CosmoChix

we give good romance

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow . . .


I had such a fabulous time hanging with the CosmoChix (so bright, so funny, so warm!) that I'm a little choked-up to admit the truth.

I really only want to be a guest blogger.

Yes, it's true. I want to be announced and anticipated, I want to sweep in like a star with my boa trailing behind me, and then I want to ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again . . . until the next place I'm asked to drop in.

Happily, the CosmoChix have other gigs - some of them more than one! - and I'm sure they'll fill you in on where you can find their pithy comments on love, life and the meaning of their brilliant books.

I'll be preparing my usual now-and-then e-newsletters to fans and sitting by my virtual phone, breathlessly awaiting invitations to wonderful blogs like The Midnight Hour where I'm due to guest on June 19.

And while I'm still here, let me squeak in my last bit of promo. If you weren't at RT, but want a sneak peak to Prince of Ice, you're not too late. Send your snail mail to emma @ emmaholly.com (minus the spaces) and I'll get one out to you. You can also sign up for my e-newsletter that way.

Best wishes to everyone who came to see us as CosmoChix. And, who knows, we had such a good time, there may be more party throwing in our future!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wow! What a party!











For all you who missed the party at RT. . . here are some pictures of the CosmoChix! We had a great time and threw a heckuva bash. Some said it was one of the best parties of the conference-- and believe me, there were plenty!

We had 120 people in a suite and on a terrace loaned to us by the estimable Jo Carol from RT and our honorary bartender was none other than the runner-up cover model, Travis Greiman!! Through the evening, questions were asked about Travis and when answered (guessed!) correctly, earned a goodie bag of record proportions! Plus, everyone had cosmos, wine and other drinks. . . food and chocolate. . . and received goodie bags with CosmoChix mirrors as favors. Oh yeah. . . and Travis brought a number of his new buds with him. . . so we were overflowing with handsome young males of cover model quality!

Don't you wish you'd been there?
We wish you had, too! Let's do it again, sometime!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Last one in. . .


The rest of the Chix are already in Daytona Beach, kicking back and having fun, and I'm stuck here makin' party plans and packin' up the car with all kinds of goodies. . . Ghirdelli chocolate, cosmopolitan mixer and spirits, martini glasses. . . give-away goodies. . . prizes, centerpieces. . . whew! A lot to do before I hit the road tomorrow.

And I still have to pack. . . and figure out what to wear. . . and tan and lose ten pounds overnight so the Greenpeace-ers won't keep trying to push me back into the water. . . and try on all this new makeup the rest of the Chix talked me into. . .

I'm goin' casual, you guys! It's summer and it's Florida and it's RT. Time to party!

Wait until you see what we have in store for you! If you're still reading this. . . get yourself in gear and get to Daytona Beach!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

RT, here I come!

Just a quick note to let you all know I'm off! If you're interested in locating me at RT I'll be in Club RT on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 with the Vampire Vixens. Stop by and pick up a silicon bracelet that reads 'got blood?'. You know you need one!
Then, you won't see me in any official capacity until the signing on Saturday, and of course, the CosmoChix party Saturday night! It should be a blast, and I look forward to meeting you all!

Michele

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Gearing Up With Goodies





Like the rest of the CosmoChix, I'm gearing up to go to the Romantic Times Booklovers convention in Daytona. Along with my so-ready-to-be-warmed-up Minnesota self, I'm bringing goodies.

I will have quite possibly the prettiest bookmark I've ever made and an extremely early sneak peek of the first chapter of my November 06 release, PRINCE OF ICE. This very sexy excerpt has not been touched by anyone but moi, and since I haven't produced massive enough quantities to put it into the Goody Room, I am cordially inviting you to introduce yourself to me and ask for one. (Which, believe me, will make me feel very special!) My picture is above so you'll be sure to recognize me.

Should you have any trouble tracking me down, here's where I'll be at various times during the conference.

WED, May 17, 11-Noon: Erotica Panel (with a bunch of other great steamy authors)
THU, May 18, 3-4 p.m.: Hospitality Suite
SAT, May 20, 11-3 p.m.: Book Fair
7:30-9 p.m.: CosmoChix Party!!!

I put on my social hat when I'm at conference (okay, it's an invisible hat, but you'll know it's on because I'll be smiling) so please don't feel shy about coming up to chat!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Other Mothers' Sons


The countdown has begun; I’m leaving for the Romantic Times Readers' Convention with my rather nervous, but still cute as pie cover contestant son in…let’s see…four days. Plus, I have a couple of books to write, a few horses to train, a mare in foal, and a house that’s about to be condemned by the health department.

So, when my teenage daughter ran up to me with a gaping baby bird in hand and asked if I wanted to be a humanitarian, I promptly told her, "No. No, I don’t. I want to be a cranky old woman who refuses to allow another distraction into her life, especially if said distraction has to be fed, conversed with, or nurtured in any conceivable way. I’m overloaded. Can’t you see I’m overloaded?"

It was rude, I know, but my bright little daughter should have known better than to ask. After all, she wasn’t all that thrilled when, last Christmas, she found ten newly-whelped puppies in her bathroom…placenta, dog slobber et al. Not to mention the ferret we adopted not so long before that. It was gallumping around a parking lot looking lost (and a little carnivorous), so we bundled it up in a coat and took it home.

Ferrets, as you might know, are not the sweetest smelling animals in the universe, so what better place to keep it than your beloved daughter’s bathroom. It’s better than the kitchen. Growing up on a cattle ranch in North Dakota, I spent many a blustery winter morning sharing my breakfast with newborn calves.

But we don’t have calves. We have dogs, horses, an occasional ferret, and cats. Ragdoll cats to be specific. One of them has kittens, or rather ‘kitten’. The other was about to ‘kitten’, so a pre-fledging just didn’t fit into the master plan. I told my bird-loving daughter as much and I was firm…for about three seconds, until I looked down into that gigantic, yellowed billed baby bird maw. At which time I believe I said something eloquent like, "Oh crap," shoveled the ugly little thing into a box, and toted it into the kitchen.

This morning, Serenity, above-mentioned mother-cat-to-be, gave birth to six pink-pawed, rat-like kittens. Six is a passel of kittens. They’ll need some tending. There is also the baby bird to consider, which, by the by, has to be fed mushed up puppy chow from a syringe at three hour intervals. I shoved all eight little critters into Tara’s micro sized bathroom. One big happy family.

As for me, I’m escaping to Daytona in four days to lie on the beach, party with the CosmoChix, and ogle other mothers’ sons. Tee hee. My bright little daughter’s going to miss me something fierce…at three hour intervals.

Lois' "Tempting the Wolf" hits shelves July 25th. She's too humble to tell you, but the rest of us aren't. -Cchx

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Confessions of a Cyber Fangrl Fan


Since the column I write about the romance genre,
Romance: B(u)y the Book, is published over a network of Internet TV news websites, my readers are really called “viewers.”

And my viewers are my friends.

I know it sounds pathetic, kind of a reverse Fangrl thing, but I really think of the women I interact with daily on
Romance: By the Blog, and through email, as my girlfriends.

I’ll be making toast for my children and wonder, “Did Stacy find any new Nathan Kamp covers today?” Or be brushing my teeth in the morning and find myself laughing about some funny or vulnerable or touching thing someone wrote the night before.



Writing for the Internet has opened circles of e-friends to me. I like offering them a really safe, nurturing place to talk about romance, family, sexuality, and snaxy guys.

And the best thing about e-girlfriends is that we’re close enough to make each other feel great every day, but there’s never a chance we’ll drop by each other’s homes unannounced and looking to borrow favorite jewelry or clothes.

So, as we’re getting ready to head to the Romantic Times Readers Convention to make more friends, I’m wondering:


What do your e-friends mean to you? How do you feel about being able to talk romance in safe places like CosmoChix and other romance blogs?


Ciao, Bellas!

Michelle

BTW I’d love for you to stop by Romance: B(u)y the Book to read “Real Life Romance Hero,” my exclusive ExtraView interview with romance cover guy Nathan Kamp. Part I’s up, and II comes out May 16.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Makeup Report — Review of Bare Minerals Starter Kit


A couple of weeks ago, I said I’d evaluate Bare Minerals and get back to you guys with my feedback. All this fuss about makeup and what not has to do with the fact that I’m getting ready for the Romantic Times Convention in Daytona, Florida and I want to look as beautiful as our other five CosmoChix!

Here’s the scoop:

Grade = B

Overall, I was pretty happy with the performance of this make-up. It goes on easily and provides light to medium coverage for a natural look. However, the cost can add up if you are wearing it every day and lean towards putting on a medium amount.

APPLICATION
Start out with applying your favorite moisturizer. Let the moisturizer settle into your skin and dry for a bit. Brush on the foundation powder. Brush on a very small amount of bronzing powder (I skip that step—it is too hard to keep from putting it on too dark) on areas of face where you'd get sunkissed. Brush on mineral veil.

PROS
Provides a natural look in a light to medium coverage
Equalizes skin tone
Reduces breakouts—my skin looked clearer after wearing it for a week
Applies easily but make sure you view the DVD on how to do it
Works well with a variety of moisturizers—you don’t have to use their brand
Lasts as long as most liquid makeups—about 6-8 hours

CONS
Costs a fair amount of money, $45 for the starter kit and that’s when it's on sale—the foundation powder can be somewhat expensive if you wear it every day and wear a medium amount of coverage
Creates a mess on your makeup table—however, that's going to happen anytime you use a loose powder
Brushes on, which while makes for a more even application, in and of itself can be irritating for very sensitive skin

The litmus test, of course, is will I buy it again? The answer is you betcha! I went to the Ulta Store on Sunday to purchase of a container of the “Fairly Light” powder.

And now if you want to step inside the mind and heart of a truly gorgeous man, check out Michelle Buonfiglio's Part I interview with Nathan Kamp at Romance: Buy the Book!

--Cynthia Williams

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Sure Things

My new book, ALL U CAN EAT, is out, and one of the women who reviewed it was kind enough to say, "I've read it twice. Isn't that what you do with a great story? Right after you finish it the first time (because you read it too fast and KNOW you missed parts) you turn around and start it all over again?" --Beaty, RBL Romantica

Besides making me feel really good, this got me to thinking about the books I re-read.

Once upon a time, I re-read a lot, but that was because I was too poor to buy new books as quickly as I wanted to read them. Some books, like Anne Rice's Cry to Heaven and The Mummy, I re-read so many times I wore them out. They've earned their spot on my shelves, but now their covers are all I admire.

These days, I don't re-read because I'm broke (yay!). I re-read because I feel in need of a Sure Thing, an author whose prose will immediately make me feel I'm in expert hands, whose characters I adore, and whose stories--no matter how many times I read them--sweep me to Somewhere Good.


My copies of Anne Perry's earlier "Monk" and "Charlotte and Thomas Pitt" mysteries are dog-eared. I've re-read the first Harry Potter a couple times now, along with The Little Princess and the Andrew Lang colored fairy books. The second half of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series (you know, from the "hot" one, Narcissus in Chains) recently re-entertained me, and in preparation for enjoying Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris, I revisited Sookie and Bill and Eric from the very start. That was a lovely wallow in in sure-thingness, one I'll probably repeat again sometime. The comfort of books that stand up to multiple readings is one I value highly. I feel quite honored that, for some readers, my books do that, too.

So who do you re-read and enjoy all over again? Which authors or books are your "sure things"?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Barbie, you got some 'splainin' to do

A recent visit to a fellow author's house for our annual PAN meeting resulted in half a dozen of us playing, er, Barbie. Actually, we quickly dressed the Barbies in historical costumes and tried not to reveal to our fellow cohorts just how much fun it was to relive good times with a long lost friend. I'm talking about Barbie. And I once worshipped to the altar of Barbie.

Oh yeah, Barbie was my life, my goal, dream. I was going to have the perfect life someday, just like Barbie. I would have the perfect figure, exquisite clothes, and stylish hair. My feet would always fits into precious pink heels and my boyfriend would always greet me with a smile and those perfect white teeth. I'd have the camper, the apartment, the corvette, why yes, I'd even have my own private airplane and a Barbie Horse. And when I married, I'd come home to Ken, whose plastified smile was always ready to greet me. Ken would do whatever Barbie asked, he'd even wear the plastic apron and serve Barbie drinks aboard the airplane as they jetsetted to DisneyWorld for vacation. (Hey, I was a kid. DisneyWorld was the Ultimate Vacation.) If Barbie asked, Ken delivered, and never without that plastified smile.
And ah, observe the precious Barbie baby, whose head (I didn't take note of at the time) was virtually the same size as Barbie's head! (Talk about an anatomical ouch!) But the accessories that baby had! And all of them matchy-matchy and easily moved about by Ken, (as he grinned his plastified grin). Along with the perfect Ken, and perfect baby and a plastic cat or two, Barbie lived the dream.

Well, Barbie, you got some 'splain' to do.

I'm grown now. I have the 'life'. I'm married, have children, and the two cats (not plastic, but there are days I wish they were because I suspect plastic cats don't hack up hairball). Interesting, isn't it, how the dream can change? I don't seem to recall there being a Barbie Broom and Dustpan, Barbie Dishrag, or for that matter, a Barbie Toilet Brush. Barbie never owned a washer and dryer, and heaven forbid she wouldn't have a perfectly new outfit to wear each day, anyway. And what's with that baby that never came equipped with the Barbie Baby Rash or the Barbie Baby Diaper Genie? Who could have ever suspected a baby would be so...smelly and just so darn odd after that perfect big-headed unbendable baby that even smelled like baby powder?

And I certainly never recall Barbie having to rush to the bathroom and spray the Barbie Deodorizer after Ken exits with a guilty plastified grin affixed to his face. Nor do I recall the standard issue Remote Control Ken, just pose him in front of the plastic television, and point the remote; that's his talent!

They never had Corporate Raider Barbie, equipped with cellphone, laptop, rolodex and a wicked craving to sleep with Boss Ken while simultaneously sabotaging Barbie Climbing the Corporate Ladder's chance of ever getting that big promotion. And never mind the lacking appearance of Department Store Barbie on toystore shelves, who comes with a snappy blue vest and a tilted name tag and wears a frown on her plastified mouth as she mumbles into the intercom, "Price check on a box of supersize tampons. Checkout eight."

Where was Domestic Barbie? Oh, I know, she was married to Seventy-Hours A Week White Collar Ken. She stays at home with three plastic Spit-Up Babies and four Can't Be Housetrained poodles clambering for her attention while she can't figure out how the Barbie Toilet Brush got shoved into the garden hose and where did that last Barbie Babysitter find the secret alcohol stash?

My personal favorite would have been Migraine Barbie. A tiny bottle of Barbie Aspirin comes fitted into her plastic fingers, but don't bother calling Doctor Ken. You can't remove her from the box. She needs it dark and quiet. And don't shake her up; she'll spew.

What about Writer Barbie? She'd come equipped with a Barbie Computer (yet how to type with those four fused plastic fingers?) a stash of chocolate and attired in pajamas and bunny slippers. Her hair would refuse all styles and she would have an extra large backside garnered from Dedication To Work While Hunched Over The Keyboard Chasing The Muse. But man, would she have the office supplies. Little tiny Barbie Paperclips and Post-it Pads. An endless supply of fancy pens and little tiny books with her name on that she could hand out, perhaps even to Migraine Barbie, in an attempt to sooth her troubles. She'd write fantastical stories that always ended happily, sort of like the original Barbie Dream, but with a lot more reality stirred in.

Yeah, I like Writer Barbie, even if she's been known to attack UPS Ken when he comes knocking because he is her only connection to the outside world and he brings boxes from Amazon, and occasionally checks from her publisher. Ken doesn't know it, but Writer Barbie and UPS Ken have this 'thing'. It's okay, hand Remote Control Ken his clicker, and the whole world is right.

So, which Barbie would you like to see on the department store shelves?

Michele

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Heroes, Heroes, Heroes. . .




Okay, I'm stuck on page one of the new book proposal, thinking about all the possible cool things my hero can be. And now I'm totally confused. Tall and semi-muscular, dark hair and cool eyes. . . the basic outline for my hero doesn't usually change too much. (He looks a lot like Rupert Evert, but hetero, if that makes any sense. Although this Nathan Kamp guy pushes all the right buttons. I may have to change my romantic hero template!) But from there. . . he could be anybody. . . even the butler!

Here's where I'm stuck. I'd write a "strong silent type," but I love writing dialogue and what do I give him for dialogue? Personally I'd like a funny guy, but not everyone likes a funny or snarky hero. I'm not really good at the tortured, brooding type. . . though I have tried over the years. So what do I find sexy, I ask myself. What do I find HEROIC?

A take charge sort of a guy? Action first and sort out the bodies later? A guy estranged from his own feelings who has to learn to embrace his feminine side? A smooth talking, hot walking city dweller? A guy in a dangerous, manly profession: spy, firefighter, policeman, detective, soldier, sea captain, alligator wrestler? A guy with a checkered past and a dim future? A guy with a noble soul but a deliciously sinful exterior? A ladies' man? A guy who has no luck with chicks? A guy with the tenacity of a bulldog and the instincts of a stalking tiger? A guy with a heart of gold and a sexy, "dirty laugh"?

See my problem? There's so much to choose from in the imagination. If only real life could be so lush with possibilities!

More important. . . what kind of hero isn't out there enough? What do we long for, but don't find on the racks?

Maybe there's plenty of tall, dark and dangerous already. Or can there ever be enough of tall, dark and dangerous? Is the world ready for shorter, lighter, and cuddlier?

Good Lord, I just described my fiance. Who would probably take serious exception to the "shorter" thing. He's six feet one. But his gorgeous prematurely-silver hair is certainly lighter and he is "cuddly" in spades. And does he give great back and shoulder rubs!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair. I'm sick of it. Beside, I've always thought we'd be better off without it. I mean, what's it good for anyway? It's just some left-over vestige from primitive times when the first homo sapiens schlepped out of their caves and needed a good warm pelt to warm them right? So here's a nifty idea--let's all make a pact to shave our heads-maybe add a nice scalp tattoo, wear all kinds of snazzy hats. Ahh, I can see it all now, America decked out in all its bald-headed finery. Warms the cockles of me wee little heart. And why, you ask? Why? Because I hate my hair. It's scraggly, it's limp, it's practically nonexistent. I only have two strands, and let me tell you there are a limited number of does that look really dazzling when there are only two wispy strands involved.
So naturally, in accordance to Murphy's infamous law, my children are as hirsute as horses. My daughter has a mane like a mustang--and who's supposed to do her do for the prom? Me! Why me? I don't know. Do I have any kind of hair experience? Only if you count gluing ribbons to bald scalps--and cursing. I'm fairly accomplished at cursing. But I am woman (hear me roar) and Mom (hear me whimper) so I'll be curling and pinning and spraying and gelling until my poor daughter's hair is adhered to the top of her little pate like frosting on a cupcake. Maybe I'll even take pictures. Maybe it'll be gorgeous. Maybe it'll win prizes.
And speaking of prizes--here's another hair problem. My son Travis has got a pelt like a timber wolf. Cute as apple pie, but small children could get lost in his arm hair. And, as you might know if you were foolish enough to read my former blog, he's going to be a cover model contestant at RT so--the hair's gotta go. That's right. We're ripping that stuff out. He is man--hear him scream. Just kidding all you men of the world, I'm sure he will represent you manfully and stoically.
So chime in, America. Tell me why we need hair. Or why, as I contest, we don't need hair. Give us your hair horror stories. I bet I can top ‘em
Lois

(Post by Michele for Lois)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Why I Dig Romance Novel Cover Guys

It took me six weeks, but I finally tracked down Nathan Kamp.


I didn’t stalk him or anything, I just worked every contact I had until I found someone to hook me up so I could woo him. Not in the biblical sense, although the thought of that verily begs for a workday fantasy.

Who’s Nathan Kamp? Only the hottest and most popular guy on a romance novel cover since That Italian Guy.


I went after Nathan cause I wanted to interview him for
Romance: B(u)y the Book,” my syndicated romance review column. I thought it’d be cool to talk with the man behind the image that’s graced more than 400 romance novel covers to date.


Not about how many push-ups he does -- though that imagery alone could inspire an Emma Holly novel -- but about who he is, why he does what he does, and what he believes in.

I hear your snickers, you cheeky wenches. But I’ll tell you anyway why I was so hepped when he said yes:

There are no persons involved with romance -- not readers, or authors, or industry folks -- who get less respect from the outside world than the guys who strip down, grease up, and work it for the covers of the books we adore.

So, I’m thinking, why not use my column to break down another stereotype about the romance genre – the dumb, “pretty-boy” cover model image.


Without giving away all the secrets of the interview, I’ll share this about Nathan Kamp: he is a genuine and exceedingly decent man.

Just like me, you get to define what romance really means. Cause you’re savvy, and smart, and you’ve got this fun and funky and powerful tool called the Internet to rock the message.

So, let’s define it for the naysayers:

Why do you read romance? What’s romance mean to you?

Michelle

I hope you’ll read my 2-part ExtraView interviews with Nathan, May 9th and May 16th!

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Makeup Report — On Trial: Bare Minerals


Last week some of the CosmoChix got together for dinner. While enjoying the excellent food at Olive Garden, our ongoing discussion about make-up cropped up amongst other things. Michele Hauf mentioned earlier on in our blog that she’d been using Bare Minerals for a while and really liked it. I asked her if she was wearing it now. She said, yes, and I was very happy to get a first hand look at how this make-up appeared on someone else’s face without all the television lighting tricks from infomercials. For the record, Michele looked very nice—not overtly like she was wearing makeup but more like her skin looked radiant and healthy, and in general, her skin tone appeared even and natural looking.

Now, recently I wrote in this blog about make-up, the kind that stays on forever. The only problem is that sometimes the long-lasting stuff looks good but at other times it looks like it’s on too thick. It could be that my foundation always appears the same but when I’m standing under more forgiving lighting, I’m tricked into thinking I look like a goddess ;-D.

Like any woman who wants to be attractive, I don’t want to look like I caked foundation on with a spatula even if it does give great coverage. So, here I am on a search for something better. Whatever it is, though, it’s going to have to be something incredible, something that can make a woman look luscious despite oily skin, large pores, and blemishes. Hmm…a tall order, right?

Which brings me to what I did this weekend.

On Saturday, I decided I better get busy shopping since the Romantic Times Convention is less than a month away. After all, it takes a lot of work for me to build up my glamour. After buying some new luggage (Ambassador hard-sided at Cub Foods—can you believe that???), I strolled into the Ulta store at Southdale Mall in Richfield, Minnesota. Immediately, two of the Ulta sales associates came up to me (something must have said IMMINENT SALE) and after explaining why I was there, one of them sat me down to do a make-over with Bare Minerals while the other bared her teeth behind the girl’s back.

I was impressed with the final results—I looked pretty good even though I felt kind of weird because it didn’t look like I had make-up on. The only negative about my experience was the girl’s technique of stabbing the application brush into my pores instead of gently brushing it across my cheeks. She must have caught the evil eye the other sales girl was giving her and took it out on my face. It sure didn’t endear me to the product. If I hadn’t already set my mind to buy the product if it looked good on me, I would have left without purchasing it.

When I got home, I had my hubby and one of our daughters look at me and tell me what they thought. Hubby said he liked the way I looked and that I looked much more natural. I decided to stay married to him another year. My 17-year-old daughter (who’s going on 45) told me I looked a lot better and then went on to tell me about all the things wrong with my normal look, it was too heavy, I had make-up lines, etc. etc. I must normally be a hag in her eyes. It sure would have been nice to know that all before I gave the little she-devil her allowance the day before.

Anyway, for initial results, I’d say I’d give this product a B+. I’m still evaluating how it does overall and will put it through the acid test this week. Stay tuned to find out next weekend how it all came out!

-- Cynthia Williams

Friday, April 21, 2006

What makes you smile?


"[S]tudies have shown that the physical act of smiling, regardless of any circumstances, can brighten your mood by raising the level of seratonin in your brain."--Richard Stengel, You're Too Kind: a brief history of flattery

I'm talking real smiles here, the kind scientists have managed to distinguish from fake ones by measuring which facial muscles are engaged. Nonetheless, it's pretty cool to realize a little quirk of your lips can affect what's happening in your head. Not only is laughter medicine, but so is its gentler, quieter cousin, the humble smile.

With that in mind, here's my list of reliable smile inducers.

Baby smiles. Can anyone resist an infant's toothless, drooly grin? I'm no mommy wannabe, but I'm a sucker for happy babies. Also kittens, puppies, ducklings, Mini Coopers, and toddlers who have recently discovered how to run. There's something about the way they fling their whole bodies into it--and coordination be damned--that gets me every time.

Having a stack of books I'm looking forward to reading.

Spam from people with ridiculous made-up names.
Hey, smiling at these things is better than getting annoyed. Sometimes I'm even tempted to steal the spam-names for my books.

Older couples who hold hands.

The first spring flowers. If you lived in Minnesota, you'd be smiling, too!

Good lightning and thunder.

The perfect piece of chocolate cake.

A man with a nice back view.
Well, he can't take offense at my appreciation, can he? He's facing the other way.

Tom Welling's blank look on Smallville.

Okay, Tom without a shirt makes me smile, too, but that's a different story.

So, what makes you smile, Cosmochix readers? Share the seratonin. I'm ready for a bright day!


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stepping off the cliff

I'm coming to the end of a fervent writing period. At the end of January I agreed to write a book for the new paranormal line Silhouette will debut this October. The name of the line is Nocturne. My book is slotted for November. Which means, I had about 2 1/2 months to write this book. Without direction or guidelines.

Oh sure, I knew the line was paranormal, and my editor wanted it to be about vampires. Dark vampires. And sexy. And to feature the hero's journey from dark to light. And please keep it under 75k words.

That's all I got for guidelines. And it wasn't like there were other books out in the series to read, to get a feel for this new line. I'm going to be MAKING the guidelines as I write. Hmm.... No, pressure there, eh?

I've finished the book. And today I'm sitting here wondering what I have done. Is it good? Does it fit what the line wants? Is this what my editor had in mind when she trusted me to write this book? I feel very much as if I'm stepping forward, with nothing beneath my feet. And as I'm sitting here, feeling this way, the image of the Fool tarot card comes to mind.

Yep, that's me, the fool. Have you ever felt as if you are stepping forward, with no idea what you are stepping into? It isn't dark, it's just...muzzy. Unformed, and unfinished and unsure. Surely when you step down, you will land. But how's that landing going to feel? Will it hurt? Will you struggle to cling to the edge? Or will you fly? Hmm...

Some tarot interpretors consider The Fool the most important card in the deck, while others dismiss it. The journey, a carefree start, stepping off without surety of where one will land, it signifies new beginnings, of acting against all that others believe to be correct, of taking chances. It is about trusting your intuition, and yes, taking that step.

So, here I go. I'll be printing up the manscript this weekend, and sending it off to see if it will fly. I've got to trust myself that this is the right move. That it will meet the unwritten guidelines and standards of this new line. It's not easy. (And I'm crossing my fingers that my 76K words will not be booed at too loudly. I've tried to cut the last 1000 words out, I really have!)

How often have you felt the Fool standing at the edge, wondering if you could make the leap? Did you make the leap?

Michele

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Wily Girls. . . Girls With Wiles. . .

When I was eleven-- during the thaw after the Great Ice Age-- and in pubescent turmoil over the whole how-to-get-the-boy-to-like-me thing, I did what most young girls have better sense than to do: I asked my mother.

"What do you have to do to get a boy to like you?" I said, my head filled with visions of blue-eyed, auburn-haired Rodney McClanahan, who sat behind me in Mr. Childress's sixth grade class. My mother, being the closest thing to a fount of all things wise and feminine I had available to me, leaned close and whispered: "You just have to use your feminine wiles."

I knew then and there I was in deep sh*t. Because I didn't have clue what she was talking about. It took fifteen years for me to realize she didn't know what she was talking about either! She had grown up the eldest of six kids on a depression era farm and had worked her way through college and dated mostly via air mail through WWII. She was about as "wily" a female as Ma Kettle. But the fact that she'd hooked up with my tall, handsome dad gave her "creds" with me, so I kept trying to discover my elusive and clearly underdeveloped "wiles."

From watching TV, movies, and my numerous cheerleading cousins, I gradually learned that smiling, eye-batting, giggling, and fitting into a size 4 were involved. Oh, and blonde hair. My mother wouldn't let me go blonde or get contacts, I was a hopeless size 14, and-- worse-- I had a reputation for being smart. Three strikes. I couldn't wile and beguile boys, so I decided to compete with them. And I won. sigh.

It took me until halfway through college to quit approaching the whole "girl-boy" thing as an acquisition problem and begin thinking of it as an enjoyable interpersonal opportunity. It took still longer for me to realize if I could make a guy laugh, he was halfway to being mine. Then, of course, it took even longer for me to figure out how to get rid of the ones I hadn't actually INTENDED to make laugh. . .

The best (and most infuriating) advice I ever got: be yourself and be happy being yourself. The worst advice: never let a guy know how smart you are or how much you like them.

So what do you say? What was the best/worst advice you have gotten on dating and relations between the sexes? And can anybody enlighten me on that whole "feminine wiles" thing? Ooooh. . . and here's another one. . . what is the difference in dating/relationships when you're in your twenties and when you're (ahem) "older?" I just went through all of that and I still don't get it!!!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Make-up that Stays on Damn Near Forever


I have to admit that I’ve been sucked into the latest make-up trend—that is, make-up that stays “on” for damn near forever. I can’t help enjoying the results of it. There’s something inherently satisfying about putting make-up on at 7:00 AM and then being able to walk into a ladies’ room at 3:45 PM, looking just as good as you did in the morning.

It used to suck putting on make-up only to look in the mirror during a lunch-time bathroom break to see my efforts all gone to waste. Foundation just disappeared. Where did it go? Who knows. Maybe it evaporated off my face, LOL. Lipstick was a mere pale shadow of the luxurious red I’d applied only hours before. However, at least I knew where that went. It was smeared on the top edge of every coffee cup I drank out of. And mascara? OMG! Don’t get me started—invariably I had raccoon eyes, looking like a Hustler reject that had been well used by band of Hell’s Angel’s and put away wet. Hey, nothing looks as skanky as raccoon eyes.

So—I was thrilled when the long-lasting make-up started coming out in the 90’s. Now, I have to admit it did have some bugs that needing working out. The first foundation I tried did look great but it scared me, some. The stuff dried super fast as I was putting it on and I swear it was paint solvent-based instead of water-based. I had to spread it on very fast or it would end up looking like I had applied spackle. And getting it off? Soap and water just beaded up on my face. I had to use several applications of cold cream to get it off. It really makes you wonder what the heck it was made out of. It had to be flesh colored paint. Still, it was great to finally have something that looked pretty good for most of the day.

After the long-lasting foundations came out, next were the truly non-smearing, water-proof mascaras. Now I have to say that there were some that CLAIMED that they were non-smearing, water-proof mascaras long before that. And it’s possible that for many women, they really did stay on with no problems. But for me with my oily skin, I’d put them on only to grind my teeth with frustration when I checked my make-up to only find skanky raccoon eyes two hours later. It was damn near a miracle for me to have long, dark pretty lashes that didn’t melt. Yay! I could now wear mascara without looking like a whore!

Last but not least, lip-paint was truly a revolution that made my spot of the universe a very happy one. I loved having the color stay true and just as important, I enjoyed the non-smearing aspect. I can remember eating a cinnamon twist roll years ago and feeling queasy looking at the bright red outline on the pastry from my lipstick. It’s very nice not having to see that anymore.

I’d love to hear back from you guys about your favorite make-up brands. I’ve tried most of the make-up out there on the market. My personal favorites are ColorStay® Makeup with SoftFlexTM for combination oily/normal skin, CoverGirl’s Professional Waterproof mascara, and CoverGirl’s Outlast All-day Lipcolor.

-- Cynthia Williams

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

So, Spring Has Finally Arrived!

I realize that in other climes, it may have been above frigid for some time, but here in the northland we're just beginning to get the feeling back in our extremities. I also realize that for normal people, spring means mowing grass and working on getting a nice crispy tan. For me, it means hosing down horses that haven't seen a curry comb for six months, mucking out paddock, and preparing for the Romantic Times convention.

Never been to an RT convention? Well, you ain't lived. RT is where hundreds of romance authors gather to sign books, gossip, and ogle the guys who are competing for the title of Mr. Romance. But this year I can't ogle, since my son, Travis, is going to be one of the contestants. How weird is that?

But he's cute, really cute, and if he competes that means I get to spend a whole ten days with him. He graduates from pre-med the middle of May, then we're off to Daytona Beach where I'll be doing the smoozing thing while he (apparently) plays volleyball and prepares for pose downs. Seriously, pose downs!! Can this get any stranger?

Yes it can. While he's posing down there will be hundreds of my peers and readers ogling him. What am I supposed to be doing? Maybe I could write a book or something, but naw, All those women out there will be looking at my little boy (okay, he's 6' 3", 220 pounds, but still). Shouldn't I be defending his honor or something? Then again, I think it may have been me who convinced him to do this in the first place. Maybe I was even the one who mentioned the fact thacesareanndured a cesaerian so he could have life.

Oh the guilt, oh the embarrassment. Wait a minute...oh the fun! Every young man should probably have a couple hundred fans to watch him get greasy. This may be the best moment of his life. And I'll be the cause. Sigh. This is going to be great. So come to the CosmoChix party on May 20th. Travis will be bartending. I'll be...doing whatever mothers of cover contestants are supposed to do. Geez, I hope there are couple of mucky paddocks to clean out.


Lois

Friday, April 07, 2006

Little Black (Leather) Dress



We CosmoChix hooked up cause we’re all headed to the week-long Romantic Times Readers Convention in Daytona in May. While we’re there, we’re gonna be hostessing a little Cosmopolitan cocktail party for a couple hundred of our closest friends -- and one particularly snaxy Mr. Romance contestant, Travis Greiman.

But ours ain’t the only clambake in town RT week.

Dorchester Publishing is throwing a huge "Racy" Rock ‘n Roll Party they've described as “Leader of the Pack meets Daytona 500.”

Is this an occasion, do you think, upon which the Little Black (leather) Dress is always appropriate? I mean, what does one wear to an event which boasts an award for the best Speed Racer costume?

While some babes can pull it off, I just don’t feel sexy in the leather bustier and thigh-high boots thing. Even if I did, there's not a lot of call for that type of ensemble here in the Great Midwest. I found that out the hard way.

Maybe I should just wear something that makes me feel sexy. And, at the risk of offering TMI, I’ll tell you what some of those somethings are.

I love a sweet little pair of thong undies and matching demi set. Even standing at the bus stop with the other moms, pretty unmentionables 'neath my sweats remind me that I didn’t give up being a woman when I became a mother.

I adore a great pair of jeans. I think any woman looks sexy in just the right pair, and I dig Gap Long and Lean.

Freshly-shaved legs are the best, along with a pearly-red pedicure and a clean face, no make-up.

Actually, I feel sexiest that last moment of the day, just after climbing in bed and squishing right up next to my husband.

A few days ago, Michele Hauf asked us, “What is Sexy?” This Michelle wants to know:


What makes you feel Sexy?


Michelle


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Things that go bump in the night

Not those things, these things!


See, I turned in my latest book (PRINCE OF ICE: A Tale of the Demon World)--always a big yay, as the other CosmoChix can, have, and will tell you. That taken care of, I have now entered one of my favorite territories in Author Land.

Research.

As in, that period during which I read informative and entertaining books and pretend I'm working.

Admittedly, some writers are convinced research is work. Occasionally, I'm one of them, but usually I'm having fun. This is probably because I'm not the sort who decides what story she wants to tell and then feels obliged to research everything she needs to know in order to write it. No, I'm the sort who has a vague germ of an idea and then researches the general area around it. I don't know exactly what I'm looking for . . . until I find it it, at which point I toss it into my mental file of potential story ingredients.

"There could be something interesting here," I tell myself. "I'll hang on to this."

Bit by bit, possibility by possibility, my story begins to gel. I know I'm done researching when one of two things happen: a) my stack o' research books runs out, b) I'm so excited about the ideas I'm getting that I can't stand not writing anymore.

And what's going into my story stew this time? Ghosts & hauntings. Mediums. (Do you love that Patricia Arquette, or what?) Fairies. Private Investigation. And Arizona. (Supernatural vortex, anyone?) Will they all end up in the book? Who knows! This is the part of my story process where anything is possible. There are no limits except how far my imagination can run. And it's also the time when it's easiest to believe I'm about to write the most perfect story I've ever written, the one that will Take the World by Storm! (Can you tell why I find this part of my job enjoyable?)

Now, here's my question to you: Are you among the one in three Americans who believes in ghosts? Ever had a ghostly encounter? Know a friend who's had one? Spill the spooky details. Emma's inquiring mind wants to know!


Oh, and if you haven't already, check out our CosmoChix contest at the "Enter to Win" link.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What is sexy?

So I'm mid-deep in the current story. A vampire story. Do you think vampires are sexy? I'm not sure exactly why I do, but I can dig 'em. Most of the time. :-) Don't give me any dead tall, dark and deadly dudes, though. They've gotta have a heartbeat and breath.
Always good requirements for any potential mate, wouldn't you say?

Every Tuesday iTunes posts its new releases, and today I was thrilled to see they finally put up the entire Dave Matthews catalog. Now, there's only one Dave Matthews song I really like, and that is CRASH. And I tell you, that is about the sexiest song out there. Why? Because it's a man's confession to being totally whipped, in over his head and 'tied up and twisted, the way I'd like to be' as Matthews puts it. Needless to say the instrumentals, with the mandoline and strings, adds to the overall sexiness, but it's those lyrics, sung from a man's needy desire to crash into her, that gets me every time.

Oh, for those brief glimpses inside a man's head. We don't always want to know what's going on in there. But don't we all want to know what it is, exactly, that gets them off in that sweet, surrendering, drowning fall to love? And it doesn't even have to be love—passionate, twisted lust will do in a pinch. Just let me know a piece of his thoughts at that moment. Is it raunchy? Is it colored with silliness and sighs? Does it make me shiver to know I've intruded on that private piece of brain-lust? Can I see it in his eyes? Or do I want to feel it like a whisper across my body?

They're different than we women, you know. Men are visual, we're told. They need love and lust and all that crazy sex stuff to be tangible and now and in-your-face, and don't-stop-until-we've-had-enough kind of fulfillment. Foreplay? They don't need it. They just want to crash...

...and I'm right there, waiting for the collision.

So what do you find sexy? What's your favorite sexy song? Have you had a glimpse into a man's crashing thoughts?

M

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My Purse Through The Decades


Having fun with girly stuff, make-up, clothes, shoes, hair...and really loving to read and write about romance are part of the great spirit of CosmoChix. If you love this kind of stuff, you are one of us.

I've always loved being a girl. I couldn't wait to get my first bra or put on my first pair of sexy high-heels. And after being married for more than 20 years and having 4 kids, I still get a thrill out of getting decked out for a party. It might take me longer that it used to, to get the effect I want, and I know I'll never fit into a size 10 dress again, but does that really matter? It's all in the mind...and in the heart.

So I started thinking about how my accessories have evolved from when I was a young girl to my current almost "Grandma" stage of life. I still have the same basic accessories but they've changed to accommodate my lifestyle, and nothing has adapted to fit my lifestyle more than my purse.

It was a huge thrill for me when I got my first purse. I was eight years old and of course, the first thing I did was start filling it up with as much stuff as I could find. All the essentials were piled in until there was no more room left: little girl make-up, a small hair brush, hair binders and ribbon, mood ring, Minney Mouse watch, pink address book and matching pen, and of course, my little troll doll. I fell in love with my purse and I carried it with me everywhere.

As I got older, the purse continued to get bigger. As a teen, those little "light" flow tampons were added (not like the super overnight industrial deodorant versions I have to use now), real make-up with a large handful of cosmetics just for my eyes, a small curling iron for my hair, and a couple of pairs of pantyhose because pantyhose always get a run in them (and WHY can't someone make pantyhose that doesn't run???).

In college, I added more stuff—sometimes I wound up staying overnight at a friends house (cough) so I made sure I had an extra pair of panties (I can wear the same jeans, again, but panties? Eeew!), toothbrush and dental floss, aspirin (for the occasional hangover), and regular size tampons because the little ones didn't fit any more (cough).

After I got married AND had kids, the purse size started to grow at accelerated rate. The purse took on gargantuan proportions because I got tired of carrying a diaper bag as well. Hey—I've only got two arms and I had to save one for holding on to the baby. Spare diapers, wet wipes, a plastic baby bottle with powdered formula inside, jars of Gerber baby food, etc. stretched out that purse until I finally got myself one of those great big black leather tote bags from Target.

After I got past the baby stage, the purse did shrink down some but only for awhile. Soon I was filling it back up with things because there was always some kind of kid emergency happening. A leotard was stuffed into the purse's middle compartment because one of the girls always forgot and gymnastics class was due to start in 10 minutes—barely enough time to even drive there so I made the kid change in the car on the way there. I also added a whole arsenal of hardware stuff because things broke and having a screwdriver and some duct tape went a long way to saving the day. My regular accessories were also changing, too. The tampons no longer kept the flow back as well as they should have (I hadn't yet given in to buying the super overnight industrial deodorant versions) so I had Kotex pads in there as well.

A shining moment in the history of my purse happened when I was at a garage sale about six years ago. One of my daughters dropped a large jar and it cut deep into her foot. Blood was literally pulsing out of the wound. I immediately turned on the house owner's garden hose, rinsed the wound off and then dried it off as much as possible with some spare paper towels from my purse. I then pulled out and unwrapped a Kotex, flipped it absorbent side down over the cut, and whipped out my duct tape to secure the kotex to my daughter's ankle in a secure pressure bandage. The doctor at the emergency clinic was very impressed, needless to say.

About three years ago, I got the writing bug and started writing romance novels. How did that affect my purse? I just got myself a bigger one so I can haul my laptop around!

*****

By the way, I just finished the final edits on Beast of Awakening and my editor sent the cover to me. This is a Sci-Fi romance and I just have to share this with you because I think the hero, Sirus, is very yummy.


The heroine, Danni, is part human-part tiger and she is a true CosmoChick herself because she not only loves being a girl, she is in outer space, LOL.

Hugs to all you CosmoChix out there!

—Cynthia Williams

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Welcome to the CosmoChix Blog!



Welcome to our brand-new CosmoChix blog! And a hearty round of applause for our lovely maiden blogger, a CosmoChick down to her shiny scarlet toenails, the one, the only, the incomparable BETINA KRAHN! We hope you'll enjoy reading our assorted natterings so much that you'll run out and buy everything we've written. (Hey, it could happen!)


In case you're wondering, the CosmoChix are:


Michele Hauf, author of RHIANA, and lover of all things French, fangy, and winged. If there are fantasies to be spun or adventurous butts to be kicked, Michele's your gal!

Michelle Buonfiglio, star of wnbc.com's "Romance: B(u)y the Book." Michele is a staunch advocate for the romance genre. This author and columnist is fascinated by happy endings and Fabio book covers.

Emma Holly, USA Today bestselling author of COURTING MIDNIGHT. Emma says if you like your romance hot and your erotica sweet, her books may be up your alley.

Lois Greiman, author of UNPLUGGED. Lois splits her award-winning style between snappy mysteries and delightful Scottish historical romance.

New star, Cynthia Williams, author of BEAST OF DREAMS. Cynthia sets her steamy romances in the worlds of science fiction and the paranormal. She's happily married to her very own hero.

Warm and witty, New York Times bestseller, Betina Krahn. Betina's latest guaranteed great read is THE BOOK OF THE SEVEN DELIGHTS . . . unless you want to count her first blog for us!

We'll all do our best to entertain you. We hope you enjoy hanging out in our little corner of blogdom!


Friday, March 24, 2006

The CosmoChix blog is hereby launched!

The Cosmo Chix blog is hereby launched!

This is what I get for finishing a book. . . more writing to do. It's this or clean out my study, which has a solid eight months worth of detritus piled around and draped over everything. I don't mess with my office while I'm writing. . . well, any more than the health inspector requires. Probably a superstitious thing. . . like wearing the same pajama bottoms every day at the computer and not cleaning out the refrigerator while writing a book.(REALLY, REALLY bad luck! Trust me on this, people).

But this superstition sort of makes sense, because you never know when you may need something jotted on one of those bits of paper tacked to the wall with chewing gum(or the chewing gum) or some reference from a book under the kneehole where the dog sleeps, or a piece of research printed from the internet(also handy when re-lining the bird cage). So I keep it all. And If a book takes more than eight months to write, the dust piles up alongside the paper and I start wheezing. Right now, I'm trying to decide whether to invest in a hazmat respirator and go after the dust balls myself or to apply to EPA for a toxic waste removal grant. Oh, what the heck. . . the third eye on the dog looks kinda cute.

This is not to imply that I'm not an orderly person. Just a little harried and obsessed near the end of a book. And what a marvelous obsession this book turned out to be. . . The Book of True Desires. . . an historical romantic adventure set at the turn of the century in Florida, Havana, and Veracruz. . . with a very unusual heroine and a hero who happens to be a butler. A snarky, superior, droll. . . oh, yeah, handsome. . . BUTLER. When I say the butler did it. . . you can bet there's a wicked twinkle in my eye! I can't wait to start handing out galleys and collecting comments. Who says historicals are dead? I think they've just been waiting for something fresh and new and interesting to come along!


More is coming about the Cosmo Chix. . . an introduction of the writers. We six who make up the illustrious group span just about the spectrum of published romance authors these days. . . contemporary, paranormal, erotica, historical, and suspense. . . we do it all. And like the motto says. . . we give good romance. We're preparing to throw a heckuva party at the upcoming Romantic Times Convention in May in Daytona Florida. The Cosmo Chix will be serving yummy "Cosmos" and munchies, giving away a door prize, handing out cool party favors. . . and having a ball! Everyone's welcome. . . the more the merrier!

Look forward to seeing everyone there. Also-- as if you needed MORE incentive-- one of the cover model contestants is slated to be our bartender! But that's a story for another CosmoChix writer to tell. . .

Saturday, March 11, 2006