Gayle Callen author
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Check out some audio clips and essays from the "Secrets and Vows" series.

My favorite books: My all time favorite book has to be Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels.  I can quote passages from that, I've read it so many times.  So clever and witty and romantic. The opening prologue so vividly makes you sympathize with the hero, who's not very heroic later on.  But you understand him, so it works. 

I grew up on the "Lord of the Rings" books, but my favorite sci fi series was "The Thomas Covenent" series, starting with Lord Foul's Bane about a man from our world with leprosy who is the savior of this whole other world.  What a great story!  Also, I've been reading all the Narnia books, starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, since fifth grade.  I read them to my kids and even gave my son his own set.

I loved Judith Ivory's The Proposition (such a romantic man--yet a rat catcher!), Kathleen Woodiwiss's Shanna (the first historical romance I ever read, at a slumber party in high school in 1977.  I never went to sleep that night.) and The Wolf and the Dove (the reason I wrote medievals first).  Any Tom Clancy book, written without a co-author, but my favorite is probably Red Storm Rising.  Such a fascinating look at how World War III might start.  Love anything by Maggie Shayne.  She's a good friend, and I still remember getting her phone call on the day she sold her first book--magic time!!  I read Julia Quinn and Laura Kinsale, too.  And there are so many books and new-to-me authors in my TBR pile!









 



Books:

Just read a wonderful romance, Heartsong Cottage by Emily March. If you like small towns and love to sigh over a good romance, this one is for you! If you like non-fiction, I really enjoyed The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough. Fascinating snapshot of a part of history that's not so long ago, but changed the entire world! In the dystopian fantasy realm, I read the first two books of the Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen. Very different take on the past and the future.

I cannot tell you how much I LOVED Lorraine Heath's Once More, My Darling Rogue. Such depth of character, and an amnesia story, too! It's become one of my Top 10 romances, ever. There's a tragic secret in the heroine's past that affects everything she does. Only an incredible man could understand and help her get past it. As for non-fiction, I'm reading Amy Poehler's Yes, Please. Do say yes to this book. She's very funny, (I'm listening to her read the audio version and she's a scream), yet she talks about being a working mom, and what it's like in "the biz."

If you like non-fiction, I just read a fascinating book called Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell. She's a dead-presidents fan, so she toured all the historical sites associated with three of our assasinated presidents, Garfield, McKinley, and Lincoln. She's very funny, with a dry sense of humor and an ability to see the absurd. But she's also really serious about history, so I learned a lot about the presidents themselves, and about the assasins and how they were caught/convicted. I'm also enjoying Kristan Higgins "Blue Heron Winery" series about the people of a small town in the NY Finger Lakes in wine country. I'm on book #3, Waiting on You, and boy, can Kristan make you laugh, while tugging on the heartstrings. I love her use of language, so original in her descriptions--and when you've written a lot of books, it's hard to be original. I bow to her!

Just for the heck of it, I decided to read the first Richard Castle Book, Heat Wave, based on the TV show Castle. I googled all over the internet, but I can't find who ghost wrote it. I enjoyed the mystery, and the characters are sort of like the characters on the show... Just read another wonderful historical from Sherry Thomas, The Luckiest Lady in London. She comes up with such deep emotion! If you haven't read J.K. Rowling's pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, you should! She writes incredible mysteries with a "hard-boiled" London detective with a prosthetic leg he got from fighting in Afghanistan. The most recent book was The Silkworm. I really like the narrator from the audio version! J.K. writes such a depth of characterization that I just humbly bow to her...

Decided to absorb the Harry Potter series by audio this time--my third read of the books. J.K. Rowling just amazes me. She's so gifted! Also, on the non-fic side, I read Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku, a look at how our world will change in the next 100 years. The computer revolutions just seem amazing--don't you want to browse the web on your contact lense?

I'm listening to Gone Girl, and I had to write before I even finished it. It was a big seller last year. I must admit, I didn't enjoy the first five chapters--too much set up. I kept saying, "Why can't something happen???" It was an ode to pretty writing, though. It's set in the present in the hero's POV, and then a diary of the heroine, starting when they first met. I'm not revealing anything by saying that the wife turns up missing by chapter five. There's no one to like, and I like my heroes, even flawed heroes. But...wow. This is a good book, such interesting, unusual twists, which I can't discuss without giving it away. And I'm dying to know how it ends. 

I've been enjoying myself working my way through some classics, namely Jane Austen's books. Since I love audiobooks, I've been listening to Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion. I can see why the first two haven't enjoyed the same success as, say, Pride and Prejudice. In Mansfield Park, the heroine, Fanny, is from a poor family and taken in by wealthier relatives. She knows too well her inferior situation, which is very suitable to the times, but as a 21st century reader, I kept wanting her to get some gumption! ;) Also, the culmination of the love story is narrated rather than shown in dialogue, which disappointed me.  I did like Northanger Abbey better. A lot of it is set in Bath, and the heroine is addicted to gothic novels, which affects what she does in a few amusing ways. As for Persuasion, it's one of my favorites. I love an old love rekindled, and how they discover each other again. Much as the heroine is treated poorly by her family, you never feel she's weak, only steady and sensible and worthy of love. I also recently read an old book by one of my favorite authors, Loretta Chase: Lion's Daughter. It was written in the early 90s, and has a vastly different setting than we lately encounter. Much of it takes place on the road in Albania, and the heroine was raised as a fighter there. The hero is a dissolute aristocrat with no money. As usual, no one writes witty, intelligent dialogue like Loretta.

I have now officially caught up to Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone alphabet mystery series. The last published so far is U is for Undertow, and I'm really surprised how the last few books ventured into other character's point of view; they've even hopped about in time. No idea when the next one will be out. Sigh... So I discovered a new mystery series, The Constable Molly Smith series, set in Canada. Very cute new young constable, small town, lots of family, and always a murder mystery to solve. And yes, I have FINALLY begun Janet Evanovictch's Stephanie Plum series. I'm in the middle of the second one, and am really enjoying it so far: Stephanie's feistiness, as well as the two hunky men who help her learn her new bounty hunter job (cop Morelli and bounty hunter Ranger). One of my best friends, Kris Fletcher, just published her first book, A Better Father. It's a wonderful story about an ex-hockey player trying to make a new life for his toddler son by buying a kids' summer camp, the one he used to attend, which is now being run by the woman who doesn't have such fond memories of their youth together. 

Just read a classic, Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, set in the high society of late 19th century New York City. It was fascinating to see the different class rules on our side of the Atlantic. It concerned a young man who proposed to the belle of NY society, only to find himself maturing and feeling conflicted on being asked to help her notorious married cousin. Daniel Day Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer starred in the movie, which I haven't seen. (Hint, it's not a romance, in the sense that it's not exactly the ending I would have written...)

In honor of the late Ray Bradbury, I reread Farenheit 451, and read The Martian Chronicles for the first time. The first is about a society where books have to be burned, so no one has any "bad" thoughts. But the second is series of short stories about man colonizing Mars. Fascinating! He dealt with every aspect, from how Mars might repel man, to "brides" coming, (this was written in the '40s and '50s) to missionaries trying to redeem Martians.

Update on the Song of Ice and Fire series: I finally gave up after reading Storm of Swords, the third book. I just couldn't take one more major character dying. Much as I loved the world he's built, there are far too many scenes that seem pointless. So I read the summaries of the next two books on Wikipedia--I just wanted to know what happened to the major characters. Does this make me a bad reader?

I'm in the middle of the Song of Ice and Fire series (but you'd know it best as the Game of Thrones series) by George RR Martin. I must admit, the first book was so long and dense, I almost didn't go to the next one. But the cliffhanger!!!! One of the best I ever read, so I continued on. The second book, Clash of Kings, was better, and I'm in the middle of the third, Storm of Swords. The books have about ten main characters, scattered across several kingdoms and continents. Some of the main characters are kids, and there's an undercurrent of the paranormal throughout. I think the books could benefit from some tightening, but the world Martin created is powerful and amazing.

Read another of Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street series, this time Hannah's List. The hero is grieving his wife who died the year before, but he now discovers a list she left him to get on with his life. A few times I thought the hero was too uncaring toward some of the women in the book, and I get that he had to grow as a character, but...I was a little disappointed, first time ever with Debbie Macomber. But I still enjoyed the ending!

Read my first Harlen Coban book, Long Lost, with his regular lead character Myron Bolitar, part entertainment rep, part detective. Really enjoyed the first person narrative, and I never saw the plot twists coming. There was international terrorism going on, but the plot was also incredibly personal, about a woman who'd lost a child in a car accident. I like to listen to audio books while I walk my dogs, and I must have really freaked my neighbors out, laughing aloud as I listened to Tina Fey's Bossypants. Incredibly well-written, with amusing takes on everyday life, as well as some important moments in her own life. She touched on subjects, rather than following her life linearly, which made it different. I'm still alternating the Sue Grafton Kinsey Milhone mysteries with James Patterson's Women's Murder Club books, and enjoying both series immensely!

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Though I haven't posted in a while, I swear I've read some great books! I've been listening on my mp3 player. I've enjoyed the first three Women's Murder Club mysteries by James Patterson. Every book had a great twist that I didn't see coming. And even though he's a guy, he does a pretty good First Person Point of View through a woman's eyes.  I've also FINALLY started the Kinsey Milhone mystery series by Sue Grafton, A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc. These were begun in the eighties, so it's interesting to see how things were different in the PI world before cell phones. And Kinsey has such an interesting personality. As for romance, I've read Wedding of the Season and Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke. She's an awesome writer, who makes you feel like a part of the elegant Edwardian era. And I just sigh over the romance...

I finished the Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, and I have to say how much I enjoyed it. The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest were basically one long book separated into two, but that was okay. It was very exciting. I loved finding out all of the background of Lisbeth, an incredible literary character. And the way the author had several different groups of people trying to prove her innocent or prove her guilty, was just incredible. That means the author had to come up with all those different methods to help Lisbeth. It was a gigantic puzzle, with a very satisfying ending.

As you can see from the books I mentioned in December, I'm trying to mix some popular fiction into my romance reading habit. I read Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and I'm halfway through the second in the series. They're basically Swedish mysteries, and part of the allure for me is seeing how alike and how different people from another country can be from us. Fascinating. But Dragon Tattoo has two plots, a financial mystery, as well as solving the disappearance and presumed murder of a teenager from 40 years ago. Larsson makes you care about an old mystery, as the results of the investigation spill over into the present, with great suspense and violent bad guys. My only problem was the ending. Between the two mysteries of the book, they chose the least satisfying one to end last. I don't want to reveal the plot, so all I'll add is that I hear the American movie is fixing the ending. ;) ~~ I don't normally read Young Adult books, but I've heard so much about The Hunger Games that I had to give it a try. I read all three books in a row, and I was riveted. It's set in the future, after some major world war has happened. The US is no more, just a collection of 13 districts under the name Panam. One district rebelled 75 years before, so now to ensure the capitol's hold on the whole downtrodden country, they hold the Hunger Games every year, choosing 2 teenagers from each district to come together in a many-acre arena in a fight to the death. The main character, Catness Everdeen, is a 16 year old girl at the start of the series, with strengths and flaws that are so well-thought out and different. Though the story is about teenagers, any adult can read it and be swept away by Suzanne Collin's vision of one possible future...

Finally read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, the HUGE novel about the building of a cathedral in twelfth century England. Now I write medievals as Julia Latham, so I was excited to read this. The author covered 40 years in the lives of many main characters--did I mention this is a HUGE novel?--and much as I was fascinated, I was sort of glad when it was over. To cover forty years with such a large cast, many bad things have to happen. There are many villains, and after awhile, I began to wonder could anything worse happen. And it did. Yes, it was fascinating, but I prefer an emotional historical romance. That probably doesn't surprise you... I read mystery author Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi, and I will definitely read her again. A serious private detective mystery set in the 1980s--it was so fascinating to see how we used to manage without cell phones! Kinsey Milhone is an ex-cop, a loner who takes on cases for underdogs. A woman convicted of manslaughter gets out of jail and hires Kinsey to find the real murderer. Lots of great twists and turns!

Just read Ellen Hartman's Superromance Calling the Shots, about two single parents who come together because her daughter beat up his son after a hockey practice. Very emotional and moving--I cried! Happy ending, of course. Also read my first Georgette Heyer traditional Regency, A Bath Tangle. Such a witty way with words, and a mixup of heroes and heroines, until you don't know who will end up with whom.

I just read a wonderful book written fourteen years ago, called The Outsider, by Penelope Williamson. It's sort of like the movie Witness, except set in the old West, and the injured hero is a gunfighter. Such incredible emotions as the heroine is torn between her people and the deadly stranger she's nursing back to health. Lots of subplots make this a great read, and I could never guess the ending! Also read Diana Gabaldon's newest Outlander book, Echo in the Bone. Because she doesn't summarize previous books, it was slow going to get into it (I hadn't read the previous book for several years, when it came out), but it was worth my patience. Anxiety over the growing threat of the American Revolution, as well as would Jamie meet up with the bastard son who doesn't know about him? Arghh, I'll have to wait several years for the next! So I reread the first one, Outlander, which I hadn't read in fifteen years. Sigh...just as wonderful as I remembered. In case you don't know, it's the story of a WWII nurse who falls through the standing stones in Scotland and finds herself in the 1740s. Over the course of the series, thirty years go by, in the 20th century as well as the 18th. Masterful!

(6-21-10) I'm reading the Georgian period lately (1700s), and am really enjoying Eloisa James's Desperate Duchesses series. There are many characters in the books, who you know will have--or already had--their own story. They're still prominent, with their own stuff going on, which I really like. The Georgian era was much freer than the Regency and the Victorian era, so it's interesting what wild things her characters get in to. As for contemps, I'm enjoying Kristan Higgans. I read Too Good to Be True, about a history teacher heroine who loves to reenact Civil War battles, and the ex-con who moves in next store. Kristan writes laugh-aloud scenes, but then, darn, that woman can make me wipe away tears at the same time. I've purchased several more--can't wait to read them!

(2-17-10) Just read Susan Elizabeth Phillip's new one, What I Did For Love--loved it! She used some secondary characters from past books, April and Jack Patriot from Natural Born Charmer, and Fleur and Jake from Glitter Baby. Fleur and Jake's daughter Meg was in it, and she'll be the next heroine, so it was fun to get a preview of her. Georgie and Bram are TV stars who worked together for eight years in their teens and early twenties--and hated each other. But now their lives are falling apart--her husband, a "Brad Pitt" character, left her for a do-gooder actress, and Bram's bad boy youth has finally made him an outcast as an actor. They begin to use each other to further their careers, with hilarious and heart-warming results. Great cast of secondary characters, and as usual, a secondary romance made me cry!

(11-4-09) I finally read Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Fancy Pants, one of her older title, a glitz 'n glamour book. I'm not used to reading the heroine's (and her mother's) whole life story, since she doesn't write that way anymore. But the love story was classic SEP, and I really enjoyed it. Just finished a book deadline. I hope to read some more soon... Read the new Laura Lee Guhrke title, With Seduction in Mind. Wonderful, as usual! Both hero and heroine were writers. The hero was famous, but had lost his gift over a terrible addiction--won't say what, because I don't want to spoil it. But very different, and moving. Love her girl bachelors, and the late Victorian setting--with typewriters!

(8-5-09) If you read the entry below, you know I was trying to read all the RITA finalists before I attended the ceremony. I read 10 out of 13--and the two winners were ones I hadn't read! I immediately read them, and realized why they won. My Lord and Spymaster was one of two of Joanna Bourne's novels that finaled. Very good--even though I liked the other one better, as I elaborated on below. Pam Rosenthal's The Edge of Impropriety was more erotic than normal, but still a very powerful romance, with great subplots about the hero's family. The narrative style was different than usual, which I really appreciated. And then, of course, after seeing the movie, I reread Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince! Wonderful all over again.

(5-10-09) I decided to read all the RITA finalist books in the two historical divisions of the contest. The RITA is the Romance Writer's of America's contest for published authors, and to even be a finalist is a great honor. So I ordered all the finalists and started reading. So far, I am just enthralled by Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady. The hero is a British spy, and the heroine is a French spy. The author crafts the language so beautifully that even the heroine's thoughts seem French. The story is so moving and complex, with a twist at the end I never saw coming. Joanna has one more book in the finals (the first two books she's published in 25 years!!), so I'm saving it to savor last. I also really enjoyed Sherry Thomas's Private Arrangements. The book opens with the hero and heroine married for ten years, but having lived in two different countries. As their story unfolds in the present, it alternates in scenes from ten years before, when the met and married. It was simply wonderful. I really enjoyed the characters, and the author's gift for language really moved me. Another book I enjoyed, although since it was published this year it's not in the RITAs yet, is my good friend Ellen Hartman's book, The Boyfriend's Back, a secret baby story with a very unusual twist. You know right away that although the town and the 15-year-old child think the hero is the father, he really isn't. And when he returns to town, sparks really fly. I really enjoy the great humor and intelligence with which Ellen writes.

(10-1-08)  I read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, and I have to admit...I was bored. There just wasn't enough plot for me. My daughter said I was looking at it too much as a writer, but there have certainly been flawed books that swept me away regardless. Not Twilight. I think it's because it seems so much like a paler version of Buffy and Angel. I watched those shows over and over, and I just don't think you can do teenage vampire problems any better. Reading Twilight, I felt like I'd been there, done that. I think Stephanie was smart, in that she tapped into this Buffy feeling for a new generation of kids who didn't watch that show.  I also read Julia Quinn's The Lost Duke of Wyndham, out in June, I think, with the second book out this month. I really liked it! Julia gets such interesting depth in her characters, and the hero (the one who is a highwayman who might be the lost duke) has so much to overcome in his background. When we find out all the secrets, Julia had me crying. I'm really looking forward to Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, about the man who grew up thinking he was the duke.

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(2-25-08) I'm very excited, because Stephan R. Donaldson, the author of a fantasy series that I started reading in high school, "The Thomas Covenant Chronicles," began a final quadrilogy. I read the first six books again to begin the two new books. I'm so enjoying it! I used to be a big scifi/fantasy reader, so this brings back wonderful memories. He has the most incredible imagination! I was loaning my daughter some books, so I decided to reread Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," for the first time in at least twenty years. It's just as relevant now. I'm very glad she's enjoying it. Although the book is so long, it takes forever to read! It's kind of a fictional study of capitalism, and how society works, and....this makes it sound boring, but it really isn't! On the "listening" front, I downloaded Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight," so I can discuss it with my daughter. She's loving this YA vampire series. I also "listened" to "Austenland" by Shannon Hale, about a woman who's obsessed with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, and what happens to her when she vacations at an English mansion where you live as if it's still Regency England. The narrator was truly one of the best I've ever heard. As I walked my dogs, I would laugh out loud.

(8-18-07) I read four whole books this vacation! Shocking, since I spent it with 32 relatives in a house on VA Beach. But there's nothing like sitting under an umbrella in the sand, listening to the waves, enjoying the breeze--and reading. One of the books was Julia Quinn's The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. It was a wonderful story of unrequited childhood love all grown up. Even though the Bridgerton series is over, Julia Quinn fans don't have anything to worry about. Another great book was The Leopard Prince, by Elizabeth Hoyt, about the daughter of a duke falling for her family steward. It's rare to have such disparity between the characters of a historical romance, so I really enjoyed it. There's even a murder mystery where the hero is of course the suspect. Yesterday I read the first book by a fellow CNYRW member, Ellen Hartman. The book is Wanted Man, a Harlequin Super Romance. WOW! It was just incredible. The book is about the hunt for a famously reclusive author, who spends the summer painting the heroine's house as he hides out. The characters' motivations were so poignant, so well thought out, that the whole book just worked perfectly. I couldn't even imagine how Ellen would end it, but she did so perfectly. She has another book coming out next May. Yeah!

(7-20-07) My book reading experience the last couple months has mostly been audio. I been downloading books to my mp3 player to listen to while I walk 45 minutes every day. It takes me about two weeks to listen to a book. It really makes me look forward to the walk, and my dog sure doesn't mind. Recently I've listened to my first JD Robb book--Nora Roberts writing futuristic cop books. I have to admit, I prefer more of a romance than this book contained. But it was a good story. I've listened to Jayne Ann Krentz's Falling Awake and Light in Shadow, and Nora Roberts' Black Rose. On the actual reading front, I read Suzanne Enoch's Sins of the Duke and thought it was wonderful. The mysterious princess from a South American country confronts a high-powered duke. Fun! Now you notice the date I'm writing this, then you know what I'm reading next--the last Harry Potter. I can't wait!

(5-6-07) I just read the first book of debut Avon author, Anna Campbell. Claiming the Courtesan was just wonderful! The hero has a tortured past to overcome; he's a duke, she's his courtesan, and the sparks fly from there! Anna does a great job of making this a very convincing love story, even though the hero and heroine have been intimate for a year.  They both have so many demons to overcome, that by the end, we're just wrung out with emotion.

(3-31-07) I am a big Susan Elizabeth Phillips fan, but I had skipped one of her books years ago, because it was set in a circus, not my favorite place. But my writer buddy Molly Herwood gave me her copy and told me to read it. WOW! The book, Kiss An Angel, was fantastic, definitely one of her best! Now I'll have to go buy it for my collection! Susan is a master at the big romantic fantasy premise, and in this one, the heroine is being forced to marry a stranger by her dad at the beginning of the book, in exchange for her dad paying all her bills and eventually giving her a trust fund. The heroine knows nothing about the hero, and he drags her off to the circus, where not only is he the manager, but he's the trick horse rider and whip expert. The mystery of what he does in his regular life slowly unravels. It was funny and poignant and moving and I cried twice, and then skimmed through the book a second time the next day. Go read it!

(1-8-07) I loved Elizabeth Boyle's His Mistress by Morning! What a cute fantasy twist on a woman who wishes to be loved by her best friend's brother, and wakes up as his mistress, by unwitting use of magic. I couldn't wait to see how she'd make it all work out, but of course, Elizabeth did.

(10-27-06)  I'm trying to read more, and I will admit success!  Of course, anything is more when you've only been reading a book a month...But anyway, I read Stephanie Laurens To Distraction, and I really enjoyed it!  I liked the heroine's secret mission, as well as her dark secret, and the really slow way the hero eased her out of it...romantically-speaking.  I also read The Knights of the Round Table: Lancelot, by Gwen Rowley, the first in a new King Arthur paranormal romance trilogy.  I really liked it!  The author uses all the original legends of Camelot and Lancelot, and makes a wonderful romance out of them.  And no, Lancelot isn't with the queen!  The next book, The Knights of the Round Table: Geraint, will be out in March, and I can't wait!

(9-24-06) During Labor Day weekend, I treated myself to three entire books!  I was a sloth, but I loved it.  I read two of my favorite Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, Nobody's Baby But Mine, and Dream a Little Dream, and then her brand new paperback, Match Me If You Can.  Loved them all!  But my favorite is still Nobody's Baby, with its scatter-brained professor desperate for a baby, and looking for a dumb jock to father it, so the baby won't grow up brilliant and freaky like she did.  Ha!  I read a Debbie Macomber women's fiction book, The Shop on Blossom Street, set around a yarn shop, and the four women who meet there.  Very sweet and moving.  I really enjoyed it.  And then I bought yarn to start crocheting my daughter a blanket!  Laura Lee Guhrke is a favorite new author of mine.  I read She's No Princess, and really loved it.  She has a smooth, beautiful writing style, and the story was very emotional.

(6-7-06) Although I am the last person in America, I finally did it--I read The DaVinci Code. Gasp! Yes, it's true. Of course, I knew the secret, and pretty much guessed the others, but it was a surprisingly good thriller. I loved the history and the symbolism. The man can tell a good story. And I didn't guess the villain! So that was a good surprise. Makes me want to do some research on the Gnostic Gospels. Oh, but wait, I do research for a living. Better do my own first! 

(1-19-06) Ooh, don't look at how long it's been since I've written about a book. Deadlines....Anyway, I just read two in a series by Maggie Shayne, Colder Than Ice, and Darker Than Midnight. Wow! Such great suspense with a little bit of paranormal thrown in. There's a cult figure ala Waco as a bad guy--alive in one book, and a ghost in the next. And his poor daughter who inherits his psychic abilities. We get to watch her grow up through three books (the first was Thicker Than Water). I also reread Pride and Prejudice after seeing the movie. I really enjoyed how much actual dialogue survives into both the miniseries and the recent movie. Jane Austen is a great writer, of course. I just read Lorraine Heath's A Matter of Temptation, her first book to hit the NY Times extended list. I really enjoyed it.  The hero was an identical twin who'd just spent eight years in prison, while his brother took his place as the duke.  When the hero escapes, kidnaps his brother, and comes back as the duke, he wakes up the first morning to discover it's his wedding day! Really great premise.

(9-16-05)  Yesterday, I read Mr. Impossible, by one of my favorite authors, Loretta Chase. It's a Regency set in Egypt, and I can't believe the amount of research she must have done. The hero is such a wonderful, interesting character, supposed to be a "big, dumb ox," but of course far from it.  The heroine is an Egyptian scholar. So different! They're chasing--and chased by--bad guys down the Nile.   I also read Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie, which won the RITA award for Best Contemporary. The book certainly deserved the honor. I laughed out loud through the whole thing. Three guys and three girls dating and bickering and loving.

(7-21-05)  HARRY POTTER, Book 7! What else could I just have read? Got it Saturday, had it read by Sunday night. What fun! I really enjoyed it--even cried a bit at the end, but I won't tell you who for. I am just in awe of the world J.K. Rowling has created. How she could possibly end after one more, I don't know. Maybe she'll tell another wizard's story. I hope she does.

(6-10-05) Just treated myself to Rachel Gibson's The Trouble with Valentine's Day. As usual, Rachel writes a very funny book I really enjoyed the premise of Las Vegas detective going home to Idaho to help out grandpa's grocery store.  And grandpa gets his own romance too!  The hero is another of Rachel's hockey players, but this one couldn't play anymore due to injuries--and I can't tell you what they were because it would spoil the book! So go out and read this; I enjoyed it immensely. I'm also reading Jane Eyre again, because my newest heroine is a governess in the same time period. I need some pointers!

(3-29-05)  Finally finished my own book and got to read someone else's! I picked Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Ain't She Sweet. In a word--wow!  That woman is a brilliant writer. You couldn't imagine liking the heroine when she was in high school, but she had come so far, fallen so low by the time the book opened, that you sympathized with her. And the hero--the main guy she had horribly wronged!  What sexual tension. She mostly made my laugh, but I few times I wiped away tears. Susan can always do that to me. I highly recommend it! 

(1-26-05) Well, I did give myself at Christmas treat, and read the HUGE Anita Blake book, Incubus Dreams. I was terribly disappointed. A third of it could have been cut, and I wouldn't have missed it. It was one long excuse for sex, with a couple plot threads that went nowhere. Hey, I'm a romance writer, so trust me, I enjoy sex in a book, but there has to be a REASON, it has to be motivated.  The sex in that book was just...endless, and after awhile, boring. I was very sad. Because her characters are wonderful, and the world she's created is magnificent. I hope her next book gets back on track, because, yeah, I'm still hooked. This month I'm judging in the Romance Writers of America's published author contest, the RITA, so I have seven books to read. Yeah! 

(12-23-04)  A second month without fiction! I'm taking a couple weeks off from writing, since I finished my first draft, to do Christmas stuff.  I've picked up some biographies on people who are legally blind, because I'm hoping to do a blind character in my next book. Wish me luck with the research. And I swear, I'm going to read the next Anita Blake book soon!

(11-29-04)  This is pathetic--I have not read a fiction book in over a month!  I even have the newest Anita Blake novel just sitting here! But my February 1st deadline is beginning to loom in my mind, and I have at least 125 pages left to write.  I'd like to have the first draft done well before Christmas, then take a couple weeks off before revising after the New Year.  But I am reading, honest! I've just purchased some great non-fiction books for my Victorian research. Two by Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz, and The Uncommon Traveller, both that discuss Britishs people in the 1840s.  I also devoured Private Palaces, a book on the great London town houses.  

(10-17-04)  I need to read more books.  I read the one I'm writing, of course, but I get sick of that pretty quickly.  So my guilty treat is reading. I just finished Laurell K. Hamilton's The Cerulean Sins, one of her Anita Blake Vampire Executioner books.  What an incredible world she has built!  The character evolution over her ten or so books is so well done.  I have the most recent book in the series, but I don't want to read it just yet--I get too obsessed to do anything else!

My favorite movies
of all time:


My all-time favorite is probably "Shakespeare in Love."  I actually own this, which is rare for me.  Such incredible writing, humorous and tragic all at the same time.  I sobbed the three times I saw it in the movie theater, not to mention the times I watched at home.  I wrote three books set in that time period, because I loved it so much.

Then there's "Terminator" (that kiss against the refridgerator), "Good Will Hunting" (they were so YOUNG to write such an incredible script), "Dirty Dancing" (nothing more romantic and sensual than a man who can dance), "There's Something About Mary" (what makes that bawdy script work is that all the men just love and respect Mary), and "It's a Wonderful Life" (it's a classic that makes me cry every Christmas)

My Movie Reviews:

Saw the comic book hero movie Deadpool and since I normally don't like comic book movies (except for Guardians of the Galaxy, which I loved!), I can say that I enjoyed Deadpool a few times, but...I just don't care for all the fighting. There were some funny moments, but...eh... I also watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I certainly enjoyed it more than the prequel movies that came out a decade or so. The first one of those was so bad I couldn't watch anymore. I liked the characterizations in this movie, liked seeing my old favorites, too, but...did the plot have to be an EXACT REPLICA of the original Star Wars movie? Sigh...

Finally saw the movie Spy--and I loved it! That Melissa McCarthy is so funny. The script was well-written; the comedy was sometimes broad, sometimes subtle. A great spoof on Bond movies--even had a Bond opening and closing! But the secondary characters (the best friend, the villain, the other spies) really helped make this move.

I really like Kingsman, the Secret Service, sort of a take off on James Bond. Funny and light, cool special effects--and Colin Firth. How can you go wrong? I also saw Into the Woods. Now I love a good musical, but I thought this one went on a little too long. Still, I enjoyed all the actors, especially Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick.

I finally saw the last Hobbit movie, Battle of the Five Armies, and though it was pretty true to the book, there was a reason that section of the book was only 50 pages. It's a battle. Now, the writers added in a plotline of a star-crossed romance between an elf and a dwarf, and frankly, that was one of the best parts of the movie trilogy. Can you tell I was never a fan of the book? Now the Lord of the Ring books were far superior to The Hobbit, so I recommend both the books and movies. 

I LOVED The First Exotic Marigold Hotel, about a run-down inn in India where the young manager decides that the UK sources out lots of jobs to India, why not old people? He advertises as a retirement "resort," and a fascinating collection of people come, only to find out the hotel is not exactly as billed... They filmed the whole thing in India, and the beauty of that country is stunning, even as you see a way of life that can be different than ours, even as you see that people are the same everywhere.

I forgot to write about Guardians of the Galaxy! What an AWESOME movie, my favorite comic-book movie ever. I loved the humor, the soundtrack, the great writing--you notice I don't put the special effects first. They were great, of course, but I notice that stuff last. Guess I'm not a member of the video-game generation!

Just saw a GREAT movie last night--Tom Cruise's scifi thriller Edge of Tomorrow, which has a "Groundhog Day" vibe of repeating the same day over and over again until you master what you need to know. Really well-written, with lots of touches of humor, some subtle sexual tension, and lots of thrills! 

Saw Gravity in 3D--WOW! I was so impressed with the special effects, but mostly Sandra Bullock's acting, as a mom who's recently lost her child--and now might die in space. Loved the scene where she decided to fight (George Clooney was involved). A few weeks ago, I saw the second Hobbit move: The Desolation of Smaug. Now, The Hobbit is my least favorite of the Lord of the Rings books, so when I heard they were turning it into THREE movies, I was leery. The first one was eh, and I'd heard the second was better. You know why it was better for me? They added two subplots that weren't in the book: the flirting between a newly created female elf and a cute dwarf, and then a smuggler's family as he tried to help the dwarves reach their mountain. That gave me plotlines to care about. The rest of the movie was just one long glorified video-game fight scene. I was mostly bored...

I admit, I've always enjoyed Disney musicals. Saw Frozen in 3-D. It was very cute, and I liked the empowering message for girls that you don't settle on the first guy you meet. But I didn't think it had the depth of Tangled. ;) Really enjoyed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I've always been drawn to books about the future after some big catastrophe/war. Heck, I like TV shows about it, too, like Revolution. Once again, Jennifer Lawrence did an excellent job of portraying every emotion of Katniss, even the ones Katniss didn't want you to see.

My daughter and I just watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter). Wow! A wonderful coming-of-age high school story, with deep moving issues, and an incredible twist near the end. It's set in the 80s, but we barely realized it until they started mentioning "mix tapes." Ha! That brought back memories.

Prometheus is the Aliens prequel. They shot it in Iceland, so the scenery is stark and riveting. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it made you think about the beginning of man, and our place in the universe. Had a couple gory/suspenseful scenes, but it's certainly not horror.

Saw Argo and really enjoyed it. It kept me in suspense even though I knew, because of history, how it would end (sort of like Lincoln in that way) There were a lot of historical inaccuracies though--all because it was a "based on" movie, not scene-by-scene real life. I understand the Canadians aren't happy...

I finally saw Lincoln, and Daniel Day Lewis was incredible, the Oscar well-deserved. I loved how he and Sally Field played off each other--and I especially loved the portrayal of Lincoln as a father. I thought the first third of the movie was a little slow, as they set up all the threads of the emancipation vote, but after that, it was very moving. I was a little bothered by a couple historical inaccuracies they chose to use to make it a better "movie," but one was that the state of Connecticut voted against Emancipation--when they really voted for it. Not sure why this was necessay for excitement--I feel bad for the state! ;)

Rental alert--saw the movie Looper and really enjoyed it! A non-spoiler summary is that this is set in the future, and thirty years beyond that, time travel has been invented but is illegal, so only bad guys use it to send people back to be killed and disposed of.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hired killer--and then he confronts his future self, who he's supposed to kill. Very cool, intricate plot, and I did not see the ending coming. Amazing how they made Joseph look just like a young Bruce Willis, including mannerisms. 

Saw Skyfall. Loved the opening song that foreshadowed parts of the movie--and that Adele. Awesome voice. I really like Daniel Craig as Bond, so craggy and world-weary and sexy. And the opening action scene in Turkey? WOW! I literally giggled with delight at some of the awesome stunts, like the fight in in the neon-lit skyscraper. The Bond girls were cool, the bad guy creepy, and the story worked until the end. I thought it got slow waiting for the bad guys at Bond's house, and I couldn't understand why Bond didn't ask for the cavalry. But that didn't ruin the movie for me, although I was surprised by the death at the end. Sniff!

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Rented The Raven last weekend, just after Halloween. And I mention this, because John Cusak plays Edgar Allen Poe, and someone is murdering people using gory scenes from his stories. Scary/suspenseful more than gory (although I did cover my eyes once, but remember, Poe wrote about a pendulum), and the ending wasn't my favorite, but the writer did a great job mixing in touches of humor to lighten some of the moments, and it was fun trying to solve the mystery along with Poe and a cop.

Just watched This Means War over the weekend, the one with Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and that hunky Brit. They're so cute to look at it, but I did not find it romantic at all. I didn't like how she was just a prize in their competition, where they filmed her at the most intimate moments, and their fellow spies all watched her, too, and then they never told her at the end! I just felt sort of icky about it. There were a few good lines, and the men were easy to look at, but overall, I was disappointed.

I netflixed Real Steel, the Hugh Jackman movie about a father and son getting to know each other while tinkering with fighting robots. Set a little in the future, as you can imagine. It got mostly good reviews--and it's Hugh Jackman, probably my favorite star--but...I was left feeling disappointed. I liked that Hugh's character grew as a person, but it all felt so cliche and corny. And the main robot was almost a pet to the little boy, so sending it in to fight kind of left me with an icky feeling. But I'll tell you the special effects were incredible. And Hugh is so easy to look at... 

I am behind the times, but I finally watched the movie Crazy, Stupid Love with Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I laughed hysterically through the whole thing. The secondary characters--mainly the kids--really add a great touch. The writing was witty and emotional, and I totally did not see a big twist that happened near the end. I highly recommend it!

One of my most recent favorite movies, was Super 8. It reminded me so much of the innocence of E.T. The kid actors were wonderful, their faces so expressive as their world was altering before their eyes. I LOVED the homemade movie they were trying to make. There were some great secondary characters to fill out the movie and give it deeper layers. And always, the touches of humor even when things looked bad. A great movie!

I can't believe I forgot to talk about the great movies I saw these last couple months! Saw Bridesmaids, and thought I'd bust a gut laughing. Our 21-year-old daughter almost came with us, but after the first scene, I was really glad she didn't. Raunchy, but fun, and I really liked the emotional growth of the characters. Yet I squirmed a lot too, especially when they shopped for bridesmaids' dresses! True Grit was incredibly well written (always important, to me), and I thought the young girl who played the lead definitely held her own against Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. I won't tell you how it ended, except to say though it was satisfactory, it left me a little deflated. But other than that, the movie was a wonderful character study.  REALLY enjoyed Red, with Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren. They played retired CIA agents, coming back together for one last job. Great twisting plot, as well as lots of amusing moments. I didn't think the trailer or some of the reviews did the movie justice. Watched It's Complicated with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin. I must admit--I was bored. We rented it, and ended up fast-forwarding just to see how it ended. They acted it well, but not enough was going on, and scenes seemed to go on pointlessly. Ah well... Last but not least, Date Night. Really enjoyed it! Laughed aloud a lot at the great lines by Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, who have great onscreen chemistry.

I decided to rent a movie screenwriting classes always talk about--L.A. Confidential, a cops-gone-bad suspense movie. Wow. It was riveting, and so well-written. I could never decide who the guilty person was, and it kept taking twists and turns I never saw. Russell Crowe played the hulking "bad cop," but he was trying to change his life around. I highly recommend it!

After last month's post, you'll think I like nothing but kid movies, yet here I go--Tangled! The Disney movie about Rapunzel, another lost Disney princess, was just wonderful! Superb writing that had me laughing out loud, yet I even wiped away a tear or two. The hero, voiced by Zachary Levi, of the TV show Chuck, was just perfectly suave as a thief who's used to women who can't resist him. LOVED Mandy Moore as Rapunzel, so conflicted about leaving the tower she's been trapped in her whole life. Really had a lot of layers of meaning, you know? And of course, the secondary characters made it--the horse, who's like a cop after our hero, the chameleon, Rapunzel's sidekick, and even a frying pan, if you can believe it. Some cute songs, too. I'll have to get the soundtrack!

I am a HUGE fan of "The Chronicles of Narnia." My fifth grade teacher read them to us throughout the entire school year. At summer break, when she was only on book 5, I was so devastated, she let me take home the rest to read. I bought my own set soon after, and continued rereading throughout my life, including reading them to my children. So maybe I come into the new movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader with high expectations, but...it was only okay. I definitely think children will enjoy it. The problem for me was that they added a whole new external plot. It wasn't enough for the movie makers that the characters were trying to find lost lords and had adventures on the way. The writers added a green mist that "took" people, like a sacrifice to a volcano. And the characters had to bring together the lost lords' swords, rather than just the lords themselves. Were these additions horrible? No. But were they really necessary? I don't know. They used a lot of the big scenes from the book and jumbled them around for what they thought made a more rising climax to a movie. All right, I understand that. But still...I really wanted to love the movie, and it was only okay.

Of course I love historicals, so I had to see The King's Speech, with Colin Firth as King Georgie VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II. Just wonderful! He should definitely win the Oscar. I really enjoyed his wonderful marriage to his wife, and how strong she was. I felt for him as his brother's selfishness (loving a divorced American more than serving his people) took its toll on the monarchy. But the filmmakers really made you feel so stressed for him, because of his stammer. My chest felt tight every time the poor man had to give a speech. GREAT glimpses of single faces in the crowds reacting to his stammer. He'd never even had a common friend until he met his speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush, who showed the therapist to be amusing and concerned and dedicated all at the same time. It was very moving, and brought tears to the eyes--in happiness and satisfaction, believe me. ~~ I also had the chance to Netflix a movie recommended by a friend. I don't even know if Snowcake every came to theaters, but it stars Sigourney Weaver as an autistic woman, and Alan Rickman as the man who picks up her daughter hitchhiking. I don't want to say more about the plot, so you'll be surprised at every revelation. Signourney Weaver was simply incredible, making you forget her as an actress, so deeply did she immerse herself in the autistic woman. Yes, I cried a few times, but the film ends upbeat, with hope, knowing that these two people changed each other's lives.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I was a good movie. Except...when I read the book, I thought the first half was a little slow, and making a movie of it proved that not a lot really happens. Harry, Hermione and Ron learn a few important things on their quest to destroy Voldemort, as they camp in their amazing tent all over England (what beautiful scenery!), but I don't think it was worth a full movie. Don't get me wrong--the characters are just adorable, so grown up. Their chemistry with each other is great, and certainly we're set up for the climactic final movie. If you're a Harry Potter fan, you'll enjoy it. But if you know nothing of the Harry universe, you might be a bit lost... Netflixed 3:10 to Yuma, the western starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Just watching the two of them made the movie fascinating. Russell is a villain, and Christian is the desperate rancher who volunteers to help get him to the prison train. They're chased by bad guys who'll do anything to save their leader, Russell. Lots of violence, of course, and old west flavor. But I had a problem with Russell's motivations in the second half of the movie, why he....does what he does. I can't explain without giving away too much of the intricate plot. I was disappointed, probably because the first 3/4 of the movie was so taut and well-written.

Finally saw Inception--wow! I didn't know what to think at first, my head was spinning so. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a guy with a haunted past, who can enter other people's dreams and alter thoughts. I don't want to write much, for fear of spoiling the movie for you, but just let me say, if you want to be captivated and made to think, try this movie. My daughter and I talked about it for at least an hour afterward, then I went online to check out some of the hidden meanings. Couldn't stop thinking about it--and that's a good thing! Couple problems with pacing in a few points, but my daughter tells me I only notice those things because I'm a writer. I also saw Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts. I'd read the book, and I wasn't blown away by it, but it was a look at such a very different life than my own. Felt the same way about the movie. Julia Roberts did a great job--I swear, she had so much crying to do, and she mastered it. The scenery was utterly beautiful, which is why I had to see it on the big screen. During the first scene in Rome, my husband and I both realized at the same time we'd been on the exact same landmark, the Castile St. Angelo (picture in my photo gallery). Anyway, I enjoyed it, and even cried briefly, but if you want a guy's opinion, my husband was bored. Definitely a chick flick.

(9-21-10) Hot Tub Time Machine--about what you'd expect. Raunchy, but certainly had a few funny moments where we laughed out loud, making our dog Apollo bark like crazy. It's about a group of men unhappy with how their lives have turned out, who go back to a ski resort they enjoyed in their youth, only to find it broken down. Then they get into the hot tub and they're twenty again, and have to try to repeat the past--or do they? We rented Lost in Austen, about a 21st century British woman addicted to Pride and Prejudice, who finds herself exchanging places with Elizabeth Bennet. The whole book goes wrong, although she tires to keep everything the same. Mr. Bingley becomes a drunk, Jane marries Mr. Collins, and Mr. Darcy--well, you'll have to watch it! Or read the book. ;)

(6-21-10) Finally saw Blind Side--wow! Sandra Bullock was just awesome. No wonder she won the Oscar. Tender and briskly no-nonsense at the same time. I cried, I laughed, and I left feeling very good. And football is one of my favorite sports, too! Tim McGraw did a great job as her husband; every look he cast her way said tender love and support. The little boy playing her son was a scream. Hope to see him in more. Since I rent movies more than go to them, I only just saw Slumdog Millionaire. My kids told me I'd enjoy it, that it ended well. Yes, but...too depressing for me. Very interesting how they interspersed the flashbacks of the past to the present, and of course it gave an epic vision of India's poverty. 

(2-17-10) Just saw Up In the Air with George Clooney. Wow! I can see why the movie was nominated for so many Oscars. It's funny and touching and sad all at the same time. He's a guy who spend 320 days a year on the road, and loves it. Nothing to tie him down, barely sees his family. And then his job wants to bring him home, and he meets a woman he's actually intrigued with and...well, I don't want to blow it. Not a typical happy ending, but you have to wonder how his life will change. I'm a big Disney fan, so my 19-year-old and I saw The Princess and the Frog. I was pretty disappointed. It was cute, but aimed at a  younger audience than I prefer. Though it was my theater's fault, not the movie's, the background sound was too loud during the musical numbers, so it was hard to hear the words. There were bad guys in the middle (not the main bad guy) who just seemed like something to take up time.

(11-4-09) I rented the miniseries John Adams--holy cow! Very inspiring, but then I love history. My husband was a little bored, because Adams was a politician, so it was mostly concerned with that. Also rented What Happens in Vegas--it tried so hard! It was just too...shallow. No depth. Had some funny moments, though. For an incredible movie, rent Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. They promoted it like an action movie, but it wasn't. It was a wonderful character study of this bitter old man, and what happens when Asian immigrants move in next door. Funny and touching and uplifting all at the same time.

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(8-5-09) Just saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Wow! I really enjoyed the movie, especially all the touches of humor, and the adolescent crushes. They did a very good job of synthesizing down the book to the important points. I went right home and reread the book (which I hadn't read since it was published) just to see how things changed. Very interesting choices for what they decided to keep. There were a few changes to make things a bit funnier (which I appreciated). But the movie really downplayed the emotional drama of Dumbledore dying. I didn't cry, and I thought it was because I knew what was going to happen. Then I reread the book--and cried!

(5-30-09) If you've browsed anything on this page, you know I love Star Trek. The new movie was wonderful! Okay, there were plot problems (the time travel element was...uneven), and the villain wasn't all that memorable, but I loved the funny one-liners, and the actors did such a great job creating the original feel of each character. Loved the actor playing McCoy! The action and special effects were awesome, and they certainly had some unusual twists. Will purists be upset? Many are. But I love the ingenuity it took to come up with a new way to reboot the series and make it fresh for a new generation of fans. I'm the old generation, but it didn't leave me out of it. I also saw X-Men: Wolverine. Go Hugh Jackman! The reviews were only so-so, but I really enjoyed it. It had great character motivation. I really felt for him, and saw what he had to overcome. Great special effects, of course, and there was Hugh Jackman...naked...sigh...I want to see the new Terminator movie, but those reviews are pretty bad. It won't stop me! On the rental front, I finally saw Tropic Thunder, with Ben Stiller. I laughed all the way through it. Robert Downey Jr. as an Australian playing a black man--he was priceless. 

(2-8-09) I had to go see Australia on the big screen--and it was so worth it! Hugh Jackman in a historical romance! {sigh...} Very sweeping. What a beautiful country. I took my daughter and my mother-in-law and each generation enjoyed it. My daughter even cried at the touching parts. And it ended well, which I always appreciate. You can read what you want into something "ending well." ;)

(10-1-08) It took me a long time to finally see the new Indiana Jones movie. I enjoyed it--it was probably third of the four for me. I love the first one best, and Last Crusade (with his dad) was also right up there. Temple of Doom just never did it for me. But this one was definitely action-packed, had some cute and funny moments, which all Indiana movies should have. Harrison did well, and although he looked his age, he looked great at it. I also finally saw Spiderman 3. One thing I always liked about Spiderman has been the emotional depth, from the comic book through the movies. Even one of the villains had a backstory that made you feel sorry for him. I did wish MJ had opened her mouth more and talked to Peter. Plot problems wouldn't have happened, but then--they need plot problems, don't they? ;)  I LOVED Mama Mia! I went to one of the sing-a-long ones, and no one was obnoxious; we just all sang quietly. I was doing harmony with my good friend. This was definitely a chick movie. The Greek islands were incredibly beautiful. Loved seeing Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan singing and acting silly. And can Meryl Streep sing! When she helped her daughter prepare for the wedding, I cried my eyes out. It was about your daughter growing up and going off, and it just made me think about my last child who just left for college. Sniff! I saw 27 Dresses, about the bridesmaid who never found her own man. It was very cute and entertaining. The sequence where she tries on all the dresses is hilarious. I mean, you know how it's going to end, but it's a romance! We also watched Denzel Washington in Deja Vu, about a cop who thinks he's had this case before. I can't talk much about it, because I would blow all the surprises, but WOW! I highly recommend this. It took so many twists and turns, and we never saw any of it coming.

(5-14-08) I recently watched Waitress, with Kerri Russell. I thought it was going to be a romance, and though there was a romance subplot in it, it was really one woman's story of survival. I really enjoyed its quirky sense of humor, and the great cast.  Speaking of pregnant women, I also watched "Juno." Talk about quirky! Juno is a pregnant 16 year old who decides to give the baby up for adoption. The movie takes place during her pregnancy. Jennifer Garner plays the adopting mom, and she's so moving in the portrayal. The actress who plays Juno (Ellen Page, I think?) was really great, and the scene in the hospital where she gives up her baby moved me to tears.

(2-25-08) I've discovered Netflix! Finally I'm watching movies instead of saying, "Someday I'll rent..." So, I think--Colin Firth in Roman armor, so I rented "The Last Legion." It was terrible! Much as he looked great swordfighting, the plot was poorly written, and we could see everything coming a mile away. Sigh... I felt the same way about "Superbad." Now I know why it's a teenage movie. Yuck. I finally watched the third Bourne movie, "Bourne Ultimatum," and though I enjoyed it, it wasn't as good as the first two movies. My husband has done nothing but rave over the years about "The Wedding Singer," but I was disappointed and bored. Good soundtrack, though. Adam Sandler was much better in "Spanglish," which I thought was very moving and interesting. My daughter was upset about the ending, and although I won't spoil it here, I kind of liked that you weren't sure what was going to happen to all the characters. Another movie I liked, an indie classic, was "Dear Frankie," with Gerard Butler. Although I didn't care for "300," I really enjoyed him in this. Love the Scottish accent! A woman lied to her deaf son about his dad, and then needs to pay someone to stand in for the day. Wonderful! I wish I could remember the movies I saw in the actual theater--oh wait, "Enchanted." Loved it! I saw it twice at the theater. Disney did a wonderful job using all the things I love about their animated movies in a live-action show. Amy Edwards was wonderful as the princess, and Patrick Dempsey was his usual good-looking self, although you really felt for him as a single dad. The big production numbers gave me goosebumps!

(9-23-07) As promised in the last paragraph, I saw "Knocked Up." What a funny, poignant movie! If you'd ever have told me that the writers could make two such different people into a couple by the end, I wouldn't have believed you.  Mostly, it was the guy who had to grow up (as usual). His big job plan at the beginning was a website that told people how soon the nudity appeared in movies. Ha! I saw "Pirates of the Caribbean 3," and I was so disappointed. The special effects were great, of course,  but the pace was so slow, and frankly, it was boring. I just didn't care much about anyone. And the ending!! Didn't care for that either. Obviously set up for a fourth movie, but I'd have to see incredible reviews before I'd waste my money. I felt so-so about "Holiday," with Kate Winslet and Cameran Diaz. The Cameran-Jude Law plot was sexy and romantic and touching, but the Kate-Jack Black plot wasn't at all romantic, and it was more about her helping an aging Hollywood script writer, and overcoming her foolish attraction to a man who'd used her. The Cameran/Jude plot could have been its own movie. I finally saw "Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix," and I loved it! Admittedly, this was the weakest of the actual books (still a terrific book, but I thought it could be shortened a bit), so that made it a great movie. They did have to cut most of the subplots. I checked them out by rereading the book after I saw the movie. They dropped all the Quidditch stuff, and Ron and Hermione being prefects, Harry thinking he was actually committing the crimes, etc. But the kid actors are so good! And the actress who played Dolores Umbridge was just perfect!

(7-20-07)  I saw a bunch of movies, and I'm even going to see "Knocked Up" tonight, but you'll have to wait to hear about it.  I saw the middle age biker movie, "Wild Hogs," and really laughed out loud. My husband liked the whole movie until the fight scene at the end, which he said was too unrealistic. But it was that kind of movie, so it didn't bother me. Lots of great jokes that never made it to the commercials, which I always appreciate. I hate when the best parts of a movie have already been seen in advance. I saw "Live Free or Die Hard" and loved it! That Bruce Willis is a scream--and of course, the writers did him justice. His nerdy sidekick was played wonderfully by the actor who plays the Mac computer in the TV commercials. The special effects were incredible, and the action left me breathless. There was only one tiny spot that was just too unbelievable and kind of took me out of the movie, but I won't be specific, because maybe it won't bother you. But overall, it was a great experience. The last movie I'm going to tell you about today is "Blades of Glory," the skating movie with Will Ferrell. Now understand that I come from a serious skating background. My sister is a coach, my mom is a judge, and I've skated my whole life. I thought the movie was hysterical!! Okay, it was hokey and stupid and unbelievable, but you knew that going in, so that was okay. But it was obvious they did their skating research, which I really appreciated. They made fun of skating almost from a place of respect, you know what I mean? So go see it!

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(5-6-07) I finally saw "Dreamgirls"! I really enjoyed it. My sixteen-year-old daughter went too, and she only got bored toward the end. I thought the pacing got a little slow there too. But when Jennifer Hudson from American Idol sang "You're Going to Love Me," I just cried. She was incredibly moving. I think she got the Oscar for that song alone! I was incredibly disappointed in "Ghost Rider" with Nicholas Cage. They really hooked me with the previews, and sure enough, those were the best clips of the movie. Some of the acting was so bad, and the heroine looked 15 years younger, even though she was supposed to be the same age. And it was very, very boring, the kiss of death.

(3-31-07) I saw "Music and Lyrics" last night. It was very cute! It was a romance novel through and through. Hugh Grant is still adorable at these roles, although he's starting to get a little old for them. Drew Barrymore is in her 30s, which is okay, but he's in his late 40s. They might have to start pairing him up with someone within ten years of his age. There were some very cute lines/scenes, and I LOVED the 80s music video at the beginning, and the pop-up video at the end. The middle of the movie dragged a bit, but then there was always a great line to rescue it. So if you want to laugh, I'd go see it!

(2-25-07) Finally saw "Casino Royale"--WOW! Loved it! That Daniel Craig is just a wonderful Bond, maybe the best. More cold-blooded than the recent incarnations. And man, does he look good in a bathing suit. I really liked how they used subtle touches to aim this at women. And the scenery! Venice was incredible! They didn't film in Montenegro, but in the Czech Republic--and I want to go there! I'm Czech! The big chase/fight scene in a construction sight was just breathless. My stomach was so tense through this movie! And the chase/fight scene down the stairwell, with the Bond girl running ahead.. I thought it was an interesting touch to watch him clean himself up afterward, see the pain and exhaustion in his face. That guy can act. The Bond girl was good, not great, but that's okay. It's all about him, after all! ;)

(1-15-07) Sad, that it's been three months since I saw a movie in an actual theater--but I saw two this weekend! First I went with one daughter and my husband to see "Night at the Museum." What a great premise, and of course Ben Stiller! But although it had some very funny moments, it didn't live up to its potential. I know it's geared to kids, but nothing succeeds better than a kid movie that has stuff for the grownups. But our weekend was saved when I took my daughters to "Stranger Than Fiction," the movie about Will Ferrell hearing the narration of author Emma Thompson in his head. I had to see a movie about writing. Wow! What an incredibly moving, yet amusing, movie. I never looked at my watch once! Will Ferrell was perfectly cast as an innocent, vulnerable man.  Loved his love interest, played by Maggie Gylenhall (spelling?). And there was Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah, and of course, Emma Thompson, who played neurotic and falling apart from writer's block very well. Go see it--or rent it.

(10-8-06)  I finally saw the new "Pirates"!  I had to go by myself, but I was not going to miss it on the big screen, and I just couldn't get there in the summer.  I really enjoyed it!  Okay, it wasn't as fresh and funny as the first, but now you kind of know what to expect, you know?  The twist as the end with the surprise reappearance was totally unexpected.  Boy, did I have trouble understanding the Jamaican woman.  Thank goodness she spoke slow, because I was a second delay understanding her.

(9-24-06) Early in the summer, I saw "X-Men 3."  I thought they did a good job--and anything with Hugh Jackman is wonderful.  Good special effects, and I liked how the mutant lead who wanted to turn back human still did.  Ooh, and the make-out scene between Hugh and Famke Jansen was really sexy, even though it never went beyond a kiss.  On the rental note, I watched "Uptown Girls," with little Dakota Fanning as the serious rich girl, and Brittany Murphy as the playgirl rich girl turned pauper as her nanny.  It was so sweet and earnest, and by the end, I cried at how moving it was.  I highly recommend it!  Have I seen the new "Pirates" movie yet?  NO!  Grrr..  I did see "DaVinci Code."  I thought they did a decent job bringing the book to the screen.  I liked the book better, of course, but the book had so much talking about history, that I wondered how they could make it visual enough.  They did that with historic flashbacks, which I thought were cool.

(4-29-06) I don't remember the last time I saw a movie at the theater. Oh wait! Last month a friend dragged me to "Pink Panther," one of those movies where you laugh hysterically because it's so bad. There were a few truly funny parts, but sheesh. Oh, I did see "Brokeback Mountain" a couple months back, just...because. Very sad and depressing. The love scenes were surprisingly aggressive. But I definitely agreed with "Crash" as the Best Movie of the year.

(1-19-06) I went to "Pride and Prejudice" thinking that nothing could compete with the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth. But I really enjoyed the movie. I even reread the book afterwards, and I'm amazed at what they were able to keep in a two hour movie. Keira Knightley did a wonderful job as Lizzie, and her parents were incredibly well cast. I liked the Lydia from the miniseries better. Mr. Darcy was pretty hunky, although the scene of him walking across the fields at dawn kind of took me out of the movie. I mean come on, what were the odds they'd meet like that? But he looked great walking.

On the rental front, finally saw "Master and Commander."  Wow!  I really felt a part of the historical period.  Loved Paul Bethany as the doctor.  He's good in everything he does, especially "Wimbledon."  Much as I think Russell Crowe is a jerk, he really has such a powerful presence in films.  

(11-23-05) Saw "Harry Potter"! My daughter gives it five stars, and I totally agree. What a wondrous movie.  Now I've read the book twice, so nothing was new to me, but unlike the first movie (which I found boring because I knew all about it), this one fascinated me.  The director came up with very visual, innovative ways to showcase the book. It was dark at times (Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort--wow!), but also had some comedy and romance. Loved the kid they picked to be Viktor Krum--perfect. The opening sequence at the Quidditch World Cup was just great!  I read somewhere that they thought Daniel Radcliff was looking a little too old to play the part next time--I disagree! I'm really looking forward to the next movie, although there will be a different director.

(11-10-05) Got a few movies to catch up with--although I'm beside myself with anticipation over the winter's crop of new movies--"Harry Potter," "Rent," and "Narnia"! I've read every Narnia book 30 times since I was in fifth grade, so I can't wait for this movie.

When I was flying to England, I loved USAir's individual TV screens for every passenger.  It's so entertaining!  I watched "March of the Penguins"--I laughed most of the time, but sometimes it almost reduced me to tears.  Such a brilliantly shot movie, and so interesting!  I'm just amazed what those penguins went through to procreate.  Then I watched "Crash," which I probably wouldn't normally have seen, because my husband isn't into depressing movies.  But I was riveted by this one--incredible writing, incredible cast, and such a sad depiction of racism at all levels of society.  Every time you thought the worst was going to happen--and my mom kept elbowing me, because I was gasping aloud--it didn't, until the end, that is.  I was exhausted by the time it was over, but I highly recommend it.  On the way back from England, I watched "War of the Worlds," another good movie. I really enjoyed Tom Cruise as a deadbeat dad.  It was heartbreaking to see his realization of how much his kids couldn't count on him--and when he tried to sing his daughter a lullaby and didn't know any, sniff! Loved the alien invasion from a regular person's perspective, although I understand some critics didn't like that aspect.  But it felt real--these people didn't know what our government was doing to stop the invasion; they were only trying to survive.  I recently saw "Wedding Crashers," and though it was crude, I laughed my butt off.  Owen Wilson and the other guy--what's his name??--really make a great comic team. Although I must admit, I was distracted by how much make-up Owen was wearing, like they were trying to make him look younger.  Frankly, he is about twice the age of the actress, and getting a little too old to be with young women.  

On the rental front, we watched "Batman Returns."  I heard it was angsty, and I love wounded heroes.  It was a little hard to follow at points--not sure how or why he became such a martial arts expert even before being trained by hunky Liam Neeson.  But it was a good background for Batman.  I wasn't bored, but I wasn't blown away.

(9-16-05)  My husband Jim and I went to see "Forty-Year-Old Virgin." What a scream! Reminds me a little of "Something About Mary," my husband's favorite movie. Sweet, but raunchy. I've been hearing a lot about "Wedding Crashers" but I haven't gotten there yet.

On the rental front, I watched "The Upside Of Anger" with Kevin Costner and Joan Allen, while on a writing weekend with my critique group, the Packeteers.  What a good, bittersweet, well-written movie.  I enjoyed it so much that I watched again the next night with my husband and daughter.  Also saw "The Wedding Date" with Debra Messer (spelling?) from "Will and Grace."  Frankly, someone really screwed up with that terrible movie.  There was no motivation for why a gorgeous, well-educated man would be a prostitute.  And Debra's character just seemed like a bitch. To get the taste of that movie out of my mouth, I had to watch "The Phantom of the Opera" again right away, and sing to my heart's content.

(7-21-05) Okay, so I wanted to see a movie at the dollar theater, and I wasn't too picky. My best friend Elisa and I went to "Sin City," the black and white murder mystery movie with a ton of stars in it, from Bruce Willis to Josh Harnett. Got good reviews. How bad could it be? BAD!!! I was appalled at the disgusting crude violence. I don't need to see Elijah Wood (Frodo!) as a cannibal (not that we actually saw him eating women, but...ugh) It was a bunch of violent skits stuck together, and every woman in it was dressed in a bra and thong. I rarely do this, but I actually left after 45 minutes. We couldn't even look at the screen anymore. So then we rented "Troy." Uh...beautiful scenery, gorgeous men, okay script, but I don't think Brad Pitt is meant for big historical epics where everyone speaks with a British accent. We were giggling through the whole thing.

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(6-16-05) I saw two movies this week! The bad one first--"Kicking and Screaming" with Will Ferrell. On Saturday Night Live, that man could make me laugh! There was little funny about this soccer dad movie. Maybe ten funny lines, and that was it. Good premise--son cut from grandpa's soccer team, dad and grandpa with major issues due to grandpa's ultra-competitive nature. But the writers just blew it.

But last night my family went to "Kingdom of Heaven," the Crusades movie with Orlando Bloom.  WOW! I can't say enough about how wonderfully moving this was.  Now, okay, I love medieval stuff, although I don't know a lot about the twelfth century (my first three books are set in the fifteenth century).  But the scenery! The Battles!  The characters!  It was all wonderful.  Great plot that makes me want to pull out my research books--or log onto Google--and dive in to figure out what was real and what was fictional.  And Liam Neeson in chain mail!  Sigh... I was really worried Orlando wouldn't be able to pull off a knight, but he bulked up a bit, and was wonderful.  Interesting woman as the love interest who becomes...can't tell ya!  So go see this movie!

(6-10-05) I looked below, and I couldn't believe how long it had been since I went to the movies. Crazy book deadlines. Anyway, I saw "Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous" with my best friend Elisa, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't as good as the first one, which was a classic, but I laughed through the whole thing. There were a couple plot points I cringed at--like I think the motivation for one character's anger problems must have been left on the cutting room floor. She comes across as this really tough, angry FBI agent, beating everyone up, and then when she and Sandra Bullock (oh, drat, was her character name Grace?) have some girl talk, the FBI agent talks about a childhood full of allergies that made her miss out on a lot of things. But she said it was wonderful, because she got to spend lots of time with Dad. So why was she so mean and angry??? No reason at all! But other than that, I really enjoyed the movie a lot, and I'd recommend it.

(2-9-05)  Rental alert! Finally saw the newest "The Count of Monte Cristo"--wow! I was blown away by the setting and the sword-fighting--and the men, of course. Great plot that really keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Saw "Phantom" again the other sight...sigh... ;)

(1-26-05) I saw "Phantom" a couples weeks ago, and I was so pleasantly surprised. The reviews haven't been generous, so I was hesitant, but had to see it. It was very well done, and I thought the actors did a fine job singing. That Gerard Butler (Phantom) could steal me away any day.

Rented "Best in Show" and once again I was disappointed.  These are the "Second City" actors who did "Spinal Tap" and "Waiting for Guffman," both of which have a cult following, but that I don't get.  When I saw the opening credits and the list of actors, I knew I was going to be disappointed.  I just didn't find it funny.  The only thing that made me sit through it was the cute dogs. I watched "About a Boy" with Hugh Grant, and absolutely loved it!  What a poignant, sweet, funny movie, with a great ending. 


An Archive

of Gayle's Holiday Recipes

for the Avon Ladies.

Valentine's Day 2012
Tunnel of Fudge Cake
Valentine's Day 2011
Caramel Fudge Cheesecake
Holidays 2010
Triple Tier Brownies
Holidays 2008
Chocolate Bark
Holidays 2006
French Toast Casserole

Holidays 2005
Vidalia Onion Dip

Holiday 2004
Lo-Carb Cheesecake
Holiday 2002
Seven Layer Bars
Valentine's Day 2001
Chicken Crepes
 Christmas 1999
Creme de Menthe Squares
Super Bowl 
Veggie Pizza
Christmas 2000 
Ziti Bake
Independence Day
Ice Cream Cake
Valentine's Day 2000
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
 Mother's Day
Cream Puff Cake
Thanksgiving 1998 
Turkey Stuffing

Photos


July 2016, San Diego

The Romance Writers of America conference! Don't you love what they did with the elevators? SHANNA is the first historical romance I ever read, and I think it was the inspiration for my career.
The conference was at the Marriott Marquis Sand Diego Harbor. What a view from the room! And yes, I swam in that salt-water pool and lounged by it when I had the occasional hour break.
I always enjoy sightseeing in a city I've never been to before. Wandered the Gaslamp District, admired the renovated buildings, and ate some good food!
An incredible frigate at the Maritime Museum. Sadly, I didn't have time to go aboard, but I love how it looks!
Before the conference began, my friend, author Kris Fletcher, and I spent hours in Old Town San Diego, a mixture of original adobe buildings, relocated and/or reconstructed buildings. Fun fact: I learned that San Diego was the first place in CA visited by the Spanish in the 1500s, but they didn't return to colonize for 200 years. 
We had lunch at Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town San Diego. I had a crab salad. Delicious!
The RWA book signing to benefit literacy. Yes, this is what over 400 of your favorite authors in one ballroom looks like.
Exciting news--my book The Wrong Bride won the National Readers' Choice Award for historical romance!
My editor Erika Tsang got her own plaque for the book's win!
My publisher, Avon Books, always has an Open House for conference attendees. 
The final night of the conference is the RITA Awards, our version of the Oscars. I attended with my friend, author Lizbeth Selvig.
At last it was time to head home. With an approaching deadline, I wanted to try to get some pages written. You're looking at my airplane "office."
Avon KissCon Reader Event
October 24, 2015
Portland OR
Powell's Books
(l. to r.) Eva Leigh, Tessa Dare,
Candis Terry, Julia Quinn,
me, Julie Anne Long, Lisa Kleypas
photo of KissCon 2015
October 2013, England

My daughter did her semester abroad in London, so I visited, we rented a car and the rest is history! This is Chatsworth, where they filmed the recent Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. Incredible ducal opulence.  
The painted gallery at Chatsworth. Much work was done to repair centuries of candle and gaslight damage to the incredible ceilings.
Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, begun in the 1100s.
The city of York, with medieval streets and leaning buildings still in use!
Everywhere we drove, we saw beautiful villages like Bakewell...
...and gorgeous sites like this one in Knaresborough.
My daughter Laura standing in front of Knaresborough Castle a few blocks from our B&B. While we were in town, they had a Halloween party there, complete with crazy lights on the walls and zombie dancers. Almost surreal!
And what would a trip to London have been without visiting Kings Cross Station and Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter fame? My daughter may be all grown up, but we both got a thrill.
July 2013, Atlanta

The Romance Writers of America conference! Me, signing at the Literacy Book Signing with 400 other authors! Next year we're in San Antonio--you should come to the book signing, which is open to the public.
The beautiful skyline of Atlanta on one of my morning walks.
RETURN OF THE VISCOUNT won the Booksellers' Best Award for Short Historicals!
Me and historical romance author Elizabeth Boyle!
At the Avon cocktail party, they wisely provided us with entertainment--a photo booth! From l. to r. Tessa Dare, Katharine Ashe, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, me, and my agent Eileen Fallon.
Me and my editor, Erika Tsang.
Historical romance author Laura Lee Gurhke and me!
And then we headed home--we drove from NY to Atlanta and back. Of course we needed ice cream. l. to r. me, Michele Masarech, Maggie Shayne, and Christine Wenger.
July 2011, New York City

The Romance Writers of America conference! At the Avon Cocktail Party, from the left me, an author whose name I can't remember--sorry!--Kerrelyn Sparks, Pamela Palmer, Joss Ware, and Margo Maguire

Fellow historical author Laura Lee Guhrke interviewed us all for a video. Must put that link up somewhere...
Avon hosted an Open House where conference attendees could get free books. Mobbed!


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July 2010, Orlando

This year, the Romance Writers of America held their national conference in Orlando. This was the hotel I stayed in, the Dolphin.
Fellow Avon authors Julie Anne Long and Gaelen Foley at the Avon Books Open House.
At the book signing to benefit literacy, with my pal Anna Campbell. 400 authors in one room!
Susan Elizabeth Phillips gets a tiara, not me. But then I soon possessed the prized pirate hat. We were attending a cocktail party hosted by Avon Books at the Living Seas exhibit at Epcot. The windows were actually views onto a huge aquarium. But my camera didn't do it justice.
Aha, the hat is mine! I even brought it home with me, after it was much abused in other pictures. See Miranda Neville's facebook page. Not sure what I'll do with it now... I'm standing with Adele Ashworth, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Lavinia Kent.

Laura Lee Guhrke and I all dressed up for the RITA and Golden Heart ceremony. Laura was up for a RITA in Best Historical Romance.
Julia Quinn won her third RITA for Best Regency Historical Romance, which put her into the Hall of Fame and gave her another RITA. Kathryn Smith and Laura Lee Guhrke celebrate with her.
Julia Quinn celebrates with the Avon editorial staff: from left, Esi Sogah, May Chen, Julia, Amanda Bergeron, Lyssa Keusch, and Erika Tsang.
While at the conference, to the newest theme park--Universal Islands of Adventure Harry Potter land! Hogwarts Castle was so realistic.
Some of my fellow authors enjoying
the day: from the left, Stephanie Laurens, Louise (a new friend), Laura Lee Guhrke, Susan Andersen, Victoria Alexander, and me!
Hogsmeade village--and yes, I sampled the butter beer, but I really wished I could have tried the frozen version.
My husband Jim and I went camping at Fillmore Glen State Park in the Fingerlakes of NY. We hiked two miles up the gorge, where we took these photos, then hiked back through the woods along the top of the cliff. We got our exercise, that's for sure!


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Fillmore Glen
For Women Only Expo
Erie, PA, October 2008

At the Expo, I sat at the Borders booth with Jamie Denton and Holly Jacobs, talking to readers, then gave two speeches over the weekend. 
Erie Expo authors
Romance Writers of America
National Conference
Washington, DC, July 2009

At the Avon cocktail party, I got to chat with good buddies Suzanne Enoch (my fellow Star Trek fan) and Margo Maguire. Margo and I gave a speech together at the convention this year, along with our editor, May Chen, and Margo's agent, Paige Wheeler.
At the Avon Family Dinner, I had a great time catching up on all the latest gossip with Sophia Nash. Sophia Nash
One of my favorite pictures! This is my son Jim, acting like one of the dogs. Apollo is on the left and Uma is on
the right. I love all the tongues in the smiling faces.
Jim and dogs
July 2006, my Erie PA booksigning.
Erie is my hometown, so I do a signing
there every year. My mom Renee
Kloecker is in the center, and on the
right, my sister Connie Weiser. Every
year my mom makes a beautiful basket
for one of my readers to win.
My best friend, Dr. Elisa Konieczko,
showed up to support me at the booksigning, as always!
October 2005--Europe!
I hadn't been to London in awhile, so it was wonderful to be totally in charge of everything I wanted to see.  I actually panicked beforehand, because it was so hard to narrow down for a ten day trip! And sneaking Rome, Italy, in as well.  This is Hyde Park, where our characters rode their horses and showed off their carriages in the 18th century.  My daughter Michelle, on the left, is spending a semester abroad in London. I'm in the middle, with my husband Jim on the right.

This is the oldest working pub in England.  Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (love the name!) sixteenth century (I think) is in St. Albans, a town about 45 minutes northwest of London.  Of course we had drinks here--dessert too!  St. Albans was originally a Roman town, so there are lots of Roman ruins--a theme on our whole trip. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
I'm standing in the four-hundred-year-old Market Hall in Chipping Camden, a village in the Cotswolds. We were able to rent a car and drive from London to Warwick to Bath.  I was surprised how easy it was to learn to drive on the left side. Just a few scares! Villages in the Cotswolds are all made of this mellow yellow stone found in the area. Chipping Camden
This is the Roman Bath in Bath, England.  It was only discovered in the 19th century.  The hot spring still works!  Bath is so beautiful--love the Georgian architecture. Roman Baths
We flew to Rome to watch my brother's brother-in-law, Joseph Campbell, be ordained a deacon at the Vatican.  Now that was cool!  We only had two full days in Rome, so we made the most of it.  Michelle, me, and my mom Renee are standing in front of the Castile St. Angelo, begun 2000 years before, and pope's castle for 1000 years.

Castile St. Angelo

Jim and I are standing on the roof of the Castile St. Angelo, with the Vatican behind us.

Castile St. Angelo

This is the Roman Forum, the original city. The basilica is the large  building in the rear with the arched columns and ceiling.  In the middle on the left, you can see people standing on the original paving stones where the chariots drove, and parades celebrated victories.  We're standing up above in the Palantine, another section of the old city. Roman Forum
My family at the Maroon Bells, famous mountains in Colorado.  From the left, my husband Jim, daughters Laura and Michelle, me, son Jim, and Uma Maroon Bells
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