Monday, February 28, 2011

March Upcoming Attractions

Spring is almost here! To celebrate, we have a fabulous line-up of March guests. Here's our sneak peak:




March 2: Gerri Russell returns to the Lair to chat with Nancy about the ups and downs of an author's career.




March 3: Paranormal romance author Lori Handeland makes her Lair debut as Nancy's guest to chat about her new release, Moon Cursed.














March 4: USA Today bestselling author Julianne Maclean (http://juliannemaclean.com/) visits the lair to tell us about her fabulous new Scottish historical CAPTURED BY THE HIGHLANDER.









March 5: Mayhem breaks loose over at historical author Ashley March’s blog (http://www.ashleymarch.com/blog/) when the Bandits invade for the day as part of March Madness, a month-long party. There will be prizes--and did I mention mayhem? And look out for Ashley’s visit to the lair in September!


On March 7th, Jana DeLeon visits with Suz to talk about her first release with Harlequin Intrigue, The Secret of Cypriere Bayou. A steamy mystery set in the Louisiana Bayous, a place Jana know intimately.


March 16th brings NY best-selling author Brenda Novak back to the Lair as Jo's guest. She'll be talking about the fun and excitement of reader conventions, as well as her upcoming Bulletproof series.















March 22nd: The fabulous Julie James joins us to talk about her smart, sexy contemporary romances and her latest release "A Lot Like Love."
















March 26: Ellis Flynn returns to the lair to talk about language and words with Nancy.


On May 30th, Misa Ramirez returns to the Lair as Jo's guest. She'll discuss her recent promotion and marketing book for writers -- THE TRICKED-OUT TOOLBOX and her romantic suspense release A DEADLY CURSE.


























March 31: Love Regencies? Love paranormal? Now you can have both. Colleen Gleason will be on the blog March 31 to talk about her new vampire series launching this month. This author of the popular Gardella Vampire Chronicles has created a new world of the Regency Draculia. The Vampire Voss, out this month, launches three back-to-back titles that also include The Vampire Dimitri in April and The Vampire Narcise in May.









Contests!

Anna Campbell is celebrating the launch of her brand-new website by sharing some great prizes! SIX lucky readers will receive a luscious reading double! First up, your choice from Anna’s backlist (please check out her Books page http://www.annacampbell.info/books.html if you need help choosing). Each winner will also win a gorgeous hardcover Rhapsody Book Club edition of either Laura Lee Guhrke’s WEDDING OF THE SEASON or Madeline Hunter’s RAVISHING IN RED.

To be in the draw, just email Anna on anna@annacampbell.info with two pieces of information – your favorite romance read from 2010 and which book from her backlist you’d like to win. Good luck! For more information, please visit Anna’s contest page. http://www.annacampbell.info/contest.html And don’t forget to check out her great new website atwww.annacampbell.info, including the excerpt from her forthcoming release MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION. The contest closes 31st March, 2011.

TRUE GRIT

by Suzanne

Since I write western historical romances, both erotic, (THE SURRENDER OF LACY MORGAN) and just plain sexy, (REFUGE), I loved getting to go see True Grit a while back. When my son and I walked out of the theater after watching this remake of the old classic, we talked about what we like about the movie. One of the things he said to me was, "Mom, the person who had the most grit in that movie, wasn't Rooster Cogburn. It was Mattie." And he was right.

Mattie Ross had true grit.When her father was murdered hundreds of miles from home, she took it upon herself not only to go collect his body and send him home to be buried, but to find someone to help her track down the low-down murdering sidewinder and see he was brought to justice.She weathered low opinions men of the time had for a slip of a girl, nearly drowning in a river, shooting her first man, tumbling down a huge pit and being bitten by a rattler. (I won't tell you how it ends, just in case you haven't had the time to go see this movie.)

As this is the last day of the AHA GO RED for Women month and the Bandits celebration of such, I thought we should look at other women who throughout history have shown true grit.

Queen Elizabeth I: Talk about someone walking into a pit of snakes...the human kind. She took over the English crown when the kingdom was broke, under threat of both the Spanish and French invading, not to mention some rowdy Scots to the north. But her country had just gone through some very bloody years at the hands of her sister. Her kingdom was writhe with spies and traitors, advisors who saw her as nothing more than a brood mare to provide a male heir to take her place.Yet she was able to rule with cunning and a strong will for 45 years. Her country and it's empire grew in land, strength and finances during her rein.

Elizabeth Blackwell: Growing up in England where she watched eight of her siblings and eight of her cousins die, Elizabeth decided to go to medical school after her family moved to America. Elizabeth was rejected by 16 medical schools but was finally accepted by Geneva (New York) Medical College. Despite the taunts of not only the other students, but the people in the college town, she graduated on January 23, 1849. While furthering her medical studies in Paris, she developed an eye infection that cost her sight in her left eye. Undaunted, she continued to study. She returned to America two years later and opened a school to help other women become doctors. She also raised money with her sister Emily and opened The New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857. Run by women doctors, it was the first of its kind anywhere in the world.



Marian Anderson: Despite many years of prejudicial treatment, even being refused entrance to a local musical school after graduating high school because of her color, Marian rose to be the first black opera singer to be a regular cast member of the New York Metropolitan Opera. She sang for Kings and Queens, many presidents, including FDR and JFK. She also quietly fought many of the segregation laws that were in place during the early part of her career, by insisting on "vertical seating" in segregated cities. This meant that black audience members would be slotted in seats on all levels of the auditoriums. For many, it was the first time they'd ever sat in orchestra level seats.


Sylvia and Cristobal Pankhurst and the Suffragettes: (doesn't that sound like a rock band?) At a time when women were little more than chattel, they literally fought for women's right to vote. So passionate about their beliefs they thought nothing of chaining themselves to public building railings, smashing windows, interrupting public debates and even setting off bombs. Many of their followers, including Cristobal herself, went to prison, where they conducted hunger strikes to get their message across. Finally, during World War I political changes were made to give limited voting rights to women in England. In 1920 American Women achieved the right to vote through the Nineteenth Ammendment to the Constitution and by 1928 full suffrage equal to those of men were granted to women in England.

These are some women who have grit to stick to their beliefs, dreams or goals throughout history. Do you have any favorites you look up to? Admire? Or just appreciate their grit?

Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Visit Go Red for Women to learn how to fight heart disease.
Sign up for the Go Red Better U Program and receive two free romance e-books. From Feb 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's Better U Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited edition magazine (that features this offer) on newstands and in a grocery store near you.Go Red for Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books. 

Here's your heart healty tip for today: Whether cooking or making dressings, use the oils that are lowest in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol – such as canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil – but use them sparingly, because they contain 120 calories per tablespoon. (I personally prefer to mix a small amount of butter with olive oil for most cooking, and vegetable oil for baking.) You can also cut back on sugars and oil in baking by adding applesauce to cake recipes!

As always this month, one commentor will receive a GO RED for Women pin and today I'll give that same winner a $10 gift card to Amazon.com. (Heck you might use it to buy a copy of THE SURRENDER OF LACY MORGAN or some other book to make your heart race!)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Journey into Darkness

by Jo Robertson









Did I get your attention with that dramatic title? And the equally dramatic pictures above and below -- a three-way bypass heart and Jomama in the hospital sans makeup?
Good. Because today’s post isn’t light or romantic, and is only a bit funny.

December 22, 1999. This is me holding one of my four grandbabies born that year. Each one had problems that required extra hospitalization, and my mother had died in July, so I'd experienced stress I wasn't even consciously aware of.

Here's how it went down: I was at the dentist, tilted back in the chair nearly upside-down when I felt the unmistakable pressure in my chest that I knew from previous experience was angina.

I got out of there fast and drove home.

Ridiculous, right? Yes!

I should’ve gone straight to the hospital, but I didn't, knowing my mother-in-law, who’d just arrived from out of state, was mired in holiday preparations. I popped five aspirin, lay down on the bed, and promised myself I’d call 911 if the pressure didn’t subside.

See, this is the thing about heart attacks. You always think it isn’t THE ONE even while your logical brain screams, “Dial 911, you TSTL heroine in a badly written romance novel!”

The pressure remained steady, so I calmly told my mother-in- law that I wasn’t feeling well and was going to go to the emergency room.

Yes, I drove myself to the hospital while experiencing chest discomfort. To be fair, the hospital is less than five minutes from my house.

The cool thing about hospital emergency rooms – and maybe the only cool thing about them – is that if you even breathe the words “cardiac patient,” (I’d had a previous angioplasty), they scoop you up and buckle you down like Frankenstein’s monster.

They run tests, start IV’s, give you the good drugs if you wince even a wee bit. The tests were sketchy, (WOMEN OFTEN PRESENT ATYPICAL SYMPTOMS), but the cardiologist wanted to keep me overnight.

Just to be sure.

IT WAS CHRISTMAS!! Protesting heartily, I allowed myself to be admitted. By now I was feeling quite good from my five-aspirin cocktail high. The brain tricks you into believing no pain equals no danger.

Silly brain.

When my family descended en force and brought the holiday to me, I knew I wasn’t getting out of there unless I executed a prison break. They were far more worried than I, of course.

The angiogram showed five blocked arteries, each seriously narrowed.

Not good.

It was now December 24 and every sensible cardiac surgeon was celebrating with her own family. Dr. Fitzpatrick would not let me go home. I’d never celebrated Christmas without my family. We were all devastated. And the worse part was I felt fine!

No fair!

But all my wonderful new babies, sons and daughters in law, and other grandchildren serenaded me with Christmas carols. Nurses and patients
alike stopped by to join in.
But here’s the "journey into darkness" part.

See, what they do in open-heart surgery, called a CABG, is incise your chest from the sternum to the middle of the stomach. They break the chest bone, pry apart the ribs, stop the heart and hook it up to a machine, cut your leg from crotch to knee and knee to ankle to pull out the veins like linked sausages. They use these veins as by-pass “arteries” to replace your blocked ones.

Snip, snip. Stitch, stitch. Luckily, you're way under the anesthesia for all this.

When they’re finished they jump start your heart, metal-clamp the breast bone and suture the flesh, and viola!
Then the fun starts. If anyone had told me all the above details beforehand, I’d have run like hell. After surgery you wake up looking like you’ve been in a street fight.
And lost the battle.

Everything swells horribly (see how fat my leg is above) – your face, eyes, and leg. The pain is enormous, and to add insult to injury, the nurse makes you sit up within an hour post-op and cough . . . and cough . . . and cough. It’s sheer torture. The Spanish Inquisition should’ve taken notes.

The preparation for the surgery was psychologically freaky. They remove everything from you, clothes, glasses, wedding ring, books. You feel stripped bare, naked in the same way you must’ve felt when you came into this world -- alone and abandoned.

I couldn’t read. I couldn’t sleep. The hours were excrutiatingly long until the nurse prepped me, made me scrub my body vigorously three times. I shivered uncontrollably. You know, that kind of shaking when you’re going into shock? You feel cold, but the room isn’t?

And of course you worry that something will go terribly wrong, and you're achingly aware of your family waiting the long hours in the waiting room for the results. Mine arrived at 6:00 a.m., babies and all, but didn't get word of the results until noon.

Trust me, you don’t want to go through open-heart surgery. It’s hell all the way around.

So – putting on teacher lecture mode now – exercise, damn it, even if it’s only two minutes on your stationary bike or a five-minute walk the long way to get your mail.

If you smoke, damn it, stop smoking. It raises your risk immeasurably and no one likes kissing an ash tray.

If you don’t eat veggies and fruit, give them a try – one new one a week, or a month; every little bit helps. If you eat lots and lots of red meat, switch to chicken and fish, even if it’s only one meal a week.

We care for our Banditas and Buddies, whose hearts are so big they deserve to be super healthy. Don’t make us come after you with a stick – or worse, Aunty Cindy’s whip.

So, what’s your worse injury or surgery? Are you one of the lucky ones who’ve gotten to this stage in life without a broken bone or a tonsillectomy? It’s nearly the end of Go Red for Women month, so let it all out.
Everything's mum in the Lair.


We're giving away an AHA Go Red pin for one commenter today!
Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Visit Go Red for Women to learn how to fight heart disease.
Sign up for the Go Red Better U Program and receive two free romance e-books. From Feb 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's Better U Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited edition magazine (that features this offer) on newstands and in a grocery store near you.Go Red for Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.
Healthy Heart Tip for Today: You can make many of your favorite recipes healthier by using lower-fat or no-fat ingredients. These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Guys from Oz

by Nancy

Those of us who are, as the saying goes, "of a certain age" probably remember music's British Invasion of the 1960s--the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits (fronted by that cutie, Peter Noone)--with hordes of screaming girls outside hotels. Now we're in the midst of a quieter invasion, this time of Australian actors, who inspired today's topic of guys from Oz.

There are also prominent actresses from Australia, like Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, and several up-and-comers, but I'm in the mood to discuss guys today, so that's the territory we're covering.

We're all familiar with that Lair favorite Hugh Jackman, right? Guy who turns up--sometimes sporting adamantium claws but usually in a tux--at every party we throw? I realize many of us would be happy if I just stuck up a bunch of pictures of Jackman. I'm sure we could all find a lot to say.

But wait!--as the informercials like to say--there's more! In fact, there are a lot more.

Of course there's Russell Crowe (born in New Zealand but residing in Australia), who has his own rooting section, especially when it comes to his role in Gladiator. Our gladiators get kind of huffy about that movie, but they'll just have to deal. And Crowe is a big star, albeit a little short for my personal taste. He also gets points for being able to wear a tunic and not look silly.

So we have Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, not exactly a bad duo to start with. There's also Mel Gibson, maybe not as big a star as he once was and also a bit short for my personal taste but with a long and distinguished resume.

Brian Brown, who costarred with Jackman in Australia, was hot in Hollywood for a while in the 1970s or 1980s but then apparently went home. David Wenham, who also costarred in Australia, was fabulous as Faramir in LOTR, but that was filmed in New Zealand and so doesn't count as invading the US. Of course, there's also the fabulous Geoffrey Rush, but today we're focusing on romantic leading men--just 'cause that's what I'm in the mood to talk about.

Terminator Salvation featured Sam Worthington, who was wonderful as a terminator who believed he was human and clung to his humanity even after he had to accept that he was a machine. Worthington was also a hit in Avatar, but he was harder to recognize, being blue and all. He was again recognizable, and convincingly earnest, in the remade Clash of the Titans. He also gets points for not looking silly in a tunic.

As anyone who saw Trish's movie blog knows, Chris Hemsworth, another tall Australian, has stepped into the boots of Marvel Comics' Norse God of Thunder, The Mighty Thor. The movie will open in May. And he certainly does look the part.

I remember him from the opening sequence of Star Trek, when his portrayal of George Kirk sending his pregnant wife to safety while he drove his crippled ship to its doom brought tears to my eyes. I think Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, is in good hands.

I loved the Thor comic and am cautiously optimistic about the movie, though my favorite Thor love interest, the warrior goddess Sif, doesn't appear to have as big a role as I might like. I expect to see Thor (if you click on the link, wait after the hammer appears and the dust settles - the trailer will load) for Mothers Day or my birthday, and possibly several more times.

I recently learned (via a YouTube clip) that hunky Alex O'Loughlin, formerly vampire Mick St. John on Moonlight, was also Australian. He's now Steve McGarrett on the revived Hawaii Five-0, after a detour to play Jennifer Lopez's love interest in The Backup Plan.

I'm old enough to remember the late Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, and with all due respect, I think O'Loughlin's portrayal will be warmer, perhaps because we no longer expect our police officers to be icemen. The old McGarrett didn't have many scenes trading punches with the bad guys, but the new one does that a lot.

I have a special soft spot for Hawaii Five-O (even though we usually watch Castle on Monday at 10 since it hooked us first) because, of course, I played the theme from Hawaii Five-O in marching band. Didn't every high school marching band in the country play that? In the version our band used, clarinets actually had a melody line along with the cornets and trumpets, unlike the version my college pep band used.

Anyway, off of memory lane and back to the topic at hand. We also have Simon Baker of The Mentalist. I remember him from The Devil Wore Prada, too. He has lots of fans in the Lair and among our buddies.

Less well known is Matt Passmore, star of A&E's quirky cop show The Glades. His character is a Chicago detective who didn't play so well with others and so departed for the quirkier climes of Florida. Near the Everglades. It's a fun show, a little offbeat and, well, quirky.

Liam McIntyre is taking over the role of Spartacus on the Starz network show because of original star Andy Whitfield's unfortunate health problems. Ryan Kwanten plays Sookie Stackhouse's lamebrained brother, Jason, on HBO's True Blood (which I find a lot more intense than the books).

I've noticed that Australian and British actors, like Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber, the only non-Australian who gets a picture here today, seem to have no trouble with American accents while American actors often cannot sustain any other accent. (We won't even think about what they do to the Southern accent, also American but apparently incomprehensible to Hollywood.) I think the Australian proficiency with American accents is the reason I didn't realize some of these guys were Australian until I started researching.

I know there are others out there. I did do some research, as I said, but the list is so long as to be intimidating.

If you had to pick a date from among these guys or the characters they play, which would you choose, and why? If you were choosing one to be the hero of a book you've recently read, which would you choose, and why? Do you have a favorite actor who's not a U.S. native?

(The comment hook is below today's healthy heart tip and other info.)



The healthy heart tip for February 26 is: Snacking isn’t bad if done in moderation and eating a little throughout the day can actually keep you from overdoing it at meal times. Check out some of our heart-healthy snack ideas.

Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease. Visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/ to learn how to fight heart disease.

And just in case you missed it....

Sign Up for the Go Red BetterU Program and Receive Two Free Romance Novel E-Books

From Feb. 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance novel e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's BetterU Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited-edition magazine (that features this offer) on newsstands and in a grocery store near you.

To sign up for the BetterU program, visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/betteru/index.aspx.
(Go Red For Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Linda O. Johnston is in the Lair!!

Posted by Kate

I'm pleased to welcome my friend Linda O. Johnston to the Lair today! She writes the popular Pet-Sitter mystery series and is debuting her new Pet Rescue series this month with BEAGLEMANIA. Welcome, Linda!

Red Is For Hearts

I’m very impressed with and supportive of the Romance Bandits’ theme this month. What writer wouldn’t be?

Go Red for Women is the very appropriate slogan of The American Heart Association. And writers, especially those who write romance or mystery, always have hearts in mind.

Why? With romances, it’s obvious. They’re all about finding the right person and overcoming conflicts and hurdles to achieve a happily-ever-after. That means risking, and losing, one’s heart. My latest romances are paranormals for Harlequin Nocturne, a mini-series about Alpha Force, a covert military unit of shapeshifters. In each story, at least one of my protagonists loses his/her heart to a shapeshifter, which throws another hurdle between them besides the usual, but, hey, they find a way to deal with it.

Yes, happily ever after.

I also write mysteries. My first series, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime, always had cute animals helping to move the mysteries along. Well--maybe they weren’t always cute. Sometimes they were snakes and iguanas. But cuteness is in the eye of the beholder, and these animals were always someone’s beloved pet--which meant their hearts were involved.

Now, I’m writing a spinoff from the Kendra series: the Pet Rescue Mysteries, also from Berkley Prime Crime. Yes, hearts are always involved in these stories. The protagonist of the Pet Rescue Mysteries is Lauren Vancouver, a very dedicated pet rescuer introduced in the most recent Kendra books, HOWL DEADLY and FELINE FATALE. Lauren runs a private no-kill pet shelter in L.A. ’s San Fernando Valley .

The books each center around a particular pet rescue theme. In the first, BEAGLEMANIA, a March 2011 release, a lot of cute puppies and their parents are rescued from a puppy mill. The second, THE MORE THE TERRIER, which will be released in October 2011, focuses on an animal hoarder. In both, a lot of animals are endangered. That wrenches Lauren’s heart--and mine, too.

Of course, in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people! They’re cozy mysteries. People get killed--but animals get saved.

So... keep those hearts beating and caring and doing great. And keep reading, too!

Come visit me at http://www.lindaojohnston.com/ and KillerHobbies.blogspot.com. Friend me on Facebook, too! I’m also the L.A. Pet Rescue Examiner: www.examiner.com/pet-rescue-in-los-angeles/

So, in case it wasn't obvious, Linda is a true animal lover! So let's talk animals. Have you ever rescued an animal? Ever brought home a rescue dog or cat? And the age-old question: are you a cat person or a dog person?

Linda's giving away a copy of FELINE FATALE, the most recent Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery, in which the protagonist of her new Pet Rescue series, Lauren Vancouver, makes her first appearance.

**************************************************
Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Visit Go Red for Women to learn how to fight heart disease.

Your healthy heart tip for today is: Go for One! Make one change – pick one small thing you can change about your daily diet – start buying skim milk, order the nonfat latte, skip the afternoon vending machine visit or add an extra veggie to your dinner plate.

We're giving away an AHA Go Red pin for one commenter today!

Sign up for the Go Red Better U Program and receive two free romance e-books. From Feb 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's Better U Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited edition magazine (that features this offer) on newstands and in a grocery store near you.

Go Red for Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MORE Booty!

Sorry to be a bit tardy with naming my winner from the 18th but--

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

Congrats to JANGA!!


You are the winner of the lip gloss and the Go Red pin!

Please send your snail mail address to Aunty at our Romance Bandits email:
romancebandits AT gmail DOT com

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

by KJ Howe

Please welcome Pamela DuMond from LA, who is here today to share her adventures during the writing of Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys (what a great title!).

Thanks to KJ Howe for inviting me to guest blog on The Romance Bandits.

I am a writer, a chiropractor, and a cranio-sacral therapist. Since my debut novel, Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys, was published by Krill Press November, 2010, I am also officially an author.

In 1992, I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago to marry the man of my dreams. I pictured sunny skies and marital bliss. I dreamt that we would learn how to rollerblade together on the path that wound around the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Instead, I spent my honeymoon with friends because hubbie wanted to work. Imagine my surprise when my marriage tanked several years later. This was the part where I was supposed to pack up the kitties, the dog, and move back to the Midwest. But I rebelled. Much to my mother’s dismay, I stayed in L.A. because I fell in love with this bizarre town.

When I decided to write a mystery whose protagonist, (here’s a stretch,) was a woman named Annie who moved to L.A. from the Midwest, I knew I wanted it to be a comedy. I also knew I had to poke fun of both parts of the country. Equal opportunity smart-assery.

Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys is about a baker with a pinch of empathic ability who is haunted by the ghost of the famous Self-Help Author who ruined her marriage.

I mined my life, the city of Los Angeles, and the Midwest for embarrassing and challenging situations in which to drop Annie, and then watch her claw her way out.

I thought The Romance Bandit’s readers would enjoy a behind the scenes look at some of the inspiration for Cupcakes, Lies and Dead Guys. NO SPOILERS for those of you who haven’t read the book yet….

Thai Massage Scene (L.A.). My friend found this place on some list for ‘The Best of the Cheapest in L.A.’ Were Happy Endings really happening at this slightly skivvy massage parlor? I don’t know for sure, but there was a lot of questionable ambience and there were definitely back rooms. I accidentally stumbled upon them once when I was slightly befuddled after a massage.

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Annie’s hometown. This is a real town outside of Milwaukee. I love saying the word. Try saying it three times in a row. My grandpa grew up in this town, so we’d go back to visit an aging relative or attend funerals. It has a gorgeous cemetery that is on a lake. I wouldn’t mind having my ashes there one day.

The Toboggan Accident. When I was a kid, we’d vacation at this fabulous Wisconsin resort called Lake Lawn where we’d ice skate, toboggan, and eat heaps of comfort food. Calories didn’t matter back then. I nearly drowned in the hot tub there when I was four year old but I was plucked out at the last minute.

Nancy. Annie’s mother in CL&DG. Yes, the character is loosely based on my real-life mother. Please don’t tell her.

The Sunset Strip. During the day, it’s filled with people shopping at the upscale boutiques and noshing at trendy cafes. At night, it transforms into a mixture of music lovers, perverts, partiers, and wannabes. I will not confess which category I fall into.

Derrick Fuller’s estate. You should see some of the mansions out here in L.A. They run the gamut from gorgeous to tacky beyond belief.

The Porn Movie Set. I made this up. Look over there! Is that Jennifer Aniston on a hot date? (Okay. Psst. I have a friend whose boyfriend is friends with some big cheese porn producer dude. When my friend and her BF visited me in L.A., I took them to Malibu, Venice Beach. Then I suggested yoga. They suggested a strip club.) I made this scene up. Really.

And last, I compiled a short list of The Midwest vs. L.A.: The Best, Worst, and the Most Ridiculous.

Midwest: Best

*Great sports teams and insanely supportive fans.

*Autumn.

*Friendly people.

*Best comfort food, evah.

*Friends and family.

Los Angeles: Best

*Awesome Weather.

*Beaches, mountains, desert.

*A creative spirit that wafts through the air like—oh wait, that’s the smog.

*Drinking coffee outside on February wearing a T-shirt and flip-flops.

*Friends.

Midwest: Worst

*The Weather.

*How long Winter lasts (Approximately six months.)

*Frostbite.

*Scraping ice off your windshield.

Los Angeles: Worst

*The traffic.

*Crummy public transportation.

*All the women under a size 2.

*How long it takes to drive anywhere on a Friday.

*Too many models and MTAs.

Midwest: Most Ridiculous

*That Marshall Fields no longer exists.

*That the Chicago Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908.

*Minus forty in the winter and 99 degrees in the summer.

Los Angeles: Most Ridiculous

*That you need to be on a guest list to attend a funeral.

*That it takes two hours to get fourteen miles away if you leave at 3 pm, but only twenty minutes on your return trip at 7:30 pm.

*Celebrity Spottings.

Midwest: My Favorites!

*Chicago all decked out for Christmas.

*Autumn in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois.

*Chicago’s Italian food.

*Chicago’s Printer’s Row.

*Taking the El in Chicago.

*Friends and family.

Los Angeles: My Favorites!

*Yoga.

*Malibu Beach.

*Thai massage.

*Self-realization fellowship shrine.

*The weather.

Thank you. I welcome your comments and questions. Now please go read a good book and tell someone what you love about it!

It was great having you here, Pamela. Wishing you all the best in your pursuits! You can visit Pamela on her Facebook link at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cupcakes-Lies-and-Dead-Guys/145404255487900 KJ

Rockin' the Red Booty!

by Anna Sugden

Thanks for all the fun and helping me rock the red!

The cats have been busy - they got a red treat for choosing the winner - and have selected ...

Helen

Congrats, Helen - you get an AHA Go Red For Women pin and a bag of treat-size chocolates in a red wrapper!

Please send me your snail mail details through anna@annasugden.com and I'll get those in the post to you asap!

Strange and Weird Taxes



by Donna MacMeans

If there's a truth that runs consistently through history, it's this - if the government taxes it, the populace will find a way around it.

As many of you know I'm a CPA which means I'm usually tied up in doing tax returns this time of year - and I hate it. I'd much rather be writing or reading a good romance ("it's research, honey"), or just about anything else. So to make this time of year, otherwise known as tax season, a little more fun, I thought I'd share some goofy and weird taxes and tax deductions that have existed, or in some
cases, still exist.
Taxes are by no means a recent phenomenon. They've existed as long as governments have needed money, and they've fueled a number of rebellions and revolutions along the way.

In 1696, the British government taxed everything they thought showed conspicuous consumption, including wig powder, male servants (as opposed to the female servants which were less expensive),
riding horses (as opposed to farm horses) and windows.
A house was allowed a certain minimum amount of windows. Any windows above that number were taxed.
Some chose to brick in there windows rather than pay the tax. You can still see buildings with those bricked in windows today.

In 1705, Peter the Great in Russia had a thing about men's beards. He much preferred the clean shaven look of Western society so a tax was levied on beards (presuming on the men only). You just don't see beards like this anymore.
More recently, taxes have been proposed in Ireland and Denmark on cow flatulence. The laws were voted down before they could be imposed, but there's talk of resurrection amid global warming concerns.

In the Netherlands, it's legal to deduct the cost of training in the art of witchcraft from taxes.
(I understand the finest witches trained in the Netherlands - grin)

In America, there's a form of architecture called a Shotgun House.
It's said you can shoot a bullet with a shotgun in the front door and it'll come out the back door.
The house is long and narrow. This is the result of taxes placed on the width of one's property. Minimum width meant minimum taxes and voila - the shotgun house.

Here's a classic - a stripper named Chesty Love deducted her expenses to "enhance her natural assets" to a size of 56-FF (ouch!). She argued she did so to enhance her tips. The deduction was allowable as a business expense.

How about this one: There is something called the Jock tax levied on the winnings
of athletes who compete in another state. California first levied this tax in 1991 on the Chicago Bulls after the bulls beat the LA Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. Chicago, of course, reciprocated. Now the Jock Tax exists in just about every city and state that a team plays in - can you imagine the paperwork!

My favorite - Royal Navy ships that enter the Port of London must pay a tax of a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.
I'm thinking of requiring a tax of a bottle of wine to visit my house - what do you think?

Personally, I'd like to see the expense of purchasing books be considered a deductible item as a way of raising the nation's literacy levels - and the government should give extra credit if the books are
romances.

So let's have some fun - what would you like to see taxed, or allowed as a deductible expenditure - maybe the cost of a hero developing a ripped set of abs should be deductible, or how about chocolate? Definitely a tax free item in my book. What do you think?

Don't forget to check out the Healthy Heart tip and free book opportunity below.



The healthy heart tip for February 23 is: Get active inside - winter is almost over, but there are plenty of ways to get moving indoors that don't involve a gym membership; start mall walking, hit the stairs at work, or check out a yoga video from the public library or your video store.

Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease. Visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/ to learn how to fight heart disease.

And just in case you missed it....

Sign Up for the Go Red BetterU Program and Receive Two Free Romance Novel E-Books

From Feb. 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance novel e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's BetterU Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited-edition magazine (that features this offer) on newsstands and in a grocery store near you.

To sign up for the BetterU program, visithttp://www.goredforwomen.org/betteru/index.aspx.
(Go Red For Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top 5 - Rocking the Red!

by Anna Sugden

Yes, I've borrowed that phrase from my beloved hockey. Come Playoffs time, all those teams who play in red try to rally their fans to 'turn the arena/stadium red' or create a 'red wave'.

In honour of our support of a wonderful cause this month, and the fact that red happens to be my favourite colour *g*, I decided to devote this blog to favourite red things.

Here are my Top 5 Reds (not necessarily in this order):

1. My sports teams - amazingly, all of my teams (apart from the Yankees) are 'reds' - Manchester United aka the Red Devils, Exeter City, The New Jersey Devils and the Washington Redskins. (OK - so it was also an opportunity to show pics of two of my fave players!)

2. Gerbera daisies - you can keep your red roses, I love red gerbera daisies.

3. My red VW Bug *sniff* - when I lived in NJ, this was my car. I LOVED it. It was one of the saddest days when I had to sell it.


4. My red Manolo Blahniks - a present for my 40th - say no more.

5. My favourite red wine - Nine Popes. I'll brave a migraine for a glass of this lovely wine.

I also have a favourite red dress that I had made in Thai silk and to my measurements when I was in Bangkok on business, years ago. Sadly, I'm nowhere near the weight I was back then and haven't been able to wear it for several years. Maybe one day!

***So, what are some of your favourite reds? Remember, we're giving away an AHA Go Red For Women pin today! And, in honour of Going Red, I'll be giving away a bar or bag of chocolate with a red wrapper.***

Don't forget to check out the Healthy Heart tip and free book opportunity below.



The healthy heart tip for February 22 is: Wet your whistle and help your heart! Stay hydrated – staying properly hydrated helps you feel (and look) better and water is a great alternative to high-calorie, sugar-sweetened drinks. Treat yourself to a fun new water bottle to encourage the habit – if it’s always handy, you're more likely to drink up!

Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease. Visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/ to learn how to fight heart disease.

And just in case you missed it....

Sign Up for the Go Red BetterU Program and Receive Two Free Romance Novel E-Books

From Feb. 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance novel e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's BetterU Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited-edition magazine (that features this offer) on newsstands and in a grocery store near you.

To sign up for the BetterU program, visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/betteru/index.aspx.
(Go Red For Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.)