Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life . . . or complications

Sorry I've been missing in action.

Life has been complicating the things I would normally be doing if I weren't out living it.

I would be blogging and telling you all that come February I'm starting a year long celebration of 25 years of being published by Harlequin and Silhouette. To do that I thought the best thing would be to invite you all to share the celebration with me by doing what we all do best -- read.

So starting in February (check back the first week), I'm going to be giving away a book a day for a year!

Some of them will be my books. Some will be books of my friends. Some will be books I've read and enjoyed and want to share with you (and incidentally make room on my bookshelves -- which means that some of them will havebeen lightly read -- by me).

I'll be posting what you need to do to be part of these weekly drawings -- SEVEN WINNERS per week -- every month. You can find the info after February 1st on both my website and here.

But the website will have a more permanent link unless Heather my wonderful webmistress wants to stick a link in the sidebar of the blog, which she might, as she is clever that way.

So . . . stay tuned. I'll introduce you to my 25 year old "oldies" in case you missed them. And if I can get The Prof to dig deep in the attic, I may be able to share a few of them with you -- starting with Starstruck, the first to see the bookshelves that February 25 years ago.

Kate Walker is also celebrating her 25th this year. And you can bet I'll be giving away some wonderful Kate books as well. Stick around.

It's going to be a good year.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker

I was saddened to learn of the death today of one of America's most beloved writers, Robert B. Parker. He is said to have "died at his desk" at age 77.

I will miss his books, his talent, his wit, his characters. I have a collection of Robert B. Parker books. Most of them are from his series about Spenser, the hard-boiled Boston detective, who made Parker a household word. I can't remember them individually now -- one from another. I can only remember how much I enjoyed reading them, how delighted I was to read of Spenser trading jabs, physical and otherwise, with the redoubtable Hawk, how I both relished and got impatient with his relationship with Susan Silverman.

"Ditch her," I told him on countless occasions. "You're obsessed. She's a loser."

But he didn't think so. And maybe he was right.

Susan was a complex woman dealing with a man who preferred to see things in black-and-white. And they were putting together a relationship -- or trying to -- at a time when social gender roles were certainly changing. Robert Parker captured that ambiguity, that sense of his characters being on social quicksand, while at the same time involving them in a cracking good mystery.

He went on to write books about Jesse Stone which I wasn't as enthralled with but which captured the imaginations of readers who weren't as devoted to Spenser. He never just sat back and 'cranked out' stories because they would make him money. Certainly Spenser would have made him money forever.

But Parker was a writer who wanted to challenge himself, who was bored with sameness, who was always seeking new possibilities, reinventing himself and his literary landscape.

Now that I'm finished with George's revisions (they were tweaks, really. It was wonderful.) and they're gone, I think I may go have a nice day or two of re-reading some of my favorite Spenser books and taking time to appreciate all the gifts to readers that Robert B Parker has left us.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Anne Gracie!

It's that time of year again -- Anne Gracie's birthday!

If you aren't already familiar with Anne's wonderful warm witty books, get thee to Amazon or Book Depository or Barnes and Noble or your favorite neighborhood bookshop and start ordering all of her terrific back list.

If you have already read them, you know what I'm talking about, and you'll be delighted to know that she's got another great story nearly ready to send to her publisher. I've had the pleasure of reading bits and pieces of Nash Renfrew's story when she feels charitable enough to send me a piece. I'm loving it.

So rather than encourage her to go out and celebrate her birthday, instead I suggested she stay home and write. There will be plenty of time for merry-making AFTER Nash has been safely bundled off to the publisher (but he could make a quick trip by my house on his way, just so I can find out how it ends, please!)

Happy birthday, Anne!

Thank you for your friendship, your sense of humor, your maravelous books, your wonderful heroes and delightful heroines. Thank you for your wisdom and your laughter.

Thank you for making me make George pull his socks up and be a hero. Ditto for Demetrios, Christo, Seb, PJ, and Spence. They thank you, too.

And Nash will thank you if you'll please just go back now and get to work!

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Male on Tuesday

No, it's not Tuesday.

But Monday, January 4th, I have the Male on Monday slot at The Pink Heart blog, and I wrote about one of my very first heroes who came into my life every Tuesday night for four years between 1959-1963.

The hero was Jess Harper, the cowboy-drifter who turned up on Laramie in the very first episode and, while he was always a threat to go, never ever left.

He was played by handsome, talented Robert Fuller -- he of the lean hard body, the piercing blue eyes (though the first two years were in black-and-white so who knew?), the unruly dark hair, the unforgettable rough baritone voice and the mix of wry humor and fierce intensity -- who has colored all my heroes to this very day.

If ever a man was perfect for a part, Bob Fuller was Jess.

Even he said that. Back in 1992 when writer Jessica Douglass and I were putting together a workshop on My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys for the RWA conference, we asked him.

It was one of those times when research is more fun than you can imagine -- and you learn that your childhood heroes can sometimes be as memorable in person as they were in your imagination.

I wrote about Bob Fuller and Jess Harper and the impact they had on my life and my books in a piece called 'Jess Harper -- My Kind of Hero' that I did my first year writing this blog. I won't rehash it here. If you want a look, click on the link above.

Suffice to say, he inspired either directly or indirectly a lot of my heroes -- but especially Jess Cooper in A Cowboy For Christmas and Robert Tanner in Cowboys Don't Cry. They were both tough, intense, quiet, lone wolf sorts of men, men who struggled to do the right thing.

They had flaws, but fortunately for them -- and for my books and heroines -- not fatal flaws. Life wasn't easy for them. They had tough decisions to make, and while they were busy being noble, sometimes they got it wrong the first time. Happily they got it right in the end.

Who were your earliest heroes?

Tell me and what inspired you, and you could win a copy of A Cowboy For Christmas. Micah and Mitch will be picking a winner (with my help) on Friday.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy New Year!

There are grandchildren everywhere.

I consider this a good sign for the coming year. I tripped over three bodies in the middle of the living room this morning while trying to get to the kitchen in the dark (hey, it was 4:45!) to make tea before we took daughter and granddaughter to the airport. And there were grandsons scattered all over. They looked like a pile of puppies.

Why -- when there are perfectly good beds upstairs, not to mention two perfectly good air mattresses in the dining room -- they all prefer to sleep on the rug or on the sofa or wherever they drop, is beyond me. Actually I think they must sleepwalk.

But I'm glad they are here -- even if they did create an obstacle course in the dark of earliest morning.

We have been to the airport now -- and returned home -- and the daughter and granddaughter are now in Chicago, where they practically arrived before we got home. (The puppies are still in the living room on the sofa, having moved from the floor).

* * *

Now I'm gearing up for the new year.

I expect George and Sophy to resurface sometime in the next week or two, doubtless requiring revisions of some sort. I hope they are not extensive, but mostly I hope whatever the ed suggests makes it a better book. Usually her revision ideas help. My editor has a good eye -- and a good sense of story.

In the meantime, I'm getting ideas for a new book, which is nice.

I rather like having had a couple of weeks to just be a real person without a book in my life. It was a nice change. I was actually surprised when the ideas began bubbling up for a new story. Not a lot there yet, but it is coming. I hope I get enough to discuss with my editor by the time I've got George back and gone again.

This year is my 25th anniversary of publication. Starstruck, which was my second book, but my first to see the light of day as a published novel, came out in February 1985.

So to celebrate the event, I'm going to begin giving away a book a day starting February 1st. Some of them will be my books. Some will be other peoples' that I've enjoyed. It seems like a good way to celebrate a career in romance fiction -- giving away copies of good books.

Stay tuned and I'll be posting more about the Great Book Give-Away soon. Also Liz Fielding and Kate Walker and I will, I believe, be running our annual Here Come the Grooms! contest before long. I might have to find a copy of Starstruck as a prize in that contest as Joe, the hero, was my first groom. I wonder if there is still a copy back in darkest reaches of my attic.

Will have to go check. If I don't reappear, send search parties.

Speaking of which, The Prof has gone out to look for the daughter's cell phone where they went hiking and climbing yesterday and the cell phone disappeared. It's about 10 below zero this morning, so if he doesn't get back in an hour or two, I'm sending out search parties for him.

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