Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Friends and fellow sequins lovers, I'm so excited about Dancing With the Stars' upcoming 18th season that I decided to ignore my No-Blogging-Until-You-Finish-Book-3! rule and indulge myself in a major geek-out! Won't you slather yourself with tanning cream, don something sparkly, and join me?

First of all, let's talk about some of the changes coming up on my favorite reality show. As I'm sure you've all heard, Brooke Burke Charvet is out as co-host and sportscaster/S10 third place finisher Erin Andrews is in. I felt badly for Brooke when I heard about her not being asked back at the last minute. Not cool, ABC! But I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to mix things up. I'm willing to give Erin a chance. The good news is that the celebriquarium/skybox will be back, so Erin will be doing post-dance interviews with the couples up there rather than down in the audience. Thank the mirrorball gods! I hated the set-up last season with the celebs sitting next to the judges' table in the front row of the audience and having to do interviews from their seats. It was just so painfully awkward!

Also, Harold Wheeler and his orchestra will no longer be supplying the ballroom with their classic brand of music. In their stead will be new musical director Ray Chew. No idea what type of band he'll be directing, but rumor has it that we'll be hearing more electronic music rather than orchestral.

Fun Fact: Ray Chew was the bandleader at Barack Obama's first inaugural ball.

Now for some really shocking news - for the first time ever, celebs will be switching partners during the course of the season! GASP The fans have a lot of power here, because their votes will decide which pro each celeb will be switched to. It's still unclear as to whether these partner switches will be permanent, or just for one week. Either way, it's an intriguing concept . . . and kinda scary. We'll have to see how this pans out. I predict drama and lots of celeb meltdowns!

Season 18 will premiere on Monday, March 17th, which is St. Patrick's Day! Ironically, beloved ballroom leprechaun, Tristan MacManus, will not be partnering with a celeb this season. All together now . . . BOOOOOO!!!!!! Here's a statement from the yummy Irishman himself. Sounds like he might not be returning to DWTS at all. Sad face.

Fun Fact: During the break between Seasons 17 and 18, Tristan got married to beautiful Aussie actress Tahyna Tozzi. These two are going to have some beautiful babies!     

So, who will be competing this season and what do I think their chances are? I'm going to look into my glitter-dusted crystal ball and make a few predictions. Let's start with the men. Women have won the past three seasons, so I'd say that it's time for a man to dominate the ballroom again. Will this new crop of fellas be up to the task?

Sean Avery (Hockey player), paired with Karina Smirnoff - I knew nothing about this guy prior to the announcement, but I was intrigued by the idea of a NHL player hitting the hardwood floor. Unfortunately, Sean doesn't have a great reputation. When I mentioned him to a Canadian friend, she branded him a "douche." He was very scowly on GMA when the cast announcement was made, and there was an uncomfortable vibe between him and Karina. So, I'm not feeling very positive about this couple, although maybe he's got a big voting fanbase as a lot of athletes do? My prediction: Out early, then he'll really have something to glower about.

Drew Carey (Actor/Game show host), paired with Cheryl Burke - Drew's lost a lot of weight in recent years and has become quite active physically, running a marathon, etc., so he's got that going for him. And he's funny, which is a quality that appeals to viewers of DWTS (see last year's surprise semi-finalist Bill Engvall.) Still, I don't really see him and Cheryl gelling, and the competition will be tough this season. My prediction: Middle of the pack

James Maslow (Actor, Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush/Boy band singer), paired with Peta Murgatroyd - EYE CANDY ALERT! Expect to see this young man dancing sans shirt a lot this season, and I'm sure Peta will play up the sexy angle with her choreography as she loves to do. I expect that James has a large teen following, who may help him out. Let's hope he has some dancing skillz to go with that handsome face and six pack. My prediction: Middle of the pack
Fun Fact: James and Peta were rumored to be dating last month - this would have been long before they were partnered. Will be interesting to see whether or not the show (or the couple) acknowledges them having any kind of a romantic relationship. 

Cody Simpson (Australian pop singer), paired with Witney Carson) - I wasn't overly impressed with this kid at the GMA announcement, but I'm, also, not 16 and The Bieber Factor doesn't influence me. He can probably dance since he's a singer, and I'm sure his fanbase is powerful (6.41 million followers on Twitter - YIKES!) Witney is small, cute, and blonde, so she should pair well with young Cody, but she probably won't be bringing any fans to the table since this will be her first season as a pro. My prediction: FINAL FOUR

Charlie White (Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing), paired with Sharna Burgess - Okay, let's just get this out of the way. SQUEEEEEEEEEE! I am a freak for ice dancing and have been a fan of Charlie and his partner, Meryl, for years. I cried when they won in Sochi, so I'm not even going to pretend not to be biased about these two. I heart them both and I'm excited to see them compete against each other for the first time. On a shallow note, I think Charlie is adorable (love that curly moptop of his!) and I'm stoked beyond belief that he will be dancing with Sharna Burgess, who's my fave female pro. I think she'll bring some edge and sexiness to her routines with Charlie, which will be fun. I will be rooting for this couple BIG TIME! With his athletic ability and fanbase, there's no way Charlie's not making it to the end. My prediction: FINAL FOUR  

Fun Fact:  Although their chemistry on the ice is palpable, Charlie and Meryl have never been a romantic couple. Charlie's long-time girlfriend is ice dancer Tanith Belbin (another favorite of mine back when she competed with Benjamin Agosto!)

Billy Dee Williams (Actor, Mahogany and The Empire Strikes Back), paired with Emma Slater - Lando Calrissian! Billy is very smooth, so I think he'll do well in the Ballroom dances. Latin, not so sure. He is 76 years old now, which means his body may hold him back. Fortunately, he's got Emma, who proved last season with Bill Engvall that she is a genius at choreographing to her partners' strengths. I wish this couple well, but fear that they'll have trouble making an impact with so many fierce, talented competitors. My prediction: Out early 

Candace Cameron Bure (Actress, Full House, Make It or Break It), paired with Mark Ballas - Candace brings a huge nostalgia factor with her to the ballroom, because we all watched her grow up on Full House. And she's still relevant today, with her Hallmark movies and bestselling books. So far, Candace and Mark seem very goofy cute in their interviews, so I think they can play up the "fun" in their partnership and do well. I expect that Candace will excel at the elegant Ballroom and struggle a bit with finding her "wild side" in Latin. My prediction: Middle of the pack

Fun Fact: Andrea Barber aka Kimmy Gibbler, DJ Tanner's bestie on Full House, is already showing her support for Candace on Twitter, claiming that she'll be power voting for her friend and former co-star!

Meryl Davis (Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing), paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy - It goes without saying that Meryl will be grace and sophistication personified on the ballroom floor. Her posture and expressive hands in her ice dancing have always been exquisite, which will serve her well on the show. I'll be interested to see how her partnership with Maks works out. We all know how tough and blunt he can be as a teacher, but Meryl can probably handle it since she's been dealing with hardcore coaches most of her life. They'll need to find some chemistry and a spark to make it work, though. Fingers crossed. My prediction: FINAL FOUR  

Fun Fact:  Meryl and Maks are both Capricorns!

>NeNe Leakes (Actress, Reality star, Real Housewives of Atlanta), paired with Tony Dovolani - I've heard she can be a handful, so Tony may have his work cut out for him. NeNe doesn't strike me as being very inhibited, which may work to her advantage. I don't know that NeNe has that powerful of a fanbase and the last Housewife who did the show (Lisa Vanderpump) didn't last long. These two will have to bring something special to the show right off the bat if they want to stick around. My prediction: Out early 

Danica McKellar (Actress, The Wonder Years/Math whiz/Author), paired with Val Chmerkovskiy - Another celeb with a huge nostalgic factor. Who didn't love Winnie Cooper? And Danica has grown up to be a very accomplished and impressive woman. She has admitted to taking ballroom dance classes and is a huge fan of DWTS, so I think that experience and knowledge will serve her well. She and Val are well-matched physically and temperamentally, and I'm excited to see how they dance together. Val is such a creative choreographer (second only to Derek, in my opinion), so I think he'll work up some great routines to showcase Danica. If anyone has a shot at beating out Meryl and Charlie, it's Danica. My prediction: FINAL FOUR 

Fun Fact:  Did all her own dancing and lifts in 21 and a Wakeup with partner Jamie Bayard, of So You Think You Can Dance fame.

Diana Nyad (Long-distance swimmer), paired with Henry Byalikov - Diana has the stamina and work ethic to do well on the show and she seems to have a really fun personality, which should endear her to viewers, but it might be difficult for her to stand out in this crowd of uber-talented, high-profile celebs this season. I hope she enjoys her time on the show, however long that is. She's got a really great  partner in Henry, and from what I've seen he's a patient instructor. My prediction: Out early 

Amy Purdy (Paralympic snowboarder), paired with Derek Hough - This woman is a fighter and clearly enjoys a good challenge, so I'm looking forward to seeing how she does with the demands of this show. I have no doubt that Derek is the perfect partner for her, and he'll craft clever routines that will take her disability into consideration, but still push her and show what she's capable of. Heather Mills, who's also an amputee, did quite well on DWTS, and she wasn't an athlete like Amy. I think we'll see great things from Amy and Derek this season. My prediction: Middle of the pack 

Which couple(s) will you be rooting for this season? Do you think folks with previous dance experience (Meryl, Charlie, Danica) have an unfair advantage, or are you okay with "ringers?" Are you excited, or wary, of the new changes? Sound off below! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I am so honored to be here on Books by Banister today. Tracie and I met over a random “The Mentalist” tweet a few years ago and have been supporting each other ever since. Just thinking about how we met, I wondered…

Would that qualify as a “Meet Cute?”

If you’re a fan of Chick Lit, romances or romantic comedies (rom coms), then you know about the meet cute. It’s where the romantic leads meet for the first time in a manner that’s supposed to be delightful and charming. They can take many forms, but there’s one type that seems to show up more frequently. It’s the one where the heroine is unexpectedly clumsy the moment she meets the hero, and then afterwards, her clumsiness miraculously disappears.  You could probably list five such meet cutes off the top of your head. And I bet at least one involves Katherine Heigl.

I’m not a fan of clumsy fall meet cute—Or maybe it’s just Katherine Hiegl movies?—and yet they are a checklist must in romantic comedies. But why? It has to be more than making the audience believe the heroine is so gosh-darned adorable? The clumsy fall meet cute usually occurs in movies. Could there be a medium specific reason?

Ninety minutes isn’t a lot of time to show two people falling in love. What might take weeks or months in real life, often needs to occur in a matter of minutes in a movie. And one way to introduce an attraction between two people is to have them touch each other. That first touch tells us a lot, doesn’t it? Touch implies trust and vulnerability. When you take a chance and let someone touch you and you’re validated with that spark of attraction, you tend to view the source of that touch through a new lens. In the twelve steps to intimacy, the first touch (hand to hand/arm) comes in at number four. Twenty-five percent of the intimacy courtship occurs before two people even touch each other. It’s that important. The clumsy fall meet cute allows our leads to skip intimacy steps and thus get the relationship ball rolling.

Just because I don’t like the clumsy fall meet cute, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the value of a meet cute that involves touch. In my debut release, The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride, my heroine, Pamela, confronts my hero, Marcus, on a golf course. What starts out as a mildly flirtatious encounter, with lots of eye contact, quickly turns hostile. But I can’t let things end that way. If I do, why would Pamela ever want to see him again?

“There’s nothing I can do.” He turned and started down the cart path.

She ran up alongside him. “Is that it? You aren’t going to help us?” She was so focused on him she didn’t notice a golf cart heading their way. He reached out and pulled her off the path just as the cart zoomed by. The old man driving it never stopped.

Adrenaline raced through him and they stood breathing heavily, his arm around her waist, their bodies pressed together. A diamond solitaire winked at him where it lay in her cleavage. He had a sudden and unexpected vision of her naked except for the necklace, in his bed, her long limbs and soft skin open and welcoming.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“You’re welcome.”

This is their meet cute. It’s the incident that allows them to touch, to cement that the attraction exists and is two-sided, before they go their separate ways. And we need them to want each other. That desire will lead them to search each other out and send them on a journey to happily ever after. I’m not saying touch is mandatory. Certainly, intense eye contact can jump start an attraction. But ask yourself, when face to face with a person you find attractive, would you rather be looked at or touched? ;-)

What’s your favorite “meet cute?”

Author Bio: Tracey Livesay wrote her first romance novel at the age of eleven, called “The Healing Power of Love.” With a detour through college and law school--where she met her husband on the very first day--she’s finally achieved her dream of being a published author. She lives in Virginia with said husband and three kids. Her debut novel, The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride, is available now from Entangled Publishing. For info on her upcoming releases or to chat about TV, movies and/or purses you can check out her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Book Blurb:  To avenge his mother’s mistreatment at the hands of her upper-crust employer, self-made real estate tycoon Marcus Pearson needs entree into their exclusive world. When D.C. socialite Pamela Harrington comes to him for help, Marcus realizes the golden admission ticket he’s been seeking has suddenly fallen into his lap.

Pamela will do anything to save her favorite cause, even agree to a marriage of convenience. The altruistic "it-girl" isn't worried about the pretend passion with Marcus turning real; she's sworn off powerful, driven men who use her for her family's connections.

So she'll deny the way her pulse races with one look from his crystalline blue eyes. And he'll ignore the way his body throbs with each kiss from her full lips. Because there's no way he'll lose his blue-collar heart to the blue-blooded beauty.

Buy The Tycoon's Socialite Bride: