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.