In Which I Post Many Pictures of Mr. Darcy and Talk of Nothing In Particular

Ooo, I am so good at avoiding things!

Like -- and this is A PURELY HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE -- revisions. If I had revisions to do (cough cough), I am confident that I would be Most Excellent at ignoring them.

Instead I might . . . Google pictures of Mr. Darcy. Perhaps.

Or look at these funny pictures of tourists holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa/doing Tai chi.

Or search for images of Mr. Darcy. Maybe.

Or learn how to segment citrus or make pan sauce (and eight other essential kitchen techniques!).

Or look for photos of Mr. Darcy. Possibly.

Or read this beautiful book and decide to learn all about Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement.

And when I'm done with that I might . . .

Well. You know.

But this is all hypothetical.

No evidence to support this whatsoever.

Not a thing.


Seven Perfect Years

Happy Anniversary! Please hold still while I punch you in the face with my ghost arm.

Last night
was our seven-year anniversary. Jarrod and I have one of those "I can't believe it's been that long, but it feels like I've known you forever" type-situations.

Aren't those the BEST?! Eek!

We celebrated with dinner at Bouchon, our favorite restaurant, and the site of all of our anniversary celebrations here in Asheville. French comfort food. Mmm! Artichokes with bleu cheese vinaigrette, puffed pastry stuffed with brie, steak with garlic butter, steak with cognac and pepper, Brussels sprouts and green beans, real French fries, and my favorite -- the creme brulee sampler (saffron, lavender, rosemary, and espresso).

Throw in the most delicious red wine France has to offer and a several glasses of fine champagne (compliments of Michel, the amazing owner), and talk about the Best. Meal. EVER.

We meant to take pictures at the restaurant, but were in a food coma and forgot. Luckily, we snapped a few before we left home!

Er, too bad in most of them we had either creepy eyes, swarmy grins, or big teeth. And, of course, there were a lot of off-centers. And the punching in the face/nose picking one above.

Not sure how that happened.

(FYI, we're standing in front of our anniversary present -- new living room walls! Fixed by someone other than ourselves! GASP!)

But we DID manage one nice photo:

Happy Anniversary, sweetie!

There is no one on the planet with whom I'd rather: rip up shag carpeting, bake late night vegan cakes, pose with giant jackrabbits, dance to nineties punk rock, and watch Ninja Warrior ("Niiin-jaaaaaa Warrior!") with than you.


Knight of Dark, Queen of Sugar

Jarrod & Anonymous Pal

I'll give you three guesses as to what movie we're seeing tonight.


Oh, wait. I'm TOTALLY lying. We're going to see MAMMA MIA!

Jarrod: Like $&*# we are.

Me: I would never do that to you.

(Though I might watch it BY MYSELF someday when you are OUT OF TOWN, all SECRET-LIKE. And then I will parade through the house singing "Dancing Queen" in my feather boa and embarrass the cat.)

Nooooo, it's The Dark Knight. Yaaaaaaay!

I can't wait to check out the Joker and especially Two-Face, whose Top Secret appearance has sort-of-been-leaked (but I've avoided, waiting for the surprise). And if I swung that way, Maggie Gyllenhaal would TOTALLY be my Movie Star Girlfriend, so I can't wait for her too.

Too cute.

In other news, I start novel revisions tomorrow. Huzzah! After my fabulous mini-film fest last week, I've been in agony this week, dying to read my book and see if it's as brilliant/horrible as I remember. It's funny, but the mom
ent I am NOT allowed to work on something is the exact moment I desperately want to.

Which means tomorrow I will be running from it again, high speed, coat-tails flapping out behind me.

I didn't get as much other work written as I wish I had, but I did start my Fairy Tale Project, and I did get rough drafts of my agent query letter and synopsis done. Phew!

I also read a certain someone's SUPER-AMAZING manuscript, and have been fighting fits of creative jealousy ever since! WOW! Mind-boggling and fantastic and clever and funny. People will be blown away when they get their mittens on it.

In the meantime, here's another great book that IS available now: Sarah Addison Allen's latest, The Sugar Queen. I really liked her last novel (her first commercial success), Garden Spells, but I freaking LOVED The Sugar Queen. If you aren't familiar with her work, she writes magic realism set in small, quirky towns in the mountains of North Carolina (she lives here in Asheville -- cool!).

In this story, the heroine wakes up on the first cold day of the year to find a grungy woman with running mascara and bleached hair sitting in her closet.

The woman refuses to leave.

From there, the tale unfurls into a delightful love story with sugar-snow kissed windows and magic flowers sown from tears and books that follow people around and a family who simply CANNOT break a promise.

Oh. And there's a really cute mailman.

Highly recommended!


GaspShudderMoanWail (Sob Sob Sob)

What. Did they DO. To EDWARD???

Please tell me they are kidding. Please please say this is a bad joke. How could this happen? What was that conversation??

EW employee #1: [copy of Twilight in hand] "Hmm . . . he's beautiful . . . cold marble skin . . . sparkles in the sunlight . . . crap, a makeup job like that could take all afternoon!"

EW employee #2: "Yeah, and my daughter's softball game starts in fifteen minutes."

EW employee #1: "Okay, think. Vampires are pale right? What do we have around here that could make his skin pale?"

EW employee #2: "I have half a bag of all-purpose flour."

EW employee #1: "PERFECT! Just make sure he unbuttons his shirt before throwing it on. It's gotta look sexy."

In much less scary cinematic news, a bunch of new pictures for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were just released. Yay! Check them out here. I LOVE this one:

And how awesome is Hellboy II going to be tonight? Woo hoo! I'm happy it's getting such great reviews. Rotten Tomatoes has a nice interview with Guillermo del Toro here (in which he also discusses plans for The Hobbit, as well as here, where even more fanboy-esque Middle Earth questions are answered).

And I just read that Doug Jones (Abe) also played both the faun AND the pale man in Pan's Labyrinth. Which totally makes sense, but I never would have realized it. Cool!


Hurrah for Me (and BBC's North & South!)

My new boyfriend. He is very moody. I'll get to him later.

was a Very Important Day. Not only was it Tanabata, one of my favorite holidays (any excuse to make a wish!), but it was also the self-imposed due date for my latest novel. Just a new draft, mind you, but still a reaaaally big deal. I used to say, "Oh, I'm a WRITER. You can't push CREATIVITY. No deadlines for me, thank you vurry much."

This, of course, is total hooey.

Who was I kidding? In school, I did every project at the very last moment. Why did I ever think I could write a novel without deadlines? And why did it take me so long to realize this?

And here is the scariest bit. Because I have the scarlet "U" upon my chest ("unpublished"), the only person in the world who will assign a deadline to me is . . . me. And the only person who will ensure that deadline is reached is . . . me.

Can I tell you that is a lot of pressure on . . . me?


So reaching this goal was a huge, huge wonderful thing. It's hard to describe how amazing it was to print out my novel and feel the weight of it in my hands and be able to TOUCH this thing that's been in my head for so long. I had a reaaally rough draft completed several months ago, but now it's BIG and REAL and NOVEL-SHAPED.

And now I have two lovely weeks of vacation from it, until I have to dive in again with revisions. So I'm starting my new novel (yay!), and drafting a query and synopsis, and spending many many hours . . . sitting in front of my television.

Which is -- sadly -- not that unusual for me. The difference? Now I don't have to feel guilty about it! For two weeks! WOO HOO!

This is what I've been watching:

Did you know Keira Knightley made a Robin Hood movie? Well, she did. It was a made-for-tv Disney production called Princess of Thieves, and it was her first starring role. And yes, it's cheesy. And no, this was NOT the first time I've seen it. I have a life-long love affair with the Robin Hood legend, and I love Keira, and it's always fun to indulge one's guilty pleasures, no?

And it really is good, all Disney/made-for-tv-things considered.

The Ruby in the Smoke, based on Philip Pullman's novel. My main motivation in viewing this was MORE MR. TILNEY. Did it deliver? Ah, most excellently. A fun film with Victorian murders and shipwrecks and stolen jewels.

And Mr. Tilney.

The big surprise was Julie Walters AKA Molly Weasley, who made a fantastic, terrifying villain. They're airing it again on PBS this September, along with the second offering in the series, The Shadow in the North. Yippee!

Missed a few episodes of The Office this year, due to that pesky novel thing I've been working on. All caught up now! Sooooo hilarious, as always. And, seriously, if NBC does anything to mess with Jim and Pam's relationship, I will be CRUSHED. I'm terrified they'll make things rocky and unstable for them when there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON.

They are PERFECT for each other, you hear me NBC? Resist the temptation! Let them be!

I am so scared.

And lastly -- THE GREATEST THING OF ALL -- North & South.

Have you seen this yet??? I'd heard about it, but silly me, assumed it had something to do with the American Civil War. Only last week was it brought to my attention that it's actually a BRITISH PERIOD ROMANCE!

EEK! North & South is SO. FREAKING. AWESOME!!!

It has all of the right elements -- a handsome, brooding gentleman, a feisty heroine, and TONS of passionate "oh I hate him/oh I love him" scenes. I don't want to spoil the plot here, so I'll just say the script was fantastic and made me kick and squeal and rewind many, many times.

It was an instant I MUST GO BUY THIS MOVIE kind of movie.

Mr. Thornton, brooding passionately, as per usual

And let's face it. It had, like,
one of the greatest kissing scenes EVER.

And you know how I feel about kissing.

The other amazing thing was that not only was it one of the greatest love stories I've run across, it was also this incredibly complex, fascinating look at mill towns and unions and the class system. And the supporting cast was SO talented, and all of the characters were full and multi-faceted and interesting. I got so much more from this than I would have imagined, and now I can't WAIT to read Elizabeth Gaskell's novel.

So if you haven't seen it, rent it!

And if you HAVE seen it . . . let's talk about Mr. Thornton, shall we?


Happy Happy Fourth (on the Fifth)

Hope you had a lovely July fourth (whether you are 'merican or not). We celebrated by doing what we do best.


Our friends Sara and Jeff came over, which is always great fun because we enjoy OUT GOURMET-ING each other. This time all four of us cooked, and we went for a traditional Fourth cuisine with a Fancy Pants twist. So for anyone concerned re: my diet while Jarrod was out of town (Cheetos, marshmallows, and burritos), I proudly present yesterday's menu:

+ Turkey burgers stuffed with bleu cheese, peppers & onions (on organic whole wheat buns)
+ Dill potato salad
+ Tomato and peach salad
+ Beet salad with goat cheese & pistachios
+ Grilled corn on the cob
+ Watermelon (and watermelon juice!)
+ Bananas Foster pudding
+ Strawberry shortbread (with homemade whipped cream)

YUM! Seriously the best Fourth of July fare ever. We stuffed ourselves until we could not swallow a single morsel more . . . and then we had dessert.

Then we walked to the lake for fireworks . . . and then we had more dessert.

My kind of holiday.

The fireworks were at a new venue, but the same patriotic CD was in attendance. John Philip Sousa, Lee Greenwood, and Bruce Springsteen were present and accounted for. This is always a source of amusement for me -- "Born in the USA"? Does anyone even listen to the lyrics? Not exactly complimentary. Springsteen must get a migraine every time it's played as a "HELLS YEAH, AMERICA!" kind of anthem.

Either that or he thinks it's really funny.

I think it's really funny.

I think this picture is funny too. Very Laini & the Mango.

Later I got in a picture-taking kind of mood and snapped many terrible photos of Jarrod brushing his teeth. I will spare him the embarrassment of sharing those here. Instead, here is a picture of my cat Refusing to Pose.

"Tumnus! Mr. T! Look at Mommy! TUUUMNUUUSSS!"

The cat is v
ery good at ignoring me.

I hope this means he is now a Moody Teenager, and therefore, will soon be a Mature Adult. I am tired of this houseplant-eating, feet-attacking kitten phase.