- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
Almost three years ago, we lost our 20-year-old nephew Daniel to an accidental drug overdose. This is the first time I’ve been able to write about it.
Daniel was a lean kid with a tender heart, a shy smile and more baggage from his childhood than even his broad shoulders could bear. No matter how tall he grew, I never let him get too big to give his Aunt Terri a kiss and a hug.
We got the call on a Friday night that Daniel had gone home after his shift at Sonic, stopped breathing and was on a ventilator in Intensive Care. They found a combination of Ativan, Valium, Xanax and Methadone in his system. (I’ve since learned that even ONE Methadone can induce respiratory failure in some people). At first we assumed he was going to be okay, that this was going to be the wake-up call that would allow him to get the help he needed. As one person after another came forward, we realized that Daniel had known he was in serious trouble but had been asking the wrong people for help. This was not a suicide attempt. It was an addiction to the prescription drugs used for recreational purposes by so many of our kids.
For three days the family kept a vigil at his bedside, crying and raging, pleading and praying. Since my husband and I are both nurses, we knew what it meant when the ICU nurses told us we no longer had to adhere to the visiting hours but could sit with him whenever we wanted.
After a series of tests, the neurologist finally gathered us together to tell us that Daniel had been gone all along. That there was nothing left to do but say our goodbyes and offer his organs to someone who could keep some small part of him alive in this world. As I held his seventeen-year-old sister in my arms and promised her she would survive this, I’ll never forget her broken wail of, “But I don’t want to!”
Daniel was more like a son than a grandson to my husband’s parents and watching Mike’s dad weep over his coffin was like watching John Wayne cry like a baby.
After he was gone, I used to talk to his picture—I’d remind him of how much we loved him and yell at him for doing something so terribly foolish. Now I smile when I pass it and touch my fingertips to my lips, then briefly to the cool glass covering his face, knowing he is at peace and finally in the arms of the Father he always deserved.
If you know a kid that you suspect is in trouble, act. Open a dialogue. Confront. Get the rest of the family involved if you have to. Don’t just assume they’ll grow out of it.
Because they might not get the chance.
You looked as handsome as a sleeping prince in that hospital bed but my kiss could not wake you
As I touched your cheek for the last time, you were everything to me that you would never be to any other woman—nephew, son, friend, brother, lover, father
All I could do was lay my head upon your breast and weep my goodbye
In memory of Daniel Lee Medeiros
October 1985 - August 2006
Okay, I have a confession to make. My name is Teresa Medeiros and I’m too stupid to live. The first day we moved into our new house, I ran the car into the garage, effectively wrecking both of them. After listening to the song LIFE IN THE FAST LANE by the Eagles at least 10 million times since the 70’s, I just figured out the line that says, “There were lines on the mirror” is talking about cocaine, not wrinkles. I once risked life and limb (and my beloved Jag) to drive to Starbuck’s during a terrible thunderstorm/tornado watch because I couldn’t bear to live another moment without a Mocha Lite Frapuccino. So I consider it a personal affront when readers say that they can’t stand heroines who are too stupid to live. Just go ahead and kill me now, why don’t you? (For other examples of my stupidity, you may contact me and a comprehensive list will be provided to you.)
But seriously, I hate almost any black and white rules that put limits on my fiction, either writing it or reading it. I want to write about all sorts of characters and my very favorites are characters who make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite themes is to follow a girl as she makes the journey toward womanhood. And you know what--girls often do foolish, impulsive things, especially in pursuit of love. Things like trying to abduct a highwayman like Pamela in SOME LIKE IT WILD or climbing out of a window in a ballgown like Lottie in ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL. Fellow romance author Jill Barnett once said to me, “I love to write about people who make grand and glorious mistakes and who suffer terribly for those mistakes and who are better people for it by the end of the book.” Isn’t character growth the very definition of well-written fiction? So many things that we used to simply call “a plot” are now dissected mercilessly on the internet as “characters that are TSTL” or “Big Misunderstandings” or “Mary Jane heroines”. If we avoid all of these things, then eventually we won’t have anything to write about except perfect (and boring) characters and the romance genre will grow even narrower in scope as a consequence.
Every one of us has suffered through that moment in the horror movie when the heroine decides to creep down into the cellar all by herself with only a flashlight for a weapon to investigate the mysterious noise. I may shout, “Don’t do that, you idiot!” but it doesn’t usually make me stop watching the movie. (And while we’re on the subject of flashlights, how come those people on CSI don’t ever just turn on the freaking lights?!?!?!)
I would also like to argue that there are all different kinds of smarts in this world. In my book SHADOWS AND LACE, when Gareth asks Rowena how long it’s been since she’s eaten, she says, “Four days” and holds up three fingers. Is she stupid? No, just uneducated. I once had a fascinating conversation with another writer about Jed Clampett of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Was he stupid? Nope, he was innocent. There’s a distinct difference. Was Lucy Ricardo stupid because she managed to get herself into all of those messes? Nope, she was funny.
I’m a very open-minded reader. Give me characters I can care about and I’ll let them get away with murder (sometimes literally). I only have one hard and fast rule--the hero must never, EVER kick a kitten.
The most common question asked an author has got to be, “What is your process? How do you *work*?” Every time I’ve been asked this question I’ve come up with a different answer because I don’t have a process. And ugly as I know it to be, sometimes I just say stuff ‘cause it sounds good. Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’m not this way by choice.
I go to workshops by famous authors, I listen, I nod, I agree and I leave convinced that if I were to just follow the pearl strewn path to success the famous author has kindly dropped to lead me and others like me to the promised land of authorial efficiency, I would be a happier and, more importantly, more productive. Everything makes sense in a workshop or an interview or, hopefully, a blog. There’s a beginning, middle and end. There’s a problem and a solution, there’s a question and an answer. But writing isn’t like that. At least not for me. It’s a mess. An ugly Petri dish experiment run amuck where a damp and fetid imagination (mine) is seeded with a few kernels of inspiration (sometimes mine) which I then spend months attempting to colonize into a good Roquefort blue. See what I mean? Even simple analogies run away screaming.
I have friends who actually do have a process. They do not understand me and I do not understand them. They have been known to call me up and when apprised of how I have spent my day, hang up in disgust. You know who you are. I think this is unfair. Do you think I want to be process-less? Do you think I want a Petri dish imagination? Do you think it’s pleasant to anticipate Roquefort and end up with penicillin? It’s not. It’s frustrating, inefficient and downright embarrassing. But it’s also the truth and in the future if you should ever hear me expound upon my process in an interview or article, be advised that that I am without a doubt a> talking about the process that worked for that single book b> talking about someone else’s process that sounded really good c> outright lying d> expressing a hope because I, Connie Brockway, have no reliable, recognizable, habitual process (but neither does, Terri, so there! And Christina had one but she packed it up when she moved and hasn’t unloaded yet. And Liz’s process is on hiatus and Eloisa’s process is Italian and hasn’t learned to speak English yet and Lisa’s is still catching up on its sleep after being on tour.)
C’mon, you know you’ve done it. You wake up with PMS and figure you’ll make an emergency run to the grocery store for chocolate, even though you look like hell — but who cares, you never see anyone there who knows you? And you meet your minister, your fifth grade teacher, the guy you’re secretly in love with and you’ve dreamed about for years, and a TV news anchor there to report on overweight American adults and for some reason, he films you, clutching your one-pound Hershey bar and snarling.
Not that this has ever happened to me.
So the other day Scott and I went to Cosco to get a corporate card. We spend a lot of money there (“Can you help us carry that twenty-gallon jar of dill pickles out to the car? Put it right next seventy-five roll package of toilet paper.”) and figured the corporate card, which refunds some tiny part of your purchases, would pay for itself. The trick is, I’m the corporate entity and Scott wanted me there in case they questioned it. And he assured me my whole job would be to stand there while he filled out the form and coughed up the fee.
Now let me stop for a minute and point out that being an author provides a fair amount of anonymity. People sometimes know your name (“I think my mom has read you.”), but they never know your face. So I went schlepping into Cosco with no cosmetics and, well, I’d been working in the yard so I hadn’t had a shower and I was wearing this grubby shirt and jeans with dirt on the knees and a gimme hat to cover my weird hair.
Are you getting the idea?
So Scott fills out the form and the girl who’s putting it into the computer says, “Christina Dodd? I’ve read Christina Dodd.” She looks at me and says, “Are you Christina Dodd?”
My first thought is to duck below the counter, sit on the floor and hug my knees. But I’m an adult. I should act like an adult. My mom said so. So I say, “Yes, I’m Christina Dodd.” That starts quite the kerfuffle. The girl introduces me to everyone behind the desk, and they all act delighted and say stuff like, “Do we have any of your books here?” (They actually did, but I didn’t realize it at the time.) I give out pens (Christina Dodd, Cool Suspense, Hot Romance, www.christinadodd.com) and sign autographs. And I know as soon as they have a minute away from the service desk, they’ll race to my website, look at my photo and say, “Hey, that woman today wasn’t Christina Dodd. Christina Dodd wears make-up and has hair that doesn’t stick straight out around her ears.”
While I was at Cosco, I did the only thing I could do — I acted with dignity and grace. In the car, I did what any woman would do — I blamed my husband. (“Stand there while you fill out the form because NOBODY WILL KNOW?! Are you CRAZY?! What color is the sky IN YOUR WORLD?!”)
It’s here! My completely redesigned website is up and running, and it is spectacular. I’ve been listening to your requests, so the website contains:
• Lots of information about my new paranormal series, the Chosen Ones.
• A “Coming Soon” page with all my future releases and the publication dates as I know them (although remember — publication dates are likely to change!) There’s a new cover up, too!
• On that page and others, there’s a box to fill in so you can email your friends Christina Dodd news — and nobody’s address is collected for promotional purposes.
• Fun new photos
• Information on upcoming live on-line chats.
• Each section — paranormal, contemporary and historical — has its own design.
• Even better, if you don’t like the design you picked, you can redecorate!
Plus I retained the parts of the website you loved — the excerpts, the printable book list, the rotating quotes on the home page, and the frequently asked questions.
Because you’re on my mailing list, you can enter the newly designed members’ section, re-named Christina’s Salon, and there you’ll find new videos as they are created, exclusive excerpts and right now, my brilliant web designer is out looking for new games.
If you find broken links or typos — my mother was a proofreader, but I didn’t inherit that gene — let us know at . You can also send praise — I’m incredibly proud of the site!
Please let all your friends know about my great, all-new, improved website!
For the wild at heart!
Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late. — Mark Twain
The Squawk Chicks are back! Elizabeth Bevarly, Connie Brockway, Christina Dodd, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas and Teresa Medeiros have each chosen five of their favorite blogs and bound them together (with a few hilarious extras!) in a beautiful e-book available at Scribd.com. Half the money from the sale of the book will be donated to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, an organization Connie Brockway has been affiliated with for over 10 years. Once you’ve purchased the book, you can read it on-line (forever) on Scribd.com’s fabulous IPaper or you can download the PDF file to your computer or Kindle. And all for only $3.00!
(We’re aware that PDF files are very easy to share but we’re kindly asking you not to share this one with your friends since we want to raise as much money as possible for Connie’s precious critters.)
Click here to find out more: http://tinyurl.com/nur6s2
Or purchase the book directly at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/15932347/THE-BEST-OF-SQUAWK-RADIO
I remember how much you used to enjoy my SEXIEST MEN ALIVE blogs so I thought it would be fun to make a very special video just for you. (And boy was it ever fun!)
So if you’re looking for a few good men...or a few bad boys...check out my new YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7nV0lQaab0