After Bandita Susan’s post the other day about “I Do” – and receiving a very cool wedding invite just today! - I’m in the mood for a wedding! Also, I’m ever so fond of Bandita Anna S’s Quick Fives, so I thought I’d try my hand at it and make it a combo! Grins. By the way, Bandita Nancy was also a bit of the inspiration for this post, since she and her DH have been married 26 wonderful years, as of yesterday! (Congrats, Nancy!!)
This one, however, is about relationships. Whether you’re in one or not, you have an idea of what works and what doesn’t. As Romance writers and readers we delve into the whole dynamic of relationships, and get to see both the best and worst of what happens. As writers, we often create terrible relationships in our characters’ past so that they are overcoming those wounds in the present, and with the help of their heroine or hero, they come to see the joy and grace that CAN be in relationship.
In short, we create characters who have either found the will to love again, or have opened up to it when they meet their match.
So….here we go….
1. What’s the longest running HAPPY relationship you know of?
For me, this is my Aunt, as she and my Uncle were married for 53 years prior to his passing and were always giggling and happy with one another as well as respectful and supportive! Oh, wait…there’s also Pat Cochran – Bandita Buddy Extraordinaire – she and her Honey have been married quite a while too! And Bandita Jo has put in some years as well….
(And NO, that picture on the right is NOT a picture of any of the aforementioned! Hahahah!)
2 A If you’re married, how long have you been married? (Or if widowed, how long were you married?)
I’m joyfully heading for the fifteen year mark! That’s me and the DH up there with the Dalmatians.
2B If you’re not married, but in a relationship, how long has it been going on? Or what’s the longest running relationship you’ve had?
This IS the longest relationship I’ve had (Almost 17 years together!), and although I’d been married before, I gotta say…this is GREAT!
3. What is the best thing, to you, about being in a relationship?
For me, its about laughter, connection, sex (sorry, honey, gotta brag!), and shared experiences…and of course love, love, love!
4. If you were/are single today, and were a heroine or hero in a book, what would be the most importantpositve trait you’l look for in a mate? (Isn’t that kilted groom pic on the left fun? Pic from Wikimedia commons, as is the Grace Kelly photo.)
For me, the positive trait I looked for and found (besides physical compatibility!) was laughter/sense of humor!
5. If you were planning a wedding for yourself today, or vow renewal, and money was no issue, would you go for a big party and a new wedding dress?
White or cream or a color?
Or would you go for a big party or BBQ, and just have fun with friends and family?
Or would you go to the beach/mountains/special place with just a few close friends and say those words all over again?
Describe!! (There’s a picture – above right - of the incredibly elegant Grace Kelly on her wedding day…do you think Nicole Kidman’s going to pull it off in the new movie?)
If I were doing it again – the wedding or vow renewal with the darling DH – I’d do it in October and have all the pumpkins and hay bales and corn stalk bundles and mums I could possibly find. Grins.
(Cake pic from Yahoo Images, pumpkins and other pics from my collection)
This should be fun! I can’t wait to hear what YOU would do!
And just because it’s FALL and FOOTBALL season and I’m LOVING it (and the delight of going to a wedding again!), I’m going to randomly give out some Starbucks Cards to today’s commenters!!
This is your roving Romance Bandits Reporter, coming to you (somewhat) live from the awesome, major, fabulous Rita and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony!! WOOHOOOO!!!!
There are Bandits in full force here, from the awesome Nancy Northcott to Donna MacMeans, Suz Ferrell and Susan Sey to…well a LOT of Banditas! Many of our favorite guests are here too, and all are decked out in their finery for one of Romance Writing’s finest hours. (This is, from L to R, Gerri Russell, a frequent Guest; board member and outstanding writer Dee Davis; “Mr. Marriott” – the hotel’s Atlanta Ambassador!; Bandita Nancy, and frequent Guest, TICD, AKA Claudia Dain!)
Nominees are nervous, former winners are more relaxed, even though they’re giving awards out, and more and more people fill the ballroom. As with any Red Carpet Event, it’s about the gorgeous dresses and the fabulous shoes. So here’s an amazing selection…I didn’t get all my subject’s names, but I asked them to come on the blog and identify themselves, or their purses and shoes!!
Much as I wanted to, I didn’t list Golden Heart finalists and winners because their books are not yet available. :> But some of these shoes and dresses belong to finalists!!
RITA Finalists include: (Winner marked with asterisks!)
Contemporary Single Title:
About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
Barefoot in the Sand by Roxie St. Claire – one of our guests! – (pictured to the left in coral with her editor, Micki Nuding!
(1) Forever and a Day; (2) Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis
Melt into You by Roni Loren
Sugar Springs by Kim Law
**The Way Back home by Barbara Freethy
Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay
Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin
Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie – another of our frequent guests!!
Defiant by Pamela Clare
A Lady Never Surrenders by frequent guest Sabrina Jeffries
The Recruit by Monica McCarty
**A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
(Just so you know, Pride and Prejudice over there on the right, is a PURSE!!)
Too Dangerous to Desire by Cara Elliott
Wedded in Sin by Jade Lee
(To the left is me with the elegant Sharon Wray whom I know from Washington Romance Writers!)
**Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
An Heiress at Heart by Jennifer Delamere
A House Full of Hope by Missy Tippens (Missy finaled in the Golden Heart with us in 2006!)
My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Naomi’s Christmas by Marta Perry
The Soldier’s Wife by Cheryl Reavis
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (Gorgeous cover on this one!!)
(To the right is Laura Griffin who won the Romantic Suspense category, holding her lovely, lovely RITA!)
A Cold Creek Noel by RaeAnne Thayne
From Father to Son; and Making Her Way Home by Janice Kay Johnson
**A Gift for All Seasons by Karen Templeton (now a member of the prestigious Honor Roll!)
A Life Rebuilt; and A Texas Chance by Jean Brashear
No Ordinary Joe by Michelle Celmer
Out of the Depths by Pamela Hearon
(The ever-popular-on-the-Bandit-Blog-Guest, Dianna Love, who was a presenter, looking FABULOUS, dahling!)
Novel with Strong Romantic Elements:
The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Le Huber (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)
Before and Ever Since by Sharla Lovelace
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris
A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci
**The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James (Also Won BEST FIRST BOOK)
Time’s Echo by Pamela Hartshorne
The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek by Jane Myers Perrine
(Check out that AB-FAB fascinator!! Hope this lovely lady will come on the blog and give a shout out!)
Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden
Edge of Oblivion by J.T. Geissinger
Immortally Yours by Angie Fox
(1) Lothaire; and (2) ** Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole
(With this win, Kresley is ALSO now a member of the prestigious RWA Honor Roll after tonight!!)
Mark of the Witch by Maggie Shayne
Moonglow by Kristen Callihan
Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione
(The totally cool purse on the left is currently Bandita Nancy’s but Cassondra and I both covet it….beware, Nancy, beware!)
Breathless by Sophie Jordan
The Duchess of Love by Sally MacKenzie
Room at the Inn by Ruthie Knox
**Seduced by a Pirate by Eloisa James
(Check out these AMAZING dresses and fascinators to the right!! LOVE it! Ladies, I hope you’ll come on the blog and say hellow and identify yourselves!!)
Sleeping with a Beauty by my good friend Leslie Kelly
The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas
Celebrity in Death by JD Robb (Remember, Nora Roberts Writing Institute in two weeks….Grins)
Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Don’t Cry for Me by the fabulous Sharon Sala
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard
(1) **Scorched; and (2) Twisted by Laura Griffin (See the picture above of Laura with her lovely RITA!)
Vortex by Cherry Adair
(To the left here, check out the lovely Rita Nominee Leslie Kelly and her handsome hubby!!)
Short Contemporary Romance Series:
Becoming Dante by Day Leclaire
Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini
The Last Single Maverick by Christine Rimmer
(Those totally hot shoes are red suede at the back and a black harlequin pattern across the front strap! GORGEOUS!!)
A Marriage Worth Fighting For by Lillian Darcy
**A Night of No Return by Sarah Morgan
Surgeon Sheik’s Rescue by my dear friend, Loreth Anne White
The Tycoon’s Secret Daughter by Susan Meier
We’ll Always Have Paris by Jessica Hart
(The ever-popular Guest, Addison Fox to the left there, was gorgeous in an off the shoulder number. Go, Addison!!)
And last but never least, Young Adult Romance!
Bound by Erica O’Rourke
**The Farm by Emily McKay
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Also up for BEST FIRST BOOK)
(To the left, check out the wonderfully funny ladies, Jill Shalvis (front) and photobomber Kristin Higgins!!)
Several up for BEST FIRST BOOK which did not final in a category:
Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan
Firelight by Kristen Callihan
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
That’s a great list of books! (Winners are marked with a double asterisk!)
(Just so you know, The Haunting of Maddy Clare won BEST FIRST BOOK!)
So, Banditas and Buddies….
What’s your favorite of these Red Carpet looks this evening?
And for you, do you go for Basic Black?
Or are you a color-all-the-way gal?
Have you read any of the finalists’ books?
Any great recommendations from either the finalist list or winners?
(All of the photos are mine, and taken with everyone’s permission. This totally cool purse on the right is a champagne bottle in a champagne bucket, but it’s a PURSE! Totally COOL!! I wish I could have used ALL the pictures I took!!)
Hellooo Banditas and Buddies! I’m so pleased to announce that LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL is out and my unrepentant bad boy the Earl of Davenport is unleashed upon the public.
If you are a friend of mine on facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been posting quotes from this book periodically. You might be able to tell I had a LOT of fun writing the battle of the sexes interplay between my straitlaced, no nonsense heroine and my charming rogue. Here’s the blurb:
LONDON’S ULTIMATE BAD BOY…
Physically reckless, irrepressibly roguish and poised on the brink of ruin, Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport, returns from the dead only to throw himself into dissipation. Until he meets his worst nightmare: a straitlaced former schoolteacher he can’t get out of his head. He resolves to seduce the delightful Miss Hilary deVere by fair means or foul. But when his past returns to endanger Hilary, he must protect her at all costs…
MEETS ENGLAND’S MOST PROPER MISS
Dismissed from her post at a ladies’ academy because of prejudice against her uncouth family, Hilary will do anything to avoid going back to live with her loutish brothers. She longs for a London season to show the world a deVere can behave with utmost decorum and find a respectable husband. Everything about Lord Davenport appalls her but desperation makes strange bedfellows. To get to London, Hilary strikes a bargain with the devilish Davenport, confident that she’s immune to his charm. But as she discovers surprising depths beneath his rakish surface, this infamous scoundrel becomes more temptation than even the most proper lady can withstand…
Today there’s a serious theme to our release party. We’re talking about pants.
Some of you may know that the hero on my cover (modeled by His Hotness, Paul Marron) couldn’t quite decide what colour pants to wear. At first he tried buff. Unfortunately, my publisher thought he looked like he was IN the buff and sent the cover back to the drawing board.
Then they tried pale blue. Ahem. Let’s just say The Author didn’t think the colour accurately reflected her hero’s um, personality. Although I must say, if it works for Daniel Craig…
We ended with a good compromise in dark brown.
So in honour of my hero’s pants, and the most satisfying way he manages to fill them out, I asked the Banditas (many of whom are self-confessed “pantsers”) for pants quotes from their books. I was delighted with the response:
This is from Caren Crane’s KICK START, where the heroine, Linda, and her soon-to-be younger man love interest, Jack, have shown up for the first day of class and Linda is ruminating on apparel:
Today, he wore jeans with holes in both knees and a concert t-shirt from ten years ago. He looked a bit too old for such youthful fashion bravado. Of course, today I wore jeans older than my college-age son, and a tight pink t-shirt that didn’t quite meet my waistband, so I couldn’t throw stones.
And a tssssmokin’ excerpt from Joan Kayse’s BARBARIAN’S SOUL: They are confronting each other in the house’s bath. She’s in the water and he is coming in….
Bran gave no response, only watched her, his features blank save for those green eyes which glittered with a dark emotion she could not define. Her instinct to flee from danger flared hotter. Still holding her gaze, he lifted his left hand and pulled the string at his hip. The piece of linen dropped to the floor.
Love this fun offering from a contemporary romance our Donna MacMeans wrote as Donna Richards, IN A HEARTBEAT. Donna says, “my heroine, Angela, is walking her dog off-leash in a section of a woods that she thinks is empty. Her dog, Oreo, races again and she hears a human cry of alarm.
“What in the– Oreo!”
Angela’s foot caught in the low branch of a bush, propelling her forward, head first into a blur of flannel.
She landed face down in a strange man’s crotch.
“Don’t move!” A strained voice, forced and breathless, warned. Taut denim brushed the humiliating heat of her cheeks. She breathed the deep, musky scent of the man’s most intimate parts. Oreo would be proud, she thought with a shudder.
Antonia is certainly a take charge woman in this tidbit from Anna Campbell’s MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION: “Take off your trousers,” Antonia said in a voice harsh with control. She expected Ranelaw to object to her commands. But he immediately rose from the bed, tugging off his shoes with more haste than grace before shedding his trousers.
From Anna Sugden: “Here’s an excerpt from A PERFECT DISTRACTION. (Christina: Can’t wait for this book!) This is the first time our heroine, Maggie, sees Jake ‘Bad Boy’ Badoletti .
Square-jawed and rugged, with piercing, ice-blue eyes and a crooked grin. He was clearly a warrior of the ice, but his broken nose and scars somehow added to his appeal and made him more intriguing. Unlike the hulking bodies of the thick-necks, Jake had the firm, solid lines of an athlete in peak condition. Lean, corded muscle shaped the snug-fitting black shirt and faded jeans. Exciting and enticing, he brimmed with charm and hints of danger.
He really ought to take his wet shirt off, she thought, then blushed as the desire rose in her to see those wondrously muscled shoulders again. This time, not covered in plaster dust. This time, slathered in golden licks of firelight.
His evening trousers were mostly dry. Of course, thinking of his trousers led to thinking of his buttocks, and the tester bed upstairs, and all that pink–
What about you? What sort of pants do you like best on a hero? Do you have a favourite part of a book or movie that involves pants or a wardrobe malfunction? (I’m thinking granny pants in Bridget Jones’ Diary) Who do you think fills out a pair of pants nicely? I’m giving away a signed copy of LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL to one lucky reader today!
Yes, it is. Today was supposed to be a visit with screaming-funny author, Lexi George.
Y’all know I don’t bring guests to the Lair unless I love the books, and I DO love these books. But some stuff happened, and…ahem..well..it’s my fault she’s not here. There was a timing issue. Bottom line? I blew it. *hangs head* She will join us in August and she’ll bring her hunky Dalvahni Demon hunters along with her. So watch for that.
But in the meantime…
YES! I’m starting a series. I’m calling it Cassondra talksBandit to Bandit.
I’ve wanted to do this for a long time–interview the other Bandits. Ask them the questions that don’t usually get asked.
I make no promises about the timing of the interviews, or who will be my guest. And chances are good I may scare some of the other Bandits away and nobody else will agree to let me interview her.
Enter at your own risk. Muahahahaha!
Sven is bringing around drinks for everyone, and the house lights have been dimmed.
So for my first interview in the Bandit to Bandit series, please give a rowdy lair welcome to our own Nancy Northcott!
Cassondra: Nancy, most of us know you have a thing for super-heroes, comic books, science fiction and fantasy. That came from when you were little, I’m guessing.
What was the first book you remember being read to you?
Nancy: It was a picture book version of Silver Chief, a story about a wolf and a Mountie. It had no super-powers, no paranormal elements, not even a mystery.
Cassondra: This is not the Nancy we know. *raises eyebrow* How did you get from Silver Chief to Super-heroes.
Nancy: I discovered super-heroes when I saw the window of the M&M Soda Shop in my hometown of Davidson when I was seven. I was walking down the street with my grandfather (my mom’s father) and spotted a Superman comic (I think it actually may have been an issue of Superman’s PalJimmy Olsen) lying in the window. It had a Phantom Zone story on the cover, if I remember right, and I was intrigued with the bright colors and spooky ghosts. So I asked my grandfather to buy it for me.
“Honey,” he said, “are you sure your mama wants you to have that?”
“She won’t mind if you buy it for me,” I replied, with greater insight than I realized. And so it all began.
And Cassondra, you’re not that scary. So far.
Cassondra: Hmmm. I’ll have to try harder.
What’s the first book you remember reading by yourself?
Nancy: I don’t really remember what that was. I suspect it would’ve been in the Dick & Jane series.
Cassondra: I know nothing of this series, but since I’m a romance writer, based on the cover I’d say Dick and Jane had something going…Ahem…
What book did you read over and over as a child?
Nancy: The D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, an oversized, beautifully illustrated picture book about the Greek gods.
Cassondra: Oh, jeez. I knew you were a geek, but I had not fully comprehended the extent of it, or how early it started.
Nancy: It’s never too late to be enlightened. Anyway….I discovered that book in the school library when I was in third grade, and I checked it out over and over and over again. This was about a year after I discovered super-hero comic books, so maybe the two are related. From a third-grader’s perspective, the Greek gods seemed a bit like super-heroes.
Cassondra: Okay, yes. I can see that connection.
Nancy: The dh learned of this a few years after we were married. The book was back in print, and he gave me a copy for Christmas. I later enjoyed reading it to the boy.
Cassondra: Okay now for the serious stuff…
What are you willing to tell us about your first date?
Nancy: Hmm. It was with a guy I met at the Latin club banquet. He was taller than I was–always a plus!–as well as a year older and actually looked pretty good in a toga (with a shirt–remember, this was high school a few decades ago). I thought he was interested in my friend, but he called and invited me to go with him to hear a chamber orchestra.
All I knew about classical music was what my piano teacher had managed to instill in me and I’d absorbed from being in the band. Still, he was cute and nice, and into Latin, so why not? We had a great time and dated for a while.
Cassondra: What was the best date you ever went on? (No, it doesn’t have to be one with your significant other. Shhhh. We won’t tell.)
Nancy: That’s kind of a toughie. My view of any date is shaded by what came after it.
Cassondra: That is so quintessentially Nancy.
Nancy: *rolls eyes* So I’ll pick the night the dh and I got engaged, which happened on the sidewalk as we walked from dinner to a play. It’s tough to focus on the stage when you feel as though you have champagne fizzing inside you, but we stayed for the whole thing. That was 26 years ago, so what came after obviously shades it rather nicely.
Cassondra: What do you collect, and why?
Nancy: I love dragons (big surprise!), so I collect dragon pictures and glass goblets with blown glass dragons in the stems. I have four different goblets. They’re not very expensive, which adds to their appeal, but I haven’t seen a new one lately. We drank champagne out of them when Renegade sold.
Cassondra: You love dragons. So it’s no coincidence that you were the Bandit who found Ermingarde and brought her to live here in the Lair.
Nancy: I guess it’s not a coincidence. She turned up in our back yard when the Golden Rooster was here overnight. Our house was too small for her, so I brought her to the lair, and that was that.
Cassondra: Good thing we had a turret. Ahem….What toy do you still have from your childhood?
Nancy: A small, red (now faded) stuffed dog I hid in the Barbie airplane box in the basement because he had holes in him, his stuffing was coming out, and my mom was going to throw him away. As the years went by, I kinda forgot about him. I found him again when we cleared things out before my parents moved out of the house. His foam stuffing is rock hard now, and he looks pretty bedraggled, but I’m never getting rid of him.
Cassondra: Okay that’s just totally awesome. *sniffle* A beloved stuffed animal goes straight to my heart.
If I say the word “hero” what male actor comes immediately to your mind?
Nancy: Christopher Reeve. His Superman was superb–
Cassondra: *interrupts* I totally agree.
Nancy:….and the way the man turned personal tragedy into an opportunity to help others was awe-inspiring. Even without a red cape and spandex, he was amazing.
Cassondra: We all know you’re a history geek. But what is up with you and Richard III? I happen to know you’re crazy about that era, and it comes up frequently in conversation when we’ve been together. It comes up from YOUR side of the conversation, since I know zip about this time in history. What’s up with that?
Nancy: I read Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time on a recommendation from a law school classmate. Richard III has a reputation, thanks to Shakespeare, of murdering many, many people. So, the gist of the book is that Tey’s Inspector Grant sees the NPG (National Portrait Gallery) portrait of Richard III and does not believe this is the face of a murderer. He then starts looking into the history of Richard’s reign.
I’m an English history geek. The mystery just drew me in. So I went out and read everything I could get my hands on, on both sides of the question, but with particular attention to the sources that believed Richard III was not a murderer.
I still read about this now, and I have to say I think the traditional case has a great many holes in it. It bothers me to see historians write about other figures in the Wars of the Roses and credit them with intelligence and political ability, then flip to say Richard hoodwinked them and murdered them. The internal inconsistency makes me nuts.
Cassondra: Only you, Nancy, would be driven nuts by this.
Nancy: I’m restraining myself here with an effort because I could go on about this at very great length..
Cassondra: Yes, we see that this is, indeed, the case.
Nancy: Ahem….and your Bandit to Bandit would turn into Nancy’s Soapbox on Historical Controversy.
Cassondra: Thank you so much for not taking it there.
Nancy: I was talking to Anna Campbell and Duchesse Jeanne about this in the bar at the Washington, DC RWA conference when Anna C started laughing.
“What?” I said. I mean, to me the fact the National Portrait Gallery had rearranged things and stuck Richard in with the Tudors, the ones who, yaknow, knocked him off the throne, was a matter of great moment. Quite annoying, especially as it took me half an hour to find him.
Shaking her head, Anna chuckled. ”You talk about these people as though they’re your neighbors.”
Well. Yeah. Because they interested me at least as much as my neighbors did. *g*
Cassondra: So you’ve studied all of this at great length and been to see the sites involved?
Nancy: The last time we were at the National Portrait Gallery and I was seeking out the portrait of Richard III, the dh waited in the lobby. Someone taking a poll for the gallery approached and asked him why he’d come there that day.
“My wife,” he replied. ”When we’re in London, we have to come here so she can see Richard III.”
He reported that the woman didn’t seem to know what to say to that, but he was merely speaking the truth.
And just think, this is me being restrained!
Cassondra: Indeed. And this is why we love you. *grin*
Last question…Most of us have something–some hobby or dream–that we’re saving for “later.” Later when we have time. Later when we have money. Later when we retire. What are you saving to do when “later” finally gets here?
Nancy: Assuming “later” arrives with considerably more money than we currently possess, I’d like to spend two weeks in England and have box seat tickets on Centre Court for the second week of Wimbledon.
Cassondra: Me too! I love tennis! It’s my sport of choice.
Nancy: Thank you for having me kick off your series, Cassondra. I hope we haven’t scared anybody.
Cassondra: I guess we’ll see whether they come back for seconds. Thanks so much, Nancy, for being my guest and guinea pig.
So, Bandits And Buddies…
What’s the first book you remember–whether it was read to you, or you read it yourself?
Who is your favorite super-hero?
And when you think of the word “hero” (or heroine) what actor comes to mind for you, either male or female?
Are you like Nancy?—Are you a geek about something? Is there something you love, like Nancy’s comic books or Richard III, that you obsess over but nobody else around you gets?
Do you have a toy from childhood–one you’ve saved–that means something to you?
Sven is serving drinks, and Ermingarde is toasting marshmallows on the front lawn.
Hey, don’t question it. She. Breathes. Freaking. Fire….
It’s her way of fitting into the lair festivities.
The guys who keep the Lair running are passing around snacks. Grab some food and drinks, tell us about youself, and join the fun as we get to know our favorite history and comic book geek, Bandita Nancy.
Want an exclusive sneak peek atNancy’s latest book in her fabulous Protectors series, Guardian?
Check out the Member’s Den and see this month’s exclusive excerpt.
If you’re not a member, what are you waiting for? Sign up today! It’s really easy. Bandita Buddies get access to exclusive content. Receive our monthly newsletter and be entered into the draw for unique, Members Only prizes.Tell us your birthday for a special greeting from the Banditas and the Lair hunks.
I’m here with Jeanne, my evil twin, and Nancy, the third Boom Bandit. For any new readers, I should explain. We have been so named because we like suspense, mayhem, and of course, blowing up stuff.
Blowing up stuff in our books. Mostly. Ahem…
Anyway, here we are, and we’re talking about our top five Christmas albums, and some of our favorite Christmas songs.
Tis the season, yaknow?
Yes, I get it. Some people don’t like Christmas music, don’t like being reminded that it IS Christmas, and would prefer not to hear about it. In truth I went through a spell where I felt that way. I was sick to death of the crowds and the money mongering, all to the same melancholy musical backdrop that takes over radio frequencies from November until New Year’s Eve.
Then I watched the film Elf, and something shifted. Partly because in that film, for the first time ever, I heard the song, Baby It’s Cold Outside.
I hear you asking the question. “How could this be, Cassondra? How is it that you could live this long without hearing that song?”
I. Don’t. Know.
I started playing gigs all around the state (singing and playing guitar), when I was fifteen. I started playing piano for money(all over the southeastern United States) when I was seventeen. But that was mostly gospel and country. I grew up in a fundamentalist church. My whole childhood was swallowed whole by gospel, country, classical (checked out from the library) and folk music (albums sneaked out of the attic upstairs, when my mom wasn’t looking). Almost no jazz, or jazz-influenced music at all. I got a hint of Big Band from the Lawrence Welk Show, but that was it. That could be the reason I missed out on the jazzier side of Christmas. The only Christmas music played around our home–or actually, around our town, that I remember–was the kind that centered on the religious. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie…
Santa Clause was comin’ to town, but only in a church-approved sleigh, yaknow?
Granted, Christmas is a religious holiday, for many. But still…where were all of these songs I missed? Merry Christmas Baby, you sure did treat me right…
I have this one memory. I think it was from fourth grade. Each of us had to bring a Clorox bleach jug from home. (For those of you who don’t know, these jugs are opaque white plastic, like the one on the right. We cut the top off of the jug, just at the top of the label, where that ridge is in the picture. We removed said label, turned the bottom half of the jug upside down, then cut holly leaves and berries out of construction paper and glued them onto the front of the upside-down jug, to make a marching-band-style “hat”. Then we had to wear these godawful abominations and stand on a stage, on risers in front of family and friends, while we sang really bad, really depressing carols at the Christmas program.
It. Was. Awful.
Maybe that’s what turned me against Christmas carols to begin with.
Honestly though, when you think about that Baby It’s Cold Outside song, and its real meaning, there’s no mistake. It’s a romance novel in the making. A really steamy one. Our intrepid hero is working his butt off to get our heroine to stay for the night. She’s resisting in a rather ridiculous must-play-hard-to-get fashion. He’s hoping for wild monkey sex, right?
You know he is. I mean, he’s a guy.
In case you haven’t heard the song, here’s one of my favorite versions, from one of the favorite albums I list, below.
My suspicion is that this song was considered inappropriate by a lot of people when I was growing up. Maybe there just weren’t a lot of recorded versions out there. I dunno. It certainly would have been inappropriate in MY house. You know…because of the whole “potential for wild monkey sex” thing. Nothing sexual about Silent Night. Well, maybe the “round yon virgin” thing. But I digress.
Flash forward to adulthood, and to the movie Elf and Christmas music came alive for me again. I started buying albums full of Christmas music from Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and their ilk.
Jeanne grew up in a church-going area too. She sang in the church choir when she was old enough, and of course, carols were the order of the day. But mostly, her favorite thing about the season is that it’s COLD. Baby, it’s cold outside, dear Lord LET IT SNOW in this winter wonderland. This is where our twin thing diverges. I’ll go to a nice warm beach, thanks.
Nancy had her share of carols and Christmas music. About this formative experience, she said, “I sang in Junior Choir. Considering I can’t carry a tune in the proverbial bucket, this was probably more fun for me than for my more gifted choir-mates. Enthusiasm counted for a lot, though, and I was enthusiastic. In high school, I went caroling with friends a couple of times, again hoping enthusiasm made up for being pitch-challenged.”
So for the three of us, carols were the order of the day.
But back to my (relatively) recent discovery of the NON-carol Christmas song…
Many of these songs have nothing to do with Christmas itself. They’ve just become standards of the season. And yet, the newer music is, mostly, my favorite. I still do love the traditional carols though, and I’ve figured out that for me to like them, they have to be upbeat and maybe even a bit jazzy.
So to that end, we give you the Boom Bandits’ Top Five Christmas albums, which will end up being fifteen, since there are three of us. Then again, Jeanne and I are the evil twins of the lair, so we may have some duplicates. Still…although we have a number of evil twin crossovers, we do not always tow the evil twin line.
Cassondra: Anything Manheim Steamroller because they just rock. It’s feel-good music.
Jeanne: Windham Hill’s Winter Solstice. Because of the sheer musicality of it, and this amazing, ancient-sounding stuff you don’t hear on common playlists.
Nancy: The Roches~~We Three Kings. This is a capella, beautiful harmony.
Cassondra: Amy Grant’s Home For Christmas. Just a really warm, easygoing, family-at-home, glass-of-cider album.
Jeanne: Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas–It’s jazzy and fun and it’s got my absolute favorite, O Holy Night, with someone who can hit all the notes crisp and clear.
Nancy: Joan Baez~~Noel. Lovely voice. Folk music delivery of various carols.
Cassondra: James Taylor’s At Christmas. This is from 2006. There is not a bad track on this cd. If I started naming my favorites, I’d name almost every one. I’d never heard In the Bleak Midwinter until this album.
Jeanne: Anything Manheim Steamroller. They just rock. (Cassondra: I see the evil twin thing starting)
Nancy: The Homecoming Orchestra~~Christmas Baroque. This is brass renditions of traditional carols. This was one of those bargain bin purchases.
Cassondra: Amy Grant~~A Christmas Album (her first one). I love most of the songs, but the top ones are Tender Tennessee Christmas, Breath of Heaven, Grown Up Christmas List, and Emmanuel.
Jeanne: Amy Grant~~ A Christmas Album–Ahem…Notice the exact repeat of my evil twin’s opinion…verbatim….I love most of the songs, but the top ones are Tender Tennessee Christmas, Breath of Heaven, Grown Up Christmas List, and Emmanuel. And yes, I am serious. We scare each other at times.
Nancy: Manheim Steamroller~~Christmas Extraordinaire. Fabulous Orchestral renditions of holiday favorites. Heavy on brass. (Cassondra: I’m getting the idea that Nancy likes brass. Hmmm..and we all like Manheim Steamroller. Which is kind of cool.)
Cassondra: Rod Stewart’s new Christmas album~~Merry Christmas Baby. The songs We Three Kings and Auld Lang Syne are worth buying the album for, but you’ll like the others too. Stewart is an icon for a reason. And he has some wonderful duets on here.
Jeanne: Handel’s The Messiah–You just can’t beat the sheer magnificence of this choral performance. My father loved opera, so he had Handel’s The Messiah on the stereo a lot, and I grew up singing it. It’s still one of my favorites.
Nancy: Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra~~Christmas at the Pops. I mean, come on. It’s Arthur Fiedler. It doesn’t get better than that. (Cassondra admits that she has to agree, and likes this album too.)
Okay, okay…we can’t do this without some honorable mentions:
Jeanne’s new current favorite is Blake Shelton’s brand new Chrismas CD. In particular Oklahoma Christmas. (Cassondra: Just the name makes me want to buy it.) A second honorable mention goes to BoyzIIMen’s Christmas Interpretations, and in particular, their version of Mary Did You Know. The bass on that song is so deep and resonant. You just wouldn’t know they were that good until you hear this song. Third is Take Six’s He Is Christmas–I love this a capella group and their incredible sound.
For Cassondra: Anything from the Rankin Bass Claymation Christmas shows like Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer, Silver and Gold–anything by Burl Ives. The soundtrack from The Muppet Christmas Carol. Martha Stewart’s Christmas collection. This is a compilation, of course, but it’s an easygoing grouping of jazzy favorites, and is perfect for fixing dinner with a glass of wine, or eating dinner with friends and wine, or relaxing by the fire with wine…ahem…
Nancy: There’s this album my parents got as a gas station giveaway, back when gas stations had to care whether you bought your gas from them or someone else, but it’s on vinyl, so I never get to play it anymore. :-/ It’s called This is Chrismas. I really like the various artists and styles.
Cassondra: OH…A favorite song I MUST mention is Trisha Yearwood’s version of Mary Did You Know. It’s haunting, and like Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven, makes you think about what that time must have been like for Mary and Joseph, outside of the idealized manger scene. A pregnant young virgin, trekking cross-country and the man who was taking care of her, who must have had some serious “are you freaking kidding me?” moments when he was taking the whole thing on faith, based on the word of some shimmery dude who poofed into his room out of thin air. Bandits and buddies, now that’s a romance novel, complete with conflict, and if we tried to sell that story to editors, they’d say, “No way. That would never happen.”
So, Bandits and Buddies,
Tell us YOUR favorites.
Do you have a favorite Christmas Album?
A favorite Christmas song?
Do you like traditional carols, or the newer, jazzier, FUN Christmas songs?
Or do you put on the dark shades and stick in the earplugs and listen to classic rock for six weeks, waiting for the whole thing to be over and done with?
Do you celebrate Christmas at all? Or do you celebrate Hanukkah? Or perhaps another holiday? If so, is there special music attached to the midwinter celebration or holy day that you love?
And as long as we’re mentioning the movie Elf, what’s your favorite Christmas movie?
Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Godiva. Books!! (By Banditas and friends like Dianne Love, Sabrina Jeffries, Marquita Valentine, Liz Carlyle, JD Tyler, Lydia Dare, Deb Marlowe, Addison Fox and many more!) You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays!Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!!
Woooooohoooo! Its a Launch Day in the LAIR!! We get to celebrate one of our very own, NANCY NORTHCOTT!!!
Today is the publication day forRenegade, Nancy’s first book in her mage Protectors series from Grand Central Forever Yours. And guess what!! The esteemed Library Journal’s Xpress Reviews gave Renegade a starred review!!
Sven had a special drink – The Renegade – made up, which is absolutely fabulous! He has a “breakfast version” with OJ, and a “Post Lunch” version that has (I think…) rum in it! Hahaha!
NANCY!!! Girlfriend, we are SO excited for you! Tell us your call story!
Nancy: Thanks, Jeanne. I’m grateful for all the encouragement and support you and the other Banditas and our buddies have given me. It’s a big day for me and a long time coming, so we’re going to party hearty in the Lair!
Let’s see if I can focus after having Sven’s special drink. Ahem!
As you know, my agent sent the manuscript around last fall and followed up by email around the first of the year. In late January, she emailed me to tell me an editor who had Renegade was out of town but wanted to talk when she returned. We figured this probably meant an offer was coming, but you never know for sure. She closed the conversation with “Today, I heard ‘Renegade,’ by Styx, on the radio. Maybe it’s a sign.” I hoped so!
A couple of days later, I heard the same song on the radio while I was out running errands. I stopped at a local business to browse and overheard the manager ask a guy at the desk, “So what’s your name?”
“Griff,” he replied, and a chill went down my spine. The hero’s name is Griffin Dare.
My agent called a few days later with news of the offer. She and the editor worked out the details, and now here we are! Forever Yours is a digital-first line, so the book is now available only at e-book stores, but a print-on-demand version will be released December 18.
Jeanne: Woot! Love that! I’m a big believer in signs and omens and portents as you well know. So, you have an agent you really like, what does she think about the Light Mages? And why are they called that?
Nancy: Thanks! My agent liked the book immediately. Though there have been occasional magic-based paranormals, those were far outnumbered by vamps and shifters in recent years. She thought the time might be right for something different, and these are mages in the high fantasy sense, with a magical society distinct from our own.
I wanted them to have a fully developed culture, right down to their own code of laws, The Caudex Magi, and a magic system that would have clear rules and limits as well as room to expand. I also liked the superhero groups and secret identities that hooked me in grade school, so keeping the mages secret from the Mundane, or nonmagical, world came naturally to me. My agent liked all of that and gave me some good suggestions to help clarify the world for people who can’t see what’s in my head, only what’s on the page.
As for why they’re called Light Mages, that answer lies in their history. They’ve protected humanity for millennia. Somewhere in the dark ages, they adopted this coat of arms, which also appears on my website’s Introduction to the Protectors page. They battle the forces of darkness and so chose as their motto Servire Luci, which translates as “To Serve the Light.” Hence the name Light Mages, though they usually call themselves, as I do, simply “mages,” because it’s easier and flows faster.
Jeanne: The art is amazing! I love that coat of arms. And I’m grinning over the motto being in Latin – that’s so “you”! *ahem* I guess I’d best get back to the story instead of oogling Griff on the cover. *snicker* Let’s talk heroine first, so I can keep a clear head. Ha! I know that your heroine, Val, is a Shire Reeve – kind of like a magical sheriff – tell us how you came up with that designation.
Nancy: Here you’re homing in on my love of trivia. The modern term “sheriff” derives from “shire reeve.” I chose the older term to give it the air of being slightly different and of tying into an old tradition. Since I had the Canadian and US mages organize their territories by shires, also to tie into the old English tradition, “shire reeve” seemed a natural fit.
Jeanne: Very cool! And how did you come up with this fabulous plot with the ghouls?
Nancy: Seeing as you were there, you should…what? Oh, explain it for OTHER people! Right.
Jeanne: Snork! Exactly!!
Nancy: I wanted a type of villain that hadn’t been used a lot, and I’m naturally drawn to things that go bump in the night, a category that seemed to include ghouls. I wanted something that would set a dark tone and be menacing in different ways. We kicked the idea around in our brainstorming group, with Donna and Cassondra and later with Joan, and the ghouls are what we came up with. They’re sort of like vampires in that they can draw from their victims, but they draw life energy or magic instead of blood. Usually. Their talons can also inject potentially fatal venom or rip deep wounds in mage or Mundane flesh. Or in ghoul flesh, for that matter. They aren’t known for getting along with each other.
This might be a good place to pop in the trailer, which will go on the bandit site sometime this week. The Members Only excerpt is up now.
Jeanne: I just LOVE that trailer! Yum, yum, yum. I’m going to switch gears here for a minute to your hot, hot (and did I mention hot?) hero, Griffin Dare. He’s an outlaw when the story starts. Tell us about that! And I want to know, why a quarterstaff?
Nancy: Why, thank you, Jeanne! The guy standing in for Griff on the cover, Mr. Anonymously Gorgeous, certainly is hot! I don’t want to say too much about why Griff is an outlaw. I think I’d rather let people discover that as they go. But I will say that six years ago, he killed the head of the southeastern mages’ council and fought his way out of the Collegium, their headquarters. He had been the shire reeve until that one act made him the mages’ most wanted fugitive. But in this, as in so many things, the motive is critically important and the truth is not always as clear as it seems.
I chose a quarterstaff because I wanted him to have something unique. My research into medieval weapons convinced me the staff was both lethal and versatile, and I haven’t seen it used often in romance or even in fantasy.
Jeanne: Why don’t you give us an excerpt! I want every one to get a taste of the deliciousness that is Renegade!!
Nancy: Thanks. While they read, the dh and I will have another one of Sven’s Protector drinks. The boy, alas, could not join us tonight because he’s away at school, trying to finish up a project so he can enjoy his Thanksgiving break.
Excerpt: This takes place shortly after Griff rescues Val. Her eyes are bandaged, so she’s unable to see him.
The silence stretched between them until fear churned in Val’s gut. Had she made a mistake, pushed him too far?
“Assuming I’m this person,” he said in a flat, hard voice, “what does that make me to you? I already have an idea, but give me the whole picture.”
She raised her chin a notch, bracing herself for an outburst. “You’re a rogue mage, a murderer several times over, and possibly a ghoul ally.”
A creak alerted her as he shifted toward her, leaning so close she could feel his breath on her cheek. Her mouth went dry, but she held her position. She couldn’t let him intimidate her.
“If I’m such a bastard, why the hell aren’t you dead?”
“I asked you first.” Thank God, her voice held steady. She swallowed to ease her tight throat.
“If you believed everything in your precious annals, you wouldn’t risk challenging me. Yes, I’m Griffin Rhys Dare.”
Val’s heart thudded in her throat. He’d just confirmed her guess. Yet she was, for whatever reason, still alive.
“What do you want with me?”
“I want you to listen. To consider evidence you haven’t seen before.”
“So you’re going to tell me you’re innocent? I’d expected better of you.”
He let out a weary sigh. “I’m not in league with the ghouls, and I never killed anyone I didn’t have to.”
The first part, she’d believe. But the second…“You’ll never convince me the mages who tried to apprehend you were ghoul allies.”
“Of course not.” He sounded sad. If only she could believe he really was. “They were trying to capture me. I was defending myself—and those who rely on me for protection.”
“Such as?” Impatient, Val shook her head. “Regardless, you should’ve come in, made your case, not slaughtered—”
“We’re not going there. Not tonight.” His cold, hard voice warned her not to press. “I brought you here to talk to you. To show you things you can’t see well enough now to read.”
“So you do have a jailhouse alibi.” That seemed beneath him, and his thinking her fool enough to buy it stung.
“I have the truth. If you’re willing to see it.”
“Right. What do you really want?” A slight sound, not quite a sigh, came from him, as if he were hurt. Like he cared whatshe thought. Oh, he knew just how to play her.
“I want safety for our people,” he said, “and for the Mundanes, whether you believe me or not. Listening won’t cost you anything but a couple of days for your eyes to heal. What if I’m telling the truth, Valeria? What if there’s something rotten in the Collegium’s heart? Can you shrug off that possibility so easily?”
What was or wasn’t happening in the Collegium was her business, not his, but listening might help her better understand his angle. “I’ll hear you out, but you’ll have to explain right now.”
Jeanne: Sigh. I love Griff. Grins. Tell us what’s next for you and the mages?
Nancy: There’s a novella, Protector, scheduled for March 2013, and the second novel,Guardian, should be out in May. I’m also blogging on Fresh Fiction today. There’s a list of upcoming guest appearances on my website. I’m also going down to the Okefenokee Swamp again soon, to do research for the third book, which has the working title Warrior.
Because I’m so happy about launching Renegade, I’m running the Everyday Magic contest for my newsletter subscribers and a separate contest on Fresh Fiction. Each of these prize packages includes a handmade glass goblet with a dragon in the stem. There are no dragons in Renegade, but I happen to like them, so I figured, why not?
So, Banditas and Buddies…who’s your favorite outlaw hero?
Nancy’s giving away a Keeper Kase with a signed Renegade cover card as well as one from my upcoming release, Deadly Charms, and an assortment of others. She’s also giving away a handmade glass goblet with a green glass dragon in the stem. The winner will be chosen from the commenters on this blog post and on Nancy’s post November 26.
As you read this, the dh and I are on our way home from taking the boy to college. This trip has been different in several ways from the one we made just a year ago. For one thing, he was actually with us. Last year, he had a chance to participate in a five-day pre-orientation program, so he flew down for that, taking the two suitcases he was allowed to move in early. The rest of his gear, he packed but left for us to bring in the car.
We found the trip a bit lonely, the five-day separation a warning of the emptiness we’d be coming home to.
This year, we three rode down together, the boy reading ahead for one of his classes and making caustic remarks about Chekhov from the back seat. I’m afraid the Russian novelist and playwright has joined William Faulkner on the list of authors the boy would prefer never to read again. The comments kept us entertained, though, and provided a nice break from the hunt for radio stations.
When we arrived on campus, his girlfriend and several of his friends were already there. He had people waiting for him, ones he was eager to see. A year ago, he didn’t know any of them.
It’s apparently an open secret at the school that if you turn up early, you can move in ahead of schedule. So he did. This frees up his father and me to start home a day earlier than we expected, and the extra time will allow us to visit places along the way we’ve never had the opportunity to explore.
We drive past the Stennis Space Center and the turnoff for Monroeville, Alabama, home of the brilliant Harper Lee. If I were only ever going to write one book and that book could be the caliber of To Kill a Mockingbird, I think I could be happy with that. We also drive past the turnoff to Tuskegee, home of the Tuskegee Institute, where George Washington Carver did his landmark research into peanuts and other crops, and site of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.
As I write this, just before meeting the boy and his friends for dinner, I don’t know what we’ll end up visiting. But we will have made our choice, done our exploring, and headed home by the time this posts.
Weird. It’s like a tesseract or some such.
Too bad I don’t have the gear with me to write a post and upload photos. I’m borrowing the boy’s computer to write this.
Anyway, the biggest change from last year is that the boy’s a sophomore now, not a freshman. He knows the ropes and as noted, has friends. Leaving him is easier because we don’t just hope he’ll like the school and make friends, we know he did and he has. Last year, he hoped there were good things ahead in his studies and his life. This year, he expects there are. He has made a place for himself there.
As for us, we expect the house will seem very empty for a couple of weeks. The dog loves our housesitters, but she does prefer to have her regular servants, as she seems to perceive us. And she does miss the boy, but the dh and I know the emptiness will become less acute, that we’ll grow accustomed to it. It’s no quieter at night when the boy’s away than when he’s asleep upstairs, but the quality of the silence is different.
What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you started with uncertainty and hope, found your feet, and developed expectations, of yourself or the situation? Is there something you’d like to try or wish you had tried?
Isn’t that a great word, “sold?” I haven’t been all that fond of it for a while. It always applied to someone else’s book, never mine, so hearing it generated a little envy and a lot of longing. There was also a degree of fear that it would never apply to a book of mine.
Well, now it does, and I think it’s a fabulous word, a splendid word, an amazing word!
Yeah, okay, stopping now. *g*
My agent has sold the first two books in my contemporary mage series, The Protectors, to Grand Central’s new electronic and PoD line, Forever Yours. Book one, Renegade, is currently scheduled for release on November 6. Guardian, the second book, is slotted for sometime in the spring, maybe March.
In honor of the occasion, I got a new head shot, which I’ve been needing anyway. I figured I had until late summer, maybe even September, to experiment with different hairstyles and maybe lose some weight before actually having to get a photo.
Uh, no. The publisher needed my head shot by late April. Urk! I really, truly loathe having my picture taken. I’m seldom happy with the result, often secretly hoping it doesn’t look like me. So I stuck with the one for the 2006 GH, which I thought was okay, for six years. I like this new one, though.
I didn’t have the money to pay a photographer to come take a lot of shots, and I wanted an outdoor setting because my magic system is nature-based. After I bemoaned situation this to Cassondra, she volunteered to take the photo for me. ”I’m visiting Jeanne after this conference,” she said. “Come meet us, and I’ll take your new photo.”
“Bring a white top and a black one,” she said.
Uh-oh. ”I don’t wear a lot of black or white. I like jewel colors.”
A brief silence, probably while she sighed. ”We need it to look right in both color and black and white.”
“Oh, iPhoto can change it over,” I assured her, proud of this tiny bit of technical knowledge.
“Uh-huh. How many people in this conversation have a degree in photojournalism?”
“Um . . . I took an art class once.”
I could hear her smiling in triumph. ”Good for you. Wear what I tell you.”
So I did. She chose the blue top and necklace shown at right from the assortment I’d packed. I could not get iPhoto to save it in the right size for our website, even though it told me it would, so Tawny fixed it. Clearly, my tiny bit of knowledge of iPhoto is a bit too tiny.
Jeanne did my makeup. She came in the bathroom while I was drying my hair and said, “Use this big, round brush to give it some lift.”
“I don’t really like a lot of height in my hair,” I said.
“It won’t stay pouffy,” she assured me. ”This is just to give it some fullness.”
Probably looking as doubtful as I felt, I changed out the hair brushes.
But Jeanne hadn’t finished. “Did you bring your makeup, like I asked you to?”
“Yeah, but I figured I’d just put on some blush and lipstick, as usual.”
She didn’t roll her eyes, but I think she came close. “You don’t want usual for this. You want enhanced.”
When she and Cassondra were working on highlights and colors, I said, “You know, if we’re going to get me all tarted up, I won’t look like me.”
This is what happens when someone who is a control freak and uncomfortable with makeup puts herself in other people’s hands. It’s a good thing they’re my friends, or they might’ve killed me. Instead, they made me look really good.
(Cassondra said I had to tell that part, or she would. :-))
Then Jeanne hung around and made me smile while Cassondra took a great many shots. Cassondra and Tawny retouched our favorite, and voila! I love it.
So now I have a brand new, official author head shot and, before Thanksgiving, will have on my iPad a brand new, official ebook of a story I actually wrote with my actual name on the actual cover. Squee!
I think of this series as contemporary fantasy romance with a lot of boom. Mayhem, if you will. :-) Here’s the official description for Renegade:
SHE FOLLOWS THE RULES
As the Collegium council’s top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn’t just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.
HE BREAKS EVERY ONE OF THEM
As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they’re both left running for their lives—from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.
I love this blurb, too!
I don’t write with actors in mind for my characters. I’ve tried, but that makes them feel less mine somehow. I do like, later, figuring out which actors the characters most resemble so I can describe them to other people. I think Val is a similar type to Mary McCormack, attractive, even beautiful but in a girl-next-door way. Griff (whose last name is Dare) is more like a young Christopher Reeve without the Superman hair, handsome with strong, clean-cut features.
I’m headed home today from touring Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, which figures heavily in the overall story arc, though not so much in this particular book. I’m including three of my favorite pictures from yesterday’s boat trip. See how reflective the water is. It looks black but is actually the color of weak iced tea and is as clear as what comes out of the faucet.
That gray stuff hanging off the trees is called Spanish moss but is neither Spanish nor moss. More about that next month. I traded my regular day, the 26th, to another bandita and am taking the 21st instead. We’ll talk more about about Renegade and the Okefenokee.
Meanwhile, thanks to Cassondra, Jeanne, and Tawny for their help with the author photo, to Tawny for getting the website to accept my photo and to Jeanne for hanging out to chat with everyone while I’m on the road. And to all the banditas for their support along the way!
I’ll answer comments before I get on the road and again if I stop along the way at any place with Wifi. I’ll catch up when I get home late this afternoon.
Assuming today’s blog prize survives its night in the trunk of the car, I’m giving one commenter a small glass figurine of Cinderella’s slipper on a pillow.
That slipper, to me, is a symbol of a difficult quest that turned out extremely well. I sort of feel like Cinderella lately.
(If the slipper doesn’t survive, I’ll think of something else, of course, but the figurine should be okay. I’m just hedging my bets in case something weird goes wrong.)
So tell me, have you ever visited a swamp? Do you read paranormal or fantasy romance? If so, what kind do you particularly like, and why? Have you ever read a book with mages? If so, what did you like about it?
Our family lost a friend this week, and thinking of him led me to the idea for this blog. I met Chris during my early days in comic book fandom. We belonged to the same apa (amateur press alliance–kind of like a fat chain letter but with closed circulation), and he invited a bunch of us to stay with him during the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, a forerunner of Dragon*Con. The last day of the con, he and I made an ATM run. The song “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, their only hit, came on the radio. Chris commented that he loved the song, and so I think of him every time I hear it.
He and I became actual friends instead of just fan buddies, which led to his being our family friend as first the dh and then the boy entered my life. The dh and I were talking about Chris yesterday, and I mentioned “Walking on Sunshine.” This led us to realize there’s no song we consider “ours,” nothing that stands out from the period when we were dating or newly married. But there are songs we associate with particular moments in our lives.
On the rare occasions I hear “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In,” or “The Horse,” which my high school band played a lot, I flash back for a moment to my younger self in the bleachers on a September night, sweating in a wool uniform and tasting the woody clarinet reed.
The summer I studied and traveled in the UK, a group of us sometimes rented a car together. One of the guys had two cassette tapes–one Linda Ronstadt and one Janis Joplin. We listened to them over and over. Every time I hear “Love is a Rose” or “Bobby McGee,” I find myself back in that Ford Fiesta on a narrow road somewhere in England with people I rarely see anymore.
We stopped one day in a small town and bought picnic supplies–bread, cheese, cold cuts, pastries, and a bottle of white wine (which we passed around, except for the designated driver, who had soda) and consumed them in a beautiful forest picnic area on a sunny day. We were young and happy and optimistic, and I feel all that again when I hear those songs.
The processional the dh and I chose for our wedding was a classical piece, light years different in tone from Janis and Linda, Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary. If I hear that now, I remember standing in the back of the church with my dad as the maid of honor took her place and everyone stood. My heart surged into my throat, and I said to my father, “Here we go, Daddy.” He replied, “And you’ll never have a prettier date” and cracked me up. I walked to the altar laughing, not a bad way to start a marriage, and hearing that trumpet piece puts me back in that moment.
The boy’s arrival brought a whole new array of music into our lives. It started with a filk song I wrote for him. A filk song, for those of you not into fandom, is a familiar tune with fannish words set to it. I set lyrics about our baby boy to the tune of “Scotland the Brave.” I sang it to him a lot. But I can’t share specifics because they were sort of nonsensical and he has now reached the age where his parents can embarrass him.
Of course he had his own musical preferences, starting with Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee,” as I’ve mentioned before, when he was a mere infant. In high school, he liked Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell” (“I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell”). He always turned the car radio up when that song came on. After his graduation last May, I told him I’d bought “Unwell” and the “Chattahoochee” video on iTunes so I could play them and think of him when he was away at school. He sort of cringed. “I don’t like ‘Unwell’ or ‘Chattahoochee’ anymore,” he allowed. ”I like to forget I ever did.” I find this mystifying, but I guess it has something to do with growing pains.
The memories aren’t always happy. Sometimes they’re bittersweet. My parents, who died five years apart (my mom after my dad), met when they were both stationed at the naval hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. After my mom died, I was lying in bed one night when the lyrics of Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” popped into my head. Hearing it now reminds me of my parents. So does the Navy hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” which was the concluding piece at both their funerals.
I’m sure there will be other songs that mark moments in our lives, and I think the way music evokes memory is magical. So I’m going to pull out the iPad, play “Walking on Sunshine,” and think of Chris doing exactly that.
What songs are special to you? Do they bring back particular memories? Is there something else that revives a particular moment for you?
Disclaimer: Our guests run the gamut from personal friends, to interesting authors who've asked to appear, to authors whose books we love. We have not always read our guests' books before hosting them here. Some of them provide us with free books though most do not. We do receive a commission from Amazon for every book purchased through links on our site. For purposes of making purchasing decisions, visitors should assume the bandit sponsoring the guest has a personal connection of some kind to her guest and may have received a free copy of the guest's book.