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







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!


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 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!


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 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 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:
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).



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"--


--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! ♥