Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's Pole Dancin' Time!

    by Cassondra Murray

    Well, here we are. It's MAY! May Day. The day for dancing around the pole. I've always wanted to do that.

    NO, not THAT kind of pole. Y'all get your minds out of the gutter, will ya?

    I think it would be fun to participate in a Maypole dance. I've never even seen one. I don't know the history except that it is, you know, historic.

    And it's pretty, isn't it? I found this cool picture of one, and it's the perfect illustration of the way all of us as individuals, Bandits and friends, weave together and make something cool.

    It's a good illustration of the next month in the Lair too. Talk about your varied authors and subjects..WHEEEEEEE...let's go. The ceremonial May Pole is set up in the foyer, so everybody grab a ribbon, start the music, and let's weave something amazing!

    The first week starts out with the BANG ZIP ZING of fireworks as we celebrate the Second Anniversary of the elfreda ica Blog. Yup, two years and still as loony as ever. TOMORROW, May 2nd, Aunty Cindy and Jeanne will host the anniversary celebration, including a fun title contest and prizes, and we'll follow that with a monster lineup of guests all next week.

    For our first guest this month, Loucinda McGary, a.k.a. Aunty Cindy will host Kris Kennedy. On May 4th, Kris will join us in the Lair to celebrate the release of her debut novel, The Conqueror, a medieval historical set in 11th century England. That guy on the cover has a, don't y'all think?

    On Tuesday, 5th May, Amanda McCabe, Diane Gaston and Deb Marlowe invade the lair to talk about their new anthology of linked Regency novellas, THE DIAMONDS OF WELLBOURNE MANOR.

    With that lineup, it's bound to be a typical Anna-Campbell-style day in the lair, isn't it? Scandalous. Passionate.

    Need I say more?

    On May 6, Contemporary Romance queen and New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery will join Kate Carlisle to talk about reality TV and romance. Yes, there really is a connection!

    Okay, we're smokin already, and it's only the middle of the week, but it's gonna get hotter before the week's over.....

    Join us on the 7th for a Blazin' Good Time when we host 5 Fabulous Blaze authors! Our own Tawny Weber will be here along with Marie Donovan, Kira Sinclair, Jillian Burns and Jennifer LeBrecque to discuss their May Blaze releases and which of their heroes they'd want to be stranded with on a desert island.

    I'll take one of each please.

    WHAT?!!! (Cassondra gives a nervous look around at the evil glares of the other Banditas.)

    We'll be pulling out all the stops and bringing in extra cabana boys for this one. Hey, somebody has to call the cabs for us and help us find the door when it's over, right?

    Honestly I'm not sure I've ever seen this many incredible authors in the Lair all within the span of a week. And we're not done!

    May 8th sees the return of Lair favorite, Virginia Kantra. Anna Sugden will welcome Virginia to celebrate the launch of the third book in her fabulous Children of the Sea series - Sea Lord.

    Sheesh, what a way to start our anniversary month!

    We'll give the guests a break for a week or so, but the fun won't stop. The 9th is the official release date of Trish's Harlequin American, Her Very Own Family. WOOOHOOOO TRISH! Trish will celebrate later in the week.

    Then on May 19th Anna Cambell is back, this time with debut historical romance author Beverley Eikli . Beverly visits us to discuss her writing journey (which is fascinating and involves residences across several continents) and her new release LADY SARAH'S REDEMPTION.

    But Anna's not done. She's on a roll.......

    On Thursday, May 21st, Bandita favorite Nicola Cornick returns to talk about her new book, THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS. It's the first in a three-book series called THE BRIDES OF FORTUNE which gets back-to-back releases in June, July and August. Not only that, but for Nicola Cornick junkies, there's also an ebook prequel called THE SECRETS OF A COURTESAN.

    As Anna would say, Huzzah!

    (Ladies and Gentlemen, Anna Campbell will now be lying down to rest for a bit after her recent exertion with all of these guests.)

    Wait. That didn't sound quite right.

    May 22nd we're so pleased to welcome one of our dear friends, Esri Rose. Esri is another of the '06 Packers (she finalled in the Golden Heart the same year as all of us). Anna Sugden has lured Esri back to the Lair to celebrate the launch of the second book in her series about tall, gorgeous elves living in Boulder, Colorado, Stolen Magic.

    May 26th Nancy Northcott hosts Stephanie Bond. Stephanie visits the lair to celebrate three back-to-back spring releases in her sexy Body Movers mystery series, 4 Bodies and a Funeral (April), 5 Bodies to Die for (May), and 6 Killer Bodies (June). She'll discuss "When Characters Do Things That Make You Crazy."

    Uh...that would be constantly.

    Anna Campbell's back up on Wednesday, May 27th with Aussie historical romance author Sara Bennett . Sara returns to the lair to share the story behind her latest book, LED ASTRAY BY A RAKE, the first in a new series from Avon called THE HUSBAND HUNTER'S CLUB.

    Good lands, Anna's busy this month. SVEN! Bring Anna a tessane would you? Isn't that what historical authors traditionally force down their overworked heroines' throats? Wait. What's that Anna? What do you mean you'd rather have a margarita? Mango flavored you say? Oh, and you're running a contest on your website too? Okay, y'all hold on for details of Anna's contest. (Anna's a good sport, isn't she, letting me abuse her like this?) (evil grin, looks nervously over shoulder)

    We're ending the month as strong as we started, with two more fantastic guests. On May 28th, Suz will welcome Nancy Haddock to the Lair. Nancy will be talking about the second book in her Paranormal Vampire Series, Last Vampire Standing, in which a stand-up comic vampire is in jeopardy!

    On May 29th, Christine Wells brings Double RITA nominee Sherry Thomas to the lair! Sherry will join us to talk about her upcoming historical release, NOT QUITE A HUSBAND.

    WHAT???? What did Anna say? Dont' forget about the contest? I won't, I WON'T, I promise. Hang on though.

    Have y'all noticed that we normally do these monthly overviews on the first day of the month? Well, we're not doing that next time because we're screaming into June without even slowing down. And because...drum roll please...JUNE 1ST IS JEANNE'S RELEASE DAY, WOOHOOOOO!!!!!

    June 1st, put your dancin shoes on and leave your business manners at the door cuz the Lair will be rockin' for the release of Dark and Deadly, book number two for The Duchess herself, Jeanne Adams. That cover is just..well..HOT. Somebody fan me, will ya?

    Then on June 2nd, Christine Wells takes over the blog again, along with historical author Jennifer Haymore, to talk about Jennifer's June release, A Hint of Wicked.

    Whew. Sven, could I have something to drink now?

    NO? Whaddaya mean, no? Oh, the contest on Anna's website!

    Y'all don't have to wait until tomorrow to start winning stuff.

    Anna Campbell is running a Devil, Desire and the Desert King Contest! This contest closes May 31st, and the prizes are a great reading pack of signed books:

    TEMPT THE DEVIL by Anna Campbell


    An Advance Reader Copy of DESIRE UNTAMED by Pamela Palmer ( June 30, '09)

    In honor of Pam’s fantastic new series about shapeshifting warriors, Anna wants to know what animal you’d choose as your avatar if you were a shapeshifter. Her favorite answer wins the pack of books. Just email Anna on with your answers.

    For more information, visit the contest page on Anna’s website:

    But for NOW, here in the Lair, tell me...what do y'all know about dancin' around poles? (No, not that kind, though as long as you keep it PG, if you feel the need to self-disclose.....)

    Do you know how the maypole dance got started? How old it is? Have you ever been a part of this May 1st ritual?

    What's your favorite part of the month of May? School's out? Flowers? Warm weather(or cooler weather if you're in the Southern Hemisphere?) The start (or the end) of pool seasonSource URL:
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Before and after

Kanafe Recipe

    Kanafe or Knafeh originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus in the modern-day West Bank, where it is filled with Nabulsi cheese. Another name for kanafe is Konafa Nabulsiyye. It plays a central role in Palestinian cuisine and is the most famous throughout the Arab world.

    Kanafe is also found in the Balkans and is a feature of Lebanese, Jordanian, Turkish, Greek, and Levantine cuisine.

    Serves: 8-10
    Difficulty: Easy
    Prep and Cook time: 1 hour

    • 1 package Kataifi (shredded phyllo/fillo dough)
    • 3 sticks of sweet cream butter melted
    • 1 15oz package of ricotta cheese
    • 1 cup shredded mozerella
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 3 tablespoons samolina or farina
    • 1 cup Mediterranean simple syrup for serving
    • Ground pistachios for garnish

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • In a large bowl, crumble the kataifi (about 3/4 of the package) with your hands and then add melted butter and mix completely. Put half of the mixture in the bottom of a non-stick pan and spread out as a crust.
    • In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese and mozerella cheese. In a small pan slightly heat the milk for 1 minute and add the samolina and cook for 30 seconds, then add the mixture to the cheese mixture and combine well. Pour cheese mixture in the pan on top of the kataifi crust and spread evenly. Place the rest of the kataifi mixture evenly on top of the cheese mixture to form another crust on top.
    • Place pan in oven and cook at 350-400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Take out and let stand for 30 minutes and then invert into a nice plate and garnish with ground pistachio nuts. Serve with simple syrup.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brenda Novak's in the Lair

    We're thrilled to welcome back NY Times Best-selling Romantic Suspense author Brenda Novak! Drumroll please!!

    Brenda's my long-time friend, mother of five, and wife to hottie Ted. And she's flat-out the nicest person I know. Oh, yeah, and the author of 32 books. She also sponsors a hugely successful Online Auction for Diabetes Research.

    Brenda, I know the auction is a project near to your heart. Can you tell us a little about it?
    Third Auction Coupon winner is our very own Bandita CAREN CRANE -- yay, Caren!!

    Brenda: When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at five years old, I knew enough about the disease to realize he would require constant care,
    but the long list of side effects really threw me. I thought if we gave him insulin, and he suffered through the many fingertip pricks and shots, he'd be fine. Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily the case. Diabetes affects every major organ--your heart, your kidneys, your liver, your nerves, etc.


    Then I thought about the number of people facing the same risks and knew I had to fight back. I decided it might be smart to do an event on my web site so that my fans and publishing friends could participate--and the idea for my auction was born. This will be auction #5. Last year, we raised $252,300. This year we're shooting for $300,000.

    We have over 2,000 fabulous items up for auction, many of which you can't get anywhere else. And this year we'll have something new--$1 "Buy it Now" opportunities for aspiring writers. This will enable them to get their work in front of some of the most prestigious agents and editors in publishing for only $1. I will randomly list these items throughout the auction--it could be in any category--and the first person to find such an item will be able to buy it for only $1! There will be other fun $1 "Buy it Now" auctions for those who are not writers.

    Jo: Wow, Brenda! I love the new $1 “Buy It Now” opportunity! I've participated every year in the Auction since its beginning and love the excitement of bidding and the good feeling of knowing my money's going to a worthy cause. Can you tell us some of the items that are up for bid this year?

    Brenda: One of my personal favorites is Anna DeStefano's Coach handbags. Who doesn't love a good handbag? LOL Or Dianne Despain's antique jewelry. I just got an antique cameo worth $600 from Kathryn Caskie. There are meet and greets with editors and agents, a fabulous painting from my all-time favorite artist Marilyn Sears Bourbon (I own three of her paintings and want more!), a whole list of fabulous offerings from Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love and Mary Buckham, a complete collection of Christine Feehan's wildly popular DARK series (all autographed), a stay in Nora Roberts' inn, opportunities for people to name a character in various authors' books (authors like legal thriller writer John Lescroart!), lunch with Barry Eisler in San Francisco, a handmade quilt from Anne Stuart, and over 100 autographed books from Booklovers Bookstore, including an autographed copy of one of the best books ever written--CLAN OF THE CAVEBEAR by Jean M. Auel.

    The second winner of the $25 Auction Coupon is, ta da -- CrystalGB. Congratulations!
    I could go on and on. There's SO much in this year's auction--something for everyone. And these items make unique gifts. You could immortalize your friend, sister or mother by buying the "name a character" item. How fun would it be to give that away?

    Jo: You can find out more about the auction and the items for bid at Brenda's website -- Check it out! You don’t have to wait until May 1, when the auction officially starts to see what’s available and plan your strategy for bidding. The elfreda ica have a basket up for Auction this year and we’d love one of our readers to win it!

    Now, let's hear something about your new series, Brenda. I know the books are The Perfect Couple, The Perfect Liar, and The Perfect Murder. The titles are so intriguing. Tell us more
    about them.

    Brenda: I'm excited about these books! They're all part of my Last Stand series that began last year with TRUST ME, STOP ME & WATCH ME, but they're only loosely connected, both to the series and to each other, so they also stand on their own.

    In THE PERFECT COUPLE, Zoe Duncan’s thirteen-year-old daughter goes missing from her own backyard while home sick from school and private investigator Jonathan Stivers is called on to help find her. But he's never had fewer leads to work with--and is sure of only one thing: Sam was taken by someone close to the family. He has no idea how close until he realizes that the “perfect” couple next door is anything but...

    Jo: Ooooh, I love the premise of that story! Additionally, anyone who buys a copy of THE PERFECT COUPLE in the first week it comes out and sends Brenda the receipt will have the opportunity to join her fan club and receive a Brenda Novak tote with goodies. See details at THE PERFECT COUPLE comes out Tuesday, July 28 so you'll need to buy it between July 28 and August 5 to be eligible.

    Brenda: THE PERFECT LIAR is about obsession. After air force captain Luke Trussell goes home with the wrong kind of woman, he's falsely accused of rape, putting his career and his reputation at stake. He didn't force his attentions on the woman who's been coming on to him for months, but she has the bruises--and the DNA evidence--to make her claim convincing. And Karina Harter is determined to have him, or make him pay.…

    In THE PERFECT MURDER, investment banker Sebastian Costas is trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. The evidence suggests a murder-suicide, but something he heard the week before the killings won't allow him to accept that. He believes her second husband, a cop, killed
    her and the boy, then faked his own death. But proving it isn't easy--or safe.

    Jo: These books sound wonderful. Look for THE PERFECT COUPLE's release on July 28.

    Okay, now for a quick personality test. Will the REAL Brenda Novak please weigh in with her answers?

    1. Favorite food? Thai food--Yellow curry (spicy ) I also love pizza, but I know that would make me sound like too much of a kid, sort of like picking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

    2. Preferred sleeping wear? Comfortable underwear

    Jo: No need to elaborate!

    3. Hugh Jackman or Daniel Craig?

    Hugh. I think he’s gorgeous, but I’m sort of mad at him right now. LOL I was planning on offering a day on the set and lunch with him as part of a promotion for my next book, and his publicist got involved AFTER I had it all lined up and screwed it all up. So sad…

    Jo: Ah, now, that just breaks my heart. Hugh's quite popular in the Lair and as you can see, we're on a first name basis with him.

    4. Favorite non-romance writer?

    Wow--too many to pick just one. Margaret Mitchell is probably my all-time favorite. I think she’s as good as Charles Dickens at characterization. Someone who's still alive and writing? Philippa Gregory would be one. I read THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL while on a three-day drive to Cabo San Lucas with my entire family (yes, we drove!) and couldn’t put it down. Janet Evanovich is considered mystery, so I guess I can name her, too. :-)

    5. Most romantic place in the world?

    Prague. I visited the city last year and was captivated by its beauty. More than any other European city I’d seen on this particular trip (we drove through Germany, France, Italy, Monoco, and Austria, too) it felt we were stepping back to a far more romantic time and place. The famous Charles Bridge, which connects Old Town to Mala Strana was simply magnificent. And there seemed to be such an upbeat air to it all (whereas Venice had the feel of decay and ruin that made me depressed).

    Thanks for joining us today in the Lair, Brenda.

    Our final winner for a $25 Auction coupon goes to . . . wahooo!! RUTH C. Congrats, Ruth.

    Brenda and I have some special prizes for our Bandita readers and friends.

    First, throughout the day we’ll choose 4 random posters to win a $25 off coupon for Brenda’s Online Diabetes Auction. Check back often to see if you've won. Meanwhile check out the auction items at Brenda's website.

    Second, at the end of the day one lucky poster will receive a free autographed copy of STOP ME, the book that was just nominated for a Rita.

    Okay, readers, it’s your turn to weigh in. Ask Brenda anything you want to know about her career path, writing process, the auction, or her books.

    Or, if you’d like to play the game, what are YOUR answers to the five questions above?

    And don't forget to come back to see if you've won the $25 Auction Coupon!
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Beautiful natural wallpaper


Modern-day Annie Hall

Personal Grooming & Other Dangerous Hobbies

    by Susan Sey

    My curling iron exploded last week.

    Okay, so maybe exploded isn't the right word as it implies flames & suchlike. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say my curling iron spontaneously disassembled itself. While I was using it.

    It was a shock at the time. There I was, holding a tube of million-degree metal inches from my eyeball when one of the screws holding it all together shot across the room. I had just enough to time think, "What the hell was that?" when the other screw shot out, too, & the whole deal went SPROING (seriously, it made that noise) as the clampy bit that grabs your hair hurtled across the room at high velocity.

    I wish I could say this came as a surprise but it didn't. Not really. For some time, I'd been contemplating putting the old girl out to pasture. It was at least a decade old. The plastic bit that keeps your thumb from roasting alive had disappeared years ago. The little foot that keeps it from melting your bathroom counter? Same thing.

    But my inner eco-warrior kept saying, "Oh come on. You use it, what? Like once a quarter? You really want to toss this one in the landfill while it still adequately bends your hair?"

    Well, yeah. Yeah I did. But I want lots of things I probably shouldn't have. Dessert for breakfast. An unlimited supply of paperback books. A reason (any reason, please lord) to skip the gym. And since my idea of personal grooming rarely extends beyond showering, brushing my teeth & using deodorant, could I really justify a new curling iron?

    Clearly I could not.

    Was I being frugal? Environmental? Stingy? Careless?

    Nah. I think I just hate change. I liked my old curling iron. It had an on button, an off button & it curled the hell out of my hair. (No easy feat, that. Teflon only wishes it was my hair.) Now I have to go back to the dance & find a new partner, which a recent trip to the beauty aisle at Target has assured me will be complicated. Nano-ceramics will, apparently, be invovled. Jeesh.

    Now some people like newness for newness' sake. I am not one of those people. I will wear underpants until they are nothing but a band of elastic. I once owned a car that required a set of instructions if anybody besides me drove it. ("The gas gauge doesn't work so you'll have to reset the trip tyche every time you fill up & calculate your mileage to see when you're due for a fill up. You also have to roll down the window & let yourself out the drivers' side door as the inside handle's broken. Speaking of the driver's side window...")

    I think maybe it's not newness I dislike so much, but the choosing. I hate trying to pick out the best new thing from a whole bunch of other new things. It's so much pressure. What if I choose badly? What if I screw it up? What if it's an expensive mistake? What if the choosing process forces me to acknowledge unflattering truths about myself? (Underwear shopping is great for letting those unflattering truths out of the bag, by the way. I'll bet I'm not the only girl out there wearing her unders to shreds.)

    Same goes for starting a new book. Is this the right hero? The right heroine? The right match up? What if this other guy's better? Is this the right tone? The right conflict? The right place to start? I have probably written more Chapter Ones than any person on the face of the planet. And it's all because I'm the kind of girl who holds onto her curling iron until it explodes on her.

    So how about you? Do you hold onto stuff (or habits or theories or people) until they blow up on you? Or do you thrive on novelty? Does new give you a kick or a headache? What was the last thing you kept too long, from leftovers to an outgrown boy/girl friend?Source URL:
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Demon Booty!

    We have booty to give away! Lisa Shearin is graciously giving a Raine Benares gift basket to one of the commenters on her guest day. The basket includes all three Raine Benares books and assorted other goodies!

    The winner is (drumroll, please . . .) Suzana! Congratulations, Suzana.

    Please email and arrange to collect your winnings!

    To everyone who didn't win, thanks for stopping by and better luck next time!Source URL:
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You Have Won ... Bandita Booty!!

    Okay, no, it's not £1,500,000,000.00, but it's practically as fabulous!! :-)

    The random winner of an autographed copy of Homicide in Hardcover is . . .


    Congratulations, Pissenlit! Please send your snail mail address to me at and I'll send you the book ASAP!

    Thanks to all for a fun day of dreaming!!

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Bandita Booty!!

Reverse birds


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