Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oooo, Scaaaaarrreeee...

Hallowe'en Conundrum:


Or Frank?


Not so scary news about a woman who writes a pretty eerie/sexy neo-gothic love story:

Eve Silver
Nov. 1

She's lots of fun -- and a regular Bella -- so drop by and ask her about her latest hero in the kitchen. What is it about her dark, hot guys and sensual eating anyway?

Don't forget to head over to ConnieBrockway.com to find out who the genuine Lutheran Church Ladies chose as the winner of Connie's RBtheBlog HOT DISH Hot Dish Contest!
Encore due! Grazie Smart Bitches for visiting yesterday! If I promise not to whack your knuckles with a ruler for getting out of hand -- if I, in fact, encourage it -- will you promise to visit again?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Smart Bitches GuestBlog: That Thang We Do

Just in time for Hallowe'en: Two Scary Bitches. I mean, these chicks are frighteningly funny and smart, and recently got an (oblique) nod from NY Times -- although since the Times got all missish about printing their blog name, out of bitchnost (a form of solidarity) I'm jumpin to the Journal as my paper of choice.

Ellora's author, Cynthia Williams, turned me on the Bitches last fall, and since then I've enjoyed watching them take romance by storm with their fusion of intelligent analysis and outrageous behavior. Am I envious? Youbetcha. Paraphrasing what Sarah once wrote me, "one day, Michelle, you, too, may be able to write about scrotums and man-titty for the rest of the Free World."

For now, I can only dare to dream, and ask you to give our very special GuestBloggers a warm Bella welcome. Ladies...

Hi there! Thanks for having us guest-blog. If you've visited our site, and we have to warn you, thar be saucy language, matey, you know we dish out frank reviews of romance novels.

We started our site because we were finding that honest, incisive reviews of romance novels were in short supply, and we wanted to treat romance novels with the samSB Sarahe critical techniques that are applied to any other piece of fiction.

Sarah: So how do I write a review? First, hold on to your pencils: I read the book. My technique is to dog ear the top corner of a page where something bothered me, and dog ear the bottom corner of a page that contained something unique, charming, clever, or just plain good. At the end of my reading a book, you can somewhat tell how my review will go based on how many upper and lower "teeth" the book has.

Candy and I don't always agree on our grading, and when we do tandem reviews we're often a grade or more apart. Thus we never established a rubric against which we would both grade romances. But I can tell you that an A+ book is generally a well-crafted romance with vivid characters and genuine emotion. But it always does more than just entertain: an "A" book can also reveal or subvert the structure of romance, and reexamine elements that we readers take for granted.

When that happens, I'm challenged mentally and emotionally - and that's precisely what critics who rage against romance miss. Romance can be both entertaining and thought-provoking, and the best of the books I've read and graded are both.

Candy: My methods don't differ that much from Sarah's. When I read a book for review, I dog-ear pages if something is bothering me. Because I was raised to treat books really, really well, I don't dog-ear casually; the badness must be truly noteworthy in order for me to sully the pristine innocence of a page with my rampaging fingers (snerk).

Unlike Sarah, I don't bother to dog-ear any pages that contain brilliance--I like to think it's because I don't need special reminders for the good bits of a book. Not because I'm a stone-cold beyotch who focuses on the bad, no no no. *halo*

I also like to have the book stew and kick around for a little while in my head before I write the review--I'm looking for the aftertaste of the book, so to speak. I like some books quite a bit right after I finish them, but as time goes on, I find they don't leave much of an impression.

Others have the opposite effect: the more I think about them, the more I appreciate certain subtleties that escaped me while I was reading them. The way I feel about a book can also change slightly as I write about it; the process of articulating what I think or feel about a book often has a clarifying effect.

A book that gets an A from me is one that drags me into its world and refuses to let me go, one that engages me on every level, especially intellectually and emotionally. I do distinguish between books I enjoy reading and books that really matter to me; the latter category is quite sparsely populated, but there's certainly a romance novel or three kicking around in there.

A romance novel that gets an A grade from me is one that satisfies me intellectually and emotionally, one that grips me and drags me into its world and refuses to let me go. I do distinguish between books I really enjoy and books that actually impact me and the way I feel and think, that become important to me; either types of books can receive As from me, but an A for the latter category is relatively rare.

So on to our discussion question: What books rank among the best romance you've ever read?Have you read a romance that reaffirmed what you love about the genre, but also challenged you to think about romance in an entirely new way?
Encore! Above may be the only known photos in cyberspace of SB Sarah and SB Candy. They also sent along 2 photos each of fave snaxy guys. Can you match the guy with the SB?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

You Say Biyotch, I Say Biatch

No matter which part of the romance hood you call home -- and how you choose to spell the trickle-down pop language we "non-urban" chicks know we'd sound really stupid saying out loud -- you'll agree there's nobody quite like those Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels.

That's why I invited em and -- yippee --

Smart Bitches' Sarah and Candy GuestBlog
Tomorrow, Oct. 30

with their white gloves and party manners in tow.


Encore! If you don't know the bliss of Smart Bitches' brand of inspired bitchery, hie yourself over to www.TrashyBooks.com and study up.
Encore due! Don't waste your time going to smartbitches.com. There are so many better online porn sites.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Time's A'Wastin'

It's that time of year again, and Dave and I are trying to think of awesome couples costumes and comin up with a big, fat punkinhead of a zero.

Last year, we did a great job with make up, but we're still peelin spirit gum out of unmentionable places.

Two years ago, this one got us thrown out of the Minnetonka Knights of Columbus Annual All Saint's Eve Feast (We tried to tell em it was a tribute to Home Depot, but after our Hillbilly Kissin Kuzzins Kostoom of the year before -- complete with inflatable, detachable 'luvin lamb -- they weren't gonna cut us any slack).

Can you help us, please? What're the best couples costumes you've worn? Seen? Been mortified by?

Encore! Grazie Rocki St. Claire (she said we can call her Rocki cause we're good friends now) for your very fun GuestBlog yesterday. We can't wait for you to return Friday, Dec 22 for your "Christmas and Clooney" GuestBlog!
Encore due! Smart Bitches invade Monday!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Roxanne St. Claire GuestBlog: Simply Irresistible

I e-met Roxanne St. Claire after one of her readers wrote to tell me about Rocki's "Killer Curves." Since then, Rocki's signed on for a couple NASCAR novels in addition to her Bullet Catcher series.

Last July at RWA national, I got to meet her in real life at a breakfast given by her publicist, the very classy Nancy Berland. Roxanne is herself a classy chick, as well as a lovely person (yes, inside and out).

When she sent me this GuestBlog, she said she was gonna write about he appeal of bodyguards, then figured: they're big and sexy, they protect you. What's there to discuss? Good point. So, let's give Rocki a big Bella buongiorno and see what she's got in store...

Buogiorno, Bellas! I’m a little bleary-eyed today because in the wee hours of this morning, fighting a rare bout of insomnia, I indulged in one of my favorite guilty pleasures…channel surfing with a glass of Kendall Jackson, a bowl of Lays and nary a child or husband in sight to roll their eyes in disdain as I lingered over The Top 101 Sexiest Lips in Hollywood.

But one click of the remote brought everything to a standstill. When an F-14 buzzes the tower and Maverick is the fighter pilot, I’m in for the ride. Okay, say what you will about Tom Cruise, but "Top Gun" is irresistible to me. I know every scene, every line, every camera shot designed to make Kelly McGillis look petite, and yet I cannot change the channel until the Righteous Brothers sing and Pete Mitchell gets the (tall) girl.

Don’t you think that certain movies (and books!) are, for some inexplicable reason, utterly irresistible? I’m not talking about classics like Gone With The Wind or sheer works of genius like Silence of the Lambs. Sure, they’d make my top ten favorite movies, but I’m intrigued by the flicks that are more like comfort food -- tempting, delicious and satisfying every time, no matter how many times you indulge.

I’ve got dozens on my list: tear-jerkers like "An Affair to Remember" and sugar shocks like "Overboard," toe-curlers like "Officer and a Gentlemen" and heart-wrenchers like "Now Voyager." And, of course, I’m a sucker for the protective stud and the vulnerable beauty we met in "The Bodyguard." In one cinematic moment, Kevin Costner elevated the job from husky to hunky – and I’m happy to keep the standard high with my Bullet Catchers series. There’s nothing quite like a bodyguard to die for.

So, what are some of your irresistible movies? What’s the one film you cannot turn off, the one that makes you stop, drop and watch even though you can recite every line of dialogue?

I’d love to know because when I write a book, I’m always going for the irresistibility factor.

Like this guy…Johnny Christiano, a Bullet Catcher coming this April in TAKE ME TONIGHT.

Now that’s simply irresistible.


Visit RoxanneStClaire.com for great Bullet Catcher trailers and bios.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


March 2007

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Connie Brockway GuestBlog: Hot Dish Contest? You Betcha

Wicked smart with an insanely devious sense of the ironic, Connie Brockway is a former Mrs. Minnesota who wowed judges with her flaming baton routine performed to the University of Minnesota Pep Band's rendition of "The Theme from Titanic."

OK. I just wrote that because she likes to rib Lisa Kleypas and me about being old queens. But the first part's true, and nowhere more evident than in her debut contemporary, "Hot Dish," out Nov. 7th.

I wanted not to like it cause, as you know we dig her historicals here and want her to write more of those men like Harry and Kit who are dynamic men, dynamic in all ways. Anywayz, "Hot Dish" is tremendously good, and Connie's a lot of fun, so give her a big Bella buongiorno...
Minnesotans are a subtle people. While others exchange opinions and views through in-your-face methods like ...talking, we here in the heartland use abstract and arcane methods of communicating. Like cooking.

Take “hot dish.” At first glance “hot dish,” that quintessential Minnesota answer to the Italian bravado called Lasagna, that upstart bit of Greek culinary nonsense termed moussaka, and the French affectation entitled Cassoulet, is simply a hearty, easy to produce sort of casserole.

Legend has it that “hot dish” was created by a never-to-be named --because that would be self-aggrandizement and therefore *wrong*(it was Hildie Osterland)-- over-worked woman preparing food in the Good Sam Lutheran Church basement for the Dahlquist funeral.

She was just setting out the jello mold when one of her Circle Sisters called with the completely unacceptable excuse that she was “a little under the weather” and therefore incapable of bringing the promised Swedish meatballs to the church.

The unnamed woman (Hildie) fell to her knees- no, not in prayer but to scrounge around the bottom shelf of the basement kitchens food stores, seeking inspiration. Inspiration came in the form of a can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, a bag of elbow macaroni and a freezer full of raw hamburger patties left over from the Boy Scout Jamboree. A bag of potato chips and five pounds of shredded American cheese later, “hot dish” was born.

Since then, a thousand hot dish recipes have been created on the spur of the moment by frugal, practical and phlegmatic Minnesotans. How does this have anything to do with communicating? Well, at their best hot dishes are delicious, nourishing, comforting and familiar. The worst are perfunctory, unappetizing, and filled with empty calories.

Get it? “Hot Dishes” are a metaphor for life. That’s right. And if you don’t believe me you need to watch more Ingmar Bergman movies. At least they are in my very very soon (November 7th) to be released contemporary entitled, you guessed it, HOT DISH!

So, in honor of the very very soon to be released HOT DISH, I’m challenging you to

Submit your favorite hot dish recipes today, which will be judged by a panel of authentic Lutheran Basement Church Ladies based on the following criteria:

1> Must include three of the four following ingredients: noodles, canned soup, processed cheese, ground or canned meat.

2> Originality—but
not too original. We’re talking Minnesota hot dish here, not Iowa.

The winner will be announced Nov. 1 on my site www.conniebrockway.com where you can also see a trailer of HOT DISH. The prize? A Minnesota casserole in which to bake your own hot dishes and an autographed copy of my book, HOT DISH.

Thanks for reading!

Connie Brockway

ConnieBrockway.com and SquawkRadio.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Are You Into A Little BONDage?

He's Daniel Craig, the new James Bond.

Though I've seen some trashy Eurotab photos that would argue he's a big man in all ways, some say he's not alpha and, well, masculine enough to play Agent 007.

Really doesn't matter cause he got the part. And he looks totally righteous in the "Casino Royale" ads sidled up to a sleek, sexy Aston Martin. I luvs me some British rides. [Insert your own Fabio Cannavaro/Italian men bon mots for Michelle here]

Pierce Brosnan ('95-02)

So, are you a Bond girl? Who's your fave? Does the 007 mystique even appeal any longer?

George Lazenby ('69)

Roger Moore (73-85)

Sean Connery (L) ('62-71) Timothy Dalton (R) ('87-89)


Encore! Grazie mille Janice Maynard, Lori Foster, and Gemma Bruce for ushering in the holiday season for us. We hope you find lots of bargains, as well as time to relax and enjoy the season in the ways you love most. Come back soon!

Encore due! Congratulazione diana, cryna, readingissomuchfun, loretta, cathy, and karenb, you've won novels from yesterday's GuestBloggers! Send me your snail mail at romance@ibsys.com, and your novels will come your way soon!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Maynard, Foster, Bruce GuestBlog: 'Tis The Season

CONTEST!!! 6 lucky commenting Bellas will win a copy of either "A Very Merry Christmas," Wildest Dreams," "Suite Fantasy," "Night Before Christmas," "Santa Baby," or "Who Loves Ya, Baby?"

Lori Foster and Janice Maynard are two of my favorite people, two more women who deserve every bit of success they own because they work hard and are really good folk. I'm looking forward to e-meeting Gemma Bruce today, cause if she hangs with these two, she's gotta be somethin special. So, if we have to get in the holiday spirit (ugh) let's do it in a fun Bella way, as Janice suggests, and give the girls a welcome while we're at it...

Good morning, all! Lori, Gemma and I are happy to be GuestBlogging with the wonderful Michelle today! Because our anthology “A Very Merry Christmas” has hit the shelves, we thought we’d talk about one of our favorite subjects – the upcoming Christmas season. J

Lori and Gemma will both weigh in on the subject, but here’s today’s discussion topic…

What is your very favorite “thing” about the month of December?

We love to hear about everyone’s experiences – funny, serious, entertaining… so… “Ho, Ho, Ho”, and bring on the egg nog! (Which I loathe, by the way…) And don’t forget, we have many Jewish friends on our various loops, so Hanukkah is fair game as well!

Now, for “moi”, the Thanksgiving to Christmas rush is a wonderful thing. I am one of those “Monk” – type detail fanatics, so I do stuff way in advance, cards, gifts, wrapping, etc. This keeps me organized and happy, but it also eliminates that awful stressed feeling that interferes with enjoying sacred and secular activities and events.

I am a firm believer in living the Christmas spirit year-round, but it is wonderful to see people being generous and kind and thoughtful under the influence of that invisible holiday magic.

So here’s the bottom line… my Christmas CD’s are too many to count, “The Muppets Christmas Carol” is required viewing in our house, my twenty-something daughters think we “must” make iced cookies, and despite the mess, hubby and I opt for a live tree.

My name is Janice and I love Christmas. J

And now a word from the lovely Ms. Lori Foster… J

Smells. Sights. Sounds. Attitudes. I love everything about Christmas – except the cold, but hey, I can tolerate that for the warmth the season brings.

Everything about Christmas fills me with that giddy, special, thankful feeling. But the thing I love most is the spirit.

I don’t know if everyone feels it or not, but I do. In spades. It permeates the air, like the scent of baking cookies or cinnamon sticks or fresh cut evergreen. It brings hope, and it reminds us to be grateful while spurring us to generosity.

Everything else, the family gatherings and the festivities and bright lights and special gifts, are all a plus.

But for me, the pulsebeat of Christmas is the spirit.
I feel it building already, and I hope you do, too.

Ever feel like Christmas came and went and you missed it? After EBay, Amazon and trips to the mall. When the teenagers are fed and holed up in their rooms, I pour a glass of mulled wine and sit down with my tree.

I sip and breathe in spices and pine. I watch how the needles catch the light. How halos form behind the ornaments. No music, television, cell phone, or deadlines. Just me and my tree. Christmas is a time of fellowship, a time to share with family and friends and with those less fortunate than ourselves. For me, it’s also a quiet time, for listening, watching, and seeing.

Anyone else have a special Christmas ritual?


Encore! Grazie, Pamela Clare, for spending the weekend with us! We really enjoyed your take on romance, freedom of the press, snaxy Nathan Kamp, and "Hard Evidence." Please come back soon!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Pamela Clare GuestBlog: Real Heroes

Pamela Clare is an award-winning investigative journalist, mom, and novelist. How she finds time to do all she does -- and do it so well -- is beyond me.

She's warm and witty, and has been incredibly brave in ferreting out the truth in many of the news stories she's published, yet acts as if being threatened by ticked-off ne'er-do-wells is no thang.

Bellas, welcome a woman who writes fresh Old School historicals -- and writes contemporaries just as deftly. And she's talking today about a topic I'm quite fond of. Miss Pamela, speak on it...

Buongiorno, Bellas!

I have a very personal story I'd like to share with you --
and then a couple of questions.

First the story: Late on August 24, 1987, I was home alone with my 9-month-old baby boy and had just gone to bed, when two men with switchblades broke into my apartment. I heard them outside before they got in and managed to call 911.

Two police officers, Lt. Tim McGraw and Sgt. Gary Arai, arrived just in time to stop my attackers from raping me at knifepoint. They faced down two very violent criminals to save me and my baby even though they knew nothing about us.

When I wrote my most recent contemporary romansuspenseence, "Hard Evidence," I dedicated it to Tim and Gary. The book focuses on human trafficking, and Julian Darcangelo, the hero, is a former undercover FBI agent working with Denver police to catch a trafficking kingpin. Given the strong police angle of the story, it seemed right to honor the two law-enforcement officers who'd saved my life.

On the book's release date, I met with them for lunch to give them each a signed copy. I was shaking so hard when I signed their books that I almost couldn't write, and it took everything I had not to cry. "You are the real heroes," I told them.

Yes, I was rescued, and nothing I can ever say or do will be thanks enough.

Now, I'll confess that I'm a sucker for a strong alpha male. Aren't we all? But more than that, I love a protective man who's capable of rescuing his woman and who saves her at least once in the story.

I love smart, strong heroines, but I don't like it if they're so invincibly strong that the hero has nothing to do but follow them around giving them great sex. (That's probably one reason why I also write historicals.)

So here's my first question:

How do you define heroic?

My second question spins off of the character of Julian. Having spent his life fighting the horrid crime of sex trafficking, he's seen everything. His work in law enforcement has left him with deep emotional scars. Writing Julian was pure bliss because he was so strong and so profoundly hurt. I had, and still have a terrible crush on him.

In honor of Julian, here's the second question:

What's so darn sexy about a strong, wounded hero?

Visit Pamela Clare at PamelaClare.com for an excerpt from Hard Evidence.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just What The Doctor Ordered

I love my doctor. He's smart and funny, and every time I go to see him we end up talking about classical music or wine (his thing in life next to his family). And he always asks me how my project with the hot lit is going.

Anywayz, to kill time in the waiting room, I start reading "Hard Evidence," cause Pamela Clare is here tomorrow, Oct 20 to talk about one of our favorite subjects from a new angle.

Now, I adore Clare's historicals, and "Surrender" is the novel that started my Nathan Kamp journey. But Clare has managed to do what many cannot, write contemps every bit as well as her historicals.

Pamela is a really admirable woman, and I was lucky to spend time with her at RWA. I know you'll enjoy getting to e-know her.

Why aren't there many doctor/nurse romances anymore? What are some you've liked? (Erin McCarthy's "Houston, We Have a Problem" comes to mind) Have you ever had a crush on your doctor?

I once woke up from surgery and told a doctor I loved him. Alas, his 40+ self didn't return the sentiments of a 19-year-old.

Roxanne St. Claire (another Playfriend) and "Thrill Me to Death" are featured this week on Romance: B(u)y the Book! Roxanne GuestBlogs with us Oct 27. She is a delight. :)

And let me tell you. There is a scene in a car in this week's Old Flame, "Good Girls Don't" that is one of the sexiest I've read.


Encore! Congratulazione to Stacy and Bamabelle, you've won the Pirate Treasure! Please send your snail mail to romance@ibsys.com. In case you're wondering, the correct answers were (1) Linda Howard, Beverly Barton and Linda instead Jones, (2) private investigator, (3) she has a ripped bodice to mend and (4) Fabio Cannavaro AKA Canna.
Encore due! Grazie mille, Playfriends of Writing Playground for visiting here and sharing the swingset with me yesterday. We loved having another group of friends to play with; consider yourselves Bellas, and come back soon!