Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm hooked

Stephanie was right. New Girl is great, and charming and really, really funny. I'm hooked, and I tried to fight it. My first impression was that the main character, The Zoe Deschanel character is really, really annoying.

And I'm not sure my first impression is wrong, but as a foil to every other character in the show, she's kind of perfect. She's the innocent thrown in with three cynicals, but what she brings out in them is the core of sweetness at the heart of these three guys. It's a really interesting trick, and the writers were so smart because the contrast in character is what drives a lot of the storylines, but also has created some great story arcs.

And when placed with her three roommates, Zoe is a lot less annoying. And yes, as Stephanie pointed out, there is the comic genius that is Shmidt.

I'm glad I listened to Stephanie and started to watch it, because right now, it's funnier to me than either Modern Family, or 30 Rock.

And this Sunday, Game of Thrones Season 2..... anyone else anxiously awaiting it's return?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I’m not going to lie. It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks career wise that happened so unexpectedly as to be almost bizarre. I went from invisible to very visible (at least in the romance writing community) in a very short amount of time.

But here is the thing, I’ve been on the writing roller coaster a long time. And I remember very clearly my last high. I know I’ve told this story before… but I was hard at work on a 3 book contract that was going to be my first series, my Flipside was chosen to be one of two launch books for the line. Which meant there was a big advertising push behind it including ads in national magazines. I remember at that RWA conference seeing my book everywhere. To this day it is my highest grossing book. And there was a new line coming out that I thought fit me perfectly called Bombshell which I had submitted to. At that same conference the senior editor of the line sought me out and wanted to talk to me about the book I submitted. Sure thing right? If an editor actually approaches you!

So in my head I had dreams of really starting to make an impact. Lots of books out, multiple lines, finally finally attracting some readers.

My editor hated the first of the 3 book series so much she dropped the other two books and I made the decision to give Harlequin the advance back on the whole series rather than put what my then editor said was a subpar product on the market. The book for Bombshell was rejected without any reason and I was to find out in a couple of months that the Flipside line was going to be canceled.

Career over. And the feeling in my stomach felt just like it does on a roller coaster when you are on the way down. Now over the years I’ve come back up on some smaller sized bumps and then of course gone back down again.

But these last few weeks it’s been like … oh man, this is really high. Which naturally in my warped mind has me wondering how bad the fall is going to feel when it’s time to go back down again.

But I decided to learn something. To grow as a human being because I’m over forty now and that seems like something a human being should do. I mean my characters are always growing… seems silly I never thought to try it myself.

Instead of letting the high drive me to push even higher – I’m going to keep it in perspective. Instead of spending the whole time on the ride up worrying about the way down – I’m just going to enjoy it. This is fun. Will it have an impact on my career… who knows? Will I be down in the dumps in a couple of months because everything went wrong… maybe.

But the thing other thing I’ve learned is that nothing is ever so bad that it means the end of my writing world. There is always a way even at the lowest point to somehow start it up again.

I guess I’m saying it’s a ride that never ends. Good thing I like roller coasters.

What about you, ever thought your career was over?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Congratulations Stephanie!!!

Our own Stephanie Doyle is a 2012 RITA finalist in the Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure category for her fabulous book, THE DOCTOR'S DEADLY AFFAIR. For those of you not tapped onto the romance publishing world, this is the highest honor in romance fiction!

And we couldn't be more excited!!!!

If you haven't already read Stephanie's book, or want to buy, say dozen copies for your closest friends, you can buy it here:

Amazon : The Doctor's Deadly Affair

B&N:  The Doctor's Deadly Affair

And she's got a new book, THE WAY BACK, coming out next week that got a fabulous review from Dear Author (who can be pretty tough on some books).

Yay, Steph!!! You're on a roll, baby!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I love girls.

No, not like that. Get your mind out of the gutter.

So last Sunday, Andy and I went to hear his friend Lynn Asher play at a singer songwriter evening at a bar in Fairfax. I went because my New Years resolution was to go hear more music with Andy in bars. It makes him so happy and giving up a night here and there of wearing stretchy pants while drinking wine on the couch seemed worth it to make my sweet baboo happy.

It was Lynn and three other singing songwriting women. It was fantastic. Truly fantastic. I'm completely blown away by the amount of talent out there. More than that, though, I loved the songs they wrote. They were songs about the stuff I care about. Relationships. Hopes. Dreams. Love. Loss. There was one song called "Baby's Gotta Have It" about weaning a daughter. There was another song about the death of a friend that I can't talk about or I'll start crying.

I'm also listening to Tina Fey's Bossypants. She is super funny. Underneath all the funny, though, Ms. Fey's got some stuff to say. She has stuff to say about what's funny, about the differences between men and women, about ambition and about going on a cruise for her honeymoon (btw, Ms. Fey, I am indeed part of the cultural elite because I totes got the David Foster Wallace reference). Stuff I care about. Stuff I think about. Stuff I wonder about.

Here's the other thing about all this girly stuff. Lynn sang with three other women. Each one of those women learned all the other women's songs so they could play them and harmonize and back each other up. As each woman took the mic, she would take a moment to thank the other women. It was awesome.

Tina Fey talks about the changes at Second City and Saturday Night Live while she was at those two places. She talks about the myth of competition between women. She talks about supporting each other.

So I'm saying yay for girliness! Do you have a favorite girly attribute? Tell me. I'm totally listening to you because that's one of the things that girls do.

Monday, March 26, 2012

This stupid book meets it's end at a writer's retreat

I'm on my first writer's retreat. I might have been on writer's retreats before - but not like this. This shit is hard core. Christine D'Abo has written 12,000 words. Twelve thousand. Come on!?

I finished my manuscript and it met it's fitting end up here. I've been head down with this book for months, ripping out the guts and putting them back in. Stressing, stressing, stressing every step of the way - working late at night. Not going to the gym because there's been this internal drive to get back to the book.

And I think this book has changed my process. It's been really painful every step of the way and I'm hoping it will get less painful, but I think I'm better served writing these first drafts as fast as I can. If I can put my head down and keep the world fresh in my head, the book starts in a better place, no matter how fast I write and how bad the flaws are - it's still better than if I stretch out the writing of the first draft. Which will leave me more time to let it rest before my deadline, which I'm also going to use. So maybe I can get back to the gym next week. And clean my house. And talk to my children...

Just when I had some nice life/writing balance, this book came and ruined it.

Oh, and we saw Hunger Games. Totally satisfying.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunger Games - The movie

So let me start with, it's great. Anyone, who has, or hasn't read the book will really, really enjoy it. It's tense and you care for the people in jeopardy, and the acting is amazing, especially by Jennifer Lawrence, who is incredible as Katniss.

And if you haven't read the books, stop reading now, because I really don't want to spoil any of the movie for you.

If you have read the books, the movie follows the book very closely, so while there aren't any surprises, it did realize much of the way I saw the book in my head.

And I found the structure the same, in terms of how they broke up the story. The events leading up to the start of the games, the preparation took almost as much time as the actual games did.

They even did a nice job with the creation of the Peeta romance, and how they tried to make it clear it was as much for show as it was because she had genuine feelings for him. What was funny was the reactions of the teenage girls in the theatre who yelled loudly everytime Gale appeared on the screen. And during the Katniss-Peeta kiss.

I jumped at times, loved the connection between Katniss and Rue and even enjoyed how they did a good job of showing just how shrewd Peeta was during the build up of the games.

If I have any complaints and they really are minor, it's that the movie lacked the richness of the novel, but somethings are really hard to translate. All in all I loved the movie and highly recommend it.

Anyone else crazy enough to go see it on opening night?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mr. Cellophane...

I remember a few years ago at a romance conference there was woman at the table next to me at the literacy signing. Together we were watching everyone go by, looking at our names, realizing they didn't know who we were and keep walking. She laughed and started singing the song from Chicago about the man who is invisible.

Well last Saturday I feel like I got my 15 seconds of fame. I got a Recommends from Jane and Dear Author. Now this is probably a bigger deal to me than it might be to other people. For one I've been following that blog for years. Not only have I loved so many of the recommendations Jane has made, but I've also loved how she has elevated the conversation in general about the romance book industry.

When I realized I was going to be on the blog I actually welled up with tears. (Unfortunately this happened in my office where my assistant saw me. Since then he has left a packet of tissues on my chair every day with a note that says "Just in case." - He thinks he's very funny.)

But what that review meant to me was for the first time after 15 plus years of writing and publishing I wasn't invisible anymore. I was a recommended author on a popular blog. And I will always look at that moment and cherish it.

Now of course my 15 seconds are up. My Amazon rankings are back to normal. Other reviews have come and gone. And the next books need to be written and written well.

But it sure was a great 15 seconds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mad Mad Mad Men Anticipation

I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that I cannot wait for the new season of Mad Men. I know, controversial. ;)

I'm going to be out of town this weekend at a writers' retreat and I will DIE if my DVR lets me down.

The past few weeks I've been watching the last season of Mad Men in re-runs and saw one of my favorite episodes yesterday. The one where it's Peggy's birthday and Don keeps her really late (eventually overnight) and Don learns that Anna has died.

There are a lot of reasons to love this episode, but I think for me it's all about the slow simmer that turns into a raging boil.

Mad Men is so often about subtle storytelling. About what the characters don't say. And three of the really HUGE things from Season 1: Peggy having Pete's baby, Don's secret identity as Dick Whitman, Don knowing that Peggy had a baby--all these things kind of hit the fan in this episode. Events from Season 1. And this was more than half-way into Season 4.

I admire how long they let some of these things simmer. Sure, in the intervening seasons there were a few episodes where we saw Anna to remind us that the real Don Draper's wife exists, and that our Don is supporting her, and yes, Betty finds out, leading to the Drapers' divorce. And sure there were a few small moments about Peggy's baby and about some lingering attraction between her and Pete. But Don knowing about the baby was pretty much never mentioned again. Which made sense to me. I mean, Don understands having secrets better than anyone so the fact that he never brought it up and that it simply formed part of this strange dynamic between Don and Peggy (among with so many other things, like her knowing about his car crash and affair with a client's wife etc. etc.) made total sense to me. It's like they had this balance of each other's secrets.

But then everything happens at once. Don finds out he's lost the only person in the world who knows who he really is--and loves him anyway. Peggy finds out that Pete's wife is having a baby--a half sibling to her "nephew" who's being raised by her sister--and this brings up a whole slew of feelings. Peggy misses her birthday dinner with her boyfriend then resents him when she finds out he invited her family along as a surprise. They break up. Peggy tells Don that her mom assumes that he was the father of her baby because he was the only visitor she had in the hospital and that her mom hates Don because of it. She also reveals both that everyone in the office assumes she slept with Don to get her promotion, AND that she's a little hurt that it's not true.

And then they spend the night his office, his head in her lap. And in the morning when he finally calls California, he cries in front of her, really cries and she comforts him.

And that's not all that happens. During all that, Peggy unleashes her resentment about Don not giving her credit for her ideas and he puts her in her place. And Don learns that Peggy was sleeping with Duck. And Duck calls Peggy a whore and Don defends her, tries to punch him and they get into a fight.

Such a powerful episode. So many little threads all woven together. Reminded me why I love this show and can't wait for more!

And have you seen those "The Zombies are Back" trailers? LOL. Gotta love AMC. Talk about great cross promo. I hope those spots help Mad Men snag some of the The Walking Dead audience.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Where John Carter failed

I actually got out to see a movie the first week it opened, a rare thing for me these days. And John Carter is the first big movie this Spring, so it was an easy choice, of course, a shirtless Taylor Kitsch had nothing to do with it.

And if you've heard the press, or read the reviews, they're actually mixed, it's not the wholeheartedly negative press that seems to be connected with the movie now. And what's different from other big effects blockbusters, like Transformers, or the last Pirates of the Carribean, there's actually a story and a pretty good one.

A lot of the cast is unknown, from the supporting cast, which comes from Rome and The Wire, and are all talented to the lead, Taylor, who was so amazing on Friday Night Lights, and he does really well. He's obviously pretty to look at, but he gives everything a nice, down to earth gravitas, which is a pleasant contrast when you've set a movie on the moon.

some critics complained about the beginning being too long, but it made sense to me, and was connected to the story, so it wasn't a pointless prologue, and had a nice connection to the ending in a clever plot point.

some of the emotional connections in the movie felt rushed, including the main romance, and John Carter's arc, he went too abruptly from refusing to get involved in the conflict, to headlining it, but overall the movie had an old school feel and was really entertaining.

What it lacked and I think this is where a lot of critics had problems with it, was a sense of humour, or a wink towards the fact that the source material was old and perhaps a little outdated.

It lacked the humour that was so much a part of Ironman, or even Thor, and that made the movies a favourite of critics and propelled them to box office success.

But I would recommend seeing the movie, I enjoyed it. And early reviews for Hunger Games are in, and they are great. Another week and it opens.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I don’t normally obsess about them. Sometimes people are going to like your book. Sometimes they are going to hate it. Most won’t care enough about it to give you an indication either way.

With the advent of Goodreads this has changed a little. Because when I login to the website to either update my books read or give a review, I have easy access to my dashboard. Easy access to all the comments for all my books in one common area. I mean really… who can NOT look.

This has been especially satisfying for my self-published book Got Game? Because I’m not selling a lot of copies, my agent estimates maybe a couple a week, I had to really figure out how I was going to get my satisfaction over having worked so hard on it, invested money in it etc.

Then it happened. People who I don’t know really liked it. People who I have never met said that even though they don’t like golf – they enjoyed the book.

And at the end of the day I realized that was totally enough. Yes, I get that professional authors can’t make a living off nice reviews, but for this particular effort it was enough for me that people I didn’t know (who weren’t going to be nice just for the sake of being nice) read it and enjoyed it.

So thank you Sarah, Kate, Julie and Kayla. Thanks for taking the time to write something about it and make me feel as if what I wrote mattered. Thanks everyone else who updated the stars.

And of course thank you to all my DWT peeps who said nice things in support on Amazon and this blog.

This time the reviews really did matter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Puzzle of Revisions

Sometimes revisions are fairly straightforward. You read what you first wrote, figure out how to change it, then do it. Sometimes it's less simple.

A couple of times during my revisions of CHOSEN COMPLIANCE, the second book in my new series The Dust Chronicles, I've hit places where I get stuck, going over the same section of the book over and over and over, moving scenes, moving them back, moving them again, before finally everything kind of falls into place.

I hit another section like that yesterday and I'm praying I'll get through it today. My sister and her kids are visiting from Ottawa and I'm bummed that I have to work instead of playing with them :( . As they left to go visit my parents, SIL and other nephew, I said something to my sister like, "I've got to get past this place. I just need to make some decisions."

To which she replied, "Flip a coin."

Now... that does work sometimes. When it's just an A or B choice. And if either choice works equally well, then you go with the coin toss. And if one is better than the other, then your gut will  tell you whether or not the coin made the right choice. Easy peasy.

But revisions, at least on this book, are not so simple. And while I was in the shower, I figured out a better analogy.

It's like a really complicated puzzle, but the pieces, as given to you by the puzzle manufacturer, don't fit. Most of the pieces (but not all) require modification before they'll snap into place. So you juggle them around, imagining how you'd modify each and at some point you just have to commit. You put them in a place, get out your chisel, (or chain saw), and carve away at the pieces and see whether or not you were right.

Problem is, you don't really know if you're right until all the carving/modifying is done. And if you were wrong, or if you see a better way for them to fit after... Well, then you've still got a mess of puzzle pieces that don't work and all now need modifying in another way and the second (or tenth) crack at the reorganizing will be to be even more complicated than the previous ones. And some puzzle pieces are now so distorted that you can't even recognize their original shapes, never mind what you think they should be.

Can you tell I'm befuddled? Anyone else ever get like this?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When is intense too intense?

So we've been watching The Walking Dead. We're not totally caught up. Last night, we watched the 18 Miles Out episode. Big showdowns between several major characters. Big choices to be made by our hero. Big stakes. All the time. Life and death. Every second.

I'm exhausted. Granted, I'd had a long day but the episode ended and I was so relieved it was over. I've actually really liked the show. I like the questions they ask and the hard choices the characters have had to make. I know as a storyteller that to keep people interested, you have to keep making things worse for your characters (throw 'em in the Dumpster, Steph!), but I think they went too far. I 'm not sure where or when the line was crossed, but I'm not sure I'm going to watch any more of it. It's too much.

So when does it become too much? I realize we all have our own lines. I can withstand much more tension and stress in a show or a movie then, say, my sisters can. They, on the other hand, can tolerate a much higher degree of potty humor. Maybe it was simply too unrelenting this time. Usually there's some moments of humor or tenderness or something. This was just conflict conflict conflict and then a little more conflict.

What shows have been too intense for you? Or books?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Some Thoughts on Scorpio Races

So Maureen and Sinead were raving about this book. RAVING. And that's a pretty sure sign of an amazing book. It's taken me a while to get to it, but I've started and it is amazing.

For those of you who might not know, it's a YA set on a fictional island, that feels sort of like Prince Edward Island or something...but every year in November the storms push the man-eating ferocious and beautiful water horses up onto the shore and the brave men and boys of the island catch them and race them. People get killed and hurt. It's gruesome and really really cool. And different.

The world is amazing. I have no idea of the year, or exact location. But I can taste the salt air, and all the talk of sweaters and tweed makes me feel like I'm in the early part of the century.

The writing is elegant and evocative. Nothing feels wasted, everything feel fresh and important. The stakes are high - man-eating horses and all. The characters are AMAZING. It's a win on a lot of levels, but there's something...something that's not quite right. And if you've read the book please argue with me, but I feel like the pacing is off. Or if not off in total contrast to the stakes. High stakes, slow pace.

It's really strange.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Attack the block

It's a british sci-fi movie that is ridiculously fun, scary and thrilling and has one of the best protagonists I've seen in a long time, a 15 year thug who says barely three lines in the movie.

to start and I'm going to try and not give any spoilers away, the movie starts with a group of 5 teenage boys mugging a young nurse as she's on her way home to one of the worst areas in South London. It then morphs into a movie where vicious ape like aliens are attacking the highrise that is home to all these people.

The two main characters in the story are the nurse and Moses the 15 year old leader of the gang, a mostly silent boy who glowers and says almost nothing, but is also brave and cares for the kids in his gang.

Where the movie really works is in not giving into cliches. The nurse is brave and capable, and Moses is not what he initially seems, and through the actors charisma and because the movie gives us almost no back story, he is fascinating and a true anti-hero in the best sense of the word.

Its probably one of the best sci-fi films I've seen over the past few years and if you get a chance, I highly recommend it.

Because right now the reviews for John Carter aren't that great, not that it will stop me from going to see a shirtless Tim Riggins.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I am in a state of wait...

As writers we can all appreciate this right? Everything in this business can sometimes be hurry up and wait. Rush to meet a deadline and then wait for feedback. Finish the edits on time, then wait for the actual release of the book.

Send off queries to editors and agents and wait… and wait... and wait. Sometimes months! In the worst cases years. The worst worst cases… no reply or feedback is ever sent.

The waiting can be agonizing.

That’s where I am now. I’m waiting for feedback on my last manuscript. I’m waiting for the release of my Super that comes out in April. I’m wondering if anything will be different because it’s a new line or if everything will stay the same because I’m still a Harlequin writer.

I must have checked the Romantic Times website a hundred times just to see if I had gotten my “score” yet. (It was a 4 – not a 4 ½ so that’s enough to make me crazy, but at least it wasn’t a 2 which would have made me cry.)

And so I’m sitting here thinking about the next idea I need to be putting together – because that’s what all good writers should be doing. Not worrying about what was already turned in or sent out, but always working on … what’s next.

I hear it’s supposed to make the waiting time go faster. For whatever reason, this time for me, not so much.

So what do you all do to deal with the time in between stuff happening?

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Tim Riggins on Mars!

I think that's all I have to say today. :)

Anyone else excited? I'm a bit worried that it's more than 2 hours long... but if Taylor Kitsch has his shirt off for a good portion of those 2 hours, I might be able to suffer through it...

Opens Friday. Who's going?

And while we're talking movies... How cool are these fake ads? There's actually a tumblr site all with faux ads in a fake e-zine called Capitol Couture. Awesome.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Betrayed by a Bookmark

Back in 1998, when my husband was ill, I checked several books out of the library thinking that I could read one of them aloud to him while he was in ICU after his surgery. You know, to pass the time.

So sitting there in ICU, after they'd cracked my husband's skull open and removed part of his brain, I opened one of the books and a bookmark fell out. The bookmark had a poem titled "A Locked House" by WD Snodgrass printed on it. The poem is about this couple coming home and he has this moment of anxiety that something might have happened to their house while they were away. That they are too lucky, things are too good. The end of the poem on the bookmark was this:

Everything we own
Can burn; we know what counts—some such
Idea. We said as much.

It was so beautiful to me. It summed up exactly how I felt at the time. That I'd give up everything else, the house, the cars, everything could burn as long as we were together. It meant so much to me, I had a friend read the poem at my husband's memorial service.

I ran across the bookmark the other day (yes, I still have it) and decided to look up the poet and maybe read some other poems by Snodgrass. I found "A Locked House" also. Get this. It turns out the poem has TWO MORE STANZAS . That's right. Two stanzas not printed on that bookmark. And those two stanzas are about how the marriage fell apart and the house is still standing!

The house still stands, locked, as it stood
Untouched a good
Two years after you went.
Some things passed in the settlement;
Some things slipped away. Enough’s left
That I come back sometimes. The theft
And vandalism were our own.
Maybe we should have known.

I would like to find the asshat who decided only to print part of the poem on that bookmark and bitch slap him or her across the room. Preferably a big room. I cannot tell you how betrayed I feel that this poem that I HAD A FRIEND READ AT MY HUSBAND'S FUNERAL is not about the primacy of connection and union between two people, but is instead about a bitter divorce.

Anyway, I'm not sure what my point is. Don't trust bookmarks? Check the source material? Print the whole thing? I just had to vent about this somewhere and was darn happy to have a place to do it.

Monday, March 05, 2012


Kritina Matthews - you're it! Please email me with your snail mail address and when I get the book, I will send it to you!!

Thanks Joe for stopping by! And while the arguement continues to rage in our house, we both agree that we can't wait for this book!!!
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