Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Grimm Criminal Element

My first post for the mystery/thriller Web site Criminal Element is live today! I'm talking about the new TV show Grimm and what makes its twist on the overly familiar procedural formula so refreshing and, quite frankly, majorly creeptastic.

Come for a chat and tune in to Grimm for a special all new episode tomorrow night at 10 PM followed by another new episode in its regular time slot of Fridays at 9 PM.

Finally a Finalist!!

I'm delighted to announce that my novel CATCH ME has been selected as a finalist in the romantic suspense category of the prestigious and competitive award, The Emily, run by the West Houston Chapter of the RWA. I was encouraged to enter the contest by historical romance author, Vicky Dreiling, and, as usual, blitzkreiged my way through the submission process last minute, once again using the greatness of my lateness (and Vicki's unswerving support) to spur me onwards.

This is the first time I've been a finalist in a writing contest of this nature and to have it be for such a prestigious award as The Emily is icing on my well-frosted chocolate cake (did you really think it would be any other flavor?). Winners are announced in a big hoopla ceremony in Houston on February 11, 2012 and it looks like I'm going to have the opportunity to attend the awards ceremony in person.

Look, a list!

Congrats to the 2012 Finalists!

Contemporary Series

  • Dawn’s Light by Jo Anne Banker
  • Mistress By Blackmail by Caro LaFever
  • The Seduction by Mary Oldham

Contemporary Single Title

  • The Last MacKlenna by Katherine Logan
  • Hope’s Gentle Touch by Laura Hodges Poole
  • Teach Me by Ella Sheridan

Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal

  • When Angels Soared by Lana Dahlen
  • Seeker: Aiodhan by Sandy James
  • The Vessel by Mary SeRine

Historical Romance

  • The Enemy Spy by Jinhee Jun
  • Scandal in Spades by Wendy La Capra
  • Lady’s Knight by Kayla Westra

Novel With Romantic Elements

  • Princess of Bosque Bend by Jeanell Bolton
  • Princess Redlander by Jeanell Bolton
  • Missing You by Tracy Brogan
  • Trust Me by kimberle swaak

Romantic Suspense

  • Portrait of a Dead Guy by Larissa Hoffman
  • Catch Me by Kiersten Hallie Krum
  • Deception by Jennifer Beane

Young Adult

  • Forget Tomorrow by P.H. Dunn
  • Invisible by Abby Gaines
  • Dust to Dust by Virginia Munoz

In addition to The Emily, I've also entered CATCH ME in the romantic suspense category for the Golden Heart, the RWA national contest for unpublished writers. Finalists are announced mid-March with winners being crowned during a ceremony at the RWA National Conference in the end of July.

Looks like I'm off and running, finally seeing years, nay decades (or maybe it just feels that way), of work, emotion, setbacks, spurts, self-sabotage, blood, sweat, and tears come to tangible fruition. Seeing the title of my book on that finalist list for The Emily, the first time I've ever seen it listed anywhere I didn't put it myself, is a giddy experience. A week later, I'm still flying high.

Gonna be one hell of a start to 2012!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Happy Winners!!

I'm kicking off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend by announcing the winner of a digital copy of  SEAL of My Dreams and the three winners from my Authors on a Pedestal post. Without further ado...

By total random happenstance (by which I mean I put your names in a bowl and had a dayjob coworker draw the winner) the winner of a digital copy of SEAL of My Dreams is - Landra! Congratulations! Please send your e-mail information to kierstenATkierstenkrumDOTcom and I will get you a copy of that fantastic anthology tout suite.

The three winners from Authors on a Pedestal post (again, names picked from a bowl. We're pretty bare bones here at Two Left Shoes) are Commenter #2 Joanna Shupe, Commenter #7 Robin Covington, and Commenter #3 Nicole Doran!!!

Congratulations to all winners! Please send me your snail mail details and I will get your prizes out to you. First one of you to reply gets a signed, hardcover copy of Sherilyn Kenyon's Born of Shadows !

The Thanksgiving holiday gives us the time and space to reflect on those things and people for whom we are most thankful and the opportunity to give them voice. I am thankful for each one of you who visits my quirky little blog. I am delighted by your comments and so very grateful that you take time out of you busy, busy lives to say hello and share your thoughts on whatever random thing has sprouted from my deliciously off-kilter mind. May you have a glorious Thanksgiving Day surrounded by those you love and filled with way too much fantastic food.

Blessings and endless joy to you all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

SEAL of My Dreams

Image courtesy of
On Veteran's Day last year, I wrote about my Dad-Dad's story of when he arrived home from World War II, and a Peanuts cartoon, and Flanders Fields. Two months later, I revealed how the word "embellish" takes on new and amazing meaning in the hands of a master spinner like my Dad-Dad. The man's a piece of work, I'll tell you.

For Veteran's Day 2011, I'm shilling - and I couldn't be happier to be doing it

I am, on a regular basis, extremely proud to be a member of the romance writing community, no more so than today when I can tell you about SEAL of My Dreams, an amazing anthology put together by some of the leading romance writers of our day, as you can see by the names listed on the cover to the right.

Oh, that cover! When Bin Laden was killed, this photo (posted in full below) was featured with a New York Times article on Navy SEALs. If a picture is worth a thousand words, well, this one was worth a thousand sighs as women all over took one look and went "Wow". It's been featured regularly on ManCandyMondays ever since, basically whenever I can find the slightest excuse to work it into the theme of the week.

SEALs are the elite warriors of the Navy, men whose training and abilities are the stuff of legend - only this is real life. They are living, breathing, walking heroes though they'd be the very last ones to label themselves so.

They are men worthy of our admiration, our gratitude, and, in the case of SEAL of My Dreams, our imagination.
It doesn't take much for writers to be inspired and this photo was enough to spur a cadre of them to contribute stories to SEAL of My Dreams, (a title I regularly misrepresent as SEALed for Your Pleasure [Freudian much?]). Look at those names! Christie Ridgway, Cindy Gerard, Tara Janzen, HelenKay Dimon, Roxanne St Claire - only a few of the bestselling romance writers names who contributed original stories to this book.

But what elevates SEAL of My Dreams and its authors to amazo levels is the fact that proceeds from its sale will be donated towards veterans medical research. Our brave men and women who stand on the front lines and the back lines and all the lines in between in defense of our nation and its people are coming home with physical and psychological injuries that few of us will ever be able to completely understand. They need our help, now more than ever.

As a small contribution to the cause, I'll be giving away a Kindle or Nook digital copy of Seal of My Dreams to a commenter here at Two Left Shoes as well as buying one in print for myself.

Leave a comment and tell me about a veteran in your life, or perhaps a military themed book that you enjoy (I'm extremely partial to Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series), or what story you're most looking forward to reading in Seal of My Dreams. Contest is open until 5 PM Monday, November 14, 2011. I'll post the winner on Tuesday. UPDATED 11/15/11: Extended through to Friday, November 18th at 7PM.

Last year on Veteran's Day, I linked to this column by Aaron Sorkin, creator and showrunner of my beloved The West Wing and the great Sports Night. Read it now, or again as I did, to get a tiny glimpse of what our soldiers are going through, the pain and suffering our military men and women continue to endure long after they've come home.

Finally, a few links that will give you some first-person, behind-the-scenes accounts of how Seal of My Dreams came to be: 

An interview with Christie Ridgway, who first tweeted the seminal photo that started it all and spearheaded the anthology.

An interview with Cindy Gerard.

An interview with Roxanne St. Claire where she talks about her nephew, an Army Ranger (Rangers lead the way!).

And the Navy SEALs themselves, or at least a post on their official blog that features SEAL of My Dreams.

Our safety, our freedom, continues to come at a high price, one that will never be paid in full.

Veterans, I salute you.

Hoo Rah.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Man Candy Monday - Beasts & Monsters

Wanna do bad things, baby?
Appropriately on this Feast of Samhain or All Hallows Eve, today's Man Candy Monday theme is Beasts & Monsters. Less appropriately, I am host extraordinaire this week. The irony here is that I don't like monsters per se; I don't watch horror movies and have never read a Stephen King novel in my life (quelle horreur!). When Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series premiered, I spent most of the two-part pilot hiding behind my hands, I was that freaked out. People whose imaginations are as vivid as my own do not need help coming up with horror stories, I promise you.

Since then, I've graduated to Anita Blake (so not for the faint-hearted) and True Blood, so clearly my tolerance has advanced (though I still fast-forward through any "creeps alone through the dark house" scenes). But there are times when I'm awake late at night and the house creaks the wrong way, and I'm reduced to relying on the cats as a natural alarm system - if they're not freaking out, nobody wrong is in the house.

A significant motivation for me to set my fears aside was a very basic building block of shows like Buffy: hot men. Who better to kick off this beastly Man Candy Monday than Buffy's men themselves: Angel and Spike.


Vampires have long been a favorite amongst the monsters we love to hate - or love to love in many cases. None more than the king of vampires himself, Dracula. Gary Oldman's Dracula is seductive, creepy, and not a little gross and I really miss the sexual appeal particularly when he looks like this:

Why yes, I do bite on command.

I much prefer him here. Hey, Sirius Black is an animagus, remember? Monster! Fits.

It's clear my affinity definitely lies with the beasts. I much prefer the mythos behind werebeasts than that of the blood sucking variety. Something about the feudalistic nature of were society appeals to me.

 Whether it be the Lycans from the Underworld saga...

I am bad, blue, and my chest caves inwards


 ...or those lovely boys from True Blood (and by lovely boys I mean Alcide, naturally).

Growl for me, lovah

Flannel makes the wolf

 I'll take a hot-blooded man over a cold one any day.

After all, no woman should be made to go without her own Wolverine.

Join us tonight on Twitter 9 PM EST/8 PM CST/7 PM MT/6 PM PST and use the hashtag #ManCandyMonday as you tweet us your favorite pictures of the beasts and monsters that make you go boo!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Authors on a Pedestal - What Do You Do When They Fall Off?

Courtesy of
Last night, I cleaned out the trench between my bed and the wall, stacking books, jettisoning trash, sucking up enough fur to probably form a fourth cat in my household, and basically doing the sorts of tasks that pile up to unimaginable heights when you are, as I am, not a domestic goddess.

Last weekend, I likewise cleaned out the very back of my brain, hoovering through the detritus and scraping off the barnacles clinging to the underside of my skull.

I went to a romance writer's conference.

I love romance writer's conferences. There's nothing like being in the company of hundreds of people who get your obscure pop culture references, have mad love for the same books and authors, and don't look at you funny when you do or say something particularly - odd. Er.

Really, it's like the mother ship calling me home.

This was the NJRW conference - my home chapter, my homies, my peeps. My sole goal was to have a good time, which involves networking and workshops and other professional things. Also some Sangria. And the 6-pack of Magners Cider I brought with me. Yea, a good time was had by all.

How good a time? Well, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James gave a talk about the state of the industry - to published authors. As a yet unpublished writer, I was not eligible to attend (ahem). Katiebabs/KT Grant of the Babbling About Books blog, has an excellent recap of this seminar though that I highly recommend

The conference kicked off with New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak giving an excellent 3 hour workshop (you thought I was going to say tour. Don't deny it.) on creativity during which she had me say "enormous penis" into the podium microphone as part of an example on subtext, but that's a story for another day.  

New York Times Bestselling Author Suzanne Brockmann gave the keynote speech and spoke on having to work to find the love place, the place from which she writes from that still believes in happily ever after even with our country in its current economic and social upheaval. New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander gave a wonderfully funny special presentation workshop (which I had the honor to moderate), and New York Times bestselling author (I'm sensing a trend here) Rachel Gibson wound it all up with her luncheon speech about - well I'm really not sure what.

Here's the thing. There are plenty of places you can go to read about the particulars of what went on at the conference. My chaptermate Nancy Herkness has a great round up on her blog, for example, including the hot firemen and a list of the Golden Leaf and Put Your Heart in a Book winners while KT Grant is continuing to post details throughout the week of the numerous professional highlights of the weekend.

I want to talk about something that's been niggling at me since Saturday. As I said, Rachel Gibson gave the luncheon speech. I've liked her books since my first days at Avon Books as an assistant in the late 90s, particularly True Confessions, which was recently re-released in one of those elongated paperback editions. This weekend was the first time I'd seen her in person and I was disappointed. I suspect she's shy; maybe she was having an off day. Perhaps public speaking is not her forte. Certainly, her position at the podium meant the microphone didn't pick her voice up well and that unquestionably contributed to the situation. But the speech was - odd. And I was - bothered. What's worse is this impression has stayed with me all week, to the point that I put aside her newest book, a book I'd planned to dive into this week.

So my question is this: does it matter when an author you like doesn't live up to your expectations in person? Does it affect your ability to enjoy their work, books you previously would have picked up without question?

Even though I really don't like time-travel books in general - time isn't cyclical people! - I am a ginormous fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. After years of reading every book in this series, several of them many times (and they ain't tiny!) I finally saw Gabaldon in person this summer at the RWA national conference and I found her to be - well - rather full of herself. I know she's quite actively involved with her readers; I've seen it with my own eyes. While dining at a pub in NYC that week, we saw numerous women led to an upper room where Gabaldon was hosting a Scottish-themed reader event. I also know, cause I'm a nerd who reads the small print in books and on web sites, that she's very involved in the Scottish communities, going to Gatherings and other cultural touchstones. Plus, her research is exhausting; whatever your feelings may be about her interpretation of the era, she's not phoning it in. But her attitude and delivery at the author's panel I saw in June was rather - smug. Also, the words "share the stage" do not appear to be in her vocabulary. I had to wonder, if I hadn't already read and loved the series, would I be inclined, after that experience, to start Outlander today?

What about you? Does the author-in-person experience matter in your choice of book? Have you ever stopped reading an author you enjoy because the real-life person didn't live up to your expectations? Do you think in our social media crazed world, an author's public face is more important than ever?

I have books - oy the books I have! - and will choose 3 random commentators on Sunday to each receive a book. Titles to come. Some people have said they have problems commenting; if this happens to you, shoot me an email at kiersten@kierstenkrumdotcom and I'll try to fix it.

For now, I have to return that call from the mothership.

Monday, October 3, 2011

One for the Money - Is it Worth the Dough?

The movie trailer for One for the Money was released this week on the Internet and yea the fur, it is flying.

First, some background.

One for the Money is a mystery/comedy novel with romantic elements by New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich about Trenton, NJ-native Stephanie Plum. Stephanie has just lost her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store, is about to have her Miata repossessed for back payments, and is desperate to avoid moving back home to The Burb. To avoid this horror, she signs on as a low-level bounty hunter, chasing down the skeevy skips that populate the capitol city of the Garden State, everything from flashers to mob enforcers to a recently-divorced depressed woman who robbed a truck full of Cheetos.

Her first job is apprehending fugitive cop Joe Morelli, a reformed bad boy (though not too reformed) who, as a teenager, relieved Stephanie of her virginity behind the counter at the local donut shop. She paid him back by running him over with her dad's Buick thus breaking his leg.

To bone up her bounty hunter skillz, she asks Ranger, bad ass Cuban bounty hunter extraordinaire who'd like to relieve Stephanie of just about everything else, to mentor her in his mysterious ways. Along the way to getting her man, Stephanie partners with a former hooker who thinks Cluck in a Bucket is diet food, watches every car she touches catch on fire, and discovers that pineapple upside-down cake can pretty much solves just about every problem.

I highly - highly - recommend this series (up till about book 12, but that's a different post) and not only because it's set in New Jersey (holla!). It is fast and sweet and laugh-out-loud, pee-your-pants funny and if that's not enough to draw you in, well, you've got a real problem (though I hear there's an app for that).

You might assume, based on this, that I would be thrilled to have it made into a movie. Cautiously excited would be a better description. They'd better do it right, I thought with typical Jersey ferocity.

Of course, they didn't.

[Click the jump to see the trailer]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Television Tuesday: Emmy Edition

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. CAN'T LOSE this time.
Full confession: I like awards shows. That said, I limit myself to the Big Two Four - the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys - and even then, I'm only into the Grammys and Tonys for the performances and the rare win by someone whose work I may know and enjoy (*cough* U2 *cough*). Usually, I watch those two awards shows on delay so I can fast forward past the aimless drivel. For the Grammys, this is includes anything with JayZ, which is pretty much everything these days since he produces the dang thing. For the Tonys, it's often anything not involving Neil Patrick Harris. And Hugh Jackman, obviously.

But my well-documented love for television and movies make the Emmys and Oscars must-see TV.  This year, a number of superb shows and marvelously talented people were nominated and I had hopes, dare I say high hopes, of some spectacular wins. Happily, I was not completely disappointed.

That said, the show itself was a major loss.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back-to-School Blues

Laugh it up, fuzzball (Google Images)
Last week, parents across the country bundled their offspring of various ages and sizes into cars and buses and onto bicycles and other modes of transportation and sent them back to school.

Almost, you could hear a sound wafting along the breeze, like the faint tones of the Whos down in Whoville, the tall and the small, as parents everywhere released a universal and nigh simultaneous expulsion of relief.


Behold back-to-school week. The time when parents reclaim the sanity that slipped from their fingers with each hot summer day and night that included the unrelenting presence of their children. Oh, I've no doubt they all love their respective progeny deeply, but I'm equally confident the urge to chuck their children began right around the Fourth of July - if not sooner. Sure, sports and dancing and music classes and scouts and plays and all the hither and dither that make a school year will soon sap the energies of many a mother and father. But for now, the bliss of even a temporarily empty hearth and home is effulgent.

But if you'd listened closely, if you truly paid attention last week, you would have heard the subtle ripple of a different timbre beneath this collective parental sigh emanating from the kid-free contingent (c'est moi). It went something like this:


Oh, just get on with it! (Google Images)
No longer is my commute free of lumbering school buses. No more do I seamlessly flow down 287S. Instead the quagmire of moronic bumper-to-bumper traffic is mine to curse once again, the brake-pedal tango of pause-tap-slam mine to maneuver.

I have the back-to-school blues.

Look, I loved school. OK, I hated most of it up till the last two years of high school, but I loved learning (mostly) and adored college (usually) where, if you're lucky (and I was, eventually) they not only allow you to argue, they encourage it. Win!

Though I'm not in the ranks of the learning anymore, I enjoy feeling life settle back into the bloated school year structure, but oy, do I miss the empty roads of summer. The traffic these days is making me nuts (all right, nuttier) and it's only been a week! My kingdom for a teacher's conference!

Plus, there are people everywhere! Where did you all come from? The shore? Feel free to go back to clogging up the Parkway, you yobbos, or at least quit pulling out in front of me and slowing down to beneath the speed limit because you don't know how to go down a hill and around a curve at the same time. Yeesh. Tonight, driving home through the twilight, without warning, a utility worker ran out in the street maybe 10 yards in front of me. His orange vest was worthless in the gathering dark and damn, it was close. People are getting stupid(er) and its wearing on my nerves! There's only so many times I can miss!

Parents, have mercy on we few, we unhappy few, we band of befuddled who can barely muster the energy to glare when you gleefully swan up and down the aisles of an office-supply store cued to a Journey soundtrack. School is back is session, but- A-Ha! - it won't be for long! If such a small grace is so beyond you, then, for the love of Colonel Sanders, at least remember this. When you're on the highway half an hour later than usual after dropping Johnny and Jane off at school stay the hell out of the left-hand lane!

Gloat not, preening parents. Christmas break will be here sooner than you can press the easy button.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Mean, the Earth Moved and Everything

Tuesday afternoon, from one end of the East Coast to the other, the earth made its displeasure known. This was my first earthquake - a 5.9 with its epicenter in Washington D.C. making it the most activity that area has known all summer.

At the time, I was at my desk at the day job, diligently surfing the Internet working on an editing job. My screen, my desk, my pictures, basically everything started shaking, putting my world slightly off tilt. All right, all right, more off tilt than usual.

Naturally, I remained calm and composed. Ahem. Actually, I thought I was having vertigo. When I realized it was an earthquake (the shaking floor was a big clue) I kinda enjoyed it. There may have even been a "wheeeeee!!!" (as opposed to a wee).

The quake didn't last long. Or too long, depending on where you were at the moment, I suppose. Honestly, I was more worried when the elevator in Flatiron Building bounced up and down at the 18th floor during RWA Nationals. Big honking drop trumps mildly shaking floor any day.

Because my office is nothing if not responsive to the needs of its employees, we evacuated the building - after the earthquake was over. Yes, there was a concern over aftershocks, but really. Great Adventure gives me more of an aftershock than the actual earthquake and that's without even getting on a ride. Though we definitely had it better than our sister company (as usual) where the leadership apparently went "there was an earthquake? Too much to do, go back to work". One would think the lessons of 9/11 would provide us a better sense of the dangers we face today, or at least inspire a smarter response. But the cocoon remains well padded; I grabbed my mobile, not the Emergency Kit.

Those on the west coast pshawed over the somewhat giddy reaction the east coast had to the earthquake - once we were sure nothing had blown up. For my part, I was pleased to evacuate into such divine weather, the literal calm before the storm as we wait for Hurricane Irene to whack us upside the head on Sunday. I sat on the back gate of my CR-V and guffawed my way through the earthquake tweets. They ran the gauntlet from the "phew we're safe" variety to "the Force is strong in that one" ilk. Below is sample of some that amused me enough to retweet.

The first is by far the best one. It's already gone viral from Twitter to the world. Click on the link. You won't regret it. Assume crash positions. Looks like we're in for a bumpy ride.

images of earthquake devastation in Washington, DC  

MSNBC says the Washington monument is leaning to left. Fox news says its to the right

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Breaking Up With Burn Notice - Television Tuesday

There comes a time in any relationship when you have to admit that something is not working. I fear I have reached that point with Burn Notice and yea, it makes me sad.

From the moment it debuted, I have loved Burn Notice. A clever, witty show with guns and spies and beaucoup back story, a complex, conflicted hero (Michael Westen played by Jeffrey Donovan), betrayed by his government, manipulated by a shadow organization, who just happens to have a gun-running ex-girlfriend (Fiona played by Gabrielle Anwar with the worst fake Irish accent evah though it was quickly erased), an excess of yogurt, and Bruce-Freaking-Campbell (Sam Axe).

In a word - awesome.

But lately, as Michael has defeated said shadow organization, proved his innocence, and been reinstated to the CIA, the show has become - dare I say it? - formulaic. An A story-of-the-week where Michael et al help the helpless, a la A-Team and a myriad of other 80s adventure shows, while the B-story is the continuing saga of solving Michael's own professional angst. This summer season, that role is filled by the "Who killed (fellow spy) Max?" non-mystery as it seems painfully obvious to me that Max isn't really dead.

For me, Burn Notice began to wane when our fearless threesome became a foursome and Jesse (Coby Bell) was added to the roster. At first, I thought it an interesting angle for Michael to play as he inadvertently did to Jesse what the shadow organization had done to him: got him burned. I particularly liked it when, secret revealed, Jesse saved Michael's admirable tuckus from the bad guy by shooting Michael - with no small amount of pleasure on Jesse's part.

But I didn't want Jesse to stay and stay he did. Saying I don't like change is a gross understatement, so messing around with a cast I like is a wonky move. But, despite my considerable efforts at the contrary, the world doesn't revolve around me and television showrunners don't consult me before screwing around with the casting status quo. Their loss.

Setting aside my personal quirks, the show now has to find ways to include story lines and character development for five full time cast members (including Michael's mother Madeline played by Sharon Gless) and those of Michael, Fi, and Sam have suffered for it. It doesn't help that an in-the-CIA-fold with healthy relationships with mother and girlfriend Michael is far less interesting than burned, bitter, and ballistic Michael.

And then there's my waning suspension of disbelief. Just how many things does this guy have to blow up in Miami before local law enforcement wises up? The show tried to introduce a police-hunt wrinkle in season two (or was it three?) but it was an epic fail, no small fault due to the miscasting of Moon Bloodgood as the Miami cop on Michael's (enticing) scent.When you have an alpha woman like Fiona, you need a woman who can similarly challenge Michael from the antagonist side and Moon Bloodgood wasn't it. Tricia Helfer, however, worked very well as a previous big bad because a former cylon kicks everyone to the curb.

Also, why is there no traffic? How is it Michael, Fi and Sam can cross the city in minutes without a single traffic light or snarl, never mind the driving hijinks they get up to along the way? And then go and blow more sh*t up without getting arrested?

Horatio Caine would never stand for that crap in his city. His sunglasses alone would have to object.

The best Burn Notice episodes are when Michael and Fiona (and her lips) are balls to the wall in one way or another leaving Chuck Finley (alias for Campbell's Sam Axe) to front a rescue. Like last year's siege at the abandoned hotel or when Fiona was kidnapped to be auctioned off by an Irish terrorist, or even when Sam got nicked by the bad SEALs.

Good times.

[Let's pause here and touch on Gabrielle Anwar's lips. Look at her in Scent of a Woman. Granted it was 1992 and Gabrielle herself was only 22, but here and in The Three Musketeers a year later, she didn't look like Stephen Tyler had lent her collagen. Now I get an irrevocable impression of fish lips every time I look at her. Very distracting. I'm not saying she's had work done; at 5'3", she weighs about 80 lbs and it may be that, lacking any kind of collagen in her face, her lips merely stand out more. But it's weird.]

Back to Burn Notice. This past week, I actually stopped watching in the middle of the episode. Unheard of! Absurb! Yet true nonetheless. Why? Because I was bored, which, to me, is death knell.

Yet it makes me sad to say goodbye. I hold on for too long and wind up in this love/hate situation where I don't like what it's become but stay for what it once was. Shows like this that fire on all cylinders right out of the gate are few and far between. Television already serves the least common denominator of audience. Sustaining a show that raises the bar can't be an easy task. But Burn Notice would have been better served by ending once Michael had succeeded in his original mission to clear his name. Then we could have imagined him and Fi and Sam kicking around Miami, drinking mojitoes, hanging out in Madeline's garage, and looking out for the little guy in this big, bad world.

My dear Burn Notice. It's not me, it's you. I hope we can still be friends.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Man Candy Monday - the Wednesday Edition

I'm too sexy for this ocean
After a long, holy-crap-is-the-Devil-on-a-bender hot weekend, I was looking forward to sweating over Man Candy Monday this week if only for some variety. This week's theme: Euro Trash. This theme somehow feels like the embodiment of Man Candy Monday's raison d'etre. Stripped of the puritanical American trappings, Euro Trash Man Candy had the potential to bring Man Candy Monday to a new level of "oh-my-gawd-what-is-that?" awesomeness.

And I missed it.

EuroTrash cowboy? So last week, darling.
I can hardly believe it myself. Have the blooms fallen off the Man Candy -er - stems? Have the burgeoning pecs of manliness been - gasp! - punctured?

Perish the thought! Merely an epic fail on my part as I turned around not once but twice in my office Monday night, sure that I was forgetting something but leaving nonetheless only to pull off the highway two miles from home with the realization that I'd left my laptop in my office.

Polish Moment unparallelled.
The scruff of sensitive ManCandy

He never inhaled - smoke.

David Gandy from Light Blue Cologne Advert

Gotta love a hot man in braces

Rather than have my - ahem - research to go unrewarded, here for your viewing pleasure are the pictures I'd amassed for EuroTrash ManCandyMonday. 

Ciao Baby.

Just. My. Quarry.

Bon Jovi, the EuroTrash edition
Are those zebra trunks?
Hit me with your best shot. Please.
Dis towel is, how you say? Too much.

Don't repeat my mistakes and miss Man Candy Monday. Join us on Twitter every Monday beginning at 9 PM EST and use the hashtag #ManCandyMonday. The theme for August 1st is Bollywood. Finger chimes are optional.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Man Candy Monday – Men and Horses

This week's Man Candy Monday theme is men and horses, and by this, we don't only mean cowboys. Of course, that's not going to stop me from leading off with an Australian cowboy in situ – even a faux one.

Ride 'em, mate.

Even in our modern age, a knight on horseback is an impressive image. It's not like people go to Renaissance Faires for the food. Jousting knights always get the biggest cheers. And when that knight is Clive Owen? Hoo, boy.

I like this shot of the princes at polo. They're so competitive with each other, and yet, when I watched them on the BBCAmerica documentaries that ran before the Royal Wedding, there's an unbreakable bond with genuine affection and respect evident between them – right before they take the micky out of one another.

The Renaissance Man himself. Viggo's movie Hidalgo may not have done well at the box office, but how can you go wrong watching beautiful horses race across the desert? Plus Viggo. On a horse.

Finally, I could not do this post and neglect the men from Silverado. "Jake fell off his horse?" Emmett asks at one point, an incomprehensible notion as Jake, played by Kevin Costner, was a centaur when on horseback. The man can ride. There's so much to love about this great movie (though not Patricia Arquette), from the many quotable lines, to the breathtaking photography, to the loving homage to classic western tropes. And lots and lots of men and horses.

Head over to the Man Candy Monday blog, ably corralled this week by Laurie B. London, for more great pics and some unique insights as Laurie is herself a horse owner. Join us on Twitter tonight, beginning at 9 PM EST for more Man Candy madness. Use the hashtag #ManCandyMonday and brace yourself for the stampede.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eulogy for Radio

Radio station 101.9 WRXP debut in 2008, the very month I moved out of Weehawken. That was a particularly chaotic year; that month alone should have landed me in the loony bin for good. 

Discovering a new radio station of WRXP's caliber was a genuine pleasure, one that offset some of the crazy permeating my life at the time (as opposed to the normal crazy that consumes my every day). It couldn't come at a better time either as KROCK had just (again!) changed its format away from the rock it was known for to the every encroaching, every excretable pop/hip hop mix.

What I loved about RXP – then – was its devotion to rock music. Finally, here was a station playing the music that had yet to break through to mainstream, bands like Kings of Leon (pre Sex on Fire) and Muse and Mumford and Sons and others of that ilk. Bands that weren't on the pop stations at all (at the time) and were maybe breaking through on the (rare) rock station in the late night "new music" slots.

Matt Pinfield's morning show had phenomenal interviews that weren't timed promo slots but could go 10, 20 minutes as they dissected musical influences and motivations or traded stories from wild rock 'n roll days of the 80s and 90s. Pinfield has decades of music business experience under his belt and knows everyone (I suspect he may also know where the bodies and drugs are buried). Every morning he brought that experience and enthusiasm to the show. For once, I looked forward to the talking as much as the music because; one always elevated the other. I listened on the way in to work and piped the station through my computer during the workday to keep the music going. I told everyone about this great new radio station, I even blogged about it here. I absolutely loved it.

Slowly, much like New Jersey station 105.5 WDHA, this dedication changed. The interviews became pre-recorded, portions parsed out across the four-hour show or even over two or three days. I started flipping channels, the proliferation of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin edging out Saving Able, and Black Stone Cherry and Muse. And oy, the 80s hair band music. I'm a child of the 80s and I still do not need to hear Welcome to the Jungle and Jump every bleeding day. (Take note DHA – Whitesnake and Poison need not apply all the freaking time and oh my giddy aunt, what is with playing the Ramones all the time?!). 

Where once RXP would play music while all other stations were running the 5-minutes-to-the-hour commercial block, now the same adverts filled their airwaves at the same time. I started listening less and less, flipping channels as I had before discovering the station. There was now little difference, particularly with WDHA. 

A few months ago, Pinfield and his partner Leslie Fram were moved out of The Rock Show morning slot and into the lunchtime hour. The show lost its pizazz and almost sounded automated as though Pinfield and Leslie had prerecorded their segments. More and more it seemed Leslie was taking the lead with Pinfield dialed back. Then this week, via his Twitter stream, Pinfield announced his departure from the station. Today, it seems, is the last broadcasting day for 101.9 WRXP in its current persona. Rumor is that a format change is in the making. Right. Because what we need right now is another Z100 clone. 

When it began, RXP touted the fact that it was an independent station that could bring this level of attention to music and artists because it lacked a corporate overload directing content based on spread sheets. I can only surmise that this situation didn't last and that this once great station got gobbled up, possibly right around the time I stopped being a devoted listener.

It's a shame. It's a bloody crime, really. In a society of sameness, where a trend is milked dry to the last drop, to see another promising station, one whose sole purpose was to celebrate rock music and the artists that make it, fold again as so many before it have to what will presumably be yet another station bent on pleasing the most common denominators of the populace, is hugely disappointing.

No wonder so many are turning to pay services like Pandora. Anybody got a link to that?

Rest in Peace, WRXP, my sometime friend.

See you on the B side.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Man Candy Monday - Men! In Kilts!

Och laddie!
I'm guest blogging today at the Man Candy Monday blog about Men! In Kilts! Head on over there to check out the tasty tableau of men in kilts. You can thank me later.

Yeah they do!
Prizes! Last week's winner of the Karen Rose duo of books is - da-da-da! - CheekyGirl! Congratulations! Send me an email at kierstenatkierstenkrumdotcom with your snail mail deets and I'll get those to you tout suite!

In the meantime, go leave a comment on Man Candy Monday. It's a prize in itself.

Finally, join us tonight on Twitter at 9 PM EST. Use the hashtag #ManCandyMonday and post your favorite images of Men! In Kilts!

My, what a big - buckle - you have there

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There Will Be Wine

There are a number of lists and blogs running the Internet gauntlet this week to deconstruct the RWA National Conference. Who am I to deny you mine?

I was a newbie at nationals or, as my line went all week, I was a Nationals Virgin. Had to be something left, right? Despite extensive planning and a last minute freak out, I wound up flying by the seat of my pants as usual and made it out exhausted, exhilarated, and ready to rock 'n roll the WIP.

Look! Highlights! Preeetttyyyy.

Start Off Right 
There's no better way to start of a conference, especially as a newbie, than with a night spent at Lady Jane's Salon. The wonderful monthly event for the celebration of romance fiction hosted a special event in honor of RWA with 6 – count 'em, 6! – bestselling writers including co-founder Leanna Renee Hieber, Diana Love, Karen Rose, Carrie Lofty, Sarah MacClean, and the incomparable Eloisa James. The upper room of Madame X bar was crammed cheek to jowl with writers and readers including several online friends. A highlight for me was a lovely chat with historical romance writer Joanna Bourne who could not have been more delightful.

Wonder Roommate
Be it camp, college, or marriage, the roommate is key. I won the bloody lottery with my roommate for RWA. She found me through my post on the RWA roommate board and I will thank her for that for the rest of our lives. If one of us said "I like X" the other immediately said "me too!" (though we both loathe Y for reasons I won't disclose here). We quickly realized there was nothing either of us could say that wouldn't make the other guffaw. Highlights in conversation included "Honey, while I'm sure the proportionate size of rats' balls is fascinating, I just want to watch Tom Hanks talk to Conan and go to bed" and "I know he's too young and I don't care," and "it's too difficult to take the straps off the bed every time" and "oh honey, soon as he walks out on screen, I'm unzipping my pants."

I'll leave it to all of you to decide who said what. Hint: contrary to common belief, they all did not come from me.

Adapt, adapt, adapt
No schedule could survive the madness of a national conference intact. For example, as soon as Wonder Roommate told me the books at publisher book signings were FREE (be still my thundering heart), those events skyrocketed to the top of my must do list. There's your list of things to do and then there are the things you actually do. Those are usually the ones you remember always.

No Matter How Long You Take to Plan Your Footwear (3 months) or How Many Shoes You Pack (*cough* 11 pairs *cough*), You Will Only Wear the Lands End Saddle Shoes and the Foot Smart Sandals Because Dear Lord, Will Your Feet Hurt

That one is pretty self explanatory I think.

Do Not Hesitate If You Recognize Someone You Want to Meet 
Many writers are introverts. I am not one of them, which likely surprises none of you. But I do have an instinct to shy away from promoting myself to someone especially if it involves a cold introduction. Never mind that these were not technically cold intros as I had conversed with many of these people, sometimes repeatedly, on Twitter and Facebook. Name recognition was likely if not a given. But the possibility of a crushing reception squelches the better impulses of the best of intentions.

Right from the beginning, I had to check myself from the "I'll do it later" excuse and call out to people as they passed by. In every single case, I experienced something wonderful. In some instances, I forced myself to follow up with a repeat cold intro at the end of the week to reiterate the early conversation. This is ballsy stuff for many of us, myself included. But it must be done. 

Here's a secret: it gets easier. Gird your loins and stick out your hand. You won't regret it.

Everyone Needs a Secret Weapon
This fan was mine. Churned through every AA battery I brought with me but was the best buck fifty I've spent all year, especially in the fifth ring of hell that was the Literacy Book Signing. Hundreds, nay, thousands of writers and readers crammed into a double ballroom breed a whole bunch of heat, and not only because of the man titty covers.


 I threw this bag in a bag into my bag at the last minute and it was a Godsend at every single signing. By the end of each it was hemorrhaging books but held strong and retracted as soon as said books were dumped on my bed. Again.

Harlan Coben Is a Riot 
Somehow I missed the fact that Harlan Coben was doing a panel on suspense with Lisa Jackson. Fortunately, I realized my lapse in time. Besides being big, bald, and bestselling, he is a very funny speaker. Too many speakers brought the funny this week. I'm sensing a theme there.

Among other great quotes and bon mots, Coben said, "when you write and love to write, there's such a temptation not to write," an observation to which I can completely relate. He also advised, "Don't jump on a trend. Just write the story. Don't worry about pages, etc. Write what you love, not what you think the audience will want." This was a sentiment shared over and over this week.

You Will See the Same Six (Fantastic) People All Week and Never Glimpse the Other Six You Wanted to See
The "six" is a random number, but the fact is I routinely saw the same people (who are fabulous), but never saw a (growing) handful of people I was keen to meet in person. I'm choosing to see this as a chance to put those missed people at the top of the list for next year's conference.

You Can Steal the Mustard 
This is not a euphemism. I got this mustard with my pretzel at XX pub (name redacted because I'd like to go back someday – they have hard cider on tap). It's so strong and delicious; it'll clear out your sinuses with one dollop. Loverly. No way I was leaving it behind. In fact, after I finish this post, I'm getting a soft pretzel out of the freezer and slopping some mustard on it. Yum.

If You're Not Published, You're Missing Out 
That's the hard truth of it. A pre-published writer myself, I was amazed to realize part of the reason I wasn't seeing several people was because they were all involved in "pubbed" author activities. For my first national conference, my focus was on networking and workshops. The networking gets a little difficult when the people who you wish to talk to are off at published author events. It's like there's a secret password being whispered just beyond my hearing. What this does though is only make me more determined to be published for next year's conference.

I hate missing out.

That said my dance card was yet well and truly full. There is plenty to do for the pre-pubbed writer, fret not. I loved meeting the authors I chat with on Twitter and Facebook, putting faces to monikers I can spell correctly without looking. Highlights included Kate Noble saying, "I know, I follow you on Twitter" and Eileen Dreyer's lovely ego stroke "I love talking with you online" among many, many others. People question whether social marketing works, whether relationships online can carry through to real life with any sense of veracity. I'm here to tell you they absolutely do.

No Matter What, Eventually the Jersey Always Comes Out

Post party, I was with a gaggle of women happy to share a cab back to the hotel. Two of the ladies were from Canada, including the lovely author Julianne Maclean. At my suggestion, we went up to the NE corner of Broadway and 23rd Street to maximize our taxi-hailing chances. I saw an SUV taxi pull up on the NW corner and yelled "go now. We have to get that one." Immediately, these two ladies set off to cross Broadway, not noticing that the light was against them. I jumped into the crosswalk to follow, hoping to buy some extra time for them to make the corner. Traffic was blessedly light, but – of course – two cars barreled down on us, horns blaring, one disgruntled older man wailing on the dang thing till the Jersey came out and I yelled, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Shut up already!" Safely on the corner, Julianne looked at me and said, "You are definitely from Jersey."

You can take the girl out of the diner…

Don't try to hide who you are. Your inner Jersey or Montana or Michigan or Iowa will come out and you will be all the more memorable for it, hopefully in a good way. And on that note…

Ready to Turn on a Dime for Anything

Jersey from 19th floor of Flat Iron Building
I was thrilled to reconnect with people all week with whom I once worked, either as an assistant at Avon Books or promotion manager at Bantam Dell both oh so many years and, let's face it, significant pounds ago. I had hoped to see them and was delighted that (most) remembered me. A great friend, with whom I hadn't spoken in some time, immediately invited me to the St. Martin's Press cocktail party at their offices in the Flat Iron Building as her guest. The short story is I wound up in a limo with 9 other women (all friends with one another) including 2 bestselling authors, 1 Golden Heart (the RWA award for the best unpublished manuscript in its category) nominee and 2 agents, one who announced at the end of the ride that I was very funny. You can bet your bippy I'll be querying her!

You can't plan for this stuff. You simply have to be able to turn on a dime and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves and when you're standing in the taxi line and the bellhop says, "I have a limo for 10" and someone shouts "we have 9!" be ready to say "I'll be your 10!" Wonderful things can – and did! – happen.

Taking over world from CEO's desk
Since I came home with enough books to make a cabinet maker weep, I'm going to offer a pair of books from Rita-award winning author Karen Rose (though not the signed one for which I wrote back cover copy). Leave a comment, tell me your favorite moment of Nationals or, if you didn't go, which author you'd most like to see at a signing, or even simply what book you're reading now. I'll pick a winner on Saturday and one randomly chosen commenter will receive the books.

Disclaimer: I am not being compensated for this giveaway in any way, shape or form, except by the countless hours of enjoyment I receive from reading.