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Monday, August 31, 2009


I'm over at Dear Author today talking about my first sale and how it all went down. One commenter will win my very last ARC of Can't Stand the Heat and a super cute apron! And to double your chances of winning a copy of my book, check out the fabulous Ann Aguirre's blog, where she's running an Easter Egg hunt in which the prize is a signed copy of, you guessed it, Can't Stand the Heat.

Hint: There've been lots of comments on the DA post already, so Ann's site might give better odds! I'm just saying.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Free Read

I wrote a short original story to introduce the Manhattan culinary scene where the Recipe for Love novels are set. Of course, I meant to have it posted weeks ago, but better late than never, right? Anyway, here it is!

There will be more of these two; Violet and Jonathan have too much chemistry, and hint at too many interesting secrets, to be satisfied with just one story. My original idea was to do another installment before each new Recipe for Love novel is released, but I was informed by early readers that a six-month gap will not be acceptable. So now I'm thinking we might check in with Violet and Jonathan sometime this December, as my holiday gift to all of you (and to myself--I'm dying to know what happens next!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And the Oscar Goes To...

If you want to know which actors I was picturing making out while I wrote Can't Stand the Heat, check out my guest post over on My Book The Movie! As I believe I've mentioned here before, casting my characters is one of my all-time favorite procrastination techniques. And not just because of the man candy, either. It really does help to focus my internal image of the character, gives me a sense of their movement and physicality, and serves as an inspiring zing of recognition when I go up to my office in the morning, all sleepy and not yet properly caffeinated, and boot up my laptop to find pictures of Adam, Miranda, and the gang staring up at me.

In the past, I've used models, soap stars, athletes, and of course, actors to help me picture my characters. Does anyone else do this? What are your favorites sites to browse through for visual inspiration?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vivian Girls

Here's the song I have on endless repeat today:

Monday, August 24, 2009


You might think I'm excited because there's only 8 days left until Can't Stand the Heat hits bookshelves--but you'd be wrong! I'm squeeing today over Supernatural. It's almost time to find out what's going to happy to everyone's favorite demon-hunting boys, y'all! Sam and Dean Winchester are back in all their gorgeous, angsty glory on September 10th, and hot damn. The promo looks amazing. Take a peek and see if you don't shriek like a little girl! I know I did.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Current Obsessions

Here's what I'm into right now:

I'm digging the techno/dance/house stuff at the moment. Not sure why. But Lady Gaga (Poker Face), Goldfrapp (Ooh La-la-la), Morningwood (Best of Me), and The Gossip (Standing in the Way of Control) have taken over my iTunes.

My brand new shallow porcelain baking dishes are the light of my life. I made shirred eggs this morning (heat half a tablespoon of butter in the dish over moderate heat, crack in the egg, salt and pepper, baste with the butter, and finish under the broiler. Magnifique!) and I'm not going to be able to stop myself from making creme brulee sometime very soon.

I'm finally getting around to watching Firefly, and I'm addicted after two episodes. It's kind of shameful, how easy I am. But seriously, give me Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion, and I'm so down it's not even funny.

Ann Aguirre's heart-stoppingly fabulous Sirantha Jax series, starting with Grimspace. Sweet fancy Moses on buttered toast, but these books are awesome! The writing is fluid and assured, the character is complex and fascinating, and the action grips you in a stranglehold from page one and just. Never. Lets. Up.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Wonderful Maladys

If anyone ever asks me my favorite book of all time, I've got no easy answer. I've loved so many, in every conceivable genre, it's impossible to choose. But if the question is about my favorite TV show? It's a snap. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hands down. I loved the writing, the casting, the acting, the setting, the twists and turns, and the way it ended. Every season has its own appeal, something about it that makes me happy to watch the entire series from start to finish. Which I've done. Multiple times.

The various Buffy actors have gone on to do some interesting things, from starring in new shows to bit parts in big movies and bigger parts in indie films. But the one puzzler for me was always Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was the constant on Buffy, the one who brought everything together and carried the show on her tiny shoulders. I loved Willow and the gang, and God knows I'll never get over my obsession with Spike, but really, it was all about Buffy. From the pilot to the finale, we watched her grow and mature and get better and better and better. When the show ended, I was sure she was the one who would make the jump to the big time. But apart from those awful Scooby Doo movies and a couple of horror flicks, her career seemed to stall. It made me sad. I don't even know if she's blonde anymore!

And then I heard about The Wonderful Maladys. SMG is back, boys and girls! Or she will be if HBO picks up the series about three siblings who lost their parents at a young age. I don't know much more about it other than that the pilot was shot in Manhattan and the other actors attached to the project are excellent, among them Nate Corddry, who won and then broke and then healed my heart in the single season of Studio 60. And the director is Alan Taylor, who's directed episodes of Mad Men, Sex & the City, Deadwood, and The Sopranos. Quite the resume.

So I live in hope that we might see Sarah Michelle lighting up the small screen once again. Fingers crossed that the show is as good as it sounds!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

All Caught Up

I'm finally caught up with two of my favorite authors' newest releases (Hot Pursuit was awesome, as expected, and A Duke of her Own made me cry with happiness for Villiers) and am ready to move on! Perhaps to someone I've never read before? I'm thinking Ann Aguirre. Her sci-fi romance gets raves all over the place. I happen to have an advance copy of Doubleblind, the third Sirantha Jax book, and I know exactly how lucky I am. Only question is, do I indulge my own neuroses and read the first two books in the Jax series first, or do I get right down to new business and dive in to Doubleblind?

What would you do? Do you think it's imperative to read a series in order, or do you expect a great series to draw you in no matter where you pick up the action?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Obligatory Julie & Julia Post

As usual, I'm a little late to the party (I was taught as a child that being on time to a party is actually unconscionably rude) but I still feel the need to chime in on Julie & Julia, the movie. Full disclosure: I have not read Julie Powell's book, one of the sources for the movie. I did, however, read My Life in France, Julia Child's wonderful memoir of her years in Paris and Marseille as she learned to cook and began her masterwork, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The first thing that must be said is that Julia Child was an amazing woman with a huge, warm personality that draws you in when you're watching just a thirty-minute, black-and-white PBS cooking show. A full color movie of her life couldn't help but be even more appealing--especially with Meryl Streep turning in a near-flawless performance. Every single moment Meryl/Julia was onscreen, I was either smiling so hard my cheeks ached, or tearing up. I can't remember the last time I was so affected by a movie. Stanley Tucci was also fantastic as Paul Child, bringing a palpable affection and gut-deep realism to the role of Mr. Julia. I loved everything about them. I wanted their segments of the movie to go on and on.

Not totally the case with the Julie Powell segments. Backing up--before seeing the movie, I read some reviews and talked to some friends who all seemed to agree that the Julie Powell character, a food blogger played by Amy Adams, was whiny, annoying, and useless to the point of dragging the movie down. In fact, I'd heard this about her book, which was why I never read it. So I was primed to dislike her portion of the movie. And while I wasn't as affected by her story as I was by Julia's, I felt that Julie Powell and her quest to cook her way through MtAoFC in a year was integral to the structure of the movie. The comparisons between the two women made Julia's sincerity and verve shine even brighter; the quality of the relationship between Julia and Paul was even more clearly an equal, loving partnership when compared with Julie's sometimes shabby treatment of her sweet but forgettable husband.

But even more than that, the movie needed Julie because she alone had a transformative experience. Julia was Julia, from the first beat of the movie to the last. She was herself, in the glorious, solid flesh--she started out wonderful, so it didn't matter that she didn't really learn or change in any way over the course of the two hours. Julie, though, was a different person by the end of the movie. Her story dramatized perfectly the power of Julia Child's life and work to inspire people and to change the way they view the world. No, I didn't always love Julie, and their were moments when I wanted to shout, as most of the reviewers did, "Get a life!" But that's exactly the point--that's what she was trying to do. And eventually, she succeeded, which gave the movie its structure and satisfying ending point. Without Julie and her eventual ah-ha moment, there's no movie.

But without Julia Child, there would've been very little joy--and I wouldn't have come home and immediately scrapped our plans to grill burgers in favor of cooking steak with sauce Bercy (white wine, butter, and shallots--yum!!), baked tomatoes, and a green salad with a ravigote dressing (vinaigrette with chopped herbs, capers, and onions,) all from Mastering the Art. Julia strikes again!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh, Man, It's Really Real

They're here!

I have finished books. Not cover flats, although those were lovely and exciting, and not ARCs, although I squeed over those, too. No. These are the real deal! Finished, completed, ready to be read by people other than my family and friends, and a few select and cherished reviewers.

See how pretty?
I did take a few pics of myself holding up a copy and smiling, but had to delete them. Upon mature consideration, it became clear that no reader in her right mind would buy a book written by someone sporting such a wild, maniacal grin.

Now what this really means for all of you lovely people who've been clamoring for an early peek at Can't Stand the Heat is that I have one, single, solitary Advance Reading Copy I've been saving for a rainy day. What do you think I should do with that ARC, hmmm? I'm thinking contest. Maybe even a recipe contest, where you'd send in your favorite recipe featuring something summery like corn or tomatoes. I'd pick the one that sounds best and award that cook a free, signed copy of my last ARC of Can't Stand the Heat.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Food Porn! : Eleven Madison Park

Had to share. This is one of Frank Bruni's final restaurant reviews for the New York Times before he retires from the field. I like the way he writes about the progress of Eleven Madison Park over time; he touches on the fact that while restaurants used to get better the longer they were open, now the amount of scrutiny and publicity surrounding openings means that often, they're putting their best foot forward during the first few months. But once that circus moves on to a new opening, the still relatively new restaurant starts to slide.

Not the case at Eleven Madison Park, apparently. Take a look at this audio slideshow and see if you don't start googling cheap flights to New York, just to have the chance to eat there. I ate breakfast not an hour ago (lovely currant tea scones out of the Gourmet cookbook) and I'm sitting here wiping drool off my chin.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What I'm Reading Now

I'm doing that bad thing where I've started multiple books at the same time. There's just so much out there I want to read, though! Here's my current list.

Don't Try This at Home, edited by Kim Witherspoon
This is an amazing and eye-opening compendium of disaster stories from the kitchens of some of today's top chefs, from Ferran Adria to Jamie Oliver to Anthony Bourdain. Every chef has a night where things go wrong, and in this book, the chefs relive those experiences and what they learned from them in first person accounts that are by turns lyrical, poignant, hilarious, and shocking. This is my favorite kind of research!

A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James
The stirring conclusion of the Desperate Duchesses series! Finally, Villiers gets his happily ever after. It's been a long time since a hero engaged me on as many levels as Leopold, Duke of Villiers. He's utterly charming, vain as a peacock, loyal to a fault, and scrupulous about covering his good heart with a veneer of debauchery and frivolity. I adore him.

In The Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson
Gene Robinson is the gay bishop of New Hampshire whose confirmation sparked a controversy in the Episcopal Church, and beyond. His books is an examination of not only the church's policy on LGBT issues, but of Christian theology in a larger sense. His writing is passionate and straightforward, and the strength of his faith breathes through every word. Very inspiring story.

Hot Pursuit by Suzanne Brockmann
I can't get enough of the Troubleshooters. And especially Sam/Alyssa and Jules/Robin! So it's beyond fabulous to have all of them back for another round of excitement and adventure. And, of course, the kind of passionate, gutwrenching romance Brockmann excels at.

What's on your bedside table?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Save the Contemporary Does Category!

I don't know about most romance readers, but aside from society-approved books like Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice, the first romances I ever read were categories. Whenever my grandma came to visit, I'd sneak them out of her suitcase, take them to my room and read them ny flashlight on the floor of my closet. I was about ten, and yes, I was literally in the closet with my love of romance novels.

Thank the good Lord, things are different now. We can come out of the closet. We no longer have to hide our love of secret babies and oil tycoons and virgin stable girls! There's even a contest going on, all about how cool it is to love category romance.

Today is the final day to enter Jane from Dear Author and SB Sarah's contest on their joint site devoted to straight contemporary romance. I've blogged Save the Contemporary before, and I'm bringing it up again now because if you go to the site and enter the contest, you have the chance to win the LUSH True Romance gift set, which, as a big fan of LUSH from way back, is well worth a few mouse clicks and a tweet or two. Check it out! And while you're there, revel in the fun of a dedicated forum for discussing everything from faked orgasms in Jennifer Crusie novels to make-believe mistresses.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Desserts

Here are a couple of quick ideas for desserts starring summer fruits!

Strawberries with Creme Anglaise

Here in Ohio, the local strawberry season only lasts about three weeks (it feels like five minutes!) but the berries are so good, it's no hardship to use them in every possible dish for that entire month. We've made strawberry jam, strawberry liqueur, strawberry-rhubarb compote, strawberry shortcake, and a fabulous vanilla cake with mascarpone and sherried berries. But sometimes the simplest preparations are the best, allowing the sweetness of the berries to take center stage. Stinger came up with this one. It's sliced fresh strawberries topped with a vanilla custard, painstakingly stirred over low heat by Stinger himself. There are a lot of recipes for creme anglaise, but Grace Parisi's over at is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. My biggest advice is to be patient. It will cook eventually! Don't be tempted to turn up the heat, because the egg yolks will scramble, which is gross. (If that happens, though, you can strain the sauce, and almost no one will be able to tell the difference. Shhh!)

Broiled Figs with Roquefort

A lot of people hate the end of summer--school starting up soon, winter coming, etc. I'm not one of them; I happen to love the fall. And if the promise of cooler temperatures and crisp blue skies weren't enough, there's figs! Late August, early September, those little babies start showing up in farmer's markets and even some grocery stores. We happened on an early crop of figs a few weeks ago; it was like finding a twenty dollar bill in your just-washed jeans! That night, I washed them, giving thanks for the fact that they were all ripe (never buy unripened figs and expect them to ripen up in your fruit basket. It won't happen. They ripen on the vine or not at all.) Then I sliced them down the middle, sprinkled them with light brown sugar and put them on a cookie sheet under the broiler until the sugar was golden and crackly. Figs, with their mellow sweetness, pair beautifully with something savory like cheese. I went for Roquefort, my favorite of the blues, but a nice fresh goat cheese would also work well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Online Bookstore Communities

How much do readers really engage in the many online communities and forums currently being offered by Amazon, Borders, and B&N? All three sites present unique opportunities for chatting with other readers and connecting with big-name authors. There's so much going on out there: I, personally, couldn't stay away from B&'s current Center Stage forum, where Suzanne Brockmann is hanging out on the boards for an entire week, gabbing and answering questions about her Troubleshooters and just generally being fabulous. I'm also intensely interested in the new initiative Sue Grimshaw, the romance buyer for Borders, announced at the recent RWA conference, which was that a pair of popular blog reviewers (Smart Bitch Sarah and Jane from Dear Author) will be doing a daily blog on the Borders site. Should be interesting, as always, to hear what Sarah and Jane have to say! And I know Amazon's reader forums are active and vibrant.

So where do you hang out online? Ever drop in and visit the bookstores?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

Disclaimer: I haven't read this book. In fact, I've never read any of Mr. Metltzer's books. However, The Book of Lies may well be the first, entirely due to the below video.

Monday, August 3, 2009

New Obsessions

Louisa's Current Obsessions

Kitchen gadget: My new meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer. Oh, wow, is that thing fun! A little gross (okay, a lot gross) but fun. And the meat is noticeably more tender and less dry. My friend and kitchen co-conspirator, Meg, and I made a terrine of pork and veal last week, which is a whole other blog post (with video!) and we ground all our own meat for the stuffing.

Cocktail: Tom Collins. Add 2 oz. of gin (I like Tanqueray), 1 oz. of simple syrup, and the juice of one lemon to a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake then strain into a tall glass of ice, top up with club soda or seltzer, and add a maraschino cherry (or two!) Delicious and refreshingly tart without being mouth-puckering or super strong. At least compared to my beloved Manhattans.

TV on DVD: Mad Men. We watched the first two seasons in less than a week. Sick, I know, but so freaking good. The characters suck you in, and even if you don't always like them, you're always fascinated by them. Peggy is by far my favorite character, although I'm consistently interested in Betty. John Hamm is sexy as hell playing Don Draper, but the character makes me a teeny bit nuts. However, Meg (who is even more obsessed than I am) made a Mad Men-style avatar for me! Here I am, drinking a martini in Betty's kitchen. What do you think, does the woman on the right look like me?

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