Posts tagged with: Jo Beverley

Miranda Neville Noodles on Names!

by Anna Campbell

It is with immense pleasure that I bring back a lair favorite, the fabulous Miranda Neville, who is here today to talk to us about her wonderful new historical romance just out from Avon THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT.

I adored THE WILD MARQUIS, the first book in her Burgundy Club series about a series of aristocratic book collectors in Regency London. And Miranda had me at hello when she told me that this book featured a nerd as the hero. I love it when nerds discover their inner Tarzan!


Here’s the blurb for THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT:

She is determined to find a husband … now!

Diana Fanshawe’s impeccable bloodline doesn’t stop society from laughing at the antics of her eccentric family. She knows the right marriage is her one chance to make her way in the world–which is precisely why she will Marry Lord Blakeney. But then she’s kissed by the brilliant ansd unconventional Sebastian Iverley, and her well-laid plans tumble into disarray.

Sebastian wants absolutely nothing to do with love or marriage. He likes his books, his male friends in the Burgundy Club, and he avoids women. But when he arrives at his hated cousin Blakeney’s house party, he’s smitten by the tantalizing Diana.

Should the lady follow her heart and try to win Iverley’s, though it seems hardened against her–or should she sacrifice love for respectability?

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? You can read an excerpt here.

By the way, I take no responsibility for the very disrespectful attitude taken to some great works of Western art in this blog. Although I must say I snorted a cup of tea all over my keyboard when Miranda sent me the illustrations for her visit!

Anyway, without more ado, HEEEEEERRRREEEEE’SSSS MIRANDA!!!!

MIRANDA: Hello, my dear Ms. Campbell and all you wonderful Banditas. I love partying with you guys because you are, quite simply the best. (Yes, I say that to all the blogs but I really really mean it this time). Thank you for letting me ramble.

HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS (UM, THAT WOULD BE ME!): Ramble away, my dear, especially if compliments are involved. Here, have a cabana boy. Make sure that when you lift him by the love handles, you raise your pinky. We’re very refined here!

MIRANDA: The first time I read a blurb for Anna’s MY RECKLESS SURRENDER (damn good book – read it if you haven’t, or read it again) (HWTM: Why thank you, my dear!) I nearly fell off my chair. Now Anna and I do from time to time exchange emails, but on such important topics as the weather, classical music and what we are cooking for dinner. If we should mention our Works In Progress the conversation tends to include vocabulary unsuitable for a family audience on the subject of Work, Progress and lack thereof. We don’t get into details like our characters’ names. So imagine my shock when I read about Diana and Tarquin. I was just winding up a book with a heroine named Diana and about to start one with a Tarquin hero.

Coincidence or some sinister Aussie plot? I’ll let you be the judge. (Sinister Aussie going BWAHAHAHA here!)

Diana at least is a normal kind of name, but I don’t recall another Tarquin. My Tarquin has been with me a long time. He was the hero’s best friend in my first manuscript. When that book didn’t sell, I transferred Tarquin, whom I loved, over to a new series.

HWTM: Actually I’ve worked out I got Tarquin from Laurence Olivier’s son – my mum had a lifelong crush on Sir Larry. I had thought he was an Etruscan King, Tarquinius Superbus, but it turns out TS was the last king of Rome. Oh, well, still like the name although in Australia, he’d be beaten up in the playground.

M: Have you noticed how sometimes there seems to be a trend for a certain name? Suddenly it will crop up in half a dozen books and you can bet the farm the writers didn’t get together and say “I know, let’s all name our heroine Joanna this year.” That first MS of mine had a hero named Marcus and I swear I couldn’t find a book that year without a Marcus. It must have been something in the air.

The hero of THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT is Sebastian. Now there have been many, many great Sebastians. Off the top of my head I’m thinking of LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase, Verlaine in Patricia Gaffney’s TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, St. Vincent in Lisa Kleypas’s THE DEVIL IN WINTER, the sinister Bastien in Anne Stuart’s BLACK ICE and Julia Quinn’s adorable Sebastian Gray in TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU.

HWTM: Not to mention the wonderful Sebastian, the hero of Christine Wells’s Golden Heart winning debut SCANDAL’S DAUGHTER.

M: My Sebastian is absolutely nothing like any of these. Frankly, he’s a nerd. He collects books, dresses badly and has no social graces. He wears glasses and he hates women –will have nothing to do with them. And I mean nothing.

HWTM: Yup, had me at hello!

M: But Sebastian takes one look at Diana (actually her leg, revealed as she adjusts her stirrup) and falls hard. In love for the first time, he gets a rude awakening when he learns she’s using him to attract his detestable cousin. To get revenge and make her fall for him, he gets an extreme makeover with the help of his friends Cain (from The WILD MARQUIS) and Tarquin (remember him?).

I must say my Sebastian cleaned up beautifully and though he has a few lessons to learn along the way (don’t they all?) he ends up an all round adorable hottie. Diana, who as a widow is the experienced one in this relationship, is charming, chic, light-hearted and determined to marry a duke. However she’s not as sophisticated as she thinks she is and she and Sebastian manage to get themselves into quite a muddle.

The naming of Diana is a story in itself. Originally she was named Marianne, after my eldest sister. Trouble is, she is nothing like my sister and as I wrote it started to bother me. I scribbled a list names on a yellow pad and Diana stuck. Her younger sister had been named Arabella but I decided to go with the goddess theme and changed her to Minerva. After I finished the book, I reread Jenny Crusie’s Bet Me, one of my favorite books. Good Lord. Min and Di. I’d never once thought of it. Had I been channeling Crusie? I shrugged and decided there are far worse people to channel.

HWTM: My Diana was originally Antonia but the hero was Ashcroft so we started to look like an ad for AAA Insurance. My next heroine is Antonia – another name I’ve always liked. Naming characters is one of the fun bits of writing.

M: I must admit there are names I’m not so fond off. Personally I have a hard time with heroes named Jeremy or Nigel. I think they are wimp names. Not that I haven’t enjoyed books with those names but I’d never choose them myself.

HWTM: I rather like Jeremy – I like J names! Julian, Justin, etc. Nigel, nah. Ian’s the one I can’t cope with! So Miranda, do you have a question for our Bandits and Buddies?

M: Can you think of any hero and/or heroine names that seem to come up a lot? Do you have any favorites or least favorites? And why?

Fascinating topic, Miranda! Get commenting, people. Miranda is offering not one, but TWO PRIZES, one each to a commenter! A signed copy of THE WILD MARQUIS (great read – I told you that already!) and THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT. Good luck!

Addison Fox Has Warriors In The Stars…

interview with Suzanne
**sensing a little deja vu? I had a bit of a brain fart yesterday and managed to post this a day early! Ack…too much wine and too little sleep over the weekend! But yes Addison is visiting us today!!**

I met Addison Fox years before she sold her first book, Warrior Ascended. There was something special about this woman with her contagious smile and always positive attitude. So when she sold her first book to Signet, along with the whole Sons of the Zodiac series, I was thrilled. Now, I’m even more thrilled to welcome my good friend back to tell us about the second book in her series!

Suz: Welcome back to the Lair, Addison! And thank you for writing the very sexy, WARRIOR AVANGED! For those who haven’t had a chance to pick up the first book in your Sons Of The Zodiac series from Signet, can you give them a brief overview of the series premise?

Addison: Thanks so much for having me back in the Lair! I love visiting with the Banditas!!

Millennia ago, the goddess of justice, Themis, created a race of fierce warriors, each imbued with a special power of the zodiac and charged with protecting humanity from the evils of the world.

Suz: We met the hero of this book, Kane Montague, in the first book, Warrior Ascended. What is his sign and how does that first encounter play into Warrior Avenged?

Addison: Kane is my Scorpio warrior and for those of you who read WARRIOR ASCENDED, you know that Kane was burned in book one by a fellow secret agent at MI-6. The fact that said agent is the delectable female spy, Ilsa…AND the fact that she burned him at a *most* indelicate moment is the set up for WARRIOR AVENGED. Kane’s out for revenge – even as he can’t wait to get his hands on her again!

Suz: Mmmmmmm, love me my Scorpios. (By the way, we Scorpios are very sexy…hehehe). Uhm. So, yeah Ilsa was an interesting name for your heroine to use, but it isn’t her first cover name, is it?

Addison: Ilsa actually has three names (Adrasteia, Nemesis and Ilsa) and each ties to her backstory and what’s brought her to the point in time where the book starts. I love this heroine – she’s the most flawed, challenged heroine I’ve ever written and I had so much fun writing her and wringing as much emotion out of her as I could.


Suz: Kane isn’t just any warrior, he’s a warrior with a major problem. What is it and how does it affect his abilities?

Addison: Three centuries ago, Kane went up against a very dark sorcerer who found a way to turn Kane’s scorpion against him. The scorpion’s venom lives in his system and rises each year when the Antares star is at its zenith in late May. Antares is the brightest star in the Scorpius constellation and it was one of those fun little elements I found as I did research for the story.


Suz: How do you see the Zodiac Warrior’s war with Enyo progressing throughout the series?

Addison: I’m actually having a ton of fun with that part. Although the warriors and Enyo are all very clear characters in my mind, how their battle is going to play out is still a work in progress for me. Certainly, I expect the stakes to continue to rise and the battles to get more fierce, but exactly what form that is going to take is part of the fun for me!

Suz:  Have you met the hero who will step forward for the next book in this series?


Addison: Not only have I met him, but my readers have met him too! The hero of WARRIOR BETRAYED, which is the third book in the series out next May, is my Taurus warrior, Quinn Tanner. As Kane’s story finishes up, Quinn’s got some baggage he needs to overcome. His stubborn Taurus personality has put some distance between he and his brothers and he’s going to spend much of WARRIOR BETRAYED looking to atone for that.

Suz: And do you have any news for us in regards to the future of Addison Fox? (Girl, you know you want to tell everyone!)

Addison: Thank you for letting me share my news!!!! (Of course I want to tell!!!)

I am so excited to continue writing the Sons of the Zodiac series for NAL/Signet Eclipse. I’m also very excited to announce that I will be writing a contemporary trilogy for them set in Alaska. Here’s a quick blurb on the first book:

THE BACHELOR GAME, set in a small Alaska town whose three matriarchs, in a not-so-secret ploy to get their grandsons happily married off, host an annual contest that teams the town’s rugged bachelors with women from the Lower 48.

I’m working on that right now and it’s due out late 2011.

Thank you so much for having me today. I am so looking forward to visiting with everyone in the Lair!!!

Suz: Addison will be giving away a signed copy of WARRIOR ASCENDED to one lucky commenter.

Author MJ Fredrick Dons a Casting Director Hat

MJ Fredrick and I have a lot in common, not the least of which is our, uh, obsession with TV and movies. So it should come as no surprise that we both use actors and actresses as models for the characters we write. It helps give a visual representation for a character on the page as he or she comes to life. Sometimes it’s fun to try to cast the characters of books written by others. Today, MJ does a little of both. We hope you’re in a big screen kind of mood because we’re ready to play casting director today. Let’s begin…

My son and I were talking about books that are being made into movies, and he was surprised by the casting of Julia Stiles in the upcoming movie, The Bell Jar. (He’s 19, btw.) He said she wasn’t at all what he pictured. We went on to talk about the possible remake of The Great Gatsby. He thought Brad Pitt should take the role of Gatsby (And why not? He looks just like Robert Redford.) and Edward Norton should take the part of Nick, the narrator. I think that’s an excellent choice.

I love True Blood and think they did a great casting job, especially with Alcide. JUST what I thought he’d look like. Rworr.

I stopped reading the Stephanie Plum books a few back, but NEVER would have expected Katherine Heigl to take the part of Stephanie. I’m sure she’ll be fine, and I don’t know who I would have picked instead. Only not her.

As long as I’ve been on the Internet, there have been discussions of casting. The popular debates are over who should be Jamie from Outlander (totally Phillip Winchester, the guy who was on that short-lived Robinson Crusoe show, Crusoe) and who should be Roarke from JD Robb’s In Death series (give the kid from White Collar a few years). There’s even a website dedicated to the fun. (DO NOT GO HERE IF YOU WANT TO DO ANYTHING ELSE TODAY!) http://storycasting.com/

I’m reading the book Soulless and can totally see Emily Blunt as Alexia and Gerard Butler as Lord Maccon (he’s Scottish, after all). Maybe we’ll throw Edward Norton in as the professor.

Another series I’m in love with is The Hunger Games. I don’t know enough about young stars to cast them, but that’s a movie I’d love to see. Maybe the boy from Percy Jackson could be Peeta.

I think casting Joss Ware’s post-apocalyptic novels would be fun, too.

I always cast mine, at least the main parts. In my historical, Sunrise Over Texas from Carina Press, I saw Jared Padalecki as the hero and Adrienne Palicki as the heroine. Yes, they were once matched as a couple on Supernatural, which helped, but she has such a different look and could easily be cast in a historical. And Jared, with his shaggy hair, well, just slap a cowboy hat on him and voila! I think the cover artist did a great job of capturing him.

In my romantic suspense, Don’t Look Back from The Wild Rose Press, I saw Evangeline Lilly as Liv, the tough-as-nails doctor-turned-operative, and Gerard Butler circa Reign of Fire as the disgraced soldier Del. I’ve actually used Gerard Butler a lot—he was the model for my hero in Beneath the Surface from Samhain Publishing.

Do you like casting books? Or do you prefer to create your own pictures? Which books would you like to see made into movies? And who would you cast as the main characters?

Nicola’s Cool Winner!

Thanks to everyone who made Nicola Cornick’s visit yesterday such fun. Wasn’t it interesting to find out more about the North Pole, not to mention Nicola’s latest release WHISPER OF SCANDAL! Sounds like it could warm up a cold night or two!

The winner of the signed copy of WHISPER OF SCANDAL plus the cuddly polar bear toy is:

CORIES!!!!

Congratulations, Cories! If you email Nicola on ncornick@madasafish.com with your snail mail details, she’ll get your prize out to you. Enjoy!

Shh, quiet please…

by Christie Kelley

Is the world getting noisier or am I just getting old and have no patience for it anymore? I live in a suburb fifteen miles outside of Baltimore. I always thought the suburbs were supposed to be quieter than living in the city. I’m not so sure any more.

I’m ten miles away from the Baltimore airport so I usually see and hear planes passing overhead. After eleven years, I’m almost used to that sound. But it’s the other noises that are getting me lately. When the wind blows in the right direction, I get the lovely sound of trucks and motorcycles from the highway. Actually, I rarely hear the trucks but the motorcycles are constant on nice evenings.

Then there is the sound of chainsaws. I live in a neighborhood that is filled with old oak trees. So the sound of people having their trees either trimmed or cut down happens on a regular basis. And if there’s a storm, the next day is nothing but chainsaws.

The other night, my husband and I went out on the deck to sit in the hot tub. We couldn’t put on music because even the katydids were so loud we wouldn’t have been able to hear the music (no kidding, this is true). Even the bugs are getting louder!

So what set me off today? It’s a beautiful day here and I can actually open the windows in my office. It’s great, except for the noise of my neighbor’s jackhammer because he’s ripping up his sidewalk. Then there’s the sound of sirens. Five times I’ve heard sirens going up on the main road (it’s only 1pm). I can’t write with all the noises going on around me. I just wanted to open the windows to let the breeze in and hear the birds singing.

Now that I’m through venting (thank you for that), do you feel that the world is getting louder? Does noise bother you? How do you cope with the noise in your life? I received my author copies of Scandal of the Season, so I’m giving away a copy to one lucky person today. Just answer my questions or feel free to vent about something bugging you.

I’m also running a contest on my website for a chance to win a free copy of Scandal of the Season. Pop over to www.christiekelley.com for the details.

Love in a Cold Climate

by Anna Campbell

I’m delighted to welcome back one of my favorite writers, one of my favorite people and a lair regular (wow, I hope you’re paying me for this intro, Miss Cornick!), Nicola Cornick.

Nicola is here to tell us about her latest historical romance WHISPER OF SCANDAL, the first in her new “Scandalous Women of the Ton” series. They all sound absolutely delicious. The next books in the series are ONE WICKED SIN (November 2010) and MISTRESS BY MIDNIGHT (December 2010).

This is the blurb for WHISPER OF SCANDAL:

One whisper of scandal and a reputation dies…


Lady Joanna Ware is the darling of the Ton, a society hostess who has put behind her the misery of her unhappy marriage to a philanderer. Until her late husband bequeaths to her joint care of his illegitimate child…

Alexander, Lord Grant, is an explorer lauded as a hero and adventurer. He scorns the Ton and wants no family ties. Until his best friend bequeaths to him joint care of his illegitimate child…

Joanna and Alex disagree from the moment they first meet, so how are they ever to stay civil long enough to join forces and rescue the orphaned baby girl? Saving Nina takes them from the celebrity salons and balls of Regency London to the frozen wastes of the North Pole and tests both of them – and their emotions – to the very limit. For what will happen when their bitter hostility turns to an equally passionate desire?

Beware of scandalous women…


You can read an excerpt of WHISPER OF SCANDAL on Nicola’s website: http://www.nicolacornick.co.uk/books/whisper.php

Don’t forget you can order Nicola’s books from Amazon merely by clicking on the covers in the blog. Or you can get them sent post-free anywhere in the world from the Book Depository.

So here’s Nicola to tell you about some of the unusual inspirations behind WHISPER OF SCANDAL.

WHISPER OF SCANDAL, my “Arctic Regency,” is a book I’ve been researching for twenty years on and off, ever since I fell in love with the Far North. I come from Viking stock so maybe this attraction to all things polar is natural. I’m a bit like a goose that simply has to fly north for the summer. Usually my annual trips to Scotland are enough to satisfy me but sometimes Scotland simply doesn’t feel far enough. Then things get serious and it’s time for Iceland, Norway and if all else fails, Spitsbergen, right up above the Arctic Circle.


The first trip I made to 60 degrees north was to Iceland and it was amazing. We swam in hot springs, enjoyed the pleasures of bathing in “therapeutic” mud and walked on glaciers and volcanoes, sometimes at the same time. One of my overpowering memories of the trip, though, was the cold. We were camping. Not a good combination. Snuggled up in our tent at night under several layers of thermal sleeping bag it was still too cold to sleep. Shared bodily warmth really is essential in these conditions, for purely practical reasons.

Our second trip, to Tromso in northern Norway, was a special expedition to see the Northern Lights. This time we beat the cold problem by renting a cosy little wooden log cabin out by a lake. The locals told us that the Aurora Borealis came out every night at precisely 8pm. This seemed extraordinary but turned out to be true. Lying in the snow gazing up at the lights as they flickered across the sky was one of most exciting and magical experiences of my life.

And then to Spitsbergen, and a cruise around the island that was utterly extraordinary. So many of the scenes that feature in Whisper of Scandal were based on our experiences of that trip, from getting trapped in the ice (luckily we were in a converted ice-breaker not a 19th century sailing ship) to the party we had on deck under the midnight sun on the last night of the voyage.

The historical research was fascinating as well. The idea of a northern sea route along the coast of Russia to the Far East had been discussed as early as the sixteenth century and frequent attempts were made down the centuries to find this “North East Passage.” By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the British and other European nations were keen to establish a trade route via the Arctic but the dangers of such a voyage were considerable. Not for nothing was the phrase “safe return doubtful” included in the advertisements asking for men to volunteer for these voyages!

I read up on the account of Horatio Nelson’s Arctic expedition of 1773 aboard the rather alarmingly named HMS Carcass and also Constatine Phipps’ account of the same voyage. Officers for these expeditions were carefully chosen; the Admiralty wanted only the most daring and courageous men who also had stamina and a cool head in an emergency. They offered crews double pay for Arctic Service and a reward of £25 000 to the captain who discovered a route through the ice, but conditions were so extreme that any sane man would have to think twice about taking the challenge. The 1773 expedition ended in failure when the ships became trapped in the ice and were almost crushed. Only a sudden change in the weather and the onset of milder conditions saved the crews. It is from this expedition that the story of Horatio Nelson wrestling a polar bear comes. Nelson had been out on the ice, trying to discover a way through to clear water, when the bear attacked. Nelson beat it off and the bear ran away. No doubt apocryphal, the story of the bear and of Nelson’s heroism in extreme danger only served to burnish his legend.

I also read the memoirs of other nineteenth century travellers who had visited the far north of Russia and ridden across the Steppes. Lady travellers to Scandinavia were few and far between but they were not unknown. Their tales recorded how they learned to row, how they rode astride because it was faster and safer and how one woman gave birth in the Russian steppes and took her newborn baby to Spitsbergen. The Russian tradition that I refer to in the book of wrapping one’s firstborn child in a “lucky” shirt to bring it great happiness and riches is taken from one of these memoirs.

WHISPER OF SCANDAL is a book particularly close to my heart, a story about my love affair with the North as well as the love affair of my hero and heroine, Alex and Joanna. It’s the first in a series of books with unusual historical backgrounds, albeit all very different from each other. And now that I have written my Arctic Regency there’s only one direction to head in, I think, and that is South for a sequel…

So Nicola wants to know – what creative ways can you think of to stay warm in a cold climate? Her favorite answer wins a signed copy of WHISPER OF SCANDAL and a cuddly polar bear toy to keep you snuggly at night! Good luck!

Trish and Nancy Go Geeky

Over the Labor Day weekend, Nancy and I and and more than 40,000 of our geekiest friends converged on downtown Atlanta for Dragon*Con, a celebration of all things sci-fi, fantasy and general geekiness. Think ComicCon, just about a third of the size and not quite as many celebrities. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are stars aplenty, along with panels, workshops, costumes both awesome and cringe-worthy, photo-taking opportunities, parties, concerts, and tons of other stuff to fill the four days to the brim. We thought we’d share some of our favorite highlights from this year’s con.

Nancy: The costumes. They’re always inspired and often amazing. The steampunk ones again seemed to be most elaborate and also the ones I’d least like to wear in Atlanta in late summer. I thought the various Lego people walking around were cute. As always, superheroes and stormtroopers wandered in great numbers. I didn’t see as many Klingons or Rebel Alliance pilots this year as usual.

Trish: I think you could have a ton of fun at Dragon*Con just sitting in the lobby of one of the host hotels and watching all the costumes. Last year, I did a costume as Alice from Twilight, but it was basically real clothes so I didn’t stand out much. This year, I had a costume made and went as Kahlen Amnell from Legend of the Seeker. That’s me on the left sporting a long wig and without my glasses. Yes, I was the nearly blind Mother Confessor. 🙂 A group of Legend of the Seeker fans got together on Friday night and did a group photo. Nancy mentioned how hot the steampunk costumes must be, but I’ve got to say the Mord Sith costumes (full-body leather) had to have been a million times worse. I only had on a leather bustier and I was sweating.

Nancy: The parade. It’s such a gathering of enthusiastic people and so much fun. Every year, fantasy author and illustrator Janny Wurts leads off, marching down Peachtree Street and playing “Scotland the Brave” on her bagpipes. The boy was in the anime section but on the wrong side of the street, so I didn’t get good photos of him. This year, a firetruck came down the street, slanted diagonally across the street but rolling forward (I have no idea how they do that) to clear it before the parade stepped off. Many cheers and loud applause greeted the fireman, who looked a bit bemused.

Kevin Sorbo rode in the parade. He comes to Dragon*Con almost every year, and I’ve never heard of his being less than gracious. A few years back, I looked ahead as I rode up the escalator and there, about ten feet in front of me, were Sorbo and Andromeda co-star Steve Bacic, just the two of them, no security, and nobody was bothering them.

Trish: I’ve yet to make it to the parade. I tend to always want to go to a panel or have my picture taken with someone more. This year at that time, I was having my photo taken with the lovely and very sweet Jewel Staite (Kaylee from Firefly/Serenity). I didn’t do as many star photos this year, but I couldn’t pass up ones with Jewel, Morena Baccarin (Inara from Firefly/Serenity and Anna on V), Sean Maher (Simon from Firefly/Serenity) — yes, I’m a huge fan/Browncoat — and Michael Shanks from Stargate SG-1.

It is fun and surreal to pass by stars in the hallways, on the escalators, and in the elevators. My roomie for the weekend, fellow author Tanya Michaels, and I were headed up some narrow back stairs to another level of the Hilton one of the days and met Sendhil Ramamurthy and Adrian Pasdar from Heroes going the other way. When we got to the next floor, I looked at Tanya and said, “Well, that doesn’t happen every day.”

Nancy: The art show. I love the art show. I always see many beautiful things I covet, especially paintings, but I have no room for any more, a result of many years of seeing beautiful pictures we coveted in a variety of settings. Still, I go and look. The work is so creative, not just paintings and drawings but sculptures, jewelry, chain mail, all kinds of things. I considered buying a small print we could surely squeeze in somewhere but ultimately resisted. I did get a Christmas gift, though.

Trish: I didn’t make it to the art show this year. I started to one afternoon, but by the time I’d gotten through one of the dealer rooms, I had a splitting headache and went to my room instead. I did, however, stroll through the Walk of Fame where the stars meet fans and sign autographs. Tanya and I met James and Oliver Phelps, the Weasley twins from the Harry Potter movies, who were very nice, and talked with Mark Sheppard, who plays Crowley on Supernatural, about his character and the upcoming season. He’s been in so many of our favorite shows (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, etc.)

Nancy: The dealers’ rooms. Talk about coveting–there are some beautiful things down there, weapons, costumes, jewelry, art work. I mostly resisted, though. I haven’t worn the beautiful glass dragon necklace I got last year. I’d love to have a broadsword but not keep in the closet. There’s that space thing again. It’s narrow but long, takes up a lot of room on the wall. I did get an HMS Fearless, CL-56 shirt, commemorating the Royal Manticoran Navy light cruiser (Honor Harrington series, for those who care).

Trish: I told myself I was going to be good this year, and I suppose compared to last year I was. I added a couple of Firefly shirts to my collection, three Firefly-inspired necklaces, and one book Cold Magic by Kate Elliott).

Nancy: The programs. I went to one on “The Physics of Magic” that included Lair guest Laura Anne Gilman that had plenty of food for thought. I enjoyed “An Hour With Elizabeth Moon” on the Anne McCaffrey track. I love Moon’s Vatta’s War series–in which there will not be anything new for a while, alas–and enjoyed her Paksenarrion series, which she is now expanding.

I closed out my weekend at the “Shooting Science Fiction in Canada” panel with Alaina Huffman of Smallville (Black Canary) and Stargate Universe, Michael Shanks of Stargate SG-1 and Smallville (Hawkman), and Mark Sheppard of BSG, Supernatural (where he plays a “sexually ambivalent crossroads demon”), and lots of other sff series. They were laid back and funny. I’m always grateful to stars who stick around on Monday, when the thinning crowd means I can go to their panels without standing in a long line for 90 minutes.

Trish: There are so many great things to choose from. I’ve been to writer’s track programs before, but this year I went to all TV-related things. The first panel Tanya and I went to was on V, and it ended up being the Morena Baccarin show since Laura Vandervoort and Joel Gretsch canceled their appearances, but she did a great job. We stood in line for more than 2 hours to get into the Firefly panel with Morena, Jewel, Sean and Summer Glau (River) on Saturday. The line literally wrapped around the entire block twice, so long that the Dragon*Con officials had to start counting back the line and when they got to the fire marshal limit for the ballroom, they had to tell everyone behind that they couldn’t get in. Yes, this for a show that was canceled before it aired an entire season. Grrr, Fox! Sunday morning, we got great seats at the Warehouse 13 panel. I think it was less attended than the ones held on the previous days because everyone thought Eddie McClintock (Pete) was going to be gone already. Well, turns out he was having such a good time that he stuck around to do this panel with Saul Rubinek (Artie), Tia Carrere (Katie), and Mark Sheppard (Valda). It was a great panel! And I started following Eddie’s hilarious tweets on Twitter.

Nancy: Pervading it all, of course, is the energy and enthusiasm of people who’ve come to celebrate things they love in the company of other people celebrating what THEY love. It was a great weekend.

Trish: Ditto what Nancy said. 🙂

Okay, now we’re curious. If you were to go to Dragon*Con and dress up, who would you dress up as?

Ooops

by Tawny

Have you ever unintentionally started a huge project?

Not the huge planned projects, like re-tiling a bathroom or landscaping a yard. But oops huge projects.

Like being so sick of the hallway having the only strip of butt-ugly carpet left in a house of hardwood floors, so despite your husband’s warning, you decide to rip it up – after all, how bad can the original wood floors be? Well, let me tell ya, they can be pretty bad if the cretins who carpeted over the floor had spilled a bucket of white paint all the way down the badly pitted wood. But… Do you the thing about ripping up carpet when you have no intention of letting your husband put it back when he gets home? Yeah… it means the carpet is toast. That preceded our two-week long refinishing of the hallway and bedroom floors (why refinish just the hall when it flows into the bedrooms?) James still gives me ‘the look’ when I mention that how great that hallway turned out. Seriously, it was gorgeous! (so are my puppies lounging on it, aren’t they?)

I’ve had a few of these oopses.

And then there are the less expensive oopses. Like when I need to find the oatmeal in the pantry. But someone (aka my daughter) hates oatmeal so she hides it behind the peanut butter or the cereal or anything and everything. A few weeks of this and the oatmeal is good and buried. So I start pulling things out. Before I know it, the pantry is cleared and I’m reorganizing and cleaning it all out. Its usually dinner time by then.

I do this with knitting, too. I see my knitting basket as I walk by and the urge to play with yarn grabs me. Before I know it, I’m relaxing and knitting away. But I’m horrible at remembering where I’m at with a pattern, so I always have to keep going until I reach a pattern change. Or finish.

I need to learn how to do things halfway, or how to take breaks. I’ve come to discover that I’m pretty much an all or nothing kind of gal. So by now, I should know better than starting projects when I don’t have time to finish them, right?

So this weekend I needed a tool from my scrapbook closet. A little background. When we moved into our new house a year ago, I claimed a closet for scrapping supplies. But its not nearly as much space as I had before, and I’ll admit, I was unloading more than unpacking. So the closet is stacked willy-nilly with supplies, all teetering precariously upon one another. To get this one stamp, I had to move a few things. By the time my husband came home from camping last night, the entire office and bedroom were strewn with supplies. Because I’d hauled them all out, and knew that there was no point in putting them back until it was tidy.

But… the closet defied tidiness. It required shelves. Seriously, it screamed for them. I was practically screaming myself as I freaked out trying to write in the mess that was my now messy office. James walked in with his backpack and camping supplies slung over his shoulder, took one look at the narrow, meandering path he’d have to traverse to reach the bedroom and… yeah… he gave me ‘that look’.

And then he made me wait until today for the shelves!!! How can people wait when oops projects are screaming to be completed? I just don’t get that.

How about you? Have you ever accidentally started a big project that turned into much more than you’d anticipated? Do you plan your projects, or are they often accidental ventures into organization? And are you in my neurotic, have to get it finished, camp? Or are you like my husband and comfortable getting it done when it gets done?

One Word Says It All

Joanie

So, I was sitting here on a rainy Saturday cleaning up some tasks before revising a synopsis I’ve written. A synopsis made up of words.

Words?

Hmmmmm…..

So I latched onto my trusty Google (I do NOT like their new process for searching.) and looked up word games. Word association! What a fun challenge for our Lair, both writers AND readers!!!

So we’re going to do a little experiment. I’m going to start by posting the first word. The winner of the GR will take that word, put it in a sentence then post the next word. Yes, ya’ll will have to find the last comment to get your word and …there will be some overlap but how fun to see how different people think!!!

(I was going to do ink blots…put that scared me :-0 )

The poster with the most original sentence wins a ten dollar gift card from Borders. So gang…let’s go. The first word is BALLOON….

Old-Fashioned Love

by Caren Crane

First, a confession: I love antique furniture, high-necked blouses, floor-length skirts and men in waistcoats and fedoras. The kind of date my husband and I love is dinner and a movie – not necessarily outside our home, either. My perfect lazy day includes curling up in the padded window seat of a picture window, reading a book, sipping tea and daydreaming. I love my house and, once home in the evening, I am loathe to leave it. I love mom, apple pie and white picket fences. I am old-fashioned to my cornball core.

I guess it should come as no surprise, then, that I adore old-fashioned love stories. The kind that are far more than 400 pages, rife with multiple points of view, myriad secondary plots and a countless secondary characters. I am, perhaps, the last, lone reader who enjoys a slow introduction to a thick, well-crafted novel. I enjoy meandering through a solidly-developed plot with characters so three-dimensional you feel you know them inside and out. My ultimate is the kind of story where the romance is just one aspect of a fantastic and sweeping tale.

In other words, I love the sort of story that is rarely published anymore.

I know how scarce these books are, since I look for them periodically. I try to find new favorites, but few authors tell the kind of story I am after when I want a slow meander. I have found a few authors who manage it, notably Deanna Raybourn in her Lady Julia Grey series, which began with Silent in the Grave. Because I savored every word of the series, it was doomed to end too soon, of course. The publisher was impatient for soaring sales, which apparently it did not have – at least, not high enough for them. Too bad for us. Lady Julia’s family, the Marches, are an entity unto themselves. Each one more interesting and eccentric than the last, they should have an endless stream of books in which to live their lives. Alas, HQN killed that one!

I also recently found – thanks to my lovely sister, Holli – A Private Hotel For Gentle Ladies by Ellen Cooney. Curious about what others thought of this lovely, rather old-fashioned tale, I found many reviewers did not understand the story. Without the obvious signposts in most of today’s fiction (Hero! Villain! Black moment!) and an immediate statement of the heroine’s ultimate goal (which, according to the reviews, should be unchanging), some readers were lost. It was, at heart, a story about a woman coming into her own and learning who she is and what she wants outside her Victorian marriage. Yes, friends, it was about that least popular theme – a death knell in fiction today – personal growth. It was a book that begged for sequels, yet none have been published. Another one bites the dust.

I like books where people are flawed, cranky, imperfect and trying really hard to do the best they can, like I am most days. I don’t always need or want action, murder, mayhem, shape-shifters, magic or smoking hot sexy time in my reading. Sometimes, I just want to observe the beauty of a summer day in Cornwall with Judith Dunbar, the heroine of Rosamunde Pilcher’s exceptional book, Coming Home. I want to witness her loves and losses, trials and joys and heartbreak over the 15 or so years covered in the story.

Or I want to witness the struggle of a young, uneducated mother trying her best to keep her family together in LaVyrle Spencer’s Morning Glory. To see Ellie learn that love can be something different and more than she never knew existed (and certainly didn’t have in her first marriage). I want to linger, at times, over the possibility of a first kiss, to agonize over an unbidden and inadvisable attraction, to dally with the notion of a forever kind of love.

I want books where I smile and sigh at the end, because things are beautiful, satisfying and full of promise, just as love should be and would be if I could design it. I want old-fashioned tales of love enjoyed in intricate, elaborate, gorgeous detail (along with observations from the cook, the gardener and Great Aunt Lavinia, if I can get them). My love of these stories has garnered much disdain from relatives and friends who prefer serious fiction. What, I ask, is more serious than establishing a love that will last a lifetime? I will happily remain a cockeyed, old-fashioned optimist.

Do you have some old-fashioned love story recommendations? Any long, detailed and fulfilling stories that have filled your heart and brought tears of sorrow and joy to your eyes? I am always looking for new favorites, so please share!

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