing the boys? (or girls…)

Did you ever go over to one friend’s house, the one you told your mother you were going to spend the night with, and then you and THAT friend went to someone else’s house?

I have to confess, I wasn’t much of a “sneaker” – I just have that kind of face that gives it alllllll away.  Ha!  I can keep secrets with the best of them, but about what I personally have been doing, I’m not that good at lying.

Fortunately, neither is my eldest.  Ha!  There have been several incidents this year in which some of his friends have gotten in trouble, and he’s either gotten “tarred with that brush” or it’s been big discussion amongst the parents and he’s gotten lectured.  (Picture major eye-rollage over the lectures, by the way).  I am not prone to lecture much – I lecture selectively to keep it sharp and pointy – but he got a big one tonight.

He’s in eighth grade, about to “graduate” to high school next fall.  Over the weekend, one of his friends got drunk and got busted for it.  Ooops!  

Fortunately Eldest Son was not involved, but he might have been had he chosen to spend the night with said friend, rather than be home early for baseball.  One of those “there but for the grace of God, go I” events.  He wouldn’t think of it that way, but it was.

Now it’s a HUGE drama, and with all the cell-phonage and texting and so forth, it is already all over the school and probably known throughout most of our very large area.  Baseball teams around the regions know….several of the boys who got in trouble were on baseball teams my son either plays on or against….and so it’s been big talk there.   Parents are calling, emailing, and texting one another about it as well.

Holy cow, it’s a flurry of texts coming in even yet.  Grins.1321157356

So, for Eldest Son, it’s been a day of long discussion with mom and dad, then big lecture from mom and dad, and again with the eye-rollage but compliance from Eldest Son.  He does listen, bless him, and he is smart enough to know better than to defend his friend.  (Not that he would, since he thought it was stupid) 

All this, as parents, made us, once Eldest Son had gone to bed, roll our OWN eyes and be grateful that it wasn’t our kid getting everyone else in trouble and sneaking alcohol.  The DH and I aren’t big drinkers, and it would be very obvious if alcohol was missing, so that’s one thing.  Another thing, we’ve talked to our kids about beer, wine and hard liquor and – except for the hard liquor – they’ve had a taste of each and been very put off.  Ha!  I figured if it wasn’t made “forbidden fruit” on it’s own merits, but on taste, which needs to be acquired, and must be …uh, like, LEGAL…as my son would say, then they wouldn’t be prone to sneaking.

It got the DH and I talking, however, about our own sneaking, experimenting, challenging parental authority and so on.  

I felt like SUCH a goody-two-shoes.  Snork!  

Maybe girls are just less prone.  Or maybe I was less prone because I saw very good friends get in very, very, very bad trouble and so I chose not to drink or experiment with drugs.  I also went to a school that had a lot of drug issues.  Once you’ve seen someone, high on PCP, try to fly down a set of marble stairs and break a lot of things (including the windows in the school’s front doors), as well as major bones, drugs don’t have much appeal.

8-11-12JohnnyLion'sbirthday!054Alcohol was a little more appealing, given that in my house, growing up, it WAS forbidden fruit.  My parents were teeeeeeetotallers.  :> Still.  I’d experimented some, but again had one of those experiences where, when I was an RA in my dorm, (I went to college long before I was legal to drink, btw), I had to take one of my residents to the ER for a stomach pump for alcohol poisoning.  

Let me tell you, that’s just nasty.  I didn’t drink for YEARS after that.

I love a glass of wine, and probably had my first glass of wine at 16 or 17.   Hard liquor was a little later, 20, but it doesn’t hit me the way wine does.  It doesn’t affect me much until the next day.  Urg.  

Smoking stuff and any other “substance” wasn’t much fun after the PCP incident, so I never really went there.

For the most part, my “crack” was books, and reading and dreaming.  If they’d made reading illegal, I would have been a junkie of the highest order.

What about you?  Were you like me and a goody two-shoes that stuck to the rules – at least about that sort of thing?  

Or were you a Pink Lady, wild child, experimenter?2219984

Books may be your “crack” now, but were they when you were young as well, or is it only with the advent of the Kindle that you’ve gotten back into reading?

Do you find it as shocking as I do that 60% of Americans admit to never picking up a book to read after graduating high school?  (OMG, how do they survive??  And frankly, even if I DID it, I wouldn’t ADMIT to being that ignorant!  Yikes!)

What was the first book you “sneaked”?  Mine was The Exorcist.

 (photos are either the author’s or permission was requested of the photographer)

A Visit with the Fabulous SOPHIA NASH!

SophiaNash4Bandits and buddies, I hope you’ll join me in welcoming back my dear friend, SOPHIA NASH!

Sophia’s been a guest on the blog several times, but it’s been a while. Sophia, for those new to the Bandits who might not know you, tell us a little about your journey to writing award-winning Regency-set historicals.

Sophia: A bit of a sad story really. My father was dying of cancer and when I suggested that he write a book as it was a dream of his, he replied, “No. Life is short and YOU want to write a book. So, write it and I’ll edit it.” We both loved Jane Austen and so I wrote a Regency set historical, “A Secret Passion.”

A year later my father died, but the book finaled in a contest and caught the eye of an editor, who offered a two book contract.

Jeanne: Oh, that IS sad,  and so bittersweet!  I’m sorry for your loss, but glad you actually DID write the book! When did you first know you were going to be a writer? Or more accurately when did you first want to be one?

Sophia: No one else in my family wrote, so I didn’t know right away. But I always loved books, movies, or any kind of storytelling. I became a television writer and producer straight out of college and it was during that job at a CBS affiliate that I realized how much I enjoyed writing.

Jeanne: Interesting…You’re the second award-winning author I know that worked in television! What is it about the Regency that is so attractive to writers and readers?

Sophia: I think so many people love the books (and/or the movies) by Jane Austen that that is a draw. I also liken the Regency period as 220px-Pickering_-_Greatbatch_-_Jane_Austen_-_Pride_and_Prejudice_-_She_then_told_him_what_Mr._Darcy_had_voluntarily_done_for_Lydiathe 1960s of the 1800s. There was a war going on, young men were dying, new music–the waltz, where people embraced while they danced– new art, architecture styles, daring fashion. It was an exciting time to be alive.

Jeanne: Are there any other historical periods in which you’d enjoy setting a book? Or other countries during a certain historical time?

Sophia: Aside from the Georgian period, which is fascinating to me, I also love the WWII era. And as I’m French and American, I adore both countries.

Jeanne: I’ve so enjoyed getting to know about WWII for a novella I’m working on, and since it’s partly set in France, you know I’m going to be picking your brain about France and all things French!  Grins.  

Now, tell us about this fabulous book, THE ONCE AND FUTURE DUCHESS! I adore that cover.  And about the series as well. This is the last book in the series, isn’t it?once_350

Sophia: Yes, this is, indeed, the last book in the quartet. And it ties up all the remaining questions concerning all the dukes in the series. This is truly the Duke of Candover’s story, and Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March.

She has been in love with him for most of her life, but duty and a promise made keep them apart. This is a story about the courage it takes to be vulnerable and to stay the course. In addition, The Duke of Sussex, from one of the other books, must find his destiny with Miss Amelia Primrose.

My absolute favorite scene in the book is when all the characters go out on a golf course. Who knew the game of golf could be so funny?

Jeanne: Well, it’s an odd game, but I can’t wait to see how funny YOU make it! Grins.

And now for some general fun that doesn’t involve golf….Since your Duchess is a bit unconventional, we’ll mix up some modern and historical questions.

mens-bambooorganic-cotton-boxer-shorts-eco-fabrik-bbx4-2a_47760_fullBoxers or briefs?

Sophia: As for me, boxers, but of course, the Duchess would not know what those were. And the Duke of Candover would not wear anything. Nothing gets between him and his breeches.

Jeanne: Snork! Well, that could make things interesting!

Lawn Darts or Lawn sex?

Sophia: Both. Together. At the same time ;)

Jeanne: OMGosh, that could be dangerous!! Hahah!

Ireland or Scotland?37988916_700x700min_1

Sophia: I love both and am dying to go, but Isabelle wouldn’t have gone to either. She’s very much the British Aristo, in love with her own country. And she’d never go there unmarried….wouldn’t want anyone to think she was after a quickie wedding!

Jeanne:England, is a great country (I know Anna Sugden, Nancy Northcott and all our historical Banditas would agree!), and I guess Scotland and Gretna Green were the Regency version of Vegas, for weddings. Snork!

Chocolate sauce or caramel?

Sophia: Are you kidding? Both!

Jeanne: Amen!

Let’s go for exotic….India or Africa?

IMG_0686Sophia: I believe Candover would choose a refreshing trip to America.  That would be sufficiently wild for him, but I’d go for the exotic and choose Africa, specifically, Namibia!  I went there this last year and loved it!

Jeanne: Ooooh! Namibia!! That is exotic!  I loved these pictures of you on the dunes!

Sidesaddle or hunt seat?

Sophia: The Duchess can, of course, ride either, but prefers hunt seat even if it’s a bit scandalous. The Duke secretly has a thing for sidesaddles–not.

Jeanne: Snork! Have YOU ever ridden sidesaddle?  I know you used to be involved in horse shows…2012445(2)

Sophia: Yes! One of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had was jumping a one foot fence riding sidesaddle. It made the nearly six foot fences that you jump while astride feel like a piece of cake!

Jeanne: I’ll bet. It just seems so off balance and…well…dangerous. Grins.

In that same vein…Riding habit or ball gown?

Sophia: For me, I’m the outdoorsy type, so I’d go for jeans and chaps to ride as opposed to the hose and ballgowns and shoes that hurt your feet.IMG_0458

As for the Duchess she would tell you she’s always dressed appropriately and meticulously. She wears whatever the occasion demands. (However, if pressed, she’d go for the riding habit and be outside in the fresh air!)

Jeanne: Riding works…Grins.

Bikini, one-piece or wetsuit?

IMG_0599Sophia: Seriously???? I’m going for the wetsuit. I like to surf, but it’s COLD in the water I like to surf in, in the Atlantic. I have to say though, if Isabelle were alive right now, she’d be rocking a bikini under her wetsuit. She’s just that adventurous.

Jeanne:  You go on with your bad self, Sophia!  Surfing!  Love it!  And from what I know about Isabelle, she would be right out there with you.  Grins.

So what about you, Bandits and buddies? What are your answers to the questions??

Boxers or Briefs?

Lawn Darts or Lawn Sex?

Ireland or Scotland? (Or both with England thrown in for luck?)

Chocolate sauce or caramel?

India or Africa?

Sidesaddle or Hunt Seat?

Riding Habit or Ballgown?

Bikini, one-piece, wetsuit or “not going anywhere near the beach”?

THE ONCE AND FUTURE DUCHESS came out YESTERDAY!  Go, buy, enjoy!  But wait till tomorrow…Sophia is generously giving away a copy to one lucky commenter! Have fun!

(All photos are the author’s, from Yahoo Free Images, Wikimedia Commons or private collection.  No copyright infringement intended)

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