Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Review: Spooky YA Novels Galore

If they gave out Olympic medals for reading, I would make Michael Phelps’ epic medal collection look like chump change. Okay, I suppose it depends on my reading. I recently bought the first four books of the Game of Thrones, but it’s a bit of a slower read because over half my time is spent, “Now who is this person again? What’s going on? What’s happening? When is it going to get interesting?”—so I’m really hoping the HBO version is better. Adult fantasy books clearly aren’t my skill level.

But YA fantasy books totally are.

This weekend I read three fabulous YA novels, and the titles alone should intrigue you. They did me.

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting reminds me a little of the Snow White fairy tale because there is an evil queen who doesn’t want to give up her power, a heroine who we find is destined to rule, and a black moment you knew was coming but wondered how is this story going to be saved? The men in this book—this heroine has THREE different guys you’ll end up rooting for—and yet you wonder, “Okay, which one is the good guy? Which one should she end up with?” Not in a love triangle sort of way, per se, but in a “Is the one she seems most drawn to really the best guy for her?” I found the author’s voice very readable; and it’s in first person—my favorite. Also, the setting for the dystopian world was filled in enough to feel interesting and new. A fast, entertaining read.

AS DEAD AS IT GETS by Katie Alender is actually the second in a series, which I was unaware of when I started. I think this made the story more interesting because much of the time, I was like, “What the hell happened before?” It was hinted at a lot and she did reveal enough details where you could piece it together, but at the same time, I want to go back and find the first book. It sounds too crazy to be believed. This story is about a teenage girl who can see dead people; and on top of it, one of the dead girls she can see happens to be a girl she helped kill. In the last book. I mean, it’s got a Christopher Pike theme going on in creep factor. But the heroine is quickly overshadowed by this quirky little detail when it becomes clear that a new ghost girl—someone she’s never met and never knew—is trying to kill her. And worse, she keeps killing off people the heroine knows and making it look like she did it. Nice. Talk about making a girl an outcast in her own school…and then there’s that stint in the mental hospital. And all the heroine is trying to do is make sure her younger sister is not affected by this. Yeah, good luck! Fortunately it all turns out right in the end, in case you were worried. You should give it a whirl—you’ll read it fast, I assure you!

WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED by Cat Hellisen is a debut book and the most original of the three, I thought. (Not that I was really comparing—they were all good reads.) But the setting is in a different place. Not really dystopian, but more like an alternate Victorian or Dickens era setting. In fact, one of the characters, Dash, reminds me of a Dickens character, and I haven’t actually read any Dickens novel. The heroine (Felicita) belongs to the privileged upper-class, but soon finds herself betrothed to someone she does not want to marry. And it’s not so much the fiancé as it is the way of life—women literally have no rights in the upper-classes and she can’t bear the boredom of it. On top of it, her best friend commits suicide to get out of a betrothal. So the heroine stages her own suicide in order to run away from home. She disappears into the seedy part of her world, a sort of lower London on the Thames sort of world. The world she belongs to is superstitious and full of magic; in fact she herself is capable of magic, which is part of her world status. The man who helps her in this new world—Dash—has his own agenda, and as she is pulled more and more into his plans, she has to make a decision if she will allow herself to be ruled by him or if she’ll follow her own beliefs? Dark but lyrical, I found this the most haunting of the three.

So what have you been reading lately? Let’s talk about the books which have captured our attention lately—anything lyrical or full of action?
Monday, July 30, 2012

Pick a Dream, Any Dream

January is a terrible time of year for resolutions. All that Christmas pudding and New Year’s champagne. You don’t want to commit to writing—you want to commit to Slim Fast and Insanity Workout. After all, what’s there to look forward to in January? Exactly. Bikini Season. And it’s here all too soon, isn’t it?

Now last week of July, that’s the time of the year to recommit to writing goals. You’ve come off the RWA Conference high: you’ve either been there or heard about it; you won or have friends who won; and the Golden Heart is right around the corner, just the perfect deadline before Thanksgiving. You’re not eating much anyway: it’s too hot and the bikini, after all. After a few months of tireless writing, you’ll need to eat your way through Thanksgiving through New Year’s to fatten up for your January resolutions.

But back to now, the end of July, your post-RWA high. It’s time. You need to dust off your AICHOK signs and write past the blank page. And by you, I mean me, but you’re welcome to join my post-RWA resolution.

Fortunately Sabrina will commandeer this whole thing and make sure we all report our weekly goals and award prizes at the end set-date (say Labor Day weekend), and that will gear us up for other favorite time of year, NaNoWriMo.

But back a second—it’s not enough to have a goal. You gotta have a dream. But it’s a medium dream—there are all sorts of dreams. Last night dreams when I thought I was eating worms (what is up with that?) and fifteen years from now dreams when I’m making millions of dollars and dreams that can occur about a year from now. That’s the dream I’m looking for here.

So here’s my dream: to go to the 2013 RWA Conference with a completed book to pitch. My supersonic dream is to have completed the book in time to enter it in the Golden Heart, but I don’t know if I want to be that crazy. Still. I should probably put it out there. And if the conference is my DREAM, then my goal is to get cracking on that book.

I’ve got about 70 pages of the book so far, but not enough scenes so far to have gotten to any turning points (which is actually more important than pages, if you think about it.) But it’s doable. Break that puppy into scenes and start cracking at scenes. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to be written. You don’t need to know every bit about someone’s character, you just need to go with your instinct and let your fingers type. Don’t let the inner bastard edit. Seriously. Whatever you need to tune him out, do it.

So that’s my goal. I’m going to for the supersonic goal: complete book for Golden Heart. Which means I need like 300 pages, but let’s not worry about that. Don’t panic; just write. New motto.

What’s your dream for the next year and how are you going to go about achieving that? Sabrina is listening. Me, I’m plotting out scenes and trying not to break out in a cold sweat—though in this weather, sounds rather appealing.

P.S. Daddy-Pops has a doctor's appt for a checkup on his skin cancer (or to make sure his skin cancer is not growing into anything malignant)--I'll be out mostly, but will answer when I return. I promise. Have fun you guys and dream big!
Friday, July 27, 2012


I too, wish I was at RWA!  I think on this ship, it goes without saying that we all want to be there WHEN Terri WINS her Golden Heart Award!  Because I'm sure that's what's going to happen.  This is a phenomenal manuscript and it deserves to win, get picked up by a major publisher, and be made into a Lifetime original movie.

I haven't been to RWA in three years.  Last one I was at, in DC, Terri and I sat in a hallway, calling Hellie and Sin, gabbing about the hot firemen who'd been called in rather mysteriously, over and over for bogus fire alarms.  The DC RWA was my fifth in a row and I've loved each and every one of them.  Someday - maybe I'll go again.  I went to three before I sold my first book to an editor I met at RWA.

But things come up and sometimes you just can't go.  I hope Terri knows we'd all be there if we could.  Maureen's gonna hafta be all of us - something I think she can handle.

Saturday night, I'll be watching the Olympics, but my thoughts will be in Anaheim and I'll be waiting to see what happens with Marnee and the rest. 

Terri, if we were there, we'd carry you on our shoulders to the podium.  True, we might be a little (okay a lot) drunk and slurry, but you wouldn't mind, would you?

And if the unthinkable happens (which it shouldn't, because it's UNTHINKABLE) we'd be there to make sure the person who won in your place, met with a little accident.  Then you, being first runner up, would...oh, wait.  I'm being told it doesn't work that way. 

Good luck Terri!  We'll be watching Facebook and cheering (or plotting to avenge you).  And when you go to make your speech - don't be nervous - just picture the audience as undead pirates in their underwear.

To Terri!
The Assassin
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nationals Is Starting and I’m at Home

I doubt I’m the only person out there who wishes that they were at Nationals today but instead, they’re doing dishes/making their bed/grocery shopping (insert normal, mundane activity here).

Instead of being at Nationals, chatting with awesome, like-minded writers, I’m here with my two kiddos, surfing the internet for updates, watching Facebook for pics, and frantically refreshing the #RWA12 hashtag on Twitter, all in an attempt to not miss anything.

I’m going to miss things.  Chances are I’m missing most of it but the highlights.

Which is a giant bummer.

I’ve been writing seriously for five years now and I’ve never been to Nationals.  There are lots of reasons why and most of them are related to my family.  Some of them are financial.  Whatever the reason, I haven’t been able to go.

And that's okay.  In honesty, the chances I’d have gone any of these years were actually quite small.  I can’t imagine leaving my kids that long.  I'm a bit sappy like that.  If I’d actually signed a contract or finalled in the contest, I’d have probably taken the fam with me.  That way they’d be there too so I could see them, I wouldn't have had to worry about them, and I’d have had the incentive to make the financial outlay to take them.

I have no idea how I’ll feel about it next year, but that’s how I’ve felt until now.  And logically I know that’s fine. 

The problem is, every year at Nationals time I watch all of this—Facebook, Twitter, Blogs—and I feel like I’m not a serious writer because I’m not there, at Nationals, with all of those serious writers.

I know that’s silly.  Going to conference isn’t what makes them serious writers (not taken alone, anyway) and me not going doesn’t make me less serious.  I’m sure there are plenty of published writers who didn’t go to conference before they published and I’m sure there are plenty of published writers who still don’t go to conference regularly.

But I can’t help feeling like that kid with his face pressed against the toy store window, staring at the promise of fun inside.

I’ll go.  Not this year but maybe next year.  Or the year after.  I know it’ll be back in New York in a few years and that’s so close I’d be silly not to go. Just because it isn't this year doesn't mean it's never.

What I need to remember is that just because I’m not there physically, it doesn’t mean I’m not “there.”  I’m rooting for Terri and Mary Danielson and Wendy La Capra like mad right here.  I’m listening for the gossip and the publishing news.  As part of RWA, it’s my conference too, even if I’m not there in person.

And I need to keep writing.  Because that’s the underlying theme of the conference anyway.

Those of you who aren’t going to Nationals… How are you taking being “left behind?”  Any great online conferences or places you’re stalking for updates? And if you are at Nationals, I hope you guys are having fun!  Keep us posted because we’re all waiting for your updates!  J
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Review: Some Things From the 80s Never Go Out of Style

There's a librarian who seems intent on making me feel old though he looks like he has a decade on me. My card is older than his. He's jealous. But being the 80s was when I got my library card and the 80s was when I discovered the author I'm going to talk about today, I thought, "Hey, some things really don't go out of style." Because I still love this author after all this time.

Now I admit, there was a few years in the 1990s, I didn't read her because she got a little odd. But I've now been rehooked with her new series and am happy to recommend her far and wide. I have my short list of must-reads from her 80s list: The Raider, The Awakening, Wishes, Mountain Laurel, and Eternity. And then we have the current list: Lavender Morning, Days of Gold, Scarlet Nights, The Scent of Jasmine, Heartwishes...etc. Jude Deveraux's newest release, Stranger in the Moonlight, is another perfect edition for the Edilean series.

When you thought about a Deveraux book in the 80s, you talked about the Montgomeries and the Taggerts. Those were the types of heroes. In the 10s, it's a town, Edilean, readers look for. There are some heroes intrinsic to the town, but Ms. Deveraux is willing to import as well. :)

In this story, STRANGER IN THE MOONLIGHT, the heroine, Kim, is the character intrinsic to the town, and her hero, Travis, is a friend from childhood who visited with her at an important time of her life--and his--and voila, it was destiny. This book is the second in a series within this series, about three friends. This book can easily stand alone though; however, I imagine you will seek out more stories in this series once you get started. This series features all the things I really love about Jude Deveraux books: compelling characters, unique voice (you know it's Ms. Deveraux in about 2 paragraphs), and entertaining story. Oh, and one of the things she does that I adore: she'll usually insert a character who isn't who he/she seems and you find out later, they were important. Good times.

The heroines are strong, but not...Lara Croft. They do interesting things: jewelry making, painting, research, opera singer--heck, even the little rich girls are entertaining because they always step up to the challenge. They can bring the banter to the hero, and I love to read the dialogue between them. It feels...well, like something Deerhunter and I would say. They're just my kind of people. I can even relate to the rich ones--and I don't even like rich people. I just hope Ms. Deveraux keeps writing this series because I want to keep reading it.

Are there any writers you're still reading 20 years later? (Or well, 25 years later to get back into the 80s as I was.) What makes these authors comfortable and satisfying to read? Has anyone else read this series (or other books by Ms. Deveraux)?

Oh, and yes, I was given this book by a publisher, but I hardly think that signifies since I've gotten several free books of other various authors and haven't written reviews on about half of them, because...well...I didn't care for that half. I write about what I want. The End. This book rocks. Go, Jude Deveraux!
Monday, July 23, 2012

Pollyanna Preaching

Well, the time has come. I fly out tomorrow morning. (I have house/pet sitters so any criminals out there don't be getting ideas.) I'm nervous and have been stress eating for a week so let's hope I still fit into the clothes I've stuffed into this suitcase. I'll be too nervous to eat much over the next few days so maybe I'll lose some poundage by Saturday night. That would be nice.

In the past I've attended the RWA® National conference as just another aspiring writer, blending in with the lobby palms, locked in the role of wide-eyed observer. Not this time. This time I have pins and ribbons on my badge that will broadcast to all and Sundry that I am a Golden Heart® finalist.

Regardless of how freaked I am about being in the spotlight, I wouldn't change a thing as this experience has been an honor and more than changed my life. I mean, I have an agent. ME! If you'd have told me six months ago that I'd have an agent and be out on submission (gulp!) by the end of summer, I'd have suggested you stop taking whatever medication you were on.

I've met more than 60 of the most fabulous women who have finaled with me and couldn't ask for a better group of people. We have dubbed ourselves the Firebirds as we have all gone through the flames, dug our way through the ashes, and rose to soar another day. In writing and in life. To anyone who will be in Anaheim this week, stop and chat with any Firebird you meet. You'll see for yourself how amazing they are.

Whether my name is called on Saturday night or not, I've already won. I know we finalists keep saying this but it really is true. The attention. The validation. The love and support. The little gold necklace would be amazing, but merely the cherry on top of what's already a smashing good sundae.

My point to all this is never say never. Wherever you are today, whatever you're thinking you can't do or will never happen, think again. Because you can and it might. I read an amazing essay this week by the incomparable Jennifer Crusie about ignoring the statistics and the naysayers and simply pushing through with the belief that you will publish. Or you will learn to cook that perfect soufflé or will run that marathon or will reach the top of whatever mountain at which you're aiming. (Seriously, go read it.)

It's cliché but true. If I can do it, anyone can do it. I'm not published yet and the odds makers would say my chances of reaching that goal are slim to none. But I don't care what they say. Because four months ago I thought the chances of any of this happening were slim to none. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Whatever your dream might be, to own a Mercedes or start your own business, to be famous or infamous or just the best darn mom in the world, go for it and never stop believing. At the sake of getting all new-agey on your arses, the power of positivity can do wondrous things. It can take a single mom from the depths of being nearly homeless to owning her own home. It can take a writer with a dream to the Greatest Place on Earth.

Where can it take you? What have you dreamed of doing or seeing or experiencing but thought could never be? What came along and surprised you? What would it take to make a believer out of you? Anyone want to set a goal? See the Great Wall of China? Fly a plane? Coach a Little League team? Write a book? *g*
Friday, July 20, 2012

Anaheim, Disneyland, Golden Heart…Whoohoo!

I’m not really sure where to go from here… I mean…Terri is up for a Golden Heart! And I’m gonna get to take her to Disneyland. Which is soooooooo much better than Disneyworld. Well, at least the Magical Kingdom part.

I’ve warned her about earplugs when nearing It’s a Small World as that is one earworm that will burrow it’s way deep into your cerebral cortex and turn you into a pink zombie who can’t stop humming the melody, thus wandering through the park and infecting others…

If there are aliens anywhere in California, it’s hidden in that big pink clockwork frontage.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it…

I’d sorta like to write a story set in a Disneyworld sort of park. I’d fill it with aliens and clockwork characters…a princess who escapes from one of the rides and maybe finds a charming geek who came to the park with a girl he hoped would be more than a friend, but she dumped him at the entrance to Space Mountain when he started talking about how many of the scientific details were wrong…

Deep breath…

I could do it. Go to the park off season and spend a week just wandering around, absorbing details…


I know not everyone has gone to Disneyland, but there are amusement parks of one sort of the other everywhere… Where could you set a story? At the giant ball of string? At the castle of Hogwarts? The Busch Gardens rollercoaster? What are your wildest, or sweetest dreams, when it comes to a setting?

Keep an eye on my FB page and I’ll try to post pics of Terri’s adventure in Disneyland… ;-) Oh, and at the Golden Heart!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Swing of Things

Music Influence this week: Unstoppable- E.S. Posthumus (Makara, 2010)

I have been writing fan fiction like a fiend the last month. I find it hard to stop long enough to blog.

I'm taking this opportunity to work on parts of my writing that need work. Like my dialogue between characters. Or adding more than one secondary character into a scene at a time and utilizing the characters properly. Working on making scenes seem realistic. Working on writing slices of life and everyday routine things. And working on writing third person. I don't know what it is about third person that seems damned near impossible for me to write.

But I'm finding it easier. I think once I let go of this idea that I had to write original all the time, I suddenly felt free again. As if a huge weight had been lifted. I'm not even posting the fan fiction. It's just about writing it and learning that joy of writing again. And writing fan fiction doesn't have to be a waste to me. I need practice. I need to practice my story telling. I need to practice how to make my characters move and seem realistic and speak naturally. Nothing comes easily in life. I always thought my writing would come naturally and as long as I didn't force anything, the words would come to me. But it only took a handful of people to take it away for years. I couldn't find a way to be true to myself and still write. I felt stifled and sick and uninspired. But I'm not cut out to just write one or the other. I need freedom. At least for now I do.

I write one thing. I finish it. I start a new one. I've completed more fics in the past month than I have in four years. It feels liberating. Exhilarating. I'm still struggling with writing sex but that's okay. Eventually I'll break through there too. But for now, I'm writing. I'm writing again and I don't ever want to stop.

Have you ever went on a hiatus from either reading or writing? What filled your time up when you felt uninspired to do the one thing you loved most?
Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I have to start this review with two disclaimers. First, in one way or another I know each of the four authors involved in this anthology but I vow what is to follow is my fair, unbiased opinion. Pirates honor. Two, I bought and paid for this anthology all on my own. I'm honestly not sure why I have to point that out, but there you go.

THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER is a limited-time digital anthology featuring Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Leigh LaValle, and Carey Baldwin. All talented writers in their own right, these authors have put together four unique stories for a good cause as all proceeds are being donated to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

This insidious disease has impacted my family twice in the last ten years so I'm more than happy to lend my support.

Now to the stories.

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare is a delectable bite of Ms. Dare's charming, irresistible voice. Every time I read something by this author, I feel like someone threw the curtains open and a ray of sunshine fills the room. This one is no exception. The heroine is spunky and contrary with a deep sense of loyalty. The title does a good job of describing the hero, but as with any good story, the hero is rarely the man he's first portrayed to be.

Mr. Wright covers more years than I'd expect from such a short story but the transitions are well done, the emotion and love story fully developed, and the HEA more than satisfying.

The Misbehaving Marquess by Leigh LaValle simmers with sexual tension. A high intensity reunion story, Cat and Jaime have been estranged for five years when the story begins. Bad decisions, injured pride, and a giant chasm of distrust stand between them. But love has the power to heal old wounds and by the end of this story, you'll be swooning in your rum and looking for some private time with your significant other. I am ashamed to report I have yet to read Ms. LaValle's other works, but that will be rectified straight away.

The Lady Always Wins by Courtney Milan might be my favorite of the four. Another reunion story but this time the heroine married someone else seven years ago, breaking the hero's heart. Now Ginny is a widow and Simon is back to claim the only woman he's ever really loved, by fair means or foul. This one looks sure to end badly until Ms. Milan throws in a twist that manages to surprise and make perfect sense all at the same time. By the end you'll have that overwhelming feeling that everything is right with the world as these two truly do belong together.

Solomon's Wisdom by Carey Baldwin thrusts us from the 1800s to present day and adds a dash of fast-paced suspense to this quartet. Yet one more reunion story (I wonder if they planned that) and again a hero and heroine with a long history and even longer separation. Anna, affectionately known as Peaches to the hero, was Charlie's best friend. But twelve years ago Anna declared her love at the worst time and without a word Charlie left town. Now he's back to win the girl he never should have left, but to reach their HEA they'll have to dodge bullets and solve a mystery before a woman and child end up the next victims.

This one moved a little too fast for me at times but then I read it pretty late at night (couldn't put it down) so that might have played a part. I'll admit I didn't see that ending coming and never would have guessed the evil that lurked so close by. Keep an extra light on while reading this one.

So there you have it. Four well-written stories to devour one at a time or all in one sitting. All worth the effort and a cause worthy of your money. And really, you could probably find $2.99 in your couch cushions. Available in all digital formats, give this one a go today.

Since I'm not usually an anthology reader, anyone have any others they'd like to recommend? Oh and I'd like to add that though the first three authors have other works available, Ms. Baldwin celebrated her debut release just last month. First Do No Evil is available now! (I'd give one away but I don't know how to gift e-books. *sigh*) 
Monday, July 16, 2012

Calling Readers: How Loyal Are You?

I leave for the RWA conference in a week and a day. That means packing and pitching and trying not to panic. I'll admit, I'm behind. Not sure how that happened. I was doing great until this past weekend. I don't know where it went. I mean, it was right here and then I blinked and POOF!

But enough about that. Today is not about writing. It's about reading. And before anyone thinks I'm getting totally ahead of myself, this blog is not about me. Well, not exactly. Today I want to tap into our reader brains.

All of us have our favorite authors, many of whom we've been following for years. Decades in some cases. There are those we wish were still writing (LaVyrle Spencer, anyone?) and those who somehow lost us along the way.

Prior to 2006 when I accidentally fell through the rabbit hole into Romancelandia, I'd been reading Romance novels for a little over 20 years paying no attention to publishers. My loyalty lay with the writers. Names like Jo Beverly, Mary Balogh, Johanna Lindsey, Dorothy Garlock, and Judith McNaught. Spencer and Woodiwiss should go without saying.

Several of these authors are still turning out best sellers but I can't help but wonder, does it get old? After 20 or 30 or 40 novels, does a writer long to do something totally different? And if she did venture in a brand new direction, would you go with her? As a reader, do you prefer your favorites stay with the tried and true, or are you happy to try something new, knowing they won't let you down?

To keep the question focused, I'm not talking about leaving Romance behind, but simply telling a love story in a different time or setting. Is there a type of story you wouldn't read no matter what? How far does your loyalty stretch?
Friday, July 13, 2012

Rediscovering Why I’m Doing This

It’s no secret to those who know me that I’ve been fighting a real lack of energy, with writing, with editing, with promotion – other than conventions. Good thing I really did book myself with so many conferences this spring/summer. Because that is about all I’ve had going right now.

A few months ago, I let my agent go. I really love her and wish her nothing but success, but we weren’t working together in sync. We parted friends and I dove right into the idea of sending out my own stuff, believing totally that I am my best selling point. I decided to look into self-publishing a few shorter manuscripts I had on the side and sorted my assorted projects, looking for what to go with and when.

I was on fire! Days after declaring myself independent, I sent out my first requested story, from a pitch I made at RT. A week later, the same publisher put out a call on what their editors were looking for, so I sent out another story.

At Clockwork Alchemy, I took part in three panels with Shelly Adina, who is doing quite well self-published and she offered to help me upload as soon as I’m ready. I was on a roll!

I found a freelance copyeditor and sent out the short I want to publish, we agreed on a price and that ball was in play.

Terrio went to a conference and informed me she’d heard a senior editor at Tor say she was looking for H/H on the more mature side of life… Whoohoo! Just my cup of tea!

My energy was sky high, I was looking forward to life. RomCon was on the horizon, Clockwork Alchemy was sublime. I even made it to BayCon, across the city the same weekend as Clockwork Alchemy.

Somewhere in the midst of everything, I lost my mojo. Nothing came easy when I tried to write. I was editing an older MS and finding myself appalled at the amount of work ahead of me to get this into shape… I crashed. Lost my focus, lost my drive…lost my words.

I went to Denver and kept my head high, fought against the natural inclination when I’m running scared – and trust me, I was running scared. (What if I’d lost my magic for good?) Got my first rejection on the requested short from Carina while I was in Denver. It happens, I knew that. I know that! Still stung. When I wasn’t on at RomCon, I was off. Quiet, hiding.

Thank God for the pirate hat, which seemed to flip a switch and keep me going. Finally, on the way home, I was able to open up to my husband about where I was. Terri and Sabrina knew I’ve been fighting for my writer self. Now my husband knows and I finally was honest with myself.

I am fighting for a rebirth.

Home from RomCon and still trying to figure it all out. I got the copy edit from my hired help and am pleased with her work. I met some great folks at RomCon and in three weeks, it’s all about the Nationals! And wearing my hat. My magical hat is going to RWA Nationals.

Terri and I were chatting with Sabrina a few weeks ago and Ter commented that it’s like I’ve shot my writer wad. (Good one, Bosun!)

Sad to say, I’m wondering if that is the god’s honest truth… I’ve been looking for answers and ideas, tricks and tips…maybe a good kick in the butt.

It’s been five years since I nearly died and came out of it with an attitude of total WTF-ery, nothing was going to stop me. I raised my sails, grabbed the wheel and took off to adventure across the literary seas… And I hit the doldrums. And I do not want or need another life altering kick like that first one! But…!

I don’t know what to do crew, other than just keep pushing forward with the projects I already have in motion. I’m looking to get a cover together for the self-publishing project, Foxoddness1. I’m looking for a publication date of August. Second one, Foxoddness2, in October. And I need to write and have Foxoddness3 out for December.

I have pitch appointments at the Nationals and people I’m targeting, hoping to harvest some wisdom where I can. And I get to be Terri’s plus one at her invitational events…and work hard to keep her from floating away or running away…

All I can do is all I can do!

But I’m not afraid to admit, I’m scared. I feel like I’ve lost my ship…lost my magic.

Okay, crew. Kick my ass, hug me, slap me, get me drunk and paint my tits green. How do I recover from disappointments which have torn my sails to shred and poked holes in my hull? What is your magic mojo motivational secret?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Angst, Angst, oh how I yearn for thee

Not in my real life, of course. I clearly have enough angst in my real life . . . hence this post being 12 hours late. I'm sorry. My pirate self is really crappy at time management. All those hotties handing out shots make it really easy to procrastinate.

But in my reading life, the more angst the better. My heart aches, my hands tingle, and I cry. I cry a lot. Ironically, these are my favorite books. I generally read near a box of tissues, in private so I'm not humiliated by the snuffling. Then I'll catch sight of myself in the mirror, all puffy-eyed and red-faced, and burst out laughing. It's a BOOK! And yet I can't wait to get back to it and cry even more.

I find the roller-coaster ride of angst-filled book to be exhilarating. I always have more energy when I set down a book then I did when I picked it up and started (which can be a problem when it's four am and I need to get some sleep).

So I'm curious . . . what do you find exhilarating and energizing when it comes to reading. Is it the angst? The sexiness? The humor? Does angst make you cry and humor make you laugh out loud? What's the best combination? Anyone love a perfect laugh-out-loud joke in the middle of a tear-inducing, angsty scene?
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Review: Taking a Break

Don't worry, it's temporary. I fully expect to have something wonderful to rave about next week, honest. But though I read about three or four books in the last week or so, none of them are so wonderful that I wanted to rush out and brag about them to you.

So instead maybe you can tell me what you've read lately that you want to brag and gush about? Build my TBR pile please!
Monday, July 9, 2012

When You Don't Think It's Going to Work

I'm not sure if I was supposed to blog today, but I think so. Checking in at 11 pm on Sunday night and Bo'sun doesn't have a post is a pretty good sign. I guess now would not be a good time to panic. We've all been on that bender, right, where you're on vacation for like five days, you're still fantasizing about Channing Tatum, your boyfriend's in town, and you're playing catch up on cleaning and laundry. Sure, you have. Some of you do it with kids too--bunch of show offs.

Despite my amazing abilities to create analogies out of the most obscure things, I have yet to find a blog of how watching MAGIC MIKE can improve your writing. I mean, I'm sure there's a blog for that; I'm willing to watch the movie several more times to write that blog; but I haven't found the spark yet. Too busy staring at Channing's abs, I suppose.

Today, though, I took my nieces to see BRAVE, which has a better chance of finding something more meaningful for your writing. I like to watch movies for the Black Moment--to see how it's done and hopefully to incorporate it in my writing. The Black Moment is a fine line, isn't it? EVERYTHING is lost--you've had hope all this time. You're holding your breath that it can still work out, and nope, the very thing the hero or heroine wanted most is denied. Usually through a fault of their own, something like a too little too late and they know it.

In BRAVE, when the heroine tries to change her destiny, she makes a request through a witch for a spell to "change her mother." Only she's not real specific about it--and her mom gets turned into a bear. When I heard this, I had some doubts, but actually it's pretty good. They bonded as daughter and bear, much more than they bonded as mother and daughter. So when it comes to the BLACK MOMENT, which my oldest of the nieces said, "It's that Beauty and the Beast moment", we were all crying because like the heroine, we were all sorry this wasn't turning out despite all her hard work to change things.

Anyway, this all makes me think: what does my character want most? Why is this wrong for them? How can I show them that their "utmost desires" is in actual conflict with what they actually need? How can I make it bittersweet and funny too? What scenes can come of the complications that arise from them not getting exactly what they want--how do they make the best of it, and what do they learn? Then, in the end, how do I show the worst of all possible endings, but still save it in the end?

I think Disney movies especially are great for these sorts of arcs; and I think thinking about them can help you brainstorm in your initial storytelling and later in your revisions when you're thinking about how to strengthen your book with shadowing and deeper storytelling.

What are some of your favorite movies and their Black Moments? Do you think about them or try to figure out how to learn from them? (Or am I the only weirdo there?) Has anyone else seen BRAVE (or MAGIC MIKE)? Do you like Disney's Black-Black Moments?
Friday, July 6, 2012

A week of Mondays…or Fridays…or

Anyone know what day it is? Really? I mean, I’ve been out of whack all bloody week. Holidays in the middle of the week should be illegal. Why couldn’t we celebrate the Fourth on the First? Or the Sixth?

Instead we ended up with a day off midweek, throwing the working and non-working into a tizzy of confusion.

Wandering Facebook on Thursday, I saw reference to Monday again and again.

And when did people take vacations? Before the Fourth? After? During?

What will next week be like? A FIVE DAY WORK WEEK!

For those who work.

It was hard for me because of when the husband was home. Not used to that…

I’m heading north today, for a big b-day bash tomorrow to celebrate my Mom’s 80th.

Let’s have a Friday goof off day…if today were a holiday, say the Friday Fourth, what would you be doing if you could DO ANYTHING YOU WANT! ANYWHERE YOU WANT! No limits. A pirate celebrates being independent! GO!

Me? I’m on this beach…in this hammock…the wonderfully buff and melodiously voiced Stephen Lang  reading something sweet and sexy to me.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cue The Fireworks! It's July 4th!

Seriously though, it's really dry in most places this year so please be careful if you do use fireworks...any think of the poor dogs...um can I just ask that we replace the use of fireworks with something else?

Is that not very patriotic of me? Sorry, but my poor pups whine and cry for days as people set off loud fireworks, bang on pots and all other manner of craziness. Not to mention, who waits until 11 or 12 at night to set off fireworks? Oh right, drunk people.

Okay, now that I've probably driven everyone away with my mini-rant I want to relate what this day is really all about to our writing. July 4th for Americans is about Freedom and I think that's a wonderful word for writers to embrace.

I hope that putting those words on the page makes you feel like you can fly. That your mind is free to create and weave your inspiration into something you can't wait to share with the world.

As much as it sometimes takes everything we can muster to sit down and put words on the page, I'm tasking you to focus on how free you are to put any and all words you want down there. Think about that. You have absolute freedom over your story and characters. You are in control and the choices you have are infinite. 

Embrace that freedom the next time you sit down to write. Let go of stress and expectations and just write with a refreshed sense of anything being possible.

I'm off to the beach for part of the day today, but later I'm going to attempt to make these amazing looking (and low fat/calorie!) no-bake cupcakes from Self Magazine.

What are your July 4th plans? Have any fun summer recipe links you can share with us? What about the feeling of total freedom in your writing - do you love that or is it a foreign idea to you? Again, I challenge you to focus on that the next time you sit down to write.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Review: If You Love a Virgin Hero--

I'm not sure where I picked up Elizabeth Hoyt as an author, but I know it was after everyone had been buzzing about her for quite some time. I was one of the last people to hop on the train, much like J.K. Rowling, and you know how much I am still kicking myself for that one.

Ms. Hoyt was unique in that she wrote in an earlier time period than most of her historical contemporaries; however, it is her newest series, set even forty years before her last series that has really shined with her brilliance. She is skilled at blending the dark and the light, the gritty and the glitter, the poor and the rich--and weaving tales so heartbreaking, you want to go back in time and meet the characters in person. You know they're there, in St. Giles and the more habitable parts of London--and you know from reading you would never buy gin or you'd never buy cheap products knowing they're created off the backs of child labor.

Her latest installment of the St. Giles series, THIEF OF SHADOWS, showcases Winter Makepeace, the quiet studious schoolmaster and manager of the orphanage where St. Giles' unfortunates find a safe place to stay. He also happens to be the Ghost of St. Giles, the masked Harlequin who scampers across rooftops at night and rights wrongs and saves those who are unable to save themselves. That is, until, he needs someone to save him, and Lady Isabel Beckinhall just happens to be the lady in the carriage who finds his passed out body in the middle of the road...and saves him.

If you like your heroes more on the reserved and quiet side, you will find Winter Makepeace one of the best heroes you'll read about this year. If you love well-endowed virgin heroes, then this is definitely the book of the year for you. I enjoyed him quite a bit, and though I'm not sure I would say this is my favorite book of the series (I didn't find the heroine as interesting as the previous three), Winter makes up by being pretty darned delightful. There's a scene where he comforts the heroine and she breaks down, and she says she doesn't want him to see her when she's ugly...and he says, well, just exactly the right thing. Move out of the way 50 Shades of Grey, THIS is the fantasy women really want: a man strong enough to hold her when she cries, comfort and caress her and not make it about sex, and then say she is the most beautiful, bravest woman he knows. Brilliant.

I cannot get enough of this series and I know I will be disappointed when Ms. Hoyt finally puts this setting to rest, but I know she will create and enchant us with another new part of London in a time period we don't know as well as we think we do, and win us again. Ms. Hoyt should be on your autobuy list. She's hot; she's emotional; she's historically accurate but not boring about it; her writing is gritty, sexy, and beautiful altogether. She writes the universal female fantasy for strong, caring, loving men who are flawed but beautiful where it counts, for sex that is as much about the mental and emotional as the physical, that isn't pretty but always satisfying, and for love that conquers class, poverty, and the hard realities of the world. And I'm very, very grateful she's usually able to provide two books a year.

Her next one cannot come fast enough.

Do you read Elizabeth Hoyt? Do you have a favorite series or book of hers? What book in a series are you most waiting for this year?  (Does not have to be Ms. Hoyt!)
Monday, July 2, 2012

From One to Another

(Ha! Chance here, stepping in for the Bosun, who took two Fridays in row, one for me, one for the Assassin. So, I’m taking a Monday at her request… On with the blog!)

We all have books we enjoy and series/movies we take delight in. And sometimes, they are the same source material. Sometimes a good dramatization will point us to the book, sometimes the book points us to the series/movie.

When I worked in the bookstores, I would recommend movies for parents who despaired of getting their kids to read books. Having a face to put to a character can really help out with keeping a large cast straight. For example, Lord of the Rings. I imagine the same with Harry Potter…

And now and then…something comes along like Longmire. A new series on TNT, featuring a contemporary western sheriff in Wyoming. A basic crime drama based on books by Craig Johnson. It premiered a few weeks ago, has a nice actor as the lead, Robert Taylor and his sidekick, Lou Diamond Phillips, plus a female city cop as his deputy. I was enticed into reading the first books due to several things.

I was preparing to drive to Denver and would be crossing the state where the books were set. I’m already a fan of C.J. Box, whose Joe Pickett mystery series is set in the same area. But I’ve read them all. So…I opted to try the Longmire books.

Wow. In a week, I read all eight of the books. I drove Terri crazy by sending her excerpts that impressed the hell out of me…

How about this one…complex, trippy, thoughtful…

"Somewhere in the distance, the synchronic circles of our pasts had tripped a domino, and the steady whirr had grown till it now drowned with the roar of contingency."

Or…this, simple, concise…

"She was tall with blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, with a face that had more character than pretty would allow."

I was totally blown away, and have continued to be blown away by the lyricism of Mr. Johnson’s prose. The stories fascinate me, he pulls me into the larger than life landscape with an ability to captivate. All in first person, all in the voice of a sheriff who is experienced, a widower near retirement age, romantic without being a romance character, and with a mystic connection to his world, his friends, his strength of purpose… I wish I could explain better, but I’m not Mr. Johnson!

Now, the television series. It’s good. But the books are ten times better. Maybe twenty times. Yet, it helps for me to have faces to put to the names. Though, to be truthful, I don’t see them anymore when I read.

The difficulty with movies/series is that they can’t get into the heads of the characters. A good actor can almost get there…but not to the depth a writer can dive.

When we pulled into a Wyoming Starbucks, I had just finished the fourth book on my Nook and was scrambling. I didn’t have the fifth one. Until we found that wifi connection. I sat at the counter, sipping my drink and bought two more volumes and continued on into Denver. I didn’t read at the con, too busy!

I finished the two from Wyoming on the drive home. Somewhere between Colorado and the Southern Californian desert, I finished the fifth and sixth book… Found another Starbucks and bought the last two. One I finished at home, hours after we got home. The last, my first day home.

I seldom pay $12 for an e-book. But I did with several of these books. The rest were around $10. I paused and considered…In a week, I bought over $100 worth of this man’s books. And count it well worth it.

If I had these books in print, I’d be underlining line after line. I wish I’d taken the time to figure out how to do it in my Nook. I find it inspiring to make notes of lines that make me catch my breath. They give me something to strive for, to consider as I write whether I’ve said what I want with sufficient power and magic.

It isn’t always about the vocabulary or how articulate I can be. It’s how stirring, how particularly sweetly I can put words together. I want to paint that image, make my reader catch their breath. Sometimes complex is the answer. Sometimes sublime simplicity.

I have a collection of phrases. Much as other authors put together a photographic collage, I like to collect book lines.

I started this blog, talking about images from a television series. I end talking about the writer I discovered because of something a bit shallow… I’m a big Lou Diamond Phillips fan. Yup, I tuned into the program because of him. And I discovered a phenomenal wordsmith. A cowboy poet.

How to wind this down… I have a few questions for the crew… How have books you’ve read stack up against the movies/series? Have you discovered a writer through the dramatic interpretation of their work? Does anyone else collect lines from books that inspire you? Or do you find the idea intimidating? Anyone else see this series yet?