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    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    Let's Talk About S*X...

    We've already answered that eternal question, "When did you first learn the truth about Santa Claus?" so I've got another one for you today--"When did you first learn about the 'mechanics' of sex?" I know your mom is supposed to have "the talk" with you at some point in your life but I'm still waiting. I had to learn about the ancient mystery of love in the 5th grade from the same obnoxious, pre-Goth, know-it-all girl who probably told me about Santa Claus. She gathered her wide-eyed audience around her in the lunchroom and proceeded to tell us all in graphic detail just exactly how the boy puts the baby into the girl. (Well, if you consider "graphic detail" being explained in terms of a hot dog and a bun.)

    Needless to say, I was both horrified and disgusted. There was no way I was ever going to let any boy put THAT...THERE. After much soul searching, I decided there was only one option left to me. I would simply have to become a nun and commit myself to a life of celibacy. (I had recently read A NUN'S STORY and had found Sally Field irresistibly perky in THE FLYING NUN.) There was only one problem with that plan. I wasn't Catholic. Back to the drawing board. After more winnowing of my tormented soul, I decided that no boy would ever do something so disgusting to me--except Donny Osmond. Only for my darling Donny would I sacrifice myself to the ultimate degradation!

    Fortunately for my future husband (and Donny), I discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsay when I was fifteen and decided I might need to reconsider this whole hot dog/bun thing.

    So how did you first learn about the mechanics of love? Health class? Gym class? Some precocious little snot on the playground? Or did your mom actually sit you down and gently explain the miracle of human procreation using anatomically correct terms like "wee-wee" and "Mrs. Muffin"?

    And I have to add 2 disclaimers here: 1) We don't need to hear how you actually experienced the mechanics of love for the first time. This isn't THAT kind of blog. 2) If you haven't learned about the mechanics yet, then you're too young to be reading this blog and you need to get off-line before I call your mom

    Saturday, December 17, 2005

    Teresa Never Could Resist Beauty and her Beast

    If you don't mind your guys a trifle bit hairy, you've always found a little Alpha male chest thumping to be endearing, and morning breath isn't an issue, the new Kong just may be the guy for you!

    The new movie version of KING KONG soars from the breathtaking imagination of director Peter Jackson. The same strengths Jackson showed in LORD OF THE RINGS are in dazzling display here. Although there are enough amazing CGI special effects to satisfy even the most jaded STAR WARS/STAR TREK geek (including me), he's never willing to sacrifice heart and intimacy for spectacle. While KONG is a sprawling rollercoaster thrill ride of a movie--the original KING KONG meets INDIANA JONES meets JURASSIC PARK--it's Naomi Watts luminous portrayal of Ann Darrow that steals our hearts (and Kong's). An incurable romantic at heart, I actually turned to my husband after the movie and said, "I wish they'd have shown more scenes developing their relationship" before remembering that I was talking about a woman and a giant gorilla.

    It occurred to me as I watched the movie that this Kong has a lot in common with the heroes of our novels:

    1) He adores Ann and finds her antics endlessly amusing.
    2) He's so attentive he can recognize her by her smell alone
    3) He rejects every other woman once they meet (hurling them out of his path like rag dolls)
    3) He's keenly jealous of every other man in her life (hurling them out of his path like rag dolls)
    4) He'd do anything to protect her, including sacrifice his own life.

    What's not to love?

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    Teresa Plays Fairy Godmother to CINDERELLA MAN

    I'm sure my friends would be utterly shocked that I'd pick Russell Crowe's latest film as my DVD Pick of the Week. I've shown months of restraint by not posting a single Russell Crowe pic since the perp walk pic where Lisa Kleypas and I were seen leading him away in handcuffs to be disciplined for being a bad boy. Oh, wait, that was the NYPD leading him away, wasn't it? (But if you'd like, you can pretend that Lisa and I have had him chained in our dungeon basement ever since then. I know we like to pretend that. Hey, Lisa, isn't it your turn to flog him this week?)

    But I digress. CINDERELLA MAN hits DVD on Tuesday December 6th and I highly recommend it! Most people missed it in the theaters because 1) it was an Oscar-contender movie released during the summer blockbuster season and 2) it's set during the Depression and the previews made it look...well...depressing.

    Instead, it's a transcendant portrait of one man beating the odds. It's also a tender love story with Renee Zellwegger playing Jim Braddock's devoted wife May. Both Russell and Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS, AMERICAN SPLENDOR) give Oscar-worthy performances and the climax was so thrilling that I found myself just as much on the edge of my seat the SECOND time I saw it in the theaters. I know a lot of women don't like boxing films but this one is much more of a ROCKY than a RAGING BULL and it will leave you cheering at the end just like ROCKY did. I strongly recommend this as a DVD buy or a rental and it would make a fabulous Christmas present for that special man (or parent or grandparent) in your life.

    I know the pickings were lean this year, but if I had to rank the Top 3 Movies of the Year (I STILL haven't had a chance to see HARRY POTTER yet but am FINALLY going Thursday night!), I would have to rank them as 1) CRASH 2) CINDERELLA MAN 3) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Teresa Remembers a Devoted Reader

    We often tell you how much our readers mean to us and I was reminded of that all over again when I found this note from a couple of years ago in my files:

    The e-mail I received this morning was simple. "I just want to tell you that my dear sister died today and to thank you for being such a friend to her." I first heard from Lourdes Goulart through snail mail. She was a young woman from the Azores living in America at the time and wanted to know if my name was Portuguese. She sent me an e-mail the following year to let me know that she was suffering from cancer that had originated in her breast and spread to her spine. She had returned to the Azores because medical care there was free. I sent her one of my autographed books, then rounded up several other books from my generous friends.

    Shortly after that I received a beautiful cross-stitch of a windmill she could see from the window of her hospital room. Lourdes apologized for its quality because the chemo was weakening her eyesight. I thought it was beautiful. We exchanged e-mails and books several times after that. Her e-mails were always bright, witty, and filled with humor and humanity despite the suffering she was enduring. I couldn't begin to imagine what it must be like to have bits of your teeth break off with each meal or to have the cutest orderly at the hospital catch you with your pants around your ankles when you collapsed in the bathroom of your hospital room because you were too weak to sit on the commode. She told me how she'd fled from the dentist in her wheelchair after he told her he would need to pull all of her teeth because the mental image of herself--fat and swollen with no hair or teeth was just too much to take in.

    She fantasized about American food (especially Mexican and Chinese :)) and talked about how hungry the steroids made you, how you just kept stuffing yourself, imagining the calorie count, and at the same time contemplating eating your mother's fingers if they got too close to your plate.

    She started my most recent book the day before she entered the hospital for the last time. She didn't want to read past the first page because she didn't like to be interrupted once she started on a good book. She left me with this bit of wisdom: "Sometimes the best you can hope for is to survive today and have something to eat tomorrow."

    Go with God, Lourdes, and I hope He was waiting to greet you with a romance novel in one hand and a fat Mexican burrito in the other.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Teresa Ponders an Embarrassment of Riches and Romance at the Movies

    It's so rare to find a satisfying romance at the movies that I nearly dissolved into raptures of delight to discover not one but two of them this weekend! On Friday I had the distinct pleasure of going to see the new theatrical version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen. To be honest, I was prepared to be disappointed. I had seen the rather murky looking trailer that made even the gorgeous Keira Knightly look washed-out and blotchy. Plus as we all know, every version of P & P must now be compared to that platinum standard of the 1995 BBC mini-series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

    But I found the new movie to be thoroughly delightful and exhilarating! At just a little over 2 hours long, it couldn't cover quite as much ground as the mini-series (Wickham and the two younger sisters had very minor roles), but it beautifully captured the romance and robust good humor of Austen's story. I was caught off guard by several laugh-out-loud moments. Keira Knightly embodied Elizabeth Bennet's intelligence and wit. (Her portrayal also reminded me a little of Jo March in LITTLE WOMEN.) One glimpse of her smile and you knew why Darcy's heart was captivated. MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy won me over in the moment when I realized his voice had the exact same timbre as Alan Rickman's. The murkier cinematography actually ended up making the movie seem more vital and historically accurate. The gritty images of daily life are contrasted with breathtaking shots of the English countryside, including one of Mr. Darcy striding out of the mist that almost rivals Colin Firth's rising up out of Pemberly's pond on the female gasp of appreciation scale. (Yes, this is an actual scientific device. I have one in my office.)

    Next up is the rather luscious and dangerous Joaquin Phoenix channeling Johnny Cash in WALK THE LINE. At the literal heart of the movie is Cash's longstanding and long-unrequited love for June Carter (the ever ebullient Reese Witherspoon finally being allowed to put her Nashville accent to good use) and the trials and travails he must suffer before finally settling down with the love of his life. From the foot-stomping power of the very first scene, music is the thread that binds these two restless hearts and what makes the movie even more remarkable is that Phoenix and Witherspoon did all of their own singing!

    If you're looking for a taste of romance this Thanksgiving, I wholeheartedly recommend these 2 movies!

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Nine Things Teresa Loves About Her Job

    1) Getting woken up by a cat instead of an alarm clock

    2) The freedom to exhibit lunatic behaviors without getting carted away to the nearest mental hospital like a) waltzing in one's office with invisible partner b) talking to one's self like a schizophrenic while practicing dialogue on daily neighborhood walk c) making out with a large stuffed pink pig while blocking out love scenes (Let's see--if the hero's paw was here, then where would the heroine's snout be?)

    3) Falling in love with a sexy, gorgeous new man every year and having one's husband not mind as long as those royalty checks keep coming

    4) Having 350 pics of Russell Crowe on one's screensaver and assuring husband it's "research"

    5) Having office decorated with Fairy Tale Barbies, Beauty and the Beast memorabilia and talking replica of Captain Jack Sparrow from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

    6) Talking to your talking replica of Captain Jack Sparrow as he mumbles sweet nothings in your ear

    7) Buying all of the romances you want and assuring IRS it's "research"

    8) The ability to zone out during boring conversations with excuse of "Oh, I'm sorry, I was just thinking about the next plot twist in my book."

    9) Watching repeated viewings of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with Colin Firth and assuring editor waiting for late manuscript that it's "research"

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Romance is Back and So is Zorro!

    What woman can resist a mysterious masked man with a delicious accent and a horse that can rear up on command just in time for a photo op against the setting sun? Zorro is one Latin lover who has been charming the ladies for decades. Who better to portray him in THE LEGEND OF ZORRO than the luscious Antonio Banderas, reprising his role from 1998's THE MASK OF ZORRO. For those of you who remember that film, Banderas was something of an anti-hero in that movie--a wisecracking ne'er do well recruited by Anthony Hopkins to don the infamous mask, defend the common man, and win the heart of Hopkins' winsome long-lost daughter Elena.

    In LEGEND, ten years have passed and Alejandro/Zorro is still married to his beloved Elena and is the doting papa of little Joaquin, a precocious budding Mini-Zorro. Taking a cue from SHREK II, the screenwriters amped up the romance in the movie by driving a wedge between Zorro and Elena at the very beginning of the movie. This sets the stage for several humorous and passionate encounters worthy of any historical romance with a feuding hero and heroine destined to end up in each others' arms.

    I'm happy to report that Antonio is still hot and even after bearing 2 of Michael Douglas's children, Catherine Zeta-Jones is still so beautiful it hurts your eyes to look at her. (And after seeing her in those gorgeous 1850's period costumes, I'm convinced she's the only actress working today who could actually do the role of Scarlett O'Hara justice.)

    If you're a sucker for an old-fashioned swashbuckler with delightful touches of humor and a sexy undercurrent of romance, I highly recommend you grab the family and take in THE LEGEND OF ZORRO. (Although there is a little violence, I think I can recommend it for most ages. There was a little boy behind us who was plainly delighted by the entire movie, especially little Mini-Zorro.)

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Teresa Falls in Love for the Very First Time

    A couple of weeks ago, Eloisa James and I were talking about the books that made us cry. That got me to thinking about all of the books that made me fall in love for the first time. I'm talking about the children's/young adult books that weren't necessarily considered romance, but started a lifelong love affair with the genre.

    One of my favorites was Elizabeth George Speare's Newberry Award winning book THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. I read it so many times that to this day I can still see echoes of Speare's writing style in my own work. I've never forgotten courageous Kit Tyler and Nathaniel Eaton, the handsome captain's son who ends up rescuing her from the small-minded villagers who believe she's a witch. (And yes, Eloisa has mentioned this book before because it's one of her favorites too!)

    Another of my first loves was Alamanzo Wilder from Laura Ingalls Wilder's LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series. (Not the blond, banal Alamanzo from the TV show, but the dark and slightly more dangerous Alamanzo from the books.) When Laura became a teacher, it was Alamanzo who would drive her through the snowdrifts to the schoolhouse each day. He was the strong, silent type, but you could almost feel the romantic tension vibrating between them.

    I still remember Gwen Bristow's CALICO PALACE and those other wonderful westerns where the wagon trains were heading west and romance and adventure were always waiting along the trail. Ditto WILDERNESS BRIDE by Annabel and Edgar Johnson where 15-year-old Corey finds herself betrothed to a brooding stranger. And wasn't there even a definite hint of romantic tension between Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe in A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L'Engle? Eloise Jarvis McGraw's MARA DAUGHTER OF THE NILE was one of the first books I read where the hero and heroine were at odds, which was wildly sexy (although I may not have recognized that breathless feeling at the time :)) Patty Bergen and her doomed love Anton Reiker in Bette Greene's SUMMER OF MY GERMAN SOLDIER still haunt me to this day.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Teresa Faces Her Worst Nightmare

    Just last week Eloisa James and I discussed all of the dreaded conference neuroses that we suffer. And ironically enough, during a business trip to a Books-A-Million seminar in Birmingham, Alabama this very week, I had to face MY very worst traveling nightmare. Was it a terrorist threat? Sitting next to someone on the plane with SARS? A bird with red eyes and a runny nose perched on my hotel window ledge?

    Alas, it was worse than that! Only an hour before I was supposed to go downstairs to meet and greet my adoring public, I discovered I had forgotten to pack...MY MAKE-UP!!! (That howl of anguish you just heard came from Lisa Kleypas.) I am usually very careful about this. I may not always carry extra underwear but there are 2 items I always pack in my carry-on in case my checked luggage is lost—my speech and my make-up. This time I carried on ALL of my luggage, but failed to pack the make-up. (At least my husband could have FAXED me a speech!)

    Given that I'd had this very nightmare numerous times, one would have thought immediate hysteria would ensue. After all, I am at the age where I need foundation to cover both wrinkles and zits. And since I'm having a bad hair life, it makes me feel a little better if I can pretty up my face. But instead of falling apart, an eerie calm descended over me. I rummaged through my purse to discover a lone tube of lipstick, then quickly dressed and went down to the hotel gift shop to discover that the only make-up they carried was a lone tube of lipstick.

    Still feeling weirdly calm, I went back to my room with only 30 minutes to go before I was due at the signing. Without mascara or eyeliner, I have the eyes of an albino rabbit. Deciding it was more important to look good than to avoid permanent blindness, I attempted to use the hotel ink pen as an eyeliner. It didn't work very well. Those things just weren't designed to draw on skin. I eyed the lone tube of lipstick, knowing what I had to do. Taking it into my trembling hand, I proceeded to smudge lipstick on my eyelids, my cheeks, and oh, lips.

    Then I gazed into the mirror and prayed that the Lord would let my inner beauty shine through. (Those howls of laughter you just heard came from Connie Brockway and Christina Dodd.) Perhaps, if the Books-A-Million managers were gracious (and nearsighted) enough, I could skate by on nothing but dimples and charm. After all, don't hundreds of thousands of women leave the house every day without make-up? Why in certain intellectual circles (and at the national RWA conferences) the less make-up you wear, the more intelligent you're presumed to be! (That superior nod of agreement you heard was Eloisa's.) Just because my mama was a Maybelline queen who never left the house without full eyeliner, that didn't mean I had to be afraid to show my naked face to the world, did it?

    So I marched boldly downstairs and after a few minutes of chatting with those charming people who obviously loved books just as much as I did, I did the unthinkable--I forgot about myself. My only moment of weakness came when I spotted the trio of black Sharpies the Books-A-Million folk had kindly left for me to sign the books. But I battled that temptation, knowing that if I tried to use a Sharpie as an eyeliner, I'd probably end up looking like Cleopatra or worse yet, an albino raccoon. (Plus I wasn't sure workmen's comp would cover putting your eye out with a Sharpie during an autograph signing.)

    When I came home, I shared this sobering and life-altering experience with my fellow writers. Then I e-mailed them some pics. I'd barely hit SEND before a REPLY from Christina came bouncing back. "Ya know, Terri," she wrote, "You don't look so bad without make-up." Unfortunately, the picture I'd sent was from a signing the week before when I WAS wearing full make-up. Ya know, with friends like these...

    Sunday, October 09, 2005

    Teresa Exposes the Glamorous Life of the Romance Author

    So I've just changed both of my litter boxes and gotten them all tidy and fresh smelling. I come home from church Sunday night to discover my geriatric cat Queennie has um...made use...of one of the the litter boxes. Alas, she has also missed the target. So I decide to scoop up said mess with a Kleenex and flush it down the commode. But I've barely started down the hallway when I drop the Kleenex and um...make a tremendous mess.

    So I'm frantically cleaning up before my husband can come downstairs and discover what a doofus I've been. I eliminate the mess and rush into the kitchen for a can of Lysol. I'm spraying the Lysol everywhere when I suddenly realize that I've accidentally grabbed the can of Lemon Pledge.

    So I go running back to the kitchen for a paper towel to clean up the floor. But I'm wearing only socks and the floor is now as slippery as an ice rink. So I fall down. Hard. My husband returns to find me lying on the floor, laughing so hard I can't get up while the cats gaze at me in perplexed silence.

    I'm so glad he loves the Three Stooges!

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    I Want to Get LOST on This Island!

    I know I told you guys that I'd missed out on LOST's first season. But I finally went out and bought Season One on DVD. I've only watched the first 5 episodes and I'm totally captivated! And ya know, I thought you guys were watching it for its spiritual symbolism, its stimulating intellectual qualities, the gorgeous cinematography or even the heart-pounding adventures of these poor castaways stranded on a tropical island with the bloodthirsty Bumble from RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER.

    But after watching a few episodes, I realize it's THE MEN!!! Holy cow! There's noble doc Jack (Matthew Fox), adorable Charlie (Dominic Monaghan from LORD OF THE RINGS. I always did have a weakness for hobbits) , the sensitive Boone (Ian Somerhalder), the gorgeous Sayid (Naveen Andrews pictured to the left) and my, oh my, don't even get me started on Bad Boy Sawyer with his dimples and his drawl (Josh Holloway)! He would make a perfectly yummy Billy Darling in my book NOBODY'S DARLING.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Teresa Crashes into Reality

    Our editors can give us many gifts and this year my editor, Carrie Feron, introduced me to what I believe is the Best Movie of the Year. (And yes, CINDERELLA MAN is #2 on my list.) I had barely walked into the Reno hotel where our national conference was being held when she told me, "I watched CRASH last night in my room. You HAVE to see it!" Okey-dokey. Usually my hotel viewing habits trend more toward light romantic comedies starring Hugh Jackman, but since her recommendation was so passionate (and she WAS my wise and brilliant editor), I decided to give CRASH a spin.

    Let me start off by saying that CRASH is a deeply thoughtful and unflinching exploration of race relations in our country that will challenge your every preconception and misconception about skin color and culture. Wow, that sounds ponderous, doesn't it? So let me add that it is also a rip-roaring great movie about several lives in L.A. intersecting until each of their story threads weaves a moving and cohesive tapestry.

    I laughed out loud at some of the dialogue, especially the lines spouted by rapper Ludacris and his erstwhile companion. I sobbed aloud during some of the scenes. And I was absolutely on the edge of my seat (or in this case, the edge of my bed) waiting to see what was going to happen next.

    To me, the last is the greatest gift. How often do we watch a movie these days and honestly have NO idea what's going to happen next? We've almost lost our ability to be surprised because most directors don't even try anymore.

    A lot of people missed this movie in the theaters but it's perfect for DVD viewing. I can promise you that you'll never look at some of these actors through the same eyes again: Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Sandra Bullock, the gorgeous Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe. (And in a totally surreal moment, even Tony Danza pops up!)

    If you like a movie that makes you think as well as feel, give CRASH a chance.

    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    Teresa says "Serenity Now!"

    As some of you probably already know, Joss Whedon, the genius behind BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, did a short-lived TV "space western" called FIREFLY on Fox in 2002. The network pulled the show after only 11 episodes (obviously taking a cue from the Mensa candidates over at the SciFi network who cancelled FARSCAPE). But the show had already spawned a loyal fan base who called themselves "Browncoats." They recruited more devotees when the entire series was recently released on DVD and it was their passionate campaigning that helped get Joss Whedon a greenlight to bring his ragtag crew of space explorers to the big screen in SERENITY.

    I havn't yet seen a single episode of FIREFLY (although I plan to order the DVD's this morning) but I saw SERENITY last night and I have to confess that I liked it better than all 3 of the most recent STAR WARS movies combined. Captain Mal Reynolds seems to be a combination of Captain Kirk, Han Solo, and that wisecracking pilot from your last Southwest flight. (Ya gotta love a captain who picks up the mic and announces, "We may experience some slight turbulence...and explode" and a crew member that whines back at him, "But I don't WANT to explode!") His crew members all had distinct personalities and you truly believed that they were as devoted to each other as they were to their battle-scarred ship. The movie had the best futuristic dialogue I've heard since MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME. The music worked for me, the visuals worked, and all of those thrilling episodes of derring do were deftly mixed with the wonderful touches of humor and humanity that are Joss Whedon's trademark as a writer.

    If you enjoy space opera, if you enjoy a good western, if you simply enjoy interesting characters doing interesting things while tossing off genuinely amusing wisecracks, then you should probably find some SERENITY now!

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    15 Things You Never Think You'll Do Until You Go On a Booktour

    1. Eat a large ribeye steak in bed at 10 PM

    2. Watch an episode of MY FAIR BRADY on VH1. (Yes, this is the new reality show starring 47-year-old Christopher Knight, a.k.a. Peter Brady, and his 22-year-old love Adrianne Curry, who went directly from winning the title of America's Next Top Model to guesting on Surreal Life 4 where she met and fell in love with the former child star.)

    3. Watch "Peter Brady" wearing nothing but boxer shorts being paddled by his 22-year-old lover while he yells, "Thank you, Bubble Queen! May I have another?"

    4. Try to jab out your eyes with the complimentary hotel pen

    5. Spend an hour at a Sharper Image store trying out every gadget and massage chair in the store

    6. Get both feet caught in a Sharper Image foot massager and briefly panic

    7. Drink 2 Chocolixir dark chocolate milkshakes from the Godiva store in one day

    8. Stay up all night because you've had too much chocolate

    9. Call your husband weeping hysterically because they sent home one of your favorite contestants on ROCK STAR: INXS

    10. Learn how to play Spider Solitaire on your computer

    11. Play Spider Solitaire on your computer until your hand curls into a spider-like claw

    12. Accidentally get cherry crush toenail polish on lovely hotel duvet and try to wash it off with nail polish remover, which only succeeds in smearing stain until it resembles something on CSI

    13. Turn duvet over to try and hide stain

    14. Get lost on second floor of hotel while looking for ice machine and suddenly realize the long deserted hallways bear a striking resemblance to the Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING

    15. Fall madly and passionately in love with each reader who took time out of her own busy schedule to attend signings in Louisville and Charlotte, including these lovely ladies in the pic above from the Louisville Romance Writers AND my very dear friend, Elizabeth Bevarly, who picked me up at the Louisville airport, ate dinner with me and acted as my official driver for the duration of the evening. Wuv you, Liz!!!

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Teresa's Wardrobe Malfunction

    Okay so I'm scheduled to go on THE SCENE, our local TV station's version of REGIS AND KELLY. I know my segment is next so I'm standing behind the control booth watching as the oh-so-charming hosts engage in some witty banter and introduce me as their next guest. I usually wear a suit for such appearances but I'm in a casual mood this afternoon and shoot for something funkier--a pair of black pin-striped pants, some chunky silver and black jewelry, and a slightly translucent white shirt. I don't think you'll be able to see through it in this lighting but just in case (as my Mama always taught me) I wear a white bra. (Although during my SEX IN THE CITY phase, I probably would have dared to wear a black bra.)

    As they focus the camera on a display of my books, my mind starts to wander. Then the host begins to joke about his female co-host posing for one of the covers and holds up the stepback cover for AFTER MIDNIGHT. Suddenly out of nowhere, all of these frantic cries of "Nipple! Nipple! NIPPLE!!!" erupt from the technicians in the control booth. (And if you've never heard a group of men shouting "NIPPLE!" in unison, I assure you that it can be VERY disconcerting.) Fearing the worst, I immediately glance down at my own chest.

    But it seems they weren't worried about my nipples. Apparently the FCC regulations since the Janet Jackson debacle are so strict that they feared retribution for exposing my hero's rather robust nipple. I gently pointed out that it was a MALE nipple and we'd all seen numerous shirtless young men wading through the New Orleans floodwaters in the past few days. They mopped their collective brows in relief.

    Several years ago my best friend had a car accident and I just happened to be the first person to come along after it happened. I stuffed her in my car and rushed her to the emergency room. We're in the exam room waiting for the doctor and suddenly she hisses at me, "Give me your underwear!" "Huh?" I say. Turns out she had violated that most sacred of all parental dictates--Always Wear Clean Underwear In Case You Get In An Accident. Not only was she not wearing CLEAN underwear. She wasn't wearing ANY underwear at all. So there we were in the exam room with me frantically wiggling out of my panties so she can shimmy into them. I can only imagine what the doctor would have thought had he walked in at that moment!

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    He's a tramp, a scamp, and a bit of a vamp...

    With or without a soul, Spike from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is my all-time favorite vampire. (I started to say "fictional vampire", then realized that would be redundant.) Spike, with his soulful eyes, biting wit, and self-deprecating humor could definitely tempt me to try love at first bite. (And my oh my, what about those cheekbones???!!!)

    Spike (as portrayed by the incomparable James Marsters) arrived in Sunnydale early in the second season with his lunatic lover Druscilla in tow. Introduced as the definitive Big Bad, no one could have guessed his character's journey would lead him to fall deeply and irrevocably in love with Buffy, proving just how quickly loathing can turn to love when one's nemesis is a diminutive blonde with a martyr complex and a weakness for creatures of the night.

    Their sizzling chemistry was explored in Season Four in the episode "Something Blue" when a heartbroken Willow inadvertantly cast a love spell on the vampire and the Slayer. To the horror of Buffy's friends and family, Buffy and Spike begin to nuzzle each other's necks and pick out china patterns for their wedding. In Spike's piece de resistance, the Season Five episode "Fool for Love", the pre-vampire Spike is revealed to have been a sensitive soul, something of a mama's boy who was christened "Spike" and "William the Bloody" not because he was so fearsome but because he wrote poetry so bloody awful it made you want to drive a spike through your forehead. (What writer who has ever been reviewed by KIRKUS couldn't identify with that?) This episode also revealed that by the 1980's Spike had metamorphosed into a leather-clad vampire so preternaturally cool that Billy Idol stole his platinum locks and rebel's snarl.

    Spike won my heart for keeps at the end of this episode when he marched up to Buffy's house with shotgun in hand, determined to purge his life and heart of the Slayer forever. Instead he ended up letting her cry on his shoulder while he awkwardly patted hers. More tingles ensued when Buffy and Spike finally consummated their attraction with a swoon-worthy kiss at the end of the legendary musical episode, "Once More with Feeling."

    What I'd like to know is: Who is YOUR favorite vampire of all-time? Do you prefer Angel's Heathcliff-style brooding to Spike's caustic sarcasm? Did Frank Langella's smoldering DRACULA tempt you to leave your balcony door unlocked or would you prefer to have Gary Oldman's untrimmed fingernails caressing your throat? Does Louis or Lestat light your fire? Do you prefer the laid-back Southern gentleman Bill from Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series or the cunning and elegant Jean-Claude from Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books? In a fictional world where every vampire has a little bit of soul, who would YOU be most likely to greet at your front door with those two immortal words, "Bite me"???

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    Music is the Only Muse for Teresa

    In one of my earliest baby pictures, my mother is holding my scrawny little diapered self up over a record player. My dad tells me that it was Elvis playing that day and that I wiggled and gurgled with delight, all shook up by the beat and the sexy half-drawl, half-growl of that soft-spoken boy from Memphis.

    Since then, music has continued to hold sway over my imagination, becoming the key that unlocks my creative subconscious. I honestly don't think there would a single Teresa Medeiros book without its accompanying soundtrack.

    I may not remember the name of every secondary character in my books but I can tell you that Justin and Emily in ONCE AN ANGEL first made love to the haunting strains of the Guns N' Roses power ballad "Don't Cry" or that in NOBODY'S DARLING Billy Darling got shot and collapsed in Esmerelda's arms while "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" wailed out of my stereo. In the last scene of THIEF OF HEARTS, it was the music from "Jurassic Park's" end credits that went soaring over the waves when Captain Doom's pirate ship appeared on the horizon to carry Lucy away to her new life.

    My September release AFTER MIDNIGHT began on a similar note. I'd already fallen in love with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas music. (Think Christmas music on acid rock with wailing guitar solos and thundering drums.) Then I picked up a copy of
    BEETHOVEN'S LAST NIGHT, their first concept album in which Beethoven battles with the Devil for ownership of his soul. (Think Faust meets Scrooge.) The CD combines original music with some of the most unforgettable melodies ever crafted by Beethoven and Mozart.

    I froze when I heard the first notes of "Requiem (The Fifth)"--a wickedly sexy rendition of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. As the throbbing bass took control of the song, I could just see this mysterious and powerful man striding through the misty streets of London with his black cloak swirling around his ankles. Was he man or monster? Hero or villain? At that moment, Adrian Kane, Viscount Trevelyan, was born in my imagination and on the first page of AFTER MIDNIGHT.

    I'd found my soundtrack! Caroline's yearning for Adrian is perfectly captured in the original ballad "The Dreams of Candlelight," which catches you off guard with its classical climax perfectly suited for two lovers who can no longer resist surrendering to their passion. Haunting versions of the "Moonlight Sonata" and "Fur Elise" accompany Caroline's moonlit ramblings around Adrian's castle. "I'll Keep Your Secrets" perfectly expresses both her doubts and her growing devotion. It was the soaring, joyous "A Last Illusion" that was playing as I wrote the final scene of the book, then collapsed on my bed in a heap of tears as the credits rolled, the recipient of my very own happy ending.

    My mother gave me many gifts and I suspect on the day she held me over that record player so I could wiggle with delight, she had no idea she was giving me a key that would open the door to so many different and magical worlds. As Elvis would say, "Thank you, Mama. Thank you very much."

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Teresa Falls in Love All Over Again

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a dangerous woman. I learned that way back in 1989 when I stumbled across her novel FANCY PANTS. In that richly textured, mainstream glitter and glitz women's fiction novel that still managed to be one of the most extraordinary romances I'd ever read, she first did the impossible. She made golf interesting. That's right. Her hero, Dallie Beaudine was the sexiest golfer to ever pull on (or off) a pair pants.
    Since then, I've been forced to govern my SEP reading with a very strict set of rules. Because she's on a very short list of writers who can make me care more about what I'm reading than about what I'm writing, I'm only allowed to read her books on vacation, on long car or plane trips, or when I've just finished writing one of my own books.

    Fortunately for me, a car trip to Florida coincided with the release of her brand spanking new Chicago Stars book, MATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Not since I first read ROOTS in the car when I was 13 have I enjoyed a road trip so much! From the very first page, SEP evokes empathy for her characters. We first meet modern day matchmaker Annabelle Granger trying to lure a drunk man out from under the wheels of her car because she's late for a very special appointment with high-profile sports agent Heath Champion, aka The Python. How can you not fall in love with a woman who smears lipstick on her lovely yellow shirt when she's trying to sniff her armpits for B.O. while driving? That's the beauty of SEP's female characters. They're not just the friends we'd long to have. They're already us!

    She also excels in choosing the right details. The very fact that the heroine owns a Hello Kitty cookie jar tells you everything you need to know about her. As a writer, I found myself utterly seduced by sentences like, "Her sister-in-law used perfume like bug repellant." And Heath Champion has to be one of the most luscious, three-dimensional contemporary heroes I've ever read. SEP knows men! She knows how they think and how they talk and she loves them anyway, which only makes us love them more.

    I also love the fact that the characters from the previous Chicago Stars novels weren't just marched onstage for a "Very Special Appearance" but were actually used to further the plot and facilitate the romance between Annabelle and Heath. I loved seeing Phoebe and Dan from IT HAD TO BE YOU with a few more wrinkles and a couple of teenagers of their own.

    So who is the author who makes you sigh with satisfaction every time you close one of her books? Who is the author who can make YOU fall in love all over again?

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Megabacks: Hot New Trend or New Coke?

    Just last Friday, the New York Times ran a piece on the new trend in paperback publishing. (Here's a link to the NYT Article, so kindly provided by Manuelita over on the Avon Authors Board.) Disturbed by the aging of the baby boomers (and their vision) and the declining sales of mass market paperbacks (even though they still vastly outsell every other format available), several publishers have begun to market a new format for mass market paperbacks. These "megabacks" are exactly the same width as normal mass market paperbacks, but 3/4 of an inch taller. (To me, they resemble travel guides.) The longer page allows for an increased type size and more importantly, more white space between the lines to assist with ease of reading. The books will be marketed at a slightly higher cover price of $9.99. (Which as most of you know will probably be discounted in several venues.)

    One of the main selling points of these books for the distributors is that they are designed to fit into the same racks as the regular-sized mass market paperbacks. But I already ran into a problem with that theory at my local drugstore. The first 2 Bestseller shelves were tall enough to display the new Sandra Brown megaback, WHITE HOT. But the next 2 shelves were too short, so both the new Catherine Coulter and Clive Cussler books were LYING FLAT ON THEIR BACKS, which means you couldn't see their covers, which is Every Author's Nightmare and is obviously not conducive to healthy sales.

    I inspected several of these books at my local Borders this weekend. I liked the way they felt in my hands. They felt a little heavier, a little more durable and expensive. (Hey, if I'm going to pay more, I WANT more!) The print did look more pleasant to read. But one of my friends is already complaining because they don't fit as easily into her purse.

    Several of the book distributors (including Wal-Mart) are taking a wait-and-see attitude, ordering limited quantities of the new look. I think only time will tell if this new trend is going to catch on, but Sandra Brown's WHITE HOT is going to be the first Megaback to debut at #1 on the NYT paperback bestseller list!

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    Why Teresa Shouldn't Leave the House

    I want to love gardening. Really I do. But there are four problems:

    1) I hate to get dirty
    2) I hate bugs
    3) I hate to sweat
    4) I hate any sort of physical labor that involves dirt, bugs, or sweat

    But since the shrubs in front of my house were beginning to resemble some sort of wooly mammoths from the prehistoric era, I decided to drag myself outside this morning before the heat index climbed to 140 degrees and trim the hedges.

    Things were going well. I had a bottle of cold water. I had my supplies all lined up. The heat index was only 120. And I managed to trim the hedges in the back of the house without cutting the extension cord in two as I've done twice before.

    But then, tragedy strikes!

    As I'm trimming one of the front bushes, I suddenly feel this terrible pain in my left ring finger. A howlingly dreadful pain that must surely involve some sort of involuntary amputation. Unable to visually locate a rattlesnake of any kind, I finally see a wasp nest dangling inside the bush, guarded by the proverbial angry bee. Being a former registered nurse, I know exactly what to do. I drop the hedge trimmer and run inside, screaming hysterically for my husband. By now, the pain has mounted to nearly inconceivable levels. We apply our favorite home remedy--an ice cube smeared in baking soda (the baking soda is a base which will neutralize the acid in the wasp venom). Ignoring my protests that it will make me too sleepy to function, my husband insists on pressing 25 mg of Benadryl on me.

    Despite the fact that my finger is now roughly the size of my right elbow, I bravely sniff back my tears and decide to go outside and finish the job. Which is when I discovered that gardening is so much more pleasant when you're enjoying a slight pharmeceutical buzz.

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Teresa Says "Say what?"

    I recently took a look at the quotes I have scotch-taped over my desk so I thought I'd share. I'm not sure what they reveal about me and if you figure it out, I'd probably rather not know.

    "Whatever anyone else thinks about me is none of my business." "Take the action and let go of the results." Michael J. Fox

    "And granted, I am blond and I am talented and thus the world feels like they should pay me a lot. And I am damn thankful." (I thought this one was particularly hilarious.) Jewel



    "If I only write for myself and the girls in the basement, and never think about anybody else, it's as much fun as making my collages or painting my living room walls the color of a pumpkin--who cares? It's mine and I did it my way, and if you don't like it, there's the door." Barbara Samuel

    "He had never before thought of trying to improve his playing, but now it seemed worthwhile to go at every tune as if all within earshot had been recently set afire." Charles Frazier/COLD MOUNTAIN

    "Success is nothing more than getting up one more time than you fall down." Author Unknown

    "Often the creative life is slowed or stopped because something in the psyche has a very low opinion of us, and we are down there groveling at its feet instead of bopping it over the head and running for freedom." Clarissa Pinkola Estes

    "There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, that expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." Martha Graham, Dancer

    "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." Henry David Thoreau

    "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen, ANTHEM

    "I don't have anything left." "Just give 'em what you got." FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME

    And my personal favorite, sent to me by my dear friend Elizabeth Bevarly: STOP WHINING AND PLOT REVENGE!

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    Kiss My Cliche!

    KISS MY CLICHE! is the title of the workshop Eloisa James and I will be doing at RWA National next week. (It's on Friday July 29th from 3:15-4:15 in case any of you are going to be there.) We're going to talk about all of the "rules" given to beginning authors and how to successfully break those rules so you don't end up with a bland, homogenized manuscript indistinguishable from a thouand other bland, homogenized manuscripts.

    Some of those rules include:

    1) A hero should be a lord, a knight, a fireman or a banker but never--under any circumstances--an artist, a singer, a dancer or a SPORTS FIGURE
    2) A heroine can be a banker, a lady, a firewoman or a florist, but never, under any circumstances, should she be clueless (or TSTL--too stupid to live) and a book should never be built around a BIG MIS (Big Misunderstanding)
    3) It's best to avoid strippers, because your hero or heroine should really have more ambitious plans than that
    4) Your hero needs to be manly. No crying, for heaven's sake! There's no crying in romance!!!
    5) Stay away from evil stepmothers
    6) Don't make your villain lecherous
    7) NEVER switch point of view within a chapter because those POV sluts are wall-bangers.
    8) Stay away from purple prose. Write like Hemingway if you must.
    9) You should make your hero and heroines orphans. Too many characters only muddy the waters.
    10) Stay away from blatant cliches like amnesia and twins because those certainly don't sell.
    11) Unless you're writing inspirationals, you really should keep any religious stuff out of there. Why on earth would a historical character have any faith?

    As you can see, by using this list, we've just successfully eliminated some of the most successful romances ever written!

    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Teresa Hits the Tanning Bed

    Naturally, it all started with the chickens. As a former registered nurse, I've always been vehemently anti-tanning bed. I prefer to get my cancer the old-fashioned way--from the sun! But when I used some make-up that gave me a temporary complexion problem with a national conference fast approaching, I decided UV light was the only solution.

    I consulted a friend with a golden glow and a bad tanning bed habit and she informed me that they'd done reliable scientific studies with chickens by plucking them and putting them in the tanning bed over and over and making sure they didn't cook on the inside. Naturally, I was horrified on behalf of the poor birds. "Oh, but the chickens were already dead," she assured me. "And they made them wear protective eye goggles."

    No wonder they have to sanitize those beds between use.

    Although some of you have probably figured out that I shouldn't be allowed to leave the house without a keeper unless I'm going to Wal-Mart, I made my way to the tanning salon. It turns out the perky, blonde, uber-bronzed girl behind the desk was there to help me choose a "program." Although I point out that I only want to tan for two weeks, she insists that a "program" will still be cheaper than paying $3.50 for individual tanning sessions. I ask her to explain the options. She explains the $50 option and the other $50 option but she recommends the $50 option. I purchase the $50 option. She also tries to sell me large bottles of expensive tanning lotion, all containing hemp, which I thought was something you either made rope with or smoked with Woody Harrelson.

    To sign in their clients, it turns out that they now use a fingerprint scanner. Convinced this is higher tech security than NASA uses, I realize that if my husband wants to tan with my minutes, he'll have to cut off my finger and take it with him like anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer in an episode of "24".

    She shows me to the private room and assures me I have 4 minutes to get my clothes off. As I do a rapid-fire striptease and prepare to climb into the forbidding sci-fi like tube, all I can think is, "Are they going to set it on Popcorn or Baked Potato?" Had it been a brain scan, I could have been no less petrified.
    Leaving my undies on, I climb into the contraption and draw the coffin-like lid down on top of me. With eyes clenched tightly shut beneath my protective eyewear to ward off impending blindness, I remember all of those urban legends about the prom queen who tanned too long and all of her internal organs got liquified and began to pour out of various orifices. I start violently as a drop of something strikes my arm. Liquified internal organ? Nope, just sweat.
    The machine jolts to life, bathing me in warm rays, cool fan air, and cheery country music. I try to relax but all I can think is, "What if the uber-bronzed girl set the machine for 60 minutes instead of 6? What if I show up at the national conference looking like the Cryptkeeper?"

    As you've probably already surmised, I survived the ordeal. But when I got home, my cat Buffy started to obsessively lick my arm. I couldn't decide if she was trying to get high off the hemp or if I smelled like cooked meat.

    She always has been partial to baked chicken.

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    Teresa Says the Kid Can Still Sing

    "So did you cry during PUPPY LOVE?" "No, Daddy, I cried during TOO YOUNG and THE TWELFTH OF NEVER."

    This was the conversation I had with my dad the morning after my husband took me to see Donny Osmond in concert. When I was eleven, my dad brought home my very first Donny Osmond album, a decision I've often wondered if he regretted--especially after he had to repaint my entire bedroom when we moved because my gazillion Donny posters had pulled all the paint off the wall!

    Donny's enjoying a well-deserved resurgence in his career based on his latest CD, WHAT I MEANT TO SAY. The current single BREEZE ON BY is #18 with a bullet on the Smooth Jazz Billboard chart and the most telling review I've seen is the one that reads, "This is the best album George Michael never made." He's selling out 15,000 seat arenas in England and when the tickets recently went on sale for his fall tour in the U.K., they sold out a year in advance in a single day. In the U.S., the CD has been the #1 Pop seller at Wal-Mart and the #2 Pop seller at Amazon. If you like a smooth blend of jazz and pop a la George Michael in his LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE phase, I HIGHLY recommend this CD. (You can find out more about it at or purchase it here.)

    On the real-life hero front, Donny's been married to his wife Debbie for 27 years now (they married when he was 19). They have 5 boys between the ages of 7 and 25 and at 47, he's about to become a grandfather for the first time.

    Even my husband was impressed with the two-hour show! Donny did several songs from the new CD and the adoring audience seemed to love them just as much as the old stuff. His voice was better than ever--strong, mellow, and mature. (Andrew Lloyd Webber recently invited him to do the Phantom role in London but he had to turn it down due to a scheduling conflict.) At the beginning of the second half, sitting all by himself at the piano, he did what we'd all been waiting for--several of his older songs reworked in lovely, slightly jazzy arrangements. He followed them with a version of THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU (included on the new CD) that was absolutely sublime. (And yes, I did give in to the urge to scream, "We love you, Donny!!!" at least once. His response to such accolades: "I love you, too, babe!")
    Whether he was talking, singing, or dancing, he claimed the stage with extraordinary confidence. After struggling for 20 years with the burden of being a genuinely talented individual who could never break free of the "teen idol" label, it was clear that this was a man who had finally embraced his past and felt comfortable in his own skin.

    As he sang and danced, I kept catching fleeting glimpses of the boy I had loved superimposed over the man and for the first time in a very long time, I remembered what it had been like to be the girl who had loved him--a girl full of hope and yearning and dreams and possibilities. I went to that concert in search of Donny Osmond, but what I found was a little piece of myself that I hadn't even realized was missing.
    And that, Donny, is why we still love you.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    When Good Men Say Bad Things

    As I'm sure most of you can tell from my blogs, my husband is an absolute diamond of the first water. (I mean, this IS the man who recently surprised me with Donny Osmond tickets and is actually going to accompany me to the concert on Wednesday!) But even the most wonderful husband can occasionally blurt out something incredibly stupid. The last time he did this, it occurred to me that it might be helpful if we wives had a resource we could turn to. So I composed this letter from a Very Special Company and presented it to my husband:


    It has come to our attention that the button in your head labeled, "Don't say that dumbass thing" is in immediate need of repair. If you will remove the button and return it to our facility, we will initiate said repair before emergency conditions necessitate a full replacement of both the button and your head.

    While your unit is being restored to full functioning, we will provide a temporary replacement fully equipped with such helpful warnings as, "Don't look at her breasts. Your wife is watching" and "Don't eat that. I think it's kitty kibble."

    The temporary unit should keep you from blurting out such potentially fatal marital faux pas as "Darn right, that dress makes you look fat!", "Please don't stand in front of the TV. You're blocking the football game" and "I'm in the mood for some really big chicken wings. Let's go to Hooters!" While you're waiting for your replacement, we will also provide you with a shoehorn specially designed to remove your sneaker from your mouth and your wife's foot from your [INSERT EXPLETIVE HERE].

    Thank you for trusting us with all of your Tact and Discretion needs. We've been in business for over a hundred years, even longer than it feels like you've been married!

    Sincerely, Daniel Dumas
    President and CEO Dumas Corporation

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Teresa Helps Connie Brockway with Her Acceptance Speech

    As some of you may already know, one of the highlights of the Romance Writers of America's annual conference is the RITA award ceremony. The RITA is RWA's version of the Oscar--a lovely gold lady with a golden quill who (despite all reports to the contrary) is NOT sitting on a commode.

    Last year the RWA judges politely spread out the nominations among several of my friends, but this year my dear friend Connie Brockway is hogging them all for herself. MY SEDUCTION is up for Best Short Historical and MY PLEASURE is up for Best Long Historical. Now Connie already has 2 RITAS for Best Long Historical. (I know this because she told me that she keeps them on a dais in her office. With a push of a button, the dais rises, twin fountains shoot up in the air and an orchestra starts to play "Gloria, Gloria In Excelsis Deo" while a giant screen TV behind the dais plays an endless loop of her accepting her awards.)

    Now I personally have been nominated for 6 RITAS in my career, but have yet to win. As Bob Hope used to say about the Oscars, at my house we call RITA night "the Passover." Being nominated several times without winning gives you some wonderful personal skills like 1) the ability to say, "It's an honor just to be nominated" through teeth clenched in a frozen smile 2) the ability to smile when someone else's name is called instead of crawling under your seat 3) the ability to enjoy a cigarette after the ceremony (even if you don't smoke).
    But wait--we were talking about Connie, weren't we?

    Because I think I've finally found a way to get that RITA. You see, I, Teresa Medeiros, have been chosen to present the RITA for Short Historical this year. Now Connie has some wonderful competition in both of those categories but there's still a chance I could open up that envelope and see the name CONNIE BROCKWAY blaring at me. If so, I'm thinking this could be the best evening gown smack-down since RuPaul met Dennis Rodman in the 1998 WWF Grudge Match.

    If Connie SHOULD win the RITA while I'm presenting, which course of action would you suggest:
    1) Smile graciously, hand her the RITA, give her a heartfelt hug, and offer to buy her a drink after the ceremony?
    2) Smile graciously, hand her the RITA, and step on the train of her dress as she's walking away?
    3) Smile graciously, then dart toward the exit, forcing her to chase me down, tackle me, bang my head on the stage, and pry the RITA from my cold, dead hands?

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005


    You can probably tell from some of my posts on this and other boards that I love books just as much as you guys do. Books have been my friends, my escape, and my lifeline from the time I was a very small child. Out of curiosity, I went back and took a look at the last ten books I've read:

    THE ICE QUEEN by Alice Hoffman (mainstream novel)

    BLACK ICE by Anne Stuart (romantic suspense)

    MY PLEASURE by Connie Brockway (historical romance)

    DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris (vampire suspense with romance)

    FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E.L. Konisburg (a favorite from childhood that I frequently re-read)

    PLAN B: FURTHER THOUGHTS ON FAITH by Anne Lamotte (Non-fiction)

    PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen (classic literature)

    CLOSE TO YOU by Christina Dodd (romantic suspense)

    ALONE by Lisa Gardner (suspense)
    JUST LIKE A MAN by Elizabeth Bevarly (romantic comedy)

    Although you'll probably notice a few of my friends on this list, we do have an unofficial agreement amongst ourselves. We appreciate it if we buy each other's books, but we're under no obligation to read them. We're all well aware that if we're not careful, we could spend all of our time reading our "friend's" books and never try anything new. (Of course this gets to be a problem when you have such freaking talented friends and you genuinely WANT to read their books.)

    I have to confess that I've read very little historical romance lately. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE historical romance but when I'm in the middle of writing one, there are three reasons I don't read them.

    1) Reading what I'm writing feels like work. If they're wonderful, I feel despairing about my own work. If they're not wonderful, I catch myself editing them in my head.

    2) If I read nothing but historicals, then after awhile everything starts feeling tired to me. As long as I maintain the "illusion" that I'm writing something fresh, then it feels fresh and exciting to me and there's a better chance that I can make it fresh and exciting for the reader. One of the most startling things I've ever heard in a workshop is when Julie Garwood confessed that she'd never read another historical romance. Ever. In her life. Shocking, but who knows? Maybe that's what gave her books such a brash, exciting feel when she first broke into the historical market. (For examples of this, I highly recommend HONOR'S SPLENDOR, THE BRIDE, and LYON'S LADY.)

    3) I honestly believe that if romance writers read nothing but romance, then eventually we'll all start cannibalizing each other and nobody will be bringing anything fresh to the genre. I probably wouldn't have ever written my award-winning western, NOBODY'S DARLING, if I hadn't read Larry McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE. The children's novel THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND (which I read REPEATEDLY as a child) definitely informed my own "witch" book, BREATH OF MAGIC. If we keep pouring those outside influences into the genre, then I believe it helps to keep the pool fresh and sparkling.

    I DO read historicals when I'm between books or on vacation. The first books I reached for when I finished AFTER MIDNIGHT were SECRETS OF A SUMMER NIGHT, MUCH ADO ABOUT YOU and SOME ENCHANTED EVENING. This may sound like a Squawk commercial, but by that point, I was STARVED for a good historical. And the best historicals always send me running for my notepad to jot down ideas. (I said "jot", not steal :))

    Barbara Samuels just did a wonderful article in my Novelists Ink newsletter about how easy it is for our reading habits to become "corrupted" after we become writers. We spend WAY too much time reading books we feel we "should" be reading instead of "discovering" books the way we did before we became writers. I'm using her article as permission to read a book that's been languishing on my shelf for way too long--LIFE IS JUST WHAT YOU MAKE IT: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DONNY OSMOND!

    Sunday, June 05, 2005


    Just wanted to let you guys know that I survived the church tea. And my chocolate chip scones didn't even kill anyone! (Well, so far there haven't been any reported fatalities...)

    To prove it, here's the recipe:


    3 cups self-rising flour
    2/3 cup sugar
    3 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick)
    1 cup semi-sweet choco chips
    1 cup buttermilk


    1 cup confectioner's sugar
    3 TBS water
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add the choco chips; stir in buttermilk just until blended. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead gently 8-10 times. Pat into a 9-inch circle. Cut with a floured 2 inch biscuit cutter (I used the top off the PAM spray since I don't own a biscuit cutter.) Place 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove to wire racks. GLAZE In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over scones. Serve warm. Yields about 18 scones and approximately 3 lbs on your hips.

    Sunday, May 29, 2005


    I have a confession to make. I am a massage junkie. I am totally into paying a complete stranger to rub my body for money. I've had massages on cruise ships, in hotel rooms, at spas where writer's conferences were being held, and once there were even these lovely Balinese twins who massaged in perfect synch, every motion of one mirroring the other. (Hey, get your minds out of the gutter! This was in a legitimate world class spa on a cruise ship!) After a long day of sitting at the computer, my shoulders, neck and back are usually tied up in fist-like knots so I have no problem indulging myself in the luxury of a massage at least once a month.

    For over a year, I had the best masseuse on the planet. Jenny had the tender, healing hands of an angel and best of all, only charged $45/hour. But alas--she was forced to give up the business after being sidelined by a nasty car wreck. I can assure you that her suffering has been NOTHING compared to my own. (Just kidding, Jenny!)

    After three months of suffering in silence, I finally decided to pay her replacement a visit. She was a small woman with short arms, but the long blonde braids should have tipped me off to her torrid past as a Soviet gymnast. From this moment forward, we will simply call her...Helga. Before she began, I told her that I knew I was "knotty", but she didn't really have to apply pressure point therapy because I was more into relaxation than pain.

    Apparently in her language, this translated into, "Hurt me, mama. I like it rough."
    This was a not a massage. It was a mugging. She attacked each body part with equal ferocity and soon I found myself silently praying, "Please, Lord. Just don't let me be paralyzed from the neck down when I leave here!" I struggled to muffle my whimpers of pain and cries for mercy by biting the face rest. While she was pounding my glutes, she informed me that "she had a lot more male clients than females." I could only assume that this was because she had killed most of her female clients.

    My dread grew when she wrapped a towel around each extremity in turn and began to tug with all of her strength, telling me that "one of my clients was 3/4 of an inch taller after I finished with her." I silently began to give thanks that at least she wasn't going to try to stretch my neck. That was right before she came around the table and said cheerfully, "Could you lift up your head?" and proceeded to wrap the towel around my throat.

    After I had limped home, iced various body parts, and made sure I could still wiggle all of my fingers and toes, I related the full extent of my suffering to my husband. He simply blinked at me and said, "Why didn't you just get up and leave?"

    "Leave?" I sputtered. "Are you out of your mind? I was just trying to survive!"

    Later, it occurred to me that it was a valid question. Why didn't I leave? Was I afraid of being rude or embarrassed? Did I think Helga might chase me down and put me in a headlock? I finally decided that there's just something about lying on a massage table wearing nothing but a sheet and your underoos that makes you weirdly passive.

    If you don't hear from me again, you'll know that "Helga" has internet access.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    Teresa Waxes Eloquent on STAR WARS

    Christina Dodd e-mailed me yesterday and was worried about introducing a controversial new subject on the Blog. That's right. She was afraid we'd bring down the wrath of the universe if we politely pointed out that the last STAR WARS movie, STAR WARS II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES...well, to put it reeked.

    Of course, legend has it that George Lucas divorced his wife between the first trilogy and the second and that it was his wife who did most of the actual writing on those original scripts. One of my main problems with the last movie was that I LOATHED the Anakin character and don't see how I can possibly have any regrets when he goes "bad" because all he did was snarl and sulk like some horrible constipated teenager for three hours. (I can't help but ponder an alternate universe where Leo Dicaprio didn't turn down the role.) The romance dialogue between Anakin and Queen Whats-Her-Face made me want to crawl under the seat AND get Natalie Portman another agent. As the moments crawled by, I kept thinking the movie would NEVER end.

    We were with our friends Brian and Vonda when we saw it and me and Vonda finally completely lost it during the Yoda fight when he started "yipping" and doing backflips like Miss Piggy channeling Xena while on amphetamines. We were laughing so hard we were crying and our husbands just kept glaring at us for ruining this pivotal moment of the movie.

    I have to admit that I'll still grudgingly give Mr. Lucas my money to see the final installment. But the recent influx of commercials is a little jarring. How can I take Darth Vader seriously when he's strangling M & M's and his storm troopers are lighting the ovens at Burger King? Should I be impressed by Yoda's wisdom when he's hanging out at some diner with Chewbacca having a soda?

    The main impression I've carried away from these new films is a keen appreciation for...the extraordinary charisma of HARRISON FORD!!! As inventive and wonderful as those first three films were, his wise-cracking swagger is what gave them their heart. (And stole mine.)

    So you can have my money, Mr. Lucas, but my heart will always belong to Han.

    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Teresa Confesses She's "TSTL"

    Okay, I have a confession to make. I'm TSTL. That's right--My name is Teresa Medeiros and I'm too stupid to live. The first day we moved into our new house, I ran the car into the garage, effectively wrecking both of them. After listening to the song LIFE IN THE FAST LANE by the Eagles at least 10 million times since the 70's, I just figured out the line that says, "There were lines on the mirror" is talking about cocaine, not wrinkles. Only today I risked life and limb (and my beloved Jag) to drive to Starbuck's during a terrible thunderstorm/tornado watch because I couldn't bear to live another moment without a Mocha Lite Frapuccino Grande. So I consider it a personal affront when readers say that they can't stand heroines who are too stupid to live. Just go ahead and kill me now, why don't you? (For other examples of my stupidity, you may contact any of the other Bloggers on this loop by private e-mail and a comprehensive list will be provided to you.)

    But seriously, I hate almost any black and white rules that put limits on my fiction, either writing it or reading it. I want to write about all sorts of characters and my very favorites are characters who make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite themes is to follow a girl as she makes the journey toward womanhood. And you know what--girls often do foolish, impulsive things, especially in pursuit of love. Things like climbing out of a window in a ballgown like Lottie in ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL. I love that Connie brought up Lolly in the classic romance JUST A KISS AWAY by Jill Barnett because it was Jill who once said to me, "I love to write about people who make grand and glorious mistakes and who suffer terribly for those mistakes and who are better people for it by the end of the book." Isn't character growth the very definition of well-written fiction? So many things that we used to simply call "a plot" are now dissected mercilessly on the internet as "characters that are TSTL" or "Big Misunderstandings" or "Mary Jane heroines". If we avoid all of these things, then eventually we won't have anything to write about except perfect (and boring) characters and the romance genre will continue to grow even narrower in scope.

    Every one of us has suffered through that moment in the horror movie when the heroine decides to creep down into the cellar all by herself with only a flashlight for a weapon to investigate the mysterious noise. I may shout, "Don't do that, you idiot!" but it doesn't usually make me stop watching the movie. (And while we're on the subject of flashlights, how come those people on CSI don't ever just turn on the freaking lights?!?!?!)

    I would also like to argue that there are all different kinds of smarts in this world. In my book SHADOWS AND LACE, when Gareth asks Rowena how long it's been since she's eaten, she says, "Four days" and holds up three fingers. Is she stupid? No, just uneducated. I once had a fascinating conversation with another writer about Jed Clampett of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Was he stupid? Nope, he was innocent. There's a distinct difference. Was Lucy Ricardo stupid because she managed to get herself into all of those messes? Nope, she was funny.

    I'm a very open-minded reader. Give me characters I can care about and I'll let them get away with murder (sometimes literally). I only have one hard and fast rule--the hero must never, EVER kick a kitten.