Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eloisa James' Special Treat!

    by Anna Sugden

    Can there be a better way to kick off the holiday season in the Lair than to welcome back one of our favourite guests - Eloisa James?

    Join us as we celebrate the launch of Eloisa's latest book in the Duchesses series "When the Duke Returns", find out how to make your holiday special with treats just for yourself ... and be part of the chance to win one of Eloisa's 5 (yes, 5!) prizes.

    So without further ado, I'll hand you over to Eloisa.


    Thank you, Anna. I'm delighted to return to the Bandita's Lair.

    Decembers tend to pass in a whirl of wrapping paper and exhaustion—a month spent creating beautiful memories for other people, most of whom are under the age of consent and are perfectly happy chewing on squeaky toys.

    My point is that we often forget something: ourselves. What would make you really happy? As a woman?

    My answer is to feel loved. And my prescription is love yourself this holiday. When your children look back over their memories, they'll see it in a whirl of joy, presents, and love. But you're the key to that. The only way you can be the calm center at the heart of their joy is if you yourself are joyful. And the only way you can be joyful is if you are happy with yourself.

    Recipe for Self Love

    Lingerie. Buy something and wear it under your sweatshirt. The crucial point: you're not doing this for your partner, but for yourself.

    Toes. A winter pedicure is delicious, partly because it's a secret known only to you (and perhaps the man you deem lucky enough to kiss your coral pink toes).

    Time. That's the main gift you have to give yourself: time. Put on some music, get into the bathtub, and read. I even have suggested reading material: my latest, When the Duke Returns. My duke, Simeon, returns to England after years exploring the wilderness to meet the wife he married by proxy: Isidore. But he takes one look at her and offers an annulment: she’s too beautiful, too sexy, and too angry for him. Typically for a man, he’s underestimating Isidore (not to mention the power of lingerie—see above)!

    It’s my hope that in reading how Simeon and Isidore fall in love, even in the midst of terrible problems with water closets (toilets), siblings, a rather horrific mother-in-law and a house renovation, will help you survive your December.

    What’s your favorite survival recipe? What do you do to survive in the midst of chaos (and let’s not even talk about Black Friday shopping)?

    Don't forget that 5 lucky commenters will win prizes today - Eloisa is giving away two copies of 'Desperate Duchesses', two copies of 'An Affair Before Christmas' and one copy of 'Duchess by Night'. Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanks, But No Thanks

    by Jo Robertson

    Since Thanksgiving just passed and families and friends often comment on the things they’re thankful for during the year, I thought it'd be fun to share our "thanks” and “no thanks” for the year’s happenings.

    First of all,
    a great big wahooooo thanks for Johnny Depp. Honestly, did you ever think when he was in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "21 Jump Street" that he’d also be capable of such a variety of acting roles as “Sweeney Todd” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”?


    No thanks to Angelina Jolie. Okay, okay, she’s apparently a fine actor, philantropist and mother, but those lips just give me the creeps. Oh, come on! I just said what everyone’s thinking!


    Thanks to FX for “Sons of Anarchy.” That show is utte
    rly amoral, inappropriate, and unfit for the ears and eyes of children of any age, but Jax Teller, played by Brit Charlie Nunnam, has got to be the cutest thing since, well, Johnny Depp, and I’d tune in to the Biker Gang, drug-running, gun-running show just to watch his cute self.

    No thanks to the new Blackberry Storm. Really, do we need one more electr
    onic device to engage people’s attention when they’re actually supposed to be listening to you?




    On the other hand, it has so many features I think I can cancel my housecleaning service. It'll probably do that too.




    Thanks to Pink’s “Wait.” Love the beat, love the music, love the sassy theme.

    No thanks to Pink’s “Wait” video. One word: bleeeeeech!






    Thanks for the cast of “The Mentalist." This is one of the most cleverly-written shows of the fall television season.








    No thanks Sara Tancredi's return to “Prison Break.” I thought her head – and her acting – was better in the box.

    And whatever happened to T.J.? (He's in the middle of the photo, right in front of Sara Tancredi.






    Thanks to Tina Fey who played Sarah Palin so well on SNL that when the Alaskan governor actually appeared on the hit comedy show, many Americans thought Palin was the fake.

    No Thanks to botox. Who wants to inject botulinum toxin Type A produced in culture to your face?

    Thanks for wrinkles. I like to pretend they’re the verification that I’ve actually lived and have been around the block a few times.




    Thanks for electronic mail, instant message, and especially, for writers, electronic contests. Do we really want to leave our grandchildren tree-less?


    What about you, Banditas, Bandita Buddies, and visitors? What great big shout out of “thanks” or “no thanks” would you give?

    Thanks for a new favorite TV show this year? A great movie -- Daniel Craig's James Bond, anyone? A new addition to your family? No thanks to something you're sick to death of seeing/hearing -- annoying commercials, drivers with cell phones, bad coffee? A new gadget that just plain doesn't work? A bad movie that was highly touted? Or something you could do without?
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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Friday, November 28, 2008

The Book or the Film?

    by Anna Sugden

    There has been a lot of controversy lately with the new Bond film 'Quantum of Solace' (where do they get these titles?!). For those of you unaware of the issues troubling Bond fans, it's all to do with the last two (Daniel Craig) movies.

    You see, they go back to the beginning and tell the story of how Bond developed into the character we know today. The purists believe that this is the only way to see Bond and that this is as close to the James Bond of the Ian Fleming books as we've seen, since George Lazenby. Film fans, meanwhile, are horrified that some of the classic Bond-isms eg 'Martini, shaken not stirred' and Q, are missing from these films. It doesn't matter (much *g*) who plays Bond, but the Bond-isms have to be there.

    All of which got me thinking about the problems with turning books into films.

    Think of the controversy about the Harry Potter films. Though it's obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that turning an 800-plus page tome into a two hour film is just the teensiest bit tricky, die-hard fans get quite upset that chunks of the story have had to be left out. They don't see why it's a problem to capture all the depth of characterisation and complexity of plot, without seeing that the end result would be a major bum-numbing epic!

    They had the same problem with Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code'.

    Similarly, the recent version of 'Pride and Prejudice' (once you've got over the horror of anyone other than Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy!) raised hackles by straying from the well-known and much-loved story.

    That's not to say that any of these films is bad - they're just not 'as good' as the book. Personally, I think they're very entertaining and enjoy them for what they are ... but that's just me (except for 'Pride and Prejudice' - which I didn't like!)

    You only need to speak with authors like Lisa Gardner about the adapatations of their books to know how they feel about what was done with their beloved stories.

    On the other side of the coin, are the movies that are better (in the viewer's mind) than the book. The one that stands out most for me, is 'Practical Magic' (starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman and the drool-worthy Goran Visnij and Aidan Quinn). While Alice Hoffman's book is very good, the film has much more charm.

    And then, there are the multitude of TV adaptations (Thank you, BBC) and movies that are really good translations of the printed word to the screen. The Colin Firth version of 'Pride and Prejudice', 'A Town Like Alice' (the Bryan Brown TV series) and Inspector Morse are just a few examples.

    I've seen a number of debates about potential movies made from popular series. Who would play Eve Dallas and Roarke (pause to drool) if they made the JD Robb '... In Death' series into movies? What about Ranger, Joe Morelli and Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's series? It's a brave director and producer who take on such feats - because you know you going to irritate a bunch of people no matter what you do!

    I know that the fabulous Robert Crais has sworn not to allow his books to be made into movies or TV series, because he wants the reader to have their own interpretation of Elvis Cole and Joe Pike - not one fashioned by Hollywood.

    So, what do you think? Do you like books being converted to films? Which do you think have been done well and which badly? Have you read a book which inspired a film and been disappointed? Does it matter if book and film don't match exactly? Are there books you would love to see turned into movies? We all dream of our books being optioned, but how would you feel if the only recognisable element was the title?!

    And who would play the yummy scrummy Roarke? Or Ranger?
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Seduced by the dark side

    by Suzanne Welsh

    For the past year I've had a cell phone. Yes, me, the lone hold out in my town where people upgrade electronic devices like changing shoes, broke down and bought my first cell phone. To give you a little past history of why this was so monumental, let me take you back to an age when cell phones were nothing more than a glint in Ray Bradbury's eyes as he wrote his first Star Trek screenplay.

    As a young teen I loved talking on the phone. It was the social network of our time. The phone hung on the wall in the kitchen, but the cord was long enough to stretch to the stairs leading down to our basement. (In Ohio we all had basements.) So after dinner, washing the dishes and doing my homework I could spend half an hour perched on the top step talking to my friends--usually my best friend Marion or my equally good friend Terry. We'd talk about school, boys, friends, boys, clothes, boys, music....and yeah...boys



    That stayed the norm until I went away to nursing school. Then I'd talk to boys, friends and my family on the pay phone at the end of the dorm hall, a fact that probably saved my nursing school career, since it limited the time I could spend distracted from studying, (minus the TV time, the chatting in other people's dorm rooms time, oh yeah and the vodka on the weekend time.)




    By the time I started my family portable phones were the new rage. But I stood by my old favorite, the wall mounted phone. Didn't have to worry about charging it between uses. Always knew where it was...mounted on the wall. And any child wanting to talk on the phone had to do it within hearing range of the mama. :)



    But then we moved to Texas about the same time cell phones invaded every home. It was amazing to look around when stopped at red lights to see every driver in front, behind and around me talking on a cell phone. One day I was at the groceries, enjoying the quiet as I thumped the cantelopes, only to have my peace distrubed by a lady yelling at her child over the cell phone. Please, I'd come shopping to get away from my family. Why would I want them to be able to find me via a portable phone?

    After that a few things happened to change my mind.



    1) I became a romance writer. I made friends and started traveling more for my new career. I needed to stay in touch with my family, and having a cell phone meant no long distance bills to my husband, no matter where I'd roamed.



    2) My daughter became pregnant. Now it was very important for me to be reached any hour of the day or night.



    3) It was time to come out of the dark ages. People were actually texting and on the internet from their phones. Sigh. The old wall mounted phone could never do that!


    So now I find myself charging my phone when I'm at home. My kids ONLY call my cell, unless I don't answer that. At work, I put it on vibrate and carry it in my pocket...but only IF I'm expecting one of them to call. Despite my seduction to the dark side of modern communication, I refuse to talk on the phone in a patient's room!

    So dear friends, how about you? Have you ever held out against something, only to slowly be seduced to it's good points?Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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Gossip Girl Thanksgiving Fashion Guide

    Thanksgiving is the time of the year to spread love and gratitude by getting together with loved ones and pigging out on turkey and potatoes with gravy. With Thanksgiving around the corner, we need to gobble up some thanksgiving fashion with this season's latest looks.

    For the hippest and hottest Thanksgiving fashion let's consult the hottest TV Series, Gossip Girl, and review the previous episode (The Magnificent Archibalds. Join me as I check on Gossip Girl's Thanksgiving fashion guide.

    Serena and Lily van der Woodsen

    Even though she's a mother of two Gossip Girl's characters namely Serena and Eric, Lily van der Woodsen stayed to be a fashion-forward mom. For the Turkey Day, she wore a dress from Hugo Boss with her Brunello Cucinelli trench. Serena sported a top and skirt from Porter Grey and Nine West shoes.


    Serena van der Woodsen

    Serena stops by the Waldorf household, where Blair's Thanksgiving traditions are not being properly followed. She wears a Mayle coat and carries a Chanel bag.



    For her school dressed-up look, Serena accessorizes her French Toast uniform with a leather vest (shop an option from Mike & Chris for Ron Herman) and boots from Ralph Lauren.



    Blair Waldorf
    For her favorite holiday, Blair opted for intricate, backless, forest green dress designed by Alexandra Vidal. The pleated bib front is just as cute, as are the Jimmy Choos she chooses. In a later scene, Blair wears a Sretsis coat dress over this look.




    Jenny Humphrey

    Jenny rocked a plaid dress from Dolce and Gabbana and Nine West boots.



    Jenny gets ever-so-casual, but ever-so-fashionable, in a cute tee from Kova & T with cameo ring (Tarino Tarantino) and necklace is (Alexis Bittar).



    Vanessa Abrams

    Vanessa wears a mixture of high and low with a coat from Forever 21 and a silk printed dress from Anna Sui.



    Source
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

    by Susan Seyfarth


    Today is Thanksgiving, that unique American holiday in which we gather our loved ones together, cook all day, then stuff ourselves with copious amounts of food. Often we'll squeeze in a few (or ten or twelve) hours of TV, be it a football game (American football, of course, not soccer), the Thansgiving Day Parade coverage (I'm a Macy's girl myself) or the first viewing of Miracle on 34th Street for the season.

    What?? You've never seen Miracle on 34th Street? Are you busy right now? Because it's on at my house.


    But while we do love our families, & the TV traditions are important, let's not kid ourselves. Today is all about the food. Golden turkeys, fluffy mashed potatoes, rich stuffing, my mom's mysterious corn casserole that is delicious in spite of (or possibly because of) the fact that it consists nothing but butter, sour cream, a couple cans of corn & a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. And then there's the apple pie--French Apple, of course, with a crumbly top that makes grown men weep with gratitude.

    My husband's family throws a pan of home-made mac & cheese into the mix. Grandma Pickett's recipe. It took me a few years to get on board with this break from tradition but now a Thanksgiving table looks sort of naked without it. The first time my husband (then my boyfriend) joined my family for Thanksgiving, he insisted on making it for us. My aunt leaned over during dessert & said to me, "Do NOT let this one get away."

    I didn't.

    At this point, Thanksgiving without any of one these things is like, well, like pie without ice cream. Like chips without salsa or pizza without an icy cold Coke. Like the year my mom decided on an all white Christmas tree rather than just throwing on every ornament a kindergartener had ever given her. Okay for some people, I guess. Pretty on the pages of Better Homes & Gardens. Just wrong for us. If it's not a tacky, tinsel laden tree, how are we supposed to know it's ours?

    So tell me, what was the hugest break from tradition your family ever risked around the holidays? Was it great? Was it a disaster? Did it spawn any new traditions or just an solemn agreement to never do it this way again?

    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Brief Lull

    by Nancy Northcott

    Before we start today's blog, please join the entire lair in wishing our friends Maria and Marisa at RNTV a very happy birthday! We're all grateful for the wonderful promotion they give our genre. If you get a chance, pop over there and give them birthday greetings.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled program . . .

    Tomorrow is, in the United States, Thanksgiving Day, a time for friends and family to gather, take time out from the usual rush of life, and reflect on the good things in our lives. It's generally a day of tranquility, of peace and reflection.

    And then the madness begins! "Black Friday," as it's called because so many merchants depend on it to keep their ledgers in black ink for the rest of the year, follows hard on Thanksgiving's heels. Malls and big box stores become swamped. While this day theoretically belongs to thoughts of others, to shopping for something to bring joy to the people for whom we were grateful the day before, it seems to bring out the worst in some people.

    Parents start scheming--who do they know who works in retail and can get this year's equivalent of a Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo? (I confess to having spent a couple of hours driving around town in search of the Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Disk one Christmas Eve and finding one only because I happened to walk into the toy store just after someone returned it.) Special deals on limited-quantity items spur people to stand in line for hours, then stampede into the store, often with serious injuries resulting. People battle over the last Hot Gizmo in stock as if they were Joan's gladiators. The police often have to come restore order. This is the spirit of Christmas? Or is it our American tendency to compete coming to the fore in a very destructive way? Or a little of both?

    Just as an aside here, I'm a sucker for Christmas decorations. Seriously. I'd rather not have seen them since before Halloween, but after December 1, I love them. I even loved them on my recent trip to NY and felt that, considering that I was in town for just a couple of days, the big tree at Rockefeller Center really should've been lit so I could see it. Even if December 1 was a week away (just kidding, but I've only seen it once and was so hoping to see it again).

    But the premature appearance of tinsel and holly and Santa seem to gear us all up for this shopping marathon-sprint- madhouse. Then Thanksgiving comes, and it's "Oh, my gosh, the good stuff will be gone if I don't hurry!" For some people. Not for everyone, of course. I know plenty of people who go out on Black Friday with a plan, avoid places that could lead to mass insanity and violence, and are home by lunchtime.

    From there, though, it's holiday cards, home decorations, shopping, packing, mailing--an evolving list that leads lead up to a "whew, it's done!" about midnight on Christmas Eve. And, sometimes, to a letdown on Christmas morning, a sense that weeks of work led up to a brief frenzy of tearing paper and blinking tree lights. Sort of like the scene of the family opening gifts in the dh's favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.

    Our Christmases were leisurely when the boy was little. We'd get up, peek into our stockings, and watch him play with Santa's gifts while his dad made Swedish pancakes, a tradition in his family. Then we'd have our pancakes and open our gifts. Since our son wanted to play with each new gift, we paused frequently in the opening process to enjoy watching him do that. Now that he has "graduated" to electronics and video games, it isn't the same, but we still try to take the day slowly, to really look at and think about the various gifts we exchange, the people who gave them, and the fact that our family has reached another Christmas.

    We also have friends, Roberta and Art, who are Jewish but loved Christmas. Since they don't feel right about decorating, they came over every year until they moved out of state to help us decorate our tree. We'd spend a leisurely afternoon putting up ornaments, visiting, and discussing the holiday. They often contributed ornaments to the cause, and Roberta made us a beautiful Christmas tree skirt that we cherish. Every year, we think of them when we hang their ornaments or drape that wonderful skirt around the tree.

    Because I love Christmas decorations and the dh loves everything Christmas (and has made his own Christmas cards--now our cards--since long before I knew him), we've amassed a fair number of decorative items. We try to buy an ornament everywhere we go on vacation (though we have none from England, which seems strange when we think how much we love it), and people give us ornaments and decorations. A couple of years ago, though, we were both going nuts in the lead-up to the holiday. We looked at each other and said, "What are we doing? This is supposed to make our house cheerful, not transform us into frenzied lunatics." So we put up the tree, put out the snow globes, and stuck the candletower in the middle of the table. And called it done. And you know what? We had just as much fun as we would've had with every piece of holiday bric-a-brac in place. Maybe we even had more fun because we didn't hit December 25 in a state of deadline anxiety.

    So what do you find most challenging about the holiday season? What's your favorite coping technique? Do you have a favorite memory of holiday preparations?Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/11/
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