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London Calling . . .

So last week on my knitting blog, Knit the Stash, I filled out a questionnaire for a knitting swap, Beat the Winter Doldrums. Knitters do cool things like this. Get together, make small projects for each other, add in a pile of goodies and send said box of goodies along to a new friend. The questionnaire is to give your secret friend an idea of the things you like, and one of the questions was something along the lines of “where would you go for a vacation right now.” Now I know what the DH would answer: Hawaii. Before you could even finish the question.

But here is the weird part. I just couldn’t shake my answer: London. I’m so dying to go back. I can’t shake it. I’ve been thinking about going back for weeks now, and looking at the calendar to see where I could possible sneak away and go for at least 10 days. So all these notions of going have been rattling around in my cold winter head, but I haven’t written them down. Things happen when you write them down. Pluck them out of your secret stash, and commit them to writing. In public. And going back to London was just that, until last week. I filled out the questionnaire and I just wrote away on how much I want to go back. And I kid you not, within twelve hours I got an email and a snail mail begging me to come to London. Well, they didn’t exactly beg me in particular, but oh, it was like being told you can go in the tourist fudge shop and have only salt water taffy. (Okay, I’ll save my rant on tourist fudge for another day.)

The first one came in an email from Linda de Sosa, and I’ll share the info with you:

This September, 2008, I would like to invite 30 fellow addicts to come with me while we enter Regency England. Highlights in Bath, Brighton, and London include:

Museums – Tyrwhitt-Drake Carriage Museum, Museum of Costume, Museum of Eton Life, Jane Austen Center
Walking tours – Mayfair, Bath, Royal Pavilion in Brighton
Period Homes – Syon House, Chiswick House, Spencer House
Waterloo – National Army Museum, Apsley House
Rare Interior Tours – One of the few Gentleman’s Clubs left, Buckingham Palace

Regency: Regency murder mystery, taking the waters in the Bath Pump room
Motorcoach tour: the dark side of the Regency – crime, law, poverty, and orphans

And to arrive in style, join me in an optional transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 prior to the tour. We will have waltzing lessons and Regency romance novel book discussions.

Contact: Linda de Sosa
email hidden; JavaScript is required

The Queen Mary? OMG. I suppose if I sold the kids and the DH on eBay I might get enough. The DH does do laundry so he’d get a good price.

Yes, well, after spending a few hours fantasizing about this tour, then the mail comes. From JASNA. That’s the Jane Austen Society of North America to you non-Austen geeks. And while the above tour had me drooling, the JASNA tour had me at “Hello.” The tour? Jane Austen’s Great Houses in Fact and Fiction. And what a cool tour it will be. There isn’t anything about it on the JASNA site, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Review original Austen materials at the British Library and the National Portrait Gallery
  • Tour Brighton
  • The Vyne, a great house Jane attended many parties at
  • Inside Chawton–which is privately held
  • Visits to houses that Jane visited and were used in the various movies, including Chatsworth, Lyme Park, and Sudbury Hall

But it is in July. July when I need to be finishing a book. July when I am going to go to SF. July when the kids are OUT of school, when I can’t possibly go. Not in the least. Not at all. But Lyme Park!! Look at it there, just taunting me. And Brighton. Gads, I sound like Lydia Bennet.

Then again, I wonder if I can get an extension on my deadline . . .

So what is your secret travel dream? Let’s write them down and see if they can come true.

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A Requiem for a Mouse

A moment of silence please for a brave and hardy (and I do mean HARDY) little Logitech mouse, who withstood hours of LineRider drawing, endless clicks on Buzz Lightyear uTube videos, and at times, we are sad to admit, ruthless banging when a page refused to load. This mouse, who spent his life in the merciless hands of two small boys has sadly given up the will to click.

Where other brands of mice have lasted a month, a week, an hour in the presence of He-Who-Makes-Mice-Tremble (yes, an hour is his personal record for breaking a mouse) this wee, undersized miracle in ladybug clothing lasted. And lasted. And held up. For two years.

But alas, even this fine Logitech mouse could only take so much and we had to do the kind thing: unplug him and give him his final rest.

So please, I ask you to light a candle, bow your heads, and say a small prayer of thanks to the gods of eBay where I was able to order another one, since this model has been discontinued.

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Meet My Friend . . .

Debut author, Jamie Leigh Hansen. Her book, Betrayed, just hit the shelves, and I wanted to let all of you get to know her. I met Jamie years ago and was struck even then by her determination and her bright smile. A few months ago, during a Google search, I ran across her first book, and was thrilled! She kindly gave me an advance copy (which I loved) and now it is her time to shine.

EB: Jamie, you’ve worked a long time to get published–and through some tough health issues–what kept you going and kept you writing?

JLH: Several things kept me going. First, writing is my dream. Romance novels have been my favorites since Sweet Valley High in Junior High. And the very educational Beloved by Bertrice Small at 13. Wow.

With Freidreich’s Ataxia, the hereditary nerve condition I have, fatigue has always been a huge issue. But I have a choice. Go to bed and read until I die, or stay active and try to make my dreams come true. I made my choice and am too stubborn to quit, even on the most exhausting, depressing, hard-to-create days.

When my youngest was diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer, a friend from my IECRWA chapter came to visit. Jolene is in my acknowledgments in Betrayed. She picked me up every two weeks for months, then more spread out over the last couple of years. We’d go out and talk, talk writing, or just sit quietly and write. She was so supportive. She gave me exclusive writing time and really kept me going. Never underestimate the value of a wonderful friend.

EB: Where did you get the idea for Betrayed? (Really, I found it very imaginative and so different from so many other paranormals!)

JLH: Thank you. It began with a dream. This sexy knight and his fearful bride at the top of a tower with a fire on their wedding night. And towards the end of it, she ties him naked to a chair. LOL But I wanted to write more than historical. I love paranormal, suspense, mysteries and character development. And I couldn’t exorcise an element of faith as I wrote it, so I quit trying to downplay that and wrote the book of my heart. As I worked on it, I really began to search the core of all my heroine’s fears and what it takes to bring her from victim to survivor. Which, for her, was 9 violent deaths over nearly 1000 years. I discovered in the process of free-writing the story that she’d barely survived a brutal marriage in her 10th lifetime, so I chunked most of the 150 pages that I’d written and started over. I wrote 2 entire separate 110k drafts. Out of all of that, the major rewriting and all, it’s the historical scenes that are still there.

I’m just so happy that I threw in every sub-genre of romance that I love and it worked.

EB: What did it feel like to see your book in a bookstore for the first time?

JLH: I still haven’t. I’ll let you know tomorrow. LOL I was at Borders the day of, but they didn’t have it stocked. So, I guess my first view of Betrayed in stores will be the pile of 100 at my signing. (which is at the store already and will be available tomorrow despite all the issues so far. lol)

EB: What’s next?

JLH: I’ve written most of Book 2: Cursed. I’m still fighting myself over the ending, but I love the story. Like Betrayed, it has a mix of every day reality (probably much more than Betrayed) but still with the Angelic/demonic/nephilic subplot and danger. Maeve has been awakened and is very not happy. I hope to finish this really soon and begin Book 3.

EB: Where can readers find you and learn more about Betrayed?

JLH: There’s a list, so everyone is welcome to pick what best fits their needs.

Http://www.JamieLeighHansen.com
www.JamieLeighHansen.bebo.com
www.MySpace.com/JamieLeighHansen
www.AuthorNation.com/JLH (new place for readers and writers. it’s really classy and beautifully arranged.)

EB: Thanks for dropping by, Jamie! It is so wonderful when friends reach for their dreams and succeed. All my best wishes to you!

Does anyone have any questions for Jamie? She’s promised to drop by and answer your queries. Post away.

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So I lied.

Yes, I have an extra blog this week, but not here.  Over at Purple Hearts.  Drop by, but be advised:  I am handing out non-nonsense, non-fuzzy advice about writing.  You know me, all warm and full of sugar now that I am about to embark on my New Year’s Resolutions.  Small children with candy be warned.

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Happy New Year!

How exciting! It is 2008! I can’t believe the last year passed so quickly, but that just seems to be the way of getting older and more settled with your life–time seems to speed up–just when I could really use a few extra hours in the day.

Speaking of getting older, the other day my DH and I were discussing getting a babysitter and the oldest hero asked for “a boy babysitter.” My husband was a bit taken aback by this, and then I chimed in that when I was little, my brother and I had a boy babysitter, whose name was JC. So the oldest hero asks, “Well, can JC come babysit us?” And I explained that JC didn’t babysit any more, because he was older than me . . . yadda, yadda, yadda . . . and the hero thinks about this and says, “Oh, if he’s older than you, Mom, then he’s probably dead.” Oh, so comforting. Especially right before one’s birthday to know that anyone older than me must be dead!

Speaking of my birthday, here is my dilemma every year over New Year’s resolutions. I can make all the resolutions I want on December 31st, but a few days later my birthday comes along, and if you think for one minute I am forgoing my birthday cake and spending the day exercising, well, think again! So no point in getting going on my resolutions until after the Epiphany. Plus, that just clears the field of all the people who lasted about a week on their resolutions.

But one thing I do have to get going on is my writing, so I will be blogging only once a week for a while. So watch for a new blog every Monday morning and keep those comments and suggestions coming. And just so you do keep coming back–I’ve got a scan of my new cover and it is to die for. Stay tuned.

By the way, Happy New Year. And thank you so much for all you did to make 2007 so memorable for me. Now, why not share what was memorable about last year for you, and your hopes for 2008. (Note: I did not say resolutions. Remember, those are frowned upon until after January 6th.

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Merry Christmas

I just wanted to take a quick moment and wish all of you a very merry Christmas. Everyone here, both the folks who post often (Haven, Keira, you delightful wits!) and all of you who lurk and read–yes, I know about all of you, I do see the stats.

Speaking of stats, did you realize that people from all over the world have visited this blog–from far off places (at least far off to me!) such as Brazil, Iran, Serbia and Montenegro, Finland, Russia and even the Sudan. When I look at the world map and see that my quips and stories and thoughts have traveled so far, and that people return time and time again, I feel as if I have made so many new friends, and it makes me realize how wonderful the internet is at drawing us all closer. And if we can do that, isn’t that just one step away from discovering that we are all so very much alike and that we can get along and live in a world of peace. After all, isn’t that what the spirit of Christmas is about?

My wish this year? Peace and happiness to all of you. And may the light of Christmas burn in our hearts for the next twelve months as brightly as it does on Christmas morning.

All my love,

Elizabeth

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Christmas Meme

Here is a fun one that Christina over at The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick tagged me with. Being a hit or miss sort of person when it comes to memes (believe me, I love them, I just don’t always get them) here is a meme I am happily to play along with.

Instructions: Please share 12 of your favorite Christmas things (or Hanukah is applicable): they can be memories, traditions, songs, presents, beliefs, whatever it is about this season that you love.

1) The first and foremost thing I love about Christmas are the lights. It is so dark this time of year, I find it uplifting and joyous to see lights and decorations on houses. I start nagging hinting about getting ours up the week before Thanksgiving, because I know it will take at least a week of hints to get them up that first holiday weekend. My favorites, the big old fashioned globes with icicles strung along with them.

2) Opening the boxes with all the Christmas decorations in them. It is like a surprise every year. I have too much Christmas stuff, so every year I promise myself I will thin it down because I don’t use most of it and it seems wasteful to me not to have it out and being loved. My fav decorations? The creche my Grandma Patty gave me when I was about ten years old, and the stockings my mother-in-law needlepointed for the kids.

3) Wrapping gifts with my Grandma Patty. She hated wrapping presents. She loved giving gifts, she loved Christmas, but she really, truly did not like wrapping Christmas presents. For years my mother would go over and help her, and Grandma would have all the presents stacked on one end of her enormous dining room table and this magical assortment of foil papers and gorgeous ribbons and pretty decorations for the packages scattered all over the rest of the table like Christmas confetti. No plain old bag o’bows for Grandma! As I got older, I got to help, which I considered a great honor that I was both old enough and deemed competent enough to wrap a gift elegantly.

4) Our old home movies of Christmases past. There are my parents so young and vital. All my grandparents, who are now gone. My dad with his crazy, mischievous grin. They just make me melt with Christmas joy to watch them. Here is my Dad and me–this has got to be my first Christmas. I still have that rocking chair and that doll.

5) Christmas baking. Oh, I love this tradition. Even as I write this, I have sugar cookie dough and gingerbread men dough chilling in the fridge. On the counter are the ingredients for fudge and peanut brittle. And I’ll make Grandma’s Pecan Tassies and some Christmas Crisps later this week.

6) A real evergreen tree. My husband and I are of the same mind on this. Christmas is not Christmas without a real, Evergreen tree. When I was pregnant with my first, we were living in California on an extended work assignment for his job. We were in extended stay housing, in a one bedroom apartment and we were determined to have a tree. Then I went into early labor and was stuck on bedrest. When things settled down, my husband went out to get a Christmas tree, but none were to be found. What we didn’t know, both having grown up in colder regions, is that in So California Christmas trees arrive at the lots and when they are gone, they are gone. If you don’t snag one up immediately, forget about finding a tree. My poor husband drove all over LA looking for a tree, but there were none to be had. We settled that year for a Christmas Poinsettia and decorated the poor thing with a pile of lights.

7) Midnight Mass. I think Midnight Mass is the most holy, beautiful celebration of my faith. I find it such a profound and beautiful event. But I can no longer stay awake for it. Last time I went, I fell asleep, and my husband nudged me awake for Communion. I think I should go to Christina’s church, especially if they celebrate MM earlier.

8 ) Satsuma oranges. I will eat those little golden gems until I turn orange. We always got them in our stocking at Christmas as a treat.

9) The Christmas letter from my sister-in-law and her family, which is considered the family masterpiece, because each of them lists their highlights and lowlights of the year–and believe me they share everything! The lowlights just make you laugh so hard, and help you realize that no matter how far apart you might be from family, you still share the same trials and tribulations. Oh, and by the way, if you need to throw up in the middle of the night, according to my SIL, don’t do it into a mesh garbage can.

10) Christmas carols, especially O, Holy Night, Silent Night, and Do You Hear What I Hear?. Those carols just fill my heart with wonder and joy.

11) The last minute hand knit Christmas gifts I think I need to give to everyone. My hands are killing me, but I am still knitting neckwarmers, fingerless gloves, and sock monkey hats like a crazy woman. That reminds me, I need to go do 4 rounds on another monkey . . .

12) My grandma Patty, who passed away about 10 years ago. We always spent Christmas Eve at her house. Always. Her house was lovingly decorated from one end to the other, including her infamous cookie tree that was always overflowing with wonderful Christmas treats. To this day, I can’t go through the month of December without remembering her at every turn. Grandma, I miss you.

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I'm on Romance Novel TV!

When I was at the New Jersey conference in October, I was invited to sit down with Sophia Nash and be interviewed for Romance Novel TV. How fun is that! I’d been dying to do one of those interviews, but after they asked me and I enthusiastically said yes, then came the email that said to show up in “camera ready makeup.” Huh?

You have to realize, I am so not the makeup girl. I don’t put it on unless I am going out. Like really out, in real public. Not up to school to pick up the kids or to the grocery store, but really out, with people other than the kids and the family or the local Starbucks crowd. But this is Romance Novel TV–so I have to put my best face forward. So of course, I turn to that makeup maven of Avon, Kathryn Smith. See her pretty face right there! She gave me all the right advice and so the next morning, I was ready. Of course the next bit of advice was that I shouldn’t wear a bright print. There goes the leopard print shirt I was planning to wear. On goes the basic black.

Next I met up with Sophia Nash and we chat a little bit about all this. Sophia is a real pro, with a broadcasting background and the chops to handle the stress. And being the savvy chick that she is, she’s dug really deep into my bio and pumped all my friends for dirt. It was sort of like being on Extra or Inside Edition.

We chatted away and then we got the giggles over a flubbed intro. The sort of “if you laugh, I am going to bust out” sort of giggles. The segment is called Author to Author, but Sophia said, “Author on Author.” And then I made some wisecrack about what sort of film crew was this and we all laughed. And then we laughed again. And then the interview went wild–we kept cracking each other up and trying to see who could do the better straight face–which never works because you know the person is trying too hard. Oh, goodness, never let two authors loose and see what they can say to top the other. It was hilarious.

What is so interesting to me is that the interviews always look like they are taking place in some cozy enclave, but this is just a hotel conference room they prettied up for the interviews. And while Sophia and I settle into those cozy chairs and make like we are just having coffee and chatting, this is what it looks like from my perspective:

All and all it was so much fun and the final interview is now up on Romance Novel TV, so check it out. And after the interview Maria and Marisa here were debating doing an outtake show. Be afraid, be very afraid.

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A Goddess by any other name . . .

Yes, I am blogging over at the Goddess Blogs today.  So drop on by and check it out.  And leave a comment or two . . . apparently goddesses really like comments.

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A Creature of Habits

I really am a creature of habits and rituals. Take my morning writing routine. I wouldn’t even think of sitting down without my double shot latte, nonfat milk and two teaspoons of raw sugar. Not only a routine sort of person, but a high maintenance one at that. No other time in the year do I feel the pull of rituals and routine than I do in December. The holidays bring out the worst in me.

The “to-do” list becomes the “must-do” list. Must get the house decorated. Must bake enough cookies to give everyone a plateful. Must make the Kringle. Must get the shopping done. Must make a pile of gifts. Must wrap all those gifts. Must get the tree. Must decorate the tree. Last year the tree went up and then sat there for a week undecorated until one of the little heroes shamed us into decorating. Well, it had lights on it.

Every year I swear I am going to do this Christmas different, and every year another “must do” bites the dust and I feel immensely guilty that I am not like all the other mothers who seem to have it all together–the perfectly decorated house, the gifts all wrapped before midnight on Christmas Eve, the house party that comes off like something out of the pages of Martha Stewart. The last house party we had, the cat got into one of the meat trays and ate half the ham off it before I caught her. Then she ever so politely waited until the party was in full swing to come into the living room and “share” her ham by urping it up on the carpet. Oh, and there was the little kid who stood by the cookie tray and very carefully licked all the sugar and frosting off all the cookies. I said a silent, thoughtful prayer that he waited until he and his family were halfway home before he “shared.”

I’m really not a Grinch. I love Christmas. But right now, with all the “must dos” hanging over my head, I must admit to feeling a little “bah, humbug.”

What gets you out of the holiday crazies? What is on your “must do” list that is driving you to drink . . . eggnog? Any suggestions?

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