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    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!