Cicada Love Songs, Summer Jaunts and Classic Movie Junkie

Meet John Doe“…for every John Doe movement these men kill, a new one will be born. That’s why those bells are ringing, John. They’re calling to us, not to give up but to keep on fighting…”

From Meet John Doe, 1941, Warner Brothers

Cicada Love Songs …

Creek in summer

This is the creek out back of our house.: “Oh, little cicada, little cicada… I wonder where you are…”

I heard a cicada the other day.  I looked at the calendar. Yep. August.  The romance writer in me wondered if that  little fella was one of the first lotharios to eagerly scramble up from his subterranean abode–dressed all snappy and with his hair slicked back–ready to snag himself the best-lookin’ dang date in the neighborhood with his new mating song.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that–just as he was stretching his skinny legs and offering up his first “squee” of the season–he got chomped down by a passing bird or squirrel with a craving for 2014 cicada.

Now, that’s a bitter pill.

So is the end of summer.  It’s coming, folks. Oh, yeah… it’s coming.

Summer Jaunts …

For our anniversary, the hub and I took a weekend trip to Inner Harbor, Baltimore to re-do our second date–a dinner cruise. The weather was perfect, the food was great and we took home a nice photo of the two of us taken just before boarding the Spirit of Baltimore.

Inner Harbor at Night_2014

Inner Harbor at Night

When we got home, I juxtaposed that pic with the one taken 14 years ago. I’m happy to report that we’re still recognizable as the same couple. This indicates either we’ve aged rather well or we may be stuck in a rut. For example, it looks like I’m wearing the same outfit (I’m not–I wish I could still fit in that outfit) and my hair hasn’t changed (it really hasn’t). Hmmm.

Summer travels yet to come include…

  •  A day trip to the coal region of Central Pennsylvania to tour an old coal mine and learn about the life of miners back in the days of the Molly Maguires. (Whoot!)  Um, yeah. See, this is where I do get a little weird. I love this stuff. It’s research for one of my historical romances-in-progress. (Whoot!)
  • It Had To Be You_Carina PressAn overnight stay at the historic New Yorker hotel in my favorite city on the planet. I’ll be strolling the streets of Manhattan where my 1920s romantic mystery series is set.  (It Had to Be You, April 2014, Carina Press). Can’t wait!

What about you? Do you have any summer plans still on the calendar?

Classic Movie Junkie…

Yet another treat to look forward to in August is  TCM’s Summer Under the Stars – a month of amazing classic films. Many titles on tap have already been featured on this blog – The Thin Man, His Girl Friday,  Bringing Up Baby and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid… Check out the TCM schedule.

Here are a few others to watch for.

Tuesday August 5

Cooper and Stanwyck in Meet John Doe

Cooper & Stanwyck – Meet John Doe

5:45 pm   Meet John Doe (1941)  Comedy/Drama/Romance. TCM. A reporter’s fake story for her soon-to-be-defunct column saves her career, turns a homeless man into a national hero for the working class and changes them both into pawns of a powerful politician. Will they sell out? Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck.

Why?  Feeling a little 21st century world weary? Need a revitalizing dose of some off-season Frank Capra-like optimism? There are some who rank the lesser-known Meet John Doe right up with Capra’s crowning achievement, It’s a Wonderful Life. Decide for yourself. (Keep a tissue handy for a fist-pump-worthy final scene Seriously!)

Sunday August 10


Barrymore & Lombard - Twentieth Century

Barrymore & Lombard – Twentieth Century

12:30 pm   Twentieth Century (1934) Screwball Comedy. TCM. An express train run from Chicago to New York sets the stage for an egotistical, down-on-his-luck Broadway director to pull every underhanded trick in the book to woo back the estranged high-strung star he created.  John Barrymore, Carole Lombard.

Why? A love-hate-love story at 85 decibels. The one-liners and zingers in this early screwball classic streak by so fast, you’ll need to watch it a dozen times to catch them all. Barrymore’s over-the-top performance as a megalomaniacal Broadway director elevates melodrama to art and Lombard serves back as good as she gets.


Carole Lombard

Carole Lombard

6:00 pm   Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) Screwball Comedy/Romance. TCM. When a three-year wed couple discovers their marriage isn’t legal, romantic misunderstandings ensue. Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery.

Why? This fun, often-overlooked screwball comedy is worth a look-see. It was Carole Lombard’s second to last film before her tragic death in an airplane accident in 1942.  It was also Alfred Hitchcock’s only foray into romantic comedy. (Done reluctantly at Lombard’s request. Remember his legendary weakness for beautiful blondes?)  Watch for Hitch’s signature cameo.

Friday August 15

10:00 pm   Three Days of the Condor (1975) Mystery/Thriller. TCM.  A mild-mannered CIA researcher finds himself out in the cold and running for his life when he accidentally survives the execution of everyone on his research team.  Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max Von Sydow.

Why?  This smart 70s conspiracy spy thriller was made in the wake of the Watergate scandal and still resonates today.  The opening scenes are riveting, Redford owns the screen (oh, ladies, yes he does), and Max Von Sydow is excellent as the bloodless yet creepily personable assassin Joubert.

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

This month’s Amazon Prime Picks –  Meet John Doe and Three Days of the Condor

Photo credits:

Meet John Doe – By film screenshots (Frank Capra Prod. / Warner Bros.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Twentieth Century – By Columbia Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lombard – Paramount Studios (Ebay [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mr. and Mrs. Smith – By Trailer screenshot (Mr. & Mrs. Smith trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It Had to Be You – Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Cover Reveal & Classic Movie Junkie

Classic Movies
Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.
Mrs. Robinson: Huh?
Benjamin:  Aren’t you?

From The Graduate, Embassy Pictures, 1967

It Had To Be You … Cover Reveal!

If I could have chosen my talent, I think I’d have chosen to be an artist—the kind that draws and paints, the kind that uses color and shape and texture to create visual images.

Instead, I paint stories with words, probably just as fun, but it means I must rely on others to translate those stories into something visual. Cover art.

When I indie published my backlist, the part I had the most fun with was doing new covers—from choosing the stock photos and offering my own ideas for tone and feel to final approval. (I wanted my covers to look like movie posters. No surprise there, huh?)

Still, when the time came that I received an email from the cover artist with the proof attached, I opened that attachment with the same sort of bated breath anticipation I remembered from the years when I was publishing traditionally. (Would it be good? Awesome? Bad? Worse than bad…? Meh?)

Click! And then the image filled the screen…


It never fails. The moment when I first lay eyes on my cover is perhaps the first moment when all those word pictures and “pretend people” I’ve been living with for so long finally coalesce and become … real.

It’s a very cool moment.

That’s why I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for my April 7th release from Carina Press, It Had to Be You.  Let me know what you think. 🙂

1920s Fiction -It Had to Be You

New York City, 1924

Determined to pursue her dream of becoming a crime reporter, heiress Trixie Frank believes she’s off to a running start when she lands a job at the most successful tabloid in Manhattan. Unfortunately, her high hopes fade fast when she’s assigned to the rewrite desk.

Sean Costigan is a demoted homicide detective on the commissioner’s blacklist. The last thing he needs complicating his life is a perky debutante with delusions of becoming the next great American journalist. Too bad she happens to hold one of the keys to solving his latest case, the Central Park murder of a notorious gangster. The other key? Sean’s childhood sweetheart, the victim’s widow, who has gone missing.

Sean soon has more trouble with dames than any good man deserves. But that’s the least of his worries. When he suspects deadly corruption within his own department, it’s not just his and Trixie’s careers that depend on finding the killer. It’s their lives.

Coming from Carina Press April 7, 2014
Available for pre-order now.
Amazon   *   Barnes & Noble   *   iTunes   *   Google Play

Classic Movie Junkie …  Or “Are you here for an affair, sir?”

To keep this week’s post short of novella-length, I’m offering up just two TCM picks, but they’re good ones.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 25

Jean Simmons

Jean Simmons

2:15 pm  Guys and Dolls (1955)  Musical/Comedy/Romance. TCM. A big-rolling gambler is gamed by love when he bets a crap game organizer  that he can seduce a strait-laced Salvation Army girl.  Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine.

Why?  It’s hard to believe I’m recommending two musicals in as many weeks, but here it is. There are several reasons to thumbs-up this musical based on stories by Damon Runyon. The colorful stylized Broadway stage sets,  the witty 1940s “Runyonesque” dialogue, and the chance to watch a smooth young Marlon Brando sing and dance and still manage to pull off that oh-so-sexy Brando brand of cool. Fun.

Saturday,  March 1

10:00 pm   The Graduate (1967) Comedy/Drama/Romance TCM.  A recent college graduate has a tawdry summer affair with his father’s partner’s wife only to have it come back to bite him when he falls in love with her daughter.  Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross.

Dustin Hoffman

Dustin Hoffman 1968

Why? There are certain films that perfectly personify their times. The Graduate—with its evocative Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack and 60s suburban backdrop—is one of them. At the same time, human nature doesn’t change, and Dustin Hoffman’s performance as the uncertain, disaffected young Benjamin Braddock is as funny and spot-on today as it was in 1967. Anne Bancroft plays the sultry neurotic Mrs. Robinson like a virtuoso, and Katharine Ross puts in a lovely understated performance as the almost-as-mixed-up Elaine.

This week’s Amazon Prime Pick:  The Graduate

Have a great week!

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.


Photo credits:

By Scott Catron (Sunset on Hollywood uploaded by zaui) [CC-BY-SA-2.0(, via Wikimedia Commons
Cover Art – It Had To Be You – Carina Press
Simmons – Author Unknown – Studio publicity photograph ) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Hoffman – Studio (ebay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Flappers & Jelly Beans … It’s 20s Tuesday!

Welcome to Flappers & Jelly Beans! 

1920s Romantic Mystery


To get in the mood for the release of my romantic mystery set in the Roaring 20s, I’ll be posting on Tuesdays some facts, trivia, and slang from that fabulous frivolous decade.

But before we begin with that, here’s the answer to Sunday’s Guess That Title challenge:

New York City, 1924…
A jaded homicide detective is torn between a seductive old flame and a bright new attraction when he joins with an ambitious girl reporter to solve the Central Park murder of a notorious bootlegger in 1920s Manhattan.

  1. The Rumrunner
  2. It Had to Be You
  3. His Girl, Trixie
  4. Goodbye, Johnny Blue Eyes

And the title is… IT HAD TO BE YOU.  🙂

A Holiday “Flappers and Jelly Beans” Tidbit

Think the trend for pushing the winter holiday shopping season on consumers earlier each year is a modern phenomenon? Think again.

1920s Trivia

Jelly Beans

The opening scene of It Had to Be You takes place in Herald Square in New York City on Thursday, November 27, 1924.

It was Thanksgiving day and the first year R.H. Macy’s sponsored its Thanksgiving day parade. Except they didn’t call it that back then. They called it Macy’s Christmas Parade.

Here’s a peek back in time from the following day’s papers:

“Santa Claus chose Thanksgiving Day this year to come to town. With a retinue of clowns… animals, and floats, the bewhiskered man in red, in sight of thousands of persons, arrived at 9 o’clock yesterday morning and three hours later was crowned ‘King of the Kiddies’ on the marquee above the entrance to Macy’s new store in Thirty-fourth Street near Seventh Avenue…”

Most of the participants that day were Macy’s employees, but they were joined by many others, marching bands as well as floats featuring The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe and Little Red Riding Hood. There were also animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo—bears, elephants, donkeys.

But no giant balloons. Animal-shaped balloons made by Goodyear wouldn’t begin to replace the live animals until 1927. One of the first? Felix the Cat.

Another 1924 attraction that would feel familiar to us was the unveiling of Macy’s spectacular store window: “The Fairy Frolics of Wondertown.”

Some sources say a quarter million people attended the first parade. Whether that’s accurate or not, it was such a success that Macy’s decided to make it an annual event.

The world has changed, yes? But maybe not as much as we think.  What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

One of my favorite holiday movies is Miracle on 34th Street. Yep, it’s a Christmas movie, but it opens with the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, so it’s fair game to mention here.

If so inclined, click on the link below to hop on over to TCM to view a short clip from that Thanksgiving parade scene circa 1947 between Maureen O’Hara as Doris Walker and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle. (Warning: Admission might be one 30 sec commercial.) Enjoy.

Miracle On 34th Street (1947) — (Movie Clip) Your Santa Claus Is Intoxicated

And for those who celebrate, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 🙂

Photo credits:

Uncredited cartoonist in employ of W. H. Fawcett publisher [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By unknown, published by Max B. Sheffer Card Co. (Chicago) (, direct link) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

November News … Guess That Title and Classic Movie Junkie

What’s new from November?

Release Date!
I’m excited to announce that my 1920s romantic mystery is slated to be released by Carina Press in early April 2014. More in the weeks to come!

What’s in a Name?
When I submitted this book, it had a working title. (And there was a method to that title’s madness… sort of). But I knew a change might be requested. It was. I was asked to send other ideas. I did. And…

They went with the original title. 🙂  So… is there something to be learned from this story?

Aside from the possibility that I’m a sucky book title brainstormer, no. But, as a consolation, I give you…

Guess that title


New York City, 1924.
A jaded homicide detective is torn between a seductive old flame and a bright new attraction when he joins with an ambitious girl reporter to solve the Central Park murder of a notorious bootlegger in 1920s Manhattan.

Sound like an old movie you’d like to watch with a bowl of buttered popcorn nearby? (I hope so.)  And now for our selections …

Times Square 1920s

Times Square 1921

  1. The Rumrunner
  2. It Had to Be You
  3. His Girl, Trixie
  4. Goodbye, Johnny Blue Eyes

Which do you think it will be? I’ll post the title this Tuesday, so stay tuned.

New Sunday Feature – Classic Movie Junkie

 I’m a classic movie junkie. There. I said it.

 I love everything from westerns to comedies to romances to drama to action adventure to sci-fi. The older the better.  (Helps sort the wheat from the chaff.)

With winter right around the corner, it’s time to pour a cup of tea, curl up on the sofa and watch some of the best films ever made. So, I’m starting something new, a Classic Movie Watch List.  Care to join me?

Here’s my list for this week.  (It’s a holiday week, so it’s long.) What’s on yours?  (Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.)

 Tuesday  Nov 26

9:00 pm Bullitt (1968)  Crime/Detective. When a witness he was to protect is murdered, a lone wolf cop pursues the case on his own. Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset.

Why?  Buckle up for one of the best car chase scenes on film. Shot on location in San Francisco. Steve McQueen—playing “the coolest cop ever,”—did much of his own stunt driving.

Wednesday Nov. 27

4:15 pm   Bonnie and Clyde (1967)  Crime.  A 1930s bank-robbing couple’s crime spree cuts a violent swath through the American South. Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard.

Why?  Nominated for 10 Academy Awards. It broke taboos for sex and violence and shot Dunaway to stardom (pun intended).  (And yes, still rates a caution for the violence.)

8:00 pm  Field of Dreams (1989)  Drama/Fantasy. An Iowa farmer risks financial ruin to follow the instructions of a mysterious voice to build a baseball diamond in his corn field.  Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan.

Why?  A great feel-good movie. A perfect pre-Thanksgiving treat.

 Thursday, Nov. 28
Thanksgiving Treats for the Kids (and Kids at Heart)

2:00 pm  National Velvet (1944)  Drama. Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney.

4:15 pm  The Phantom Tollbooth (1969) Live action/animated. Mel Blanc.

6:00 pm  The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) Live action musical.

Friday, Nov. 29

11:00 am  Hang ‘Em High (1968) WesternAn innocent man turned U.S. Marshal hunts down the gang who tried to lynch him. Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens Ed Begley.

Why?  Not my favorite Eastwood western, but still darn good. Filmed after the groundbreaking Dollars Trilogy that catapulted Eastwood to stardom.

2:30 am  Topper (1937) Comedy. A fun-loving couple return as ghosts to help a stodgy banker learn to live it up. Cary Grant, Constance Bennett.

Why? Adorable screwball comedy from the 30s. So popular it inspired two sequels and a 50s TV series.

Saturday, Nov. 30

8:00 pm  The Searchers (1956) Western. A bitter Civil War veteran hunts down the Comanches that killed his family and abducted his niece. John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Natalie Wood.

Why?  Perhaps the Duke’s most powerful performance. This John Ford-directed western is widely considered a masterpiece.

Till next week… happy viewing!


Photo credit:  1921 Times Square by Underhill, Irving ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

October News & Stuff … Thelma and Louise go to Jersey

Autumn in PA
Autumn in PA

Autumn is in full bloom, and it’s been a busy month–although you wouldn’t know it by the dearth of activity on this page. And so what have I been up to?

The first week of the month started off with an email from my editor that included the line edits for the first book in my new 1920s romantic mystery series from Carina Press. (Title to be announced in an upcoming post!)

Do you want to know what it’s like going through the editing process on a manuscript for the first time in (I-ain’t-gonna-say-how-many) years?

Challenging, fun, and gratifying. Then again, I’ve always enjoyed tinkering more than writing, and I love “having written” better than both.

Writing is a solitary pursuit but every so often we put on our grown-up clothes, jump into our cars and (a laThelma and Louise) motor off—no, no, not a cliff!—down the scenic Pennsylvania turnpike to be with others of Our Own Kind.

Last week, writing buddy Heather Heyford and I did just that. I wore the big sunglasses and she rode shotgun (without the ammo). We met up with seven others from our RWA group (including roomie, Ava Quinn) as well as a whole passel of  other romance writers, agents, and editors who gathered in New Jersey for workshops, networking, pitching, lunching, cocktails, book signings and just plain fun.

The weekend flew by and, too soon, we were motoring back to Pennsylvania with fond memories and bags full of conference swag to resume our mild-mannered lives.

And so what were you up to in October?

Coming soon in November …  “Guess That Title” and … Ava Quinn passes Delynn Royer the coveted Sunshine Award 🙂