RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Friday Favorites – the Short Edition

So it’s still spring break here. Spring break + 3 kids = no extra time for Shannyn. I did manage to comb the web for my favorite posts for the week, but there’s not as many as usual.

TV:

Tiffany White writes about Missing with Ashley Judd. I’ve watched the first couple of episodes (although I didn’t get to watch last night’s yet) and I like it. No, it’s not super realistic, so if you’re looking for that, this show probably won’t work for you. I think I mostly watch because I like Ashley Judd.

I have 2 posts about Once Upon a Time. This isn’t a show I watch because although it looks interesting now, when it first aired, I wasn’t sure. I saw trailers for both this and Grimm and both air at earlier times than I usually watch TV, so it kind of slipped my mind to set a timer to record. After people starting talking about it, it felt too late to start, but I might play catch up at some point. What fascinates me, especially as a romance writer, is the idea of infidelity as part of the fairy tale.

Jennifer Hale wrote a post last month about Prince Charming being “just a little bit married.”

And Emma Burcart wrote this week about how Prince Charming is “kind of a jerk.”

These posts alone make me want to catch up on the show.

Adam Bellotto does a great roundup of this week’s episode of Justified.

Writing:

The Romance Man has an excellent post about why he loves romance heroines. They all have a special quality of strength that he can respect. (gotta love a man who reads romance and isn’t afraid to talk about it)

Merry Farmer wrote this week about writing love scenes. As an author who does have sex scenes in her book, I liked that Merry tackled this topic. I haven’t found love scenes difficult to write, but I have found that the scenes have varied greatly depending on the characters. In my book releasing later this year, the sex scenes are pretty explicit. In the book I’m revising, my critique partner was shocked because I barely followed my characters into the bedroom. For me, it was about importance. For my heroine, Quinn, having sex with Ryan (especially the first time) is a big deal for her. She doesn’t jump into bed easily. For Indy, however, sex isn’t as much of an issue, so I wrote less.

Chuck Wendig has another of his fabulous lists of 25 things. This week — 25 lies writers tell themselves.

Photomontage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just for fun:

You know last week, I put out a call for you to help Renee Schuls-Jacobson by voting for Ferris Bueller. I’m back again because Ferris needs saving from Westley. Go read Renee’s reasons for voting for Ferris.

Hope you all have a great weekend. I’m off to go see Mirror, Mirror with the girls.

Spring Has Sprung

We’ve been having much warmer than usual weather for Chicago this time of year and I’ve been a little spoiled (I like my summer). Since it’s spring break for the kids, we’ll be heading out to the zoo today, so I’m doing a fly-by post. One of the things I like best about the beginning of spring is that it’s also the beginning of construction season.

Now most people in Chicago dread construction season because it means streets will be torn up and there will be endless detours. It’s not so much the road construction, but the housing construction that I enjoy. The whir of saws, the cha-chunk of nailers, the smell of sawdust…then of course there are the men themselves. I do love a man in a toolbelt.

So on this sunny spring day, I leave you with this–a video of construction workers dancing:

Also, who could forget this old Diet Coke commercial:

What do you like best about the beginning of spring?

Tag, I’m It – Lucky 7 Meme

image taken from Jennifer Oliver's blog http://www.small-escapes.com/?p=515

I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest meme being passed around the interwebs, but it’s called Lucky 7 and I’ve been tagged by Emma Burcart to share some writing from my WIP. Like most things that get passed around, Lucky 7 has its own set of rules:

Open your WIP (current work in progress) and

1. Go to page 77

2. Go to line 7 on that page

3. Copy the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs as they are written.

4. Tag 7 new authors.

I don’t mind sharing from my WIP, but since I have 2 going, I wasn’t sure which to share. One is finished and I’ve been revising like crazy (or at least it’s been making me crazy) and the other is only a little more than a third done in the first draft. Since I couldn’t decide, you get the bonus of reading 2 passages. Both are single-title contemporary romances.

First up, my work in revision. I hope this will be the second book for my contract with Kensington. Its tentative title is Exceeding Expectations.

            He suddenly realized the remark sounded like he was propositioning a hooker. He stepped back to think clearly. “Your commission. I’ll write you a check right now. Then it won’t matter.”

“Sorry, no deal. I work for my commission. I’ll get it when I find you a house.” She pushed off the table, intent on leaving.

He stepped in her path. “Just a kiss.” One that would surely lead to the bedroom. He never misread those signals.

The second passage is my crappy first draft. The book doesn’t have a title because I suck at coming up with titles. I keep my drafts saved under the heroine’s name. In this case, Elizabeth:

She broke the silence. “You never answered my question. Did you follow me?”

“No.”

“Then why are you here?”

He sighed, knowing she wouldn’t let him just enjoy holding her. The song ended and he leaned close to her ear. “I’m here for the same reasons everyone else is. I’m looking to get laid.”

***

Elizabeth couldn’t believe he’d said that. She was not here to get laid. She was visiting with friends and having fun.

Now that I’ve exposed a nearly-done and a barely done excerpt, I’m tagging the following 7 authors:

1. Kiersten Krum

2. Ruthie Knox

3. Asrai Devin

4. Jenny Hansen

5. Ryann Kerekes

6. Tiffany White

7. Renee Schuls-Jacobson

How do you feel about sharing work that’s not quite ready?

Friday Favorites – Yoda, Ferris, & Writing

After more than a week of fabulous warmer than normal weather here in Chicago, it’s a rainy, miserable day. But, I do have some great posts for you to click through:

Fun Stuff:

taken from Google images

Marcy Kennedy writes about how Yoda was wrong. Now, I’ve mentioned before how Yoda is huge at our house, so my gut wanted to scream, “Never!” but then I read the post. Marcy is referring to Yoda’s famous quote, “Do or do not. There is no try.” This is something I’ve often quoted to my children (and they have of course spit back at me). Marcy points out that trying isn’t always enough. While she has very valid points, I think I’ll stick to the spirit of what Yoda teaches because I believe perseverance can take you pretty far.

It’s March madness all over this time of year, and it’s not all about basketball. Dabwaha is run by Dear Author and Smart Bitches an is all about books. March Movie Madness (MMM) is all about pitting movies heroes against one another.

Renee Schuls-Jacobson makes a plea for Ferris Bueller. Not only do I love this movie and Ferris, but I even have it in my book that’s coming out later this year. Even if you’re not voting, check out all the reasons she loves Ferris.

Photomontage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tiffany White has a great round-up of midseason replacement shows. Check them out.

The Romance Man has a ton of fun with his post Chicks with Dicks (no, not that kind). He’s talking about why girls fall for guys who treat them like shit. The post is great, but you also have to read the comments. You’ll have plenty of laughs. As a girl who fell for many assholes, I can’t explain it. It’s not that I didn’t date any nice guys; there were a few. One guy I broke up with because he was so nice. What did I know? I was 16. I still know this guy and I also know that I wasn’t ready for him at 16. If I had met him when I was 30 and looking to settle down, I totally would’ve snapped him up.

Writing Links:

I have two different posts about the rules of romance. Both are interesting, especially if you read through the comments.

Greta van der Rol normally doesn’t write romance and she’s struggling with some of the “rules.”

Merry Farmer lists some of the expected rules of the romance genre, but points out that rules can be broken.

Jenny Hansen invited Margie Lawson to write a guest post for her blog. Margie is great. If you’ve never taken a class with her, I urge you to do so. You will learn so much from both Margie and your classmates. Your writing will improve and you’ll learn skills to carry into your next MS. In this post, Margie talks about writing smiles fresh and new.

Shelli Johnson has a post about how to know if you’re stretching yourself as a writer. She suggests that when you feel like you’re in over your head, it’s a good thing.

Jody Hedlund writes about why it’s important to put our books to bed. It’s important to give ourselves breathing room after we finish writing so we can look at the book with fresh eyes. A lot of people will attempt to plow through without giving themselves a break when they go from first to final draft. The problem with that is that you’re too close to the book and you can’t see problems.

Kvetch Mom, Jennifer Liberts Weinberg, writes about the importance of having a writer’s group. I personally wouldn’t want to have to start one, but I’m lucky enough to belong to my local RWA chapter. It’s not just about finding people to critique your work, but about finding like-minded people who can understand you. My group is a critique chapter. Someone reads for critique at every single meeting. I haven’t read in over 2 years, but I still get so much out of going. It’s a group of friends who understand the process and frustrations of being a writer.

Emma Burcart had a revelation that the bathroom is her think tank. It’s a good about when and where we have time to let our stories develop. I’m like Emma, shower time is my plotting time (and I use the word plotting very loosely). It’s the one time and place where I’m least likely to get interrupted by the kids.

Finally, Jenny Hansen offers some great advice on getting organized as a blogger.

Have a great weekend and I hope your weather is better than what I’m looking at.

Guilty Pleasures

I watch a lot of TV and while my husband would argue that the vast majority of what I watch is guilty pleasure, I disagree. For me, guilty pleasure is something that doesn’t have a lot of substance, but is fun anyway. It might be a little cheesy, or over-the-top dramatic, and it’s definitely on the fluffy side. These are shows that while I record them (because I record everything – no commercials) I don’t necessarily rush off to watch them right after they air like I do other shows (Justified).

I new guilty pleasure for me is a brand new show that aired last night. I saw the commercials and thought it might be funny, so I recorded it. I’m so glad I did because I liked everything about Bent.

In case you didn’t watch, the show is about a recently divorced mother who buys a house that needs work. Lawyer Alex (Amanda Peet) lives in the house with her daughter, Charlie (Joey King, who played in Ramona & Beezus). They’re both trying to deal with issues caused by Alex’s ex-husband, who is in prison. The show opens with her getting estimates for the work she needs to get done on the house.

Enter Pete (David Walton), the contractor who is a recovering gambling addict. He’s laid back and charming, but he’s a good guy looking for a second chance. Alex hires him and her uptight Type-A personality immediately clashes with surfer dude Pete’s.

There’s a lot to like about this romantic comedy. Some of the jokes and plot devices are cliché, but I don’t care. For me this show was forty-five minutes of guilty pleasure last night. (They aired 2 episodes.)

Part of it is that I’m a sucker for a man in a toolbelt. I think it kind of falls under the uniform category that I talked about the other day. Toolbelts are sexy. They define a man who can get things done. Of course, it also helps that David Walton is very nice to look at.

The entire cast of characters are fun and pretty well developed. Both Alex and Pete have their own baggage to deal with as they butt heads and grow to like each other. The sparks are there between these two, but I think this is one of those shows that will probably be ruined the minute they get together. The flirting and banter will go by the wayside because although a lot of positives can come from hooking up with your opposite, I can’t imagine these two would make it forever.

Pete is too immature for Alex. He’s a good guy deep down, which is what makes him such a great bad boy character. He’s good with Charlie and connects with her in ways Alex’s boyfriend doesn’t. Personally, I would totally fall for this guy (you know, assuming he was real and I wasn’t married). But objectively, I can admit that it would never work. He’s too laid back and immature. It would drive me crazy and the dimples only take you so far. The same would hold true for Alex.

But I will continue to tune in because watching Alex and Pete interact will make me smile and give me a few minutes of total guilty pleasure each week.

What’s your guilty pleasure? (On TV that is)

For the Love of Men in Uniform

There are few things in this world that will make my heart go pitter-pat on sight. A man in uniform is one of them.

My favorite has always been the Marine Corps dress blues. (and it’s not because I married a Marine – their Blues are hot!)

But it’s not just military uniforms that do it. Firefighters, cops, even cowboys get it right. Yes, you read that right, even cowboys. I’ve thought a lot about this because I have a huge crush on singer Toby Keith. The thing is, he’s totally not my type, except for the fact that he’s a big guy. Blonde hair, curly hair, facial hair — all things I’ve never been attracted to. Now, of course, I will admit that his voice and his music have a lot to do with my crush, but then I realized that it’s the cowboy hat. Take the hat off Toby, and he’s nowhere near as appealing.

Part of what helped me come to this conclusion is Kenny Chesney. Millions of women scream and rave like he’s the hottest thing going, but I’ve never seen it. His head is the wrong size for his body or something. But … you put a cowboy hat on him and not only is he proportionate, but he starts looking better.

Uniforms can improve almost anyone. Denis Leary is far from my idea of a sexy man, but dress his up like a fireman, and woo-hoo the temperature rises.

What is it about a uniform?

It’s just clothes. But it’s more than that. It’s what the clothes represent, I think. The uniform takes a man and makes him a better version of himself. In some cases, it might be a bigger persona (like Kenny); other times, it might be the ideals that go along with the uniform (Marines and firefighters).

I know I’m not alone in my love for a man in uniform. Maybe it’s the implied danger with some uniforms or the idea that the man wearing it is a hero. I’m not sure. But I know that the uniform will always get me.

What do you think? What makes women swoon over a uniform?

Friday Favorites – Playing Catch Up

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was pretty much out of commission for the end of last week. First I had a migraine from Wednesday until Friday, then I was feeling sickish starting on Saturday. Turned out to be allergies with a sinus headache, but it took me a couple of days to figure that out since I don’t normally suffer from allergies. Anyway, that was 5 days gone from my life. Because of this, I’ve been trying to play catch up all week.

And it’s been a great couple of weeks in the blogosphere. So many blogs, so little time. A fair warning, quite a few of the links this week go to some lengthy posts, but they are well worth the time investment.

First, unless you’ve been living in a bubble, I’m sure you’ve heard about 50 Shades of Grey, a book that started as fan fiction based on Twilight. It is erotic romance and was just picked up in a huge deal.

I have not read any of the books in the trilogy, so I can’t comment on that, but I have links that highlight some of the issues at play:

First up, Jane over at Dear Author did a comparison of the current book with the original. The reason she did this was because the author claimed that although the book started as fan fiction, it is currently an original work. All I’ve got to say on that is if a student turned this in as an original work, he or she would fail.

Next, Jami Gold questions whether quality editing is valued by anyone, and she uses this book as a point of reference.

Carly Phillips discusses the book here. She actually read the entire trilogy and the comments in the post are interesting.

And finally, and I believe most importantly, Smart Bitch Sarah writes about romance, porn, and condescension. No one defends romance quite like Sarah.

TV stuff:

I’ve talked about how much I love Justified, and on his blog Eat, Sleep, Television, Adam Bellotto does a great recap of this week’s episode. As he says, this episode wasn’t so much about moving the plot forward as wrapping up loose ends. Take a peek around his site for recaps of other shows. I don’t watch all of them, but he does a good summary.

Last week Tiffany White asked readers to vote on which shows they would watch if they could only watch one TV show per night (horrible thought). This week, she posts the results.

Emmie Mears has been running a series of cookie dough posts talking about relationships in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn’t watch the show when it originally aired, but after hearing so many people praise it, I watched some, but not all the episodes. I definitely see the appeal, but I never really understood the whole Buffy-Spike thing. In her last post, Emmie dissects that relationship and it makes a whole lot more sense now.

Dating and Love:

Even though I’m married and have been out of the dating scene longer than I was ever in it, as a romance writer, I try to read about others’ experiences because that’s what I write. As a woman, I know that if my husband and I ever split, I have no intention of ever looking to get into a new relationship. I don’t have the energy or patience to deal with the junk. But as a writer, I’m fascinated by it.

Merry Farmer has a great post asking where all the good guys have gone. She links to the original article that points to some of the problems and you should really read both. After reading both the article and Merry’s post, I’ve reaffirmed my gratitude that I don’t have to worry about dating. I’ve also realized that I am dead on in how hard I push my kids to be independent. I have 3 kids, none are teenagers yet. They all know they are expected to go to college and earn a degree and they also know that if they want to continue to live in my house they either have a job or they’re in school. When school is done, if they want to live here, they pay rent. It’s not that I need their money. I need them to be independent. To find their own way. I did it as a necessity, but I’m glad I learned independence early. I screwed up a lot, but I learned from it. There was no one to bail me out.

Ingrid Schaffenburg talks about online dating and the search for chemistry.

A new blog that I started following that you should check out is The Romance Man. He’s a man who reads romance (woo-hoo!) but he also blogs about love, being married, and being a father. The stuff he writes is pretty damn funny. Here he looks at advice on how to snuggle. If you’re easily offended, you might want to skip it, but if you read Chuck Wendig or Tawna Fenske, you’ll like this guy.

Writing:

I only have one writing link this week, not because there weren’t more great posts, but because this one has a message for every writer. Tawna Fenske tells us what she learned from an 85-year-old food critic. Good stuff.

I plan to get out an enjoy my weekend. Chicago has been experiencing way warmer than normal weather (80 degrees again today!!) What plans do you have for the weekend?