Friday, December 28, 2012
Thank you so much to everyone who commented and joined our little blog. We have exciting things planned in the future - including a face lift, lots of contests, interviews with new and interesting authors and of course, lots and lots of talk about movies, television, books and food. We're thrilled to have you join us for the conversation!
Now, our winners!
Winner of the VISA card - crystaley73
Winner 1 of a whack of books - (digital or paper your choice) - traveler
Winner 2 of a whack of books digital or paper - CAROL L
Thanks again and here's to everyone's healthy and happy New Year!!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Gifting Books Christmas hop was organized by Reading Romances!
The best books I've ever given or received? That's a tough one, we're a big book giving family. My husband is awesome with the cookbooks, the big fancy ones with pictures of food no one in my family will actually eat. My brother is a genius in the bargain bin and picked up one of my favorite books of all time: Brady Udall's genius book of short stories - Letting Loose The Hounds. There was the year my mom gave me the Little House On the Prairie Box set - that's a treasured gift. And this year, I'm giving the new Springsteen Biography - to MYSELF! I look forward to hiding from my kids stealing time to read that gem.
What you can win here: A $50 Pre-paid Visa card to help with your holiday shopping and a whole whack of books
Number of winners:One grand prize winner (The Visa card) and two winners of the whack of books
Open to US and Canada and winners will be chosen Monday Dec 24 and notified through this blog:
How to enter: Leave a comment below about your favorite holiday gift and follow us -- it's just that easy
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
I went to see Cloud Atlas after having read the book and liked it. So I'm starting to break some other rules. Instead of shunning Christmas, I attended SantaCon this past Saturday. This is what Union Square looked like at about noon:
This is what I looked like:
This is what I drank at our first stop (we were damn classy Santas):
The experience was, in a word, awesome. Totally awesome. I loved it. If I'd stuck to my usual rules of avoiding all things Christmas that I'm not forced to participate in, I wouldn't have gotten to experience that. It would have been a shame.
I'm also considering breaking some of my writing rules. I've been a pretty strict POV task mistress with myself. No head hopping. If I'm in 1st person at the beginning, I stay in that person's head for the whooollllleeee book. If I'm in third, only one head per scene. You know, the drill.
I'm not saying I'm throwing it all out the window, but I'm considering writing one character in first person and the rest in third. Crazy. I know.
So what rules are you considering breaking in 2013?
Friday, December 14, 2012
More and more I'm leaning towards the genre mash up. I love the combination of elements and it's been missing from my reading list for a while. I go back to some of my earliest adult reading experiences and the Sydney Sheldon books I read over and over which combined adventure and sex and exotic locations, or Judith Krantz which was so over the top and completely enjoyable because they were so over written.
I love YA books, but I want to read about adults again, in dangerous situations, with great romance and fascinating characters.
That's what I'm looking for in the year ahead. More genre mashups, because they have been some of my favourite reading experiences this past year. Maybe if I'm lucky Brook will release another steam punk this year, and I'd love to find another great urban fantasy series, so any recommendations would be gratefully received.
Anything on your reading wish lists? What was the highlight of your 2012 reading year?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
I was a Daniel Craig fan from way back, having seen him in some great indie films before he was ever cast as 007, and I think the darker, more realistic rendering of this character is exciting and more appealing, but tonight I went to see A View to a Kill on the big screen and I'd forgotten just how fun and entertaining the old school Bond films are.
In fact, maybe I didn't forget. Truth is, I don't think I actually saw a lot of them. In fact, I don't think I saw any in the theatres. Bond movies were, for me, something you watched late at night when there was nothing else on TV, not something you went to see in a movie theartre where you had to spend your babysitting or gymnastic coaching money on a ticket....
But A View to a Kill was so much fun.
Who couldn't love:
- A theme song by Duran, Duran (played both at the beginning--and the end)
- Tons of neon paint and ribbons, lit with black lights, in the opening credits. (seriously, one girl was only wearing neon ribbons)
- A snow boarding scene, before snow boarding was really a thing, with the Beach Boys' California Girls playing -- set in Russia. (I am not joking. The scene cuts from a fast paced skiing chase scene, with Bond being shot at and chased by about 15 KGB agents, with um, "this is exciting" chase music in the background, and then Bond straps part of a snowmobile to his ski boots, in some inexplicable way, and it becomes a snow board and the music changes to The Beach Boys...)
- Tons of eye rolling and/or groan inducing sexual innuendoes
- A total airhead of a Bond girl (seriously, I think she might have been the worst, ever) who's supposed to be a geologist, but who talks like a porn star and clearly had difficulty memorizing her lines, never mind injecting believable emotion into them, and wears high heels, not only to run around in a mine, but also to balance on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Good strategy. ;)
- Grace Jones, being kind of awesome--and also wearing high heels in a mine
- A young Christopher Walken as one of the best Bond villains ever. Seriously, why had I never seen this movie?
- A construction site trailer that turns into a blimp
- A crazy, Bond-worthy plot
- Hilarious computers
- Constant lessons/info dumps about microchips and how they're made from sand and used in computers... and why it's called Silicon Valley...
- Patrick Bauchau as the villain's main side-kick, who I think is one of the coolest actors ever. (I always think of him as Canadian actor, because he played the patriarch in Canadian TV's answer to Dallas and Dynasty, called Mount Royal... but, LOL, he's Belgian and his time in Canadian TV isn't even listed in his imdb bio! I loved that show... (Cool thing I did learn in his imdb bio... he worked for a time with Salvador Dali making sculptures. And he's married to Brigitte Bardot's sister. Told you he's cool.)
- At least three blonde actresses in the first ten minutes, all with Farrah Fawcett haircuts, whom I couldn't tell apart. Seriously. I was positive the chick in the restaurant at the top of the Eifell Tower with the butterfly act was the same girl who picked Bond up, with her snowsuit unzipped to her navel, in the submarine that was disguised as an iceberg, in Russia in the previous scene. (I think that was an experiment in how many phrases I can fit into one sentence. Fewer than that, I think.)
- A reminder that in 1985 there was apparently a rule that you either had to have your hair cut like Farrah Fawcett or Dorothy Hammil--even though both hairstyles were nearly a decade out of date by that time.
Oh, I could go on... So. Much. Fun.
And then I came home and watched last night's Christmas episode of Parenthood.
Is anyone else watching this show? Oh the tears. Oh the tears. I had to watch a Parks & Recreaction rerun to recover.
"Seven Heads, the dramatic tale of an Israeli soldier who falls in love with conjoined Palestinian sextuplets. Out soon from Focus Features."
"Welcome to "Thought for your Thoughts." I'm Derry Merbles sitting in for Nina Joplin who's touring the country performing a spoken word opera about pear shaped women."
"A bat signal, for listeners who might not know, refers to the children's character The Bat Man, a strong gentleman who fights crime nocturnally."
"Coming up after the break, movie reviews with Ken Tucker, who's filling in for David Ballincouli, who's in New York filling in for Ken Tucker."All this before the opening credits.
Oh, that show cracks me up.
PS. In case you're wondering how I ended up seeing a Bond movie from 1985 last night: The TIFF Bell Lightbox has a Bond exhibition on right now to celebrate the 50th anniversary, and are showing all the old Bond films... And they are doing cheap martinis in the lounge, which is the real reason I went... And I actually got a scene and a half written. Martinis appear to be the secret ingredient for this manuscript.
Which Bond you like better -- old or new? Silly or dark? Shaken or who cares?
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The episode I watched was about a young woman who fell in love over FaceBook and texting with a young man who was a model who worked making cue cards for the Chelsea Lately show while studying to be an anesthesiologist online. Not suspicious at all, right?
SPOILER ALERT: The dude was not who he said he was, but what he was still surprised me, then horrified me, then touched me.
I know it's only been one episode and I might get sick of the whole deep psychological reasons that people might pretend to be something that they're not, but for the moment I can definitely see this as my new laundry folding companion. What better thing to match socks to then bizarre stories about online dating?
Anyone else watching this one? Seen the movie?
Monday, December 10, 2012
Now the seedy bad guy was initially a good guy and the guy in my head was Idris Alba...nice, right? But then he had to be bad and I didn't want to waste Idris on a bad guy. So, the best good-looking slightly slimy guy I can think of - Bradley Cooper. Because no matter what character he plays...I think he's kind of a scum bag. And that must suck for Cooper - because I imagine a lot of people think that about him. Was it the Hangover character? While hilarious, still awful. Not sure.
But then last night I saw Silver Linings Playbook - and my opinion has changed. that was a naked, raw, actually kind of ugly performance. He's a man with mental illness, undiagnosed bi-polar. He's awful and wonderful in turns and he knows it and he tries to be wonderful, but can't stop being awful. He's freaking GREAT in it.
There were problems with the movie - the first two/thirds made my quirky romance loving heart go pitter pat. But the last third fell apart. The transition from gritty to screwball, just didn't work for me. Oddly, enough it worked for Maureen.
Anyone else see it? Anyone else discover a new love for Bradley Cooper?
Friday, December 07, 2012
I'm not a huge musical theatre fan, but I'm a massive Les Mis fan, and when they released the trailer of Anne Hathaway singing Dream a little Dream, well, it became my favourite movie of the year, right then.
I'm going to adore Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, and Hathaway apparently is amazing and my favourite character has always been Eponine. Who doesn't love noble, unrequited love?
I'm in, and waiting impatiently for the release Christmas Day, and at the same time, also looking forward to Zero Dark Thirty, and I still have to see Argo. So many movies to see, and add Life of Pi to the list.
It's like summer all over again, except with darker, more serious movies.
What I'm missing are some books to get excited about. I would love to be anxiously awaiting the release of something great. I kind of wish book releases got the same treatment as movies. I know book trailers are important, but they're not the same medium and they don't go viral in the same way. There are some book review sites I check all the time, like Dear Author and All About Romance, but nothing that really creates a real excitement for a great book.
Anyone got any recommendations? Anything coming up you're really excited to read?
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Last night I saw Life of Pi.
Full disclosure. I LOVED this book. Loved it. Loved how it made me think about the power of faith and/or how the human mind uses storytelling to cope with not only the unknown (God) but also to cope with traumatic experiences...
And the movie did the same, if maybe in a more heavy handed way. This movie is an interesting one for this topic because, while I think a big part of the appeal of the movie was the images, I also think images were a big part of the appeal of the book. The writer was able to describe things in such a way that we saw them as a reader... I must go back and take another look. It's been nearly a decade since I read the book.
Good news is that I loved the movie, too. The story is framed differently than the book, (I'm pretty sure... **see I haven't read the book in a decade) but the framing worked and added some context and a sense of reality and was a more interesting framing than a boy in a hospital bed talking to Japanese businessmen. Which, if I recall, didn't actually frame the book, just ended it... (And the framing in the movie meant we got some nice shots of Montreal.)
The other two I want to mention are probably a little harder to find: Beasts of the Southern Wild and Samsara.
Beasts of the Southern Wild I actually saw months ago and meant to talk about it then. If you can find this one somewhere, I highly recommend it, and also highly recommend seeing it on a big screen if you can.
It's the story of a little girl named Hushpuppy living in a swamp called the Bathtub. I'm not 100% sure, but I got the impression it's an area that was purposefully left partially flooded and unprotected after Hurricane Katrina. The government tried to move everyone out of the area, but some people refused to move. And still refuse to even when another storm approaches and floods them again.
But it's not really about that. It's about this very little girl (5 or 6?) who's almost living on her own. Her dad is around, but he makes her live in her own dwelling and barely takes care of her and he's not doing too well and often she needs to take care of him. The girl has been learning about prehistoric animals and imagines danger in the form of these great mastodon-sized pigs. And that image/idea comes to a head near the end of the film in an inventive way and shows the great bravery of our young heroine.
Great movie. Try to find it.
And Samsara. This one is purely visual. I'm not sure if there is a word spoken during this movie. It's a series of spectacular images set to music and it's mesmerizing. Wow. Hard to describe. Try to find it in a good movie theatre. And Go. :)
This trailer intrigued me enough to want to go, but it doesn't do the film justice.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Yep! A great big box of the mass market re-release of Dead on Delivery. So if I got a box of 'em. You can get 'em, too!
I'm really pleased about this re-release. I feel like this is one of those instances where a publisher goes the extra mile for an author. We were never sure where my Messenger series belonged. Was it a paranormal romance? Was it an urban fantasy? Yes, to both. So now the first two books are available on both sets of shelves.
I'm not sure if you remember from the last re-release, but I wrote a short story that takes place in the Messenger world with a different protagonist to celebrate the whole re-release thing. Payback for a Post-Mortem is still available for just 99 cents or, if you feel like signing up for my newsletter over at my website, you can get it for free!
Happy Tuesday everyone!
Friday, November 30, 2012
It's a question that was asked on another website and they couldn't think of any, and neither could I, except maybe one, which was Gillian Flynn's book Gone Girl, but it's not her first book, but I think it's definitely a breakout book, but it's an adult thriller.
Anything in romance? Molly did awesome with her book release, and Cecilia Grant got some great buzz with her release, A Lady Awakened, but nothing else comes to mind.
As for YA, I can't think of a release in the past year that has gripped the market in the same way that Hunger Games, or Divergent, or Beautiful Creatures has.
The only breakout books that come to mind are erotica, who at this point hasn't heard of the 50 shades books, or the other books that followed, all packaged similarly, all erotica.
But that's it. Is 2012 the year of the erotic book breakout? I must be missing something. What breakout authors did I miss?
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
And I guess there's nothing wrong with that, but there's an invisible line somewhere and I'm just not sure where it is.
Cases in point...
Several times a year there are auctions for charities where authors and others involved in publishing give away books or critiques or other book or publishing related prizes to raise money. Fans and aspiring authors bid on the prizes. Those auctions are great, I think. Do they maybe increase the visibility of the people donating prizes? Perhaps. But the "publicity" involved seems minor to me compared to the money raised for the cause. And other than a tiny bit of publicity, the authors don't get anything in return. I have no qualms about being involved in one of those auctions.
On the other hand, mega-best-selling non-fiction author Tim Ferriss is running this thing right now where he's donating part of this royalties to charity if people help him sell/promote his new book. I'm not sure exactly how it all works, but what feels wrong about it isn't the donation part, it's the fact that he's claiming his books have been banned in order to entice people to participate/help him sell books which, yes, will peripherally mean that he donates more money to charity.
The reason this one has a squick factor for me isn't that he's giving away part of his royalties. No... it's that banned is a loaded word when it comes to books. And based on how that word is normally used in the book world, his books have not been "banned".
However, it is true that his publisher and therefore his book, have been boycotted by virtually every bookseller in North America... And, um, Ferriss and I have the same publisher so I know how much that sucks... but I'd never try to convince people that my books have been banned. I think boycotted is a less-loaded word that describes the situation better. (And if you want to buy my book, I suggest you order it from an online retailer because the chances of finding it in a physical bookstore are slim to nil. See boycott.)
I also heard of another charity drive, recently, involving an author that also had a squick feeling for me, but I think that author's heart was in the right place... so I don't think I'll describe it here in detail.
And now I've been asked to be part of a charity program too. During the month of December, participating authors (including me) are partnering with Amazon Children's Publishing to give e-books to Worldreader. For every one of our books sold, an e-book will be donated to Worldreader. I won't be paid royalties for the donated books, but on the other hand, if the promotion surrounding the charity drive means I sell more books in December, I will get my normal royalties on the books sold...
That scheme feels okay to me. Yes, I'm getting some promotion for being involved, (at least I hope I will), but the books are being freely given to the charity by both me and my publisher. Am I rationalizing? Do I have a double standard?
FYI Here's some info on Worldreader.
Do you have clear lines when it comes to charitable giving? I'm clearly feeling ethically challenged these days.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Maureen has crafted an excellent book. There's just nothing she didn't do well in this book. The characters are wonderful and three-dimensional and conflicted. The dialogue is great. The world-building is simply freaking amazing. I have no idea how to come up with a world so complete and to present it on the page without ever resorting to boring exposition. We experience it all through Glory's eyes (and ear and nose and mouth and all those great senses). It's completely alive to me.
And the pacing! Holey Moley Guacamole! It's relentless. You will not be able to put it down. I couldn't.
The reviewers all agree with me. Four stars from RT, was it, Maureen? Mazel tov, my sweet. You earned it. Great job. Great book.
Who else has read it? Care to chime in with your opinion?
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I can obsess about an opening line for weeks or months, so it meant a lot to me when I had a compliment paid to me this week on the Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing Blog about my opening for Deviants. That, and a discussion Molly, Sinead and I had on the weekend got me thinking about openings and opening lines again....
The aforementioned blog has some great thoughts about openings and here are some of mine:
A good opening line should be intriguing or catchy in some way.
It should raise questions that make the reader want to keep reading.
It should be easy to read--that is, tricky phrasing the reader shouldn't have to stumble over. ;-)
Along that same line... it should be well written without being overwritten. In unpublished contests, I find opening lines often fit into one of two groups: dull or overwritten. You don't need to, (and shouldn't try to), fit six metaphors and every big word you know into the opening paragraph. Another overwriting problem can come out of trying so hard to describe a complicated visual image that the reader has to stop and think about it so for so long it stops making sense.
A good opening should set the mood and/or tone for the novel. That is: a funny book should have a funny opening, a scary book should have a scary opening etc.
There are other opening line "rules" one hears like, don't start with setting, don't start with a character waking up, don't start with a dream, don't start in a car... But like anything with writing you can break those rules if you do it well and/or do the other things mentioned above. (I started Deviants with setting...)
Great opening lines stick in your head. They're memorable. They make you want to keep reading.
Here's one of my favorite lines from the past year.
"This was not how Tara Jean Sweet imagined her engagement. Perched on the edge of her eighty-nine-year-old fiance's wheelchair wearing a skirt so short there was a good chance the photographer was getting a shot of her uterus. -- Can't Buy Me Love, by Molly O'Keefe
Share your favorite(s) in the comments! :)
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
• In the far future, everyone wears ponchos!!!! This is totally awesome. I love ponchos. What's more, I love crocheting ponchos. In the credits of the movie they listed a knitter and a knitter/crocheter. It never occurred to me that I could quit my job and crochet ponchos for the movies as a living. I'm now SERIOUSLY considering it.
• Several of the stories made more sense to me in the movie than they did in the book. Most notably the one about the young composer between the wars. The ending of that story made no sense to me in the book. It made more sense in the movie.
• Sonmi's story was much more moving as it was portrayed in film. Her mode of speech was very flat and had little affect. In the book, there was nothing to contrast with that flatness. In the movie, the dichotomy between the flatness of her speech and the emotions on her face as we saw her story unfold made me really connect with her in a way that I hadn't in the book.
• The way the movie moved more fluidly between the stories allowed me to see the echoes between the stories more clearly.
I'm sure there are more things. I'll post them as I remember them.
So, Molly, was there anything in the book as awesome as everyone in the future wearing ponchos? I don't think so!
Monday, November 19, 2012
So when it was announced that they would make a movie of Cloud Atlas, the friend that so feverishly pressed Cloud Atlas into my hands and I made a date to go see it. I understood why Hollywood would want to get it's hands on this book - each story is steeped in an exciting visual world; A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilization.
Who wouldn't want to take a crack at those worlds, the fact that each story has it's own climax that manages to encompass the very best of some kind of genre be it murder mystery, espionage, dark comedy prison break, futuristic sci-fi - makes it even more visually appealing. This book manages to incorporate every single genre in huge muscular and bold storytelling, while at the same time being deft and delicate. There are hints at reincarnation and all the stories are linked by the written or recorded history of the story before it.
It's not as mind-boggling as it seems. It's very cool and beautifully written.
So, I loved the book. I LOATHED the movie.
Eileen read the book and LIKED the movie. So, we're taking it to the cage match.
Here are the things I liked about the movie:
1. Tom Hanks. Honestly, it's hard not to like him. Particularly since he seemed like he was having so much fun.
2. The reincarnation bit was made more clear by the fact that many characters surface and play different parts in all the stories. Makes an appealing case for the idea that there are people we are bound to, no matter what.
3.The visual storytelling of some of these worlds was really satisfying. The sci-fi shoot outs and the 1970's espionage - all very cool.
4. Hugo Weaving is a great bad guy in any time or place...
5. The vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors was BRILLIANT!! It was filmed exactly as it was written and hats off to Hollywood for leaving it alone.
Things I hated:
1. The reincarnation bit got super heavy-handed with a set of star-crossed lovers that really didn't hold up for me. I think if I hadn't read the book, it might have really worked, but having read the book, it stretched things too far.
2. The stories take place in lots of different times and places - one of the big ones is future Korea and with all of the characters playing parts in all the stories they made a choice to make every one look Korean. And then they took the one Korean actress who played many roles and tried to make her look Caucasian in another story. It wasn't just distracting - it was ridiculous and offensive. It seemed like blackface to me, it was so bad. Be bold enough to let the actors just be the actors instead of giving them terrible makeup. This really really bothered me because it just tore me totally out of the story.
3. In standard Hollywood fashion they had to tie up a lot of the loose ends that the book leaves enticingly loose. They had to give Tom Hanks and Halle Berry an ASININE happy ending with them as grandparents. Tom Hanks even urges a kid to "Help old Grampy Up." So so so so so hamhanded. There was also another bookending on another story with the sailor in 1850 coming home to his wife (the Korean actress with terrible makeup) and then defying his father in law regarding a plantation contract. Both of those things were so jarring in their simplicity - it felt like some studio head popped their head in and said "make it happy folks!"
So - I say read the book. Skip the movie. Eileen?
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I'm not sure if my depression slowed down my work or not doing the work made me depressed, but I'm convinced they are inextricably linked. I'm pretty sure that feeling better and writing again are just as linked.
It's been painful, but I think I learned an important lesson. I thought I could give up writing. I was considering it pretty seriously. I don't think I can do it. I think it's too linked to who I am and who I want to be.
So here's to discovering my joy again and reconnecting to the person that I think I'm supposed to be. Is there something you have to do to feel like yourself? Something you can't live without?
Monday, November 12, 2012
And then I'm going to do some reading - non-genre. Susanna Kearsley, one of my favorites has a new book coming out. It's glowing in my ereader right now.
I need to catch up on Homeland, Breaking Bad and if I can find the first season I'm watching Vampire Diaries.
I might go through a closet or two - that's pretty low on the list though.
And yoga - lots and lots of yoga, because my body is not a wonderland.
That's my week - if you need me - I am absolutely NOT AROUND!!!
Friday, November 09, 2012
It has Mandy Patinkin, which is always a great thing and he's marvellous as well, and it has, and I'm going out on a limb here, the best writing on television right now.
Conflict - external - a CIA agent who is convinced based on very, very small cues that a returning war hero is a terrorist. No one believes her.
The war hero is a terrorist, but his reasons are compelling.
Internal conflict - she's falling in love with the war hero/ terrorist
she's the only person he can relax around so he's falling in love as well.
Internal conflict - she's bi-polar and heavily medicated to keep her disease in check, but is brilliant. When her illness is discovered and her investigation is discredited, she relapses and no longer trusts herself or her decisions.
Every scene has so much tension and conflict, even the little ones where the war hero is at home, trying to rediscover his place amongst his family, while lying to them about almost everything. Anywhere they can they create more tension, while making us care for everyone, even the bad guy.
It's a master class in crafting tension and conflict and creating sympathetic characters who do really bad things and while we're always rooting for Carrie, we're sometimes rooting for Brody. And, as the last two episodes have proven, they're not afraid to blow up their fictional world and change the rules of the game.
It's truly amazing. Anyone else watching it?
Thursday, November 08, 2012
In my opinion Ms. Milan is an example of how to self-publish the right way. She’s not just throwing content out there – she’s actually “publishing” her work. She uses a content editor and a copyeditor. She’s a very savvy marketer. In every sense she is a “publisher.” Her products are very polished.
To this end she actually indicated in her comment that prior to deciding to take on a project – she does a profit and loss analysis.
These are common in publishing where an editor will work up a projected sales model to determine if it’s worth the publishing company’s money to buy the book. But Ms. Milan does this before she makes the determination to write the book.
Now as someone who has written a number of off-the-beaten-track-of-publishing books I was fascinated by this. Had I been more practical, stayed more within the mainstream I might have had more success. Even today the book that’s being shopped is just a little… different. So we’ll see what happens.
But to me it always came down to the idea. Once the idea hit I had to write that book. It’s the book I want to write and I don’t care that it’s different I’m doing it anyway. Stubborn? Or stupid?
So I asked Ms. Milan the question – if you determine the book might result in a loss does that mean you just don’t write it? The idea was unthinkable to me.
Ms. Milan answered my question… as did some other authors who also responded… Of course that’s what it means. But then she further explained that when considering “profit” it’s not always just about the money.
Wow did a light bulb go on when I read that! I’m struggling right now with the “business” of writing. And thinking about profits or lack there of as it relates to labor. Normally when I think about profit I’m thinking about money. I mean who doesn’t. But in this business I have to realize there are other benefits beyond money. That maybe it’s okay to write a book I know I’m not going to make much money on – just to get some other benefit that may impact my career long term. Like a good review from a notable blogger or a nomination. (See Molly - I was listening to you!)
At least that’s what I need to tell myself when that royalty statement comes in the mail and there is no check associated with it.
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
The past few weeks I've felt like I've been caught up in a tornado. And that doesn't even include the tail end of Sandy.
The best part of the whirlwind has been the support of my friends and family and meeting fabulous people who love books!
Last week, I was on a panel at the World Fantasy Convention.
My panel was called "Romancing the Monster" (or beast?) and the panelists were:
Nancy Kilpatrick, Sephera Giron, Chris Szego, Patricia Briggs and me! It was a great discussion about the appeal of monsters in romance, horror, urban fantasy and YA and I was super excited an honored to be sitting next to Patricia Briggs. Even more excited when she complimented me after, as did her husband, Mike, whom I had a great conversation with over a cup of hot chocolate when we couldn't squeeze into the too-small room where they held the opening ceremonies right after the panel. (With bagpipes!)
I wish I could have attended more of the convention, but I double (triple?) booked myself last weekend and on Saturday I went to the Ontario Blog Squad's 2nd Annual Meet up.
What a fabulous event! Book bloggers from all over Ontario gathered at a pub on the waterfront. Publishers gave them tons-o-books and I was thrilled to be one of the seven authors they had as guests.
Here's a photo of my lovely table mates for lunch: @GwenythLove of Rants N Scribbles and her sister Alina @AjKitKat It was an absolute pleasure talking to these two women and fellow YA fiction lovers. They're planning on doing a sister-vs-sister double review for DEVIANTS once they read it. I'm equal parts nervous and excited.
I loved talking to everyone, but really had fun meeting the lovely Tiff Ing @mostlyyalit who did a great wrap up of the event here. (And took a really good photo of me that she posted on her blog, I'll have to ask her if I can snag it... the candid one.) Tiff heard about DEVIANTS from Diana Peterfreund's blog interview and the lovely things Diana said about my book, and we bonded over our mutual admiration of Diana.
Here are a few more photos of the event:
The tour continues here:
Saturday Nov 10, 2pm – Chapters Belleville, Quinte Mall – Megan Crewe, Lesley Livingston, Maureen McGowan, Cheryl Rainfield, Courtney Summers. RSVP on Facebook!
Saturday Nov 17, 2pm – Chapters Brampton, 52 Quarry Edge Drive – Leah Bobet, Megan Crewe, Lesley Livingston, Maureen McGowan, Cheryl Rainfield. RSVP on Facebook!
Saturday Nov 24, 2pm – Chapters Barrie, 76 Barrie View Drive – Leah Bobet, Megan Crewe, Lesley Livingston, Maureen McGowan, Cheryl Rainfield. RSVP on Facebook!
Monday, November 05, 2012
There are a lot of fun things about this book:
1. Not only do you get my prequel but you get holiday stories from the incredibly talented Ruthie Knox and Stefanie Sloan!
2. It's a 1.99 - honestly, check it out for yourself.
3. We're also running a really fun 12 Days of Christmas Promotion over at the USA TODAY blog
So, a little Christmas cheer to get you through Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 01, 2012
Find out more about the book or order it here
1. One of the things I was really impressed with about Deviants are the action sequences. What's your approach to action sequences, to keeping them fresh and clear?
Thank you! With action scenes, I usually have a picture in my head of what’s going to happen before I start writing. Not always every detail, but I like to plan the bones and know what must happen during the scene to move the story forward. Once I’ve got the overall shape of the scene planned, I try to write it as fast as I can—without worrying about mistakes or wording.
Sometimes magic comes out. Sometimes it doesn’t. So, for me, the key to good action scenes is rewriting them. Taking out every unnecessary word and, more importantly, taking out every unnecessary action... For example, instead of, “She balled her fist, swung her arm and hit him,” it’s better to write, “She hit him,” or even better, she punched him, or she slugged him. The reader fills in the blanks in a well-written action scene, and makes it into a movie in his or her head—which might not be the exact same movie as another reader’s, but that doesn’t matter as long as the outcome is the same. Better than boring the reader with detail or having them skim.
Usually my first drafts have too much detail, particularly in sections where the action is complicated and I was having trouble choreographing the movement. So, I often need to trim and trim and trim until I get it right. And sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes it’s so spare I can barely understand what I wrote in the first draft and I have to add words or intermediary movements to make it clear where everyone is and what went on. But my general rule is that simple is best.
You often hear that action scenes should be written using short sentences. And I think that’s right to some degree. But I think the rhythm matters more. A series of short choppy sentences can actually stall the flow of an action scene. A long, well-written sentence can simulate movement and speed.
Sometimes it’s less about short sentences and more about having a sentence go on and on until the action builds to a climax and then—pow—adding a short sentence for impact. Simple sentence structures are best, especially if you make them long, because they require less punctuation to be clear. Punctuation can slow reading down too. (Unless it’s necessary for clarity...)
I also think that action scenes should have a minimum amount of internalization, physical reaction, and description. They need *some* of those things, though, or they’ll seem detached. But it’s important not to add those elements in huge chunks. If you do, it will dramatically slow things down. Also, if you’re writing in deep POV or in first person present like I did in DEVIANTS, you can’t add things the character wouldn’t have time to think.
2. Glory your main character has a huge arc over three books. Looking at the books, how much planning went into that arc, how much of it was a happy accident?
Oh, that’s an unfair question because I think you know the answer and how confused I get about this at times. LOL.
I could lie, but in all honesty, it was a bit of both. The second book in the trilogy COMPLIANCE (May, 2013) comes closest to the original story idea I was contemplating before I started to develop DEVIANTS. (Which was actually an idea for an adult urban fantasy.) So plot-wise I wanted DEVIANTS to get Glory to the right place to tell that story in COMPLIANCE.
I also knew right from the start that something devastating was going to happen in the first book that would be difficult to get over. (No spoilers!) So, I knew that I’d probably need all three books in the trilogy to cover her dealing with the emotional turmoil of that, and to let her heal.
But... some parts were happy accidents too. I wrote DEVIANTS under the gun. I had just left my first agent when I was starting it, and knew that I’d need something strong to attract the caliber of agent I wanted going forward, so I just wrote the crap out of DEVIANTS (as Sinead would say) without really worrying too much about how the rest of the series would go.
When I contacted my now agent for the first time, I told him I had a trilogy planned out, but, well, it was only very loosely planned.
After he signed me, he wanted to get DEVIANTS out on submission within a week, so I barely had any time to clean up the manuscript—never mind plan and write synopses for the second two books. But it’s amazing what can happen under pressure. And of course, the stories have changed from those quickly drafted synopses that went out on submission. But at least those synopses showed editors that I had a full story arc thought out for the trilogy—even if there was some crazy repetition of similar plot points along the way.
3. Do each of the books have a different 'feel' in your head? How would you describe the three books compared to each other?
Hmmm... I think the main character arc that spans all 3 books is moving from distrust to trust. In others and yourself. She has steps forward and back along that continuum throughout the trilogy.
But back to your question. (I was stalling...)
DEVIANTS is essentially an escape story. A quest. A story of discovery in many ways.
The second book, COMPLIANCE, is more of a spy story, full of deceptions and double crosses. It’s also more psychological as Glory is dealing with her loneliness, loss and guilt. COMPLIANCE has a claustrophobic setting, and I like that the setting is almost a metaphor for how much she’s in her head in that book.
The third book... um... I still haven’t finished it, but it’s tentatively called GLORY. It’s about deciding what’s important, what you’re willing to do for others, and whether the ends justify the means. It’s also a story about recovery and redemption and a story of heroism and bravery. But not typical—lead the charge into war—kind of heroism. I hope it’s about heroism demonstrated in an unexpected way.
I think if one could argue that Katnis in The Hunger Games Trilogy ends up being like Joan of Arc, then Glory in The Dust Chronicles trilogy is more like Madame Currie—sacrificing a piece of herself for the greater good, rather than leading everyone into battle. I find it somewhat implausible when teen characters lead adults—not that they aren’t capable; it’s more that I don’t think many adults would be willing to be led by teens—so I wanted to find a way for Glory to make a key difference, to be the hero in a pro-active way, without her leading the charge.
Note to self: Madame Currie? Really? Nothing more sexy and exciting than that! ;) Not sure why she popped into mind, except that science and experiments are involved.
Second note to self: Clarify your thoughts on book three—STAT. What a jumbled mess that description was!
4. If you could have a Deviance what would it be?
Good one! I definitely wouldn’t want Glory’s Deviance that’s for sure. It would be horrible to know that you couldn’t make eye contact when you were emotional, without hurting the other person. When you’re emotional is often when you most want to make contact!
There’s a character in COMPLIANCE who can make himself invisible. I think that might be kind of cool. But I think what I’d really like is to be able to fly. A boy in COMPLIANCE has wings, but he hasn’t had an opportunity yet to spread them.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
I received these flowers yesterday from my fabulous author-relations team at Amazon Children's Publishing. Isn't that amazing!
Here are a few places where you can find me on the web this week--and discover lots of
Get Lost in a Story -- interviewed by Donnell Ann Bell
Diana Peterfreund's Blog -- She asked really interesting questions! (not surprisingly, if you know Diana or have read her fabulous books)
Honestly YA -- Interviewed by Jennifer McAndrews -- more really interesting questions... and a discussion about eating rat meat...
The Reading Cafe -- A fun interview and a great review!
Inkygirl -- Great interview wherein I offer lots of tips about writing and publishing
And there are giveaway options at most of the places! And below!
If you're not a gambler, and don't want to risk the giveaways, DEVIANTS is only $3.99 for the kindle right now, if you live in the US! (A bit more in Canada and elsewhere--click on the link to find out how much is is, where you are.) And the hardcover is on sale most places too!
I'm also thrilled that DEVIANTS is listing in the top 50 on Amazon under "spine tingling horror' which is kind of awesome, especially on Halloween!
On Friday, I'm super excited to be blogging at Omnivoracious! Where today, they're discussing great YA Halloween reads and Friday, I'll be talking about why adults do (and should if they don't) read teen fiction.
Tomorrow, I'm on the panel "Romancing the Beast" at the World Fantasy Convention. Fellow panelists include #1 NYT Bestselling author, Patricia Briggs! I think I'll just sit and listen to her. :)
And on Saturday, I'll be a VIP Guest at the Ontario Blog Squad's Annual Meet Up! Very excited to meet everyone there!
(And somehow, at the same time, I need to do line edits for COMPLIANCE, The Dust Chronicles #2, before Sunday night... Sleep? I hear it's overrated.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sorry gentle readers for the blatant self promotion. :)
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
If you haven't seen it yet, here's the first chapter.
Deviants by Maureen McGowan - Chapter One
And I'm doing a giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I've been pretty thrilled by the reviews for this book so far. Fingers crossed.
Here are a few photos from my launch. Like a dummy, I didn't give my camera to anyone to take photos and somehow didn't get a photo with Molly and Sinead. Oh, well. :) It was a blast.
|The cake! (red velvet)|
|Me with my friend, middle grade author, Claudia Osmond|
|Me signing in black and white. :)|
Thanks so much to Debbie Ohi (illustrator of the fabulous picture book I'm Bored) for taking these photos!!
Monday, October 29, 2012
As a special surprise I'm also going to giveaway a digital version of the Naughty and Nice Anthology to: Tracie Lampe!
Please Tracie - contact me through my website with your email address! Laurie - I'll be in touch.
Thanks again, everyone. It was fun!!
Monday, October 22, 2012
This hop is all in celebration of the fantastic Christmas Anthology NAUGHTY AND NICE - my novella in it, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU, is a prequel to my Jan book - CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE
So you hop around from site to site, entering to win:
Prizes - R@R is giving away (must be 18 or older to participate):
• 15 Net Galley Preview copy winners of Naughty & Nice +
• 5 ABOUT LAST NIGHT paper giveaways (US only) +
• Grand Prize of $15 Gift Certificate to eRetailer of choice!!
As a special little something here at Drunk Writer Talk - I am giving away a copy (digital or paper, your choice) of CAN'T BUY ME LOVE and CAN'T HURRY LOVE. Stephanie Doyle will giveaway a copy (digital or paper) each THE WAY BACK and ONE FINAL STEP. Eileen Rendahl will give a copy of DON'T KILL THE MESSENGER. And Maureen McGowan will giveaway a signed hard cover copy of her fantastic new YA, DEVIANTS.
This giveaway is open to North America but you have to be 18 years old to enter. So enter the big giveaway by using the form below. Enter the Drunk Writer giveaway by either following us, or saying hello in the comments. All the winners will be picked on 10/29. The Romance@Random winners will be posted over at Romance@Random. And I will post our winners here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, October 19, 2012
But comedies just aren't quite there right now. I loved New Girl last season, but so far this season, it's been only OK for me. I enjoyed some episodes of Suburgatory, but last night watched the one from this week and barely chuckled. I got a little bored with Modern Family last season, so stopped watching and can't think of a comedy right now that makes me laugh out loud more than once an episode.
Louis CK is great, but it's more awkward humour and brilliant self-awareness than it is laughs a moment, and nothing has matched Arrested Development for me. Over three seasons that show was hilarious. The characters were almost completely unlikeable except for Jason Batemen and his son, and they seemed to take glee in making them as unlikeable as possible, but they were funny. I've watched all the episodes at least twice and actually physically jumped for joy when I found out they're making a movie.
Comedy is ridiculously hard, I get that, but I've had enough poignant laughs from Modern Family/ Suburgatory/ and almost every other comedy out there. I want to belly laugh. Anyone have any suggestions?
and, not to gush, but The Vamp diaries. Amazing. This season they are doing some incredible things with plotting and character. The scene where Damon walks into the church and smirks as he crosses himself with holy water was priceless.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
I can tell you my first category book I ever wrote… amnesia. It’s like a rite of passage. Somewhere deep in our romance psyche we all have that burning amnesia story in us. I have actually planned for the 4th book in my Tyler Group series to be an amnesia story. Yikes!
Why are they problematic? Because they’ve been done to death. Because Soap Opera’s abused them horribly. Because getting hit on the head does not typically equal a total loss in memory. And getting hit on the head again – does not typically bring it back. Although certainly head trauma can equate to memory loss. As can emotional and psychological trauma.
As I’ve documented this year I’ve fallen back in love with 1995 Lois and Clark. In the typical horrifically plotted episodes we have Clark losing his memory after trying to destroy an asteroid. Then Lois losing her memory after hitting her head on a fire hydrant. Memory loss all over the place.
So why do we love it? Why does it work?
In the case of Lois and Clark – and we’ll take Lois (because in romancelandia it usually is the woman who suffers from the condition) - it’s a nice reset. We have two lovers, they are about to get married. They’ve worked out all their emotional issues but we’ve got 4 more episodes we have to produce. Bam! Amnesia – and now she doesn’t remember that she loves Clark and instead thinks she loves Lex Luther. Wonderful new conflict all created by a bonk to the head.
In romance though how is it used? Same scenario where the husband suddenly has to win back his wife? Or in Thomas’s case she used it to basically allow for a reset of a horrible relationship. So the heroine could forget everything the hero did to her and start over.
How am I using it? Well, someone is killed. She has blood on her hands. Only she doesn’t remember anything. Yep – totally cliché. See movie Dead Again with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.
So it has to be deeper. There has to be another reason.
Remember the moving Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford. In his case it was a bullet to the brain. And I remember the critics saying that he starts out as a jerk and the only thing that reforms him is that he got shot and became someone else. Meaning he never had to work to reform himself. He never had to grow.
In my case beyond the implications of the murder my hero is professional lie detector. A masterful psychiatrist who can use visual clues to determine if someone is potentially lying. So what heroine can I give this guy that he can’t possibly possibly read? She’s either got to be a sociopath (talk about a taboo in romance – sociopath heroine!) Or… she has to be a completely blank slate. A person he can’t read, because beyond her most recent memories there is nothing to read.
Now will I get it right? Probably not. Because pulling off the mother of all tropes – Amnesia – it’s just not easy.
But I’m a romance novelist. I have to try damn it!