Saturday, November 22, 2008

Moms and Movies

On Thursday night, my fifteen year old daughter attended the midnight premiere of Twilight. For those of you who aren’t around teenaged girls, Twilight is the movie adaptation of the book of the same name, which is a paranormal love story involving vampires.

My daughter has been counting down the days for almost a year. To say she was excited was putting it mildly. We’re not one to let our kids do things on school nights…or parents who ever look forward to being part of a two am carpool-but my husband can never resist when she asks him for favors…and well, we figured going to the midnight movie with a group of girlfriends was pretty darn tame, all things considered.

So, Tom took the two am pick up and I took the morning after. On the way to school I took her out to our all-time favorite breakfast spot, the Holtzman donut shop. Boy am I glad I did. I heard all about Edward (EDWARD IS SO CUTE) and the crowds of girls and the excited text messages that zipped through the theater. But, I kind of expected that. Again, she is fifteen.

But what really made me smile were her descriptions of the other people at the theater. Boys? No. There was a group of Moms. Yes, to her dismay-and my amusement-there was a crowd of mothers (Mom, some as old as you!) at the midnight showing.

No, they weren’t with their daughters. They were with their own crew of friends.

I told her how even Moms still like love stories. After all, Harlequins are all about this. But I couldn’t help but laugh when she told me that the moms at the theater…acted like moms.

It seems these Mom Twilight Fans couldn’t help but try to put some Mom orderliness in the throng of teenagers. They reminded girls to not cut in lines. To control their giggles. Asked that they stop screaming and talking so much. Oh…and watch that texting. We’re in a theater! Usually, I’d be right there with them…I love rules.

But I have to admit this time I was on my daughter’s side. There still are times in a girl’s life when nothing can be substituted for an opportunity to laugh a little too loudly with six of your friends. If it’s not at a midnight showing of the ultimate chick flick, I’m not sure when it is.

In a few weeks, Jane Porter’s movie adaptation of Flirty with Forty will be on Lifetime. My girlfriends and I will be having our own party. I imagine we’ll be talking during the movie and laughing a little too much. Who knows, I may even squeal when I see that hero surfing.

But our daughters aren’t invited. Actually, neither are our husbands. We’ll be silly in private. I just don’t know what I’d do if someone told me to settle down…and stop acting like a silly girl.

Since I’m on the subject of books made into movies…anyone have a particular favorite? I have to admit to loving the Harry Potter movies, Emma, and Little Women.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcome to Mid-America

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving! I apologize for this late post. Since returning from our trip to Branson, I've been mixed up about the dates. This month is cruising by so fast. It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away.

This is the first year in about 37 that I'm not fixing Thanksgiving dinner. My father-in-law doesn't drive or ride in a car any more (he's 90) and we have no other close relatives nearby except our daughter and son-in-law. And he's going hunting!

This month has been a huge culture shock for me. First Branson, then hunting. I'm a baby boom city girl. (Okay, I'm a grandmother in the real world, but in my heart, I'm still 19.) Have you been to Branson? I expected the retirees and the crowds, but still, seeing is different than imagining. Did you know it was filled with buses? Huge, fancy tour buses? They are everywhere. They take up all the spaces in restaurants and line up for what seems like hours coming out of shows. I can't even imagine what it's like in the summer, when there are also many families and bigger crowds. I'm not a country western fan, and I told my husband I wasn't going to any shows that my parents would have liked (Lawrence Welk, Perry Como, etc.) so I was rather limited. I know that's narrow minded of me, but I am a little hard headed at times.

Then my son-in-law announces that he's leaving for a hunting trip on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. We were all shocked. Thanksgiving is a big holiday for us. Elk hunting is a big event for him. There doesn't seem to be a compromise. My question is this: Which numbskull Arizona beaurocrat schedules hunting season for Thanksgiving? That's crazy! The elk will be there next week! I know, I'm ranting, but really, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and pumkin pie compared to staying outside in the cold and eating canned food or whatever over a campfire?

So, this month I was confronted with mid-America in the form of Branson culture and hunting on the holidays, and I got the impression maybe I don't know as much about small town life as I thought. But then again, I'm writing fiction, so perhaps in MY small towns no man would ever consider going hunting on a major holiday. Or, if he did, he'd immediately rethink his options and remember his wonderful wife. And maybe his mother-in-law! And there are no long lines, bad buffets and lumbering buses in my small towns. Or maybe the buses block the roads, and the hunters can't get out of town .... Hmm. Worth considering for a future plot.

In any case, we'll be thinking of him, sitting outside in the cold, as we go to a very nice restaurant for Thanksgiving this year. The food won't be the same, but I may like it so much that we'll go next year, too. Have a very nice Thanksgiving with your family and friends, if you're so lucky to be with them this year. Eat a piece of pumpkin pie for me! Happy holidays,

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This past weekend I had the great opportunity to "vacation" in my hometown of St. Louis. Along with 8 of my journalism students, we attended the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association fall national conference at the convention center/Renaissance Grand Hotel.

Over 5,000 attended, and of that number, over 4,000 were high school students with some middle school students added to the mix. We attended breakout sessions, all day workshops and bonded by going to lunch and a fancy dinner at Kemoll's (yum!).

The cool thing is they come back to school on Monday and they are all revved up and ready to go. Me, I was tired. Saturday night I had a yearbook company dinner. We got to tour Busch Stadium and eat dinner in the Stadium Club. Stadium Club seats cost around $15,000 a year, so being in the "club" even though there was no ballgame was a real treat--and the food was delicious. After dinner, instead of hanging out with friends, I was tucked into my bed and fast asleep. I didn't even hear my roommate Susan when she came back in later that night.

I haven't done much writing, but as of later today, I hope to squeeze out some time as I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with the yearbook initial deadlines. Today I'm getting all the seniors who haven't already had their picture taken for the yearbook out of class and sitting them in front of the photographer, who is coming to our school just for them. That way they aren't left out. But today marks the end--we will have finished senior ad submissions, senior photos, club photos, cookie dough sales/credits, and picture retakes for underclassmen. We put out our third edition of the school newspaper yesterday. Whew. Amazingly enough, the December 1 we are at school for a 13 hour day, closing out the December issue of the paper.

Since I don't blog again until after Turkey Day, I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving! I plan on getting some sleep, and writing.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cleaning my office

I don’t know about you, but mess and clutter suck the energy right out of me. My office, the place where I spend so much time and where I create the books I love to write, is a mess. I have finally decided to clean it up. A daunting task, considering the piles of papers everywhere. On the floor. On the work area where my computer sits. On the adjacent desk. In the closet. Plus there are three 2-drawer filing cabinets and one file-size box that are bulging with stuff—papers, but who knows what info they contain? Every file needs to be cleaned out. I thought about posting photos of the mess, but I’m too darned embarrassed!!

Just thinking about that gives me a mega case of dread. A friend once told me that when she faces a monumental task, she pats herself on the back for what she completes every day, rather than on what’s left to do. Wise advise, indeed, and I’m taking it to heart.

Last weekend I made a to-do list and have pledged to complete every task by the new year. Here are some of the things on the list:
Paint the walls
Organize and clear the bookshelves of books I don’t read and don’t use
Move the inspirational sayings tacked all over the bookcase shelves and covering many of the books (blocking the titles, etc.) to a different location
Purchase a 4-drawer, vertical filing cabinet
Buy a bulletin board
Sort, file and toss papers on work spaces, the desk and the floor and the filing cabinets, and get rid of all piles!

Here is my progress report to date:

On Veteran’s Day I painted the office a lovely, pale apricot color. I bought really cool paint that has little odor—a plus since it’s too cold to open any windows. The room looks clean and warm now, and I really like it.

I found a four-drawer, cherry wood vertical file cabinet at Office Max online for a great price. Twenty-four hours later, they delivered it . My husband assembled it without my even asking. Now that’s what I call support and encouragement. I labeled each drawer and am ready to file.

I tossed a good chunk of paper from the file cabinets. (Still a ton to go—but I’m focusing on the great work accomplished to date, not the piles left…)

The crammed bookcase is now clean and organized, with the inspirational sayings in a pile (yeah, I know—another pile). That will change, just as soon as I get a bulletin board. Soon!!
Lots of empty bookshelf space, which is a good thing, as I know more books will come. This time, though, I’ll be careful about what I stick on the shelf. And I’ll periodically weed and clean. Weed—isn’t that a great word for clearing clutter?

So yes, I’m making good, but slow, progress. Hooray!!

Until next time, and wishing you a clean, pleasant work space and a Happy Thanksgiving,


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thinking Turkey

I can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here. As usual, time flies...when you're having a good time, of course. Or maybe it just seems to be that way as we get older. I don't even know what family plans are for this T-Day. I do know that my youngest believes that I should roast a turkey, even if it's the two of us sharing it. I'm really not looking forward to eating every form of turkey sandwich and/or casserole known to woman, if that's the case. But what's a mother to do when most of her chicks have pretty much left the nest and have "another" family to spend holidays with?

I promised myself that I wouldn't be the kind of mother who would insist that her offspring (daughters, in my case) spend at least one holiday with the family. I saw and heard too many arguments about going to this family or that family-in-law holiday dinner to last a lifetime. I did NOT want to repeat that with my own. So far, I haven't, and we usually find a way to all get together, even if late in the day for a second meal, sometimes lasagna instead of turkey.

And I find myself looking back at the holidays from my childhood. Unlike most of my maternal cousins, I lived in the city, while they lived in the country. I adored going to my aunt's or cousin's or great-aunt's homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a day away from the mundane, and there was always something different and often special to do. At my great-aunt Dorothy's (my mother's mother's sister), we were allowed to feed the lambs by bottle. At my great-aunt Lucy's (Dorothy's sister), we once had fresh milk straight from the cow, and there was an outhouse. There were trees to climb (on nice-weather days) and hay wagons to play on. There were eggs to gather and the best food imaginable to eat. But best of all, there were kids to play with and, as an only child, this was what made holidays special for me. Of the six of us within twelve years of age, there were two cousins older than me--both girls--and three younger--one girl and two boys. It was heaven! And even though I was a city girl and went to school in the city, while they were all country kids and went to school together, we were never strangers. Later, when I moved to the country, I had an advantage. I was related to many of my fellow students. I wish I could see them more often now, but we've all grown up with families and families' families of our own. I'm happy that my daughters were able to at least attend school with some of their cousins (sons and daughters of my cousins), but I wish we hadn't abandoned those memorable holiday dinners.

So whether we all get together--the four daughters and their spouses and intendeds and four children of their own--or not, and whether I'm asked to fix the turkey or not, I hope in some way we make new memories of our own this Thanksgiving. And I hope your memories of this holiday are the best ever!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Author Interview with Marin Thomas

Interview with American Romance Author Marin Thomas

How long have you been published?

Not that long really. My first book came out June 2004.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Story-telling ability of the author. Each writer has her unique voice, unique way of stringing words and sentences together but if the author isn't able to tell a good story that engages the reader, creates characters that the reader cares for, cheers for, cries with, celebrates with…then it's just another story.

If you could erase any horrible experience from your past, what would it be?

I narrowly escaped being abducted by a city cab driver while walking home from elementary school. I had stayed late to help a teacher with a bulletin board. It was during the winter and I left the school at dusk around 4:00. I remember the cab pulling up along the curb, the driver rolling down his window calling me to get in. He said my mother had told him to pick me up. I knew that couldn’t be right because my mother would never waste money on a cab. The school was about a mile from my house and I was halfway home when the cab showed up. So I ran. Tears streaming down my face I ran like my tights were on fire. The driver kept pace with me and I remember hearing his laughter. Once in a while he sped up then would stop the cab and wait for me to catch up. To this day I don't know why he didn't get out of the cab and just grab me. I was so exhausted and terrified I doubt I would have been able to put up a fight.
When I made it home and ran up the front porch steps, the driver stopped in front of the house and opened the passenger door. He waved a bag of candy at me and tried one more time to get me in the cab. When my mom opened the door, I practically fell into the house. I was so distraught I couldn’t talk. By the time I was able to tell my mother what had happened the cab was gone. Needless to say I never walked home alone again for a long, long time.

When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

I paid too much for that wrinkle cream at Walgreen's.

Describe your writing space.

When I sold my first book my husband bought me a Texas Ranger's desk. It's huge and I love it. It has Texas stars on the front and the drawer pulls are antique stars. There's a real buffalo skull on one wall, a painting my father did years ago of a blacksmith framed in old barn wood, I have an Indian rug on the wood floor and two flea market specials--a battered chest and a storage cabinet made of metal and wood. In one corner stands a Texas coat rack on which hangs an antique sombrero, a gun holster with a "fake" six shooter, cowboy spurs and a rope. In another corner stands an Indian spear and rain stick. The room is painted Life Vest Orange by Ralph Lauren. I did a faux leather technique on the lower half of the wall beneath the chair rail using an Elmer's glue and water mixture to paste pieces of ripped butcher paper to the wall. Once that dried I painted over it with a Tobacco glaze by Ralph Lauren. I've never been afraid to use bold colors in any of the homes we've lived in. Now that we're in the Chicago area I especially appreciate the warm colors during the long dreary winter months.

What are you reading now?

Decembers HARs. I belong to the monthly book club. It's always fun to see what the other authors in the line are writing.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I've written 12 books so far for the line and I have a few favortites. My first two books, The Cowboy and the Bride and Daddy by Choice are special to me because of the positive feedback I received from readers. For the Children is my favorite out of my Hearts of Appalachia series. And my current release The Cowboy and the Angel is special because I wanted to show that Christmas is more than gifts--it's about a time of year people can and should touch the lives of others in need--especially children. I chose Detroit as the backdrop for this story because the city often gets a bum rap due to its economic troubles, political turmoil and crime….but often the true spirit of Christmas is strongest and more heartfelt in the trenches of our larger cities, which are mostly made up of smaller, tight knit communities.

Are you working on anything at the present you'd like to share?

I'm finishing up the third book in my Cartwright series. Matt's story (A Cowboy's Promise) comes out April 2009 and Samantha's Cowboy is due out in August 2009.

What did you do career-wise before becoming an author?

I worked as an AT&T team manager at an 800-number call center. When I had my son I became a stay-at-home mom. When the kids entered elementary school I became a substitute teacher. Now I write full time.

What is your dream car?

A 1959 Cadillac Convertible classic. Here's the link (if it works) of the car

If you were stranded on a deserted Island what kind of hero would you want with you--A Cowboy, a Viking Warrior, a CEO, a Forensics investigator, a Chef or an Accountant…and why?

Definitely a Cowboy. Because the only way he knows how to get off the island is by horseback, which pretty much guarantees we're going to be stranded for a very long time!

For more information on Marin Thomas and her books please visit And stop by on Tuesday November 18th when Marin shares her "Call" story and discusses the American Romance line.

Marin Thomas
RT TOP PICK The Cowboy and the Angel (Nov 08)