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.

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!


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.


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.


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 ('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 Some of the other Romantic Comedies authors are on MySpace, too.

Niki Burnham:
Erin Downing:
Aimee Friedman:
Nancy Krulik:
Kelly McKlymer:
Micol Ostow:

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


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!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Fun Interviews & Reviews


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:

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):

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!