Saturday, December 30, 2006

Erin's New Year's Resolutions

Seven random resolutions for 2007:

1) Stop trying on jeans that haven't fit in years just to see if my thighs secretly shrunk when I wasn't paying attention (p.s. the picture at right is NOT me...)
2) Write book. What book? Um....
3) Figure out subject and plot for next book.
4) Cease biting nails during episodes of America's Next Top Model. The judging is important (all but one of the girls will continue on with the hopes of becoming America's Next Top Model!), but not enough so to chew off cuticles.
5) Remember to water Christmas tree all year long so I don't have to buy a new one in December 2007. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
6) Drink remaining red wine that was bought during Christmas trip to Sonoma, CA. (YES! I can probably achieve this in 2006 and be ahead of schedule on my resolutions!)
7) Train for try-outs for Dallas Cowboys cheerleading team.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Seven uses for an exercise ball during the holidays

Centerpiece




Gardener




Cook




Maid




Birdhouse




Babysitter




Ghostwriter for novel in progress

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The REAL holiday celebration

Okay, I really DO know the holidays are all about family and loved ones. But I am having a REAL holiday celebration right now, at 10 pm (at least here in Boston) on Dec. 28th.

I managed to scarf all kinds of cookies and whatnot and DIDN'T GAIN ANY WEIGHT!

Do not ask me how. There is truly a Christmas miracle happening at my house. All I know is that--for once--I am not going to be spending the first few weeks of January doing crunches and pounding out time on the elliptical machine to cover for holiday indulgences (I'll still exercise, because I'm just that way...but it'll be without holiday GUILT!)

Yay for miracles!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vex in the City. . .

Okay, so now we're down to the final stretch. Last minute gifts, last minute plans, last minute cards and a mad rush to get a new manuscript off my desk and onto my editor's before she takes off for the holidays. Not to mention a new haircut and a manicure so I can look good in all the family holiday photos. Right now, I'm busier than one of Santa's elves. In fact, I'm tired just writing about it. Still, you can't help but smile when you hear Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song, or a rousing rendition of Dominic the Donkey, now can you?

Somehow I've managed time for my new favorite hobby--walking into bookstores and turning all my books face out on the shelves. That's a little known secret all writers share--particularly here in New York where there are nearly as many authors as there are squirrels in Central Park. You can walk into any bookseller in the city and know exactly which authors have been there recently by the way they've rearranged the shelves. (If you live in South Florida and see my books face out on the shelves you can pretty much bet my parents have been there recently--this is a family obsession!) Of course I can't get to all 50 states, so if anyone out there is in a charitable mood and wants to rearrange a few of my ro-coms in their local B&N or Borders, I'd be grateful!

Anyway, I hope you all have amazing plans for the long holiday vacation. And I hope those plans involve curling up with a good romantic comedy novel, whether its on the beach somewhere warm, or by a fire at a ski resort somewhere. Enjoy your free time--you've all earned it.

Most importantly, let's all pray for peace in 2007. The time for peace is now!

xxoo

Nancy K.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Prizes and salsa and books, oh my!

Just a quick shout to remind everyone that today is my EMILY GOLDBERG giveaway on teensreadtoo.com. Check it out to win a fun prize package from yours truly.

Where are the Stockings?

Ack, I can't stop buying gifts for my kids! They're 17 and 20 years old, a boy and a girl respectively. I don't see that much of them anymore, and my daughter is away at college. So far, I'm ignoring buying gifts for anyone else, so don't expect to get anything from me, unless you're one of my kids. We celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, whatever you got. It's getting harder to fill the stockings than it used to be, that's for sure. You have to be creative, but it gives you more reason to go out and shop.

My wife and I sit around and look at each other and say, "Hey, it's just you and me again!" We've been married for 25 years, so we should have seen this coming. As a full-time writer since 1982, I have been Mr. Mom for a long time, and I still get am the only one capable of getting up at an early hour and making coffee. My teenage son came home from school sick to his stomach yesterday, and it looks like he'll be home today. You don't want to know what kind of weird stuff a high school junior can eat, and when he and his friends descend on the house, it's like the locusts have attacked. Nothing is left.

I haven't even gotten the Hannukah Bush up! Shame, shame. I don't know where the stockings are, but I definitely am in the Christmas spirit this year. I'd like to make this longer, but I have to go shop for my kids. Have a great Holiday, one and all!

CG

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Long live my video ipod!

Niki's post made me thing of a few things--namely, how a terrible flu sidelined me for the weekend, from the gym and any other activities that require the ability to stand up without passing out. Seriously, I was sick, Noah was sick, and even the dog was sick (ear infection). You know you're pathetic when you've run out of choices from "On Demand."

January 1st is just around the corner, and even if I weren't embarking on a whole lifestyle upheaval, I'd still probably be using the occasion to resolve to improve myself in one way or another. It's almost always the same thing: write something that inspires me, stop biting my nails, and of course...get in shape.

Noah doesn't know this, having met me only in the last year, but I used to be REALLY In Shape. I was one of those horrible people who go the gym every day. I ran--like crazy--and even ran a marathon in 2003.

These days, not so much. An old friend I hadn't seen in ages asked me how the running was going, and I had to break it to him that the only running I do these days is from the couch to the fridge during commercial breaks of "America's Next Top Model."

It was a lie. I have DVR. There is no such thing as a commercial break. Which may have something to do with my newfound sloth.

However, if technology is to blame for distracting me from my fitness regime, then it is also one of the only reasons I found my way back to the gym. Picture it: a chilly winter's eve last February, and a brand new "Grey's Anatomy" on my DVR. I could stay in and watch it, of course--and spend about fifty percent of my viewing time feeling guilty about skipping the gym. OR--I could download it from itunes onto my spankin' new video ipod (worth every penny, I tell you, and not just for Death Cab for Cutie bonus videos). And watch it--wait for it--AT THE GYM.

These days, I don't think I'd ever make it to the gym, were it not for itunes. Which may be weird or even slightly sick. But I don't care. Better than In Shape is In Moderation, and whatever gets you to move deserves its props. So I think, this year, in addition to all of the usual baloney, I've got a resolution that I can finally make stick:

Watch more tv.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who would you bring back?

I exercise at home. It's a combination of things that drive me to the elliptical machine in my basement rather than the fancier machines at a well-lit gym: I'm too lazy to make the haul and find parking, I hate having to wait for a machine, I love that I can exercise at midnight if I feel like it, and—most important of all—I like that I'm the one who controls the television set.

For the last month or so, I've been doing my workouts in front of Star Trek: Voyager. I loved the show from the moment it first aired, so allowing myself to watch the series only while I'm exercising is good incentive. I've finally gotten to the beginning of season four, where the telepathic character Kes leaves the show in favor of the Borg character Seven of Nine.

While I admire Jeri Ryan and the layers she gave to the character Seven of Nine (if you don't know who Jeri Ryan is, you can currently catch her on Shark, where she's fantastic), I really hated seeing Jennifer Lien, who portrayed Kes, get fired. She brought a vulnerability to the role that helped to balance the show's tougher aspects. She's a phenomenal actress, and I'd love to see her on television again.

Before I started on Star Trek: Voyager, I watched the entire series of Sports Night, the Aaron Sorkin series that centered on a fictional sports network. When Sports Night ended, many of its stars went on to other roles. Felicity Huffman is on Desperate Housewives, Josh Malina was on several seasons of The West Wing, and Peter Krause earned praise for his acting on Six Feet Under. Sabrina Lloyd recently appeared on Numb3ers. But since Sports Night, I haven't seen either Josh Charles anywhere. What gives? If I ran the world (which we all know is the way the world should be run...) I'd cast him in a starring role in a heartbeat.

What actors have you missed? Who would you want to see on television again? What kind of roles would you give them?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Taylor Hicks' album is out today!

This time last year, as I got my hair cut, the salon was a-buzz because a long-time client who'd just walked out had made it onto American Idol. I'm an American Idol groupie, so I started bouncing in my chair--which might have contributed to some odd layering I noticed in my hair later. I asked my stylist to tell me more about this guy.

She bent close to me and whispered, "He's weird."

Me: "Weird how?"

Stylist: "He has gray hair, and he won't let us color it."

Me: "Gray???"

I know, I know, Chris Daughtry was robbed. I was a fan of Chris. I was a huge fan of Elliott. I was a fan of Paris, and Bucky, and Sway, who did a great cover of Earth Wind & Fire. But I'm a Taylor Hicks fangirl. Why?

He grew up here in Birmingham. At 16, he was playing basketball for Hoover High (i.e., Two-A-Days) and sneaking out of the house to play his harmonica in biker bars. (Don't try this at home.)

He went to my alma mater, Auburn University, where I also taught freshman English. War Eagle!

He's a real musician. He paid his dues. He knows the old soul classics. He always thanks the band. In fact, he tried to convince the producers to let him take his Birmingham band on tour with him. He didn't take them all, but he did get his saxophone player. I watched this terrific band play with Taylor on local TV when he came to town for the parade in April. As a saxophone player myself, I was awed to see this guy play a soprano sax out one side of his mouth and an alto out the other. I was squinting at the TV, leaning to one side, thinking, "How does he--" turning upside down "--finger that?"

Most of all, I admire Taylor because he pursued an artistic endeavor for years against all odds. He beat his head against the wall until the sheetrock finally gave way. I have been through this myself. As I waited for MAJOR CRUSH to debut and watched American Idol last spring, it was enormously satisfying to see this hometown boy finally make good.

Who are you a fangirl (or manfan) of, and why?

My other idol, btw, is Jane Austen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

in praise of starbucks

First of all, I want to apologize for my insane DELAY in posting. The past couple weeks have been utter madness, what with a rush of holiday parties, my starting work on a new novel, friends in from out of town...you name it. Plus, I had some technical difficulties with the blog that our fearless leader, Jenn, helped take care of. Thanks, Jenn!

Today I thought I'd blog about Starbucks. Yes, they can be dirty, and crowded, and the coffee is insanely overpriced ("Fourbucks," as a friend of mine likes to call it). Yes, they're on every street corner in New York City, and have a monopoly on lattes, and probably have driven more than a few quaint, mom-and-pop coffee shops out of business.

But I am forever grateful to Starbucks.

As a writer, my local Starbucks has become my home away from home. I haven't caved in and signed up for a T-Mobile Hotspot account yet, so when I go there, I have no web access -- i.e. absolutely no reason to procrastinate. When I write at home, there are a million distractions -- the Internet (ooh, what's on Gawker today? ooh, did my friend in Boston just email me?), the fridge (I won't be able to write this next paragraph unless I have some chocolate), TV (ooh, the cast of Grey's Anatomy is on Oprah?!), my bed (just a LITTLE nap...). In Starbucks, it's just me, my table, my laptop, and lots of other people around me, also typing away. I put in my iPod earbods, turn up my music as loud as I can take it, and just FOCUS. It's amazing. Sometimes a crying baby will interrupt me, or some loud barristas will irritate me, but for the most part, I'm happy to be there, in an environment that just lets me work.

In some ways, Starbucks is a throwback to the old coffee houses of Europe, which became like homes to people, who lingered there all day, fell in love, talked politics, wrote novels, you name it. I like to observe the different kinds of people who come into Starbucks -- nervous couples on first dates who hide behind their mochas; moms with strollers who just need a time out; elderly ladies who take their time with their oversized cookies; and the Laptop People (like me), who for some reason or another don't want to work at home.

I know all writers have different preferences about where they work (I know Meg Cabot, for instance, writes on her bed!). But I'd recommend Starbucks to my fellow RoCom authors -- or at least suggest they try it. You never know where you might find inspiration. It could even be a coffee cup.

So what if I'm a starving student?

I'll still get to travel to far flung regions...at my computer, that is.
For those of you who are fans of the Penguin Students Across the Seven Seas series, I have some news--I'll be co-writing (along with the lovely Noah Harlan) a super-special for summer '08. It's an exchange program, taking place in DC and Australia (that's where Noah's traveling experience comes in handy). Should be a lot of fun to write--and hopefully, to read!


In the meantime, I am slowly counting down my last ten days here at work. I've gotten my reading list for the Vermont College winter workshop and am feeling equal parts overwhelmed and excited. Wish me luck! And happy holidays!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Growing up...slowly


As you can see from the photo, my brother and I have always gotten along great. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for my neck), now I see him only twice a year: during the summer and at Christmas. Our families meet at my mom’s house in the town where we grew up.

My mom’s house is a big house that accommodates 10 people, and everything goes fine...until the huge holiday gathering of my mom’s extended family. The house does not accommodate 50 people. Luckily, they don’t stay long. We eat, we play football, and then all but the original 10 go home.

Now, there comes a point in everyone’s life when you decide to stop freeloading off your mom and have the family gatherings at your own home. If you are 14 years old and you can’t possibly imagine ever being old enough to hold family gatherings at your own home...well, I am 37, and I feel the same way. I have avoided the point for years. First I was in graduate school, living in an apartment far far away, which got me off the hook. Then I had a baby. Having a baby gets you off the hook for 5 years. The baby is now 5, and I can’t freeload any longer.

This was a very difficult decision. There were lots of arguments for continuing to freeload. My cousins tell me I only want to do this because I was the youngest when we were growing up, and I never got to sit at the big table. Also, my dad is already complaining that my house has only two bathrooms (read: he does not want to be cooped up with a bunch of people in someone else’s house, and you can bet he will disappear with his banjo and find a bluegrass shindig somewhere in downtown Birmingham).

But I have seen the writing on the wall for a while. Perhaps the strongest hint that my mother was tired of bearing all the family burden was that she started serving us pre-cooked bacon. So I have invited all these people to my house. There will be 8 of us for four days. The grandparents will visit for a day, which will make the usual 10. The 50 relatives will be here only for an afternoon, and they had better bring me some chocolate.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Anyone? Anyone?

So...Michelle thinks--and I agree--that LOVE BITES sounds too much like a throwaway from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: the lost episodes. I am hereby accepting nominations for groan-worthy cooking puns that might double as adorable ro-com titles. Already on the table:
BOILING POINT, DISHING IT OUT, RECIPE FOR ROMANCE, SUGAR AND SPICE, HUNGRY HEARTS, TURN UP THE HEAT.
None of which are quite doing it for the Pulsers. By all means--feel free to chime in. If your title gets picked I'll say as much in the acknowledgments--assuming that's any sort of incentive.
:)

I Heart Heroes

I confess I was slow to come on to the Heroes bandwagon. Considering I watched every episode of Stan Lee's I Want To Be a Super Hero, there is no defense for my slow warm up to what is an amazing series.

As a writer, what I notice is that the characters are so human, despite their super powers. I know these people. Sure, they're trying to "save the cheerleader, save the world" but they are also trying to juggle relationships, do the right thing (most characters, at least), protect the ones they love, have a little fun, and live fulfilling lives.

The superpowers don't make the normal pursuits of humans easier. Sometimes, they even make it more difficult (last night's episode made me want to cry, what the cheerleader's dad did to protect her--sooo not what she wanted...I can't wait to see how she gets back what she has lost, now that she knows the value of it). Can't say more, because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone like me, who's a bit late to the Heroes party.

Last night was the end of the first run shows until January 22nd. Waaah. Fortunately, the shows I haven't yet seen are on DVD, so I will be all caught up and ready to start on the new episodes in six weeks.

While we're waiting for the new shows (and those of you who are curious, can check out the past episodes here), let me ask you: If you could have a superpower, what would it be? And how would you handle the downside?

For me, I guess I think I'd like the ability to read minds. I'd handle the downside by trying to read general stuff, not specific (for example, if someone is telling the truth or not--not exactly what they think about the barista at Starbucks who always shorts the shots of chocolate in the Grande White Chocolate Mocha).

You?

Kelly

Friday, December 01, 2006

'Tis the season for free loot!


The first thing I notice on the awesome Teens Read Too novel review site is...okay, Micol Ostow's adorable animated gif at the bottom. But the SECOND thing I notice is the link for Prizes Galore: 31 Days of Giving! LOTS of YA authors, publishers, and bookstores have signed up to give away books and other goodies. As you browse the prizes, you may notice that Day 5 features the "Jennifer Echols Band Pack"--

HAHAHAHAHA

--which includes a copy of Major Crush and a gorgeous Major Crush T-shirt. All you have to do is enter the sweepstakes by December 31! ♥

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let's get cooking....

Ugh, one thing I seem to have inherited from my grandfather is a propensity toward really awful puns. Sorry!

But the good news is that this morning I discovered that S&S Pulse has bought my newest romantic comedy, tentatively titled LOVE BITES! (Because, well...sometimes it *does*). Actually it's a cooking theme and I'm way psyched to include little recipes and other bonus info in the book. What's more romantic than dinner for two?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

All Time Great Holiday Romantic Comedies

Happy holidays!! If your house is anything like mine, you'll pull out a lot of your favorite DVD's between now and the end of the year. And, if you're a reader of the Ro-Com Blog there's a good chance many of those movies will be Romantic Comedies. With that in mind, I thought I'd put my film degree to use and start working on a list of all time great holiday Romantic Comedies. The only requirement is that there is love and a prominent role played by any holiday from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Here's a starter group, please feel free to add your thoughts and opinions.
The Bishop's Wife (Christmas) - a great Cary Grant classic and one we watch every year. Bridget Jones' Diary(Christmas and New Year's) - The perfect blend of laughs and love my favorite scene is the fist fight between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Love Actually (Christmas) Also with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, I love the blend of stories, this is my current holiday favorite, It's A Wonderful Life (Christmas) - Even your grandparents loved this Jimmy Stewart classis. Yes, it's hokey in parts, but it's still great. Hannah and Her Sisters (Thanksgiving) - Like Love Actually, this has a bunch of different storylines. Elf (Christmas) - Technically not a Romantic Comedy but I love the scene where Will Ferrel and Zooey Deschanel sing Baby It's Cold Outside. When Harry Met Sally (New Year's) A funny story that spans decades in a relationship but ends with a romantic kiss on New Year's Eve.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR!

It's something in the air--the smell of fires burining (although who are the people lucky enough to have a working fireplace in Manhattan, anyway?), the glowing snowflake shaped streetlights, the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity, the Christmas carols playing in the stores. . .hey, I even enjoy fighting over the holiday sales at Macy's! I guess I'm just a holidays in New York kind of gal. If you've never been here this time of year you really should check it out. Skatng in the middle of Central Park, with the woods around you and the skyscrapers in the background is totally surreal! And then of course there's the tree at Rockefeller Center, and the canoles in Little Italy and... well, you get the picture. I guess I'm just a native New Yorker.

Well, that's all for now. The lure of retail sales is pulling me away from the computer like steel to a magnet!

Wishing you all Happy Holiday no matter where you are.

Here's to Peace in '07

xxoo

Nancy

Thursday, November 16, 2006

'Tis the Season...


Yeah, I just about had a panic attack walking through the East Village last weekend and seeing the first set of X-mas lights up. Not that they weren't pretty. It's just, there should be a law against decorating for X-mas before Thanksgiving has even passed. That being said, I freaked out a little bit this morning when I realized that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK.

My anxiety, gentle readers, has nothing (or, at least, very little) to do with the idea of spending the holiday weekend with my boyfriend's family. They are lovely people, for reals, and as a matter of fact, I wrote a large part of GETTIN' LUCKY while on vacation in Las Vegas with them. I mean, check out the photo--clearly, NOT a high-anxiety guy. The primates, they love Noah.

But I digress. The point is...after Thanksgiving comes Chrismukkah, and after Chrismukkah comes New Years, and after New Years (and hopefully some sun in Palm Beach, if the Gods are smiling on me) comes....

Nothing.
Yes, you heard me. Nothing.
No more work.

Don't get me wrong--I'll be working. Just not as a book editor.
After eight years in publishing--three of which were spent moonlighting as an actual Writer--I've decided to try my hand at the full-time freelance thing. And possibly the starvation thing (cross your fingers for me that it's the former rather than the latter). I will also be returning to school after more years than I care to admit to get my MFA in Creative Writing for Children & YA. It's a distance program, meaning I get to spend a lot of my time in my apartment, in my track pants, bothering the dog.

Am I excited? Yes. Am I terrified? Um, yes. But deep down, I do trust my instincts. No more office--with pretty Hudson River view--does not mean no more challenges (in fact, it probably means rather the opposite). And I do think that it's time. Must be something in the air. I mean, it being the season, and all....

Everything I Know about Book Signings

Erin, good luck on your signing! I always bring a piece of scratch paper or a pad on which to spell out the young readers’ names before I inscribe them indelibly in their books. There will be names you’ve never seen before and spellings you’d never imagine. And you don’t have to ask, “What name was that?” again, because it’s probably the one at the bottom of your list. I would try different pens first and bring my own, because some of the best ones bleed through the paperback stock. As I was corrected early on, you’re supposed to sign the proper title page, where your name and the title appear together, but there are more uncluttered pages if you have lots to write. Signed-only books are supposed to be worth more than personalized ones, so it’s probably a collector who just wants your autograph and maybe the date.

Some years ago, I did a signing in a gas station in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, set up for me by a Pocket Books sales rep, and that turned out to be non-stop with lots of army folk coming by. One other time, I went mistakenly to a pre-school, where even my youngest chapter books were totally unappreciated. I do a lot of school book-fair signings, and you can sell a ton of books in a place like that. I used to let Scholastic, the local bookstore, or whoever furnish my books for the book fairs, but then I realized that I was making my small royalty while the other authors were pocketing like 50% of cover price. So I began to furnish the books, which you can buy from close-outs or the publisher’s sales department for authors.

Group signings are always a good idea, and you can organize them yourself. Bookstores love it, especially when you do the work and try to turn it into an event. When local authors do a mass signing here in Arizona, I always try to make sure Diana Gabaldon is included, because then I know we’ll have a turnout. Most of the time when I sign CUPIDITY, I do remember to write “Caroline Goode.”

If anyone wants a copy of my Dinotopia book, SABERTOOTH MOUNTAIN, just let me know. I’ve got pallets full of them in my garage.

I also want to say Hi to Micol and everyone else here.

CG


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Book Signing!

I am excited and nervous, because this weekend I have a book signing in my hometown - Duluth, MN. If by any chance any of you are in the Northland, swing by to say hello: Sunday, November 17 at 1 pm.

In the meantime, I'm hoping for a little advice from my fellow Ro Com authors about what to do and what not to do at a reading/signing event? Any horror stories of a signing-gone-wrong?

On second thought, don't tell me...hold the scary stuff until Sunday afternoon when I don't need to worry about it anymore. I can't wait!

Erin.

The Giving Season

Okay, first off, must RAVE about Jennifer Echols' cover. How cool is that?!

Second, I had the chance to meet romantic comedy author Aimee Friedman last week in New York. Not only is she a doll (funny and SMART, too!), she gave me an autographed copy of her book SOUTH BEACH. Isn't that the COOLEST gift?! (Thanks, Aimee!)

With the holiday season fast approaching, now's the time *you're* starting to worry about what gifts to choose for family, friends, or your boyfriend/girlfriend. If you want to stay away from buying a half-dozen scarves and figuring out what color to give to whom—especially knowing that they won't wear them anyway—consider doing something that's truly giving this year: helping others. Try these suggestions and you'll not only make your friends and family happy, you'll improve your world.

1) Give a friend a card letting them know that in their honor, you're helping out a soldier. Care packages can be sent to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan via AnySoldier.com. Also, the U.S Postal Service offers a program where you can buy phone cards which will be given to soldiers, allowing them to phone home. Just ask about the program at any post office.

2) If your parents are agreeable, invite friends to a holiday time "hospital" party at your place. Call a local hospital's information desk ahead of time and ask them what type of items they need for care packages for staff and/or patients who are stuck in the hospital over the holidays. Ask guests to each bring an item or two from the list. Put on a tv show or movie with a hospital theme, order in pizza, and spend the evening enjoying each other's company as you make up care packages. No hospital nearby? Consider baking or buying goodies for emergency personnel such as your local firefighters, emergency dispatchers, and/or police officers who are stuck at work and away from their families.

3) Make a donation to Heifer International, where even a small donation can be used to make a permanent difference to families with limited access to food and shelter. Check the organization out here, at Heifer.org.. When you donate in honor of a friend, that friend will receive a card letting them know that a family in need has received a gift. Who doesn't want to know that they're responsible for helping a family in need get food, shelter, or access to education?

4) Low on funds? Consider making up cards to give your family and friends offering them something they really want: your time and skills. If you can sew and a friend can't, volunteer to fix a torn hem or replace buttons on her fave top. Tell your parents you'll help them with chores that aren't on your usual list of chores. Offer to drive a friend without a car to do her holiday shopping. Babysit for free so a parent can get their errands done. Be creative, and make sure you actually follow through on your promise!

New cover!

I couldn't be more thrilled with the cover for my next book. Thanks to Amy Saidens for another beautiful job! Look for THE BOYS NEXT DOOR in stores on May 22, 2007--just in time for summer vacation!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In the long run

The only famous person ever to come from the small town in Alabama where I grew up is Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and super-athlete/diva Terrell Owens. No, I don't know him personally. One of us is four years older than the other *cough*. But until recently, I did think that Amazon shouldn't be offering my book MAJOR CRUSH together with Erin’s book.

Better together!
Buy MAJOR CRUSH by Jennifer Echols
together with
DANCING QUEEN by Erin Downing!


Instead, they should be offering this:

Better together!
Buy MAJOR CRUSH by Jennifer Echols
together with
T.O. by Terrell Owens and Jason Rosenhaus!


Reading both books would offer readers a well-rounded view of what it was like to attend the high school of Terrell and Jennifer. Football player vs. marching band drum major. Athlete vs. mathlete. (Maybe Terrell was a mathlete, too, but I definitely was not an athlete.)

However, over the weekend, I changed my mind. Terrell and I, we are not so different after all. I became an athlete.

In August 2005, I was running two miles a day, as I had for several years. It wasn't the exercise I enjoyed so much as listening on my iPod to the "soundtrack" of the book I was writing. This helps me brainstorm. But I'd found that when I wasn't working toward a goal, it was easy for me to slow from running to walking and allow elderly people to pass me hollering, “Sucker!”

I went online and found the Couch to 10K in 10 Weeks training schedule. (Ten kilometers is 6.2 long miles. Converting from the metric system actually stretches out the distance. Bet you didn't know that, but it's true). This was just what I needed to jump-start my running. It so happened that the Vulcan Run 10K through Birmingham, where I now live, was scheduled about 10 weeks away. I vowed to run, not walk, the entire race.

And I did! I expended an enormous amount of energy. Then pooped out and did a whole lot of nothing for months.

Finally I dragged myself outside again and started Couch to 10K in 10 Weeks, culminating in the Birmingham Zoo Run 10K in May 2006. I improved my time by 9 minutes—mostly because I started at the front of the pack rather than the back. Fool! The pace was too fast, and after about thirty seconds of this, I thought I was going to die. I may also have sped up when we ran past the Fecal Pile. Or the camels, who seemed to be having a particularly bad day odor-wise.

Last Saturday, the Vulcan Run came around again. I'm writing with a deadline, so I didn't have time to put into following the Couch to 10K in 10 Weeks program to the letter. But you know what? By this time, I knew I could run 6.2 miles. And so I did. I also had some tricks up my sleeve for running my third 10K:

Start at the back. When you start at the front, it's intimidating for people pushing baby strollers or wearing heart monitors to blow past you. When you start at the back, no one can pass you, but you can pass anyone who starts walking. If they walk, they're TOAST, baby!

Take inspiration. I'm pretty sure the Vulcan Run course designers knew what they were doing. A Greek Orthodox church with a beautiful glass-tiled mural of the Virgin Mary is placed just where the course begins to go uphill—in case you get worried. The statue of Vulcan that presides over the city is visible just as you emerge from the hills and start to go down again. Also, I was gratified that Micol Ostow flew down from New York to cheer me on. Wait—that must have been someone else carrying a dog wrapped in a sweater.

Feel successful. I'm beginning to think I will never get my parade through downtown Birmingham like Taylor Hicks. Whenever I call City Hall to ask about it, they say they are having scheduling problems. Sometimes I get the feeling they are putting me off. So the Vulcan Run may be my only chance for people to wave at me and cops to stop traffic as I travel the Taylor Hicks parade route.

And most importantly...

Feel like an athlete. This is a huge change for me. Before, even though I'd run two 10Ks, I thought I was just dabbling in running. This time, I finally felt like a runner, and knew I wouldn't stop running this week just because the race was over. I experienced my first runner's high--I think. I may have just gotten dizzy after running 6 miles and trying to sprint the last .2. And I'm currently experiencing my first athletic injury, because one of my toenails is coming off. Hooray! I'm an athlete! I've made it!

So these days, I feel like I have a lot more in common with Terrell than I used to. When we're visiting relatives in our old hometown during the holidays, maybe we'll do lunch. Terrell, if you're reading this, let's set something up. Have your agent call my agent. ♥

Sunday, November 05, 2006

NaNoNaNoNaNo


For those of you who were wondering, November is National Novel Writing Month. There is a site called NaNoWriMo.org that is dedicated to encouraging dedicated folks who've always wanted to write a novel to write 50,000 words in November.

I've done it for several years now, and I recommend it to anyone who has ever said, "I've been meaning to write that story..." and then went off to work, or to school and didn't.

The beauty of writing 50,000 words in a month is that you are free from worry about whether each sentence is a gem. The idea is to get the idea down. As a writer, and a writing instructor, I know the value of this kind of escape from the critical editor that sits on our shoulders, complaining that the idea is fully fleshed out our the sentence is awkward. The truth is (for most writers, there are always a few exceptions) that writing is rewriting. And you can't rewrite what you haven't written yet.

A story has a shape in our head before we write it, but the process of writing changes and sometimes alters that initial form we envisioned. Rewriting is when lumps can be smoothed out (or built up to give the reader some interesting texture). But, for those of us who dare, writing that first draft with no brakes is like sledding down a steep hill in the first snow of winter--breath stolen by the rush of wind and terror, fervent prayer that there is no big tree waiting at the end of the ride to stop us cold.

If you haven't heard of NaNo, but are interested, it is not too late to join in. Age doesn't matter. Story genre doesn't matter. Just the desire to get that story in your head onto paper.

Kelly (aka prosewars)
(who is behind after five days, with only 1,500 words done...but enjoying the ride anyway)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happy birthday EMILY GOLDBERG

Today she is released on an unsuspecting literary public. Please do feel free to head out to your local bookseller and pick up
a copy.

:)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Prom Crashers

Hey there,

Erin Downing again. No visual cues this time, because this stinking blog wouldn't let me upload an image of my almost-finished book. But even this blog can't get me down, because I'm happy and relieved! I returned the copyedit for my February '07 romantic comedy (Prom Crashers) to my editor this week, which means I am, for the most part....done, done, done! This book has come and gone so quickly - I remember when I first had the idea (sometime in April or May, I think), then suddenly my editor decided she liked the idea, and before I knew it I had a deadline that seemed impossible.

But I set everything aside (okay, not really - I have a day job and a baby that isn't yet a year old...but everything else sort of got ignored for a month and a half) and wrote non-stop until I finished the first draft. Now, less than five months after getting the green light to start writing, I have turned in the last changeable pass of the book. Which means my second book is done! And I'm really happy with it. I hope you all love it as much as I do. I'll remind you to buy it in February...

Later,
Erin.

Monday, October 30, 2006

keeping up the theme of cute babies....


This is my darling six-month old nephew, Noah, doing his I'm-so-charming ladykiller smile for the camera. When my older sister found out that she was going to have a boy, both she and I kind of freaked out; it's always been just the two of us girls, and we are extreme girly-girls: shoe-addicted, Sephora-loving, sports-fearing, swirly-skirt-wearing, Jane-Austen-reading girls. I mean, just look at the books I write. The realization that Noah probably wouldn't devour A NOVEL IDEA was disheartening. I couldn't take a nephew on shopping trips to Bloomie's, or plan mani-pedi days, could I? I was distraught.

But having a boy in my life has been pure joy. And it's been inspiring. I actually think I might want to try my hand at -- gasp! -- writing a boy book. I've always been fascinated by authors who can deftly switch genders, and do so convincingly. I think it's an enormous challenge, but it might be something fresh and fun for me to try. Perhaps A NOVEL IDEA told from James's point of view? Or something younger, along the lines of a Sherlock Holmes-type mystery? Boys are pickier readers, more difficult readers, and that's why I think it's all the more rewarding when you win them over.

The new project I'm working on now is about two sisters, so it's my chance to indulge in all my girly whims. Maybe after that, I'll want a dose of baseball games and skinned knees. Then again, who says all those gender roles our society has constructed for us are accurated? There are plenty of girls who live and breathe baseball. And maybe I'll convince my nephew to like shopping after all. There's plenty of time to find out.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Funky Chicken

Hey there,

Erin Downing (Dancing Queen) here.

In the spirit of Halloween (tonight is the big Halloween party night), I wanted to share this picture. It's my kid's first Halloween and I am TOTALLY getting into it (kinda like Micol, but I'm that weird kid - not dog - person). My daughter's dressing up as a Funky Chicken!! No fairies or princesses in this house. Nuh uh. I was looking for a ninja costume (come ON! How cute would a 9 month old ninja be?), but stumbled upon this charming number. Tell me this isn't hilarious.

Have a good Halloween.
Later,
E.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

To Blog or Not to Blog. . .

Definitely to blog!

Hey there! How y'all doing? Things here in NYC are great. The leaves in Central Park are the most gorgeous colors--which is bringing out the romantic in everyone! And speaking of romance. . .

Have you guys seen the new romantic comedy displays in the bookstores? They're geat because you can see all the books in the rocom collection at a glance. You don't have to go searching for the ones you don't have. Check it out!

As for me, I'm writing, writing, writing as usual. Just me and the computer all day long. . .

When you look at it that way, being an author doesn't sound so romantic, does it? But trust me, it is. Imagine, while most people are in an office punching in numbers or going to long meetings, I'm at home in my jammies, writing a love scene with lots of long, drawn out kisses that take your breath away.

Hope to hear from you all soon!

--Nancy

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Where to Begin


I'm curious about what idea or concept was the starting point for the different writers. For me on Animal Attraction is was the thought that someone was going to have a cool and hip job - Jane was going to be a mermaid at the theme park - and then ended up with a total groan job - she gets switched to dressing up like a dancing beaver.
A lot of this came from my time during college when I spent summers working at theme parks. I worked at Sea World and noticed that all the cute girls were hired to talk about the animals at the different pools and aquairiums. Then I worked to Disney World and noticed that in the employee cafeteria all the entertainment people acted just like the cool kids had acted in the school cafeteria during high school. (This is what happens when you live in Orlando.) The rest of the story flowed from this one conflict about being cool or uncool in a summer job.
Then came the boys. I thought I had a great idea for how Jane would meet the boy and embarass herself, but I wrote myself into a corner when I wrote up the first few chapters. I wanted to hook the editors so they'd buy the manuscript. But in doing so, I had the relationship go too far. So when they wanted the book, I had to come up with a second boy to give me enough plot material.
It's funny because the love triangle was the last part of the puzzle and you would think it would be the first. Because of this, I didn't have a strong idea of which boy she would end up with and wrote separate endings for both. Just curious as to what was the starting point for other writers.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Caroline Goode

I also want to thank Jennifer for setting this up. I've never blogged before. As a writer, blogging always seemed like a busman's holiday, doing more writing when you had a stack of work. But my belated New Year's Resolution is to improve my web presence, so this fits right in.

I love the topics so far: Spain and music. I lived in Spain for three years, mostly in the Canary Islands, working in tourism and the movie business. I still speak passable Spanish, although at one time I was really fluent. (I ran my dreams and internal monologue in Spanish, and that's when you know you've got.) Anyway, I highly recommend a trip to Spain, and the Canary Islands are a place that few Americans visit. Lots of Brits, Germans, Dutch, French, Swedes, and so on. There's good evidence that the Canary Island are the remains of Atlantis, considering the history of their natives, the Guanches, who fought the Spaniards for two hundreds years before they were all killed. The Guanches were six feet tall and fair, unlike anyone else for thousands of miles, and they mummified their dead.

Music is heavy on my mind now, because I found a tape a friend made me of a radio broadcast a day after the Rodney King LA riots in 1992. The DJ is a husky voiced black woman named The Raven, who normally oozed sex appeal, but that night she was into playing music that explained/suited the riot. Just incredible mix of blues, rap, jazz, folk, and soul. During the riot, our favorite grocery store was burned and looted, and smoke enveloped our house for three days. Two months later, I grabbed spouse and kids and moved to Tucson, Arizona, where we remain. So this was a turning point in our lives. I'm listening to the tape now while I rip it to MP3s, and several of the songs still reduce me to tears.

Caroline Goode is a pen-name. I'm not even the right sex to really be a Caroline. A male writing romance novels is like a short guy trying to play pro basketball. It can be done, but it's not easy. I'll tell you about it sometime.

CG

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Oh, yeah...


I'm TOTALLY that weird dog person.

I've finally realized....

I think I've become one of those people. You know, those weird dog people. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but it has.

My parents always had dogs while we were growing up, and so once I graduated college and was making enough money (ha!) to live on my own, I of course ran out and adopted a doggie. She's a Frenchie named Bridget Jones, and she is adorable. Seriously. Check out the pics on my website if you don't believe me. I think she might actually be the cutest French Bulldog in the entire world (not that I'm biased or anything). Even my mom says so.

When writing my upcoming Ro Com, GETTIN' LUCKY, I knew that the protagonist, Cass, would have to have a dog of her very own. And when Cass is having relationship issues or any other form of drama, she and Maxine, her Boston Terrier, alternately snuggle up on the couch or go for long runs outdoors. Both incredibly normal, appropriate owner-pet behavioral patterns.

Unfortunately, I'm a bit more high-strung than Cass. I'm a neurotic New Yorker, what can I say? And despite having been raised to believe that a "real" dog is a retriever of sorts that runs, jumps, and, well...retrieves...I've chosen to share my 500-square foot apartment with a creature that can't get up onto my bed without the assistance of a footstool. It's embarrassing. And as time goes on, I just continue to lower my own standards.

I knew I had hit rock bottom when I entered her into a "Doggie Halloween Parade." I'm going to have to spend the next two weeks brainstorming costumes (suggestions welcome).

The best thing about living in NYC, however, is that I am in very good company. Today, for instance, I'm off to Central Park for a "celebration of dogs."

I'm not sure what it will entail. And I'm not sure that Miss J will enjoy it nearly as much as I will. But I don't care. Because--you see? I've *totally* become one of those people.

Yeesh.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Spain, Fabulous Spain!

Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies

So my husband casually informed me a couple months ago that he had to go to Spain for a business trip. My thought: HAD to go to Spain? How 'bout GET to go to Spain? And how about asking your wife if she'd like to tag along?

Needless to say, I spent last week exploring Madrid and Toledo. (No, not Toledo, Ohio. Toledo, Spain. Pronounced Toe-lay-doe.) I managed to lose a pound (whoo-hoo!) despite eating tons of freshly-baked, chocolate-dipped churros, because I walked so much. As if that weren't enough to make me wax poetic about Spain, I now have this blog as an excuse to put thoughts about my latest European adventure in writing.

Got that drum rolling? As my first Simon Pulse blog entry, a top five list of reasons why you (yes, you!) should try—at some point in your life—to visit Spain.


1) The Joyeria. This is what the Spanish call jewelry stores—a fitting name, if you ask me. And they're EVERYWHERE!
2) Siesta. How cool is it to get to stay out late every night, and to either visit with family or take a nap in the middle of every afternoon?
3) Museumpalooza. In Madrid alone, you can see art by everyone from Picasso to Goya to Salvador Dali. In the Thyssen Museum, you'll see Monet, Degas, and Pissaro, among others. Across the street, the Prado has Tintoretto, Raphael, and Titian (and that's just the ground floor.) If your feet aren't aching after those two, there are a half-dozen more museums to explore.
4) Real Madrid's extremely hot soccer players. (Current players include David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. And yes, I got to see them all play!)
5) Museo de Jamon. Translated, it means the Museum of Ham. You stand under a bunch of different types of ham (really...it's all hanging from the ceiling!) with a bunch of Spanish guys and point to the picture on the menu of sandwiches, chicken, or—you guessed it—ham. Even if you don't eat ham—or you hate museums—this place is something to experience.

And a bonus number six? Imagine yourself sitting at an outdoor cafe sipping a fabulous cup of coffee or eating gelati while the sun reflects off the cobblestones under your feet. People around you are speaking in languages you don't recognize, and there's laughter all around. Bueno!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ro-Com: The Soundtracks


Not only has Jennifer set up a wonderful web-site, it turns out that she has great taste in music as well. Earth, Wind and Fire rocks. (I must have grown up around the same time and place, because our high school band played it too.) It made me think of something I did for Michelle Nagler, the awesome editor at Simon Pulse who handles most if not all of our manuscripts. I went onto I Tunes and downloaded all of the songs and music that were referenced in Animal Attraction. (There was a lot more than I realized as I was writing it) Then I burned a disk for her and sent it to her so she could have the "unofficial official soundtrack." Here were the cuts on the disk: Summer of Love by the B-52s, In da Club by 50 Cent, Lets Get it Started by the Black Eyed Peas, Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani & Eve, She Will be Loved by Maroon 5, Suffer Some by Jane's Addiction, Lollipop by LL Cool J, You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban, American Idiot by Green Day, Yeah! by Usher, Hey Ya! by Outkast, Vertigo by U2, Good Riddance by Green Day, La La by Ashlee Simpson, One Love by Bob Marley and the Wailors, Let the Music Play by Shannon and Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer. It's not that I'm a big fan of all these songs, but each is in there for a reason. And it's one of the reasons I like writing books. When I work in television we have to actually pay the groups to use the music, but in a book you can choose whatever music you want.

MySpacing out

In addition to my web site, I have a MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/jenniferechols. Some of the other Romantic Comedies authors are on MySpace, too.

Niki Burnham: http://www.myspace.com/nikiburnham
Erin Downing: http://www.myspace.com/erinkatedowning
Aimee Friedman: http://www.myspace.com/11650519
Nancy Krulik: http://www.myspace.com/nancykrulik
Kelly McKlymer: http://www.myspace.com/kellymcclymer
Micol Ostow: http://www.myspace.com/meeksz

Fantabulous as the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies blog is, MySpace does have one advantage: music. I love browsing my friends’ sites, listening to their halftime shows (I’m friends with lots of marching bands), and finding cool new songs to buy for my iPod. Sometimes I just pause on my own page and listen to my own music, because it makes me happy.

“What is it?” you may ask. “Hark, who is that supergroup singing ‘September’?” That, my friends, is Earth, Wind & Fire, the Best Band Evah. I have lots of reasons for loving this group and for choosing them to serenade me.

1. Earth, Wind & Fire and I go way back. In high school, my marching band’s halftime show closed with “Getaway.” My old band came here to Birmingham for a football game last Friday night, and they’re now opening with “In the Stone.” Old habits die hard.

2. Earth, Wind & Fire got me an A. When I was a music major in college (before I switched to English), I had to take classes like Percussion Instruments 347 and French Diction for Singers 243. In Conducting 571, instead of a final exam, we had to direct the band. I chose Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Fantasy.”

3. Earth, Wind & Fire puts Justin Timberlake’s falsetto to shame. And I’m not just saying that because Justin dissed Taylor Hicks.

4. Earth, Wind & Fire is awesome in concert. The auditorium darkens, and a low voice comes over the speakers: “In the beginning there was Earth. Wind. And FIYAAAAAAAAAH!” The crowd goes wild. The stage flickers to life. Giant models of Jupiter and Saturn rise from the depths. Slowly the planets open, and the band steps out in a cloud of mist, wearing fluorescent glowing sweatbands. I am not kidding.

5. Earth, Wind & Fire writes a great cover tune. A friend of mine got married recently. He works at a bank, and the band at the reception was made up of his elderly co-workers. I’ve forgotten the group’s name, but it had something to do with banking. The Frozen Assets? Not sure. Anyway, these dudes could ROCK. They played song after song from Earth, Wind & Fire. I even got my mom dancing. I want to play my saxophone in a wedding band when I grow up.

6. Did I mention Earth, Wind & Fire is the Best Band Evah?

What’s playing on your MySpace page, and what does it mean to you?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

College Life

My romantic comedy, GETTING TO THIRD DATE, is about the difference between college life and high school life. I think we all hope it will be very different, and are disappointed when a lot of the same old same old issues show up before we even get the suitcase unpacked or the posters on the wall.

There are differences, however, which I was reminded of when my middle child turned twenty yesterday. He's in his sophomore year of college, a computer science major taking a lot of hard courses. He also works part-time, every week night. And, worst of all, on Monday he came down with a fever, a cough, a sore throat and congestion (worse than a cold, but not as bad as the flu). If he were in high school, there would have been no question about him missing school. He wouldn't have gone. Ditto work. But now he's grown up. Missing a college class means finding a way to get notes from someone who was there (there are such things as cake courses, where you can miss a class and not even notice--he's not taking any of those). It means making sure there are no changes to test dates or material. Missing work means a smaller paycheck.

So, being a good mom, I discussed all the pros and cons of the situation he was facing (he listened gravely, his cheeks bright red from fever and his eyes glazed with congested misery...or I think he did :-). I then backed off and left the decision in his hands (I would have consulted his wishes in high school, but would have felt free to overrule his decision back then).

Upshot: he only missed one day of classes (his most scheduled day, unfortunately) and dragged himself to the rest. He missed two days of work (can't talk on the phone without a voice).

I guess, watching him juggle all the choices and decisions as he went from a teenager to a full fledged twenty-something, I realized that, while in high school you're ringing the doorbell of adulthood, college means you've crossed the threshold. Maybe you're not in the living room sitting on the couch you bought yourself, or in the kitchen cooking dinner...but you're headed there.

My son has two more years to go before he graduates. Two more years of decisions that reflect more and more of where he wants to go in life. I can't wait to see what he decides.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Contest!


The lovely and talented book lover Veronika, of Veronika Asks, is running a contest for The SALEM WITCH TRYOUTS here.

Go check it out! And then check out the rest of her wonderful site.

Good luck to all who enter!

Kelly

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fun Interviews & Reviews

Hello!

I moved out of New York City this weekend, and am now a small-town/village-dweller. It's incredibly strange, but also such a lovely change. I have a little office with a writing desk that has a view of the Hudson river! It's a bizarre shift in lifestyle (I've lived in the city for seven years) - I'll post more on the new digs (and how the move out of the city is affecting my sushi take-out habit) soon.

The rest of this post may not be the most exciting or original, but reviews and interviews are always worth a shout-out. Even though Kelly McClymer posted a link to this last week, I wanted to make sure everyone checks out the fabulous Little Willow interviews with some of the Simon Pulse authors and our great cover artist, Amy Saidens! My interview was posted on Friday, and can be found here:

http://slayground.livejournal.com/134112.html#cutid1

Also, there's another really great site - Tina Hakim Baba: Great Books for Teens - that has a ton of comprehensive reviews of some phenomenal teen books. I was thrilled when Alexandra (the webmistress) reviewed Dancing Queen a few weeks ago. Tina Hakim Bab's reviews can be found here (DQ is on page 14 of the book review pages, if you're curious):

http://www.freewebs.com/tinahakimbaba/

While we're at it, I should also link to YA Books Central. Kimberly Pauley posted a fun review...also of note: Dancing Queen is this month's newsletter SIGNED copy giveaway! Four lucky newsletter subscribers will get a copy of the book, signed by yours truly!

http://www.yabookscentral.com/cfusion/index.cfm?fuseAction=books.review&review_id=8068

Later,
E.

Friday, September 29, 2006

on computers and books and more


Hello there...

I'm Aimee Friedman, author of A Novel Idea, the romantic comedy about a book group, high school, crushes gone awry, hipster fashions, a mysterious writer, and several near-miss kisses.

As an aside, isn't the cover adorable? I love Amy Saidens's art.

When the fabulous Jennifer Echols -- founder and pioneer of this brand-new blog -- asked me when I could post, I told her I'd do so this weekend. I had an image of myself curled up on my bed with my laptop on my knees, a mug of cocoa in one hand, the sound of click-clacking keys filling the room while afternoon light slanted through the window.

But that isn't going to happen. Because, this morning, my laptop died.

I wouldn't say it died a full-on death (it's like that great line from The Princess Bride: "He's mostly dead.") because it kept sputtering, and flashing its lights feebly, and trying to communicate with me. I found myself talking to it, encouraging it, patting its smooth silver exterior, pushing buttons hopefully. Nothing. I know certain writers who name their laptops -- I've never done that, but in that, I felt I was hovering over a dear and ailing friend. My dear Dell -- we'd been through so much together. Four novels, several short stories, countless revisions, plane rides to Paris, train rides upstate, tears and gladness, anxiety and elation, hopeful emails, MySpace procrastinating...you name it. In some ways, my laptop knows me better than almost anyone. Is there something scary about that realization? Is this some sort of comment on our era? Who knows?

But there is something nice, something comforting, about writing longhand. Presuming my dear Dell did pass on to the Microsoft Windows in the sky, I will have to resort to writing longhand until I purchase a replacement. I wonder if I even know how anymore. When I was younger, I used to fill spiral-bound notebooks. Now, I can't quite work without that click-clack noise.

So, I wish you all a weekend of cocoa and late afternoon light and healthy, happy laptops, and maybe, just maybe, some time spent writing in a notebook again, like the old days.

Aimee

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Greetings from Florida!


Hello to any and all Ro-Com readers. Greetings from Florida, my name is Jamie and I am the author of Animal Attraction. Before I go any further, I want to thank Jenn so much for setting up this blog. It's going to be really fun getting together this way. I love talking about writing and I had so much fun writing this book. (I'm just starting a new one, keep your fingers crossed and I'll let you know if it starts to develop into something fun.)

Unlike the other writers here I don't have a fancy web page or even a My Space account. I'd like to say that it's because I'm arty and mysterious, but that's not why. The truth is, my computer skills are about as good as my dating skills were in high school. (If you've read the book you know what that means.)

For starters, we're all just kind of introducing ourselves. I have spent most of my life in Florida (except for the first two years in Italy and the college years in California.) I grew up in a small beach town just like the main character in Animal Attraction. I love writing books, but my day job is writing and producing television shows. If you have any younger brothers or sisters, they may be familiar with the kids shows I've written like Jojo's Circus and Clifford's Puppy Days. Your parents might have seen some of the shows I've done for the History Channel. And, depending on your age and your memory, some of you may have watched the series I used to write like The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo on Nickelodeon and Mickey Mouse Club on Disney Channel.

They were all fun to work on, but I don't know if any was as much fun as writing Animal Attraction. I would love to hear from any of you that may have read it. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. I'll make sure to check and post regularly.

Thanks again

Welcome to our blog!

Happy birthday blog! Today, you turn 2 days old. Awwww.

And welcome readers! It's good to see you here in this nifty online space. I am thrilled to be a part of this blog, and promise to try really, really hard to post something from time to time. But the great thing about this blog is that all my favorite writers--the fabulous Simon Pulse Romantic Comedy authors--will be posting as well! That's so much pressure swiped away, just like that. Thanks cool writers, and I look forward to your posts and stories.

To introduce myself, I am Erin, the author of Dancing Queen and Prom Crashers (which will be in stores in February 2007...can't wait!). If you have more questions or curiosity about who I am, you're welcome to visit my website at www.erindowning.com to read more. There are some pictures and a bio and not a whole lot more than that.

So until next time I come to play in this space, please enjoy the posts of these other authors -- and I'll see you again soon.

Later,
E.

Is there any romance in blogging?

Apparently there is--right here in fact. So glad to be able to talk to everyone. Can't wait to hear what you all think about Ripped at the Seams, She's Got the Beat, or any other books I've written. I'd soooo love to hear about anything you've got to say actually. Thanks Jenn for setting up the blog I'm so happy to have such a fun way to procrastinate while I should be working on books! :)


Hey if any of you are going to be in NYC on October 15, come on down to the Great Read in Bryant Park. I'll be at the Target concert stage, and signing there as well. I don't have the schedule yet, but will let you know. Would love to meet ya!

Nancy

New Interview about getting to GETTING TO THIRD DATE


Some Chatty Stuff About Me

I've been fortunate to participate in a few interviews here and there.

Today, Little Willow has one at her site http://slayground.livejournal.com/133048.html

Last month, Veronika at Veronika Asks also interviewed me on her fabulous site http://perso.orange.fr/veronika.asks/interview_kellymcclymer.htm

I neglected to put the link out there (bad me...I tend to be shy about publicizing good things about me, but I just realized, this is really posting good things about these booklovers, Little Willow and Veronika!).

I'm going to link to these interviews on my website in the (relatively) near future, but my webmaster has been studying for a physics test all week, has a calculus exam coming up, and is taking three computer programming classes that require using the computer for schoolwork rather than frivolously updating his mother's website :-)

Don't forget to check out their awesome sites after you read about me.

Enjoy!

Kelly

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hello!

Many thanks to Jenn for the excellent idea of a RoCom blog. Since my own experiences in romance are mostly of the comedic variety, I was drawn to this series since its inception. 30 GUYS was based loosely on a game friends and I would play whenever we were going through a dating dry spell: force yourself to talk to a brand new guy a day. It was harder (for me, at least) than it sounds!

GETTIN' LUCKY, which comes out this April, is about a karmic-obsessed girl who discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her best friend. Needless to say, she ditches them both, and finds new friends in the form of a weekly just-for-fun poker night (did I mention she lives in Las Vegas?). Of course, just when it seems like things are turning around for Cass, her boyfriend tries to horn in on her game--and all bets are off....

Thanks again to those of you who read 30 GUYS, and I hope you keep an eye out for LUCKY and all of the other fabulous books in these series.

Welcome!

Hi, everyone! I’m Jennifer Echols, author of MAJOR CRUSH, which was released in August. Yes, that’s me in the photo, lost in deep serious thought about my writing. I’m also the blog administrator. I actually came up with the idea for the blog last spring. I figured that after my book came out and I got a big head, I would need some way to stay connected to the masses.

Well, I’m sorry to report that my head hasn't grown one millimeter, because the day my book came out...nothing happened. A marching band didn't come to my house and spell out MAJOR CRUSH on my front lawn, as I lied to my friends. And there wasn't a parade for me through downtown Birmingham like there was for Taylor Hicks. Maybe for my second book. *shrug*

No, I’m still just puttering around my house. Writing. Putting together 1,000,000-piece Lego sets with my little boy. Revising. Getting the phone cord caught in the vacuum cleaner. Editing. Gazing into the refrigerator and feeling shocked that it is empty. Somebody should cook something! I wonder if my mother is busy? ♥

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Look Ma! I can blog...

Hi, and welcome to this great blog (thanks to Jennifer Echols...her books is out in 2007...look for it).

I'm not exactly sure what to say in my first post here, so I'm going to keep it short.

My Simon Pulse romantic comedy is GETTING TO THIRD DATE. It's about secret crushes and being friends, and falling in love--all while learning to navigate the first semester of college life.

I'll have more to say later, I promise. And if you have any questions...just ask!

Shopping list!

Here’s a complete list of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies published so far. They’re all still available in bookstores--if you don’t find them on the shelves, ask the store to order them for you. Happy reading! ♥

How Not to Spend Your Senior Year
By Cameron Dokey


Rule #1: If at all possible, don't pretend to be something you're not. Specifically, don't play dead. Trust me on this one. I did it, so I should know.
Jo O'Connor has spent her whole life moving around. When it comes to new schools, there's not a trick in the book about starting over that Jo doesn't know. But life is about to teach her a new trick: how to disappear entirely.

Rule #2: Always expect the Spanish Inquisition, no matter what anyone else does.
They have to move again. Now. This very night. Jo knows better than to argue. Her dad is the key witness in a major case against a big-time bad guy. But Jo just can't resist one last visit to the school where she's been so happy. All she wants is to say good-bye. That can't cause any problems, can it?

Rule #3: Never assume you can predict the future.

Now Jo's one last visit has landed her smack in the middle of a ghost story. Specifically, her own. By the time it's over, she'll have a whole new set of rules about what's real, what's make-believe, and -- most of all -- what's important.

Royally Jacked
By Niki Burnham


Valerie's life is pretty good. While she's not the most popular girl in school, she does have decent grades, great friends, and a potential boyfriend. All a girl could want.

Then her mother announces that (1) she's gay, and (2) she's leaving Valerie's dad for her girlfriend. Not what Valerie envisioned for her future. And just when Valerie is getting over this bombshell, her father tells her he's gotten a new job as protocol chief for the royal family of some obscure European country.

Valerie's world has come unglued. She can either stay in Virginia with her mom and her ├╝ber-organized, veggie-burger-eating girlfriend, or go with her dad, leaving everything she knows for some place she's never heard of. Valerie opts to go, and quickly discovers that it was a mistake -- until she meets the prince, and all bets are off!

Ripped at the Seams
By Nancy Krulik

There's a new fashion designer in town, and "Fashion Don'ts" have never been more in style!

Sami Granger is fresh off the bus from the Midwest when some crazy person in the bus terminal warns her that life in New York City won't be what she always dreamed of. But Sami's determined to make it in an industry that is notoriously hard to break in to. Nothing she ever learned in her small town can prepare her for her first job working for a hot-shot designer: He steals her designs!

Now the only place that will hire Sami is a trashy lingerie store that she's too embarrassed to tell her old-fashioned father about. Will a visit from her father land Sami on the catwalk, or out on the sidewalk?

South Beach Sizzle
By Suzanne Weyn and Diana Gonzalez


Is Enrique trying to win her over -- or just trying to win?

Road trip! Lula Cruz has her last summer before college all mapped out. She's checking out of NYC and checking in to the sizzling hot "SoBe" scene with her best friend, Jeff.

When their day jobs get to be a drag, they spice things up by entering a local band contest. And spicy it is! Turns out that the hottie Lula keeps running into is also her band's toughest competition! Enrique might seem like the perfect guy, but as things heat up Lula has to wonder: Can she trust her biggest rival with her heart?

Cupidity
By Caroline Goode


Dating in high school is like reality TV. It can get pretty surreal.

Between the strict social ladder (geeks' lockers left, jocks' to the right), and silly, pointless rules (no hand-holding, no kissing, no breathing!), high school is the single worst place to find a boyfriend. And Laura Sweeney is no exception. She hasn't had a date since...well, ever.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So Laura is calling in the big guns. She needs guidance. A proven "get the guy" strategy. Luckily she knows exactly the expert to call. He's a matchmaking mastermind who actually has the bow and arrow to prove it. Let's just call him...Cupid.

Spin Control
By Niki Burnham


Valerie Winslow never thought life in the tiny country of Schwerinborg could be so great.

But then she never thought she would be dating the prince of Schwerinborg either! Georg, a real prince, is also her first real boyfriend.

And then everything falls apart. Georg's decided they need to cool off for a while and her dad's sending her back to Virginia to visit her mom.

Valerie's bummed -- until she decides to go out with her old crush, David Anderson. David may not be a prince, but maybe he'll take her mind off of Georg -- or will he?

She’s Got the Beat
By Nancy Krulik


SHE BANGS! SHE BANGS!

Miranda was the quiet type...until she moved to Austin. Home of the hippest college rock bands, Austin, Texas, is a scene. And Miranda is dying to break out of her small-town shell. So she decides to do something totally un-Miranda: learn to play the drums.

When crashing the cymbals, the girl's a wild child! Plus there's a perk to her new gig: a cute bass player. Unfortunately Mr. Bass Man isn't exactly looking for love. Can this rocker chick change his tune? Or does finding her own rhythm mean sacrificing true love?

30 Guys in 30 Days
By Micol Ostow


Practice makes not-quite-perfect

Claudia Clarkson just cut the cord from her high school love-you-forever boyfriend. Sure, she misses Drew. But with so many eligibles on her new college campus, why study ancient history?

Problem is, Claudia's lived in la-la-loveland for so long that she's completely forgotten how to meet boys -- and how to flirt.

Then her roommate proposes a solution: Meet one new guy every day for thirty days. Consider it "target practice" for when Mr. Perfect comes along. Claudia's game, but she definetely hasn't got game. In fact, Flirting 101 could be her toughest course to pass...

Animal Attraction
By Jamie Ponti


The Season of (No?) Love

Jane's life is one giant Conspiracy, with the whole world plotting to keep any chance of romance far, far away. Her social history (17 years, 0 boyfriends) is proof positive of that. But this summer, she's determined to crank it up.

Jane's snagged a gig at the local theme park as part of the star attraction -- the Mermaid Show. But then the Conspiracy strikes, and she ends up starstruck in a furry beaver costume all day long. Hard to breathe, let alone flirt....Can Jane figure a way out of the beaver suit and into the arms of her summer love?

A Novel Idea
By Aimee Friedman


Required reading has never been so hot.

Once upon a time there was a Brooklyn hipster named Norah. Unlucky in love, and short on extracurriculars for her college apps, Norah decided to start a book group. She knew the perfect locale -- a local indie bookstore with a crush-worthy cutie manning the soy latte counter.

When the first meeting arrives, Norah gets a page-turning surprise. The attendees may be bookish, but there are also a few hotties! Most noteworthy: sweet, literary James. He's like a modern Jane Austen hero.... Only, how to snag him?

Ever the romantic heroine, Norah devises a secret plan. And if it works, Norah may just find her "Happily Ever After" love story. The End.

Scary Beautiful
By Niki Burnham

Chloe Rand's life is great.

She has a serious boyfriend, she's about to start her junior year of high school, and she has a tight group of girlfriends. But when her boyfriend moves across the country and decides the long-distance-relationship thing just isn't for him, Chloe's devastated. Worse, she soon learns that when you're the prettiest girl in school and totally unattached, everyone starts treating you differently. Girls don't trust you, guys aren't sure what to make of you, and everyone assumes you're either spoiled, dumb, or both.

Chloe realizes that she's been living the last few years in a bubble and decides to do something about it. But when she falls for Billy, a total geek, will it make her situation better...or worse?

Getting to Third Date
By Kelly McClymer


Could a forgotten cutie be Katelyn's newest catch?

Katelyn Spears is a firm believer in the two-date rule. First dates are so awkward; every guy deserves a second chance. But a third? Not unless he's got serious Romeo potential.

Enter Tyler. Tyler thinks Katelyn's rule is too harsh. He dares her to go back through her Little Pink Book and grant a third date to all the two-date duds. Oh, and she should report back to the whole school via her newspaper column.

Standing by her policy (and determined to prove Tyler wrong), Katelyn makes a few phone calls. But will any of her old flames rekindle a romance?

Dancing Queen
By Erin Downing


Who needs Prince Charming if you've got a rock star?

It's official. Olivia is a superfreak. Sure, she may have landed the hottest internship at an ├╝bercool TV music station. And yes, she's chilling with A-listers in London all summer. But when she meets her very first pop star, she gets caught in a revolving glass door and falls smack down on her bum -- all in one quick motion.

Luckily, Rocker Boy thinks Liv's quirks are adorable. He takes her clubbing at the hippest spots! Liv may be clumsy on solid ground, but on the dance floor she sparkles. The summer's just begun and she's already captured the spotlight -- and a celeb's heart, too. Now if only she was sure he's the right guy...

Major Crush
By Jennifer Echols


Marching to the beat of a different drum...

Tired of the beauty-pageant circuit, Virginia Sauter tosses her tiara, pierces her nose, and auditions for the most unlikely of roles -- drum major of the high school marching band.

Virginia wins, but is forced to share the title with Drew, whose family has held the position for generations. Sure, Drew is hot, but because of his superior attitude, he and Virginia are constantly arguing. That is, until they share more than just their half-time salute...

But as the drum major's heated competition turns to sizzling romance, explosive rumors threaten everything -- including the band's success. Love seemed to be a sure hit, but Virginia and Drew may be marching straight into disaster.

Do-Over
By Niki Burnham


When it comes to love, how many chances do you get?

Girl meets prince. Girl loses prince. Girl gets prince back -- right? Well, that's what Valerie is hoping. She's back in Schwerinborg after spending some time with her mother in the good ol' US of A, and hopes that sparks are still flying between her and Georg. At first it looks like things are going great, until a ski trip to the Alps has Val and Georg's romance hitting some moguls. Could Val's love life be heading for a face-plant?


Love Undercover
by Johanna Edwards


True love needs no disguise.

Kaitlyn Nichols craves a little mystery and mayhem in her life. Having a top-secret agent for a father should do the trick, but unfortunately Dad is no 007, and danger is nowhere on the horizon.

But all that changes when Mr. Nichols brings home Blaine, a seventeen-year-old hottie who’s about to enter the Witness Protection Program. Suddenly Kaitlyn’s in the perilous position of protecting the cutest guy she’s ever met!

When Dad enrolls Blaine in her high school, it’s up to Kait to detect the girls who want him... and the guys who want to kill him. Meanwhile, Kait’s about to discover that there’s one thing she can’t protect--her heart...

Prom Crashers
By Erin Downing


Will you go to the proms with me?

It was love at first sight for Emily and Ethan. But then Em lost his number, and with it, lost all hope of finding a real boyfriend before the end of senior year. All she knows about Ethan is his first name, that he has a super-cute smile, and the fact that he’s going to a prom this month. Which high school? That’s anyone’s guess...

Em enlists the help of her three best friends, who quickly score some formalwear and hail a limo. Together, Emily, Charlie, Max, and Sid vow to find Ethan, to find a cure for senioritis, and most importantly, to find true love--one hilarious prom night at a time.





Gettin' Lucky
By Micol Ostow


Looking for love in Las Vegas...


Cass Parker is a big believer in luck, fate, and all things karmic. So she’s devastated when she walks in on her supposed best friend macking with Jesse, the guy she’s in total "like" with. Talk about bad karma. Vegas is just full of cheaters, she concludes, even the locals.

But Cass refuses to sulk. She finds new friends, and even gets invited to join their weekly poker night--totally casual and not-for-profit, of course. They seem pretty chill, and Cass definitely needs to get out more. So after consulting her horoscope, she gets in the game.

But when Jesse turns up for a final showdown, it turns out that Cass isn’t so good at bluffing--not when it comes to matters of the heart...


The Boys Next Door
by Jennifer Echols


Cute, available, and one cabin over.

Lori lives for summertime at her family's lake house. She spends all season wakeboarding, swimming, and hanging with her friends--including the two hotties in the cabin next door. With the Vader brothers, Lori's always been one of the guys.

But while Lori and the "baby" brother, Adam, are inseparable friends, she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy. This year Sean's been paying Lori a lot of attention, and not in a brotherly way.

But just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material, she realizes that her role as girl friend to Adam may be even more important. And by trying so hard for the perfect summer romance, she could be going way overboard...

In the Stars
By Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon


Which do you follow: your head or your heart?


When Sylvie loses the diamond from her late mother’s ring, her best friend Cherise insists it’s a sign that love is about to enter Sylvie’s life. Yeah, right. Sylvie doesn’t believe in signs—she only star gazes through her telescope. But she also knows Cherise won’t drop it, so to humor her Sylvie agrees to date the next boy who asks.

Sure enough, a new guy in school appears and Sylvie’s the object of his affection. Maybe Cherise was right after all? But when the sparks don’t fly and Cherise thinks she’s just scared, Sylvie ends up confiding in an old friend. Could finding the perfect guy be as rare as catching a shooting star?

Crush du Jour
By Micol Ostow


When a girl bites off more than she can chew...

Laine barely has enough time for herself, much less for romance. But she's always hungry for more projects--so she decides to start up a cooking class at her local community center. As it turns out, Seth, the guy co-teaching the class with her, is not just cute, but downright delicious!

When Seth offers her a waitress job at his family's restaurant, Hype, Laine can't resist. Just as Seth finally warms up to Laine, Laine finds out that Callie, another waitress at Hype, is cooking up a plan to steal Seth for herself. But tensions really reach their boiling point when Laine's restaurant critic mother writes a scathing review--of Hype! Will Laine have to put love on the back burner again?

The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren
By Wendy Toliver


Geeky to gorgeous in sixty seconds...

Roxy’s about to turn sixteen, but life isn’t so sweet. As a band geek, Roxy can barely get the cute guys to notice her, much less go out with her. Then, on her birthday, Roxy is transformed into a siren: seductively beautiful with the power to control all men. She though sirens were an ancient myth, but suddenly Roxy can get any guy she wants with just a few notes on her flute.

There are only two rules: don’t tell anyone about being a siren, and don’t fall in love. When she starts dating Zach, the guy everybody’s crushing on, Roxy realizes she could get used to this siren thing … but how can she keep herself from falling in love?


Love, Hollywood Style
By P. J. Ruditis

True love doesn't always follow a script …

Tracy Vance’s love life is a total flop. Sure, she has a cool job as a tour guide at a real Hollywood movie studio, but when it comes to her personal life, she can barely get her crush, Connor, to notice her.

Then Tracy gets a brilliant idea: Why not win Connor’s heart with some help from the big screen? Taking her cues from her favorite chick flicks, Tracy puts “Operation Ro Com” into action, and it actuallyseems to work!

But Tracy soon realizes that getting the leading man isn’t the same as keeping him. Maybe things never work out like they do in the movies—or do they?

Something Borrowed
By Catherine Hapka

She’s ready to catch the bouquet, not steal the guy!

When Ava gets dumped by her boyfriend, she’s pretty upset. He wasn’t the love of her life of anything, but with her sister’s wedding—a.k.a. the social event of the season—just two weeks away, Ava’s got to save face by finding someone cute and fun to bring as her date.

With the clock ticking and no dates in sight, Ava asks her best friend if she can “borrow” her boyfriend, Jason, for the night. Ava’s never been a big Jason fan, but he’ll look great in a tux and at least she’ll have someone to dance with. But it doesn’t take long for Ava to realize she’s got him all wrong…

What do you do when Mr. Right is wrapped up in a package that belongs to your best friend?