Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Company

Royally Crushed is now available in bookstores everywhere!  Not only do I have the photographic evidence, the book is keeping very good company:

That's Royally Crushed in the dead center of the Bellingham, MA, Barnes & Noble New Teen Fiction section.  (See the princess holding the frog?)  A couple books to the right of Royally Crushed is the newest from one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Echols.  (Tip:  Forget You is phenomenal.  Grab it if you haven't already!)  Above my Royally Crushed and to the right is Lauren Oliver's Delirium (check out the way the cover reflects in the photo.)  Also on display are Clarity, The Vespertine, Anna and the French Kiss, Matched, Vixen, and a bunch of other great reads.  Needless to say, several of these titles went home with me.  I also signed all the store copies of both Royally Crushed and one of my earlier titles, Sticky Fingers.  So if you want an autographed copy, the Bellingham Barnes & Noble is your spot.  I visit the store frequently, so I'll continue to sign books as they arrive.  (Thank you, Bellingham B&N!)

If you have a sighting of Royally Crushed, send your photos my way--I'd love to see them!  In the meantime, don't forget that there is a FREE bonus story called Reality Check for fans of Val Winslow, the main character in Royally Crushed.  You can get your free read right here.  It's my way of saying thank you to those of you who take the time to visit your local bookstores and libraries.  Without your love of books, it wouldn't be possible for so many great stories to end up on the shelves.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Fishbowl of Royalty

Great stories start with great characters.  Whether those characters are good or bad, street smart or innocent, ordinary or superhuman, they all make for fascinating reading when we experience the world through their eyes.  As a writer, I constantly ask myself what elements in their backgrounds or psyches make them react as they do in any given situation, and what forces in their lives drive their decisions.  I love getting to play with these aspects of character to drive the plots of my books.

To that end, I've always been fascinated, from a writing standpoint, with royalty.  Their lives are unique; they're celebrities from the day they're born.  Most celebrities have the option of walking away from the spotlight.  At the very least, they can choose where to live and what profession they wish to pursue.  A professional athlete could quit playing ball and teach school.  The children of mega-celebrity Hollywood stars can move far away from their parents when they reach adulthood.

On the other hand, royalty are royalty for life.  They have extremely limited choices in where they'll live, where they'll attend school, who they'll see socially, or what professional they'll pursue.  Their world view is dramatically affected by their birthright, as is the way other people view them.  I've found that this unique background makes for intriguing storytelling; no doubt you've guessed this about me, as I've written seven books about royal families (one four-book series of romance novels about the siblings in the diTalora royal family, and a young adult trilogy told from the point of view of Valerie Winslow, an American teen who falls in love with a European prince.)  I love to sit down at my computer, envision what life must be like for a modern-day royal, and then ask myself, "What if?"

Needless to say, I've been watching London with interest lately.  On April 29, I'll be live-tweeting the royal wedding.  (That would be the London wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, if you've been away from TV, radio, and the internet for the last year.)  Please join me.  I'd love to hear your comments on the usual aspects of a wedding-- the gown, the flowers, and the guests--as well as your thoughts on the nitty-gritty of personalities.  What might Kate feel as she walks through Westminster Abbey?  What will she be saying to those sitting with her on the parade route?  What's going through her parents' heads as they watch their daughter say her vows to Prince William?  What does Prince Charles think of his son's marriage?  To me, this is the stuff of great stories.

Between now and then, check out the souvenirs filling store shelves in advance of the event.  How surreal would it be to have such items commemorating your wedding?  Post your picks and misses here, on Twitter, or on my Facebook page.  Here are my picks:

Coolest Souvenirs:

-- Knit Your Own Royal Wedding : A hilarious do-it-yourself knitted royal balcony lineup (the article has a ton of photos that are to die for, with the knit dolls in various settings...even the corgis make an appearance!)

-- Mills & Boon Royal Wedding Collection Mug & Books : A nifty mug and a collection of royalty-themed romance novels (my favorite kind!)

Souvenir Most Unlike The Actual Couple:

-- Official Wedding Commemorative Coin : The Royal Mint says the design was approved by the couple, which makes me wonder what their alternatives must have been.  He looks drugged and she looks like she's asking him to check her teeth for lettuce.

Most Appalling Souvenir:

 -- The Crown Jewels :  Royal wedding condoms. (Did you cringe?  I did.  Could you imagine getting ready for your wedding, walking into a store to grab a last-minute item, and seeing your face on a box of these?)

Most Hilarious Souvenir:

-- Throne Up Bags : For those who are utterly sick of hearing about the royal wedding.

What are your picks?  What would your reaction be if it were you getting married under these circumstances?  Weigh in!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Royal Wedding, Royally Crushed, and a FREE Read

This morning's broadcast of Good Morning America had not one, but two full-length segments on the upcoming royal wedding (who's designing Kate Middleton's dress? who will be the high bidder when they auction off the lingerie she modeled at a charity event back in 2002...and caught Prince William's eye?)  I can only imagine the coverage of the upcoming wedding in the UK, given that it's all the rage right now here in the US.  Just in the past week, I was e-mailed a link showing the official commemorative coin for the wedding (I think it's will be discussed in the next blog!), and saw that an official British royal wedding website was launched to provide royal-watchers with up-to-the minute news, photos, and videos in the run-up to the event on Friday, April 29.

If you need a dose of royal romance and don't want to wait for the London wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, mark your calendars for March 22.  Simon Pulse is releasing Royally Crushed, a 3-in-1 edition of my Valerie Winslow series (the entire trilogy is Royally JackedSpin Control, and Do-Over.)

To celebrate the upcoming release of Royally Crushed, I've written a bonus short story called Reality Check about Val's combat-boot wearing, Frosty- and Ho Ho-addicted friend Jules Jackson.

Many of you have written to me since reading the very first Valerie book, Royally Jacked, asking if there would ever be a story for Jules.  Now there is!  It's written completely in e-mail format and tells the story of what happens when Jules finds herself falling for a guy.

Reality Check is now available as a free read, right here, on the Smashwords website, and can be downloaded in a number of formats that will work on your computer, Kindle, Nook, Sony reader, or even as a PDF file so that you can print and read at your convenience.  I hope you enjoy it!

In the meantime, feel free to post your thoughts on the royal wedding to comments.  Will you watch?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oscar Recap

Since I posted my Oscar picks here in the blog, you know how I fared.  The bad news?  This year was my worst ever.  Sixteen right out of a potential 24.  (My previous worst was 17, I believe.)  However...the good news is that I still ended up taking second place in my pool.  Clearly, it was an odd year at the Oscars!

Not so odd:  the fashions.  There were surprisingly few misses this year.  I was hoping the music from Burlesque would be nominated simply so we could see Cher on the red carpet, but no dice.  Without Cher, I often must rely Celine Dion to wear a wacky outfit (like the backward tuxedo she wore several years ago.)  But no dice there, either.  Celine was one of my best-dressed women this time.  She wore a tasteful, white gown with a not-too-low and not-too-high v-neck that emphasized her statuesque figure.

My worst-dressed woman ended up being--the surprise of the night--Scarlett Johanssen.  From the back, her burgundy lace gown looked transparent.  That happens, and it's unfortunate (and nope, I will not post a tranparency photo.  It's NOT pretty. But you can guess.)  Worse than the gown, however, was the hair.  It looked like she rolled out of bed.  While there are any number of men who would love to see Johansson with bedhead, I don't think that's how she intended to appear at the Oscars.  Scarlett has a fabulous figure.  Surely a stylist somewhere in LA could have made her look better? Or run a comb through her hair?

My night was made when Penelope Cruz made an appearance. I was afraid she wouldn't, despite the fact hubby Javier Bardem was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Biutiful; she just had a baby, and post-baby bodies aren't usually gown-worthy, especially when cameras are everywhere.  Cruz proved me wrong.  She wore a stunning wine-colored beaded gown that emphasized her curves and hid what little leftover baby tummy she may have (hard to tell in her gown...kudos to her on her choice!)

Helena Bonham Carter didn't wear a peacock-colored gown, as I predicted.  She went black. wasn't dour. It was as HBC-loopy as ever.  She carried a fan, wore her round-rimmed sunglasses when the cameras weren't snapping away, and once or twice while walking the carpet she stopped to raise the hem and show off a Union Jack temporary tattoo that had been applied to her leg.  Sounds wacky, but I loved it.  I know she'll end up on many fashionistas' worst dressed lists, but not mine.  The woman is true to herself, and that rates high with me.

My best and worst dressed of the night were (drumroll) Scarlett Johansson as Worst-Dressed Woman, with Cate Blanchett a close runner-up in her pink, strong-shouldered number, which looked like something Mr. Bubble would wear into battle.

Jennifer Lawrence, who was nominated for Best Actress for her role in Winter's Bone, is my Best-Dressed Woman.  Her red gown had clean lines, a classy cut and color, and it fit her well.  Better still, she didn't go for heavy makeup or over-foofed other words, a home run.  Future nominees, take note! I hope Lawrence is back next year, because I'd love to see how she tops this.

What were your hits and misses?  Post to comments if you'd like!