Monday, October 28, 2013

Going Viral

I’ve been sick all week. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this ill, with fever, chills, coughing, sneezing, aches, pain and all the lovely bodily fluids that go along with such viruses.

In between my various fever-induced states, I’ve had time to catch up with the internet and see what’s new and hot in the wide world of WTF.

From Twitter to YouTube, I really don’t understand what makes something go viral. Sometimes it’s an amazing piece of footage caught by accident on camera. Sometimes it's a thought-provoking, educational clip. Sometimes it’s a controversial video. Sometimes its a strange combination of irony, self-reflection and philosophy that piques a viewer’s sense of inner glee. Sometimes it’s just plain weird.

For those of you who’ve been hiding under rocks (like me), here’s a taste of the weird you’ve been missing.

Click Bait Warning: presume all links may have NSFW content.

What Does the Fox Say: This music video for what I can only call Sesame Street at a rave by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis has become the next Gangnam Style. It’s catchy, easy to sing, and of course, Sesame Street loves it, too.

Burlington Coat Factory on Twitter (@NotCoatFactory): There is something weirdly sublime about the Not Burlington Coat Factory’s tweets which have included “When you stop to think about #coats is pretty cool” (Sep 26). They used to be @BurlCoatFactory but I’m guessing the company asked them not to represent their company, even though the account has probably done more for the store than any real advertising has. Check out Jezebel’s look at their old account.

Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball and Twerking: After her controversial and rather strange performance at the Video Music Awards in late August, twerking became an official word in the Oxford Online Dictionary. Shortly after that, Miley Cyrus’s song “Wrecking Ball” reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Top 100 list, becoming her first number one single. Since then, the Wrecking Ball video has become a meme, a parodied gag that will undoubtedly inspire many costumes this Halloween. Love her or hate her, she has undoubtedly made her mark.




Tom Hiddleston (aka Loki from Thor, Marvel’s The Avengers) doing anything:
What’s the best viral video or media bit you’ve seen lately? Add your links to the comments below!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Question of the Month - The Costume Edition

With Halloween fast approaching, we asked the Superromance authors to tell us about a time they dressed in costume and why it stands out in their memory

Anna Sugden: We didn’t celebrate Halloween in the UK when I was little; the focus was on Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) on Nov 5th. When we moved to the States, I did go trick or treating in the couple of years before I went to boarding school, but I honestly can’t remember what I went as! I can’t find any pics to help out either. What I do remember is the street looked lovely lined with those paper bags filled with candles and my first taste of sweeties like candy corn.

Pamela Hearon: Back in the late 80's, our family went to a Halloween Party dressed as the California Raisins.  I got four large, black garbage bags and made faces on them using felt and Styrofoam bowls for the eyes and large, red felt lips.  We wore dark pants and dark long-sleeve shirts underneath, sneakers, and my husband's work gloves.  When we arrived, we got in a line with my husband in the lead.  He had a boombox on his shoulder playing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and we danced our way into the party. 

Mary BradyThis one's easy. I went as Brigitte Bardot. Let me do "why it stands out" in my memory first. Well, I had very few of Ms. Bardot's (perceived at the time to be) assets. What I wore... A blonde wig, eight (let me repeat 8) pairs of panty hose stuffed into my tiny little bra and smoothed to fit under a short, tight yellow dress. To make my legs longer I also wore teeter-inducing platform sandals. For those luscious lips, I used a tube of Arrest Me Red lipstick. To give you a time frame I also wore panty hose and here is Brigitte now and then.

Vicki Essex: The year I got married, I decided to don my wedding dress, a handcuff necklace and hot pink patent leather Doc Martin boots. With mussed up hair and raccoon eye eye makeup, I was dressed as the incarnation of Commitment. Really, it was just an excuse to wear my wedding dress again. 

Lenora Worth: One Halloween, I went as a palm tree complete with a coconut bra (but I was wearing a tank top underneath) and palm fronds all around my head like a crown. My husband went as  beach bum who had his own private palm tree to follow him around. Every time he'd sit down, I sat behind him and pretended I was a tree. :) I also went as a giant spider one year. Made my legs and back out of trash bags stuffed with paper.

Joan Kilby: Years ago when I was at university I dressed up as Pippi Longstockings. I had long hair then and I straightened and bent a coat hanger over my head and threaded it through my long braids so they stuck straight out and curved up. From a second-hand clothing shop I found a dress with a short full skirt and puffy sleeves. I bought long, over the knee stockings of red and white stripes. I had a ball at a costume party even though no one could get too close for fear of getting their eyes poked out by my stiff braids.


Jennifer Lohmann: At the library, we can dress up for Halloween, but we are supposed to be something from the library collection (character in a book or movie, for example, rather than something clever like these. I had the great idea of dressing up at Brigid O'Shaughnessy from The Maltese Falcon.  You can see in the picture what I wore (and I think I was pretty spot on for the costume). However, this costume sticks out in my memory because only ONE PERSON knew who I was (I gave clues and had a picture of Brigid sitting on the reference desk). When I told people the name of the character I had dressed up as, one more person figured out who I was.
It was a costume fail.

My other costume fail was an attempt to be clever. Again, I was dressing up for work (before the library-collection restriction). I was going to be a cotton swab. I had a fitted light blue sweatsuit (top and bottom) and put cotton around my feet, plus constructed a cotton/Styrofoam hat.


 This costume fail sticks in my memory because it was ridiculous. And no, I don't have pictures.

Laura Drake: My husband and I had been married a couple of years when we joined a motorcycle club (think old farts, not Hell's Angels.) Our first meeting was a Halloween dress-up party.

He went as a mouse - I went as a punk rocker. Raided my daughters closet for the clothes, sprayed my hair red (as in carmine,) hung upside down on a swing set while my neighbor put hard set gel in my hair and waited for it to 'freeze' - instant Mohawk.

With goth makeup and a choke chain dog collar (the neighbor's dog lent it to me) and a chain from my earring to an ear cuff in my nose . . .  Man I looked bad. We didn't ride the motorcycle to the party (would have ruined my hair.)

I walked into that party and those poor people didn't know what to think!
Once they got to know me a year or so, they told me I freaked them out...they didn't know WHAT they'd let into the club!

That was legendary.

 
Geri Krotow: My favorite go-to is a spin-off of Carol Burnett's mop/cleaning lady. But I have curlers in my hair, a unibrow, a cigarette hanging out of my mouth, knee-hi stockings with mule slippers, and lots of extra padding. I've also worn a stretch leopard one-piece but um, those days are behind me, I daresay. Don't want to REALLY scare anyone!
  
This year my daughter and I bought Katy Perry false eyelashes which I'll wear to hand out candy. Sad thing is that the kids probably won't notice...it's the style right now.

Mary SullivanWhen I was still in my twenties, I tried on my old Brownie uniform from when I was a child. I managed to squeeze into it, but the sleeves only came to my elbows and the dress to the tops of my thighs. So I wore sheer black stockings and purple backless high heels, curled my hair with a ton of rollers and wore a lot of makeup. I went to the Halloween party as a Brownie Tart!

Kris Fletcher:  In my second year of university, my housemates and I held a Halloween party. I grabbed a bedsheet and some ribbon, pulled my hair up, and became Athena, the goddess of wisdom. So who ended up talking to me all night? A guy dressed in a box that said  Greasy Old Vaseline. Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Night Is Wasted.

And as the saying goes, Reader -  I married him. 

And now, Readers, it's your turn. Share your costume stories with us!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trip pictures

In September, I wrote a post about my trip to see my friend Catherine, who I hadn't seen in eleven years (you can see the post here). Someone in the comments asked for photos, so here they are.

As I'm sure you know, the U.S. federal government kindly decided to shut down for my vacation. This had the benefit of reducing the traffic and making parking easy to find, but most of the cool things in D.C. are federally run (most of the museums, all the monuments, etc). However, we persevered! We walked Embassy Row, toured the National Cathedral, took our lunch cruise, and walked around the White House. Catherine's daughter wants to be an architect, so she went to the National Building Museum with her dad while Catherine and I went to a bookstore to look at college guidebooks.

Photos:

Catherine and I in front of the National Cathedral

The Lincoln Memorial, as seen from the lunch cruise

Catherine and I in front of the White House

I meant to get more, but I'm terrible at remembering to take photos. Catherine and her family took lots, and I'm sure she'll email some to me when she gets back home.

Ever had vacation plans go awry? What happened?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On The Road to Together



I am writing this blog post from the passenger seat of my minivan, en route to Boston for a family gathering. Whether we will make it or not has yet to be determined, for – in a fit of temporary insanity – I am letting my husband drive. 

Oh, not the whole six hours, of course. Just the last one. I would have been fine to keep driving, but he finished the book he brought along and is bored, so at the last rest area I handed over the keys.
I had to yell at him three times before we were back on the highway. 

My husband isn’t really a bad driver (though we won't mention that spell when he got about four speeding tickets in eighteen months). He's simply not me. He drives differently and makes the bed differently and packs differently. And because his way isn’t my way, and I am the Queen of All I Survey, in my eyes, he's doing it wrong. 

(Oh no. He just switched the radio to something hard rock'ish. Shoot me now.)

We all know that relationships require compromise. Romance readers and writers probably know this better than most, as it's the core of our stories – two people with radically different stances on one or more areas, searching for a middle ground (damn it, he took his hand off the wheel again!) where they can be together. Sometimes it can take a heck of a lot of searching. (Can he not settle on one speed for the wipers?) But our characters know that the struggle is worth it, for that middle ground is the place where they find love. 

After thirty-three years together, it's a lesson my husband and I know very well, too. 

But so help me, if he doesn't stop tailgating the truck in front of us, we may be back to searching again. Very very soon.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Drawing for Cathryn Parry's Monday Blog Post

Congratulations to linda s, laney4 and penney!

Please let me know your mailing address and your choice of my book title to receive, and I'll send a book to you.  Here is my website contact form.

Thanks for reading our Superromance blog!  :-) 

Sincerely,  Cathryn
www.CathrynParry.com

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Congratulations to TINA HAHN who has won a copy of BECAUSE OF AUDREY!!!

Please contact me at: maryes@rogers.com

Thank you to everyone who commented. I enjoyed reading about your hobbies!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What do you do?

In my October Superromance, BECAUSE OF AUDREY, the heroine is an avid caver, something which alternately fascinates and terrifies me.

While I researched this hobby, I found gorgeous photographs of underground caves that were as beautiful as anything I've seen above ground, with stunning rock and crystal formations, things I would love to see. But actually going into one of those caves myself? It would give me a massive case of claustrophobia. I like wide-open spaces and plenty of room to roam. On the other hand, if I had to go underground to save someone I love, I would do it in a heartbeat!

I also found out there are microscopic insects who live in caves, which makes my skin a little itchy. Silly, I know, considering how many insects there are around us in our daily lives.

While writing my stories, I look for something a little bit different. I don't want my characters to always be doing the same things from book to book. In IN FROM THE COLD and HOME TO LAURA, the father of my three hero brothers was a mountain climber and actually climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest. Researching that was interesting!

There are so many things people do that fascinate me, so many unusual careers and unique hobbies. I don't know how people find some of these past times. Do they research to find what's out there, or do they fall into these things by happenstance?

Years ago, when I was a darkroom printer, I was the first woman hired in one of the professional labs in which I worked. This was a little different because women's career choices were more limited back then than they are now. Thank goodness, things have changed and there are innumerable choices available to us now.

These days, my hobbies are very tame...reading(!), knitting, cooking, learning to dance. I absolutely adore swing dancing. The music is joyful and fun, and fills me with energy.

I'd like to give away a copy of BECAUSE OF AUDREY to someone who comments today. Check back on the weekend to see whether you've won!

What are your hobbies? Or...what career did you choose for yourself? What keeps you engaged and active?

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Dream Trip

by Cathryn Parry

Do you have a place that you’ve been eager to travel to, ever since you were young?  Have you made that journey yet?
My place is Scotland.  This year, for the first time, I finally got to make an extended visit.  It was more inspiring than I’d dreamed.
Scotland Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle


First, some background about my desire: I grew up hearing stories from my grandmother about her Scottish ancestors--her mother’s people by way of the Highland Clearances, from the Hebrides to Cape Breton Island, Canada; and her paternal grandmother by way of Glasgow to Providence, Rhode Island, to work in the cotton mills.  My grandmother showed me romantic nineteenth-century photos of distant cousins wearing kilts.  She had portraits in the attic, and a ceremonial sword which only fueled my romantic imagination further, especially when my ballet teacher required us to learn the Highland Fling and the Sword Dance for our yearly recital. 
(Yes, I still have my tartan skirt, and I still remember the dance moves.  I also brake for bagpipes.)

bagpiper Loch Ness Scotland
A bagpiper beside Loch Ness

Culloden Battlefield Scotland
Standing Stones near Culloden Battlefield
Then, in third grade, a teacher asked us to choose a country on which to write a class report.  My choice was clear: Scotland!  I teamed up with now-Harlequin Blaze author Karen Foley, and we used our enthusiasm with our Scottish ancestry to learn more about the country’s history.  I still have my copy of our report, and much better, I still have Karen’s friendship: She’s my best writing-buddy friend today, all these decades later.


So when it came time to create proposals for my future Superromance books, I had the idea for a story with an American heroine and a Scottish hero.  The two meet in her hometown in Vermont, and after his family's business takes over her town’s shampoo/body products factory, she follows him to Edinburgh, determined to get her town's jobs back.


Scotland Inverness
Driving to Inverness (on the "wrong" side!)
Of course, the story required much research—the perfect opportunity for that long-desired-for trip to Scotland.  I enjoyed it so much, I’m planning two more stories set in the same story world, as well as future trips back to the country.

The Superromance is called “The Sweetest Hours,” and it’s available next month at eHarlequin  and December 1st everywhere else.   

Thanks for reading!  And I'm curious: Do you have a “dream trip” that you’ve been longing or planning for?  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.  As a thank you, I’d like to give away a few books from my backlist.  From the comments to this post, I’ll randomly select winners.   Have a great week!
 
Cathryn Parry is the author of Something To Prove, The Long Way Home, and Out of His League--all from Harlequin Superromance.  She lives in New England with her husband and her neighbor's cat, Otis.  Please see her website at www.CathrynParry.com.
 
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