Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday 13 :: You make me wanna...

Romance novels have inspired many things. Husbands everywhere should stop and thank a romance author for brightening their evenings. But beyond the bedroom, romance novels spark great adventures. Some of my favorites have been ::

Claimed! (Harlequin Blaze)
1. HORSEBACK RIDING - I'm not really referring to save a horse, ride a cowboy - honest! I haven't been on a horse since I was a kid, and this made me want to get back into it. A well-muscled cowboy giving lessons would be a plus.

Cruise Control
2. RIDE IN A LIMO - I hate driving. I think the last time I was in a limo was when Trish Wylie & I piled into one with a dozen other romance authors at the Dallas conference. I'd like to try it when it's less crowded. Ahem.

Men in Kilts3. TRAVEL TO SCOTLAND - I haven't managed it yet, but my Highland Games adventure last weekend has got me thinking about it again. The castles, the kilts, the brogue. Yes, I must go.
Flirting with Forty
4. SURF! I tried, back in the days I could still pull off a bikini. But, after a couple attempts I was cranky and tired and gave up. I'd like to try it now that I have more patience. What? I do so have more patience! 

Indulge Me (Harlequin Blaze)5. MAKE A BUCKET LIST - Having a good long think about what you want is a great way to shorten the distance between here and there. So is hiring a babysitter. My girlfriends and I promised one another adventures for our birthdays. So far, we've had makeovers, walking tours, pole dancing, zip-lining...with rafting and a Vegas trip in the works!

Cupcakes and Killer Heels. Heidi Rice (Riva)
6. EAT CAKE - As the cupcake bakeries have popped up I think most domestic goddesses have thought - hey, I could do that. Or, that carrot cake is awful. Whichever.
7. TOUR A WINERY - Before we were breeders, Hubba Bubba and I used to find ourselves at a wine tasting nearly every summer weekend.

Bedded For Diamonds (Harlequin Presents Nights of Passion)
8. SEE THE OPALS IN AUSTRALIA - Kelly Hunter did an amazing job of bringing the rugged beauty of Australia and fire of opals to life in Priceless...which was renamed Bedded For Diamonds in the North American market. I'm not sure why they renamed it that either!

Deal With This9. BE AN EXTRA ON A FILM SET - I'd love to experience how films and television are made, see all the different jobs that go into making it possible for actors to entertain us.

Win, Lose... or Wed! (Harlequin Romance)10. HAVE GAME-SHOW WORTHY ADVENTURES - I love Survivor, but I'm not cut out to camp for 40 days, or do any of those challenges where you have to eat bugs. Same with Amazing Race. I'd love it, until I got frustrated trying to perfect some native dance. But some of the things they do? I'd love to do some afternoon, and then return to my hotel. 

Invitation to the Boss's Ball (Harlequin Romance)11. ATTEND A BALL - complete with the Cinderella treatment. I think this is how some women see their wedding, but I got married at a park, to a man who hates to dance. I want the elegance, the music, the dress, the shoes...

At the Billionaire's Bidding (Harlequin Presents Extra (Unnumbered))12. WEAR PROVOCATIVE T-SHIRTS - I have to buy shirts around, so all those cute phrase ones aren't in my closet. But I do love a good rude shirt.

Carnal innocence13. BE AN UNDERCOVER AGENT - For the weekend, not for a lifetime. The excitement would be epic, but I wouldn't want to keep it up long term. I mean...when would I have time to read my books?


Jenna's dealing with line edits, waiting to hear back on a new story, and finishing the road trip book right now. Until it's ready, be sure to check out her latest. Private Scandal is ripe with secrets, sass, and sensational sex.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Highland Games

What do you do when a friend calls and offers to share her VIP ticket to The Highland Games?

If you're having a year of adventure like I am, you say yes and thank you. Hmm, maybe I should have reversed the order? Ah, well.

Lucy Monroe and I giggled like schoolgirls about how amazing it is that as a writer, having fun is part of your job responsibilities! She's working on a Scottish midieval right now, so she was giddy for the history of everything. I'm a contemporary girl, so dreamed up a couple different scenarios (including a stunning YA idea for anyone who wants it), and voila - another day at the office.

Lucy's husband joined in on the fun, when he wasn't chaffering us to and from and lugging bags and coats to the car. Such a good sport. And it got even better when he got caught up in the festivities and bought a kilt. (Read about that here.)

The festivities stretched over the Mt Hood Community College campus. We explored the clan tents first, mesmerized by how many people wore kilts or their clan tartan in some other way (ties, scarves, baby wraps). Close to two dozen clans brought displays to share their history and heritage. The maps were fascinating, as were the knives everyone seemed to have tucked into their long wool socks!

One field showcased the athletic competitions, from shinty (kind of like polo without the horse) to strong man competitions (for men, women & children). I've seen the strongman competitions on ESPN, but live is so much better. When you're standing there, you realize how dangerous these feats are and it ratchets the excitement up.

In weight for height the competitor tosses a 50+ pound bucket-looking thing over their head where a limbo-type bar is perched. Clearing the bar means they can try it even higher. I still am not sure how they manage to toss it without it coming down on their head!

I couldn't get any good pictures of them throwing the Scottish was just too dangerous to have a good angle! The Scottish Hammer is a 20 pound ball on the end of a stick! The whirl around and when they have enough momentum they release it. See what I mean about dangerous?

Portland even has it's own signature event...The Portland Stone. Stone is really a misnomer...this is a 100 pound boulder! With a clean-and-jerk motion, the athletes get the boulder over their head, run, and with a might bellow toss it as far as they can. I really started to feel bad for the ground, which was left with quite the dent from every toss.

Weight for Distance is a bit like the Olympic discus...except they throw a ball and chain! Again, not something you want to get in the way of. Open Stone resembles shot-put...but with a rock.

The Kilted Mile attracted men and women of all ages. Everyone cheers, especially for those in their clan. At the end I missed the highlight of the whole miler flipped up his kilt to show what was underneath (joke boxers, but still). And I missed it. Totally. I think me missing it (of all people) made Lucy laugh harder than the actual flashing!

The final sporting event was the Caber Toss. The throw a telephone pole into the air, trying to get it to cartwheel. The world champion was one of the competitors, so we got to see this quite a bit. We also got to see what happens when they lose their grip or can't balance the 19-foot log correctly. Talk about scary! I was so chicken, I stood on the stage to take pictures.

In addition to the athletics were bands and dancing. I loved watching the Scottish dancers of all ages. The smaller kids were adorable, and the older performers so precise. In her research, Lucy learned the dances began as ways to train boys for battle, kind of like martial arts. Now they're artisic and fun, but I can imagine they once were quite serious.

The pipe bands were amazing. I'm not sure my ear is tuned enough to be able to tell one song from another, but I loved watching them. I enjoyed the band competitions as well, fascinated by the different formations they would take to perform. The drummers had quite a bit of flair.

The food was perfectly Scottish. The VIP tent had a spread of bangers, mashed potatoes, bangers and mash, grain mustard, crudite and fresh fruit - with MacTarnahan's Ale flowing as well. We had afternoon tea in the Brittish tea tent. You could smell the butter in their home-baked goodies.

And the shopping...phenomenal. I had no idea there would be so many amazing things! Of course there were kilt sellers and kilt makers (both tradition and modern), but there were capes (I got Babygirl a red one so she can be little red riding hood), books, jewelry (I found amazing lapis earrings), hair accessories (leather hair ties and metal twists), and weaponry.

Oh, the weapons. There were ornate knives, perfect for tucking in one's sock as the Scotts are wont to do. But there were serious broadswords as well. Chain metal and shields. Axes and whips. Mace and spears. It was equal parts scary and fascinating to have them there to handle. Those things were heavy, and if the ax blade touches anything the vibration moves down your arms like a tuning fork. Talk about hands on research!

I think I'll go again. It really got my creative side running. With as popular as Scottish historicals have become, maybe I can figure out a way to blend that into contemporary. Who knows...I won't have time to find out until I finish the next three stories!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The RWA National Conference is packed with books. Books in your registration bag, on your chair at each luncheon, scattered about the goody room (they go FAST), at the Literacy Autographing, and all the major publishers host a booksigning where the books are FREE! I packed home too many to list, so here's the 13 that went to the top of my To-Be-Read Pile.

Breathe1. Breathe by Donna Alward -- Snagged it as an ARC from the Samhain signing... and then someone snagged it from me when I was handing out books to elevator passengers. Thank goodness Fiona Harper hooked me up with another copy. Still, I wonder what Donna wrote when she signed it...

Beauty and the Brooding Boss (Harlequin Romance)2. Beauty and the Brooding Boss by Barbara Wallace -- I do so love Beauty and the Beast. I think that's why I tend to write the story over, and over...

Cowboy Up (Harlequin Blaze)3. Cowboy Up by Vicki Lewis Thompson -- Not only are there three more Sons of Chance books coming out, at the signing she said it was looking like she'd get a third set of them! And, my fangirl moment of the conference? I rode back to the hotel from the Harlequin black & white ball in the same taxi as VLT!
Housekeeper's Happy-Ever-After 
4. Housekeeper's Happy-Ever-After by Fiona Harper -- I met Fiona on the eHarlequin boards when we were both unpublished. I met her in person at the RWA Conference in Dallas a couple years after we'd sold.'s eerie. We're like identical cousins! The easy laugh, curly hair, need to go for a joke. I heart her.

And One Last Thing ...
5. And One Last Thing by Molly Harper -- I got this one at a publisher signing for my usual reasons for picking up a book...cover and title. I know, I know. But I mean, look at it. It's going to be good.

Real Men Wear Plaid! (Harlequin Blaze)6. Real Men Wear Plaid by Rhonda Nelson -- Everything by Rhonda Nelson is good, it just is. Maybe it's my upcoming weekend adventure to the Highland Games, or the hot guy on the cover...I just know I'll love this one.

The True Love Quilting Club (Avon Romance)7. The True Love Quilting Club by Lori Wilde -- I actually managed to snag this and The Sweetheart's Knitting Club because my roomate didn't have room in her luggage :) I had the First Love Cookie Club at home already, so now I have them all. I just need a weekend away to read them in one big gulp.

Single Dad Seeks a Wife8. Single Dad Seeks A Wife by Melanie Milburne -- Medicals are hard to come by in the States! This felt like quite a find!

With This Fling... (Harlequin Presents Extra)9. With This Fling by Kelly Hunter -- Don't you just love that title? Kelly has a delightful way of mixing the playful and the emotional so that everything is just right. Plus, I got to meet her in person. She's even more lovely than you think!

Suddenly Texan (Harlequin American Romance)10. Suddenly Texan by Victoria Chancellor -- The heroine is from Oregon, and the American line is becoming one of my favorites. Plus, it has a Texas cowboy.

The Forbidden Wife (Harlequin Presents)11. The Forbidden Wife by Sharon Kendrick -- The back cover says "When Beauty tames the brooding beast..." Can you see the pattern with me and stories?

12. All Fired Up by Kristen Painter -- I have it in ebook, but sometimes it's nice to have an autographed copy. That way, when I loan it to my friend I tend to get it back!

Expecting Royal Twins! (Harlequin Romance)13. Expecting Royal Twins by Melissa McClone -- One of my local authors who just happened to be nominated for a RITA. She did a great job blogging about NYC pre-conference. After reading her posts, I was even more excited to go!

It's going to be a great reading year!!