- 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!
One of the greatest things about being a writer is that you get to write at home. In your home office. You know all those jokes explaining to your boss why you fell asleep at your desk? ("It was a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve stress!"). Well, writers can just gracefully fall into their own beds when it’s naptime. Which is a good thing because if you happen to be Eloisa, there isn’t enough room on that desk to take a nap…
I’m slightly horrified by exposure of my nest, but I’m figuring it might be inspirational for those of you whose desks approach mine. And did you know that there’s a new book out there proclaiming that over-organization leads to lack of good ideas and lost creativity? Think of me as the poster child for that book! So here’s my desk: In case you’re wondering, I am reading all those books. Today. The daffodils are from my back garden. The quilt on the wall has all the covers of my books and was a Christmas present from my amazing assistant, Kim.
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Well, this oughta be interesting. Using the movie function on my little Canon Powershot, i decided to go for a lo-res tour of my lair, er, office. There’s a really good reason I opted to go low res. I’m just saying…
So, if this doesn’t work. Oh, well. My horrible office-keeping humiliation remains private. If it does? Oh, well again
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I promise if you’ll come back next month, I’ll have gleaming hardwood floors to show off in my office! When we found this house, I was deliberately looking for a newer house that was laid out like an older one so I could commandeer the formal living room AND dining room to be the “Teresa Medeiros complex.”
I was shooting for French provincial here with my white, slightly distressed, hand painted furniture, but with all of my BEWITCHED and FAIRY TALE BARBIES, it ended up looking more like the bedroom of a demented 16-year-old with a Barbie (and Russell Crowe) fetish.
And where else would I keep my extra Teresa Medeiros books and foreign editions besides my very own Russell Crowe/MASTER AND COMMANDER bookshelf? My devoted husband snagged this from Wal-Mart right before they were going to put it in the box crusher. Now that’s a real-life hero!
What romance writer’s office would be complete without its very own knight in shining armor? (Or tin.)
This is an example of one of the gorgeous Jamie Murray BEAUTY AND THE BEAST prints I have scattered throughout the office.
And here I am with my very favorite desk toy (as opposed to Xtina’s sex toys), a talking replica of Captain Jack Sparrow who mumbles sweet nothings in my ear while I’m working! ("Wot’s that yer saying? Ye want me to do wot?!!!")
Ya’ll come back now, ya here!
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My office unapologetically reeks of romance, complete with walls a color the paint chip called “Passion” and a proliferation of flowers. For all my rough language and sarcasm, I am a girly-girl at heart. (And also a slob, something I have masterfully disguised with these pics, not through the miracle of Photoshop, but housework. On account of it’s a miracle if housework gets done around here.) The bookcase nearest my desk houses copies of all the books I’ve written--thumbed copies on top, pristine and foreign copies inside (along with lots of cool, writerly knickknacks). That Victoria’s Secret bag beside it? That’s where I file my tax receipts. (I live to make accountants’ blood run cold.) Beneath it is the infamous stack of magazines I go through for story and cover art ideas.
My desk is the heart of everything, and I’ve tried to fill it with anything that might inspire me or make me feel good--treasured keepsakes, gifts from friends and readers, and Dean Martin. (Who was a gift to me from the wonderful women of Mid-Michigan RWA. When I need a lift, I push Dean’s button, and he sings “That’s Amore” or “Everybody Loves Somebody.” Dino rocks.)
The other bookcase is my TBR bookcase. Well, one of them, anyway. On top of it is a collection of framed photographs whose purpose is to remind me of all the things I was before I became a writer. (Sometimes I forget there’s more to life than deadline.) On the walls you can’t see here, I’ve hung awards and lots and lots of hearts in various media. I also have a futon in case writer friends need a place to crash (or if I don’t feel like filing stuff), but it’s mostly used by the cats.
Now then. Just imagine all these pictures filled with piles of crap, and you’ll have a good idea of my true working environment. It won’t stay this way for long. Tidiness makes me nervous.
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As the Squawk reporters went to Christina Dodd’s office to take pictures, we were shocked, shocked, to see that the rumors were true. Christina employs a ghostwriter, none other than the famous Ritter Dog. A quick check of the records reveals that he wrote many of her bestselling titles, including:
COLLIE IN THE WINDOW
RULES OF PAPER TRAINING
THE DOG KIDNAPS A BONE
LOST IN YOUR PAWS
THE GREATEST WOOFER IN ALL ENGLAND
CLAWS TO YOU
And most recently
TONGUE IN BONE
Ritter’s books span the genres and include:
HAIRY RITTER AND THE GOBLET OF DOG TREATS
ALTERED STATE: A Personal Nightmare
PUP AND PREJUDICE
FRENCH POODLE KISS
HOWLIN’ IN THE RAIN
LADY CHIHUAHUA’S LOVER
CAT ON A HOT TIN PLATE
MUCH ADO ABOUT MILKBONES
And of course, the most famous romance of all time:
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(Originally posted February 10, 2006)
The band Bowling for Soup has a funny song out now called “1985.” It’s about Debbie, a woman of a particular age who is unhappy in her current life, because marriage and motherhood have robbed her of her dreams. Normally, I want to hit with a brick any artist who writes a song that equates marriage with disappointment. But I do love this song. Not just because it’s a catchy little tune, but because it’s made me think about aging and how we go about it.
The year of Debbie’s birth is the same as my own. She was 24 in 1985, as was I. She got married that year. I got engaged. Her kids are in high school now. Mine is in middle school. She was “gonna be an actress.” I was gonna be a writer. We had a lot in common in 1985, Debbie and I. But in 2006, she “hates time” and wants to “make it stop.” “Her dreams went out the door when she turned 24.” Nothing’s been all right for her “since 19-, 19-, 1985.” But that’s about the time that I really started making plans for my life.
The song really struck home this week for a couple of reasons. First, I celebrated the mailing of a finished book to my editor the usual way: I spent two days shopping. I took advantage of the post-post-Christmas-sale markdowns and bought embroidered, ripped jeans, beaded velvet tank tops, fringed, sequined shirts. When I took one of those last to the counter to pay for it, the salesclerk, a woman my age, held it up, sighed wistfully and said, “Gee, I remember being young once upon a time.” To which I replied, “Oh, so do I.” She gave me this funny look and said, “You ARE young.” I said, “Hey, I’ll turn 45 this year.” She gave me a funnier, kind of sad look and said, “So will I.”
And I thought, “Holy !@#$%. It’s Debbie.”
Then yesterday, my preteen son’s preteen friend was over, and he picked up some CDs in the family room and told my son, “Dude. Awesome tunes. Can I borrow these?” To which my son replied, “You’ll have to ask my mom. They’re hers.” His friend responded, with clear incredulity, “Your MOM’S?”
And I thought, “Holy !@#$%. His mom is Debbie.”
Of course, I still see commercials for “Saturday Night Live,” and when they announce this week’s host and musical guest, I say, “Who the hell are they?” I have lines around my eyes, my hair is a good one-third gray, and my early books aren’t the only things with sagging middles. I don’t care. I’m still drawn more to the clothes in the junior department than I am career coordinates. And instead of not watching SNL because I don’t know who the hell is on it anymore, I end up buying the latest CD by the musical guest and checking out the host’s obscure niche film. Debbie, I’m sure, would change the channel to a rerun of “The Breakfast Club.”
Debbie has let her kids make her feel old. My kid makes me feel young. She’s let her marriage make her feel incomplete. Mine makes me feel whole. She let her dreams fade away. I went after mine. She looks at her life and sees missed opportunities. I look at mine and see a million things I still want to do. But it’s not that we took different paths and mine turned out better. It’s that she stopped at the fork in the road and never chose either route.
They say the first wave of Baby Boomers will turn 60 this year. But what does that really mean? Physical age is nothing but a perception. Mental age is what really counts. Some people in their 20s act and feel like people in their 70s, and some people in their 60s act and feel like people in their teens. Debbie kept aging after 1985. That seems to be the year I stopped. At 80, I’ll doubtless still be putting on my leather motorcycle jacket and squeezing into my hip-huggers. I’ll be an embarrassment to my son and grandchildren. Teenagers at the mall will point at me and snicker. I don’t care. I’ll still be 24. And I’ll be happy.
I won’t give a thought to 19-, 19-, 1985. I’ll be too busy buying fringed, sequined tops and checking out who’s on “Saturday Night Live.”
So what age are you? Forget the year you were born, what age are you REALLY? Younger than your chronological age? Older? And what is it that makes you feel that way?
Be sure to check back this afternoon for another classic Liz blog. And don’t forget prizes! I myself will be picking two winners tonight, to receive an assortment of my early Silhouette Desires, all autographed. The winners will be chosen from the member list, so if you haven’t joined yet, now’s the time!
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It’s Halloween, my dears, and Halloween is a day to share tales of the inexplicable and the other-worldly. The story I am going to tell you is true and it is my story. And if you do not like ghost stories, you may not like this one. However, if you are not afraid of ghosts but instead find them a matter of wonder rather than alarm, you may like my story very well.
Nert was our first “baby.” We found her at the end of a rutted dirt road, in a ramshackle machine shed somewhere deep in rural Minnesota. The sign at the end of the drive had read, “FREE KITTENS” and we were young, just married, and eager to start a family of our own even if that family, perforce, was one of cats and dogs. So we chose the smallest, muddiest looking female kitten from the litter, wrapped her in one of David’s old tee-shirts, and took her home. She did not cry during the thirty mile drive home. She entered our lives without making a sound.
Nert never grew a whole lot larger and her colors were never much prettier, though in our fond eyes she was elegant and subtle. Until the day she passed on, she never weighed much more than six or seven pounds and she never spoke much. A silent, light-footed, svelte little creature with a fine sense of humor and a gypsy soul. That restless nature ended up being the death of her.
In her eighth year, soon after we moved to a new state and a new house, Nert dashed across the street and was hit by a passing van. The poor man who drove stopped and brought her to me. He was crying. We ended up crying together. We buried Nert beneath the lilac bushes in the backyard, even though the house wasn’t her home. We missed her. She’d been our companion, our baby, or jester, and our confidante. She had sat beside us while we studied, ambushed us from under the Hosta leaves and slept curled between my knees at night.
Sometime after she died, I awoke one night with a vague sense of anticipation. Not fear, mind you. Simply, a drowsy expectation. Then I felt the bed by my feet give way, ever so slightly, and heard the almost inaudible poof! of the duvet giving way beneath some sudden small weight. What I had felt was, quite unmistakably, a cat jumping onto my bed. I knew that feeling intimately. I had felt hundreds of times before. Anyone who has lived with a cat as a family member knows that feeling...like a powder puff being dropped into a box of talc, a soft alighting, a settling.
Without thinking, still slumberous, I reached down to pet my friend. She was, of course, not there. Or was she? Over the course of the next few weeks, almost nightly I felt my ghostly companion join us in our bed late at night. Finally, I told David about it and without much surprise, learned that he, too, had heard and felt the little cat’s nightly arrival.
A year passed, then two and three and we moved back to Minnesota and I thought perhaps now we would have to say a final goodbye and leave Nert, or her spirit behind, beneath the lilacs in New York. But just as she had come with us to New York, she returned with us to Minnesota. For many more years we felt her springing onto our bed at nights. Not every night and eventually, slowly, as inexorably as memory fades, her visits ended.
It’s been many years now since Nert has curled between my knees but I like to think that she hasn’t done with us yet and that some night when I fall asleep she will find me once again.
So tell me, my dears, have you ever seen a ghost or felt one brush by you?
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