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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Friday Favorites – the Quick Edition

I’m writing this Thursday night with a bit of a migraine hangover (at least I hope it’s totally gone) because I’m going to be busy all day tomorrow at my chapter’s conference Chicago Spring Fling. It’s going to be amazing, assuming I can keep the migraine at bay.

Speaking of migraines, Marianne Hansen has a post about migraines and superstitions. I totally get what she’s saying and I think most migraine sufferers do the same. If we think a migraine is coming, we try to do whatever we can that might stop it. Unfortunately, I’ve found that most of it doesn’t work.

Emma Burcart has a great post about trying things even if you’re not good at them. I have a particular fondness for this post because she talks about singing karaoke even if she’s not a great singer. I like this because although I would never sing in front of an audience (I use my singing to torment my kids), I do make the heroine of my novel sing karaoke as one of her summer adventures.

Marcy Kennedy writes about the fear we all have as writers – What if we don’t succeed? I think for all of us, regardless of where we are on the path to publishing, we have this worry. The what ifs can kill all motivation, so I do my best to ignore them all.

Kat Latham offers suggestions for culling repetitious words from your writing. I like Wordle. It’s fun, but I’ve never used it for my books. I think I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.

Elena Aitken offers her insight into what she’s learned about indie publishing. Although I have an agent and publisher now, I have to admit that self-publishing crossed my mind. For me, it was a matter of not wanting to be in control of everything (weird for someone who’s usually a control freak).

Jennifer Jensen shares her story about landing an agent in an unusual way. The agent contacted her because of her blog. Congrats Jen!

Jillian Dodd offers up eye candy every Monday with her Man Day posts. Right now she has a challenge going with author CJ West. If he can get 5,000 comments on his blog, he’ll pose for Jillian’s Man Day post. Read Jillian’s challenge and then hop over to CJ’s blog to leave a message.

Finally, for anyone still looking for some inspiration… Pink Chocolate Break has a list of 10 self-improvement quotes and a selection of quotes on creativity.

Have a great weekend and I hope to bring more information to you from our conference.


NYC 22 and 80s Movies

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It’s the time of year when networks try some new shows out as mid-season replacements. Thanks to Tiffany White, who I often include in my Friday Favorites round-up, I found more new shows to try. Last week, CBS introduced NYC 22. As we all know, I love cop shows, so I had to tune in. After the first 2 episodes, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. The show follows a group of rookies as they start out. I like the cast and the backstories the creators have given the characters. One rookie comes from a family of criminals, another was a journalist who lost his job and is looking to start over, yet another grew up on the mean streets and played professional basketball before becoming a cop. This should make for some interesting characters.

I didn’t have a problem with the characters. I had a problem with the premise and situations these characters were in. For example, in the premier, the rookies were paired up and then dumped off on the street on their respective foot patrols. As someone who watches a lot of cop shows, I like the idea of having the rookies be foot patrols. The problem I had was that this was their first day and they were left alone. Hello, talk about an excellent set-up for failure. Then to make matters worse, these cops did some stupid stuff. Like not calling for back-up when they obviously needed it. Not of one them called for back-up. Ever.

Their field training officer, who says that his nickname is “Yoda” but he doesn’t like it (then why mention it?), drives around in a van and moves them into different situations, but doesn’t actually train them — unless you count telling them that they screwed up counts.

Because I was drawn to the characters, I did give this show another shot and watched it this week. The implausibility of some of what happened still bugs me, but I really like the characters. Knowing me, I’ll probably stick it out until the end of the season (I did watch all of House of Lies). I hope it will get better and maybe a little more believable.

On a totally different note, this past week, I introduced my kids to some quality retro movies.

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Last weekend I watched The Goonies with my daughters. Shorty had seen it before, since she’s always been the kind of kid to prefer live action to cartoons, but this was Trouble’s first time seeing it. They both loved it. How could they not? Even with the bad acting, there is so much to love about The Goonies. “Goonies never say die.”

Then, I watched Ferries Bueller’s Day Off with my son. I counted it as research since I mention the movie in my book that’s coming out later this year. I wanted to make sure the references I made fit the length of the conversation my characters are having. (I needed to make changes.) After watching it, my son loved it, of course, but then he asked me about other movies like it, and I was stuck. He’s already seen The Breakfast Club, but the other John Hughes movies I thought of seemed more likely to appeal to girls. (16 Candles, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful)

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What are your favorite films? Any suggestions for my son?

The Powerful Heroine

We’ve talked about TSTL heroines before and about kickass heroines and the characteristics that bother us about them. Today I want to talk about the powerful heroine, but it’s not a specific characteristic. As you know, a couple of weeks ago, I attended the RT Booklover’s Convention and one of my favorite workshops was a panel on contemporary romance.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips said something amazing (well, lots of amazing things, but this one stuck with me). She said there’s a reason that a lot of those early Harlequin romances were popular, i.e. The Secretary and the Shipping Magnate. Everyone fell for these books because this little secretary managed to conquer the big strong shipping magnate. She had power.

I never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ve said before that I don’t generally read category romance (Harlequin books) mostly because they’re shorter. I have read some and just because they’re shorter doesn’t mean they’re easier to write. In my opinion, they’re harder to write (but maybe I’m just long-winded).

As I was looking through my file of blog ideas for what to write for today, I came across this post on Disney Princesses. It’s pretty long, but it uses the princesses to describe the dating scene for women. The first lesson – Don’t be a Doormat for Guys is the one that inspired this post. The author uses Snow White as the example for that lesson.

Thinking of Snow White made me think about the new movie Mirror, Mirror.

Mirror, Mirror is a new version of Snow White where she is not only active in deciding what happens to her, but she’s downright aggressive. Plus she saves the prince twice. Although in the movie she has strength and ability, she has to learn. She’s not a kickass heroine. In fact, in the beginning, she’s a mouse who’s so passive it’s kind of sickening.

I like the idea of a strong female character who can conquer the hero or the bad guy and still be kind of normal. Hence, the secretary with the power.

It never bothered me to let my daughters watch the Disney princesses because I don’t expect my girls to view them as role models, but I definitely like the new version of Snow White better. I like that she stands up for what she believes in and is willing to fight for what is right.

Then, serendipity struck after I drafted the beginning of this post. August McLaughlin wrote a post on her blog about Cinderella. Normally, I would’ve included her in my Friday Favorites post last week, but I knew I would be posting this and it fit right in. She looks at Cinderella as a metaphor. She muses that we all have a little Cinderella in us. It really is a beautiful concept, not to mention the wonderful song she includes.

Who is your favorite strong heroine?

Friday Favorites – Love & Romance

Hi from the land of sick children. I’m writing this post Thursday night and my only thought is, “It’s only Thursday?” This week has been dragging because my children, as usual, couldn’t be kind and get sick simultaneously; they like to get sick consecutively. This means more trips to the doctor and pharmacist, and less time to write. And really, I’m exhausted.

On a side note, one thing I learned this week was not to use the word s*x in a blog post because your page views will skyrocket, but it will be meaningless. For example, my post earlier this week on my second day at RT, mentions writing *those* kinds of scenes. That post has had over 4,000 hits. Craziness.

Anyway, as I looked over my list of blogs to include this week, I found I have a bit of a romance theme going on, which was unintentional, but works for me.

Onto more interesting reading…


Tiffany White has a post on TV characters we’d like to slap. It’s a fun post. As a huge Justified fan, I’m totally rooting for Dickie Bennett to get slapped.

Allison Brennan just finished watching back-to-back seasons of Bones and wrote a post about feeling cheated now that Booth and Brennan are together as a couple. I agree with what she says. After 6 years of build up and sexual tension, we don’t even get the dramatic kiss or meaningful “I love you.” I think part of that might be because Brennan isn’t romantic and it would go against character for her. But Booth is a romantic. He truly believes in love and marriage and I wanted to see that happen.

Love and Romance:

Ingrid Schaffenburg has a post on lasting love. She cites 3 pillars of lasting love: Authenticity, Acceptance, and Communication. What I love most about this is that it boils the essence of love to these 3 simple concepts. And when you look at a romance novel, this is what you see when 2 people fall in love. Without these 3 things, you won’t believe in the HEA.

Kat Latham writes about her favorite quality in a romance novel. For Kat, it’s the idea of a soul mate or “The One.” I’ve said before that I don’t think I buy into that theory. For me, reading a romance is about falling in love and knowing that regardless of the crap that’s thrown at them, the hero and heroine will find happiness. I was just mentioning on Twitter today that I read The Hunger Games because I promised my son I’d read it before we saw the movie. I had put it off for months, not because I didn’t think I’d like it, but because I knew it would depress me. It is a beautifully written book and a compelling story. But even though Katniss is alive at the end, it’s not a happy ending. After that I couldn’t go straight into the next book in the trilogy. I needed to go back to the land of HEAs.

Guy over at Red Pen of Doom wrote a post explaining why every man must read a romance. He also talks about why every woman needs to read a thriller. The thing is, I think most women will read outside their preferred genre and try new things. Most men have such preconceived notions about romance novels that they’ll never pick one up. This is a good argument.


Jennifer Liberts Weinberg, the Kvetch mom, is back with an interesting post about negative self-talk. I get where she’s coming from because I, too, have heard the negative talk from my own daughter. It’s a hard thing to fight, and she cites an article that says maybe we shouldn’t fight it because it doesn’t work. Food for thought.

Emma Burcart has a fabulous post about remembering to take time to celebrate. When it comes to my kids, I celebrate almost everything, from the big to the small. Personally, I forget to celebrate for me. I commented on Emma’s post that after I received the offer from Kensington for my book, all of my writer friends asked what I did to celebrate. I felt weird because I hadn’t done anything. I immediately went back into work mode to attack the next step, the next goal, the next item to be tackled. I need to remember to step back and enjoy 🙂

Pink Chocolate Break had a great post of life quotes about stepping outside your comfort zone. This is something I personally am horrible at, but it’s a message in my book that’s coming out later this year. I force my heroine to spend the summer stepping outside her comfort zone.

And finally, because I think most people that visit here are book people, a short video from Book People Unite:

Who is your favorite character from childhood reading?

Anti-Hero in Revenge

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Last night, Revenge came back with a new episode (finally). It’s taken weeks off so everyone, including me has been anxiously waiting. I talked about my love for this show months ago, when it first aired. Before the break, the show managed to twist what we all thought we saw in the pilot episode. The pilot opened with a scene on the beach making us believe that Daniel, Emily’s fiancé, had been shot. Instead, he’s arrested for shooting the other crazy person on the show.

In that first post, I talked about how Emily appears to be a complete sociopath with no feelings, at least until we see her with her childhood friend Jack. Through all of the twists and turns on her quest for revenge, this has held true for Emily. At the time, I didn’t call her out as an anti-hero, but now I think she’s one of the finest examples on TV.

Emily is on a mission to get revenge against the Grayson family for ruining her father and taking everything from her as a child. In one fell swoop, she lost her only parent, her house, her dog, and her best friend. Then she’s trained to believe the lies about her father.

So while revenge itself is far from a noble concept, as viewers we’re immediately sympathetic toward Emily because of her past. In addition, the Graysons are such a lousy bunch of rich snobs, it’s kind of nice seeing them taken down a notch.

Emily is conniving and deceitful and will do whatever is necessary to achieve her goal. There are times that I cringe watching what she’s willing to do and the lies she’s willing to say to move her plan forward.

It’s never been clear whether she really has feelings for Daniel. I know she doesn’t view him as part of the problem. After all, it’s not his fault who his parents are. He is a means to an end, but I think some of that gets muddled for Emily.

In last night’s episode, she admits that she lost focus and let emotion get in the way. I’m not sure about the direction of that emotion. She loves Jack. But it wasn’t clear if that’s the emotion she was referring to, or if she’s talking about Daniel.

In all my talk about anti-heroes, I’ve learned a lot. You can read past posts here and here and some links to other people’s posts here.

While looking at the concept of the anti-hero, I’ve come up with some things I think are necessary for it to work.

The anti-hero has to be sympathetic, if not likable. She needs to have some redeeming qualities. She should believe her cause is noble, even if it feeds into something personal for her. And finally, I think that the anti-hero has to make the audience believe she can be redeemed or reformed. Even if it never actually happens, we need to believe in the possibility.

Emily fits all of these. We’re sympathetic because of her childhood, and her love for Jack shows that she’s not heartless. She believes that she’s doing some good by taking down the Graysons. They have a habit of ruining lives, and not just her father’s. They’re bad, bad people. Finally, and this was revealed last night… SPOILER ALERT

Emily admits that she would dump her plan and come clean if she had to in order to save Jack.

Now, Nolan puts the words out there and Emily lets him believe it, but I think deep down it’s true. She doesn’t officially admit it, which is disturbing. Maybe she’s playing the game letting Nolan think that.  Maybe she can’t admit it because emotion has already gotten her into trouble.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the rest of this season.

Do you watch Revenge? Who do you think Emily should end up with Jack or Daniel? Or no one?

RT Convention – Day 2

Okay, it was actually Day 3 of the convention because I didn’t go on Thursday. Looking back, I kind of wish I did because there were a lot of digital publishing things going on, including an e-book author signing. If I had paid closer attention, I would’ve gone, if for no other reason, to get a feel for what digital authors are signing and/or giving away.

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Friday was a full day of workshops. Some great, others were meh. The first one I attended was on writing sex scenes that readers won’t skip. For those of you who don’t read romance, there are a lot of people who tend to skim or skip sex scenes because the scenes are often poorly written. By poorly written, I mean it could read like a manual (insert tab A into slot B) or it could be full of purple prose (to quote Ruthie Knox from her April1 post “She clawed at him like a cat, her velvet glove clutching his manhood with tight fingers). Bottom line, if it doesn’t grab you as a reader, you skip it.

(SIDE NOTE: one panelist talked about how in films, sex is represented by a montage of body parts that allows us to tune out, but then ends in “come hands” so you know they’re done. See photo above for example. Funny stuff, and so true)

The panelists were hilarious. It just so happened that all 4 write M/M romance (male-male), which isn’t my thing and I’ve never read one, but many others do. Each of the speakers explained his/her approach to writing sex scenes and although I can’t say I learned something earth-shatteringly new, it was a good refresher. If the couple has sex it needs to make a difference in the plot, increase the conflict, as well as reveal character. One writer talked about how she pushed the limits of sexual tension so that when her characters finally got to the point of having sex, it was necessary and explosive. Another writer talked about how she puts it all out there in the first sex scene because it forces her to up her game for subsequent scenes.

image taken from Louisa’s web site

My favorite workshop was definitely the panel on contemporary romance. Besides having a stellar lineup — Louisa Edwards, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jodi Thomas, Christina Skye, and Sarah Wendell, with Beth Ciotta moderating–this workshop reinvigorated my love for the genre not only as a reader, but also as a writer.

For me, the biggest challenge as a contemporary romance writer is developing conflict. I think I’m pretty good with internal conflict between the hero and heroine. The internal stuff is usually the baggage they carry with them (and by baggage I mean psychological and emotional, not luggage). I did a post questioning the necessity of external conflict here. After listening to these authors, who are all very successful, I find that the external conflict really isn’t as important as developing intriguing, complicated characters.

It made me feel better about my writing. In addition, I got to meet Louisa Edwards after the

image taken from SEP’s twitter

presentation and had a bit of a fangirl moment. I learned that Susan Elizabeth Phillips is freaking hilarious. I’m so looking forward to her being one of the headliners for our chapter conference later this month. And we could probably create a drinking game based on how often Sarah (or someone jumping in for Sarah) said man-titty. Overall, I great time was had by all in this workshop.

The other workshops I attended we okay, but not fascinating. I did get the chance to meet some people that I’ve only known on-line, which is always a lot of fun.

From what I could tell, the reader portion of the convention was a little insane. The Q&A with J.R. Ward had a line running down the hall. Some of the parties were wild. Of course that is hearsay since I didn’t actually attend them.

I enjoyed myself enough that I’m seriously considering going next year because by then, I will have a book out to sign and it’s still in the Midwest, which makes travel easier.

Are you looking forward to any conferences or conventions this year? How about book signings?

Friday Favorites – Dating, Writing, and TV

Busy week around here again. I’ve been saying that a lot lately it seems. Between Trouble’s birthday and RT and getting my revision letter from my editor, I’m a bit crazed. By the time this posts, I’ll be back at RT for a full day of workshops and fun. I’ll get another post up about it next week (or earlier if I’m really ambitious).

On to this week’s list of favorite blog posts. I bet you’re wondering how I managed to read all of these posts (and maybe even question if I did actually read). I read some throughout the week as I discover them on Twitter. Then I sit down with my Google reader and scan everything I’m subscribed to and pick the best. So really, in addition to these, I’ve read lots of others.

Dating and Love–

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Ingrid Schaffenburg has another post to partner with the one I linked to last week about finding “the one.” This week she talks about finding your type (or not). As I said last week, I married my opposite and it’s worked out pretty well for us.

Jenny Hansen is participating in the A-Z blog challenge, which means she’s blogging every day in April, working her way through the alphabet. This week for H, she wrote about being a hussy and online dating. This is yet more evidence that I should never again enter the dating world. Have a laugh.

Finally, this post is great and it shows exactly why I love Romance Man. He writes about how men have to put in effort to make marriage work. Excellent advice that should be shared with men the world over.


Angela M. is also doing the A-Z challenge and has a post about Alpha males that I wanted to include because I love Alphas.

Both Jami Gold and Kristen Lamboffered posts this week about finding your voice in writing. I kind of stumbled into my writing voice. When I started writing romance, I

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followed the old saying “write what you know.” I read romantic suspense more than anything else. It’s a genre I feel I know and understand well. My first 2 manuscripts are both romantic suspense and will probably never see the light of day. About halfway through the second one, I knew it wasn’t working, but couldn’t figure out why. When I had the idea for my third manuscript, I realized it could be nothing but contemporary romance. I dove into the subgenre and read and read and read. Then I wrote and found a natural fit for my voice. That is the book that will debut later this year.

Chuck Wendig has one of his list posts this week called 25 reasons I hate your main character. Must read.

Elena Aitken has a post about her new release and the soundtrack she made for it. It really makes me wish I had created a playlist for the book I’m working on now.


As a quick follow-up to my post and link to others about the anti-hero, Sonia Medeiros continues with another post about Dexter, everyone’s favorite anti-hero.

Tiffany White covers Bent, which is a show I talked about when it premiered. I haven’t watched comedies in a long time, but this one attracted my attention (probably after Tiffany mentioned it on her blog). But I am a sucker for a man in a toolbelt. It’s a fun, campy show, but Tiffany brings up some good points.

One of my favorite shows, Justified, ended for the season this week. It seems like it crept on me too quickly and I’m not quite ready to let go. Adam Bellotto has a good recap of the last episode.

Allison Brennan did an excellent post on her hatred for Raylan’s ex-wife Winona. I hadn’t thought much about it, although I never really liked Winona. Allison makes fabulous points about why she hopes Winona is gone for good and I’m inclined to agree. Allison wrote this post before the season finale and it’s probably good because at the end of the show, Winona is so slow on the uptake when Raylan is telling her about all the bad shit, that I wanted to slap her. So clueless (and not good enough for Raylan).

Last, but not least–

Emma Burcart writes about the old adage “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” This expression has always bugged the shit out of me. Yes, I was a teacher. No, I am not less than other people because I chose that career. Teaching is damn hard work and all of you should go out and thank a teacher for helping you get where you are today.

What expression or adage drives you a little batshit?

(I probably won’t get around to responding to comments until this weekend but I will get to them – promise)