Sunday, December 30, 2007
Do you want to know why?
I've never, ever kept any of my New Year resolutions, at least not for as long as I remember. Of course, often I think of things like world peace or doing something else generic and quite possibly impossible. This year is going to be different.
I'm not going to make a resolution this year - I'm just going to do what I need to, want to, promised myself to do, instead of just saying I'm going to do it. A resolution won't make things any different - I will make things different.
I hope you can still do your resolutions, if that works for you :) Make a resolution - and make it work for you. You can do whatever you want to in 2008, and if that means finishing that project - or starting one, finding an agent or an editor or even just a friend who believes in you, then step out there and do it. We have faith in you and in each other, and that's the bottom line. We're here for each other - and with that help, we can make 2008 the best year ever.
Happy New Year!
Friday, December 28, 2007
As I look back on 2007, I realize what an eventful year it’s been. From a forced move that screwed up my back more than it already was, to my stepdad’s near fatal accident, it was a year for bad. But there was a lot of good too, my signing two book contracts, reconnecting with my mother, realizing that my stepdad was less "step" and more dad—and that I really do love him. There were the personal insights that were neither good nor bad, they just were. That I am not dealing with my chronic illness in a healthy way, that my physical and emotional issues are not separate entities that can be split apart like strands of embroidery thread. I am who I am, and I have to find a way to deal with that.
My goals for the last few new years have been mostly writing or weight loss related. This year it’s time to work on something more basic, more important in the long run than the contracts I hope to sign or the weight I probably won’t lose anyway. I have several interconnected physical illnesses, including serious issues with my spine. Because of the pressure on my spinal cord and the nerves coming off it, I have chronic pain (that’s gotten far worse in the last year). I dodge paralysis on a daily basis. And the emotional fallout—to both me and my friends and family—can be harder to deal with than the physical problems.
Yeah, I should just be happy with what I have. I’ve seen my daughters grow up and give me grandchildren. And they are the center of my life. I’m living my life’s dream of being a published novelist. I should be content. And yet I want more. I crave stability and a life not defined by the catastrophe du jour. I desire a house that’s ours and that will accommodate my needs. I dream of a time when I don’t have panic attacks over survival as the end of the month (and money) comes. And I want a better relationship with my family. In spite of our religious and philosophical differences, I’d like us to come together and try to understand each other.
And that is what I’d wish for the world if I could. To be more stable, to reach for and achieve dreams, to understand each other. Maybe if each of us works toward that in our own lives, in our own families, then there’s hope for that beautiful blue sphere we live on.
May all of you reach your goals and dreams in 2008!
Monday, December 24, 2007
As for most, Christmas is a special time of year for family. It’s even more so for me this year. Sure, I have two very excited children eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa come tomorrow morning. But my extended family is first and foremost on my mind this holiday season. You see, I came home for Christmas this year. Not because it’s my parents’ turn for Christmas with us (as opposed to my in-laws), but because my uncle is dying. He’s 79 years old and has been a building contractor all of his life, specializing in plaster work. They say the asbestos he inhaled day in and day out for years has finally taken its toll. As we stand around his hospital bed with my aunt, his devoted wife of 58 years, it brings back vivid memories of a similar family Christmas two years ago. That year, my family stood around another hospital bed. That time the bed was in Walter Reed Hospital and the man lying in the bed was my brother.
In December 2005, while serving in Iraq, a man in a car loaded with explosives pulled up next to my brother’s armored humvee. Manning the gun turret on top of the vehicle, he didn’t have time to maneuver the machine gun around. Instead, my brother called on his training not as a soldier, but as a police officer, and pulled his hand gun, taking aim at the driver. The man in the car panicked and prematurely detonated the car bomb. Because of my brother’s quick actions, the soldiers in his humvee and the one in front of them are alive today. He also saved countless civilians standing up ahead at the crossroads waiting to watch the soldiers pass by. In the explosion, my brother suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his arms and legs, shrapnel wounds all over his body, two blown eardrums, and his right arm was nearly severed above the wrist. There was nothing left of the bomber or his car. That year, we spent Christmas around my brother’s hospital bed, thankful that he was alive and praying that he would recover enough to live a normal life.
So this year for us Christmas isn’t all about Santa, or the decorations, or the presents under the tree. This year, Christmas is about family. This year my brother, who was nearly killed two years ago, is standing at my uncle’s deathbed, fully recovered and holding his precious 7 month old daughter in his arms. It’s a living picture of the miracle of new life, blessings received and prayers answered, and the end of a life lived well.
Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.
Friday, December 21, 2007
1. Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas - Anyone else remember this one? Emmett and his poor washerwoman mother, and how he and his buddies put a hole in her washtub so that they could try to win a battle of the bands against the odious Riverbottom Gang? Jim Henson is sorely missed, seriously. He gave me a lot of great childhood television memories.
2. The Christmas Toy - More Henson...Apple the doll and a much-maligned cat toy named Mew have to try and convince last year's special Christmas toy, the egotistical-yet-loveable Rugby Tiger, that he really doesn't get to do the whole thing over again this year. Kermit has a couple of cameos at the beginning and end, always a treat, and the story is bothe sweet and funny. If you've never seen it, you must search for it so you can check it out!
3. The Garfield Christmas Special - The Fat Cat goes to the farm for Christmas and learns about the joy of giving...and about how cool Jon's grandma is. Flaming hot Texas-style sausage gravy forever!
4. A Charlie Brown Christmas - Do I even need to explain? Warms my heart, year after year.
5. A Muppet Family Christmas - Are you seeing the Muppet theme here? Everyone from Big Bird to the Swedish Chef piles in on Fozzie's grandma for Christmas. Even the Fraggles make an appearance! And Miss Piggy, as always, is in her glory. Cookie Monster meets Animal...how can you beat that??
6. The Claymation Christmas Special - I think this one is on a DVD collection now, actually. I always loved watching Herb and Rex, the Claymation dinosaurs, argue their way through a presentation of much-loved Christmas carols. The last one is Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer done by the incomparable California Raisins! And, um, I'm really dating myself here, aren't I?
7. Any Rankin/Bass special - I'm not going to pick one, because they're all great in their own ways. My husband is all about the Heat Miser and the Cold Meiser, for some reason. I usually end up watching Rudolph, mostly for Yukon Cornelius. And there are a few obscure ones that are pretty fun, too.
8. Christmas Every Day - I haven't seen this on TV in YEARS, but the animation is paper cut-out style, like South Park, and it's all about this little Victorian-era girl named Tilly who tells the Christmas Fairy that, you guessed it, she wishes it would be Christmas every day. It's really funny (they receive so many puppies for Christmas that eventually they give up naming them and just use numbers), and I wish they'd start playing it again. This is on one of my almost-trashed VHS tapes from when I was ten.
9. The Chipmunks' Christmas - Alvin's mercenary quest for the funds to buy a coveted golden harmonica still lands in my top ten. I used to have the Chipmunk Christmas record, so how could I ignore it? Count me among those glad to see the small furry ones back in theaters this year.
10. A Christmas Story - Yeah, yeah, I know it's technically a movie. But I watch an awful lot of TBS's 24-hour marathon of this one every year, and it just never gets old for me. Who among you hasn't exclaimed "You'll shoot your eye out!" at least once in your life? Ho...ho...HO!
So what about you? Which specials have you glued to the tube year after year? Share with the rest of us. C'mon...I triple dog dare ya!
Merry, Merry Christmas,
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Not so easy when you're wearing at least 15 different hats without a major holiday looming in the near future. Normally, everyone wants a piece of you--now they want your wallet, too. Resist the urge to be Superwoman or Megamom because it's okay to be human. Really. Isn't that one of the things we explore in our paranormal writing--the essence of being human? Aren't mistakes and what we learn from them, the defining experiences that shape our character, create our courage and connect us to each other?
You're allowed to make mistakes in writing and in life. Find one thing to be thankful for among the chaotic bustle that surrounds you. Yesterday, I was thankful listening to Josh Groban's rendition of Ave Maria. Today I was thankful for both luck and skill involving a loved one. At the very least, tomorrrow I will be thankful for another day to read and write and tell my family that I love them.
Remember to breathe. Remember to relax. And cut yourself some slack.
(special thanks to Faheem Quereshi for the photo)
Monday, December 17, 2007
Enjoy your own winter holidays, however you choose to celebrate them!
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--January 29, 2008, Samhain Publishing
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://meankittybox.blogspot.com
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Boy, was I ever in for a huge surprise. Everyone wanted to be the next famous author. I was a grain of sand on a sandy beach. I sent my book out to agents, only to promptly get rejected. One agent was even kind enough to write a nice comment, "Sorry, but the characters weren't as deep as I thought they were going to be."
Deep characters? What was he talking about? Needing to know what was wrong with my MS, I promptly started researching on the internet only to learn how much my book really stunk! Apparantly, there are rules in writing that next best seller, and I'd pretty much broken all of them. *sigh*
Determined to learn everything I could, I joined a national romance writing organization called Romance Writers of America. My life has not been the same since. Through RWA, I joined my local chapter Heartland Writers Group, became part of a critique group and learned about the craft of writing. I wrote every day and joined HWG's board members as their communications coordinator. I organizing chapter contests, helped re-do their website, and entered RWA writing contests.
I never gave up. I never let life get in the way of my goal of becoming published. I continued to produce those pages.
Ready to try again, I sent a query to The Wild Rose Press for my second completed manuscript, The Doctor's Deception. Within two days, I received a request for a partial manuscript. I promptly sent the first three chapters per their instructions. Eight weeks later, I received a request for a full manuscript. And, a week later, an email from my editor with an offer for a contract.
My hands trembled and my heart raced. I yelled for my husband who was in the other room with the kids and he came running into the living room thinking I was dying or the house was being robbed. I tackled him, shouting, "You have to read my email!" I had done it! I was going to be a published author! My kids were jumping up and down hugging me, too. Once I was calmer, I called the rest of my family to tell them the news, then started sending out emails to my friends and fellow RWA members.
Now that I have a contract, I'm not staying idle. When "The Doctor's Deception" was completed, I started my next project. Perseverance and hard work does pay off. Be active. Get involved. Learn your craft, and you will be sucessful. Those are the things I have learned on my writer's journey.
Kathleen Grieve has been a registered nurse for twelve years, and writes medical romances with humor and spice. Her website is currently under construction. Soon, you will be able to see her at www.kathleengrieve.com. In the meantime, check her out her myspace page for her continued journey as a romance author at http://www.myspace.com/kathleengail789
Friday, December 14, 2007
I haven’t read a lot of comic books. I’m not sure why, except maybe that girls in small Southern towns are not encouraged to pursue such seemingly masculine activities. But I did watch television, and one of my all time favorite shows was the old Batman series starring Adam West. Campy and fun, the series left me wanting to go out in the backyard and pretend to be Catwoman. (I doubt I was the only little girl who liked Batman’s nemesis better than his ally Batgirl.)
I tended to watch every superhero television show or movie that crossed my path, from reruns of the 1950’s Superman show to the animated X-Men that I watched with my kids – and even when they weren’t home. I might not have read the comic books, but I did love the film versions.
Without being a true comic book fan, the comics had such an impact on my life that the hero in my very first attempt at writing a book length manuscript was an actor who played a superhero in the movies. I’ve always said this book would never see the light of day. But lately the characters have been calling to me. I’ve been asking “what if” and thinking how to update the story. Because I really like the heroine, and the hero still makes my heart beat just a little faster.
Oh, and I always knew that Batman and Catwoman were in love. In my backyard yarns, they got married. What, you’re surprised? I’m a romance novelist, what did you expect?
Have a great weekend, and remember to take time to relax!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Eilis Flynn and Carol A. Strickland have known each other for over 30 years, starting from their days as Legion of Super-Heroes comic fans. Being females in a mostly male-oriented venue, they both yearned for superheroes and superheroines with real interpersonal relationships ... but they couldn't find any to read about! They kept yearning until they realized that they had to write about them on their own. Jody Wallace of OtherworldDiner asked them to talk about the subject of superheroes and romance, a subject they're all too familiar with. Where to start on such a broad topic? They figured they'd start at the beginning, where it's the most logical place to start...
Eilis: What took superheroes so long to make their way into romance, do you think? Was it the fact that paranormals were persona non grata so long?
Carol: Romance has always had its alpha males. Some of them, with their Olympian physiques and unlimited energy levels, could slip on a mask and cape and make their way in the world as a superhero if they wanted. ("I am Alpha Man! Tan ta-ta rah!") It was only natural that paranormals would up the stakes.
The first super-types I can recall reading in romance fiction were in Julie Kenner's "Aphrodite's Kiss" (2001), where the offspring of the gods had superpowers and a Justice League-type organization. The eye-catching cover showed Our Heroine using her x-ray vision to see underneath Our Hero's pants. Just to find out if he was a boxer or brief man, of course. Uh huh.
Eilis: The chicklit-type thing you mentioned for the Aphrodite's Kiss cover drove me batty, but chicklit was big at the time (superheroes are serious business, after all, and the x-ray vision thing was frivolous!). And the fact that Julie's characters were gods, not superheroes (I was always more of a DC Comics fan, so Marvel's version of the Norse god Thor as a superhero was always an afterthought for me). After those came Kristin Grayson's books, which were closer to the superheroes I was used to. Off-conversation, you mentioned Kristin Grayson's tip of the hat to The Ultimate Superhero, Superman...
Carol: Well, Kenner's half-human, half-god folks had limited powers (unlike their godly parents) and worked on prescribed missions like superheroes do when they're in a union. Now, when you talk about Kristin Grayson's Dexter Grant (from "Simply Irresistible," 2002), you've got a gorgeous guy with a bunch of powers, a la... Well, two Cleveland teens happen to see him in secret action one day in the 1930s and it inspires them for the idea of a comic book character: Superman. I thought that was a neat twist -- and eased back in case a lightning bolt from DC Comics' lawyers should fry the air around the book. But it never came.
Then again, Dexter didn't strike me nearly as sexy as most of the Weather Wardens from Rachel Caine's fabulous series (beginning with "Ill Wind," 2003). We're talking about a "super"-governmental, international organization of people who can control the weather, fire, and/or earth with a decidedly scientific and limited slant. Most of them are concerned with protecting unsuspecting humanity from Nature's fury. Our storm-weaving heroine, Joanne Baldwin, likes her heels high, her cars classic and fast, and her djinn lovers super-hot. (Author Caine likes her endings cliffhanging, which drives me crazy. Write faster, Rachel!)
Eilis: For our blog-readers out there, Carol's reference to the Cleveland teenagers is about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman, who were from Cleveland and were that young when they came up with ol' Supes. If I recall, Kristin Grayson also had a little acknowledgment in that book to Julius Schwartz, the longtime editor for Superman comics, who had just passed away at that point. Rachel Caine's work could almost have come from DC Comics of the 1960s, couldn't it? But the comics themselves just didn't have enough romance in 'em.
That's one of the reasons I got interested in writing romance. In college, I'd published some Superman stories with DC Comics, but as much as I loved comics, they were mainly for guys, and romance comics were mostly odd. I wanted something that merged both the high fantasy of the comics and romance.
Eilis to Carol: Is that why you got interested in writing romance?
Carol: I couldn't get my "strong woman" fix from reading comics. Various tries at solid, modern heroines from both major companies at the time, DC Comics and Marvel -- characters like Power Girl, Ms. Marvel, the Cat, Storm -- all broke down somewhere along the way. Through the years my favorite, Wonder Woman, has had her ups but mostly downzzz. If I wanted to read about a super-heroine who interested me, I had to write her myself.
Eilis: That's familiar -- that's exactly how I came to write "Introducing Sonika" too.
Carol: And strong women characters need romance, too! When I finished the first draft (so long ago!) of "Touch of Danger" with such a woman in it, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that I'd written -- OMG! - a romance. Since I wasn't up on the genre I bought stacks and stacks of it to see what I'd gotten myself into, and now I generally race toward the romance section of a bookstore as often as I do the F/SF section.
If a romance novel can add a comic-book kind of fantasy to its storyline, I cheer. That's why I'm looking forward to "Introducing Sonika" so much!
Carol to Eilis: So do you think Sonika is the beginning of a true superhero trend? Do you use the added level of fantasy involved in superheroing to require more of your characters? Does the superhero element raise the stakes within their romance? Or do you write it just because it's so doggoned fun? Bzzap!! (Sorry, that just slipped out.)
Eilis: Ka-Pow to you too! I'd love to believe Sonika's the beginning of a true superhero trend in romance -- not comedic, just straight superheroes, but that's up to the readers, obviously.
When I wrote "Introducing Sonika" back in 2001 (finished it in three and a half months, a record for me), I wanted, as you pointed out about your own writing, strong women, superheroes, and romance, and I wanted it NOW. You know how you're supposed to write what you want to read? That's what I did, just like you, Carol!
In "Sonika," I added the complications of having a secret identity, having to avoid a social life to conceal that secret life, like most superheroes (but not all, of course). And Sonika has an added element of worry -- since she has to reveal her other life early on to the man she's falling for, is he only interested in her because he's really a groupie? Add to that a menace from her past coming to haunt her ...
Carol: Secret identities are classic. I'm already rooting for Sonika's guy to be more than a groupie. Hard-working heroes deserve a happily-ever-after!
Eilis: Geez, I loved writing this book. While every book you write may be the book of your heart, this book reflected a lot of the factors that formed my very personality. It was fun! It was romantic! I even wrote my cat Rover in, because she kept coming into my office and demanding attention as I was writing it. She didn't seem impressed when I told her.
Anyway, "Introducing Sonika" is releasing on Thursday, December 13, from http://www.cerridwenpress.com/. It's the culmination of a long six years to see her story come to light, and I'm hoping to write more stories about her world ("Earth Sonika," so to speak).
Carol: One last thing -- my critique partners drove me crazy telling me to stop writing with so many exclamation points! Since I grew up on comics I'm used to 'em being at the end of every sentence. Or maybe it's just that I get excited when I write superheroes! Did you find yourself exclaiming a lot?!
Eilis: Are you kidding?! I get excited writing about superheroes, too! I'd probably use more exclamation points, but I've been an editor in the financial services industry for decades, so I've had 'em bred out of me for the most part!! Ahem, for the most part.
Eilis Flynn is a longtime comics fan, even marrying one. Her books from Cerridwen Press -- "The Sleeper Awakes," "Festival of Stars," and now, "Introducing Sonika" -- all have an element of the fantastic in them. In "Introducing Sonika," Sonya Penn is a physical therapist working hard to pay off the enormous medical bills that remained after her parents’ deaths. Like so many of her generation, her career has left her no time for romance. But the medical bills she’s working hard to pay off were incurred when her super-hero parents were killed by their arch-nemesis, Gentleman Geoffrey. She finds herself coming back to the family business when she finds out her newest client, John Arlen, the heir to an engineering fortune, was injured by a super-villain -- the son of Geoffrey. In order to keep the brilliant scientist from getting himself killed in his misguided quest for revenge, Sonya travels down two paths she never expected to — she’s becoming the super-heroine she swore she’d never become... and she’s falling in love. Find out more about "Introducing Sonika" as well as her other books at http://www.eilisflynn.com/.
Carol A. Strickland is about to sign with Ellora's Cave for "Touch of Danger," a novel about a not-so-ordinary woman with a paralyzing phobia to touch. She's thrown into the company of a sexy superhero too mighty to handle human flesh without shredding it... until a new weapon strips his powers away for two days. Just two days and then it's back to being untouchable. They both have their (ahem) work cut out for them! You can read more about it at http://www.carolastrickland.com/.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Many, many years ago, I dabbled in drawing a comic strip. It had humorous text and crude drawings about the life of a newlywed couple. My inspiration came from my love of Charles Schulz's 'Peanuts'
Charlie Brown is one of my favorite comic strip heroes. Charlie Brown, a hero? "No way," I hear you shout.
Charlie is kind, polite, smart and always on the look-out for a friend. He never gives up, evident in his ongoing struggle to kick that football (he never did kick that ball, RATS!!). The one time his team won a baseball game he was at home in bed, (AUUUGGGHHHH) but he pitched every other game, never giving up hope his team would triumph again.
He may have been a loser but he was never a quitter. He has a strong sense of what's right, even though he's often blamed for things he didn't do.
Whose heart didn't go out to this adorable blockhead and his unrequited love of a certain red-haired girl? Even though Peppermint Patty wantonly threw herself at our hero, his heart belonged to another and his adoration never faltered.
What other eight-year-old is so independent. His parents were never around. He took excellent care of a dog (my very favorite character, Snoopy) who only referred to him as "that round-headed kid" and he was a good influence on his annoying little sister, Sally.
So, okay, he's an odd choice for a comic strip hero, but I'd like to see anyone find one more lovable.
Charlie Brown a hero? Good Grief!!
Monday, December 10, 2007
So what the heck am I going to talk about today? Well, while I may not have read comic books in my youth, I did watch plenty of super heroes on T.V. Come with me while I take you back in time, to an era when there was no cable television and only 3 channels to choose from -- at least at my house. Boy, did I just date myself or what?
I’m sure just about everyone watched Lynda Carter dash around in her red, white and blue bathing suit saving the day as Wonder Woman. What little girl didn’t spin around in circles wearing patent leather boots, a tinfoil headband, and a jump rope for a golden lasso? And do you remember Isis? She was the archaeologist who found an ancient amulet which turned her into a super heroine goddess. How cool was that? Together with a black raven as her partner, she managed to fight off the bad guys in little more than a white baby doll nightie and lace-up sandals.
As for the super heroes in my past, I’m going to confess to having a huge crush on Billy Batson, Captain Marvel’s alter ego on Shazam! Sure, Marvel had the cool super powers, but since I was only 10 when the show first aired, he was a bit too old for me. I’m almost positive I had a poster or two of young Billy over my bed. (Tell me, did the guy ever wear anything other than that sorry-looking red shirt with the yellow collar?) I’ll also admit to admiring Lou Ferrigno’s fine physique as the Incredible Hulk. Call me weird, but I thought he was kinda hot, bad green paint job and all.
But my favorite T.V. super hero of all had to be Ralph Hinkley, aka The Greatest American Hero. Come on, you all know the song. Sing it with me now . . .
Believe it or not, I’m walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be? Believe it or not it’s just me.
Yep, there was just something about William Katt’s character Ralph. He was the cute guy next door, suddenly having to deal with super powers he didn’t fully understand and couldn’t quite control thanks to losing the instruction manual to his super suit in the very first episode.
Unlike the other super heroes I just mentioned, Ralph was never a comic book super hero. (Isis didn’t start out as one either but she sorta got adopted by DC Comics later on). Interestingly enough, DC Comics sued the show (unsuccessfully) because they thought Ralph was too close to Superman. Huh? Okay, let’s see . . . Superman wore a blue body suit and Ralph wore a red one. Check. Superman came from outerspace and Ralph’s outfit came from outerspace. Check. Both wore a cape, although Ralph’s was black while Superman’s was red. Check. Both had super strength, resistance to injury, super speed, and X-ray vision. Check. Ralph had ESP abilities while Superman did not. Ah ha, take that flyboy! Okay, so both could fly. Check -- well, sort of. Poor Ralph had a bad habit of flying into walls every now and then due to the above mentioned lack of a training manual.
Nope, even though I will admit there were some similarities, my Ralph was not the studly Superman at all. He was more of a bumbling Clark Kent at all times, even in super hero mode. But he was my kind of super hero. There’s just something about a less than confident average Joe, given the power to save the day but not quite sure how to do it. Man, I miss Ralph.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Why, you may ask, all the affection for the dude with the indigo fur and tail? Well, I actually love the way he looks (not surprising since Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, plus, seriously people, I write paranormal romance). But more than his striking, some would say "demonic" appearance, Nightcrawler is a walking contradiction, the ultimate illustration that you should never judge a book by its cover. That he suffers some over the disparity between his looks and his nature only adds to his depth and appeal as a superhero. I mean, hey, they all gotta have a little angst. Kurt, however, deals with his really well. Possibly because he can climb walls as well as Spidey himself when he needs alone time. I can only dream of such abilities (and believe me, I do).
Like a lot of the X-Men (and comic book characters in general), Nightcrawler's story is long and winding. To try to boil it down for you, though, he's the abandoned child of Mystique and one of a demonic-looking race of mutants named Azazel. Yes, Mystique, otherwise known as Rebecca Romijin looking better in a latex skinsuit than I ever will. Not that I really want to reopen that wound on my psyche, thank you. Anyway, baby Kurt was tossed by mom, rescued by dad, and raised in a German circus (he's Bavarian) by a gypsy sorceress and a bunch of loving, non-judgemental performers. He was lucky enough to grow up happy, even using his superhuman agility to become the star acrobat and aerial artist in the circus. He's also, in juxtaposition with his looks, a devout Catholic who studied for the priesthood, a trait that makes for some interesting internal conflict. As an X-Man, he's known for his jovial, gallant, and swashbuckling nature, his charm, and his penchant for practical jokes. Well, and his ability to teleport by briefly entering another dimension, leaving behind nothing but the smell of brimstone and his signature sound, "BAMF!" He's buddies with Wolverine. He has a love life. He fights bad guys. And he even slowly comes to understand that not all average humans are horrified by his appearance.
Did I mention that Nightcrawler rules?
Um, anyway, I think that apart from his singular appearance, what I love about Nightcrawler is his persistent good nature, his zest for life despite how obvious a target he is for those with prejudices against the different. You can't go by the movie version to see that side of his personality, since in that he's played as more serious (though played very well, I thought, by Alan Cumming, a nice surprise since I had never quite pictured one as the other though I do enjoy Mr. Cumming's work). Still, I was so disappointed when he wasn't in X-3! In the comic, Nightcrawler can be a prankster, and is adept at bolstering the spirits of the team. Rather than being a sort of tragic monster, a role for which he had originally been intended at his 1975 introduction, Nightcrawler is comfortable in that furry blue hide, and we fans are all the richer for it. Three fingers and toes on each hand and foot, glowing yellow eyes, pointy ears and a prehensile tail; Tim Gunn would be proud at how Kurt "makes it work." But above all, it's his heart that makes all the difference. I love that Nightcrawler is both angel and demon, a savior with the heart of a knight and the looks of the dragon. That's my favorite kind of hero, after all.
So what about you? Who's YOUR favorite X-Man (or woman)? And as an aside, what mutation would you have if you could join? I always wanted to be like Storm, myself...controlling wind and lightning is just so COOL! Of course, I'd have to be able to fly, too. Just sayin':-)
Thursday, December 6, 2007
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Tuesday, December 4, 2007
1. Norse Mythology 101 -- The Mighty Thor and his Mjolnir. Who knew? Growing up Italian-American, I didn't even know the Norse had gods! (I was also eight.) But a rainbow bridge? Kewl! Balder the Brave? (He dies?) And Loki? That dud had dibs on horns long before Hellboy. ;)
2. Geeks rule -- Peter Parker aka the lone webslinger, Spiderman. You never looked at the smart kid in class the same way again. So think twice before leaving that shy, brainy kid for last when picking teams in gym class.
3. Geeks can get the girl -- Mr. Fantastic married Sue Storm when she could have gotten Dr. Doom to take off more than his mask and Namor, the Sub-mariner, to trade in his gills for a set of lungs just by asking.
4. Nobody's perfect -- Superheroes aren't right all the time. Even with superpowers, they make mistakes. They suffer through frustration, alienation, and self-doubt. You are not alone, kiddo. Not by a long-shot.
5. Girl's got power, too -- Storm, the Scarlet Witch, Rogue, the Invisible Woman, Jean Grey, Valkyrie. Need I say more?
6. Tolerance -- Now really, would Hulk have rampaged all over the place if they'd stopped shooting at him every time he went green? And don't even get me on mutant-phobia.
7. Don't give up the good fight -- When life throws crap at you (and it will), don't just lie down and take it. Get up and push through it. It's Clobberin' Time!
8. Everybody wants a home -- That's why superheroes who started out solo often joined teams like the Defenders, the Avengers or the X-Men. The human (or mutant or android or alien) touch is universal. Don't believe me? Ask the Silver Surfer.
9. Use your imagination and read -- Everything about comics ignited my desire to read--the world, the characters, the conflicts. The influence of Marvel spurred my love of paranormal in what I write today. Though I illustrate with words and not pen and ink I've taken all of the above lessons mixed them up with romance and given them to my own characters. My passion for heroes has never dimmed in forty years. And for that all I can say is...
Thank you, Stan Lee!
Monday, December 3, 2007
Paranormal romances had a fling with readers in the late 80's and early 90's with a spew of futuristics and some angel and time-travel stories. There was an ebb, and now, as we all know, there's a flow. A torrent of vampires, werewolves, magic users, aliens of the outerspace variety, gents and ladies with psychic powers, secret paranormal agencies, you name it, it's available for purchase! One thing there hadn't been as much of, and which I hope is about to come into its own, is the use of the traditional "superhero" in romance fiction.
First, let me define traditional superhero. Or do I need to? Comic books and their characters have been so deeply ingrained into popular culture, especially here in the United States, it would surprise me if someone wasn't familiar with at least a few of the gang. The two primary companies that publish traditional superhero comics right now are Marvel (Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, Captain America, Fantastic Four) and DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern). Here's the Wiki for "Superhero". The basic definition there, with footnotes: "A superhero (also known as a super hero) is a fictional character "of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest." Since the debut of the prototypal superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas — have dominated American comic books and crossed over into other media."
This link leads to a brief history of comic books that describes their evolution into the incredibly varied art form they are today. Comics aren't only about superheroes and villains. There are also horror comics, romance comics, teen comics -- in fact, here's a brief history of romance comics if you're in the mood for a tangent.)
God, I love surfing the internet. Anyway, back to my topic.
The first romance genre books with traditional superheroes I remember reading are the very funny Aphrodite books by Julie Kenner which debuted in 2001. In 2007, we've had a few more superhero romance stories make it to print, like Jennifer Estep's cheeky Bigtime series. When you're talking traditional superhero stories, which we are, more appear in science fiction, young adult fiction and from smaller publishers, like the superhero pax at Amber Quill Press called "The Lusty League" and the antho at NCP called "Ultimate Warriors". Author Eilis Flynn has "Introducing Sonica" coming out from Cerridwen quite soon, December 13, I believe. I am drawing a blank on those YA novels, but some were along the lines of the movies "Sky High" and "Zoom".
Trends in popular culture all begin somewhere--sometimes simultaneously, sometimes bleeding from one medium to another. In my opinion, the popularity in recent years of converting traditional comic books to movies and television started with "Batman" in 1989. The Donner Superman films were huge, but until "Batman", special effects were more challenging, and it was harder to make the superhero stuff "really cool", as my husband just explained. He also said, "In the late 80's, superheroes became darker. When Frank Miller did "The Dark Knight Returns", that was a completely new spin on the Batman mythos, and it was his take on Batman that influenced comics and went on to influence the 1989 movie to be darker and more serious." Then, with the success of the X-Men and Spider-Man on the screen (which had similarly dark overtones), the result is the era we're currently in--an era ripe for a superly heroic romance genre uprising!
I know of at least one author whose agent loves her excellent superhero romance, which I hope gets published soon so we can all enjoy it. I mean, with fascinating, powerful and conflicted characters like Wonder Woman, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman and Wolverine, how can we not write romances about our own superheroes?
If anyone can add to this kind of list of superhero romances in the comments, please do and I'll update! I know there are more titles out there I am forgetting.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.elliemarvel.com/
Friday, November 30, 2007
I worry that my characters feel real and are likable, that my conflict is strong enough, that I don’t have too many commas (my personal grammar bugaboo), and that my description is clear and vivid.
I’d love to tell you that when you sell the fear goes away, replaced by a strong sense of having accomplished your goal. Sorry, the truth is that it just changes direction. Now I worry my editor will want revisions I can live with. I worry that my next book will sell too. I worry that I’m making the right decisions about my career. And I still worry about the same stuff I worried about before: characters, plot, description, commas, etc. It never ends.
So why keep on writing when it’s so scary? For me, it’s an addiction. If I’m not writing, I feel like I’m missing something important. The reality of finishing a book, whether anybody else ever reads it or not, is an amazing feeling.
I love what I do, and if I can actually manage to make a living at it at some point, then I’ll have achieved my wildest dream.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:
"If you’re not scared, you’re not writing." Ralph Keyes in The Courage To Write.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
That would be Guilt.
Yes, I said it. G U I L T.
I often find myself sitting in front of my computer, the bedroom door shut, the family on notice that, Mama is writing, and unable to type a single paragraph, sentence, word...
The one thing that can obliterate my creativity and smother my muse is the insidious guilt that worms its way into my consciousness when the killer dust bunnies begin to overrun the house and when the kids are awake and living life without me. Oh! The worst guilt factory of all is my super understanding husband who is home with the kids all day before he goes to work in the evenings, and gives up his kid-free Saturday so I can write or attend my local RWA Chapter meetings. (It must be said here, that my husband does NOT lay any type of guilt trip on me. No. I do that well enough on my own.)
I know I'm not the only writer who has a full-time day job, who has a family and a home and all the other things life throws at us. Am I the only one hindered by guilt? How do you all handle it? Cause when I'm not battling the guilt-factor, I can really bang out those pages. And it feels GOOD. I want that feeling more often. What's your secret?
*NOW, free writing workshop with Anna Campbell at Sandra's Goings On.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
What's my bugaboo?
Recently I joined a yahoo group that helps writers reach their weekly goals. My goals consisted of:
writing a few chapters in my latest wip
critiquing for my group
editing my last wip
submitting to at least two agents
entering a contest
sticking to a food plan.
As the first week went by, I checked off my goals. Writing and entering contest - check. Critiquing, editing, reading- check. Sticking to a food plan and exercise - somewhat check, but not too bad. Submitting to agents - no, but I did get a lot done. No biggie, there's always next week.
Week two, I met all my goals again, with the exception of one. Yup, you guessed it. I didn't submit to any agents. No biggie, there's always next week.
I've been saying that since June.
I can't blame my lack of submitting on my inability to write a good query. I have a query that has gotten me quite a few requests. I've had my first three chapters critiqued to perfection, thank you very much.
So why aren't I submitting?
Maybe I'm lazy. I've submitted to agents via e-mail, no problem. That's easy. Just click a few buttons and you're done. A lot of agents don't accept E-queries, so I'd have to print out the required materials, put them in envelopes, take them to the post office, pay some crazy amount to mail them all and then treat myself to a cafe mocha at Starbucks.
No that can't be it. I go to the post office all the time and I'm not afraid to spend money to further my career. Plus, any excuse for a mocha and I'm there.
Maybe it's fear of failure. Hmm, I might have something here. After sending out all those e-queries, I received some pretty fast form letter rejections. A few, "send me some pages" that eventually produced some personal rejections and one still out since May.
Maybe, but I doubt it. Rejections bother me, but they don't devastate me, especially when I get a personal rejection. It's all par for the course. I have faith in my story and my writing. I know eventually someone will feel the same way.
So why haven't I submitted to agents? I have no idea, but eventually I'm going to run out of "next weeks".
Monday, November 26, 2007
In my defense, I do try to keep my scenes short and to the point. Honest. I don’t spend paragraph after paragraph on description and narrative. Really, I don’t. I strive to keep my dialogue clean and crisp. I also don’t ramble on page after page with backstory, I avoid passive voice as much as possible, and there’s hardly an adverb to be found (well, except for that ‘hardly’ that somehow snuck in there *G*). But in the end, my stories always turn into these mammoth tomes. I can’t help it. I don’t think I could write a short contemporary if my life depended on it.
Looking back, my first book was 458 pages in Courier 12. Ouch! Then *presto, chango* converting it to Times New Roman (TNR) brought it down to a svelte 350 pages, all without trimming a single one of the 102,378 words. Not bad for a long historical. But I wrote that before I knew ANYTHING about writing (or POV or pacing or sagging middles or overused plot devices). Just glancing through my first pitiful attempt at romance writing this morning, I saw places so thin of description and action you’d fall through it if it was made of ice. Needless to say, it’s going right back under the bed where it belongs to keep all those multiplying dust bunnies company. My second book came in at 393 pages in TNR 12. That’s 119,963 words. Still not too bad by industry standards--I made it just under the 120,000 mark by the skin of my teeth. But as you can guess, between book #1 and book #2, I found my voice, learned the craft, and in the process, started adding more words. A lot more words.
Therein lies my problem. My latest masterpiece-in-progress is hovering at 397 pages. That’s 124,320 words folks. And the dang thing isn’t finished yet! I still have 6 chapters that need to be completed and/or polished. At the rate I’m going, this puppy is going to come in around a whopping 500 pages without some serious slicing and dicing. But where? I’ve gone through it several times and every scene so far serves a purpose--be it to show character growth, story progression, or sexual tension. If my muse was being particularly nice to me that day, some show all three. Woo hoo! But once I finish this thing (hopefully sometime this decade) and send it off to my wonderful (and very patient) agent, I’m going to live in constant fear of hearing an editor say, “I love it . . . but can you cut 40,000 words?” *argh!!!!* You’ll hear me wailing in despair from at least three states away.
You see, I’ve discovered something about myself as I’ve slaved over these three manuscripts in twice as many years. While I believe I write tight, I write long. I send my poor characters on arduous journeys where they have many challenges to face, resulting in them learning things about each other and themselves along the way. Each has a great story to tell and I’m loathe to cheat them of their time on the page to live it out. Call me an old school type of writer, but I love to take my time building the relationship between the hero and heroine which, unfortunately, takes a lot of words to do. And once those words are on the page, I’m not the impartial, ruthless editor I should be when it comes to deciding if they should stay or go. I’ll admit it. I’m a wimp. I can’t, as William Faulkner said, “kill my darlings.” I just can’t do it. Not that I think I’m this brilliant writer and every word I type is pure gold. I do cut. Some. But obviously not enough. I really should go out and get “The Dictionary of Concise Writing.” Maybe it will help--if I hit myself in the head with it several times. Or maybe I should pray for the editing fairy to sneak in one night and take magic scissors to my mound o’ words. That may be my only hope because if I try to do it myself, my manuscript is likely to end up looking like some unintelligible ransom note created by my 6 year old.
Wow, I do believe that’s the shortest blog I’ve written all year. And it’s still long! *sigh* Just carve ‘Queen of Wordyville’ on my tombstone--if there’s room for it.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Back in grad school, I'd do my research and figure out what I planned to write but then not complete the paper until the week it was due. In a couple of cases I pulled an all-nighter because I'd not get it written until the night before it was due. I don't recommend that. In my job as a librarian, I know a few new college students and have told them to do as I say, not as I did. Do NOT pull all-nighters. The weird thing was those papers often got the highest grades. I write best under deadline.
This presents a serious problem for me right now because I have no deadline. I'm looking for a home for my completed manuscript but my current work in progress is just that. In progress. I've had trouble finishing it because no one is breathing down my neck and there are no consequences for failure. Back in school, the consequence of no paper was a failing grade but I don't have that motivation anymore.
1. Set a realistic deadline.
Now I did this earlier this year and it didn't really help. But I'm going to try it again and see if I can add some things to help make it more stringent. I want to complete my manuscript by 6 p.m. on January 1, 2008. There I said it. In writing. Publicly.
2. Create a consequence and impose it for failure.
We tell our kids if you don't clean up your room, you don't get dessert or something similar. The premise is that a job has to be completed and if the obligation isn't met, a treat is denied. I think I can make this work. I just have to figure out what I want badly enough that denying myself would be BAD. Hmmmm. If I don't finish my book by my deadline, I can't go to Wylde Nept's concert when they play locally early next year. Oh my, that ought to do it. I love those guys.
3. Reward for meeting the goal.
You know what they say, you can get more flies with honey than vinegar. If the threat doesn't work, maybe a carrot will. So I guess my reward would be the opposite of my consequence. If I finish in time, I get to go to the concert when my favorite band in the world (Wylde Nept) plays locally next year.
4. Write daily for best results.
Earlier this year I was writing every day, but I've let that go. I think writing daily with a minimum goal of 300 words a day is doable.
So there you have it. I'm trying to face my worst bugaboo. How do all of you get past your inertia? What tips do you have to write daily and fight the dreaded danger of procrastination?
Friday, November 23, 2007
This week and next here at the diner we're talking about writing bugaboos, those little things that torment us endlessly in our chosen profession. I have plenty of them, like the ones already covered this week. But my number one writing bugaboo boils down to one little word: time. I am in constant need of more of it, it escapes me when I desperately wish it wouldn't, and my body seems to require that I use a certain amount of it for sleep. I've tried to work around that last one, but it hasn't worked out very well.
I know I'm not alone. The thing about writing is that most of us, even if we're published, don't have the luxury of being able to write all day. We have kids, day jobs, husbands, pets, family...a million little things that can suck up the better part of a day (and the best part for writing, like when we're alert and reasonably coherent) before you know it. And if you're me, suddenly, it's nighttime again. And you're sitting in the rocker with your laptop, trying to push all thoughts of fun stuff like second grade homework and accidentally overdue field trip money out of your head. Ready to clear your thoughts and get back into the story, which you love, which you MUST WRITE. And zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
Body has reached critical mass. Lights out. Another day vanished into the ether. Plus you have the added bonus of some interestingly nonsensical words typed on the screen in front of you from when you were starting to dream but could still type. Well, I do, anyway. At least it's less dangerous than sleepwalking.
People I know have asked me on numerous occasions how I juggle everything: the three kids, the newly-acquired deadlines, and managing to serve something besides Easy Mac seven nights a week. Usually I just say, "I don't know, I'm insane." Which is true to varying degrees, depending on the day. The actual answer? I wish it were different, but it would have to be "By the skin of my teeth." There are not enough hours in the day to accommodate all I need to do, and that reality is the bane of my existence, my public bugaboo number one. On any given day, I can count on the fact that for every page of writing I want/need to get done, some random thing will either occur or break in order to thwart me. And sadly, it's usually not stuff I can just ignore until tomorrow. My older son might need stitches from doing whatever it was I told him not to do that day (yes, it's happened). My daughter will be in a mood to fight about her homework. And the baby will be acting very...two years old. Add to that the amount of sleep I've sacrificed at the altar of my fickle muse (I'm a mommy. Nights are all I have), and it makes for a lot of stress. Still, I hate to wish the days away. No matter how may things are going on all at once, once a day passes, you can never get it back. And I have to write, because it's what I love to do, and because I'm lucky enough to have been given my shot to make a go of this as a career. So I smoosh the writing in somewhere, even if it fits a little funny, and even if I have to chug coffee until midnight to make my page quota for the day. But I'm not gonna lie...there are nights when it really hurts. There is a part of me that dreams of the day when the kids are all at school and I can hole up in my office to write all morning. The problem is, I'm not ready for my kids to get big enough for that pretty vision to come true yet. I'm living the Catch-22. And that, in and of itself, is a big ol' bugaboo.
So now that I've expounded on the pain of having to be a Night Writer (and I don't even get a talking computer named Kit!), why don't you tell me where you squeeze your writing into during the day or night. Is it tough? How do you manage your time? And if you could transcend white rabbit-dom, what would your ideal writing environment/schedule be? Grab a plate of leftovers and share...your thoughts, and the food:-)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Happy fictional Thanksgiving to you – and a happy real one to everybody out there in blog land!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Hi, Raelyn, thanks for coming to visit us at the Otherworld Diner! Sit down and have some coffee and a slice of our famous pie while you tell us a bit about yourself and the stories that you write.
Hello, Debralee and fellow Diner readers! As a dedicated comic book reader, I’m into men in tights and those who sport dark eyeliner (i.e. Johnny Depp, Tobey Macguire in Spiderman 3, Clive Owens who is just hunky). Seriously, when I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, and when both of those two loves are not readily available, I’m an avid movie fan. The more adventure and naked male torsos, the better! (a la Jason Statham).
When I visited your website, I saw your writing runs the gamut from contemporary multicultural through paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic. But there was one Phaze novella which had an actual tie to the Thanksgiving season. SOUL’S KIN is a paranormal romance based on Native American culture.
November is national Native American month. It isn't a hidden fact, just one that's not widely known. Since I worked in Gallup, New Mexico, for a number of years and I was surrounded by Navajo and Zuni people, I became aware of this seldom- celebrated month.
November is often thought of as the month of Thanksgiving and celebrating veterans. Each of these holidays owes great debts to the determination and sacrifices of Native Americans. Without their wisdom, knowledge, and willingness to help those starkly different from them, those colonists would have died. The same is true of the Spanish and French explorers in various sections of the so-called, “New World.”
You must do a lot of research to come up with the lore and legends that have gone into your work.
Absolutely. Research is an intregral part of writing. Although my works are fiction, authenticity is important to setting and the overall tone of a story. SOUL'S KIN attempts to showcase the nobleness and dedication of Native Americans. It is a story drawn from Navajo, Laguna, and Zuni creation stories. It is half fantasy, half myth, and a paranormal tale. I sometimes refer to it as my Native American Romeo and Juliet story.
What is the story about?
When Leela, the daughter of a great chief, is forced to marry a man she doesn't even know, much less love, her heart breaks into pieces. To comfort her, her lover, Kunal, vows to be with her always. Leela can't believe such talk and dismisses it as a brief bout of insanity, until on her wedding night, a coyote appears to her and howls pangs of great loss...
That sounds like a terrific plot. Where did you get the ideas for it and some of your other work?
SOUL’S KIN, SAND STORM, and SPEED DEMON are all derived from my years spent in New Mexico, prowling around the highways at night. Nothing is close in New Mexico—in fact many cities are hours apart. During those long car trips between Gallup and Albuquerque and Farmington, the beautiful scenery and vast stretches of unspoiled land invoked my muse to no end.
For my novel, DESIRE INTO GOLD, the idea came from an urge to twist an old fairy tale. Most of my ideas are spawned by my ridiculously untamed curiosity!
Do you believe the trend of combining of multicultural themes with the paranormal will continue to grow? It seems very popular right now.
Absolutely! People of color and their cultures have myths and legends of the paranormal and of great gods and goddesses just like the Greeks and Romans. These areas will continue to be mined and utilized in stories that appeal to everyone, regardless of ethnicity. Our world is multicultural and our literature reflects our society.
What is one thing about Raelynn Blue that most people would find surprising?
The one thing that most people would find surprising about me is that I can’t swim, but I love to be on boats. My friends find this utterly strange.
Raelynn, thanks so much for taking the time to share with us right before a holiday like Thanksgiving when people are so busy. Also thanks for sharing the plot of SOUL’S KIN. We do owe our gratitude to the Native Americans who helped those first settlers to survive. It’s great when we can use our writing not only to entertain, but to educate readers about the amazing cultural contributions of others.
If you’d like to learn more about Native Americans, here are some online sources that can get you started. Some of these give a detailed look at their contribution to American history and contemporary life:
Native American Times
Native American Recipes
Smithsonian Institution - Native American History and Culture
Of course there are other sites and print literature to expand your knowledge as well.
I like the recipes site, might find something we could serve here! It’s been so nice to having you share with us today. I know SOUL’S KIN is available directly from Phaze, or from Fictionwise at:
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Raelynn You’ll always be welcome at the Otherworld Diner!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Look, we're writers. We love what we write, right? Of course! Here at the diner we take the greatest care in crafting our characters and building our worlds brick by magical brick. Then we package up our babies and send them out into the big bad world.
I'm lucky. For my WIP an extraordinarily generous agent liked my voice, but told me my story had pacing problems. Pacing? Really? I mean, yeah I'd heard of it but surely people out there would just fall in love with every single nuance of my writing, each line of witty banter, every tangential situtation would keep them turning pages, right?
My critique partners (who are all wonderful and have been with me all through my journey to publication) were too close to see the problem. They loved the story and actually did find most of my literary meanderings funny. But now, armed with a concrete goal, together we planned our attack.
Here are some things that I've learned in process:
1. Be ruthless. I can't tell you how difficult it was to cut out some of my worldbuilding. I comforted myself with knowing that some deleted scenes will appear at some later time either in a later book or on my website as an "extra."
2. Find the kernel of your story and push forward. I write romance and that means the hero and heroine need to get together before page 100. A romance isn't "his" story or "her" story, it's their story. Tell it.
3. Use transitions. I started out as a page break writer. It's something about those centered stars that gets me all giddy--I love 'em. But guess what? You can use too many and when you do, you jar your reader out of one scene and plop them down into another which leads me to...
4. Set the scene. My theatre background works against me when writing fiction sinceI learned so much from reading and performing in plays. I would be perfectly happy handing the setting over to a set designer. Too bad. But consider your reader is your stage crew. Give them enough direction that they can build their own sets to let your character play in. They don't need to every detail cause hey! Readers have imagination, too!
5. Love the process. Or try to. In the end, you'll have a leaner story that pulls the reader right along on a great ride. Not unlike that pacer (or harness racer) pictured above. When you get to the end, you'll have a winner.
(with many thanks to goat.pirate on Flickr for the photo)
Friday, November 16, 2007
My stepdad’s car rolled and ended up on the other side of the road, and was in flames by the time it came to rest. If not for the heroism of two passing motorists, he would have died there. These two men risked their lives to pull my stepfather from the twisted metal, and it wasn’t easy. It took time and effort to cut the seatbelt and pull him out from the passenger side of the car.
My stepfather is still in intensive care, in critical condition. If were it not for these heroes, he wouldn’t be alive today. There are no words strong enough to thank those two brave men. They have no idea how much their heroism that day means to our family, and I hope their lives are filled with joy and happiness. They certainly deserve it.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Ever since I was a teenager I've had one consistent fantasy guy who eventually turned into one of my heroes. He's a very common hero, every woman knows him.
No, I'm not talking about The Naked Cowboy who sings for money on the streets of Time's Square or the real bad boy you might see on an episode of Cops.
I'm talking about the tall, rugged, tips-his-hat-at-a-lady type cowboy. The one who rides up on his black steed, wearing that stetson like he was born with it on his head, and sweeps the heroine so far off her feet, she never touches ground again.
My cowboy is a gentleman, a guy who really knows how to treat a lady. He won't swear in front of her and expects she should watch her mouth as well. He, of course, would never raise a hand to her in anger, but isn't afraid to beat the sh*t out of any guy who would. He's brave, kind, loves and respects his Momma, Daddy and God.
He has a strong sense of right and wrong and sometimes his arrogance gets himself into trouble, but in the end, he's definitely a guy you'd take home for dinner.
Another hero I love is one I didn't know about until I created him. He's a doctor. Yeah, sure, doctor's have been the backbone of Harlequin romances since I can remember, but this doctor is different.
He's young and gorgeous, a new pediatrician who gets along great with kids. He sucks lollipops all day, plays video games and loves water balloon fights.
So how is he different? He's what I call the shy type. He's terrified of women. Oh, I don't mean like how I'm terrified of beetles and locusts. He doesn't run from them screaming as he rakes his fingers through his hair. I mean he's scared of women who make a pass at him. Woman who fall for his manly good looks and innocent charm.
He stutters, he stumbles, he trips over his own two feet just to get some distance, but he's no wuss. He's strong when you need him to be, and when the woman he loves only sees him as a kid, he knows exactly how to whisk her away and show her just how much of a man he really is.
There is no way I could make a post about heroes and not include one near and dear to my heart.
The police officer.
I've never written about a cop and it's because I fear I'll never do him justice. For me a cop isn't some guy on a page who fights crime and romances his lady. The cop is my dad.
That doesn't make him any less of a hero. I grew up knowing any day(or night) Dad went to work, might be his last. I was never afraid though. I guess I just believed he would always be there for us.
Dad raised six kids on Long Island, NY on a cops salary. He worked two jobs to support us and yet I never once heard him complain. We might not have had everything we wanted, but we never went without.
Even though he was rarely home, Dad was always there for us when we needed him most. He left his work at the station house. The only time he told us about his job was when it was something funny. I can't imagine the horrors he's faced, but that's all part of being a hero.
Dad has since retired his badge and put his gun away. He now lives out his dream of retiring to the mountains of upstate NY. He lives there with his heroine, my mom, who is a hero in her own right. They will be celebrating their 43rd anniversary on the 21st of this month.
If any hero deserves a happily ever after, it's him.
In loving Memory of Dutch. The best dog a family could have. They can be heros too.