Monday, August 31, 2009

The Winner IS.....

We sort of monopolized the conversation but -- JK! You're our winner. Drop me a line with your mailing address and a bunch of free books will roll your way! Thanks for commenting and thanks to Kathleen for stopping by - she can drink with us and our maids anytime!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Author Kathleen O'Reilly and a bunch of free books

For my money Blaze author Kathleen O'Reilly is about as good as it gets. For those of you who haven't read her series romance - you need to get thee to a bookstore quick, because her latest book HOT UNDER PRESSURE is O'Reilly at her best. For writers out there interested in writing series romance - O'Reilly is a master at shoving a whole bunch of story in a little tiny word count. She's been gracious enough to answer a few questions of mine and for one lucky commentor - you get two of Kathleen's books and then a few more from the Drunk Writers. What a day!!!

Here goes:
We are a drinking bunch – so I have to ask – drink of choice?

A fruity cabernet, not so oaky. My favorite is Liberty School.

I love a drinker who knows what she wants! What are you reading right now? Watching on TV?

I’ve got a bunch of books loaded up for vacation reading. A lot of Sarah Mayberry, Julia London’s Summer of Two Wishes, Leslie Parrish’s Pitch Black, Free by Chris Anderson, and Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a band of US Soldiers who Rode to Victory In Afghanistan by Doug Stanton. I saw the author on the Daily Show, read a sample on my Kindle, and loved the writing. Being a romance reader, we get a lot of romanticized versions of modern-combat, and I wanted to read a non-fiction one.As for TV, I’m not big on the summer shows. I watch American Idol, 24, House, the NBC Nightly News, and Law & Order the original (duh-dum) whenever I can find it. We do a lot of DVD movies at our house. Currently on a Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan glom.

That's funny, I took Sarah Mayberry on my last vacation too! That girl gets around!! What's your favorite book?

AGH!!! I HATE THIS QUESTION because I do not have one. There are books that will always have sentimental attachments to me. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, 101 Dalmatians, and the Flame and the Flower. However, I think my fav book, which I can read over and over is Lonesome Dove. It’s this great relationship between these two men and I love how they change and grow and affect each other. I also love Manhunting by Jenny Crusie (my fav Crusie EVAH!) and To Kill a Mockingbird. I have to be careful with reading a lot of Southern books because then I start writing in these long, languorous sentences about folks sittin around with their mint juleps, fanning in the late afternoon porch breeze, and telling stories on their neighbors. Did I mention Mark Twain? Love Mark Twain. He was the first Jon Stewart.

We're big Jon Stewart fans at my house too! And the Mark Twain comparison is spot on! Who do you want to be when you grow up?

A pampered housewife with a maid. That’s my life-goal. A maid.

I think many of the drunk writers share the same life goal. What do you love about writing series romance? And as a fan of your work who is often amazed by the depth you are able to cram into such short books – what do you love about Blaze books? That’s a weird question, I know, but honestly, your Blazes are unlike any other Blaze.

Oh, flattery will get you everywhere with me. :) There’s a lot to love about writing series. First of all, you get to write THE END on an annual basis about 3 times more often than non-series writers. That’s a big plus. But I think my favorite thing is something that Jessica from Racy Romance Reviews said about series, and I’m shamelessly scarfing her idea. A series romance is just the hero and the heroine. Not much on secondaries, not much on worldbuilding, not big sweeping external plots, just one man, one woman falling in love. Surprisingly enough, this is a scarcity in the romance genre, and I’m hoping that some of the single-title books coming out will swing back this way. As for Blaze, there’s a freedom in Blaze that you don’t find in a lot of other lines. We can have any sort of hero, any sort of heroine, any sort of plot. It’s just got to be a hot plot. :) From a writing standpoint, and speaking as a writer who writes all over the board character-wise, I like that, because I can dream up two people that were completely different from the two people I just wrote about. That’s what I love about writing for Blaze.

I think you've hit the nail on the head - the series romance appeal is that they are so concise - one man, one woman, not much else. Are you plotter? Pantser? Do you write every day?

I try to be a plotter, and at some point in time (usually about the half-way point), I do sit down and organize the story so that I don’t leave things hanging in the end, but I can’t be a plotter at the beginning. I start out with vague ideas on plot, but I always come up with better stuff the more I write of the story. So I start out a pantser, but I evolve in a plotter when the middle comes. Ideally I write Monday through Friday 9-3 when the kids are in school, but when Deadlines loom, all schedules are off. I will write on the weekend, I will check myself into a hotel, whatever works. Sometimes the books come fast and deadlines are not a problem, but if I’m not happy with what I’m writing, I can purge a lot of pages, and that’s when the hotel escapes are necessary.

HOTELS!!! Did you hear that Sinead? She goes to hotels! We have been doing something very very wrong!! How did Hot Under Pressure come about? The idea? Were you wearing bunny slippers?

LOL. That’s easy. I was stuck on the tarmac for about four hours, and we were the last flight out, and weren’t sure if we would make it or not. The plane developed this odd sort of camaraderie, where people would listen to see if they could figure out whether we were going to take off that night, or not. It breaks down a lot of barriers between the passengers. I’m usually very aloof on a plane. I use flying as my reading time, but in this case, I was more interested in knowing whether I was going to Dallas or not. As for the bunny slippers, I have no idea. I liked the idea of someone who flew a lot, but didn’t like to fly, and I thought bunny slippers would be a good flying ritual to have.

What’s next for you? I for one can’t wait!

I have three books out in 2010: January, April, and May. The January book is Midnight Resolutions, also part of the Where You Least Expect It series. It’s a story of a man and a woman who meet as strangers in Times Square and share a kiss, and then how fate seems to keep driving them together. The April Book is written by myself and Julie Kenner, and it’s four short romances about one family who is cursed on April Fool’s Day, and they have to break the curse, or learn to live with it. And the May book is currently untitled, but it’s another Where You Least Expect It, and it’s the story of a reclusive writer who closets himself away in upstate New York, and the journalist who happens across him, not realizing that she’s stumbled on the story of her career. And of course, they fall in love. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ribbonless...

Following Eileen’s lead I figured I had to introduce myself to this blog by telling you how it all began. Sure Molly likes to remember me shaking my tatas in front of Nora Roberts but actually Molly and I met a couple of nights before that.

I sold my first book in 1996. I was twenty-five years old and it was only my third complete manuscript. Sounds lucky right? But what they don’t tell you (or some do but still people don’t want to hear it) is that after you get published there is no guarantee you will ever publish again. Doesn’t that just SUCK!

I wrote maybe four or five proposals, a few more fulls and all of them were rejected. It wasn’t until I switched gears and moved to comedy that I got a break. There was a new comedy line Harlequin was buying for called Duets. Four years after my first sale, I sold book two. I had gone to RWA Nationals once when I published the first book, but not since. I figured I sold another book, I should go again. But I didn’t understand all the ins and outs like so many other writers. I didn’t belong to a local chapter. I didn’t have a critique group. I didn’t have writer friends.
I definitely didn’t get the ribbon thing. Didn’t even know what PAN was. I finally worked up the courage to ask someone what the deal with the rink ribbon was and she explained it was for “Published Authors Only”. In my naiveté I said… I’m published. If I recall the woman rolled her eyes with an “oh sure” type look.

That night I had to go to a Harlequin hosted cocktail party for the new Duets line. This is when I learned the best part of National – drinking for free because Harlequin throws kickass parties. I remember standing in this small hotel meeting room thinking what a fraud I was. I didn’t have a pink ribbon. The pink ribbon committee was probably going to kick me out any second (so I had a quick second glass of pinot grigio) and I wondered if I could remember the ISBN off of my first book to offer as proof. That’s when I met Molly. She didn’t have a ribbon either. She had just sold I think, and there wasn’t time to get PAN membership before the conference. There we were, two published ribbonless authors who liked to drink and talk about books. I remember clinging to her and thinking… well they can’t throw us both out.

And that is how I made my first writer friend.

Almost nine years later, (Yes Molly I did the math - it’s been freaking 9 years!) a few more conferences, a trip to Toronto to meet the rest of the DWT posse and all I can think of is how lucky I was that night to not have a ribbon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ten Laws of Random Observations About Writing Contests

Having just completed coordinating the preliminary round of the Original Golden Opportunity contest, run by my local RWA chapter, I thought I'd try to come up with a list of ten commandments, no, laws no... more like random observations about writing contests.


  1. The entrants with the most elaborate pseudonyms, or who go to the greatest lengths to use only their pseudonyms, are invariably the least experienced and will not do well in the contest. Clearly there are exceptions to this. And I really don't mean to mock. I think back to how choosing a pseudonym was pretty dang high on my priority list when I started writing, cough, seven years ago. Ah, what a naive fool I was. (Okay, now I am mocking, but I'm mocking myself, too, so that makes it okay. Right?)

  2. The category that produces the most erratic scores and the most violent reactions from both entrants and judges is paranormal. I think it's partly because some of the premises are "out there" and not to everyone's taste. One person's "cool" or "dark" is another person's "ick" or "gross". But I also think there are a lot of moderately crazy people writing in that genre. (Me included.)

  3. The judges who were the most keen to judge and were the most insistent that they'd be done on time, when you politely reminded them of the deadline, are the ones who disappear from the face of the planet the second the deadline arrives, never to be heard from again. A curse on you all!!!!

  4. Some judges will clearly not have read a word of the judges' training. Some will have read it, but clearly not have understood much. (hopefully just a few of each)

  5. Entrants (or judges) who don't know how to convert a file to .rtf, or put in a header, or save a file under a different filename, or attach a file to an e-mail, or use paypal, etc... Are likely not to be very experienced writers (or judges). Not that being technically adept and writing necessarily go hand in hand... but if you've had any experience as a writer, if you've ever submitted anything, if you've even exchanged pages with another writer for critique, you've already had to figure this shit out.

  6. The finalists are, by in large, the most experienced, the most polite, the most thoughtful, and the most organized entrants in terms of dealing with the coordinator -- but some finalists turn into Diva Monsters expecting you to be at their beck and call 24/7 once they final, as if you don't have 25 other finalists revising their entries to deal with, too. Not to mention your own life to live. (No Diva Monsters yet this year! Knock on wood. That one was an observation from last year.)

  7. Some people should think before they press send. Each year, I get a few e-mails from contestants who did not do well, who would've been so much better off if they'd taken a day to cool off before telling me how stupid our judges are...

  8. Some people cannot follow instructions no matter how you word them. (Entrants and judges.)

  9. Every year, some great entries fail to final... but, in general, most entries that final are worthy. (But invariably a one or two finalists receive terrible scores from the judge you personally think is the "most competent" of the three judges they were assigned.)

    And now for my potentially controversial Observation #10...

  10. Judges closest to publication, either who've just sold or are on the cusp of getting that first contract, tend to be the harshest critics.
    I haven't done a scientific analysis of this. But when I started coordinating contests, and therefore reading a lot of score sheets, I started to take a harder look at my own scoring and how tough I was being at times. Here's my rough categorization of judges (totally, TOTALLY generalizing -- and if you judged a contest I coordinated, and think I mean you? I don't. Really.**)

    • The least experienced writers (on balance) give the highest scores. "Hey, this is as good as my stuff, or better, so it must be great!" Either that, or they mark everyone down for the same things--typically whatever lesson they've just mastered in their own writing--whether it's a problem in the entry or not. Frankly, I prefer these judges to the next type of judge.
    • Some writers, possibly new, possibly who've been at it for a while, but who either haven't worked very hard at their craft, or simply just don't get it, but THINK they know a lot... make a total mess of scoring. They call someone out for "telling" when the examples given sound like "showing" to me. They "correct" correct grammar. They mark entrants down for not describing how something smells on every page. They don't recognize when an entry's cool, or different, because it breaks some "rule" they think needs to be followed. They simply, IMHO, frak it all up.
    • Seasoned, multi-published authors tend to (usually) be the most fair and realistic. "This is such a cool idea, or such a strong voice, I need to encourage this writer, and give it a really high score," or "This was clean, well-written, and showed skill, but had no spark. I'll give it a good score, but not a top score", or "this poor writer is so clearly a beginner, I cannot crush them. I'll find something nice to say, give it a lowish but not mean score, and move on. Maybe give a few examples of problems and offer a few tips or good craft books, if I have time."
    • Then there are the judges right on the cusp of selling, the ones who are talented and skilled themselves and know enough to separate the great from the good from the ugly. But they might be frustrated they haven't sold yet, and/or are still stinging from bad critiques of their own work in contests. These judges, in my experience, can sometimes be kinda cruel.
      Observing this in other judges gave me pause. Made me realize I'd been guilty of that in the past. Made me work to be kinder, while still telling the truth, on the really weak entries. Made me decide that giving a score below 50% isn't necessary. Below 90% they aren't going to final in most contests, so why rub their nose in the dirt? (But I admit I still have trouble finding nice things to say about weak entries...)
Finally, while I know contests are imperfect and a bit of a crap shoot in terms of which judges you get assigned (and they'd only be completely fair if all entries in a category got the exact same judges, and that's simply not possible, and even then, entrants would be hostage to those judges' likes and dislikes)... Phew. Even, given all that, I have come to believe that contests mirror the publishing business better than most people think.

Generally, skilled writing and storytelling triumphs over the weak, but, just as in "real life", not always. It's all so subjective, and luck is involved. Again, just like subjectivity and luck affect "real life" publishing.

Ultimately, it all comes down to: did the judge (or editor) love what you wrote. And love is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

** I especially don't mean you, Bitch. Ignore this if you haven't seen 500 Days of Summer. If you have -- wasn't it great???

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tick Tock

I am on deadline right now.

Everyone at my house knows what that means. Do not expect more than the bare minimum from me. I will make sure there is food in the house and that everyone gets to school/soccer/drum lessons/rockclimbing/band practice, etc., but that's it. Don't expect conversations with me to make any sense. I have severe book brain. All my words are being used on the page. I don't have any superfluous ones to throw about willy-nilly. And if you catch me playing Tetris, it's because I'm THINKING, okay?

There are some good things about deadlines. I know, for instance, that this proposal that WILL go off on Friday probably wouldn't be done for another few weeks if I was left to drift along on my own. It also gave me a wonderful excuse not to participate in the redoing of my mothers' apartment last week which most definitely brought out the absolute worst in my two generally charming and delightful sisters. The deadline makes me focus. It makes me stick my butt in the chair for more solid hours so the work is more consistent and linear.

It also makes me a little crazy.

I don't like rushing. I'm pretty sure there is not a single fast-twitch muscle in my body. I don't run fast and I don't think fast. Some times the choices I make during crunch times are not the best ones for the story. It's harder to come up with that twist we were talking about last week or to dig a little deeper. I'm also not crazy about waking up in the middle of the night chewing my own tongue. Although I suppose it's better than waking up chewing someone ELSE'S tongue. People are so touchy about things like that.

So how do you feel about deadlines? Do they help you focus? Keep your priorities straight? Or do they rush you into making easy choices?

Monday, August 24, 2009

More Fun at DWT

Stephanie Doyle is joining the ranks of drunks here at Drunk Writer Talk!!! Hooray! Stephanie was my original drunk writer friend and I am so so thrilled to have continued our friendship over the years. She has written for Harlequin Duets, Flipside and now Romantic Suspense. I think she has an Intimate Moments kicking around somewhere. AND at a Harlequin party years ago, I watched her shake her boobs in Nora Roberts' face. Honestly. What more could we possibly ask for in a Drunk Writer?

The plan is Stephanie is going to blog on Thursdays and I have already caught up on True Blood in anticipation!!

Welcome, Steph! It's great to have you here!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Choosing your hero's friends wisely

I am in television heaven right now. I just finished the second season of Mad Men, am still in thrall to True Blood (even though Molly has given up on the show) and have episodes of Generation Kill and Nurse Jackie to look forward to.

Every exceptional TV shows blows my mind in some way. Mad Men is no exception. It's a largely character based show, and the magic to this show is that the interactions between the characters illuminate their personalities. Very little back story, no telling, just these characters showing you themselves piece by piece.

And who these characters choose to tell their deepest, darkest secrets is also fascinating. The choices are always interesting, usually unexpected and always tell you more about both characters in the conversation.

Going back to Maureen's post about plot and expectations and surprising your reader, this is another way to reverse expectations in a really subtle, but unexpected way.

Too often the best friend in romance novels, the one the hero or heroine unburdens themselves to, is a bland, unexceptional character, there simply to encourage narrative through dialogue. Or to start interest in a sequel.

Spoiler Alert: Stop reading if you have not season Season 1 or 2 of Mad Men.

Don, the central character tells no one of his secret identity (and no, this is not a superhero show), except one woman and when he sits down next to her, we physically see him unburdening himself of all his secrets, his face lightens, his shoulders relax and for the first time in two seasons we see him completely relaxed, and possibly happy.
It's an amazing moment.

Or his wife, after she kicks him out for cheating, tells none of her friends and instead tells the divorced woman, she's been at odds with for over a year. Another interesting choice, she's not looking for sympathy, she's looking for understanding.

Every character on the show has secrets, and the people they tell these secrets to are always a fascinating choice.

It's showing me that I can put surprise into my story in ways that aren't huge plot reversals and are more emotional, and character driven.

Love this show.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taking the Easy Way Out

I was going to take the easy way out today, and blog about OUR NEXT NEW DRUNK WRITER JOINING US VERY SOON!!!, but decided that was a huge cop out. Plus, I think Molly would probably like to introduce her, so I'll restrain myself. But stay tuned....

Instead, I'd like to talk about endings and surprise twists and not taking the easy way out.

I'm struggling with the final act of one of the WIPs I'm working on now. Not that, sadly, I'm anywhere near that point in the ms yet, but I have been thinking about it. Trying to set things up properly to lead to the best possible climax and ending. (and no, I'm not talking about sex.)

Also, I eavesdropped on a little twitter discussion, between Louisa Edwards and Dakota Cassidy today, about Julia & Julie (or is it the other way around?) that got me thinking about twists and ending's, even more. And no, I haven't seen that movie yet, nor do I expect it to have much of a twist ending...

The movie I got thinking about was Junebug. A fabulous little independent film from about four or so years ago featuring Amy Adams. I think it might have been the first time I ever saw, or at least noticed, her as an actress, and I do believe she also received an Oscar nomination for supporting actress for her amazing performance. If you haven't seen this movie, you should.

Junebug isn't about her character, though. The film's about a character played by Alessandro Nivola, whom I love, and his character bringing his older and sophisticated girlfriend home to his much-less-sophisticated family in one of the Carolinas, or somewhere like that. The focus of the plot is on him coming home after so long away from his family, on them as a couple, on the folk artist the girlfriend's trying to sign and the ethical questions there...

Amy Adams plays Nivola's very pregnant sister-in-law, who's about the sweetest, most kind-hearted, naive, but curious-about-the-world character you could ever imagine. And whereas she could come off cloying or cliche, Amy Adams makes her completely believable. (Yes, the casting director for Enchanted must've seen her in Junebug. I wouldn't be shocked to learn the screenwriters for Enchanted were inspired by her performance in Junebug.)

But I digress... My point is, Junebug cruises along, pretending to be a character based story about the Nivola character, that's interesting but not really taking us on a storytelling roller-coaster of any kind (more like a merry-go-round or a pleasant ferris wheel ride at best).

The filmmakers distract us with a little business between the girlfriend and the father-to-be brother... and then BAM. A big twist. Something unexpected (I didn't see a hint of foreshadowing) that changes everything and makes you see the movie in an entirely different way. Makes you think about family and what it means in an entirely different way. Sure the whole movie was about family... but the twist pretty much punches you in the gut.

I don't want to say much more, because it would ruin the film if you haven't seen it, but I guess I aspire to walk the line this film, for me, walks so well. The line between surprising the reader, in a good way, and pissing them off, because you've written something so unexpected it doesn't meet reader expectations.

Yes, I aspire to walk that line, whereas, in real life thus far... I fear any reader will see my hand way before I play any of my cards.

You know what? It just occurred to me. Writing is hard.... Big news. LOL

How do you come up with a plot twists? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It all started with a potato

I'm so happy to be blogging here at Drunk Writer Talk. I've really enjoyed reading the posts here and commenting on occasion. I think it's going to be great fun. And to think, it all began with a potato . . . (cue dreamy music and soft focus here)

I first met Molly O'Keefe at the Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle. I can't remember the exact sequence of events. We might have met earlier in the day. Or not. All I know is that at dinner (which was one of those buffet style things), this very charming and pretty and pregnant woman sat down next to me. She had a tiny little plate with maybe a carrot on it. As we sat there, I couldn't help noticing that she was eyeing my potatoes.

By eyeing, I mean she couldn't focus on anything else and could barely speak because of the drool dripping out of the side of her mouth.

I asked if she'd like them. To make a long story short, after demurring quite a bit, she fell on them like a woman possessed. I have seriously never seen a woman attack a potato in quite the same way. As a woman of appetite myself, I could totally appreciate it. I was charmed.

Of such things are friendships born. We kept in touch a little. I read one of her books and loved her humor and handling of emotion and conflict.

Because I knew Molly (and the adorable and talented Eileen Cook), I met clever and charming Maureen McGowan at the NEC RWA Conference a year or two later. It was there that I may have cemented my eventual inclusion in this group by actually falling off my seat in a restaurant after drinking a beer or two. I seriously thought that bench seat went all the way across. It seriously did not, as I found out when I realized I was sitting on the floor with my feet sticking up in the air.

But my point is, and there is a point believe it or not, that it is of the little things that happen that big things begin. I offer some potato to a starving pregnant woman and a few years later, I get to join a cool group blog. I think about those little decisions as my writing, too. It's not just the big decisions, the life and death choices that my heroes and heroines make, that make a book work. It's all those little choices that bring characters to life. The kind of car she drives, what she wears, the relish with which she eats a potato. You know, those telling details that mean so much like when a cook with a drinking problem hands a potato peeler to a troubled teen and ends up saving them both.

So thanks for having me here. I'm thrilled to participate. Let's all take a moment of silence to appreciate that starchy tuber then tell me what one of your favorite telling details in a book has been.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Sweet Spot: literary fiction and back story.

Well, two sweet spots, actually, one for literary fiction and one for backstory, but I suppose the two do collide into one giant sweet spot, but it wasn't really what I was after. I really need to learn some basic punctuation skills.

Anywho. I've done no work for a month. Read some great books and one of them has really been kicking around in my head. The People's Act of Love, by James Meek. (Given to me some time ago by Maureen - what a friend.) It's got it all, cannibalism, castration, Siberia, revolutionary Russia, religious sects. It's awesome. And I mean awesome- go get yourself this book.

But I almost put it down at one point. I know I read literary fiction to learn something, to be challenged, and I don't think I'm alone. I want to feel at times smart and stupid, but there's a point in the smart/stupid continuum that when crossed, makes people hate literary fiction.

In The People's Act of Love, there is so little back story - it's delicious. A man, in the frozen wasteland watches some horses and a man fall from a train. He eats some of the horse, cuts the hand off the dead man and then gets up on the train trellis and starts to follow the tracks. There he finds another man, that man is carrying a bag with a bloody knife, some booze and a picture of a woman.

I mean how freaking AMAZING is this!!?? Every moment is a mystery, a puzzle a delicious tease. Why did he bury that hand? Who is the woman? Why is the equipment bloody? Now, the first man who ate the horse and buried the hand looks at the bloody surgical equipment and doubts the second man's answer about them - which I do to, we're supposed to. But the first man KNOWS what the second man is, but though we're in his POV he doesn't tell us. So, as the reader I'm totally left behind. It seemed, in all of this mystery, like a betrayal and I felt dumber than I wanted to, like if I was smart I could get it.

He edged just past the sweet spot in back story. And I almost put the book down, thank God I didn't, because it only got better. But that one little moment was tough.

You can tell your reader's the bare minimum, but as soon as your POV character understands something that we don't from the information laid out in front of us - oops. Now, further into the book I think you can getaway with a little more slight of hand, but at the beginning when the reader has just turned the light on in the world you've created - help the reader out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Writers are like sharks

There's this old theory about sharks, they stop swimming and they die. Which is true for most sharks, it's how they breathe and stay afloat.

And for writers, the constant need to read, watch movies, examine what we love, talk about writing, edit and critique our own writing, it's how we grow and evolve as writers. It's why I almost never take a complete vacation from writing. Because even when I'm taking a writing vacation, I'm thinking about my next book, the characters, the turning points.

And it's one of the things I love best about writing. The fact that you can never quite leave it behind.

But the growth, the learning is how we keep making our writing fresh. We need to take risks, try new things, just to keep this interesting. And as an unpubb'd writer I have zero expectations, except the ones that I place on myself, so I get to write just for me right now and I'm really relishing it, as much as I can relish in my unpubb'd state.

It might not help my quest towards publication, but I'm loving the concept that no idea is taboo as long as it works within the confines of my story.

And I have season 2 of Mad Men and soon season 3 to provide all the inspiration I could need. That show is a masterclass in showing not telling. It's a masterclass in a lot of things.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Big News at Drunk Writer Talk

We've lured another author over to the dark side! Mwha, ha ha!

Actually, our great and wonderful news is that the lovely and talented Eileen Rendahl, aka Eileen Carr is joining Drunk Writer Talk as a weekly correspondent. (Correspondent? Are we all correspondents? Seemed to fit.)

We couldn't be more excited. As a teaser, here's the trailer for Eileen Carr's February 2009 release, HOLD BACK THE DARK! Creeeeepy. Yay!

Eileen is definitely simpatico with us here. She loves to talk about books, movies, TV and storytelling, especially over a glass of red wine. While her commute from Northern California to Toronto for our weekly pub meetings might be tough for her, we won't let her drive home drunk. ;-)

Starting next week, we're hoping to get back to roughly this schedule:

Monday: Molly O'Keefe
Tuesday: Eileen Rendahl or Carr (depending on which of her personalities comes out that day)
Wednesday: Maureen McGowan
Thursday: Stay tuned for another announcement, soon!
Friday: The ever-mysterious Sinead M.

There's a schedule???

Sure, some weeks we're bad bloggers. Especially during the summer when vacations and the sun and kids home from school interfere. But we're hoping the new blood will help inject some new ideas and life into DWT!

Welcome, Eileen!!!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Why do people still consider romance the last refuge of the damned?

I had a friend ask me the other day if she should write a harlequin. Strange question, but she wants a way out of her day job, and other than knowing I have some great writer friends, she knows absolutely nothing about the industry.

I've perused her book shelves, and she has a lot of books, but very few romances and absolutely no series romance.

My question to her was, have you read any?

Her answer was no.

Do you know what line you would like to write?

She looked at me perplexed, because she didn't know Harlequin had different lines. Had no clue what they paid, and even less about what it would take to write a book.

I know a lot us start writing because we believe it's easier than it is, but very few people think, I really loved The Lovely Bones, I'm going to write a book even better in my spare time, one draft and I'm on the path to wealth and acclaim.

My friend(who's really quite lovely, if slightly deluded) had the sense that she could write a harlequin in no time at all.

What do we, as an industry, and as romance authors, have to do to convince the public that what we do is both difficult and requires skill and real effort? I know RWA has spent a lot of time and money on this question. And certainly the press recently regarding romance authors who have PHD's and medical degrees has certainly helped, but is there anything more we can do?

Because I do believe we're still battling the perception of the lonely middle aged woman penning her novels in between meals for her children, because she had nothing better to do. When the reality is, writing takes perseverance and a real intelligence and an absolute love of the genre.

How many smart, articulate, polished women have to speak up in defense of the genre before public perception changes?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

High School Required Reading

My friend, a high school English teacher of much acclaim in Missouri, and I were talking about required High School reading and how in far too many cases "the classics" that kids in high school are forced to read and analyze and discuss are actually killing any love of reading some of these kids have. The Scarlet Letter, anyone? How many of you can name five books you read in high school that you can actually remember (and not because you watched the movie?) To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the All Quiet on the Western Front. I know we read Gatsby - that's it. That's what I remember from my many many English classes. I had an incredible Mythology class and Theater class and I remember lots of the things we read in those classes - Hamlet, Homer, Candide.

In terms of coming of age - is The Cather in The Rye even relevant anymore? Isn't that book all about context? And in high school, shouldn't the reading be relevant? Isn't part of why we all love to read is because we see ourselves in some of those characters? My friend the acclaimed english teacher, has lots of free reading, but he still has to teach some of the classics - Even Mark Twain, he says, makes most of the kids start to glaze over. Hemingway? Forget it. For Whom The Bell Tolls? Well, needless to say it's not tolling for high school kids, not anymore.

I ran across this list trying to find a list of high school reading - and I thought it was a solid list - though I agree we need more feminine voices.

What do you think? What do you remember reading? Should high school reading be about the classics? Or should it be about getting kids interested in reading? In finding the voices that speak to them?
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