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Friday Favorites – The Weekend Edition

image from freedigitalphotos.net

I don’t know where my head was this week. I thought about writing this post Thursday night, but it fell to the wayside. Then, we went to the beach on Friday and it was a perfect day for the beach. Don’t be jealous 😉  Anyway, better late than never:

Misa Ramirez and Anna Destefano over on The Naked Hero Blog discuss what knid of hero is better: the good guy or the bad good guy. Although I’ve always loved a good bad boy, my latest reading has been in the good guy camp. Really, though, I like a little bit of everything.

Asrai Devin has an excellent post about things she’s learned from romance that apply to real life. These are some real words to live by.

Emma Burcart writes about how we’re all daddy’s girls. She has some interesting thoughts about the old adage that women will marry someone like their father. I don’t know that I necessarily believe that. For me, it’s hard to say since my dad died when I was 4. Without a doubt my stepfather had some influence there (namely all the mistakes I made regarding men), but I don’t remember enough of my dad to know if my husband is like him.

Marcy Kennedy gives 4 reasons we should all be more like the Mandalorians in Star Wars. I love Star Wars references because Star Wars is  a big deal in our house. It’s so bad that when we went bowling as a family for Father’s Day, my husband put in our names as Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Chewy (I got to be Chewy).

If you want more Dallas discussion, Tiffany White wrote about the return of Dallas the day before I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t see her post before I wrote mine, or I probably would’ve stolen some of her ideas. It’s pure coincidence that we used some of the same pictures.

Over on Pink Chocolate Break this week, some awesome quotes on following your intuition.

And finally, I saw this earlier this week over on Dear Author. It’s just an amazing video.

What are you doing for fun this weekend?

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Friday Favorites 6/15

Sorry for the lack of a good title for today’s post. My brain just isn’t into titles right now. Here are your links for great reading this week:

Book stuff:

Over at The Naked Hero, Amy Andrews touches on a hot button issue. Is it ever okay for a hero to cheat? Is it a redeemable action? For a long time, I would’ve said no, it’s completely unacceptable. And really for a romance hero, I think it should be unacceptable. BUT… this is something that happens in real life and real life couples sometimes do get past it. That makes me think that depending on the circumstances and how it’s handled in the book, it might be possible. My gut still says, though, that books are escapism and I don’t want too much reality there.

Dana Kaye, publicist, has a great flow chart of how a book is born. You can probably spent 10 minutes just following different paths. 🙂

Kat Latham posted a test to see how fast you read. I came in at 376 words a minute, which means I could read War and Peace in about 26 hours (not that I’d want to). I’m faster than 50% of people. I guess being an English major finally paid off.

Although not directly related to books, since I write romance and think about relationships for my characters, I’m adding a post by Emma Burcart here. Emma talks about choosing safe guys. You know the ones — you know exactly what to expect from them. They exist for a good time, no commitment, no permanence. Emma writes from her own experience in relationships, but for me, this is great fodder for character development. In fact, in the book I’m revising right now, the heroine always chooses guys who aren’t serious because serious scares her.

Fun Stuff:

Myndi Shafer has a fabulous list of things she is pretty sure she knows. I personally love #4. It’s a common belief in my house.

(4)  If momma ain’t happy, ain’t no-one happy.

One thing that I’m pretty sure I know is that a good book can often erase a bad day.

Over on Pink Chocolate Break this week, we have some quotes about love.

And finally, Tiffany White has a post about great summer TV. She manages to cover more shows than I did in my post because she talks about shows I haven’t watched.

What is one thing that you’re pretty sure you know?

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?

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 – Romance, Love and Storytelling

I think I lost more than a few hours reading blog posts this week because I came across so many good things to read. It was hard to choose what to include, but I hope you enjoy my selections:

Emma Burcart has two posts about finding Mr. Right. First, she talks about how sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there and no matter what you do, he just isn’t the one. Then she writes about the mistake so many women make when they meet a man. They see him as a project that they can fix or change. The funny thing is, as Emma points out, if a man looked at us and said, I’d really be into you if you…fill-in-the-blank, we’d be pissed.

Tiffany White talked about Lost Girl this week. This show is relatively new to the U.S. I started watching it when it premiered earlier this year (thanks to another of Tiffany’s posts). I love this show. It’s about paranormal creatures living among people. The thing I like about it is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There is no end of the world gloom hanging over it. Bo is a succubus who spent most of her life not knowing what she was or how to control her powers. Kenzie is her human sidekick, and she gets some of the best lines. Definitely worth a peek 🙂

I have two posts that talk about ebook pricing and the value we place on our work. This is a conversation that is running all over because of things like Agency pricing and the 99 cent ebook. It’s something that’s important to me personally because not only am I an avid reader who spends a lot of money on books, but my debut will be released as an ebook. I think we all love a good bargain, but many times, I’ve looked at 99 cent books and although they were worth the money, they weren’t worth my time. I’m more likely to spend a little more on trusted authors or based on a recommendation. Chuck Wendig talks about ebook pricing. And then Jenny Hansen talks about the value of a story.

Kat Latham has a post about why an agent has to love your novel before they can sell it. I’ve talked about this before when I talked about getting an offer for my book. A lot of people have a list of “dream agents” that would like to work with. I can understand that, but really, I think the most important thing is to have an agent who loves your work. Although it’s a business partnership and you may become friends with your agent, you will have someone who is willing to fight for you if he or she really cares about your book.

I met Tonya Kerrigan at the Chicago Spring Fling conference last week. She has done a fabulous write up for a lot of the workshops she attended. She obviously took much better notes that I did. Here’s her post about why a story isn’t selling. Poke around her blog and you can easily find a ton of other information.

Speaking of conferences, I mentioned in my Spring Fling recap that for me, the conference was more about being around like-minded people that anything else. Janet at muffintopmommy, went to an Erma Bombeck conference and walked away understanding a lot more about herself. She’s really funny and although it’s a long post, as a writer, you’ll get it.

Finally, Stephanie Ben wrote about why romance and erotic romance is more than porn. With 50 Shades of Gray getting the attention is has, I think a lot more people will be coming to read romance and erotic romance, which is good. The thing that bugs me is that everywhere you look across the media, you see “mommy porn.” That term bugs the shit out of me. As a mother and a romance writer, I cringe.

And on that note … is there any term or misconception about a genre that drives you bonkers?

Plot Complexity and Missing

When Ashley Judd’s new showed premiered, I knew I’d give Missing a try because I’m a fan. The basic premise of the show is that Judd, a former CIA operative, is searching for her son who has been kidnapped while in Europe. If you want more details about the show, check out Tiffany White’s rundown here.

I really like the show. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the show on Twitter because some aspects are unbelievable. For me, I think I’m more accepting of the unrealistic parts because I love the idea of a capable, intelligent, kickass mom. Rebecca Winstone is that character. Some of the characterization is a bit overdone, but I can excuse that.

The more I watch the show, though, the more I am in awe of the plot structure. As an English teacher, I usually pay attention to how a story is put together, whether it’s on TV or in a book. As a writer, I have to be aware, but because I can’t plot and outline to save my life, my structure is fixed after I’m done writing. I push the story out and then make sure the structure holds together during revisions.

I get the basic structure that we’ve all been taught:

In Missing, I can’t imagine how far out the writers have had to plot. I wonder if they have the whole season mapped out, or if they’ve gone farther because every little detail has played together so beautifully. In some shows with complex plots, like Revenge, you don’t see the layers of complexity because each episode kind of tackles its own issue. In Missing, we’re dealing with a huge who-done-it where things that we saw three episodes ago and thought nothing of pop back up as an important detail.

****SPOILERS****

When the show started, I never would’ve guessed that Paul, Rebecca’s husband, was still alive. As viewers, we accept the reality that is Rebecca’s, so as her world falls apart, we fall with it. While the CIA doesn’t believe that Rebecca didn’t know, as viewers, I think we side with Rebecca.

A few episodes back, Rebecca followed a lead to figure out who had her son. A sniper took out the person she was speaking to, and he had the shot and could’ve killed her, but didn’t. As a viewer, I chalked it up to the ring leader wanting her alive because he wants something from her. Now, we see that Rebecca had a connection with that sniper when he was a boy. She had the chance to kill him but didn’t. So now, I wonder if he let her live because she didn’t take that shot 15 years ago.

****

My point is, even with knowing Rebecca’s backstory (as any good author would), the writers of this show must’ve plotted out the series in great detail because both Paul and that sniper returning to Rebecca’s life felt seamless. Shocking, yes, but it fit the puzzle.

This is why, although I’d love to write a mystery (I even have a great idea for a series), it will probably never happen. I can’t see how you can write aimlessly like I do if you want the mystery to work. It’s not just the dropping of hints and the well-placed red herring, you have to know what’s happening next and next and next.

I can’t imagine writing like that (but it might be a nice change).

Do you notice the structure of the plot when you are watching or reading? If you’re a writer, do you plot? And if so, how detailed do you get before you write?

NYC 22 and 80s Movies

image courtesy of IMDB.com

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.

image courtesy of IMDB.com

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)

image courtesy of collider.com

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