Monday, September 30, 2013

Setting Sail In Style

It's ironic that I'm writing this half blind, since that's how we went into this blog six years ago. Hellie wrote me and said, "What would you think about me starting a group blog?" I was on board immediately. I mean, group blogs were "the thing" back then. Not that they aren't now, but 2007 was sort of the heyday when a bunch of group blogs were taking off. Add Hellie at the helm and sign me up.

In 2007, I'd never written a book. I didn't have an English or Lit degree (still don't), and had no faith whatsoever that I could be a writer.

But Hellie never doubted me.

She never stopped pushing, reminding me that I AM a writer and I could do this. When I'd get stuck, she'd talk me through it. She taught me everything she knew about writing, and was nicer to me than she's ever been to herself. She set the tone for this blog, which is why it's exactly as Janga described it.

"... different types of people with different writing goals and different life experience all woven together in a community where everyone is accepted, no one is judged, and a sense of humor is the only price of admission."

That description fits because of our founder. I love every wonderful woman on this ship, but it seemed fitting that the last blog be an ode to the Captain. She's the reason I finished a book. The reason I'm published. And the reason this blog kicked ass around the rough, unpredictable publishing seas for so long.

As I say in the dedication of UP TO THE CHALLENGE – For Fran. You've been with me from the beginning. Thank you for the push.

Today is not goodbye. There are more adventures ahead for this crew, and I'm excited to watch these ladies take over the world. Never doubt that's exactly what will happen.

Now, let's reminisce. What are some of your favorite blogs from our six year stint? The Bon Voyage Rum Balls are on the table, and Chance is still mixing drinks (with or without rum.) Raise a toast, goose a hottie, and let's have a party.
Friday, September 27, 2013

Last Call at the Bar

Well, I thought about getting drunk and having a blog full of nothing by self-pity and whining and they’d we’d finally get over the melancholy and start telling dirty jokes and laughing. But it seems like most of that has all been done…

I’ve wiped this bar a thousand times, from the first one I put together, made up of old scraps lying about the deck. Some I fished out of the water. The Kraken brought me more. I salvaged nail and used my shoe to hammer it together. Only sat one, but the rest of you were willing to wait for a turn. Or Hels would come by and kick Jack outta the way so the rest had a chance.

Then I had the great fancy bar, but it really were a bit much. And though Hector liked it, he was willing to help me start anew when we returned to our less grand digs. At least he found me some shelves that weren’t so warped. And time passed…

Tales we told to each other, and drinks we shared, friendships were forged and oaths sworn. And now? Now the Revenge prepares for its greatest adventure…into the unknown depths of the cyberseas. And who knows what she’ll find there?

I imagine, years from now, we writer selves will meet our pirate selves upon a sandy beach, still warm from a day’s sun, the sky full of a million stars bursting so bright one could read by them.

The pirates will step to the beach, eyes telling impossible stories of where they’ve sailed and what they’ve seen, the creatures they discovered, the treasures and troubles they earned.

And we writers? We will be wise with the knowledge of life, friendships and learning. Some with children, some with dogs, cats…partners. Precious books in hand, read and written. I can see Christie, a kitten on each shoulder, head shadowed by the deep hood of her jacket, bopping to the music filling her head from the earbuds. Fran will smack her shoulder, dislodge one of the kittens and hand it back as the earbuds fall away.

Terri, Marnee and Halleigh… Santa, J Perry, Lisa and Sabrina…Donna and Leslie…and the familiar visitors, Janga, Quantum, P. Kirby, Irish… What a grand party it will be!

Off to the side, a fire roars, and two familiar voices call out. Jack and Hector stop their constant bickering long enough to welcome back all the pirates, real and cyber.

Me? I’ll be there. I’ll be handing out drinks, all the favorites. The Glittery Hooha, The Mighty Mast, The Cock & Balls, The Bo'sun Burner, The Penis Pill, Silent as Sin, The Wild Cock, Hells' Fire, The Marneasy, The Rum n'Bum, The Seething Passion, The Booty Call, Sandy Pirate Sex, Wild Undead Monkey Sex , The Captain's Cocoa Puff, The  A'moral Compass, The Kraken's Feast ,The Facegod, The Bombay Bomber,  Stephanie's Flaming Double Stuffed Twinkies, Full Sail Frappuccino, The Double Dori, The Terrio Speedwagon, and more, or so many more! (If you want the full list, send me an email, I’ll send it to you.)

We’ll sing all night, swap stories and lies, kisses and maybe more as I suspect the Bandits will come with the Hotties they employed who lost their posts when the Revenge went off. The party will never end, and slowly, the pirates and the writers will remember each other and as the sun rises, we’ll be taking up the oars and heading for the ship…she waits for us, just past the horizon.

And I got nothing more to say. 2nd Chance is such a deep part of myself, and I came to love her and want her and…want to be her. To me, the Revenge will always be there, on the horizon… The Kraken’s Mirror started on this ship, in more ways then I’ll ever reveal. And from that first, came the rest. Thank you, Hellion, Terrio, Marnee, Hal and all for letting me crawl aboard and create my other self. We have danced, and sung, drank and written, and thrown our critics to the Kraken… Now, the wind fills our sails and the ship…she slips away.

I’m off to cry. Then get drunk.
Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Final FANTABULOUS Interview with Capt. Jack Sparrow Featuring Nan Reinhardt

Jack: Hello there, darlings. You didn't think you could end this drunken voyage without another visit from old Jack, now did you? Silly pirates.

Bosun: Jack, we had a deal. I agreed to let you have your moment, but you cannot make this about you. Focus on our guest.

Jack: Don't get your whistle in a twist, dearie. I've got your annoying blue cards right here. *shakes stack of large blue index cards in Bosun's face* Now where is this Ms. Reinhardt? This says she writes sexy romance novels. I must meet her immediately.

Bosun: *smack her forehead while pointing to the stage* She's over there. Just stick with the damn cards for once.

Jack: *flitting toward the guest* Whatever you say, Bossy. *takes the guest's hand dropping a kiss on her knuckles* Welcome to The Revenge. Let's talk sexy.

Nan: Oh, my, Captain Jack... you do make a girl’s heart flutter!

Bosun: JACK!!

Jack: Yes, yes. The cards. So, Nan Reinhardt, since this is your first visit aboard the ship, tell us a bit about yourself and these sexy stories of yours.

Nan: Well, Jack, I’m a romance author and yes, my stories are sexy, but more important, they’re about women in their prime. Mature women who are still living life to the fullest or at least trying to. My series is about several women who live in Willow Bay, Michigan, thus The Women of Willow Bay. Carrie in ONCE MORE FROM THE TOP is a photographer and a single mom raising her teenaged son and doing pretty well when the man she’s always been in love with reappears in her life. In SEX AND THE WIDOW MILES, Julie, who is Carrie’s best friend, has been widowed a year and is trying to work through her grief. She goes to Chicago for the winter to get away from all the memories and discovers a new life and maybe even a new love. My heroines are all over 40 because as we all know women only get sexier and more interesting as they get older.

Jack: More mature heroines sounds right up my alley. The young ones take too much effort anymore. It's nice to find a woman who knows what she's doing.

Bosun: Is there a question in there, Jack?

Jack: Ignore the control freak behind the curtain. Goodness knows everyone else does. Now where were we. So two books at once. What made you take that route?

Nan: Actually, my editor, the fabulous Lani Diane Rich of StoryWonk, suggested releasing both books at the same time. At first I was a little skeptical, but the old publishing model doesn’t work so well with e-books. We wanted both books to be available so that if you buy one and want to read the next one, you won’t have to wait several months for it to release. They’re both right there, right now.

Jack: Solid reasoning there. You follow your own path. I like that about you. *flips to next card* Tell us a bit more about this Willow Bay. Maybe we could settle the ship there after our final day in port here.

Nan: Willow Bay is a fictitious little village on the west coast of Michigan, but it’s based on one of my favorite places in the whole world, Frankfort, Michigan, which is about 40 minutes south of Traverse City. I’ve always loved that area, so I chose that setting. You ship would be welcome, I’m sure—there are plenty of deep water harbors in the area and plenty of great places to eat. But mind you, it’s north, so winters are damn chilly—lots of ice and snow…

Jack: Cold then. Maybe we'll stick to warmer climes. I want to know more about the women of this bay though. Exactly where does the sexy bit come in?

Nan: The sexy bit comes in when Carrie in ONCE MORE FROM THE TOP discovers that she’s still in love with Maestro Liam Reilly and that the chemistry between them is just as strong as it was sixteen years before—maybe stronger. As for Julie, in SEX AND THE WIDOW MILES… well, she meets Will Brody, the handsome young guy in the apartment across the hall and they heat up a Chicago winter when Will finds out that an older woman can be very hot.

Jack: I like you even more now. A younger man, though? Wouldn't this Jules like a weathered pirate? One who knows his way around and under—

Bosun: *smacks Jack in the back of the head* If you don't stop right there I'm ordering the crew to leave you on a deserted island. Again.

Jack: *rubbing the back of his skull* You're a violent wench. No wonder the hotties are all afraid of you. Excuse me, Nan. I was going to say under the stars. Yes, that sounds plausible. Now, will there be more adventures on Willow Bay in the future?

Nan: You betcha. Coming up, we have Sophie Russo, who was a summer resident for years, but has just recently moved to Willow Bay permanently after a nasty divorce, and Sarah Everett, the manager of the consignment shop from Julie’s book, is coming for a visit and may just decide to stay and become a citizen of Willow Bay. After that… who knows?

Jack: Lovely! Now tell us where we can find you to keep up with your sexy exploits, and is there anything you'd like to ask the crew to get things going today?

Nan: Right now, both books are KDP Select titles and are available exclusively at You can click on the book covers to go directly to Amazon. You can also go to my website, read blurbs from the books or my Facebook page, and you can Tweet me @NanReinhardt. 

I’d love to hear from the crew! My question for the crew today would have to be, how do you feel about romance novel heroines who are more mature—40, 50, or even 60 years old? Is a story still sexy and romantic if the heroine isn’t twenty-something?
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Power Of Inclusion...

As the newest crew member on The Revenge I wanted to use my last blog post to not only thank the rest of the crew for the wonderful opportunity, but also for the personal support that I know will continue on beyond the life of this blog.
Of all the things being part of this crew has given me, the lesson that will resonate forever with me is the power of inclusion. Being a newbie writer, struggling to find my way, to feel as if I had the right to call myself a writer, to find some sense of foothold along the treacherous path writers endure, something magical happened when I was officially asked to become a blogger with The Revenge.
Now I might not have blogged that often, nor can I claim to have given any immensely compelling insight into the writing process, but my inclusion as a member of this crew might have helped me more than my posts helped anyone else.
Advice. Support. Straight talk. Cheerleading. Reminders about big girl panties. Validation.
This crew has provided me with these and so much more and it all came down to the power of inclusion. They included me. By asking me to join their group it went beyond just writing a few blogs.
It lit a fire in me. I went from having spent two years trying to write my first book, to finishing the first, entering my first writing contest, outlining two more books while starting book two.  Inclusion can do that.
All it took was someone asking me to be a part of something bigger than the blank page in front of me.
This crew has taken me beyond what I could have done on my own simply by making me feel apart of something bigger that gave some legitimacy to the time I spent writing.
So with my last post I want to leave this crew and our readers with this one point - include someone.
Whether it's just including that writer you see sitting alone at a conference or asking a newbie like myself to join a blog or critique group, extending an invitation to them will mean so much more than you can image.
My writing journey really started when I signed up for the amazing Judi McCoy's writer's boot camp at the RT Booklovers Convention. As you all know, Judi was an amazing woman who lived to include, to build-up, and to empower young writers. At the same time I met Judi I met an equally amazing, and honestly, an even more empowering woman for me - Maureen, our own lovely 2nd Chance. Both took it upon themselves to connect with me and I will be forever grateful and in awe of their selfless acts to help new writers.
What began with these two woman was lifted into something affirming and life-changing when Terri extended the invitation to become a writer here on The Revenge. It was the power of inclusion. Thank you so much for including me, for giving me a sense that I could conquer the blank page. Your invitation took me out of solidarity and allowed me to identify as finally, a "writer." 
My dear crew, I'd love to hear your stories of being included - whether with your writing or personal life. Was there a special moment that has stuck with you as being a deal-changer or had long-lasting personal meaning? How did you come to join The Revenge?
Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Having Perspective: Or "I Got a Whole Lot of White American Girl Problems"

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is the second book by Khalid Hosseini, who also wrote The Kite Runner, which I have read yet but will since completing this book. His writing is poetic, almost soothing to read, even as you’re reading about such horrific monstrosities. There were parts I was basically reading through my fingers because it was like watching a horror flick for me. This book came out in 2007, so as you might notice, I’m clearly not on any bandwagons or following anyone’s book clubs very quickly, but always better late than never. Quite frankly, I think the Universe was having a bit of a laugh at my expense because the last eight days have been less than my favorites in my life. In fact, if there comes a point where the Counselor and I are looking at my life on an iPad, I’ll be like, “Just skip those days. I’d rather not remember them if it’s all the same.”

But then I read this book, and what I’ve got is White American Girl problems.

The main character of this book is Mariam, and this chick has problems. So while I was pissed about my job and righteously thinking up ways to send my resume all over God’s green earth, I’d read this and go, “Well, at least I don’t work there. Under the Taliban.”

And it made the work week slightly more bearable. I at least didn’t go around with signs and saying, “You’re oppressing me!” because you know, if you want to be comparative about it, I’m clearly not. I may be a bit misused, but clearly, if it’s a real problem, I can find a new job—and that’s totally allowed in this country, so long as you can find another. Eventually I hope they’re not so thin to the ground and I can find something better. I’m not stuck in a house I’m never allowed to leave, being beaten and denigrated daily, and making rice for an ungrateful asshole.

Then my relationship bubble burst, and that just degraded a whole other aspect of my life and I was feeling sorry for myself, poor betrayed heartbroken creature I am. And then I thought, “Well, at least I didn’t have to live like Mariam and her marriage. I can move on or do something; in her country, that’s not the option.” Which I basically thought every single time we had to be in her POV and her husband decided to be his usual garbagy self.

It’s a story about how you know if you’ve lived a good life, no matter how horrific its circumstances were, because that’s one of the conclusions Mariam draws: she loved and was loved by the important people in her life and her life mattered. So again, not a bad thought to be reminded about while I was having my white girl problems.

Anyway, I totally recommend it. The writing is absorbing; the plot is absorbing; the characters are memorable. I think I will always remember Mariam as a heroine. And the last line of the book made me sob—so you know that’s a good book. I mean, it was a “happy ending” of sorts, but the expense at which it came was so great…you just seem to appreciate it all the more. I think we should all read more of these kinds of books so we can all keep our white girl problems in perspective.

What do you read when you need to put your life in perspective? Anything memorable where you went: DAMN, I don’t have problems like that, Thank God….
Monday, September 23, 2013

Black Moments

Well, if you knew me well, you knew I loved talking about black moments in books.

This week, there's been a lot of Black Moments roiling around me, threatening to sink my ship every five to ten minutes. There were days this week I came home and cried--and you know as well as I do there is no crying in pirating. I was so quiet and sad tonight at the farm, my dad grabbed my hand as I was leaving--and he doesn't do that, you see--and I asked if anything was wrong, and he just smiled and I knew he knew something was wrong I couldn't talk about. Which only made me love him more.

I was thinking about that incident on the drive home, how I was having a Black Moment...and it was the kind that has literary fiction all over it. But then I remembered that my current reputation with bad days is that I've survived 100% of them and even been happy again, so it stands to reason even if I'm a little sad, in the midst of a Black Moment now, and it seems all hope is lost--well, I write genre fiction and the Black Moment is never where the book ends. And if it's still a Black Moment, then it's not the end. Goddamnit.

So if we're all a little sadder than usual this week, if we all feel we're in the midst of a Black Moment from which no light shall shine again, just remember--if you're still in the Black Moment, it's not the end and just sail on until you do get to Tortuga...and there is rum and hotties and publishing contracts and everything you've dreamed of. It's all going to be okay.

So I'm sorry this isn't a glamorous send off with a parody and dancing hotties and everything else my reputation begs me to present here for my very last blog on the ship, but it is a bit like the speech from BRAVEHEART, when William Wallace rides up and down the line of gathered Scotsmen and says, "They may take our lives, but they will never take our FREEDOM!"--sorta like that.

Black Moments may take our happiness for a while, but they will never take our hope. And as you also know, if we writers didn't suffer, we wouldn't have anything worth writing about--so really, the suffering is just part of the gig.

So not sure what the questions should be--maybe "If Hellie had not been in the doldrums, what would have liked to have seen for the last blog?"--we can have a little fantasy like that. Or really, talk about's the last week. Tangents just beg to be done now.
Friday, September 20, 2013

Thanks...for the memories...

Okay, so you have to have seen a Lawrence Welk show in your past to get that lyric - which is something no self-respecting pirate should ever admit. But this is my last post as a pirate, dammit! And even thought I haven't been here very long, I'm feeling sentimental.

I didn't start out as a pirate, but these wenches...I'm sorry...rather piratey women, invited me to join their crew. And it was great! I love these ladies! They're funny and smart and they never say anything about my addiction to cake and vodka and cake-flavored vodka (mostly because it meant more rum for them).

But every adventure has to have an end and I guess here's where The Romance Writers' Revenge docks for good - I'm assuming in Tortuga - or maybe to see new life as a Carnival Cruise ship (and if that's the case, we should probably take the undead monkey with us).

Let me just say that if anyone on this crew ever needs an assassin for any reason - you know where to find me! Even if you don't need my, um, particular skill set and you just need some idiot to show up and act obnoxious - I'm your gal.

Thanks guys, for letting me play a  small part.  You always made me feel like part of the crew.  I love you all.

And I hope we will all stay in touch because I need each and every one of you. And not just to help dispose of bodies - but for any other reason too (although I should say up front that you probably shouldn't ask me to be a square dancing partner - everything else is okay).

All my love to the crew,
The Assassin
Thursday, September 19, 2013

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

I felt we should acknowledge this day. Being pirates and all. Also, great excuse to post some pirate hotties.

Argh, me mateys! These be some prime pickins. (I didn't say I was good at the pirate speak.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Empty Nest

This is my pirate goodbye. 

I feel like I’m about to have one of those sad montages. You know what I’m talking about. These scenes have a Boyz II Men song playing in the background. Us pirates are garbed in white robes and the light of heaven shines down on us while we tearfully hug one another promising to keep in touch. 

But in all reality, we’re just messing around and we rip off our white robes to reveal sultry skimpy pirate garb and pull out barrels of liquor to ply Satan with while we take over hell. 

In all honesty, it hit me a little harder than I thought it would. I’m not much of a sentimental girl. I don’t like hugs. I don’t like talking about my feelings. But the thought of saying goodbye to a ship’s deck I’ve spent countless days upon (well, more like all my time in the Crow’s Nest with the Undead Monkey) is a little sentimental. It was upon the ship’s deck I realized I could possibly write an original story. I could branch out from just fan fiction. That I was capable of telling a different kind of story. I’ve stumbled plenty over the years but reading the encouraging words of this ship’s crew kept me going when I wanted to just give it up.

I’m really just a girl who likes to wear baggy sweatpants and hoodies. I stay up way past a reasonable bed time in favor of romancing the keyboard with my fingertips in an attempt to write the stories embedded in this mind. Yet, these few year have made me feel like someone who could be a writer. You made me feel like I just had to put my mind to it and you’d believe I could do it. So thank you to the crew – the pirates – who befriended a nobody fan fiction writer on the Eloisa James board and encouraged me to come blog about a subject I really don’t have any useful knowledge about (writing). And the commenters who stayed with me even when my blogs turned into crazy rambling attempts to convey writing things. And the readers who may not have commented but took the time to stop by. Last the friends I’ve gained from this adventure. We’ll always be friends. That’s what this is all about.

So thank you. May I see you again in the future; and if not, good luck with your own adventures. When the going gets tough remember there is someone out there waiting to read your story. I believe in you Dear Writer.Dear Commenter. Dear Reader. Dear Friend.

Tell me what’s been your favorite part of the RWR experience and what you’ll miss the most.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Outlander: Finally Read

To this day, I don’t understand why my favorite professor, Dr. Barrow will not read the Harry Potter series. He says he can’t get into them; they’re too unbelievable, etc, etc. I think he’s crazy. However, I also realize my experience of the novel, Outlander, is probably a lot like Dr. Barrow’s experience of Harry Potter (though I actually finished reading Outlander and he cannot say the same for Harry.) After reading—finally finishing—Outlander, I get it.

Not the Outlander experience or need for an amusement park or the fandom, per se, but Dr. Barrow’s experience. Some books just don’t work for an individual no matter how they’re written.

For instance, let’s take the fact that I love: time-travel, Scotland, history, hot men, angst, humor, sex, and all the varied other things that Outlander definitely included in its 800 some pages. But the arrangement didn’t, as a whole, work for me. I cannot deny that Diana Galbadon is a good writer; that she has an excellent grasp on the history, setting, psychology, and social aspects of 18th century Scotland; that her description is painstakingly flawless and as such, I never want to time travel to pretty much any time before the time I’m living in because I’m way too spoiled. It’s just in the end, it’s not a romance to me.

Maybe if I had read the series back when it first came out, I was at an impressionable enough age then to have appreciated it in all its gory glory, but now, not so much. Now for me, romance is HAPPY. I’m all about the happy. It’s not that I’m against angst; I do love me some angst, but in the end, I want me some HAPPY, not the kind of happy for the next five to ten minutes in which this book seemed to end. Yes, it ended with a HEA resolution of sorts, for the momentary second, but with all the promise of it all going to hell again in five seconds.

Which it did. Because there was another book that follows, right? And so on and so forth, and there’s a book coming out this year or so, right? She’s like the combined version of Nicholas Sparks and G.R.R. Martin. I wouldn’t say she writes romance, but she does write a love story; and of course, like Martin’s fiction, the ending still has yet to be determined.

Now, there were some pages of the 800 or so where I was like, “Oh, I would like to scan and send that to Deerhunter. That’s so beautiful!”—but I think the sum total of these pages were 3. They were beautiful, beautiful words; she completely captured the sentiment and emotion of true love. And then she followed it up with something gory and dark, and I was like, “Well, clearly winter is coming.”

This book falls into an odd category for me. It was readable and the pace picked up considerably where I was reading it all the time I had a moment last week, but it is not a book I’d keep. I don’t think I would read beyond this one, but who knows? So if people asked if it was a good book, I would say, “Yes, it was a good book.” But if they asked if I’d recommend it—or if it is a must read, not so much. And mind you, this book won a RITA. Apparently the RWA believed it was a romance (rather than a love story).

So what do you think of epic fantasy novels? A la Outlander…or Game of Thrones…or anything. Are there some you prefer over others? Or do you avoid them altogether?