Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Pumpkin Day

Happy Halloween!

Whatever you plan to do tonight, I hope you have a boo-rific time.
Now here's a little treat from me to you...

My Monster Mash
Featuring me, the Hubs and our Doxies
With a special appearance by actor Bruce Campbell

video

Friday, October 28, 2011

First Line Friday: Haunting Beauty

I have a confession to make.  I'm a happy hooker.  Get your mind out of the gutter; it's not what you're thinking.  I don't mean I like to strut my stuff in the dodgy end of town.  What I mean to say is I'm giddy for a great hook - the first line a writer uses to engage readers.

One vital ingredient in strong writing is a strong hook.  A good first line and hook can keep the first chapter and scene from starting slow and ending flat.



I am captivated by first lines.  There are some really amazing ones out there, and some very uninspiring ones, too.  Before I buy any print book, I always read the first line.  I've actually made decisions to not buy certain books because I thought the first line was poorly written.  Yes, I'm a first line snob.  My little obsession with first lines hasn't diminished over the years.  In fact, it's become sort of a passion of mine.  And so I thought it would be fun to occasionally spotlight some of the fabulous first lines I come across while reading.

Last night I found encountered a great first line when I cracked open Haunting Beauty by Erin Quinn.  Here it is:


"The man came to her just before dawn."


Intrigued?  I sure am!  My interest in the story continued to grow the more I read.  

What do you think about this first line?  Do you like it?  Does it make you want to keep reading?
Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blog Award: One Lovely Blog

A big thanks to Avery Olive for honoring me with the One Lovely Blog Award.  As a recipient of this awesome award, I have to share seven things with you, thank the person that gave me the award and pass the award on to others.  So here it goes:


MY FAVORITE THINGS

1)  Actress - Kate Winslet
2)  Actor - Russell Crowe
3)  Beverage - Pink Lemonade
4)  Candy - Sea Foam
5)  Scent - Woodsmoke
6)  TV Show - Supernatural
7)  Vacation Destination - Disneyland

Now, I get to pass the award on to other bloggers.  Here are three blogs that are totally worthy of the Lovely Blog Award:

Kati @ Romancing Rakes - A great blog of book reviews and hot pics of sexy men.

Ashley @ The Bookish Brunette - This is one fabulous blog full of in-depth book reviews, giveaways and fun posts.  I adore the whimsical look of the blog - so pink and perfect.

Carrie @ In the Hammock -  I'm a big fan of this blog.  I love the vintage look, plus all of the super reviews and giveaways.

Be sure to check out these amazing blogs and show them some love!  Congrats ladies!
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Dreaming Awake


It's WoW time. Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection:






DREAMING AWAKE
Author: Gwen Hayes
Genre: Young Adult
Expected Pub Date: January 3, 2011



When Theia Alderson first encountered a mysterious, handsome boy in her dreams, she never imagined how finding Haden Black - and falling in love - could change her life.  To save Haden, Theia sacrificed everything.  And the dangerous bargain she made could have lasting repercussions.  

Now Theia has returned to Serendipity Falls, and she finds herself struggling with the same deadly  hungers that have tortured Haden.  When students at their high school fall prey to a mysterious illness, Theia can't help but wonder if Haden's control is slipping - and how much longer she'll have a grip on her own.

And still the nighttime realm of Under won't let them go.  Someone from Haden's past is determined to destroy Theia from the inside out, starting with those closest to her, forcing Theia to choose between family and friends and a love that may have been doomed from the start...
Monday, October 24, 2011

Music Monday: Kissing You

If you're a writer, you know that music can be a huge source of inspiration.  Music can set the mood.  Music can inspire creativity and emotion, two essential elements of writing romance.  When you listen to music, you can block out the rest of the world and stay in tune with your characters and story.

I don't make playlists for my WIPs.  I don't listen to special or specific songs when I brainstorm or plot. I don't need music to write.  Sometimes I just want peace and quiet when I'm at the keyboard.  Yet other times, I need the rhythm of a piece to propel my writing. 

Lyrics can be a problem.  When I write while listening to someone else's words, I start singing along to the song instead of coming up with my own sentences.  Instrumental music works best for me.  I especially like movie soundtracks because they are so atmospheric and dramatic without being too distracting. 

Today is Music Monday.  So I'm going to share one of the songs that I enjoy listening to when I write.

KISSING YOU
Movie: Romeo & Juliet (1996)
Artist: Des'ree



The lyrics to this song are lovely.  But as I said, I prefer the instrumental version.  The movie serves as a great inspiration too. 

What music inspires you?  What's on your playlist this week?
Sunday, October 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (16)



BOUGHT

I can't wait to read this one, the 3rd book in the Tudor Vampire Chronicles.
I really enjoy this series. 

FREE

Discovered this free read on Amazon.
 
 
 I recently added this one to my must-read. 
I'm so excited I got it as a free read on Amazon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fashion Mysteries Solved

The answers to some of the great, unsolved mysteries of the fashion world can be found in the physical  misfortunes of world leaders.  Discover how the celebrated made lemonade when handed lemons...

 

Queen Nefertiti, the Nile beauty, donned a crown with a wide top, introducing a whole new look to an Egypt traditionally topped off with heavy, curled wigs, headbands and pointed crowns. 

The crown not only accentuated her Audrey Hepburn cheekbones, it hid Nefertiti's peculiar, elongated head, a trait she shared with her husband, Akenaten.  Makes sense.  He also happened to be her brother.

Emperor Hadrian grew a beard to disguise his wart-covered chin, and within two weeks, wives throughout the Empire were subject to scratchy good morning kisses.

The rise of long skirts in the fifteenth century is attributed to the bad gams of the daughters of King Louis XI of France.


In the thirteenth century Empress Taki of China glanced down at her misshappen tooties and took a giant step backward.  She decreed that every female infant born from then on would have their feet bound.  With a giant leap of faith, her subjects obeyed, christening their tiny club feet "little pearls".


In the 1600s, Queen Elizabeth helped to popularize the high collar by wearing one to hide her spindly neck. 


The bottom buttons of vests were left undone because Edward VII, the corpulent son of Queen Victoria, was too fat to close his.

In the fourteenth century Count Fulk of Anjou popularized shoes with enormous points to disguise his ugly feet.


All the women in Medieval paintings look like they're pregnant because an overweight Queen Isabella made it fashionable to be plump.  Other women, embarrassed by their stick-thin figures, tied pillows to their stomachs.

Years later, however, Madame de Montespan popularized the soft, flowing robe dechambre to hide her numerous pregnancies.

 Queen Isabella and Madame de Montespan

Crimean war hero Lord Henry Raglan appeared on the scene in a slouch-shouldered jacket that was such a success that it was named after Raglan and is still worn today.  No doubt the unique construction of the sleeve was due to Raglan's combat experience - in which he lost an arm.

In the late 1800s, Princess Alexandra of Wales sported a heavy parasol to support her as she walked, because a childhood illness had left her with a limp.  Obviously the most influential trendsetter of all, not only was the parasol adopted as an essential accessory, so was the limp.

 A fashionable parasol and Princess Alexandra

When Duke Phillip of Burgundy lost his hair during a severe illness, 500 faithful nobles in his Medieval court chopped off their locks in sympathy.  A sign of true loyalty or a court wide bromance?  You decide. 
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Paula Quinn


Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection:





CONQUERED BY A HIGHLANDER 
Author: Paula Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Expected Pub Date: June 1, 2012


Colin MacGregor was born to fight - for his beliefs, his king, and his family's honor.  After years away from his beloved Scotland, he years to return to its lush, green hills - and he can, after he completes one final mission for the king.  Sent to infiltrate a traitor's home, Colin is determined to expose the treasonous plot and triumph on the battlefield...until he meets a sensual lass who tempts him towards other pursuits...

Lady Gillian Dearly is no stranger to temptation.  Cast out of her family for bearing an illegitimate child, she's now the ward of a barbarian conspiring against the king.  Her only desire: freedom for her son and for herself at any cost, even if it means making a deal with the devil.  Yet when a mysterious Highlander appears in their midst, his braw strength and smoldering gaze give her hope for a future beyond the castle walls - and promise a desire unlike any she's ever known.  But passion comes at a price...
Friday, October 14, 2011

Five Friday Favorites (3)


Happy Friday!  Five Friday Favorites is a meme to spotlight 5 things you really, really, liked for the week.  It can be a movie or a song, a drink, a new piece of man candy, a new friend or even a new blog site.  So here's what I'm loving this week:


Pan Am.  Passion, jealousy and espionage...Pan Am has it all - at 30,000 feet.  The style of the 1960's, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this new ABC series.  The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world as they jet to New York, Paris, London and Berlin. 

I love the retro hipness of Pan Am.  It's fun.  The music is delightful.  The female cast all look cultured and refined in their sleek, cool blue uniforms.  The ladies seem able to handle any in-air emergency that comes their way  - all without rumpling their pristine uniforms or mussing their hair.  When I'm aching for a glittery representation of the 1960's, Pan Am hits the spot. 


Dirty Soap.  This new E! reality series takes a look at seven daytime soap opera stars as they navigate high-profile careers during pivotal moments in the industry and deal with their own real-life drama. 


As a longtime soap fan, I think Dirty Soap is entertaining.  However, I'm not sure if the show is capable of hooking a viewer who doesn't already love soaps.  But I love the drama - even if it's mostly scripted.



Hot Cocoa.  It's only October and I'm freezing cold all the time.  That's what I get for living in the Pacific Northwest, a region that can see very cold temps in fall.  Hot cocoa is my favorite insides-warmer drink during this chilly time of the year.  The best time to drink it is after a long day.  It just makes me feel so toasty warm and good inside.  There are many methods to mix chocolate into a drink.  I like milk and whipped cream vs water and marshmallows. 

On cold nights at home, there's nothing quite as good as a steaming hot much of Swiss Miss Sensible Sweets.  The diet cocoa only has 25 calories, plus it's delicious.



Free and Cheap E-Books.  I'm a great fan of print books.  However, I do enjoy using my e-reader.  I like downloading the books from Amazon to my Kindle, especially the free and cheap ones.  I mean really, who doesn't like a free or 99 cent book?  Free e-books are a great, risk-free way to try new authors and books.  My favorite discovery is Camille, a YA paranormal historical by Tess Oliver.  Another benefit to free and cheap e-books is that many authors swear they boost sales.  To quote Martha Stewart: That's a good thing.




A Girlfriend Getaway.  For me, female bonding time is a must.  If I couldn't ditch my DH on occasion to hang out with my BFF, I'd go mad.  All I need is a day or two with my best gal pal, and I feel refreshed and re-energized.  Sadly, our crazy summer schedules didn't allow for us to get together.   But finally my friend and I have managed to arrange a mini staycation devoted to just us girls.  This weekend we plan to do lunch, take a day trip to Leavenworth, visit my 5 month-old goddaughter, hang out and chat.  Bring on the fun!



What are you loving this week? 
Thursday, October 13, 2011

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Johnny Depp
November 2011 issue of Vanity Fair magazine.


Enjoy!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: Melissa Marr


Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.

 
MY PICK     


A collection of short stories scheduled for release in February 2012 by HarperTeen.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (17)


It's Teaser time!  Anyone can play.


1) Grab your current read.

2) Open to a random page.

3) Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.  Be careful not to include spoilers - make sure what you share doesn't give too much away.  You don't want to ruin the book for others!

4) Share the title and author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.

MY TEASER







"She shook her head to dispel the sensations
of yearning that were pulsing through her.  Quinton growled at her, 'Ye kissed me back Deirdre Chattan, so do nae be crying that ye didna.'"

~ page 96 of Highland Heat by Mary Wine

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cleopatra Eyes

On the off chance you missed movie queen Elizabeth Taylor enter Rome on a giant sphinx in the 1963 extravaganza Cleopatra, here's the answer to the riddle that has troubled womankind since the real queen rode down the Nile: What kind of eye makeup did Cleopatra really use?


With these easy, step-by-step directions, you too can have Cleopatra eyes.

1)  Get yourself a "see face".  That's a mirror, to you.

 Bronze Mirror 1570-1070 BC

2)  Gather together black, green, and gray eyeliners; green, aqua, terra cotta, black, turquoise, and brown powder eyeshadows, along with green malachite to crush by hand; as well as burnt almonds, and the ores of antimony, manganese, and lead for grind-your-own kohl.


3)  Experiment with different combinations.  For example, you might want a deep Nile green on your eyelids and a blue-black eyeshadow for the area between your upper eyelid and your eyebrow.



4)  Have your servant girl prepare a pot of kohl and use it to draw thick lines around and extending past the corners of your eyes.

 Kohl Pot and Stick 1800-200 BC

5)  If you really want to go all the way, shave off your eyebrows.  Then use kohl to pencil in thick, undulating lines slightly above where your natural brows used to be.  If you're less daring, just draw over your own brows.



6)  Add a little rouge to your lips and cheeks, and henna your nails. 


There.  You're ready to dazzle a Caesar, a Marc Antony, or a Richard Burton (twice).
Friday, October 7, 2011

Five Friday Favorites


Ah,  another Friday.  Hope you've had a good week so far.  Time to spotlight 5 things I really, really liked this week.  So here's what I'm loving:  

Candy Corn.  There are may wonderful things about this time of year: Fall foliage.  Yummy soups.  Cozy sweaters.  Mugs of hot cider.  Spiced pumpkin bread.  Piles of leaves.  I adore them all.  Yet I'm giddy over candy corn.  I snatch up a bag the minute the candy hits store shelves.  Why?  1) I married a candy corn-aholic.  2) I love the novelty of candy corn.


The sugary little spikes are cute.  They scream Halloween and remind me of my childhood.  Best of all, it only takes a small handful to satisfy my sweet tooth.


 
Fashion History.  I have a passion for historical clothing.  I swoon over period-perfect undergarments.  I love learning how bum rolls worked.  I go gaga over bustles and stomachers and silk damask high heels.



Indeed, few things capture my imagination more vividly than historical clothing.  It draws me into eras of intrigue, into romance and beauty, and teaches me important facts about how the people who came before me lived.  So imagine my delight when I stumbled across Costume Dramas and Period Clothing, a blog dedicated to gorgeous dresses from diverse centuries.


Jason O'Mara.  Fox's Terra Nova is a glossy, action-adventure/mystery that plays a little like a condensed version of every classic science fiction action flick I've ever seen.  The dialogue is clodding and the characters are not yet fully fleshed out.  Yet I'm still watching.  Why?  Jason O'Mara.

This week the hunky Irish actor was once again shirtless.  


Yeah, it looked like the makeup team went a little overboard with the spray-on abs - the man appeared to have a 12 pack, which I'm not sure is physically possible, but whatever.  All that skin is keeping me tuned in.


American Horror Story.  Characters should know by now that moving into a Victorian house whose former owners died by murder-suicide is a bad idea.  In American Horror Story, the new show on FX, the Harmons have moved into such a house in L.A. to get away from their problems on the other coast.  Guess what?  It's haunted.

The show is dark and stylish, perked up with moments of biting humor and gratuitous nudity.  The cast alone makes the show worth checking out - especially Dylan McDermott, who stars as the often naked & very buff Ben. 




RT Book Reviews.  This is the essential magazine for romance novel lovers.  It's my favorite.  I get excited every time I pluck it out of my mailbox.  I like the articles on authors, the writer's tips, the ads, the book covers and reading the reviews for soon-to-be-released books.  I just finished reading through the November issue, and added many new titles to my must-read list.




So what are you loving this week?  What made your top 5?  
A new book?  Author?  Place? Movie? Song?  
Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gibson Girls

In 1895 American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson created a sensation - the tall, commanding Gibson Girl, a luscious lady with upswept hair, small mouth, snub nose, and large bosom and hips.  


The Gibson Girl was the "new woman" of the era.
She looked strong and self-confident; her dress reflected feminist reforms. 


And though she was never pictured working, she participated in sports.



Confronted with such graphic proof of her fiancĂ©'s fantasies, it's no wonder svelte socialite Irene Langerhorn felt a little underendowed.  So before she slipped on her wedding gown for her marriage to Gibson, she padded her hips.


Irene and Gibson

The model for Gibson's dream girl is said to be his sister, Josephine Gibson Knowlton.  Clothes, and even dances, were named The Gibson.  


Barbie has Ken: Did the Gibson Girl have a Gibson Boy?  Yep.
 

But he never matched her in popularity.  Go figure.