Monday, March 31, 2008

Wait a Minute . . .

Left-handed Whoppers at Burger King? A report on Switzerland’s annual spaghetti harvest? Pat Sajak hosting Jeopardy?

Hm. What do these events have in common? They were April Fool’s Day hoaxes perpetrated on an unsuspecting pubic.

I usually forget about April Fool’s Day until after I’ve listened to a prank on the radio or read one in the newspaper. I’ll confess to having fallen for some very clever ones, but others are just too preposterous to be believed. Seriously. Spaghetti growing on trees? I don’t think so!

I've never been a prankster, but I do appreciate a good one. As you all know, The Office is one of my favorite TV shows. It’s too bad we won’t see new episodes until April 10 because this week would have been a perfect time for one of their outrageous pranks. My all-time favorite so far is Jim’s bitten-by-a-bat routine, in which he pretends to be turning in a vampire . . . and Dwight falls for it! Check out the Office Pranks blog for a great description of the vampire bite prank.

And if you’re wondering why I’m posting an April Fool’s Day blog on March 31, it’s to remind myself not to be a fool tomorrow. I hope you’ll join me! And if you have a favorite a favorite April's Fool Day prank, I'd love to hear about it.


PS: Tomorrow is Tuesday News Day and I have a ton of news. Seriously. I hope you’ll check back.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Fun—Join Harlequin’s 100,000 Book Challenge!

We all read for pleasure, but this year the 100,000 Book Challenge sponsored by Harlequin Enterprises gives us the opportunity to share our love of reading with others.

You can find all the details at, but basically the company is “challenging its community members to read an astounding 100,000 books in one year in the 2008 100,000 Book Challenge. When the reading challenge ends on December 31, 2008, Harlequin will make an unprecedented donation of an equivalent number of books to the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). The estimated retail value of a 100,000 book donation to the NCFL by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. is $700,000 U.S.”

The NCFL is a “leading resource in family learning and literacy.” You can visit the NCFL's website to learn more about what they do.

To participate in the book challenge, simply sign up with the eHarlequin community and post a brief review or summary of each book you read. At least 50% of the books on the list must be published by Harlequin. The other 50% can be by any other publisher, in any genre and any format, including eBooks and audiobooks.

Happy reading!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Men in Trees—Grand Gestures, or Can I Give You a Kidney?

On this week’s episode of Men in Trees ("A Tale of Two Kidneys") Marin’s question on her radio show was in response to Jack’s statement about not being a grand gesture kind of guy. So she asked her audience if grand gestures were the way to go or if it’s the little things that count. Can you ever give too much of yourself to another person?

Given the title of the episode and the fact that Cash was already in the hospital, it was pretty easy to figure out where the writers were headed with the grand gestures theme, and that part was okay. I just thought they got a few scenes in the wrong order.

Even before the episode started I knew Marin would want to give Cash a kidney. That’s the kind of person she is and, well, it’s Cash. And the way she looked at him through the window after she found out he needed a kidney? Heart wrenching. So yeah, Marin being tested was a given, but having her end up as the donor would have been way too obvious.

Unfortunately they also made it way too obvious that Terri would be the donor. Eliminating one or two scenes and moving a couple of others would have helped.

The scene with Annie and Terri in the beauty parlor was great, and Terri’s need to earn karmic points was well set up. After all, he’s the one who put that fateful bobby pin in Patrick’s hair—the bobby pin that attracted the lightening that struck Patrick on his wedding day and caused him to have amnesia. Hm. When I say it like that it sounds a bit preposterous but hey, it could happen!

I also liked the scene with Marin and Terri outside the hospital when she tells him that she was visiting Cash, but from the moment Terri walked into Cash’s room, I knew he was the donor. Marin being a match wasn’t enough of a red herring.

We didn’t need that first scene with Terri and Cash at all. They clearly don’t know each other, so why would Terri visit him? Marin could have given Terri the information about Cash not having a family. And still Terri could have delivered that great line about cutting Cash’s hair—or at least running his fingers through it—to Marin. That really was a great line, and so well delievered!

Having Terri redecorate Cash’s hospital room so early in the episode was out of place. A little foreshadowing is good, but this time it completely gave away the storyline.

I would have preferred to wait for Marin and Jack’s scene, when she tells him she’s a match but she’s not going through with it because someone else stepped up. Then cut to a hospital scene with Cash waking up his newly renovated hospital room—the tiki decor was a stroke of genius!—which would have been Terri’s way of saying, "Surprise!"

To motivate Terri’s decision to give a kidney to someone he hardly knows, all we needed was a short scene or two with him styling the wigs of a couple of cranky patients—and having to resist the urge to stick a couple of bobby pins in them!—then saying, "This is so not worth it." On his way out of the hospital, he would have passed the window, seen Cash sleeping, and made a comment on the dreary hospital decor. And the hair.

In all fairness, this episode’s writer is new to the show. You can check out his blog about "A Tale of Two Kidney’s" on the Men in Trees official website. And all in all there was much to love. Celia got her plate back, Jack got his name on Marin’s mailbox, and Annie got one kick butt hair cut. But I would have liked Terri’s grand gesture to more of a surprise.

To answer Marin’s question, it’s not always possible to make a grand gesture, but the little things can sure add up.

Talk to you soon.

PS: Any Janet Evanovich fans out there? In her Stephanie Plum books, it’s always been obvious that Stephanie belongs with Joe Morelli, but some readers thought she should throw caution to the wind and go for it with Ranger. I think the same is becoming true with the Marin-Jack-Cash scenario. I’m a big Jack and Marin fan, but I wouldn’t hate it if something were to happen between Marin and Cash.

PPS: I apologize for this post being so long. This is what happens when I get off on a tangent! Still, I honestly can’t imagine any group of writers having more fun than the people who work on Men in Trees.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dancing With The Stars

Last night everyone said goodbye to Penn Jillette and Monica Selles, which means Marlee Matlin is still in! And so she should be, after finishing in fourth place overall.

Don’t you adore Marlee’s sense of humor? I laughed when she described the email she received from a viewer, asking if she was going to be Deaf for the whole show. Oh my. And when she pushed the mic away from host Samantha, explaining that she didn’t need it! For a Deaf person trying to communicate in a hearing world, I’m guessing a sense of humor is a must.

I really laughed when she said second place among the women dancers “wasn’t bad for the old Deaf broad.” They didn't teach us that sign in ASL class! I’m glad I taped the show so I could have a second look!

And not bad indeed, but let’s be honest here. For a woman in her forties who has had four children, Marlee looks absolutely fantastic! And does an amazing quickstep.

My only criticism about the show so far is directed at the producers. I wish they could figure out a way to have the interpreter on camera when the hosts and judges are speaking to Marlee. I’m sure Deaf viewers would appreciate it, and it’s great practice for people who are learning ASL. Maybe the logistics are too complicated, but I’d like to see them give it a shot.

For now I’m looking forward to seeing the judges’ predictions come true. Marlee is definitely a contender, and she should go a very long way in this competition.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday News—GH and Rita Finalists

Today's the day that RWA notifies finalists in its 2008 Rita and Golden Heart contests. Congratulations to all of this year's finalists!

I'm sending extra special congratulations to fellow Noodler, Theresa Ragan! Theresa is a double finalist in the romantic suspense and single title categories of the Golden Heart Contest. These are Theresa’s fifth and sixth GH finals and it seems her first sale is long overdue. Here’s hoping she gets the call soon!

And this just in—two more Noodlers strike gold! Priscilla Kissinger is a GH finalist in the contemporary series romance category, and Stephanie Rowe’s He Loves Me, He Loves Me Hot is a Rita finalist in the paranormal category. Pris is a GH finalist for the second time. In 2006, Stephanie was a double Rita finalist for two YA novels, written as Stephie Davis.

The Wet Noodle Posse rides again!


Monday, March 24, 2008

A debut novel by MJ Fredrick

MJ Fredrick—my fabulous friend and fellow Noodler—is making her publishing debut! WHERE THERE’S SMOKE is a March release from Wild Rose Press. As I write this, her book is Number One on their current bestseller list. Congratulations, MJ! Such a gorgeous cover, and such a wonderful story!

Is there such a thing as being too close, knowing each other too well?

Lauren Stokes put a lid on her attraction toward her best friend Seth Escamilla years ago. She would never be his type of woman, so why torture herself? When sexual awareness strikes during a friendly football game, she is stunned. He is guilty for injuring her and looks after her, but Lauren resorts to wisecracking to distance herself from him.

Seth is confused by the new emotions swamping him. This is Lauren, his best friend, someone he has fun with, not someone he has fun with! He has no plan to settle down, and he won¹t risk their friendship when they have no future.

They resist the new attraction, and the efforts of their families to push them together. When a wedding loosens their inhibitions, keeping the new aspect of their relationship a secret is harder than they would have thought.

MJ’s next book, HOT SHOT, will be available in April from Samhain Publishing. To see the cover, visit her website.

Anyone else thinking that MJ seems to have a thing for firefighters?!


PS: I’m blogging today with the Harlequin American Romance Authors. I hope you’ll drop by and say hello!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Today is family day at my house and everyone is nibbling on chocolate. My kids are coming home for roast chicken dinner, complete with all the trimmings. But before that they’ll be helping their dad sweep off the patio and set up the patio furniture. Yes, spring is finally here!

Whatever your day brings, I hope your holiday is filled with peace and relaxation.


Friday, March 21, 2008

More on Men in Trees

Men in Trees is set in the fictional town of Elmo, Alaska, which I’ve always assumed is intended to represent the real town of Juneau. The TV series is actually filmed in Squamish, British Columbia, which is a lot easier to get to. The best part is that Squamish, which is about half the size of Juneau, has a similar geographic setting and a slightly milder winter climate.

The Chieftan Hotel in Squamish is a real place. They use an exterior shot on the show, but I'm certain that the interior shots are filmed in a studio. The Chieftan is named for The Chief—that looming granite cliff that often appears in the show. In fact, the geology around Squamish is primarily volcanic, and the same is true for Juneau.

For a TV film crew, Squamish is much more accessible than Juneau, and both towns have a similar climate, geography and vegetation, so filming Men in Trees in Squamish really does make a lot of sense.

What does intrigue me, though, is why one of the show’s film editors keeps sneaking in a shot of Peyto Lake. I’ve seen this in two episodes for sure, maybe three. The last time it was used was in “Charity Case.” It was slipped in between the movie night scene and Marin’s visit to Cash’s campsite the following day.

Why am I intrigued? Peyto Lake is in the Canadian Rockies, hundreds of miles from Squamish, just off the Banff-Jasper Parkway. The surrounding mountains all consist of sedimentary rocks, which is why you can see all those lovely layers in them. To the well-trained eye of yours truly—who happens to be a science geek as well as a romance author—the contrasting geology sticks out like a sore thumb.

Still, the Canadian Rockies are one of the most beautiful places in the world, so it doesn’t surprise me that someone affiliated with show would slip in a shot of those majestic mountains and a pristine glacial lake. But I do wonder if anyone else is paying attention!

More later,

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Men in Trees—How Do I Love Thee?

Last night’s episode of Men in Trees was really titled “Read Between the Minds,” and one of the underlying themes looked at the different ways people express their love for another person. Not just romantic love, but a parent’s love for a child and the love between friends.

I’ll be honest, though. At first I thought the writers got a little carried away with this one. Seriously. Patrick taking to skies with a lawn chair and a bunch of balloons. Jane’s parents turning out to be little people. Those are the kinds of over-the-top situations that make me think, come on, that would never happen.

Ever since Patrick developed amnesia, the poor boy hasn’t been himself. What is a poor, distraught mother to do? Well, if you’re the police chief, you can put him in jail. And that’s exactly where Patrick’s reckless flight landed him. I’m sure every parent has wished for the same thing—the ability to keep a child safe and secure and out of harm’s way. In Patrick’s case, locking him up also helped Annie to continue to rekindle their relationship. Now it’ll be interesting to see how long Celia keeps her under lock and key!

Thanks in part to Jane’s parents, we got to see a new side of Sam last night. He’s a crier. He even got emotional over his new bride’s very badly written vows. So badly written that at first I thought he was laughing. At their reception, he did the chicken dance with her father, then he took the mic and we got to hear his vows. And then I was crying, Jane was crying, and even Jane’s dad was crying. Oh, Sam. You are a keeper.

Sam’s vows were so moving that Jerome sought out a piano in the hotel bar. He had even sheet music with him, and I imagine he’d intended to play that piece for Mary Alice. If only she hadn’t broken his heart after he’d mustered the courage to overcome his fear of flying so he could go to New York City to see her. I hope we haven’t seen the last of Jerome and Mary Alice. He deserves to have someone who loves him.

And then there’s Jack. He’s not much of a talker, never mind a crier. He’s a man of action. Fod days he sleeplessly agonized over watching another man die in the Bering Sea, and he tried everything he could think of to make himself forget. Sex. Scotch. Plumbing repairs. It wasn’t until he found the words to tell Marin what happened that he managed to sleep. It’s not about sex, Jack, it’s all about the love. You just have to learn to trust it. And yourself.

By the end of the episode I was trying to count the ways I love this show, and I had completely forgiven the writers for transgressing into over-the-topness. They made it work, and that takes a lot of skill.

Noticeably absent from this week’s episode of Men in Trees were Eric and Cash. However, Sarah caught the eye of a handsome doctor-slash-volunteer-paramedic, and it’ll be interesting to see where the writers go with that.

Next week’s episode is called “A Tale of Two Kidneys,” so it’s safe to say Cash will be back. Anyone care place bets on who’s going to be a donor match?

Back later,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dancing with the Stars

This show never made it onto my regular viewing schedule, but I tuned in for this week’s Season 6 premiere of Dancing with the Stars because one of the stars is academy-award-winning actress Marlee Matlin. Marlee is extremely talented, absolutely gorgeous, and profoundly deaf.

I’m a hearing person who has spent several years studying American Sign Language. When I heard that Marlee would be one of the stars dancing on this show, I looked forward to seeing how they would handle communications between Marlee, her dancing partner, and the show’s hosts and judges. As it turns out, flawlessly. Marlee’s interpreter did a superb job, although listening to a male voice speak while she signs is a bit confusing at times.

I was also interested to see how a Deaf person would learn complicated dance steps and carry out them in time to music she cannot hear. Again, flawlessly! As she explained to her dancing partner, Fabian, “As a Deaf person, I use my body to communicate every day, so I think that’s a plus.”

But Marlee not only has to do the dance, she has to perform it. I thought she was amazing! The judges thought so, too. In his critique, Bruno told her, “You may not hear, but the music is running through your blood.” He then went on to tell her that he’d counted throughout the song, and she hardly missed a beat.

In Marlee's own words . . . er, signs . . . she said, “I’m here on Dancing with the Stars to show people that just because you’re Deaf doesn’t mean you can’t dance.” And she sure did show them!

Yes, Dancing with the Stars has a new viewer and I’ll be watching as long as voters keep Marlee on the show.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

No green beer for me, I'm afraid, but a pot of Irish stew and a pan of soda bread are on the menu tonight. However you plan to celebrate, may the luck of the Irish be with you!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday News—Tomorrow is Harlequin American Romance Day at Cataromance!

I hope you'll have a chance to drop by Cataromance tomorrow, March 12th, “for a fun filled day spotlighting Harlequin American Romance. At the heart of each of these books is an incredible love story set somewhere in the beautiful US-of-A and some of the most talented authors in the industry write for this line, so you’re in for a treat.”

See you there!