Blame the Babylonians...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blame the Babylonians for establishing the tradition of setting New Year's resolutions.  Their most common one was to return borrowed farm equipment.  I wondered if they had any more success than the rest of us in keeping such a simple resolution.  I bet there was always a crop emergency that arose delaying the return.  Or worse, the borrower broke the plow and didn't want the owner to know.

I'm not a journaler, but on New Year's Eve I take the time to jot down meaningful & not so meaningful things in my life over the year.  I enjoy the time of reflection.  As for the future, I avoid resolutions as I tend to believe there's always going to be a crop emergency to screw things up.  However, I will set a few pragmatic objectives as otherwise the year will fly by.  I think one of the most endearing quality about human beings is our never-ending hope for a brighter future and the undaunting willingness to improve ourselves or try new things.  You know, repair the plow or plant another crop.

Maybe the Babylonians had the right idea after all.

To all my readers, colleagues and friends, may the New Year bring you good reads, big sales and joy.

Love, Carol and Maddie


Ho, Ho, Ho! Christmas Trivia

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm boning up on Xmas trivia for this weeks Trivia at Duffy's.  Let's see how much you know!  I'll post answers on Thursday.

1) Who narrated the original 1966 TV show 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas?
2) In 'Frosty the Snowman', what was the name of the magician with the 'magic hat'?
3) What does Alvin want for Xmas in the 'Chipmunk Song'?
4) In what year did Toys for Tots hold its first toy drive?
5) In what year were electric Xmas tree lights first used?
6) What was the first state to recognize Xmas as an official holiday?
7) If you received all the gifts in the 'Twelve Days of Xmas', how many gifts would you receive?
8) What country made the first artificial Xmas tree?
9) Who was the first President to decorate the White House Xmas tree?
10) What department store originally created Rudolph the Red-nosed Raindeer as a promotion?
11) What is the name of the town where 'It's a Wonderful Life' takes place?

Been MIA

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sorry I've been MIA. I've been pounding the pages to make a 12/3 deadline [which I did] and then had proofs deadline. Plus the day job absolutely going nuts on me and working long hours. Whenever I'm quiet here, you can find me on Twitter and Facebook, where I tried to post daily.

This weekend I'll come up with either Xmas trivia or share a few favorite Xmas memories. In the meantime, here is Maddie's official Xmas picture.

Leave It To Beaver Trivia

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I've often described my grade school years as being on par to the show "Leave It to Beaver".  I walked/biked to school and came home for lunch.  Then Mom always had cookies and milk ready when I got home.  We played tag, hide-and-seek, and other games together in the neighborhood.  Idyllic times. 
My family watched the show together, and the family urban legend was Barbara Billingsley was married to a distant cousin [after all, the name 'Billingsley' on the maternal side of the family isn't the most common]. So to honor an iconic mother, June Cleaver and the passing of the actor who played her, Barbara Billingsley, here's some trivia questions about the show.  I'll post answers on Thursday night. :) Carol

1) What was the original title of the pilot episode?

2) Why was the first episode delayed by network censors?

3) Which of the show's actors was an ordained minister?

4) Which show's actors later joined the LAPD and was decorated for valor?

5) What was June Cleaver's maiden name?

6) Children's author Beverly Cleary wrote how many books based on the show?

7) What was the Cleavers' first address in Mayfield?

Music Trivia

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Since I usually don't do well on music questions during Duffy's Trivia nite [unless country music], I thought I would periodically post music trivia questions.  I'll lead off with a John Lennon question since there was so much media attention this week for John's birthday anniversary.  I'll post answers on Thursday night.

:) Carol

1) What was the title of the first song John Lennon wrote?

2) Who was the first rock star to be arrested on stage?

3) What was the first rock-n-roll song to hit #1 on the charts?

4) Who was awarded the very first gold record?

5) U2's "Angel of Harlem" was written about what singer?

7) What Depeche Mode song was inspired by Priscilla Presley's book Elvis and Me?

8) ) Who did the vocals for Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky"?


Wine Trivia

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I'm in the mood for a little wine trivia as hopefully I'll be making my way back to Napa Valley next years.  Let's see how well you do.  I'll post the answers on Thursday nite.

:) Carol

1) What are Allier, Limousin, Nevers, Tronçais and Vosges?

2) How many states in the United States have at least one winery?

3) On average, how many pounds of grapes does it take to make a bottle of wine?

4) What grape variety is Oregon most known for?

5) Named for a famous Italian painter, what is the cocktail made with sparkling wine and white peaches?

6) What is the “Butler’s Friend”?
7) What are the descending tears of wine seen on the inside of a glass after it has been swirled?

8) What is the ‘punt’?

Paws Trivia

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Maddie here. Since I had to see the vet today, Carol said I could play on her blog.  Of course, I'm going with dog trivia although Carol says someday I have to give cats equal time.  Hmph.  I'll have to think about it.

I'll come back on Thursday to post the answers.  Until then, viva Pupperoni!

1) What breed of dog played the title character in the 1966 movie "The Ugly Dachshund"?

2) What breed of dog starred as 'Flash' in "The Dukes of Hazard" TV series?

3) Jill the dog in "As Good As It Gets" was what breed?

4) What was the name of the German Shepherd in the movie "K-9"? 

5) What was Red the Labradoodle's character name in "Get Smart" from 1965-1966? [and you really know your trivia if you know how Red's character was written out of the series]

Trifling With Trivia: Authors & Books

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'm in a trivia mood. I usually post questions on Facebook after playing trivia at Duffy's on Wednesday nights.  However, after a great and relaxing chapter meeting and lunch with fellow writers, I thought a few author-book questions would top off a perfect day.  I'll post the answers on Thursday night. :) Carol

1) What American novel was the first to sell over one million copies?

2) What words did Lewis Carroll combine to come up with the term "chortle" in Through a Looking-Glass?

3) What was the title of Mac West's 1959 autobiography?

4) What popular children's book was written by Ian Fleming, creator of British secret agent James Bond?

5) By what pseudonym is writer Frederick Dannay Manfred Bennington Lee better known?
6) Where did mystery writer Agatha Christie acquire her extensive knowledge of poisons?
7) J. R. Ward writes contemporary romance under what pseudonym?
8) Who said a historical romance is the only kind of book where chastity really counts?

New Orleans as a book setting

Monday, August 30, 2010

I love New Orleans. I dreamed of visiting it when I read 'French Silk' by Sandra Brown. The ambience made my mouth water. My first experience was the 2001 RWA Conference, particularly memorable for me as I was celebrating my first book sale. Walking along the streets was an unbelievable experience: the architecture, the grillwork, the Cajun music blaring from the stores; the Dixieland bands marching in the streets.

The next time I saw NO was post-Katrina when I attended the 2007 Heather Graham's Writers for New Orleans Conference. The Katrina wounds were still fresh and raw. However, the revival was already underway with restaurants reopening and new homes being built. 

I returned in 2009 for the Florida Family Law retreat and the French Quarter Jazz Festival was fabulous.  Crowds roamed the streets and music filled the air. The energy was amazing.

I know NO has taken another blow due to the oil spill, but the city's spirit is precious and indominable. Here's to New Orleans and hoping Heather Graham's Writers for New Orleans Conference is a smashing success.  My question is:  what is your favorite book set in NO?  :) Carol

Books Remembered: Jane Aiken Hodge

Monday, August 16, 2010

Although I have always loved books, my true passion for them began with Jane Aiken Hodge. My mother introduced me to Jane when I was around eleven, resulting in an affectionate battle as to who would get to read her latest release first.

Ms. Hodge’s romantic suspense novels transported me to different historical periods and settings. Against the backdrop of the Regency England, the Napoleonic War, Greek War of Independence, and even the American Revolution, she wrote stories of strong, determined women who against all odds found their happily ever after. At the time, I didn’t realize the significance of one of her heroines being over thirty or books about the Napoleonic War being set in Portugal or Moscow rather than England. I simply knew that I loved them.

They were fast-paced, mysterious stories with emotionally satisfying endings. I read her books over and over again, so much so I suspect that I absorbed pacing into my very bones. Between 1961 and 2003 Jane published more than 40 novels.

Born on December 4, 1917 to Pulitzer prize-winning poet Conrad Aiken and his first wife [Jane’s sister was children’s author Joan Aiken], the writer Jessie McDonald, Jane achieved first writing success with ‘Camilla’ published in installments in 1961 in the US magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal. Later published in book form as Marry in Haste, 'Camilla' was set in Napoleonic Portugal.

Hodge’s first published book, Maulever Hall (1964), reflected her admiration for Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, whose biography Jane would later write. This was followed by The Adventurers (1966), dealing with thrilling moments during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow; The Winding Stair (1968), another tale of romantic suspense in Portugal; and Savannah Purchase (1970), describing early-19th-century intrigue in the Southern US city where Ms. Hodge’s father was born. The titles go on.

My personal favorite was The Adventurers as the heroine disguises herself as a boy to flee after her family is killed by Napoleon’s retreating army and meets up the bad boy hero, a card shark. Against the backdrop of a world torn apart by violence, Ms. Hodge created an unbelievable tale of adventure where romance prevails. Sigh.

Jane Aiken Hodge died on June 17, 2009 at age 91. I still have all the paperbacks my mother bought, which is my memorial to the author who had immeasurable impact on me.

What is your favorite Jane Aiken Hodge book?

Dog Trivia According to Maddie

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Maddie here. Despite the fact that Carol gave me a bath today, I told her I would pitch in and help with her blog this week.  See how well you know canine trivia.

1) True or false: dogs are color blind.

2) Where did the expression "three dog night" originate?

3) Who first thought to use dogs to guide the blind?

4) What is the name of the dog on the Cracker Jack box?
a. Max
b. Bingo
c. Fido

5) What dog was the first one to star in an American movie?


1)  False. Dogs can see color, but it is not as vivid a color scheme as we see. They distinguish between blue, yellow, and gray, but probably do not see red and green. This is much like our vision at twilight.

2)  The expression "three dog night" originated with the Eskimos and means a very cold night - so cold that you have to bed down with three dogs to keep warm.

3) The Germans. At the end of World War I, the German government trained the first guide dogs to assist blind war veterans.

4) (b) Bingo.

5)  Jean the Vitagraph Dog, a Border Collie mix, who made her first film in 1910.

Later, Maddie off to get her treat


Sunday, August 1, 2010

My hat's off to Alison Kelly & the rest of the RWA staff for pulling off the switch in location for the RWA 2010 Conference. All in all it appeared to go smoothly.

On Wednesday I hit the road at the crack of dawn to get to the Harlequin Digital Clinic.  Harlequin and Carina Press digital guru's Malle Vallik, Jenny Bullough, Jayne Hoogenberk, and Amy Wilkins presented great information on how to use social media as an author.  Very beneficial especially for a novice like myself.  On a lunchbreak, I met up with fellow Wordy Wenches Sandra Madden and Vicky Koch for lunch. Congratulations to Vicky for placing second in the RWA Scriptscene competition for her screenplay adaptation of her published romantic comedy, HOLIDAY

Sandra Madden, Vicky Koch and myself.

Wednesday nite kicked off with the Literacy Booksigning. Over 500 authors participated with 3600 attendees, raising $55,000 for literacy, with the proceeds going to ProLiteracy Worldwide, Orlando’s Adult Literacy League, and the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.

After the signing, my fabulous agent treated her authors to dinner at Shula's Steakhouse.  The meal was too die for.  I managed to save the bone from my steak to bring home to Maddie [When I couldn't find a cooler at the conference hotel, Roberta came to the rescue with her suggestion that I put the bone in a water holder that was in our goody bag and fill it with ice.  Then when I arrived home, I popped it in the oven.]                
Roberta, Angela Knight and Angela's husband

Thursday I met with Roberta to discuss my career plan over breakfast.  I had waffles with Mickey Mouse ears!  I attended a reception in the Harlequin Hospitality Suite and caught up with Intrigue authors Lisa Childs and Delores Fossen.  Next I lunched with the Harlequin NASCAR authors and editors Marsha Zinberg and Stacy Boyd.  It was so nice to tell NASCAR stories!                                                                 

After attending a few workshops the Florida Romance Writer group gathtered. 

Nancy Cohen, Sharon Hartley, Lisa Manuel, Michael Meeske, Carol Stephenson, Traci Hall, Kathleen Pickering, Ona Bustos, and Debbie Andrews
I then dined with Wordy Wenches Marcia King Gamble and Sandra Maddren.  We were joined by Sandra Kitt and Laura Castoro.  Although she's not in the photo below, author Susan O'Connell also joined us for a laugh-filled dinner at Il Mulino.
Sandra Kitt, Marcia King Gamble, Sandra Madden on the L.
Laura Castoro and myself on the R.

We finished up the night at Kimono's for Heather Graham's karaoke party.  The Florida Romance Writers group rocked it out! 

Debbie Andrews, Traci Hall, Kathleen Pickering
FRW President & Golden Heart Finalist Kristin Wallace
Wordy Wenches Carol Stephenson, Marcia King Gamble & Sandra Madden
Heather Graham

Lindsey Brookes & Lisa Childs

I attended the Awards Luncheon on Friday to listen to the goddess Jayne Ann Krentz give an inspiring speech.  I sucked it up and got a new publicity photo taken [hate, hate, hate having my own photo taken!].  At least I didn't break the camera. 

Friday nite I dined with the Carina Press staff and met several of their exciting authors.  We ate at Il Mulino and the food was sheer heaven. Then the HQ "Picture Perfect" party capped off the nite at the Waldorf Astoria.  What a fabulous time!!!!! 

Sally Fairchild, Heather Graham & Linda Conrad go for a group shot
I'm framed for having too good of a time!

Marcia King Gamble strikes a pose

My thanks to my roomie Sandra Madden, my fellow Wordy Wenches and Florida Romance Writers for such a great time.  The Harlequin and Carina Press folks were phenomemal.  And here's to all the new writers I met and will be following on Twitter and Facebook. Can't wait for #rwa11 in New York City!!! :) Carol 

Dog Trivia According to Maddie

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Maddie here.  Carol’s busy so she suggested that I try my hand at dog trivia.  Enjoy.  There's a Pupperoni waiting for me!

1) What breed of dog yodels?

2) Where do dogs sweat from?

3) What dog breed gets its name because they strike out with their front paws when fighting.

4) What is the dog’s name in How The Grinch Stole Christmas?

5) What was the name of Lieutenant Columbo’s Basset Hound?

6) What is the state dog of North Carolina?

7) What dog was originally called the St. John’s Newfoundland?

8) What was the name of Superman’s dog?


1) Basenjis; 2) Pads of their paws. They discharge heat by panting; 3) Boxers; 4) Max; 5) ‘Dog’; 6) Plott Hound; 7) the Labrador Retriver; 8) Krypto.

Books Remembered: Helen MacInnes

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Before Robert Ludlum, there was the ‘Queen of International Espionage Fiction’: Helen MacInnes. Yet her first career could have mirrored those of her ordinary heroines caught up in the world’s events: a librarian.

Born on October 7, 1907, in Glasgow, Scotland, Helen graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland in 1928 with a degree in French and German. Working as a librarian, she married the classicist Gilbert Highet in 1932. Together as translators they traveled extensively throughout Europe before Gilbert was appointed Professor of Latin and Greek at Columbia University and the couple and their son moved to New York in 1937.

Over the next 45 years she would write twenty-one spy novels. Her books pitted ordinary men and women of decency and fortitude against the faceless agents of totalitarian regimes: the Nazis in the 1940s and then thereafter the Communists and their terrorist compatriots. At the time of her death on September 30, 1985, over 23 million copies of her books had been sold in United States alone.

What I think I appreciated most about Ms. MacInnes’s novels was her emphasis on the ordinary person thrust into intrigue where danger threatens the social fabric against the backdrop of international settings. However, what I thrilled to most was the romantic subplots.

Her book The Salzburg Connection (1969), which concerns an effort by various individuals to retrieve Nazi loot from an Austrian lake, has been nominated by NPR for the 100 Greatest Thrillers Ever. My personal favorite was Decision at Delphi…sigh, all those wonderful Greek archaeological sites.

What was your favorite Helen MacInnes’s book?

Going Paperless with my Research

Sunday, July 11, 2010

At work we've been progressively going paperless.  When an article was passed around on an attorney's journey of going paperless, he mentioned electronic notebooks for trial and in particular the One Notebook. I realized One Notebook was included in programs on my laptop. 

With great trepidation since I am sooo not a techie, I tried it out.  When I packed away my notes and research material on my last proposal, I realized how little physical material I had.  Typically I have several expandos filling a shelf.  Although the research on the latest had taken months and was expansive, it barely made the folder expand.

The reason was the electronic notebook.  I had copied and pasted most of the internet articles and photos into the notebook. 

I still don't understand all the functions, but for my new book the first thing I did was set up the notebook with sections for characters, settings, plot, timeline, etc.  This time around I drew a table for my plotboard and a triangle that I've always used to follow the push-pull dynamics among the principal characters [i.e. if villain does this, how will it impact on the heroine or the romance].  I've also set up a page to keep track on my writing progress.  

I will automatically save the notebook on a thumb drive along with the wip, but to have the notebook at hand on my laptop is amazing.

Best yet, I'm saving trees.  :) Carol

Cleaning and ear rubs

Friday, July 9, 2010

Maddie here. I haven't posted in a while, but watching Carol cleaning and organizing the house wears me out. She talks about being a lean, mean writing machine for her latest deadline so she wants no distractions. She even put my toys into the basket...ha!  When she's not looking, I've been sneaking them out one by one. 

I have to say, she did a good job of getting rid of the clutter and putting together bags of stuff to be donated to charity.   I can actually walk into the closets and check out things of interest.  However, I thought the mopped floors needed a special touch.  I drank water too fast a couple times and spitty uppy.

I did show how much I appreciated her cleaning up after me.  Last night when she tried to go bed early, I nipped and wrestled with her.  Although she told me to settle down and go to sleep, she still rubbed behind my ears until my eyes closed.

Life is good.



The Women Drivers of NASCAR--Ethel Mobley

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nothing more fun than sibling rivalry in sports. The Flock family boasted three brothers and one sister competing against each other as pioneers on the NASCAR racetracks.

Ethel Mobley (née Flock) (March 8, 1920 - June 26, 1984) of Fort Payne, Alabama became the second female to drive in NASCAR history. Her three racing brothers were Tim Flock, Fonty Flock and Bob Flock. She was married to Charlie Mobley, who fielded Tim's car in NASCAR's modified series.

On July 10, 1949 at NASCAR's second event ever at the Daytona Beach Road Course the four Flocks raced against each other. The event was the first to feature a brother and a sister, and the only NASCAR event to feature four siblings. Moreover, the race featured two other female drivers (Sara Christian who finished 6th and Louise Smith who finished 20th).

Ethel beat Fonty and Bob by finishing eleventh (her career high), and Tim finished second. She made her only other career Cup start at Langley Speedway and finished 44th. In June, 1949, she entered a racing competition in Florida, competing against 57 men drivers. She finished in 8th place.

On August 7, 1949, Ethel Mobley became the first female racecar driver to compete against men in the state of Georgia when she entered a race at Central City Park Speedway in Macon, Georgia. She was rated as the top woman driver in the southeastern United States, having won many competitions in all-women races.

In 1948 her brother Bob built New Atlanta Speedway just outside Jonesboro. To attract larger crowds, he invited Ethel, Sara Christian, and Sara’s sister, Mildred Williams, to race at the new track. During her career she raced in over 100 NASCAR Modified events.

Women Drivers of NASCAR: Louise Smith

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Born July 31, 1916, Louise Smith hailed from Greensville, SC. In 1946, three years before he started NASCAR, Bill France Sr. needed a novelty driver to promote a race at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway: he chose Louise.

While she had never been to the racetrack or driven a race car, she was rumored to have "outrun every lawman and highway patrol" in the area.

Smith's fearless and aggressive style of driving earned her a Third-Place finish that day in 1946. Although Smith was only chosen as a publicity stunt for one race, she made a name for herself in the racing world by recording 38 minor-league victories over an 11-year span. Along with those wins she broke nearly every bone in her body, and one crash that left her with 48 stitches and four pins in her knee. Although she retired from racing in 1956, she remained associated with the sport and returned in 1971 as a car owner for numerous drivers.

In 1999, Smith was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

On April 15, 2006 she died at the age of 89. Although she was not truly the first woman driver in NASCAR, barnstormer Louise was known as "The First Lady of Racing."

The Women Drivers of NASCAR--Sara Christian

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I’m a trivia buff. With all the attention on Danica Patrick, I became curious about women who blazed the racing tracks. First up, Sara Christian (1918-1980).

In her 2 year-career driving on what is now the Sprint Cup circuit, Sara Christian racked up a number of firsts:

She competed in NASCAR’s inaugural race on June 19, 1949 at Charlotte Speedway, finishing 14th.

She, Ethel Mobley and Louise drove in the second race at the Daytona Beach Road Course on July 10, 1949, making it the first race to include three woman drivers.

The Daytona race marked another unique event. Sara’s husband Frank Christian also competed, with the Christians being the only married couple to compete in a NASCAR race.

Sara was also the first woman to make a Top 10 finish. Sara finished 5th at Heidelberg Raceway in Pittsburgh, the only Top 5 finish by a woman driver in NASCAR history. At the end of the 1949 season Sara finished 13th in point standings and received the United States Drivers Association Woman Driver of the Year.

Retiring in 1950, Sara was inducted in the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.

NASCAR week on Harlequin Blog

Monday, May 24, 2010

Harlequin launches the new NASCAR continuity series that I was fortunate to participate in.  Editors and the authors are blogging at . People who leave comments will be put in a drawing for a free book.

If you love the NASCAR books or looking for a good romance, the NASCAR books can be found here:

Readers can also try for a free book here:

Tomorrow I'll be blogging at about what it's like to write for a continuity series in the intense world of NASCAR.  :) Carol

Welcome to my redesigned site!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I hang out a lot on FB, but with the redesigned site and hopefully I've linked this to FB, I'll go back to posting more here. :) Carol