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    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.