Saturday, February 28, 2009

Girlfriends We Need

by Suzanne Welsh
There's an e-mail that's been passed around for years that I periodically receive. It talks about the girlfriends we have in our lives and how they serve to help us through different stages and problems we encounter along life's journey. Every time this pops up in my e-mail, (often from my mom or one of those girlfriends), it always makes me smile, get a little teary-eyed and think of those women who have come to mean so much to me.

So, here's my list of women:

1) My mom. Yep, she's one special lady and I'm lucky enough to still have her in my life to talk, laugh and cry with. She taught me to read, to love books and wasn't the least surprised when I called long distance to say , "Hey, guess what? I'm writing a romance novel." Her reply? "I was wondering when you were going to do that." My mom has woo-woo's really kind of freaky. One of my kids will do something bad or dangerous or life altering...Poof Mom calls to say, "Is so-and-so okay? They've been on my mind all day." I won a writing contest. Poof, Mom calls and says, "Is something going on with your writing? It's been on my mind all week."

Mom is also a nurse. She's one of the two reasons I became one. The other was watching Hot-Lips Hoolihan pass instruments during surgery on M*A*S*H. I wanted to be that smart, confident, efficient and still compassionate person. The bonus? When the bad stuff hits the fan, I can always call and chat with mom about patients, doctors, ugly stuff. She understands. (Yep that's me, ready to go do surgery, just like Mom.)

2) My sister, Sam. Many of you may have several sisters, some none. But I was blessed with a younger sister who has the wickedest sense of humor and isn't afraid to say what she thinks. On top of that, she gets my mushy side and loves my kids. Cynical at times, irreverent at most, she was the person who taught my son to fish, play pranks on his sisters and sing to AC/DC songs as if every seven year old should know the lyrics! We've fought, laughed, cried and hugged through good times and bad.

3) My friend Marion. Hey Marion!! Waiving madly in case she's reading this. We met in first grade, but became really good friends in middle school. This was the friend I first talked about boys with. (I still talk about MEN with my friends, but she was the first.) She knew my crushes all through those teen years. We cruised High street together oogling all the OSU boys partying on a Friday or Saturday night. We learned to do all the cool dances in her bedroom before she forced me to watch horror movies. We've gone through weddings, babies, grandbabies, and family loss together. I know her strength, her heart...and we know all the blackmail stories about each other!

4) Nursing friends. This is a BIGGGGGGGG group, since I've been a nurse for nearly 30 years in 7 hospitals in 3 states. These are the women who've been in the trenches on busy nights, held me while I cried to release adrenaline in the cluster**** that just happened or the death of a baby. These are the women who get what it's like to eat chinese stirfry out of an emesis basin and think it's normal. They can laugh at raunchy jokes or find humor in the odd things humans will do to themselves at any given day or night. (Please ask me in a bar about the lady and the snuff!)

5) The Writer Foxes. These are my Texas writing friends. My CPs and those women who understand my passion for writing. These are those ladies I can get drunk with and they may not stop me from acting a fool...(Sandy Blair) but laugh with me later about it. They push me, teach me, support me. They are my sanity!

6) My daughters. Two totally different women I've been lucky to raise, know and love. I see in them the hope of the future. I've been priveledged to watch them find the loves of their lives. Artists and singers, they're talent always amazes me. They're book lovers, like their mama, grandmama, great grandmama! I couldn't be prouder of either of them!

7) And finally, The Romance Bandits. How does one say to 19 friends scattered all over the world in four countries and three continents how much they've come to mean to me? When we got together last July, it was like being with my sisters, only I didn't have to fight with any of them! We laughed like we'd been friends all our lives. These are friends I plan to have the rest of my life!

So, who are the girlfriends in your lives?

Bandita Booty!!!

Our Fab guest from last week, Elisabeth Naughton used her mysterious random number generator and picked


As her winner for a copy of her hot book Stolen Fury!

Terrio, drop her an email at Elisabeth AT ElisabethNaughton DOT com and she'll get your booty - er, book - right out!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Love to hate you, baby

by Susan Sey

We recently joined the YMCA, & the whole family is IN LOVE. Oh, yes. We love our Y.

For my kids, the love has a whole lot to do with an indoor swimming pool & water slide. For my husband, it's a structured time & place to work out that comes complete with a video screen six inches from his face.

For me, it's BOSU Boot Camp. Ever seen a BOSU? It looks like this:

It's a combination strength/aerobics class that works sort of like step aerobics, only instead of stepping up on a flat, steady bench, you step up on this squishy half-ball. The evil genius of this is that now, in addition to heaving yourself up there, you also have to balance.

The first time I took this class, I thought I was going to die. The next day I was so sore, I whimpered like a little girl every time I had to pick something up off the floor. But I didn't hesitate to go back. In fact, I actually looked forward to it. A workout that kicked my @ss under the supervision of an instructor whose only mission in life seemed to be making grown women cry? Ah, bliss.

But this is wrong, isn't it? Why would I love something that routinely hurts me? Why would I so enjoy not only finding my limits, but flagrantly violating them (hence the copious moaning upon arising in the a.m.)? Why would I do this to myself??

Well. I don't know. And as I don't invite pain into my life on a daily basis, I'm not overly worried about it. It's an aberration, but one that has ultimately improved my health so I'm okay living with the mystery.

But it did get me thinking about other things I love to hate. So here are, in no particular order, things that cause me significant discomfort and/or pain which I secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy:

1) Writing. Can I get an Amen? Maybe this is wrong, but I look forward to churning out the pages the way most people look forward to oral surgery. It's a rare day for me when the words just flow. Most days I have to psyche myself up for the hard work of battling back the blank page. I think it was Dorothy Parker who said she hated writing, but loved having written. That's how I feel exactly. I hate struggling through that first awful draft, but am utterly addicted to the high of having committed words to the page. Even bad ones.

2) Jogging. Half an hour of huffing & puffing & feeling all my wiggly bits wiggle? Not so fun. But putting on my jeans & zipping them without discomfort, even as I stare 40 right in the eye? Worth it. Every mile. And unless I'm planning to break my ice cream addiction some time in the near future (not going to happen, folks) it's an absolutely necessary evil.

3) Letters to the Editor of low-brow gossip rags. People Magazine is my favorite. ("I wish everybody would leave poor Tom Cruise alone!! He's a class act, & I wish him & his beautiful bride every happiness!!!! Tom, you can jump on my couch any old time!!!!!") I think it has something to do with the flagrant abuse of exclamation points, along with the unshakeable conviction that Tom Cruise gives one tiny little flip about what Sandi Neblowski of Wahoo, NE thinks about his marriage. It just kills me, but can I stop reading them? Can I skip them? I cannot. No, I not only read them, but I pick the most offensive of the lot & read them out loud to my husband, who I'm sure appreciates it.

So what about you? What do you love to hate? What do you feel compelled to do, regardless of logic, reason, or your better angels? Tell me everything!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Drifting to the Dark Side

by Nancy

I was seriously tempted to blame this blog on Anna Campbell.  Her tortured heroes and tormented heroines make for darker reading (although fabulous!) than I usually think of when romance comes to mind, and I find myself reading darker books lately than I once did.   The change struck me when I finished Tempt the Devil.  I loved it but realized it was a far darker book than I'd thought of myself as liking.   When I looked back, however, I realized my drift toward the Dark Side of the Force started a long time ago.  I just didn't stop to recognize it.   Today I'm going to trace that drift.  As you read, please think of your own preferences and what shaped them because we'll come back to that later.

Here are some springboard questions:  Do you prefer Fitzwilliam Darcy or Heathcliff?  Georgette Heyer's Marquis of Alverstoke or Charlotte Bronte's Mr. Rochester?  Luke Skywalker or Han Solo?  Aragorn or Acheron?  Superman or Batman?  Stargate SG-1 or Battlestar Galactica? Hugh Jackman as Leopold in Kate and Leopold or as Wolverine in X-Men?  Hugh Jackman as Whoever?

Once upon a time, I would have chosen the first option, the less tormented one, in every one of the questions.  Heyer's Earl of Worth (Regency Buck) was about as dark as I wanted to go.  Somewhere along the way, something happened.  My tastes have been going darker for a long time, but I just didn't notice.  It was sort of like drifting on a raft in the ocean and suddenly realizing the shore had receded.

I think it started when a college friend gave me a copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  She was appalled that I, who so loved comic books and science fiction, had never read it.  If you've read the books or seen the films, you know this is not a story of sweetness and light.  Frodo struggles with the ring and ultimately succumbs to its lure.  Boromir, a hero of his people, falls from grace in attempting to steal it, only to redeem himself by dying in vain for Merry and Pippin.  At the end, Frodo finds that the peaceful, pastoral Shire holds no peace for him.  I hated that ending and still do, but somewhere along the way, I came to see it as right.  I can't tell you how many times I've read that trilogy.  I've lost count.

In high school, I hated and despised Wuthering Heights.  I still wouldn't go so far as to say I like it.  Neither Cathy nor Heathcliff is likely to be anyone's BFF, and I can't see either of them as pleasant company.  Yet I now find the story compelling and the character study fascinating.  I admire the book despite its dark undercurrents.

A lot of the 1980s romance novels were very dark in their sexuality and in the characters' experiences.  I read many of those books and have kept a handful all this time (Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss, for example because Ruark was so great even though Shanna was a brat for most of the book).   I read plenty of books with less tormented characters--everything I could find by Patricia Rice, Mary Jo Putney, Kathleen Gilles Seidel, and Jayne Ann Krentz's various incarnations, to list just a few.  These characters had experiences ranging from the painful to the horrible, but they mostly weren't brutal, as in those 80s books.  Of course, a lot of the brutal things that happened in those earlier books didn't seem to have realistic aftermaths for the characters, which made them slightly unreal and perhaps less disturbing than they would have been a newspaper story.  As I write this, I'm realizing that the books I kept didn't have a lot of physical or sexual brutality and had the hero and heroine with each other and no one else.

Then there're the late Dame Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles.  Francis Crawford of Lymond could be the poster boy for tortured heroes.  I made it halfway through the first book, The Game of Kings, and phoned the friend who'd given it to me for Christmas.  "Is there anybody in this book besides this blind girl I'm going to like?" I asked, after a more tactful leadup.  There was a short silence, and she replied, "Well, I can't promise, of course, but I think if you keep reading you'll be glad you did."  Oh.  My.  Word.  The last hundred pages or so turned everything inside out, and I adored Lymond, who had come across as a serious jerk until then.  I bought the other five massive paperbacks, reading every spare minute, reading before work, through lunch lunch, reading far into the night, and finished them all in under week. (No, I didn't have much of a life beyond work then.)  When my mom and I went to England, I found the equally massive hardbacks at Foyle's bookstore and lugged them home in my suitcase.

Science fiction and fantasy did their part in leading me toward darker waters.   Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody series is extremely well done but isn't for the squeamish.  As I reached the halfway mark in the first book, Rhapsody, I found myself wondering why I was still reading and concluded it was because I had to know what happened.  Even in comic books, the stories I found most engaging were the ones in which the heroes had the most to overcome.  Which may explain the appeal of Battlestar Galactica, which I don't love the way Trish does but can't seem to stop watching anyway.  Yet if I had to list preferences in TV shows, I'd pick Stargate SG-1 or Heroes (which has taken a definite darker turn) over BSG despite giving BSG credit for grittier, more intricate plotting and characters, and how strange is that?

Then there are the Dark-Hunters.  I put off reading this series because I had an unfortunate feeling that liking them would lead to obsessive serial reading, as with Lymond.  It did.  And the comic book geek in me wants to read in order, a habit with problems of its own if the next book doesn't happen to be in the store.  Every one of the dark-hunters died a horrible death.  That's part of their motivation.  And Acheron himself had a life brutal beyond horror.  But I asked for and got his book for Christmas and had devoured it by Boxing Day.

I can no longer deny that I've drifted far from the bright shore and into the dark ocean.  I still love books that don't feature such heavy torment. The banditas run the gamut of light to dark, and the other books I've read in the last year fall i varying points on that spectrum.  In fact, those less brutal books are still the bulk of my reading.  The characters still have things to overcome.  I think that would be called conflict.   It doesn't have to be vicious, but it does have to be deep and difficult.  So maybe that's the answer, that I like the triumph after the arduous struggle and, with age, have come to appreciate the darker side of it more than I once did.

So, getting back to our original questions--I pick Darcy over Heathcliff, Alverstoke over Rochester, Luke over Han (with respectful raspberries to Joan and Beth), Acheron over Aragorn by an molecule, SG-1 over BSG, Superman over Batman, and Wolverine over Leopold.  With a serious nod to the "Hugh Jackman as Whoever" option.

What about you?  Do you gravitate more toward lighter or darker books?  What are your favorites in either category?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deadline Musings

By Kate

I’m writing to you from Deadline Hell, an actual place located hundreds of miles beneath the earth in the depths of the Cave of Desperation.

The reason I’m here is that I’m racing to finish my second book, due in just a few weeks. I’m sure I won’t make it on time. I know everything I’m writing is dreck. And why am I italicizing words for emphasis? I've forgotten how to write. Gah!

I’m stressed out and not sleeping well. I’m forgetful and prickly. I don’t know what I’m doing and don’t know where I’m going. My butt hurts from sitting in this chair all day.

I’m living on chocolate kisses and frozen foods. My skin is pasty and I wear only sweat pants and work shirts. Big, shapeless shirts and comfortable shoes. Oh, just call them slippers.

I squint a lot.

I have a stack of new and exciting books I’d love to read—but I can’t. Reading something new would mean focusing on the words and the story—and I’ve lost my ability to focus.

So I’m re-reading. Comfort reads. At night, before I crawl off to bed, I’ve been re-reading old favorites. I started with J.D. Robb’s Naked in Death and plowed through the next four "In Death” books. Then I jumped to Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Nobody’s Baby But Mine. Next, I might move to some old Julie Garwood Scottish historicals. Gotta love those Highlander heroes. Men in kilts, 'nuf said.

So tell me, who do you turn to for your comfort reads? What was the last book you re-read?

And I would be remiss if I didn’t send a super-dooper wowzer yowzer THANK YOU to my darling Banditas for the incredible bouquet of star lilies and box of chocolate yummies they sent me to celebrate my first book hitting the New York Times Bestseller List!!

Thank you, my lovelies!

Cabana Boys, attention please! Sven, front and center! Pina Coladas and soothing massages for all my friends!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Space vs. Facebook

by KJ Howe

Please welcome author Elizabeth Naughton to the lair. Today's topic--My Space vs. Facebook--should stir up some fascinating discussions. Take it away, Elizabeth!

Thanks to KJ and everyone at the Romance Bandits for having me here today.

My first book, STOLEN FURY, released in January 2009. It's a sexy romantic adventure about an archaeologist on the hunt for three ancient Greek reliefs, and the rogue thief who steals from her. They soon learn they have to work together to find the remaining relics if either want to succeed, and that they aren't the only ones on the hunt…other treasure hunters are after the prize, too, and they'll kill to get to the end first. As this is my debut book, I've been in serious promo mode the last few months, trying to figure out what works where. And I've discovered only one thing for certain after a year of research: I'm still fairly clueless. However, there is one promo aspect I am truly enjoying. And that is what has come to be known as my Facebook addiction.

How many of you are on Facebook? I must admit, I'm Myspace challenged. I spent hours creating a Myspace page, making it look nice, adding elements to jazz it up. And then I went looking for friends. I think I have like 30. Still. And I created my Myspace page months ago! Thing is…friending people on Myspace is a time consuming pain. I have three kids, a husband who travels and books that need to be written and promo'd. I don't have time to sit online trying to find people who like me! (Or pretend to.) And, okay, maybe I'm just too old for Myspace. My head spins when I log on because there are all these sparkly things flying toward me and pages that seem to take forever to load. (My attention span is obviously short.)

On the flipside though…Facebook is a piece of cake. And I can't believe how many people I've found that I thought I'd forgotten. My friend list is huge (in comparison to Myspace), and I often find myself logging on at odd hours just to see what my "friends" are up to. I've found and met lots of fans, get to talk about my books with people who are truly interested, and when I add writer updates like, "Elisabeth is stuck on a yacht off the coast of Belize, but this is an improvement because last night she was running for her life in a Mayan temple" people don't think I'm completely psycho but actually get excited over what I'm going to be doing next.

Recently, I read an article called Why Facebook is for Old Fogies. (,9171,1879169,00.html), and it was so good, I’m going to summarize for you here (and add my additions in parenthesis):

Facebook is about finding people you've lost track of. (This is Facebook's charm. Other old fogies are on Facebook, too. Because, they can't handle the sparkles on Myspace either. High school friends, college roommates, sorority sisters, ex boyfriends. Facebook is very useful for finding all of these…especially exes (one friend of mine managed to locate all her exes)…and seeing how much hair they've lost or how much weight they've gained. You can either pat yourself on the back for ditching them when you did or kick yourself you didn't marry the nerd whose locker was next to yours because he's now a multi-millionaire.)

We're no longer bitter about high school. (Most of us, that is. But this is true. At 28, I didn't go to my high school reunion because I still harbored resentments. I didn't WANT to know what my old high school friends were up to. In my mid-30s finding old friends is fun. (And again it's fun to look for exes. And show them all our books.))

We never get drunk at parties and get photographed holding beer bottles in suggestive positions. (Okay, some of us don't. J But most of my friends are mature enough not to post those incriminating photos on Facebook…though one friend says she's saving them for the day I hit it big. I have yet to get her to explain what "hit it big" means.)

Facebook isn't just a social network; it's a business network. (Bingo. Did you hear me talking about books, readers and fans? I know people technically use Myspace for this, but Facebook is just more fun. And let's face it. The people who are going to read my books are, well, people just like me…and my friends.)

We're lazy. (We, meaning the old fogies. Facebook is not only fun promotion, it's mindless entertainment. I can waste two hours on Facebook without even realizing it, and at the end of those two hours don’t necessarily feel like I did nothing, like I would if I'd crashed in front of the TV. Compare that to Myspace where I feel like ripping my eyebrows out after ten minutes.)

We're old enough that pictures from grade school or summer camp look nothing like us. (Isn't this true? Not so for a lot of people on Myspace. Many of my friends have added old pics from high school that have made me laugh for hours. And last night I found myself going through old high school pictures myself to scan in and post to my page then stopped and said, "What ARE you doing?" (My kids looked at me quite strangely at that point.))

We have children. (Old fogies love to share pictures of their kids and make all their friends suffer. Every single person on my friend list has pics of their kids up on their site. Except me. Since I use my page for promo I don't add kid pics, but you can bet I would if it were just for fun. Suffer, friends!)

We're too old to remember e-mail addresses. (Sadly, this is true. It's EASY to find people on Facebook. Just type in a name, and voila. There they are. And for some strange reason, though I'm not sure why, people are more apt to answer emails through Facebook than through regular email programs. Why IS that exactly?)

We don't understand Twitter. (Ack! I have no idea how to use Twitter. If you know…please email me privately and explain how it works!)

We're not cool, and we don't care. (Cool is Myspace and Twitter. Especially if you're in that 20-something demographic, which I, obviously, am not.) That time has passed. Facebook now has 150 million members, and its fastest-growing demographic is 30 and up.

Okay, this is not to say that Myspace isn't equally as fun for those of you who aren't me. I've discussed the pros and cons of both with lots of authors. I'm just saying, for me, at my age and with my sparkle-aversion level, Facebook is easier for me to navigate. I hear a lot of authors talk about the "promo beast"…that necessary evil we all must endure if we want to spread the word about our books, and I'm in awe of writers who are not only successful at multiple methods of promotion, but who seem to enjoy it all. One thing I've taken from this past year is to do the promo ops YOU find fun and that you don't mind doing, because you'll be more apt to keep up with them. Surprisingly, Facebook has been a fun promo tool that I would continue to use even if I didn't have a book coming out, mainly because it's just plain fun. And really, after a long day of running for my life in a Mayan temple, who couldn't use a little fun?

How about you? Are you on Facebook? If so, come find me and friend me. And how do you feel about the social networking sites…either for promotion or fun or for spreading the word about what you're up to in your life and work?

And before I forget…I'm giving away an autographed copy of STOLEN FURY to one lucky commenter. Because, well, like Facebook, it's just a really good time. So comment away. J

We'd love to hear your thoughts on My Space vs. Facebook! Thanks to Elizabeth for joining us today! Don't forget to stop by the Romance Bandits on Facebook and say hello.

Elisabeth Naughton writes both sexy romantic adventures and paranormals for Dorchester. Her debut, STOLEN FURY, was a January 2009 release and a 2007 Golden Heart Finalist in Romantic Suspense. The next two books in her Stolen Trilogy are scheduled to release in August 2009 and early 2010, respectively, followed by an all new paranormal adventure series which will hit store shelves spring 2010. A former junior high science teacher with three young children who loves to travel, Elisabeth has served as a board member for her local RWA chapter for years and was the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter president in 2008. Visit her website at for more info on her and her books.

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

by Donna MacMeans

So did you watch the academy awards last night? I had planned to - if only to watch Hugh Jackman, but alas - I missed the first hour.

I did get to see some of the more memorable acceptance speeches though. I liked the one - I believe it was Danny Boyle accepting yet another oscar for Slumdog Millionaire (which was a fabulous movie!) - and he jumped up and down as he imagined Tigger would do.

Now I realize most of the acceptance speeches are pretty boring, especially to those of us that are not on a first name basis with all the people they are thanking - but I also know that the opportunity to give a very public Thank You is probably more important to the winner then that gold statuette they receive.

I enjoy the speeches that are obviously unprepared that are spoken with shock, humility, and pure affection. I had the privilege of being able to deliver one public thank you in Atlanta a few years ago - and so I thought it might be nice if we all could offer a public acceptance speech for ...whatever we feel we should be recognized for (getting up this morning, staying sane while raising children, grocery shopping, etc.)

Now imagine yourself in a beautiful designer gown with an artfully crafted hairdo and professionally applied make-up. The microphone is in front of you, a gold trophy to recognize your many talents in your hand. What do you say?

I'll award someone with their choice of one of my books (choose between IN A HEARTBEAT, THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY or THE TROUBLE WITH MOONLIGHT). Let's hear your acceptance speech.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Choices Choices!

by Anna Sugden

Some of the strongest and most vehement debates I've ever heard have been about certain choices.

Not political choices or religious choices.

Male choices.

When I was younger, there were a number of them:

Paul Macartney vs John Lennon

Beatles vs Rolling Stones (okay, so there is the music thing there too *g*)

Donny Osmond vs David Cassidy

Starsky vs Hutch

The Hardy Boys (Parker Stevenson vs Shaun Cassidy)

Body vs Doyle (from an English series called The Professionals)

Richard Chamberlain vs Bryan Brown in The Thorn Birds.

Take your pick of the Brat Pack!

[FYI - my answers are neither, Stones, David Cassidy, Starsky, Parker Stevenson, Body (though Doyle was yummy too), Bryan Brown and Andrew McCarthy/Judd Nelson]

And, as they say, the beat goes on ... or rather the choices do.

Angel vs Spike (Buffy)

Ranger vs Morelli (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich)

Jimmy Smits vs David Caruso (NYPD Blue)

George Clooney vs Goran Visnij vs Noah Wylie (ER)

Johnny Depp vs Orlando Bloom (Pirates)

I'm sure there are many more (wasn't there a Friends one too?), but you get the picture.

So, who do/did you choose? Are there any other choices you made that sparked a debate? Have you ever fallen out with anyone over your choices?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When Things Go Boom

by Jo Robertson

I have a confession to make.

I enjoying watching things go boom – in movies, on television, in books – the bigger and louder, the better. This isn’t a very feminine admission, but there it is.

I know many women don’t. But, as Gaby, Jeffrey Donavan's somewhat crazy ex-girlfriend, says on BURN NOTICE, “Women find it sexy when things go boom.” Uh, she may not have been talking about bombs and missiles and firecrackers, but the principle’s the same.

When the newest James Bond (Daniel Craig) blows things up – cars, factories, people, it’s always the bad guys, and there’s something very satisfying about the evil-doers getting their comeuppance.

This liking things that go boom is a trait I share with teenaged boys, much to my chagrin. How do I know? Because when I finally find time to sneak off to the movies by myself (ironically, Dr. Big does not like things that go boom), I find myself surrounded by boys of all ages – teens, twenties, and thirties. There’s a heavy grunt of satisfaction that goes up from the audience whenever something blows up.

I do not join in. I have my standards.

Over a dozen years ago, my son, living in Guatemala at the time, mailed us a brick of firecrackers. The booty came by boat and somehow escaped customs' scrutiny. I think this is probably a felony, but I'm hoping the statute of limitations has run out on this particular act.

I wondered how all those lovely firecrackers would sound going off at once (with safety precautions, of course; I'm not entirely dimwitted). Dr. Big was shocked and soaked them in the bathtub for hours before he discarded them.


So I like when things go boom.

Now, this is not to say that I like car chases. In fact, I’m pretty annoyed with chases of any kind. They seem to be filler to me, something the director inserts to extend the length of the film or the writer to fill up the white space on the page.

Most chases are not realistic. Seriously. It’s surprisingly easy for cops to catch the bad guys.

The other night about five police cars raced down my street, sirens blazing. A police helicopter hovered overhead. I live in a fairly quiet, upper middle-class neighborhood, so this kind of night time activity is quite alarming. Apparently they were all chasing a poor felon on foot. I felt rather sorry for him. He had no chance of getting away.

The only good car chase scene I’ve ever watched is classic and in the Steve McQueen movie "Bullit." In the scene cars chase one another up and down the hilly San Francisco streets.

Best – and only good – car chase scene ever.

Back to explosions and such. I think I like them because there’s such a definitive conclusion to the issue. It’s the denouement of the story, the highly satisfying get-even-ness. Even when you know it’s coming, it’s warmly gratifying.

In a recent episode of TNT’s “Leverage” (with Timothy Hutton), the bad guys, who’d been using a Serbian orphanage as a cover for arms dealing, lost their money (and their armaments) to – yeah, a gigantic explosion. Ah, so gratifying.

What about you? Do you like explosions, car chases, or other scenes of mayhem and chaos in your books and movies? What’s the most exciting scene you’ve ever read or watched.

Or do you prefer the quiet contemplative Jane Austen-ish kind of scene where the villains get their just desserts in a less, uh, explosive way?