Friday, June 29, 2012

Awesome or unlikeable

Like Maureen, I read the first scene of Can't Buy Me Love pretty much in it's first draft and my first reaction, besides seething jealousy, was awe. In ridiculously few words, Molly had created a heroine I instantly loved.

I loved her at the beginning and loved her more at the end, and always, always found Tara Jean fascinating and compulsively readable.

And then the reviews came out. That most were incredibly positive came as no surprise, but where I was dumbfounded came the reviews that called Tara Jean unlikeable and difficult. Because I truly did not understand.

She's not perfect, certainly not at the beginning, but writers learn quickly that our characters have to grow and change and become better people over the course of the book, and if she's perfect to start with, then there's nowhere for her to go.
And she had to create sparks with the hero and a passive, nice girl is not going to create sparks with a hockey legend.

Some of my favourite romance heroines start their stories as challenging. Ain't She Sweet's Sugar Beth was a genuine highschool bitch who made life miserable for those around her, and I adored her story.

Jenny Jones in Maggie Osborne's book starts the story in jail for killing a man, in self defense, and she's rough and hard, even with the little girl who recently lost her mother, but over the course of the book, she changes and becomes one of my favourite romance heroines ever.

I prefer heroines with hard edges, smart, even a little opportunistic. They're more interesting than the heroine who is great at her job, kind to old people, a great friend, even when those friends are walking all over her, and in general a doormat to everyone around her.

I'd like to see more heroines like Tara Jean in romance and I'm glad to say a lot more people loved Tara Jean than hated her.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Game Changers...

It’s Can’t Buy Me Love release week and I was thinking about what I wanted to write about because anything I say is probably going to be interpreted as … oh she’s Molly’s friend and she’s just supporting her.

And while that’s true – I think it’s important to look at this book and talk about the change I believe it’s going to have on contemporary romance. One of the things I love about the DBSA podcasts with Sarah Wendell and Jane Litte is that they are two intelligent women talking about romance books intelligently. In a genre that is much maligned this was a huge deal for me because finally I could relate to people who were taking what I did and more importantly what I read seriously. I feel like Can’t Buy Me Love falls into that category of books that says to the world, yes this is a romance novel, it’s smart and damn good, so stick it.

These characters are real and engaging and flawed. Many reviewers have commented on how difficult it is to like them right away until they fall under their spell. I think Molly’s effortless voice makes that easy. But it also made me realize how accustomed we are to “likeable” and “easy” characters.

That goofy heroine with the crazy wide smile who trips over her own feet but is so deserving of love… and look she’s finally found it!

And yes sometimes you want a light read and that’s all good. But sometimes I want a little meat to go with my potatoes and Molly does that. She brings the meat. She challenges the reader and she makes us think and feel and laugh and cry. That’s what a good book is supposed to do.

Making everything so darn easy… well it’s like vanilla ice-cream. Sure vanilla ice-cream tastes good. But when you get super rich deep dark chocolate you realize that the vanilla just isn’t as satisfying. So are we clear? Molly is meat and super rich deep dark chocolate ice-cream.

I think historicals went through this transition in the last few years with authors like Bourne, and Thomas and Milan. These are smart women writing at the top of their game. And suddenly the expectation of what constitutes a “good” historical has changed for me. Enter Cecilia Grant. To the point where there are authors I won’t read anymore. Not worth the calories for plain old vanilla.

I think – completely objectively – Molly’s books are going to be game changers. The bar has been raised and I think it’s going to make readers think about what they should expect from a really good contemporary romance going forward.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Renovating the romance genre

Dear Author gave Molly's new book an awesome review. In the review, among other great things, the reviewer said, "It’s as if O’Keefe understands the genre so well that she’s renovating it from inside, from the very center of its archetypes."

Not that any of this praise is surprising to me. I loved this book right from the first paragraph, the first time I read it, in the first draft of her proposal for this book. I don't think the opening changed a whole lot since the first time I had the privilege to read it.
"This was not how Tara Jean Sweet imagined her engagement. Perched on the edge of her eighty-nine-year-old fiance's wheelchair wearing a skirt so short there was a good chance the photographer was getting a shot of her uterus.
But at the top of the very long list of what was wrong with this picture were the cows."

Is that not the best opening for a contemporary romance, ever??? I mean: it raises questions, it's intriguing, it shows character, it sets up the situation -- and it's freaking funny. I think I snorted, loudly, when I hit the word uterus. People's heads turned.

I knew from reading this line the very first time that I was going to love finding out more about Tara Jean Sweet. (Even if I was a tiny worried about how Molly was going to pull off a romance where the heroine falls for her rich husband's son.) But only a tiny bit worried because I know Molly and her talent well enough to know that if anyone could pull that off, it was her.

And boy did she.

If you haven't bought this book yet, here's a handy link for Amazon:  Can't Buy Me Love and Barnes & Noble.

Not every reader of romance is going to love this book. And while I believe everyone should love it as much as I do, I think any time you're doing something different, something bold, something that pushes the limits of the genre, not everyone is going to immediately love it or recognize its brilliance. Look at any author who's taken the romance genre places it hasn't gone before--J.R. Ward comes to mind--and there will be haters.

But there will also be rabid fans. Of which I am one. :)

Congratulations, Molly!!!! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Can't Buy Me Love is HEEEERRRRE!!!!!!!

At 9:27 p.m. on June 25, 2012, I received an email from Barnes and Noble informing me that my purchase had downloaded and indeed it had!!! I have Can't Buy Me Love on my Nook.

Part of me want to just open it and devour it. A wiser part of me wants to wait and take it on vacation with me next week. It's going to be difficult to force myself to listen to the wiser me, but I'm going to do it because few things equal the pleasure of getting to sink into an awesome book without interruptions.

Molly always does a fantastic job of balancing romance and conflict, both inner and outer. Plus, she's funny. I love that.

So Mazel Tov, Molly, on the release of Can't Buy Me Love and Mazel Tov to me on knowing what I'll be doing to make my plane flight whiz by next week!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Can't Buy Me Love Stuff that is happening this week...

You know, considering I've written 20 books, the release of Can't Buy Me Love shouldn't feel like such a big deal. But it really feels like a big deal. My stress level, as Maureen and Sinead can attest has hit new highs. Always a needy kind of friend, I've required a lot of hand holding this last week - and I think those two for making me feel like I'm not crazy. And in advance for the mess I'm going to be on Tuesday night.

So, there is a blog tour in the works, if you comment you can win a copy of the book. Here's the low down:
6/25 – HEA USA Today
6/26 - Get Lost In A Story
6/27 – Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
6/28 – Writerspace Blog
6/29 – Reading Romances

There have been some great reviews here are my favorites:

Janga at The Romance Dish

Jessica at Read React Review

And I actually really like this one, perhaps because she calls my characters douche bags...

Heroes and Heartbreakers

And for the whole week - if you happen to see Can't Buy Me Love in the wild - at a grocery store or bookstore, pharmacy - wherever and you can take a picture and send it to me on facebook or twitter - you are in the running for a $50.00 gift card to a bookseller of your choice, as well as some other fun odds and ends.

One More Sleep!

Tomorrow is the official release day of Molly's fabulous book, CAN'T BUY ME LOVE!

So excited. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Love or Hate?

So, I had a movie night last week and went to two in a row: Prometheus and Cosmopolis. Both were movies I was really excited to see, so I went in with high expectations.

For me, one delivered and one did not. Both had big ideas but for me one worked and one didn't. At all. In fact, I'm having trouble remembering the last time I hated a movie as much as I hated Cosmopolis  (and I saw that babysitter movie with Jonah Hill, the name of which I can't even remember. But I didn't hate that as much as I hated this. In fact, I rarely hate movies.)

What's ironic to me is that the one that was the more commercial of the two I saw that night actually pulled off more subtlety and interesting storytelling than the more high brow one.

I've read a few bad reviews of Prometheus, and I know a few people I follow on Twitter and Facebook didn't like it, but I really did. Interesting. Tense. And a heroine to root for. Plus, I've read a few reviews and analyses of the film that made it even more interesting to me. Things that would be spoilerish to mention. But I really liked Prometheus. Plus, really, if a movie has both Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba, what more could you want?

But I hated Cosmopolis. It's been almost a week since I saw it and I think I'm finally coming to grips with the reasons why. I've read a few of the positive reviews, wondering if maybe I just missed some deeper meaning, but no... I don't think so. People who liked it keep talking about how prescient the novel was but really? It was published in 2003. Seems to me that there were plenty of films and novels that were critical of rampant capitalism and the craziness of the finance industry well before that. I mean, even Wall Street covered that ground. And it's not as if the credit market collapse of 2008 was the first blow up in finance land.

Regardless of whether the film had "things to say", I think the biggest problem was that the main character, in spite of being played by the usually appealing (to me) Robert Pattinson, was beyond hideous. I'm all for an antihero if he/she is interesting, or if the story that unfolds is gripping, or if the ideas are compelling, but this man was despicable and boring (until he turned violent for no well-motivated reason, at which time he became repellant), the story was non-existent, and the ideas were, I thought, banal and obvious. Or maybe, while I believed a "greed is good" Gordon Gecko character, I did not believe this character could or would ever exist. Not for a moment. He was a bizarre cartoon idea of someone who works in the finance industry. Yes, a lot of people in that industry have a disproportionate sense of entitlement, inflated egos, delusions of grandeur. Sure. But most aren't insane. And this man was insane.

I think I'm so full of hate because I so badly wanted to like the movie. First, it's a Canadian movie and I'm a fan of David Cronenberg, and the cast was full of interesting actors, but yuck.

Ninety percent of the film takes place in a limo. But I don't think that was the problem. (I mean, I saw and enjoyed a movie last year that took place in a coffin...)

Has anyone else seen Cosmopolis or read the book?

Has anyone seen Prometheus yet? Gory, but good. :) I predict that Sinead will love it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lovin' another book and I don't know why

I've been listening to Anna Quindlen's Every Last One on CD while I'm driving all over hell and creation in northern California for the past few days. I actually cannot wait to get in the car to drive to Salinas (yes, Salinas!) on Wednesday just so I can listen to another disc or two. Well, that and get that spicy sweet tamarind candy on the plastic spoons that they sell at the Mi Pueblo Food Center.

Anyway, I have no idea why I'm loving this book so much. I'm on disc 4 and something finally happened. Granted, it's a super big thing, but really the first 3 and a half discs were what would be essentially step one of Christopher Vogler's adaptation of the hero's journey. It was the main character's ordinary world. It was, essentially, back story. Three and a half discs.

Now normally this would make me crazy. I would be hurling discs around the car (okay, I wouldn't do that because they're from the library and I don't want to return them scratched up) and swearing, especially with that whole New York Time Bestselling Author thing. I mean, really, shouldn't she know better?

It appears she does. Because I was absolutely rapt through all that back story. I even knew it was back story. I could tell what she was establishing. I didn't care. I loved it. Instead of hurling discs, I'm sitting in front of my house with the CD going, waiting for the end of the scene before I turn the car all the way off even if I have to pee. Now I have to figure out how she did it.

Part of it is that the heroine is a woman with teenagers. She is, essentially, me. I recognize myself in her and her friends. Quindlen's insights into the friendships between women are perspicacious, to say the least. She gets it. She also gets the rhythms of a marriage and how we relate to our teenagers.

But it's got to be more than that. That would totally hold me for a disc, but for close to four discs? No way! I'm a much tougher customer than that.

Part of it is the writing. It's the kind of stuff I love. Nothing fancy. Nothing overblown and purple. Clear and direct and bone-achingly beautiful without ever being show-offy.

That would also totally hold me for a disc, possibly two. We're still only up to 3.

I'm honestly not sure. I used to love Quindlen's columns in the back of Newsweek. This is the first of her novels I've read. I'm totally getting in line to read more.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I know we've talked about promotion before, but my experience has changed so radically with CAN'T BUY ME LOVE, that I thought it was worth revisiting.

I still think that if you're writing category romance, there's not much you can do that will change your sales in terms of promotion. For the vast majority of category readers - the author's are less important than the line they buy. But if you are interested in elevating your name into one that people seek out, here are some ideas:

1. Goodreads giveaways are free except for the price of shipping. I firmly believe in giving your book away to readers as a form of promotion. If you have some loyal readers, send them a copy. If you're proud of your book, it's the best publicity you've got.

2. Reviews. A good review on an influential and well-read site, absolutely sells books. Dear Author and Wendy the SuperLibrarian I think are responsible for nearly a thousand e-book sales of my book HIS WIFE FOR ONE NIGHT. A good review on a site that isn't influential or is known for handing out soft reviews - might make you feel good (and that's always worth something) but it won't sell books. It takes guts to query those big sites for a review and more often then not, you'll get shot down. But if they like it - it's worth it.

3. Blog tours. I think blog tours are more about fostering relationships with the people who have the blogs. Will you sell books? Maybe. Will you make connections. Absolutely. And those connections matter. Again, be pointed in who you approach, do a giveaway. Return the favor.

Now, for Can't Buy Me Love - I don't have anything concrete yet. The book isn't out for another week, but there are some things that my publisher and yes, the publicist/marketing guru that I hired, have been doing that are great.

1. It's still about giving away books - Bantam put together what seems like a gazillion arc's and they are giving them away left, right and center. Creating word of mouth requires a lot of ground work and I think that's what the books do. By now people have seen the cover a bunch, heard the title, and they know about it. They've read some bad reviews but they've also read some good ones.

2. Facebook. Facebook feels more and more like ground zero for romance readers. Instead of worrying about postcards and bookmarks, or ads in magazines, I am throwing my attention and money into facebook. Ads. Fan page revamp. But the biggest boost I've gotten so far has been from the brilliant and generous Susan Andersen, who has posted regularly on her fan page about me - and sent her fans my way. My connection to Susan came through my publisher, but there are all kinds of ways to use facebook. And it's really about connection. With readers and other writers.

3. Writerspace. Go check them out. I pay a hundred something a month for them to run my contest, manage my mailing list, include me on all sorts of promotional events - they're amazing. Honestly, check them out.

4. The review thing still matters. And while my blog tour is still to come, I think that it too matters, more about connection than selling books, but we'll see.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My summer guilty pleasures

Summer is here, and so are my favourite time wasters of the entire year.

1) Bachelor Pad - It's truly awful and the people on the show are terrible human beings, but it's funny and the show, unlike The Bachelor, doesn't try and dress it up as anything but what it really is, a place for pretty people to act really, really badly towards each other. A true time waster, but I'm in for each episode and have been since the first season aired.

2) Battleship - Molly already sang its praises, but it's fun, really fun and if Taylor Kitsch and Vampire Eric aren't enough to get you there, its twice the fun of any Michael Bay movie without the blatant misogyny and prettier people on screen and it's sweet in its own way.

3) True Blood - it's devolved into a guilty pleasure, because the plots don't make a ton of sense any more, but its still really fun to watch and well, Steph, your boyfriend, Vamp Eric, is always really entertaining.

4) Beach reads - I never really count a book as a time waster, but during the summer I want fun, even campy, something chick lit and funny and I'm actively searching after reading a series of tense YA's.

5) Researching my dream vacation - I can't take it yet, but this time of the year I spend a little time on the internet discovering where, if I had the money and time, where I would go. A little apartment in Florence, or a hut on stilts over the water in Bali, a private plunge pool next to the beach in St. Lucia, or discovering amazing pastries in the South of France. Every week a new vacation.

That's it. Those are my time wasters. Anyone else have any good ones I can add to the list?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Want to Write Like...

I want to write like Sherry Thomas, because even when I disagree with a choice she makes she still makes my heart ache with her emotional dynamics. She has set up a relationship dynamic for a couple that’s coming out in her next book and when I even think about reading this book I get teary eyed!

I want to write like Sarah Mayberry because she makes me remember everything I used to love about category and why I wanted to write it. She can fill up 70 thousand plus words over just a relationship conflict with no other bells and whistles and that is amazing. Plus she’s contemporary and fresh.

I want to write like Meljean Brook. I keep going back and reading her short story set in the Iron Duke world, which ultimately makes me go back and start reading The Iron Duke again. I want to invent that world. I want that world to be mine.

I want to write like my fellow DWT writers because they know more about craft and construction and pacing than I ever will. I want Eileen’s vampire guy with the icy breath, and Molly’s, Eli in Can’t Hurry Love and Maureen’s Dome world and Sinead’s historical/monster/YA idea because it’s so freaking new and different.

I want all of that to be mine instead of what is mine.

Do you all ever get like this? Like every time you write a sentence you’re just like blahhhhh that’s not any good. I’ll never be good. I suck. Why do I think I can write when there are other better writers out there?

I’m in this weird phase where I’m waiting for my next Super release in October and wondering how it will be received. Some days I think I nailed it. Other days I think… I’m kidding myself. Because it’s not Sherry Thomas and it’s not Sarah Mayberry and it’s not Meljean Brook. (Of course it couldn’t be… no steam punk in the Superromance line.)

But that fear, which I don’t ever remember having before about a book, is impacting the one I’m writing now. I’m trying push myself harder and go deeper with it and all I can think of is blaaaahhhhh!!!

So that’s what my current WIP is going to be known as. The Blaahhhhh book. And maybe tomorrow I’ll get up and think I don’t suck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I'm getting ready to dive into revisions. I love revisions. Revisions are when the project has a chance to actually become what I thought it could be when I started. Thing is, I think I want this to be even better than that. I am itching -- ITCHING, I TELL YOU -- to mess with the structure and the point of view.

I am tired of telling stories from the beginning to the end. I want to do something to explode the structure. Certainly not as ambitious as Time Traveler's Wife, but maybe as ambitious as Rosamund Lupton's Sister.

As far as point of view, well, I've written books in third person and I've written books in first person. I've never written one in multiple first person points of view. You know, like the Barbara Kingsolver thing where each chapter is a different character's first person point of view?

All this would be a big stretch. The book was a stretch in the first place. If I'm willing to stretch a little more it might actually turn into the book I dreamed it could be when I first dreamed of writing it. Those were damn big dreams, too. Damn big. I wanted to write a book that could change people's minds and hearts. It's not there yet, but I think it could be. I think I could make it that way.

Wish me luck.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Donald Maass Workshop

Donald Maass came up to Toronto for a full day workshop this weekend. He'd been here once two years ago and I still have the notebook of scribbles and lightbulb moments I took during that workshop. My memory was that it was magic so I eagerly grabbed my notebooks for this years workshop. And it was magic again - but of recognizable sort.

For those of you who haven't gone to one of his workshops - I highly recommend it. He spends hours and hours helping you create three-dimensional, fully realized characters. His whole methodology seems to me to be about time. He asks you a question about your character, a question that has nothing to do with the plot or about the characters relationship with other people, and then he tells you a story about why that question matters and then, gives you a few minutes to scribble things down. It's the last step that matters.

I give myself lots of time to think about my books - I go for walks, I brain storm, honestly , it feels like weeks before I'm able to actually write. But this kind of time - with no distractions and just asking questions about my characters, going deeper and deeper - I don't do it anymore. And I think it makes a big difference. It's not just about knowing your characters - which for some reason makes me roll my eyes - but it's about being informed about your world.

Last DWT Sinead (after determining that we could kill with our combined strength both Adam Levine and Fassbender (because they are thin little men, not because we are actually murderous) should they happen to walk into Maureen's living room) made the comment that we need more brainstorming. One day of plot work and then another day of character work. And I remember thinking - Good God, why would we kill Adam Levine - and that character thing seems like a luxury.

But then we had the Donald Maass workshop and I'm totally convinced - we need to make time for that luxury.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Some of my favourite things right now

I'm deep in line edits, my brain is mush and even the giant coffee I drank this morning isn't doing anything to wake me up. To top it off, my kids recently saw Sound Of Music for the 100th time and have been singing 'my favourite things' all the time.

So it's top of mind. So here it a list of my favourite things right now, only some of them writing related.

1) Cole haan shoes - Love them, some of their high heeled shoes have made me gasp when I've tried them on, because they don't feel like your toes are being squished into a little vee. Not all are amazing, but the ones that work will be the only heels you'll ever wear again...

2) Anna dressed in blood - by Kendare Blake - an amazing YA ghost story that is scary and tense and quick paced and with a great guy protagonist who is smart and wry and funny. I'm half way through and loving it.

3) P90X and Insanity - OK, this is more a love hate thing. I don't know if you've seen the cheesy informercials, but I have both of these. They are tough, tough, and I'm reasonably fit, and these regularly kick my butt, but as work out at home DVD's go, it saves me a ton of time getting to and from a gym and no other workout has ever felt as challenging as these. But the warnings should be considered, they are really tough and need to be approached with caution, as it would be easy to get injured if you haven't worked out before.

4) Yoga jeans - as comfortable as they sound and really flattering. I live in my pair.

5) Any book by Sherry Thomas - her latest just got released and it's part of my reward for finishing edits.

6) Sangria - Because it's patio season and nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day.

That's it for me. Anyone have any other favourite things to add?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Why Movies Need Editors

I recently watched This Means War. First let me say I’m falling a little in love with Christopher Pine. My crush started in the new Star Trek and is consistently growing. Soon he might make boyfriend potential.

And I thought this movie was good. But as it ended I thought, it could have been great as a romantic comedy. But this movie needed my editor Wanda.

It spent too much time on the “action” and not quite enough time on the character development. Essentially it’s a romantic comedy/action film with a love triangle (a real triangle in this case and not V as the two men were in fact friends). As the movie progressed though it became way more romance than action film.

And I truly wondered what was going to happen. Who would she chose and how would the two love interests’ friendship survive. And as the movie went along it became obvious to me who the choice was going to be – I won’t spoil it for you. But when I got to the end and learned I was right – I saw all the little things they could have done to have made her decision more clear.

The whole time in my head I could hear Wanda saying… you need more here. You need to develop this earlier. We need to see more of her reaction/his reaction earlier on.

Let’s face it – sometimes when we write a story we know way more about what happens in it when we get to the end. It’s our job and our editor’s job to then fix the first part so that it leads us to that conclusion successfully.

I feel like this movie figured out in the last act who the “winner” was. But what they needed to do was go back and give us all those little delicious clues as to why she made the choice that she did.

They were there…. They needed more... just like Wanda is always telling me.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

First Lines of Novels

I'm at that dreaded place again. Dreaded for me. Well, when I really think about it, it wasn't always a dreaded place. I think now that I have a modicum of success, the pressure adds more dread to....

Da-da-da-dum... The first line of a new book.

I know I could just get started, dive in, and figure out the first line/scene later, but thus far, books don't work like that for me. Wow. I've just realized it's true. I've written 8 or 9 full manuscripts and probably 4-5 other partials that I have yet to finish (and may never) and I have NEVER changed the opening of one of those books.

Sure, I edit and tweak--a lot. But that opening line, the way I see the beginning of the book, I've never once changed it. Have I? Sinead and Molly can correct me if I'm wrong. I did add a prologue to two of my unpublished manuscripts after the fact... but I've never completely cut an opening scene or completely rejected the opening line that first fell into my head.

I sometimes roll my eyes at authors who say that characters talk to them, or stories arrive from the ether and they (the authors) just transcribe... But I realize I need to take some of my eye rolling back. Because first lines come to me that way.

First lines are important. They draw the reader in. They set the tone. They raise questions.

I was at a great workshop with Donald Maass about 5 or 6 years ago during which he spent about 2 hours just reading out people's first lines, asking the group if they'd keep reading, and then we'd work as a group to find a better place/way for that author to start if their first line didn't work. Of the 40 or more first lines we looked at, I think mine was one of two that he and the group liked. I'm not bragging. Merely saying that these lines come to me like miracles from heaven and I'm not sure if I know how to start a book if the heaven's don't provide.

But I must. And I will. Every book I've written has developed differently (no process is my process) so maybe this will be the book where the first line/opening scene reveals itself later.

Or maybe my first line magic is used up... I have realized (with some trepidation) that in my last two completed manuscripts (the ones for Deviants and Chosen, the first two books of The Dust Chronicles) I open with a scene-setting line. Something that's considered in most circles to be a beginner mistake. (It was a dark and stormy night.) But I like the lines... I think that, while they do describe setting, they also create mood and pose questions, so I decided it was okay to break that no-description-in-your-first-line rule.

And now... in celebration of Deviants going into production and the ARCs being available at BEA this week--I hope they got them done in time--here is the opening paragraph of Deviants, coming October 30, 2012 from Amazon Children's Publishing:
The air at the uppermost reaches of Haven is hot and thick with the stench of rat droppings. Small price to pay for free food. Normal girls run screaming when this close to rats, but I can’t afford luxuries like fear.

And the original opening paragraph from my first draft:
The air at the uppermost reaches of Haven is hot and thick with the stench of rat droppings. Small price to pay for free food. Most teenaged girls would run screaming this close to rats but I’m not most girls. Not by half.

Not that different is it? OH, YIKES. Now I like the original better. Why did I do this?????? :)

And, first line gods... Please deliver onto me the first line for Glory. Book 3 of The Dust Chronicles.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Ding dong! The book is done!

I turned it in. The third book in my Messenger series has flown through that series of tubes we call the Internet from California to New York City. I walked around all day yesterday whistling, "Ding Dong! The book is Done!" Then tonight my youngest child graduates from high school. He turned 18 about 3 weeks ago. Some of the ladies here know about the little issue I had with his birthday dinner, but they've been sworn to secrecy. Hear that drunk writers? SECRECY.

Anyway, I'm done with my book and apparently I'm done with child rearing. I told my oldest I'm now just his friend. He told me that sounded chill.

Another thing that's chill? Getting to the book that's been waiting for revisions for months. Months!!! I don't even remember what I wrote. It has to do with a car accident, some teenagers, a senator, a preacher and some religious controversy.

Then I have to figure out what to do. The last couple of years have been crazy busy. Kids graduating from high school and applying to colleges. Kids going to college. We've moved my mother twice and she's had innumerable health crises which seem to land us in emergency rooms on holidays with lots of drinking. Oh, and my day job went from part-time to full-time.

One of my sisters thinks I need to take a hiatus and "just be Eileen" for a while. The other sister thinks that I need to keep writing because it's usually most crucial to keep going just when it's the hardest. I don't know what I think except that I'm pretty sure that I'm at a major crossroads and that there's no right road and no wrong road, but I'm going to have to choose a direction.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Avengers and liking your characters

So it's no secret that I'm a hugh Joss Whedon fan, and last night I finally got around to seeing the Avengers, and yes, it's as good as the hype. So go see it, you will have fun.

But my major take away from the movie is how much affection Whedon has for each of his characters and it shows. Everyone in the movie has one great moment, at least one great line and is as strong as everyone else.

And no where is this evident than in the female characters, even the minor ones, who are strong and interesting and equally as capable as their male counterpoints. And yes, Scarlett Johansen does wear a skin tight suit, but so does Captain America and the camera spent as much time focused on his butt as it did on hers.

Whedon does this, his women are always as capable as his men, it's why I've loved his work, and a fantastic contrast to the usual women as sidekick role, see anything directed by Michael Bay, where the women are lingered on by the camera, but pretty useless elsewhere, but I'm pretty sure Michael Bay hates his human characters, why else would he make them act like that?

The Avengers made me think about my current WIP, which is definitely centred on one protagonist, and whether I've given all my characters a heroic moment, a sweet moment and one where they are the star of the scene. I'm pretty sure I haven't, but I'm going to go back and fix that and I'm going to try and like all my characters equally, because I'm pretty sure I've played favourites before.

Has anyone else gone to The Avengers? What was your favourite part of the movie?
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