Thursday, August 30, 2007

Needed: A BIG Book of Answers

The past few weeks I've been developing ideas for my next writing project, and I find myself teetering on that uncomfortable fence of uncertainty unable to make up my mind. Should this book have a contemporary or an historical setting?

My last three stories have all been contemporaries, though all have some historical aspects in varying degrees. And no, editors and agents have not exactly been beating down my door to publish them.

I keep reading and hearing how "historicals are making a comeback!" And I've had several friends make their first sales in the historical sub-genre. But I've also had some make first sales with contemporary settings too. I read in both sub-genres and with my love of history, the research wouldn't be a burden...

What do to? What to do?!?!

If only there were a big book of answers somewhere! "If you do this then thus and so will happen. But if you do thus and so, then this will happen."

IF ONLY.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Another AYU bites the dust!

Seeing a "First Sale" is always good news. If it can happen for somebody else, it can happen for ME! When that "First Sale" happens to a writing buddy, that's even better!

I'm tickled PINK to say there's been a LOT of that happening lately. When we started our group blog Romance Bandits back in March, we had 4 published and 15 AYUs (As Yet Unpublished) in our ranks. Since June, we've had 3 more move over to the published side (Christie, Trish , and Jeanne). Well, this week we had NUMBER 4! SUPER CONGRATS to Beth!

The count now stands at 8 and 11. LOVE how that scale is slowly tipping! And if you want to read Beth's (and Christie, Trish and Jeanne's) "Call Story" just hop on over to the Bandit blog.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My First Gator

Okay, this did not happen on our first trip to Florida. We'd already been there several times. First we did the Disney World/Epcot experience, then we did Speed Week. Heck, we'd even ventured down to the Keys a few weeks after a hurricane devasted the surrounding area. But this was the first time we ever ventured into the Everglades.

It was a wild and blustery winter day in south Florida (but still a LOT warmer than here in winter!) when we pulled into the ranger's station intent on taking one of those swamp buggy tours into the Everglades. Unfortunately, the weather made it unsafe for swamp buggies or anything else out in the 'Glades, the ranger politely explained. Road closed. End of line. But seeing how crest-fallen we were, she directed us to a nearby spot where we would probably see some alligators in the wild.

We followed her directions and within minutes found ourselves driving slowly along an elevated gravel road with water on both sides. The vegetation was lush and there were birds galore. Suddenly, DH threw the car into reverse and backed up about 100 yards, then inched forward a bit, saying, "I think I see a gator!"

He rolled down the window and pointed. I couldn't see anything, so he shut off the car and we both got out and walked to the back bumper. The DH pointed again and I squinted a little more, until I noticed the partially submerged black log he indicated actually had AN EYEBALL! Oh WOW! An honest to goodness gator! I'd seen them in the zoo, of course, but never in the wild so this was exciting.

We stood for several minutes just looking, and the gator just stayed there too, never moving. Then DH got the bright idea to "feed" it to see if it would move. He opened the trunk and pulled out a fat-free muffin left over from breakfast (they hadn't been very tasty, but we didn't throw them out in case we were desperate for a snack), and lobbed it in the gator's direction.

In about one-tenth of a nanosecond, the thing whipped around and these massive jaws went SNAP! As my eyes bugged out and my throat made this funny little EEP sound, my brain shouted, "That thing is FAST! And it's A LOT BIGGER than it looked!" Well over six feet! But mostly I'm thinking, "RUN YOU IDIOT! DON'T JUST STAND HERE!"

Apparently DH read my thoughts, or he was thinking the same thing. But he managed to tell me, "Do not run! Slowly get in the car." Yeah, right! We both shuffled carefully and quietly around and got into the car. Gravel flew as we high-tailed it outta there!

We've been back to Florida many times, and have been into the Everglades more than once. AWESOME PLACE! We've even been on a couple of swamp buggy tours. But we have NEVER again been stupid enough to try and feed the gators!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

All Is Forgiven

One of my CPs and one of my beta readers have decided the heroine of my current WIP is selfish and pushy. :cry: HUH?!?! My cute-as-a-button little heroine?

So I went back and looked at the passage they were both citing and yes, she did sound that way. But only because this was written in the hero's POV, and he really does not like her at that point in the story. Obviously if this comes across so strongly, I've done my job properly.

I brought this up to one of them and then mentioned that also at this point, my hero isn't exactly Mr. Wonderful either. He has run away from his problems, ignored his family for fifteen years and is only back now because his sister has "guilted" him into being there. My friend admitted that this was true, but she went on to say, "He's a hunk with a cute tush, so I can forgive his other shortcomings." Allllll righty then! :razz:

That got me to thinking (always a dangerous proposition!)...

Is this true of most romance readers? Since most readers are women, and most of us (myself included) LUVRE the hero, does that mean we accept his imperfections more readily? :roll: Think of some of the heroes in the romance novels that are so popular: Macho cops and special forces guys, arrogant historical aristocrats, uber-alpha vampires and shapeshifters.

In real life, I'd probably bitch-slap all of 'em in about ten seconds, but in fiction... Love and a hot bod really does conquer all! :mrgreen:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bakers Dozen Meme

It's been awhile since I've indulged in a meme, so here's one sent to me recently (modified for this blog) from my friend Piowapuff.

What are you most afraid of?
The IRS.

What is the most recent movie that you have seen on bootleg?
Okay, I don't usually view bootlegs, but not long ago one of the neighbors offered my DH 3 DVDs he was about to throw out. Turns out they were bootleg copies. We watched that awful Billy Bob Thornton/John Heder movie, I think it was called "School for Scoundrels" and I KNOW why the neighbor was throwing it out. BLECK! AWFUL!

Ever been skinny dipping?
No... oh wait, once. In a hot tub... SHHHHHH!

Been in a car accident?
I'm a native Californian and I'm over the age of three, OF COURSE I have! Fortunately they have all been of the minor fender-bender variety.

Favorite ice cream?
Baskin Robbins' Fudge Brownie, but since that flavor is not always available then, Rocky Road.

Ever been on a ship?
YES! Several times, and best of all, I'm going on one again in October!

What color is your bedroom carpet?
Kind of a cinnamony brownish... It came with the house and so far I've had no extra $ to replace it.

How many times did you fail your driver's test?
I failed the written test the first time I took it (Hey, I was 15 1/2 and those clay tablets were heavy!) But I passed the driving test on my very first try with a 97%!

Favorite TV shows?
I used to love "Lost" but the second season was so disappointing that I've pretty much lost interest. Other than that, I don't watch TV except for an occasional PBS program. I LOVE "Globe Trekker" but it never seems to be on at the same day/time around here.

Last person you went to dinner with?
My critique partner Cathy D.

Park or Zoo?
To do what?!?! I like San Diego Zoo, coz then I get to go to San Diego! And I like Kapiolani Park, coz then I get to go to Honolulu!

How many tattoos do you have?
Zero, and I plan to keep it that way. I had a SpongeBob Squarepants temporary tatoo once that I had to use nail polish remover to get off. UGH!

What do you want to do before you die?
Have one of my books on the NYTimes best seller list.

Have you been to countries outside the U.S.?
Only a couple dozen, including Canada and Mexico (multiple times), most of Western Europe, Morocco, Greece, Turkey, Thailand, China and Australia. I plan to increase the number in October when I cruise to the Caribbean! For now here's a cool map of the countries (including the good old USA) I've visited:

create your own visited country map

Okay, now it's YOUR TURN! Give me some of your answers in the comments!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Love/Hate Relationships

I know what I'm about to describe is applicable ONLY to my local big chain bookstore and my local library branch. I know that somewhere out there are "romance friendly" big chain bookstores and libraries. But I'm afraid my experience is NOT unique. So, while I LOVE reading and buying books, romance books in particular, I have developed some love/hate relationships about those activities.

I LOVE my local big chain bookstore.
  • All those tables and shelves heaped with shiny new books!
  • The smell (yes, new books have their own unique scent, like a new car) of all that lovely, unsullied paper.
  • And they send me COUPONS to my email almost every week, so I can get $ OFF any book I chose. I admit it, I'm addicted to coupons.:lol:
  • I love seeing the new books by people I "know" whether in person from my local RWA chapter or met at conferences or online. I get a real thrill out of seeing these books and thinking that SOMEDAY my book will be here.

I HATE my local big chain bookstore.
  • They put the "Romance" section waaay in the back corner next to the bathrooms.
  • Very few "Romance" novels (unless you are BIG NAME BEST SELLER like la Nora, SEP or Jenny C.) get put up front in the "New Arrivals" section where everyone can see them.
  • In fact, very few books in the "Romance" section get turned face out. Most are lined up spines out and makes for a lot of squinting on my (and other customers) part.
  • They do have one end cap for category, but they don't replenish it and they do NOT put up the new releases in a timely manner. Most of the category books are relegated to the bottom two shelves of the "Romance" section, thus resulting in both back aches and eye strain trying to locate books by many of my buddies who write category romances.
  • Seeing all those books makes me feel like everyone in the world has published a book, EXCEPT ME.:cry:

I LOVE my local library branch.
  • Shelves upon shelves of books you can read FOR FREE! Old books, new books, books, Books, BOOKS! An endless supply! What's NOT to love about that?!?!:wink:
  • There's just something about all those library books with their celophane wrappings, and the serenely wise librarians that sparks some of my fondest childhood memories.
  • All those tall shelves with all those books, I can stand (or sit on the floor) in the stacks and browse, or sit in the not-too-uncomfortable chairs and read. It is pretty quiet, most of the time, and I LOVE quiet.

I HATE my local library branch.
Talk about not getting any RESPECT!:mad:
  • Unless you are a BIG NAME BESTSELLER who has been around for DECADES (la Nora, Judith McNaught and maybe 2 others), your books are NOT shelved in the "Fiction" section.
  • As far as I can tell, they purchase NO hardcover romances except for the above.
  • They stick ALL their paperback romances in an "uncategorized" aisle and don't even bother to alphabetize beyond the first letter of the author's last name. And they won't even shelve category titles! Those donated to the library (and I've donated a few) go directly into the semi-annual Library Book Sale bin.
  • Thanx to all of the above, I figure I will NEVER see my book in this particular library branch.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Saying the "L" Word

In my stories, it is a BIG DEAL when my characters profess their love for each other. That's because circumstances within the story have prevented them from admitting their love. Or something in their backstory made them wary of admitting love to themselves or anyone else. And I'm not unique among romance writers. I find this to be true in most of the books I read as well as write.

Does art imitate life? In this case, I'd say probably yes. From my own personal experience, definitely yes.

The DH and I had been dating for over four months before I finally got up the courage to say the BIG "L" WORD to him. To be honest, for several weeks, I thought I only wanted to be "friends" with him. Then I decided okay, I wanted to be "more than friends." But it took him coming down with a fairly serious (and potentially life threatening) illness to make me realize that I really did want to keep him around, and I blurted out the "L" WORD.

For the record, he did NOT say it back for several weeks.

Years later (when faced with my own life threatening health crisis) he did admit that for him, it was "love at first sight" when we met. But saying the "L" word was a VERY BIG DEAL! So maybe I'm old-fashioned, or unrealistic, but I prefer that the "L" word not be thrown around lightly in either fiction or real life.

What about you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And They Call It Puppy Love

OR: The only true love money can buy...
No, not THAT kind!

In June, 2003 I lost my beloved 16 year old Schipperke to cancer. After about a month of rattling around a too empty house, thinking I saw the dog at every turn and bursting into tears, I decided to volunteer with an animal rescue group.

So one hot July Saturday morning four years ago, I found myself at an "adoption event". There were about a dozen dogs of various sizes and ages, most in pet crates, and people milling about asking about and petting and adopting them. My plan was to be a "foster parent" to one of the dogs that was not adopted. I was all set to take home this cute little Lhasa Apso named Sammy when a woman rushed up and said, "I MUST have this dog for my 75 year old mother who just lost her Lhasa."

What could I do? Nothing but hand him over. The woman who ran the event was thrilled by how successful the day had been. There were only a couple of dogs left, including a scraggly little mutt that had cowered in the back of her crate and squalled pathetically the entire two hours. Part Yorkie and part who-knows-what, NOBODY had expressed any interest in her. "Could you take HER home?" the woman in charge asked. What could I say? I put the ugly, scared, whiny little mutt in my car and drove home.

Then a funny thing happened. I got home, and the puppy (she was only 10 months old) stopped crying. She walked out of the crate, took one look at my DH and he of her and LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! Two hours later, with mutt in his lap, DH asked plaintively, "You aren't taking this dog back are you?" When I told him that yes, that was the plan, he looked ready to cry. This was on Saturday afternoon. It took me a couple more days to come around. By Thursday afternoon, the rescue group called to tell me they had a possible adoptive family for the dog. I told them, "Sorry, I'm keeping her!"

The Belle And that is how The Belle came into my life. :-)