Saturday, February 28, 2009

March -- Coming Attractions & Contests

    Before we proceed to our coming attractions round-up, the elfreda ica are THRILLED to make a very special announcement.

    The elfreda ica are sponsoring an RWA National Scholarship to cover the cost of the conference early registration fee (value = $425, the RWA member price) for one winner to attend the 2009 conference in Washington, D.C. The scholarship is for the registration fee only. The fee will be paid to RWA directly.

    To apply, please provide the following information: your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, if youʼre published or unpublished, if you have ever attended an RWA National Conference before, and a short explanation (no more than 150 words) about why you want/need the scholarship. Applications will be accepted until April 15. The winner will be contacted by the end of April.Please e-mail all the required information in the body of your e-mail to Joan Kayse at JoanieT13ATgmailDOTcom.

    Now, on to what's up this month!

    Tomorrow (March 2) our very own Christie Kelley will celebrate the launch of EVERY TIME WE KISS, which Romantic Times gave a 4 star review, saying Christie's "well on her way to capturing readers' hearts". Come and join in the fun with Romans, cabana boys, Sven the Swedish Masseur and plenty of those colourful drinks with umbrellas in them!

    March 3 - Multi-talented, multi-genre author and wannabe witch, Jennifer Lyon, will be here to talk about BLOOD MAGIC, the first in her new dark paranormal series about witches and the extremely hot and hunky Wing-Slayer Hunters who love them.

    RITA winning author Linnea Sinclair will join us to talk about her February release, another exciting sci-fi romance, HOPE'S FOLLY on March 4. Romantic Times awarded Hope's Folly a 4.5 TOP PICK calling it "a roller-coaster ride in the extreme."

    On March 5, creator of the fabulous Gardella series, Colleen Gleason will be here to chat about her new release AS SHADOWS FADE.

    RITA-winning historical romance author Sophia Nash is great fun and her visit to the lair on 6th March promises to turn into a party. She'll be talking about her new release LOVE WITH THE PERFECT SCOUNDREL and giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter!

    Debut Avon author Miranda Neville joins us on 10th March to talk about her new historical romance NEVER RESIST TEMPTATION. Originally from England and now a U.S. resident, Miranda has led a really fascinating life which will keep our visitors to the lair intrigued.

    On March 16, best selling author and 2008 RITA finalist, Kay Stockham, will be here to talk about her new Harlequin Superromance, HER BEST FRIEND'S BROTHER, another in the Tulanes of Tennessee series. Romantic Times gave her latest a 4.5 TOP PICK calling this "a heartwarming and delightful tale of love."

    We're excited to welcome Joanna D'Angelo to elfreda ica on March 21. Joanna is a writer/filmmaker who co-produced and directed WHO'S AFRAID OF HAPPY ENDINGS? - a witty and revealing documentary about romance writers and the world of romance fiction.

    On March 27, Jaye Wells takes us into her world of Urban Fantasy with the series debut book: RED-HEADED STEPCHILD.

    And to round off the month in spectacular style, NYT bestseller and RWA Hall of Fame member JODI THOMAS is here on March 31. Woohoo, give us a cowboy any day, Jodi!


    Anna Campbell's I Heart Historical Romance contest is giving away four signed historical romances by Amanda McCabe, Anna Campbell, Nicola Cornick and Donna MacMeans. Just email Anna on and tell her what your favorite historical romance is and why. The contest closes on 30th April. For more details, please visit her contest page.


    The elfreda ica facebook group has more than 400 members and we're still building. Join us! Invite all your friends! Sven will roll out the welcome massage table to greet you at the door.Source URL:
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Girlfriends We Need

    by Suzanne Welsh
    There's an e-mail that's been passed around for years that I periodically receive. It talks about the girlfriends we have in our lives and how they serve to help us through different stages and problems we encounter along life's journey. Every time this pops up in my e-mail, (often from my mom or one of those girlfriends), it always makes me smile, get a little teary-eyed and think of those women who have come to mean so much to me.

    So, here's my list of women:

    1) My mom. Yep, she's one special lady and I'm lucky enough to still have her in my life to talk, laugh and cry with. She taught me to read, to love books and wasn't the least surprised when I called long distance to say , "Hey, guess what? I'm writing a romance novel." Her reply? "I was wondering when you were going to do that." My mom has woo-woo's really kind of freaky. One of my kids will do something bad or dangerous or life altering...Poof Mom calls to say, "Is so-and-so okay? They've been on my mind all day." I won a writing contest. Poof, Mom calls and says, "Is something going on with your writing? It's been on my mind all week."

    Mom is also a nurse. She's one of the two reasons I became one. The other was watching Hot-Lips Hoolihan pass instruments during surgery on M*A*S*H. I wanted to be that smart, confident, efficient and still compassionate person. The bonus? When the bad stuff hits the fan, I can always call and chat with mom about patients, doctors, ugly stuff. She understands. (Yep that's me, ready to go do surgery, just like Mom.)

    2) My sister, Sam. Many of you may have several sisters, some none. But I was blessed with a younger sister who has the wickedest sense of humor and isn't afraid to say what she thinks. On top of that, she gets my mushy side and loves my kids. Cynical at times, irreverent at most, she was the person who taught my son to fish, play pranks on his sisters and sing to AC/DC songs as if every seven year old should know the lyrics! We've fought, laughed, cried and hugged through good times and bad.

    3) My friend Marion. Hey Marion!! Waiving madly in case she's reading this. We met in first grade, but became really good friends in middle school. This was the friend I first talked about boys with. (I still talk about MEN with my friends, but she was the first.) She knew my crushes all through those teen years. We cruised High street together oogling all the OSU boys partying on a Friday or Saturday night. We learned to do all the cool dances in her bedroom before she forced me to watch horror movies. We've gone through weddings, babies, grandbabies, and family loss together. I know her strength, her heart...and we know all the blackmail stories about each other!

    4) Nursing friends. This is a BIGGGGGGGG group, since I've been a nurse for nearly 30 years in 7 hospitals in 3 states. These are the women who've been in the trenches on busy nights, held me while I cried to release adrenaline in the cluster**** that just happened or the death of a baby. These are the women who get what it's like to eat chinese stirfry out of an emesis basin and think it's normal. They can laugh at raunchy jokes or find humor in the odd things humans will do to themselves at any given day or night. (Please ask me in a bar about the lady and the snuff!)

    5) The Writer Foxes. These are my Texas writing friends. My CPs and those women who understand my passion for writing. These are those ladies I can get drunk with and they may not stop me from acting a fool...(Sandy Blair) but laugh with me later about it. They push me, teach me, support me. They are my sanity!

    6) My daughters. Two totally different women I've been lucky to raise, know and love. I see in them the hope of the future. I've been priveledged to watch them find the loves of their lives. Artists and singers, they're talent always amazes me. They're book lovers, like their mama, grandmama, great grandmama! I couldn't be prouder of either of them!

    7) And finally, The elfreda ica. How does one say to 19 friends scattered all over the world in four countries and three continents how much they've come to mean to me? When we got together last July, it was like being with my sisters, only I didn't have to fight with any of them! We laughed like we'd been friends all our lives. These are friends I plan to have the rest of my life!

    So, who are the girlfriends in your lives?
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Bandita Booty!!!

    Our Fab guest from last week, Elisabeth Naughton used her mysterious random number generator and picked


    As her winner for a copy of her hot book Stolen Fury!

    Terrio, drop her an email at Elisabeth AT ElisabethNaughton DOT com and she'll get your booty - er, book - right out!Source URL:
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Beatriz Stix-Brunell

Have a fun weekend.

Clumsy best man knocks bride into pool.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Love to hate you, baby

    by Susan Sey

    We recently joined the YMCA, & the whole family is IN LOVE. Oh, yes. We love our Y.

    For my kids, the love has a whole lot to do with an indoor swimming pool & water slide. For my husband, it's a structured time & place to work out that comes complete with a video screen six inches from his face.

    For me, it's BOSU Boot Camp. Ever seen a BOSU? It looks like this:

    It's a combination strength/aerobics class that works sort of like step aerobics, only instead of stepping up on a flat, steady bench, you step up on this squishy half-ball. The evil genius of this is that now, in addition to heaving yourself up there, you also have to balance.

    The first time I took this class, I thought I was going to die. The next day I was so sore, I whimpered like a little girl every time I had to pick something up off the floor. But I didn't hesitate to go back. In fact, I actually looked forward to it. A workout that kicked my @ss under the supervision of an instructor whose only mission in life seemed to be making grown women cry? Ah, bliss.

    But this is wrong, isn't it? Why would I love something that routinely hurts me? Why would I so enjoy not only finding my limits, but flagrantly violating them (hence the copious moaning upon arising in the a.m.)? Why would I do this to myself??

    Well. I don't know. And as I don't invite pain into my life on a daily basis, I'm not overly worried about it. It's an aberration, but one that has ultimately improved my health so I'm okay living with the mystery.

    But it did get me thinking about other things I love to hate. So here are, in no particular order, things that cause me significant discomfort and/or pain which I secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy:

    1) Writing. Can I get an Amen? Maybe this is wrong, but I look forward to churning out the pages the way most people look forward to oral surgery. It's a rare day for me when the words just flow. Most days I have to psyche myself up for the hard work of battling back the blank page. I think it was Dorothy Parker who said she hated writing, but loved having written. That's how I feel exactly. I hate struggling through that first awful draft, but am utterly addicted to the high of having committed words to the page. Even bad ones.

    2) Jogging. Half an hour of huffing & puffing & feeling all my wiggly bits wiggle? Not so fun. But putting on my jeans & zipping them without discomfort, even as I stare 40 right in the eye? Worth it. Every mile. And unless I'm planning to break my ice cream addiction some time in the near future (not going to happen, folks) it's an absolutely necessary evil.

    3) Letters to the Editor of low-brow gossip rags. People Magazine is my favorite. ("I wish everybody would leave poor Tom Cruise alone!! He's a class act, & I wish him & his beautiful bride every happiness!!!! Tom, you can jump on my couch any old time!!!!!") I think it has something to do with the flagrant abuse of exclamation points, along with the unshakeable conviction that Tom Cruise gives one tiny little flip about what Sandi Neblowski of Wahoo, NE thinks about his marriage. It just kills me, but can I stop reading them? Can I skip them? I cannot. No, I not only read them, but I pick the most offensive of the lot & read them out loud to my husband, who I'm sure appreciates it.

    So what about you? What do you love to hate? What do you feel compelled to do, regardless of logic, reason, or your better angels? Tell me everything!Source URL:
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Wedding wallpaper

Stranger photos

Rings and things

Simon Evans

    London-born, Berlin-based artist Simon Evans has the raddest exhibition right now at James Cohen Gallery in New York. The show's title is "Island Time," which is a nod to Robinson Crusoe and the handmade objects he needed to survive on a desert island. Evans implicitly compares being shipwrecked, to the role of the artist as an outsider, to his own experience living in a foreign city. He's also obsessed with counting and charting, "an activity key to survival as a castaway," says the gallery. Don't you love his work? (Above: Everything I Have. Below: One Hundred Mix CDs for New York.)
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cars wallpapers

Drifting to the Dark Side

    by Nancy

    I was seriously tempted to blame this blog on Anna Campbell.  Her tortured heroes and tormented heroines make for darker reading (although fabulous!) than I usually think of when romance comes to mind, and I find myself reading darker books lately than I once did.   The change struck me when I finished Tempt the Devil.  I loved it but realized it was a far darker book than I'd thought of myself as liking.   When I looked back, however, I realized my drift toward the Dark Side of the Force started a long time ago.  I just didn't stop to recognize it.   Today I'm going to trace that drift.  As you read, please think of your own preferences and what shaped them because we'll come back to that later.

    Here are some springboard questions:  Do you prefer Fitzwilliam Darcy or Heathcliff?  Georgette Heyer's Marquis of Alverstoke or Charlotte Bronte's Mr. Rochester?  Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?  Aragorn or Acheron?  Superman or Batman?  Stargate SG-1 or Battlestar Galactica? Hugh Jackman as Leopold in Kate and Leopold or as Wolverine in X-Men?  Hugh Jackman as Whoever?

    Once upon a time, I would have chosen the first option, the less tormented one, in every one of the questions.  Heyer's Earl of Worth (Regency Buck) was about as dark as I wanted to go.  Somewhere along the way, something happened.  My tastes have been going darker for a long time, but I just didn't notice.  It was sort of like drifting on a raft in the ocean and suddenly realizing the shore had receded.

    I think it started when a college friend gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  She was appalled that I, who so loved comic books and science fiction, had never read it.  If you've read the books or seen the films, you know this is not a story of sweetness and light.  Frodo struggles with the ring and ultimately succumbs to its lure.  Boromir, a hero of his people, falls from grace in attempting to steal it, only to redeem himself by dying in vain for Merry and Pippin.  At the end, Frodo finds that the peaceful, pastoral Shire holds no peace for him.  I hated that ending and still do, but somewhere along the way, I came to see it as right.  I can't tell you how many times I've read that trilogy.  I've lost count.

    In high school, I hated and despised Wuthering Heights.  I still wouldn't go so far as to say I like it.  Neither Cathy nor Heathcliff is likely to be anyone's BFF, and I can't see either of them as pleasant company.  Yet I now find the story compelling and the character study fascinating.  I admire the book despite its dark undercurrents.

    A lot of the 1980s romance novels were very dark in their sexuality and in the characters' experiences.  I read many of those books and have kept a handful all this time (Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss, for example because Ruark was so great even though Shanna was a brat for most of the book).   I read plenty of books with less tormented characters--everything I could find by Patricia Rice, Mary Jo Putney, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, and Jayne Ann Krentz's various incarnations, to list just a few.  These characters had experiences ranging from the painful to the horrible, but they mostly weren't brutal, as in those 80s books.  Of course, a lot of the brutal things that happened in those earlier books didn't seem to have realistic aftermaths for the characters, which made them slightly unreal and perhaps less disturbing than they would have been a newspaper story.  As I write this, I'm realizing that the books I kept didn't have a lot of physical or sexual brutality and had the hero and heroine with each other and no one else.

    Then there're the late Dame Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles.  Francis Crawford of Lymond could be the poster boy for tortured heroes.  I made it halfway through the first book, The Game of Kings, and phoned the friend who'd given it to me for Christmas.  "Is there anybody in this book besides this blind girl I'm going to like?" I asked, after a more tactful leadup.  There was a short silence, and she replied, "Well, I can't promise, of course, but I think if you keep reading you'll be glad you did."  Oh.  My.  Word.  The last hundred pages or so turned everything inside out, and I adored Lymond, who had come across as a serious jerk until then.  I bought the other five massive paperbacks, reading every spare minute, reading before work, through lunch lunch, reading far into the night, and finished them all in under week. (No, I didn't have much of a life beyond work then.)  When my mom and I went to England, I found the equally massive hardbacks at Foyle's bookstore and lugged them home in my suitcase.

    Science fiction and fantasy did their part in leading me toward darker waters.   Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody series is extremely well done but isn't for the squeamish.  As I reached the halfway mark in the first book, Rhapsody, I found myself wondering why I was still reading and concluded it was because I had to know what happened.  Even in comic books, the stories I found most engaging were the ones in which the heroes had the most to overcome.  Which may explain the appeal of Battlestar Galactica, which I don't love the way Trish does but can't seem to stop watching anyway.  Yet if I had to list preferences in TV shows, I'd pick Stargate SG-1 or Heroes (which has taken a definite darker turn) over BSG despite giving BSG credit for grittier, more intricate plotting and characters, and how strange is that?

    Then there are the Dark-Hunters.  I put off reading this series because I had an unfortunate feeling that liking them would lead to obsessive serial reading, as with Lymond.  It did.  And the comic book geek in me wants to read in order, a habit with problems of its own if the next book doesn't happen to be in the store.  Every one of the dark-hunters died a horrible death.  That's part of their motivation.  And Acheron himself had a life brutal beyond horror.  But I asked for and got his book for Christmas and had devoured it by Boxing Day.

    I can no longer deny that I've drifted far from the bright shore and into the dark ocean.  I still love books that don't feature such heavy torment. The banditas run the gamut of light to dark, and the other books I've read in the last year fall i varying points on that spectrum.  In fact, those less brutal books are still the bulk of my reading.  The characters still have things to overcome.  I think that would be called conflict.   It doesn't have to be vicious, but it does have to be deep and difficult.  So maybe that's the answer, that I like the triumph after the arduous struggle and, with age, have come to appreciate the darker side of it more than I once did.

    So, getting back to our original questions--I pick Darcy over Heathcliff, Alverstoke over Rochester, Luke over Han (with respectful raspberries to Joan and Beth), Acheron over Aragorn by an molecule, SG-1 over BSG, Superman over Batman, and Wolverine over Leopold.  With a serious nod to the "Hugh Jackman as Whoever" option.

    What about you?  Do you gravitate more toward lighter or darker books?  What are your favorites in either category?
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