Friday, August 30, 2013

The Assassin Is Sad...

My Girl Scout Troop at camp 2 years ago.

My Girl Scout Troop at camp last year.

Sigh.  It's going to be all over on Sunday. This weekend is my Girl Scout Troop's 10th Annual Labor Day Camping Trip at our local Girl Scout Camp. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. We started with them as Daisies in kindergarten and they're all in high school now.  These girls were featured in 'SCUSE ME WHILE I KILL THIS GUY - only I didn't turn them into assassins.  They'd have made great pirates though!

We are disbanding the troop after this weekend. It's kind of a mutual thing. When we started out - we had 4 leaders and 8 little girls. Now we're at 10 big girls and 1 leader. They all have extracurricular activities that would make a professional scheduler go insane. I'm old.  Okay, I'm not old - but I am oldER. And I'm cranking out more books than I ever did before.  A couple of parents took me aside recently when I suggested disbanding because setting a date for regular meetings had become impossible. They said it wouldn't break their hearts because they are already overloaded taking kids everywhere.

It's sad, but it's time. We've done more than most troops ever do from countless weekends of camping, horseback riding, archer, zip line, ropes course and canoeing to selling cookies, marching in parades, providing at table on a country for Thinking Day - we've had a good ride.

I'll miss these young women. They turned out so well, I'd like to think I played some very tiny part in it all. But they were great kids to begin with, so I can't take much credit. 

Good luck ladies with all you do in the future!  I'll be cheering you on!

The Assassin

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Action and Romance

When I started writing this story, Terri told me that she thought I might be an action writer who likes romance instead of a romance writer who likes a little action. 

This assessment made me laugh.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but I think she might be right. I love a plot-driven story. At least the writer me likes a plot-driven story. I love when things are life or death and the characters are running and fighting and DOING things. In fact, most of the stuff I’ve written is like that.  Full of movement and suspense.

But, not at the expense of the emotion in the story. Because I think that big life events, of any kind, bring out the emotion in everyone. Heck, when I’m in transitions in my life I become a huge emotional mess.  And most of those transitions aren’t life or death. I can’t imagine going through some of the stuff I put my characters through without becoming a wreck. Neglecting those emotions in the story would do it a disservice.

So maybe I write action stories full of romance and emotion.  I have no idea.  I just know that in my mind, it’s very much connected. I have tried to write character-driven stories and I don’t think I do it well.  Not that I couldn’t do it if I wanted to. I just don’t think my voice is as happy there.

How about you?  Do you prefer to read more action-based, plot driven romances or more internally-conflicted, character-driven romances?  How about in your writing?
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review Tuesdays: TRUE LOVE by Jude Deveraux

It's not an Edilean book, which has become my favorite new series of Jude Deveraux's, but I stayed in bed all day Saturday to read it, then finished it on Sunday. What's a weekend for if not to read and lounge around?

At first I wasn't sure what to think about the ghost, Caleb. Then I wasn't a big fan of Jared, the hero, though I'm sure that was intentional and Jude always makes a wonderful point of making sure her heroines aren't so in love with their heroes they forget to be the wonderful women they are. And wonderful sex can make a person a bit forgetful and apt to let the boys run the show. I love how Jude makes sure that this conflict is raised, dealt with, and conquered by the end of the book--rather than having a book where everyone falls in love at the end and they don't deal with the issue of losing one's identity when one is "in love."

Jude had a large cast of characters this time, all of which ran the gamut of personality. You've got the beautiful, flamboyant, men-fawn-all-over-her mother of the heroine who, if you're like me, you don't like because you always hated being cast in the shadow by such a woman, but can't help but admire how she's able to make things happen--and you're just happy she's a good person as she makes things happen. You've got the heroine's father who makes this splendid scene of yelling at the hero for being an asshat and he better make it up to his little girl or there would be consequences. There's all of Jared's cousins on Nantucket, including the beautiful ethereal Toby (whom I hope the next book is about) and the people who work for Jared. I adored everyone. Even the ghost.

In fact, I got very worried about the ghost, because it became clear something was going to happen to him by the end of the book. And then I got worried for one of the other characters, in which something very BIG was clearly going to happen. It was worrisome. But Jude being Jude, it all worked out all right in the end.

In the end, there's a big question--how long would you wait for True Love? Forever, Jared said. And Caleb agreed.

And there was that age-old question of what do you do about a wedding that your family hijacks and you no longer want. Good times. Loved it all.

I heartily recommend--but it does help if you love Jude Deveraux. (I think Jude is my Nora Roberts. I'm not the Nora fan than many of you are, but I think Jude is the storyteller that many of you think of Nora as, you just love her voice and how she draws characters. That's how I feel about Jude.)

So what have you been reading? What do you recommend?
Monday, August 26, 2013

Musical Monday: I Have Confidence!

What will this book be like?
I wonder.
What will my sell-through be?
I wonder.
It could be so wonderful,
To be out on the shelves,
To be read.
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, why is it beating with dread?

I’ve always longed to be famous
To write things others never dared,
Now here I am facing a blank page,
Why then am I so scared?
A duke with seven siblings

What’s so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop all these fears,
All these worries,
If I don’t, I know I won’t write a line.
I must dream of the story I am seeking,
I am seeking the courage’s that mine.
The courage to make this book the best,

To write even when I fear it’s dreck
Show this book I’m worthy
And while I show them,
I’ll show me! So!

Courage to meet my deadline with compliance,
Face my plot holes without defiance,
Show them I’m worthy
And while I show them,
I’ll show me! So!

Let those pages spill out all their problems,

I’ll do better than my best,
I have confidence,
This book will put me to the test,
But I’ll make my agent see,
I have confidence in me!

Somehow I will impress them,
I will be romantic but sexy,
And all those readers,
Heaven bless them,
They will run to the bookstore for me
And buy me.

With each chapter I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine.
I have confidence the publishing world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in wallflowers!
I have confidence in rakes!
I have confidence that true love is all it takes!
Besides what you see I have confidence in me!

Strength doesn't lie in talent
Strength doesn't lie in luck
Strength lies in days of persistent writing
When you write,
Write up! It’s exciting!

All I write
I give my heart to
All I write becomes my own
I have confidence
In confidence alone…

I have confidence in confidence alone!
Besides what you see I have confidence
In me!!

When you write, what do you have confidence in? And if you don't write, what do you have confidence your favorite author will deliver?
Friday, August 23, 2013

Cosplay – Fun or A Playground for Tyrants?

Okay, cosplay. For those of you who are scratching their heads, I’m gonna try to explain. First, this is what wiki states.

"Cosplay - short for "costume play", is an activity in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea from a work of fiction. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play. A broader use of the term cosplay applies to any costumed role play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context."

So, it’s about dressing a part and playing with it. Fun? Well, I dress up like a pirate, but no particular pirate so…am I a cosplayer? According to one of my sources, no. I might be a semi-cosplayer. That’s fine, I’m good with that. I could say I’m dressing up as Miranda…or if I felt confident enough I could be Jack’s girlfriend in the last movie. If done very accurately, I might qualify as cosplay.

Though, since I am not the slender Penelope Cruz…I would likely be ridiculed and harassed by the royalty of cosplay.

This is where it can get nasty.

I’ve been watching the Heroes of Cosplay on the SyFy channel. It follows several serious cosplayers all over the country as they compete against each other for prize money and really nice ribbons. And they are SERIOUS about this. And one judge is part of this show, and she is radically serious.

Now, I enjoy watching the costumes put together and it’s entertaining to see the conventions they attend. (I gotta get to a comicon one day…looks insane! MY PEOPLE!)

But an episode this last week cast a shadow on the funness. A newbie to the competition, but not to the idea, came to compete. Chloe Dykstra. She was a kick! And competed as Lydia Deetz from the Beetlejuice cartoon. Along with a sandworm. (Loved the sandworm! Made from a bunch of kitty tubes and a lot of foam…)

Chloe is a rail thin tall woman, who hosts an internet show about all things nerd/geek. And she’s funny. The night before competition, she joins several serious cosplayers, along with a judge, for coffee. Where she is informed that it is frowned upon for someone to attempt a character whose body type they don’t resemble. So…no fat superman. In fact, if you think about it, no fat anyone. Because let’s face it, there are no fat characters in fan world. Men or women.

You could cover yourself completely, try a costume that doesn’t show yourself.

But Chloe objected, saying ‘what the hell, cosplay should be for fun!’ She was stared down, and considered a naive amateur.

Ah! Blood rose across the world and Chloe’s popularity is exploding. She stood up for US! I liked her on FB…as well as many, many, many others. A question I didn’t hear posed, which I wonder about…so…can you be a black superman? An Asian Luke Skywalker?

I don’t know, but I’m curious.

I could probably really get into cosplay…if there were someone I could portray realistically. I asked my source, ‘Bob’, if my lavender wig put in mind someone. He said, yeah, the female hero in KickAss. Probably with that? She’s tiny, she’s young…not a chance I could do it.

Maybe I could do her after she’s retired and taken up eating bonbons for a living?


So, what is my point in this blog. Well, it’s Friday, so why be too serious. At the same time, I find the idea of being laughed off a stage, no matter how fabulous your production and creation…because you don’t fit the physical perfection of the character…disturbing.

Nerd/geekdom is facing a lot of internal conflict right now. Accusations of sexism run rampant. And are based on fact, trust me.

Growing times for the scifi/fantasty world. And it’s about time.

There are the strict gatekeepers for every enthusiasm. Be it writing historical, or dressing up like superman.

Do you know anything about cosplay? Have you ever been part of a group held hostage by the gatekeepers? Anyone else watched this show?
Thursday, August 22, 2013

Welcome Guest Author Kieran Kramer to the Ship!

My love of Kieran Kramer books goes back to her debut - it seriously rocked my reading world! When Harry Met Molly was one of my favorite books that year and as a reader I read it over and over again.

As a writer, Kieran's book offered me much in way of writing lessons. To this day, I still find the prologue to that book to be the exception to the rule you always hear about never including a prologue. It was perfection for me as a reader and it made the writer side of me take notice right off the bat.

Secondly, Kieran is not a slave to historical accuracy in her writing. Yes, I know many of my fellow pirates would make her walk the plank for that but to me, she does it so well, so seamlessly that it again proves a writing rule - if the characters are amazing and the writing soars then you can get the reader to suspend disbelief and just fall in love with the flow of the story.

Lastly, Kieran gives good laugh. That book really wooed me with it's wit and charm, plus genuinely funny characters that could not be ignored.

So what I want to know is have you ever run across a book you loved a reader and that taught you lessons as a writer? What book was it (come on we all need to know!)? If you are a historical purist, is there a point where a book could speak so much to you that you'd be willing to overlook the inaccuracies? Why or why not? Lastly, anyone else read a fantastic prologue?

Today, we're hosting Kieran as part of her blog tour for her latest book Say Yes To The Duke which I have no doubt I will devour as quickly as I can get my hands on it. Don't forget to enter to win the huge prize pack Kieran is offering as part of the blog tour! Click Here To Enter The Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Say Yes To The Duke:
Janice Sherwood wants to marry for love, but she’s failed to make a match after two Seasons. Her parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Brady, arrange to send her to the Duke of Halsey’s country estate as a short-term guest of his grandmother, the dowager, in hopes that she might win the duke’s affections. What they never could have imagined is that Janice would fall for the ruggedly handsome servant Luke, who lives in the stables and carries an air of mystery and temptation.

When Luke Callahan learns that he is the legitimate heir to a dukedom, he will stop at nothing to claim what is his. But first, he must begin a game of disguise to secure his rightful inheritance. Janice isn’t part of his plan. But by engaging her in this dance of deception, might he lose her forever?

Raves and Reviews for Say Yes To The Duke:  
“Kramer’s gift is her innate ability to tell a story with unerring honesty, deep emotion and humor. Readers will laugh, cry and deeply sigh from beginning to end of this beautifully told, enchanting love story.” —4 1/2 stars RT Book Reviews Top Pick!

“The third book in Kramer’s “House of Brady” series offers everything this author’s fans have come to expect including a sinfully sexy romance between two perfectly matched protagonists, a richly amusing cast of unconventional secondary characters, and a lively plot that doesn’t take itself too seriously.” —Booklist

Kieran also The Revenge this sneak peak of Say Yes To The Duke to share:

Yet he was a servant doing a servant’s job. How could he be as enthralling a figure as a duke?

He’s not. He’s a groom.

But when she was very young, she’d been a shop girl. And you always will be, you fool, if you can’t keep your eyes off the help.

The crowning moment came when Mr. Callahan finished his chore and walked purposely down the steps. “All finished, Your Grace.” He stood at relaxed attention, his gloved hands dangling at his sides, while the dog stared avidly at him, their tongues lolling.

He was a Very Bad Man, Janice thought. And, God help her, she couldn’t look away.

Except she must when seconds later, she walked past him. Even with snow pelting her cheeks, she felt his heat. And his gaze. Yet she wouldn’t look at him. That wouldn’t be proper. Kissing him wasn’t proper, either. But what was done was done. She could be proper starting now. She would behave as a real lady should.

But as she cautiously ascended the freshly cleared steps to the front door with the duke—finally!—his unremarkable friends following behind in much the same way the hounds were, she had an odd craving. Considering how fortunate she was to be with His Grace—she wished a wayward groom were escorting her up these stairs instead.

Was it exhaustion or desperation that made her think this way? Every woman in London would like to trade places with her right now. The duke’s grip was firm and his body next to hers intimidating. Beneath his coat, his calves strained with muscle, and his belly was flat as a washing board. He was clearly in the prime of his life.

And he was without a wife.

Excerpt from Say Yes To The Duke  ©2013 by Kieran Kramer . All rights reserved.

About Kieran:
Double Rita®-finalist and USA Today bestseller Kieran Kramer writes Regency historical romances and now contemporary romance for St. Martin’s Press. THE EARL IS MINE, the second in her House of Brady series, is her latest release. SAY YES TO THE DUKE premiers in August 2013. SWEET TALK ME, set in present-day South Carolina, comes out in March 2014. A former CIA employee, journalist, and English teacher, Kieran’s also a game show veteran, karaoke enthusiast, and general adventurer.  She lives where she grew up--in the Lowcountry of South Carolina--with her Naval Reserve commander husband and their three children.

Author Site:
Follow Kieran on the rest of her blog tour here.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Character Likeability

I finished the rough draft of my YA story.  Yay!!  I finished right before I went on vacation and had great intentions of reading it through while I was away.  However, things got busy and I didn’t get as much done there as I’d hoped.

I’m reading it now though and I’ve realized that my heroine isn’t the way I wanted her to be.  In fact, she’s kinda bitchy.  That’s not really how I pictured her.  (Shocking, I know).  It’s made reading the story a little trying.

It got me thinking about what makes a character likeable. I mean, I like a lot of different types of people. I have friends who swear like truck drivers and I have friends who are prim and would never use “that kind of language.”  I have a very good friend who has this incredible ability to ALWAYS see the bright side of everything and everyone. I have no idea how she does it but I’ve watched her go through some awful stuff, I’ve watched people let her down, and yet she remains the most optimistic person I know. And I have another good friend who's so cynical, she makes Eeyore look cheerful.

When it comes to people, I don’t have a certain “thing” that makes me like someone.  As in, “I only am friends with X kind of person.” But they are all good people. I think that's all it takes. Have good intentions.  I'm not looking for perfect people. I'm not perfect. But I don't think I could be friends with someone who didn't have good intentions. And I've definitely met people like that.

I think I feel the same about my characters.  They’re not all the same, but as long as they’re good intentioned deep down, I can forgive pretty much every other personality quirk.

My heroine? Her good is buried pretty deep right now. I think I need it to be a little closer to the surface. The story’s kind of heavy in places.  I think I need to balance that out.

What do you think makes a character likeable? How do you achieve that in your writing?
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Review: An Oldie but a Goodie

Back in the 90s, in what I figure were my formative years of romance reading, I loved Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Teresa Medeiros, Lisa Kleypas, Christina Dodd, and a handful of other authors I would buy by name only. I'm not sure how I missed out on Catherine Anderson's books, but I have a feeling it was because of the Indians.

Of course, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Indians. My first romances I loved featured "half-breed" heroes, but then I fell into this author who was fond of them too, and I burned myself out on the setting. The author had the habit of having the characters have sex before the battle, during the battle, and after the battle. It got a little exhausting to me and not a lot of conflict or story beyond sex. You know how it is. You can read that kind of book every week, but one time you're not really in the mood for that kind of book, and it turns you off everything about that kind of story forever. That's what happened to me and Indians. It is why I think I missed out on Catherine Anderson the first time, because her books were in the early 90s. I should have picked up one of them, but the title kept me from doing so.

CHEYENNE AMBER is one of Anderson's historicals--and she has a fondness of Indians, the misunderstood heroes and ones who seek redemption. Ironically, neither the hero or heroine are Indians, though the hero was adopted by the Cheyenne when he was a baby, so he's a brother in spirit. He is also the best tracker in Colorado. (A common theme in this sort of setting incidentally, much like a duke who is in need of a fortune.) The heroine, Laura, is a Boston city-girl who defied her father and married a gambler, and now she is out in Colorado, newly delivered of a baby and newly widowed.

As if her luck isn't bad enough, she runs afoul of some comancheros (friends of her husband's of course) and they end up kidnapping her baby to lure her to them. She "hires" Deke Sheridan, the hero, to help her get her baby back.

Emotional, angsty, and one of the Blackest Black Moments ever--if it had been any other kind of a book than a romance, I would have expected the black moment to have really carried out. But my favorite was the dialogue. You have a starchy, well-educated city-bred lady with twenty-dollar words in every sentence; and you have a rough-edged, life-educated, hillbilly-Indian lover who says truly appalling things. Frequently. And there is the conversation with him and his mother, Medicine Woman. That was a hoot!

I got to the end and wanted to keep reading. I got to the end and went to to see if there was any other books affiliated with these characters and the like. No, but it did reveal a series of Comanche themed books that I had loved and read a year ago (also written many years previously). I would recommend them all.

But definitely read this one first--because that scene where Deke has to explain to Laura that he married her while she was unconscious is hysterical.

Any oldies but goodies you recommend? Any Indian themed romances that were a particular favorite of yours? What are you reading?
Monday, August 19, 2013

Finding No Fault In This Weekend

I've had a somewhat eventful weekend for a woman who did not leave her house. Between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, I wrote 9762 words, typing THE END on book 3 in the Anchor Island Series. I had no idea I could write that many words in a weekend, but then again, maybe I wrote that many when I hit the downward slope into THE END with the last one.

Not sure.

So I finished writing my book. Hit my goal. That's awesome. But in addition to that, I read an entire novel. By someone else. I know, crazy, right?

My daughter fell in love with John Green novels some months ago. I encouraged this love, as I knew the books were amazing even though I'd never read one. After all, these are young adult novels. I'm not the target demographic. And I have so many romances on the TBR pile that I'm ignoring on a daily basis.

So I let her read them and descend the stairs a blubbering mess with each one to tell me about the heart wrenching stories Mr. Green tells. Because of this spoiler allowance (I wasn't really going to read them, after all) I knew how The Fault In Our Stars would end. Kiddo even forced me to read a couple pages once. Sitting at a gas station on a road trip, I read a scene she swore would make me cry.

I didn't cry. But only because I hadn't read anything that came before that scene. And part of me wishes I hadn't read that scene out of context first, or let her tell me about the ending. Because between Friday evening and Sunday night, I read The Fault In Our Stars. Every second of the reading I spent in awe. The language, the voice. Beautiful and ordinary in an extraordinary way. But the characters.

Oh, the characters.

So this isn't book review day and I didn't set out to make this blog a review, but more a moment of me sharing a great experience. It's not often that reading a book feels like a real, honest-to-goodness experience. Like I bought a ticket and boarded some form of transportation and for whatever time I spent with those words, I was somewhere else. Really and truly airlifted to another time and place.

The good thing is, I wasn't stymied by this experience. Am I critically and whole-heartedly aware that I will never write a book this amazing? You betcha. Did I come away feeling defeated, inept, and utterly worthless as a writer? Surprisingly enough, no.

I'm not sure what that means, but I'm calling it progress. A tiny step on my journey that gets me a little closer to where I want to be. But really, as I keep telling Hellie, it's all about the journey. It's taken me six years to get this far, and I see nothing but an endless road in front of me. But it's my road and it's my journey and I'm enjoying the hell out of it right now.

How about you? Are you a journey or destination kind of person? (If you're the latter, you probably don't like this blog very much. Sorry about that.) What was the last book that left you in awe? 
Friday, August 16, 2013

Las Vegas, Confidence...and Wigs

I love my new wig...and maybe when I'm all silver I will have my natural hair dyed this color... Hee, hee.
What does a lavender wig have to do with anything? Well, it can spark plot ideas, lift the spirits, challenge my costume shopping gene…

Now, what is really funny about this… I had this hairstyle when I was in third grade. In fact, this is one of my all-time favorite school pictures. It wasn’t until I got home from Vegas, where I bought the wig, that I realized how similar these two hairstyles are.
Granted, one is a nice brunette, and one is lavender…and take…uh…40something years apart…but I do remember how confident I was at that age. No idea why, really. I guess life hadn’t presented me with any real scary stuff yet.

Third grade was the year the family moved to a new city. First time I dealt with mean girls who were mean just because they could be. Which I didn’t understand at all, so I stood up to them, eyes clear and confident that I was right. (I was.) Ran into a friend I made in that new city a few years ago, who remembered clearly how I made Debbie stop picking on her. I don’t remember it. I guess because it didn’t seem extraordinary to me. It certainly was to L.

I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately, as I seem to be falling in and out of black hole regarding what confidence I have. I don’t know if a lavender wig will help me, though I do find a pirate hat at conventions does wonders for my ability to connect with people. (Now, if only all those compliments about the hat would translate into some of these people taking a chance on buying a pirate story…)

Do you remember when you were the bravest kid in school? Or knew the bravest kid in school? Do you think it was a matter of confidence or ignorance? ;-)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Toppless Dueling and other triggers of the imagination

After my confession last month about how much I was floundering in my revised-forever-WIP, I took the advice and encouragement to generously offered here and set sail after a shiny new story.

I’m happy to say I found it, and its everything I remembered a passionate first-draft to be. I’m finding ideas and inspiration everywhere. Little things that ping my imagination and suddenly fit as a plot point or character or story line.

I saw something recently that set off all my little imagination sensors, but it doesn’t at all fit in my present-day dark and gloomy thriller set in rural France.

I came across this on facebook. Did anyone else see it? It’s a report of a topless, all-female duel during the Victorian period in Europe.

That’s right. The women did the dueling, and they did with style.

For whatever reason, I found this story hysterically funny. And there’s a story in here. There are probably lots and lots of stories in here. I love Regency romances, and Victorian and Georgian romances too, and this just spoke to everything I love about 19th Century aristocrats.

Here’s the story (the full, exceptional article can be found at:

At the start of an 1892 duel in Liechtenstein between Princess Pauline Metternich and the Countess Kielmannsegg, Baroness Lubinska, who presided over the duel, insisted that the women remove their clothing above their waists to avoid infection in the event that a sword pushed clothing into the wound it caused. The baroness had seen many instances of septic infection in soldiers for this very reason throughout her years of medical training.

And this quote is the best part:

At the dueling ground on the fateful day, all formalities were carried out to the letter including an attempt at and refusal of reconciliation. The ladies engaged and, after a few trifling feints and thrusts, a wild slash from the princess brought about a light flow of blood from the countess’ nose. Seeing the injury she caused, the shocked princess, in a stereotypical feminine gesture, threw both hands up to her cheeks. Just then, the countess lunged and pierced the princess through her right forearm. The sight of the ensuing blood caused the respective seconds to faint. The footmen and coachmen, who had been ordered to stand some distance away with their backs toward the action, heard the cries and ran toward the women to render aid. Baroness Lubinska, however, decided the male servants had more salacious motives and attacked them with her umbrella, shouting, “Avert your eyes, avert your eyes — you lustful wretches!”
Does this send anyone else's imagination into overdrive? Isn't Baroness Lubinska AMAZING? And not only were the two duelers women, but their seconds were women too! 

So if you were to write a Victorian romance, which of these characters would you choose? The hapless footman? Baronnes Lubinska? One of the fainting seconds?  What else sets your imagination off?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


So last week, I had an issue of believing in a heroine who suddenly did something inexplicable to what I thought her character was. This week, not so much.

There are some minor similarities--in the roughest of ways--between LOVE AND OTHER SCANDALS and MY NOTORIOUS GENTLEMAN. Both Regency; both have rakes; both have these wallflower type heroines (spinsterish), and both end up in a scandal in which could have been easily prevented if they'd been using their brains at the time. Very circumstantial, I admit.

In MY NOTORIOUS GENTLEMAN, Grace Kenwood is the parson's daughter (oh, how I love a heroine who is bound by this sort of double-virtue; it's conflict I can easily relate); and Trevor is the new neighbor who happens to be a war-hero and a notorious rake. Emphasis on the notorious rake. He takes a shine to Grace--she's not your typical girl, mainly one of the women trying to take off his pants in every dark room of a ballroom. (Really, ladies, do you not have any pride? Come on.)

So something very different happens with Grace and Trevor. They become friends first. It's lovely. They have a bit of a rocky start, and there's a bit more drama than the typical friendship romance found in a Julia Quinn book (she does love the friends-to-lovers trope too). But it feels natural and fun and you really do root for them. Also Grace introduces a new mission in life for Trevor. Without his soldiering/spying, he was at a loss, flailing around, but with Grace, he saw that the town he chose to live in needed an insurgence of work, pride, and money to become a real town again and he knew how to go about making it happen. Grace gives him a purpose.

Trevor gives Grace...a bit of self-interest. Grace is usually so busy helping everyone else, she doesn't take care of her own needs. She puts herself last. When she first meets Trevor, she knows he'd be perfect for the town belle, because she'd be the vivacious flirty fun he'd need to get his smile back. (Trevor is done with vivacious flirty fun of that variety. He plans to find it with the parson's daughter.) She didn't entertain the thought he'd remotely want her--it just wasn't possible. She put herself last. Trevor was keen to put her first--and when Grace began to realize that, she realized she rather liked being put first, especially in Trevor's heart.

So when they embroil themselves in a scandal--that could have been easily avoided--I could see more of the reason why they engaged in it. She was putting herself first for the first time, taking a chance; and he...well, there was no doubt he loved her and was going to keep her, so it wasn't wrong to him.

Also there's like a red herring of an ending, where the Black Moment was something else, and that was probably wise. I'm not sure the drama overly fit the book, it was possibly the one thing out of the book where I was like, "This seems out of sync" but in fairness, the author did set up a lot of threads that allowed this to happen so it does seem necessary. I think my confusion was the fact that town is so quiet and peaceful, and this action sequence that happens is very London. *LOL* But it worked. It all worked out in the end--all those threads nicely tied up--and all is forgiven among the characters.

Now I just need to hunt up the first book in the series and read it. (And you won't miss it. This one is imminently readable by itself.) Nicely done. Highly recommend.

What are you reading this week? Have you read MY NOTORIOUS GENTLEMAN? What did you think?
Monday, August 12, 2013

Revisiting the Elementary: Why Relearning What You Know Can Be a Good Thing

I’m so rarely inspired by myself. I have to seek it elsewhere if I want to be inspired—and yes, there is that golden truth that writers should never sit around waiting to be inspired because you are more likely to be inspired as you write; however, sometimes you just need to read a motivational book, just because. This was one of those times for me.

I’m having doubts about The Book. The kind of doubts where all the letters of the word are capitalized and it plagues me; then I moon about, the characters throw up their hands and go, “Fine, you’re right! We all suck! We’re leaving!” and you lay in bed at night wondering why you ever thought to call yourself a writer if you’re not writing anything. I’ll read passages from the book, even the parts that used to amuse me or I thought were “good” and I literally hate them. If these were the passages in a contest, I’d be the judge that wrote back, “Please take up another hobby that requires less of your brain because you’re over-exerting yourself.” Never mind the fact that I have judged before and I would never say anything that awful to a stranger so it seems a bit dramatic to say it to myself.

Anyway, that’s where I am.

Usually I’ll have Terri reassure me I’m okay. Because she works on a sliding scale and is usually free with this sort of commentary, but she has to write and doesn’t have the 24/7 availability to reassure me every moment of the day when it’s clear I’m not listening. Understandably she went to work with more reasonable people: those in her book, and said I’d figure it out.

So I sulked some more. Then I painted because the sulking was very bad and I thought, at least the painting helps when I have to go back to work the next day. And I seriously need a creative outlet to combat the day job. Something that reassures me that I am not my day job. I trolled on Amazon for craft books, but couldn’t bring myself to buy them because I already have about a billion and none of those have helped, so why would this one?

What I needed was an exorcist apparently.

Anyway, so at the library I found a book I had been looking at on Amazon that I couldn’t bring myself to buy because it seemed too elementary. You’ve Got a Book In You, it said. Well, I know that. I’ve been able to write a book, thanks, I just haven’t been able to write this one. Or the cowboy one. Or—never mind, maybe I didn’t know how to write a book. I took the book home and opened it up.

Writing is easy and fun, she said.

Oh, for the love of God, she sounds like Terri. But I kept reading despite my misgivings. And indeed I imagined she and Terri would be great friends. It was exactly the type of psychology book on writing I was looking for. How to get out of your own way, discard perfectionism, embrace the messiness of creativity, and just write damnit. She was fun and readable and she does make writing sound like a blast. It would be exactly the kind of book I’d recommend to any new writer who didn’t think they could write a whole book…or an old writer who’s lost the mojo and just doesn’t remember.

I’m waiting for a chapter on how to stop being so sphinctered and—wait, actually I think she basically says that every chapter. She’s really a delight. And not pretentious or mean. So if your normal CP is a bit fed up with trying to reassure you every 10 minutes that you’ll be fine, pick up this book. You’ll be inspired to write again in no time, and if your book or a fun scene isn’t exciting you to write, sometimes you just need an outside influence to remind you how fun it is and get your heart engaged again writing that troublesome scene.

When you’re feeling crappy about your writing, what do you do to help turn the mojo around? Do you write on a scene you really wanted? Do you find someone inspiring to say something in a new way to relight you? Do you watch that Elizabeth Gilbert TED talk for the 100th time? What types of things do you do to motivate you back to the Zone?
Friday, August 9, 2013

Live! From Las Vegas!

Yeah, I'm still alive. Toasted. Very toasted. Exhausted, hoarse, but content.

I had my big panel today, crew. The one about everything I learned from almost dying...about 7 people there, but it was good.

I was articulate, didn't sweat, never stumbled...

Okay that's all a lie.

I was a wreck, but I think I bluffed through enough to make it work. I know it worked for at least one young woman who came up to afterward and thanked me for being so honest. She admitted she suffered from panic attacks and held a lot of fear of rejection. We sat and talked for a good 15 minutes afterward and ... you know... if you can help one person with something you say or something you write, then life is good.

So, even thought I sweated like crazy and wasn't sure of where I was most of the time, because I'd scribbled all over my notes and kept getting lost... It was good.

And if I ever do this again, I will be better organized.

But to top it all off, at the costume ball, I was visiting with a friend I sorta smuggled in with me, and Jennifer Ashley stopped to chat with some other people at the table... I nudged Siobhan and said, "That's Jennifer Ashley." Siobhan had already admitted she was fan... It was great! Siobhan introduced herself, got a picture, was glowing. I stood up and got a picture... and then...

Jennifer said she'd seen the write up for my panel and wanted to go but wasn't able to...had I really almost died? And she asked about it all and I stood there and talked with her...and she remembered who I was from RWA two years ago and ... it was a good night!

So, I'll be on and off the blog today. I have panels to attend and a water slide to ride that takes one through a shark tank... I also hope to do the zipline out at the Fremont Street Experience... And buy a drink with a coupon I got... 24 oz for the price of 16 oz. I really want to see what I get with this! And there is an awesome chocolate store here...must visit!

Anyway, the theme of today's blog, at the heart is what I wrote earlier. If you can help one person with something you say or something you write, then life is good.

Can you remember when someone helped you out of a bad vibe? Or a book that helped? A particular thing someone said, or did? Have you ever felt that humble warmth of knowing you did right? Let's hear about it, share the goodness, crew!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Generating Writing Power

Influence: “So Dope” Tech N9ne feat. Wrekonize, Twisted Insane & Snow Tha Product (Something Else, 2013)

Let’s play a game today.

Sometimes I get bored being told by my characters about themselves. I like discovery and when I stuck in the rut of the confines of my character perimeters I stray away. I play with generators on the internet that give me names and personality traits and I use these as a opportunity to rein in my writer’s onset of ADHD.

So it’s a simple game. Take the first generator- The NAME generator and get you a character to work with. Or five. Or ten. Or even twenty.

Meet Lela Maynard.

Lela needs a Personality. So I pull up this generator and find one.

I’m giving her super powers because that’s the mode of writing I’m in right now. Use the Power generator: Fire Breath.

And finally, we need a Title for this nonsense: The Hot Spark.


Fire licked around my feet, teased my hair. It heated my blood, flowed through like lava in my veins. The feeling pushed me harder, faster. This power over me was seductive. And if he could twist the knife deep in my back, I’d destroy everything we touched.

Just like he did when he walked away.


Not again. 

The sound of chaos rained down as flying cinder blocks shot through the air. Metal twisted and groaned as it gave way under the intense pressure of broken down concrete. Pieces of paper and plastic curled on edge and floated almost in slow motion, falling and incinerating anything the ash snow touched.
Kids stumbled as they ran like cockroaches touched by light. The little ones were crying and screaming, the elder dazed and confused, blood trickling from head wounds and limbs hanging at odd angles and dragging behind the fast retreating rest of them.

I scanned the area and prayed to the heavens, to the Gods, to anyone listening. The edges of my gaze hazy, and wetness dampened my cheeks. I swiped it away as I stepped gingerly onto a large concrete barrier fallen in the wreckage.

“Maya?” My voice cracked. Pain shot down my throat and intensified in my ears. The taste of blood filled me and I swallowed convulsively to be rid of it. “Maya?”

My lungs heaved with the effort to breath. I toed rubble. Used my fingers until the pads were raw and torn to the muscle. I repeated her name as if it were a prayer, a mantra. She was here. Somewhere. For miles my gaze was filled with billowing smoke and ash and rubble. My ears consumed by the wails and cries of the innocent running away. The pit of my stomach rolled with taste of blood.

He’s gone.

And she was missing. Gone.

“Maya?” Please help me. Please guide me. Please give me something. “Help me, Maya.”

Tendrils brushed along my conscious, urgent, seeking and the rush threw me off balance. I stumbled to my knees and cupped my hands over my ears.

Here! I’m right here. 

As if someone grabbed my wrist, I stumbled upright and tripped over fallen blocks and kicked through fire. Her soft voice beckoned from under several walls of concrete. I fell forward, shoving at concrete and gasping for air and screaming.

Bones so fragile they cracked and splintered and would never be whole again. Blond curls soiled with ash and blood lay haloed. Cherub face serene, eyes closed, lips parted as if she were sleeping.

She was gone.


Come up with something for fun? And even if you don’t come up with a paragraph just share what the generator came up with for you.