Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - 23

Castle photo from Haunted Ireland


Just in time for the Spookiest Day of the Year, here are 10 of my favorite films that give me that perfect creepy feeling. All synopses taken from IMDB.

1 - The Exorcist

"A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal sickness. And a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy."

View trailer
(has a few seconds of black before it starts up)

2 - Count Dracula

"For those familiar with Bram Stoker's novel, this adaptation follows the book quite closely in most respects. Jonathan Harker visits the Count in Transylvania to help him with preparations to move to England. Harker becomes Dracula's prisoner and discovers Dracula's true nature. After Dracula makes his way to England, Harker becomes involved in an effort to track down and destroy the Count, eventually chasing the vampire back to his castle."

View clip

3 - Sleepy Hollow

"After the head of a Hessian horseman is stolen, the horseman returns from hell. He takes the heads of the people of Sleepy Hollow until his own is returned. Constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) is called in to investigate three murders. Through his investigation he learns of the legend of the Headless Horseman, but he doesn't believe that the stories are true...until the horseman takes off the head of one of the elders right in front of his very eyes. Now he must race to find out the origins of the horseman in order to send him back to his grave for good."

View trailer

4 - She Creature

"Two carnies (Sewell and Gugino) abduct a mermaid in Ireland, circa 1900, and decide to transport her to America. As their ship loses its way and heads towards the mythical Forbidden Islands, the mermaid begins to display its deadly side."

View trailer on IMDB

5 - Blade

"Born of a mother bitten by a vampire, Blade possesses all their strengths and none of their weaknesses. He is known as the day walker because sunlight does not affect him. With his life-long friend Whistler and the addition of a new ally, Dr. Karen Jenson, Blade endeavors to prevent the evil Frost from unleashing the blood god upon the world."

View clip

Runs 7 min.

6 - Lady in White

"Locked in a school closet during Halloween 1962, young Frank witnesses the ghost of a young girl and the man who murdered her years ago. Shortly afterward he finds himself stalked by the killer and is soon drawn to an old house where a mysterious Lady In White lives. As he discovers the secret of the woman he soon finds that the killer may be someone close to him."

View trailer

7 - Ghost Story

"Four elderly gentleman, the entire membership of the Chowder Society, get together periodically to share ghost stories. These gents have been doing this for a long time there is a sinister reason why. We don't learn until well into the film what that reason is, and the leading up to it is the meat of the story. Set against a wonderfully atmospheric New England backdrop, it is revealed that the distinguished membership of the Chowder Society had accidentally murdered a young girl they were all smitten with 50 years earlier. The girl, brilliantly played by the enigmatic Alice Krige, has come back in the form of a ghost to exact terrible revenge."

No trailer to be had. But the four gentlemen are played by Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and John Houseman.

Flixter review by BrownRecluse: "The performance of Alice Krige completely delivers. Here she shows her full potential as a great screen beauty as well as an exceptionally talented actress. Her embodiment of the haunting seduces even as it chills. It's perhaps my favorite performance ever. The cinematography by the great Jack Cardiff is tops as well. The cold, dark landscapes and the warm interiors are all bathed in the eerie glow of the haunt. Now if only they could have avoided those cheap shock moments with the rotting corpses and gone for a more deeply haunting image instead, this might have been a great film. It's still effective, though, and the tour-de-force that is Krige's very presence raises it to a level of something special."

8 - High Spirits

"When Peter Plunkett's Irish castle turned hotel is about to be repossesed, he decides to spice up the attraction a bit for the 'Yanks' by having his staff pretend to haunt the castle. The trouble begins when a busload of American tourists arrive - along with some real ghosts. Among the tourists are married couple Jack and Sharon. Sharon's father holds the mortgage on Castle Plunkett, so she's hoping to debunk the ghosts. Jack, on the other hand, after meeting pretty ghost Mary, is very eager to believe. Can there be love between a human and ghost? Jack and Mary are going to try and find out."

View trailer on IMDB

Liam Neeson and Daryl Hannah play the ghosts caught in a loop replaying their haunting over and over.

9 - From Hell

"The infamous Jack the Ripper case set in London of 1888. The Ripper has been running amok in the Whitechapel district murdering and dissecting prostitutes. Scotland Yard Inspector Fred Abberline, aided by his partner, Peter Godley, are on the case to figure out who this serial killer is and why he is killing these women in such a brutal manner. Abberline is an opium addict and when "chasing the dragon" he is able to have visions of the future, a certain psychic ability that allows him to solve cases. As Abberline and Godley investigate the crimes, they become acquainted with the prostitutes who were friends and colleagues of the victims. Abberline begins to fall in love with Mary Kelly, one of the prostitutes, or as the nobles called them "unfortunates", being hunted down by Jack the Ripper. Abberline digs deeper and deeper into the conspiracy and attempts to solve the case before Mary Kelly is the next victim."

View Trailer

10 - The Others

"Grace lives with her two children Anne and Nicholas on an almost empty island in their huge mansion. Grace's husband is a soldier in WWII and Grace has given her husband up for dead. Everything seems peaceful for her, but when three mysterious servants are given jobs at the house, terrifying secrets are unlocked that even Grace cannot handle."

View trailer

The 1977 BBC version of 'Count Dracula' began my love affair with vampires when I was a girl. Brad -King of Finding Me All The Films and TV Shows I Long For - found it while we were in Toronto two weeks ago. I nearly kissed him right there at Sunrise Records! Warning if you watch it - the 1977 thing is unfortunate in the video effect department. But the casting is perfect for Van Helsing, Mina, Lucy and Renfield, and the acting is top notch. Jonathan Harker usually has a way of coming across as what Brad referred to as a 'wuss', which is bizarre considering the first half is really through his POV. No matter what version of Dracula, Harker has the same problem. I'd love to see yet another version made, because Harker deserves to be a cooler character. And I have yet to see the perfect Dracula. I'll be searching for him till I find him.

Also I MUST warn you about 'High Spirits'. Half of the movie rocks, the other half is embarassing, it hits so many wrong notes. But the ghost story part is so compelling and haunting, it's stayed with me for 20 years.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 23 - The Red Joy at Last

The Red Joy at Last

On battlefields he'd watched it spray
Spattering cross his face
Slickening his hold on the
Pommel as he swung

His horse's hooves swirled the
Russet color of it
Sucking through mud and men's sodden hair
Floating facedown

The smell of it
Clings to his memory
Slime of a man
Swiped from his cheek

He'd seen this look before
Most often from a height
The solid weight of warhorse
Dearer than a lover

Now he steps close
Fear rich as lust
He hears the heart clench
Pulse like rain on his tongue

Shining terror turns
Blue eyes into torch flame
Lighting his way
To the feast

Fangs descend against lips
Curling back
Arms pull the trembling man close
Dearer than a lover

The night's battle looms
No sword for such as he
Could this man have been
A shield brother once?

His worth shines like gold
Twin points sink deep
He sighs as he tastes of
The red joy at last

Copyright - Julia Smith - October 28, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The RCMP Always Gets Their Man

Tonight, as long as it doesn't get bumped by baseball or racing, Brad and I will be glued to our favorite Saturday night fun - 'America's Most Wanted'. We've been watching this show since it first aired over 20 years ago.

John Walsh is our hero. He never holds anything back. If he feels a guy should be called a slimeball, he calls it like he sees it. He is seriously on my personal list of heroic people. He took a personal tragedy - losing his son in a gruesome murder - then dropped the life path he'd been on to show the world what a difference ONE person can make.

During 9/11, he was among the few civilians given access to Ground Zero. The police and firefighters, emergency response teams, all walked up to him to shake his hand with deeply felt respect. He's not just the host of a crime-fighting show. He has changed the way law enforcement shares information with each other, has gotten child protection laws through Congress, and all through his own unrelenting force of will. If the foot soldiers at Ground Zero drop what they're doing to pay respects to John Walsh, that's good enough for me.

As diehard AMW watchers, Brad and I have seen several 'scumbags' profiled over and over again as the law continues to dog their trail. After awhile, viewers know these on-the-lam characters inside and out. So imagine our shock/glee/pride when our local newscast reported the takedown of an 'America's Most Wanted' suspect right here in the Maritimes by a rookie RCMP officer.

April 8, 2006 was the first airing of the Richard McNair case on AMW, who was "serving a life sentence at the federal prison in Pollock, La. for killing a man during a 1987 burglary attempt in North Dakota. According to Marshals, on April 5, 2006, McNair literally put himself into a package and mailed himself to freedom." (

Here's the capture story as it appeared in The Halifax Chronicle Herald by Kevin Bissett: Mounties nab escaped American killer in N.B.

This guy was playing a game of catch-me-if-you-can that he still probably intends to continue. But I'm looking forward to the footage tonight when I get to see him wearing that lovely shade of prisoner orange that's always so becoming.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 28 - 13 Reasons to Read Julianne MacLean

Who is this charming fellow settling back to read 'In My Wildest Fantasies'? My cousin's newest Avon Historical hits store shelves on October 30th, and the actor appears in her new book trailer. For my Thursday Thirteen today, here's a look at Julianne's work from her first release in August of 2000 to her 11th release in five short days!

1 - August 2000 (Harlequin Historical)

"The prairie was hard on a woman.

You had to be tough to survive here, and Briggs expected any wife of his to be as stalwart as he. The first woman he had trusted to do the job had failed. So what had made him think a stranger, especially a beautiful one, could ever help him salvage his dreams?

Sarah MacFarland's mail-order-bride marriage to Mr. Brigman was heaven-sent. She only hoped that the silent rancher was as honest as he appeared, for Sarah's unspoken past already held enough lies and scandal to last her a lifetime." (back cover)

Reader comments:

"It is a refreshing change not to be able to predict every plot turn in a book! Prairie Bride features characters who don't act/react in the formula ways." - K. Wellborn, Amazon reviewer from California, USA

"Both Briggs and Sarah were decent, honorable people. They were flawed, but in human ways, not in unforgivable ways that would make them unlikeable. That's a delicate balance to strike, so I applaud this author for a job well done. My only real complaint with this book was that it wasn't long enough!" - Gemma, Amazon reviewer from Alberta, Canada

2 - June 2001 (Julia's note: one of my favorite covers! - Harlequin Historical)

"Finally a Hero who doesn't make it through the story physically unscathed. First day on the job and U.S. Marshal Fletcher Collins gets shot. By the most unexpected character.
Mrs. Jospehine O'Malley is out for vigilante justice - her son Leo wants to solve the mystery of why his father was killed. She probably can't trust the Marshal. He may be a bought man. What the Marshal feels for Jo does not make a difference. He has the law to uphold. Definitely a keeper." - M. Hartmann, Amazon reviewer, Michigan, USA

"This great cover hooked me, but it was the characters who drew me in. Author Julianne MacLean layers complication until it seems impossible that love can be allowed to bloom between these two. The prose is action-packed, the pace fast, and the plot twists are guaranteed to make you wring your hands." - Norah Wilson, Amazon reviewer, New Brunswick, Canada

"Another wonderfully fast paced story with great tension and more layers than the heroine's petticoat. The twists are delightful. Her characters are so realistic and natural, this story is without a doubt one of my keepers!" - Barbara Phinney, Amazon reviewer, Canada

3 - April 2003 (RITA FINALIST, Romance Writers of America - Harlequin Historical)

"After years struggling to build a prosperous life in colonial Nova Scotia, Adam Coates is finally able to send back to England for his first love. Instead, he gets her younger sister, Madeline, who has quietly yearned for him. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Adam and Madeline unfold as they reassess their rose-colored impressions of first love and struggle to establish a stronger, deeper bond." - "hrwdebhale", Amazon reviewer, Canada

"Julianne MacLean extracts plot points from several romance classics and deftly uses them to her advantage. The tone and atmosphere nicely echo that of writer Jane Austen. This unusual and satisfying romance affirms how very important it is to show love openly and never settle for anything less." - 4 star Romantic Times review by Gerry Benninger

"Agreeing to stay together until her sister Diana arrives, Madeline and Adam try living and working together as friends, only to gradually realize they want something more. MacLean's quietly compelling writing turns this simple, classic love story into a richly emotional romance, and by combining engaging characters with a unique, vividly detailed setting, she has created an exceptional tale for readers who hunger for something a bit different in their historical romances." - John Charles, 'Booklist'

4 - May 2003 (RITA FINALIST - Avon Historical)

"Though several eligible men seem to vie for her hand, American heiress Sophia is attracted to the one they call 'The Dangerous Duke'—James Langdon, Duke of Wentworth. James is in for quite a surprise when Sophia becomes his bride and sets out to turn his estates, life and heart upside down with her uncompromising desire to give of herself. With charm and wit and a true understanding of the era, Julianne MacLean delivers realistic characters locked in a passionate and poignant love story." - 4 star Romantic Times review by Kathe Robin

"After having spent his life learning to control his passions, the duke must now give into desire if he is to successfully seduce the heiress he needs. An unconventional, genuinely kind American who isn't afraid of breaking the rules of society teaches a cynical Englishman the true meaning of love in this sexy historical. MacLean gives readers a fascinating glimpse of a time when American women were accused of "buying" husbands in England as she fluently blends history into a emotionally compelling love story." - John Charles, 'Booklist'

"Sophia was determined to marry for love, no matter what title her dear mama would try to force upon her. As fate would have it, across the crowded room, a hush fell, a body moved, and Sophia gazed upon a work of art - the most devastatingly handsome man, His Grace, the Duke of Wentworth. The whispers began again, with Sophia hearing `dangerous duke', nightmare, heartbreaker, stay away etc.
This was my introduction to one of the finest books I have had the pleasure to read this year. Sophia had her work cut out to act the part of his `Duchess' but in her own estimable way, and perseverance she brought him, and his family, back from darkness into a world of light and love! Do keep your tissues handy when you get toward the very moving and sensual ending!" - M. Rondeau, Amazon reviewer, West Springfield, MA, USA

5 - June 2003 (WINNER, Bookseller's Best Awards, Greater Detroit Romance Writers - Silhouette Desire)

"Dr Donovan Knight, wealthy, handsome, sexy heart surgeon has been getting death threats. Now someone has broken into his penthouse and attacked him. His worried partner hires a bodyguard to protect Donovan until this stalker is caught.

Jocelyn MacKenzie, former Secret Service agent, isn't so sure she should accept this assignment. She's got issues with men who live for status, wealth and material things, but she moves in to provide 24-hour protection.

Donovan can't resist the challenge of dragging out the woman hiding behind that professional facade, but she's just as determined to keep him at arm's length and discourages any personal interaction. But there's still a stalker out there. She can't afford to lose her focus. Someone could get hurt, maybe killed. What about the threat to her heart - especially when she figures out that her first impressions of him were so wrong?" - baltimore0502, Amazon reviewer

"The handsome heart surgeon can't remember the last time a woman appeared so unaffected by him, and that holds more appeal than he wants to admit. Julianne MacLean fills 'Sleeping With the Playboy' with everything that makes a good story into a lasting keeper." - 4.5 star TOP PICK Romantic Times review by Angela Keck

6 - January 2004 (USA Today Bestseller - Avon Historical)

"Time has come for Clara, the sister of American heiress Sophia Wilson (To Marry the Duke), to come to London and capture a husband. She left America because of her adventurous behavior, but accidentally attends a notorious ball. The Marquess of Rawdon, Seger Wolfe, is enchanted with the mysterious young woman he encounters. Realizing she is an innocent, Seger decides to tempt and test the lady. He sends her outrageously sensual letters, and steals kisses that set Clara's world on fire.

With humor, a sassy heroine, a delightfully wicked hero and a perfectly rendered Victorian atmosphere, MacLean enchants readers. Her special spark and brand of sensuality mark her rise to the top." - 4 star Romantic Times review by Kathe Robin

"Clara thought there was something improper going on at the ball, but it took a sinful kiss from a stranger to convince her. A mix-up in invitations on the part of Clara's companion sent the two Americans to a notorious Cakras ball instead of the polite society event they meant to attend. Clara realizes he is exactly the kind of sexy rogue she came to London to avoid. Even worse, Clara isn't sure if Seger is asking her to indulge in a wicked affair or a proper courtship. MacLean continues her captivating historical series featuring American heiresses who marry into British nobility with this deliciously sexy tale of two people who marry for desire only to discover how important trust is to true romance." - John Charles, 'Booklist'

"Burned by love years ago, Seger Wolfe, the Marquess of Rawdon, has long forsaken the ballrooms of polite society. That changes, however, when Seger rescues an innocent from certain social ruin - but not before stealing a kiss. Soon the rakish marquess and the daring debutante are indulging in naughty correspondence and a heated flirtation. Will this audacious miss find true love before scandal catches up with her? Returning to the ballrooms and salons of the Gilded Age, Julianne MacLean pens a worthy follow up to last year's 'To Marry The Duke'. Seger and Clara are well matched and their heated encounters, and delicious repartee bring this tale to life." - TheSchemer, Amazon reviewer, NYC

7 - November 2004 (FINALIST, Booksellers Best Awards, Greater Detroit Romance Writers - Avon Historical)

"MacLean will delight her fans with this charmer. From first page to last, you'll be drawn into the well-crafted setting and the Edith Wharton/ Henry James–style love story." - 4 star Romantic Times review by Kathe Robin

"Adele, the last of three American sisters to wed, always comes across as perfect. She always does what she's told and is very agreeable. Wow! Did she ever surprise me! It's not that she doesn't want, or yearn to be adventuresome, it's that she has an ingrained, very strong streak of sensibility. When she's returned to her fiancé, she quickly knows he isn't the man for her. So she's torn between what she had agreed to do (marry Harold), and reaching out and grabbing what she does want. I did so enjoy watching Adele grow as she learned that sometimes the things you want the most you have to fight for, and that IS the sensible decision!" - Darkcat, Amazon reviewer, Alaska, USA

"I have read the 'Grand Ladies' over and over again, Mary Balogh, Jo Beverly, Mary Jo Putney. I'm thrilled to say there's another historical romance author who is fast rising on the heels of these wonderfully talented ladies: Julianne MacLean. Mary Balogh can alway gets my heart tied up in knots, often with one line. The talented Ms. MacLean can do it, too. In this third instalment of her 'American Heiress' Series, Damien and Adele are forced to question their loyalties as they experience a passionate desire which overrides everything. For MacLean's characters, love always comes with a huge pricetag - maybe that's why I love her books so much." - Rom Fan, Amazon reviewer, Michigan, USA

8 - July 2005 (Julia's note: another of my favorite covers! - WINNER, 2005 RT Reviewers Choice Award, Best Regency Set Historical - Avon Historical)

"There's been only one man in the world for Lady Lily Langdon — Edward Wallis, Earl of Whitby. But Edward sees her as a sister, until Lily takes lessons in love from Sophia, her audacious sister-in-law. A love-'em-and-leave-'em rogue, Edward is falling under Lily's spell when the strange illness that plagues him strikes. Fearing he will die, Lily concocts a daring scheme to seduce Edward and become pregnant, thereby saving his estate and having a child so as to keep a piece of him forever. It will take another terrible twist of fate for her to see her dream of true love come true. It takes a talented author to segue from a lighthearted tale of seduction to an emotionally powerful romance that plays a darker tune on your heartstrings. MacLean is more than up to the task with this very special, powerful read." - 4.5 star Romantic Times review by Kathe Robin

"The sheer emotion that this book wrenched from me was what prevented me from being able to put the book down till I'd finished it all in one day. I felt instantly drawn into Lily and Edward's story, as if observing them for real. I ached for them both, although I wished I could have smacked them at times for being hard headed, especially Edward. And as for Edward, I have probably never read a romance book where I've felt that the hero's emotions, thoughts, etc., were portrayed with all the depth and emotion that the heroine's almost always are. Sure, we usually get strong impressions of how hunk-a-licious the hero always is, but Edward was all that and more. He had real feelings, he had real fears and he had real wants." - K. Montgomery, Amazon reviewer, Columbus, GA, USA

"I was hooked from the beginning. Page after page I just got sucked in deeper until I closed the book with a happy sigh. It was written with an amazing level of intensity and feeling that my heart was pumping furiously with the palatable passion in the story. MacLean developed Lily and Whitby's personalities and motivations to the point where you feel as though you know them well enough to be friends by the time you finish the book. Both the hero and the heroine have secrets of their own, which are slowly brought to light by the author, like layers being peeled from a (very good) onion...." - D. Lane, Amazon reviewer, Austin, TX, USA

9 - February 2006 (Julia's note: my favorite cover so far - NOMINEE, Reviewers International Organization Award of Excellence - Avon Historical)

"When artist Annabelle Lawson meets Magnus Wallis on a train, she sees him as the perfect subject for a painting and, during the weeks that follow that fateful meeting, he becomes her model and her lover. Then she discovers the truth: Magnus is the cousin of her loathsome benefactor. Devastated by his betrayal, she never dreams of love again. But then Magnus returns from America to open an art gallery. He requests permission to show Annabelle's portrait of him, risking everything to win Annabelle's trust and love. MacLean reaches far inside her characters to pull out all the stops in this deeply touching, unforgettable love story. Known for her ability to balance humor, passion and emotional intensity, MacLean crafts stories that are romantic and thought-provoking. She is an author whose time has come." - 4.5 star Romantic Times review by Kathe Robin

"The cover of Julianne MacLean's Portrait of a Lover looks delicious and this engaging historical does not disappoint. Young, ravishing, unattainable Annabelle and the misunderstood, abhorred and darkly handsome Magnus - through a chance meeting, they discover mutual attraction and timeless love. Forced separation prove to be critical catalysts to the growth of more balanced, dimensional characters. Even so, Magnus is haunted by what could have been. Annabelle is determined not to be deceived or to love again. When Magnus reenters her life, Annabelle still fears love and lacks appreciation of her considerable artistic talent. You will not be disappointed by MacLean's artistic composition, by the way she nudges her characters along with her writer's brush, creating her masterpiece." - Patricia Thomas, Amazon reviewer

"Annabelle's act of painting is so vividly described I can smell the oils and turpentine. There are wonderful scenes of charged emotion between Annabelle and Magnus that never fail to go in a direction I couldn't expect. Ms. MacLean excels at turning a character who seems to be one thing at first meeting, into someone else once we see what's behind the public persona. In the case of Magnus, already shown to us in Love According to Lily, the ferocity and seething rage of that book's villain transforms into the truer image of Annabelle's tragic lover. Magnus' refusal to allow the constraints of interfering family to deny him the love that still burns for Annabelle is a delicious fuel that cleanses his rage into passion. As for Annabelle, her inability to be anyone but herself, to pursue her painting even when her heart seems broken, really endears her to me. Her reaction to Magnus' return to her life is very real and very touching. This is a romance for those who love a story that can really wrench your heart." - Gerryaddict, Amazon reviewer, Halifax, Canada

10 - December 2006 (Avon Historical)

"After winning the last two yachting races at Cowes, Lord Martin Langdon is looking forward to adding another trophy to his collection. Then he decides that an affair with the very proper, very wealthy and recently widowed Evelyn Wheaton is too tempting to resist. He uses all of his seductive skills to melt her icy reserve, and soon realizes that her love is the only prize worth winning. A nicely detailed Victorian setting and fascinating details about yacht racing give this bracing book its refreshingly different twist as MacLean brings her "American Heiress" series to a splendid conclusion." - John Charles, 'Booklist'

"Lord Martin Langdon loves that his reputation makes good women run in the opposite direction. That's what makes him so eager to prove he can corrupt the incorruptible Evelyn Wheaton. Martin remembers pulling her from a frozen lake and saving her life when she was a child. She has never forgotten him, and she finds it difficult to believe that her hero relishes his scandalous reputation. He woos her not with flowers, but with sailing lessons that bring them together in a partnership that blossoms into deep respect and love. MacLean showcases her knack for combining sensuality and emotion in a breathtaking story about a bad boy and a straightlaced lady. Your heart will sing as love conquers all, while MacLean's vibrant love story will strike the perfect chords and make you cherish this book." - 4.5 star Romantic Times review by Kathe Robin

"It's a plot full of romance, yacht racing, summer parties, and a particular sensual session of lovemaking on a beach. Both of the main characters have emotional issues from their past that MacLean handles well. She has them work things out together or go and grow up a bit, and time passes. I like that. There are plenty of little details about sailing, the lives of the rich, a few appearances by actual folks who lived in the time, and finally, several characters from her earlier novels in this series make a return, but don't hog the story. Finally, our heroine wears glasses. At last. What a nice touch. In short, this is one of those novels that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and sighed a bit when I put it down. It's a smart novel, and there are just too few of them out there." - Rebecca Huston, Amazon reviewer, On the Banks of the Hudson

11 - Before we get to the latest release, I bet you wouldn't suspect that Julianne was a club fixture in 1980's Halifax. Not ON the dance floor, but spinning the tunes that got everybody else out there. Yes, Julianne was a club DJ at Rosa's. This was taken around 1987 or 88.

"I'm the daughter of a jazz musician," Julianne says. "So I will always love jazz classics. I'm also nostaligic about the 80's, so I have a soft spot for REM and U2."

12 - And now - the moment you've been waiting for! Here's the book trailer for 'In Her Wildest Fantasies'.

13 - "I always strive to write books that have lots of heart and emotion," says Julianne. "And I've come to realize that I love to read historical romances that are rich in atmosphere and sweep you into the period. So I research my settings extensively.

"As far as characters are concerned, I like to write about strong, dark, tortured heroes who experience substantial growth throughout the story. Some of my favorite heroes from other romances include Rothgar, from 'Devilish', Brand Malloren from 'Secrets of the Night', and Fitzroger from 'Dark Champion'. These are books by Jo Beverley. Other favorites? Peregrine from Mary Jo Putney's 'Silk and Shadows', and Devon Crandall from 'The Windflower', by Tom and Sharon Curtis.

"I also strive to write heroines who are calm, reasonable and emotionally intelligent, even when times are tough."

Here's my favorite advice from my cousin:

"If you love writing romances, what does it matter if it takes a year or five or even ten? As long as you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not a sacrifice. Those years are going to go by anyway, and if you give up - thinking it’s too hard or it will take too long - you’ll find yourself sitting around in five years wondering where you’d be right now if you had stayed with it."

I KNOW this is Julianne's true philosophy in life. When I was considering going to university at age 26 as a mature student, and I was making fun of the idea of getting my degree at 30, Julianne said I would turn 30 anyway, so why not turn 30 with a degree? I have often passed that advice on to others. And I thank her for giving it to me when I most needed it.

I'm very lucky to have my cousin in my life. We've grown up together, shared our first crushes and heartbreaks together, laughed till we rolled on the floor with tears rolling down our faces. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding, and filled my suitcase with rose petals so that when Brad and I got to the hotel I had a heart-swelling moment of wonder when I opened it. I did a reading at her wedding, where I always remember the loving way she had her hand on her husband's back as he signed the register.

Happy 11th Release Day, Julianne! October 30th - May it be so much more than your wildest fantasies could have imagined.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - 22

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Toronto Update #2

Hi, Everyone! I'm back!

So good to be back in Blogdom. I missed you all so much! I'll have several proper posts about my trip, but I'll give you another rundown:

* surprised my sister's former roommate, whom I didn't tell about our trip. She's the manager of a bookstore, and we moseyed on in, she looked up at the new customers, and there it was - the Surprise! It was fantastic! She surprised me back a few days later when I was riding the subway and someone stood in front of me. I looked up from my book - Surprise! There she was on my same subway car. The law of averages on that one alone is good for a jaw dropper.

* Brad and I spent an evening at a bar with his brother Jeff, who is a kareoke DJ. Had a blast, starting of course with my double shot of Glenfiddich neat. I got up for three songs through the course of the evening, and Brad sang two. Jeff sang a couple himself, demonstrating an impressive octave range.

* met up again with my sister's roomie for coffee. She was being stalked by Steven Page from the Barenaked Ladies. At least, he showed up in three places we went to in the course of an hour.

* visited my friend Donna, whose daughter was my little charge when I worked as her nanny 20 years ago. I lived with them and became extremely close to her and her brother Dave, who was later my roommate. Donna is an exquisite baker - we had cookies sprinkled with edible gold.

* had dinner at his sister Karen's and made plans for the upcoming 50th wedding anniversary

* met up with the woman who stood up for Brad at our wedding. We called her the Attendent of Honor on the program, but really she was the Best Man/Woman. She's a singing turbo boxing lawyer. Did I mention they met at The New School of Drama?

* had dinner with Brad's old friend from the Imperial Six Cinemas. Her 12-year-old son decided all on his own that, since we were coming for dinner, he would wear dress pants and a white shirt. What a sweetie!

* went back to Brad's sister's for a marathon prep afternoon, where she assembled 8 lasagnas and we scanned 80-plus snapshots of their parents' married life for a slideshow

* the next morning I helped my mother-in-law clean and set up before the guests arrived. The 50th Anniversary bash was a crazy crush of people! A wondrous time was had by all!

* the next morning I met my very, very good friend Lisa - my war buddy from the retail trenches of Simpson's Children's Shoe Department - at the GO Train, and we spent the day together. Which sounds like a WHOLE day but felt like a mere hour. Sniff. A teary goodbye later that night, I can tell you.

* our last day in Toronto, we hopped on the Queen streetcar and headed downtown. Met our friends Rick and Andrea for second visits - how decadent. Noticed we kept wandering into bookstores. It's a sickness.

* my wonderful brother-in-law Jeff drove us to the airport for an 8:00 am flight. My totally sweet auntie picked us up at the airport and brought us home to a flipped-out-with-joy dog. My mom and gram were SO glad we didn't decide to stay in our beloved Big City (because they understand how much we miss it. Probably guessed that everyone kept asking us when we were moving back...)

* my sister came over after work and we ordered take-out pizza and had a great visit over dinner.

And now, the couch and the comforter beckons. Time to curl up with my dog who I missed so terribly. Brad is watching his obscure DVDs he snagged in TO. And for me, it's nighty-night.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Toronto Update #1

I'm at my brother-in-law's this evening. He has internet service, while my parents-in-law don't even have their computer set up anymore. So here's a quickie post on the trip so far:

* flew in Friday night. Beautiful, gorgeous view of the city at night glowing like a quilt of orange light. Sorry, Sparky Duck and Dale, but Toronto is beautiful to me.

* met up with Amy Ruttan, Wylie Kinson and Leah B. at Milestones before the Toronto Romance Writers October meeting. My husband Brad joined us for lunch and really enjoyed all the writerly discussion. It was SO wonderful to see everyone in person!! The meeting was more than great, as I learned a little tidbit of fabulousness on behalf of my Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada writing bud, Kelly Boyce. I very much enjoyed a dialogue workshop given by Eve Silver.

* Brad and I hightailed it for Dundas and Yonge and ran with tears in our eyes into the loving embrace of the World's Biggest Bookstore

* on Sunday we went to dinner with Brad's friend Lisa and her sister Sherri. Her sister is a psychic who read our palms for us and gave us Tarot readings. I had wonderful news from both readings that left me in actual tears.

* today was more of a hang-out-with-Brad's-mom-and-dad kind of day

* I did talk to my friend Donna - I used to be the nanny for her now-22-year-old-daughter. Can't wait to see her!!

* but in the evening, his brother Jeff came to get us, and drove us out to his place in Oakville. We had Chinese take-out with his wife Violet. She showed me how to use different features on my mom's digital camera. She also let me take pictures of her art work for a future Thursday Thirteen...

* my mom is looking after my dog while we're away, and it's such a good feeling knowing she's in good hands. But I miss her!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Toronto - Here We Come!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 27 - 13 of My Favorite Illustrators

Tomorrow night, my husband and I will be flying into Toronto for a week and a half of visiting his family, so there's lots to do here to get ready. I don't know whether I'll have internet access or not - my blogging may be sporadic or non-existent for awhile.

But until then, here are some of my favorite works by illustrators I love. Why aren't these pieces of art? Well, in my opinion, they are. But in art circles, commercial art is often referred to as illustration. Rather like the romance novel in the literary world.

Let's have a leisurely gaze at some visually stunning pieces:

1 - Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Dr. Seuss

An early favorite!

2 - Pauline Baynes

Mr. Tumnus from 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'

3 - Aubrey Beardsley

4 - Edward Gorey

The creator of 'The Gashleycrumb Tinies'

5 - Gustave Dore

'Paradise Lost 4'

6 - Greg & Tim Hildebrandt

7 - Edward Robert Hughes

'Midsummer Eve'

8 - Victorian Ephemera

I can never get enough of these illustrations done for advertisements, greeting cards and calendars

9 - Cicely Mary Barker

The Flower Fairies

10 - Garth Williams

The Little House series

11 - Carl Larsson

'Around the Lamp'

12 - Alex Ross

He illustrates the characters of the DC universe, including Superman.

You can see where the art director/cinematographer for 'Superman Returns' got their inspirations for this shot.

13 - Frank Miller

Panel from '300' by Dark Horse Comics

Still from Zach Snyder's film '300'