Sunday, February 28, 2010

Release Week!

Welcome to our special theme week celebrating the release of my new novel, Don't Kill the Messenger! In honor of its release on Tuesday, we'll be blogging all week about vampires and why we lurve them. Chime in. Let us know why you love -- or hate -- vampires. At the end of the week, one lucky commenter will win a copy of the book.

Just to let you know a little about the book, my heroine Melina Markowitz is a Messenger, a go-between for paranormal forces and supernatural creatures. Problem is, when a girl's a go-between, it's hard not to get caught in the middle...

So far, the book is getting great reviews: a starred review from Publishers Weekly and four and a half stars from Romantic Times. It's also one of the featured books over at Eloisa James' review column at Barnes and Noble.

Also, if anyone happens to be in northern California, stop by my book release party on March 9 at the Borders in Davis, California from 7 to 9 p.m. I'd love to see you!

Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm hiding in Stephanie's suitcase

I've been trying to write a blog entry for the last hour and all I can think about are drinks with umbrellas in them, and right now, I'm blaming Stephanie.

It's snowing here, blizzards, and it's cold and I'm getting no where near enough sleep and all I want is to feel a little sun on my skin. And even watching the women's bobsled medal presentation(Canada won gold and silver) isn't helping, even though the medalists are dancing right now.

I've been fantasizing about what books I'd bring, whether my husband would be there, or would it be a drunk writer vacation. There are a few resorts on my radars with actual English pubs, that serve beer adn cider on tap. Seriously, a day in the sun and then an evening at the pub, repeat seven times.

I might even get the slightest hint of a tan...

The fantasy has taken over my life, to the point where I'm thinking of placing my next Victorian romance in St. Lucia.

I need help.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I’m headed to Jamaica next week. Sun, sand, clear blue water, eighty-five degrees… jealous yet? I know. You’re throwing things at your computer screen. Calling me names. Wishing me lost luggage. But let me finish. I’m taking this vacation with my mother and two sisters. My sisters who are both thin and beautiful and my mother who would like me to be thin and beautiful and is disappointed on a regular basis that I am not. So this vacation is kind of a double edged sword. The good news is I found a magical bathing suit that sucks me in all over the place and a cover up that will make it impossible to tell what lies beneath.

Beyond my dread of wearing a bathing suit though, I was thinking as I was packing about what books to bring. Reading on the beach is my favorite pastime. Currently I still have two RITA books that need to be judged. Plus Hunger Games. Plus the new Laura Kinsale. But I also have a number of research books that I purchased regarding life in Victoria England as I begin research for my next book.

Books on Scotland Yard, Domestic Servitude, Sexual Morays and Entertainment all in or around the time period I want to set my book. The kind of books you find in a college bookstore. The kind that require work to read. One the one hand, I’m telling myself this is a vacation. I’m supposed to relax and enjoy myself and my skinny beautiful family. On the other hand to have five days off from my day job and not work on my writing career seems foolish and wasteful.

Normally when I go to the beach I have no problem bringing my Dana and writing away. Writing is fun and enjoyable when I’m starting a new story. No stress yet, no deadlines looming. That’s a no brainer. But the research part is work. And when you’re cramming to meet a deadline writing becomes work.

So the question is… do you write/work on vacation? Do you look at it as a fun activity like reading? Or do you see it as an intrusion on your vacation time? For those with family do they get annoyed if you bring your work along with you or do they understand that concentrated writing could be what you need to take your book to the next level?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Curling Rocks (pun intended)

I'm not getting to see as much Olympic action as I'd like, but after some of last week's Olympic discussion, I figured many viewers outside Canada might be curious about curling. Let's face it. Most viewers INSIDE Canada don't know much about curling.

When I was a kid, my parents curled, but it was a social kind of thing more than competitive. (See #1 and #3 below) And before you go thinking everyone up here in Canada goes curling every weekend... we don't. Most people I know have never been near a curling rink.

I think it's popularity is a regional thing in Canada. I've always assumed that it was more popular in the prairie provinces, and maybe in the Maritimes, although I do remember my parents playing in Montreal (and in fact, I remember playing a modified kids version with tin cans filled with cement when I was a little kid in Montreal, but my parents are from the prairies...).

In addition to that regional assumption, I've always thought of it as an old fashioned sport. In fact, I was shocked (in the 80's) to find out one of my University classmates was a prior Ontario junior curling team member. People my age curl? Who knew. And that was (um) a while ago.

Now it seems like young people are playing it again. Okay, maybe not in droves, but some. When my sister in law immigrated to Canada from Scotland a few years ago, she organized a curling day for my brother's birthday (was fun) and the guy who gave us a short lesson said there had been a big pick up in younger players since it became an official Olympic sport again in 1998.

But, down to business... In the spirit of the lists Molly loves, I thought I'd try to compile a top ten list of why curling rocks.

1) Anyone can do it. It's hard to do well, don't get me wrong. Believe me, if you tried, you would not be able to approximate what you're seeing on TV... BUT you would be able to play and have fun. I've played with a few smaller women who couldn't lift the rocks off the ice... but you don't really need to lift it off the ice. I've also seen a few people who lacked enough flexibility or strength to push out of the hack... And lots of people who couldn't balance for long, or stay on their feet trying to run down the ice and sweep... but again, it's not that hard to do. Just hard to do well.

2) It's more about strategy and skill than traditional athleticism. Don't know if this is a pro or con in the "should it really be an Olympic sport" column... but hey, archery and shooting sports are in the Olympics and they're more about skill, too. Not even as much strategy in those. The accuracy of some of these curlers at the Olympic level astounds me... Gauging speed, direction, rotation of the stone and how it will curve (curl) on the ice (which also changes based on speed) and how wet the ice is (based on how hard the sweepers are sweeping) which also affect both speed and degree of curl. It really is hard to do well. The ability to tuck the stones in behind other stones and control where they roll after they hit each other, is amazing. Especially if you've ever tried it. So many variables. Makes billiards seem simple in comparison.

3) It's a really fun recreational sport. (See #1) When I first started working, our office had an annual curling day and it was my favorite social event of the year. There were enough people in the office who knew how to curl (yes, mostly the older guys -- i.e. partners) to put at least one player who knew the rules on each team. And the rest of us just winged it and drank beer. What's not to like?

4) No spandex. No sequins. (No crazy aboriginal outfits.) Even with awesome athlete bodies, I think most human-beings look ridiculous in those tight spandex suits that seem to be used in just about every winter sport these days. (The snowboarders will cave, too, as soon as someone wins one of those speed-contingent events wearing a spandex suit.) But curlers? That's one sport where there will never be skin-tight suits. And not just because most of the participants don't have the body for it, because those suits wouldn't give any advantage. Yes, these days curlers wear special shoes with Teflon on the sole of one... but that's about as technical as the clothing gets. Beyond that, no real need for special clothes.

5) Sweeping. A sport with brooms. Just makes me giggle. But I do miss the old-style ones that disappeared about 20 years ago. I still associate the thwap, thwap, thwap of those straw brooms hitting ice, with the sport. To me, that's how curling sounds (even if it doesn't anymore). That, and the sound of stones cracking against each other. Plus, those old-style brooms were hard work... and more skill involved in the timing... and the possibility of stray straw bits on the sheet of ice also added another (possibly unwanted) element to the sport. Sigh. Miss real curling brooms. BTW. There's a very silly Canadian movie from about 8-10 years ago called Men with Brooms. Lesley Nielson is in it, and Molly Parker from Deadwood... Funny. See if you can rent it.

6) The Norwegian men's team's pants. (I thought it was the Swiss team... but according to this photo's caption, it's the Norwegians. Not sure.) This is clothing related, but they're so awesome they deserve their own entry. I caught about 5 minutes of a men's game back on one of the first days of the games. The pants with the red, white and blue diamonds. All kinds of awesome.

7) The name is funny. Curling. **giggles** Many childhood jokes involved asking dad about his curling, when, let's just say, he was a little hair-deprived, even back then.

8) Tournaments are called Bonspiels. I just like the sound of the word. Fred and Jane's rink won the big bonspiel this weekend. Just trips off the tongue. ;) Other terminology like skip, hack and hog line are fun, too.

9) The yelling is fun. Hard, Hard. Hurry hard. Whoa. Where else will you hear women sounding like sailors, or maybe pirates. Haaard... I get why they had to yell so loudly when they were still using those old brooms... Now? Not so much. Wonder if it's just tradition. The sheets of ice aren't THAT long.

10) I know hockey is Canada's official winter sport, (lacrosse for summer), but to me, curling is even more Canadian. Sure, the Scot's invented it (in late medieval times, according to Wikipedia). But the Scottish immigrants brought it over here, and I'm pretty sure for the past century, at least, it's been more popular in Canada than in Scotland.

Finally, who wouldn't love a sport where you throw, run after, and sweep the way for a 4o pound chunk of polished granite?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Focus, people, focus!

So last week, I was distracted. There were shiny things everywhere. It was hard to get anything done, but then there was the whole looming deadline thing. All that led to some unpleasant chewing on my tongue in my sleep and random bouts of hyperventilation.

Then I took a writing weekend with my BFF and fabulous writer, Spring Warren. We've done this before and we have a great rhythm together. Just enough talk time to not be stir crazy, not so much that we get distracted. Similar tastes in junk food (I could write a love sonnet to the dark chocolate-covered, peanut butter-filled pretzels she brought) and booze. We took off Friday afternoon and were checked into the hotel by a little after three. We wrote until eight, took a dinner break and then hit the computers again.

Saturday was a repeat with a little break to watch part of my kid's soccer game (a heartbreaking 3-0 loss for the Davis Shepherds, but that's the way life is). Then more writing Sunday until the hotel finally kicked us out at one.

I wrote 51 pages, figured out my transition to the next section of my novel and am totally into my story. It's the opposite of last week and I anticipate it lasting until the end of the week when my BFF and fabulous writer Alyssa Day shows up to go wine tasting and talk to my RWA chapter.

I'm still chewing my tongue in my sleep, but when I wake up I usually have something I need to jot down in my bedside notepad.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shaq VS. or The Editor as Coach

Last summer Adam and I were obsessed with this show called Shaq Vs. In it, basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neill, challenged top athletes at modified versions of their games. So, he was quarterback against Ben Rothlisberger. He played sand volley ball against Misty May Traynor and Kerri Walsh. He hit homeruns against Albert Pujols. And the big finale was he raced Micheal Phelps. Yep, that Micheal Phelps - the one that swims and wins lots of gold medals. Anyway - Shaq did some specific training for each event with a serious coach - including Phelp's own life long swimming coach. And the coach said about Shaq - "he's totally coachable. If I'd gotten Shaquille at the same age I got Micheal, there's no telling how good he'd be." The modified race between Phelps and Shaq was a close one and it was fun - and it made me think that sure, being a freakishly strong and tall and graceful human is great, but being open to learning and WANTING to learn - is even better.

And because everything makes me think of writing - this made me think of writing. I think of my editor as a coach.

You've got to think that getting an editor job at a major publishing house is more competitive than actually getting published. So, these editors have to be very very good. And on top of that, they're overworked and underpaid, so they have to love their jobs. And because they want to keep these jobs, they have to be successful - they want to find and edit blockbusters just as much as we want to write them. Which, isn't to say there aren't mistakes - editors are fallible. But, for us, the writers, they are the authority - on the industry, to some extent the craft and to an even stranger extent the book I'm writing. That's a hard one to get my head around - it's my book after all. But the truth is my perspective is all off - I've written it, rewritten it, built it, torn it apart, re built it. I've hated it, loved it, wanted to vomit all over it. I can't tell if it's genius or garbage.

But my editor's perspective is crystal clear. And she coaches me towards a common vision, or a better vision than the one I handed in. I like that. I didn't always feel that way, and as I settle into this career I realize I like this new attitude.

What about you? Do you like to be coached? Or do you think this whole theory of mine is crap - which it could be.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Best ways to the bestseller lists

Sure, some of you out there are thinking, write a really great book. But even with a really great book, there are no guarantees, and seriously, all that work. The actual writing, editing, more editing and then sending it out.

It's time to change our focus to better options.

1) the sex tape - or maybe just rumours of one. It worked for Pamela Anderson, Lauren Conrad had a rumoured sex tape and both are best selling authors. Or maybe I'll get my own perfume line, like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton. I don't believe I'm a prude, but I do remember fondly the days when someone who had a sex tape was considered nothing more than a porn star.

2) the next obvious step would be to have a reality show. So far MTV has shown no interest in a thirty something mother with sensible, reasonable friends.

3) Have sex with Tiger Woods. Sadly after the thirtieth woman came out of hiding, you have to get in line, and the advances are getting smaller and smaller. It's time to find a new superstar athlete with a devoted wife. Any suggestions?

4) Have your politician husband have scandalous affairs. It means being a politician's wife for several years, which looks a little like work, but a great way to turn a bad situation in to something positive and lucrative.

5) become a well respected politician, athlete, artist. But again, looks like it requres serious effort. Take this approach only if steps 1 through 3 fail.

Now its time to go back to working on the current WIP, until my bestseller plan comes to fruition.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Ugly Truth...

Okay so many of us are watching the Olympics. I have been a fan since a young child. I’m a walking encyclopedia of major Olympic moments. At least the ones that meant something to me. I can relive each element, all the drama, triumph and heartache. I usually end up crying as I do this. One of my favorite chapters in my books ever, was trying to create one of those “moments” in a Bombshell story.

I thought I might rank them – because I love lists – but this blog is really supposed to be about writing. So I went with number 1.

1984 – Ice Dancing (yes it’s a sport… sort of.) - Torville and Dean’s Bolero. I actually might have liked the Paso Doble (short program) better. When everyone was doing the matador and bull, they did the matador and his cape. She draped around him like an actual cape and he swung her around the ice and I was… mesmerized.

Then came Bolero. I dare any of you to Youtube it, start watching it and then look away. You can’t. It captures you. It enthralls you. It was a moment of true perfection. I talked about performance last week on the blog and in my mind this was the most masterful performance ever.

Then I remembered a documentary special I watched on this couple. They were making a comeback in 94 (They were robbed of gold! Robbed I say!) and the show was a look inside their relationship and training routine.

It was… awful. Christopher Dean was the harshest task master I had ever seen. He verbally abused Jayne on a regular basis regarding her weight, her skating ability and her commitment. He made them drill over and over and over again even when they were both past the point of exhaustion. She gritted her teeth and accepted his orders and the whole time I thought… Jayne, tell this guy he can go kiss it!

It was ugly. It was nasty. It was brutal.

But that’s what it took for them to reach perfection. That “moment” is a beautiful thing. Reading an amazing book is flat out fun. But what I will take from T&D and the subsequent documentary is getting to that point can be ugly. Long hours, pushing yourself past your limits, living with an evil task master, whether it’s your critique partner (no one should be so harsh as Dean) or your inner skeptic – which is probably harsher than Dean on his best day.

Perfection comes at a price. It’s why not everybody can get there. The question is do you want it? Do you really really want it?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Admittedly, I am like a human version of a magpie. Flash something shiny and I'm off to investigate, forgetting completely where I was supposed to be going or what I was supposed to be doing. This is getting out of hand, though.

First, my sister is visiting from Seattle. The woman is a walking party. Just going to the video store with her has me laughing so hard I might need to change my panties.

Second, there's the fact that my beloved minivan, known affectionately as the Big Purse, has finally died. It stopped going into reverse this Wednesday and my children had to, in their words, "Little Miss Sunshine it" out of a driveway. So I had to buy a new car (Toyota Scion in Metallic Stingray - totally adorable, can get my mother in front, both kids in back seat and my mother's wheelchair AND her walker in the way back -- what's not to love?). Which I knew was coming so I wasn't completely unprepared, but it is time-consuming and distracting.

Third, it's the Olympics! I lurve the Olympics! The pomp! The pageantry! The personalities! The curling!! I so want to be a curler! I just want them to combine it with ice dancing so I can wear a fun outfit while I deliver my stones.

Fourth, my kid is getting college acceptances. So cool! I'm so excited for him, but I'm going to have to pay for college and I have to fill out this thing called the FAFSA by March 2 which means I have to get my taxes done (or at least kinda done) before that and, well, that kind of stuff is not my strong suit.

Have I mentioned I have a book due April 1? That I don't write fast? That I had a setback early on so I'm already behind schedule?

By April 1, I will be bald because I will have ripped out all my hair. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful that I have a wonderful funny fabulous sister (well, two actually), that I can afford to buy a car when I need to, that there is such a thing as the Olympics to watch and that my kid is going to be a College Man. I just need a little break here, people! Stop being so shiny!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Does romance genre dictate pacing?

I'm reading a historical romance right now. I have been reading the same book for two months, which is a bad sign when it comes to a book, but I'm determined to finish this. Mostly because, it's well written, has interesting characters, and as a writer, I know the craft that went into the book.

But I'm still dragging through sections of the book. Part of the problem is we are in the character's heads a lot, every emotion they feel is articulated well, but after a while, it gets a little boring. Now lots of people have disagreed with me, as this book's gotten lots of buzz, (or hype, still trying to decide). It reminds me a lot of the books written by Judith Ivory, an author I admire tremendously, I just wished I'd loved her stories more.

But this is a trait I find now with historical romance, lots of time spent in the character's heads, not repetitious, but detailed, incredibly detailed. We get to know these characters completely. Much more so than in paranormal, where there is usually an external plot to balance the book. But the detail can often kill the pacing, and too often the historicals I'm reading feel long on character and short on story.

My first love in romance was historicals, they are my comfort reads, but lately, I'm having difficulty getting through all but the absolute best. Historical romance was built around luxuriant reads, filled with fantasy and detail, and I don't think they've changed dramatically in the past few years, but perhaps my taste has.

I just want to love historicals again, and expecting Sherry Thomas to write eight books a year is, apparently, unrealistic..

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pink at the Grammys

I don’t typically watch the Grammys. I’m not that much into music. I basically only listen when I’m exercising. I really don’t understand the difference between an album, a record and a single. Okay maybe an album and a single.

But I was waiting for Big Love and decided I would flip over. I flipped just in time to see Pink perform a song called Glitter in the Air. What little I know about music, I know I like Pink. She’s on Ellen (who I dvr daily) a lot. And I like the song about her wanting to fight someone when I’m jogging.

I stopped and watched and was memorized. The song was beautiful. But beyond that she did this Cirque’du Soleil routine.

In a transparent leotard, she is suspended in the air several feet off the ground in a white sheet/swing contraption. She is spinning and singing and then is lowered into a tank of water. She comes out of the tank of water soaking wet and continues to sing (miraculously). Then hangs upside down while singing and dripping. Finally she does an upside down camel spin like they do on ice skates. If you can, Youtube it. It’s truly special.

It made me think about performance. A lot of artists, great artists, talented artists, could have just gone up on stage and sang their song. I understand she’s done the act before in her concert so it wasn’t like it was something new, but she really rocked it.

The next day I went to buy the song off of Itunes – and no surprise it had hit the top 10 most popular list. Others must have also seen this performance.

What does this have to with writing? It made me think that performance really does translate. When you knock something out of the ballpark people are going to find it. They will talk about it. Granted as writers we can’t literally hang from a sheet and drip on people (I’m not sure that would compel anyone to buy my books if I did) but we can go over the top.

We can go beyond just writing a “good” book. We’re writers. We’ve got talent and abilities. Published or yet to be published the people who take the craft seriously must have a gift or they wouldn’t persevere.

So let’s go beyond the gift. Let’s make that a given and take it one step further. Figuratively, let’s get naked and hang from ceilings above a crowd. Let’s spin and drip and sing. Let’s all write the book that everyone is talking about the next day. The book that you have to have because it’s that amazing.

Sound good? Great.

Any hints or suggestions from the masses on how to do this would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Modern Family

My single favorite new TV show this season is Modern Family. (Well Glee, too. And Vampire Diaries, but that's more of a guilty pleasure. I have zero guilt about Modern Family. And really it is my single, break-out new fav.) I can watch each episode multiple times and still laugh out loud, and also tear up in about half of them.

I've been trying to figure out why it works so well for me and have boiled it down to these things:

  • Very smart, tight plotting and pacing. Yes, it's just a half hour (22 min) comedy, but there's always an overall "theme" for an episode that's a real, relatable "truth" about families, and there are always several different story lines running through, weaving in and out, constantly holding my attention. Right now, I'm watching a re-run of the episode where Manny is in the fencing competition, and I thought there were 3 main story lines: Manny's (with his parents questioning how much do you push your kids to win), Mitchell's sibling jealousy of Manny and Clair, and Phil trying to figure out what Luke might be excellent at. Probably those are the main storylines... but in thinking about this blog post, I tried to list all the little threads I saw start up in the first minute, that I knew were going to pay off (because I've seen the episode about five times). I decided to stop trying to list them, when I hit about nine and wasn't finished. Yes, nine little threads all started within the first minute. Masterful.

  • Pretty much every episode makes me LOL several times, and a few episodes have made me cry a little. To me it's a sign of a great show if it can be both funny and touching.

  • Subtlety. This isn't a laugh track comedy. It doesn't have pratfalls. It's doesn't follow the typical sitcom "and here comes the laugh" timing. It's more like Arrested Development in that way, with the funniest lines dropped, so you have to pay attention or watch the episodes more than once to be sure you caught them all. The Office and 30 Rock are like that, too, but to me those shows are more heavy handed. Funny, but more heavy handed.

  • Great acting. Seriously. I think everyone on this show is awesome. And the chemistry between them all is dead on. I truly believe that Mitchell and Claire are brother and sister. All the couples feel like real couples and Claire and Phil's kids seem like siblings, too.

  • Related to both the above points... So many things going on at once. The dialogue interweaves between the various storylines and the actors talk over each other (like people do in real life) and are always doing something in the background, so everything is so richly layered.

  • This made me realize something else. It's not filmed in front of a live audience. So, they a) have time to get it right and b) the actors don't need to stop for applause or laughter. I really think this affects the pacing and timing. Also, because it's not all shot on a studio set, it feels slightly more like a drama... and seems more real.

  • Real to life characters. My one exception: The first couple of shows I thought the Phil character was slightly over the top... Too much like Michael on The Office. But a few sweet things have happened to make him less of a buffoon, or at least a more likable buffoon and less of a cartoon than Michael is on The Office. And the fact that Phil cares so, so much about being a good dad is really touching. The rest of the characters all feel like people I know, or could know. They seem real.

  • Snappy dialogue. I could use an example from just about any episode, actually several places within anyone episode, but this one, from the beginning of the episode I'm watching now, is as good example as any, and although there's a clear punch line, the way the entire sequence is delivered so quickly, you can almost miss the punch line. Especially since it's one you have to think about for a second, and they don't give you that second... Which is why I find I can watch these shows over and over...

    Cameron (gay partner of Mitchell) is filming Manny (Mitchell's ten-year-old stepbrother) during a fencing competition.

    Mitchell (rolling his eyes and clearly mortified that his boyfriend is going all cinematographer on them: Would it be easier if we suspended you from a crane?
    [Cut to one of the talking to the camera segments a la The Office]
    Cameron: (very proud) Any monkey can shoot a home movie. I pride myself in shooting home films.
    Mitchell: (trying to be sensitive, a good boyfriend offering advice) Cam, it's just that sometimes you get carried away.
    Cameron: No I don't.
    Mitchell: Your nephew's first birthday party
    Cameron: That's not fair
    Mitchell: You brought a wind machine
    Cameron: To be fair, my vision was--
    Mitchell: (enunciating more carefully) You brought a wind machine
    Cameron: (looking uncomfortable) Who puts wheels on cribs?

    And then it quickly cuts to something else. The wheels on cribs line is totally dropped, and we're left to imagine what might have happened.... but so funny. (At least to me.)

    A few minutes later, Mitchell is talking about how he and his older sister Claire used to be a figure skating duo when they were kids.

    Mitchell: We were called Fire and Ice. I was Fire because of the red hair, and Claire was Nice (tiny pause and then adding quickly) because it was ironic and she wasn't.

    That line says everything you need to know about the still existing sibling rivalry between Mitchell and Claire even now they are in their forties. The series is LOADED with show don't tell moments like that.

    Another one from this same episode (actually, all these three examples are from first two minutes)

    Alex (about 13, a middle sister and technically step-niece of Manny): Did you know that fencing goes back to the twelfth century?
    Haley (her older sister, texting beside her on the bench instead of watching): Do you know what's even nerdier than fencing? Knowing when it began.
    Luke: (little brother and sitting on other side of Alex): I don't think you're a nerd, Alex.
    Alex: Shut up, dork.

    Masterful show don't tell. A tiny segment, but shows so much about these 3 kids and their relationship. And it's all so typical of siblings. It's something anyone who has siblings can relate to.

Okay, I'll stop now. Love this show.

Anyone else watching?

If you do watch, what's you favorite moment? For me, it's between a) the lion king moment in the first episode (okay, just about any moment in that first episode. When Phil shoots Haley's boyfriend, made me spit take), b) Mitchell cheating at blocks, or c) when everyone ends up in the pool (that's an episode that made me tear up a little).
I have so many more favorite moments.... In fact, I just hit play and Alex is getting Haley to "statically defracticate" her phone battery by rubbing it on her hair. So freaking funny.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Running as a metaphor for, well, damn near everything, but specifically writing in this case

I ran a half-marathon on Sunday. I'm pausing here for all your applause
and oohs and ahhs. I totally deserve them.

I am a big girl and I mean that euphemistically. I weigh a lot and I have
a relatively bodacious set of tatas, if I do say so myself. I was not
built for this sport and I pretty much suck at it, but I keep doing it. To
run any kind of race at all (and by race, I mean participate) I have to
push past my own perceived limits, just like I have had to push past my
own perceived limits as a writer. I never thought I could write a romantic
suspense novel. I didn't think I had the logic to create a linear plot
that had twists and turns and reversals. I didn't think I had the
imagination to write an urban fantasy and create a shadow world within my
own. Now I've written both, one that Publishers Weekly says "takes off
like a rocket" and one that it says is an "exciting, sexy, and hilarious

Sometimes running isn't much fun. While there are days where I breeze
along, feeling strong and healthy and in control, there are just as many
where I feel like a decrepit old woman who can barely put one foot in
front of the other. It doesn't matter. Weekly mileage is important and the
only way to achieve that is to run on days when it's not fun as well as
the ones when it is fun. Writing is just the same for me. I have to lay
those pages down every day whether or not I'm in the zone or struggling
for each word. Weekly page count matters if I want to end up finishing my
book on time.

I will never win a race. I am slow. Really really slow. I've been running
for years and while I occasionally have times when I'm a little faster
than I was, I'm never fast, and as an overall trend, I get slower every
year. I get such a tremendous amount of satisfaction from just being out
there, though! I doubt I'll ever "win" at publishing, either. The chances
of me becoming a NY Times Bestseller seem slimmer every year (which is
more than I can say for myself despite all the running!). I feel seriously
lucky, however, just to be able to get my books published. I have an
inkling of how many people are trying to do what I'm doing. Even if I
never hit a bestseller list, it's an achievement to just get a book

I should probably quit running. I have a heel that acts up and it's hard
on my hips and knees. I just can't though. It's insinuated itself in my
life. It's part of my social life. My schedule is built around it. In a
lot of ways, I should probably give up writing, too. It's a tough way to
make a living. I might well be better off getting a "normal" job with
benefits and regular hours and all that stuff. I can't seem to get myself
to do it, though. It's insinuated itself into the way I see the world and
the way I think. I'm not sure I can stop writing.

Monday, February 08, 2010

When Buzz becomes Hype

Buzz= good
Hype= bad

At least in my mind. Everyone wants buzz and I suppose should you have enough buzz that for a few people it turns into hype - well, you'll be too succesful to care.

Riding this sci-fi wave for as long as I can, I managed to convince husband to watch District 9. Academy award nominated! And don't get me wrong, good movie, AMAZING performance by the lead male. But, Adam and I sat there going - 'huh. Academy Award? Really?' The buzz became hype. And the movie just wasn't the second coming we were told it was going to be.

Simone, cool your jets.

Expectations are a tricky thing. Getting in on the ground floor of something and having no expectations and then being blown away by the little gem you managed to discover - that's the best feeling in the world. But, coming in too late and being non-plussed - no fun. And you can't control it as the writer, the quality of your work hasn't changed. It's just what happens.

So, anyone else have a movie/book/tv show killed by buzz gone bad?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Do we really change our process?

I'm starting a new book. I'm always excited at this stage of the process, eager to start my new shiny idea, intoxicated by the possibilities and the idea of getting words on the screen takes precedence over all other non-essential parts of my life.

I'm so eager, I've written the first thirty pages without knowing where the book goes, what happens through the middle, and, this is rare for me, even the ending.

I tell myself those first few chapters give me a handle on the characters, start me thinking about them and their backgrounds, and why they do what they do.
But really, those pages are about my own excitement. I always do this, start a book without really thinking it through and then, moaning and groaning, end up re-writing the beginning over and over.

And during the re-write of each book, and this includes the one I just finished, I promise, the next time, I'm going to think it through, plan it out, create white boards, character notes, backgrounds, work the plot back from the beginning, and then, and only then, will I start writing.

So this time, maybe not at the very beginning, but soon, very soon, I'm going to create a white board, and really, absolutely, 100% create a fluid plan for this book.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Confession Time

Do you all talk to yourself? That’s sort of a leading question isn’t it?

I mentioned last week that I’ve got this new book on the brain. I’m working out the opening. How I want to handle pacing. Plot elements I want to incorporate. Plus all the research I’m going to need to do. The usual.

What I’m not thinking about are the characters. No thinking really necessary for them. They are nearly fully formed, completely quirky and sometimes (shhhh don’t tell anyone) they talk. I mean I’ll just pop open my mouth and out will come this line of dialogue that I know is coming from one of them.

Now, I live alone with my two cats. They don’t mind this so much. But it occurred to me last night that this is a little strange. There I am thinking about this scene, and out comes this line from one of the characters (which actually made me laugh). I quickly put my hand over my mouth afraid that the loony bin people would come to get me.

It is sort of crazy. If not downright schizophrenic. I know the oddest facts about these characters. I can hear them. I can think of memories they had as children. And obviously I know what they’ll say in certain circumstances.
People always ask… Where do you come up with your ideas? As writers we just smile and say “I don’t know. It just happens.” Sure sometimes we can push it a little, egg it on, use dream therapy or whatever. We can identify elements in people we know or see and incorporate them into our characters. Or we might even start off with an idea and develop a character around that. I want to write about a blind person, or someone with a speech impediment. Something like that.

But at the end of the day, when we're writing this stuff down and the words are coming out (on paper this time which is perfectly acceptable) do we really know know where this stuff is coming from?

I don’t think I do. Do you?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Work Expands

For me, work always expands to fill the available space.

No matter how much time I have, no matter how hard I feel like I'm working, no matter how "ahead of the game" I feel at times during the process, I seem to be incapable of finishing anything early.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Right now, I'm praying this rule also works in reverse. That the number of hours it will take to write my current WIP will contract to fit the available space. Cause it's small.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the WTF??????

So the reviews are starting to come in for my March release, Don't Kill the Messenger, and I am pretty darn excited. Romantic Times gave the book four and a half stars! I've never gotten four and a half stars from Romantic Times. Four, yes. Four and a half, never. I am thrilled.

Then I found out that Publishers Weekly gave it a STARRED review! I've had one previous Publishers Weekly review and let me tell you, I was excited about that. Having a starred review? Put me right over the moon.

So that's the good and honestly, there isn't much bad yet. I've found most review sites would just as soon ignore a book they don't care for as publish a snarky review. There will be something, though. Someone will post something unpleasant on Amazon and someone trying to be helpful will tell me about it and I will break my rule about never ever reading Amazon reviews to go look at it and then be upset by it. But that's later.

As for WTF, well, Harriet Klausner reviewed my book. This is not a surprise. Harriet reviews every book or at least it seems like she does. She posts hundreds of reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and several other websites every month. In hushed back room circles, people complain about the numerous errors in her reviews and about her willingness to give away major plot points.

Case in point, she got the title of my book wrong in my last review from her. This time, however, she says that my book, " is a fun lighthearted formic even with blood flowing freely on the California streets."

What's a formic? According to, it means "of or pertaining to ants." There are no ants in my story. There is one aunt, but she's a tertiary character at best. I'm guessing she meant "frolic" or "comic" or maybe even "frolic comic," but she has plastered "formic" all over the freaking Internet.

And all I can say is WTF????

Monday, February 01, 2010

LEGION - Genre Done Right

I was going to say my brain is still on vacation - but the truth is, my brain is still on a layover in Charlotte with two kids. About all I'm capable of is pushing a stroller and handing out treats. We were in Florida this last week (FREEZING OUR BUMS OFF!) with my kids and my folks (husband is barely speaking to me) but we got out one night to see a movie and much to my amazement Adam agreed to go see Legion. Sci-fi is soooooo not his thing.

But halfway through he leaned over and whispered "this is so fun!"

And it was. It is. Legion is a great fun movie. Angels; good, bad and totally freaky, Tara from Friday Night Lights, Denise Quaid and Paul Bettenay looking fantastic - what is not to love? It was scary, funny, moving, thought-provoking and all around good fun. And I sat there with my sort of converted husband and thought - this is what good genre does. It does everything!

When genre - of any kind - is supported by great actors, great writing and a great twist on an old idea - it's the best kind of entertainment there is. It's also why fans of genre - of any kind - are so smart and at times hard to please - because they know what they want (and have incredibly fond memories of when they were totally satisfied by a storyteller) and should you fail in anyway, they turn on you.

This made me think of Dollhouse - which I really liked, but it fell down somewhere along the way and fans turned away from it. I think it's because Eliza what's her name, as the main character, wasn't enough to support the story/concept.

Anyway - go see Legion. And get in the stroller and eat the Spongebob Treat I just gave you and stop poking your sister!!!
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