Monday, April 25, 2011

Book BIN Tuesday - The Guardian

Margaret Mallory is one of my favorite historical authors, with relatable heroines and heroes to swoon over. So I'm thrilled she has a new book out - and not only that, it's book one of a new series! Be still, my heart.

It's called The Guardian, and here's the scoop:


Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.


After years of fighting abroad, Ian MacDonald comes home to find his clan in peril. To save his kin, he must right the wrongs from his past . . . and claim the bride he's long resisted.

As a young lass, Sìleas depended on Ian to play her knight in shining armor. But when his rescue attempt compromised her virtue, Ian was forced to marry against his wishes. Five years later, Sìleas has grown from an awkward girl into an independent beauty who knows she deserves better than the reluctant husband who preferred war to his wife. Now this devilishly handsome Highlander is finally falling in love. He wants a second chance with Sìleas - and he won't take no for an answer.


Sounds fabulous, no? So why not head on over to the store and Buy One Now?

Monday MUSIC Musings - Buddy Guy

So last week I saw Buddy Guy in concert. And let me tell you, this 70-plus year old musician TORE. IT. UP. Seriously, this was one of the best shows I've ever seen. The audience was a little, uhm, odd (a mix of unresponsive and inappropriately responsive), but the performance was fantastic. He even played riffs "in the style of" some of the blues greats, and his imitations were spot on. I loved it.

At one point, he walked out into the auditorium and played up and down the aisles, even stopping right next to our row and jamming. It was so fun.

In fact, here's a video! Enjoy. And check out Buddy Guy's music, you'll love it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Milestone For ESS Fans!

Eric Sheffer Stevens in Body Of Proof, airing this spring.

Happy hump day!

Time is flying for me these days, probably due to baseball/fastpitch eating up huge swathes of our family schedule, and I keep turning around wondering where the hell that day/week/month went when I wasn't looking.

It's also flying for my friends over on, who are about to celebrate their one year anniversary next month. They asked if I'd be willing to spread the news about a contest they're holding in honor of this milestone, so here are the deets:

On May 17th, we will be celebrating our one year anniversary at It's been a great year of meeting new friends, learning new skills, campaigning with everything we've had in us and enjoying the talents of one amazing actor. We've laughed, squeed, fallen in love and cried our hearts out as a fandom. Now Eric is moving on to new roles and developing new characters for us to love. We hope you will all stick with us as we continue to follow his career. I think we are all in for an amazing ride.

Since this is our 1st anniversary, the Crew has decided to share a few gifts with some of our friends in the Eric Sheffer Stevens community but we'd like a little something from you too. During the month of April we'd like Eric's fans to drop us a note on the website (by clicking the "Contact Us" in the top right corner) and share some of the following with us...

*Tell us about your year as an ESS fan...highs, lows anything special you'd like to share
*Tell us what you like or would change about the site/forum, anything that stood out for you
*Tell us any ideas you have or anything you'd like to see on ESS fan forum (not that we can make any promises...every member of the Crew is still working on a huge learning curve when it comes to web stuff)

We are hoping to add a page or two to the website with quotes from as many fans as possible. Then on May 17th we will randomly draw 6 names from the list of fans that participated and share one of these gifts with them. We will post the names on the forum and contact you for your addresses. (Yes we will ship to wherever!)

Thanks again for helping us make and the ESS fan forum such a great place to hang out and follow Eric and his career.

The Crew/Crew Friends

So there you go! Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Movie Musings - Pilot Filming Follow Up

Over the past week I've gotten some questions about the filming of I Hate My Teenage Daughter (thanks, LoveLure!) and I thought I'd take today's blog post to answer them, rather than burying them in the comments of an older post.

1. Do they shoot the episode in the sequence we'll see the final episode? Or do they go out of order (e.g., if they use the kitchen set twice, do they do both those scenes before moving to another set)?

The pilot was filmed in order. The first scene (and last, as well) was pre-filmed, so we watched it on the monitors in completed form. After that, the cast and crew went through the script in order, making sure each scene was done to their satisfaction before moving on. Hence, the 4 hour filming time for what's essentially a 22 minute episode.

(Side note: I wouldn't be surprised if it was trimmed a little from what we saw filmed. Even taking into consideration the multiple takes and between-scene pauses, it still seemed longer than 22 minutes. Fingers crossed none of Eric's work is lost, though!)

Also, the video feed we watched on the monitors wasn't just raw footage - the angles and camera changes were already decided ahead of time, so we saw the angle change from one character head-on, to the other head-on, to a wide shot, as the scene played out.

2. Are there multiple sets of multiple cameras (one for each set)? Or do the cameras stay fixed and just point at different sets? Or do the sets move?

The sets are fixed, and the cameras moved from set to set, as each scene changed. One set was around the corner (we watched on the monitor as they filmed behind the wall at the edge of the audience seating), and I can't remember if they moved the cameras all the way back there. But otherwise, when a scene change was announced, the cameras would roll over to the next set, a clump of people following behind (director, cinematographer, various other behind-the-scenes crewmembers). This is part of why breaks between scenes took a while; the equipment needed to be in place before they could start again.

(Side note: When the flats were moved away from the front of the set and we could finally see the whole setup, I originally thought there was a narrow backyard or outdoors set between the kitchen set and the family room set. It took me a while to realize it was actually just set dressing for both sets, so that if the camera angle caught the view outside a window, it would look like there were trees and bushes out there. LOL)

Also on the topic of IHMTD, a quick perusal of general TV discussion boards and prognosticators shows that most people expect it to be on the schedule for next year. This means pretty much nothing, of course, since the Powers That Be at FOX have the last word, but it's encouraging in an inside-baseball, fantasy league sort of way.

Also also, I'm still highly tickled when I run across links to this blog in discussions of the show and the coming TV season.

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Home Alone Bash over on the NNN!

Since seven of the Nine Naughty Novelists are in LA this week for the RT Convention, we remaining two (Syd and me) are hosting a Home Alone party on the NNN blog. Stop by for chances to win great prizes, as well as find out just what's going on at the Con!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Book BIN Tuesday - Compass Hearts

You guys.

I am so, so excited about this one!

Maia Strong is my beta/critique partner, and I've been along for the ride since the very beginning of Compass Hearts. I love it so very much, and am thrilled it's finally available! Check it out:

As the fourth son of merchant parents, Matthew Morgan has always been superfluous. The only guidance he ever received was to behave himself and to stay out of the way. Now, at a new university half a world away from home, he must discover who he is and what he wants. The only trouble is, he's never made a decision in his life.

When Ash Thearon meets Matthew--the handsome fellow student he's been ogling all quarter--he finds him sweet, sexy, and more than a little puzzling. To solve that puzzle, he must first collect all the pieces--something more easily said than done.

The new friends quickly become lovers, but Matthew's limited life experience has taught him only how to follow another's lead. Ash wants more than that; he wants the give and take of an equal. As the lovers' holiday of Afan Valen approaches, Matthew's tendency to try too hard to please others leaves Ash wondering how to teach him independence without losing him.


Trust me, this one is a keeper. So run on over to Torquere Press and Buy It Now!

What I Learned On My Almost-Summer Vacation

I admit it. The main reason I flew down to LA last week for the pilot of I Hate My Teenage Daughter was to see Eric Sheffer Stevens perform live. (You might have picked up on that detail in previous posts. There were some subtle clues.) But I was also interested in seeing just what goes on behind the scenes during the filming of a TV show. So this was a chance to meet two goals at once! (And sharing that experience with friends was a definite bonus!)

The first thing I noticed as we entered the studio was the set construction pieces all around us, and the black curtains masking so many parts of the set and the studio. We were led to a stadium-style seating area, with approximately 200 chairs set up for the audience. There was a DJ spinning tunes at a sound system at the back of the audience section, lots of upbeat and dance-oriented tunes. A big section of the middle seating area was empty, and those seats were reserved for (we assumed) friends and family of the cast and crew.

The entire audience area was surrounded by black curtains that hung down from a framework, low enough to mask the microphones and monitors that lined the front of the seating, but short enough we could see the sets and equipment in front of us.

There were three sets visible (well, partially; the tops of the sets were visible, while the rest was blocked off by black partitions). Directly in front of us was the kitchen set, to the left was a living room set, and to the right was a coffee shop set. Later we discovered there was a high school hallway and principal's office set off to the side of the seating area. We couldn't see it, but while they were filming there, we could watch on the monitors.

There were many people walking around on the set, and more clustered around equipment. It was clear that there were a LOT of people involved in the filming of this one episode, and I remember thinking how many people would be affected by the decision of the network whether to pick up the show or not. (Apparently FOX has optioned eight half-hour comedies this season, with space for likely two or three of them. IHMTD is the only multi-camera comedy of the bunch.)

It's cold on set; I was glad I had a coat. I always assumed that they kept the studios cold so the heat of the lighting wouldn't be too much for the actors. But apparently it was too cold even for the stars, because Jaime Pressly mentioned the chill, and would wrap up in a sweatshirt between takes.

The first scene was in the kitchen set. Each scene is filmed multiple times, with adjustments to the script and performance in each take. I was impressed with the writers' ability to take note of audience reactions, rewrite/change jokes on the fly, and hand the revised scripts to the actors, who would learn their new lines and perform them - all without an unreasonable amount of downtime. For example, one of the jokes really fell flat in the first scene. The writers changed it, the actors performed it, and the audience gave the new joke one of the biggest laughs of the evening.

After the scenes are filmed two or three times, the director may decide to film just a short part of the scene over - one conversation, a few lines, even some stage business. The actors are careful to start and end in the same spot on set for each section, presumably so they can be cut together later if necessary. The camera work is also decided on prior to filming - as we watched on the monitor, we saw the cuts and changes as they would be in the finished product. The filming seemed to go quite smoothly to me, with the actors knowing their lines and stage direction very well.

There were only a few flubs and stops, one of which was when Eric said a line and immediately followed it with "no, I don't want to say it that way. Go back?" Which they did.

Between takes, or when the scenes were switching between sets, the warm-up guy would try to keep the audience interested and enthusiastic. When he wasn't busy making me look like a creeper, he arranged a dance-off, put together the dating game for another audience member, and auctioned off a pie.

It was a fascinating process, and I enjoyed the experience very much. I'd love to go back again now that I know what to expect! Only this time I'll keep my mouth shut around the warm-up guy. And maybe wear a disguise.

Sorry I don't have pictures of the set/actors/studio, but any recording device is strictly verbotene. Tune in later this week for some pics of my time in LA!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Yes. I Met Eric Sheffer Stevens.

So yesterday may have been just about the most surreal experience of my life.

I was up at 4 am and headed for the airport, where I had a 6 am flight to Los Angeles (with a stopover in Las Vegas). We actually made it to L.A. early, so I changed into a less-warm top (the temp was probably 40* warmer than what I'd left behind) and met up with the others. We were able to check into the hotel early, which was nice.

We made a quick reconnaissance drive down to Warner Brothers studios and scoped out the area, then had lunch followed by a return to the hotel to get ready.

The filming was at 6 pm, but we wanted to be sure to get good seats so we got to the studio before 4. The holding area was actually inside the visitors parking lot, with a bunch of long benches in rows. The first side of the first row was already filled, as was another row at the back of the holding area - we found out later it was for groups. We sat down and waited, wondering if anyone else there was attending for the sole purpose of seeing Eric perform live.

About half an hour into the wait, Carol (Pin from came over and introduced herself. Her husband held her spot (in the first waiting row) while we chatted. At about 5:15 or so they started walking people across the street to the studio. The first side of the first row was escorted across, followed by the first row from the group section. (I may have muttered something about how they'd better not take all the groups in before us, since we'd been there longer.) Carol and her husband gave up their spots so they could go in with us, which was sweet. We walked across the street and got in line for the security check. All of us made it through and continued on down the street, past big studio buildings.

Finally, we were escorted across the street to building 19, where the pilot was going to be filmed. There's a placard on the outside of the building next to the door listing all the movies and TV shows that had been filmed there - everything from Key Largo to The Last Samurai to Life Goes On to Ocean's Eleven (both versions). I thought it was appropriate that The West Wing was also on the list, since Eric named it as the show he wished he could go back in time and be on.

We were led into the theater to the seating area, which was on a riser set up with chairs, six rows deep. Our seats were in the fourth row, directly in front of what looked like a kitchen set, though the majority of the set was masked by black-fabric-covered barriers. A black fabric curtain hung down in front of the audience seating, just far enough to block the television monitors and microphones from the view of those on set. The monitors were there for us to see what the show would look like with the camera cuts. Also, because of all the equipment between us and the set, it was actually easier to see the show on the monitors than to watch the actors on set.

There was still some time to kill until filming started, so we amused ourselves by trying to identify what the other sets were by the little we could see over the barriers. There's a coffee shop set, which of course made us speculate whether Noah would be there wiping the counter or not.

About 15 minutes before the show was scheduled to start filming, a warm up comedian came up into the audience and started trying to build enthusiasm for the show. There was a competition between the two halves of the audience to see who could cheer and laugh the loudest (our side won, of course) and asking where people were from and why they were at the filming. Then he brought me up in front of everyone and asked where I was from and why I was there. I responded that I was from the Northwest, and was there with other Eric Sheffer Stevens fans from all over the country. He said that there was a name for that - stalking -and asked if we wanted a lock of his hair or something. (I told him no, that was kinda creepy, and all we wanted was to see Eric perform live.) Then he went on to make fun of me for being a romance writer. Ah, good times.

By then, it was time for filming to start, so I went back to my seat just in time to see the cast walk out from behind the barrier DIRECTLY BEHIND ME, WHERE THEY'D BEEN THE WHOLE TIME I WAS INTERVIEWED. Eric had heard the whole thing. I was *mortified*.

I'm going to skip over the details of the filming, because that's going to be a separate blog post on Monday. But I will say that the warm up guy NEVER LET GO of the whole stalker/fan thing. Every damn time Eric appeared on set, he'd say something to us like, "Now's your chance! Jump the barrier and get a hug! You may end up in jail, but you'll have what you've always wanted!" or "Look, there's Eric! Don't you just want to be his jacket? I bet he can feel the vibe of your jacket love." Let me tell you, it got old REALLY fast.

Oh, and one very cool thing? They passed out bottled water and pizza halfway through the filming so we didn't starve to death. It was very nice. Almost made up for having to sit in a meat locker for four and a half hours.

Finally, the filming was over, and Traci and I and a few others waited for a few minutes to see if we might have a chance to say hi to Eric. He was busy talking to some gentlemen in suits, though, and the ushers told us we'd have to leave. We walked out, feeling a little disappointed, but overall very happy with the experience.

We were more than halfway back to the garage when we heard someone running up the road behind us. We turned around and it was Eric, chasing us down to thank us for coming.

Um. Yeah. Eric Sheffer Stevens. Looking for us.

I may have died a little.

He said he was sorry, that he didn't know they were going to make us leave before we could talk to him, and wanted to make sure we didn't leave before he said thanks for coming. I got to shake his hand, and all I could think to say was "I am so sorry!"

He responded, "Why? For making me run?" I said no, for talking to the warm up guy and causing the long-drawn-out teasing. He said he was glad it happened because it let him know we were there. He took a little time to talk to everyone in our little group, and then had to go back to the theater again, so we said goodbye.

Then we walked to the crosswalk pretty much on air.

(Also, as we waited for the light to change at the crosswalk, someone in the group mentioned the interview I'd done with Eric, and the woman standing next to me said, "Are you Kate Davies? I loved that interview!" So I had a brief moment of being recognized as well.)

It was an amazing, surreal, fantastic experience and I wouldn't change it for anything. (Except for the annoying warm up guy.)

And I was so glad to be with friends I could share it with!

(And stop by Monday for more detail on the actual filming of the show!)