Friday, January 29, 2010
Times, they are a-changin'.
Since we're talking technogadgetry this week, let's talk about my (grudgingly admitted) new BFF, the iphone 3 GS.
I never wanted one. Really, I didn't. But when I caught word of all the applications on the iphone available for persons with autism who use visual communciations system and curriculums....well, let's just say I couldn't get my hands on one fast enough. For my son to be able to place his own order, or shop at the grocery store without toting along a ten pound communications device was a HUGE thing. Plus, the fact that he used one at all was cool. When a teen struggles with social issues like my sons do, anything that can bridge the pariah gap with a dose of uber-cool is a good thing.
I never meant to get attached. Really, I didn't. Then I discovered the kindle app.
Color. Me. Sold.
Within the week I had my very own iphone, and let's just say that my Kindle has been kicked out of my bed permanently. My iphone doesn't need a reading light. :)
I've recently discovered the vast world of iphone apps. But never once did I think my iphone could become a stand in for my spouse *g*.
Seriously, did you know you there's a Kama Sutra application? Really. There is. Now I dunno about you, but somehow using my iphone to perfect my.....eh....form in the buduoir...sorta sucks the romance out of the moment. Hold that position, dear, it's time for a form check!
Yeah, that's gonna get me my sexy back in no time. *snorts*
Not feeling it? No problem. The handy-dandy Iphone has that accounted for, too.
Yeah, you guessed it. Should you need a jolt of canned passion, there are a number of vibrator applications available for iphone. What I don't get though, is how you keep the thing....um....well, you know....dry. Wait, maybe that's what all those screen protectors and silicon skins are for?
Hmmm...do they come ribbed or textures ala the infamous French Tickler? Ah, the possibilities!
Fine, so battery operated lovin' doesn't do it for you. Maybe you prefer good old fashioned foreplay? Ever play spin the bottle? Strip poker? Take it high tech....with Sexytime Fun Lite! This spiffy little game tells each player what to do to the other and for how long. And should you want a hands free version? It boasts an autoplay feature. And just in case you're a visual learner, the screen is programmed not to autodim while you're busy....elsewhere!
Granted, times are changing, and technology is on overdrive. For the most part, I'm all for it. But when it comes to fun between the sheets....I'm a retro girl all the way. How about you?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
A man walks into his office. One of his colleagues stares at his bruised face and quite impressive black eye. "What the heck happened to you?" he asks. "Get into a fight?"
The man looks sheepish. "No. I tried to answer a call on my iPad."
My DH insists it's true and that a number of iPad reviewers reported suffering "Ow! Forgot it's not my iPhone!" syndrome when their iPhones rang and they tried to "answer" their iPads instead.
Excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing.
But hey, you have to admit the iPad does at least look a bit like an iPhone in this picture (below), even if in reality it does weigh 1.5lb, is .5 inches thick and has a 9.7inch display. Which might be far lighter and thinner than other laptops and notebooks but it would still pack a wallop, I reckon!
Seriously though, for anyone who has only just arrived on this planet and hasn't heard the goss yet, here's the hot news from Apple about the launch of their iPad, their "most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelieveable price".
Here's the press release direct from the horse's mouth:
"Apple today introduced iPad, a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, playing games, reading e-books, and much more. Its high-resolution Multi-Touch display lets you interact with content — including 12 innovative new apps designed especially for iPad and almost all of the 140,000 apps available on the App Store. At just 0.5 inches thick and 1.5 pounds, iPad is thinner and lighter than any laptop or notebook. iPad will be available in March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499."
If you're interested in all the specs and aps, you can read more on Apple's website.
And hard on the heels of its much-awaited official launch, the criticisms have been flying thick and fast. I spat my coffee all over my screen when I read this from SB Sarah on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog:
"The iPad, now available in Light, Maxi, and Super (8Gb, 16Gb 64Gb)? As Tessa Dare said, are there NO women at Apple who could have given them the heads up (HA) that this is a BAD NAME?"For more biting humor and pithy honesty, you can read SB Sarah's full blog post here as well as view Apple's video presentation.
On Twitter, the debate rages as to the iPad's functionality and whether you're better off sticking with your iPhone. Check out all the posts by searching "iPad" or "I-Pad" on Twitter's home page -- you don't need to be registered as a Twitter user to read the search results, BTW.
Doesn't appear that it's a popular enough topic to have attained the dizzying heights of "trending topics" yet. Oh, hang on, yes it has. Check out iTampon.... Oh noes! *winces*
DH, by the way, isn't particular impressed by all these sarcastic allusions to feminine hygiene products. He reckons it's the pot calling the kettle black. "What," he asks, "does everyone put at the end of every sentence? That's right. A period." *winces again*
As far as reading eBooks go, residing in New Zealand and therefore not having access to the latest dedicated eReaders, I'm quite happy sticking with my iPhone. But if someone decided to give me an iPad, I sure wouldn't turn it down. Hint, hint!
So what do you think of Apple's claims that the iPad is going to revolutionise the way we "experience the web, emails, photos and videos"?
And what about eBooks? Are you tempted to ditch your Kindle or Sony Reader or Nook in favor of the iPad?
I await the future of the iPad with bated breath! Not to mention a substantial decrease in price. And hopefully, availability in a Kiwi store very soon.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I just finished judging an unpublished RWA contest and I was very impressed by the entries I received. Normally I get one or two really fantastic entries and the rest are usually ‘meh’, and I feel bad giving low scores. Don’t know why, that’s just always been my experience. Luckily I got some pretty amazing entries all around, and I’m hoping that in the next couple years I’ll see at least one of these on the bookshelves. Now that I’ve finished that round of judging, I’ve absolutely got to get to a couple of the books I recently received for the RITA contest. It’s my first year judging this contest and I’m pretty excited about it. As a rule I prefer published contests because of the great books I get to keep. Is that wrong, lol? Of course I forgot about this contest though, and bought six new books over the weekend so on top of the 8 that I have to read, there’s a new addition to my tbr pile yelling at me.
On the subject of contests, I recently read something from someone who judges the Golden Heart that disturbed me. She said that if she didn't like an entry, instead of giving it a super low score, she scored in the middle so it lessened the chances of that entry undergoing a 'swing vote' (can’t remember the exact term) in the event the scores were incredibly skewed. I thought that her take on judging was a bit devious. When I judge, I just focus on my opinion of that entry. If I can't stand something, that doesn't mean the other judges won't love it. The truth is, I don't care what anyone else thinks of that entry or where it ends up placing. Reading is so subjective and it makes me think that someone with that opinion is missing the point of well…a lot of things.
Hope everyone is having a great week! It’s hump day so we’re almost to the weekend. Lord knows I'm ready for it to get here :)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Know the feeling when you go on a first date or a job interview? Those nervous butterflies spawn in your stomach and the inner monologue lectures smile, don’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, don’t eat anything green that might get stuck in your teeth…
I call this spit-shined and watered down version of myself the representative. All the good qualities, none of the crazy. I mean, do we really wanna show the extreme on a first date? Hell no, they’d never buy the mad cow!
Of course, as a former navy wife and the girl voted most dramatic (Millbrook high school, class of ’98,) I have to wheel out the representative more often than your average Jane. Meetings with teachers, running into neighbors, at the grocery store,(Salesclerk: “Can I help you? Me: “I dunno, can you?”) Hell, even at family gatherings I live in fear of opening up my mouth and letting loose the inner demons for fear of an intervention. Or an exorcism.
I have no patience, I don’t tolerate stupidity, disorganization bugs the stuffing outta me and if I don’t get a fair amount of me time I go a little nuts. I’m also loyal to a fault, wicked funny and a generous human being, but most can’t get past the control freak neuroses.
In most situations my “real” personality is revealed in a manner akin to a burlesque show. A little flash here, a glimpse there, to test the proverbial reception. I want to know how much a person can tolerate before I let it all hang out in the breeze. This is my M.O, with one notable exception.
When I write it’s there, in your face, no holds barred. The representative is banished to the dank recesses of my brain because seriously, who wants to read a book by a chick who pussyfoots around the frigging point? Or one who’s been given an emotional lobotomy?
“Not I,” said the little red hen, “Cluck cluck.”
Monday, January 25, 2010
2009 was the year from hell for me. Did I mention there's also the 2010 run off?
The death of a parent followed by filing for divorce is no one's idea of a fun time.
My muse's decided to sit back and take a rest. I was on deadline and nothing would friggin' come out like it should. I'd write but I knew it wasn't right when it reached the page. Add to that some really bad reviews and you have a doubting writer.
Through the pile of crap, I continued to plug along and then one day, a characterization piece and a plot piece fell into place. Yep, you guessed it. I typed like a mad woman up until the last minute on the story. I hit send and the fears shoved their way to forefront. I loved my Christmas story, but would anyone else?
Just when I needed some good news in the worst way, I received two reviews that helped me get back to where I needed to be. The chocolate I ate only hurt my waistline but that wasn't my main concern.
My first review for Christmas of Hope came in the other day. Lainey at Coffee Time Romance gave the story 5 cups. The highest rating (and my first 5 cuppa ever!)
A few days before, Valerie from Love Romances and More gave Cowboy of the Night, 4 hearts and a great review.
I know reviews are subjective and we're supposed to have faith in ourselves and our talent. But some days, okay months in my case I craved affirmation that my writing is really and it made someone happy.
My best friends are worth their weight in gold. I couldn't have gotten through this mess without them.
What do you do when you it all falls apart like it did for me?
Friday, January 22, 2010
First, I have to tell you that I take the term family a little differently these days. The kids have all grown up and left home, and I lost my husband to cancer a few years back. I only have two siblings, and my parents immigrated just after the war so extended family is non-existent. Some people think that means I live alone, but they’re wrong.
I have Jeff and Sassy. They’re more than pets, they are very loving, intelligent companions who know when I need to sit quietly and cuddle, and when I need to play a rousing game of fetch. Sassy is a Jack Russell Terrier with all the attitude and tenacity that characterizes the breed. She came to me by accident. When I decided I wanted a dog, I went to the local shelter and picked out the cutest little spaniel cross. He was blond, cute, and very well trained. I filled out the paperwork and left it with them. The next day, a nice girl called and told me my adoption application had been approved, I could come and pick up my new dog. Imagine my surprise when I got there, and they brought out Sassy. It seems someone had mixed up the ID numbers, and since no one wanted a hyperactive little terrier with the attitude of a bad tempered Doberman, they’d approved me in record time.
She looked at me with those big brown eyes, and didn’t try to cuddle, or make nice. To this day, she will rarely let a stranger touch her. Since she’d come to the shelter as a stray, no one knew what had caused her to be so aloof. Something in her attitude struck a chord with me and I agreed to take her home and ‘try’ her out. Well, she raced around my house like a maniac for several hours, then flung herself on my bed and went to sleep. That was it. She’d decided to keep me. Today, you wouldn’t know I hadn’t raised her from a pup. She goes to work and sleeps under my desk, rides in the kayak and on my motorcycle, and seems to understand every word I say. I rarely bother with a leash. She’s my little angel with the big attitude.
Jeff is a twenty-pound Himalayan cat. He’s gorgeous, with fluffy brown fur and big blue eyes. He also came from the shelter. Seems oversized cats are hard to find homes for as well. He’s big and opinionated and an absolute cuddle bug. He likes to hide behind the furniture and leap out to attack the invisible aliens that seem to abound in my living room. His antics are hilarious, but from time to time, I have to remind him that bare ankles are not fair game. Those claws are sharp!
So you see, I’m surrounded by a very loving family, they just have a little more fur than most and walk on four legs instead of two. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
It's my birthday. Among other lovely swag, I got loads of book vouchers - yeeha! See, everyone? I'm really not that hard to buy gifts for, LOL.
Veeeery short 'n sweet post today from me. DH has just rung to let me know he's on his way home so I've got, like, 5 minutes to schedule this before I'm supposed to be getting ready for our karate lesson. Yikes! Suffice it to say, this is how it's been all day -- rushing round like crazy.
Anyhow, I'm driving home with aircon at full blast. It's midday, another scorcher in Auckland, and we're all drooping from the heat and humidity. Glance outside and what do I see? A guy jogging. With his shirt off.
He's lean and ripped -- a true runner's physique. He's very tanned -- obviously runs with his shirt off quite often. He's no spring chicken, probably about mid-to-late forties, but he's in good shape. Really good shape.
But you know the first thing that hit me when I saw him? It wasn't his great physique or the tan, or even the way he was barrelling up the steep hill. It was his hairy chest.
Not making any judgement calls, here. My dad is a hairy dude, so I grew up with hairy chests. And I'm not the least averse to Pierce Brosnan's hairy chest (or the rest of him!) in The Thomas Crown Affair.
But I notice that more and more guys these days seem to be making regular dates with wax and going all baby-smooth and hairless.
So whaddya reckon? Wax on or wax off for our menfolk?
And do you think the hairy chest will ever make a splash on the covers of our favorite romance novels?
Gotta fly. DH is home and I'm still not in my gi!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Thanks to the ladies here at Writers Gone Wild (*waving*), I'll be posting every other Wednesday. I write romantic suspense, and mostly military themed at that, because I have a fascination with special operations. I'm not sure how it happened, but around age twelve or so I got hooked on the Civil War (weird, since I'm Canadian), and soon after that on special ops. At any given time on my nightstand, I'll have two stacks of books, one romance and the other special ops non-fiction. I know it's odd, but hey, that's how it is. It might have something to do with the fact I married an accountant. Writing romantic suspense allows me to walk on the wild side for a little while :) I love researching my characters' jobs, so I can add some realism to my plots. For me, that's almost as fun as writing the book.
I've got three or possibly four upcoming releases with The Wild Rose Press this year, the first in February, so it's going to be a busy year for me. The first in the series is called Out of Her League, and I'm tickled that it just won an RWA Laurel Wreath contest for best romantic suspense.
I feel so lucky to be included with such a talented group of authors. Thanks for having me, guys! Huge congrats to Saranna on your Dorchester contract--can't wait to read the book.
Okay, so I sold a book. Now what?
Don't get me wrong, I'm still tickled ten shades of pink. (A color my current hero seems to find very entrancing on his heroine.)
I'm prepared for the editing, the revisions, whatever flaming hoops my editor wants me to jump through, I'll do it with a smile on my face. Why? Because I get to type "my editor" for one. *laughs*
I've submitted my input for my cover art. I can't wait to share that with you.
But right now, I feel like that kid in class who finished her test early and isn't sure if she's supposed to be studying for the next one or just sitting quietly. Waiting. I've got the most cake too, just so you know. I'll share. *g*
I've never been a patient creature. I'm a woman of many talents, (Which I think is okay to admit. I like me.) but patience is a virtue that I do not possess and nor do I entreat the universe to teach me such. I don't want to be patient. *laughs* I do want to be professional though, but I think that is another blogpost in itself.
So what am I supposed to be doing? Aside from finishing my WIP, I'm hunting agent.
Why do I need an agent? I sold, right? Nope! That's not the end of it. Not that I'm not thrilled with my editor, my publishing house or anything else, but I want to be smart about it. Someone who has been in the business for 20 years would have plenty to offer me by way of navigation through these new and certainly deep waters.
Anyway, I've done loads of research and chosen a few that I'm interested in and queried. I've had some bites, I think my bait is top notch! We'll see if I get to real in the big fish.
What's after that? I haven't got that sorted yet, but I expect by next week, I will have another post for you.
If anyone has any questions about the process as far as what I've experienced, I'm happy to answer those questions and I plan on doing a series of blogs showcasing the process every step of the way. I know it was very illuminating when fellow blogger and Text Diva Shannon Delaney shared her experiences with us. I learned a lot.
Have a stellar week and I hope your muse dances for you twice today!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The Basics of Romance Writing
February 14-27, 2010 at Savvy Authors
Writing Erotic Love Scenes
February 28-March 4 at Savvy Authors
*Limited spaces available
If you've been thinking about writing a romance or if you've started one and are stuck, The Basics of Romance Writing is for you.
Some writers want to write hotter, but aren't sure how to accomplish the task. I'll be giving critiques to student's work which is why the space is limited.
Tuesday, I return to San Jacinto College to finish my AA in English. I don't have any other workshops scheduled until July when school is out and I'll hopefully have graduated.
Anyway, the cost is very affordable, even in these lean times.
I've learned so much by taking classes from other writers. As a writer, the learning never stops. It's also a tax write-off for those serious about the craft of writing.
Please join me in February! I look forward to seeing you there.
Wicked Pleasures in print from Red Rose Publishing
or Amazon. Bestselling title at All Romance eBooks.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Anne Kane for Writers Gone Wild
Series: Shifting Priorities
Confessions of a Sci-Fi Author by Anne Kane
I might as well admit it. I’m not normal. I’m a writer, but then I came to terms with that a long time ago. It means I look at things differently and spend a lot of time wondering why and how come and what if. As a teenager, I wondered how man could achieve interstellar travel with the distances so far apart. I loved numbers, and big complicated calculations, so I’d calculate how long it would take a spaceship to reach another galaxy, and then figure out how many average human lifetimes that would be. Then I’d try to dream up a logical way for humanity to deal with the challenge. I didn’t realize it then, but my passion for writing science fiction and fantasy had already started.
Meteors have always fascinated me. There are millions of them throughout the universe, from tiny granules to huge chunks of frozen debris that have fallen off a comet. They aren’t actually visible to us until they make contact with the Earth’s atmosphere. The heat created by the pressure of the atmosphere causes streaks of light that we see as Meteor showers. Most of the meteors burn up when they hit the atmosphere, but some manage to get through and crash to the earth as meteorites.
When I wrote the first draft of Mating Frenzy, I needed to add a bit of danger to the plot, something beyond the control of the main characters. I’ve used Space pirates and agents of the corrupt government in previous books in this series so I needed to have something new, something the reader hadn’t seen before. I chose to use a meteor storm that arrives soon than predicted.
There have been many famous meteor showers visible throughout the years, most named after the comets that gave birth to them. One of the most common ones visible from the Earth is the Perseid meteor showers, caused by a comet known as Swift-Tuttle. While the visual display is stunning, it is rare for any of the particles to actually reach the earth. Since I live in a rural area, the showers are easily visible from my yard, and I love to watch the bright streaks of light in the sky and wonder where they came from and if any particles are going to survive and land near my home. So far, I haven’t had any luck with that.
When I wrote Mating Frenzy, I mixed a bit of fiction with the facts. The meteor shower had many more large particles than an average one, and a fair number of them made it through the atmosphere. The hero and heroine have to scramble to get their ship off the planet’s surface and out of range of the deadly chunks of falling rock. It gives the hero a chance to show off his ability to control the ship, and gives the reader a few tense moments when they wonder if he’ll be able to dodge all of the incoming projectiles. Do they make it in one piece? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find that out!
Read on for an exciting sneak peak at Anne's newest release:
Title: Mating Frenzy
ISBN : 978-1-60521-329-3
Genres: Futuristic, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi
Themes: Shape shifters, Legends
Release Date: January 15rd, 2010
Author: Anne Kane
Publisher URL Changeling Press - Erotic Fiction
Mykael knows that his co-pilot is also his bond-mate, but she refuses to acknowledge it, and his patience is running out. Megan doesn't want to settle down, but she has no problems using the Imperial were-panther to sate her sexual urges. When their ship malfunctions they are forced to land on a primitive planet, where they find themselves exploring more than the unique landscape
Megan ran her fingers through Mykael’s thick black fur. She loved the sound of the deep rumbling purrs emanating from his immense chest as she sat on the galley floor beside the massive black panther, finger-feeding him his dinner.
She selected a chunk of raw meat and held it out on the palm of her hand, marveling at how such a large creature could be so gentle. Mykael grasped the chunk between two front teeth, and tossed it up in the air, opening his jaws to let the tidbit fall into his waiting mouth.
Megan reached for another chunk and they repeated the process until the plate was empty. After their first solar cycle together, Mykael had admitted he’d invented the need for her to feed him chunks of raw meat to accustom her to his panther form, but by then she’d grown to enjoy the intimacy of the shared ritual and they’d decided to continue it.
“All gone, you big glutton.” She ruffled the fur behind his ears, and tossed the empty dish into the recycler. “Time for some exercise. Let’s see if an old fellow like you can keep up with me.”
Mykael snarled, showing off a mouth full of sharp white teeth, and Megan laughed. “Yeah. I know. You’re not old. Prove it, then. On your feet.”
Megan enjoyed their daily runs together. They jogged the decks of the ship, he in his panther form and she as human. The exercise kept them both fit when they had to spend extended time in the close confines of the ship.
Mykael let her set the pace tonight, loping along beside her like a giant house pet. She glanced down, admiring the way his sleek muscles flowed smoothly under the black pelt. His massive head came level with her waist and he nudged her gently from time to time as they ran. They worked their way from the bridge deck down to engineering, and were almost back up to the bridge when the ship lurched suddenly to the left, throwing both of them to the deck.
Megan landed heavily on top of the panther, grateful for his quick reflexes that allowed him to position himself to break her fall. She rose shakily to her feet, leaning on the wall for support. The deck still listed on a sharp angle beneath them, and she looked down at Mykael. “What the hell was that?”
His dark eyes reflected her confusion for a second before a wave of magic washed over him, obscuring him from her view while he shifted form. His naked body emerged from the shimmering cloud, and Megan admired the thick ropes of muscle that covered his chest. He was far from being the decrepit old man she liked to tease him about. Following her line of sight, Mykael glanced down and waved his hand impatiently, conjuring up a tight uni-suit.
Megan struggled not to laugh. Completely covered, he looked even sexier than he had standing there naked.
The metal plating of the deck shuddered beneath them as the ship lurched for a second time, and the sound of the engines rose to a shrieking crescendo.
Megan raised her eyebrows. “Well, don’t just stand there. Make yourself useful and go fix whatever it is that’s making that Goddess- forsaken racket. You don’t think I keep you around for your looks, do you?”
He had the audacity to laugh. “Actually, I do. That and the fact that I let you run your fingers through my fur.”
It's not just for the "girls" or those bits and pieces of us that we'd rather the world never know we're packing on our post holiday bodies. Often, the support we most need is that of the emotional kind.
I've been blessed with a great support network as a writer. Between my crit group, fellow Red Sage Authors, the girls here at Writers Gone Wild, and the textnovel divas, there's always someone to turn to when the going gets rough or the rejections are flowing in faster than lubricant in a brothel. Oh, woah...I'm chanelling Saranna today. Maybe because I'm so anxious to hear today's results of America's Next Best Celler contest. I don't envy the judges their task in their final decision. All the manuscripts in the top twenty were amazing. Any one of them would have done Dorchester proud. But Saranna's has been my favorite since the get go. And no, I'm not just saying that. Even if I'd stayed in the contest, she'd have trampled all over my literary efforts!
Now there was a venture that required lots of support. When a contest goes on in excess of six months in a public venue, and new authors must learn on their feet how to build a reader network, support becomes a life raft. I know there were days when talking and cutting up with my fellow finalists and semifinalists on twitter and facebook was all that kept me going.
In the end, I couldn't go on--my son was simply too sick for me to continue. And even then, I found a world of support from my fellow authors. I've made lifelong friends in the process. Support can be a good thing.
With that said, is there such a thing as too much support?
I've been reading a lot of books with fairies in them. In those stories, fairy magic always comes with a flip side--for the boon a fairy offers the beneficiary there is a darker toll to pay. When I had to withdraw from the contest and wipe the egg from my face, I threw myself into the arms of my network for support. And yikes...I do believe I found something that's never good for a writer--a comfort zone. It was mighty tempting to bask in the warm fuzzies offered by those who understood my plight. I was getting good at it, too. But by basking, I wasn't doing what writers do---finding the wherewithal to strike out anew and finish my story.
Backing away from my support network was the only way I could buck myself up and get going again. That's what I've been doing most of this week. While I'm ready to dive back into my comfort zone next week, I'm doing it with 5K new words behind me, and given the life circumstances, for me that's a lot. All in all, it's been a good thing.
So remember this. When the going gets rough and you throw yourself into the open arms of your support group, they're going to love you no matter what you do. Try to stay in touch with the fact that at the end of the day, the journey to "the end," is a solo one. As it is with even our most miraculous foundation garments, when the day is over, those hooks and stays that support our most intimate selves have to be unhitched so we can breathe new life back into our goals and our work.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
There's a scene from Marian Keyes' Sushi For Beginners that for some reason, has always stayed with me. There's something tender and funny and quite special about it that makes it completely memorable for me. It's a book that I first read years ago. It's a book I periodically re-read and this scene still does it for me.
Here's the set-up:
Ashling has a nasty ear-infection -- something that always happens to her when she's stressed. She can't wash her hair herself because if she gets water in her ear the eardrum will perforate -- yikes! And she hasn't been able to get a hair-appointment before the hugely important function that night, because all the hairdressers are booked out.... due to the hugely important function happening that night! She's miserable, feeling like crap, and looks like something the cat dragged in.
Ashling slumped at a desk and tears were way too close for comfort. Her ear hurt, she was exhausted, she'd have to go to the party with flat, filthy, greasy hair and everyone else would look fantastic. She cupped a hand over her throbbing ear and let a few exploratory trickles run down her face.
Skipping slightly ahead, her boss's boss, Jack, -- whom she always feels embarrassed and confused around -- spots her. He asks her what's wrong and she's so upset that she actually confides in him. Feeling sorry for her, Jack orders her into the bathroom so that he can wash her hair for her.
She turned her dismal face up to his. "You're busy," she accused. He was always busy.
"It won't take long to wash your hair. Let's go!"
"Which bathroom?" she finally asked.
"The gen--" he started, then stopped. They locked eyes in a silent struggle. "But--"
"Not the gents," she said, as firmly as she could.
"No." Bad enough for Jack Devine to be washing her hair, but to have to eyeball a wall of urinals into the bargain -- I don't think so.
"All right then," he sighed, defeated.
And then, right there in the ladies bathroom, while performing a most mundane task and worrying whether someone's going to walk in on them, Jack becomes hyper-aware of Ashling the woman, rather than Ashling the slightly irritating employee he refers to as Little Miss Fix-it.
He made himself slow right down and, with his fingers, stroked gentle furrows to sluice water away from the danger area. To his surprise there was something about the arc of skin at the back of her ear that bizarrely touched him. That little line of clean tenderness before her hair sprang into vibrant life. It looked so pitiful and sweet and inexplicably brave. And the big, idiotic-looking lump of cotton wool which blossomed from the side of her head.... He swallowed.
It shouldn't be a sexy scene, right? I mean to say, there's nothing particularly sexy about an ear infection, unwashed hair, and an office bathroom. Heck, the scene even mentions urinals -- eeew! But whenever I read this part of the book, I always get a squirmy feeling in my stomach and find myself daydreaming about divinely gorgeous men going above and beyond the call of duty to show how much they care. Sigh....
Are there any memorable scenes from books that just stay with you for reasons that you can't put your finger on?
C'mon, spill! Doesn't have to be a scene from a romance book or a sexy scene -- any genre book and any scene that still "speaks" to you will do.
Oh, and here's an idea: If you'd like me to list your favorite excerpt in next week's post, then feel free to email me the book's title, author, and the relevant excerpt to: maree AT mareeanderson DOT com.
Please just let me know in the Comments section to expect your email so that I can get organized in advance because next Thursday is my birthday and I just know I'll be short on time.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
First of all, I have to stop laughing and put my chai tea down so it doesn't spew out my nose like a newly active volcano. Who would have thought that I, the bad girl of romance, would be giving lessons in etiquette? Certainly not me, though I do value manners. During my time as a corrections officer, I was teased by fellow officers for telling the inmates to "Please lock the fuck up." But they found they quite liked the please and thank you, but didn't think I was serious unless I dropped a few "f" bombs.
In this new cyberage, we're all learning new things. New ways to network, new ways to sell and market our work and ourselves, and also new ways to make ourselves into asscookies. Yes, I said it.
I've posted previously about how as an author you've put yourself into the public view and in a sense, you are always on. This applies to your social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkd, etc and so forth.
That's not to say that you can't have a personal account on these pages, but you better make sure that they aren't linked, because as a public figure, you can't just say whatever falls out of your mouth.
Now, when you look at what I say, that's part of my charm. Or not. But everything that flows from my keyboard is carefully composed. It may not be what you would say to your grandmother, but beneath all of my Amazon Goddess goodness, there is a woman with home training, who is at her core, professional. Yeah, so says me who dropped the "f" bomb in the first paragraph of her first post on a new blog. See, I can laugh at myself. Still, there was a please in the same sentence.
How does this apply? Well, let's take an example. If someone stops following you on Facebook what do you do? The correct answer here would be NOTHING. *holds up hand* Yes, I know you might want to ask the person why, but don't. If they felt the need to explain themselves to you, they would have. If you send them a message pleading with them to still be your friend or asking why they unfriended you that's not only needy, but it's also confrontational. What possible answer can you expect to that where you can maintain your professionalism?
In my experience, most people who do that don't really want to know why a person stopped following them, they want to guilt them into following or friending them again. These people are name collectors or attention whores who will cry about how the "mean girl stomped all over their ickle feelings", when really, it's not that serious.
Let's recap! Social networking is good, maintaining a presence is good, talking personally with your fans and readers... yep, still good. Making an asscookie of yourself by "confronting" someone over their "unfollow", bad.
Do you have any social networking piles you've stepped in?
Monday, January 11, 2010
If any of you have taken my workshops, you know how much I love the writing books of Jack M.Bickham. I have one mini-workshop lined up for March and two longer ones in July for Yosemite RWA chapter and August for Dunes and Dreams RWA chapter.
I'm always trying to improve my writing. Sometimes, I find a review of the basics helpful.
Where does a good story begin? The moment of change for the main character. The one event that strips him/her of their well-balanced world. This leads to character goal in removing the threat to regain their happiness.
Fundamentals such as characterization and plotting are the base elements you need to build your story. Characterization and plotting are intertwined. You can't have one without the other.
Problems in these two areas will immediately impact your foundation for creating a good story. Readers need characters they can care about and the plot needs to hold their interest. If the reader figures out your plot, it leaves them unsatisfied and possibly it will prevent them from buying any future books.
Good stories engage the reader and that's one of our goals as writers.
Well rounded, three dimensional characters with focused internal and external goal, motivation and conflict. These are the elements woven together to make a good story.
What makes a good story for you?
Friday, January 8, 2010
I used to smoke.
Wait, scratch that. I used to smoke, more than the next girl.
Fine, that was another lie.
So here's the real truth. I was a hardcore nicotine addict. There wasn't any low I wouldn't stoop to in order to have my morning fix. A half dozen of them before my day ever got started, to be brutally honest. Only my desire to outlive my sons, who have autism, so they'd never have to face a world without someone who loved them allowed me to battle my addiction. And I do still battle it. Every single day.
Hell, every hour. In fact, I'd like to light up right now!
Suffice it to say I'm not one of those self righteous ex smokers. I liked smoking. Loved it, in fact. On occasion, in socially stressful situations, like agent pitches, you might still catch me lighting up.
But I don't inhale. Really, I don't.
Truth is, I have been a social smoker off and on for much of my life, but my addiction truly settled in for a nice long stay when my first son was diagnosed with profound autism. By the time my second son was diagnosed, I was a two pack a day girl.
Ok, fine, sometimes three. I spent a lot of sleepless nights searching for a cure back then. It was lonely work. And the cigarettes did something to calm the constant anxiety over my sons' futures.
But the strange thing is that my writing word count was proportional to the number of cigarettes I smoked before stealing away for a few wee morning hours at my keyboard. Cigarettes were my writing ritual, my stolen patch of time to invoke my muse. So it came as no surprise to me that when I stopped smoking cold turkey seven years ago, I also stopped writing.
My ritual broke down. My source of inspiration ground to a screeching halt. My organizational skills also flew out the window. My ability to write four-thousand words in two hours? Gone.
While I've since learned other tricks to get myself to the keyboard and through my life, I've never found a new ritual that prepared me for writing in the way smoking did. At least not one that didn't put fifty pounds on my arse.
Even today, my writing suffers for thise loss--not in quality so much, but certainly in quantity. A thousand word day is a miracle for me these days, and its just not enough. Not right now. And my angst over getting this story done is such that I nearly broke down and bought myself a pack yesterday, because truth is, I have to get some writing done, and my focus is terrible.
While exercise helps some, I'm looking for a new ritual, and I'm willing to bet I'm not the only author out there whose word count suffered when her ritual came to a crashing end. So I'm turning to our readers for help. Do you have a ritual that jumpstarts inspiration? Have you ever lost that ritual? What happened? And most important, how did you get around it?
This ex-smoker really needs to know!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
For my first Writers Gone Wild post of 2010, I was gonna get all topical and list a bunch of Resolutions For Writers... until I realized I'd already done that back in a previous Writers Gone Wild post. Rats!
Anyway, if you do wish to re-read them, then click on the link above and it'll take you straight to that post.
BTW: Speaking as one who's not so good at New Year's resolutions -- either making them or keeping them! -- may I humbly suggest that you might like to take whatever resolution from the list that happens to resonate with you and give it your best shot in 2010.
Or if, like me, you don't *do* New Year's resolutions, then you can take a page from my book and try this: cast your eye over the list and give yourself a pat on the back for achieving one or more from the following list in the past year. Hey, whatever works, I reckon!
So given that I can't in all conscience just redirect you to an old post because that would be cheating, I clicked back to my website to cruise for some inspiration and found an old post quoting a card from Roger Von Oech's Creative Whack Pack. It's Card #21 and it reads:
SIMPLIFY"Eureka!" I howled, sagging back in my cheer from the sheer relief of having a topic for today's post. "We'll get creative with some randomly selected cards from the Creative Whack Pack!"
Editor: "I like your book except for the ending."
Author: "What's wrong with the ending?"
Editor: "It should be closer to the beginning."
What can you edit out of a current project or idea to make it better? What can you streamline? What can you simplify?
Seriously, though, I'm amazed at how many of the cards I selected can be directly applied to writers and our processes. I hope you find them fun to read and above all, thought-provoking!
Card #30: CHANGE ITS NAME
If an architect looks at an opening between two rooms and thinks "door", that's what she'll design. But if she thinks "passageway", she may design something different like a hallway, air curtain, tunnel, or perhaps a courtyard. Different words bring in different assumptions and lead your thinking in different directions.
What else can you call your idea?
Card #50 BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
"What concerns me," remarked the philosepher Epictetus, "is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are." If you think you're creative, you'll act that way--and vice versa. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. As you think, so you are.
In what ways are you creative?
Card #25 COMBINE IDEAS
"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things: of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax--of cabbages--and kings." Combining unusual ideas is at the heart of creative thinking. The ancients mixed soft copper and even softer tin to create hard bronze. Gutenberg combined the wine press and the coin punch to create moveable type and the printing press.
What different ideas can you combine?
Card #23 REARRANGE
Rearranging is one of nature's prime methods of creation. The moving plates of the earth's crust form new land masses and surface features. The shuffling of the DNA genetic deck through sex produces new life forms. Similarly, rearranging your resources can create new ideas. Try putting your ending in the middle, or the center on the top, or the inside on the outside, or the left on the right.
How can you rearrange things?
(Maree's note: I've done this with a manuscript that I was stuck on. I played around a bit with the chapters I'd written and ended up putting them in a completely different order with blank chapter placeholders in between, and then writing to fill in the "gaps". It really worked! Kind of a similar process to my friend Nalini Singh, who says that she doesn't necessarily write in chronological order, she often writes scenes and then writes backward or forward to join them.)
Card #60 SELL, SELL, SELL
"It's not creative unless it sells," goes the advertising line. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't sell it, you won't get very far. What are three reasons why someone else would want your idea or product? What does it promise?
How can you make your idea more attractive to other people?
Card #34 FIND WHAT'S OUT OF WHACK
Be critical and sense what's out of whack with the idea. Remember: you don't want to put a piece of garbage out in the world with your name on it.
Why won't the idea work? What's lacking? What doesn't feel right about the idea?
Card #1 GIVE YOURSELF A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD
The more often you do something in the same way, the more difficult it is to think about doing it in any other way. Break out of this "prison of familiarity" by disrupting your habitual thought patterns. Write a love poem in the middle of the night. Eat ice cream for breakfast. Wear red sox. Visit a junk yard. Work the weekend. Take the slow way home. Sleep on the other side of the bed. Such jolts to your routines will lead to new ideas.
How can you whack your thinking?
#9 DROP AN ASSUMPTION
Columbus challenged the Spanish courtiers to stand an egg on its end. They tried but failed. He then hard-boiled one and squashed it down.
"That's not fair," they protested, "you broke the rules."
"Don't be silly," he replied, "you just assumed more than you needed to."
What can you let go of? What unnecessary assumptions can you eliminate?
#64 GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK
What have you done well lately? Where have you made progress? What good things have you accomplished? What obstacles have you overcome?
Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back. Now go out and earn another one.
Here's to a creative and "whacky" 2010!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I found some great quotes regarding rejection and thought I'd share with everyone:
A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.
Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.
~James Lee Burke
For over a year I continued to submit mss, and have them rejected - the last few with rejection letters indicated the story was pretty good, but I was American.
~ Nora Roberts
Love this one!
I was told to avoid the business all together because of the rejection. People would say to me, 'Don't you want to have a normal job and a normal family?' I guess that would be good advice for some people, but I wanted to act.
I love this quote too! Less than ‘normal’ career fields are rife with rejection but the payoff can be so worth it.
If you don’t get a rejection at least once a day, you’re not trying hard enough.
~Unknown (taped to my computer)
I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, 'To hell with you.'
So, how do you deal with rejection? I hope you don't let it get you down! It's a part of life and with the right outlook, it can make you a stronger person.