Video: Why men and women can’t be friends

Answer’s pretty clear (at least, it is if you’re a guy at Utah State University’s library): Because we’re men, and we have those feelings.

This clears up why all my very-close straight guy friends from college dropped off the face of the earth once they got married.

Do you think men and women can be friends? Does a bit of attraction get in the way of friendship, or does it enhance it?

P.S. Why didn’t I go to Utah State??

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When everything changed: My mom the reluctant feminist

When Everything ChangedThis Christmas I gave my mom the best re-gift ever. A couple of years ago, Smarty Pants had bought me When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins.

The book details the struggle for women’s rights and how courageously individual women fought against laws they knew were wrong. It’s incredibly inspiring, especially for someone of my generation (I was born in 1979) because the changes my mother’s and grandmothers’ generations carved out meant that I could take so many freedoms and aspirations for granted.

I gave the book to my mom because she’d seen Smarty Pants give it to me and she’d briefly stolen it from me to read the first chapter. I stole it back and said she could have it when I was done.

Barbara Billingsley

Image via Wikipedia

Mom was born in 1954. She grew up on I Love Lucy and Leave It to Beaver. June Cleaver was her childhood heroine, and Mom dreamed of a future wearing beautiful clothes and putting on her pearls to vacuum the house while her husband and two children were at school.

She got the two children. And some of the vacuuming (though Dad does at least half of the housework himself, something that must’ve seemed bizarre to Mom when they first got married).

Mom once told me her parents didn’t encourage her to think about having a career. My grandmother believed (and still believes) wholeheartedly in thick foundation and heavy skin creams. When I was a teenager, Nonny admonished me: “Honey, you have to wear eye makeup. Boys won’t like you if you don’t wear eye makeup. And quit wearing those boy-cut jeans. They make you look like you have a ding-dong.”

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Winner of the Kaki Warner giveaway!

Colorado DawnThanks to everyone to commented on Kaki Warner’s guest post, One woman’s tips on writing in the male point of view. What a fun post!

The winner of a brand-spanking-new copy of Colorado Dawn is…Amel Armeliana!

Congratulations, Amel! I’ve sent you an email asking for your address.

U.S. readers, this week you have the chance to win Lisa Dale’s contemporary novel Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier.

Have a great week!

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Interview with Lisa Dale – and giveaway!

Lisa Dale

Photo by Eric Rank

A couple of years ago, I began hearing about an author who wrote very smart contemporary romantic novels. I picked up Lisa Dale’s It Happened One Night and fell in love with her style.

Lisa’s intelligence and curiosity about a wide array of subjects shine through her stories. She’s here today talking about her latest release, A Promise of Safekeeping, and giving away a copy of her previous novel, Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier.

Welcome, Lisa!

Thank you tons for having me!

1. Your novels always feature characters who have really interesting careers – or maybe it’s the way you include fascinating bits of your research into your novels that makes their careers seem so interesting. From astronomy to flowers to the history of coffee, you cover a wide range of topics. What’s been your most interesting subject to research, and what can we look forward to reading more about in A Promise of Safekeeping?

I love all of it! I’m as nerdy as it gets…so I’ve always got my nose in a book and am trying to learn new things. Part of that comes from being a writer: we have to know things like, what certain flowers are called, what certain trees are, what are the architectural parts of a building and what period are they from…etc. Knowing those kinds of things aids in writing good descriptions.

A Promise of SafekeepingMy characters’ careers are often just an excuse for me to dig into a subject. Lauren, in A Promise of Safekeeping, is a body language expert—which is SOOOOOO fascinating. Lauren’s great at her job, but not so good at reading body language in her personal life. She can tell if a criminal is lying…but her love life is a different story. What kind of person would you be if you could read the words beneath the words?

The hero, Will, is an antiques dealer, and I think that’s because I’m starting to realize that I’m infatuated by the concept of history, by the notion of so many lives and experiences happening in the same space, by history being all around us, right now, in the present.

Will collects antique keys, which reflects the themes of “keeping” and “locking away” that run through the book. Old keys embody what I love about antiques: the mystery of the past. The inherent opaqueness of it. What did this key secret away? Or, who did it imprison? Who was it meant to keep out? I think this idea of the layers of history has been a latent theme of my writing that is just starting to come out in A Promise of Safekeeping, and more in my W-I-P.

2. Your characters face enormous challenges that many readers will recognize from their own lives. To me, this makes their happily-ever-after all the more satisfying. Do you get many emails from readers who’ve experienced the challenges your characters have?

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Review: Colorado Dawn by Kaki Warner

In Colorado Dawn, Kaki Warner’s trademark humor, grit and attention to detail come together in a beautifully vibrant, entertaining, and emotionally gripping story.

Colorado DawnMaddie and Angus Wallace have spent only a few nights together in their six-year marriage. The last time Angus deserted her to rejoin his regiment, Maddie struggled unsuccessfully to make a life with his family in Scotland. She finally leaves and strikes out for Colorado Territory, where she becomes a celebrated photographer introducing the world to America’s west through a female eye.

She tells her new friends in the failing mining town of Heartbreak Creek that she’s a widow, a lie that catches up to her when Angus (now Viscount Ashby, or Ash) seeks her out because he needs an heir.

But how can she even think about forgiving him, much less giving up a meaningful career, for a lazy life among the backbiting aristocracy? And how can Ash give up centuries of duty for a life thousands of miles from his family and heritage?

I’ve read all of Kaki Warner’s novels, and they go from strength to strength. Colorado Dawn is the second in her Runaway Brides series (Heartbreak Creek is first), and this novel cements Kaki’s place as one of my favorite novelists.

For me, one of the great pleasures of reading a Kaki Warner novel is the voice she gives her heroes. They’re rough, rugged and funny, but they’d do absolutely anything for their heroines. Unlike their Victorian England counterparts, there’s nothing polished about them. They’re survivalists, and it’s a good thing because hoo-boy! Kaki throws a hell of a lot of conflict their way.

Though Ash is a new member of the British aristocracy, he has much more in common with the sheriff and ranchers of Kaki’s previous novels than he does with English toffs. Ash is a Highland warrior, a soldier, who has suffered grave injuries and losses. Although he devoted most of his life to his career, and was devastated to lose it, he has managed to keep his sense of humor, as shows in this scene when he’s driving Maddie back to town after a night of passion.

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Testing your boundaries through erotic romance

Crash Into YouI’ve never been an erotic romance reader, but lately I’ve been testing my reading boundaries and branching out.

My latest post at The Season for Romance has some recommendations – and Bev is giving away Crash Into You by Roni Loren and Seven Day Loan by Tiffany Reisz, so you can test your boundaries (and restraints), too!

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Winners of the Contemporaries to Covet giveaway!

A Promise of SafekeepingIt’s so good to see so many recommendations for new contemporary romance. Thanks to everyone who told me what they’re looking forward to reading this month!

The winner of a $10 gift certificate to the book retailer of their choice is…Tracy Simpson!

Tracy said she’s looking forward to reading A Promise of Safekeeping by Lisa Dale, so Lisa also wins a $10 gift certificate on Tracy’s behalf. Congrats, Lisa!

Everyone, I’ll be doing this again in February; make sure you subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out.

Also, this week you might win Kaki Warner’s latest historical Western romance, Colorado Dawn, by leaving a comment on her guest post, One woman’s tips for writing the male point of view.

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One woman’s tips for writing in the male point of view: Guest post by Kaki Warner

Colorado DawnOne of the things I love about Kaki Warner‘s historical Western romance novels is how she writes men. They’re authentically tough and often befuddled by women. I personally find writing a hero’s point of view very difficult, mostly because the men I know in real life are chatty, sensitive charity workers. My critique partner Moriah once commented on a scene I wrote: “Does he watch a lot of Dr Phil?”

So I asked Kaki for some advice, and she’s been kind enough to share her tips.

Leave a comment below and you could win her latest novel, Colorado Dawn.

DISCLAIMER:  In no way is anything I write here meant to be insulting to men.  I speak in gross generalities (and mostly about American men).  I am fully aware there are MANY men who are sensitive, fully in touch with their feminine side, and the total opposite of what I am about to say.  OK?  OK.

Let’s start with the obvious:  Men are pretty basic.  That’s not to say they aren’t complicated, thoughtful, or fully aware of what’s going on.  Most of the time they just don’t care.  Certainly not the way women do.  Ask a woman how she feels, and you’ll get a complete rundown of how she slept the night before, how bloated she feels, how upset she is because of what her BFF said, how mean her boss was, if she’s starting her period, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Ask a man how he feels, and after a quick mental check:  Am I hungry? Sleepy? Thirsty? Horny? He’ll usually answer fine.  And that’s that.

The same holds true in dialogue.  Example:

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What can you do with an English degree?

A couple of months ago, I read a post on literary agent Kristin Nelson’s blog which said that the median salary for a writer in the U.S. is higher than the national average.

It got me thinking about my own English degree, and how clueless I was about career opportunities when I decided to study for it.

Kat and Andie

Two UCLA seniors, clueless about what to do with their degrees

This week I got to see my best friend/college roommate for the first time in three and a half years. Andie’s an ER nurse in Northern California, though when we were at UCLA together she studied Communications and World Arts & Cultures.

Never in a million years could I have seen her going on to nursing school. Like me, she was drawn to classes where answers were subjective and anyone could be right, as long as they argued their point well enough.

For logistical reasons too boring to go into, Andie and I met up in Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, on Wednesday. As Smarty Pants and I waited for her to arrive, we walked around Stanford’s campus. Being book nerds, our two main stops were the library and bookstore.

When we got to the bookstore, I immediately headed downstairs, where the coursebooks are. One of my favorite pastimes as an undergrad at UCLA was browsing all the books set aside for courses I wasn’t taking. I loved seeing what novels different English professors put together in their special topics courses.

As I browsed Stanford’s bookstore, it hit me that Andie and I were seniors exactly ten years ago. This time a decade ago, with only six months left to graduation, I realized I had no idea what I could do with an English degree.

Yes, I’d chosen my major because I wanted to learn about storytelling, but was clueless how to support myself with a storytelling degree.

I panicked a little, but then I explored all my options. I discovered I had a lot more options than the “What’re-you-studying-such-a-useless-subject-for?” science majors led me to believe.

For those of you studying English now, I hope this is helpful.

Option 1: Go to law school

Benjamin Bratt, American actor talks with repo...

Ahh, Benjamin. I nearly chose law school for you. (Image via Wikipedia)

Probably the option my parents would’ve loved, as long as they didn’t have to pay for it.

I started studying for the LSAT (the law school entrance exam), but if I’m honest the only thing drawing me to law school was my addiction to the TV show Law & Order, and the fact I wanted to work with cops as hot as Benjamin Bratt.

I didn’t do very well on the LSAT, so I panicked again.

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Winner of the Catherine Mann giveaway!

Hot ZoneThanks so much to everyone who commented on my interview with Catherine Mann, and to Cathy herself for giving away a copy of Hot Zone.

The lucky winner is…Kathryn Anne Merkel!

Kathryn, I’ve emailed asking you for your mailing address.

Everyone, this week you can win a $10 gift certificate to the book retailer of your choice AND win a gift certificate for a contemporary romance novelist who has a book coming out this month. Just leave a comment on my Contemporaries to Covet in January post telling me which contemporary romance you’re looking forward to this month, and I’ll choose a winner next week!

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