Thursday, July 31, 2008

Whose Shoes Were Those?

    by Jo Robertson

    Hi, readers, just so you won't stumble in shoe ignorance forever, let me tell you who's wearing what shoes in the photos from Annabelle's Bistro.

    Scroll down to the bottom of Wednesday's blog. In the top photo, Bandita Kim, aka KJ Howe, is wearing red patent leathers with an ankle strap. Tres chic!

    Next, we have Tawny Weber wearing beautiful red strappy shoes. These actually look quite comfortable!

    And finally, there's Vrai Anna Sugden in a gorgeous pair of black and white wedged shoes with a peep-toe and a running-stitch ribbon around the edges. Rumor has it that VA chose the shoes to match the restaurant's tile flooring, but we couldn't confirm that. However, Vrai wore a lovely hot pink polkadot pair of shoes to the Bandita Bash Wednesday night.

    Everyone looked beautiful in her shoes, but by the end of the day, I envied those conference attendees who'd worn sensible and sturdy tennis shoes. My blisters have blisters on them!
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Frog Dish.

Nice Drawers

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Party in San Fran!

    By Kirsten "I'm tired already!" Scott

    Day Two of the Conference and I'm already pooped! Too many parties, too little time, right my little chook? Er...chook? Chook? WHERE IS THAT DAMN ROOSTER NOW?! What? Jeanne has him? And Cassondra? At the same time?

    Well, you'll have to see if you can find him, ladies. I think he's somewhere in San Francisco. Let me know if you spot him, okay?

    While I'm off trying to find our beloved cock (a-doodle-do), here are some pictures of our Banditas and buddies from RWA nationals.

    Here's Banditas Donna and Beth signing at the Readers for Life Literacy Event, and Joan welcoming all the readers to come visit our signing Banditas!

    Can you recognize these Bandita Buddies?

    And as promised, some random incriminating shots of Banditas at play:

    Cassondra the balloon fairy:

    Susan, slow down! Leave some for the rest of us!

    So, are you enjoying your week! Any stories to report thus far? Any chook sightings?
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Adding to my Ebay Shop

Cloud Bed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Girly Girls and Kick-Ass Shoes

    by Jo Robertson

    Reporting to you LIVE from the Twenty-eighth National Conference of Romance Writers of America in San Francisco.

    Word on the streets is that the women are beautiful and the men . . . well, largely the men are absent. This is pretty much Estrogen City this week, aka the City by the Bay.

    San Francisco.

    The city of little cable cars that climb halfway to the stars.

    The city that features Alcatraz and Lombard Street.

    Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.

    The city where you just might leave your heart.

    And you know what? In all those movies set in New York where working girls wear tennis shoes with their designer suits and dresses, then change into their designer shoes when they get to work?

    Not so much in The City. People are still crazy enough to drive their cars in San Francisco, one of the cities with the highest insurance rates in the nation. And tourists wear shorts or jeans, sweat shirts and, you got it, some kind of walking shoes.

    In fact, I’m not even sure people actually WORK in San Francisco.

    Maybe they just buy beautiful shoes and ship them to New York.

    Tonight the Banditas gathered at Annabelle's, a charming bistro across from the hotel and later assembled in the baaaarrrr for their first annual mee . . . uh, part . . . uh, oh hell, let’s call a spade a spade.

    The First Annual Wild Bash of Girly Girls and Kick-Ass Shoes.

    Our Aussie, English, and Canadian Banditas are here, weathering distance and airline food -- or the lack thereof -- to join our congregation. We have our Southern Banditas, our native Californians, and our Midwesterners. But the thing we all have in common (besides a whoop-ass attitude and a love of reading and writing romance) is . . .

    Drum roll please . . .


    Okay, some of the smarter Banditas wore tennies to negotiate the streets of San Fran, but others wore something like the ones below and to the right.

    These shoes are a few of my favorites. Now, I don't actually OWN any of these shoes; the Manola Blahnik eyelet shoes and the Mary Jane double straps below are darling, aren't they? The Naughty Monkeys -- the pink and gray plaid -- are fairly inexpensive, but the Manola Blahniks are pricey.

    As you know, it’s all about the shoes. Just ask Vrai Anna and Tawny! If we can’t wear them ourselves, we gawk at them and admire them on the b
    eautiful feet of the stylish women who can wear them.

    No outfit is complete without the proper pair of shoes, including jeans and walking shorts, dresses and suits.

    And for that reason we’ve posted what three Banditas are wearing tonight on their feet tonight. Excuse the fuzzy piccies.

    Can you match each correct Bandita w
    ith the pair of shoes she’s wearing?

    ile, we’re kicking back, taking in a little wine, seeing the beautiful sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge, and

    enjoying our gal pals and their kick-ass shoes!

    So, do you have a favorite shoe experience? That perfect pair with the five-inch heels that killed your feet but were so worth it? Your wedding shoes that wore a blister on your heel? The most comfortable pair of shoes that you cried over when they finally fell apart? Tell us all!
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Late Booty Call

    Those of you who commented during Karen Kendall's and Patricia Rice's visits may be wondering who won the booty. The month has flown by, and I forgot to post either of them. Apologies to all concerned! Drum roll, please . . .

    The winner of Karen Kendall's Take Me If You Can is Natalie Hatch. Natalie, please email Karen via her website: Karen AT KarenKendall DOT com.

    The winner of Patricia Rice's Mystic Guardian is Buffie! Buffie, please mail Pat through her website, readers2 AT patriciarice DOT com.

    They're both at RWA and may or may not have computer access, so don't worry if you don't hear back right away.

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by, both for your comments and for your patience. Have a great week, everyone!Source URL:
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Would you like to visit my eBay shop?

    Dear readers, I'm excited to announce that I'm selling a few clothes and home items on eBay here. You'll find these green candles, brown heels and vintage camera poster there, among other treats. Feel free to bid if you'd like. Thank you!
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Pretty dress.

Monday, July 28, 2008

And They're Off!

    Okay, Bandita Buddies. This is it. The Big Ticket. Our Annual Event.

    The Banditas have left the Lair.

    For the next five days, if you're looking for us, you'll find us at the Romance Writers of America's Annual Conference in San Francisco. We'll be stalking agents & editors, hanging out with old friends at the bar, attending workshops, hanging out with new friends at the bar, stalking our favorite authors, hanging out with total strangers at the bar...

    You get the idea. :-)

    Hope we see some of you there! But if San Fran wasn't in your budget this year, keep visiting us here in the Lair this week. The elfreda ica have your back. We have cameras & internet access, so check this page over the next couple of days for breaking news, interesting tidbits, the latest gossip & possibly some of the coolest shoes ever. (That'll make sense in a couple days, promise.)

    And stay tuned also to RWA's website on Saturday night, where the winners of the Golden Heart & RITA awards will be posted in real time. Anna Campbell is a double RITA finalist, Susan Seyfarth is a double Golden Heart finalist & Kim Howe is a Golden Heart finalist. Our own Louisa Cornell has a horse in the Golden Heart race as well, so keep an eye on this site:

    See you all when we get back!Source URL:
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Crochet Flowers

Mini Redhead

Sunday, July 27, 2008


    by Suzanne Welsh
    The Bandits are going on vacation. Yep we're taking time off from the blog this week.

    Wednesday is the official start to the Romance Writers of America's national conference in San Francisco. Yippee!! As you know 19 of the 20 elfreda ica will be in attendance at the conference. Yippee!! 6 of our published Bandits will be signing their books at the mega-author book signing Wednesday night. Yippee!!

    While this is exciting for us and whichever of our readers make the trek to San Francisco, it leaves a bit of a hole in the blog schedule. Some of us flew to SF early to do some sight seeing before the conference starts. In fact, when y'all read this I'll be touring Sonoma Valley wineries with some friends from Texas. (Hopefully the limo driver will know the way back to the hotel!) So be patient with us. We Bandits love all our readers and will be missing our time with you here in the lair.

    While we're out connecting with our Bandita sisters, researching ideas for our books, attending inspiring seminars, and partying like crazy, please know that we've left Christie Kelley in charge of the Lair. She will be making the cabana boys do their exercise routine like a drill sergeant. Sven will be practicing his massages, (on her, I'm sure). And the gladiators, (except Demetrius who is traveling as Joanie's personal body guard), will be polishing their gear in preparation for our return to the Lair! (Must remember to buy body oil for the boys while in SF!)

    We have a few planned blogs ready to post. And if we get time with a computer, we'll try to pop on to flash y'all some pics of our adventures. (San Francisco may never be the same after a Bandit raid!)

    So while we've got the "Gone Fishing" sign up on the lair door, be sure to check out the blog. You never know what or WHO might pop up!Source URL:
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Heart Dennis Lehane

    by Susan Seyfarth

    I'll say it right up front: I don't read to improve my mind.

    Reading does improve my mind, of course, but it's just a fringe benefit. I read to be entertained. I read to be taken away. I read to get sucked in, carried along, then spat out, exhausted but satisfied. I read to see characters I love grow, change & earn their happy endings.

    I read because sometimes characters become so real to me that I keep thinking about them well after The End. I hear their voices in my head, the particular cadence of their speech. They turn up in my dreams.

    If I find an author who can give me those kinds of characters plus the happy ending I love so much, I'm a fan for life. I'll gorge on their backlist then gnash my teeth, mutter bad-tempered things about slow writers & wait for a new book to come out.

    So imagine my surprise when I found myself crushing on Dennis Lehane.

    The characters are everything I could want but Dennis Lehane isn't exactly Mr. Happy Ending.

    Remember Mystic River? It came out as a movie several years ago--Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon? Three kids in Boston who used to be friends until one of them got snatched off the street by child molesters? That was Dennis Lehane.

    Remember Gone, Baby, Gone? Another book-turned-movie. Came out last year, Ben Affleck's directorial debut, earned his little brother Casey a Best Actor nomination? The one about a little girl's kidnapping & the PIs who investigate? Also Dennis Lehane.

    I enjoyed the movies. But I wasn't hooked. Not until my husband brought home Shutter Island from the library. Shutter Island starts out like a traditional dectective novel. A U. S. Marshall is called to a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from a hospital for the criminally insane. And you roll through 2/3s of the book totally buying it.

    And then the final third unspools & you think, "Wait. I didn't sign up for this. I was supposed to get a detective novel. Good guys taking it on the chin, then rising up in triumph. I didn't sign up for...for...for THIS."

    Because what you get is totally different from what you're led to expect. And it's a mark of Lehane's immense talent that when it's all said & done, you're satisfied. You think, "Okay, not what I was hoping for, but it was the only way. I see that now. If I had been paying attention, I'd have seen it sooner."

    I'm being purposefully vague because I don't want to unload any spoilers on you. I'll only say this: The book jacket actually says "Nothing is what it seems." But do you believe it? Of course not. Lehane takes you by the hand & says, "Pay no attention to that. We're going this way." And you go. He's that good.

    After I finished the book, though I realized what really impressed me about it. As a writer, I know how hard it is to keep several balls in the air. Try writing a sex scene or a fight scene sometime--it's like being schizophrenic. You have to keep track of the physical action, the emotional consequences of that action, & then keep moving the plot forward at the same time. It's one scene--five to ten pages--and it's exhausting.

    Then I thought about Lehane writing an entire novel in which he knows the reader is going to think one thing is happening while meanwhile an entirely different reality is spinning out before our eyes. But we don't see behind the curtain until close to the end of the book. So he had to write an entire novel in which every single scene had to work on two levels--the surface level he'd encouraged us as readers to buy, then the ultimate reality which he as a writer had to make inevitable so that we'd get to the end of the book & think, "Of course. I should have known. I should have seen it sooner." But that's the trick. We did see it sooner. We saw everything. He laid it right out there. We just didn't get it.

    So here I am, the most devoted hearts-and-flowers romance reader you're ever going to find, nursing a killer crush on a guy who takes me to some of the darkest, sickest corners the human psyche has to offer. And why? Because he's a damn good writer. Too good to resist.

    Just try him. If you don't like him, that's okay. He's not the most comfortable of reads. But if you do like him, you're going to track me down me in San Fran next week to shake my hand. Either that or to punch me in the nose for getting you hooked on the literary version of crack cocaine.

    Start with Shutter Island. They're making a movie of it as we speak (Scorcese!) so there's no time to waste.

    So tell me--have you ever found yourself in love with something--a book, a food, a TV show, a person--that completely surprised you & everybody who knows you? Have you ever had a crush that was wildly out of character? When was the last time your heart surprised you? Source URL:
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Journey Proud

    by Nancy

    These last few days, as the lair buzzes with travel preparations and conference plans, I've started to feel kind of journey proud, as my mom would have put it. That was the phrase she used for excitement over a trip. As y'all know, the elfreda ica are preparing to descend on San Francisco (an apt phrase in this case since so many of us are flying in), and I'm getting excited about seeing everyone and meeting so many of our online buddies. Oh, yeah--other RWA buddies will be there, too. The RWA conference is always a fun time to see friends and make new acquaintances as well as developing professional contacts.

    I just returned from the mall, which was not the nightmare experience it sometimes is. I actually found things that both fit and looked pretty good, things I can no longer depend on happening. Fashions keep getting younger while I, well, don't. As the saying goes, though, not getting younger beats the alternative.

    Some trips require a lot of wardrobe planning and packing while others require almost none. For DragonCon, over Labor Day weekend, I'll pack spare jeans in case of a spill, a selection of appropriately adorned t-shirts, the usual unmentionables and vanity "products," and no extra shoes. That's it. Fits in one carry-on bag. Everyone there "just want[s] to have fun," as Cyndi Lauper noted on a different occasion. Everyone just hangs, and almost no one notices what anyone's wearing. Well, except for the people in costume.

    Professional gatherings are different, to varying degrees. For RWA, we need business clothes, sightseeing clothes, dressy clothes, and appropriate accoutrements such as shoes, jewelry, makeup, and so forth. (I'm sure some of you are better at creative ideas for "and so forth" than I am, so I'm leaving you room here. *g*) While networking can occur in the pool (note: add swimsuit), the health club (note: add sneakers and workout gear), or the bar, it most often happens in restaurants, workshops and appointments. Since presenting a professional appearance is important, we have dress appropriately. Is wearing a nice suit going to sell my book? No. Is looking like a slob going to prevent it from selling? Probably not, but it's not going to make me an appealing person to strike up a conversation with.

    Since I wasn't born with the accessorizing gene--and oh, how I envy those of you who were--I have to make a list. Just as an aside, watch out for confusing navy and black when you pack. I once did, and only the intervention of a friend with the accessorizing gene saved me from a major panic attack. I recommend bright light, preferably sunlight, for the packing stint.

    Then, of course, there's the matter of book-shipping. Between the book sale, the literacy autographing, and the lunchtime giveaways, I always end up with way more books than will fit in my suitcase. I've started shipping them home. Especially with airlines dropping their weight allowances, I'd rather pay to send them along than hassle with carrying them. I sometimes pack a jetpack and strapping tape for this purpose, but only if there's a post office near the hotel. This time, there doesn't seem to be, but you can check at the Post Office website.

    Despite all these concerns, I'm excited. I always am. The conference is so laden with possibility. While that can be anxiety-inducing, it also offers the chance to act on our dreams, and what's greater than that?

    Once upon a time, many years ago, my parents scrimped and saved to send their Anglophile daughter to Oxford on a summer study program. I got to travel roads I'd dreamed about and see castles and armor and the Crown Jewels and all kinds of cool stuff. It was a dream come true.

    Dreams can come true without travel, of course. But there's a reason someone coined the phrase, "journey of a lifetime."

    What's your favorite travel experience? Did you take a trip that was a dream come true, or just very special for some other reason? Or did you have one that was a nightmare?Source URL:
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