Friday, February 29, 2008


    By Kirsten Scott

    I don't know about the rest of you, but in my little corner of the world, this has been one of the worst cold seasons in memory. Everyone I know is either sick, or getting over being sick, or worried about getting sick. I am personally thanking the steroid-god who delivered me from the land of the endless cough, and my kids are grateful for their friend Zithromax, who, along with best buddy Cough-Syrup-with-Codeine, helped them sleep through the night and get over their own little germ fests.

    The land of the living cold has me thinking about how we writers are always looking for new ways to crawl into the skin of our characters and understand them better. We talk about tormenting our characters alot, and what better way to do that than to give them a cold? The way a person reacts to physical stress--be it an illness or an injury--tells us a lot about them, and the way a writer handles illness tells you a lot about how deep they are digging to get their characters right.

    For example, you'll often see the stereotypical alpha male refusing help when he's sick, or being stoic when injured. But more interesting to me is the guy who falls apart when he's sick and has to accept being vulnerable and needing help. Or what about the powerful leader who can apply his own tourniquet but panics when the heroine has a fever? Now that's a real human being, one with flaws and weaknesses along with his strength.

    Along those lines, forget the perfect heroine who martyrs her way through her flu, cold, and discomfort. I'd much rather read about a real person who gets whiney, or feels sorry for herself, and has to be teased out of her funk. Isn't there a great scene in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks visits Meg Ryan when she's sick? Anyone remember that one? Or what about all those Catherine Coulter historicals where it seems like someone always gets a fever and has to be nursed back to health. I love those. There's something wonderfully real and timeless about a fever, or a cold. I don't care if you're in the Regency or the good-old-US-of-A--having a cold sucks, and we all know exactly what it feels like.

    But back to me.

    A little part of me likes the idea of having a cold. Unlike migraines, which I get a lot, a cold is something tangible. Snot pours out of you. Your nose gets red. Your voice gets scratchy. Then there's the cough. Add it together and what do you get?
    Sympathy. Lots of yummy sympathy.

    That's cool for about...oh...24 to 48 hours. Then I get pissed. I hate being sick. I hate not sleeping. I hate coughing. I hate all the healthy people around me who have the audacity NOT to be sick when I'm suffering so miserably. I get bitter. I huddle at my desk with a cup full of theraflu and try not to yell at everyone who is unfortunate enough to enter my office.

    Things get ugly fast.

    Of course, eventually I just become pitiful. I drink cup after cup of tea (which exacerbates my problem with finding time to go to the bathroom) and stand in the shower so long the room fills with steam and the walls drip. And then, after a few weeks, I finally break down and go to the doctor. Eventually, though it seems like I'll never be healthy again, I start to sleep through the night. Life returns to normal.

    So what about you? Been sick lately? Do you hate being sick, or secretly enjoy the sympathy? What's your being sick ritual? Hot tea, warm bath, netti pot? My cough could return at any moment, and I want to be prepared!

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Best of the blogs

Wanted: A Desk

    As a magazine writer, I often work from home. Mostly I prop myself up on my bed and write in this really awkward, hunched over position (like right now, in fact), which is definitely not awesome for my back. I've realized that I have to get a desk, both to save on future chiropractic bills and to get off my bed. :) How much do you love this simple bright work space via Desire to Inspire? I also really like this wire chair, which Grace (of Design Sponge fame) had at her old office. Any other chair/desk/workspace tips, my dear readers?
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Bare Your Back

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Interview with Victoria Dahl

    by Jo Robertson

    Hello, Banditas, Honorary Banditas, and Readers, today we’re very fortunate to have new historical writer VICTORIA DAHL with us.

    Victoria Dahl’s debut novel TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN from Kensington caught my attention for two reasons: the hot, hot cover (check out the deep-red, sexy color – isn’t that a gorgeous cover?) and the wickedly handsome Scotsman, Collin Blackburn, the hero of her story. I love a spunky heroine who isn’t afraid to step outside the strictures of her society. Lady Alexandra Huntington is such a woman and she’s more than a match for Collin Blackburn, who hounds her with a vengeance because he believes she’s responsible for the death of his brother.

    So, I in turn, hounded Victoria until she agreed to interview with the elfreda ica LOL. As you know we interview writers by invitation only, but having read her book, I knew Dahl was a talented author with many lovely books in her career. TTAS is sexy, fast-paced, and utterly delightful. You can click on the title and order it from Amazon. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    Jo: We love call stories in the Lair, Victoria. Can you tell us about your road to publication and how you received your first contract?

    Victoria: Hello, Banditas and readers! I’m so excited to be here! Thank you so much for the invitation, Jo. After reading that intro, you are now one of my best friends, so I hope you’re prepared to see a lot of me. Wanna cuddle?

    Jo: Hehehehe, method to my madness.

    Victoria: My road to publication was a fairly long one. I’ve been reading historical romance since about the age of twelve. I always hoped to be a writer, but I didn’t start seriously writing until seven years ago when I had my first child and became a stay at home mom. Cleaning the house wouldn’t hold my attention even if I did bother to do it, so I knew I’d need something else to occupy my mind. My first manuscript sucked harder than my unused vacuum cleaner, but it was a book! And I’d written it!

    Jo: You’ll be happy to learn that housecleaning is verboten in the Lair.

    Victoria: I joined RWA and started entering contests. I finaled for the first time with my second manuscript, and then I was hooked on contests. Four years (and four manuscripts) later, I finaled in the Golden Heart with TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN!!! It was an unbelievable experience even before I won. A whirlwind of sparkly chaos! And then I came home, and my agent sent out the book with a triumphant cover letter and… nothing. Ten months of nothing before I finally got the call from John at Kensington! Woo-hoo!

    Jo: Collin Blackburn is exactly the kind of hero I adore – a principled man who comes up against a woman he has the wrong idea about from the get-go. How did you come up with your characters and the story for TTAS?

    Victoria: Well, I love to torture my hero. I really do. If I can arrange a fake death to send him into a spiral of despair, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. Mmmm. So delicious. I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

    Jo: Uh, dunno, I got lost in imagining your hero being tickled to death with a feather on his bare chest.

    Victoria: Oh, yeah. I also love a very steady, reliable hero who falls for a wild girl, perhaps because my husband is very steady and reliable, and I might be a tad wild. *g* Since Collin is such a good guy, I had great opportunity to torture him with his misconceptions and doubts about the woman he loves. He doesn’t want to suspect her of doing wicked things, but she’s just so naughty! Just to be clear though, I really hate plots that are built on easily-dispelled misconceptions. I don’t think you’ll find any of those in TTAS.

    Jo: Absolutely, not at all! You really kept me going with the plot complications.

    Victoria: My very first idea for TTAS was the post-love scene. (The one in the cottage, Jo.) For some reason, my characters introduced themselves to me with this truly disastrous moment. I knew I had to write the book as soon as this scene popped into my head. I couldn’t resist a story about two lovers whose first time doesn’t end with butterflies and melting hearts. Instead of bringing them closer together, this love scene is just the start of the bumpy road ahead. (Pssst. Don’t worry. It all works out in the end, I promise.)

    Jo: You did it beautifully. I know you have an exciting and happening blogspace going on at What kinds of topics do you like to discuss? I’ve popped over and seen some quite naughty dialogue.

    Victoria: Oh, God. Very little that has to do with writing, I’m afraid. I used to blog with the History Hoydens about professional kinds of topics that mature readers might want to read about. But due to scheduling conflicts and a shift in my career, I had to bow out. (It’s a great blog, so check it out at Now I do most of my blogging on my MySpace page, and there is no one there to guide me. Here are the last five topics as of mid-February: Irish Butts, My Great Weekend, The Mental Breakdown I Had While Planning my 6-Year-Old’s Birthday Party, A Hilarious & Disgusting Rap Video About George Washington and, finally, You May Have Heard a Rumor That I’m Strange. I also hold contests, of course. And sometimes I even talk about my books. Please stop by. If you don’t have a MySpace account, you won’t be able to post a comment, but I will be adding a mirror of my blog to LiveJournal in a few months. I’m waiting for my website redesign before I take that on. In the meantime, Friend me!

    Jo: Everyone’s saying historicals are making a come back. Did you have any idea of writing in another genre when we all thought historicals were “dead”? Both your books are set in England, 1844. What did you find particularly attractive about this early Victorian period?

    Victoria: Other genres? Definitely. I am a fickle book mistress. TTAS was the third historical I wrote, and then I decided the market had tanked. By the time I sold TTAS, I’d written three contemporary paranormals. Now, of course, that market is glutted. Ha! My agent actually took me on based on my paranormals, which are light and funny and sexy. She never even READ my historicals until after I won the GH. That’s how bad the market was! When my paranormals didn’t sell (not dark enough), my agent asked if I would write a straight contemporary… something funny and sexy but without vampires. I had never even considered it, frankly. I LOVE the automatic conflict that comes with both historicals and paranormals. Forced marriage or dating with fangs. You know what I’m saying. But I’d already written my second historical for Kensington, so I took a deep, terrified breath and wrote my first contemporary. Turns out my agent is a genius. It sold to HQN just a few months ago! As far as writing in the early Victorian era… I was drawn to this era because it is an age in transition. There are still a lot of Regency ideals left over and we haven’t gotten into the standard strict Victorian mores. It’s rather unexplored as far as romances go. I really wanted to write a story that didn’t automatically push preconceived notions into the reader’s head.

    Jo: Your next historical from Kensington is coming out this year. Can you tell us a little about that?

    Victoria: A RAKE’S GUIDE TO PLEASURE will be out in August and I can’t wait! I love this book. (Am I allowed to say that?)

    Jo: Absolutely -- you, your mom and your agent LOL!

    Victoria: The hero is the Duke of Somerhart, the older brother of the heroine of TTAS. He’s cold and controlled on the surface, but when he meets up with Lady Denmore, he finds himself tripping over bad decisions and an impulsive attraction. But Lady Denmore is not what she seems. In fact, she’s not Lady Denmore at all. Her real name is Emma Jensen and she’s masquerading as a titled widow in order to make her fortune at London’s gambling tables. Emma is hiding her real identity, and this masquerade is what draws her to Somerhart, a man who’s been hiding his true self for years. Together, they have to decide if love is really worth the gamble. (Warning: this book is a bit naughtier than TTAS, so if TTAS pushed any boundaries for you, approach with caution!)

    Jo: I knew Somerhart would have his own book because I read the excerpt , but I’m so eager to read his complete story. And don’t worry, we Banditas love to go where no man – er, woman – has gone before!

    Victoria: There’s a pretty long excerpt of RAKE’S GUIDE at the back of TTAS, which was a wonderful surprise for a first time author. Zebra’s Debut program has been an amazing opportunity for a lot of us new historical writers, btw. Kensington/Zebra is really stepping up to the plate, taking a chance on debut writers and giving readers a great opportunity to try out an unknown author for only $3.99. And the covers! Whew! I can’t say enough great things about this program. Distribution was amazing. TTAS was in Walmart!!!! One last thing… That contemporary I mentioned will be out with HQN in February 2009. TALK ME DOWN is the story of a young woman who goes back to her small hometown in Colorado and causes a huge stir with her secretive career, a mysterious stalker, and her burgeoning relationship with the chief of police. I like to say that if you like cold weather, hot sex, and dirty jokes, this is the book for you! But I haven’t walked away from historical in any way, shape or form. I’ll have another historical out with Kensington in 2009 as well as a novella in a Kensington historical anthology. Have I mentioned that 2009 will be a busy year? Thanks again to all the Banditas--and especially Jo!—for inviting me to come visit. I can’t wait to chat!!!

    Victoria is giving away an autographed copy of TO TEMPT A SCOTSMAN to one lucky commenter. I promise you’ll adore it. I did!

    Victoria will be hanging out in the Lair today so drop by, say hello, and shoot her any questions you have about her books, the genres, or her sassy MySpace blogspot. You can also check out her website at
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Happy One Year Anniversary, Alexei!

Elvis would be psyched...

Happy Sartorial Thursday

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


    by Suzanne Welsh

    One of the things people ask writers the most is, "where do you come up with these ideas?" I heard someone say once, "Oh, I just go to the Big Book Of Ideas and flip through the pages until I find one I like." Smart alec answer, so of course I loved it! But the truth is inspiration can come in many forms and in many ways. Here are some of mine.

    Richard Sharpe. I loved this mini series on BBC America two summers ago! OMG...Sean Bean in period clothing. I love his intensity, his honor that stands out among the hardships of being at war in a foreign country and oh heck, he's just easy on the eyes.

    At the time I was also submitting scenes to the Avon FanLit contest. The period was Regency, not my specialty, but I felt I had a handle on the Penninsular War hero after watching this series. So, of course, I started a Regency period book with a hero loosely based on Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe. Still working on it, and it seems to be a bit darker than the regular Regency books

    Another source of inspiration is women in American History. This is one of my favorite characters, Clara Barton. I first read Clara's biography when I was in elementary school. My mom was studying to be a nurse, so I found duel interest in Miss Barton's life story. She took supplies to the battlefield of Antietem and found the surgeons wrapping men's wounds in corn husks. (ewww, the infection meter in my head just went off again!). Imagine their immense relief when this woman of courage showed up with bandages, medical supplies, blankets and lanterns! (Women are always thinking ahead.)

    Clara inspired the budding nurse in me, but she wasn't the only woman in American history who inspired me. Rebecca Boone followed her husband by foot through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalchia mountains into a place called Kan-tuck-ee--a land of wilderness and unknown enemies. She helped him carve out a home and lead more settlers west. She and other pioneer women of courage inspired me to learn more and write stories about their time periods.

    And then there's my hometown, Columbus, Ohio. Beautiful isn't it? I've set all my contemporary stories here or near here. I love the people here. Hard working people, who sometimes have extordinary things happen that change their lives. And the country side is so beautiful it makes me want to share it with people who've never been there. I also get to use the subtleness of an ordinary city as the background to some suspenseful elements, so the juxtaposition is great!
    So what inspires you to write, create or to succeed in life?
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I'm having dinner with this guy tonight.

Ebay Find

Spring Wish List

Elly Makes Awesome Neckwarmers

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Food for Thought

    by Susan Seyfarth

    I've got food on the brain. Couple reasons there. First, I gave up sweets for Lent. All sweets. Which means no chocolate. No ice cream. No doughnuts. (Somebody please revive Kirsten. I'm sure she's passed out cold at the idea of a doughnut-free existence.) In case anybody's wondering, life without refined white sugar is indeed a barren, empty place. Not recommended. But boy, it makes Easter really pop for me. Nobody's chocolate bunny is safe. :-)

    Second, I'm brain storming a new book, & my heroine is a wedding cake baker. So, while I'm not eating any sweets, I'm devouring books devoted to the glossy photography of enormous, glorious cakes. Big ol' shrines to butter, eggs & yes, refined white sugar.

    All this deprivation got me thinking about one of my favorite questions to ask people when I need to get a spirited conversation started:

    If you could eat only three foods for the REST OF YOUR LIFE, what would they be?

    Some people (mostly men for some reason) are baffled by this question. They've honestly never considered it. But most of us know our three without even thinking. I know I do. You ready?

    #1) Ice cream. Any flavor but chocolate. Don't misunderstand now. I like chocolate IN my ice cream. The more the better. But I don't like chocolate flavored ice cream. Is that weird? I can't explain it but feel very strongly about it. Ice cream is hands-down my favorite food in the universe, but if somebody presented me with a bowl of chocolate ice cream on Easter morning & said, "Vanilla will be available at noon," even after the six dark weeks of Lent, I'd hold out for the vanilla.

    #2) Pizza--whole grain, deep dish crust. Marinara sauce. Mozzarella, parmesan, & goat cheese on top. If pressed, I'd allow some fresh basil & a few kalamata olives. Perfection.

    #3) This third slot is always harder. Over the years, I've gone back & forth. For a long time it was stir fry in brown sauce over brown rice. Heavy on the broccoli & fresh red peppers. Throw in some deep fried tofus cubes, the kind that only Asian restaurants can produce & I'm a happy girl. But then I became a mom & began to resent stir fries for all the time consuming chopping & mincing. I embraced the zen perfection of a bowl of cereal with milk. And I do love me a good bowl of cereal, any time of the day or night. But I already have cold & sweet covered with the ice cream choice. The pizza gives me all the gooey, fat-ladened carbs I could want. So really, I needed something that would satisfy the primal desire for something crunchy, veggie-based & filling that comes over me after a steady diet of pizza & ice cream. So I'm back to the stir fry. For now.

    How about you? Are there any foods you could eat forever & never get sick of? Any odd-ball appetites you want to fess up to? You're among friends--share!
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Chair Envy

Can't wait for this movie

Berlin house tour

Monday, February 25, 2008

From Kirtles to Kicking Butt

    by Nancy Northcott

    There's a reason Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, and every super-heroine since Wonder Woman wore catsuits or some variation thereof. Kicking butt in a kirtle would be pretty much impossible. The clothes, of course, suited the image of The Ideal Woman in their eras. In the Middle Ages, for example, Woman was supposed to be demure, devout, and dominated. This condition persisted until the late 20th century. In some parts of the world (and some regions of the United States), it's alive and thriving. This isn't a political blog, though. I suspect most of us, at least in the United States, get more than enough politics to suit us just by turning on the television. It's a fashion blog. Today we're going to look at the ways clothes reflected and do reflect the lives of the women wearing them.

    The Middle Ages and the concept of courtly love certainly didn't include women slaying dragons. The woman shown here certainly couldn't. Her skirt would catch on fire, and that would be that. The man slew dragons, hags, and assorted other evil-doers. He, of course, wore the literal and figurative pants, sometimes armored. In fact, this woman would be hard pressed to clean her own kitchen. She'd be tripping on that skirt all the time. As for leading armies, forget it. Aside from the sheer physical power required to wield a lance or sword, not to mention the need for at least some maneuverability (though true medieval broadsword battles more closely resembled those in A Knight's Tale than those in my beloved Errol Flynn move, The Adventures of Robin Hood), there'd be all that fabric to manage.

    The Middle Ages did, however, give us the first real-life action heroine, Joan of Arc. I discovered her via a Classics Illustrated comic book when I was in second grade (and if I still had it, I'd have a valuable contribution to the boy's tuition fund, but that's a subject for a different blog). Joan was cooler than any woman I'd ever seen. This was the age of TV moms who wore pearls in the kitchen and never seemed to wield a vacuum cleaner, only advice. My little comic book geek heart adored Joan. However, the men of her time, included my much-admired English, did not. They put Joan on trial, for heresy if I remember correctly, and part of their reasoning was that she wore men's clothes. This may be the only fatal fashion faux pas in history. At least Joan got sainthood, albeit posthumously, out of the deal.

    From the Middle Ages, we move to the Renaissance, or supposed rebirth of learning and culture. For women, many of whom were well educated if they came from the upper classes or the nobility, the era offered more of the same. Except with better and more ornate fabrics. I have to admit I love the elaborate gowns of the Tudor period. The Henrys, I could do without, but their women were extremely well dressed. I'll probably have to see The Other Boleyn Girl just to look at the costumes. Wearing all this fabric did make a lot of sense, as did the cumbersome clothes of earlier periods. Whether you lived in a castle or a hut, your home wasn't draft-proof (hence the heavy tapestries hung on so many walls and sometimes over doors or windows). The Tudors presided over an exciting era, what with Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries and Elizabeth I's sponsorship of explorers/privateers like Sir Francis Drake, but Elizabeth did most of her butt-kicking via surrogates.

    Things didn't improve much for women in the active wardrobe department over the next several centuries. We had bum rolls, farthingales, hoops, corsets, bustles, and other assorted impedimenta designed to interfere with actual living. Granted, most of the fashion extremes were popular among--indeed, only possible for--the very wealthy, but they were held up as ideals of everyone. Around World War I, when things were starting to loosen up, the talented and imaginative Paul Poiret gave (or inflicted upon, depending on your viewpoint) women the hobble skirt, which narrowed at the bottom. After the war, things loosened up considerably, thanks to Chanel and the flappers, but narrow skirts alternated with full in haute couture for the rest of the century. Still popular, judging by Sunday's red carpet coverage at the Oscars, is the "mermaid dress," which fits tightly through the body and hips but flares at the knees. Thank goodness it's not as extreme as it used to be, but can you imagine Sidney Bristow of Alias taking somebody on in an outfit like that?

    Women in movie serials like The Perils of Pauline, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, and The Hazards of Helen broke the mold with derring do, but that adventurous spirit didn't last. On television, Emma Peel was the first real action heroine. I still have a soft spot for Dame Diana Rigg because she was so dynamic. After Emma came the 1960s TV version of Batgirl, who had a few restrictions in the interest of being "ladylike." (Fewer restrictions prevailed in the comic book. The talented and agile actress who portrayed her, Yvonne Craig, just kicked people because the producers didn't think viewers would like to see a woman hitting people. Regardless of their methods, though, each of them frequently wore a catsuit. They had to if they wanted to move freely. Well, okay, maybe it didn't absolutely have to be a catsuit but they needed something less restrictive than a poodle skirt or a pencil skirt.

    Then came Linda Hamilton as a super-buff Sarah Connor fighting to defend her son and Gillian Anderson as Special Agent Dana Scully and Catherine Bell as Col. Sarah McKenzie on JAG. For eleven years, Amanda Tapping has played Col. Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1, frequently appearing in camouflage gear with automatic weapons. I have to admit to a certain bias in favor of Carter, who's the prototype for the heroines I'd like to have seen on television when I was growing up. With shows like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Heroes, and Stargate Atlantis on the air, the action heroine and her wardrobe seem safe for the near future.

    What's the most ridiculous or cumbersome outfit you ever saw? Was there one you owned? And yes, bridesmaid dresses count.

    Who's your favorite action heroine on TV, in movies, or in books?

    By the way, vote for Trish!
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Merde, it's a busy week.

a woman in men's clothing

Sunday, February 24, 2008

SURVIVOR—Who’s left on the American Title island?

    by KJ Howe

    Reality television has infiltrated the literary world with the American Title competition—talented writers vie with each other to impress fans with excerpts from their novels and the author with the most votes conquers the literary island! Our very own Bandita, Trish Milburn, has made the top two with her paranormal romance, Out of Sight. Please visit to vote or click on the American Title on the sidebar. Trish has had an unbelievable year, selling a traditional romance to Harlequin American and a Young Adult novel to Razorbill (Penguin). You may ask, “Who is this masked Bandita and how is she swashbuckling through the romance industry?” Let’s get Trish to answer a few of your questions!

    KJ: First of all, congrats on making the top two of American Title. Your writing has obviously stood out as judges and voters alike are raving about your work. What do you like best about your hero and heroine in Out of Sight? And—give us the low-down on their faults. After all, the more interesting the faults, the more tantalizing the characters!

    TM: Jenna, my heroine, has a special place in my heart because she’s tough and insists on being herself even when it might be easier to not be. Because of her special ability – she can make herself invisible – she’s recruited to work for a secret government agency. The catch? She doesn’t have a choice. If she doesn’t comply, her worst fears of becoming a government lab rat might come true. But she’s not going to just play Miss Meek Mouse. She balks on occasion, dictating her own terms even when the hero, Daniel, who is an agent for the secret agency, thinks she’s lost it and pushed his superiors too far. And even when she’s quaking inside despite her outward appearance. I guess this reason I admire her might also be seen as a fault because she finds it near impossible to trust anyone who works for the federal government, even when that person (like Daniel) might be on her side. Her distrust stems from the fact that her father once worked for the government in covert ops, but after he went missing the government refused to admit he’d ever worked for them.

    As for Daniel, he’s sexy, is a fun mixture of serious about his job and a teasing smart aleck. He’s the perfect match for Jenna, even though she’d rather eat live worms than admit it. Perhaps his biggest fault is not questioning the why behind his own ability and the agency’s mission more.

    KJ: You wrote 17 manuscripts and finaled 8 times in the Golden Heart (winning twice!) before selling. During that time, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned about the publishing industry?

    TM: That you just have to keep at it. Perseverance is key to achieving that dream of publishing. After so many years of going to workshops, reading craft books, learning about the industry, and trying to improve my work with each new manuscript and each set of revisions, it was hard to keep going after so many “no, thank you” rejections. But we’ve probably all thought about quitting at some point. The thing is to not allow yourself to act on that thought if you really, really want to see your books on store shelves. It’s like athletes who fight through pain and injury for their one chance at the Olympics. Eventually, you will find the right editor at the right time with the right project.

    KJ: Given that you write Young Adult, Traditional Romance, Paranormal Romance, and Romantic Suspense, what rituals do you have before sitting down to write to get those different voices down? Do you listen to different music, dress in unique clothes? Please give us the scoop.

    TM: Honestly, I tend to watch TV shows or movies in the same genre to get the mood and feel. I have always loved TV and movies; I connect with them and the stories they present. They seep into my subconscious and put me in the right mood. For instance, if I’m getting ready to write YA, I’ll watch shows like Gossip Girl or Smallville or movies like 10 Things I Hate About You or The Prince and Me. That gets me to thinking “teen.” Same thing for the other sub-genres.

    KJ: A Firefighter in the Family will be coming out September 2008. Your first Harlequin American. What is it about this line that appeals to you?

    TM: I enjoy so many different sub-genres of romance that mix in other elements with the romance, but it’s nice to have a place to present stories that are just pure romance. A Firefighter in the Family has a bit of a mystery going on, but it’s dialed way back from some of my grittier romantic suspense manuscripts. Nobody is finding dead bodies in the woods. :-)

    KJ: Adventure is as passion of mine as is nature—and you have combined those two in your YA novel Heartbreak River that comes out in Spring 2009. Can you tell us a little about your rafting experiences? I had the opportunity to raft in Pennsylvania and can’t wait to tackle it again!

    TM: LOL! This is where my ability to research comes in rather than real-world experience. In reality, I’d be scared to death of getting in a raft and getting anywhere near whitewater. That’s actually good because I tapped into that fear for part of the story. Part of my fear comes from the fact that I can’t swim (Trish’s embarrassing admission of the day); part comes from the fact that I’m just a wienie. That’s why I like to write about tough gals who can take on anything physically. They can do things that I doubt I ever will. But while my idea of adventure is driving cross-country by myself (I have no problem doing that), I do love nature and being outdoors. Actually, I have this dream of through-hiking the Appalachian Trail, but that is not my dear hubby’s idea of a good time. :-) Heartbreak River is set in Colorado, and I drew inspiration during the writing of the book by simply looking out the window of the Amtrak train I was taking from my home in Tennessee to California. It was so cool to write about the river and rafting as the train meandered along the Colorado River.

    KJ: I heard y’all from Nashville, the site for RWA’s National conference for 2010. Planning ahead is always fun. Can you give us a list of must-see sights when we venture into the land of country music?

    TM: Of course, if you like country music, the Grand Ole Opry is a must-attend show, and it’s conveniently located next door to the Opryland Hotel where the conference is being held. You can also do one of those bus tours where they take you around to see the country music stars’ homes. A few years ago, they opened up the brand new Country Music Hall of Fame downtown, which replaced an older museum that was on Music Row, which is where a lot of the country music-related businesses are based.

    For me, however, I love the historic homes and buildings in Nashville. Belle Meade is a plantation which has a thoroughbred horse raising history. Kentucky Derby winners such as Secretariat and Barbarro have bloodlines stretching back to when Belle Meade was active in the horse business. Historic Carnton Plantation was used as a field hospital during the bloody Battle of Franklin during the Civil War. One of my favorite places here is The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson. A truly unique place to visit in Nashville is The Parthenon, the centerpiece of our Centennial Park. It is the only reproduction of Greece’s Parthenon in the world. Built in 1897 for the state’s Centennial Exposition, The Parthenon also houses a 42-foot statue of Athena and a city art museum. There’s a lot more to see, so you might want to take time to visit the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau site before arriving in Music City USA.

    KJ: Thanks for joining us today, Trish, and best of luck in the finals of American Title. If you would like to learn more about our intrepid finalist, visit where you will have a chance to win free books!

    TM: Thanks, KJ! It was a fun interview. And thanks for all the support given to me by my fellow Banditas and all of you fabulous people out there in Banditaland. :-)Source URL:
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Love My Job

    By Kate

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve been immersing myself in research for my new Bibliophile Mystery series. Last week, I spent two days at the annual Antiquarian Book Fair in Los Angeles, where booksellers from all over the world meet to buy, sell and trade their treasures.

    I attended two workshops on book collecting and restoration, then wandered through the hundreds of stalls and kiosks perusing exquisitely bound editions of William Shakespeare and Walt Whitman and Jane Austen. There were books on display that were so ancient, they looked like petrified forest mushrooms, as well as a collection of clever, three-dimensional, accordion-style books designed by a contemporary Parisian artist. First editions of mysteries by Raymond Chandler and Earl Stanley Garner sat alongside a nicely preserved, full set of Agatha Christie’s mysteries.

    Then this weekend, my research brought me to San Francisco where I spent the last two days wandering around my heroine’s neighborhood, getting the lay of the land, soaking up the local color, searching out the perfect location for a murder—or two, and driving up to Sonoma County where my heroine was raised.

    Oh, and the wine tasting I attended was a necessary part of my character development. ;-)

    I’m also taking a two-day class on bookbinding at the San Francisco Center for the Book. That’s right, I’m not just writing a book, I’m making a book!

    Shortly after I return home, I’ll be descending into the deadline cave where I’ll stay for the next month in order to finish my book. But for now, I’m writing this post while sitting at the restaurant bar, sipping a lovely cabernet and nibbling on bread dipped in olive oil as I wait for my steak and potato. Sigh. The things we do for our craft!

    If you could choose the perfect spot to do research, where would you go? Are there books you choose simply because you love the setting? Do you find yourself drawn to a particular occupation of the main character? And how do you like your steak prepared? Or would you prefer the vegetarian selections? :-)

    P.S. Vote for Trish!!!
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