80s Sighting: a-ha Saves the Day on Chuck Series Finale!

On Chuck vs. the Goodbye:

The set-up:  Under General Beckman's chair is a bomb set to go off as soon as the music stops...and the symphony's about to end.

To the rescue: Jeffster (a rock band comprising Jeff and Lester, two disturbing nerds who work at the Buy More).

Of all the day-saving, climax-worthy songs they could've chosen to belt out at this most crucial moment---the final mission by NBC's Team Bartowski after 5 seasons---Jeffster chose.... 

Rock on, Jeffster. If that got you jonesing for the 80s, might I suggest you take a gander at the Tumble 4 Ya blogfest?  Much thanks to everyone who's already joined!  I can't wait to see everyone's choices.


Celery Tree Forum: Short Story Submissions & Freelance

Celery Tree, that cozy on-line bookstore, is wrapping up it's January blog tour and I get to be one of the final stops.  If you haven't heard of Celery Tree yet, I suggest you stop over to check it out. If you have a book out and are interested in adding it to the Celery Tree collection, contact Karen Gowen at karen@celerytree.com. 

The gracious Theresa Milstein and Sheri Larsen both had me as their guest this month---thank you, ladies!---and I promised a follow-up to my post at Sheri's place.  I asked her followers what topics they'd like to see discussed at the Celery Tree forums and there was a lot of interest in information regarding submitting short stories to magazines as well as paid freelance writing opportunities, so I've opened up as a forum topic and provided some links I hope you'll find helpful. It's (not so) cleverly titled:

You can bop on over to read my post, and if you have something to add to the discussion, log in (registration is open to anyone, don't need to be a Celery Tree author to do this) and tell us what you know. :)


80s Sighting: Strawberry Shortcake

With my children now teenagers, it appears I'm woefully uninformed on what's currently hot in Toddler Pop Culture. So how surprised was I to walk into my niece's third birthday party this weekend and find the place decked out in that sweetie from the 80s---Strawberry Shortcake!

To be honest, I probably would've been oblivious to the fruit-themed confection throughout the 80s too if I hadn't had a younger sister who was way into her.  My only personal memory of the Fraulein of Fraises is a vague recollection of one of my sister's dolls smelling like blueberries.  

Anyhow, she's baaaack---with a few choice updates, like trading in the Laura Ingalls look for a snappy mini-dress, poufy newsboy cap, and sassy mary-janes, and losing the stubby red yarn in favor of lucious pink waves. 

Does the strawberry princess hold a special place in your memories?
Have you spotted her anywhere while you've been out & about lately?
What do you think of her makeover?


Meet Jennifer Lane

You know how there are people who, although you've never met them in person, you just know they're not only cool but a really nice person who'd be totally fun to hang out with?  Well, Jennifer Lane, fellow Omnific Publishing author, is one of those people. So I'm thrilled to have her visit today---and I'm even thrilldeder to get to meet her in person in a few months!

I recently read her novel, With Good Behavior, book #1 in the CONduct series, and here's a snippet of my Goodreads review (click to read the whole shebang).

And here's my interview with her, in which you'll notice I focused on questions about my sweet home Chicago:

1. I know you have family in Chicago and have spent a lot of time there, but I also know that you're a pretty frequent traveler and have been to many other fabulous places, so what made you choose Chicago above all those other places as a setting?

After growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I love Chicago because it has the familiarity of the Midwest but the spiciness of the big city. When I was in a psychology graduate program at Notre Dame, my oldest sister and her husband moved from London to Chicago. I never will forget the thrill of driving into the city for the first time to visit them...the majestic skyscrapers, the shimmer of Lake Michigan, the pulse of the nightlife. My sister now has three boys and it's wonderful to visit my nephews.

Chicago has both beautiful architecture and a gritty underbelly, and I found that dichotomy to be a wonderful backdrop for my series. For a mafia story, the home of Al Capone is a natural choice. And I love to be around water -- Lake Michigan is gorgeous.

2.  Is Chicago the home base for all three books in the CONduct series?

Yes! Chicago architectural cruises play a big role in With Good Behavior (The Conduct Series #1). For Bad Behavior (#2), Chicago's political corruption a la Rod Blagojevich inspires the plot, ha ha. The mafia element of Chicago and local prisons in Gurnee and Downer's Grove continue to star in On Best Behavior (#3).

3.  When you visit the Windy City, besides your sisters' homes, what are the other "must see" places on your itinerary?  

One sister recently moved to Hilton Head Island, so maybe I'll feature my next novel there! In Chicago I love the restaurant Big Bowl, and the Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao (which inspired a scene in Bad Behavior). Roger Eaton's favorite deep dish pizza at Giordano's is also yummy. My nephews and I usually dive into the swimming pool in my sister's condo building. In the summer, we absolutely hit the Ohio Street Beach, and in the late summer, I like to swim two miles in Lake Michigan. Walking or riding bikes along the lake is fun, as is shoe shopping at Nordstrom's Rack (one of the few stores to carry size 12 for my flipper feet!) Sometimes we visit "the bean" at Millennium Park, and I want to return to the aquarium soon. Chicago is a fun place to meet up with friends like Lorne from England, my editor Jessica Royer Ocken, and my graduate school advisor Anita.

4. In April, I plan to meet up with you and other writer friends while you're in town at the Romantic Times conference.  What I'm wondering is...how much money (and/or tequila) will it take to get you to stand up and belt out Sinatra on an architectural cruise?

Yeah! I can't wait to meet you at our first romance writer conference. Luckily for me, I don't think architectural cruises start running that early? *crosses fingers* I like to belt out songs in the privacy of my car, but my voice is nothing like Grant's! How much tequila would it take for YOU to belt out Sinatra at the hotel bar? ;-D

Uh, maybe about one shot - I'm a cheap date these days. ;)

Thank you for having me to your blog, Nicki! I'm so blessed we met through our publisher.

Aw, see what I mean about her being nice?
Thank YOU for visiting, Jen! 

All are welcome to join & hop along. :)


Writer's Ally

The marvelous SA Larsen is hosting me at her place today to talk a bit more about Celery Tree.

I'm looking for input from writers and readers regarding the Celery Tree forums.  So please do make a quick pit-stop over and let me know what you think.

And if you're interested in something fun & silly to do on February 10th---a pre-VD celebration, if you will---you need scroll no further than the post below. ;)


Who's Feeling Retro & Romantic?

For my very first ever blogfest, I've teamed up w/ fellow 80s girls
 to ask you one simple question:
 Who was/is your 80s celebrity crush?

Please tell us on February, 10
in the Tumble 4 Ya Blogfest! 

(Much thanks to Suze for designing our awesome fest icon)

All you have to do is sign up in the Linky below, and then on Friday, February 10 post a picture, video, or whatever of the celebrity you most tumbled for in the 80s.  We'd also love to know just what it was that made ya tumble 4 them. If you weren't of crushing age during the 80s, no problem---fess up to which 80s star most makes you tumble now.  Basically, we're just looking for a few pre-Valentine's Day laughs. ;)

(P.S. It's safe to assume we'd love for you to put our Blogfest icon in your sidebar & tell all your friends about it.)


Hey, I'm over at Theresa Milstein's today talking about Celery Tree, a brand new site for readers and authors.  Please stop by if you have a moment.

Also, thank you to everyone who weighed in on my book titles yesterday.  I think what I get from the feedback is that I need to go back to the drawing board.  The Angel Sin's appears to be the most zippy, but I'm not sure it will catch the right fish, as Suze so eloquently put it.  So, my new carrot to dangle as I chisel away on draft #2 will be to come back to y'all with a morsel of description and a new set of titles. Except I'm going to think of the carrot as celery because carrots are gross.

Aaand, just to give you a reason to look forward to Monday---Suze, M.Pax, and I have decided to break our Blogfest cherries as a threesome and will bring you a flirty, fun & freaking-awesome fest that you are, like, totally going to want to join. ;)    


First Impressions

Your gaze randomly wanders over the crowded room until he catches your eye.  You've never seen him before, but something about his look appeals to you.  Then he smiles---not at you, but the parting of his lips and the way his head tilts nevertheless incites a small smile of your own. You're intrigued.  Enough so that you wander closer, and soon the two of you are talking. You like him; he's interesting and he makes you laugh. So you decide to deliberately spend more time together...and if that goes well, you'll do it some more.

There you have my typical library/bookstore experience.  What?  No!  I'm not picking up guys!  Sheesh.  I'm talking about selecting a book. The cover is what "catches your eye," right?  And then you read the title---that's the smile.  And if it intrigues you, you "wander closer," pick it up, and read the back cover.  If it's "interesting," maybe "makes you laugh," then perhaps you "decide to deliberately spend more time together," i.e. read the first chapter.  "And if that goes well"...you've found your next read.
The purpose behind my little analogy here is that I achieved my Writing Resolution 2011, which was to complete the first draft of my untitled manuscript (yay!) and the carrot I dangled was that upon finishing draft #1, I could begin to think about the title, a/k/a the smile.  With Three Daves, the title was always just kind of there, so I never had to give it much thought, but this time...well, it's not so clear. So I'd love to get your input.

Without knowing anything else about the story, which of these three titles has the most potential to get you to "wander closer" and check out the back cover summary?

There's Something Wrong in Prairie Oaks

The Angel's Sin

Extraordinary Interventions

Any commentary you'd like to give regarding any expectations the title conjures would also be much appreciated.  Thanks!


Insecure Writer's Group

A couple insecurities ago, group therapy at my place focused on finding time for writing.  We all seemed to  agree that you just gotta do it.  Which is awesome, but once you give yourself over to writing the problem becomes...how do you find the time to do everything else?  Fret not, my darling blog friends, for I have the answer:

You don't.  

There's no way you can do everything your heart desires and your life demands, so set your priorities, ax what needs to go and be okay with that.  For example, last night I realized I had an IWSG post this morning, but I just didn't have time to write something brilliant and insightful.  So what did I do?

I didn't.

(But thanks for stopping by anyway. ;)  And thanks for hosting, Alex)


80s Sighting: The Muppet Movie

Happy New Year!  I'm starting right off w/ one of my resolutions---and that's to live up to the 80s portion of my Blogger byline.   All last year I noted 80s references popping up everywhere, and this year, whenever I find one of note, I'm gonna tell you about it.  Lucky you, eh?

Last week I went to see The Muppets---which was so awesome. If you were ever a Muppets fan you must see it---and I was tickled to see brand new character, 80s Robot.  I was even more happy to find this short clip of the "modem" scene to share with you (note the Top 40 song from 1980 playing in the background---can you name the song & artist?):