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Friday Favorites – Relationships, Writing & Language Fun

Another week gone and only one more until the kids are out of school. I’m beginning to worry about keeping up with 3 posts a week while they’re home. I’ve gone back to teaching part-time (college level writing) and although it’s only one night a week, I spend hours prepping and grading. Add in the kids and keeping them busy, and something’s probably going to give. Usually my writing suffers over the summer, but this year, I have a deadline, so that can’t really happen. Right now, I’m ahead of schedule and I’d like to keep it that way.

Anyway, onto great links for the week.

Modern relationships:

Samantha Warren likens modern online romance to romance when back when. She has some interesting ideas about how contact through email mimics communication only via letter. Since I’ve been married a long time, I don’t know if this holds true, but I do agree with her that the idea of building a relationship with words is far more fascinating that jumping into bed together.

Mike Stolar is guy getting his 15 minutes of viral fame for sending a survey out to his dates when things didn’t work out. Some articles call this creepy, but isn’t this the stuff of a fine romantic comedy?

Speaking of romantic comedies, Fabio Bueno has an excellent post on building your own romantic comedy. I’m thinking I should bookmark it for future book ideas 🙂

Writing:

Chuck Wendig has one of his fabulous 25 things post up. This time it’s 25 reasons you should quit writing. I know most writers will tell you that they can’t NOT write. I don’t know if I fall into that category. It’s certainly true at this point in my life, but I stopped writing from the time I left college until about 5 years ago. I was busy building my career and writing didn’t enter the picture. I don’t know if that would happen again if I went back to teaching full-time. I tend to throw myself 100% into whatever I do. Chuck’s points are great, though. Writing is tough and it’s not for everyone.

On the other end of advice, Ingrid Schaffenburg was recently at a conference and she shares the advice she learned from seasoned professionals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: conferences are a great way to fuel yourself as a writer (even if you’re an introvert like me)

Tonya Kappes writes about how often writers are expected to produce books. It used to be that an author could be successful writing one book a year. Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes one about every 18 months. But with the advent of self-publishing and ebooks, readers have gotten impatient. They want it NOW. I get it. I hate having to wait for a favorite author’s new book (I’m looking at you Julie James) and we want them to write faster. I’m currently set to release 2 books a year. I hope that’s enough to build a following.

TV:

Tiffany White has a post this week about the return of one of my summer favorites, The Glades. When I posted a couple of weeks ago about returning TV shows, I talked about The Glades. It’s a cop show with a lot of sexual chemistry and conflict between the main characters. Tiffany does a great job explaining everything if you’ve never watched. (plus, you can catch up on Netflix)

(this one’s a little TV and more on writing, but…) Over on Romancing the Naked Hero, Paula Altenburg writes about secondary characters who steal the show. She opens with talking about Boyd Crowder from Justified. How could I not include this?

Fun:

So Bad So Good has a post on words that don’t exist in the English. My favorite?

Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan): A look between two people that suggests an unspoken, shared desire

OR maybe…

Meraki (pronounced may-rah-kee; Greek): Doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing

Here’s another list of relationship words that don’t exist in English (I’m getting the idea that our language is quite boring)

And finally, a little inspiration to find happiness from Pink Chocolate Break.

Who is your favorite secondary character either from a book or movie/TV?

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Friday Favorites – Hello and Goodbye

I’m running late with today’s post because my modem decided to go crazy yesterday. Just stopped working (while I was in the middle of finalizing lesson plans for last night). Then it started working again hours later. Needless to say, a new modem is in my very near future.

So many good things to read this week!

First up, TV–

I talked yesterday about how excited I am that there’s less than a month until the return of True Blood. Chelsea Mueller over on Heroes and Heartbreakers has a post about one way in which the show improves on the books. I agree that having the story told from multiple points of view is great. I think the show gives us a better feel for all of the characters and their separate plots.

Over on Popwatch Denise Warner does a side-by-side comparison of the love stories of two of my favorite shows: Bones and Castle. The comparison only looks at the first 4 seasons, so it leaves out Booth and Bones getting busy, but for those of you who watched the Castle season finale know that Kate and Castle finally got together too.

Tiffany White has a post about the new shows that will be premiering this summer. I’m sure I’ll be checking some of them out.

Love and writing–

Since I write contemporary romance, I spend a lot of time thinking about couples and falling in love. Because of that, I thought it was silly to separate these categories.

Ingrid Schaffenburg writes about finding true love and how your soulmate will find you no matter what. I don’t know that I believe in the idea of a soulmate, mostly because that means that there’s really only supposed to be ONE person for us out there. I like the concept, and it certainly serves me as a writer, but I don’t know that I totally buy into it.

Emma Burcart had an enlightened moment when she discovered that personality really is more important than looks. She questions if you can be attracted to a guy who’s a jerk and I can absolutely claim that it’s a very real possibility. I’ve done it — lots 🙂

Over on the Lady Scribes blog, Andris Bear describes the meaning of different kinds of kisses. I think this is fascinating and something I will definitely incorporate into my writing.

Alisa Kwitney has a post about the flawed hero in contemporary romance. I found this really interesting because it touches on a couple of things I’ve talked about in recent weeks. While at the RT convention, Susan Elizabeth Phillips talked about the old school romances and why they were so popular — because the little secretary was able to conquer the shipping magnate. This post goes along with that idea and how heroes are presented today. Alisa also mentions a m/m book written by Damon Suede, who is the author that coined the term “come hands” that I mentioned in my post from RT about writing sex scenes.

Fun–

For any mom who has ever had her own words thrown back at her, I give you Erin Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms. We’ve all been there 🙂

I found this post from Pink Chocolate Break especially timely because I’m working on creating a workshop for writers. A friend of mine commented on my ability to remain calm during my journey to publication and she suggested I create a workshop on Zen in Publishing. It’s only in its infancy (like I have notes scribbled down haphazardly) but this post might give me more ideas. Zen tips to live by.

And finally, I couldn’t finish this week without mentioning the loss of Maurice Sendak. I didn’t know his books as a child. I didn’t grow up in a house of readers and we had few books. But my children know his books and we’ve shared a lot of great times reading about the wild things.

What is your favorite children’s book?

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…

TV:

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.

Inspiration:

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?

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–

image courtesy of recruiterpoet.com

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.

Writing–

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

image courtesy of lifeislifeislife.blog.com

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.

TV–

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)

Friday Favorites – The Saturday Edition

Believe it or not, I had my mashup links selected yesterday, but I got sidetracked getting ready for my daughter’s birthday party. So I’m running a day behind, but the posts are still worth reading.

The other day, I revisited the idea of the anti-hero. As it turns out, I’m not the only one thinking about anti-heroes.

Elisabeth Naughton talks about her latest novel, Enraptured, which stars an anti-hero.

Then, Sonia Medeiros focuses on Dexter Morgan as an anti-hero. I mentioned Dexter in both of my posts on the topic because I think he’s a perfect example.

Both of these posts support what I said in that an anti-hero has to be more than just likable; he has to have some kind of moral code. (And for the record, I see no moral code in Marty Kaan.)

Marcy Kennedy has an excellent post on how to keep strong female characters likable. She outlines three simple things: Explain what made her that way, let us see that she loves something, and show that someone loves her. She uses Katniss from The Hunger Games and Kara Thrace from Battlestar Gallactica as examples and nails it. Great advice.

Over at Writers in the Storm, Rob Preece talks about the difference in writing men and women. I think this is a tough thing to tackle, especially if you write in both a male and female POV. It’s hard to make yourself sound convincing as a member of the opposite sex.

Ingrid Schaffenburg has a post about finding “the one” and realizing it might not be who you’d expect. Personally, I thank my lucky stars that I’m not in the dating world. I have a lot of friends who are and I hear the horror stories. For me, I don’t know that I had a type when I was younger. I would go on a date with almost anyone, but I did tend to be most attracted to bad boys – not sexy, rough around the edges, heart-of-gold one either. I did marry a man who is my opposite in pretty much every way. It’s one of those things where we have people question how we got together because we are so very different, but for the most part, it works for us.

Finally, Larry Brooks posted over at Storyfix what he learned from a room full of romance writers. I appreciate that Larry wrote this because of the misconceptions people have about writing romance. His experience in the world of romance writers echoes much of my own. The romance community is definitely one of support, even if you don’t write romance.

Next week, I plan to attend a couple of days of the RT Booklovers Convention since it’s pretty local for me. I hope to come back with a wealth of information to share.

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?

Friday Favorites – Life Stuff and Writing

Life stuff–

Parenting is a big part of my day with 3 kids, so I am very familiar with Marianne Hansen’s day of questioning why we chose to have this life. On a particularly tough day, she chooses to blast Melissa Etheridge. Check out her post on The Zen of Melissa Etheridge. For me, it was always “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin. If you have any doubts about the sing-along possibilities:

With us all still getting into the swing of a new year (how many times have you caught yourself still writing 2011?), things can get a little overwhelming. Debra Kristi writes about information overload. I think most of us can relate to this because we juggle a regular job, family, and writing, along with everything that goes with each of those things. It is all about priorities and setting realistic expectations for yourself. For me, I realistically expect that my house will never be clean for more than an hour or so (while the kids are out of the house) and I can live with that.

Ingrid Schaffenburg takes it a step further than just prioritizing. She talks about fulfilling our dreams by creating the right kind of actions. It is a beautifully written post. And in reading it, I realized that she supports my notion of not having a clean house. Will having a clean house make me a better writer or a better mother? I doubt it. Can stressing about getting the cleaning done make me do worse at both of those jobs? You betcha 🙂

Merry Farmer wrote a fabulous post on the baggage we carry. She debated with a friend about whether the past is over and done or if you carry the scars forever. I’m a little in both camps. I had a sucky childhood. Anger ruled a good portion of my teen years. As I entered adulthood, I made the choice to let go of the anger and resentment. I carry the scars. I sometimes have to check my reactions to things to see if they’re realistic or if they’re being clouded by those scars.

Emma Burcart wrote about the lengths we go to in order to fit in. Unlike Emma, I love my jeans. Jeans, t-shirt, and gym shoes all the way. I own very few pieces of jewelry and I rarely put them on. I was never very good at fitting in, so I learned at an early age not to try. I was okay being a loner. But as it turned out, even loners find people to connect with.

Writing Advice–

As a romance writer, there are some things that come up often. One is writing sex scenes and the other is writing believable guys.

Emma Burcart did a post on writing sex scenes. I’m not the kind of person who discusses sex often. I will give my kids straight informative answers to questions, but I’ve never been one to dish to friends. When writing, I have no problem writing sex scenes. I’m not totally comfortable reading them aloud though …

Jenny Hansen has a post up on “Man-Speak.” Yes, it is a real thing. As writers, we need to pay attention to how characters think and speak. Guys talk differently than women do. If you don’t pay attention to that, all of your characters will end up sounding the same.

The last advice piece I have comes from Arghink (Jenny Crusie’s blog). This week, Jenny Crusie and Lucy March posted a long discussion about romantic comedy: what works, what doesn’t, and why. It’s a little on the long side, but totally worth the time. My favorite quote from the entire post:

Lucy: You know six degrees of separation? I’m two degrees of smart.

And finally, this is not a piece of advice at all, but a call for submissions of short pieces. 6 editors from Entangled Publishing will be visiting Jami Gold’s blog to check out your pitches. Guidelines and info in the post. I don’t write that short (10 – 60K) but if I did, I would submit.

It was a crazy busy week in the blogosphere this week. There were so many great posts, I had a hard time narrowing it down to these few. What was the best thing you read this week?