Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fab Fab Fabio!

Fabio came to the Whole Foods in Davis. It's my understanding that Fabio is at Whole Foods everywhere these days, but it's not often someone like this shows up at in my little town. Special thanks to Antoinette O'Neill for giving me the heads up about it or I probably STILL wouldn't know about it.

At any rate, Susan Hatler, Virna de Paul and another friend all showed up at Whole Foods and followed directions:

Waited not totally patiently in line:

Admired our own shoes:

Got so tired of waiting that we almost settled on just posing with his poster:

Then finally got to pose with the real Fabio!!!

Who was still quite handsome, solidly built and just a teensy bit handsy.

I seriously had a whole bunch of things I wanted to talk about, but having to grab Fabio's hand before it made it's way any farther up my boob and getting to stare into his very intense green eyes pretty much trumps anything I had to say. Everything else will wait.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


For those who follow the blog most of you know Molly, Maureen and I were at the RWA conference last week. Maureen’s post yesterday was dead on accurate. The feeling I walked away with from this year’s conference was that this was a whole new world where authors… AUTHORS… were in control.

I have a self-published book out. It isn’t making scads of money. It’s barely making any money, but I attribute that to me. I didn’t do enough marketing, haven’t joined enough indie groups, haven’t gotten enough exposure or tweaked the cover enough etc.  Because what I’ve learned is that if you want to make the self-publishing thing work for you… you have to work hard at it.

But I also talked to other folks. And listened to other folks. I attended a panel on what traditional publishing can do for you, (and yes, it was fairly empty) and I listened to what they had to say too. And that was when it hit… clarity.

The awesome awesomeness of being in control is that you get to choose. You can choose to self-publish, you can choose to stay with your traditional publisher, you can do both. On day one I had this sense that if you weren’t self-publishing you were an idiot. By day three I was reminded of what a traditional publisher can do for you and the skill set they bring to getting your story out there.

I love it. I know what I want to do. I want to be traditionally published. I like not having to worry about cover design, finding a copyeditor, tweaking my price, promotion, promotion, promotion. I like just writing my story and letting an editor fix it and tighten it.

But I also like the idea that if I want to self-publish some novellas to keep my readers attention in between book releases that I can do that as well.

Freedom. Control. Choice. Clarity.

I was scared of this brave new world of storytelling. Scared as a reader and a writer.

Not so much anymore.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Plethora of Self Pub Successes and Info in Atlanta

The RWA National conference had a different vibe this year. For readers who might not know, (and why would you?), RWA is Romance Writers of America, and every summer the organization has a HUGE national conference attended by writers, editors, agents, etc. etc.

For the first 6 of the 9 years that I attended this conference. (Nine years? Wow.) The overall vibe used to be authors asking questions like:

- how do I submit to you?
- how do I get out of the slush pile?
- how do I land an agent?

And the vibe was hopeful. For the most part.

Then about 2-3 years ago, while the workshop topics mostly stayed the same, the overall vibe of the conference turned a tad sour, and the most commonly asked questions turned to:

- why are my print runs dropping?
- why are e-book royalties so low?
- why are you dropping authors?
- why do you say no to anything that's different?
- is it even possible for a debut author to land a contract?
- why doesn't the organization recognize small, digital-only publishers?

And the vibe was angry. And depressing. With many of the long-time authors pining for the good old days and aspiring and newer authors feeling as if they were chasing after a ship that sailed long ago...

Last year, I think, was a transition year. It felt as if the mood was more positive. But this year. Wow.

The overall vibe was so positive and empowering.

Why? This is what I think.

Romance readers were the first group of readers to move in big numbers to e-books, and romance authors were amongst the first group to have many previously-published-bestselling-already-successful authors move to self-publishing.

Recognizing this, at this year's conference there was a separate track for self-publishing, with a workshop on that topic in pretty much every one of the 20 workshop time slots.

And publishers had panels and workshops with topics like:

- what we can do for authors
- why it makes sense to keep one foot in traditional publishing

The workshops with self-published authors presenting had standing room only, while the formerly-most-popular sessions--agent and editor panels--were poorly attended.

The entire mood changed. More authors are earning a decent living than ever before.

I'm not in a position to be self-publishing at the moment, but boy, was the conference empowering!

It might seem obvious to readers that writers are the most important piece of the publishing puzzle, but boy, it hasn't felt that way since I've been in this business. And finally it does!

Monday, July 22, 2013

An Open Letter to Armie Hammer on the term "mommy porn"

My name is Molly. This is me.

We’ve never met but I feel like you should have a picture in your mind when you say the words Mommy Porn to talk about romantic genre fiction – because you are marginalizing nearly everything about me. Only if you could squeeze in the words “wife” and “beer lover” could you better nail down and diminish some of my favorite parts of myself.

There are a lot of things that bother me about "Mommy Porn." But let’s start with your dismissal of not only my work, but my absolute favorite form of entertainment – romance novels. Perhaps at this point you’re sputtering some nonsense about the difference between erotica and romance novels – but those differences are real blurry. And since I’m writing this letter and I like the books that blur that line, you don’t get to sputter.

Considering the fact that you used the word just before mommy porn, I am going to assume that you’re making some kind of quality statement. (And I don’t want this to be about your shitty offensive, ridiculous movie – but really, REALLY Armie Hammer, you should avoid high horses). My guess is you haven’t read a romance novel. This isn’t surprising and there are several rants I could give you, about how little respect art made by women for women gets. How easily it’s dismissed, but I won’t. I will just say this: you’re missing out. Not just in a good way to pass a few hours while sitting on a beach, or a way to escape whatever reality you want to escape from. You’re missing out on an affirming artistic experience. The right romance novel at the right time I guarantee is the equivalent of whatever film experience made you want to be an actor. It’s John Hughes, and even Scorsese. And Cassavetes. Kathryn Bigelow’s hard, realistic edge. A little Billy Wilder mixed with Spielberg. Some are like Altman. Others like Lucas. Some are so new and so exciting, you haven’t seen their like before. There is a world of story and storytelling that you are missing out on. And as a guy making a life of sorts as an artist – don’t be the asshole that makes a judgement call on something you know nothing about. Educate yourself.

Now, you should know, I’m a mom. Twice over. And the words mommy porn seem to me to imply that our sexual desires are silly. Nearly trivial. Childish. Something to be brushed aside. Or perhaps, hidden away. Not at all to be prized. And my only reaction to this is – screw you, you stupid man. There are a million reasons why romance novels should be revered and appreciated, but let’s get to the heart of this – it turns women on. And that must just be deeply threatening to some heterosexual men.

I’m guessing you haven’t had kids and should you have this experience let me warn you now – the mother of your child - her desires will not be childish. They will be mysterious and fleeting and deep and explosive and mercurial. Because being a new mom is both out of body and extremely vividly of the body.

It is the least sexual time – ever. My sex drive – and it’s pretty well documented that most women after child birth have similar experiences – was encased in concrete and buried at the bottom of the ocean. The pleasure of sex was something I wasn’t interested in because it felt a million miles away. Romance novels and erotica brought that part of my life back to me.

This shit should be celebrated instead of made into a some kind of weird marginalizing catch-all.

I’m glad I got this off my chest and there are smarter women, smarter writers writing not just great romance novels but great critical analysis of the genre, I suggest you spend some time reading further and stop saying such stupid things.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Left Behind

It's RWA national conference week, and most of our Drunk Writers are there, and probably hungover. I'm jealous (not of the hangover) and know they are having an awesome time, but this is always the week where I try and come up with things to do to make sure I'm not feeling too badly abandoned.

Here are the things I'm doing this week to take my mind off all the fun they're having.

1) I watched Pacific Rim - awesome, fun, sort of brainless movie with Charlie Hunnan and Idris Elba. Every movie should have an Idris in it.

2) Catching up on the last season of Breaking Bad. It's really great this season. There might have been a point where I thought Bryan Cranston was a tad over rated. I was wrong, I admit it, he's awesome and Aaron Paul, also incredible.

3) I'm working. There's so little time to work at Nationals, so I'm getting work done. I feel better if I'm productive this week.

4) I'm stock piling books for my vacation, a week to read, so excited. I've got Courtney Milan and Susanna Kearsley on tap.

And that's it. I hope everyone at Nationals is having a great time. Next year, I'm putting word out there. Anyone else not going should meet for drinks and celebrate in Toronto.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Girls the Movie?

No, I don’t have insider information on an upcoming Lena Dunham movie—even though we are with the same literary agency, how cool is that?—but I did see a film last week that kind of struck me as similar to the HBO show Girls.

And it’s one I recommend. Frances Ha.

It’s written and directed by Noah Baumbach, and I always like his films, so I suppose it’s no great surprise that I liked this one. I also think the actress, Greta Gerwig is really interesting and the only other film I ever remember seeing her in was Greenburg... Another Baumbach movie, with Ben Stiller. Which was a interesting, if strange, and kind of sad.

And I suppose one could say that Frances Ha is sad too, but I didn’t see it that way at all. I just saw it as joyful. The main character, Frances, is a tad lost. She’s in her late twenties and acts like she’s eighteen, and she’s barely surviving, and in an a fair bit of denial about her talent and the probability that she'll ever earn a living as a dancer. In many ways, she lives in a deluded dream world. 

Although she doesn’t mooch off people, even her parents, and I found it admirable how she gets by on her meager income. And while she's proud, and does reacts to some situations to save face and/or prove  to others that she believes she'll make it as a professional dancer, she's also willing to (really) humble herself to pay the bills and put a roof over her head. And that's one thing that reminded me of Girls...

Plus, it’s about young women in NYC. It’s about female friendships. And it’s about quirky strange characters, very different from most characters you normally see in fiction.

But all that said, I found it utterly joyful. And maybe it made me feel just a little bit better about my apparent inability to be a real grown up. :)

Anyone else see it?

The reason behind the title isn’t apparent until the very last moments of the film, and that "reveal" was adorable too. And probably not what you’d expect. Hint: it had nothing to do with laughing. 
But the fact that “Ha” makes you think of laughing, or ridicule...  fit the movie so well.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Problem with Epiphanies

Over the weekend, I had three fairly significant epiphanies about various works in progress. One small light bulb moment and two major floodlight moments. I was a little bummed when I realized the three scenes I'd written really should be one scene with a bunch of the other stuff cut and a little woven in as backstory. The two floodlight moments, though? Those felt good.

The problem was that I really didn't have time right then to do anything about them. We were down in Santa Cruz for the weekend. Which, is in itself, not a problem. Santa Cruz is gorgeous.

Plus, I was having fun hanging out with the kids.

But I didn't have time to do anything about the epiphanies. That is frustrating.

No problem, you say? Monday is just around the corner? Well, yes, it was. Problem was Monday was full of all kinds of things that needed doing especially since this was the second weekend in a row that I'd been away from home. I did a little work, but not nearly enough to honor the force of a triple epiphany.

I know the epiphanies will still be there tomorrow and Wednesday and beyond when I'll have more time to write them, but I'm worried that they'll lose their luster by the time I get to them.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Can Kissing overcome physical differences?

I was thinking about Steph's post yesterday as I slumped onto the couch and turned on the tv to my default station, HGTV. House hunters was on, and for brainless TV, it beats Big Brother.

As I watched, was captivated by the newly married couple, because it was such an obvious mismatch. She was young, lovely and pleasant. She didn't rattle on about needing eight closets, like so many of the women on House Hunters do and in general, she came across as reasonable. Then her husband came on the screen, a schlubby (that's my best description) guy, thirty pounds overweight, kind of unpleasant with his demands for space and improvements and his fixation on football.

Even my husband commented, trying to figure out why a 9 would be married to a 3?

So I watched, relatively disinterested in what house they chose, but trying to figure out why she married him. And there was nothing in the program that shed any light on it.

There are men out there that can marry up. The best example I can think of is the character Chris O' Dowd plays in Bridesmaid, he's funny, cute and a seriously great guy. That guy can marry up, but a schlub? So perhaps the schlub is just dynamite in bed?

It's the only explanation I have.

maybe I missed something important. Anyone else know any obvious mismatches out there? I'm not counting the massively rich and famous in the conversation, because well, that's a whole other conversation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Molly wrote an amazing post at Romance Around the Corner talking about sex and some of the more sillier tropes that are used in romance. Including the idea that the heroine has never had an orgasm with another man until the hero gives her one. Now in general I think this idea is crazy but I do believe that saying the sex is better between the hero and heroine is okay. Because shouldn’t sex be better with your true luuurve?
Then I was watching the Bachelorette (hangs head in shame now) and she had this scene where her friends from the Bachelor return to give advice. The first thing they ask is who is the best kisser.

And I thought shouldn’t that be the make it or break it factor? Shouldn't the person you're having the best kiss with be... The One. At least among that group of men. But then I thought maybe not.

So I’m asking this simple question to anyone who wanders by our blog today. If you are a man or a woman.

If you are dating two people and one has all the qualities you are looking for, but is a bad kisser. And the other person has not as many of the qualities you are looking but is a great kisser.

Will you use your head or the physical connection you feel to choose?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night

Oh, we have been bad bloggers this past week. Except Eileen. Eileen rocks.

Just a warning. Next week 3 of us will be out of town at a conference, so we might be bad bloggers next week too. Or not. We like to keep you all on your toes.

I thought I'd share a few of the fun, fun, fun images from Toronto's evening of rain. We got more rain in  90 minutes than the city normally gets in the entire month of July. It's so scary what can happen when extreme weather hits aging infrastructure. Especially during rush hour in one of the worst cities for commuting.

Now, Toronto gets thunderstorms in the summer. Lots of them. We're used to it. We are not storm wimps. Trees come down every year. But the volume of rain this time was pretty incredible.

Molly was stuck in traffic for hours with her kids and I think Sinead has been without power since Monday night. Me? I went to the movies and escaped 90% of it. Feeling lucky. (Although I still haven't gone down into my basement. I'm too busy this week to deal with a flood and therefore have decided that I didn't have one.) (Okay, I did peek down the stairs and didn't see any water, but should have checked around the drains...)

Here's a few shots stolen from people's twitter feeds.

Storm coming in

This one is right near my house... If I walked 2 blocks I'd be on the bridge that this shot was taken from. Now... this highway is in a river valley. But it never floods. And this is the second time this year that it has flooded. First time wasn't this bad and everyone was so astonished. 

Another one looking down into the Don Valley. This one of Bayview Avenue, which also runs up the valley on the other side of the river to the highway.

Right downtown on The Esplanade.

On a bus...

Eerie shot of the DVP at dusk.

And a commuter train ended up in the flood. This is also in the Don Valley not far from my pad.

A shot that looks like it's taken from a northern suburb, of the storm moving in.

A shot of the flooded train.

Another city shot from an apartment to the north of downtown.

Crazy flooding in underpasses.... 

Dude who decided to get off the GO train and walk. Dummy.

Shot in Mississauga, a western suburb.

Police marine unit (normally just on the lake, not, um highways) rescuing people from the train.

One of the downtown subway stations. 

An erupting storm sewer. 

A shot taken on the submerged GO train.

And another.

Crushed car just east of me.

And another shot from that train.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Stay Dry Out There!

Hey, all you Toronto peeps, I hope you're all safe and dry and have power. The pictures look really scary. Chime in when you can and let us know you're all right.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Justifying Myself

One of the things about going back to school is that you meet a lot of new people. A lot. Like around a hundred or so of them.

I'm not going to lie. I knew that the fact that I'm already a published author would set me apart from the other students a little bit. I didn't want to flaunt it in anyone's face or make a super big deal about it. On the other hand, I felt it would be just as condescending to hide it. So when I was asked what my deal was, I answered. I didn't make a big deal about it, but I didn't lie about it either. I didn't bring it up unless asked either what my publishing history was or what I did.

So then comes the really awkward part. People wanted to know why the hell I was enrolled in an MFA Creative Writing program if I was already a published author. I explained how I wanted to work on my craft and then I got down to brass tacks and explained that I don't make enough money to support my family on my writing and that I needed a degree so I could teach.

It's embarrassing. I've been at this for a while. I have 10 published books. I don't live all that outrageously. It's still not anywhere near enough. It makes me feel like a failure.

I remember when I realized I was going to have to get a day job. I was embarrassed then, too. I also thought there was a good chance my writing career was over. Thank goodness that didn't happen. Still the idea that a person with multiple books published by one of the Big Six (I guess that's Big Five and I think it might have been Big Seven then) wasn't pulling in enough money to support two kids was mortifying. In the end, I decided it would be more embarrassing to have my house go into foreclosure and gutted it out.

I feel a little like I'm reliving all that again. Like I have to justify myself and my lack of success. And again I think it would be even more embarrassing to say that I had an opportunity to get the degree I needed to have a day job that centered on writing and didn't take it.

Tell me that I'll get through this ouchie part and it'll be okay, okay?
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