Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Big Smoocharoo

I know that you are all still devastated that I lost my post yesterday about strong heroines...but as a wussy heroine myself, I am still wallowing and not quite ready to try again. Besides, I forgot what I was going to say. 
Fortunately, MSN this morning has a link to the 25 most fabulishious Movie Star Kisses, at least according to "In Style"
Iconic Kisses - Gone with the Wind - Scarlett O'Hara
Of course, the first kiss up is Rhett and Scarlett, duh.  I didn't even really "get" Gone With the Wind, but I totally would have thrown down with Rhett Butler.  Ashley Wilkes?  Oh come on. His name is ASHLEY fer chrissakes. 
Some others on the list:
Lady and the Tramp

When Harry Met Sally

Pretty Woman

Ghost (So the kiss referenced is the one where Whoopi Goldberg channels Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore kisses him/her.  That didn't really work for me, but the pottery scene was pretty hot)
Iconic Kisses - Ghost - Demi Moore


Love Story

Twilight (kissing cold dead guys really doesn't work for me either, but hey...that leaves more warm guys for me!)

Slumdog Millionaire

Say Anything (and I don't remember the kiss from that movie. What I remember is John Cusack standing outside holding a boom box playing "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel.   The. Most. Romantic. Scene. Ever. 

Breakfast at Tiffany's

From Here to Eternity (which looks great, but I can't stop thinking about all that sand getting in the naughty bits)
Iconic Kisses - From Here to Eternity - Beach Kiss
So what movie star kisses are your favorites?  When writing a kissing scene, do you try to channel Patrick Swayze, or do you practice on your pillow?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Alert

I just spent half an hour writing a BRILLIANT post about Marshmallow Fluff heroines, complete with well-developed examples and insightful analysis of how to have a wimpy-on-the-inside-tough-on-the-outside heroine, but then my sweater sleeve got caught on something, I hit the wrong button and now it's all gone. 

It's Monday, that's what happens. As a tough-as-nails heroine myself (yeah, right), I'm just going to reload and move on. 

Have a great Monday, maybe I'll try again later...but I'm also going to Cancun in a few days, and I need to get my toes polished so that I won't be self-conscious when the cabana boys are rubbing my feet. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's all about the Brownie Buttons

I am a sucker for a reward system.  I belong to Spark People and get little fake goodies for loggin in, reading the healthy stuff, exercising, all kinds of good stuff.  I am a girl scout leader, my girls get badges and awards for fulfilling requirements for a particular activity.  I have a son who is working towards becoming an Eagle Scout. 

And now I have a reward system for being a writer!  Ali Cross, the Writing Ninja has just developed a belt system for us writers who are struggling with where we are in our process.  I totally LOVE that I can now proudly say, that I am a White Belt with two stripes Writing Ninja (I don't think I'm ready to be turned loose to save literature from television yet, but I'm working on it!).
Go, me!  This means that I have done the following:
1) decided to call myself a writer
2) actually started writing
3) started a blog
4) started following other blogs
5) have been writing in earnest for six months
6) have been blogging for six months.

How fun is that???
After I've been blogging for 12 months and joined a writer's association, I'll get my yellow belt!  Yay. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When to Be Nice, and When to Keep The Pie Hole Shut

I have been diligently reading Breaking the Rules this week, I'm a little over halfway through.
I can't read all the time, though; fortunately it's easier to minimize my screen while I'm blogging than to hurredly shove my Kindle in a drawer if my boss comes in, so I can still get my fiction fix. 

Anyway. I was perusing Twitter the other day, while I wasn't reading, and an author, whose work I like, posted a link to a blog where someone said some pretty mean, critical stuff about her.  I commented, because I thought what the blogger said was mean, and I felt like I should say:  "Hey, if you don't like her work, don't read it.  If you don't like HER, keep it to yourself."  Of course, I tried to say this in a rambling, blithering way, and I suspect that I probably should have just kept my mouth shut.  Or my fingers still, as the case may be. 

I have been learning a TON of useful stuff about being a writer since I started blogging, and it's not all about not using adverbs and how to "show not tell".  I am learning the business lingo, and maybe, one of these days, when I finish something, I'll be educated enough to pimp my work.  I've also learned that maybe I shouldn't offer to review something and blog about it, unless I've already read it and love it.  I don't mean I am unable/unwilling to post an honest opinion of something. If something doesn't work for me, I don't think it's a terrible thing to say, "This scene didn't work for me because...", but on the other hand, I don't ever want to say, "Wow, this whole thing really was unreadable." 

  I do understand the Golden Rule of opinions:  "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".  But what are the exceptions?  If someone else is being mean to someone, what would you do?  On the one hand, it might be best to just stay the hell out of the fight.  But if someone is being picked on, and you feel like you need to defend that person, do you speak (type) up?  What do you say? 

(I just realized that I used "on the other hand" in the paragraph before I used "on the one hand".  Hopefully I'll learn to stop doing goofy stuff like that!) 
I'm much better at this in person.  When one of my kids says something mean about another kid, I know how to shut that down.  I know how to bite my tongue during office gossip parties (I know how.  I didn't say I actually DO bite my tongue).  So what about here in cyberspace?  I don't want to get voted off the Island before I've found the immunity idol!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reading Slumpage

We interrupt the nail biting excitement over the impending release of (my hero) Suzanne Brockmann's newest (and dare we fear LAST--at least for a while--Troubleshooters Book?) for some whining over the state of my brain.

But first, let me interrupt the interruption to gush: 
Which is being released on March 22, which is in 13 hours, 46 minutes.  Not that I'm counting, or anything.  If there is some Bizarre fluctuation in the Amazon Kindle download force, I may have to go Postal on some virtual customer service rep.  But that's not what I meant to write about today.
Okay, back to the original interruption:
I am in a reading slump.  I can't seem to find anything new that interests me.  How freakin' bizarre is that?  Okay, so I've been re-reading my favorite Troubleshooters books, just to refresh my ardor for Izzy, and Danny (*whimper*) and Sam, and Jules and Robin, and Decker, and...

And I've been re-reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, because, my other hero, J.R. Ward's newest,
 Lover Unleashed: A Novel of the Black Dagger BrotherhoodIs coming out on the 29th.  And those books totally interest me, but I know what happens, I am just re-reading because I know I'll get that "oof" when the hero and heroine's hearts collide, break open, and reform better and stronger than before. 

But I am completely stressed about what to do after this!?!  I mean, I'm going on vacation in a couple of weeks for Criminy's sake (who is Criminy?)!  I need a new series to obsess over and fall in love with.  I might note:  I will totally be done with both of the new books before I leave for vacation, and there is no way in heck I'm going to "save" them.  WTF?  Nuh huh.  Immediate Gratification is my middle name. 

What should I read????  I am not looking for one heroine who is the protagonist of everything.  I love Sookie, VI Warshawski, Stephanie Plum, all those ladies.  But I REALLY love a good series of romantic suspense, or paranormal romance, that I can load up on.  I love a good, strong, damaged hero, and a heroine I can like (don't need to love her.  I'm just going to replace her with ME while I read, LOL).  Dirty, kinky heroes are welcome, but not an absolute requirement.  I like a good story arc, where I can follow secondary characters from one book to the next, and see how they struggle and finally get to their HEA. 

Whatdya think?  Any suggestions?   

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What About the Beta and Gamma and Delta Males?

I got to spend an hour at my favorite coffee shop yesterday while I waited for the Saminator to finish track practice.  I had my trusty Novel Planning Notebook with me, so I sat down and worked on some lovely scene brainstorming and character development worksheet stuff. 

Fortunately, I didn't have my laptop with me, or I would have opened my WIP file and deleted everything, because I realized that I am writing a hero who is NOT ALPHA.  Which means that I totally suck. There is really no point in continuing this charade of a writing life.  I don't know what the hell I am doing, noone will EVER want to read what I am writing, it's BOOOORRRRING. 

I mean, everything I love to read has an ALPHA MALE in it, doesn't it?  All those Black Dagger Brothers are Alpha.  All those Troubleshooters boys are Alpha.  Vampire Bill WAS Alpha, at least in his little arena, until Sheriff Eric showed up, and then Sookie dumped Bill like yesterday's dirty underwear (and took an almost detour with Alcide, who's an Alpha Dog.  Sam is totally not an Alpha Dog, which is why Sookie's never gonna get busy with him). 

According to my homies at Wiki:  "The term "alpha male" is sometimes applied to humans to refer to a man who is powerful through his courage and a competitive, goal-driven, "take charge" attitude. With their bold approach and confidence "alpha males" are often described as charismatic. While "alpha males" are often overachievers and recognized for their leadership qualities, their aggressive tactics and competitiveness can also lead to resentment by others"

I also found information on How to Be an Alpha Dude, in case any guys out there need help with this.

So what about all the rest of the men out there?  Are they not getting ANY?  I can ask this question, because, honest to God, I have one of those Alpha Dudes of my own.  His abs could use some work, but other than that, he totally qualifies.  And while I'm at it, is everyone in England the offspring of royalty, since only the Alpha Dukes and Lords and Counts got lucky back in the day? 

What is it about the Alpha Dude that works in romance?  According to Smart Bitch Sarah
"readers are more likely to read about Alpha males with strong moral integrity, a hidden tenderness or the ability to be lethal while consistently choosing not to be—those make for some delicious heroes. Alpha heroes could be anything. They could be the alpha of a wolf pack, a literal alpha. They could be commanders or military officers or police chiefs. They could be lords or, depending on the mythology or theology of the romance in question, The Lord. (Heh—God, the Ultimate Alpha Male, particularly in the Old Testament.)."

Here is what works for me with the Alpha Dude:  He's commanding at work, around other Dudes, and he kicks ass on a regular basis, but here's the thing:  He's secretly terrified that someone will find out that HE'S NOT REALLY ALL THAT.  And here, of course, is where the heroine comes in.  She strips away all that tough guy crap and see's through his armor; and he has to learn to trust that she will still want him if he's vulnerable, yada yada; then Hijinks Ensue and we all go home with satisfied smiles on our faces. 

So what if our hero is just a guy?  Okay, an above average, smart, cute, funny guy; but not necessarily The King of The Universe (just Master of his own Domain?). 
I am thinking of Goodnight Tweetheart, by Teresa Medieros, in which the hero is just a guy, as far as we know.  We don't actually see him interacting with any other men, so we have no idea where he is in the food chain.  And maybe that's how he gets away with the heroine...his only competition is himself.  But that's the only recent example I can think of. 

So help me out here...what other kinds of heroes are there?  What books with really totally sexy hot heroes (who don't have to be in charge all the time) can you reccommend? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

66.66 words a day

I have really been on a roll the past week or so...okay, not really.  I started off the month of March with a bang, determined to get into NaNoWriMo mode and crank out a lot of words, to really get the Shitty First Draft out of my head. 

I scribbled together a sort of an outline/treatment/synopsis and sent it to a couple of friends for their (biased, because they are nice and they like me) opinions, got some suggestions, and started writing.  First day, 2000 words,  YES! 

It's now March 16, and I have gotten to 3000 words...that is 66.6666666 words a day.  Occassionally I've done 133.33333 words in a day because I had to skip a day...but still. 

Granted, they were really, really good words. 

Okay, that's all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Songs About Leaving

My husband travels a lot for his job.  He's a consultant, and works for companies that are out of state.  It's challenging, because we have three teenagers and I also work full-time AND we own a tire/auto repair business.  We seem to be making it work.  We've been doing things this way for two years now and have a bit of a routine.  The weekends are pretty packed full with pick ups from the airport, catching up the books for the shop, doing laundry and packing again, dropping off at the airport, and, oh yeah...spending time with the kids AND having a marriage.  And then there are the weekdays I spend trying to coordinate carpools and doctor appointments and getting work done at my real job (and I really think I have time to be a writer?). 

But you know what?  I am grateful.  My husband is a consultant. In the U.S.  I get to see him every weekend, and while I know accidents happen, I don't worry that he's going to get blown up by a roadside bomb or come home with PTSD (although some of those layovers in Atlanta can be pretty awful, I understand). And hey, there are the frequent flier miles that we are accumulating! 

Anyway, as it happens, I was dropping off the Bearded Wonder (my eldest, the one who, thankfully, drives) to pick up the Hubby's truck at the airport this morning, Gary Allan's "Watching Airplanes" came on the radio.  What a great song:

Sittin' out here on the hood of this truck lookin' up
At a caramel colored sunset sky
Checking my watch, doin' the math in my head
Countin' backwards from when you said goodbye
Well, those runway lights are getting brighter.

I'm just sittin' out here watchin' airplanes
Take off and fly
Tryin' to figure out which one you might be on
And why you don't love me anymore
Right now I'm sittin' out here watchin' airplanes

I won't post the whole thing here, but this song always sends me off into my head, making up stories about this guy and his troubled heart.  It seems that songs about leaving do that for me, get my creative juices flowing. 

One of my very first favorite songs was "Leaving on a Jet Plane", which I just Wiki'd and learned that, even though it was made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary, John Denver wrote it.  I loved that song.  "My bags are packed, I'm ready go.."

Ya'll are SO lucky that you can't hear me sing over the internet.  SO lucky. 

I was never crazy about "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon (although I love just about every other song he's ever written), but "Last Train to Clarksville" (the Monkees)...now that's an old heart breaker. 

So.  Songs about leaving get me going, because I really like to think about what coming back must be like.  I want all my stories to have a "My baby, she wrote me a letter" scene in them, too! 

Do you have a favorite "Leaving" song? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Diary of a Science Geek

A friend loaned me a copy of  look me in the eye by John Elder Robison, who has Asperger's and is also the brother of Augusten Burroughs. 

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

Augusten Burroughs, you'll remember, wrote Running With Scissors, a memoir of his (excuse my %$'s) F$@&*'d up childhood, as well as Dry and Magical Thinking .
Running with Scissors: A MemoirProduct DetailsProduct Details

This got me thinking about all the great memoirs I've read. So I thought I'd try to list some of the ones that have had the biggest impact on me (which means that I remember them, not that they necessarily changed my life)
  I'll Sleep When I'm Dead is the story of Warren Zevon, as told by his former wife.
Noone Here Gets Out Alive, about Jim Morrison
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, by Chuck Barris, of Gong Show fame...wherein he claims to have been a CIA agent.  I don't know if this is true or not, but I sure do remember reading that and going, "Huh."
Operating Instructions, by Anne Lamott, which is about becoming a mother, and Traveling Mercies, about spiritual stuff. 
In the eighties, when I was really cool, I read a lot of Hunter Thompson, which might be autobiographical, except...yeah.
I also read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which isn't strictly memoir, but was pretty darned interesting.
I seem to read more memoirs by Rock and Roll types than Movie Stars, or even Writers (who are usually too busy writing, to write, I guess).

Okay, there have been many, many more, and I'm sure I'll think of them all as soon as I hit "Publish Post".  But I would really like to know what the rest of you have read...who is interesting to you?  Why? 

Monday, March 7, 2011

I've been Outed! No Biggie.

I went to a fundraiser dinner/dance/auction thing the other night for my son's school. I was walking around with a casual acquaintance looking at the baskets available for the silent auction, and we passed a basket of paperback books.  She said, "Oh, I want to know about the writing thing you go to."  I was flabbergasted.  She must have meant the Central Ohio Fiction Writers conference that I went to last fall, because I am not a member of RWA (yet) so I don't actually "go" anywhere writerly except here on the internet.  The thing is, I didn't tell anyone except my husband that I was going to that COFW thing.  I did post a picture of myself and my close personal friend (okay, my idol who I would stalk if I lived closer) Suzanne Brockmann on facebook, but I didn't caption it with "Hey, look at me, pretending I'm going to be a real writer some day!"

Which means my husband outed me.  I imagine it went something like this:

My friend:  "Why isn't Teri here at the cross country meet this weekend?"
My husband:  "She went to a writer's conference in Columbus."
My friend:  "No kidding!  I didn't know she writes."
My husband:  "Yes, my wonderful wife can do anything, and now she wants to be a romance writer, and I'm sure she'll succeed and I will support her all the way to the bank."
(okay, maybe he didn't say any of that except the part about hoping to become rich and famous.  He's a bit delusional, but I love him anyway).
My friend:  "That's so cool!  I write, too.  I'll have to talk to her about it."

How anticlimactic!  Here I am thinking that when/if the people that I see everyday find out that I aspire to writerhood, they will line up on Fountain Square, strip me naked and point and laugh.  Granted, it could still happen.  One friend down, several dozen to go. 

This got me to thinking about how many other things have been so much bigger in my mind than they are in real life.  And vice versa.  How many things, that I thought I would breeze through, became way bigger challenges that I expected.  For me, the latter example is motherhood.  Yeah, I know, I might have considered that being responsible for another life would be tough, but I had NO IDEA.  Thank God, I had no idea.  I probably would have kept my legs crossed. 

What about you?  What things have you been terrified about that turned out to be no big deal?  And what did you think was going to be easy peasey but turned out to be a ginormous mountain? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When is Bad Taste Appropriate?

Okay, so I have actually managed to squeek a few minutes of actual fiction writing time in this week, and I am working on a kind of a flirty email prologue thing between my H/H.  She lives in Kentucky, he's originally from Kentucky, and moving back.  So there is witty banter regarding Kentucky life.

Let me state here:  I live in Kentucky.  I love it.  It's beautiful, the people are great, there is history out the wazoo.  And it's funny.   I have, in my county, important landmarks like Frogtown Road, Big Bone Lick State Park, the Beaver Lick Baptist Church, and the towns of Rabbit Hash and Sugar Tit.  There is also the Creation Museum, but that's not something I'm as thrilled about as Sugar Tit, Big Bone, and Beaver Lick. 

Anyway, I like to make gentle fun of Kentucky, but my idea of gentle fun might not be as gentle as someone else's. I tend to think it's acceptable to laugh about needing to stop and put on our shoes before crossing in to Ohio, and getting back across the bridge before the border closes at night.  I laugh about being considered a hillbilly, white trash, whatever derogatory term you chose because I know it's a ridiculous designation.  But I also know that I am pretty lucky--I'm a middle class white girl, a product of fortunate circumstances.  I am fortunate, but I have also been insulated from experiences that might allow me to be sensitive to inappropriate ridicule. 

The safe thing is to avoid poking fun at anyone.  I certainly wouldn't want to hurt anyone else.  How do you know when self-fun-poking gets away from you?  Feel free to insert your own KY (jelly) and self-fun-poking joke here.