Idol thoughts

Some years I watch American Idol, and some I don't. This year, Hubby wanted to watch it so we started at the beginning and we're still watching. And I have to say, after Hollywood week where I thought they really did have some awesome voices picked out, it's been pretty blah. NO ONE knocked it out of the park on either night. There are some talented kids, and much Idol left to come, so anything can happen. But though I like some of them a lot, I don't have a lot of hope this will be a stellar year.

I hate, hate, hate having to listen to FOUR judges critiques. And I have no idea how this show will survive without Simon. Prickly though he is, he seems to be the only one who hears the truth. I usually agree with him, though not always (he wasn't big on David Cook to begin with a couple of seasons ago, and I loved David from the start).

I think I've finally figured Idol out, though. Maybe you already knew, but it hit me last night what the show really is. It's a very expensive, very flashy karaoke contest. In 8 years (not counting this year just yet), they've only found two really viable stars who are still relevant today. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood still make hits, and they aren't in danger of their careers fading anytime soon. You could even argue that Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert will continue to shine (I really think Adam will), and though I still have hope for David Cook, he hasn't launched out of the mid-list singers yet.

But what about all those talented kids who were in the top 12, or the top 24, who you never hear from again? Apparently, a good voice is a dime a dozen. It's that extra something that takes them above the level of really awesome karaoke singer. And very, very few of them have it.

America gets into the drama of the season, the stories, the idea that someone's life will be forever changed by winning this contest. But then next year rolls around and we forget, or lose interest, in the previous year's winner (and all the finalists). This is entertainment, pure and simple. It's not really about launching a superstar — because the chances the winner will be a superstar aren't great. Taylor Swift is a superstar (not that I understand it), and she didn't need a contest to get her there. Miley Cyrus. The Black-Eyed Peas. Beyonce. Lady Gaga. The list could go on.

Whatever the reason, those singers have that something that Idol contestants, with rare exception, lack. I'll keep watching, because it's entertaining, but at least I know not to expect greatness anymore. This is the finest karaoke on the planet, but that's pretty much all it is.

Vicarious travel

My hubby recently got to go on a business trip to Rome. Talk about jealous! I would have gone with him, but for two things: first, it was last minute and flights were more expensive; and, two, I carelessly let my passport lapse quite some time ago. πŸ™

I've had a passport since I was seventeen, and it's always been current, but once we moved back to the States permanently, I didn't feel any sort of urgency to renew it when it finally expired. Duh. I mean I filled out the application, had it with the passport, and kept planning to go get photos so I could mail it. But I never would get around to the photo portion. Finally, last week while Hubby was enjoying himself in Rome, I went and got those photos and marched down to the Post Office. The next time he has to go to Europe on business, at least I'll have a passport! I may not be able to control the flight prices, but I've got half the equation covered now.

So, he was supposed to get back on Friday, but once he landed in Atlanta, he was stuck because of the snow. All flights to our neck of the woods were canceled, though we didn't have a bit of snow here. He had to stay overnight and drive back on Saturday. But, he brought me lovely presents!

Though I didn't get to go, I did get to do some vicarious travel though his photos. I've been to Rome before, but it's been a long time, so these pictures really brought it all back for me.

Ahh, the Coliseum. When I was there, it was over run with cats. Hubby says there aren't so many cats now. I don't want to know what happened to them. πŸ™

Don't know precisely what it is, but it's pretty!

Recognize this from “Angels and Demons”?

Remnants of an aqueduct.

Would a trip to Rome be complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain?

No, this isn't Chicago. It's Atlanta. This isn't supposed to happen in Atlanta. It's the South! It's Hotlanta! Where did all this snow come from?

I enjoyed my vicarious trip to Rome, but a real trip would be even better. Then I could think up a to-die-for Roman hero, give him a spunky heroine, and plop them down in Rome. What fun! Speaking of heroes and heroines, I better get back to the current WIP. It's yucky and cold out, and we even have a little bit of snow on the ground, so it's a good time to dream. Too bad I picked snowy Russia as a setting. Brrrr!

Countdown to the New Year

The day after Christmas, Hubby and I decided we were going to clean our garage. Apparently, everyone has the same idea after Christmas. Not necessarily the garage, but home organization. Lowe's and Home Depot both had sales on storage containers and shelves, and people were loading their carts up. Since this is my first time having the organization urge immediately after the holiday, I was a bit surprised.

Still, we loaded up with shelves and containers and came home to begin the garage project. It's not done, but we've made good progress. And now I have my eye on a inside projects. I even cleaned out my pantry! I won't tell you how many expired things were in there. 😳

Of course all this has me thinking about counting down to the New Year and planning goals for 2010. Some years, I fail; other years, I hit the goals. I'm thinking this is a goal hitting year coming up. πŸ™‚ I have several, and I think they are reasonable. They aren't all related to writing. Some are definitely along the lines of “Get Organized!” Since I have a head start, I think it's possible. (No, I won't do a 180 and suddenly become super-organized. Wish it were so, but I know me.)

What kinds of goals are you setting for the coming year? Did you go buy organization supplies recently too? πŸ˜‰ And what kind of New Year's celebration are you planning? Low key at home? Party hearty at some swanky joint? I will definitely be at home, and I'll probably be in bed long before midnight. πŸ™‚

On restriction

Hey, y'all! Sorry to be absent lately, but I'm working hard on revisions and I also have a novella to finish. Add in the upcoming holiday rush, a new book release (Dec in the UK and India, Jan in the US and Australia), and I just don't know where the time goes! All I know is it seems as if I have a lot going on lately. πŸ™‚

But, why don't we liven things up a bit around here? It's time to give away a signed copy of Cavelli's Lost Heir! Leave me a comment for a chance to win. And tell me what you're doing to get ready for the holidays!

UPDATE: The winner is Cynthia! See the comments below for details!

I’m here!

A friend sent me an email that basically said, “Hey, why aren't you blogging?” Well, I am blogging, but I've had so many guest blogs recently (and another one coming on Saturday at the Pink Heart Society!) that I've not put up too many new posts. And yet, I'm also betting there's a tiny bit of confusion with the contest post being at the top of the page. People see it and think there's nothing new — but it's a sticky post, meaning it stays at the top until I change it. And I don't want to change it because I want people to easily find the contest. πŸ™‚ (Scroll down, my lovelies, scroll down!)

Perhaps I need to work with my web designer on a static contest page. It's something I'm considering, but first we'll see how this contest goes. Thanks for everyone who has entered thus far! I hope you enjoy the excerpt and the potential goodies you could win. πŸ™‚

So what else am I up to? Well, I'm working on two books at once. Since I'm waiting to hear back from my editor on the proposal for Book 4, I decided to work on my idea for Book 5. I've written the first scene, and it was a blast! But I can't tell you what any of it is about just in case my editor doesn't like any of it. I'll just say that #4 is set in Buenes Aires. I have ordered Argentina guidebooks and I've been having a marvelous time reading them! And now I want to go to Argentina. Who wouldn't want to learn how to tango or eat beef so tender you can cut it with a spoon?

What is your fantasy travel destination at the moment? Where would you like to be if you could go anywhere?

Summer fun

Hey, where are my winners? Click on the contact button to send me your info so I can get these books in the mail to you! πŸ™‚

What kind of summer fun have you been up to lately? I've been swimming a gazillion times — which, really, is a lie. Because I can't swim very well, so to call what I do swimming is inaccurate. Fortunately, I've finally decided that I can take instruction from the hubby. He used to be a competition swimmer, so he looks beautiful in the water. I want to learn to do that too.

We've also been to picnics, barbeques, and out to dinner and movies with friends and family several times. It always seems as if the summer social calendar is much fuller than the fall and winter. I do love summer, but man is it hot in Alabama. Most activities need to take place indoors unless it involves the pool. And even the pool has felt like bathwater lately.

Now, who can tell me how many novels I wrote before I sold one? (Hint: the answer is on the Media page.) One lucky winner gets a book! And tell me what you love about summer where you live!