Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Creating Real Men

A friend posted a link to this blog on Facebook a few days ago. It's all about how to know you're dating a real man. I loved it. Partly because the description really fit the man in my life, but also partly because it occurred to me that it was a great checklist to keep in mind when creating a hero.

I went ahead and took a peek at his blog on the difference between bad boys and jerks. I feel like he hit the nail on the head and made some important points that, again, I want to keep in mind for the next hero I create.

I've read a lot of craft books in my time. I've read a lot of novels and thought about what I liked and didn't like about various characters. I think I'm going to stop doing that and start reading relationship books instead.

I have to admit, until my friend posted the blog, I'm not sure I knew who James Michael Sama was. I'm still not sure and I'm really hoping I'm not singing the praises of a total asshat here. Anybody know him? Read his blog? Think it's not a bad way to create a hero?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Milestone check in Day 5

Everyone did so well on their milestones, I'm part of the way towards mine.

The big one for me is writing more words, and editing at the same time, and I can do one, or the other, but haven't figured out a way yet to do both. So far, the 5000 words, I've been able to manage, the editing not at all.
So I'm going to work on that.

I've been eating pretty well, and the exercise has been pretty good, but I've moved from working out more with weights to Insanity which is a lot of jumping and it's taken a toll, my joints ache a little, and if it gets worse, I may have to stop, but as far as exercise goes, a lot gets accomplished when you're jumping up and down for a solid 40 to 50 minutes, and part of me is a little proud that I can manage to complete most of the workouts, so I'm reluctant to stop.

As for my hectic life, it's no less hectic, but I am watching less TV and reading more diversely. I also started the second book in the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson and it is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Milestone Check In... More and Less...

So here was my list and my updates:

Drink less wine. I don’t want to stop altogether (I like it too much) but I’m cutting back.

I’ve been drinking less. Yeah! I still drink more than I should. I haven’t been as good as going Sunday through Thursday without drinking. It’s more like one night on, one night off. But given where I was before – for me to not be drinking 3 nights out of the week is progress. Sleepy Time tea is my new friend.  

Go to bed no later than 11:00 during the week. There is no reason on work nights to be up later than this.

Not coincidentally my success with this has been on the nights when I’m not drinking. So no wine, sleepy time tea and I’m ready for bed by 11:00. Staying up drinking wine… I must watch Jon Stewart and snort and giggle to everything he says.
Get up a little earlier in the morning. (see above) The key to getting up earlier is to fit in a few more tasks.

Total FAIL. Turns out it doesn’t matter if I drink wine or tea before going to bed, I still hate getting up in the morning. Especially in the fall when it’s darker, and the window is open and there is that crisp chill in the morning that makes you want to linger in bed. I simply am not a morning person.
Run 20 minutes a day a few times a week. Again – nothing crazy here. Baby steps. Easy things I know I can accomplish that are going to help get me in better shape.

This is mostly a fail. I have been getting in some long walks. I like to listen to the DBSA podcasts and again it’s been such a beautiful fall it seems wrong to be inside on a treadmill. But I haven’t been as consistent as I need to be.

Cook more.  I’m the opposite of most people. As a single person I cook on Saturdays and Sunday’s when I have time, but tend to eat out during the week. This leads to the wine and extra calories – so if I can find the energy to cook 1 more night a week at home this will help.

Success! I’ve been really good about making something on Sunday that gets me at least 2 meals out of the week. Not super healthy, not super bad. A lot of crock pot recipes! And I will say by the time I get to that third… sometimes fourth meal… it’s a little boring. But I’ve limited eating out to 2-3 times a week instead of 4-5 times a week.

So some success and some failure. I still need to drink less. I still need to exercise more. But here is what I’ve learned. If I don’t want to be a morning person – I have to find a way to get in exercise and writing after work. Usually I’m so mentally drained at the end of a day the thought of this is too onerous. But I can’t have it both ways. If I can’t make my mornings more productive – I have to make that 6-8 hour time slot in the evening more productive.

I’ll let you know how I make out next month. Anyone else following us out there? Want to let us know how you are doing?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Survival Quiz!


My milestone progress has been okay, but not great. I have made some positive changes and will report more next month. I promise.

But for now! I have something way more fun! A survival quiz from Wylie Snow, author of JUMP ZONE: CLEO FALLS.

Wylie is a good friend of the blog. Check out her book! You won't be sorry. (And isn't it the most gorgeous cover ever???)

Now, the quiz!!

In the book Jump Zone: Cleo Falls, the inhabitants of the Taiga forests struggle to survive daily life in the northern wilds.
Take this simple quiz to find out if you’re Taiga material…

Question 1
How many days can you survive without water:
A. 1
B. 3
C. 5
D. 7

Question 2
You’re lost in a northern forest and want to travel due south. Which indicator do you look to for help:
A. moss
B. sun
C. anthills
D. all of the above

Question 3
You should avoid sleeping on the ground for what reason:
A. ouch - you’ll wake up with stiff aching joints
B. the cold hard ground will zap your body heat
C. avoid snake bites
D. forest dirt leaves harsh un-washable stains

Question 4
Your weak from hunger and the insects are looking awfully yummy. Which should you avoid:
A. slimy ones
B. flying ones
C. brighty colored ones
D. ugly ones

Question 5
Thunder, lightning! How do you estimate the distance of a storm:
A. Count the seconds between the lightening strikes and thunderclaps and divide that number by five to equal the distance in miles.
B. When you feel the first raindrop, start counting the seconds until you hear a rumble of thunder, which equals the number of miles away.
C. Count the number of lightning strikes in one minute to equal the distance in miles.
D. Who cares! Get yourself under the biggest tree you can find and prepare to get wet.

Question 6
Oh no, you’re lost! But you know to implement the S.T.O.P. plan. Gosh… what do those letters stand for again?
A. Sing Things Or Pray – when in doubt, hum a hymn
B. Stretch Twirl Oscillate Pivot – keep moving, turn this adventure into an exercise plan
C. Stop Think Observe Plan – don’t do anything rash, think this situation through
D. Solo Time Operating Plan – you’re alone and it’s time to do all those crazy things you saved for when nobody was watching… yeehaw!

Question 7
You’re still lost, and night is falling. It’s time to build a shelter. Choose your spot:
A. An open, highly visible area – the search party needs to find you.
B. The edge of volcano - best place to keep warm!
C. At the bottom of a dry creek bed – no hair-curling dampness to worry about.
D. Close to a water source – you might get thirsty in the night.

Question 8
You’re stranded in a forest with only one item from your handbag. What would be the most useful thing? Choose just one:
A. Hairbrush
B. Nail file
C. Lipstick
D. Tampon


To see the answers, select the text with your mouse.

1 - B
The average person needs about 2 quarts of water per day to maintain good health. Going without water for 3 days spells death!

2 - D
All of the above! Though moss will grow on the north side of trees, it will be lusher and greener on the south side. Ants frequently build their nests on the south or southeast side of trees to take advantage of the warmth, and if you walk toward the sun precisely at noon, you’ll be headed due south.

3 - B
You’ll preserve your body heat by piling up a bed of grass, leaves or bows and getting yourself a few inches off the ground.

4 - C
Stop with the ick-face. Insects can be a great source of protein (pound for pound, as much as 3 times as much as beef!), but it’s a good idea to stay away from the bright ones, which could potentially signal poison or toxin. Leave the hairy ones and the smelly ones alone, too.

5 - A
As soon as you hear thunder, start counting – one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, etc… until you see a strike of lightning. Divide by five and that’s roughly how many miles out the storm is. And for heaven’s sake, don’t stand under a tall tree!

6 - C
Stop moving, sit down and relax,
Think about your situation, how you got into it, how might you get out of it,
Observe your surroundings, your supplies and/or tools,
Plan your next move.

7 – A & D
Hopefully, somebody knows you’re missing (you DID tell someone about that wilderness hike, right?) so you should find or build shelter in a spot where the search and rescue team can find you. Though building too close to water can be hazardous (insects, animals coming to drink), it’s a good idea to stay fairly close as you need water to survive.

8 - D
You could probably find uses for all of those items, but surprisingly, a tampon is your best bet. The ‘Tactical Adventure Medical Preparedness Outdoors Necessity’ (see what we did there?), is a handy-dandy multi-purpose tool, summed up best by the good folks at The Art of Manliness (click the link, if only for the pictures of a man with a tampon in his mouth!):

Your score:
7-8 correct –Welcome to the Gloria Gaynor club – you will survive!
4-6 correct –brush up on your outdoor skills before you leave the beaten path.
1-3 correct – ‘Glamping’ might be more your style.
0 – don’t ever stray from civilization


Let us know how you did in the comments. Wylie will give away a copy of JUMP ZONE: CLEO FALLS to two lucky commenters!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Okay. Checkin' in on those Milestones. Here were mine:

1) Recommit to Weight Watchers with Molly even though I have never uttered the phrase "I immediately lost 10 pounds" except possibly after having given birth. This means, no more taking spoonfuls of peanut butter, shoving them into the chocolate chip bag and eating the result washed down with milk. I am hoping to make it to the end of the month without doing that even once. I am hoping not to lie to you about it if I do.

I was kind of in denial over how much weight I'd gained. It's probably good that I had to face up to it even though it was depressing. After a few days, it became clear that I really wasn't eating enough fruits and vegetables. I'm doing a little better. I lost 3 pounds which isn't much, but it's a start.

I only did the peanut butter into the bag of chocolate chips thing twice. Once when my editor told me that my Messenger series was over and once the night after my mother's emergency pacemaker surgery. I think i get buys on both of those.

2) Get at least 1 of the chick lit books I'm rereleasing in November formatted for both Kindle and Nook.


3) Have my 20 page submission ready to submit for workshopping for the December residency of my MFA program (does it count as a Milestone if I HAVE to have it done by October 1?).


4) Play less Spider Solitaire. Seriously, I have a problem. It's absurd. I often reward myself for writing a page by playing a game of Solitaire. I am going to stretch that to two pages with plans to go to 3 pages in October.

I did a little better, but still not good. At least, it would be if I hadn't added in Sudoku.

5) Continue to exercise.

It's taking forever for my knees to heal, but I'm still getting out there. The best was a weekend ride up in Mendocino with a bunch of my girlfriends. Here's a picture of me doing Tree pose under the Redwood trees along Highway 128:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Milestones - let's check in, shall we?

So last month we decided it was time to recommit to some parts of our lives we've totally let slide.

I was going to write 10 - 12,000 words a week, recommit to Weight Watchers and get better sleep. am I doing?

In a word, or three actually - not so good.

I killed it writing. I did. I finished a project, wrote a bunch of blog posts that I'm proud of, brainstormed a new project that I am still noodling around with - it has a start date of Nov. 1. All of that I feel really good about. I do.

Recommit to Weight Watchers - ah....I'm about 50/50 here. I'm doing much better, am I as good as I was last April? Not even close. But I'm doing better. More veggies, no cheese. If I could ditch the drinking I think I'd be better off, but what's a beer-loving girl to do?

Sleep. DAMN YOU SONS OF ANARCHY AND NETFLIX!!!! Damn you! It's just so easy to say - one more episode. Just one. And before I know it it's midnight and my plans are totally pooched. Worse, I inevitably fall asleep while putting my daughter to bed, which makes me WIDE AWAKE at midnight. Gah. Just...gah!

One thing I feel really great about is a purge I'm doing of our laundry room - lots of useless junk that we've been saving for no reason getting out of the house. That's a great feeling.

So, friends? How are your Milestones coming?

Sunday, October 13, 2013



Hey! Thanks so much for stopping by - there are a ton of great prizes to be won. Lots of great authors and bloggers to be introduced to, so be sure to click through to all the sites.

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We here at Storytelling Rules are throwing in some of our own books and swag as a thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Neurotic is the New Black...

So For the First Time has been out now for just over a week. It’s seems to be right in there rank wise with all the other Supers so that’s good. But no Amazon reviews yet and only a handful of Goodread reviews from people not Molly O’Keefe. Who is super supportive by the way – I don’t know what I would do without her.

And once again as an author you take that trip to neurotic land. Yes, I’m really happy that the few people who have read it seemed to really like it. I’m grateful Eileen hand sold a copy to a nurse by reading it out loud. Thanks Eileen! I was thrilled to actually have people request some giveaways so that’s awesome too.

Why can’t I just be happy with that? Why do I care that internet bloggers haven’t read or reviewed it? Why am I stressing that some of the other books in my month already have Amazon reviews and I don’t.

Because I’m a writer silly! It’s never good. When you have a ton of reviews there are some bad mixed in there and that makes you sad. When you have no reviews you think nobody is reading your book and that makes you sad.

I’m trying to imagine book release Nirvana. I don’t think it exists.

Sure you want to be the top ranked book. Yes, you want tons of glorious reviews… you know without having to buy them. But I wonder would that make us satisfied? Would we just sit back, put our feet up and think, yep, I’ve done it.

Or would that just come with its own set of problems? Would we stress about trying to get more reviews? Would we fear that our next book won’t be as good and we’ll worry about disappointing our reader?

Probably. So the moral of this story… writers are nuts and we’re never happy. And that’s a good thing. Because what you realize when you’ve been in this business long enough -  it’s the neurosis that keeps us going.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What Dexter got wrong and Breaking Bad got right

I'm in the middle of my revisions on GLORY, the last book in my Dust Chronicles series. And it's stressful worrying about how to tie up all the loose ends and answer all the questions I planned to answer and not disappoint fans of the series...

But two big TV shows recently came to a close, and for me, one did it really well and one really badly.

I'll try not to get too spoilerish, but if you haven't yet seen and plan to watch the final episodes of Dexter or Breaking Bad... be warned. There may be spoilers on the horizon...

First, Dexter

I loved this show the first season. And mostly loved it the second. I also remember really liking the Julia Stiles season, and the John Lithgow stuff was interesting, but at some point the show got a bit annoying. I keep thinking I didn't watch a chunk of one season, (maybe the Colin Hanks one?) but then I realize, no, I saw it all.

I know a lot of people gave up on Dexter, but I kept watching. And I watched the entire final season. I even, for the most part, liked the final season.

Yes, I've heard some really valid criticisms about their adding the Dr. Vogel character, but I thought it added something interesting. And making her son the big bad, I thought mirrored nicely the stuff with Dexter's brother from the first season.

So, I was pretty happy with the final season right up to the last episode. Then WTF?

I don't think any of the resolutions rang true either logically or emotionally for me. Did anyone want to see Debra dead? Not me. And the way it happened didn't make sense either. It wasn't heartbreaking as much as frustrating. She has a stroke??? It felt like a cop out.

But then Dexter takes Debra's body out on his boat, in a hurricane... A super odd choice. Why not leave her body at the hospital???  Why is it better for her body to be with all of his horrible victims??? But I thought, okay... he's so upset about causing Debra's death that he's going to commit suicide.

But no. We're supposed to believe he somehow survives the storm. Even though his boat smashes to bits. Yes. Dexter survives a freaking hurricane. Without a boat. A mile off the coast. Made no sense.

And making even less sense, I didn't believe that once he did live, that he wouldn't go join Hannah and Harrison in Argentina. I HATED that the kid ended up with Hannah. I think I would have been okay if the three of them ended up together... Dexter and Hannah kind of keep each other in balance in an odd way. And Dexter would never let Harrison get hurt. But even if Dexter loves Hannah. Even if she proved she's good at taking care of his son, I do not buy -- for a second -- that he would leave his son with her forever and disappear! Even if he trusts her not to put Harrison directly in harms way (big if), she's a fugitive!  Why would she leave her son with him? Why not Aster and Cody's grandparents? Why not Angel and/or his sister? There were other WAY better and safer choices for Dexter to make for Harrison.

Plus, even if I could believe he made these choices and survived that storm... I didn't find the writers' choices emotionally satisfying. Okay, Dexter's a serial killer. But he's who we've been cheering for this whole series. And in this final season in particular, the writers went a long way toward redeeming him... And yet, after all that, after making me want Dexter to end up okay, he loses his sister, and his kid, and his love? Yuck. And Hannah, still clearly a killer, has custody of a sweet little boy. Double yuck. Clearly the writers believed that Dexter needed an unhappy ending.

On the other hand... Breaking Bad.

I thought the finale was perfection.

It's interesting... Dexter (the series) starts out with a serial killer for a protagonist and makes us empathize with him and justify what he's doing. They made me want Dexter (the character) to have a happy ending. Yet somehow the writers thought that they had to punish Dexter at the end and give him an unhappy ending...

Whereas, with Breaking Bad, we started out with a really sympathetic character, who gets worse and worse and worse -- and in the end gets his comeuppance, but only after taking down the even worse dudes. Perfect. And the people who deserve to live, get to. (Okay, some of them. But letting Jesse and Skyler and Walt's kids live was the right choice.) I'd even argue that the writers gave Walt a happy ending. I mean, he has terminal cancer. Saving Jesse's life and then dying in that lab was about as close to a happy ending as he could get.

Amazing how one series got it so right, and the other so wrong....

Agree? Disagree? Any other endings that got it really right or wrong?

Fall TV: Why am I laughing if it's so bad?

We've now watched two episodes of The Crazy Ones. News Flash: Robin Williams is super funny. He makes me laugh pretty much every time he's on screen. I'm also wondering if there will be actually be a third episode to watch because it is so terrible. I mean, really really terrible.

Yet, I'm still laughing. The set up that had the art guy cleaning duck butts? Stoopid. Robin Williams is raising ducklings for a pond. He is, of course, doing it in their gigantic advertising firm. Of course, it also provides a moment for a learning moment. I'm sorry. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Robin Williams and the art guy walking through the firm with the ducklings trailing after them? Adorable. Funny.

I sort of knew it was just going to be a showcase for Robin Williams' zaniness so I don't know why I'm disappointed that it's not something more. I think I thought that having Sarah Michelle Gellar in it meant it would have other substance.

Anybody else watching this? Anybody else watching something that they both hate and laugh at?

Monday, October 07, 2013

The randomness of the promotion engine

I've thought a lot about promotion in the last few years. And I've spent quite a bit of money. I don't know how successful ANYTHING I've done is - but I like that I feel like I'm doing SOMETHING. I think that's what every author is struggling with right now - what do I do so I'm not just screaming into the void? Contests, giveaways, facebook ads, blog tours - it's as consuming as the writing and for some of us even MORE SO. Because it doesn't feel natural and it brings to the surface every insecurity we might have about our work. I also feel like every time something really really works for me - the next time - not so much. Goodreads giveaways and ads worked like gangbusters for my Harlequin Superromances. Then the ads stopped working - no idea why.

But then something comes along that's so random, that's so freaking successful - it simply boggles the mind. Erin Thompson asked if I wanted to be a part of the Give Me Books Extreme Jock Giveaway. I said yes and donated a book and to be honest, forgot about it. A few days later the contest began to run and all the things that publishers want authors to do - started to happen. Facebook likes, twitter followers, engagement with new readers... at an amazing level.

So, not entirely sure what the takeaway is except that as an author, when those requests for donations for a hop or a giveaway come in - say yes. Always say yes.

If you are interested in the giveaway: follow this link

And because I am so grateful to the new likes and followers I am giving away a ton of books for one day only - including WILD CHILD. Check it out

Friday, October 04, 2013

Am I right to trust you with my time?

So I'm a third of the way into Night Film right now and the book is huge, it weighs a ton. I bought it based on some buzz, some positive reviews and because I wanted to read something different and if you read the back cover, this book is definitely different, part murder mystery, part horror novel and part literary.

It started really strong, the writing is great, but as I read it, I'm a little nervous. I'm not completely assured at this point that the book is going to meet my expectations. Will the ending match the awesome beginning? I don't have that sense of calm that you get with some books that the author is utterly in control, she/he knows what you want and they are going to ensure you get it.
(I know how ridiculous that sounds) but think of your favourite authors and how assured their writing is. The first that comes to mind is Sherry Thomas, I rarely have doubts when I read her book, because there is a sense from the first page that she is absolutely in control and this book will deliver on the promise. Or maybe it's my experience with her and that's me talking for the author when I open her books?

My best example is on the many singing shows there are out there. When someone comes out and they're calm and confident and the first note is awesome, you're more likely to follow them through the remaining song, but it also makes it worse if the last third of the song is an off-key mess.

Or have I had too much coffee this morning? I'm really hoping that this book is great, because I really want it to be. I need a new literary obsession.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

I Hate This Part...

As everyone who follows the blog knows For the First Time is out now in stores and available on line. With any new release these are the things an author should feel about her book:
1. Over the moon excited. After months of hard work, revisions, edits, and promotion the day is finally here.
2. A sense of accomplishment. See above about the work.
3. Nervous anticipation. Will readers find it/buy it?
4. Nervous agitation. If they find it will they like it? Or hate it. Or really hate it… because that’s how author’s think.
5. Hopeful and eager. If readers find it, and like it, then maybe if you write another book they will like that too, so as an author it’s time to go back to work.
This is how I feel when a book is released:
1. Neurotic. It’s out there now. I can’t change it. Oh my God what have I done?
2. Morose.  I probably didn’t work hard enough. Maybe if I had worked harder it could have been better.
3. Like a loser and/or failure. I didn’t promote enough. Not enough giveaways/tweeting/facebooking/ads. No one will ever find this book. Everyone is going to want everyone else’s book more.
4. Embarrassed. Everyone on line is thinking will I PLEASE stop promoting my freaking book, it’s embarrassing already.
5. Hopeful and eager. Okay maybe if readers do find it, and they do like it, they might like the next one. So I should go back to work.
I know. It’s pathetic. I’m the Eeyore of authors. Someone tweeted me congratulations on my release and I was like… uh… why?

I know this is not how it should be done. I should be celebrating my book. I should be talking it up. I should be developing a street team to champion my work. But here is the thing. It’s. Just. Not. Me.

After so many years in this business I have decided to let my writing and my stories determine my success. I like tweeting so I do it. I think having a facebook and webpage is important so I do that too. I will read my reviews (because I can’t not) and I am happy to guest blog or do giveaways when asked. But being my own cheerleader, not going to happen. And I have to accept it might mean my books don’t do as well as others, but I think I’ve gotten to the point where I’m ready to stop beating myself up for that. If people like my work they'll come back for more. If they like it, they will recommend it to others. If the book is good it will get some decent reviews. Or not. 
I'm just going to let it all happen.  

So in the spirit of Eeyore… let me sell you on this giveaway. I guess, if you want a book, I’ll send you one, though you might not like it. But maybe you will. I don’t know….

No gimics. No tricks. No picking anyone from comments. I’ve got 5 copies of Act of Persuasion and 5 copies of For the First time (A few large print so state your preference.) If you want 1 or both, send me your address and I’ll mail them to you. You can contact me
First come, first serve.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

In a World...

In the spirit of last week's discussion about Amy Pohler and Tina Fey's satire bit at the Emmy's, making fun of how women are objectified in the entertainment industry, I thought I'd tell you about a great film I saw last weekend.  (I just looked, and it's certified 91% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. So I am not alone in loving this movie.)

It's not a "big" film and might be hard to find in theaters (I think it's been out here for 8 weeks...) but if you're not in a big city, you might find it on pay-per-view or Netflix or something.

It's called In a World. And I loved it. It's subtle satire. Funny but serious. Poking fun without going too far or getting too silly... Okay world, the set up--it's silly... but all of the actors/characters take it very seriously, so it doesn't come off as broad satire like the Anchorman movies, for example.

Overall, it's a great, well-written story about discrimination against women in the entertainment industry. (The tiny, and arguably ridiculous, part of the industry the film focuses on, is like a microcosm  of, or metaphor for the entire industry, arguably any industry...)

The movie is set in the world of voice-over artists--particularly those who specialize in narrating movie trailers. These movie-trailer narrators even have a big award show, a la the Oscars or the Emmys called the "Trailees" or something... I do remember that the trophy had a trailer-style camper-van on top. Ha! But no one points this out. You have to notice these little details, and I have a feeling that more funny bits like that would jump out at me on a second viewing.

The protagonist of the film is a struggling voice artist/vocal coach played by Lake Bell, who also wrote and directed the film. She's the daughter of one of the two most famous movie-trailer voice artists of all time. Her dad's main rival just died, and along with him died his signature line: In a world...  Apparently, this dead dude was so good at delivering that line, that no one else dared utter it.

The word goes out that the big new blockbuster quadrilogy soon to hit screens (The Amazon Games*) is going to bring the "in a world" opening line out of retirement with big fanfare, and everyone assumes the heir apparent to the trailer-narrator crown (a ridiculously pompous man) will get the gig. If it's not him, certainly it will be a man. "The industry does not crave a female sound. I'm not being sexist, that's just the truth."

* "it's about these fierce, mutated female Amazonian warriors battling clone prehistoric-cavemen hybrids.
It's all based on the Prussian War."  LOL And and of the Amazon warriors is played by Cameron Diaz in the fake trailer...

The protagonist's father laughs in her face (actually worse than that) when she tells him she has a chance to audition for what will be *the biggest thing* in their industry in decades.

Anyway, In a World is a really smart and funny story about a character who stands up to her dad and finds her voice (metaphorically as well as literally). Plus it's a sweet romance, with another nice marriage romance sub-plot, and some great family dynamics/tension. Also Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) is in it, as well as Rob Corddry, and there are some great little cameos by other famous hollywood actors. (Eva Longoria, playing herself, is not afraid to look foolish...)

There were only about 7 or so people in the theater when I saw it (it had been out for 7 weeks...) but I wasn't the only one laughing.

And not only is it smart and sweet and funny, it makes you reflect on how people can be held back or belittled because of their gender, or their race, or their sexuality, etc. etc.

And it also sends a very important message to women about how much your tone of voice and manner of speaking can affect how you're perceived and whether you're taken seriously. And how some women are their own worst enemies in that regard...

I highly recommend this film.

Monday, September 30, 2013


October is a busy busy month for us! Stephanie's FANTASTIC For The First Time will be published at the beginning of the month. Honestly - go preorder right now. This is Steph's best book with Superromance. Amazing heroine, great hero, crackling dialogue and sexual tension. So good. Clink on the link above to read an excerpt if you don't believe me.

And at the end of the month my first book in the Boys of Bishop Series Wild Child comes out.

I've been doing little snippet excerpts over at Romance At Random

But here is a longer excerpt - the first two chapters of Wild Child - have a look!

How about you guys? How is your October shaping up?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Parks and Rec

I've been flirting with tv this past week. I haven't watched a lot, but there have been a couple of shows I've sort of watched to get a sense of whether they'll actually work or not.

Agents of SHIELD was ok, it had some Whedon hallmarks, but was a bit messy in execution, and other than that, I've watched a few minutes here and there of some of the new comedies.

Most of which have been painfully unfunny, loud, and bordering on annoying. So as a palate cleanser, last night, I gave into my Amy Poehler fangirling and watched Parks and Rec.

And it's awesome. It always surprises me that it doesn't do better, because it's so good and last night it struck me why. Aside from the great acting, it has such a great balance and so much heart. To balance off Leslie's sheer enthusiasm, there's Ann who rolls her eyes at everything. To balance off Tom's general crazy, there's Ron's gruff masculinity, and last night was such a great staging of all of the factors that go into making this show so great.

It's a show that's gotten better each season and one to need to go back and re-watch. And it hasn't helped my Poehler fangirling, and neither did this. Poehler and Jon Hamm held an Emmy's loser party, where winners could only get in if they paid a fee at the door, and all proceeds went to charity.

Anyone watched a really great new show this season? I've been largely disappointed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Did you see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Emmy's

It is without question these are two of the funniest women of my generation. They aren’t just funny though. They are brilliant and funny!

They rocked the Golden Globes and in tribute to that they were brought back for the Emmy’s to do a little skit. But if you were reading between the lines, which I do with these women because (see above) they are not just funny they are brilliant and funny, they were also making a statement.

Awhile back I blogged about Miley Cyrus and the epic TWERKING EVENT OF 2013. I commented that I felt sad a talented girl felt she needed to go to those lengths to get attention. Because in watching it I did feel she was degrading herself as a person by becoming solely a sexual object. Now there has been lots of back and forth on who is to blame. Some blame her, some the producers, some Robin Thicke. Heck some will say it’s because Billy Ray is a bad dad.

But Tina and Amy put the focus on where it should be. On the Double Standard. They showcased what it looked like to have two women heckling a man and telling him to take his pants off. Twerk, they told the host, Harris. They come to award shows for twerking! When Harris said he wouldn’t twerk because it would be degrading… their answer… “Yes, but we would be de-grateful.” When he asked them, why are you wearing 3D glasses, Tina’s response was… “Because I want to see your junk up close.” Amy’s quip… “Yeah, show America what you’re working with.”

They were lewd. They were crass. They were completely disgusting… and wasn’t it hilarious? From a comedic standpoint it works, because you’re getting the unexpected. How shocking of these women to say such things and isn’t that so funny. From a brilliant standpoint America just got schooled on why Cyrus’s show became a national talking point for so many and in essence who is really to blame.

US. Us for making a show like that okay. Us for accepting that it’s perfectly acceptable for girls to get as naked as they can on television for the entertainment of others. Tina and Amy put together a really funny skit, but Tina and Amy also gave us a look at ourselves that again, if we’re reading between the lines, maybe we didn’t like to see. Because frankly it’s not a pretty picture.

It’s not okay to put on a show that is going to be seen by a national audience and let a girl “degrade” herself just because it’s salacious and will boost ratings.  And if women ruled the world and men we’re forced to put on a sexual display to garner attention and they were only judged by the size of their “junk” I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t feel comfortable in that role either. Unless they are a stripper, in which case they know what they’re doing and what they are getting paid for.

I can’t change the fact that some people think what Cyrus did, including herself, was no big deal. I can’t change the fact that often girls will put themselves in bad situations because they think this kind of attention is the only attention they can get. I can’t change men/boys from taking advantage of women in these bad situations because hey, it was the girl’s choice to do that wasn’t it?

But Tina and Amy… maybe they did. Maybe they got through to some people… you know, once everyone stopped laughing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When the Author is the Superstar

One of the more interesting and strange films I saw this year at TIFF was Horns. To say it was unusual is an understatement and while I'm glad I saw it, I'm not positive I'd widely recommend it.

But whether or not I loved it, isn't really what I want to talk about.

The film was showing in a relatively small venue for TIFF. Less than a thousand seat theatre for sure. And it's kind of an odd/awkward theatre where it's impossible/difficult to shield the film stars from the audience. And Daniel Radcliffe was in this movie. So... they had a bunch of uniformed police standing in the aisle--I've never seen that. Even for Brad Pitt, or Jennifer Lopez. I assume the cops were there ready to pounce on anyone who tried to pounce on Radcliffe.

Thing is... this wasn't the type of film that would draw a big Harry Potter fan club contingent. Nor would it draw the screaming teen girl types. Sure, people clapped for him when he came up on stage before and after the film...

But who did this crowd go gaga for? Joe Hill.

And Joe Hill is the author of the book on which the film is based. And at least half of the questions from the audience during the Q&A were directed at Hill. I thought this was kind of cool.

Juno Temple, Daniel Radcliffe, Joe Hill -- Q&A after world premiere of Horns
Now, of course, I do wonder if he'd have such ardent fans if his dad wasn't Stephen King... (doesn't he look uncannily like him?) but still... It's not often that the writer gets the rockstar treatment at a film screening. Joss Whedon does. Stan Lee, I guess... But it's not that often that people get as excited about the writers as they do the actors.

Now, Horns... Hmmm.. How do I describe this film.

Radcliffe and the female lead, (Juno Temple), insisted it's a love story/romance, during the Q&A after the film. And I suppose that's true at it's core in the end. But to reveal that is a bit of a spoiler. And if someone goes expecting a romance... well, they're going to be shocked by a lot of other things in this movie.

The story starts with a young man, who's being hounded by the press and public, because he's been accused of the brutal murder of his girlfriend. But he can't remember the night in question at all. At first he thinks he didn't do it. But it's clear that even his mother thinks he's guilty, and he starts to crack up.

Soon, the audience starts to doubt him too, especially when, um, he starts to grow horns from the front of his forehead. And then other characters start confessing really terrible things to him and/or asking his permission to do unspeakable things. And I guess we're supposed to believe that he's the devil at this point? But that's the part of the story I never really understood in the end... Because, well, let's just say I didn't understand why or if he was the devil. The plot takes some twists and it's not as simple as that.

Okay, maybe I am recommending it. For the adventurous film goer, anyway.

Although, based on my quick glance at IMDB, it doesn't look like this film has a distributor yet, so you might never get the chance... :(

At least I got to see it, and to see an author being treated like a movie star.

And an addendum... Speaking of authors getting the star treatment: Here is a snap of our Miss Molly reading from Wild Child Monday night.

Is there an author or screenwriter or TV writer you'd give the movie star treatment to?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Positive Side of Feedback

I had my first stint as a volunteer Inspirator for 916 Ink yesterday. Say what, you say? I don't blame you. Let me explain.

For my MFA, I need to do what they call a Field Study Project. Field Study Projects take many shapes and forms, but need to meet three criteria (criterion?) : 1) the education of literary artists, 2) community service or engagement, 3) the pursuit of social justice. People do all kinds of things.Set up reading series. Interview groups of people and help them set up blogs. I can't even remember some of the other examples.

I am not that creative. I thought about the things that matter to me and what would be geographically advantageous and Googled "literacy and Sacramento" and found this gem of an organization that is using creative writing to boost literacy in Sacramento.

I emailed them and met with them and, frankly, they are super mega awesome fun. I went to their volunteer bootcamp and will be helping out at one 12 week session with the idea that I'll be able to run my own 12 week session at a school in the Spring.

So this is a really long roundabout way to get here. We were talked about criticism yesterday. This group uses a method called the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. It's all about acceptance and praise. Through the first 8 weeks of the program, there is no negative feedback. It's all about what's right with a kid's writing and what's strong about it. I know it was only the first day, but you should see the looks on these kids' faces when they share something and everyone tells them the things that were good about it. I think I saw some of them literally get taller.

Eventually, we will talk about revision, but from what I've read, the method is still focused on talking about what is good in a piece and how to get more of it in there.

I know it can't be that way in the big bad world, but it was a nice little place to live in for an afternoon and I'm looking forward to going back next week.

Monday, September 23, 2013

We need more thoughtful criticism. Not less.

As romance writers we can no longer in one breath bemoan the romance genre’s lack of credibility, cry that no one respects the books we write, hate the fact that they are considered trash/mommy porn at worst, escape/beach reads at best, and then in the next breath complain about bad reviews. “Mean” reviews. Critical reviews.

It sucks getting a bad review. There’s no question about it, it’s debilitating and some of them can be snarky and personal and the ones with the gif’s…? Oh, it’s a stab to the heart that can send me right back to bed.

But our genre’s path to credibility and respect is through more thoughtful criticism. Criticism from people who love the genre, who read all across the genre, who write their reviews with an understanding of context and history. Who can explain why a book works – not just emotionally but technically - and more importantly why it doesn’t. Reviewers who understand a genre that has deep ruts but at the bottom of those ruts there is still gold to be found.

If the New York Times Book Review is the epitome of credibility, then we need reviews and reviewers that hold our books to the highest standard. Men and women who can write a great review, even if it’s a bad one.

But in order to get those voices, we need to let all the voices talk. Obviously, there are reviews that cross a terrible line; reviews should be about books, not about authors. Personal attacks against authors because you don’t like the books he or she writes, have no place in the romance community. And the same can absolutely be said for authors who go after reviewers who give “bullying” reviews.

And frankly, I’m glad I’m not in any position to have to monitor a community, be it Goodreads, or a chat room or a blog. Talk about a thankless job, but I think there are ways to do it that are fair and equitable and civil, to both readers and writers.

Buying reviews or review sites that only hand out glowing reviews – these things aren’t going to serve us in the long run. If we want to be taken seriously in the literary world, we need to take ourselves seriously and behave professionally and that means sucking it up when those gif reviews come in. There are reviewers out there who only review books they like – and I completely understand this. In terms of the way I talk about books on-line, this is the camp I fall into. But there is a difference between a discerning good review and a generic one.

Reviews don’t change the way I work. Or how I view my books. I don’t expect reviewers to appreciate in any way the work I’ve put into the book – that’s not their job. I have a book out in October and the bad reviews will come. They always do. But I’ll take a well-written bad review if it takes the work seriously and elevates the discussion about romance novels. In my opinion that should be part of our collective goal – discover our next great stay up all night book to read and raise high this genre we all love.

WINNERS and a very cool event tonight in Toronto!

Thanks for all of you who followed along at the Hop - there will be another one in October with more chances to win gift cards and copies of Wild Child, so be sure to come back! Now the winner of a digital copy of Deviants and Compliance is Gail Rosenstrom! Gail you should have an email from me in your in box!

Tonight I am so thrilled to be a part of a very cool event in Toronto - A NIGHT OUT WITH AUTHORS
Local authors Mary Sullivan, Ann Lethbride, Kate Bridges and Margaret Moore have organized a genre reading series in the city!! And tonight will be the first night and the line-up, if I do say so myself, is impressive. Myself, Mary Sullivan and the fantastic New York Times Bestselling author Susanna Kearsley. We will be reading from upcoming and recently published books - all of them amazing!

NIGHT OUT WITH AUTHORS takes place at the Tranzac Club 292 Brunswick Ave. (between Bathurst and Spadina subway stations in Toronto).

Readings are scheduled to run from 6:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. There's an admission charge of $5 to cover the cost of the room.

Although there are no meals served at the Tranzac Club, you are welcome to bring in your own. There are several restaurants nearby with take-out options.

Beverages are available at the venue. All beverages, whether alcoholic or nonalcoholic, must be purchased at the Tranzac Club and the legal drinking age will be strictly enforced.

So if you're in the city and love genre fiction - come out and support this great event that will hopefully become a highlight in Toronto's literary scene.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Milestones - Day 5 - Balance

I love a big pronouncement. I occasionally make them, mostly after a few ciders, but they almost never work for me.
I'm with Steph, it's the small steps that seem to help me most.

For me, my milestones are about keeping a pretty hectic life in order. My milestones are about keeping everything in balance, so nothing in my life feels neglected. When I focus too much on one thing, everything else falls by the wayside and I feel guilty and I get distracted and nothing gets done.

First on my list is writing 5000 new words a week. It's totally doable. Molly and Maureen do this in a day, but for me, this is an achievable goal, and something that will keep me on track.

Edit a previous manuscript and get it ready for release. Three months should be what I need, so by Jan 01st, it should be live.

Eat better - I've made an effort over the past six months to really improve my eating habits. For me it's about making better choices and it's paid off, but I want to continue to work on this. For this I use My Fitness Pal and it's great, it really helps me understand that maybe I can't have the 10 am muffin and the 3pm cookie, but one might be ok.

Continue to workout. I don't have a ton of time, and getting to the gym is an impossibility, so I do at home workout DVD's, which are really effective. I started on P90X and now am working on Insanity. I can't commit to their schedule, but every second day is achievable, so usually I can manage a workout 3-4 times a week.

Read a great book every month. I'm committing to picking up a book from a genre I don't read as much and reading something new every month, whether it's literary, science fiction or fantasy. I need to broaden my reading habits.

That's it, but looking at it right now, it seems like it might be enough. I know from experience if I over commit, I'll get discouraged and nothing will get done.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baby Step Milestones DAY 4

So this week we’ve seen some pretty big goals from Molly, Eileen and Maureen. Don’t know what Ripley (aka Sinead) has in store for us tomorrow.

But for me I’ve learned I can be a pretty spectacular failure at the big goals. I’ve spent almost my whole life (I’m not kidding either probably since age 12) battling my weight. I’ve had success but mostly it’s been failure and I’ve come to a point where I have to stop saying I’m GOING TO DO THIS… because the reality is I don’t. Need to lose 8-10 pounds – I’m your girl. Need to lose 20+ 30+, so far I haven’t found myself in it for the long haul.
For milestones, I’m trying another approach. I’m not going to get in shape to run a 10K. I’m not going to lose 20% of my weight (which I absolutely should). I’m not going to go vegan. Or commit to writing 2000K words a day (which I absolutely should).

For me in the next few months it’s all about baby steps. My favorite saying is “you can’t fight the war on all fronts.” In times of stress I tell myself I can’t do everything. I can’t work my butt off at my day job, and lose weight, and exercise, and write, and eat healthy. It’s too much. So I pick the one thing I want to focus on, and that does usually get done, but sometimes at the cost of other things.
This time I’m not going to fight the war. Instead I’m going to engage in minor skirmishes. My baby step milestone list:

1. Drink less wine. I don’t want to stop altogether (I like it too much) but I’m cutting back.

2. Go to bed no later than 11:00 during the week. There is no reason on work nights to be up later than this.

3. Get up a little earlier in the morning. (see above) The key to getting up earlier is to fit in a few more tasks.

4. Run 20 minutes a day a few times a week. Again – nothing crazy here. Baby steps. Easy things I know I can accomplish that are going to help get me in better shape.

5. Cook more.  I’m the opposite of most people. As a single person I cook on Saturdays and Sunday’s when I have time, but tend to eat out during the week. This leads to the wine and extra calories – so if I can find the energy to cook 1 more night a week at home this will help. 

And that’s it for now. If I continually meet these goals, I may up my game. But right now it’s all about getting started. I’m like a big slow train that needs to be pulled/pushed and manhandled out of the station to break some ingrained habits. The hope is that once the train gets rolling, I’ll be able to pick up some steam.

Wish us luck. For our readers… you know you want to join in. Give us your goals and come along for the ride with us!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


I've read that a good way to hold yourself accountable for goals is to make public declarations, and I have considered--countless times--starting a blog or a tumblr just to track my main life goal: losing weight.

But I've never followed through to do it. And I think it's because it's a bit scary to put it all out there and to realize that a) other people will be paying attention, b) I might not meet my goals and be embarrassed, or (and I actually think this is the scariest on some level c) I might actually meet my goals and then not know how to cope with that.

But here I am, saying publicly, that over the next year, (yes, I'm giving myself to the end of next August) I am going to lose 20% of my current body weight. I'm not going to give the number, but just know that while this is a doable goal, it's not an easy one. And anyone who watches The Biggest Loser knows that those guys do that in a month, but I *don't* plan to try to do it quickly.

I've done the rapid weight loss thing before. Several times. I lost nearly 30% of my body weight once. And I've lost track of how many times I've lost at least 12-15% of my body weight. But what I've learned from all this is that a) I am great at losing weight quickly when I put my mind to it, but b) doing it that way NEVER lasts. Yes, I know that's also what (most) doctors and dietitians say, too. But I always think I'm different. ;)

We've talked a lot about how hard it can be to keep writing and believing in a project that hasn't sold. Is it any good? Is it worth my time? What's the point? And let's just say that after my 10th or 12th time gaining back the weight I'd lost, after thinking, "Never again! This time is it!", I've been in a "What's the point" place the past couple of years. The feeling of futility is very similar.

No more. I am going to do this.

I'm not going to state any writing milestones right now. I have a deadline for my revisions for GLORY (The Dust Chronicles #3) and when I *have* to do something, I don't need the extra motivation as much. :)

So, for now, I am just going to have this one goal. I might add more next time. Probably something about what time I get into and out of bed....

Wish me luck!

PS. Happy Birthday to my sister Sue. :) Not that she reads this blog. ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


In case you missed Molly's post yesterday, welcome to Milestone Week at Storytelling Rules. To recap, I quote directly from Molly:

We are all declaring our Milestones - the things we are hoping to achieve in the next few months. This idea was born in one of this discussions we were having about how fall makes us feel like it's time to get back to work on all things; Health, writing, exercise, organization. All of it.

So this is what we're going to do. Each of us will have some goals that we're going to declare to the world this week. Every month from now until the end of December we're going to check in on the last week of the month and update how we are doing with those goals. We would love you guys to commiserate, to join us, to shame us should we fail, congratulate us when we succeed. Just, in general, join the conversations.

Here are my Milestones:

1) Recommit to Weight Watchers with Molly even though I have never uttered the phrase "I immediately lost 10 pounds" except possibly after having given birth. This means, no more taking spoonfuls of peanut butter, shoving them into the chocolate chip bag and eating the result washed down with milk. I am hoping to make it to the end of the month without doing that even once. I am hoping not to lie to you about it if I do.

2) Get at least 1 of the chick lit books I'm rereleasing in November formatted for both Kindle and Nook.

3) Have my 20 page submission ready to submit for workshopping for the December residency of my MFA program (does it count as a Milestone if I HAVE to have it done by October 1?).

4) Play less Spider Solitaire. Seriously, I have a problem. It's absurd. I often reward myself for writing a page by playing a game of Solitaire. I am going to stretch that to two pages with plans to go to 3 pages in October.

5) Continue to exercise even though I did this to myself by tripping over a tree root on Monday morning:

Monday, September 16, 2013


This week we are all declaring our Milestones - the things we are hoping to achieve in the next few months. This idea was born in one of this discussions we were having about how fall makes us feel like it's time to get back to work on all things; Health, writing, exercise, organization. All of it.

So this is what we're going to do. Each of us will have some goals that we're going to declare to the world this week. Every month from now until the end of December we're going to check in on the last week of the month and update how we are doing with those goals. We would love you guys to commiserate, to join us, to shame us should we fail, congratulate us when we succeed. Just, in general, join the conversations.

These are my goals for fall:

1. 10-12 thousand words a week. Back in the day, this was nothing. I am woefully out of writing shape, but deadlines are looming and side projects are beckoning, so it's time to get serious.

2. Re-commit to Weight Watchers. I joined WW a few months ago and almost immediately lost ten pounds. Then I gained it back. Then I felt so bad, I stopped logging into my profile to write down what I ate or how I exercised and then I gained some more weight. So, it's time to stop that. Back to Weight Watchers.

3. Better sleep. I need to be lights out at 11 at the latest. Staying up till midnight ruins my next day.

Stay tuned for more Milestones through the week and NEXT WEEK WE WILL ANNOUNCE THE WINNERS FOR THE HOP!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's hot! It's steamy! It's a Wild Child Excerpt! It's a giveaway and a BLOG HOP!

So, it's a steamy summer hop we're engaged in and there are a ton of prizes all week, including a kindle fire and whack of free books already downloaded.

All the rules and how to hop details can be found on the Safari Heat site. Follow this link

Since the theme of the hop is heat - I'm going to post a moderately sexy scene between Jackson,a small town mayor struggling to save his community and Monica, a former Wild Child trying to forget her past from my October book Wild Child:

He pulled her into his arms and perhaps she helped, perhaps she jumped when he pulled, but she ended up in his lap in the chair, their bodies flush. Their hearts pounding against each other.
Slowly, carefully, as if there were trip wires all over them and any sudden movements would blow them up, he leaned back.
“Are you always this good?” she asked. And as if she’d pulled one of those wires, his eyes went dark. And she knew what was coming; she knew this kiss in this hotel room wouldn’t be stopped by the police chief or Jackson or her. Despite knowing there was a good chance it would end badly—for both of them—this kiss was going to happen.
It was fast, the kiss. Zero to sixty in no time. They went from lips, to careful breaths, to teeth and tongues and a deep, sawing need. A breaking pulse that ham- mered between them.
Want. Want. Want.
More and yes and there and now.
Her heart pounded with excitement. The long, slow, delicious build started in her body, in her core, under her skin. Her body, untouched by anyone else for so long, woke up to pleasure, but her brain—always her reluctant brain—struggled to keep up. It kept pointing out the trapdoors, the pitfalls and dangers.
He stood with her weight in his arms like it was noth- ing, and her panties were wet in a heartbeat. And while he crawled over the end of the bed she clung to him, her lips fused to his, her tongue memorizing the taste of him. Coffee and peaches and toothpaste. Honest tastes, real and good flavors.
Don’t trust this, she thought, don’t get carried away. He broke the kiss, burying his face in her neck, where his breath feathered across soft and hidden places that carried the sensation all over her body, making connections in her hands and breasts and between her legs and
on the bottoms of her feet.
It’s not real, you know that; it’s desire and it fades. It vanishes.
His hand slid from her waist to just under her breast, pausing as if to ask for permission. The gentleman. And she was suddenly furious with herself, furious with her apprehensions, all the rules that kept her alone and lonely because she was so scared of who she’d been.
This feels so good and I am not that girl, she told herself, and she arched into his hand.

That's it! That's all you get!! If you want more excerpts check out #wildwednesdays on twitter or my facebook page

Here at Storytelling Rules we'll be giving away our own swag through out the week so be sure to check back and just comment to win. Today you can win kindle copies of Deviants and Compliance, the first two books in Maureen's bestselling Dust Chronicles series.

Remember leave your email address in your comments so we can get in touch with you and to win the big prizes keep hopping!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crosby is a Douchebag and Sarah is a Self-Involved Twit or Why I Should Probably Stop Watching Old Episodes of Parenthood

My latest binge watch is Parenthood. I just started Season 4 and I'm getting really frustrated. There are a couple of characters that are simply not able to learn from their mistakes and I'm beginning to root against them. I actually hope that Crosby's wife leaves him and never lets him see his son again and that his mother stops doing his laundry. I hope that Sarah's relationship fails and her children never speak to her and Ray Romano fires her ass.

Not nice, right? I remember when this happened to me with Desperate Housewives and I started wanting things to fall out of the sky and squash Bree because she didn't deserve to live. I could go on about why Crosby is a Douchebag (could he not just once consider someone else's feelings besides his own?) or examples of Sarah's self-involvement (it didn't occur to you that it might be difficult for your son if you moved him in the middle of his senior year and in addition moved in with his English teacher?), but I realize that's not really the point.

The point is how difficult it is to sustain a series. If the characters grow and change, then they become something different than they were at the beginning of the series which is ostensibly what people liked about the series in the first place. If they don't grow and change, people get frustrated with how stupid they are and are no longer interested in them or perhaps even wish horrible fictional deaths on them. Lose/lose, right?

I'm in the planning process for Book 4 of my Messenger series. Melina has learned a lot about trust and letting people into her life and accepting herself as she is in the past three books. Has she changed enough? What more needs to change about her? How much more can I change her without turning her into something else entirely that might not be interesting to my readers?

I don't know. I'm not sure. I know what kind of supernatural creature I want her to battle. I know some of the struggles facing some of the secondary characters. I know I want it all to climax in a funny wedding fight scene.

How about you guys? How much do you want characters to change? Any examples of characters who've changed enough? Too much? Not enough? Un peu? Beaucoup? Pas de tout? A la fou?

Monday, September 09, 2013

Hopping! Book Covers! Summer is over!

it's finally silent at my house. The kids - they are at school. My to do list is three pages long. I'm not kidding. That was nearly two months of being utterly unproductive on many levels. The 10K I was going to train for - didn't happen. My fun historical side project I'd been hoping to have shined up - didn't happen. The promotion schedule I was going to organize - didn't happen. Basically, when I got ten minutes to do work, I flailed around probably making things worse. But, let's see what happens.

First in exciting news - Random House is re-releasing my Prequel to Crazy Thing Called Love. All I want For Christmas Is You will be released at the beginning of November. And the cover is lovely -

And we're going to be doing a few hops around here

If you follow the hop and post comments on the blogs you are entered to win a new Kindle Fire and there are also a HUGE whack of books up for grabs - the hop begins on the 11th - so stay tuned!

Friday, September 06, 2013

It's time to get to work


So I'm sure everyone else has been working, but I've been slacking and this is the week that my work habits change.
So, I'm getting to work. Daily output, challenges, word count goals and deadlines. I need them all, because I'm at my core - lazy - and a procrastinator.
This summer has probably been my worst yet for getting anything accomplished. Now I have excuses, a lot going on personally and in my real job, but that settles now, so I'm putting together a weekly plan and sticking to it. Or Maureen will shame me. Possibly publicly.

The other thing I'm going to do is focus more on better eating and exercise. I have a lot going on in my life, a full time job, kids, writing, and it is a delicate balance maintaining it all, but I also find I sleep better when I'm physically active and I'm more alert, so fitting in a few hours a week of exercise is key for me.

This means less TV. Which is not a bad thing, given I wasted an hour last night on some abomination of a program feature a Spelling woman and her ridiculously overpriced condo. And maybe a lot less house hunters too. I'm going to go for the quality over quantity route.

I'm pretty sure I do this every September. I announce I'm getting to work, and then I hunker down for a few months. I'm doing this again, and looking forward to getting my writing house in order.

Anyone else in the same boat, or am I the only one that blew off work for the summer?

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

The good. I signed a new contract with Harlequin which means I’ll be an employed author for at least another year and a half. Also I’ll be doing two promotional novellas which I’ve agreed to some crazy deadlines. But still… me… promotion… like for real. One of my favorite people is RaeAnne Thayne and I remember her saying at a workshop once, doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life, when the train pulls into the station you get on board. Because you don’t know if that train is ever going to come back again. I don’t know if she was quoting someone else, but that line always stuck with me. I wasn’t sure the train was ever going to come my way, and this is more like The Little Engine that Could, but still I have to take this chance when I can regardless of the crazy that is my life right now. Right? Too late. I already agreed.

The bad. To make this happen I have to put aside a book I’m writing that I just flat out love. LOVE. I love everything about it. And getting up every weekend was a thrill because it meant that I could write it some more. But business calls, and real deadlines have to be met, and no one in the world knows if this book will sell or not, so I have to make the hard choice. Bye Clara… Bye Ronan… I hope I’ll see you in a few months. Don’t leave me… just hang out for a while as I get this other stuff done.

The ugly. The revisions for my book due out in March are not going well. And when I say not going well, I have thoughts like these… is it possible to re-write an 85K book in 2 days? That’s a no right? I mean for someone who can’t type as fast as Superman. And it wouldn’t really even matter if I could because I just don’t know what to say. It’s brutal. It’s ugly. I hate it. But by Sunday night I have to turn in something. So all I can do is slug my way through it. Emphasize the parts that I love. De-emphasize the parts that I hate and in the next two days find something, anything that will wrap up the story better because right now my editor’s notes are… you need to find a “better” way to do this.

So that’s my week in writing… anybody else have a little good bad and ugly going on right now?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Same As It Ever Was

I'm rereading Do Me, Do My Roots to format it for Kindle to prepare for the Thanksgivukkah Miracle when I'll be releasing Do Me, Do My Roots; Dancing Naked under the Moon (formerly Balancing in High Heels); and Un-Bridaled. I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

If anyone asks me what my favorite book that I've written is, I always say Do Me (The book, not as a command. Get your minds out of the gutter, people!). Writing that book was such an important step in my own personal healing process that it would always be dear to me even if it hadn't gotten me my first contract with a NY publishing house or been nominated for a Rita (two, actually) or been a National Readers Choice Award finalist. Over the years, so many people have told me how much they loved it. It's hard not to have a soft spot in my heart, given all that.

Rereading it has been unexpectedly difficult. I was unprepared to be slammed back into exactly how I felt at that period in my life. I had forgotten how hard it was. I'd forgotten about the time when I'd accepted that I would wake every morning with a hard little stone in my heart. I'd forgotten how real and how present my husband was still in my life then. In fact, before I started rereading, I would have told you that I really didn't feel all that much different now.

Boy, would I have been wrong. I have come a long long way. My husband was a terrific guy. We still talk about him and, to be honest, my oldest son looks so much like him that it's almost creepy. He's still present in our lives, but it's not as immediate as it was then. I'll always miss him. I'll always love him and grieve for him, but that little stone in my heart? It's like a pebble now.

I'm incredibly lucky. I know that. As sad as rereading Do Me is making me, it's also reminding me of how much I have to be grateful for.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The fine line between alpha and rapey

So Molly gave me a reading assignment. Kate Atkinson's Life after Life, which looks amazing, so what do I do, pick up a contemporary romance featuring a billionaire hero and start reading that instead.

And about thirty pages in, I'm frustrated, annoyed and a little disgusted. By all accounts the book has done well, it has tons of goodreads and amazon reviews and sold well.

My first impression was that the writing wasn't very good. My second impression is that the heroine is the same heroine that Stephanie blogged about last week, mousy, weak and at the same time, for no real perceivable reason, utterly alluring to the hero.

And then there's the hero. Of course he's a self made billionaire, before the age of thirty no less. (seriously, google billionaires. Romance doesn't have to be realistic, but we've taken this billionaire thing into science fiction) The hero wants no strings attached sex and of course he wants the heroine and being the good girl she is, she wants nothing to do with meaningless sex.

So what does he do. Back away gracefully and continue to woo her. No, Find someone else to satisfy what he continually insists are just basic physiological needs. No. Decides she's the one and insists over and over that he'll have her.

To me that's not romantic. To insist to a woman that against her will and wishes you intend to have sex with her is basically intent to rape. It's not romantic.

And the kicker to all of this is that he intends to pay her for her time spent having sex with him. So we get to add prostitution to the mix.


Now I get I'm being overly caustic on this, and according to the reviews some people actually enjoyed the book. To me this is the kind of book that opens up the romance genre to criticism.

If people want to read alpha heroes that badly, JR Ward does them beautifully, the hero is strong, and dominant, but the relationship with her heroine is respectful and consensual on both sides.

I want romance to actually be romantic, and so I'm putting down that book and doing what I should have done all along, read Life after Life.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Miley Cyrus and slut shaming...

I’ve read a lot of the articles about slut shaming and my feminist heart swells with outrage when I see girls being treated unfairly by the media and people at large. When it happens I have to acknowledge that yes, society’s long held prejudices are still there. That we live in a society where a sexual girl is a slut and a sexual boy is a player. Where a girl makes “the walk of shame” and a guy has earned a “notch in his bedpost” – (which really… so silly that.)

In my new favorite movie Pitch Perfect there is the wonderful moment where the leader of the Bellas asks one of the recruits to leave because she had sex with the enemy. As she’s walking out the door, head low, Fat Amy coughs into her hand… “Slut”. And clearly it’s the writer’s way of shining that light on all of us in a humorous way.  A wink to women everywhere that says we know we’re not really sluts and how ridiculous this shame we’re being forced to feel is.

Then comes along the VMA’s and Miley Cyrus’s performance. After all the kerfuffle of course I had to go watch and see for myself. Was this another case of “slut” shaming? Was she being persecuted for being sexual?
My answer… I don’t think so. I think it was over the top. I’m not blaming her completely. I absolutely think someone should have stopped it in rehearsal. Or told her to tone it down. While provocative is the word of choice at these music award shows, there was something just “icky” about what she was doing on that stage.

I wasn’t watching a woman own her sexuality. I was watching a woman degrading herself by making us believe the only talent she had was wrapped up in her sexuality.

I know people will point to the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s song and cry double standard. But that’s my point. I’ve never seen a man have to go out on that stage and do what Miley did to try and entertain. At least not outside of the movie Magic Mike. Robin Thicke didn’t have to walk out in a beige thong and stroke himself then bend over. He got to go out there fully dressed and just sing.

I wasn’t outraged by Miley’s routine. I wasn’t disgusted by her lewd behavior. I’m not calling her a slut.

I’m sad for her.

I’m sad that a twenty year old girl with a lot of talent is made to feel that she has to go out there and do that to attract attention. I’m sad that she sees herself not as an artist, but as a body that needs to be on display. I’m sad that whoever produced and directed that show watched that routine and said it was okay for her to do that. I’m sad that Robin Thicke thought it was okay to allow her to shake her butt in his crotch for the purpose of entertainment.

I remember watching Pink perform in a mesh costume that gave the appearance of nudity. She was proud and beautiful and delivered one of the most stunning live performances I’ve ever seen. That’s owning your sexuality. That’s putting your talent first. That’s showcasing who you are as a woman.

No, I’m not saying “Shame on you, Miley.” Instead I want to hug her and tell her that’s she more than that. I hope she believes in her heart that she’s more than that.

How about we let the really talented girls go out there and just sing. How about that?
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