Chasing Inspiration

Friday, March 27, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

My husband and I don't always share the same taste in music. Oh, there are some bands we both adore and will rush out to buy their newest album or try to score tickets to their concerts. But then there are the groups I love that he thinks are awful. And the country he loves that I cringe at every time he puts on the CD. But we love each other so we allow each other to have their musical tastes and not try to change it. Much.

When I first heard today's Soundtrack Friday song, it was at my husband's urging. He had heard it on the radio and was blown away by the lyrics, the vocals, basically everything about the song. It haunted him and exhilarated him. I think I was drawn in by the haunting nature of the song and that excitement that just poured off him in waves. It's not often he gets that excited about something that doesn't involve tools. *grin*

On that day a few years ago, Mindy Smith became a part of our lives. We own all three of her albums and Come To Jesus is a song that figures prominently in the current story I'm writing. I don't care if you believe in God or the lint in your navel. The song talks about loss and fear and comfort and let's be honest, in this world, we all need a little something to hold on to. So, as you enjoy today's soundtrack, remember what it is you hold on to for hope and comfort.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I read and write romance in all its various subgenres. Voraciously. So, every year around this time I wait with baited breath to see if my favorite authors make the cut for the romance publishing industry's most prestigious award - the RITA.

This year some of my favorite authors did make the cut, a few of them in the same categories. I won't bore you with the categories, but here are the books (and authors) I read last year and loved! Some of the authors below have more than one book nominated, but if they only show up once in my list, it's because I haven't yet read their other book(s). So many books to read, so little time!

Congratulations, ladies!

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
Bantam Dell Publishing Group (ISBN: 978-0-440-24431-8)
Caitlin Alexander, editor

Twin Targets by Jessica Anderson
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Intrigue (ISBN: 9780373693283)
Allison Lyons, editor

Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Harlequin Enterprises, MIRA Books (ISBN: 9780778324935)
Margaret O'Neill Marbury, editor

Sweet Talk by Susan Mallery
Harlequin Enterprises, HQN (ISBN: 978-0-373-77297-1)
Tara Parsons, editors

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
Bantam Dell Publishing Group (ISBN: 978-0-440-24431-8)
Caitlin Alexander, editor

Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
St. Martin's Press (ISBN: 0312949812)
Jennifer Enderlin, editor

The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation (ISBN: 9780425219607)
Wendy McCurdy, editor

The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law
Penguin Group USA, Berkley (ISBN: 978-0-425-21935-5)
Jackie Cantor, editor

Tribute by Nora Roberts
Penguin Group USA, Putnam (ISBN: 978-0-399-15491-1)
Leslie Gelbman, editor

Where Serpents Sleep
by C.S. Harris
Penguin Group USA, NAL Obsidian (ISBN: 9780451225122)
Ellen Edwards, editor

Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation (ISBN: 978-0-425-22016-0)
Cindy Hwang, editor

To see the complete list, go to the RWA National website and click on the RITA/Golden Heart icon in the bottom left. Congratulations to all the authors who made it through the first rounds of judging and I wish you all the best.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

For my birthday this year I received a compilation of songs from iTunes to add to my iPod. A gift worth its weight in gold since I listen to my iPod all day at work and while I'm doing chores around the house. I even stuff the headphones under the pillow so I can go to sleep listening to music or a movie.

Well, in this compilation of songs were even more songs of the 80's. My teen years were in the 80's so I know the music well and Bonnie Tyler was one of my favorite singers. Who wasn't moved by Total Eclipse of the Heart? I danced one of my first slow dances to her rendition of Sometimes When We Touch and I had my first kiss (if you could call that miserable peck on the lips a kiss) while It's A Heartache was playing in the background. Bonnie Tyler has been there through some major moments in my life.

But it's this song that I remember above all others. Maybe it was because I had a crush on John Erik Hexum while he was staring in the ill fated TV show Cover Up, but I loved both the show and the theme song Holding Out for a Hero. In fact, that song became sort of a theme song for my friends all through high school and into college. You see, we were bound and determined to find ourselves real men. Heroes. Men who weren't afraid to be manly and sensitve. Men who would take a bullet for you or open your door. A man who would take on the horrors of shopping without out complaint but who could still kick ass when playing football with the boys. You know the type.

I was lucky enough to find a man who is my personal hero. No, he's not all the things listed above, but he is a hero in so many of the ways that count to me. His strength of character, his kindness, his ability to step back (usually) before reacting. His gentleness. His generosity. I held out and I got me a hero.

Okay, enough of the mush. Today's Sound Track Friday is the ever campy, ever sassy and the horribly bad Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler! And don't complain to me about the video! Bonnie obviously didn't ask me to be her director. *shudder*

Enjoy! And have a great weekend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In These Tough Economic Times

I was reading through one of my publishing industry newsletters and found an interesting article on how romance continues to sell well during this particular economy.
According to various news outlets, romance fiction is selling well despite the economic downturn. Harlequin Enterprises reports revenue rose 2.2 percent in 2008 to $379 million U.S., with sales up in both the North American retail and overseas segments. (Publishers Weekly, 26 Feb. 2009) And, the Chicago Sun-Times says sales have increased at Borders for American history, “romance novels and science fiction and fantasy books.” (Chicago Sun-Times, 28 Feb. 2009) The USA Today best-seller list reflects the success of romance fiction. For the week of March 4, “one-quarter of the list’s top 50 books are romance novels, and 20 percent of the books new to the list are in that category.” (USA Today, 4 Mar. 2009)

What dose this mean?

Some would posit that people are looking for something optimistic to escape into during these hard times. I know that's part of why I read, and write, romance fiction. I want to know that love conquers all and will triumph in the end. I want to see people work through difficulties and come out the other side healing and a little more whole than when they went into the story. I want to believe in the goodness within people and the power of trust and vulnerability.

I don't know that all who read romance feel the same way, but from the chatter in some online communities I spend time at, I have to believe there are many who read romance because they want the happily ever after and the joy of a relationship that makes it. And as much as people claim they read romance for the escapism, there is a part of me who believes they also read romance for the hope it offers. And what is more important during uncertain, even dark times than hope.

So, to all you romance writers out there, thank you for bringing hope and love and the belief that we can live happily ever after. This is a wonderful gift. Thank you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

There are songs out there that get the blood pumping and bring people together under it's spell. You know these songs. They are the theme of the underdog or the action hero in movies. They are the songs that are played ad naseum at sporting events. Often overplayed, they can become caricature of themselves, no longer holding the power to motivate and move us in the manner they were created.

Eye of the Tiger is one such song. An 80s anthem, this song represented the underdog. And represented him well. Sylvester Stallone requested this song be written for Rocky III and the musical group, Survivor, rose to the challenge, delivering a song that not only had that driving beat that got us worked up on behalf of the protagonist, but was also catchy enough that it became the anthem of everyman. And even though this song has been played into the ground, it remains a song that almost everyone can sing along to because of the simple and clear lyrics and the distinctive rhythms and melody.

Eye of the Tiger was featured briefly on an episode of Supernatural, one of my favorite tv shows. Fortunately, hijinks ensued during the taping of the show, as reported by TV Guide.

At one point during this week's episode of the CW's Supernatural, "Yellow Fever," Dean is waiting for Sam in the Impala. As Sam approaches, he discovers his bro reclined in the front seat with his eyes closed, air-drumming and lip-synching to Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger."

Jared Padalecki's cue to costar Jensen Ackles was to tap on the roof of the car, interrupting Dean's jam session. But for one take, Jared had this thought: What if I didn't give the cue? What would Jensen do?

This video answers that question. Or at least starts to. While this sneak peek will more than entertain you, be prepared to get the entire 90-second version — featuring even more impromptu behavior — as a coda to this week's episode. Supernatural airs Thursdays at 9 pm/ET, on the CW.

Now, you've likely seen this video. For a time, there was no where one could escape. But Jensen Ackles is so darn adorable when he lip syncs this 80s hit that, well, I couldn't resist.

So I give you, Eye of The Tiger, Jensen Ackles style! Unfortunately, you'll have to hop over to YouTube to view it, but it's oh so worth it!

And for those of you who are Survivor purists, enjoy this embedded video of the orginal band singing their hit single.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Romance Novel Quiz Part 2

*edited to add my answers. What kind of blog would this be if I didn't answer my own quizzes? *

I got to thinking that there are many other questions we can ask about our favorite novels, so I'm expanding my original quiz to add more questions. You can post this on your own blog or repond in the comments. Either way, I would love to know your answers! And remember, it's not just limited to romance novels. Honestly. Any type of fiction will do. *grin*

1. Favorite heroine in a romance novel
I have to go with Eve Dallas from JD Robb's In Death series. She's tough, she's capable, she doesn't need someone else to fix life for her. And while she doesn't love easily, once she does, she's loyal as hell. She will go to the mat for you in a nanosecond. And while she is this tough-as-nails cop, she's also human and vulnerable, but not in a crybaby kinda way. :)

2. Favorite hero in a romance novel
It's a toss up between Ian Thornton from Judith McNaught's Almost Heaven and Harry Braxton from Connie Brockway's As You Desire. Both men have over come great odds to be the self-made heroes they are. And both love to distraction. Both have flaws, but that's okay. Flaws make people a little more human. And we all need heroes who are in touch with humanity.

3. Favorite romance series (a series being more than 2 books that are related)
Chesapeake Bay series by Nora Roberts. There is something about family brought together by love rather than by birth that makes me all warm and gushy inside. - Sea Swept, Rising Tides, Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Blue.

4. Best location in a romance novel
As You Desire by Connie Brockway. I love Victorian Egypt and during a time in my life when all historicals were taking place in predictable locations, this brilliant novel was a breath of fresh air!

5. Favorite secondary hero
Ted Mathison from Judith McNaught's Perfect or McNabb from JD Robb's In Death series. Both make me smile and make my heart go pitter-patter. *g*

6. Favorite secondary heroine
Why did I ask this question? I can never remember. I know there are some great secondary characters, but for the life of me...wait! Pilar from Nora Robert's Villa. She's a middle aged woman who comes into her own and I love her chutzpa and growth and caring. Phew!

7. Favorite secondary storyline - or book you loved because of the secondary storyline
One of my favorte books is Sentimental Journey by Jill Barnett and the story is full of secondary storylines. Which is why I love it so much. So many points of view and so many people to care about.

8. Favorite romance sub genre
I read a little of everything, but when I'm looking for a comfort read I usually turn to a contemporary romance or something with a little fantasy mixed in.

9. Favorite paranormal/fantasy romance
Lover Awakened by JR Ward or If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl.

10. Favorite historical romance
Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught or Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer are sentimental favorites.

11. Favorite contemporary romance
Um, well, let's see. There are sooooo many. I'm going to go with The Paper Marriage by Susan Kay Law. That's my final answer. For now!

12. Favorite romantic suspense/mystery
I'm going with the In Death series by JD Robb. I do read a lot of romantic suspense, suspense and thrillers, but there is this wonderful balance of high body count, character development, secondary characters, mystery and this great couple who keep growing toward each other as the series progresses.

Romance Novel Quiz

I picked this up from an author bulliten board I frequent and thought the questions were interesting. If you don't read romance, don't let that stop you from completing the quiz. You can indicate any book in any genre. The more we know about what we read, the more we learn about each other. That, I'm way nosy. :)

1. One romance book you've read more than once.
Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

2. One romance book you want on a desert island.
Dreaming by Jill Barnett

3. One romance book that made you laugh.
Aussie Rules by Jill Shalvis

4. One romance book that made you cry.
Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

5. One romance book you wish you had written.
goodness, there are so many...

6. One romance book you wish you could alter the ending of.
It's more a women's fiction book, but it was in the romance section. Three Wishes by Barbara Delinksy

7. One romance book you are currently reading.
Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

8. One romance book you have meant to read.
Does the Twilight series count?

9. One romance book that changed you or your views in some way.
My views havne't been changed but there are a few romances that have caused me to pause...Magic Hour, Firefly Lane, The Hindi-Bindi Club (more women's fiction, but I think it should count)

10. One romance book made into a movie that you liked both the book & the movie.
There isn't one. Though the adadptation of Nora Robert's Carolina Moon wasn't too bad.

11. One romance book made into a movie where you liked the book, but hated the movie.
Practically any other romance-to-movie adaptation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Little Rock Goes A Long Way

I'm not a huge TV fan. Well, I have my shows, but I don't die if I miss them. Except Bones. And now Castle. Hee! But back in the day when the husband and I were first married, we used to watch WWF wrestling and mock the male soap operaness of it all. The drama, OMG, the drama! My favorite wrestler was The Rock. And when Dwayne Johnson transitioned from smelling what he was cooking to acting, I went along for the ride. His movies weren't stellar, but they were amusing and he did a fairly good job of transforming himself from The Rock to Dwayne Johnson, actor. I'm actually looking forward to his contribution to Disney's Witch Mountain franchise with Race to Witch Mountain.

I was so bummed when I missed SNL on Saturday. The Rock, I mean Dwayne Johnson, is always good for some amusing entertainment and I heard his Rock Obama skit was hold-onto-your-sides hilarious. I did catch the opening monologue thanks to a friend who emailed me the following. I about died! Mr. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is very secure in his masculinity and himself, and that is so refreshing. So I give you Dwayne Johnson with his third ever opening monologue for SNL...may there be many, many more. *grin*

Friday, March 06, 2009

Soundtrack Friday

It's Friday and once again I find myself ill prepared for my blog post. I've been working for the last two weeks and that has thrown me off my blogging game. Usually, I would create a post in the afternoon while at home and forward date to the day I wanted the post to appear. Well, since I've been working I've been staying off the net during the day and trying to cram in all my home stuff in the evenings...just like I used to! Isn't great how old, hurried habits are difficult to destroy?

That got me thinking about what song is true to my soundtrack today. Many songs went through my head -- She Works Hard For The Money, I'm A Woman, Taking Care of Business, Step Into My Office Baby, Workin' Man (my husband's vote) , Welcome to the Working Week....and many many more. And while all good songs in their own right, none of them felt right.

So, today, on this damp yet warm Friday, I give you the song that is my current anthem - Working 9 to 5 - even though I'm currently working 7:30 to 4:00...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Books Read in February

Pride by Rachel Vincent -- I love Rachel Vincent's voice and her unique and well detailed world. This is the third book in her Werecat series and I believe a fourth book is coming out this summer. I sense a reread in my near future!

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal -- Also writing as Barbara Samuel and Ruth Wind, Barbara O'Neal writes a wonderful story about family and forgiveness and love in the most unexepected of places.

Healing Waters by Nancy Rue -- This is the second book in Nancy's adult fiction series. Inspirational but not in-your-face religious or overly sentimental. I enjoyed the conflicts of the characters and the real world in which the story was portrayed enough that I'm seeking out the first book from the library.

Dark of Night by Suzanne Brockmann -- The latest book in SB's Troubleshooter series, this was full of action, wonderful characters and even though there is some controversy regarding some of the h/h pairings, I found this to be a solid and enjoyable read.

Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris -- Book four of the Sebastian St.Cyr series. These books just get better and better! I hope the author is going to continue the series and that I don't need to wait too long before I can read more!

The Villa by Nora Roberts -- This was a reread for me. When I can't figure out what to read, I reach for a Nora. And while I have read this particular book many times since it came out in 2001, I always enjoy this story. Maybe it's the wine, maybe it's the foray to Italy. Or maybe it's the reluctant hero. Either way, I'm glad I reread this book in February.

Northern Lights by Nora Roberts -- This book has been optioned and is being made into a movie that will be aired later this spring on Lifetime. It's been a while since I read it I decided to refresh my memory. It's a good book! I had forgotten some of the complexities and, as always, La Nora delivers the description with finese!

True Colors by Kristin Hannah -- Kristin's stories have always been laced with emotion and make the characters work for their happy ending. True Colors is no different. Three sisters struggle to find love and acceptance and coming to terms with the past. Heart wrenching and you will need tissues. In a good way.

Her Sexiest Mistake by Jill Shalvis -- I knew I had read this book previously but I couldn't remember the plot. Since I was doing a book purge, I decided to reread this story before determining if it was a keeper or not. Loved it! Again! Jill has this wonderful way of tugging at your heart while making you laugh. The story is sexy and poignant and touching, often at the same time.

Stand By Your Hitman by Leslie Langtry -- The third book in her Greatest Hits series, this book is about Missy (Mississippi) Bombay. My only irritation with the book was the stereotypical way Canadian media was portayed. An easy and fun read.