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    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.