Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I might poke my head in here sometime over the next few weeks, but I might not. I'm facing a number of deadlines and other stresses from now until mid January--the crowning event is probably having to feed 80 plus college swimmers in my little house mid January (Don't ask!)--and two of the kids will be home for Christmas, so I want to enjoy their company as much as I can. (One is a law student and has already informed me he'll be holed up working, too.) So, Merry Christmas (or merry whatever holidays you celebrate) and happy new year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last bookmas clues

The Twelve Days of Bookmas has been fun to play. Or, I haven't actually played, since I haven't been guessing--good thing, because I would never have been able to figure out any of the answers. But I've had fun coming up with clues. Sometimes the appropriate (in my odd mind) clue jumped out at me the moment I saw the answer and sometimes I was, er, clueless.

So here we go, for the last time--the answers to these clues are two children's books.

1. I somehow missed this series, though it looks like my kids could have read it. I don't think they did--at least, I know I didn't read it to them. I had to go to good old Wikipedia to figure out a possible clue. So here it is: I didn't read these books, but I did read--or at least I have a copy of--the two volume set of Le Mort d'Arthur from my college days. Unless Wikipedia lies, there's some connection there.

2. I'm not sure if I read this book by this author or not, but if I did, it wasn't a favorite. I do, however, have two copies of a slim book he co-authored.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bookmas clue


Revision Brain

I'm working on revising my novella--the novella isn't being particularly cooperative--so that's where I am. I'll post a Bookmas clue, if I have one, at 12:15 pm EST.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bookmas Clue

Today's clues are brought to you by the letter "W": 1. Watch; 2. Win; 3. Wave; 4. Wings.

Cooking Catastrophes

A word about my Bookmas clue of yesterday--sadly, I speak from experience.

My husband is an excellent cook, but he has made a mistake or two in the kitchen over the years. This particular time we had my parents over for dinner, and he was making Nigerian Beef-Spinach Stew. He was using the recipe from our American Heart Association Cookbook, but this one seems pretty much the same.

Unfortunately, in the last minute flurry, he grabbed the baking soda instead of the corn starch. He realized something was amiss when his sauce started foaming.

I'm not sure we've had that dish since.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bookmas Clue

Don't confuse corn starch with baking soda unless you want to eat and brush your teeth at the same time.

Trying to find the Christmas spirit

Tis the season and everyone should be happy, right? All should be well with the world. And everyone in my immediate world is well, but...

A woman I knew years ago, the mom of kids that were in some of my kids' classes back in elementary school, died December 4. Her husband died eleven years ago--when the kids were still in grade school--so now the "kids"--ages 21 to 26--are orphans. I became an orphan this year, but I am so much farther along in my life.

And Sunday I found out one of my youngest son's high school classmates--a young man 21 or 22 years old--was in a serious car crash Saturday night. He's injured, but I don't know yet the extent or duration of his injuries.

So I'm thinking today of families that must spend their Christmas at hospitals or funeral homes and of the doctors and nurses and others who will spend the holiday with them. And I'm hoping Christmas peace finds its way to those places and those people, too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quantum physics

No, I'm not going to talk about science, I just thought I should explain, in case my clue yesterday wasn't obvious, what I was referring to: Schrodinger's cat. The link will take you to the Wikipedia article. I don't know enough about it to tell you if the article is correct or not, but it does mention the cat.

How do I, an English major, law school drop out, former regulation writer, current romance novelist, know anything about Schrodinger's cat? Sadly, it's not due to my scholarship or thirst for knowledge. It's because of my kids.

Third son was a physics and computer science major in college, and first son was an aerospace major who started thinking about graduate school in plasma physics around the time he graduated. (I thought there were only three states of matter--the world has changed a lot since I was in school.) So we had what I call the "cat book" in the house--a physics book with a picture of Schrodinger's cat on the cover. Of course I asked about it and of course I didn't understand the answer, but I did remember the cat.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bookmas Day 7

Wanted: Cat, dead and alive.

If I say any more, this clue will be too obvious.

Christmas letters

So I'm working on the annual MacKenzie family Christmas letter. So shoot me.

I've never understood why some people are rabidly against Christmas letters. What could be more in the Christmas spirit than taking some time to review the past year and sharing it with friends and relations? Do people object because the letter isn't written personally to them? But then why is sending a purchased card with only a signature better?

I confess I didn't grow up in a family that did Christmas letters or family pictures for that matter. What I remember is dad bringing home big books of cards. We'd pour through them, and my parents would choose the card they wanted. Then my dad would order them--he worked for the U.S. Senate and I think there was some place to order cards there--which seems like an odd notion now, but I never thought about it then. In some amount of time, he'd bring the cards home, imprinted with my parents' names so they didn't even have to sign them. I do think my mother addressed the envelopes by hand--this was way before word processors.

I turned to the "dark side" when I had young kids. We did the kid Christmas picture, and I tried to write a letter with every card. I had this crazy idea that my friends and relations might actually want to know a little of what was going on in my life. But my life isn't that exciting, and it really isn't that exciting when I'm recounting it for the 10th or 20th or 30th time.

Light bulb moment. Since by then the word processor had been invented, I realized that even though I was a terrible typist, I could write this all once, allowing myself to be more amusing (perhaps) whilst not suffering terminal writer's cramp, and then print it out multiple times.

Yes, I know there are Christmas letters that provoke eye rolling. I've gotten a few. Okay, I may even have sent a few. While most recipients seemed entertained by my efforts, the word did come back through the grapevine that one family member was not a fan. Fine. So I stopped sending this person a letter. No big deal.

And I like getting Christmas letters, even the eye roll ones. I'm extremely disappointed to open a card from a friend to find just a signature. These are people I care about, even if we only correspond once a year. I want to hear what's up in their lives.

Of course, as I'm working on the letter, I just realized that when we replaced the ancient desk top computer, I lost my address list. Hmm. Maybe some lucky folks will escape the MacKenzie family Christmas letter this year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bookmas Day 6

So I didn't get disqualified from giving clues--Jessica just sent the puzzle out late.

If you guys get this one at all, let alone quickly, I'll fall over in a dead faint. Which would be a very bad thing as I might be driving home from the dentist then. This is only for my semi-annual check up, but I still hate it. I won't let the hygienist anywhere near my mouth unless she's got the topical anesthesia at the ready. And as you get husband has to go in tomorrow to get an old filling replaced. Apparently they wear out. What's up with that?

Okay, another lame clue. When my mother was alive, I used to pick her up once a month while the kids were in school and we'd go to the mall for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. We didn't have a lot of time--she lived about 20 minutes from my house, assuming traffic wasn't hideous, and I had to be sure to be back to fetch the kids from school. And as she aged, she had trouble walking--and seeing--so she wasn't up for a long day of shopping. We always made time, though, to go Borders and pick out that month's Signet Regencies which we would share. Little did I know I was doing research for my next career.

She hated to take up too much of my time, but as she got older and her glaucoma got worse, she had to give up driving. She loved clothes--she, unlike me, was very stylish--and my father was as bad as my husband is to shop with, so I would often go with her to the clothes stores in the mall. One her favorite stores says on its site that it's known for its "legacy items." (Italics is theirs from the site.)

So here's the clue: one of these two editors could be the son or grandson of the folks who started the store my mother favored, but if he is, he misplaced the "s" at the end of his last name.

Personal Training, Dentists, and Bookmas

I skipped the gym/exercising for five full days due to the copy edit crunch. I hate to do that. Usually I can manage my schedule without having to resort to such a full court press, but when I'm facing a hard deadline, I don't have much choice. I know, though, that I'll get back to my routine--and having to show up at my weekly personal training session tomorrow (today when you read this) helps.

I do like my routine, though. I'm such a boring person. I even eat the same thing for breakfast and for lunch every day.

But tomorrow (today when you read this) I don't get to follow my routine. After the gym, I have to go to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist.

All this is to say I don't have the Bookmas puzzle yet, and I'm not sure I'll have time to come up with a clue as I'll be running around most of the morning. I'll post something if I can, but if you don't see anything, that's why.

Or maybe my last clue was too easy and I've been banned from further clue giving.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bookmas Day 5

Okay, I've given up on having the cleverest clues. I'm aiming for the most long winded, incoherent, odd clues.

As a writer of Regency romances, I have to deal with a certain amount of history. Some Regency writers are history nuts--or, I should say, history enthusiasts. Not me--though in my defense, back when I was in school, history was mostly about white men and battles. Not the interesting stuff, IMHO, of course.

But now that I'm writing books set in 1816-1821 (the novella I'm currently working on is actually set in 1785), I need to think about things like...bathrooms! Did they have anything beyond chamber pots, and if so, what? (But chamber pots are sort of funny--I've used them to bash villains over the head.)

Anyway, if you've been keeping track of me over the last few months and aren't here just to see if I have a decent Bookmas clue (and yes, you might want to move along if that's your goal), you know I went to England in the fall for fun and research. And poor Mr. MacKenzie got dragged along. After we got back home, we--actually, I think it was Mr. MacKenzie's fault--realized we live on the east coast of the US where there are a lot of historic houses built in the time period of my interest. So we visited Homewood House in Baltimore--I blogged about our visit.

The docent was very patient. We were her last tour and I wanted the full show. It was very near closing time, but she seemed to enjoy taking us around--she gave me a high five when I recognized an Argand lamp. Even though Homewood House is on Johns Hopkins' campus, I guess not so many history buffs go through it. And then I was delighted to see a sort of fancy night convenience like one I'd seen in England. After the tour, I had to buy the big illustrated book Homewood House by Catherine Rogers Arthur and Cindy Kelly because I like to look at pictures of objects that my characters might use or see when I'm trying to picture scenes. And then Mr. MacKenzie found Temples of Convenience & Chambers of Delight by Lucinda Lambton that's mostly about bathrooms and I had to have that, too.

So, no, Jessica didn't come up with a series about historical bathrooms of New York City--but, hey, maybe that's an idea! But the title of the series she did develop has something to do with public utilities. My 1785 novella, which I am not setting in London partly because I want to finesse the whole late 18th century Georgian powder and patch thing which has never been a real romantic idea for me, would probably not be able to have this utility in the book; by 1816, yes, probably I could have this as part of the London streets in my stories.

Another video

So you all probably know what yesterday's Hanukkah video was a take off of. Er, I didn't really. So here's the original song done in an amazing--to me, at least--a cappella way that even shows you how he made the sounds.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Copy edits and Bookmas Day 4

The copy edits for The Naked King are on their way to NYC, tra la! I now have oatmeal for brains...perhaps that will keep me safe from zombies. Part of the challenge with this book was trying to be sure it was consistent with my novella, "The Naked Prince," which will be out in the anthology An Invitation to Sin in February. I wrote the King before the Prince, but the Prince will be in bookstores before the King. (The King comes out in June.) And I handed the King in almost a year ago...I often feel like I'm in some sort of weird other dimension. A time warp, maybe...and no, I'm not going to sing.

So, I hope I was successful. I'll get another look at the book when page proofs arrive, but those are expensive to change.

And now on to the clue. I am not very good at guessing games, and I think I'm not very good at guessing game clues. What comes to mind at the moment--and remember, I've got oatmeal for brains--is a story about Jane Doe. Jane was born in the "town" I grew up in. I say town in quotes because it was more a postal address--the place was unincorporated and spread out over a good bit of territory. Anyway, I still live not far from this "hometown." I was at church one Sunday, at the donut hour after Mass, when I got talking to a woman whose daughter had been on our neighborhood summer swim team. Since I was the adult volunteer in charge of the team, and did all the data entry work, I knew her name--mostly I knew her daughter's name--and had chatted with her on the pool deck over the years...though I think her daughter was only on the team for a year or two.

Anyway, we got chatting. It was probably around the time I'd sold my first book, The Naked Duke. Somehow we got around to that fact, and my friend said, oh, her cousin wrote romance novels. It turns out her cousin is Jane Doe!

Happy Hanukkah

When my kids were in nursery school, the school would celebrate all holidays, including Hanukkah. Being Catholic and going through all Catholic schools, I'd never been exposured to the story and customs. And I have to say, it always seemed that the non-Jewish kids, mine included, ate all the latkes. Anyway, I saw this on Facebook and had to share.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bookmas Day 3

Coming up with a clue for this one was really hard. The first thing that came to mind was the name of the series rhymes with the last name of a late 18th century writer who wrote a famous biography. Yeah, that's pretty lame, I know.

Romance University

I'm over at Romance University today with two of my pals, talking about our agent.

At some point I'll post the next Bookmas clue.

And in between this and that, I'll be working on my copy edits.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bookmas Day 2

I'm a law school drop out, married to a lawyer (a law school classmate). I'm also the daughter of a lawyer and the mother of a law student. If you haven't seen this video, take a look--it's not 100 % accurate, of course, but it's close enough:

Here's the clue: far too many people probably went to law school because of this lawyer. Again, you need to post your answer in the comment section here:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Day of Bookmas

Here's my clue to help you guess the answer to today's question:

Some Regency heroes spread this, especially in their salad days.

See the question and post your answer in the comments section here: