Time To Lighten Up: Step 1

“It’s opener there, in the wide open air.” –Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go.

My nest is soon to be empty. Thing One left this past summer, got married, had baby, LEFT. Thing Two is moving out of state in a few months, having just turned 18. I get the feeling she isn’t coming back for more than a visit. She’s the independent sort, kinda like me.

I loved motherhood, really, really loved it. I dug in deep, committed, put many dreams on hold and never regretted it. I realize that I will always be a mother–but I am feeling the end of the need to “parent.”

The Nest is very big. 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 dens. In scientific terms, it is GINORMOUS. It isn’t horribly full of stuff, thank goodness. Still, downsizing is going to require some black-belt minimizing.

This probably ought to scare me, but I can’t wait to be free of THINGS. I decided to start at the front door and work my way clockwise.

Step 1: the Nest’s coat closet–a cavernous space that not only holds coats and winter gear from the last 5 years of growth and fashion mistakes, plus all the luggage, but also holds all the lovely camping equipment that I bought with the best of intentions and have yet to use. I do camp, but oddly not in the past two years that I have owned the stuff.

The call went out–take it or lose it. A few coats were claimed by Thing One and Thing Two. The rest abandoned, like the Nest. The coats were easy. If I didn’t love it and use it, it went into the donation bag. The luggage, which I bought with the Wasband more than ten years ago, is now outdated due to new airline baggage restrictions. It all goes.

I have 3 sleeping bags. Doubt creeps in…what if someone needs to borrow one? What if I have a visitor and we want to go camping? What if I get really cold one night? (which, since my own bag is rated for -20, is a little silly). What if the Zombie Apocalypse comes and I’m not prepared??

It’s a raging wave of the “just in cases.”

I take a deep breath. I shove Worst-Case-Scenario-Mom back into her cage and lock her in. I remind myself that REI rents everything. (And also, since I can’t do parkour or even run a mile, I won’t make it past the first week of the Zombie Apocalypse anyway.) Then I think…if REI rents everything, then do I need to keep ANY of the brand-spanking new camping gear that I purchased? I could waltz into REI and rent the whole pile of stuff anytime I like, then give it back and never have to store it! Why store anything? Why own anything? Why not sleep on a mat and eat rice?

Reason intrudes, thankfully. I think the minimalist urge can be a compulsion, and I make it a practice never to give in to compulsions if I can help it. So, I’m keeping one of everything I need to go camping, including my smallish family tent. I’m not a backpacker, so the weight of the tent doesn’t matter, and it’ll be nice if I go camping with a friend. I promise myself that if I do not camp in the next 12 months, I will relinquish it all and denounce the “I am a camper” self-delusion.

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I am lucky.

I am lucky to be a writer.
I am lucky to have readers.
I am lucky to be gifted with words and to be paid for it.
I am lucky to see my books in print.
I am lucky to have an agent who cares.
I am lucky to have an editor I like.
I am lucky to be allowed to sit in my pjs at home and make a living.
And no matter what happens in this crazy, upside-down industry, whether it recovers or sinks slowly into the past, I am lucky to be part of it.

So I kind of wish people would stop b*tching and get back to telling stories. read more

Good-bye 2011. You (mostly) won’t be missed.

I have to say that last year was one of the most crazy-making years of my life. So many things happened, and didn’t happen, and blew up, and melted down…If I were to take that stress level test they had in Psych 101, I think I would score off the charts.

Today, one of the worst things that happened is coming to a happier resolve. My dear friend and co-writer, Susan Donovan, goes (almost) home after more than 6 weeks in the hospital. In the first few days of December, Susan was struck down by a serious form of strep that sent her into toxic shock. This is a condition with only a 22% survival rate!

Susan has suffered grave illness and near-fatal conditions from this for weeks. Her health has been permanently altered and she now must deal with those issues–yet I am full of joy. We came close to losing her uncountable times. Today, Susan is finally going to be able to return to her hometown in Maryland, although she has to stay in a rehab facility for a while.

As writers, Susan and I are going to have to rework our plans to write together–not cancelled, just postponed! The follow-up novel to A COURTESAN’S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR MAN is being put on hold for now, until Susan is well enough to write A MISTRESS’S GUIDE TO HAVING IT ALL with me.

For those of you who are Susan Donovan fans, don’t worry–Susan’s naughty, razor-sharp humor is quite intact! Her body might be down for a while, but her mind is still in the game! I can’t wait to work with her again soon. In the meantime, I’m just going to be her friend and give up a little sack-dance now that she’s on her way to recovery!

To a better and healthier 2012 for us all!
CB read more

Begin Again…

I’m so geeked! Susan Donovan and I will be writing a sequel to A COURTESAN’S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR MAN!
The new story will be about Brenna’s search for the true destiny of the Swan, based on letters the Swan wrote to Ophelia, the historical heroine of A COURTESAN’S GUIDE. The Swan’s tale will go take her from Boston to London to Barcelona—a research trip Susan and I greatly enjoyed!

At the moment, we’re hoping to have A MISTRESS’S GUIDE TO HAVING IT ALL published in late 2012, but stay tuned for more accurate announcements further in! read more




I don’t know who came up with the idea for hundreds of romance fans to congregate in a hotel with hundreds of romance authors, but I really must thank them.

I could say I’ve talked to readers and booksellers and librarians and publishers and agents and that I have vastly advanced my knowledge of marketing, writing, and the newly emerging genres. I could say that and it would be true.

But, sadly for my character, the real truth is that I’ve been HANGIN’ WITH THE B*TCHES!

Sarah–who is the the SNARKIEST woman on the earth!

Jane–who camouflages her hilariously dirty mind behind the classiest facade 🙂

Lorraine–ballsy librarian/opera singer!

Veronika–beautiful woman of many accomplishments!

Cass and Dani–(because they always come in a set) who introduced me to the concepts of the Buttery Nipple and garlic fries!

Miriam–who found the greatest steampunk bar in LA!

H.P.–brains and beauty!

Jennie–with the immortal ass!

Boyd–Okay, Boyd is not a girl, but for the purposes of this blog, we nominate him as an honorary “B*tch”!

And always, my buds, Susan D and Darbi, who make everything ten times funnier than it really is!

I am breathless with laughing, drinking, laughing some more. Thanks, gang! read more

I’m a doctor, not an accountant!

Actually, I’m not a doctor either. I’m just a poor, numerically-impaired author with a lot of ‘splainin’ to do to the Revenooers every year.

But I’ve come through yet again, more or less whole, and ready to write again–if only to wash all those silly numbers out of my brain! Of course, it would help if I didn’t end up staring at a giant tub-o-receipts every Jan 1, glumly aware that I should have done a little periodic sorting…

Every year I swear to go on a course of self-improvement. I will lose weight! I will turn my books in on time! I will itemize bi-weekly! read more

You can dance if you want to…

How could I have gone so long without dancing? Why do we forget to have fun?

I went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday at a great Greek restaurant with attached bar. In the bar, there was a slick gent in his fifties, crooning Gordon Lightfoot hits while playing on a synthesizer. Silly me, I turned up my nose at his song selection and ignored him.

Then my friend dragged me in to dance–bad cheezy barfly music and all! Now, I love to dance but I’m not what you’d call a good dancer. I’m a little more Romy and Michelle than Janet Jackson. So it’s an exercise in trust for me. read more

New Year resolutions

On the top of my list this year was to blog more often. Actually, it was to blog weekly. It’s the last day of January. I don’t think monthly qualifies as success.

So, what am I up to?

Reading-I’m glomming Young Adult fiction at the moment. Hunger Games, Gone, Uglies–all outstanding!

Watching-working my way through a long-running BBC mystery series called “A Touch of Frost.” Also, can’t seem to stop watching the new “Star Trek” movie. Chris Pine or Zachary Quinto? Decisions, Decisions. read more

RomCon is winding down…

One more event for me today. The Historical Author Mixer in a couple of hours and then nothing to do but work on our new book the rest of our time here.

RomCon has been generally good. I’ve met people I hadn’t ever had the chance to get to know at larger conferences–Catherine Anderson!!! Christine Feehan!!! And the creative “games” aspect of the activities has been a lot of fun. There are really cool vendors in the “mall” area of the conference, where you can buy chain mail bikinis, get a massage and a reincarnation reading, and then pick up a lovely necklace from Bulgaria! read more

Rockin’ the RomCon!

I am in Denver, CO, attending the new Romance Convention and I am having more fun than a lizard stuck in a margarita glass! Let’s put it this way–my roomate is contemporary romance author Susan Donovan and we just had dinner with Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell and Sourcebooks’ Deb Werksman! Salt or no salt, ladies?

Denver is beautiful, the sky is blue, Susan is hysterically funny and I just drank a margarita that was bigger than my head. Since I’m a total lightweight, I keep having to count my fingers and toes to make sure they’re still there. I’m currently getting ready for tonight’s festivities and I hope I didn’t lipstick my eyebrows. read more

New York Times Bestselling Author • "I write Brain Chocolate."