Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Accent on Accents

Who isn't a sucker for an accent?  My first love was Davey Jones of the Monkees, and while I was initially attracted to his smooth, hairless chest, I was forever conditioned to coo over British accents. 

This intense love affair lasted until I was 9, when I got taller than him.  But really...those soulful eyes (okay, maybe they're a little ooky, but they seemed soulful when I was six), that hairless little chest?  What's not to adore?  And the accent.  Oh. My. Gosh. Made me a Daydream Believer.  Until stupid Marcia Brady hornswoggled him into kissing her.  Slut. 

And then there was Bond.  James Bond.   Roger Moore, Eh.  Not so much.  But that Scottish Bond, shooeee.  And look there, bottom right of this composite...he's got a seriously long gun.  Not as wide-barreled as you might hope for, but a skilled operator doesn't need...oh, well, you get the analogy.  Or metaphor.  Whatever.  Sean 


And then there is the Irish accent.  Sigh  Did you see Liam Neeson in  The Good Mother? Nell?  Darkman?  Okay, maybe the Jedi mind tricks made you forget those movies, but I've been a Liam girl for years. 

Now back to the English Accent:  The blue-eyed Bond, Daniel Craig.  And there's this scene where he's tied nekkid to a chair and...well, Tiffany, that scene's for you.  I'll do the kiss it and make it better scene. 

Let's not forget our own good old American Boy accents, especially those southern boys.  Tommy Lee Jones is my personal fave.  Yeah.  That's him.  How cute was he, even way back before he was Loretta Lynn's husband or a Man In Black?

And East Coast Boys are hip.  Yo, Adriane! 

But my absolute favorite accent is the Spanish one.  Not the Mexican Spanish one, the actual Spanish Spanish one.  Just saying the words "Antonio Banderas"  makes my rrrr's roll around in ecstasy. 

I once worked with a man from Spain.  He sounded just like Antonio B on the phone.  He looked more like Andy Sipowicz crossed with Archie Bunker, but if you just listened, he was like Viagra in pink. 

What accents do it for you? 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Name That Villian Contest

Okay, enough with the maudlin introspection of yesterday.  I'm dusting of the NaNo project for partial display next month, and I realize that I have to name my villian.  The tentative name I have for him is so stupid that I can't even type it out loud. 

Here's the 411:  I have a bad guy who is masquerading as the best friend of the hero--the ultimate Freinemy--and the Cute Kid is the only one who knows he's really a bad guy.  The problem is, the Cute Kid spends alot of time in her own private Idaho, so when she tries to tell people about the villian, everyone just chuckles and pats her on the head.  Of course, she doesn't know the real name of the villian, because that would totally not work for this story.  She has her own name for the villian, but I can't decide what that should be. 

There are already so many great villian out there that it would be easy to steal someone else's name and bastardize it.  Heck, the Cute Kid is only 8, she doesn't have to be totally original.   I could spend the whole day Googling villians, but I don't have all day, because I'm not done with my Christmas shopping.  But here are a few of my favorites:
Okay, this last one isn't really a villian picture, although given Miley Cyrus and the Bong Incident, it might count.  I was actually looking for Gaston from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and came upon this guy, who is/was Miley's beau.  He could tie me up and hold me hostage any time.  Ahem. 

ANYWAY.  I need help!  Should we have a contest?  What should I offer as a prize? Okay, here's the deal: you think of names for my villian, I'll go home and dig around in the basement for action figures. I'll  see what I have, and send the winning villian namer the action figure of their choice. 

Oh, and in case you didn't get my Private Idaho Reference: 

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Computer Ate My Short Story

My New Year's Resolution this year is to finish something.  Just. One. Freaking. Story.  I put my Great American Romance Novel on the back burner, and have even set my NaNo piece aside in favor of a sweet little short story that I started a couple of weeks ago.  I figure that if I can finish a short story, I might have enough momentum to plug away at the longer stuff.  I mean, it's not like I have a deadline looming or anything.  I am hearing Rob Schneider in my mind saying, "You can do eet!"

I spent five hours in the car on Friday, driving with my kids to Chicago so we could spend the weekend shopping and sightseeing with the dad.  We are not big conversators while driving.  The kids actually read all the way up, so I had alot of time to think.  I took time out to be totally freaked out by the windfarm between Indianapolis and Chicago, but the rest of the time I thought great thoughts about what to do next with my little short story. 

I got up Saturday morning, all psyched to write while the rest of the family slept in.  I booted my laptop, plugged in my memory stick, and got a blank page with the message:  Replace existing file?  And oops!  yep, I clicked "Yes".  And there it went.  If only I'd had the Pac Man being eaten music, it would have been perfect.

It's not like I can't rewrite it.  I will.  I actually put together an outline immediately, so that when I get over my dismay, I'll be able to recreate some of those brilliant ideas that I had already typed up, and to flesh out the brilliant ideas I had on I-65.  But boy, what a bummer.  This is not the first time this has happened to me, either.  I had another big chunk of writing disappear when I lost a memory stick a few months ago.  Fortunately, I had emailed an earlier version to my CP (Hi, Mary!) and she sent it back to me.  But dang! 

You'd think I'd never heard the 'back up your data' warning.  I just thought that I was being wise by keeping everything on a flash drive rather than the hard drive, which I know is going to go soon. 

That's what I get for thinking!  So that's my Happy Monday story for the week.  It's all uphill from here. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nerdly Geekily Hot

My boyfriend Tim McGraw was on Ellen yesterday (I know, I mentioned that yesterday, but I thought it bears repeating).  Tim is not necessarily someone that I automatically look at and go, "OMG, he's so HOT".  I mean, look at him: 
   The goatee thing is hot.  But really...he's not terribly tall, he's got a receeding hairline, average brown hair, and he's totally eclipsed by that skanky blonde he insists on hanging out with (just kidding, are actually a very elegant, cool chick.  Now get away from my boyfriend).  And he's wearing nerdy glasses there.  He wore them on Ellen yesterday.   But he's just so darned cute, especially when he's not wearing that dorky cowboy hat: 
I mean, really, kids.  EVERY country star can wear a stupid cowboy hat.  That's how you know they are a country star and not, say, a rapper. 

But take away the cowboy hat and Faith Hill, and you probably wouldn't look twice at him if you were in line behind him at Kroger.  He's just kind of, average, albeit in a nice looking way. Except I bet he smells good.  You might notice that.

Last night on twitter, there was a lively chat ( #wtflitchat) about nerds and dorks in smutty romance.  The question was, can a dork be hot?  Well, I guess first you have to define "dork".  This is the Urban Dictionary definition: "Someone who has odd interests, and is often silly at times. A dork is also someone who can be themselves and not care what anyone thinks."
Whereas a nerd is, "One whose IQ exceeds his weight".
The consensus during the chat was that dorkiness is an issue of social skills, where nerdiness has a more intellectual quality.  The two can certainly cross over. 
I think there are alot of hot, dorky nerds out there.  I mean, who doesn't want to secretly do Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory? 
  Okay, maybe that's not a good example.  But I'm sure he appeals to some of us.
The point is, that intelligence and humor are WAY sexier than alot of other, more concrete measures of studliness like the Ab Harness Scale or the length and breadth of...well, you know.   The idea is that, underneath that average exterior lies an interesting person, willing to take chances and try new things. 
And let's face it.  The sexy librarian is NOT a new concept: 

Marian.   Madame Librarian. 
Even if she did wind up being Keith Partridge's mom and driving a dorky school bus...Hey!  There's that dork concept again. 
I'm pretty sure if asked to describe ourselves, most of us would be more likely to go with "nerdy, boring, average" rather than "Hot, sexy, vixen".  At least to the outside world. In our own minds, we have that naughty ne'r do well Music Man/ Con Artist trying to seduce us out of our corsets. 

The same goes for guys, right? I mean really...Clark Kent, in his glasses and conservative suit, or Superman, running around in tights with his junk on display? 

One of my favorite Sexy Nerd books is Strange Attractions  by Emma Holly, which stars a nerdy physicist (model for Sheldon?  Probably not);and Tiffany Reisz's Seven Day Loan has a very nicely naughty librarian.  Whimper. 
 Vicki Lewis Thompson wrote a whole Nerd series.  What are your favorite nerd stories?  What nerd or dork (or heck, Geek, even) do you really want to see put down his duct taped glasses? 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Snow Day and the Pointless Blog

We got quite a few inches of snow here last night--woo hoo!  I'm not sure how many inches, because I've been occasionally mislead about how long...oh, never mind.  But waking up with six inches is enough to stay in bed for an extra hour, waking up to eight inches, all day.  Okay, Okay, I'll stop with the inappropriate innuendos. 

My kids are off school today, but they are old enough now that they can be left home alone on a snow day while I suck it up and go to work.  The house is usually still standing when I get home.  I do get to go in late, though, because there's this giant hill on the way into the city, and on a snow day (or a rainy day, or a windy day) the Cut in the Hill can back up for miles and miles. 

I get to watch Regis and Kelly, and now Ellen is on.  My boyfriend Tim McGraw was on Ellen this morning, totally rocking his little nerdy glasses.  Sigh. 

I miss the stay-at-home mom days when I could waste a whole morning watching talk shows and feeling guilty for not getting much done, but now I go to work and feel guilty for spending too much time blogging. It's all long as I get to feel guilty.

Okay, that's all, I'm off to find a clean pair of jeans so I can get dressed and try to get to work! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cynical Optimism and other Twisted Ideas

I have been finding myself being quite snarky where my children are concerned, lately. I think this is a twisted way of putting myself down...after all, if they are messed up, it's all my fault, so it's okay if I focus on the negative, right?  Because I'm not putting THEM down, I'm dogging my own parenting skills. 

<<Putting another dollar in the therapy fund.  Actually,  putting in five. >>

I also have a tendency to expect the worst in any given situation, because then when things work out, I am pleasantly surprised.  That's the source of the concept of Cynical Optimism. Like it?  I thought it up myself. 

I have a pretty well-developed sense of humor, if I do say so myself.  I love to laugh...and not just at other people.  I can be really smart alecky, but I am also a really nice person.  I feel terrible when I say something sarcastic and someone is offended.  . 

 <<Taking a dollar back out of the therapy fund to go buy some chocolate>>

 On the other hand, I rarely take offense when someone snubs me or says something biting.  This is either because 1) I don't think they really mean to be nasty, or 2) I deserve whatever they said.  I lose much more sleep over the stupid things I say and do than over what is said to me.

ANYWAY.  This makes me think about the all powerful and elusive VOICE in literature.  I may be wrong, but to me, this is a pretty direct reflection of the personality of the writer.  How much sarcasm is too much?  How much groveling is tedious?   Hmmm.  MAYBE, for me, it's not the sarcasm and guilt that come across when I write, but the conflict I have over these parts of me that is the thing. 

<<Puts dollar back in therapy fund, opens latest WIP instead.>>

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friends in Low Places

Continuing with my self-indulgent, overly, emotional theme, I'd like to write about country music today. 

When I was young and cool, I had a Pinto station wagon that only got A.M. radio.  My boyfriend and I were WAY too cool to listen to the one pop music station available, so we went country, since that seemed SOOOO uncool that it was Extra Cool.  Kind of like heavy black eyeglass frames (or socks with sandals).

Fortunately for my cool factor, I managed to wreck the Pinto (actually, someone else rear-ended me and I didn't blow up), and got a new car with an FM radio. A Chevette.  WAY cool, right?  Anyway, we were  able to go back to a Heavy Metal station and not have to try to make country music trendy (this was 1980.  Country was NOT cool then).

Anyway.  A seed was planted.  I passed through the Heavy Metal stage into Psuedo-Hippiness, following the Grateful Dead around and listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash and wishing I had been at Woodstock (I would have been five).  Then I got married and started having kids, and my music preferences became all Barney all the time.  Shudder.

We moved to Northern Kentucky (a HUGE cultural shock, to move 15 miles from the west side of Cincinnati).  We bought a truck.   We do NOT have a gun rack or a confederate flag, and we do wear shoes (most of the time) and have most of our teeth.  We listen to country music.

Country music feeds my romantic soul.  Taylor Swift songs make me cry:

Drew looks at me
I fake a smile so he won't see
What I want and I need
And everything that we should be

I'll bet she's beautiful
That girl he talks about
And she's got everything
That I have to live without

  Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins (my other boyfriend besides Johnny Depp).   There are so many great stories that can come from those songs.  Some of them have already been expanded into movie form.  Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks is one.   I guess most country music themes have been made into movies and books in one form or another, because they are so universal.  The Dance is another Garth tune that I love, and my hero Suzanne Brockmann gave it a nod in The Admiral's Bride

Friends in Low Places, though.  Now THAT is a great song:

 Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in boots
And ruined your black tie affair
The last one to know, the last one to show
I was the last one you thought you'd see there
There is nothing like a cocky, drunk ex-boyfriend to liven up a party, is there?  I read a great little Harlequin Super Romance over the weekend

I stayed up past my bedtime to finish this one. It has everything you could ask for in a hero:  Injured alcoholic veteran with PTSD, biceps and tatoos.  Very nice.  Brady shows up at his ex-fiancee's wedding, drunk and bitter.  While he doesn't exactly cause a scene, everyone knows he's there and is uncomfortable, so it totally counts towards Garth Brooks points.  The Ex-fiancee's little sister, who has been secretly in love with Brady forever takes him, home, whoops she gets pregnant, and hijinks ensue. 

The thing I liked about this novel was the total messed-up-ness of the protagonists.  Even the Ex-fiancee/older sister gets to be messed up over all this.  It's not a neat tidy story.  Older sister is jealous, new husband is jealous, Brady doesn't sober up the instant he finds out he's going to be a father.  We know they'll work it out, but the road to HEA had a lot of those great "oof" moments.

This is the kind of book I aspire to write. 

What songs inspire you? 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Imaginary Heroes

I was browsing along through this month's Vanity Fair at lunch time (thanks Jessica), about to admire pictures of my boyfriend, Johnny Depp,
When I came across this guy:  
His name is Garrett Hedlund, and he's in the new Tron movie, as well as Country Strong, and THEN he's going to be playing Dean Moriarty in the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On The Road, which so totally appeals to my once-upon-a-time-hippie-wanna-be nature that I might just have to go home and get my Birkenstocks and socks on.

Yeah, I know.  It was bad, I did it, but I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen.  I will also confess that while I do know who Neal Cassady is/was (the real life Dean Moriarty), it's only because I like the Grateful Dead song.

  I tried to read On the Road, but it was kind of like Moby Dick to me at the time.  I had to wait 25 years for the movie, but if Garrett's in it, I'm glad I waited.

Anyway.  I saw that Garrett guy, and I thought, Oh!  He could totally be Comatose Dave in WIP3!  I generally try to stay away from choosing real people to model my heroes after because once I start to learn sutff about them, I feel like I have to make that part of the story, and real people can be a little too human.  I'm still not over the whole Mel Gibson debacle.

  On the other hand, I have a tough time imagining imaginary people.  So my plan here is to avoid any and all information about my boy Garrett until after I've written about him, so that his sordid interactions with underaged girls or attacks on paparazzi dont't play into his profile.

How do the rest of you do it?  How do you come up with a face without getting sucked into a personality?     

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dead Husbands and Other Romantic Plot Devices

I mentioned briefly (maybe more than once, in more than one forum) that I use alot of dead husbands in my writing.  I have four semi-outlined and/or embryonic WIPs, and I started three of them with a widowed heroine.  What's up with that?  On one hand, it could be that I can get pretty fed up with my own hubby, and this is a not so subliminal message about a need for couple's therapy.  On the other hand, it may be that I am too conservative to have a divorced heroine, or (gasp) one who's had a child out of wedlock.  Because, God help me, I have alot of children, too.  On the third hand, I think it's easy to have unresolved issues with dead people, and there is nothing more compelling than a character with issues. 

Anyway, I've managed to trade one dead husband in for a comatose brother, and put the husband in jail (because I can't get rid of the cute kid, and besides, the convict ex-husband provides alot of good issue material), and another dead husband might just become a dead father.  I think I'll keep the third one, because he was a real dipwad, and he deserves to be dead. 

My hero, Suzanne Brockmann, has taken some similar situations and rewritten them, which I find really cool, because, well, she's my hero and she does a good job.  She's got the alcoholic actor (Hearthrob, and Robin Chadwick in the Troubleshooters series), the guy who thinks he's too old (The Admiral's Bride, and Max and Gina in TS).  Of course, seems to know what she's doing, and has written more than one story in between her similar situations. 

What kinds of things does everyone else find themselves repeating?  Themes?  Characters?  Circumstance? 

By the way, I don't often wish my husband dead.  I have gone the whole, "what if?" a time or two, where I realize that I don't know the password to our online banking account, and have no idea where the key to the safe deposit box is.  So I'll be following those paranoid fantasies along for the dipwad dead husband story.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Prequels and the Christmas Spirit

Okay, Prequels don't have anything to do with Christmas spirit, but I'm on a roll here, two things to talk about today.

First, let's get the writing thing out of the way.  I got my NaNo project out yesterday and sorted everything I'd written into Back Story, Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 (which were kind of arbitrary, but at least that way I can see what I have).  I found that Back Story has at least as much crap as Acts 1,2 and 3 combined.  So maybe I need a pre-story, so that I can set some things up before I try to tell the story that I was trying to get out in the first place.  Is it overly ambitious to try for a trilogy before I've managed to complete even a short story?  Oh, who the hell cares, I'm going to do it anyway. 

I've managed to delete all of my dead husbands at this point, but now I have too many alcoholics.  As Roni and  Tiffany pointed out the other day on Twitter, dead wives are all the rage, so I may have to jump on that band wagon and work one in.  Especially since I'm just not good at vampires, shape shifters or mer-people.  I'm thinking maybe I can substitute PTSD for addiction in one of my characters.  We'll see.  I need to sit in a few more traffic jams to work this out in my head. 

Okay, so now for Christmas.  I have a real problem getting Christmas decorations going.  I just hate dragging out all of the stuff, because it's just going to have to be put away again.  Not until Easter, but still.  On the other hand, I do appreciate me some fine holiday displays.  This house down the street from our carpool friends is one of my favorites, because their Santa has a little of the Captain in him:   
See?  Just reversed. 

And I am not completely without holiday spirit at home.  I have managed to keep this Christmas cactus alive for two whole years, and this year, it even decided to bloom! 

On the left there you can see "Mushroom Man", who my daughter bought a few years ago at the Santa's Workshop thing they do at school.  Next to that is the pretty hand-thrown vase I got at the Renaissance Fair, then my Christmas cacuts in the Alice in Wonderland tea cup, and the cat tile my sister-in-law made.  I deleted the dirty sink below the windowsill.  I am slightly better with Photoshop than I am with a sponge. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking 5; or, Balance? What the Heck is that?

On my way in to work this morning I was thinking about my weekend and how much I didn't get done:

I didn't get my Christmas tree up
I didn't get the dog pee smell out of the carpet (I think I'll have to lose the elderly dog and the carpet to take care of that one)
I didn't finish the quilt for Laura
I didn't get my NaNo project reorganized for revising/finishing
Okay, I don't need to go on, but the list is pretty long.

Then I started thinking about my to-do list:
All the things that didn't get done over the weekend
Cure cancer and peripheral nerve injuries, and if there is time, PTSD
Be a better mom
Be a better wife
Be more spiritual
Be a great writer

But then I got distracted while sitting at a stoplight, checking to see if anyone interesting had Tweeted yet this morning.

Which brought me back around to all the time I spend with social media and then how much I didn't get done over the weekend....although I did have some interesting conversations in cyberspace! 

So.  I'm practicing balance today.  I am setting my timer for fifteen minute increments and (whoops, hang on, it just went off).

Okay, I'm back. 

And I'm doing the different things I want and/or need to do in fifteen minute increments, so that maybe bythe end of the day, I'll feel like I've at least made some progress.    And instead of feeling like I'm running around getting nowhere, maybe I'll be able to cross something off the list. 

My other resolution for the week?  Leave the Crackberry in my purse when I'm behind the wheel.  Honest, I don't text and drive, but I sure do check it every time I hit a stop light.  I actually sat all the way through a light today and listened to the radio, and learned that It's Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday, so in honor of Dave and all of us who try to do too much, let's Take Five, shall we? 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On Being a Responsible Crit Partner--Are you Experienced?

I have been critiqued a little (Hi, Mary!) and have done a little critiquing, but all of us are kinda new to the whole process, so I have some questions of those of you who are more experienced with this whole procedure. 

When ya'll are reading each other's stuff, how much editing do you do vs. big picture critiquing?  I have found it extremely helpful to have my CP (Hi, Mary!) pick out all the little style and grammar things that might seem okay to me because I tend to write like I talk, but are really not correct. And then, of course, she tells me if she gets where I am going with something, if my characters are sympathetic, if I have too many dead husbands, or if there is even a hint of emotional intensity in my work.  And of course, we are both on the look out for instances of purple prose.  eeeuuuw.  Keep your Throbbing Love Muscle away from my Garden of Earthly Deights. 

I'm asking because I critiqued a few chapters for a friend last night, sent them back with my comments, and haven't heard back from her.  Maybe she's sick. Maybe she's on vacation.  Hopefully she's not diving off the roof because she thinks I think her work sucks, because I really don't (and I'm pretty sure I'm not that powerful), I actually thought it was great...but I did suggest alot of little word changes. 

You'd think that someone who spends so much time blathering on the internet wouldn't be so worried about how my opinion might come across, but I'm almost as messed up worrying about her response to my response as I would be if I had to stand up and read my NaNo project right now, outloud in front of a whole RWA convention. In my underwear. 

Anyway.  Are there guidelines for this sort of thing?   I know that the whole "trying to be nice because I like you thing" is something I have to get over, but how do you know when enough is enough?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writing Instruments and Blogs Gone Bad

I was going to title this post "Confessions of a Pen Slut" but then decided that I might get unwanted attention from search engines.  As for the "Blog Gone Bad" part, I'm just bumming because my Smilla and GI Jane posters from yesterday didn't show up right...they were there when I previewed it.  Oh well.

Anyway.  I had an hour and a half to kill last night while my middle son had swim team practice, so I snuck down to WalMart to pick up some milk and peruse the cheapo Christmas goodies (to see what tacky scented bath stuff I'll be getting from my kids this year--can I just say that Vanilla Musk is WAY not a fave?).  I decided that maybe, now that I have written 50,000 words worth of novel, that maybe I would go back and try to write a bit of a synopsis, just to make sure I had the story straight in my mind.  The whole thing had changed so much from Nov. 1 to Nov 29 that I was no longer sure I had anyone's internal or external goals or whatever laid out.  Okay, back to WalMart. Of course, I left the house without my trusty composition book/journal, so I decided to pick up another one.  And look for a new pen, while I was at it. 

For a couple of years now, I have been a big fan of the Bic Z4+, but it's really hard to find.
BIC Z4CV11BK Rubber Grip Bold Rollerball Pens It's got nice juicy ink, and it flows really nicely, a cool rubbery grip, but again...hard to find.  I also like a good ball point pen.  Not too fine a tip, and the ones I usually like are not store bought, but things I pick up from vendors at trade until the Zeiss Microscope booth next year, I'm out of luck.  Although I always love the good old fashioned Bic Ball points...the ones with the clear barrel and the little blue plug in the end that is so nice to chew on. But I couldn't find those, either!  I wound up with a Papermate gel pen, which is so so. 
Gel 2ct - Blue Medium  0.7mm
It did the trick, though...I got through some good character and plot analysis, so that when I get around to trying to put the stuff I wrote in some sort of order, I'll have a clearer idea of what I need to add and take away. 

But now I am in a quandry about the whole pen I a pen slut, that I am so willing to try new models, and not hold out until I find my beloved model?