Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thursday 13: Thirteen Depressing or Just Plain Creepy Songs I Can't Get Enough Of

They're the guiltiest of pleasures: those depressing and creepy songs that, for whatever reason, reach right through to your heart time and time again. And while you never figure out why, you always find yourself singing along. How many of these are on your list?

1. Cup of Coffee- Garbage. How pathetic are these lyrics?: "Hangin' round bars at night wishing I had never been born, I give myself to anyone who wants to take me home..."

2. I'll Follow You Into the Dark- Death Cab For Cutie. The masters of matching super-dark lyrics with a happy tune: "Love of mine, someday you will die, But I'll be close behind. I'll follow you into the dark..."

3. Spanish Doll- Poe. Written about her father: "And I love you still, no matter how the story will unfold. You know I always will, have part of you here in this souvenir..."

4. Nan's Song- Robbie Williams. Even for those who don't believe the dead watch over us, this song could convince you: "There's a strange kind of light, in my bedroom tonight. Pray, silence my fears, She is near, bringing heaven down here..."

5. The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get- Morrissey. Just what the world needs: another stalker theme song! "When you sleep I will creep into your thoughts like a bad debt that you can't pay. Take the easy way and give in. And let me in..."

6. Everybody Hurts- REM. Is there anyone who isn't touched by those lyrics? "When the day is long and the night, The night is yours alone. When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well, hang on."

7. The Freshmen- Verve Pipe. Talk about depressing! "My best friend took a week's vacation to forget her. His girl took a week's worth of Valium and slept..."

8. Nothing Compares 2 U- Sinead O'Connor. A haunting voice, haunting melody. "I put my arms around every boy I see. They only remind me of you..."

9. I Burn For You- Sting and the Police. Oooh, major creepy when you've seen the movie, Brimstone and Treacle. This is from the soundtrack. "Now that I have found you in the coolth of your evening smile, The shade of your parasol. And your love flows through me. Though I drink at your pool, I burn for you..."

10. Vampires of New York- Marcy Playground. Do you need more than this? "And all the whores on Bleecker Street, they wear the blissful grins, Caused by the drugs they take to relieve them of their sins..."

11. Safer Hands- Olive. Another ode to Daddy. "The day you left no warning came. I was sleeping. Maybe it was your undying love. You didn't wake me, didn't take me."

12. Cry- Angie Aparo. Ah, the bitterness of spurned love. "If your love could be caged, honey, I would hold the key. And conceal it underneath that pile of lies you handed me."

13. Lullaby- The Cure. Eek! Robert Smith goes into creep overdrive for this one. "On candystripe legs, the spiderman comes, softly through the shadow of the evening sun. Stealing past the windows of the blissfully dead, looking for the victim shivering in bed."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Nora Roberts Remains the Queen

I just finished Nora's latest release, High Noon, and all I can say is, "Yowza!" After more than a hundred books and thousands of characters, Nora still makes each new hero/heroine combination unique. Okay, I admit, the ultimate H/h for me is still Roarke and Eve in the J.D. Robb series (new book coming out next month: squeeee!).

But Phoebe and Duncan in High Noon have so much electricity, from Page One, it's no wonder Nora reigns supreme. As a reader, there's enough heat and intrigue to keep you turning pages. As a writer, there's a magic in the way she crafts a story that seems so effortless, you can't help but sit up and take notice.

So...reader or writer. Get a copy. Now! You won't regret it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

World's Shortest Fairy Tale

When I reached my desk at the day job yesterday I found this nugget waiting for me:

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl, "Will you marry me?" The girl said, "No," and she lived happily ever after and went shopping, drank martinis with friends, always had a clean house, never had to cook, had a closet full of shoes and handbags, stayed skinny, and was never farted on.

The End

Love it! (especially since my dh, recuperating from surgery, recently asked me when I planned to scrub his feet and trim his toenails. Ick!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Questions from the Blog Pile

Last week I was a blogger for 2 B Read, the blog for members of the RWA chapter, PASIC (Published Authors Special Interest Chapter). Coming down to the wire for my blog day, the idea machine was bone dry: no topic, no idea what to blog about and I panicked...slightly.

RWU to the Rescue! I asked the ladies there for topics and received dozens of suggestions. Some of them were really terrific, so I thought I'd take one from the list each week, whether here, at 2 B Read, or the RWU blog and post my answer.

Today's question came from Zara Penney:

When you write do you have the answer in your head?

God, no! I'm usually about halfway through a story before I know what's going to happen at the very end. And even then, the ending is subject to change. Case in point: The Bonds of Matri-money.

By now if you're a reader of this blog, you know that Bonds is the story of two virtual strangers who, when faced with financial ruin, get married to compete in a Survivor-style gameshow for newlyweds. As I researched the locale (Bali) and dreamed up interesting challenges for handcuffed couples to accomplish, in the back of my mind was the nagging question, "When all is said and done, will these two win or lose?"

I won't give anything away here. If you're dying to know, buy the book. But the question haunted me for a long time. I knew what I felt was right, but how was I to get my hero and heroine to that ending? Believe it or not, I wrote three different versions of those last few scenes in Bali, until I reached what I believed to be a satisfactory, realistic ending.

Now I'm coming to the end of Two for the Money. (It's about time!) Once again, I'm faced with questions. And while I suspect I know the answers, my characters could convince me otherwise. The truth of the matter is, if I know the ending too soon, I can't finish the story. I lose interest if I'm not constantly wondering what will happen next.

What about you other writers? Do you know everything that will happen or do you need the surprise to keep you going?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Useless Facts

13 Useless Facts I Know

My husband often calls me "a font of useless information." So I thought I'd share some of that useless information...maybe make room for more! How many of these did you know before today?

1. When swimming in groups, killer whales breathe in unison.

2. The average four-year-old child asks more than 400 questions a day.

3. Men can read fine print better than women.

4. Famous lover, Casanova, used condoms made of linen.

5. Dieting causes bad breath because less saliva is produced, leading to dry mouth.

6. Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.

7. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, a silent movie version of The Poseidon Adventure, was being screened onboard.

8. The Walt Disney Company produced an animated film called The Story of Menstruation.

9. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was created as a promotional children's book for Montgomery Ward department stores.

10. Mona Lisa has no eyebrows: it was the fashion in Florence during the Renaissance for women to shave them off.

11. Thomas Edison was afraid of the dark.

12. Dogs and cats are either right- or left-handed...just like humans!

13. The busiest area of highway in the U.S. is on the George Washington Bridge in New York City.

There now! Don't you feel smarter?

Monday, August 13, 2007

An Epiphany

One of the things I love about being a writer is that someone's always willing to suggest ideas for new stories. Most of the time, they don't pan out. But every once in a while, there's gold in them thar hills. Such was the case with Nick at Via Pizza who bemoaned the fact that no one ever writes a romance about a pizzeria. I promised I would. The result was A Little Slice of Heaven (which I hope to have good news about very soon!)

Enter the football moms: a group of ladies who cheer their sons from the sidelines. We sit together, watching our baby boys get crushed, wincing at each blow, applauding every successful play. We're there in the rain, in the cold, first thing in the morning, and late on Friday nights. Well, these ladies have been teasing me this season that it's time for me to write a story about peewee football and what goes on behind the scenes.

"But where's the romance?" says I.

Last night, I found the romance. Or at least, I found the perfect characters and storyline to write a fictional romance. Now I can't wait 'til Wednesday night's practice to run it past the moms. They'll be so proud!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Best Intentions

Last night was supposed to be my "night off"--the first Saturday I had the house to myself in 16 years. The men in the family were heading to the Meadowlands for the Giants/Panthers football game and darling daughter had (another) Sweet 16. I planned all week for my night off, assuming I would have about six blissful hours to fill.

What would I do? Write, of course. Finally finish Two for the Money, get a really good jump on Nobody's Perfect. I wanted to package a few queries together for mailing on Monday. And on the subject of packages, there was that dress I bought for the Awards Ceremony at National that I decided against wearing. It's still sitting in the closet with the tags intact. Saturday night would be the perfect time to repackage it and send it back so my bank account could be credited.

Then, after I picked up my daughter at ten, I would sink into a hot bubble bath to relax my woes away.

Admirable goals, yes? I thought so, too. But you know that old saying about the best laid plans? Well, the menfolk didn't leave until 6 and promptly hit too much traffic to move anywhere near the stadium. So I was trying my best to play GPS operator from my computer at home, rerouting them to other roads, none of which moved any faster. My niece "popped in" for a few minutes, which extended into about an hour, and before I knew it, I'd written all of one page on Money and it was time to shuttle Tori home from her party.

End result? The dress still sits in the closet with the tags in place and the shipping box below it. The file for Nobody's Perfect was never opened. I swapped the bubble bath for a little more writing time and while I'm nowhere near The End, I do know how it will all wrap up.

There's a possibility we might head to the beach today. I could make grandiose schemes to finish the manuscript there, but I think I'll let the events drive the day's tasks. The AlphaSmart will come along and I will use it, but I won't set a goal of any kind. Somehow, I think I'm better off keeping my expectations to myself.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: "Gina Loves..."

You knew it was coming, right? Well, here it is!

Thirteen Things "Gina Loves..." (according to Google)

Remember, this isn't indicative of me! It's just for fun. Try your own name and see what comes up!

1. Gina loves her cracker. (Everything's better when it sits on a Ritz!)
2. Gina loves cigars. (Well, maybe not as much as a certain White House intern...)
3. Gina loves kitties. (Just ask my two: Miss Savannah and Little Miss Bella Wigglebottom--yes, that's her real name.)
4. Gina loves beer. (Six packs, but not beer bellies.)
5. Gina loves stories. (Duh!)
6. Gina loves everything that's bad for her. (But it feels so good!)
7. Gina loves the pole. (Get your mind out of the gutter! The North Pole, of course. That's where Santa lives...)
8. Gina loves blondes with pointy ears. (Remember Herbie the elf in "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"? Sigh...!)
9. Gina loves to accost actors. (Just the cute ones. Like that Herbie guy! I know he's a puppet--got a problem with that?)
10. Gina loves to fish with a flyrod. (The better to catch those actors!)
11. Gina loves gay penguins. (Queer Eye for Birds that Don't Fly.)
12. Gina loves her squeaky toys. (Rubber ducky, you're the one...)
13. Gina loves the tongue stud. (Ah...Raoul. I have his number on speed dial. Want it?)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Striving For the Goal Posts

My return from Dallas last month heralded in the start of another football season in our household. While the first games won't occur until after Labor Day, the kids begin practice in mid-July to condition their muscles for what's to come. After several months of other activities, the coaches are well aware that the boys have neglected the exercises necessary to get them ready for the gridiron. For six weeks prior to that opening game, they'll run laps around the football field and do multiple sets of push-ups and sit-ups. They'll perform tackling drills and agility tests. They'll practice kicking, throwing, and catching the football. The idea is that by the time they hit the field for their first game, those skills they may have neglected over the last nine months might have become re-honed. Not only does this conditioning give them an edge on the field, it also prevents needless injuries. So if they get knocked down, they'll get up, brush themselves off and strive harder to reach the end zone.

As writers, we sometimes forget that we're constantly honing our own skills. Each book, each chapter, each paragraph is another exercise to strengthen our writing muscles. And no one, no matter how multi-published is too seasoned to learn something new. So if you get knocked down, you too can get up again, brush yourself off and strive harder.

What have you learned lately?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Books On My TBR Pile (thanks to RWA National)

One of the many perks of RWA's National Conference is the landslide of books available. Each year, I wind up shipping more and more home and then wait with breathless anticipation for the FedEx man to bring them to my doorstep. This year was no exception. Take a gander at the box I received three days after my return home from Dallas:

So without further ado, I present
Thirteen Books on my To Be Read Pile (thanks to RWA National)

1. The Adultery Diet by Eva Cassady (Pocket Books' Abby Zidle gushed about this story so much, any writer would be insane not to check it out to get an idea what editors are excited about it.)

2. Parallel Attraction by Deidre Knight (I won an autographed copy of this book at the Romance Divas dinner.)

3. Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter (The title alone intrigues me!)

4. Late Night Talking by Leslie Schnur (How can you not want to read a story that describes itself as "a tender and funny novel about bad behavior"?)

5. Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison (Who knew we had a support group?)

6. The Dream Thief by Shana Abé (The buzz on this book is louder--and much more positive--than a dentist's drill!)

7. The Smoke Thief by Shana Abé (I should probably read the prequel before reading the new release, right?)

8. Candy Apple Red by Nancy Bush (A P.I. with an ugly pug and a dead body? Sign me up!)

9. High Noon by Nora Roberts (I was psyched for this one even before I heard her speak at National. Now? It's moved to the top of the pile!)

10. Killer in High Heels by Gemma Halliday (Okay, so she's a fellow Diva, which automatically makes this a must-read. But a possible series is in production for USA Networks. Aren't you the least bit curious? I am.)

11. Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas (She's too adorable to ignore!)

12. Aye Do or Die by Candy Calvert ("Whip up a pina colada, find yourself a deck chair, and settle in for a great onboard romp." Don't mind if I do.)

13. Love a Younger Man by Shelby Reed and Madison Hayes (This is the only Shelby Reed book I've been missing and I can't wait to dig in to the beautiful prose of this oh, so talented author and dear friend!)

And this doesn't include the books that were on this pile before July. Whew! Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. At least I should have enough reading material until the end of the year. What are you looking forward to reading in your pile?