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    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Teresa Shares Her Favorite Christmas Movies

    To me, nothing says Christmas like watching Billy Peltzer's mom stuff a murderous little monster into a blender and push "Puree," which is why GREMLINS tops my list of favorite holiday movies. When you just can't bear to face another jolly mall Santa or hear another cloying chorus of "Frosty the Snowman," pop GREMLINS into your DVD player and enjoy a black chuckle or two. You can still get your dose of warm cuddlies because no elf or red-nosed reindeer could possibly be cuter than Gizmo! (Just don't feed him after midnight!)

    If your idea of Christmas cheer is watching hot guys save the world from the criminal element (or Gary Busey), try plugging in the action-packed duet of DIE HARD and LETHAL WEAPON. Their Christmas settings only add to their delicious irony. LETHAL WEAPON sports a pre-ranting Mel Gibson at the height of his masculine beauty (And hey, Danny Glover is no slouch either!) while DIE HARD has Bruce Willis literally walking over broken glass to save his woman. (With the added bonus of Alan Rickman in full-on evil mode. Yummy!) Instead of crooning "White Christmas," you'll soon be shouting out "Yippee-ki-yay, mother--" Wait—you'd better make sure your mom is in the room first.

    And lest you fear me completely devoid of Christmas sentimentality, I'm going to pick IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE next. Not only is it a magnificent movie, it also boasts one of the hottest love scenes in cinematic history. There are no rumpled bedsheets. There are no naked, straining bodies. There is simply George Bailey and Mary Hatch sharing a phone in her mother's living room. An overtly hostile George is torn between his dream of escaping his hometown while there's still time and his desperate desire for young Mary. I don't have to tell you which one wins and in that moment when he drops the phone and grabs Mary, the chemistry between them is so sizzling it may very well melt your heart and your DVD player.

    IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE also gave me and my husband one of our favorite catchphrases. When George is raging through the house after Uncle Billy has lost the bank's money, he shouts, "If we're such a happy family, why do we have all these kids?" which can be easily adapted to "If we're such a happy family, why do we have all these cats/recyclable plastics/Christmas decorations???"

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Confessions of a True Romantic

    I was destined to write romance. To prove it to you, I’d like to share a brief snippet of prose: “His kiss was tender, yet passionate. Passionate, yet tender. Neither dominant over the other.” No, that isn’t a passage from my October release THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME. I wrote those words in my diary when I was 11 years old, and I’m embarrassed to admit that the object of my somewhat chaste passions was none other than...Donny Osmond.
    I’ve been in love with being in love for as long as I can remember. When I was 5 years old, I would dress up in one of my mom’s discarded outfits, spread a blanket in the middle of the living room floor, and spend all night pretending I was at the movies with a date. It was the best sort of movie theater--the kind that showed endless runs of THAT GIRL, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, I DREAM OF JEANIE and THE MONKEES.

    Whenever me and my neighborhood friends played “let’s pretend”, almost every one of our games had a secret romantic thread that unwove only in my mind. What fun is playing “cowboys” and “Indians” if your tough-talking, six-shooting cowgirl can’t win the heart of that savage Indian? And why play “school” if you can’t be Laura Ingalls waiting for Almanzo Wilder to brave the blizzard-swept plains and rescue you from a frozen schoolhouse? (That’s the real Almanzo in the pic above. Not bad, eh?) And you can ask J Perry Stone about my fantasy where I was kidnapped by the Monkees (that would be THE MONKEES, not the MONKEYS!) and all four of them fell in love with me. (Well, except for Peter...Peter was always more of a brother figure, don’t you think?)

    I started writing my first historical romance when I was 12. It was called THE PIRATES OF ROCKLON HILL and featured an intrepid pirate captain named (of course!)...Sir Donald Osmond. In a scene eerily identical to the abduction scene in the first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, he and his crew stormed my heroine’s mansion, her heart, and her unassailable virtue. (I wasn’t exactly sure what virtue was back then, but I knew it was supposed to be unassailable.)

    Of course I had my own romantic role models. My parents were never shy with their hugs and kisses--either with me or with each other. They both loved music and you never knew when they might break into a slow dance in the middle of the living room floor to Leo Sayer’s WHEN I NEED YOU. My dad served in Vietnam for two years and he and my mother wrote letters to each other EVERY SINGLE DAY of his deployment. Those letters were so full of unrequited longing and scorching passion that I’m still not allowed to read them. They’re kept in a locked suitcase that’s to be opened only in the event of their deaths.

    Despite my five-year Donny obsession, he wasn’t my first love. I remember quite distinctly falling in love for the first time when I was six years old. He had electric blue eyes, wavy brown hair and a pair of dimples that rivaled my own. The movie was THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES and the star was a Disney staple and teen actor named...Kurt Russell. I still get a little warm and fuzzy when I see Kurt. It probably doesn’t hurt that he turned out pretty good. The eyes are still electric blue, the hair is still thick and wavy and there’s no denying the charm of those dimples and that smile. And hey--he’s even a great family man and director! (TOMBSTONE anyone?)

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    Teresa's Book Reviews: Dead Until Dark

    Anyone who has read AFTER MIDNIGHT or THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME will tell you that I don’t like to venture too far over to the dark side and I like my vamps with tongues (and fangs) planted firmly in cheek. So when I first discovered Charlaine Harris’s DEAD UNTIL DARK, it was a supernatural match made in heaven. All I had to hear was, “It’s a book about a cocktail waitress named Sookie Stackhouse and a Southern vampire named Bill” and I went racing for the bookstore shelves.

    Everything about this series feel fresh to me. Unlike so many vampire tales, Charlaine Harris’s books aren’t set in New Orleans but in the rural backwater town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. Bill is the quintessential vampire--tall, dark, handsome...and undead. Since he was “turned” just after the Civil War, he also has a laconic drawl. And in an added advantage, sex with Bill temporarily gives a girl supernatural strength, glowing skin, and fabulous shiny hair like those models in the Pantene commercials.

    The books are all written in first person and Sookie Stackhouse is one of the strongest and most likable female characters I’ve ever met. She looks like the girl we all wanted to be in high school--she’s (pardon the pun) stacked and has a shiny mane of long straight blond hair. But she’s also the girl we all wanted to be our best friend in high school--she’s funny, kind, wry and smarter than almost everyone else around her. And did I mention that she’s psychic? That’s right--she can read minds. Well, everyone’s mind but Bill’s and his vampire kin, which is yet another reason why he’s so attractive to her.

    The books are wonderful adventure/mystery/vampire tales but they’re also very sexy, especially when Ms. Harris introduces Bill’s sexy and sinister vampire boss Eric, who neatly straddles the line between villain and hero and creates a Ranger/Joe-sized dilemma in the reader’s mind. In the third book of the series, CLUB DEAD, we also meet Alcide Herveaux, a biker werewolf, who made me think that I might not mind a little back hair if it was on the right guy (or werewolf).

    Alan Ball, the creator of SIX FEET UNDER, has just optioned the books to make a television series for HBO. I just wish I could be there when the casting call goes out for Bill, Eric, and Alcide! The most recent book in the series, DEFINITELY DEAD, came out in May of this year.

    Dead Until Dark
    Living Dead in Dallas
    Club Dead
    Dead to the World
    Dead as a Doornail
    Defintely Dead

    Tuesday, November 07, 2006

    Teresa Presents Christina Dodd

    Perhaps you’re wondering why I’m wasting my precious blog time talking about the likes of my friend...Christina Dodd. Let me tell you a little bit about Christina and perhaps you’ll understand.

    She may rise at 5 a.m. while on deadline but the rest of the year, we all know not to call her house before 9 a.m. (I don’t know if she has one of those little black satin sleep masks but it wouldn’t surprise me.) When her husband goes out of town, she regales us with elaborate menus of the gourmet foods she’ll be preparing for herself--most of which involve fresh cloves of garlic and Balsamic oils imported from the south of France. (When my husband goes out of town, I usually treat myself to an entire box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese and a can of Pringles.) She can often be found lounging in one of her favorite possessions--one of those amazing massage chairs from the Brookstone catalogue. (I tried it when I visited and it’s only flaw is that the seat doesn’t vibrate.) An evening at home might involve sitting on the balcony and watching the sun set over the lake as she sips her favorite wine and enjoys the company of husband and dogs. My favorite story about Christina is that when she moved away from Texas, she missed Blue Bell ice cream so much that she ordered it over the internet. That’s right--ice cream. Over the internet. Which meant that the shipping cost more than the ice cream. Even the Fed Ex man giggled over that one.

    So is Christina a hedonist? Is she self-indulgent? Is she spoiled? After much contemplation (and more than a little envy), I’ve determined that Christina is that rarest of creatures--a woman who knows how to take care of herself. She sleeps well, she eats well and in general, she treats herself as the precious commodity that she is. Let’s face it--she’s already raised two kids and she’s currently one of the hardest working women in show business. To be able to do that work, she understands that massage chairs and the willingness to cook herself a gourmet meal aren’t indulgences but necessities that nourish both her body and her spirit. And even better, she never, ever apologizes for honoring the gift that she’s been given.

    Most of the time we women are too busy taking care of everyone else to take care of ourselves. Even the smallest of indulgences are postponed and as a consequence, we sleep too little, we eat too much, and we stumble from task to task with a strangling sense of desperation and a vague feeling of discontent. So I’ve decided to declare today CHRISTINA DODD DAY and I urge all of you to do the same! I’m going to spend an hour curled up in a chair with a wonderful book. I’m going to fix myself something healthy but delicious for lunch.

    And if Christina should call this afternoon, just tell her I’m off to get a pedicure.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Teresa Picnics at Hanging Rock

    I adore scary movies! As a writer, I don’t think I can afford to shut myself off from any human emotion, including horror. I love the first HALLOWEEN. I love the first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT scared the bejeebers out of me and hey, I even enjoyed SAW! Instead of slasher pics, my true favorites are psychological thrillers like THE OTHERS and THE INNOCENTS. Which may be why I think PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK is the scariest movie ever made.

    This 1975 Australian film from Peter Weir (who would later go on to make GALLIPOLI, WITNESS, DEAD POET’S SOCIETY and MASTER AND COMMANDER) is a lyrical, brooding masterpiece set at Appleyard College (an all-girls school) in 1900. When a group from the college sets out to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a picnic jaunt to Hanging Rock--an ancient volcanic outcropping in Victoria--disaster ensues. While the other students are napping, four of the girls defy their teacher’s instructions and set off to explore the interior of the rock. The next thing we know, one teacher and three of the girls have vanished into thin air. Only one girl is found--hysterical and with no memory of what happened to the others. The disappearances send shockwaves of fear and suspicion through the community. The movie’s cinematography is exquisite and Weir captured the dreamy quality of the film by actually filming parts of it through a bridal veil. Although the students drift about in white dresses plainly chosen to symbolize their purity, the movie is rife with repressed sexuality. In their darkest hearts, the girls seem to have more in common with the chaotic wildness of the Australian outback than the rigid propriety of their society, which makes it easier to believe that they may have gone willingly to their mysterious fate. Without shedding a single drop of blood, this movie continues to haunt me years after I first saw it.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Teresa Whispers, "I've Got A Secret"

    I was recently thinking about the charms and the intricacies of female friendship. I know that most men view us as gossipy, chatty creatures. We can become lifelong friends with another woman while standing in the grocery line for fifteen minutes while men can be "best friends" for twenty years and not know any more about each other than the number of cylinders in their engines or their favorite football teams. It's no accident of nature that the average man speaks around 12,000 words a day while the average woman speaks 24,000. By the time a man comes home from a day of work, he's probably already used up his daily quota of words. (Ever ask "How was your day, honey?" only to have him reply, "Fine"?) Let's face it--if women didn't talk to each other, we'd have no one to talk to!

    Contrary to what most men think, we're not swapping gossip; we're building relationships. Information is the currency women use to buy intimacy with each other. The secrets we share about ourselves (and yes, occasionally others) is the glue that binds us together. In some ways, we're still those little girls whispering to each other in the dark at the slumber party. Everyone knows that the best secrets (our deepest wishes, our darkest fears, which boy we adored the most) were always shared after the lights went out. Some of my most rewarding friendships have begun with the words, "I know I shouldn't be telling you this but..." It's all a matter of building trust. If I can share the worst thing I ever did and trust that you still love me, then I'll know I've found a friend for life.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go call one of my friends so I can begin the conversation with, "I know I shouldn't be telling you this but..."

    Teresa Sings, "Vampires and Werewolves and Shape-Shifters, Oh My!"

    Okay, is it just me or are you getting afraid to leave the house for fear some sexy vampire or panting werewolf will leap out of the bushes and try to have his way with you? Instead of lions and tigers and bears, it's those other pesky creatures of the night who are overrunning the woods and the bookstores these days. After flipping through the most recent issue of "Romantic Times Book Reviews," even I—the author of THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME—had to ask myself (a la Carrie Bradshaw in SEX AND THE CITY), "Just when did paranormal become normal?"

    My theory is that the current paranormal boom represents a reader's rebellion of sorts. I adore contemporary comedies and lighthearted Regency romances as much as the next girl. I've written a few of those lighthearted Regencies myself and may very well turn around and write another one tomorrow. But I can't live on a steady diet of them. No matter how delicious the pudding, sometimes I just have to have a little meat with it.

    By sneaking through the back door in the dead of night, paranormal has brought back to the romance genre the very qualities that made it so wildly popular in the late 70's, 80's and early 90's. Dark passions and the thrill of danger. Heroes and heroines who may very well die without one another. And the gripping sense that something eternal is at stake. (In THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME, that something is the hero's soul.)

    So what are YOUR theories about the current popularity of paranormal romance? Are paranormal heroes the ultimate Alpha males or do you prefer that your men don't require up-to-date shots and a flea collar?

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Teresa Gets Ready for Her Close-Up

    I’m sure you all remember my local TV story last year when everyone in the studio started screaming “Nipple! NIPPLE!!!” because my hero had boldly exposed his nipple in the stepback art of AFTER MIDNIGHT. (This was shortly after the whole FCC/Janet Jackson debacle.) So I just wanted you to know that everything went smoothly this year during my appearance at our local station to promote THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME.

    Well...almost everything. Except for the part where I slid into the car to go to the TV station and realized I was too fat to sit down in my suit. You know how your skirt gets just a teensy bit snug around the hips and you notice the buttons down the front of your jacket are gaping open a meager 1/2 an inch so you try to squinch down your shoulders only to realize you’re developing a startling resemblance to the Hunchback of Notre Dame? That’s when I began to suspect that I’d developed the most dreaded of all female complaints—back fat. I knew that someday I’d have to pay for all of those torrid midnight flings with dozens of hot, anonymous Krispy Kremes, but why today of all days? I expected them to go directly to my thighs, not wiggle their way up my spine!

    I drive to the station, hunched over so that I can barely see over the steering wheel, but with all my buttons intact. Before going in, I glance into the rearview mirror to freshen my lipstick. I blink in horror. What fresh hell is this? How could I have sprouted a full-fledged handlebar mustache in the time it took to get from home to the TV station? So there I sit in the parking lot, New York Times bestselling author Teresa Medeiros, trying to trim her heretofore invisible mustache with a pair of nail clippers. I could only pray that perhaps I would accidentally clip an artery and put myself out of my misery!

    Being an optimist, I assume that things can only get better. Until I walk into the station to find every man in the place leering at me. Turns out the host has been reading my love scene aloud to the entire camera crew. ("As she took him deeper than he ever thought possible, he arched off the bed with a guttural groan,” he recites with all of the gravity and glee of Olivier doing Richard III.) Since said host just happens to be a friend of mine, I gently try to explain that the love scene is the culmination of over 200 pages of courtship, tenderness and emotion and that reading it out of context is a Bad Thing. He leers more deeply and all but twirls his own mustache as he explains, “But I’m a man. We like things out of context!” (Hey, you can’t fault him for being honest!)

    I’m happy to report that the interview went well. The host was charming and debonair and didn’t read (or act out) a single one of my love scenes on-camera. My TOP TEN REASONS FOR LOVING A VAMPIRE a la Letterman was a big hit. Now if I could just get rid of this back fat!

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    Jayne Krentz Interviews Teresa Over at Running With Quills

    Teresa: Thanks so much for the invitation, Jayne! It's so nice to hang out with some classy broads instead of those big-butted chicks over at Squawk Radio. (Of course I'm referring to their artistic renditions, not their actual butts. Although come to think of it...hmmm...)

    Jayne: Speaking of Squawk Radio, a wicked little elf named Christina Dodd told me that you had thought about calling your new book THE VAMPIRE WHO ATE ME instead of THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME? Is this true?

    Teresa: Only in Christina's twisted little mind. I would never stoop to such a low-brow double entendre to express the deeply spiritual love that Portia and Julian have for each other. I had considered something much classier and more in keeping with the transcendent tone of the story—like THE VAMPIRE WHO SHAGGED ME.

    Jayne: Having read your books and knowing you to be a soft-hearted soul who loves toddlers and kittens and all creatures great and small, I find it hard to imagine you creating a stone-cold killer for a hero. How did you get around the fact that your hero might need to a few people just to survive?

    Teresa: Well, in the Teresa Medeiros universe, a vampire can survive just by snacking between meals. Julian, being the sexy vamp that he is, has discovered that wherever he goes, there are women willing to offer him a little sip of themselves. He takes just what he needs to survive and he makes sure they get what they need in return. (Wink, wink.) Needless to say, when Portia comes back into his life after an absence of five years, she puts a real kink into his somewhat kinky lifestyle.

    Jayne: I hear that you first introduced Portia and Julian in AFTER MIDNIGHT as the sister of the heroine and the brother of the hero. What's this I keep hearing about some mysterious crypt? Why are your readers threatening to don t-shirts that say, I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CRYPT!

    Teresa: I'm such a shameless tease! In AFTER MIDNIGHT, Portia and Julian were locked in a crypt together by the villain and Portia was forced to sacrifice herself to save Julian's life. (Or his existence or whatever it is that vampires have.) But after the incident, neither of them will talk about EXACTLY what happened in that crypt. So I started THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME knowing I had a mystery to solve.

    Jayne: Did you have it all plotted out before you starting writing?

    Teresa: Ha! I spent four months spinning my wheels, calling friends and begging for help, whining to my editor and agent because I honestly had NO idea what had happened in that crypt. I knew it was important and I knew it would inform the whole book but I was clueless! Out of desperation, I finally sat down and started writing anyway. It wasn't until I got to the scene where Portia and Julian confess all to each other that I found out what had happened between them. And my jaw dropped! I literally jumped out of chair, yelled, "Holy crap!" and began to whoop and holler. My husband thought I'd lost my mind (which is a frequent occurrence around here during deadline anyway.)

    Jayne: Were your readers as surprised and pleased as you were?

    Teresa: I can honestly say that I've never gotten so much feedback so quickly on a new release. And so far all of it has been positive!

    Jayne: So what's next? Any more sexy vamps in your future?

    Teresa: I think I've said everything I have to say about vamps at the moment although I might like to peek back in at the Kane/Cabot family at a later date. I haven't said much about my next project yet but I can tell you that it will be another historical paranormal, that I'll be taking a walk on the "wild" side and that the new file on my computer desktop is labeled, "Hello Kitty." ;)

    Jayne: Thanks so much for being with us today?

    Teresa: Thanks for having me, Jayne! You're one of the classiest broads I know!

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Teresa Picks Her Favorite D.I.G.

    Well, we’ve all heard of DIK’s (Desert Island Keepers) but to celebrate the release of the 6th season debut of LOST on DVD, I want to talk about another feminine necessity--DIG’s, also known as Desert Island Guys. These aren’t the men you’d necessarily want to marry. These are the guys who can provide shelter, conversation and a little body heat to warm up those long lonely nights while you’re waiting for the Coast Guard (or the Royal Navy) to come sailing by.

    You can count on Captain Jack Sparrow to get you drunk and seduce you but could he build a hurricane-proof tiki hut? And what about the luscious Sawyer from LOST? Nobody broods or scowls more eloquently but what if he was off in the jungle sulking just when you wanted him to mix you up a nice pina colada in a coconut shell? Jack Bauer from 24 can be really handy with that all-purpose backpack (he probably already has a pointy stick designed just for catching fish or skewering government spies) but what if he starts shouting at you and you spill all of your secrets? (Or he decides to shoot you in the head just because you have a touch of PMS?)

    I was watching re-runs on TBS the other night when I picked my own DIG--Adventurer and treasure seeker Rick O’Connell from THE MUMMY and THE MUMMY RETURNS. He’s easy on the eyes, has a strapping build, tans very nicely, is very protective, has a sense of humor and a fairly sunny personality and can fire two pistols at once better than just about any hero I’ve ever seen. (And if anybody remembers GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE, he doesn’t look half bad in a loincloth either!)

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Has Teresa Crossed Over to the Dark Side?

    Rumors are flying throughout the publishing industry. Readers are looking at me askance. “Can it be true?” they whisper. Has Teresa Medeiros—author of charming fairy tales and numerous stories about cuddly kittens—truly succumbed to the seductive lure of the vampire? Has she turned her back on the sunlight to take a walk in the shadows, accompanied by a dangerous hero who could very well be the ruination of her?

    And my answer can only be..."Well, duh! What woman wouldn’t want to take a walk on the dark side with Julian Kane?” I eased into the genre with AFTER MIDNIGHT, then decided to embrace my first full-fledged vampire hero with THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME. (Needless to say, embracing Julian wasn’t any great hardship on my part ) I’ve always written and loved dangerous heroes and I’ve never found it difficult to understand the appeal of the vampire hero. (Especially not after seeing Frank Langella’s portrayal of DRACULA during my formative teen years!)

    The vampire is the ultimate Bad Boy, the consummate Alpha hero. Power is one of the most delicious aphrodisiacs and what greater power is there than the power over life and death? There’s something wickedly sexy about a hero who has the power to kill you but can’t resist kissing you instead. His hunger for you is all-consuming and he could literally die if you don’t satisfy him. What beauty wouldn’t want to tame such a beast?

    But I definitely don’t believe THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME represents a rejection of my straight historicals. I was told by an editor years ago that the primary theme that runs through all of my books is redemption. That theme comes to ultimate fruition with Julian because he is literally a man in search of his soul. I knew from the start that I’d never be able to tell his story if I couldn’t bring the same humor, love, and light to it that I’ve tried to bring to all of my books. For me, it’s the contrast between the light of true love and the darkness that tugs at all of our souls that makes a story like Julian’s worth the telling.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    Teresa's Top Ten Reasons for Loving A Vampire

    1) You never have to worry about him coming home and saying, "What's for dinner, honey?"

    2) When he says, "I'll love you forever", he means it

    3) Black can be very slimming

    4) No more worries about West Nile Virus with that bat flitting around your eaves at twilight

    5) Instead of making the bed every morning, you can just close the lid
    6) He'll never have garlic breath

    7) You can spend all day at the mall shopping while he's sleeping

    8) A Transylvanian henchman is cheaper than a maid or a gardener

    9) When he promises to "make love to you all night," he won't roll over in fifteen minutes and go to sleep
    10) He'll never hog the mirror in the morning

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Teresa's Book Reviews: The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch

    I have to start this blog by admitting that I'm an idiot. At least 3 years ago, lovely and wise Avon author Christie Ridgway gave me a glowing recommendation for a trade paperback called THE SECOND COMING OF LUCY HATCH by Marsha Moyer. Christie glowed SO brightly about this book that I wisely went out and bought not only LUCY HATCH but it's companion novel THE LAST OF THE HONKY TONK ANGELS. So why am I an idiot, you ask? Because I let the book languish on my bookshelf for 3 years before finally picking it up to take on a long plane trip last week.

    Lucy Hatch's second coming begins with the first line of the novel: I was thirty-three years old when my husband walked out into the field one morning and never came back and I went in one quick leap from wife to widow. At 19, Lucy had wed a taciturn, stoic 27-year-old farmer, believing that still waters run deep only to discover that sometimes still waters only run...well...still. For fourteen years, they were the kind of couple who had an abiding respect for each other but who rarely spoke and only made love with the lights off. Lucy sincerely grieves Mitchell when he dies but perhaps her greatest grief comes from admitting to herself that she also feels a tiny smidgen of relief.

    Texas is in the very bones of this book and the grieving Lucy retreats to her hometown of Mooney, Texas to try to find the girl she lost all those years ago. As Lucy sets out to rediscover herself in a little ramshackle rental house out in the country, her family rallies around her: Aunt Dove, her "spinster aunt" and the wisest of the lot, her good looking brother Bailey, her slightly plus-sized and plus-hearted sister-in-law Geneva.

    It's Bailey and Geneva who drag Lucy out of that rental house and back to her favorite teenage haunt--the local honky tonk, the Round-Up. That's where she comes face-to-face with town bad boy Ash Farrell. Ah, Ash Farrell! (Insert swooning sigh here). Although he's not a cowboy, Ash is a "cowboy hero" in the best sense of the tradition. He's a lean, tall drink of water--a carpenter (who knows how to use his hands!) by day and a singer who performs every Friday night down at the Round-Up. Women line up at the bar to vie for his attentions after each performance but the minute he sees Lucy, he "sets his sights on her." He brings her flowers, he brings her a puppy, he fixes her leaky pipes. (And no--that's not a metaphor!) His courtship and her initial resistance set every tongue in Mooney wagging.

    Marsha Moyer is a master at both dialogue and characterization. I think I first fell in love with Ash when he was telling Lucy about the steeple at the local Baptist Church:

    "Reverend Honeywell's got a couple of spotlights trained on it at night now," Ash said. "In case, I guess, Jesus decides to come back at two in the morning and can't see to land."

    When we learn that Ash went into foster care at the age of four when they found him all alone in the house with his mentally ill mother, "sitting in the closet eating dog biscuits right out of the box," I'm ready to hand him both my house keys and my panties.

    You often hear romance readers whining about how hard it is to create unique love scenes after they've written several books. Their hero and heroine have done it in the rocking chair. They've swung from the chandelier. There can't possibly be any new words left to describe how to put Tab A into Slot B, can there? After reading this book, I'm happy to discover that there are. The love scenes in this book are infused with emotion and helped to remind me that it's not the mechanics that need refreshing but the language used to describe them:
    So I let myself slide under again, my mind floating somewhere between dark and light, aware of nothing but my skin under his thickened fingertips, the silken grit of his unshaved chin as it grazed behind my ears, the curve of my throat, the hollow of my collarbone. The quilt had fallen to the floor, and my nightgown worked itself into a tangle at my hips as I felt him move down over me, kissing and kissing, creating a smooth, undulating purl of response from my head to my toes.

    As irresistible as Ash is, it's Lucy's voice--wry, funny, and unflinchingly honest--that truly propels the story. When her brother Bailey tells her, "I just want you to be safe is all," Lucy replies with, "My husband got chewed up by a farm machine. Safe is a word that's gone straight out of my vocabulary."

    THE SECOND COMING OF LUCY HATCH is both a beautifully written novel and a fine romance. There are very few books that capture the true joy and terror of falling in love and this is one of the best I've ever read. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pull Marsha Moyer's second book, THE LAST OF THE HONKY TONK ANGELS, straight off my shelf before my IQ drops even lower.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Teresa Presents "A Romance Writer's Guide to a Happy Marriage"

    I know what you're expecting. A lot of suggestions that contain the words "moon", "june" and "croon" along with instructions for sprinkling fresh rose petals on your sheets and taking long walks on a moonlit beach. But having been married 22 years now (Yes, I live in Kentucky. I COULD have married when I was 12 just like I COULD have written my first book when I was 5.), I'd like to give you some more practical advice. Whether you've been married 3 years, 33 years, or have just spotted the guy you think you'd like to marry sitting in front of you in your freshman English class, I hope you can put these tips to good use.

    1) Lower your expectations and accept responsibility for your own happiness. This may very well be the key to happiness in ALL things in your life. How many times have we wailed, "He/My Job/My cat just doesn't make me happy!" Well, guess what? It's not anyone else's responsibility to make you happy. You're not perfect and neither is he. But if you can learn to embrace his flaws and teach him to find yours endearing ("She snores like a freight train. Isn't that adorable?"), then happiness will be within your grasp.

    2) When you first get married, try to put a 100 miles and at least one river between you and both of your families. This isn't always possible but if it is, it will give you a chance to establish your identity as a couple and a "family" without well-meaning interference from either set of in-laws. It also helps you learn to depend on each other instead of running home to mom and dad whenever you have an emotional or physical need to fulfill.

    3) Practice the 3 C's--caring, commitment, compromise. Without these 3 qualities, it's difficult to have any sort of successful relationship. My husband and I learned a lesson about commitment the very first year of our marriage. (You'll never have worse or stupider fights than your first year of marriage! We once threw our Precious Moments wedding cake topper into the garbage can to "symbolize the destruction of our marriage".) We were having one of those utterly ridiculous fights when one of us tossed out the dreaded "D" word. It scared us both so badly that we vowed to never again speak of divorce, no matter how bitter the disagreement. If you know you're committed to working through every problem that arises, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Of course there are special dispensations for infidelity, abuse or other transgressions of trust.)

    4) Never stop dating. Ah, this is where the rose petals and moonlit walks on the beach come in! I know it can be hectic if you're both working and there are small children and not a lot of money, but a simple Friday night movie or dinner date (even if it's 5 for $5 night at Arby's!) can help to remind you of why you fell in love in the first place. There's nothing more painful than two people with empty nest syndrome who suddenly realize they've become strangers over the past 20 years.

    5) Make your kids the spokes of your marriage, not the hub. If you think of your marriage as a giant wheel, picture you and your husband at the center of the wheel with the kids revolving around you. There's no greater gift you can give your children than two parents who love and respect each other.

    6) Never stop laughing either with each other...or at each other. This is why it's so important to marry a man with a sense of humor. Marriage can be great fun, especially when you're married to your best friend. I still giggle when I remember how my husband forgot to reverse the blade on his beard trimmer and accidentally shaved off half of his eyebrow. (It wasn't the mishap that was so funny, but his reaction--"Don't look at me! I'm hideous!" You'd have thought he was the Elephant Man!)

    7) Ask for help when you need it. This is a tough one for men. It's usually a lot harder for them to commit to seeing a counselor without coercion or threats. (Don't be ashamed to use either!) The common mantra is "it takes two to improve a relationship" but the truth is that we each have tremendous personal power to effect change so don't be afraid to seek help for yourself if he goes all caveman on you.

    8) Be aware that you can still get "crushes" after you get married. There should be a red flag next to this tip. The trick is to recognize the difference between "infatuation" and "abiding love". My heart still lights up every time my husband walks into a room but it's very easy to believe that once the initial "sparkle" of your first attraction deepens to a glimmer that you've "fallen out of love" or "grown apart", which can make you prey to the attentions of that cute guy in your office. If this were true, we'd all have to change mates every 6 months just to keep the adolescent thrill alive. If you find yourself experiencing a "crush" that seems irresistible, then be ruthless about removing yourself from the situation, even if that means changing jobs. I can promise you that 6 months down the road (about the time you'd start noticing your crush's back hair and his annoying tendency of talking through his nose), you'll be glad you did!

    9) Never take each other for granted. One of the fundamental tenets of cognitive therapy is that "feeling follows action", also known as "fake it 'til you make it". My husband never goes off to work without a little note tucked in his lunch that says, "I love you" or "You're my hero" or "You're my forever love." Not a day goes by that he doesn't send me an e-mail that simply says, "I love you" or "I missed you". Sometimes we tend to treat strangers with more kindness and courtesy than we treat those who share our homes and our lives.

    10) And along those same lines, Recognize and cultivate romance in the small things. I'll never forget an Ann Landers letter I once read. A woman was writing to tell Ann her husband was never "overly affectionate". He didn't reach out for spontaneous hugs or hold her hand in public or say "I love you" with any regularity. But he made sure her car had regular tune-ups and every single week without fail, he brought her a bag of her favorite candy. It wasn't until after 35 years of marriage and his death that she realized that every time he handed her that bag of candy, he was saying, "I love you." I thought of this at the Star Trek convention a couple of weeks ago when I was sitting in a cold, drafty convention hall and my husband showed up with two things--my sweater and a bag of dark chocolate M&M's. I just smiled up at him and said, "I love you, too."

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    Teresa Searches for Her Happily Ever After

    One of the tricks I use to spice up my own novels is to incorporate the primal power of classic fairy tale themes. My favorite fairy tale fantasy is BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. No matter how sardonic your duke or how arrogant your knight, there’s always one turning point in the book when his love for your heroine should bring him to his knees. Only then can his transformation from beast to prince be complete.

    The legend of SLEEPING BEAUTY represents our heroine's emotional and sexual awakening. Whether she's a ravishing beauty, a dowdy spinster, or a prim ice princess, it is our hero's kiss that first stirs her slumbering desires to life. Once awakened, she is both curious and eager to explore her newfound sensuality.

    CINDERELLA is one of most timeless and rewarding fantasies, confirming that the secret to happiness in life is a successful makeover. Who can forget the pivotal moment when Cinderella scrubs off her ashes, dons her glass slippers, and dances her way into the prince's heart? If you set this revelation at an actual public event such as a masquerade ball, you’ll reward your readers with the doubly dramatic bonus of witnessing the crowd's response to your character’s transformation.

    As an aspiring writer, if you can find a way to incorporate some of these themes into your own work, I can guarantee both you and your readers a happy ending!

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Top Ten Ways to Tell Teresa Is a Geek

    1) Her china cabinet is filled with STAR TREK plates instead of china

    2) She can admit she's a William Shatner fan without blushing

    3) In the original version of her novel A WHISPER OF ROSES, Morgan MacDonnell was a Klingon

    4) She thinks Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgees is a plump little hobbit love muffin

    5) One of the Christmas trees in her house is decorated ONLY with talking Star Trek ornaments

    6) Instead of seeking therapy for her problems, she lies on the couch and pretends she's talking to Counselor Deanna Troi

    7) If she had her very own holodeck, she would spend all of her time re-enacting her favorite romance novels and never come out

    8) Her cat is named "Buffy the Mouse Slayer"

    9) She owns all 3 seasons of LAND OF THE LOST on DVD and once had imaginary friends named Will and Holly

    10) She's currently at the STAR TREK 40th Anniversary Convention in Las Vegas!

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Teresa Asks, "Where Do You Like to Do It?"

    I know Russell Crowe is supposed to be a voracious reader but I'm not sure if the pic to the left is intended to promote reading or be a cautionary warning against smoking in bed.

    I will say that it did get me thinking about where I like to read. Unlike some of you, I'm not coordinated enough to read in the bathtub. If I tried, I'm afraid the only result would be a very wrinkled me and a swollen, sodden mass of wood pulp that used to be a book.

    In the summer I love to curl up on this divine divan in our sun room. I've coveted a divan ever since I was a little girl and I saw an illustration in LITTLE WOMEN of Jo March reclining on her attic divan on a rainy day, eating a juicy red apple and reading a novel. (Unfortunately I'm more likely to be stuffing my piehole with a bag of dark chocolate M&M's.) It's so relaxing to be reading with a gentle breeze drifting through the windows or the rain pattering down on the metal roof. Of course the real challenge is resisting the temptation to lay the book aside and snuggle down for an afternoon nap!

    In the winter I nest in this oversized chair in the corner of our living room away from the TV. It was the wall-to-wall bookshelves that sold me on this house and there's something terribly comforting about glancing up and seeing all of those other books glowing softly in the light--some already well-read and loved, others just waiting to be discovered. And the best thing about this chair-and-a-half is that there's exactly enough room for me and at least half a cat!

    When I was a child, my dad used to cook a big breakfast for us every Saturday morning. And my official job while he cooked stay in bed and read! I still remember how cozy it felt to be tucked into bed reading HALF-MAGIC or THE PRINCESS BRIDE while the sound of my daddy's whistling and the succulent aroma of bacon wafted up the stairs.

    There are some books you always remember because of WHERE you read them. (Hospital waiting room, anyone?) I first read THE HOBBIT on a sunny Saturday afternoon while sitting cross-legged at the very top of a fire tower at Pennyrile State Park with the forest stretched out below me as far as the eye could see. (I could almost see the Eagles come swooping over the horizon to save the battle and the day!) I read ROOTS when I was 13 during a long car trip to Disney World. And I finished Stephen King and Peter Straub's THE TALISMAN on the way home from a vacation in Massachusetts with Phil Collins singing, "Take Me Home" as the perfect accompaniment to the final moments of both the trip and the book.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Teresa Gibbers on Hysterically About Her Writing Process

    Process? I'm supposed to have a process???!!! After 20 years and 17 books, now's a fine time to tell me! This is what I do. I write a book, celebrate, then panic when I realize I have to write another one. Oh wait, you want specifics, right?

    Okay--the first thing to come to me is usually the hero and heroine's names. Next up is their personalities. THEN I come up with a plot. And I've always required a BIG PLOT because that's the skeleton I build my story on. I like Backstory, Characters Who Meet As Children, Big Hooks, Masquerade Balls, Amnesia, Evil Twins, Stolen Kisses, Shocking Revelations! Which means I usually start out with about a dozen scenes that I "know". Each scene I "know" usually leads to 3 or more scenes that come as a pleasant surprise to me.

    I'm a perfectionist with a very stringent internal editor. (Yes, I edited this blog 6 times.) So it usually takes me 6 months to write the first 200 pages and 6 weeks to write the last 200 pages. There's a reason for that. It's called DESPERATION. Once that deadline clock starts ticking, I'm able to knock that nasty internal editor off of my shoulder and the story starts pouring out of me. And the strangest thing of all is that those are the pages that usually require the least editing! It makes me nervous to talk about process because I'm one of those writers who prefers not to analyze the magic and the mystery of what we do. I can say that I've always ascribed to the Jill Landis theory of writing--"I can write a book in 6 months. It just takes me a year to do it."

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Teresa Presents "A Romance Hero's Guide to Relationships"

    1) If you're suspected of murdering your first wife, by all means, don't spoil the suspense by telling your new bride that you're innocent. Why deprive her of the chance to wander around your town house/manor house/castle in her semi-transparent nightgown searching for clues? Women love a man of mystery!

    2) If you have a lookalike twin/cousin/illegitimate brother, make sure and impersonate him at some point (preferably at a masquerade ball) so you can steal a kiss from your ladylove. Just don't pout and brood if she decides she prefers his kisses to yours.

    3) If you fall off your horse, hit your head and develop amnesia, be very suspect of a pretty girl who tries to convince you that you're her long lost fiance or husband.

    4) If you're ever afflicted with temporary blindness due to your own selfless, heroic actions in battle, insist that your butler hire the most sharp-tongued shrew he can find to be your new nurse. Her incessant nagging will surely inspire your rapid return to good health.

    5) Never try to tame that stubborn forelock that tumbles over your brow. Women love any excuse to tenderly brush it back with their yearning fingertips.

    6) If you're rendered unconscious for any reason, continue to feign unconsciousness until your ladylove is compelled to give you a bath. (This could take days depending on how fastidious she is). But do plan on waking up the moment she decides to steal a naughty peek beneath the covers.

    7) Always make the time to practice your brooding, sardonic look in front of the mirror. Ladies love that.

    8) Cultivate a friendship with a witty, smart-mouthed brother/cousin/friend/valet who can serve as both your confidante and your conscience when the light of your life isn't around.

    9) If you find yourself strangely attracted to a slender lad with a particularly pretty face and long lashes, you might want to double check and make sure it's not really some buxom lass masquerading as a cabin boy/squire. (If not, perhaps you've been spending too much time at your gentleman's club.)

    10) And most importantly, you may pine for a woman for months (or even years!) but you must never confess your love for her until you're standing on a windswept cliff with the villain thundering toward you and both of your lives in dire peril.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Captain Jack is Back but Teresa Falls in Love with the Anti-Hero

    We may not have made the midnight showing but we were there front and center for the 7 PM showing on the opening night of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. The theater was packed and all but vibrating with the sort of excitement usually reserved for INDIANA JONES and LORD OF THE RINGS movies. While not quite as good as the first movie, it was still great summer fun.

    Without going into major spoilers, I will tell you that the new movie sports a number of delicious developments including a deepening of the romantic triangle between Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner and Captain Jack and an ending that makes you wish May 2007 was next month
    instead of a year away.

    My most thrilling discovery during the movie came when I asked myself that eternal question: Captain Jack or Will Turner??? And discovered that my answer (surprisingly enough) was: Commodore Norrington! I must confess that I barely noticed Commodore Norrington (played by Jack Davenport) in the first movie (although judging by several fanlistings on the internet, some of the more astute female viewers did). I just remember him as the handsome, clean shaven, somewhat stuffy fiance of Elizabeth Swann who nobly gave Captain Jack a head start when he was escaping from the gallows and let Elizabeth go into Will Turner's arms at the end of that movie.
    But in the new movie, the former commodore is unshaven, dirty, drunk, desperate, brawling and out for revenge. And of course (being a romance writer)--suddenly I find him utterly irresistible! He needs to be redeemed! He needs love! He needs the perfect woman! He needs MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Teresa Presents Ten Essential Romances No Library Should Be Without

    1) THE WINDFLOWER by Tom and Sharon Curtis (Laura London - 1984) - As I've said before, this is not only my favorite romance but my favorite novel of all time. You'll find the writing a little more detailed than most romances today but it's so exquisite that I love every syllable. The cast of unforgettable characters include Merry Patricia Wilding, whose innocence, courage, and good humor prove irresistible to even the most jaded of pirates; Devon, her handsome abductor, whose passion is exceeded only by his compassion; enigmatic pirate king Rand Morgan and his young protégé, Cat. To this day, Cat remains one of the most beloved secondary characters in all of romantic fiction. No longer a boy, but not yet a man, he reluctantly assumes the role of Merry's champion and steals our hearts just as surely as Devon steals Merry's. (Alternate Curtis Pick - SUNSHINE AND SHADOW and every one of their short Regencies and categories.)

    2) A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux (1989) - This is the ultimate time travel romance that rocked the publishing world back in 1989. It was fresh and unique because Jude brought her hero forward in time to the present day before sending her heroine back in time to search for him. It was the first time I realized just how compelling a "lovable loser" heroine could be. And I still smile when I think about Nicholas being introduced to the modern joys of the vacuum cleaner and can opener and get a catch in my throat when I think about the ending. Jude has always had the ability to write in almost any genre because she's such a consummate storyteller. (Alternate: WISHES, the VELVET series).

    3) THE BRIDE by Julie Garwood (1990) - In this medieval and quintessential Garwood book, Julie brought something that was badly needed to the historical romance genre--delight. From the very first lines of Chapter One: "They said he killed his first wife. Papa said maybe she needed killing", you knew you were in for a treat. Garwood was a master at writing those "ditzy-appearing but actually pretty clever" heroines who swept into the castle/manor and made everyone fall in love with her...including us. (Alternate: HONOR'S SPLENDOR, THE LYON'S LADY, RANSOM.)

    4) SOMETHING WONDERFUL by Judith McNaught (1988) - Judith McNaught has always combined fine writing with wonderful storytelling and she brings both to a culmination in this delightful and classic Regency historical. Her secondary cast of characters (loveable servants, a crusty grandmother, a sardonic "fairy godfather" type, the hero's sympathetic and sexy brother/cousin/friend) have become archetypes in the romance genre since this book was published. The end always leaves me sobbing (but in a joyful way). (Alternates: A KINGDOM OF DREAMS, ALMOST HEAVEN, ONCE AND ALWAYS, PARADISE.)

    5) SEIZE THE FIRE by Laura Kinsale (1989) - Although some will swear by FLOWERS FROM THE STORM or THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT, it was SEIZE THE FIRE that gave me my first introduction to the wonderful and full-bodied romances of Laura Kinsale. In this extraordinary romantic adventure, plump exiled princess Olympia St. Leger wins the heart of nearly unredeemable rake Sheridan Drake. Kinsale was the first author I remember who wasn't afraid to make her characters less than likeable so that you could watch them grow during the course of the story. As a reader, I would gladly accompany her on any journey--either by camel through the desert or through the more complex and perilous pathways of the human heart. (Alternate: FLOWERS FROM THE STORM.)

    6) LORD OF SCOUNDRELS by Loretta Chase (1994) - You'll find this Regency historical on almost every "Best of" list for a reason. Chase's tongue is as witty, sharp and delightful as her heroine's, as we quickly discover in the Prologue when we get our first sighting of our future hero Lord Dain as an infant--"His heir was a wizened olive thing with large black eyes, ill-proportioned limbs, and a grossly oversize nose. It howled incessantly." Fortunately, you know what they say about the size of a man's nose... (Alternate: THE LION'S DAUGHTER.)

    7) IT HAD TO BE YOU by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1994) - I've never met a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book I didn't love. Of her earlier books, FANCY PANTS, HOT SHOT and HONEY MOON are my favorites but of her later, slightly lighter books, this introduction to the football team the Chicago Stars most definitely qualifies as a classic. The minute Phoebe Summerville shows up at her father's funeral with a French poodle and a Hungarian lover, we know that Chicago Stars coach Dan Calebow doesn't stand a chance of resisting the brainy beauty. Susan writes some of the most three-dimensional characters I've ever met and is a master at establishing empathy for them from the very first page. (Alternates: Pretty much everything she ever wrote.)

    8) JUST A KISS AWAY by Jill Barnett (1991) - This book is like one of those wonderful slapstick comedies from the 30's and 40's starring Carole Lombard and Clark Gable. Think BRINGING UP BABY set in the Pacific jungle. The lovely thing about Jill's comedy is that she could put her characters in the most ridiculous situations imaginable without making them ridiculous. And just when you think she can only make you giggle, she leaves you with a lump in your throat. Her historicals, even the funniest ones, had tremendous heart and that's what makes them timeless. (Alternate: BEWITCHING, SURRENDER THE DREAM)

    9) GARTERS by Pamela Morsi (1992) - Pamela Morsi has the sort of voice that only comes along once every decade or so--warm, witty, and uniquely American. The Americana genre has fallen out of favor in the past few years and I desperately miss these books about small towns and mountain communities populated by good-hearted and quirky characters. A Morsi character like mountain girl Esme Crabb in GARTERS may be poor in wealth but they're always rich in humor and spirit. (Alternates: COURTING MISS HATTIE, SOMETHING SHADY, SIMPLE JESS.)

    10) HUMMINGBIRD by LaVyrle Spencer (1983) - Everyone was shocked when LaVyrle Spencer retired from writing a few years ago at the top of her game (and the top of the bestseller lists), but she left behind a rich legacy of books. YEARS (with its grown-up LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE vibe) is another one of my favorites but HUMMINGBIRD is the ultimate gunfighter/schoolmarm Western. There are plenty of opportunities for delicious and romantic encounters as gentle, prim Abigail McKenzie nurses wounded gunfighter Jesse back to life...and love. (Alternate: YEARS, TWICE LOVED.)

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Teresa the Drama Queen

    I remembered selling the audio rights to THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST when it came out in hardcover several years ago. But no one ever sent me a complimentary copy. So when one of my gal pals from church called and said, "Hey, I just checked out your book from the library!", I was definitely intrigued. Since I knew it was an unabridged version, I assumed it would retail for over $80. So you can imagine my delight when I visited and found out it only cost $37.95. (And only $14.50 if you wanted to rent it!) (But wait, THAT'S NOT ALL! For only $19.95, they'll throw in a set of Ginsu knives and this amazing vegetable chopper...oh...never mind...) I ended up ordering a set of tapes for me AND my dad.

    I must confess to feeling a little nervous when I popped the first tape into my car cassette player. (Especially when I realized the "Beast" on the front of the tape appeared to be either a frog or an alligator.) How would it feel to hear someone reading my words aloud? Would it trivialize them? Make them seem ridiculous? But my fears were quickly allayed as British actress and narrator Virginia Leishman brought my story to rich and vivid life with her amazing voice and her skill with a Scottish burr. For the next few days, you had to DRAG me out of my car and I even suffered through the breakfast burrito at Sonic every morning just so I could listen AND eat at the same time.

    Now Christina Dodd says it's very telling that the ONLY audio book I've ever listened to was my own. BUT I've always been the sort of person who wanted to hold a book in my hands while I read. (And in 20 years, I've NEVER sat down and re-read one of my books from cover to cover after it was finished.) Listening to THE BRIDE AND THE BEAST on tape reminded me of how wonderful it feels to be read to. I hadn't experienced that magic since the 6th grade. As for listening to my own words on tape, I can only compare it to the thrill that a playwright must feel when they see and hear their work performed on the stage. I was a little worried about how the more intimate love scenes would sound, but Ms. Leishman is such an amazing actress that she swept you right into the flow of the scene and gave it as much joy and dignity as the rest of the story. (Of course it was even weirder thinking about my dad driving around and listening to them!)

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    Teresa's Trench Coat Landscaping Adventure

    In the "You Show Me Yours; I'll Show You Mine" spirit of the day, this is my landscaping project of the year. It's a petunia (I think). We've lived here for 10 years and I've never stolen my neighbor's garbage before but when I was taking my own garbage to the curb on garbage day, I saw this forlorn petunia sitting on top of her container. Apparently, the poor dear was rootbound and she'd mercifully decided to put it out of its misery. It just looked so pitiful sitting there that I looked both ways, then grabbed it and ran. (And perhaps I should mention that I couldn't find my robe so I was wearing a trench coat over my pajamas at the time.) Although I have a notoriously black thumb, I repotted it and babied it and it's thriving now. But my neighbor is still looking at me suspiciously.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Faster Than a Speeding Bullet, Teresa Travels to Metropolis to Meet Lex Luthor

    I'm always a day late and a dollar short so it's no surprise that I didn't start watching SMALLVILLE until this season. Tom Welling, who plays the young Clark Kent, is VERY easy on the eyes with his pouty lips, baby blues, and flawlessly feathered hair, but I was caught off guard to find myself falling under the spell of big, bad, bald Lex Luthor. (Lucky Lana Lang gets to kiss them BOTH!) Apparently I'm not the only one to fall for this penultimate bad boy with his mesmerizing mix of ambition, vulnerability and serious Daddy issues. In several online communities, he's known simply as "Sexy Lexy." And besides, what's not to love?

    1) He's an evil genius
    2) He's a multi-billionaire
    3) He lives in a totally rad castle/mansion that screams for a woman's loving touch almost as badly as he does
    4) He drives a bitchin' sports car
    5) He looks wonderful in a smirk AND sweeping around in one those long, black leather "bad boy" dusters
    Every year on the second weekend in June, my husband and I make our annual pilgrimage to Metropolis, Illinois for SUPERMAN DAY so you can imagine my delight (and my giddy girlish squeal) when I discovered that actor Michael Rosenbaum (SMALLVILLE's Lex Luthor himself!) would be one of the guests of honor this year.

    As we waited in the autograph line for over an hour for our first sighting of him, I quickly discovered from the 3 giggling girls in front of me and the two somber-faced boys behind me that the girls were thrilled because it had been reported that he "had hair" while the boys were disappointed that he wasn't sporting his trademark "chrome dome."

    I'm happy to report that he was absolutely delightful, funny, and incredibly good-natured, especially considering that they'd placed him outside under a tent in the 150 degree heat. (He also did some VERY nice things for a worn t-shirt and tight jeans.) My favorite moment came during the Q&A session when a girl stood up and asked him, "So is it a terrible burden to be so incredibly hot?" He laughed and said, "Well, it's hard to consider yourself hot when you have to get up and look at Tom Welling every morning. But every now and then, I think I might be a little cute."

    They were trying to get so many people through the line that they weren't allowing pics WITH him, but my husband snapped the one below as I was gleefully skulking off with my autographed poster.

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Teresa Discovers the Dog Whisperer

    We do a lot of talking about Alpha vs. Beta males in the romance world. But how was I to know that the ultimate Alpha male was a short, mild-mannered, soft-spoken Mexican man named Cesar Milan?

    I'd seen his dog-training book, CESAR'S WAY, on the bestseller lists but I truly got hooked on Cesar less than two weeks ago when I started TIVO'ing the show THE DOG WHISPERER on the National Geographic Channel. Little did I know that THE DOG WHISPERER came on like 75 times a day so before I knew it I had a healthy backlog of episodes and had seen Cesar cure nearly every dog lover's nightmare from fear biting to separation anxiety to a bulldog with an uncontrollable passion for the garden hose.

    His philosophy is simple. To learn how to train a dog, you have to learn how to think like a dog and behave like a dog. There is virtually no canine problem that can't be solved with a "calm assertive" attitude. The minute he enters a room, he becomes the "pack leader" and there's something oddly attractive about that, even in a short, mild-mannered, soft-spoken man. If you add his Beta love of dogs, you have a real hero in the making!

    It also occurred to me that many of his lessons can be applied to life:

    1) If you walk with your head up and your shoulders back, people will believe you're a powerful woman
    2) You can't help someone by feeling sorry for them
    3) What's in the past doesn't matter because it's not what's happening now
    4) You have to stop agressive behavior at a lower level before it gets into the "Red Zone"
    5) You can accomplish almost anything with calm assertive energy
    6) Leadership has to come before love, but yet is also a form of love
    7) The only way to be truly fulfilled is to know your natural order in life
    8) Every home needs an Alpha dog, preferably a human

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Teresa Tweaks the Beast's Tale (Um...Tail)

    If you want to start an argument between two romance authors, just ask them, "Do you think it's possible to educate the uninformed (and frequently snotty) masses about the charms and benefits of reading romance?" Even within our ranks, there are two distinct opinions that will often result in loud, bombastic "discussions" and the occasional hair pulling:

    Opinion #1) We adore our devoted readers, appreciate generating $1.2 billion in sales for the publishing industry and accounting for 54.9% of all paperback sales per year and don't give a rat's patootie about anybody else so nanny nanny boo boo, take that you "lit'rary loving" pseudo-intellectuals!

    Opinion #2) We adore our devoted readers, appreciate generating $1.2 billion in sales for the publishing industry and accounting for 54.9% of all paperback sales per year, but believe that there are even more readers out there who would appreciate a romance if they could only be coaxed (or coerced) into reading one.

    I tend to fall into the second school of thought for one simple reason--I've received so many fan letters and e-mails over the years that said, "I'd never read a romance until I read [Insert your favorite Teresa Medeiros title here] and I absolutely loved it!" And do you know what happens when they love a Teresa Medeiros book? Well, hopefully they read other Teresa Medeiros books, but since those are in limited supply, it gives me a chance to recommend other similar books. The next thing you know, they've shaken off their prejudices and immersed themselves in the wonderful and uplifting culture of the romance novel.

    As I see it, our challenge as authors, booksellers, librarians, and fellow booklovers, is not to convince the media or the diehard cynics and snobs, but to get the books into the hands of those who would appreciate a wonderfully written romance, but just don't know it yet. And the best advice I can give you is to…be sneaky. Don't mention the word romance. Just tell them it's a great book and you think they'd enjoy it. The expansion of romance into hardcover has made this even easier to do because many readers still don't associate hardcovers with the romance genre.

    In the past I've eased them into the genre by introducing them to romance authors who have branched out into other venues such as suspense, legal thrillers, or women's fiction—authors like Kristin Hannah, Jill Barnett, Tori Carrington, Tami Hoag, Jayne Ann Krentz, Elizabeth Lowell, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Gaffney, Iris Johansen, Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, and Judith McNaught, just to name a few. If they love one book by these authors, they'll probably be willing to come back and check out their backlist. Once you have them hooked, you can suggest another author with a similar style. That's when you'll start hearing comments like, "Can you believe I found this in the romance section?" And "Wow! I didn't know these books actually had a plot!"

    As far as I'm concerned, YOU, Beloved Reader, are on the frontlines of this battle. Your "word of mouth" recommendation has far more power to sway personal and cultural opinion than my latest website update or newsletter.

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Teresa Enrolls in THE BOYFRIEND SCHOOL

    If you haven't read Sarah Bird's classic romance THE BOYFRIEND SCHOOL, you probably should. It's one of my favorite contemporary romances of all-time. Originally published in 1989, the book is about Gretchen Griner, an underpaid photographer sent to cover a "Romantic Times-like" conference in Austin, complete with cover models and authors dressed in full Southern belle regalia. There she meets bestselling romance author Lizzie Potts (known as Viveca Lamoureaux to her adoring readers) and romantic chaos ensues as the well-meaning Lizzie decides to fix the cynical Gretchen up with her brother Gus by making him over as the ultimate romance hero.

    One of my readers recently let me know the movie version of THE BOYFRIEND SCHOOL (originally titled DON'T TELL HER IT'S ME) had just been released on DVD. While not quite as good as the book, it really is pretty adorable. And it will make you say four words you never thought you would-- "Steve Guttenberg is HOT!" When Gretchen (renamed Emily for the movie) first meets Gus, he is recovering from cancer treatments and is boring, bald and bloated. But the quirky Lizzie (played by Shelley Long before anyone realized she wasn't going to be a big movie star) quickly makes him over into "Lobo," a mysterious Harley-straddling hero with a stubbled jaw and a really fine mullet. If you enjoy a romantic comedy that's romantic, funny and touching. I think you'll love this one! (And did I mention that Steve Guttenberg was really HOT?)

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Teresa Dishes on Cover Models She Has Known (and Occasionally Loved)

    I really should confess that I've never been a big fan of "cover model pageants" where studly young models strut their stuff in loin cloths with biceps flexing, taut ab muscles rippling, a teasing smirk playing around their flawlessly sculpted lips...oh, wait...where was I and why have I never been a fan of these pageants? Oh, yeah--dignity! That's right. I think it's an insult to their dignity to be paraded in front of a crowd of leering, hooting women like so much prime beefcake on an auction block, their well-defined muscles glistening with sweat, their eyes twinkling with a come-hither look, their broad shoulders...oh, sorry...lost my train of thought again!

    What I meant to say was that cover models deserve our respect (and their dignity) because they're an essential part of the romance genre. They serve as "placeholders" for the heroes in our books. They may not be an exact representation of the image the reader will eventually hold in the eye of her imagination but they do act as a starting (and a selling) point.
    Several models in the genre have been talented and prolific enough to develop name recognition. John DeSalvo, Steve Sandalis (the Topaz man), Cherif Fortin (you can find him on the exquisite piece of pre-Raphaelite art on the original stepback for my book CHARMING THE PRINCE) and of course the legendary Fabio, who has been clever enough (despite that unfortunate goose incident on the roller coaster) to parlay his 15 minutes of fame into 15 years. HEATHER AND VELVET, my very first book for Bantam in 1992, was one of the last romance covers Fabio posed for before retiring from modeling to pen (cough, cough) his own romances. I've even had the pleasure of crossing paths with a few of these models. Here I am above with Guy Davis (who appeared on several Katherine Sutcliffe covers) way back in 1990. (In case you couldn't tell, I'm the one with the big hair and the very small dress.)

    I was recently introduced to a hot new name in the business when I received the preliminary cover art for my upcoming October release THE VAMPIRE WHO LOVED ME. We hear so many horror stories about authors getting covers with heroes who look like Howdy Doody or Elvis or who have the wrong hair or eye color. Who can forget Suzanne Brockman's legendary "Pillsbury Doughboy" cover for GET LUCKY? She had to send out smiley face stickers so her readers could cover up his face! (And I'm sure this wasn't a commentary on the cover model, but on the artist.) So you can imagine my delight when I received this in the mail:

    The devilishly talented art department at Avon had managed to find a cover model who was not only gorgeous, but the perfect embodiment of Julian Kane, my sweetly sardonic vampire hero. Since I'm usually running a little behind (cough, cough), I was actually writing the first love scene of the novel when the artwork arrived. I immediately tacked it up over my computer and found it to be VERY inspiring indeed!
    Turns out the cover model is none other than Nathan Kamp, a fast rising star who has also done a guest stint on my favorite soap GUIDING LIGHT. He's appeared on several recent books from authors Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor, Susan Sizemore, Karen Hawkins, Karen Marie Moning and a host of others. You would probably be shocked if you realized just exactly how many covers you've probably seen him on because he has the most essential gift of any cover model--the ability to transform himself into any number of heroes without losing his own identity OR being overexposed.
    Although I would certainly never want Nathan to compromise his dignity by strutting across some stage in a loin cloth in front of a crowd of hooting, leering women, I would like to leave you with a couple of pictures so you can admire him as a human being. Purely in a spiritual, entirely platonic, aesthetic sense of course ;)

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    Teresa's Book Reviews: Marley and Me

    The one moral to this story is that you should always listen to Connie Brockway. (As much as it pains me to admit it!) She warned me that if I read this book, I would be crying for WEEKS. Then my Uncle Buddy, a 6' 2" bastion of male machismo confessed that he had bawled like a baby when reading the end of the book. But I thought, "Hey, I watch ER every week! I'm tough! I can handle this!"

    So I picked up the book and started crying during the PREFACE. Okay, I'm lying, I actually started sniveling when I was looking at the puppy pictures of Marley on the inside front cover. Perhaps Kevin Bacon said it best in MY DOG SKIP--"A dog is just a heartbreak waiting to happen." Until they invent dogs with the 90-year life spans of parrots, we all know there can be only one ending to a great dog story. And MARLEY AND ME is truly a great dog story.

    But MARLEY AND ME won't just make you cry. It will make you smile and it will make you laugh out loud and it will make you wonder why you didn't think to write a book about your ill-behaved monster of a dog so you could warm the cockles of America and make a bazillion dollars. It will also make you remember all of those fine dogs who have blessed your own life through the years. Those with spirits so sweet they seemed almost human and those who ate your throw rugs, swallowed your diamond necklace, and dragged your Tampax out of the garbage for the neighbors to see.

    MARLEY AND ME is more than a story about a dog. It's a story about the young marriage of John and Jenny and the changes they go through as they add not only Marley, but three precious children to their lives. John Grogan is a columnist and former editor of Rodale's ORGANIC GARDENING magazine. His prose is fine and spare and made me reluctant to put the book down. I read it in two lazy Saturday and Sunday afternoons and yes, I read the ending with a box of Kleenex sitting on my chest and Connie's number on my speed dial.

    The true moral of Marley's story is that there is something fine and beautiful about loving something (and someone) who is imperfect. That perhaps more joy and delight can be found in embracing someone's flaws than in trying to "fix" them. And if nothing else, reading about Marley--a dog who was diagnosed as certifiably insane even by doggie standards--may make you appreciate your own dog (or especially your cat!) even more.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Can You Tell Which One is Teresa?

    Okay, I know some of you were a trifle bit skeptical when I admitted that I had a giant pink pig who helped me block out my love scenes so I thought it was time to introduce you to Petunia.

    Petunia once belonged to my roommate in nursing school. She was getting ready to take a one way trip to the city dump when--unable to bear the thought of her rooting through the garbage with her delicate little snout--I intervened. (Look at that face! Could YOU have let her go to the dump?) Despite my husband's insistence that she's old enough to manage on her own, she still lives in the bonus room over our garage.

    She used to earn her keep by tussling with my nieces and nephews when they were little, but now I call upon her for a much more important duty. If I'm writing a scene where my hero and heroine are facing each other, about to embrace, I use her to figure out exactly where his mean his nose...and his (paw? hoof?) would be. We also share the occasional waltz.

    You'll notice that Petunia looks better than I do in this pic because she freshened up her mascara and I didn't. She never could resist a photo op!

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Kiefer Sutherland: From Bad Boy to Good Man in Only 24 Hours

    What can I say? I never could resist a man who can make a kill shot to the head with 100% accuracy. I came late to 24. Last year my minister's wife loaned me the entire first season on DVD and insisted that I watch it. Still feeling the keen absence of former favorites like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Farscape, I slipped the first disc into my DVD player and immediately found myself immersed in the dark and dangerous world of CTU (Counter-Terrorist Unit) and its resident knight in tarnished armor Jack Bauer. After only a few addictive episodes, I also made an alarming discovery—I was hot for Kiefer!

    That's right. The same baby-faced, sandy-haired Kiefer I had always scorned for taking men's roles like Doc Spurlock in Young Guns and Athos in The Three Musketeers and turning them into boys. His chilling turns as villains in several movies hadn't really endeared him to me either. But as I watched one episode after another of 24, his beard-stubbled cheeks and that tender petulant mouth of his began to look imminently more kissable. A scene from last week's episode where he was forced to interrogate the woman he loves, then took a taser blast to try to protect her because he believed she was innocent nearly made me swoon in the best romance novel tradition!

    Quite simply, Jack Bauer is a man who does what needs to be done, however brutal, to get the job done. The cavewoman in me who still secretly longs for a man to protect me, feed me, and give me strong children responds to this on the most primal level. But the lovely thing about Jack is that he also maintains enough heart and humanity to resist a direct order from the president if that order will result in the death of innocent women and children. In the course of the last five seasons, he's risen above incalculable personal losses with unimaginable grace.

    24 delivers a walloping dollop of edge-of-your-couch-cushion suspense but story never overshadows characterization and emotion. To me, that's what separates a Lord of the Rings from the latest sterile and heartless installment of Star Wars.

    In our books, we constantly deal with flawed, complex men who are transformed into heroes. Jack Bauer is such a hero--constantly challenging himself, constantly evolving and always able to make the kill shot. He can interrogate me any day!