Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Maybe its Spring

I started out a romance writer. Its all I ever wanted to be, a spinner of tales featuring heroes and heroines who were larger than life. I wanted to plunge myself into the conflicts between a man and a woman which make a reader cry or sigh, all with the aim of a happily ever after.

But along the way I changed. My stories changed, my characters seemed more interested in blasting away bad guys than escaping to a romantic castle. I still have romantic threads in my books, but they are complimentary and not the main focus of the plot. It wasn't a decisive break from my roots, its just what has come out of my keyboard.

But oh, how I miss it. I miss those sweeping stories which knock a gal off her feet. I miss writing about those men who are twisted into knots over the love of a woman. My fingers long to pound out a story focused on the unique conflicts of a love story. I'm not sure why now. I'm happy with the book I'm writing but there is no romance. There's tension and the hint of a future love story, but that's it.

Maybe its Spring. Birds and bees fill the air. Flowers bloom, the promise of life is everywhere. And of course I can't go anywere without seeing a poster for some bridal fair. Or maybe I'm like so many other readers who are searching for an escape from the world as it is. A romance is a good place to go. Even for writers.

Whether I will fall into the temptation and write one I don't know. I'm halfway through my current WIP and owe my allegiance to getting it done and submitted.

How about you? Any urges to try something different? If so, why? Do the seasons influence you? Or is it something else in your environment?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Movie Just For Me

Some film makers really know how to get to me. They seem to be able to craft a film which stabs straight to my heart, gives me hope and courage, wrangles a tear from my eyes. Whoever made the following movie seems to have looked into my heart and created this film just for me.

Can you believe this went straight to DVD?

Mega shark, a giant octopus, Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah (don't you dare call her Debbie)Gibson? What more could I ask for?

Is there a movie so outlandish or so bad, it has wormed its way into your heart?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Today is my birthday and once again I am thirty-nine. I plan on being thirty-nine until it is time to turn forty-nine. So my math skills are lacking, I'm a writer, not an accountant.

Anyway, I've been on the fence about what I wanted for my birthday for awhile. I was leaning towards a netbook. I love the concept of having a mini-laptop for writing. But I don't really need one. I have an AlphaSmart I hardly ever use. It is a pain in the butt to use since they do not have software which works with Vista. But it isn't impossible to use. Takes a little extra planning is all. I need to get into the habit of using it.

The other thing I was looking at was the Kindle 2. I hadn't really considered it seriously because I like paper books. I like the feel, I like the smell, I just like them plus I have problems reading from a computer screen. However, I loved the size of the Kindle 2. Much easier to carry than even a paperback. Also, because I'm thirty-nine, I have problems reading text because of its size unless I have help. Doesn't help me when I'm exercising. Plus, the thickness of books makes them tough to read on the eliptical machine. The Kindle 2 is thin enough to fit on the machine and I can adjust the text size. While I don't expect it to replace my bound books, I imagine I will have an increase in book purchases. The books are cheaper digitally and I like the option of being able to buy and receive quickly. Another advantage is I can eat a Popsicle and read at the same time.

I'm not doing much for my birthday. Hubby and I are going out to lunch since we have a baseball game tonight and I've got things going the rest of the weekend. Ooh, he just called me and said we were going to Costco after we ate to get some motor oil. Hey, he took me to Wal Mart on Mother's Day, the man certainly knows how to show a girl a good time.

Do any of you have a Kindle 2 or any other kind of ereader? Do you have plans to get one or is it something you don't see yourself using?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wipe Out

I did a little wipe out on my computer this weekend. I took a bunch of games off my computer. I'm a big patsy for city building games and I can easily waste an entire morning playing them. I came to the decision that they had to go. Sniff....

I like them for the same reason I like to write. They transport me into a world far from my own and where I have ultimate control. The cities I create are my own worlds where things pretty much go as I plan. But it only takes a little brain power and they are a monumental waste of time. They aren't gone forever, I have the cd's. But if they aren't an easy option, I'm a lot less likely to indulge in them.

I have a sad lack of control with these games. I used to be the same way with reading and I only lose control with books for stories. And once the book's over, I can move on. Games aren't so easy to end. They are endless, they are meant to be such. Pointless as well. I allow myself to be lured into the mind-numbing place these games take me and I can feel the triggers. Summer is around the corner. The kids' activities are going through their final extreme wind up before collapsing into nothingness. There are lots of family gatherings this time of year. It all becomes too much and I follow the path of least resistance.

But that is not the person I want to be. Hiding from the real world in a cyber one is nonproductive. I've looked back at the lost day and wanted to kick myself. Those precious hours are gone, never to be retrieved. And all I have to show for it is a city peaking at a population of 1 million with a thriving high density residential area complimented by wealthy commercial center. Great if it was real life and I was Donald Trump, bad if its on the computer screen and I'm a frustrated writer stuck in the suburbs.

Oh, I'll play them again, maybe when my latest WIP is done or I've gotten a couple major household projects done. I enjoy them, they are fun. Like everything else, moderation is key. But right now, they suck the time away and that is something I can't afford.

Is there some activity you have to avoid because it drains your time?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Summertime and the Writing is Easy....

...or not.

My kids have seventeen actual days of school left. In a month they will be at home, constantly unless I put them into activities. Not sure about that yet, I don't really want to spend the money. Camps, classes, programs all cost money and they seem to get more expensive every year. Multiply by three and you can see the dilemna. But if I want to get any writing done, I need the precious angels occupied. I could construct a square ring in the spare bedroom and let them fight it out all summer. They seemed to enjoy doing that last year. Those kids would fight over the color of the sky if it meant an opportunity to scream at the top of their lungs.

But I have writing plans this summer. I'm over 40% through my current WIP and I want it done before the end of summer. Plans and strategies have to be made. My biggest problem is my lack of organization. I seem to melt when the final school bell rings. Part of my brain wants to shut off during the three months off. My kids also seem to forget they are human and revert to being rabid badgers.

The kids are older this year so I hope that accounts for something. I'm hoping they are more open to bribery this summer. I don't like to punish them, but I do find myself taking things away and denying them rewards. Trying to stay on top of everything is tough when my ultra-busy schedule dwindles to nothing. Its too eays to fall into slug habits. And as they say idle hands are the devil's playground. Goes for me too.

Will having your kids home require you to find new writing strategies? Are you going to do something with your kids this summer?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We've Come Along Way Baby???

Trump has spoken. The badly coiffed owner of the Miss USA pageant has decided Carrie Prejean, Miss California, can keep her crown.

Wow, I was on pins and needles.

Ms. Prejean first made headlines at the pageant when she was asked about her stance on gay marriage. She answered that she believed marriage was between a man and a woman. Whoa, the backlash was immense, both in support and revilement of her statement. Hello?? Am I missing something here? Who cares? She spent most of the evening is revealing gowns, costumes and bathing suits. And they want her to say something profound and think it has an impact?

"It's the same answer the president of the U.S. gave, the same answer many people gave. It was probably a fair question because its asked of many people. If her beauty wasn't so great, nobody really would have cared. But that's not the way it worked out."

The Donald did not just put her in the same category as the president of the United States did he?

What bothers me is the importance played on this woman's physical appearance and how we as a society give it credence. I don't care if she is a PhD candidate in molecular biology, she is making her name by showing off her implanted breasts (yes, those are fake, courtesy of the Miss California pageant)in a plunging evening gown. Oh, and no, she is not a molecular biologist. She wants to be a teacher. Which kind of makes it worse. I'm not sure this is the woman I want influencing my daughters.

I suppose this is what gripes me the most. I'm a mother of two girls and I am trying to raise them to see physical appearance as something to admire but not something to base their identity on. Beauty is as beauty does and it isn't the true measure of a person. Sure, they should try to look their best and there is nothing wrong with being pretty, but it is a surface and nothing more, an element, not a definition of a person. In the long run, beauty is not going to get them what they truly want in life.

Unfortunately, these beauty pageants tell a different story. Did you know the Miss America pageant is the biggest provider of scholarships to women in the world? Doesn't that seem wrong to anyone? What kind of message is that sending to young girls? So your SAT's are off the chart and you earned a 5.0 gpa in high school, but what's important is your cup size. Trying to raise a daughter to put appearance in perspective is an almost sysiphean task. I can only do what I can and fight the good fight.

The second controversy surrounding Ms. Prejean is the scandalous photos which surfaced. She is topless in some of them, a situation which freaked the pageant out. How dare she be sexy for anyone else but the pageant. Her sexuality is reserved for the runway at the pageant. Miss California is a simmering pot of hotness, but heaven forbid she express it in anyway. She is the ulitmate look but don't touch girl. Because her sexuality belongs to the pageant. They put her on display, an alluring doll on a pedestal, ripe and attractive, and owned by another. She belongs to the pageant. It reeks of old fashioned patriarchy, harkening back to a time when we belonged to our fathers until marriage and then we were owned by our husbands. But Ms. Prejean used her sexiness for her own use, displaying her charms for her own gain and not that of the pageant.

I know, I'm probably making more of this than it probably is, but I can't help it. As a writer, I write strong heroines who have depth and individuality. And I hope life can imitate art in that instance.

What do you think of beauty pageants?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

One Memory

Today is Mother's Day, the one day out of the year we show appreciation of our mothers by getting them a cheesy Hallmark card and boquet of flowers from the grocery store. I'm not really a big fan of the day. I think its because I had three of them where I was in early pregnancy which meant vicious hormones and even more vicious morning sickness.

My mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law will be coming over this evening for dinnner. Not really a relaxing event (I'm still doing a lot of the cooking) but it does make me think of my mom.

I have a mother who can do so much. She is talented with crafts and the garden. She is endlessly supportive. She is traditional. She would cut off her arm for her grandkids. My mom was very involved in my life. I'm an only child and we moved around quite bit when I was a kid, she didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. So there is a catalog of memories I have. But I have one which I doubt she has any recollection of. It happened when I was four which was umm....well, way too many years ago to think about. I remember wanting a crown. I'd probably been watching some show with a princess or something. My mom got out cardboard, foil and some glue and made me a crown. I don't remember much beyond that, but I still harbor the memory.

Now that I'm a mother, I try to keep that memory fresh. Because that simple crown sticks out more to me than other things. When I worry about how my house looks or if dinner is going to be something more than frozen pizza, I think about that crown. Those are the memories children take with them So in the midst of the frazzle lives we lead, we need to remember what really is important. Your kids don't care about the state of the house. They don't care if you are Julia Childs in the kitchen. Their expectations are quite different. A trip to the donut shop on a Sunday morning. Baking cookies together on a rainy afternoon. A game of volleyball in the backyard. Those are the things kids remember. Your presence in their lives is what they remember. And it is what will influence them when they are parents.

What memory do you have with your mom which has influenced you as a parent?

Friday, May 08, 2009

We Are Family

I saw this terrific post yesterday about family models and their impact on our heroes and heroines. Jeannie brings up the matter of two modern styles of marriage and how the expectations our characters have jives with how they are raised. It is something to think about, particularly with regards to the romantic relationships our characters enter into.

I thought about it in a broader sense in both my reading and writing. The books I'm attracted to deal with family both good and bad. In urban fantasy, family is a big theme. Sometimes it is the front and center of the plot, other times it is an element. Its something I pay attention to, something I use to give my characters depth and motivation. Of course I do find in my writing I really hone in on the mother-daughter dynamic. But I write from a heroine's point of view and I like to use the relationship to help mold my female protaganist.

I don't use my own family as models. We aren't extreme enough. In fiction where you only have a few thousand words to work with, it becomes important to write with a bit of exaggeration. You have a minimal amount of space to get your point across and families harboring attributes a reader recognizes helps. For instance, the mother in my last book was a PTA mom. We can all recognize that character, we have preset opinions as to what she is like and how she will respond to certain situations. It helps define what her daughter will be like. And I have the option of using her role as a catalyst for the heroine's development. Does she admire and want to emulate her mother or does she despise the woman her mother is and wants to be the exact opposite? It takes some of the legwork out of creating my heroine. If she is going to go one way, then I can use her background to fill in the motivations behind the heroine's actions.

Of course families are great motivators. What wouldn't a child do for their parent or vice versa? What if a parent chooses their own life over their child's? That's going to have some ramifications with the characters involved. Again, our expectations with regards to family dynamics can be used to move the plot along or create a black moment for character development.

How important is family in your writing? Do you use family dynamics to build your characters?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

If You Like Pina Coladas.....

I know, the song is shudderingly bad, but it will forever associate the image of a pina colada with "escape." You don't drink pina coladas unless you have a reason, perferably its because you are on vacation or maybe you are out on the town with friends. Wherever you are, the frozen beverage is something different, a symbol of fleeing the pressures of your everyday life. An escape with a slice of pineapple and a tiny paper umbrella.

Writing provides the same outlet for me. I started writing when I was twelve. My mother was on a mission to find the perfect rattan furniture for her family room. It was 1980, rattan was big. Give me a moment to wince in memory. Anyway, we traipsed all over the Southland in my folks' king cab Datsun truck with me squeezed into the jumpseats in the back. When I read in the car I get car sick. But not when I write. So I started writing short stories, mainly to amuse myself. The stories grew bigger with more detail, carrying me away from the reality of pre-teen existence. The writing wasn't much to speak of, but it took me to another world, one without freeways and industrial complexes filled with bamboo furniture with earth-toned upholstery in tropical prints.

I continued to escape into writing while I was in high school to escape all of the misery and horror that those years supply. I spent most of Spanish class writing and my friend and I would write when we got home. I was reading a lot too. This was the golden years of romance when males were alpha and heroines' bosoms heaved. Heavens, I miss those books. Those were total escape but the writing helped. Writing is proactive and draws me in deeper than reading does.

I quit writing in college. Heck, why would I want to escape from college life? In fact, I quit writing again until I had kids because in fact, my early 20's provided the life I wanted. I had no need to escape. However, those were pretty shallow years and not particularly fulfilling (yeah, right).

I got seriously back into writing about nine years ago. At the time, I had a pre-schooler and an infant. I was working full time and trying to balance it all. And while pina coladas are a great escape, they leave a helluva hangover. I plunged back into writing. Again, that first book was dreadful, but oh, the joy of losing myself in another world, a world of my own creation.

This has been a difficult week. Not horrible but one where I've been stretched pretty thin. My time and attention has been claimed by so many other things, I've been run ragged. Certainly a pina colada would be nice, it really is a temporary fix. Plus they give me brain freeze. What I truly want to do is escape into the world of my book. I want to lose myself in the lives of the characters I've created. I want to feel all of my senses engaged on a platform of my choosing.

It's more important than ever for me to find the pleasure of writing. I have to much invested in it as a writer with regards to trying to get published. Its very easy to lose sight of the escape. I find it too easy to focus on the difficulties of the business part of writing and not enjoy the elation of creating my stories. So when those dark thoughts invade, the doubts and despair, the Pina Colada song pops in my head. I sit down at my laptop and I plan my escape.

Does writing provide you with an escape or would you rather just get lost in a pina colada?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Are You a Passionate Writer?

I'm not a passionate writer. Heck, I'm not particularly passionate about anything. Sure, I'm passionate about my family's well-being and would rip the heart out of my chest to save their lives. I'm passionate in my hatred of the New York Yankees (Teixiera you are a LOSER!!). Sorry, I do get carried away. I'm passionate about the books and authors I like. I'm passionate about the craft of writing.

But when it comes to writing itself, not so much.

I know authors who love their books, who fuss over them like babies, admiring their books developments with pride and wonder. I know writers who view their books as pieces of art, giving their souls to their creation like Michealangelo probably did over "David." These writers truly see their books as extensions of themselves. The manuscripts they slave over are as much a part of them as their arms and legs, they devote themselves to their books' maturation, nurturing them along with sweet care. It's beautiful, really, a tribute to the creative nature of human beings.

Then there's me.

I'm fast and lose with my books. I don't write with a burning flame, I don't write with the tender care of an artist. I kind have a Henry Ford sensibility to my writing. My books are on an assembly line. Each element is added in a progression. I never write out of chronological order. I can't think like that. I don't edit while I'm going, quality control has to pick that up before the book is shipped out. I'm also fickle. If the book isn't what I want by a certain point, it is tossed on the scap heap, a rusty haven for my failed ventures whose only use could be the parts available. What's pathetic is that this has happened during the final stretch. I set out to build a Bentley and ended up with a Yugo. The disadvantage of my writing like this is that the book can't be fixed. I've tried and I've ended up with a mess. It's easier to start over.

I've been thinking a lot about this because I follow Joely Sue's progress. She pours so much into her writing. She puts in so much for her books, it blows me away. Such hard work screams passion. I can feel the love she has for her books in the care she gives them, the time and energy she puts in their development. I admire her immensely.

Are you passionate about your writing? How do you express it? Or are you more temperate like me? And are you passionate in your hatred of the Yankees (except for Derek Jeter who would look awfully hot in Dodger Blue)?