My pick for the Orange Prize

April 15, 2008 | 5 Comments

2 hotties, can you stand it?In my review of Lottery by Patricia Wood, I predicted great things for this book. And lo, it is on the shortlist for the Orange Prize. So yay me! And especially yay Pat and Lottery! You are already a winner.

What your speech says about you

April 12, 2008 | 9 Comments

talking headPop? Soda? Coke? Soft drink?

Wash or warsh? Creek or crick? Carmel or cara-mel?

Here’s a quiz about regional differences in speech and language. See if the quiz can predict where you’re from. Take the quiz here.

When I took it, the quiz correctly guessed at my peripatetic past. Born in upstate New York, moved overseas at a young age, college in the midwest and Texas, grad school in the northeast, married a die-hard Texan, moved to the Pacific Northwest… No wonder I’m so confused. Click “Comments” to post your results. Be sure to mention where you’re from.

It’s Bikini Season!

April 10, 2008 | 7 Comments

Today’s guest blog is from the indomitable Sheila Roberts. Her new book is a guilt-free, no-calorie, sweet froth of a story.

Favorite book of the month!I am constantly in the trenches, fighting the battle of the bulge . . . except for when I take a cake break or make a doughnut run. (Fighting fat is hard work. A girl needs sustenance.) But I’m not quitter. I keep fighting. I even teamed up with my girlfriends Kathleen and Kimberly, forming a diet triage, in an effort to regain my girlish figure. I’m still not there yet, but I have hope. (Don’t ask me how long I’ve been in “I have hope” mode – that might prove embarrassing!) Anyway, all this dieting had to lead to a book eventually.

Hence the arrival of my new book with St. Martin’s Press, Bikini Season, which follows the adventures of four girlfriends who turn their cooking club into a diet club. And each woman has her own issues to deal with. Kizzy needs to find a new healthy lifestyle – not an easy task with her husband, who likes her just the way she is, sabotaging her at every turn. Megan needs to change the way she sees herself if she’s going to change the way she looks. Angela needs to realize that, while she might not like herself, her husband loves her no matter what. And then there’s Erin, who is beginning to wonder if the fact that she’s outgrown her wedding dress could be some kind of omen regarding her upcoming nuptials. I had a great time writing this book, and I’m hoping my characters will inspire me to work harder on getting fit. (If nothing else, the recipes in the book should help.) If you’re fighting the fat monster, here are some diet tips that might help you:


  • Find an eating plan you like and can stick to. This lets out fad diets, which you are bound to get sick of in a hurry. Better to cut carbs than to eat eggs and grapefruit for three weeks followed by a banana bread meltdown.
  • Make it easy. If you have to work a second job preparing your food every day, your resolutions to improve your diet will go out the window. Buy pre-measured, pre-fixed menus like Lean Cuisine. Pre-cut your salad veggies and bake up a batch of chicken breasts on the weekend for the week ahead so you have something healthful and ready to use in the fridge every day. Buy salad in the bag.
  • Have a mantra or canned pep talk you can recite in the face of food temptation. In BIKINI SEASON one character regularly reminds the others that nothing tastes like thin feels.
  • Pick a form of exercise that suits your personality and preferences so you will enjoy and stick to it. For example, if you’re a social person, don’t take up some solitary form of exercise. And if you value alone time, don’t take an aerobics class. That path leads to boredom, which leads to exercise mutiny.
  • Put up your diet shield when going into dangerous social settings. Eat something substantial before that big party so you won’t arrive ravenous. Scope out the food table and pre-select what you will eat. Shrimp. Yes. Veggie Platter. Yes. Chocolate cake. Stay away from that end of the table.
  • Give yourself an occasional treat. You’re really changing life habits, not dieting. Diet is a four-letter word and if you diet you will feel deprived and binge. That little (LITTLE) weekly treat will help you be good the rest of the week.
  • Get support. Overeating is not a problem to conquer alone. Find family or friends who will support and encourage you and keep you on the road to good health.
  • Know your biggest temptation hour and keep your hands and mouth busy. If you get snack cravings at the office, keep sugar free gum in your desk drawer for a quick fix for your taste buds and some chewing action. If you tend to snack in front of the TV at night, make sure you have something to do while you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy, like knitting. Dance along when you’re watching Dancing with the Stars.
  • Pick your friends carefully. According to an article in the New York Times (July 26, 2007), our friends can influence our eating habits. According to this article researchers found that people who were overweight had close friends who were also overweight. If one friend became obese, the other had a 171 percent increased chance of also becoming obese. Chose friends who want to develop and keep healthful lifestyles and you’ll increase your own chances of success for a more healthful lifestyle.
  • Never give up, never give in. You are the heroine of your own life journey, and sometimes you will stumble. But don’t give up. Toss the rest of that candy bar (yes, toss it!), and go buy a bag of spinach and some oranges. After all, like Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day.


Shooting fish in a barrel

April 08, 2008 | Leave a comment

…and killing two birds with one stone. Sorry for the cliches, but they apply. I mean, where else can you round up all these authors and get their autographs and raise much-needed money to support literacy programs?

C’mon, people, if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Natick, Massachusetts this coming Saturday, come to the booksigning! Here’s the scoop:

NEC/RWA’s 14th Annual Book Fair For Literacy

April 12, 2008
4:00 pm
Crown Plaza, Natick, MA

Featuring: Susan Wiggs

Also featuring Suzanne Brockmann, Virginia Kantra, Loretta Chase and three dozen of the top historical and contemporary romance authors from New England and beyond!

Public welcome. Twenty percent of all proceeds to benefit Massachusetts Volunteers for Literacy


He should marry her IMMEDIATELY.

April 06, 2008 | Leave a comment

I get a lot of e-mail via my web site. My readers are so funny, genuine, sincere and romantic. Like this one, from K.:

…I am a widow and my boyfriend (age 73) is also widowed..we both live in ______…we have been seeing each other for the past few months and just got back from Hawaii where every night he read to me from your books…how wonderful…he is now reading (to himself because we don’t live together) your new novel.  Hope one of your stories will get him to marry me!! 

How much do I love this woman? He should marry her immediately.

A Tale of Three Wise Women

April 04, 2008 | 9 Comments

Today’s guest blog is by my friend and fellow writer/editor, Lori. You can meet her, Aubrey and Pam, and many other literary luminaries at the upcoming conference.

Aubrey, Lori, PamThe last weekend in April used to signify my daughter’s birthday was approaching. Now it means the annual Field’s End Writers’ Conference. Aubrey’s birthday is still at the tail end of April; we just have a new way of celebrating it. Last year was our first Field’s End experience. We stayed the night at the Clearwater Casino Resort – a treat for us. Not only did we get meaningful girl time, but Aubrey was especially delighted with the hotel’s accoutrements. We still have the fun cell phone video clips of Aubrey showing off the hotel room. The spinning chair in front of the vanity was particularly exciting.

At the actual conference, Aubrey was initially cowed at being the only young person in a roomful of adults. But the Field’s End participants are a very friendly lot, so Aubrey soon relaxed. We were lucky enough to land at tables with speakers Garth Stein and Robert Dugoni. They helped draw out Aubrey – and everyone else. Bob Dugoni “escorted” Aubrey to the first break-out session. Her workshop tastes ran differently than mine, and she evidently didn’t feel the need to cling to my side the entire day. When we did get together, I was impressed with how well she sat still. An entire day is a long time – thank goodness for Malachy McCourt! Even though she couldn’t remember how to pronounce his name, she asked me recently if he would be there again. Aubrey took away ideas from each speaker, but it was Mr. McCourt’s presentation she found most enthralling. No surprise! Later we had a grand time purchasing books and getting authors’ autographs and personalized messages. What a delight to see Aubrey bloom into a young woman and a creative presence. There are many, many things we learned that day and which remain part of who we are a year later. This year Aubrey told me that she would like to go back to Field’s End for her birthday (and she gets that this means not much else in the way of birthday presents!). So register, we did.

Aubrey’s writing interests are strong and deep, although she’s still not sure she wants to be a writer. But as some of the Field’s End participants reminded us, a writer is not something you become, it’s something you are. Thus, Aubrey is a writer, and a good one. She’s taking honors classes this year (sixth grade) and scored 100 percent on her most recent Reading WASL. Her Writing WASL score was close behind. She counts attending the Young Authors Conference at Skagit Valley College nearly every year during elementary school as one of her writing-related accomplishments. Children’s book author George Shannon is a frequent presenter, so she was excited to “know somebody” at Field’s End last year!My mom, Pam, has never thought of herself as a writer, but she is certainly skilled. She chose (was there much of a choice in those days?!) to be a mom, wife and homemaker. While I was at the UW, she earned her A.A. from Everett Community College. I always knew she was an excellent proofreader and organizer, if you will, of written materials, but I recently realized that she’s also a talented writer. She can deftly describe her own and other people’s feelings and motivations. Mom would disagree (LOL). Once she decides to believe in her skill and channel it to a specific project of her own, look out! For now, she is helping to research and write a book with her brother.

I’m actually writing the children’s chapter-book version of the same story. Although I’m an on-again, off-again kind of fiction writer, I’m still very committed to this story. My preference is to fix and organize words rather than to originate them. That’s the editor in me. My mom recently showed me a progress report from my first-grade teacher. I wanted to be a nurse, teacher, hairstylist and editor. How crazy is that? What six-year-old kid knows what an editor is? I evidently figured it out, and it has stuck with me. My mom plans to join us this year. Aubrey’s okay with sharing a bed with me, although I offered to have her and Grandma bunk together because Grandma’s skinnier than I am and will take up less room. We’ll see what happens.

It’s not long now until we return to the garden of the gods at Kiana Lodge, host to the Field’s End Writers’ Conference. I should ask Aubrey how many days until our adventure begins. She’ll know. Aubrey & Lori at the Field’s End conference

Escape to Sunny San Seriffe

April 01, 2008 | 2 Comments

You know you want to be here.In 1977 the British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian‘s phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer’s terminology. The success of April Fool!this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades.

Read the full article about San Serriffe.