First, thanks to Tawny for giving up her normal blogging day so I could have a launch party here in the Lair to celebrate the publication of my first women’s fiction novel, Living in Color. This is a bit of a departure from my normal romance and young adult novels, but it’s a story I really thought deserved to be out there in the world. That’s why I decided to hop on the self-publishing wave and give it a whirl to see what happened.
It’s a different type of experience being in charge of every aspect of the writing, editing, marketing and distribution of one’s book. So far the only thing I’ve not done myself is design the cover. I knew I had no talent in that arena, so I enlisted the talented Kimberly Killion at Hot Damn Designs, and I think she did a lovely job. I firmly believe covers are important because they’re the face of your book, the first impression. I have no doubt that there are really good books out there that don’t get read as many times as they should because they’ve had the misfortune of having bad covers, though I’ve been very fortunate with all of my covers to date (thank you, Harlequin and Penguin!). I also believe that the book beyond the cover has to live up to good packaging. I hope readers believe Living in Color does that.
Living in Color is a mother-daughter road trip story, one that leads to healing and some unexpected discoveries. Here’s the blurb:
After the death of her father, Sabrina Bishop feels a sense of relief that he’s gone. No longer will he be able to abuse her mother mentally or physically, and just maybe her mother might grow to see what he’d done to her was wrong. But with the death of Jim Bishop, Sabrina is now responsible for her mother’s well being since Ruby can’t read or write and has lived a sheltered life. But Ruby has a very small comfort zone in rural West Tennessee, and that means she can’t come live with Sabrina in Atlanta. Besides, Sabrina’s job as an award-winning news photographer keeps her traveling around the globe most of the time. As she tries to make suitable plans for her mother’s future, Sabrina offers to take Ruby on a road trip to expose her to a world she’s never seen. As they travel to sites such as Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park and the Gulf Coast of Florida, the trip becomes a journey of unexpected healing and self-discovery not only for Ruby, but for Sabrina as well. ~~~ As someone who doesn’t like to fly, I take a good amount of road trips. I actually enjoy driving long distances and being able to stop wherever I want whenever I want. So I thought I’d share my top five favorite road trip destinations I’ve been to.
1. Yellowstone National Park — My sister worked at the park for a year, so I visited once while she was there and a couple more times since then. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I always want to spend more time there.
2. San Antonio and the Hill Country of Texas — My good friend Mary lives in San Antonio, so I’ve driven there several times. Last month, we also took a trip up to Fredericksburg in the Hill Country so I could do some research for the trilogy I’m writing for Harlequin American. Some of my favorite stops on this trip are the missions along the Mission Trail in San Antonio — the Alamo and four others (San Jose, Espada, San Juan and Concepcion).
3. Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Florida (in the sunset photo) — I love the Gulf Coast. It’s so relaxing there. I love driving along the roads that follow the beach, listening to the waves.
4. Outer Banks, N.C. — Home to Cape Hatteras and several other lighthouses, Cape Hatteras National Seashore (wonderful because it’s undeveloped like so many stretches of beach), and Kitty Hawk, site of the Wright Brothers’ famous flight.
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN and N.C. — The roads that crisscross this park pass by waterfalls, beautiful mountain streams, lush green mountains, stunning wildflowers, historic structures of past mountain communities, and even the occasional black bear. It is one of the most richly bio-diverse places it the world and is thus designated an International Biosphere Reserve. And it has the benefit of only being about four hours from my house.
What I’d like to know from you all is:
a. Do you like road trips?
b. What are some of your favorite road trips and destinations?
c. Any fun (or horrible) road trip stories to share?
I’ll pick a winner from today’s comments to receive a road map of the United States and a $5 Starbucks gift card to get you started off right on your very own road trip.
If you’d like to read Living in Color (it’s a great Mother’s Day gift — hint, hint), you can download it at:
Smashwords.com for Sony e-reader, iPad and various other formats, including for your desktop computer
Okay, break out the freshly made cookies (I hope Joanie made them, and I’d like to request they be just like the ones she made for one of our Bandita get-togethers — yum!), your favorite non-alcoholic beverage (we are driving, after all), and road map and hit the road!
Yesterday, while I was pondering what to post about today, I hurried out to the mailbox (hurried because it was COLD!) to see what my grumpy mailman had brought me. Yay, no bills! And, yay, the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly! And bonus, it’s the 2011 Movie Preview issue.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge movie fan. So in honor of this, I decided to share which movies I’m looking forward to this year along with some trailers.
I Am Number Four (out Feb. 18) — This movie is based on the young adult novel by Pittacus Lore (a pen name of James Frey — yeah, that James Frey, but I’m trying not to think about that whole Million Little Pieces fiasco). It’s about a teenage boy who has extraordinary powers, one of nine young people who came to this planet from a planet called Lorien. An enemy is hunting the nine, and Numbers One through Three have already been killed Number Four is next because they can only be killed in order. The screenplay is by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, creators of Smallville, and Marti Noxon, who worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as newer shows like Grey’s Anatomy.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (out May 20) — I have to admit I had mixed feelings for a long time about this movie because, being a big fan of the Elizabeth and Will storyline I didn’t know if it’d feel right without them. But the trailer looks great, and let’s face it, Johnny Depp is freaking awesome. Just ask Tawny. Plus, it’s Jack Sparrow looking for the Fountain of Youth and Ian McShane as Blackbeard!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (July 15)– I’m so looking forward to this movie, and not at the same time. I so want to see how the movie is done, can’t wait to see Ron and Hermione finally have their kiss, but when the credits roll at the end it’ll all be…over. I suspect I won’t be the only person shedding tears at the theater.
Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Nov. 18)– Following in the footsteps of Harry Potter’s last film, Stephanie Meyer’s last book in her Twilight series will be split into two parts.
Cowboys & Aliens (July 29) — Daniel Craig. Harrison Ford. And, I kid you not, cowboys fighting alien invaders. It sounds nutty, but I saw the trailer back when I saw Deathly Hallows, Part 1, and it sucked me in. Maybe because it was so unexpected.
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22) — What can I say? I loves me some superhero movies.
Thor (May 6) — Remember what I just said about superhero movies?
Red Riding Hood (March 11) — A much darker, much different telling of the classic tale. The trailer I saw at the theater looked great.
Green Lantern (June 17) — Superhero movie!
Are you looking forward to any of these movies? What other ones are on your must-see list for 2011?
I was talking with a friend recently about the doll I’d bought my niece for Christmas, an adorable little Rapunzel doll from the new movie Tangled. I got it at the big Disney store in Times Square when I was in New York last month. We (me and the friend, not me and the doll) got to reminiscing about what kind of baby dolls we liked when we were kids. Here’s the thing, I don’t remember ever really liking baby dolls that much. Maybe when I was really little, but for the most part I was a tomboy. I liked Hot Wheels cars and Tonka trucks, bikes and Big Wheels, climbing trees and playing in the creek. But there was one exception.
Yes, I know Barbie has her detractors. True, she’s somebody’s idealized version of the female form, not realistic for a real person. But when you think about it, Barbie could also be seen as a positive role model in that she’s had just about every career known to man. Who else do you know who has been…
a computer engineer
a McDonald’s worker
an airline stewardess
a news correspondent
and even President of the United States?
In fact, according to this list at Wikipedia, Barbie’s had at least 65 different careers. She’s one busy gal.
But if I have to be honest, it’s not really about Barbie herself. It’s about her clothes! I still like to walk down that overwhelmingly pink aisle at the store and look at all the new designs and collectible Barbies. And at this time of year, there’s always a gorgeous holiday Barbie. More than once, I’ve wished I had some of Barbie’s lush outfits.
2010 Holiday Barbie
I’m a fan of the Barbies of the World collection. Here’s the Russian Barbie.
And I love the special edition collectibles, like…
And then there are the elaborate designs by fashion designer Bob Mackie. Here’s his take on Lady Liberty.
Are you a Barbie fan? If so, do you have any favorite Barbies? Have any special Barbie memories?
Since it’s the season of giving, one commenter from today will receive a surprise Barbie. You won’t know which one until you open your package.
It’s FINALLY here! The Romance Bandits 12 Days of Christmas Booty. Every day between now and Christmas, one lucky commenter per day will win a daily prize and on some days, additional goodies from that day’s blogging Bandita or guest. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we’ll give away more booty including autographed books, GR mugs and much more! Come join us! Tell your friends! Let’s make the Season BRIGHT!
On a recent episode of The Vampire Diaries, I was somewhat surprised to see several of the characters playing Pictionary because you don’t hear much about people playing board or similar type games anymore. When people get together now, they’re more likely to play Guitar Hero than Monopoly or Scattergories. But I love board games and it’s a bit sad I don’t get to play them very often. So here’s an ode to some of my favorites.
1. Monopoly — This is the first board game I can remember playing, probably because of how much my family and I played it during the horrible winter of 1977-78. It snowed and snowed and snowed that winter. We were out of school almost the entire month of January. So we tried our best to stay warm and played a ton of Monopoly. My younger sister, who was only 3 at the time, would just play with the fake money. For a long time after that winter, I was sick to death of the game. But years later, I started playing again and even have my own National Parks Monopoly game.
2. Trivial Pursuit — I’ll admit it. I was a geeky kid in school. I loved learning, still do. And I’ve always loved trivia games. I was on my school’s academic (quiz bowl) team, so this game is a classic for me. There have been many different versions, but I still have the original, complete with falling-apart box.
3. Clue — Col Mustard in the library with the candlestick. I’ve always liked mysteries, so this game was fun. I loved trying to figure out the answers before everyone else.
4. Scattergories — You have to think fast in this one, trying to match categories with words that start with the same letter.
5. Scrabble — I’m not the best at this game, often losing to my husband when we play the occasional game, but I still like how it stretches my brain. I love word games.
6. Dominoes — I never played Dominoes until I met my husband. His family played, and so I learned from them. Another funny memory I have regarding Dominoes is when my husband and I lived in married housing on our university campus while he was in grad school. Our upstairs neighbors were some guys from Barbados, where the game is evidently very popular. They would host some very loud, crazy games of Dominoes up there. 7. Pictionary — An artist, I am not. But this drawing game has provided a lot of laughs through the years. One year, my RWA chapter even created a version with romance book titles and played it at our chapter retreat. Hilarity ensued.
8. Uno — Haven’t played this card game in years, but I remember liking it when I was young.
9. Yahtzee — I haven’t played this dice game in years either, but it was popular when I was a kid.
10. One of the more recent faves is Perquaky, a word game where you roll dice and try to make up as many words as you can with different amounts of letters in a short amount of time. My friend and fellow author Annie Solomon introduced me to this one, at another chapter retreat. I liked it so much I bought my own game and force my hubby to play it every once in awhile.
As the days get shorter and colder, it’s a great time to drag out those old board games and rediscover the fun of playing them.
What about you — are you a fan of board/classic games? If so, what are your favorites? Any special memories attached to certain games or playing board games in general?
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?
I’m thrilled to host a launch party today for my newest young adult book, Winter Longing, written as Tricia Mills. I love this story, and I’ve been very, very happy to be getting good reviews for it from everyone from teen book bloggers to Publishers Weekly. Here’s a bit about the story:
Winter Craig finally gets up the nerve and tells her long-time friend Spencer that she likes him as more than a friend. The best part? Spencer likes her as more than a friend too. With the perfect boy to love and be loved by, she begins her senior year at her small Alaska school and indulges in the dream of becoming a costume designer for the movie industry. Life is perfect — until tragedy strikes. Winter’s perfect life turns upside down as she deals with an unbearable loss, doubts about her future, a best friend whose home life is getting worse by the day, and unexpected feelings for an unexpected boy.
Typically, I write about places I’ve been, but an Alaska setting called to me for this story. I didn’t have the moolah to plunk down for a trip to Alaska, so I did copious amounts of research. I picked the brain of a friend who once lived there. I read books, perused blogs of Alaska residents, utilized Google Earth and maps to get the lay of the land. I filled my TiVo with everything Alaska-related I could find — everything from nature programs about the flora and fauna to Deadliest Catch, Discovery’s show about crab fishermen on the Bering Sea. I tried to pepper in bits and pieces of this information to give the story an authentic feel.
I have long been fascinated with Alaska. I’m not sure when it started, but it’s possible it was during the years of Northern Exposure. Though the show was actually filmed in Washington state, its setting was rural Alaska. I loved the interesting characters, the gorgeous vistas, the sense of community that came from living in one of the harshest places on earth. It takes a certain type of person to live in Alaska, whether they’re a native or someone who moves in from “Outside” (what Alaskans call the Lower 48).
My fascination grew as I began to read Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mystery series. Her depictions of Alaska and its residents are so vivid that I’d swear I’d been there. I aspire to that as a writer. The series is currently in the works for a TV series, and I can’t wait! Though I’ve always pictured Irene Bedard playing Kate (as I think Stabenow has too), I’m not sure how that will work out.
Men in Trees, starring Anne Heche, was another favorite. Again, it was full of quirky, fun characters, and a fish out of water story much like Northern Exposure. I hated that it got canceled when it did.
One of my current favorites is actually a reality show set in Alaska, Deadliest Catch. This show is full of interesting characters too, but they’re real people doing the deadliest job in the world. When Captain Phil Harris died this year, it wasn’t just a character viewers lost. It was a real man with a real family. This show illustrates the harshness of the seas off of America’s last frontier. I’ve always been a fan of stories that pit man against the elements, so that’s part of the appeal of this show and many other stories set in Alaska.
Is there a particular setting that calls to you as a reader or TV/movie viewer? If so, what is it and why does it appeal to you? One commenter today will win an autographed copy of Winter Longing.
Most little girls love to play dress-up at some point during their youth, but they eventually grow out of it or at least exchange princess attire for name-brand style. And then there are those of us who still love the idea of playing dress-up or immersing ourselves in the world of costumes — clothing that takes us to a different place and time. If I had gone another career path and possessed the talent for it, I think I would have loved to be a costume designer for movies. That’s what inspired me to give my heroine that goal in my August young adult novel, Winter Longing.
My two favorite types of costumes are science fiction/fantasy and historical. I’ll leave the former for a later post Nancy and I will be doing post-Dragon*Con in September. Today, I want to explore my love affair with historical costume and costume dramas. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, when the TV mini-series was a big deal — stories like The Thorn Birds, Shogun, North and South (the American Civil War version based on the John Jakes novel). One of the earliest such mini-series I remember being enthralled by was Marco Polo, which came out in 1982, when I was 11 or 12, depending on the month it aired. It had costumes but also started the trend of me watching a TV show or movie based on some historical event or person and then wanting to know much more about it. I remember being so interested in Marco Polo and his travels that I read books about him after watching the mini-series. I even wrote a paper for school about him. Believe it or not, I still have that paper.
The Thorn Birds began my fascination with Australia, Shogun brought feudal Japan into my rural Kentucky living room, and North and South was filled with glorious costumes from my own country’s worst days. Later came the classic Gone With the Wind, and Scarlett O’Hara and her many gorgeous dresses. Who could forget the white and green picnic dress? The red gown? The green dress made from the curtains?
When I first saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, love of a different era and costuming was born — that of ancient China. The Chinese films are simply gorgeous, full of eye-popping color. My favorite is House of Flying Daggers, which included some stunning costumes worn by Ziya Zhang, pictured here.
I know many of my fellow Banditas are great fans of Regency England. True, the dramas such as the newest Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen are filled with gorgeous costuming that can spawn many a story idea. But the era of English history that fascinates me most is that of the Tudors. Numerous dramas about the Tudors have been feasts for the eyes and have led me to read more about this period of history that I knew so little about before. Hey, I can now name Henry VIII’s six wives in order and what happened to them. (BTW, seriously, how odd is it that he had six wives and three were named Catherine? Confusing, much?) While once I would have had to go to the library to gather more information, now I watch an episode of The Tudors and then hop on the Internet to figure out the truth about people like Sir Thomas More, the Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon and Henry’s various wives.
First, I saw the wonderful portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I by Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth. She is a fabulous actress and made this impressive queen come to life.
Then there was The Other Boleyn Girl, first the movie starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, and then the book by Philippa Gregory on which it was based. I enjoyed that book so much that I now have four more of Gregory’s books on order. I plan to read The Constant Princess first, the story of Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s first wife.
In recent weeks, I’ve been watching Showtime’s The Tudors on DVD and via streaming video on Netflix. While the series is full of historical inaccuracies, the costuming is wonderful. Scores of beautiful dresses such as this rich red number worn by Natalie Dormer, who played Anne Boleyn (hmm, does one have to be named Natalie to play that ill-fated queen?)…
and this regal black ensemble worn by the wonderful actress Maria Doyle Kennedy, who played Katherine of Aragon…
And I simply love this headdress worn by Joss Stone, who plays Anne of Cleaves, Henry’s fourth wife.
Are you a fan of costume dramas? If so, what are some of your favorites? If you were going to a costume party and could dress as any historical figure, who would it be?
There is something inherently appealing about a story of forbidden, or star-crossed, love. It makes you root for the couple who are in love but for whatever reason are not supposed to be together. Despite every obstacle that is put in the way of this couple, you believe deeply that fate caused them to cross paths, that they were supposed to fall in love, and that there just has to be a way for them to be together.
The classic example is, of course, Romeo and Juliet. But being a fan of happy endings, I can’t say I like how that particular story turned out.
When I was watching V (the new series) recently, there was a moment when Erica and Father Jack were in a room together and you felt a little awareness. Hobbs walks in and makes a reference to it being a Thorn Birds moment. I was 12 or 13 when The Thorn Birds aired, and I can remember being absolutely glued to the TV. The story of Father Ralph de Briccasart and Meggie Cleary was the ultimate in forbidden love, but there was something that made me root for them, even at a young age. I really need to re-watch that mini-series as I’ve lost a lot of the details over the years.
The movie and book fields are filled with vampire stories these days, and what could be more star-crossed than a human and a vampire falling in love against all odds? One of my favorite such stories is Buffy and Angel. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of the immense popularity of Twilight among the young and the young at heart. I read each of the four books holding my breath to see how things would turn out for Edward and Bella. And I watch and re-watch the trailers for the movies in anticipation of seeing the full-length films.
Duty or some higher calling often stands in the way of true love, as was the case for Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala in the newest Star Wars trilogy.
Love was forbidden to Jedi Knights, but Anakin would not be denied and he and Padme were secretly married. It didn’t end well for them, but for the brief time they were together before Anakin started toward the Dark Side, I felt the depth of their love. I know a lot of people weren’t particularly fond of the newer movies, but I actually liked them.
Sometimes duty will mix with some physical impossibility to keep true loves apart. Such is the case for Kahlan Amnell (the Mother Confessor) and Richard Cypher aka Richard Rahl (The Seeker) in Legend of the Seeker. Though they are very much in love, they can’t be together the way they want because if they allow themselves to be so, Kahlan’s Confessor powers (which take away a person’s free will) would be unleashed on Richard, thus robbing the world of the Seeker, the person who is supposed to rid the world of the evil ruler Darken Rahl.
(FYI, I’m having a Kahlan Amnell costume like the white one here made for Dragon*Con. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.)
Society is just beginning to accept homosexual relationships, but in many places it’s still verboten and even dangerous to admit. Such is the case in Brokeback Mountain, the story of two cowboys who fall for each other but try to keep their relationship secret. Again, this story doesn’t have a happy ending, but it’s powerful while it lasts. It’s sad that two people who love each other can’t be open about it because they fear for their lives and know their relationship won’t be accepted.
Are you a fan of stories of star-crossed love? What are your favorite such stories? What do you think is the appeal of stories of forbidden or star-crossed love?
No, not that first time. Do you remember the first time you went to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, if you’ve been? For many people, they have memories of that first magical, childhood visit to the Magic Kingdom. For me, it came a bit later — when I was in my 20s and fairly newly married. But you know what? It wasn’t any less magical. I was as excited as if I were six years old, and I fell in love with Disney World the moment I stepped into the Magic Kingdom that first time. There’s something about the Disney parks that truly is magical, that makes you feel like you’re experiencing a few days outside of real life.
During that first trip, hubby and I visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and what was then MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios). When we returned for a second visit in 2004, Animal Kingdom had been added and we visited it instead of MGM. I was in my mid 30s then and still loved it. So now, as the days are ticking away toward my 40th birthday, I went back for a third time recently — this time with good writer friends Terry McLaughlin and Stephanie Feagan and Stef’s 20-something daughter. She’s about the same age I was when I visited Disney the first time. Here’s a bit of a look at how we spent our time with commentary, a Disney travelogue a la Trish, if you will.
Woohoo, Main Street USA and Cinderella’s castle. Hey, we romance writers are suckers for a good fairytale where the heroine gets the prince.
If you haven’t ridden Pirates of the Caribbean for awhile, it’s worth a return trip. It’s been Johnny Depp-ified. Tawny, try not to swoon. From left: Terry, me and Stef.
I am so not a fan of roller coasters or things that spin, so there were no rides on Space Mountain or the Mad Hatter’s teacups. I’m more of a It’s a Small World kind of gal. The last time I was at Disney, it was closed for renovation. So this was my first time seeing the new-and-improved version. It’s been updated but still has that wonderful sweetness to it.
One of my favorite spots in the Magic Kingdom isn’t a ride at all. It’s the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. I loved the book, loved the movie, and so I walk through every time I visit Disney. Here is the kitchen area of the tree house.
One of my favorite characters is Winnie the Pooh, and there’s a store in the Magic Kingdom called Pooh’s Thotful Shop where I purchased the cutest stuffed Pooh, Eeyore and Roo. Then when I went back outside, I noticed a line of kids waiting to get their photos taken with Pooh and Tigger. Don’t think I didn’t consider getting in the line with them.
Day 2 we spent at Animal Kingdom, mainly on the safari, and then dining and shopping at Downtown Disney. Here I am hanging with Sleeping Beauty outside the World of Disney store, which always gets a good bit of my money when I visit. What can I say, I have two nieces and they have such adorable stuff for little girls.
Near World of Disney is a candy store, where I also dropped some cash and saw probably the biggest candy apples I’ve ever seen. One had Mouse ears, and the other was decorated in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which was during the week of our visit.
Day three brought our visit to Epcot Center. When I first visited Epcot, we saw just about everything. But now, I totally skip Future World and head straight for the World Showcase, miniature replicas of countries around the world. Here’s Germany, where I tried to remember some minuscule amount of the German language I studied for three years in high school. Guten tag, meine Freunde! (Good day, my friends.) We also got some giggles out of saying the name of the toy store in the Germany section — Der Teddybar. Go ahead, say it to yourself.
We had a yummy lunch in the France section at Le Chefs du France, where the rat from Ratatouille made an unexpected and very fun appearance at our table. He was just like in the movie, same sounds, same actions. Too cute!
I spent quite a bit in the China section at a clothing store. If you’re coming to RWA’s national conference this summer, you might catch me wearing some of it. I am endlessly fascinated by Chinese culture and film, so it’s one of my favorite sections of Epcot.
Throughout our trip, Stef’s daughter was having us take really funny photos of her posing at different sites. I don’t have too many of those of me, but here’s the Viking dude in Norway asking, “You spent how much in China?”
So, now it’s your turn — have you been to any of the Disney parks? If so, which is your favorite? What are your best memories of those trips? What are your favorite rides and attractions?
As writers, we’re always trying to evoke emotions from our readers. Love, heartbreak, fear, longing — you name it, there’s some piece of music out there that can evoke it too. Though I’m not one of those writers who typically listens to music when I write, there are artists and music that inspire my storytelling. I’m a great collector of movie soundtracks because I think they do such a wonderful job of evoking emotion — that’s their job. My current favorite is Avatar. Love it! Here’s a medley of several of the songs someone put together.
The music that inspires us doesn’t have to be something we listen to while writing. Sometimes an artist’s lyrics or the type of music they create over many songs can speak to the type of story we want to tell. I found this to be true while writing Winter Longing, my second young adult novel due out in August. The heroine of this book, Winter Craig, has to go through some really heart-wrenching things, and I found myself listening to a lot of Breaking Benjamin, particularly songs like “Breath” from their Phobia album. It was lyrics like “You took the breath right out of me, You left a hole where my heart should be” that really summed up the feelings I was trying to evoke. Several songs from that album really worked, so much so that I worked it into the story that Winter listens to the album a lot.
I decided to check in with the rest of the Banditas to see if and how music relates to their writing. Here’s what they had to say. See if you see any favorite songs/artists among their inspiration.
I find that songs set the mood for particular moments in my books, not necessarily the entire book–a couple I’m listening to now for a seduction book are “Only When I Sleep” (The Corrs), “Take My Breath Away” (Berlin), and “Sexy Back” (Justin Timberlake). My hero thinks he’s such hot stuff!”
“For me, it’s Stevie Nicks. Specifically, right now, it’s the Trouble in Shangri-la album. I was listening to it on the interstate while I thought about one of the manuscripts I was working on and BAM. There it was. It was perfect. It encompassed the dark, murky, elusive sense that I want for this book. I got ideas for several scenes as I was thinking about it. As it turned out, that CD was right for the entire series I was working on.”
“Peter Paul & Mary. Love them. Gordon Lightfoot, vintage BeeGees, heck, the Monkees ballads. I listen to them all while I write, mixed in with Pink, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears (yes, I admit it – but wait, it gets worse), and The Spice Girls. The mainstays, though, are Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Savage Garden, etc…”
“I can’t write to music that has lyrics. I write my spy books to the theme from Alias — so that’s already a soundtrack–and the historicals to period music. It’s okay if the lyrics are in Italian or Latin since that’s just so much noise to me. I have to focus to do any kind of Latin translation anymore and have lost most of my vocabulary there. Soundtracks like the Fellowship of the Ring or Pirates of the Caribbean or other orchestral pieces work because they’re mostly lyrics-free.”
“A band whose lyrics speak to me is Chicago. Each song tells a story. Tim McGraw also has songs that tell a good story and some of the older Billy Ray Cyrus. Then again, with some songs, it’s just the feel of the music.”
“For me and my work I would choose Kings Of Leon. You can tell they’re Southern, for one thing, and their music is infused with passion, longing, angst, the joy of youth and a hefty dose of melancholia. They perfectly encapsulate how I felt when I was a 20-something, and I want to get all that into my books. I wish they had been around when I was their age.”
If you’re a writer, tell us what type of music or particular artists inspire you. If you’re not a writer, is there an artist whose music really speaks to you?
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