Friday, April 30, 2010

Destination Truth: Researching the Historical Romance Novel

In honor of the humor theme for this month, I'm sharing a post I did for my blog tour for MY UNFAIR LADY, for those that may have missed it, and because it tickled me the first time around. :}

One of my favorite shows on TV is SyFy channel’s Destination Truth with Joshua Gates. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a guy who travels to all sorts of exotic locations to find out the truth about monsters reportedly living there. The host, Josh Gates, is tall and adorable…brave almost to the point of insanity…has a wicked sense of humor…perfect hero material…sorry, got distracted. Anyway, Josh never seems to uncover proof of the actual monster (I’ll keep rooting for him), but his journeys are amazing, and he always discovers all kinds of other, interesting things (like a headless chicken corpse with human feet, an enormous unidentified footprint, ghostly images, disembodied voices and even scarier mundane things. Like quicksand. Alligators. Poisonous snakes…)

Shivering aside, what does Destination Truth have to do with researching a historical romance novel?

The similarities are mind-boggling.

So let’s start by comparing an episode of Destination Truth with one of my historical research topics. Let’s say, Josh’s search for evidence of the Yeti with my search for historical…panties. (Trust me, it’s going to be tougher than it sounds. Victorian underwear wasn’t too difficult, but Georgian underwear had me tearing my hair out.)

Destination Truth: Search for the elusive yeti/panty

Rumors of the Yeti have reached Josh at his headquarters. A huge ape-like creature similar to the Sasquatch, living somewhere in the Himalayas. Josh packs up his crew and travels thousands of miles to the Far East. The search is on.

Rumors of corsets, stays, and chemises reach the author. But what of panties? This information is critical to the author for her love scenes. Author props up her feet next to her computer and brings up the Google screen. The search is on.

Josh interviews people, looking for reliable witnesses who have seen the Yeti, in order to determine the best place to set up an investigation. He hikes through a valley where sightings have occurred, but finds nothing more exciting than a grazing cow.

Author types in ‘Georgian Underwear’, scanning through the results, looking for reliable websites. The first one looks promising, but on further investigation author comes up empty-handed. The rest of the sites aren’t even related to author’s search.

Josh continues his search, and gets lucky. Some evidence is found of the creature, but Josh can’t determine if it’s genuine. They are frustrated in their attempts to acquire some evidence for testing from the artifact. They are told that because others believe it to be genuine, so must they.

Author expands her search to ‘Georgian Clothing’ and gets lucky. Results have turned up some reputable websites, but further investigation only leads her from one link to another, frustrating the author. She’s tempted by the Wikipedia result, but is aware that the general populace updates the site’s information.

After four days of hiking with nary a Yeti in sight, Josh and his team split up, and start hunting in earnest.

After Googling several combinations of word searches with nary a panty in sight, author decides to branch out her search to the library and bookstore.

The journey through the Himilayas is arduous but amazing, and the hunt reveals fascinating plant and animal life, with exciting discoveries and perilous adventures.

The journey through the library is arduous but amazing, with hundreds of books on Georgian costume to pour through, revealing discoveries of clocked stockings and brocade waistcoats. Although most of the books at the bookstore deal with general English social history, the author lives new adventures through historical biographies. But no mention of panties. Author goes to Amazon and searches for out-of-print books that may have an answer…and is overyjoyed! She orders the Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century, a detailed look at clothing.

One of Josh’s sherpa guides finds an enormous footprint! Josh is overjoyed! His team spreads out, looking for more evidence, but unfortunately, find none. They take a plaster cast of the print and bring it back to headquarters amid much acclaim.

Author receives her Amazon order. She removes a book from the wrapping titled, Handbook of English Costume in the Seventeenth Century. They sent her the wrong book! But after searching through it, author finds no reference to panties anyway.

Josh brings the plaster castings to a professional for examination. It is estimated that a 300-400 pound creature made the prints. They are ruled out as a hoax and are called a ‘significant discovery’. Is this definitive proof of the Yeti, then? Alas, it seems to be unclear.

Author has garnered enough information by now to deduce that panties were ‘most likely’ not worn prior to the drawers of the Victorian era, but alas, she lacks definitive proof. Indeed, historians seem unclear as well, for if panties were worn, no clear evidence of them remains.


I would love to hear about your own journeys through research, so please don't hesitate to comment.

All My Magical Best,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What's Next?

by Libby Malin

What a month it has been! My Own Personal Soap Opera hit the shelves, and I hit the virtual road for my eco-friendly virtual book tour, stopping by blogs hither and yon, answering questions about writing and having a blast.

Seriously. I did have a blast. On this blog tour, I decided to throw three sheets to the wind and write funny and silly as well as serious and writerly.

My favorite stops, in case you missed them:

This is humor month on the Casablanca blog, and I write humorous women's fiction, so I should be penning something HIGH-LAIR-EE-YUS for you all for this post, right?

Well, I'm tapped out, ladies. Ain't no more humor left in me this month. I'm moving on to serious women's fiction. I'm going to write brooding tales from now on that not only tug at your heartstrings but rip the heart right out of your chest where it is devoured by hungry werewolves. Or vampires. Or vampiric werewolves. Something like that. Oh yeah.

Actually, I am writing some more serious stuff right now, but I'm not giving up on humor. My next humorous women's fiction book, tentatively titled Wrong Place, Right Time, tells the story of a college professor who stops a wedding on a dare--but it turns out to be the wrong wedding, one at which the bride is having second thoughts. She grabs the opportunity to leave the altar with him, they both end up embroiled in lawsuits with the would-be groom (breach of contract, tortious interference with a contract, etc.), all the while they're falling in love and gaining the courage to accept themselves as they are. I have a lot of fun lampooning academe in it (check out that Fresh Fiction blog for a taste of how I handle that), and I hope hope hope hope hope this book sees the light of print.

On the more serious side, though, I'm coming out this September with a Jane Eyre-inspired historical set in 1920s Hollywood. Called Sloane Hall, this is a real "book of my heart." I'll send out news of this book on my email list and through Facebook. It will be published under my married name, Libby Sternberg.

Also under my married name is a historical mystery set in 1941 called Death Is the Cool Night. This story taps into two of my strengths (at least I hope they are!)--mystery writing (I was an Edgar nominee for my first YA mystery) and classical music (two degrees in it!), but, because of its length (novella), I opted to put it up on Kindle by myself rather than shop it around. It's been fun managing that process, and I'll probably blog about it at my own blog soon.

So that's my update! It's been a terrific blog tour, and I hope My Own Personal Soap Opera finds its way into the hands of lots and lots of readers!

To get on my email list, email me at libby_malin at Friend me on Facebook at Libby Malin Sternberg.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Day in the Life

In the absence of anything worthwhile to write about I thought I’d give you a glimpse into the ultra-glamorous daily life of a writer. My day goes a little something like this…

“Mom! Mom, wake up, the toilet’s overflowing!”

“Wha-What?” I leap from the bed and step down on something wet and warm that squishes up between my toes.

“And the cat threw up somewhere.”

“Yeah. Found it.”

I get my incredibly brilliant, well-behaved, adorable children fed, dressed, and in the car… with only minor injuries and emotional trauma (they can work it out later in therapy). As we get into the car the content of my son’s backpack spills to the floor. Trying to stuff the mass of papers back into the bag something catches my eye.

“Why does this note say you are responsible to bring snack… TODAY?”

“Oh yeah! I get to bring snack today.”

“We have to be at school in 15 minutes!”

“I want to bring snack mix, fruit salad, and gummy worms.”

“Aaaarrrrgh!” I rush back into the house and fling open the fridge: milk, eggs, cottage cheese, and a container of something that has been there long enough to growl if I come near. I open the cupboards: pasta, soup, tomato sauce, box of granola bars – YES! I grab the granola bars and race back to the car.

“Aawww, Mom. I hate granola bars!”

After I drop off my angelic children to school I drive off to my day job… working for the government. Here’s a typical conversation…

“Hi, I’m calling to inquire why my application forms were sent back,” I say to the helpful person on the line.

“I’m sorry but they were on the wrong version of the form.”

“Oh, I thought I had used the most recent version, when was it updated.”


“Um, but I sent you the packet two weeks ago.”

“It still needs to be on the correct form. Also you need to submit your privacy paperwork.”

“I thought I had,”

“You submitted the Privacy Review Form, but we also need the Data Security Review Plan. You can find it on our website.”

I scan a list of forms as long as the Mississippi. “I can’t find anything by that title.”
“It’s under ‘IRQ Appendix K.’”

“Riiiiiight. Of course.”

I make it through the day and come home to the kids. Now it is time for their activities: ballet, swimming, piano, gymnastics, and my personal spring favorite – standing in the pouring rain watching T-ball practice. Oh yeah, life is good.

Then it’s time for baths, PJs, stories, and bed. The kids NEVER want to go to bed. I reason with them that soon enough they will be working long hours and raising kids of their own and will long for more sleep. This argument has yet to be effective. So I put them to bed. And back into bed. And back into bed. And back… you get the idea.

After they are finally asleep and I finish my chores it’s time to write! If I’m smart I go straight to writing. True to form, I usually check my e-mails first. An hour or so later I glance at the clock and realize it’s close to bed time and I have written nothing except a witty e-mail. Panic building, I open my manuscript and stare at the hypnotic white screen before me. Then it hits me – inspiration! I write and write until I get to “asdlkfjeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” (my head hitting the keyboard). Somehow I drag myself to bed only to be woken again by the next day’s disaster.

Oh yeah, nothing but glamour! So what is a typical day for you like??

Amanda Forester

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stupid Comedies

Yes I am a writer, and yes I do inject humor here and there within my story, and yes I love to read humorous tales. But I am also a devoted lover of movies. I like just about all types of movies, my entertainment bones tickled by everything from heavy dramas to action flicks to sweet romances to westerns to family/childrens and so on. But there is one category of movie – what we have dubbed “stupid comedies” – that can almost be embarrassing to admit watching. Hide your face in shame if you must, but let’s face it, sometimes a person needs to zone out for a couple of hours with mindless entertainment requiring zero brain cell usage, content in the knowledge that you will laugh until your side hurts and/or milk spurts out your nose. Here are a few of my favorites, proudly proclaimed!

Happy Gilmore – Gotta admit that I like Adam Sandler. Not everything, but most of them. Waterboy deserves an honorable mention and I liked Big Daddy, but Happy Gilmore is my favorite. Every time the golf ball goes flying and smacks the man in the house miles away I die laughing, even if I do feel a tad guilty.

Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles – Mel Brooks is the King of Stupid Comedies and hysterical sight gags. These two rule the world in hilarity. Partially it is the brilliance that was Gene Wilder, but of course everyone in these casts were terrific. Way too many lines to pick one to quote!
The Three Amigos – Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase. Need I say more? OK, how about the singing bush, the invisible swordsman, the serenading desert creatures, the My Little Buttercup saloon scene, the Nazi in Mexico……

Napoleon Dynamite - I admit I did not get it the first couple times I watched it. My teenagers were literally rolling on the floor but I was scratching my head. Then I kept hearing them quote the lines, constantly and in response to everything, and I began to see the humor of it. Then I watched again and let my inner child come out. Stupid comedy in the extreme, but man, it is funny!

Corky Romano – Loved Chris Kattan’s goofy vet assistant turned FBI agent. Do we still sing 80s songs loud and off-key in homage? Yep. Do we still die laughing when he gives the speech on anti-drugs to the kids while high on inhaled cocaine? Absolutely!

George of the Jungle – Brandon Fraser slick with sweat and totally hot may have something to do with why I LOVE this movie, but truly it is the innocent sweetness and insane hijinks that win me over each time. A talking ape? A toucan that can fly to NY from Africa? A monkey who pantomimes? An elephant who thinks he is a dog? Sure, why not!
Dodgeball – I am not generally a fan of slapstick humor where getting hurt is the main gag, but “if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball” gets me each time. And Ben Stiller’s obnoxious trainer spouting philosophy like, “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood! Nobody!” send me over the edge.

Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion – Absolutely hands down the dumbest blonde comedy of all time, but so danged hysterical. Arguing over who invented what part of post-its, discussions on dieting with Cheetos, flashbacks to 80s big hair – I am hooked completely!

Stripes – HUGE Bill Murray fan, but Stripes is his best and a classic. So many fabulous scenes, but I think my favorite is when he is messing with the obnoxious lady in the cab, finally leaving her stranded on the bridge! And then there is the whole “aaarrrmmmy training, sir!” sequence where the history of the American people is succinctly explained. LOL!

Caddyshack – Last, but not least on today’s list (gotta stop somewhere). I even loved Rodney Dangerfield for the one and only time. Bill Murray adding his comic brilliance to Chevy Chase was sheer genius. Throw in an adorable gopher and catchy tunes for a complete masterpiece of stupidity that has me gasping for air each time.

I think I will close there and head off for a stupid movie marathon. How about you? Brave enough to name you favorite guilty pleasure in inanity?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sex is funny

By: Lydia Dare

Sex is funny.

Oh, yes, it is. Admit it. It’s hilarious at times. Sure, it’s sweet, romantic, moving. Then there are those moments when you get a cramp in your thigh or in your big toe. Or there’s a noise no one would ever classify as romantic. Yes, those things happen. And they are funny. Maybe not in the moment, but afterward. Just thinking about it now makes me laugh.

Now that A Certain Wolfish Charm is on the shelves and my friends and family members have read the (dramatic whisper here) SEX SCENES, I do have to tell you that the funniest thing about sex is when people ask that fateful question. Yes, you know what it is. It happens more often than not, and I feel certain almost every romance writer has heard it.

“Where do you get the ideas for the hot parts?” Or “How much of THAT was based on your own experiences?”

Here’s one thing I know to be true -- My husband pats himself on the back when he has a friend at work tell him that his wife read the book and said it was HOT. Because there’s a bit of an implied meaning that he had something to do with it.

Now, that’s funny. lol

Even my sister brought it up the other day. “My boss wants to know how much of this was based on personal experience.”

“All of it, Dufus,” I replied with an eye roll.

A better response, now that I’ve had time to roll it around in my mind, would been – “Well… the last time I was claimed by a Lycan under the light of the full moon, I just had to get out my pen and paper and take some notes so I wouldn’t forget the event. Aren’t you glad I was prepared enough and had enough digits that weren’t busy to chronicle the event, saving it for future generations to read about?”

Mark Twain put a boy on a raft on a river with a man in one of his books. Yes, Mark Twain was a riverboat captain at one time, so he had been on a river before, but the actual story was fiction. (You’re seeing the parallel here, right?) It came from his imagination, just like stories evolve for any writer. I’d love to know if anyone asked Mark Twain how much of his fiction was based on his real life. “Did you ever wear a dress and disguise yourself as a girl, Mr. Clements?”

There’s a lot of life that goes into a novel. And every life has those moments that are so absurd you just have to laugh. The best humor can be found in the most classic, most lifelike moments, those moments that mimic what most of us consider to be normal, everyday life.

Sex is funny. People’s reaction to sex is funny. Having sex is funny, if you do it right. And even funnier if you do it wrong.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Party if I Want to…

By Robin Kaye

Today is my birthday so I thought I’d have a kind of reverse birthday party. Since I’ve already received a few rather spectacular presents, I thought I’d give away the gifts—three copies of Breakfast in Bed, the third book in my Domestic Gods series to lucky commenters.

First, I have to show you what I got for my birthday, or, should I say, what I got so far since the day is definitely not over yet.

I received a package from my mother and stepfather. I opened it to find a present wrapped in green bubble wrap. I have to say, I do love bubble wrap, especially the green variety. Back to the present—a quick glance through very cool green bubble wrap made me wonder if it was one of my books, which was quite odd, especially since I have plenty of my own books. I opened the card first because we all know it’s the polite thing to do. Okay, fine, I admit I only opened the card first because my daughter was watching. If she hadn’t been, I’d have been all over the present. In my opinion, opening the present before the card is the equivalent of eating the frosting before the cake. It’s what you do when you’re alone, but so not what you do in front of your soon-to-be 13 year-old. The card was beautiful and I even read it to my girl who sometimes was so like her mom and very impatient to see what was wrapped in the cool green bubble wrap. Well here it is.

Isn’t it awesome? It has the back cover on the back, the spine on the bottom, and the inside of the flap is covered with my first page. I was shocked, surprised, and wowed. I’ve always said if shopping were an art, my mother would be Picasso. I don’t know how she managed it, but she really hit a home run with this gift.

Yesterday we picked Twinkle Toes up from dance. I think the local schools gave the third marking period grades out a little later this year especially for my birthday. I was thrilled to see that both my girls made honor roll! I was even happier because my son only missed it by one grade. I figure since the kid is taking German and the Germans have seven words for the word the, the fact that he did as well as he did was thrilling.

Along with making honor roll, Twinkle Toes was chosen by her teachers for Student of the Marking Period. I’m so proud of how well she’s done in her new school. But when she gave me my gift—a gift she’d made for me in school, I was totally blown away!

How beautiful is that?

So, now that you’ve seen my favorite birthday presents, what was your all-time favorite birthday present? Three lucky commenters will receive a copy of Breakfast in Bed. And who knows, I might even wrap the books in really cool green bubble wrap.

Let’s get the party started!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Change... and why we dislike it so

This is the first blog I've written on my brand new computer. About all I can say right now is that the keyboard makes almost as much noise as a typewriter. I wonder if someone decided that writers need the sound of the key report to make them think they've written something profound--remember Greg Kinnear's character in You've Got Mail and how much he adored his typewriter--so much so that he bought another one just like it? Wish I could've done that. My new computer is not nearly as pretty as the one it's replacing. Instead of the nice, metallic teal I had before, this one is black and very functional-looking.

The funny thing is, it's essentially the same computer. It has the same size screen and is roughly the same size overall, though it weighs slightly less. It does, however, have a faster processor, more RAM, a larger hard drive, and a completely different operating system (Window 7 instead of XP), but my biggest beef is that it has two, as opposed to 4, USB ports (which I promise you I did use on the other computer!), so I had to get a four port hub to go with it. The other funky thing is that the delete key is in the upper right as opposed to the lower right of the keyboard. I guess they wanted to be sure we writers didn't hit the delete key by accident. The guys at Toshiba are obviously not romance writers. I used the backspace and delete keys on my old computer so much, I'm wondering why they still function.

But these things are not why I chose to get a newer model. My old computer was getting very reluctant when it came to turning on. So much so that I had to leave it on all the time and put it to sleep when not in use, but those automatic updates that pop up from time to time and require a restart were becoming the bane of my existence. It took my IT specialist/electrical engineer DH to get it going again, and, as you might guess, he is not always standing by for repair service.

But why did the manufacturers feel the need to change a computer that was, IMHO, perfect? There is a line in a Star Trek movie (I forget which one) where Dr. McCoy says he'll go down and check out the new sick bay, knowing that it will take a long time to sort it out. "I know engineers," he says with a knowing wag of his head. "They love to change things." My DH points out that the reason the original computer design was changed was because of the point of failure on my own device: opening and closing the lid repeatedly had worn out the wires that ran through the hinge, thus, the new one attaches differently, leaving no place for connection ports on the back as there were on the previous model.

Still, though the engineers may love it, we who use things do not. When we go to replace an item, we want to do just that: replace it, and preferably with the exact same thing. I have a friend who envies me for my old all-metal cheese slicer, which is just like the one her mother had. Many have tried to talk me out of the 9 X 13 baking pan that was given to me by my grandmother. Why? Because it has a metal lid that slides on and is every bit as sturdy as the bottom. It will not accommodate an iced sheet cake, but for anything else, it is ideal. Unfortunately, they don't make them anymore. Anyone deciding to bring back this design would make a fortune, but thus far, I've seen no evidence of such forward (or in this case, backward) thinking.

But enough about that. This blog was supposed to be about humor, wasn't it? Guess I'd better tell a joke then. Give me a moment to search through my emails to find one of those that I receive from time to time....

Ah ha! Here's a good one. This one is called The World's First Male Blond Joke. I've added a few embellishments. See if you can guess which one!

Three construction workers were having lunch high atop the skyscraper they were helping to build. The Irish guy opened his lunch box and groaned, "Corned beef and cabbage again! I swear, if I get this again tomorrow, I'm gonna jump off this building!"

The Mexican man opened his lunch box and exclaimed: "Burritos again! If I see another burrito, I'm going to jump off this building!"

The blond guy opens his lunch box. "A bologna sandwich again. I hate them so much! If I have to eat another one, I'm going to jump, too!"

The next day the Irishman opens his lunch box, sees the corned beef and cabbage his wife packed for him and jumps to his death. The Mexican opens his lunch and jumps, screaming, "I hate burritos!" as he falls to his death. The blond guy finds a bologna sandwich in his lunch box and jumps as well.

At the funeral, the Irishman's widow laments, "If only I had known! I thought he loved corned beef and cabbage! It's all my fault!"

With tears in her eyes, the Mexican's widow cries, "I could have given him tacos or enchiladas! I had no idea he hated burritos so much!"

The blond guy's wife shrugs and says, "Don't look at me. The idiot fixed his own lunch."

To which I say, "If he had buns like that, I could forgive him for being stupid."

Friday, April 23, 2010


By Deb Werksman

I was, of course, a book worm growing up. I was the kind of kid who would read while I was walking down the stairs, and my mom would have to call me multiple times for dinner because I didn't hear her while I had my nose in a book. (Can you relate to this?)

My mom and I used to have this conversation about re-reading--she couldn't believe I would re-read a book I had already read once. Meanwhile, there are some books I re-read on a regular basis (Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer come to mind). When I first read Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale I re-read the ending about 10 times before I could put the book down and I pick it up about every 3 months and re-read that scene again.

One of the things we're doing at Sourcebooks that I'm really excited about is bringing some of these classics back into print. We have 4 of Laura Kinsales: Uncertain Magic, Seize the Fire, Prince of Midnight and Midsummer Moon, which is lighter and funny and delightful, while the others are classic Laura--tortured hero, impossible situation, triumphant heroine.

I'm reading Fierce Eden by Jennifer Blake right now and reveling in the heat and light of a beautifully written "old skool" romance (as Sarah Wendell calls them!) The hero is ultra uber alpha and the heroine is falling in love with him by degrees--it's beautiful and torturous and I can't put it down!

We also have Rosemary Rogers' The Wildest Heart which was her #1 bestseller and I've never read anything as fast-paced as this. There's action in every paragraph!

We've got Laurie McBain, Pat Rice's Magic series, and other favorites coming soon too.

So I want to ask you all--what are the books you re-read and re-read and re-read? And what are the ones that you would if you could find a copy now?

In current submissions, I'm looking for:
*single title romance in all subgenres
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero she can fall in love with
*a world gets created
*a hook I can sell the book with in 2-3 sentences
*the author has a career arc we can build with her

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day. What's so funny about that?

This month's topic is humor, but since today is also Earth Day, I feel compelled to include both in this post.

So, what's funny about Earth Day? Absolutely nuthin'. Oh, I've heard jokes about penguins fighting polar bears as they float toward the equator on icebergs, but is global warming something to poke fun at? Probably not. So, I boiled it down to a personal level and figured I'd tell you about my--ahem--skills as a gardener.

I'm in the enviable(?) position of having plenty of room for gardens. When we moved in here, the previous owners had already planted bulbs that sprout into a gorgeous spring garden each year. Since that was none of my doing, I can't take credit for it...but I can take credit for the genius solution I came up with to take care of the aftermath once it all dies. Being the lazy-ass gardener I am, I simply have my husband mow it! Yup, it becomes part of the lawn again. See? Genius!

Now, I had to put in another garden because the plow guy rips up part of the lawn every winter. We tried to replant the grass there one year and threw our hands up in defeat the following spring when that patch was just bare dirt again. What did I do? I hired the plow guy's son to come over and edge it, and now it's my "annuals garden." His dad can plow it up to his heart's content each winter and it just turns the earth over for the next year's marigolds and begonias. Yup, I'm a genius all right.

Third garden...oh yes. We have one more. Our house can't be seen from the street and people used to miss the 550 foot long driveway, even with the mailbox out there. A garden would proclaim "Hey, somebody lives here" but the problem was getting water that far away from the house. So, I planted a xeroscape garden. What's that? It's made up of plants that need zero watering and care once they're in the ground for a year. I live in a temperate climate, and there are plenty of drought tolerant plants that do really well. I have two overgrown juniper bushes at the back, between them, a row of lilacs that are too close together and need to be thinned. A redbud tree front and center, a St. John's wort on it's right (the plow guy gave that a haircut this year) and some yarrow and day lilies on the left.
For fall color, I interspersed some black-eyed Susans and asters. Cool, huh?

Well, my downfall is weeding all these gardens. I'm usually way too busy writing, promoting, running errands, and keeping up with the housework (yeah, right.) However, on the rare occasion that I get really, really angry, I weed. I picture the hair of whomever I'm mad at as I rrriiiiip up the weeds. (Hee hee) It works. I get my anger out in a healthy way, and my yard looks better for it. Unfortunately, the happier I am, the crappier my yard looks.

So, does anyone else have any genius ways of dealing with mother nature? (Or plow guys?) Let's hear them! I know I'm not the only genius here.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Search of Humor

I’ve always been told I have a demented sense of humor and parts of that show up in my books.

Namely, I like to take real life and give it a wild twist to the right. Although there have been times when real life is totally funnier than fiction.

Back in 1982 I decided I wanted to write a book about a male housekeeper. My previous books had some humor in them, but I wanted to do something that I hoped would come up laugh out loud. I figured the best way was a role reversal book. Single mom with rambunctious five-year-old twin boys, a large sheepdog, demanding career, and the need for a housekeeper. Doesn’t sound all that laugh out loud, does it? So factor in boys who only have to breathe to get into mischief. While there were chuckles with our sexy housekeeper -- can a man really read the back of a laundry detergent box – it was still the kids and dog that added to the fun factor.

But the fact part about those boys was actually funnier than the fiction. You see, the two boys were based on a mischievous four-year-old girl who was in my preschool church class. Think long dark hair, angelic face, always wore the cutest dresses, and she gave her brothers a run for their money. Her mother gave me enough stories to use for a lifetime.

While I love using humor with my main characters, it’s my secondary characters that really up the humor ante.

I’ve used my parrots, dogs, tortoise, friends’ kids, even a friend’s husband with some of his disasters. My husband even said “did Terry say you could use him?” and I said “no, but Susan did”. ‘Nuf said? Terry’s in two books, Susan’s boys are in various books, and even her evil cat showed up in a few.

One friend’s blind date was way too good not to use. Same with another friend’s speeding ticket.

I always beg to be allowed to use their tales, and so far, they’ve allowed it. Do I have great friends or what?

Because they let me take their disasters and turn them into something demented and just flat out fun.

I’ve written romantic suspense, dramatic romance, but humor is something I enjoy writing the most.

Besides, can you imagine Fluff and Puff allowing themselves to be dark and dangerous when they can be fuzzy terrors of the boardwalk instead?

Which means if you’re eating funnel cake and see a pair of fangy bunny slippers nearby, you may as well hand over the funnel cake. They’ll get it anyway.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rowdy Ladies: Signing books and having the time of our lives

Me at a booksigning, laughing, getting rowdy. Observe the man in the background, trying desperately to keep his mind on what he's doing despite the commotion.

by Mary Margret Daughtridge

I had another blog on the subject of humor all written, but this was too good a story not to share.

I don't have a group shot of us but picture a group of women, all shall we say post-mature, but only one whose hair has been allowed to gray. Pictured are the publisher of a monthly wellness newspaper, a physician, the owner of a car dealership, a neurofeedback therapist, and me, a novelist.

One time I arrived late at the upscale restaurant where I was meeting them for dinner. “You made it! Did you have any trouble finding us?” they wanted to know as they scooted over to make room for me at the table in the large dining room.

“Not a bit." I shook open my napkin. "When I got here, I realized I didn’t know what name the reservation was in, and I couldn’t think of how to describe you, so I just asked the hostess, ‘Have you got a table with a bunch of rowdy ladies at it?’ She led me straight to y’all.”

They all laughed. Rowdily. Rowdy ladies we are, and Rowdy Ladies we dubbed ourselves.

Singly we sometimes behave ourselves, but together we are not quiet. We went to the opening of “Mama Mia.” At the end as the credits rolled, we led the audience in a sing-along. Having the time of our lives!

They think having a writer of sexy novels in the group is the coolest thing. I often try out ideas for sex scenes on them—these women blush at nothing—but I also depend on their expertise in more mundane areas.

Before I ever wrote the first word, they helped me hammer out the premise of SEALed with a Ring, and they each were resources I could take various scenarios to and ask, “Could this really happen this way?”

I couldn’t have written it without their help. I thanked them all by name in the acknowledgements for SEALed with a Ring. In particular I thanked Elva, a larger than life, black-haired, buxom beauty. It’s her knowledge of how to run a car dealership that fleshes out the character of the heroine, JJ.

The Rowdy Ladies get together for dinner every couple of months, and I saw them last Saturday night.

After we were served, Elva spoke up. “Oh Mary Margret, I showed my girlfriend where my name was in

your book. She was so excited she went out and bought twenty-one copies. She bought up every one around here and had to go all the way to Roanoke to find the rest.”

Wow, I’m thinking, twenty-one copies. What a salesperson Elva is! She must have convinced her friend the book is something special.

“Why twenty-one exactly?” Julie the newspaper publisher—who thinks in terms of circulation— asked.

“She’s going to give them to her friends as presents…” Elva inserted her trademark belly laugh “…and she wanted me to sign them.”

“Seriously? You mean, she wanted you to autograph them?”

“Yep.” Grinning, Elva acknowledged the chuckles around the table, and then went on. “I thought to myself, if this is my fifteen minutes of fame, I'm going for it. So I did it. I signed them all!”

Much as I love a bon mot, much as I enjoy witty ripostes, this is the kind of humor I like best. The kind based on good times, good friends, and a rich appreciation of character.

Probably not the kind that will make you laugh out loud, or laugh long. But hopefully the kind that will bring a smile to your face. A smile that lingers, a smile that sweetens the rest of your day.

So what are you doing, who are you with, when you're having the time of your life?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Great Humorists

We are so fortunate to have so many talented, witty English-speaking writers. Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite quotes with you. I know these ladies and gentlemen always bring a smile to my lips.

Oscar Wilde

Always forgive your enemies—nothing annoys them so much.

One should never trust a woman who tells her real age. If she tells that, she'll tell anything.

How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.

Jane Austen

I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me that trouble of liking them a great deal.

One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.

It was a delightful visit - perfect, in being much too short.

Mark Twain

Get the facts first. You can distort them later. (Perfect for historical authors!)

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

Work is a necessary evil to be avoided.

Dorothy Parker

You can drag a horticulture, but you can't make her think. (when challenged to use “horticulture” in a sentence)

I don't care what anybody says about me as long as it isn't true.

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

Who are some of your favorite humorous writers? What are your favorite witty quotes?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Where is it AGAIN???

"It's Here Somewhere..."

It's the story of my life. Truly. But I have a tale I had to share about that elusive "it."

A patron came in, worried because she'd received a notice saying her book was overdue. But her son had turned it in at the main library, she assured me.

It's our branch's book, but I told her that I'd look on our shelves, but that it wouldn't be here unless it had a routing slip (which means it would be checked in at the main library and sent to us), and so I checked and of course didn't find it. I called the main library and this was how it went down:

"Hi, this is Terry and I'm trying to track down a book that might be still at your library. The book is "It's Here Somewhere.""

Yes, that's the book's title. Honest to God.

So the woman said, "I'll give you to someone else to talk to."

All right. So I repeated my dilemma. "I have a patron here who has an overdue notice for a book she said her son turned in at the main library. "It's Here Somewhere" is the book."

"If the book is there, why are you calling us?"

I smile with the phone to my ear, raise my brows at the patron, who is biting her nails, hoping we can find it. I start over again. "The patron's son turned in the book titled, "It's Here Somewhere," which is our book, but never arrived here. Can you check on the shelf and see if it's there?"

She gave me to someone else.

I started over again. The librarian said, "How old is the son who turned in the book?"

What? What difference does it make? All I needed was for her to look on the shelf for the book. I sighed, asked the patron, she said 21, and I told the librarian.

"Well, if he's 21, we need to talk to him. We can't discuss this with his mother."


I said, "The book is in the patron's name, who is standing before me. Her son turned in the book at your library, but it wasn't checked in. Can you please look for the book?" I felt that the only way to get this resolved was to drive downtown and look for it myself!

"Oh, it's the patron's book."


"Okay, I'll look for it and call you back."

Thank heavens. A few minutes later, she calls me back and voila! The "It's Here Somewhere" was actually "There Somewhere." Eventually, it will make it back to our branch and again it will be "It's Here Somewhere." The patron will be glad because she says it's her favorite humorous book and wants to check it out again. I wanted to recommend she buy it and then it will be somewhere in her house and not lost between libraries--somewhere.

The librarian with a smile in her voice said, "Seems appropriate, doesn't it?"

That's what I call Humor in Real Life. :)

Ever have that problem where: "It's Here Somewhere?" And have a funny resolution? Hat on head? Glasses on head? Bag hooked over shoulder? But where in the world has it gone???

Hope your lost items are always easy to find!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hepburn & Grant &... Me?

Speaking as the Jodie half of Lydia Dare - I am not a big fan of chick-flicks, or tear-jerkers, or anything too serious or sad. My mantra has always been – “If I’m paying for entertainment, I want to laugh. I can sit at home and cry for free.” I’ve said it so much, I don’t even need to say it anymore. Friends will talk about some dramatic movie and they’ll look at me and say, “Yeah, yeah, you just want to sit at home and cry for free.” Well, it is cheaper.

Anyway, with that in mind, one of my most favorite things in the world is to watch old movies. And not just any old movies – but the Screwball Comedies of the 30s and 40s. All right – I do love some of the old classics too – Casablanca, Double Indemnity, Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men – but one can’t really call those movies comedies, and I already own them so watching them is free if I want to cry or feel particularly serious.

I think I’ve somehow gotten off point. Where was I? Oh, yes, those classic comedies. How could I forget?

I could watch It Happened One Night on a weekly basis. I don’t because my son would kill me, but I could. And Bringing Up Baby is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. The same goes for The Lady Eve, The Philadelphia Story, or Arsenic and Old Lace. There was something magical about these films, something that if you watch them, you can feel a bit of the comic genius touch your soul. Or maybe just my soul. Or maybe I just had one too many glasses of wine.

I grew up watching these films with my grandparents. For them it was nostalgic. For me it was a glimpse into another world where people always looked fabulous, they were always witty, they were always good-hearted. It was a fantasy that fit pretty well with the Regency world I created when I started writing. No, the 1930-40’s are not Regency England. But they are similar in feel to me.

Recently I read a review of A Certain Wolfish Charm. Actually, in all honesty, I’ve read them all – but there was one in particular that mentioned the dialogue and how it felt like a Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant film. You can’t even imagine what that did for my ego. Hepburn and Grant! Seriously! I can’t think of a nicer compliment. (Well, a RITA nomination next year would be nice.) But for the time being, I’ll take being compared to one of the most genius parings in celluloid history.

What would be the nicest compliment you could get?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dog Trouble

It surprises me that I write romantic comedies.

I never thought of myself as a particularly amusing person, but when I sit down to write, the funny takes over. Maybe it's because I write about cowboys, and cowboys are inherently funny. For starters, they wear chaps--which are, without a doubt, the most absurd garment ever invented. The sexiest, maybe, but also the funniest. They're basically pants without a seat.

It's hard to judge your own humor, but this is one of my favorite funny scenes from "Cowboy Trouble."
Here's the setup: Our heroine, Libby, has told her new (and very attractive) neighbor that she has a ferocious guard dog named Ivan the Terrible--just in case the guy's considerable charm turns out to be of the Ted Bundy variety. She decides a dog is actually a good idea, so she goes to the local shelter--and ends up adopting a 15-pound Jack Russell Terrier. When Luke comes over the next day, she shoves the dog in the pantry so he won't see it. ____________________________________________________
Taking off his Stetson, Luke glanced around the front room. She'd cleaned the place up, hung some pictures on the wall. It looked better--almost homey, despite the evil sofa lurking in the far corner.
He was still fooling with his hat, trying to come up with some polite conversation, when a loud crash sounded from the pantry.
He spun to face the sound. "What was that?"
"Uh...rats," Libby said.
"Yikes." He cringed. The vermin had to be huge to make a racket like that. "That's awful."
"You have no idea," she said, but a smile tweaked the corners of her mouth. Well, at least she wasn't afraid of animals, like some women.
Not even rats.
A high-pitched whine pierced the air, followed by a volley of yapping barks that clearly emanated from the supposedly rat-infested pantry.
"That's a rat?" He lifted a doubting eyebrow.
"I, um, I put Ivan in there. To catch them," she said.
There was another crash, then a series of loud thumps. It sounded like all her canned goods were cascading to the floor. Another series of yaps pierced the air.
"He sure doesn't sound big," Luke said. "He sounds like a poodle."
"Oh, he's no poodle," Libby said. "Definitely not a poodle."
Luke's curiosity was piqued. He couldn't picture those yapper-dog yelps coming from anything bigger than a shih tzu. "Maybe you'd better let him out."
"No way." She shook her head. "Not with you here. He bites first, asks questions later."
A frantic flurry of scrabbling hit the pantry door. It sounded like it might be a rat, but then it let out one of those half-assed barks.
"What kind of dog is he again?" Luke asked.
"Not sure," Libby said. "Some grizzly bear, maybe a little pony."
She could feel Luke watching her, his gaze pleasant but penetrating. He hadn't shaved for a day or two.
Stubble suited him.
"So," he said. "Farming, murder--what else gets you excited?"
She started to say "stubble," but thought better of it and shrugged.
"Maybe rat traps?" he asked. "You've got a real problem there."
He was right. But the problem wasn't rats. The problem was that she was a psycho fibber, and she couldn't seem to stop. She kept digging her grave of lies deeper and deeper, and it was past time to find a way out.
Maybe she could convince him that Penny was a rat. The little dog looked kind of like a rat, and was about the same size. Then she could act really surprised and say Ivan must have disappeared somehow. She could tell him the pantry was the new door to Narnia.
Or she could just change the subject. ____________________________________________________
In case you're worried, Libby does eventually come clean about the dog. But it costs her big-time. Luke doesn't make it easy.
And that's funny too.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bring On The Snark

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

APRIL 15th?!?!?!

OH NO!!!!!!!!!!

Today in the US it is "Tax Day," the deadline for everyone to file their federal tax returns.

I'm sorry to say that yer olde Aunty is going to be hard pressed to find anything humorous about paying taxes, and I do not think there is anything remotely funny about the Internal Revenue Service. (I survived an audit once and remain scarred and scared for life!)

Hmmm, come to think of it, there is not much inherently humorous about Aunty's books, which center largely around murder and mayhem -- not very funny subjects (though certainly not unfamiliar to the IRS).

Okay, are you sensing a theme here? While Aunty does indeed possess a puckish sense of humor, I do not 'write funny.' I leave that to several of the lovely Casababes whose books are quite funny -- intentionally.

All right, now that we are clear on that, I will admit that while I may not be a humorous writer, one thing I do have going for me is SNARK! You know what I mean -- those witty if somewhat acerbic comments made at the most inopportune moments. I'm afraid it's a genetic anomaly since most of my relatives, especially my siblings, seem to possess the same propensity. As my Gramma used to say, we all "have a mouth on us."

In fact, I'm sure that somewhere in the mists of the auld sod lies the undiscovered motto of the McGarys. Translated from the Gaelic, I'll bet it reads: When in doubt, bring on the snark!

I suppose it was only natural for my characters to occasionally lapse into snarky dialogue in spite of the murder, mayhem, and otherwise deadly serious events going on around them.

Here's a little example from The Wild Sight between Donovan and his brother-in-law Sean. Everyone has been at the hospital all night because Donovan's father has suffered a stroke:

“There’s been no change for hours and we’re all exhausted,” Sean argued, pressing his house key into his brother-in-law’s hand. “You and your wee Yank go catch a few winks in the guest room, whilst I drag your sister home by the hair of her head if I have to.”

“Good luck with that,” Donovan muttered.

And then there's this little exchange in The Treasures of Venice between Keirnan and his sister Kathleen:

“You’d bloody well better believe I object!” Kathleen declared, ignoring his warning as always. She shook her finger at him. “You can’t use the Jewels of the Madonna as some…some bargaining chip!”

“Well, pardon me for saving your lily-white neck!” Keirnan laid sarcasm on thick. “I wasn’t sure which part of you those thugs would carve off next, so I suppose I wasn’t thinking too clearly.”

As he’d hoped, that seemed to take a little of the wind out of her sails. She muttered a rude phrase in Italian, though she spared him the accompanying hand gesture.

Pretty snarky, right? Well, these two have nothing on my latest pair of fictional siblings in The Wild Irish Sea. Inspired by my own brothers, the heroine's twin brother, Parker O'Neill is the king of snark. Here's a little sample of Parker's verbal sparring with his sister:

Amber crossed
her arms and put on her stern teacher persona, quite a trick considering the circumstances. “Just give me your clothes. All of them."

“What am I suppose to wear in the meantime?” Parker complained, but he unbuttoned the shirt all the same.

Amber opened the top bureau drawer. “You can put on some of Kevin’s clothes.”

“A shirt’s okay, but I draw the line at wearing some other guy’s underwear.” Parker paused for two heartbeats before he added, “Even if you are in love with him.”

...He pulled a pair of sweatpants from the far side of the closet. “Turn your head,” he ordered his sister. “Unless you want a peep show. I’m about to go commando under these sweats.”

I hope you'll enjoy reading more of Parker and his snarky remarks when The Wild Irish Sea hits the shelves on July 6th!

So what about you? Do you have any snarky people in your life? Love 'em or hate 'em? Or do you yourself sometimes bring on the snark? And most important of all -- Have you filed your taxes?!?!

If you don't want to wait until July 6th to read more of The Wild Irish Sea, I'm holding a contest to give away an ARC. Just send me proof that you've purchased one of my other books, or email me to answer three easy questions about either The Wild Sight or The Treasures of Venice. Please contact me through my website:

The fine print: A winner will be randomly chosen on May 4, 2010. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. Odds of winning are determined by number of entrants. This contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome Women’s Fic Author Wendy Holden!

Hi Everyone—please welcome a fellow Sourcebooks author and bestselling UK women’s author Wendy Holden, whose latest release, Beautiful People, hit stores last week, and she’s come to visit with us to chat and have a launch party!!

It’s great to have a launch party – they’ve kind of died out here in the UK, which is a shame, as there used to be some super ones. I remember one where the author dressed up as a bride, which was pretty crazy. I had a few good ones myself – my first novel, Simply Divine, was launched on a tidal wave of champagne and celebrities at the Ritz in London; some excellent follow-up bashes for my subsequent novels included two at the prestigious Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel, London. At the first one I had the great good fortune of being crashed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Gisele – it wasn’t that they wanted to come, exactly, more that they wanted to get to the bar and couldn’t work out who all these folks waving paperbacks at them were. Eventually they turned tail and escaped through the restaurant kitchens. The next year in the same place, exactly the same thing happened with Madonna and Guy Ritchie. I was beginning to see the Blue Bar as kind of my lucky spot, but then publishing budgets got tighter than a pair of non-elasticated skinny jeans and my editor was no longer content to sign off the kind of bar bill habitually run up by our own dear Prince Harry (in the papers here this week for blowing £10,000 on champagne on a single night off from the army. And he wasn’t even launching a book, what a waste!). So it’s great of you all to host one for me!

I do hope you’ll enjoy Beautiful People, my comedy of celebrity lives; it was a hoot to write and includes all my favourite fantasies about A-listing it in Hollywood, not to mention luxury living in the choicer parts of Italy and London. There’s also a lot about food – one of the heroes is the sexiest imaginable chef and practically every woman who ever reads it tells me how much she likes the luscious descriptions of delicious Italian food! Right now, at home, I’m engaged in organising a birthday party for my daughter, who will soon be six. She’s eschewing all the usual riding, swimming and princess ideas and is lobbying for what I know will be a real winner with all the mums – a worm party. You’ve read it right – she wants to take all her friends to the vegetable patch at the bottom of our garden, give them each a small plant pot and get them to fill it with worms they dig out of the plot. I’m holding out against it, but Isabella is very determined and insists it’s very eco.

Enjoy Beautiful People, you beautiful people, and thanks for a great party!


A big thank you to Wendy Holden for chatting with us today—she’s in the UK so her comments might come at weird times, but hopefully she’ll be able to check in! Do any of you have fun celebrity stories? Leave a comment that answers that question and be entered to win one of two copies of Beautiful People!

About the Author
Wendy Holden was a journalist on The Sunday Times, Tatler and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full time author. She has now published nine novels, all being top 10 bestsellers in the UK, and is married with two young children. Her novels include Farm Fatale, Bad Heir Day, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath, The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Interview with Libby Malin, Internationally-renowned Humorous Women's Fiction Author

Q. Your book, My Own Personal Soap Opera, has been out for several weeks now. How has it been going?

A. Very well. I’ve been having lots of fun on my eco-friendly virtual book tour, and I’ve been receiving many positive comments from readers. Both of them. No, seriously, it’s been great, and I truly have been enjoying myself.

Q. Well, since you’re visiting this blog today, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

A. Thank you for asking. Not many people know my true personal story, so I'm happy to share it here today. It has great relevance to my journey as a writer.

I was born in a small village in the Hungarian Alps, orphaned at the age of five months and raised by vampiric werewolves. This is one of the reasons, by the way, that I cannot bring myself to write stories involving vampires or werewolves, no matter how much money is to be made in that field. I know, I know—authors are raking in dozens of dollars writing those tales. But for me, it would be a great sign of disrespect to my parents—Alpo and Nutella—to use their backgrounds as the basis for my profit-making. I salute the authors who write those stories, however, and mean no disrespect to them either. It is just not for me, given my upbringing.

I turned to writing comedy as soon as I could pick up a pen, which was difficult to learn considering my parents didn’t have opposable thumbs. Recognizing how their lineage could hold me back and realizing they couldn’t keep feeding me carry-out pizza purloined from the Magyar Pizzeria and Sub Stop at Buda-on-Pest, my parents sent me to a convent school at the age of seven where I learned . . . that the hills are alive. With the sound of music, no less. Who knew?

After graduation, I was heartbroken to discover that my complete assimilation into the non-vampiric-werewolf world meant I could no longer recognize my parents in a pack of wolves roaming the village. Crushed in soul and spirit, I hopped on a steamer in the Black Sea bound for America. It was a long trip.

Barely surviving a shipwreck on the Jersey shore and a subsequent mugging attempt on Jersey streets, I made my way east eventually settling in Pennsylvania where I lead a quiet writerly life, grateful for the solitude and the earthy smell of fertilized fields, which takes me back to the days of my childhood when Alpo and Nutella would carry me in a vampiric-werewolf baby tote (FDA-approved, of course) through the waving fields of Hungarian paprika plants.

Q. How did you come to write comedy and, in particular, a book featuring a soap opera head writer?

A. As you can tell, my life was hard. But there is an old French-Hungarian saying that explains much about life and how we vampiric-werewolf-raised Hungarians approach it. It has given me great comfort over the years. The saying is: Je vais cherchez du bon vin a la cave. Loosely translated, this means: Life is hard. One must laugh or one must cry. Laughing is easier. Drinking wine is good, very good. Very good indeed.

That saying has guided my life. As to soap operas, I became familiar with them at the convent school. We had a ham radio/TV setup in our dormitory. Many of the girls would gather round the flickering broadcasts coming from America telling tales of spectacular wealth and characters named Victor, Nikki, Rachel, Mac, Stefano, Hope, Bo, Kayla, Brooke and, of course, Luke and Laura. Oh, how we longed for that life and those names! It was only when I came to America that I learned these stories were not newscasts but fictional tales. I shrugged my shoulders, thought of that French-Hungarian saying, and began penning humorous women’s fiction, setting my latest novel in the world of soap operas. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q. What is My Own Personal Soap Opera about--is it your life, thinly-veiled?

A. If this blog could speak, you would hear me spitting with laughter right now. No, MOPSO is not my life--although at one time, I wished I could have been a soap opera head writer, like the book's protagonist. How proud Alpo and Nutella would have been then, eh?

At any rate, MOPSO tells the story of soap head writer Frankie McNally, who uses her show as her own personal message board to the world while dealing with multiple crises at work and home -- a leading man who broke his leg on Dancing with the Stars, staff members who all wish they were doing something else, a jewel thief imitating a story on the show, and two dashing men after her heart. By story's end, she has to decide what is most important to her in life and love.

Well, perhaps that last part is similar to my own life's journey. And, of course, there is my striking physical resemblance to the woman on the cover of the book.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

A. Hmm. . . well, I guess I’d like to say I’m very happy to be here. As a guest on this blog, that is. Very grateful. And I’d really, really, really like it if people would buy my books. Many people don’t know that actually buying the books helps authors live and write. It’s a crazy system, I know. But buying the books means authors get to keep itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy amounts of money, and the publishers might want to give the authors some more teensy-weensy bits of money to keep writing books. I’d really appreciate the support. More importantly, Alpo and Nutella would appreciate it. They are now in a Home for Old Vampiric Werewolves in Outer-Mongolia, and I am their sole means of support. I only get to visit them twice a decade. The trip is so expensive, and so grueling. I can’t think about it too much. It upsets me . . . Je vais cherchez du bon vin a la cave. . .


Of Libby Malin’s My Own Personal Soap Opera, Publishers Weekly says: "Malin coaxes plenty of laughs. . ." while Booklist calls it, "a world of wit and chaos . . .smart and insightfully written."

You can win a free copy of MOPSO by commenting on this post. Libby will chose one winner from those who post something by midnight EST April 15, 2010. If your email address isn't part of your blogger profile, please put it in the comment to win.

For more information please visit or her blog, You can drop her a note at if you’d like to be put on her email list. Also, you can friend her on Facebook at Libby Malin Sternberg.