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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?

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Friday Favorites – A Little Night Magic and Writing Links

Before I get to my mash-up of awesome links this week, I want to tell you about a book I just finished: A Little Night Magic by Lucy March. If any of you have read my Friday Favorites posts, you know that I’ve talked about Lucy March (AKA Lani Diane Rich) before. She’s a great writer and an excellent teacher. I was intrigued by this book when Lucy posted an excerpt of an earlier draft on her blog.

Here’s the blurb, taken from Lucy’s web site:

Olivia Kiskey needs a change. She’s been working at the same Nodaway Falls, NY, waffle house since she was a teenager; not a lot of upward mobility there. She’s been in love with Tobias the cook for the last four years; he’s never made a move. Every Saturday night, she gathers with her three best friends – Peach, Millie, and Stacy – and drinks the same margaritas while listening to the same old stories. Intent on changing her life, she puts her house on the market, buys a one-way ticket to Europe, and announces her plans to her friends… but then she meets Davina Granville, a strange and mystical southern woman who shows Olivia that there is more to her small town life than she ever dreamed. As her latent magical powers come to the surface, Olivia discovers that having an interesting life is maybe not all it’s cracked up to be. The dark side of someone else’s magic is taking over good people in town, and changing them into vessels of malevolence… including Millie, who has been a shining example of sweetness for Liv since they were kids. Unwilling to cede her home to darkness, she battles the demons of her familial past and her magical present, and learns that the important things in life – friendship, love, magic and waffles – can get a girl through almost anything the Universe can throw at her.

I really like this book. It is phenomenally crafted and will keep you involved every step of the way. There are no parts to skip here. As you can tell by the blurb, the book is about Liv. This story is all about her growing and changing. It is also a romance and you do get the requisite HEA.

I have a small confession to make: I fell in love with Tobias long before this book was near publication. As I said, Lucy posted an excerpt and I was gone.(FYI – the scenes are still up on her blog and they’re NOT in the book. It’s like the out takes from a really good movie) Anyway, my one and only complaint about this book, and it’s not even really about the book, is that there’s not enough Tobias in it.

The book is told in first person and I love Liv’s voice, but in general, I’m a third person kind of gal. Being in first person fits with Liv’s journey, but I wanted more time with Liv and Tobias. Granted, there’s a lot of bad shit going on in the story that needs to be dealt with, but the romance lover in me wanted more time with them. Don’t get me wrong, the scenes between Liv and Tobias are unbelievably emotional and charged with tension (the good kind). I just personally wanted to get inside Tobias’s head.

That’s enough blathering on about Tobias. Go get the book; you won’t be disappointed. And I’m obviously not the only one that feels that way since it went for its second printing after only being out for a day.

On to my weekly mash-up. This week all of my links are writing related, but even if you’re not a writer, you’ll enjoy them:

Music as inspiration:

Catie Rhodes did a great post about how music can inspire us. I listen to the radio all the time and the lyrics to songs have helped me create many characters.

Lucy March is back with Jennifer Crusie and Anne Stuart and they talk about using a soundtrack and creating a collage for your novel. I never did either of these things until I took a Discovery writing class with Lucy (Isn’t it weird how when we know people on line, we refer to them as friends, even if we’ve never really met?). First, don’t get discouraged by looking at Jennifer Crusie’s collages. They are works of art. You don’t need to be that talented. I struggled with doing both the collage and the soundtrack, but I’m really glad I did. Now, when I’m away from my WIP because I’m revising and editing other projects, I have the collage and music to pull me back into the story. At some point, I’ll post my stuff that I did for the class. I really wish I’d made them for the book I’m revising now. I have no doubt it would help the whole process.

On perseverance:

Tawna Fenske talks about pushing through the crap to find success in her post “Taking One Mouthful at a Time

Over on the Wordbitches site, Elena Aitken talks about finding the time to write. It’s a question that a lot of people ask writers, especially those with small children. My answer: write when the kids are busy. I am the master of pounding out 1000 words during any practice for any sport or activity. You’d be surprised at how quickly those words add up.

Kristen Lamb talks about what it takes to become a career author, which is the ultimate goal for most of us. It’s more than just pounding out the words, but we have to maintain a balance or it won’t work.

Finally, just for fun, Marcy Kennedy has a post for the Geek in all of us. What Star Trek Race Are You? I thought I would’ve been Spock, but it turns out, I’m Borg, like Seven of Nine (if only I could look that good too 🙂  )

Who are you most like?

Friday Favorites – Trusting Yourself

So very many excellent writing blogs this week. Before I get to those, let’s run through the just for fun ones —

Tiffany White does an awesome roundup of TV shows that she’s reviewed and talked about. If you’re looking to add something to your lineup, check out this list. Heck, even if you’re not looking to add, you’ll find something anyway. She keeps hooking me into new stuff 🙂

Merry Farmer has a great discussion going on her blog about the appeal of paranormal romance. If you love all things paranormal, stop by and explain the fascination.

In addition to having a really funny blog full of dirty jokes, Tawna Fenske is a launch author for Coliloquy. Basically, she’s writing a choose your own adventure for adults. I did download it (Kindle only), I haven’t ahd a chance to read it yet. Coliloquy is giving away a Kindle to one of Tawna’s blog readers, so go check it out and enter.

Now, onto the writing posts.

First up – Craft

Lucy March, along with Jenny Crusie and Anne Stuart did a couple of great posts about character. They have one on heroines and one on heroes. With these 3 fabulous authors, you have to learn something.

Last week, I linked to a post by Jenny Hansen about Man-speak. She follows it up again this week with part 2. This is must-have information if you’re writing male characters.

The next 4 posts are all about being a writer and taking yourself seriously:

Kristen Lamb tells us not to eat the butt (avoid the poison that will ruin our writing careers). I have to admit that I am a little guilty of what Kristen talks about. Although I take my writing seriously – I write every chance I get by making time for it, I don’t talk to other people about it. I don’t introduce myself as a writer. Mostly, this is because I’m always afraid the next question will be “Where can I get your book?” and I’m not published yet.

Trish Loye Elliott (via Wordbitches) points out that if writing is what you want to do, then you need to act like a professional.

And finally, two post from Chuck Wendig. Warning — if cursing bothers you, don’t click on these links.

25 Things Writers Should Know About Finding Their Voice – For me, finding my voice as a writer was difficult. I love to read romantic suspense, and as writers, we’re told to write what we know. That’s great in theory. I know romantic suspense. I wrote my first 2 manuscripts, which were romantic suspense, and about a third of the way through the second one I knew it wasn’t right. It wasn’t “suspense-y” enough. I tried to fix it, but nothing worked. When I began writing contemporary romance, I discovered why the romantic suspense didn’t work. It’s not where my voice is. I was trying to force something and it didn’t work. Don’t be afraid to play around with different stuff.

25 Things Writers Should Start Doing – This post just has so much, I don’t know where to start. I think that like many of you, I’m good at some of these points, others not so much. I think I’ll start with getting out more. Between being a writer and a mother of 3, I hardly get out at all (at least not alone). But you know what? All 3 kids are in school during the day and my day job is work from home and I make my own hours. I’m setting a goal to get out more.

What goals are you setting to get you closer to your dream?

Versatile Blogger Award

You know, I’ve only been doing this blogging thing for a couple of months, but because of Kristen Lamb’s class on blogging to build your author brand (hello WANA1011 people), I have a whole team of people to network with both on my blog and on Twitter. It’s made the entire experience so much easier and less frightening. One of the perks of having a ready made group of on-line friends is the passing on of blog awards.

Last month, Emma Burcart bestowed the Liebster Blog award on me. I was surprised to receive any award, much less one after only a few weeks of blogging.

Then, earlier this week, Debra Kristi passed the Versatile Blogger Award to me. Thanks so much, Debra!

Part of receiving the award is to reveal 7 things about myself and then pass the award on to more people. so without further ado, here are 7 things about me:

1. I love popcorn. It is by far my favorite snack. I make hot air popcorn at least 3 times a week. If my hot air popper broke down, I think I might cry.

2. I’m a no-frills kind of girl. I only wear make-up when I have to look like a grown-up. I like to keep everything simple, including my wardrobe. I don’t want to have to think about what to wear. Jeans, t-shirts, and gym shoes.

3. I’m a natural night owl, but my kids keep trying to change that about me. Having to get them to school on time (which is always in the morning and I’m not  morning person), makes staying up until 1 a.m. difficult.

4. I only do housework when I need to work through a plot point in my book. I hate to clean, but I find that distracting myself with mundane tasks (like cleaning out closets) helps free my brain to figure out my writing problems.

5. My day job as an editor involves me reading a lot of news articles. I have to pick out headlines to assign to my writers. Because of this, I never pay attention to the news (TV or on-line) when I’m not working. In general, I don’t like to watch the news because it’s so depressing. Then, if something major happens between Thursday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, I totally miss it.

6. I am a total wallflower. People who have known me a while never believe this, but it’s true. I tend to hang back in social situations and observe for a really long time before I talk to people. I almost never initiate conversation.

7. And to build off #6, I lack some basic social skills. I don’t know what happened during my childhood that made me miss out on something, but at least as an adult, I recognize it. I’m the kind of person who has to remind herself to ask someone how they’re doing. I often put my foot in my mouth without realizing it until later. And sometimes, people get mad at me for being honest with a side of sarcasm. It’s who I am and I’m usually unapologetic for it. Now you all know why I hesitated to join Twitter — a huge cocktail party with an endless supply of people to offend. 🙂

Phew — now that I have the first list out of the way, on to the second list: the people I’d like to hand the Versatile Blogger Award to. Most of these writers I have linked to in the past during my Friday Favorites posts, so their names will look familiar. A couple are new-to-me bloggers that I’m sure I’ll be adding to my Friday Favorites in the future:

1. Asrai Devin – The Maven of Mischief

2. Catie Rhodes – Full-Tilt Backwoods Boogie

3. Tawna Fenske – Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing

4. Elena Aitken – Don’t Forget to Breathe

5. Emma Burcart – Occasional Epiphanies

6. Jillian Dodd – Glitter, Bliss, and Perfect Chaos

7. Merry Farmer – An Historical Romance

8. Jessica Ward – The Mental Ward– If you can’t handle the truth, don’t look…

9. Shelli Johnson – Author

10. Renee Schuls-Jacobson – Lessons from Teachers and Twits

As award recipients, please pass the award on to up to 14 other bloggers and don’t forget to give us 7 things about you.