Goodreading in the USA

November 9, 2009 at 10:52 am (Events, Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems)

 

So in between some of my writing sprints recently (10,454 words to date), I finally signed up for a Goodreads account. I weighed the differences between Goodreads and Shelfari, asked some trusted friends, and came up with a winner. I’m still a little unsure of adding yet another networking/social e-site to my list, but I said that about Twitter, and now I’m having a ball tweeting, so I know better than to never say meh. However, it wouldn’t be me if I accepted the rules as stated, so let me tell you how I’m using Goodreads:

  • If it goes on my account, it gets 5 stars. I was a little squeamish about giving average or poor ratings to the books I’d read (or not finished), but as I thought about it, this person wrote a book and got it published. That alone gives it a 5 stars in my eyes.
  • I’m taking this slow. I had the choice of either going through my library and listing every freaking book in there, or doing this on a book by book basis from this point on. I mean, a little over a week ago when I was fighting this awful cold, I re-read Fearless Fourteen and Finger Lickin’ Fifteen in the Stephanie Plum series (by Janet Evanovich, but you knew that), so I added them to my virtual bookshelf. So then I had the choice of entering all of the Stephanie Plum series, or doing it as I re-read them. Ditto Laurell K. Hamilton. Ditto Jim Butcher. Ditto the rest of my favorite authors. So, books don’t get entered until I’ve read 0r re-read them as of the last week in October or so. (Unless I’m bored and start entering books like crazy. Like I said, I don’t do rules well, even my own.)
  • I don’t have this account linked to anything yet (another reason I chose Goodreads–it links to your Facebook account), but will soon. As mentioned above, I’m taking this slow. And since nobody has busted down my virtual door screaming to be linked to my Goodreads account, I figure I have a little leeway. Once I get it up and going, you wonderful people will be the second to know. (Let’s face it–if it’s a one-button push to add to my Facebook page, I’ll do that first. In addition to not doing rules, I’m also lazy.)

Great Hera! I just discovered Goodreads is cool enough to have comic books/graphic novels. Why didn’t somebody tell me that weeks ago?

Now I can really get my geek read on!

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Five on Friday: The Nutsy Fun Edition

October 30, 2009 at 8:15 am (Five on Friday, Virtual Gems)

1. I entered the Golden Heart yesterday. (Woot!) Right now, that means I submitted my entry form along with the fee. I have yet to send the submissions to the mothership (a.k.a. RWA National offices in Texas), but since I just queried BROKEN this fall, I’m confident that it’s ready to go.

2. People are still finding my blog by searching ‘WTF’– I mean they’re doing this a lot. Guess my theory of random words (Michael Jackson, Phillies, Halloween costumes for cheap) doesn’t really work as well as abbreviated swears.

3. Montana and I are attending a wedding tomorrow (yes, that’s Halloween) where the bride and groom asked people to dress up. I mean they printed “Costumes are encouraged” on the invitation  between “at 5:00 in the evening” and “Reception to follow.” I think that is a bold bride. Of course, my first idea was to break out my wedding dress and my costume would be a bride, but remembering how stressed out I was before my wedding, I’m going to take mercy on this bride and just dress nicely. And, of course, I have the boots. (There is a bit of a western theme…)

4. NaNoWriMo starts Sunday. I’m building this into my writing plans, but more for support than word count. Writing challenges make me twitchy, but I love the camaraderie.

5. And, since this is the Nutsy Fun edition, I’m going to end by saying have a Happy and Safe Halloween! Enjoy these amazing (and sometimes twisted) jack-0-lanterns as my treat to you!

 

pumpkin_calvin

And, just so you know it’s still me…

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Last Tuesday in October

October 27, 2009 at 9:45 am (Authors, Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

Hi, all! Just wanted to pop on to say thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful cheering and support last week! I appreciated every last comment and happy thought and send such lovely writing thoughts back. You are all…

Had a fantastic weekend with all kinds of writing thoughts, and even though the cost was a small cold, I’m still doing great. My goal for this week is to really hit a stride so I can attack November (and my version of NaNoWriMo) head on. And, judging by all of the writing drums I hear in the jungle, you’re with me!

And, speaking of fabulous writing, don’t forget to pick up Anna Campbell’s Captive of Sin, out today! How’s that for no tricks, all treats?

Now, back to the writing, but before I go, a little smile for you. (And a big fat congrats for L.A.’s recent FastDraft success–here’s your reward, L.A.!)

graph-out-loud-99

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Yup, it's official. I'm crazy.

October 20, 2009 at 9:34 am (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

 

So I’m sitting and thinking yesterday, and for the love of mergatron, I cannot how remember how I stumbled on this path, but I did.

I had an idea for a story.

Now, this isn’t new to me. I get these quite frequently and duly write them down on little scraps of paper, slip them in my “Ideas” file, and let those little suckers germinate until they sprout up and grow. But this idea I had yesterday started rolling downhill like a boulder pushed from Mount St. Helens and it gathered momentum, tumbling down until it crashed at the bottom into an explosion of rocks and gravel and crazy wild-idea shrapnel.

I quickly wrote down the jist of it, just so I could tell Montana about this fun idea I had, and those few paragraphs just flowed. Like lava. (Guess I’m going with the volcano metaphor.) I called Montana and read it to him, and as soon as I finished and heard it out loud for the first time, I got chills.

So, cutting out the parts about how brilliant I am and making this long story short, I’m skipping to the end of Montana telling me to start writing this story NOW and me getting the first 1000 words written last night.

Now, I’m not telling you this to milk you for applause or polite appreciation of the enormity of my Corpus Callosum, but to tell you I’m temporarily abandoning you. I want to give this book a try, and my goal is to have it done by Christmas, so in a NaNoWriMo like run, I’m going to be focused on this fun, fun book for the next 2 months. I’ll still come by and post updates and things, but they might not be quite what I’ve had before, nor will I be blog-hopping as much. I will be posting on Facebook and Twitter so please come say hi, but for now I’ll simply say…

never_give_up_never_surrender[1]

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Feel Good Five on Friday

October 9, 2009 at 9:10 am (Five on Friday, Virtual Gems)

 

Hello! So wow–how was that Marilyn Brant Week? Pretty amazing, I know. It was such a party that I’ve spent the last week recovering from it, that’s how amazing it was. I think it’ll go down in the books as legen….wait for it…dary.

So, in honor of Marilyn’s awesome book (According to Jane, available at Amazon and major bookstores everywhere) and Friday and everything else that’s good, it’s going to be a Feel Good Five on Friday around here, so kick back, get ready to smile, and enjoy.

Feel Good News: That same According to Jane is #2 on Amazon’s Contemporary Romance list. If that doesn’t get you smiling today, nothing will! Congratulations, Marilyn!!!

Feel Good Read II: “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” by William Kotzwinkle. You may know him as the author of the Walter the Farting Dog books, or even as the writer who novelized the movie E.T., but thanks solely to Montana, I’ve discovered this absolute gem of a book. Here’s a brief description as posted on Amazon: In Kotzwinkle’s merry send-up, the author of the hit novel “Desire and Destiny” is a bear, a real bear, who after finding the manuscript under a spruce tree and attaching his nom de plume, Hal Jam, becomes rich and famous overnight. Obtuse editors, star-hound agents, and a right-wing televangelist and Presidential candidate all warm to Hal’s warm, bearish honesty without bothering to read his book–or to notice that he’s an animal, for that matter.  I started this last night and almost didn’t put it down. It’s simply delightful, and possibly more so to those of us trying to write our own hit novels. Sadly, it’s out of print, but you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor if you find it online or at a local used bookstore.

Feel Good TV Show: Really, was it any wonder I was going to pick “Glee” for this? If you haven’t watched it yet, please get over to Fox.com or Hulu.com and watch it. Watch an episode, watch one of their awesome videos, watch anything with Jane Lynch. If it doesn’t get you laughing or singing, check your pulse.

Feel Good News Story: You’ve probably already heard about this–it was everywhere this week (including my post on Facebook), but I find it simply too delightful not to post again. Two drunken idiots in Wales were picking on people on the street when they decided to pick on some cross-dressers. Only they weren’t cross-dressers–they were cage fighters on a night out in “fancy dress.” They started to pick on these supposed trannies, and one of the fighters came up behind the idiots and dropped them with one punch each. It’s just karma in its rawest, most sparkly form, and it’s beautiful. Read the story and see the clip here.

Feel Good Movie Clip: I was introduced to Baz Luhrmann (writer of Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and Austrailia) many, many years ago when I saw Ballroom Dancing. Well, the talented Mr. Luhrmann was on Dancing with the Stars a few weeks ago as a guest judge, leading the amazing Barbara Ferrer to write about it on her blog. She also posted the end scene from Ballroom Dancing, and I’m posting it here as my final Feel Good of the day. You don’t need to know anything about it–just watch it, and if you don’t get choked up at the 4:00 minute mark (followed by more around 5:40) with all of the pulsing, optomistic, triumph over anything feel goodness, then I just don’t know.  

Have a great, feel good weekend, everybody.

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Marilyn Brant Week, Day 4: 12 Fun Questions and 1 Mean One

September 25, 2009 at 8:53 am (Virtual Gems)

 

Welcome! More Marilyn Brant Week and I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled. I was tickled to meet more of Marilyn’s friends popping over for Day 1, and I think we’ll see more here on Day 4, because Day 4 brings out the deepest, darkest secrets of Ms. Brant, and it involves her….well, let’s just say it’s too scandalous to even write down. (If you’re really, super curious, skip to question #13 and—let me warn you—cover your mouth with your hand because you are going to gasp in shock when you read it.)

How’s that for a hook? True, it’s no “Netherfield Park has been let at last” but that’s why I have Marilyn here. Not only does she class up the joint, she also knows how to tell a fabulous story, and that includes the one about herself. Enjoy!

1.  In the movie they make about your fabulous, successful life, who would play you?
LOL! I have absolutely no idea. I’d be more curious to know who’d *want* to play me and, really, who’d even *think* to make a movie about my life. Who are these people? What on earth convinces the production company I’d be a good film subject? Which one of them is going to write the screenplay and where, exactly, did they dig up drama-worthy material? Who’s been talking about me behind my back, huh?!  No, no, wait! Don’t move on to question #2. I’m interested in this! Where is the director? I wanna talk to the director, Pam… I’m serious…

2. What is your deep, dark, hidden, awful, guilty sin?
Marilyn Brant has no deep, dark sins. Nope. None. With the possible exception that she’s at least partially fictional. Or, perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that Marilyn Brant has no sins she’s willing to disclose outside of a confessional. (She was raised Catholic, after all.) So, she’d need to be bribed with substances of a Cadbury nature in order to reveal a few publicly. Then again, she could be lying about that. In which case, that would constitute a fairly significant sin. 🙂

3. What can you tell us about your next book?

I can tell you that IT STILL HAS NO TITLE!! (And not for my lack of trying…) Aside from that, I can also tell you it’s a modern fairytale about three suburban moms who meet weekly for coffee and, in the course of one of their conversations, a very interesting question is raised by one of the friends. The result is that all three women set out to reevaluate their lives and their marriages. (Editor’s note: I also know it’s available October 1st, 2010 and after reading this tantalizing description, I cannot wait!)

4. What TV show would you most like to be on?
“Castle,” if only because I’d love to meet Nathan Fillion!!

5. In an alternative universe, what would you be doing?
I’d be traveling.  From the alternative universe’s equivalent of The Great Wall…to their version of the Pyramids…to the place where they make the best chocolate and/or ice cream on the planet. And I’d want to people-watch and blatantly eavesdrop–at cafés, historical sites, random shops, national parks, etc. It’s my way of proving that, the world over, people are all really the same.

6. If you could walk into a time in history (other than Jane’s), what would it be?
1880s New York. Years ago I fell in love with Jack Finney’s novel Time and Again, and his main character’s visit to that city (in that particular period) has always intrigued me.

7.  Speed Round:

Coke or Pepsi
Coke–but I’m not exactly a soda connoisseur

Mac or PC
I have PCs, although I prefer Macs in theory

Dogs or Cats
Cats (I’m an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan)

Beatles or Elvis
Ack!!! How am I supposed to answer this one?! Can’t be done…

Diamonds or Pearls
Pearls

Muscle car or Mercedes Benz
Muscle Car–red–and I don’t care if it’s a cliché

Zombies or Vampires
Vampires, if only because sucking blood squicks me out slightly less than eating brains

Lasso of Truth or Wolverine’s claws
Lasso of Truth

8. What do you wish you could have written?
Mostly, I wish I could have written Mozart’s “Alla Turca.” In literature, aside from Pride and Prejudice, it’s a three-way toss-up between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Katherine Neville’s The Eight and Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.

9. Who was your greatest influence?
Well, Austen in literature—I’m sure that’s not surprising. My parents in life: Sometimes to faithfully follow their example; sometimes to diametrically oppose it. (Shh. Don’t tell.)

10. If you had to move out of the Midwest, what’s the one thing you’d miss?
The autumn. I love the changing of the leaves in fall, especially when they get all crunchy underfoot and the ones left on the branches glow bright orange, yellow and red against the blue of the sky. I’d also really miss the friends I have here. They are phenomenal and true. And while I’m convinced we’d still be close no matter how far apart we lived, I really like seeing them in person. Frequently.

11. Tell me about your writing routine/an average writing day.
I begin by checking email right after my son leaves to school in the morning. I then work on any publicity or website projects that need to get done, visit blogs of writing friends and/or make phone calls, drive to the post office, etc. All of those writing-related things. Then, I check email again and have a snack while procrastinating… Finally, usually by 10am or so, I try to get down to real writing. I’m a very slow writer, and I work chronologically through the book, so I don’t move onto the next page until the one I’m on seems to flow moderately well. I break for lunch or for anything important–calls from family members, close friends or writing colleagues–but, mostly, I stay focused on the book or writing-related activities until my son returns home from school. After that, it’s homework for him and afterschool sports or playdates, etc. Plus, fixing dinner and the occasional household chore. (I really avoid those whenever possible!) A few times per week I manage to slip in a visit to the gym for a workout, but I’m not nearly as consistent as I should be. When my husband returns from work, the three of us have dinner together and talk. Some nights we watch a TV show. After they both go to bed, I get back to work again.  Ultimately, it’s a lot of computer time and not very glamorous at all.

12. You get free cuts to Antiques Roadshow—what would you bring?
My husband has this wooden sculpture of the Eight Immortals (Chinese in origin). I’d be interested in learning more about the piece–particularly its history and, possibly, some information on the artist.

13.  5 minutes with Jane Austen, or have the next Bon Jovi #1 hit be about you?
Yeah, Pam. I resent you terribly for making me answer this. I had to think about my response for a rather long time, but here’s the reasoning behind my choice:  While I would personally benefit greatly from meeting Jane (and I’d find a way to question her about any mysterious relationships from her past–there’s so much I’d love to know!), I’d have to go with the Bon Jovi song. It’s no secret that I Heart Bon Jovi. But, were they to write a song about me, millions of people in addition to me would get to enjoy the music. After all, the band didn’t write “I’ll Be There for You” or “You Give Love a Bad Name” just for ME. I don’t personally know the women who inspired these songs… Although, between us, I’m pretty sure Jon *did* write “Born to Be My Baby” about me.  Even though he and I haven’t met.  He just KNEW. 🙂

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Okay, everybody else totally in love with Marilyn, raise their hands. Yeah, I thought so. How can you not love somebody so nice, funny, talented, and just so darn fabulous? And just wait until you read According to Jane—then you’re going to want to just be BFF with her, sitting around with her eating chocolate and drinking tea, chatting about anything and everything. Because she’s just that wonderful.

If you’re like me and enjoy stalking…er, seeing what Marilyn’s up to, you can catch her at her blog, or at her group blog with the other wonderful 2007 Golden Heart finalists (delightfully titled The 007’s: Nobody Writes It Better.) She has a Facebook page, a Goodreads page, and a Yahoo newsletter sign-up.  She also has written one of the most amazing books in the whole wide world and it’s coming out September 29th, so check out the According to Jane page on Amazon. Then come back here on Tuesday for the culmination of Marilyn Brant week and our grand release celebration.

See you then!

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No Longer Shooting Blanks

September 14, 2009 at 10:02 am (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

 

When I was doing my agent vetting for Query Day, a singular thought kept popping into my head. It was the sex-education talk given to three brothers who were friends of my brother’s when I was growing up. It went a little something like this:

“Just remember, you’re no longer shooting blanks.”

test1It took me a little while to figure out why sex education was vying with my agent list in my head, but I did. I realized that querying an agent was like asking somebody out—you have to be prepared that they say yes and are willing to accept all consequences of said date. I think sometimes us debut authors get a little carried away when querying and tend to get a little sloppy with our requirements. This leads to what I think of as The Shotgun Approach—if you blast a list with a multitude of queries, you’re bound to hit at least one.

test2But we shouldn’t be doing it this way. There’s an amazing agency that handles a lot of romance, an agency  I’d be so very lucky to get, but there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying Not for you. So I’m not querying them. Because if something in me is saying no and I query them anyway, I could end up with them. They certainly don’t deserve a lukewarm client and I certainly shouldn’t shoot myself in the foot that way. (Sorry about all of the shooting metaphors. I did warn you I’m from Montana.)

But, there is a good lesson to be had from the live ammunition side of life, and it’s this: Put it into your writing.

Who of us wants to write with a lot of flash and bang, but no substance, no teeth? I want to write stories that mean something, that dig deeper and really carry a message, and I can’t do that if I’m shooting blanks. I want the spark and the heat, but I also want the emotional slug to the gut, so I need to make sure I’m loaded for Great Writing before I sit down at the keyboard. And then I can fire away.

 Bang.

 

* Follow up to the three brothers and the effect the sex-ed talk had on them—none are married and none have kids. Guess the talk worked.

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You Put Your Right Nostril In

September 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems)

 

Okay, it’s Friday of Labor Day weekend, and my brain is quite mushy after spending the week preparing for Query Day this next Tuesday. However, as to not slack off, I still wanted to continue posting with my overall theme of writing, so I was in a quandary. Light and breezy, or a Serious Writing Topic? Lucky for me, a natural, tie-breaking topic presented itself.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dominant Nostril Breathing.

Once upon a time (or forty-eight hours ago, take your pick), I saw on teaser on Yahoo about getting better sleep through breathing. Being one of the millions of us who has trouble sleeping on occasion, I clicked on the link. The story was one of those that made you want to laugh, try it, then call your best friend. At its core was this:

 An ancient yoga practice postulates that each nostril shares characteristics with brain hemisphere dominance. So if the left nostril is less obstructed, the right side of the brain—creativity—is more dominant. Similarly, if the right nostril is less obstructed, your logical side will shine through.

What does this have to do with sleeping? It turns out that when we breathe through our right nostril, we are energized, and when we breathe through our left we relax. So I guess if I’m having trouble sleeping, I reach up, pinch my nose shut on my right side, and drift off to blissful (and theoretically more artistic) sleep.

I further learned that your nostrils switch dominance every 2 or 3 hours, and you can tell which one is dominant by blocking off each and seeing which one is easier to breathe through. (I’m having a really hard time not breaking into giggles as I write this.) I tried this, and surprise—I could breathe easier through my left nostril, further sealing my self-appointed title of Queen of the Creative Universe. Or at least for those 2 or 3 hours.

So, if you happen to be sleepy, writing, or incredibly bored this holiday weekend, give Dominant Nostril Breathing a try. You may be surprised at the results.

Just make sure you list me in the acknowledgements of your next best seller.

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Slutty *bleeping* fish

August 25, 2009 at 11:09 am (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

 

I was driving into work this morning, the iPod set on shuffle, when a song by one of my favorite bands came on. They also do a podcast every now and then, and I wondered if they had a recent one available. But there’s only one problem.

They *bleeping* bleep themselves.

Now, I’m pretty sure there are no FCC regulations prohibiting rated R language, because there’s another podcast I listen to that can get pretty raw, so I figure it must be by choice. So why did they choose to do it?

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the bleeping more offensive than the language used, and it got me thinking not about the band, but about the listeners and how they felt about the bleeping. I mean, this is a band that, by their own description, “had their apprenticeships in the pubs of Atlantic Canada” so it’s no surprise that they drop f-bombs here and there. Given that knowledge about them (in addition to the fact they perform such songs as “The Old Black Rum” and “Jakey’s Gin”), I expect these partying musicians to be quite free with their speech while talking amongst themselves, even if they know they’re being recorded. But as I said, maybe that’s just me.

My question is, if there were a person who was offended by certain language, be it strong or promiscuous, and wanted it bleeped out, would that person be the type to listen to a band who sings about drinking, girls, slutty fish, and, yes, even wanting to be Consequence Free? This question is a similar one I’ve discussed with some writer friends—if, as a writer, you’ve crafted your story with some raw or edgy or violent or erotic elements, should you hold back anything in trying to gain a wider audience, or do you lose something of your voice keeping things on the cleaner side? And, if you do hold back, even a little bit, do you risk more by losing those who are your true and deep fans, those who want to see you swing for the fences, than by possibly gaining fans who aren’t so passionate?

I think you can tell which way I lean on this, but I know that I often have thoughts that really aren’t mainstream. (Sorry to those of you who just fainted at that admission. I really should have warned you.) I also realize we’re dealing with the really sticky issue of censorship, be it self-imposed or institutionally sanctioned, so I don’t know that there’s really a neat way to tie this up. (Speaking of erotic…) Maybe we’ll leave it at this—to thine own self be true. Or, as my friend Brian used to say, “Whatever floats your boat.”

 Toot, toot.

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Ovid is in the hiz-ouse!

August 7, 2009 at 7:10 pm (Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

“Let your hook always be cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be fish.”                     ~Ovid, Roman poet

Wow. How’s that for a visceral quote for a writer? It instantly reminded me of something I had heard on one of my RWA National Convention discs–that this author (I’m not sure who, but I remember she has since been multi-published) said that when she was first querying, she had a very specific practice. She picked a number, such as 24, and would keep that many lines in the water (her words). If she got a rejection, she’d get another query or contest entry out there right away, so that she always had those 24 hooks out there.

Does that practice work for everybody? Not necessarily, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own version of hooks being cast. Maybe you have always written cozy mysteries but have had a deep yearning to do a wild epic fantasy. Why not? The worst that happens is that you have both mysteries and fantasies you can query and, Ovid willing, sell. Or maybe you want to try categories instead of the single-title contemporaries you’ve been trying. Why not? Cast those hooks, my babies. Take your pole and cast it as high and as far as you can. I would be willing to bet if nothing else, you’ll have a hell of a fun time in the trying.

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