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Christmas 2013 Lily and treeI’m not here as often as I’d like to be–if you want to see what I’m blogging about, be sure to check out JauntyQuills.com, where I’m part of a great group of writers blogging about life, books, family…and all kinds of foolishness!

But for those of you who see me only here, I didn’t want to miss the chance to say MERRY CHRISTMAS! You are very special to me, and your support of my books has meant so much. I hope your holidays are filled with joy and family, with laughter and food and fun.

And I hope the new year brings you more of the same! And hey…maybe even a few good romance novels to read? 🙂

Meanwhile, Happy holidays, my friends! Snow babies tip top tree

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betting on cowboy box of booksHi, ladies! Thank you all so much for stopping by and making me smile about cowboys yesterday! It was a wonderful break from revisions! 🙂 The three randomly chosen winners this time are

EllenToo
MADerbin
Virginia C.

Congratulations! Please email me at KOBrien@aol.com so that I can get your snail-mail address, and which books you’d like!

I wish I could send books to everyone…and maybe someday I will! So don’t go too far…

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betting on cowboy box of booksMy author copies of my July Superromance, BETTING ON THE COWBOY, have arrived, and to celebrate I’m giving away one copy to someone who posts here today!

BETTING ON THE COWBOY is Bree’s story. She’s the middle Wright sister, the cool blonde who earned the nickname “Ice Maiden,” and probably would have kept it all her life…if it hadn’t been for Gray Harper, the bad-boy turned cowboy who is hot enough to melt even the coldest heart.

If you haven’t read Rowena’s story, WILD FOR THE SHERIFF, I’ll include one of those, too! Rowena, the oldest Wright sister, found love in the first book of The Sisters of Bell River Ranch series. Dallas Garwood, the guy she left behind–the one her crazy father shot–is now the sheriff of Silverdell, Colorado, and a divorced father of a little boy who is almost as irresistible as his dad! 😉 You don’t need to have read WILD to enjoy BETTING ON THE COWBOY, but I love all the Wright sisters so much I don’t want to play favorites! 😉
redman photo 107 horiz with bookHope to see you here soon! I’ll be doing revisions on THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, book three of the series. They’ll keep me pretty busy all day, so I’ll check back at midnight to pick the winner!

PS…Don’t you think this cover hero looks a little like Jake Gyllenhaal? I think this is a very, very good thing. 😉

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Prueba1675

I have a problem.

I can’t get rid of any books, no matter how crowded and chaotic my shelves have become.

I’m not sure why. Yes, I grew up with thousands of books–as seen here, in this picture of me reading to my daddy in our library, my favorite room in the house.in library with daddy

And yet, my dearest, most simpatico buddy, who has been my best friend since I was four years old and came from a very similar book-oriented family, doesn’t struggle with this. Once I said to her, “Oh, wouldn’t you just love to own all the Jane Austen books in beautiful hardcover editions?” But she simply shook her head. “Not really,” she said calmly. “You can always get those from the library.”

And she’s right, of course. Because of her saner attitude, her house is clean and neat and tidy, and I envy the heck out of it.

Mine is a mess. library bookstore

My office, particularly, is out of control right now, and if I could just free up some space on the shelves to store other things…But I can’t seem to make the tough decisions.

bookcase
Every day, I wake up determined to weed out. Every day, I come in, stare at the shelves, and walk away again, unable to part with any book, no matter how old or new, read or unread, paperback or hard, illustrated or not, classic or quirky.

I know some of you must have conquered this problem! I’d be so grateful if you’d share! What guidelines do you use? Is there some rule I could apply that would make the amputations easier?

I’d truly love to know what the key is to letting go.

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Prueba1675

I finished my manuscript, and the joy of a little free time is making me giddy! But even though I’ve given myself a full week off, there still aren’t enough hours in the day to read everything on my list and in my stacks. I have books due back at the library any minute. I have new ones, bought with my Mother’s Day gift certificates, gleaming at me from their pile on the desk. I have an Amazon wish list about eight pages long. 😉 Seriously.

K with Age of Innocence 2 So what do I do? I pick up a book I’ve read maybe half a dozen times before. Edith Wharton’s THE AGE OF INNOCENCE is so sad, so beautifully written, so fascinating in its exploration of how savage social expectations can be, that I never, ever tire of it!

The new books will have to wait a little longer.

In fact, I have two writers I re-read frequently. Rex Stout, who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries, is the author I choose if I’m unhappy, or lonely, or worried. Nero Wolfe shelfArchie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe are the greatest of all buddy teams, and together there’s nothing they can’t handle. They always inspire me to believe I can handle my problems, too.

Guess that’s why I have a whole shelf of extremely well worn Stout books.

I don’t turn to Edith Wharton, my other staple, unless I’m feeling strong. Seriously strong–I’m talking about “I am woman. Hear me roar” strong. Her books are gorgeous, but they’ll take out your heart and stomp that sucker flat, as Lewis Grizzard so memorably put it. If I’m already emotionally fragile in any way, I give Wharton a wide berth. Hey–since I have her in hand now, I guess that means finishing a manuscript is empowering, right? 😉

window with booksHow about you? Are you always moving forward, conquering new books, checking them off your to-be-read lists? Or do you sometimes snuggle up with an old favorite, preferring to spend time with old (character) friends?

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redman photo 82 side k pref head vert typaI had a very strict mother. Not about everything, you understand. She was actually quite a free-thinker, an intellectual and a good deal ahead of her time, feministically speaking. 🙂 But she believed in a certain kind of public behavior. Manners. Refinement.

Lucy at typewriterWhatever you call it, she must have made a bigger impression on me than I realized. I like to think of myself as terrifically open-minded, a little avante garde in a very ladylike way, not at all repressed or repressive.

Imagine my shock, then, when my daughter told me that, way back when she was in elementary school and someone did something crazy, her friends would pose the sardonic question, “Irene, would your mother call this vulgar? Or tacky?”

OMG. That is how they saw me? Cool, intellectual, free-thinking me? Apparently.

puzzle monsterSo, just for the record, girls, here’s how you know what’s vulgar, and what’s tacky.

TACKY is just a bit cheap, poorly made, or the etiquette equivalent of poorly made. It hints that you might not have champagne tastes or the Queen’s manners. Nobody gets hurt with tacky. It includes innocent sins, like showing too much cleavage at a funeral, or letting your dog lick your plate when you’re finished.

VULGAR is much, much worse. Vulgar is when you send naked pictures of yourself in a Santa hat as Christmas cards–and you actually believe it’s sexy, not gross. Vulgar is when you make body-function jokes in front of your maiden aunt, or tell strangers too many details about things that should be private.

Tacky makes you look bad. Vulgar makes other people uncomfortable.

Or so my mother taught me.

However, there are quite a few things that the world probably considers tacky (and I *KNOW* my mother did!) that I absolutely adore. Don’t we all have some? Here’s my list of my top five Tacky Treats.

St. Francis corner1) Yard knick-knacks. I know…I really do know…that a dozen cheap little ornaments scattered around your yard don’t look very swanky. But I don’t care. I’m addicted. I do keep my shame in the *back* yard, though, to avoid embarrassing the rest of the family.

beach store mannequin2) Kitschy beach stores. I love the smell of plastic beach toys shaped like alligators, and what we used to call “suntan oil,” but now would undoubtedly call “sunscreen.” I like towels embroidered with the name of my favorite beach: Indian Rocks. I like flip flops and straw hats and yellow plastic buckets with crenelated bottoms for making sand castles. I even like…get ready…little people and creatures made entirely of shells, like these poker players.

puppy in christmas lights

3) Christmas lights hanging crooked, or mismatched. I love the idea that real people who want to twinkle a Merry Christmas to their neighbors actually get on ladders and string these babies up…maybe getting a little cranky, even, while they do it. I like yards that have gone a little too far (not Griswold far), or who clearly let the six-year-old pick out the color scheme. I don’t really like those net strands of lights, because they look too neat, too linear, as if someone professional put them on.swing at christmas I also love lights that stay on all year. I have an outdoor swing that I decorate with fairy lights. I have some in all different colors–pink for Valentine’s Day, red-white-blue for Fourth of July, purple and orange for Halloween. I’m hopeless.

glitter

4) Glitter. This is obviously a hangover from childhood. We had a babysitter once who knew how to draw a ballerina using only a very few lines to make a fluffy tutu skirt. And then she’d let us paste glitter along each ruffle of the skirt. Oh, it was magical, and I never got over it. Also, we used to drive to Indian Rocks Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast every summer, and somewhere along the way we passed a billboard that had a strip of something metallic that glittered in the noonday sun. I can’t remember what it advertised…if anyone else remembers, please let me know! I see that glittering sign in my dreams!

Tiara5) Wacky costume jewelry. I don’t wear this, you understand. Not because I’m afraid of offending the memory of my mother. She thought costume jewelry could approach true art. I don’t wear it because I wear four piece of jewelry, the same ones all the time. A necklace, a watch, my wedding rings, and a pair of earrings. I got them all from His Highness on special occasions, and, except for the earrings, I never take change them. The necklace hasn’t come off in twenty-six years…although don’t worry–it does take showers. But in a purely “museum” way, I love a fabulously tacky piece of costume jewelry. The more color and kitch the better! I particularly can’t resist tiaras. 🙂 Pinterest was invented to allow people like me to indulge interests like that. 🙂

Big blue monsterI also love wonderful, horrible tearjerker ballads, like “Shake Me I Rattle, Squeeze Me, I Cry.” But those songs can’t be on this list, because they’re corny, not tacky. Don’t believe me? Ask your mom. 🙂

How about you? What do you insist on loving, in spite of snob pressure to renounce it?

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kissing computerIf you’re a social butterfly, you might not want to consider a job as a writer. It’s a pretty lonely endeavor. Most of the time, the computer is your only companion–unless you count the characters in your book, which I don’t, since my characters and I disagree about almost everything. For instance, I think they should provide me with clever banter and fascinating, fast-paced action, whereas they seem to think they should be able to loll about on the page, doing nothing at all for days at the time.

However, I’m getting sidetracked… 🙂

My point is that, while I can certainly see why writers love to hear from readers, I’ve never been really sure why readers want to connect with writers. After all, the reader has paid his money…he doesn’t owe the writer anything further. The book is right in front of him. He can read the very best ideas the writer has to offer, the funniest jokes and the wittiest one-liners. (Believe me, with a few notable exceptions like Neil Gaiman or Truman Capote, we’re rarely more interesting in person than we are on the page.)

And then, whenever the reader wants, he can set the book down and go dancing.

lorelei and k from fbSo when I was lucky enough to meet the lovely local reader who has started Lorelei’s Lit Lair on Facebook, I couldn’t wait to ask her why she seems so enthusiastic about meeting and corresponding with writers. Turns out she’s one of those wonderful people who just love to discover new things, learn about new people, and “give back” when she feels she’s been lucky enough to “receive.” She’s the kind of reader we all hope to run into someday…the kind that makes us feel pretty darn good about all those hours we spent in solitary confinement, telling stories to our keyboards.

Her enthusiasm is so infectious, and her account of her correspondence with author Kristan Higgins so uplifting that I asked if she’d share it here. I hope you enjoy reading it!
lorelei white t shirt

Q) Have you always been such an enthusiastic reader? Have you always preferred romance above other genres?

A) No, I started when my daughter wanted to read the Twilight series. I never enjoyed reading, not even paperbacks, much less would I want to read a book THAT big. ( I know, what was wrong with me!)
I asked her what it was about: Vampires and Werewolves, she said. HA! Really? I went to the first page, just to check it out, you know, to see what all the commotion was about.
7 days later, I read all 4 books and it was like a switch in me was flipped ON. Since then, I was hungry for more. I’ve read women’s fiction, drama, then I really found my match in romance!

Q) What made you decide to be more than “just” a reader–and to interact with and support your favorite authors?

A) In 2007, I found an author that I really connected with. She had all the elements I love in a story, truly gifted in my opinion and that author was Kristan Higgins. She has a great voice, makes you laugh, swoon, cry (the touching kind), and always has happy endings.
When I finished reading her 4th book, I wanted to learn more about her. I found the Dear Reader page in her book . She seemed so down to earth, and approachable. It did say, “Let me know how you enjoyed the book. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from readers.” That gave me the courage to write her an email. I told her how much I loved her work .
Honestly, I thought I’d get a response in a month or so, or maybe never.
To my surprise she replied the next day! I was ecstatic! I told my best friend and she said it was probably her publicist. I knew it was her, because I recognized her voice. I remember replying then with OooMmmGgg!
She was so nice, and I immediately followed her on Facebook. I became her BFF: Biggest Fan Forever. I realized what a wonderful group of women are out there and felt encouraged to support them. It lead me to you, Kathleen 😉

Q) Obviously you’re a huge fan of Kristan Higgins. Are there other writers you have written to, as well? What draws you to a particular writer?

A) Oh, yes. While I had to wait months for KH’s next release, she recommended other author friends. I was very impressed by the support displayed, all great recommendations. I read Nancy R. Thompson’s Angel of Provence, and wrote to her on FB. I was so thrilled and lucky to meet her! I Also wrote to PJ Sharon, Robyn Carr, Lauren Clark, Jill Shalvis, Marliss Melton, just to name a few.
These are women just like me, but with a special talent. You can tell they love what they do and are genuine.
The connection authors have with readers is what draws me to follow them and cheer them on.
It’s a special bond that’s created and I believe that’s what makes the difference in the reading experience all together.

Q) What is Lorelei’s Lit Lair? What do you want to accomplish with the site?

A) I created Lorelei’s Lit Lair to connect with readers and authors, to share our common passion for reading. It’s also a great way of supporting authors, too. I hope friends join so we can chat about what they’re reading, to find inspiring posts and have some fun! It can be about books or how your day has been or something great you’ve stumble upon. I’m a big believer of paying it forward, too.

Lorelei’s Lit Lair fills me with good vibes and I hope friends will find that, too. I love cheering people up. Once a reader was feeling down, and I shared music videos to cheer her up and it made her laugh! If feels so good helping others… My page is not just about promoting books, but connecting with people of similar interests.

I’ve made some great friendships across the world, in France, England, Canada and Australia which is awesome. The authors I’ve met, all absolutely amazing ladies.
If you like read, doesn’t matter the genre, I encourage you to join! Readers have different interests and tastes, and I hope they find something they’ll enjoy.

Q) How has your friendship with the authors you’ve met affected you? What does it bring to your life?

A) If I hadn’t gotten a reply from my first email, I probably would have continued reading or maybe I would have found another hobby to fill my days.
But what I can truly say, is the anecdotes I can share, the causes I’ve supported, the prizes I’ve won, the joy and laughter that have filled my days and most specially the friendships I’ve made with readers and authors, would never have been possible if I hadn’t received Kristan’s reply that day. It has changed my life in a positive way, brightening my days, my little escape of this busy and hectic life we live in.
I believe in the phrase ” Everything happens for a reason.” One of them, was meeting you, dear Kathleen!

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