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31 posts from December 2011

December 31, 2011

F the Auld Lang Syne: New Years Resos Mancini Style

F the Auld Lang Syne: New Years Resos Mancini Style

Hi.  It's Me, Margie.  I totally feel like Bette Midler on the last Johnny Carson show.  It was actually the penultimate show, just like this blog.  (Penultimate is my word of the day - we are all helping our twin cousins Petey and Patty study for the SATs - God bless them, they don't have much Mancini blood in them plus those matching outfits in high school?  Weird, just saying.  Rocco can't even talk about it.)

It's New Year's Eve, and I already told the real true story about it and here is the link in case you don't remember: 


 This year, since it's our last blog here, mia famiglia decided we should all blog.  That was our first mistake.  Because everyone wanted in on the act, like this is the freaking Golden Globes or something, and more than one of them was hammer drunk when they wrote theirs, so don't say I didn't warn you.  And I know there is usually some limit on how long these things are supposed to be, but everyone knows size doesn't matter and sometimes longer is better regardless.  These are resolutions, Mancini Style.

From Cousin Rita:

Dear Writer Ladies, So, like, Margie says the blog thing is going kaput and it's not because of anything she did with the Steves in the closet or the time the Hazmat crew came that I'm not supposed to ever talk about with anyone, ever. I'd ask Officer Steve if that was true, but the last time I crossed her she reminded me about the thing that at the place with the whozit, and that is just another way of saying, shut up now if you ever want to borrow handcuffs that, like, really work. 

But I will tell you all a secret I swore on a mountain of cannoli I'd never tell, even bigger than the Hazmat secret. Margie really likes you ladies. Like, a lot. I think she kept all the Steves around to amuse herself when you all were busy in your offices, but she could have taken the Steves to a whole bunch more comfortable places, so it had to be she liked it there. She was, like, really serious about doing a good job and showing up on time and toning down the neon eye makeup and dressing extra classy. Sometimes we'd be at a club and she'd be texting herself reminders about toner and to bring the good coffee because there was going to be a special visitor the next day. By "special visitor" I mean a writer person, not a "special visitor" like a hot guy home on leave. Sometimes she told funny stories about what you said or what you did. Okay, yeah, so a lot of times she talked about bringing the wood chipper to work, but that was just her way of expressing aggravation. 

Me, though, I'm kind of mad at all of you, becuase now Margie will have all kinds of free time on her hands, and I will have to deal with her ALL THE TIME. So thanks for nothing, Writer Ladies. But, like, speaking of thanks, you all know I love my sailors, and I like to do my bit to keep them happy when they are in the home port. And, like, I'm real excited that all the troops will be coming home soon from that war. Some of them are not in such good shape, though. Some need new jobs. They need people to remember we were here all comfy and cozy while they were fighting in that hot ass place. So I think we should help out. That might mean writing some letters to politicians, which I like so hate to do because my talents lie elsewhere.

But if it helps to write a letter to some geezer in Congress or say thank you to the soldiers at the airport, or help them any way I can, let's all do that. It doesn't matter if they are Navy, Air Force, Army, or Coast Guard, they are all The Fleet to me.   

Keep the peace and help The Fleet. 

Love,Cousin Rita  

From Cousin Rocco:

Ciao Bellas!

I am just beside myself with grief here and need a trip to South Beach just to calm my nerves.  Not that I didn't already have plans to be in the parade.  Time is short, my flight is soon, and Her, Margie says if I don't do this fast, I will end up on the cutting room floor.  As always, I think of you, my lovlies, so here are some going-away tips from me:

Your stockings should never be darker than the bottom edge of your skirt.

Knock off handbags are gauche and I can spot them a mile away.  The fake is never beautiful.

No glove, no love.

Purple is still the new black.

When in doubt, ask yourself what Elizabeth Taylor would do (unless it's about marriage, then do the opposite).

There is no excuse for roots.  If you cannot afford good color at a decent salon, go natural.  When in doubt, if you've ever seen Linsay Lohan wearing that style of hair or anything else, do the opposite.  That poor bunny is just gone.  So sad; I blame the parents. But maybe that's me - my friend Dr. Shrink says my motto should be "If it's not one thing, it's your mother."

Never say goodbye.  It ruins the makeup, you look like a racoon and there aren't enough cucumbers or tea bags in the world to fix those eyes.  

In mixed company, never use the words cucumber and teabags in the same sentence unless you are making a grocery list.  Let's remain ladies!

From Cousin Rosie:

My New Year’s Resolutions,by Cousin Rosie, who is new to this because we didn’t do this back at the convent.

1.   Buy my herbs at the Italian Market, not from Margie’s visiting delivery-men friends.  UPS Steve’s special oregano tastes great in Mama’s sauce, but honestly, I’m starting to think there’s something strange about it.  The last time I made sauce, Nonna Sophia ate a whole tray of cannoli while she watched reruns of The Lawrence Welk show.  Nothing good can come from that.

2.   Stay away from Father Carm and all the nuns at the convent.  I went back last week, just for a little visit, and honest to God, you would never think nuns could behave like that.  I don’t know what Father Carm has been telling them all, but I heard one baby nun whisper to another baby nun that I killed Sister Marilyn.  I really thought we had cleared up that nonsense a while ago, but I guess not.  Probably she’s Father Carm’s new special nun.  Whatever.  Doesn’t matter to me because my last resolution is to…

3.   Say “yes” to Anthony!  Yes, TLC people, this is the official announcement!  Last night Anthony asked me to marry him, and I told him I would give him an answer today because I needed to think about it overnight.  Really I already knew that I was going to say yes, but after the thing with Father Carm, Margie and Rocco and Rita told me to always wait 24 hours before saying yes to anything with a man with a Roman Collar, so I did.  My cousins are so smart!  Love them!

Well, TLC people, that’s all from me.  Hope you all have a happy and blessed New Year!  

Love,Cousin Rosie

From Pauletta, Guido and Lucca

Guido: Yinz asking us about resolutionance is a timely but troublesome coincidence.

Lucca: Resolutionance is all very well in books and movies, like at the end of ‘Christmas With Carol’ when Mr. Scrooch gives back the money he made from the three-card-monte stand outside his office.

Guido: Real world, it’s different.

Lucca: So while we wish yinz all well, nothin’ but the best, what’s done is done.

Guido: So what if it was youses? Now it’s ours. No give-back.

Lucca: No resolutionance.

Pauletta: Whattahell yinz two idjits talkin’ about? I think you confused ‘resolution’ with ‘restitution.’ Restitution, that’s the word for giving back what you shouldna took.

Lucca: OK, then, you so smart, what’s a resolution?

Pauletta: You promise youself you either gonna do something that’s better, or you resolve you gonna stop doin’ somethin’ worser.

Guido: We can do dat. Not hard. In fact, easy.

Lucca: Hunh??

Guido: Yeah. We resolve to not do no restitutionance.

Lucca: Oh. Yeah. ‘Cuz it never works out.

Guido: No, never. We just have to rob you again.

Pauletta: Gramma made me promise to watch outtfah yinz, or I’d be so gone to junior college . . .

And finally, from Me, Margie:

Forget the Auld Lang Syne crap.  Nobody even knows what that means.  What you really need to remember is that love can kick the hell out of hate.  Plus, hate is easy and love is hard.  Hopefully. Just saying.

Tell people you love them because you never know if it's the last time you will see them.  They could get hit by a bus or by Lucca.  It happens.

Remember the letter F: Family, Friends, Food, Fun and other F'y things.  All good.  You should do them all every day.  But not at the same time.  Or on camera.

Try everything once.  Otherwise, you could be missing out on what turns out to be your favorite (there is another F word, too).

Find time for stories (do you see how I keep using the letter F?  That's called sumbliminal massaging).  You can tell stories or read stories or pass along stories or buy stories in books.  Stories are made of words and words are important.  Some people say there are really no 'bad' words.  Maybe, but if you use certain words in front of me or my cousins, you are going to have a hard time sounding them out around all that wire.  Be nice.

So I guess this is it.  Thanks to all the Steves who helped us pack up and move everything from the, uh, storage area and into our new space, which is still under construction.  It's going to be fan-fucking-tastic because now we don't have to hide everything except for in that one room with the serious security system.  The Mancinis will be back!

Now say something nice and tell everyone your resolutions and don't drink and drive tonight.



December 30, 2011

Movin' Forward

By Elaine VietsBlue_radio

Writing is my true love, but I’ve flirted with television and radio.

Starting in February, I’m taking up with radio again. I’ll host the "Dead End Jobs Show" on Radio Ear Network. The show, named for my mystery series, is a half-hour talk show about the extraordinary secrets of ordinary jobs, along with offbeat, unusual jobs.

We start taping the radio shows January 18-20.


My first guests include a career server who’ll talk about "the Boca cocktail." An urban farmer who grows veggies on blighted land in Fort Lauderdale. His city farms employ local low-income residents.

A historian will talk about a week most people have forgotten – or can’t remember. She’ll discuss the history of Spring Break, going back to the days when Grandpa got trashed.

The "Dead End Jobs Show" will have a new guest each week. Some guests will sound like old friends, because they are. Big Al the Pizza Dude will tell you about the Dirty Dollar and more insider tips about pizza delivery. He’ll be anonymous, but you’ll recognize the wit and worldly wisdom of a popular back blogger.

TLC’s own Harley Jane Kozak will talk about the ultimate Dead-End Job – how she was killed in a soap opera and became an international sensation.

Radio Ear Network (REN) brings innovative talk and independent music to 6 million listeners around the globe. This is Internet radio, which is even more fun than terrestrial radio.

Talk about easy listening. You can listen to my shows on your computer at radioearnetwork.comLaptops


You can click on this link for a podcast. http://www.mixcloud.com/tag/elaine-viets/

I won’t be "in the cloud" until the show starts in February. But Doc in CA is right. Podcasts are a blast.

Listen to REN on iTunes Radio, iPod, iPhone, as well as your Nook, Kindle, iPad and other media devices. http://www.encountersouthbeach.com/Cell1.htm

I love the times for my "Dead End Jobs Show." Each week, it’s on Mondays at 1 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. GMT. Then it repeats Tuesdays at 10 a.m. GMT / 5 a.m. EST and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. EST / 12 a.m. GMT

GMT is Greenwich Mean Time in England. Is that cool or what?

I have a producer, a luxury in radio. Joseph Dobzynski is more than my show’s producer – he’s the network CEO and has his own show, "A Cup of Joe." I’m looking forward to learning from a real pro. Joseph asks questions that make his guests want to talk.


You’ll find his show, and REN’s European and North American schedules, here: http://www.encountersouthbeach.com/

REN isn’t garage radio. It’s part of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, a network with members in 115 countries including many NPR, AIR and public broadcast stations.

Besides the "Dead End Jobs Show" I’ll keep writing my two mystery series, the Dead-End Job and the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novels.

And I’m still blogging. I was as stunned as you when I got an e-mail from Sarah that she and Nancy M. were pulling the plug on TLC. I didn’t want TLC to end. I offered to keep it going.

But Sarah had more reasons for ending TLC, including, "Nancy is pretty firm about this. She wants it over. She wants TLC retired – for now. And that's another thing. Should Nancy sometime in the future decide to restart TLC again, she should have that option, right? I mean, she was the one who came up with this almost a decade ago and so it's hers to do with as she likes. If she wanted anyone else to run it under the name TLC or TLC2 I think she would. But she really doesn't and I think we have to respect that. After all, she put a hell of a lot of work into it in the beginning. It's her baby.

"Lastly," Sarah said, "it seems to me that if you already have a steady base of readers who return to read your blogs that you can either direct them to one of your existing blogs or start a new one, right? In fact, this might open up a whole new opportunity to bring in new eyes."

Sarah is right. I already blog for the Femmes Fatales. You’ve heard of Charlaine Harris, creator of Sookie Stackhouse. If you read the Femmes Fatales blog, you’ll get to know her as the superstar next door.

Femmes Dana Cameron, Donna Andrews and Toni L. P. Kelner have guest-blogged for TLC. I don’t have to tell you about Hank Phillippi Ryan. If you don’t know Femmes authors Mary Saums or Kris Neri, you’re missing a treat.

So come on over to the Femmes Fatales at http://www.femmesfatales.typepad.com/

Turn on your computer and catch me on radioearnetwork.com. If you know a lively radio show guest email me at [email protected].

Follow me on Facebook as "Elaine Viets" and on Twitter @elaineviets.

If you have trouble finding the "Dead End Jobs Show," if you want to get my infrequent e-newsletter, or my email blasts, email me at [email protected].           Vintage_mic1

You’ll be hearing from me – and I hope I’ll hear from you.

December 29, 2011

Lemon, Out


Tlc bai 1

My turn to blog happened just a few days before TLC decided to unbecome, and I quickly realized we would close before my next turn. I pushed and snotted to get a day, and so now, here I am with my pushed over, snotted on day, and I am feeling rawwwwther uncertain about what to use it for.

A 700 word Goodbye would take the fast lane to maudlin, because I am unremittingly SAD about the close.

SO! NO GOODBYES. I am just going to mouth something French at you near the end, something I think means TIL WE MEET AGAIN but probably, since my French has to be filtered through a LOT of years in Georgia, might actually mean something obscene (I hope!) but more likely is simply nonsense; I imagine I am waving a scented hanky at you and, with a tear in my eye, whispering Frenchly, “Yellow spank Band-Aid pants.”

Tlc bai 2

I also VERY MUCH wanted to post an essay I am working on called Fatter Than Thou, which is sort of a follow up to An Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City.

That follow-up BELONGS on TLC, not just because I posted the inciting essay here, but also because it is SO freakin’ personal it requires the presence of a posse to make it seem okay to speak aloud...But it is not ready. Won’t be ready for weeks, as it is complicated and too over-share-y at present and I am still writing my way to what I think.

So finally I decided that the heart and gonads (You can choose which YOU are! *beam* As for me and my house, we pick to be an ovary in this metaphor) of TLC are The Back Bloggers. What made TLC so super-nifty is that each post was a jump off for a discussion.

Tlc bai 3

SO I wanted to ask you one last question, about blogs, actually, before this one makes like a bubble skirt and poofs.

Are blogs really over? Is it done?

I am not asking in a disinterested observer way. I have one of my own called Faster Than Kudzu that I have used as a mental playground-slash-institution for about ---Lord, 1,000 years now---- and yeah, TLC closing has made me take a HARD look at it...my numbers are down.

I thought it was because I POST less these days. Twice a week now instead of four times, and yet here we are shutting this one down because its numbers are down, even though it has fresh content every day.

And then there is Book Tour. Every time I have gone on tour I have met SO MANY PEEPS from the blog in the for reals. I am heading out again in January and February to talk about the new book, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty Best part of tour, really, is when Best Belobveds show up. I wonder if that will happen this time? It will be a kind of litmus test, but with cocktails.

And for people who wanted to be big gorgeous supportive muffins but who lived in a state I wasn’t Tlc bai 4visiting, I made a deal with an Indie bookstore I love to take orders and ship signed personalized copies...The orders coming in via the The Virtual Book Signing seem low this time. To be fair--- I posted it the week of Christmas.

So we will see what happens in January as I remind peeps on Kudzu. And, um, here. *cough*

Maybe I will learn blogs are super dead and I have to learn to TALK FASTER and be exiled to Twitter forever because people only have time for 120 characters. Is that true? I HOPE not. Not just as a blogger, but as a blog-reader. But even the ones I read...


There are three blogs I have checked religiously for YEARS now, every day, and only one of them --HI MIR!-- still posts regularly.

The other two (yes, I turn my gimlet eye upon YOU Kira Kira and Julie) Seem to be posting with less frequency.
I have a lot of blogs I sort of read in rotation, because they have never been hugely regular posters *cough* for example Lydia *cough cough* but it’s hard to get a good barometer reading off irregular posters ANYWAY I think.


Tlc bai 5

But me? I cannot be ALONE in this: I am STILL link hopping and good-blog-hunting. I only JUST this very year discovered the myriad delights of The Bloggess and Finslippy.

Which, okay, finding those blogs was sort of like Columbus discovering America, in that there was already an entire NATION of people hanging out there, and then I came along and was like, OH! LOOK WHAT I FOUND! I AM EXTREMELY CLEVER!

To my credit, I didn’t give either of them smallpox. Or Demon Rum. Or syphilis.

To my knowledge, ANYWAY.

So. Blogs? Dead? Dying? Taking a hiatus? Still viable? READY FOR A COMEBACK????

And now in French, I say to you, moistly: Yellow spank Band-Aid pants! Citron, Dehors!


Tlc bai 6

December 28, 2011


Margaret Maron

Images-9As one who came late and planned to leave early, I’ve been amazed by the realization of how very much I’m going to miss all of you . . . all y’all, as we say down here when we mean everybody in the room plus your kinfolks, too.

Normally, I post my comments several days in advance.  I pick a subject, write five- or six-hundred words, then slot it into the queue so Mr. Typepad can publish it online at the proper time.  This time?  I’m four hours away from deadline and I’m at a loss for words.

How can I say goodbye easily to the place where I learned about lip paint?  Where I “met” Karen and sent her wild phlox seeds in exchange for forget-me-not seeds?  Where I finally learned what IOCHFTS means (and realized I wasn’t holding up my end in Me, Margie’s department)?  Where I discovered all over again what a great bunch of women my fellow writers are?  In the short 18 months I've been here, we’ve laughed and commiserated with each other, scolded and praised, cried and cheered.

I feel as if it’s the last week of high school. Images-13 Oh, we swear we’re gonna keep in touch—that we’ll call and write and drop in on each other whenever we’re in the neighborhood, and for a while, we probably will.  But in our heart of hearts, we know that it’ll never be the same, that inevitably we’ll drift apart as time carries us further from each other.  

I had a list of stories and topics I wanted to share with y’all so I could hear your take on them:  declassifying jack rabbits at the Pentagon, nutpicks, gargoyles and rainbows, the real life murder I planned but didn’t commit, buzzard lore, family reunions—

Okay.  A family reunion story.  My grandmother was one of ten siblings. Every June, the “children” would take turns hosting the whole family on the Sunday nearest their mother’s birthday (30 June 1860). The host provided the plates and cups and tubs of sweet lemonade and iced tea.

Images-14Every family came with hampers of food and a long table would be spread under the oaks or pecan trees.  The crispy fried pork chops! The ham biscuits! The competing potato salads, ditto the deviled eggs!  The fried chicken and first tomatoes of summer!  Desserts had a table to themselves:  pecan pies, lemon meringue, red velvet cakes, banana pudding, my own grandmother’s famous 7-layer chocolate cake.

The year we moved back to North Carolina would be our young son’s first reunion since we left New York. He was still miffed that we’d brought him to a place where the Mets games were not automatically televised and nothing about the reunion interested him till we were getting into the car and I told him that the it was going to be at my grandmother’s brother’s house.  My Great-Uncle Willie.  His eye grew round.  “He’s my Uncle Willie, too?”

I was pleased that he was excited until I heard him crooning happily in the back seat, “Uncle Willie. . . Uncle Willie Mays!” 

I really hated to have to break it to him that our Uncle Willie was an old white guy who not only had the wrong color skin, but who also had never played for the Mets. Images-15

But the thing is, aren't we all related now on some psychic level?  And won't we’ll feel that kinship whenever news of someone we met here works its way through the grapevine?

Images-10Karen sent me forget-me-not seeds and I’ll think of TLC every time I see a clump of blue around the farm. 

Forget any of you? 

Not likely.


December 27, 2011

Bill of Rights, TLC Style

Bill of Rights, TLC Style

By Kathy Reschini Sweeney

One great thing about blogging at TLC is that there were very few limits. We blogged about everything from voting to vibrators.  The other great thing is that the comments were usually better than the blogs themselves.  I am going to miss it - more than I imagined, in fact.  I debated about how to use my last blog and decided to just do exactly what I've done since I started blogging here - type whatever came out.

Thus, I present to you my TLC Bill of Rights, and I hope you remember them when the situation calls for it.

THE RIGHT TO READ.  We have the right to read whatever the hell we want.  That means nobody gets to burn books or ban books or restrict your access to books.  Like all Rights, this one comes with Responsibilities.  If you want to continue to read a favorite author, you have to buy the books.  You have to ask for them at your library.  You have to recommend them to other people.

THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE.  This is a tricky one, and I was 40 years old before I really got it.  You have the right to choose how you spend your time and WHO you spend it with.  If you find that you've somehow accumulated companions that are racists, homophobes, jagoffs or just plain toxic, it's time to weed the garden, baby.  Nothing new can grow if there is a tangled mess around you.

THE RIGHT TO WRITE.  Not everyone can (or should) be a published author.  Most published authors - if they are honest - will tell you not to try to make it a career until you've published and sold several books.  That doesn't mean you should stop writing.  Writing is good for you.  It not only keeps your brain in shape, but it can be a fantastic exit valve for all the toxic crap you have brewing in your subconscious.  

THE RIGHT TO SAY NO.  This is a big one.  It means more that the fact that you have the right to decide who can put their hands on you. It also means that your resources - time, energy, funds, emotional fuel - are limited and the only way to keep from stressing yourself out completely is to learn to say NO.  It's okay - the first couple of times are really, really hard, and then it gets easier.

THE RIGHT TO VOTE. One wouldn't think it would be necessary to remind people of this, but it is.  There are people who died and women who went to prison to assure that we all have the right to choose our elected officials and otherwise direct the destiny of our country.  Don't neglect it.  

THE RIGHT TO BITCH. This one is, of course, my favorite.  You have the right to call or write to your elected officials, or school principal, or retail outlet or television station and bitch-slap them when they deserve it.  You might think you are a voice in the wilderness, but if everyone thought that, nothing would be fixed.  Instead of sitting in front of the TV, or in front of your computer and ranting to yourself, make a call, or e-mail a note or write a letter.  Otherwise, shut the hell up when nothing gets better.

THE RIGHT TO HELP.  This is a two-way right.  You have the right to ask for help, especially if you do not feel safe.  Any person who abuses you does NOT love you.  Something that hurts you - whether it is a pain in your chest caused by heartache or a heart attack - needs to be addressed. This bullshit about "toughing it out" is just that.  Social services are being massacred in this country, but there are still places to call for help.  Start with 911 if you don't know where else to begin. But if you are reading this, then you have access to the Internet, and you can find options in your area with a simple search.  The first step away from abuse is the hardest, but it is so worth it!  The other side of this right is that if you see someone who needs help - whether they fell in a parking lot, or have kids who don't have winter coats - you need to step up.  If you have limitations - physical, financial, or whatever, then you can at least get someone else to help.  Yes, it takes time and energy, which are not unlimited resources.  Boo fucking Hoo.  It's called humanity and even though you can't always tell, it is the mark of a civilized society.

THE RIGHT TO KNOW.  We all have it, but if you don't ask, you're not going to get any answers.  This applies to so many things, but today I will focus on just one: early detection.  Nobody looks forward to medical tests.  Mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, prostate exams?  Not on anyone's wish list for ways to spend time.  And sometimes they hurt.  Plus, denial is one powerful weapon - hey - if you don't follow up, or have a recommended test, then you don't have to worry.  That's how you end up sick as hell or dead.  If you need someone to hold your hand, ask.  If you need a ride to the doctor's office or hospital, ask.  If you need to have something done and you don't have insurance, ask.  There are programs, including the one right here on the TLC website, that provide free tests and screenings.  Remember our TLC Bumpersticker - Bitch Slap Cancer!  You can't fight if you don't know your enemy.

It has been a real honor to meet all of you here on TLC and I hope we can stay in touch, at least electronically.  I won't be blogging anywhere for a while - the semester starts soon and I will have three classes - almost 200 kids - plus my day job, so no time to figure out a website or anything.  I am on Facebook, though, where I make wisecracks and post funny links, so I'd be happy to be your friend - search for Kathy Reschini Sweeney.

And to the Book Tarts, I am grateful for this forum.  It's amazing how far this blog has spread - I still hear from people all over about some of my blogs.  Very cool.

This is the longest blog I've ever written but I have to add one more thing, because music is such a huge part of life.  This is my current favorite song.  Pray for peace!








December 26, 2011

Goodbye Day

From Heather Graham.

Ach! Merry Day After Christmas!
Forgive this confusion. I set it in my mind that Christmas was Saturday, and that I was waking up today, Sunday morning. Sad, sad, sad, and my kids would surely shake their heads, so please don't tell them.

TLC has been an amazing experience. I was a late comer, not in at the beginning, but delighted to be asked in later. Quite frankly, I really didn't know how to blog--I still don't. Little secret--Harley has put my blog up for me every time I'm up. I honestly didn't even get the concept at first, as in we went in and responded to comments. Then, the way my screen worked, I never saw that I needed to fill in the code, and I couldn't comprehend why what I saw was never there. Ah, ha, well finally found out that we did need to put in a code to reply.

The main thing is that I have loved our blogs and more--I have loved our correspondence with each other. I love the trust we've given one another, setting down our deepest disappoints and sometimes our darkest despairs, and trusting in one another for the encouragement needed. Not as writers; as human beings. 
And, I have loved our blog readers and commenters for their wit, their wisdom, and the many times I've learned something I never expected.

But here he is the good. History and friendships don't go away. My life is incredibly enriched through knowing my blog sisters. The pride, honor, and warmth of know them will not go away as we all launch into our brave new futures!
That said, I'll be starting off a once a week blog in the New Year--sticking with Mondays! 2012 will bring the Krewe of Hunters Texas Krewe to the market, The Unseen, April, hd, and The Unholy, July, The Unspoken, August, and the The Uninvited, September.

Before the New Year, I'm putting a free chapter for E-readers of The Adventures of Steampunk Annie, and the whole book will be available for free on March 15th, my birthday, thru St. Pat's day on the 17th, and 99 cents for the month of March, and then 299. Confusing, yes, buy, hey, look who is writing this? Also, in 2012, Harley Jane Kozak, Alex Sokoloff and I will have out a "Keepers, L.A." series, and for Christmas, the Keepers have an anthology I'm working on with authors Beth Ciotta and Kathleen Pickering.

I reworking web pages, but really go on facebook, Heather Graham Pozzessere if you don't mind pet pictures and children and Heather Graham Author if you do. 
Thank you--thank you, my sisters and our readers, for having allowed me to be part of TLC.


December 25, 2011

A Christmas Treat

For a Christmas Treat please welcome back one of the original Book Tarts, Susan McBride!


   It's incredible to look back and realize how much has changed in six years.  I was a single girl back at the beginning of Lipstick (but met Ed shortly after, and I still remember Harley telling me that he sounded like a keeper from early on!  She was SO right!).  I was healthy except for my bad eating habits (who knew that Snickers wasn't a vegetable?). I was writing a mystery series. And I was definitely not pregnant. 
   Now I'm a happily married woman of nearly four years who's survived breast cancer (and watched my mother survive it as well).  I've switched genres to women's fiction and YA (although I can't help sprinkling a bit of mystery in everything!).  I've been through a miscarriage and now I'm pregnant again (I knew some of those dusty eggs still had it in 'em!).  I can only imagine what the next six years will bring! 
   I wish only wonderful things for everyone here at Lipstick: good health, great friendships, joy in everyday things, and, of course, fabulous books!
   Susan calls herself an "Accidental Cougar" after meeting a younger man in 2005 when she was a St. Louis Magazine Top Single.  They were married in February 2008 and live happily ever after in a suburb of St. Louis.  Susan is a breast cancer survivor and often speaks to women's groups about her experience. She is the author of Little Black Dress (HarperCollins/William Morrow, August 23, 2011) and The Cougar Club, selected by Target Stores as a Bookmarked Breakout Title and named a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association. Cougar also made MORE Magazine's list of "February Books We're Buzzing About."  Find Susan at her website: http://www.susanmcbride.com/index.html 

December 24, 2011

Use Cucumbers

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Well, it seems like this the season for goodbyes. But that’s how the universe works, doesn't it? In cycles. My mother certainly knew that. I said goodbye to her, too, a few weeks ago.

She was 84, and gorgeous. I mean—look at her! This is a very recent photo. She had multiple myeloma, and rheumatoid arthritis, and after a while,  nothing was really working very well. Except her brain. Which was, always and always, hilarious, funny sharp—and so self-actualized it’s hard to believe.

 She was in her twenties in the fifties—look at those eyebrows! I think this was her engagement photo. She met my dad in college, and they ran off to Chicago, where he was the music critic at the Chicago Daily News. She told us tales of their wild and cool life in the night club scene--hanging at the Blue Note with Harry Belafonte and Studs Terkel and the like.

Mom cu  She went to the Chicago Institute of Design and had a life-long passion for the arts and fashion and civil rights and politics. Later, she and my stepfather collected contemporary Russian art, and their house was an absolute gallery.

 Mamacita, as I called her, a remnant from all the family vacations we spent in Mexico--well, she was pretty amazing.

When I was a kid, she made sure I had the World Book Encyclopedia, and I read the whole thing (the white leather-like ones with the green trim) from cover to cover. A to Z.  She took us to the library, and hardly ever complained that I--a complete klutz and complete loner--never wanted to play outside.  She didn't rat on me when I sneaked Marjorie Morningstar and On the Beach and Ten North Frederick from their bookshelves. She knew they were too old for me, but it didn't matter, I was reading.  She put up with my addiction to MAD Magazine (what, her worry?) and my insane craziness over the Beatles.

 (Even when I cut my own hair in a Sassoon, up over one ear on one side and long on the other side.  'What do YOU represent?" my aghast step-father said when he saw me.  My mom just smiled. "It'll grow,  she said.)

(The photo below is my--fifth birthday? At our house on Cherry Lane in a Chicago suburb.)

 Her mantra to me, back then? “Go and find out.” ME: Do you think that drug store has Superman comics? MOM: Go and find out.  ME: What does this word mean? MOM:  Go and find out.  ME: How do I…? How do you…? Where do I..?"  She always had the same answer. She’d shrug, then tell me: “Go and find out.”

 Mom birthday party

And now I’m an investigative reporter. Huh.

  And I look back, now, amazed that she put up with all of us. When my sister and I would clean our room by stashing everything under the bed. Whoa, I bet she NEVER caught on to that one. And when we had to clean up the kitchen, I vividly remember one occasion when I asked: "Do I have to wipe the countertop?"

Yes, she said. You do. Do I have to wipe off the stove? Yes, she said. You do.   Do I have to wipe off  the kitchen table? Yes, she said, exasperated. And then she ended the discussion with:  "You have to wipe off EVERY HORIZONTAL SURFACE."  My siblings and I still say that to each other.

She had advice for EVERYTHING. When it came to love, she had LOTS of advice.   “You have to get out there. No boys are going to come knocking at your door asking “any cute girls live here?”   


When considering a beau for marriage, you must first see him drunk, sick, and with their mother, she warned.  “How he treats her,"  she'd remind me, "is how he’ll treat you.” 

She also said to watch how guys treat their friends. Would you like you kids to grow up to be just like him? she'd ask, raising that eyebrow.  If not, just say no.

And always her famous:  "Remember, it's not all about YOU."

There was the episode of the hair spray--we used hers (Adorn)  on our dolls when we weren't supposed to.  Somehow that was a big deal--I still don't understand it.  We were allowed to have one Coke a week. We could watch Perry Mason with my father if we DID NOT TALK.  

There was the year she said we had outgrown Christmas trees, and we were Jewish anyway, she reminded us, so no tree.  We did fool her on that one. (My sister Nina and I sneaked one in, in the middle of the night,  decorated with popcorn we got at a movie theater. It worked perfectly.)

There was the revelation of the Thanksgiving deception, when Mom admitted she'd been stuffing both turkeys with oyster dressing, but telling us kids one was plain.  ("You think I'm going to make two kinds of dressings? You're nuts, kiddo.")

Everyone in the writing seminars I teach hears one bit of her advice. When I was in the midst of writing PRIME TIME,  my first book, I got about halfway through and realized I had no idea what I was doing. Terrified,  I called Mom and said, "You know, I love my book, and I think it'll work. But I'm just not sure I can finish it."  Mom paused, and then said, "Well honey, you will if you want to."

Ah. And so I did.

She' s immortalized in PRIME TIME and the others in the series--now  it can be told--as Charlie McNally's bossy-but-fabulous mother, and she knew it.  (Now you're in on the secret, and might recognize some of her quotes in the books!) 

I never made a major decision without consulting her. She was always right. Just ask her.

She loved THE OTHER WOMAN, and I'm so happy she got to read it. "It's ABOUT something, dear," she told me. 

 A few weeks  ago she decided, as she told us kids, it was time for someone else to take her spot on earth. She had  "wrapped up her life with a big red  ribbon" as she put it, refused all treatment and stopped eating.   She was  absolutely (and I know this is amazing) not sad, not fearful, not
 upset, not sorry.   "I'm happy,"  she told me. "This has all been wonderful."

 So there I was, in the hospital in Indianapolis week before last, tears  streaming down my face. Getting ready to leave, knowing I would  never see her again.  "Don't cry," she said from her bed. "It'll make your eyes  puffy."

I burst out laughing.

Her voice was very soft by then, but she added:  "Use cucumbers."
A moment later, she opened her eyes. And said to me what she's said every time we parted for the last--oh, ever since I can remember.

"Vaya con Dios, honey."

"Vaya con Dios, Mamacita," I whispered.

To you dear Tarts, too, at this season of change. Vaya con Dios.

And use cucumbers.



December 23, 2011

Books. Writing. Reading.

By Barbara O’Neal

I remember the exact minute I decided to be a writer.

I was in the fifth grade. I was reading, because—let’s be honest here--I never did m 4552006370_036074f238_zuch of anything else. My bedroomwas at the back of the house and had two windows, giving it great light for lounging on the bed with a pack or two or Smarties or Sixlets to nibble on while I read. That day, I was propped up on pillows. It was a winter afternoon, the light just softening into a purple gloaming. My mother cooked supper, sending the smell of hamburger and onions into the air.

I was reading, though I can’t remember what. Out of nowhere, as if an angel dropped a note on the bed, it suddenly occurred to me that somebody wrote this book.

And I thought, quite clearly, “If writing is a job, why would anyone ever do anything else?”

At the time, I had no idea what was involved, but it wasn’t long before I started writing stories myself. All kinds of stories, because when you’re a kid no one cares if you write a literary sort of short short about a gruff grandfather one day and a magical novella about witches the next. My sisters and friends read them all.

I didn’t know it, but I had uncovered the single Great Truth about writing: Writers Write.

CoverYesterday, as I was stressing out over all my first world problems like whether the carpet in our basement will be here in time for Christmas, the UPS man delivered ARCs for my April book, The Garden of Happy Endings. I don’t mind telling you this book kicked my ass. I thought I was writing about a long-lost love, but it was really about women of faith and the church and where they fit and how people lose faith or keep it when really bad things happen. You know, little stuff like that.

But yesterday, I opened the box, and there was my book. There were the words I put down on the pages and the people I spent that year with. It has beautiful end papers and chapter headers. I read the dedication and got teary eyed all over again.

The book is born, right now. She lives. Wow. 

Writers face a lot of pressure these days to be social and public and sell lots of copies and make lists and make friends and send a newsletter, and all kinds of things I forget about because honestly I'm not that good at any of them, but whenever I hold a new book I've written, I think, Holy shit. I’m a writer. I DID this. THIS.

It was so unlikely, and yet, it was also, always, the work I was meant to do. That's a humble and honorable thing, to pick a path and stick with it, year after year, doing it as best you can. I attend to it, writing as truly as I can, writing stories that I'd really like to read myself so that maybe others will want to come along.  

Mainly, though, I do it for me. For that kid in her little bedroom who wanted to read more than she wanted to do anything. In a way, writing a novel is just like reading a novel, except that it lasts longer. I check out of this world and head into the one I’m making up and I love it.

How freakin’ lucky is that?

Here’s something else. I have been on a reading jag. I’m tired (see above—projects coming out my ears, pressures on writers, flooded basement, etc), and what I do when I’m tired is read and read and read. I check out of this world and check into somebody else’s.

I’m reading a couple of books every week. Everything you can think of—science fiction and memoirs and foodie novels and letters from literati, and essays and romances and women’s fiction and sagas. I’ve been saving the second book in George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, Clash of Kings, for the Christmas holiday and can open it tomorrow, so I went back and refreshed my memory by reading the end of the first book, Game of Thrones.

And ---NO SPOILERS!---I fell to pieces all over again reading the final scenes with Daenerys, the brave and plucky young woman sold in marriage to a barbarian king—and proved herself over and over and over again until we see what a fine powerful queen she is. It’s heartbreaking and triumphant and intensely emotional and I love Martin for creating this character so that I can read about her.

I’m not a big fantasy reader. I like it in small doses, but mostly, it comes in 12-packs, which seems like a big commitment when I don’t even know you.  But my eldest son kept telling me, “Mom, I think you’d like it. Just try.”

I still resisted, until I called him one Sunday and he said he’d fallen asleep reading one of the books in the series, and when he woke up, he lifted the book off his chest and kept reading….and forgot to eat.

So. I read the first book.  It's that good.  Now I’m telling you that it’s amazing, and worth reading. If you’re intimidated by keeping all the names and places straight, start with an episode or two of the HBO series.

Books matter. They really, really matter. They matter to us as readers and they matter to us as writers. They can change the world, but more than that, they can change a day, a life, an hour, a year.

Which brings me to the last point. Us. You and me. Books and writing brought us all together here. We have so many ways now to find our tribes, our fellow readers and writers, people who share this passion. The internet has offered us almost immediate connection to the writers we love, to the stories they create, and given us glimpses of their lives in ways that were impossible twenty years ago. It has created communities like this one, readers and writers talking every day, and I feel lucky to have been here even for a short time. I'll miss it, just as you will. 

But I know we’ll meet again, wandering around the book communities we all love. Because we’re book freaks. We love reading and writing and talking about books. We’ll run into each other elsewhere.

Until then, I’ll miss you….and thanks for letting me be here.



December 22, 2011

Chronicle Singalong


 Well, gosh gee whilikers.  If nobody else is going to immortalize our Founding Mothers in song, I guess I'll have to, but DO NOT LOOK FOR PRECISE HISTORICAL ACCURACY HERE.  If you want precise historical accuracy, talk to a politician. Or, wait. Don't. Unless it's Sarah's husband. Anyway. . .I want you to know that I can sing this.  It scans according to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."  I swear it does. It's not my fault if YOU can't carry a  tune or a rhyme, bless your heart.

Okay, are you ready, Alvin?

And a one and a two and a. . .


  Musical_note2You. . . know. . .Margaret and Joshilyn and Barbara and Brunonia, Elaine and Nancy and Cornelia and Kathy, Amy and Heather and Hank. . .But do you recall?  The most im-por-tant Tartlets of allllll?




Sarah, the Vermont Vixen,

Had a very shiny nose,

And after those martinis,

You might even say it glowed.



All of the other bloggers,

used to laugh and call her names,

They never let poor Sarah

Join in any blogger games!

Then one blitzened Friday night,

Nancy Martin said,

"Sarah, why's your nose so red?

Is that LIPSTICK on your head?"


Then Sarah told her Charlie,

That she'd met a Harley Jane,

"She a brilliant star and writer!"

Sara Bubbled when she said the name.



(Second verse, sung same as the first)

Oh, then the three new best friends

Felt complete until they spied--

Dressed to the nines and maybe tens,

A lovely writer named McBride!



None of the other bloggers

were blogging as these four would do,

They'd be funny, smart, and honest,

Sarah swore to tell it true!


So they plotted how to please,

Like no bloggy others,

They'd tell secrets of their own,

Just please don't tell. . . their. . . mo-thers.


Then how the blogworld loved them,

As they shouted out with glee,

"We are the Lipstick Chronicles,

And we'll go down* in his-toh-ree!"


*"They said 'go down'!" Me, Margie exclaimed, as she blogged out of sight.


BONUS:  Here is the first post they ever posted:

May 24, 2005

Welcome to our world!

Welcome to The Lipstick Chronicles where four friends who write books plan to vent, rant, fume, fuss and maybe reach some insightful conclusions about about our writing lives as we Reveal All about our families, our agents (are they the same??) our work and getting along in the world.

Many thanks to Jane, our web mistress, for setting up the blog in the first place.  (Any blunders we make from now on are solely ours!) and to Sarah for making things look pretty.

We hope to conduct a conversation here.  We want to build friendships.  So join in when you have something to say.  Don't hold back.  We want to hear from you.