Friday, September 28, 2007

Make It Stop!

The use of old rock songs in commercials goes back a ways. I still remember the uproar when Nike first used The Beatles' Revolution in a sneaker commercial. It was bad enough watching Paul McCartney strolling down the street singing for I-Pod. But at least, he was responsible for that crime against humanity. Now, it's completely out of hand. In the last few days, I've been treated to a commercial for a birth control pill that uses Twisted Sister's classic, We're Not Gonna Take It; a commercial for a Nintendo game that uses Sublime's Santeria, and another Twisted Sister classic, I Wanna Rock, pimping Avis car rentals.

The music and bands of my teenage years, years filled with anti-establishment attitude, is now mainstream.

If you'll excuse me, I think I need to lie down before my head explodes...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday 13: Thirteen Unlikely Names for Romance Heroes

13 Unlikely Names for Romance Heroes

You knew it was coming after last week. we go.
1. Irving
2. Sheldon
3. Egbert
4. Guido
5. Stanley
6. Finster
7. Melvin
8. Seymour
9. Herman
10. Oscar
11. Hiram
12. Ichabod
13. Lester

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Paisley's Big Day!

Indulge me. Today is Release Day for my very good friend, Paisley Scott. Her erotic short story, The Pirate and the Pussycat, is available from The Wild Rose Press. Since I was in on the creation of this story, I feel a little like a midwife. It ain't my baby, all I did was help in the delivery. Still, I announce this little one's arrival with oodles of pride and would pass out cigars that say, "It's a story!" if they sold 'em.

Congratulations, Paisley! I knew you could do it!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Strange Things You Find Surfin' the Blogosphere

Your home is a

Daylight Magnate's Hideout

Your kitchen is someplace you never go, because you "have people for that." There's a Chocolatessen, which is rapidly becoming your favorite room of the house. Having one is also becoming a trend among your wealthy neighbors. Your master bedroom is the size of a small barn, with carpet thick enough to reach your ankles. Your study has hardback editions of every classic ever written, plus a special edition of Rich Dad, Poor Dad with the parts you ghost-authored highlighted. One of your garages holds your collection of ferraris, and is measured in acreage.

Your home also includes a guest wing and private quarters for your servants. Outside is your hedge maze and gardens, meticulously tended by a team of world-class botanists.

And, you have a pet -- a doberman pincer named "Warren".

Below is a snippet of the blueprints:

Build YOUR Dream House!

OOH! I have a Chocolatessen! Come on over! We'll make s'mores...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Another Fine Mess I've Gotten Myself Into

Well, I've really done it now. Sent in my application for the 2008 RITA Awards. As soon as editor-to-the-stars, Erin Cartwright Niumata of Avalon Books, ships them to me, five copies of The Bonds of Matri-money will be winging their way to Texas for consideration in the categories of Best Contemporary Romance and Best First Book. Part of me is terrified, but another part of me remembers all the excitement at previous RWA Nationals regarding the Golden Heart and RITA Awards. That's the part I'm clinging to, the part that says these authors once did what I just did: filled out a form and promised to send their work to anonymous judges for consideration in RWA's answer to the Oscars and Emmys.

It's going to be a looooooong wait until next July when the winners are announced!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday 13: Thirteen Unlikely Names for Romance Heroines

13 Unlikely Names for Romance Heroines

1. Ethel

2. Bertha

3. Agatha

4. Shirley

5. Edna

6. Prunella

7. Griselda

8. Mildred

9. Fifi

10. Maude

11. Gertrude

12. Bernice

13. Zsa-zsa

Love a challenge? Prove me wrong! Write your next story, using one of these names for your heroine. Or...add to the list.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why I Find My Son's Football Games So Inspiring...

This past Sunday, our Three Village Wildcats took on their biggest rivals, the Riverhead Giants. Over the years, the Riverhead team has always beaten our little guys, with the exception of one memorable game last year where we tied. Oddly enough, my son considers himself the Tony Robbins of his team. At the end of every Friday night practice (and again at halftime during the Sunday game), Nick calls the team together to give them some kind of "pep talk."
This past Friday, before their toughest competition, Nick outlined their history against the Giants. "They've kicked our butts every time we've played them. Except last time. Last time, we tied. This week, we've got the momentum to WIN!"
And guess what? They did!
For every little guy who's ever been knocked down by the competition, for every writer who's received another rejection from their dream editor or agent, I say, "Dare to dream. Dream big. Only if we continue to try can we achieve success."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday 13: Thirteen Hairstyles I've Worn Thru the Years

13 Hairstyles I've Worn Thru the Years (With Photos and Everything!)

I really should have my head examined for sharing these. It's a testament to my courage and devotion to the Thursday 13 that I'm willing to put myself up for the ridicule that I know will ensue. What can I say? It was the 60's (and the 70's and the 80's...)

According to my mother, I was born with a full head of hair. It's been an uphill battle ever since. Observe:

1.I think I was about five when this photo was taken. (And yes...I know I still have the same face. It just took me forty years to grow into it.)

2. My first communion. Note I'm still showing off that fabulous forehead!

3. The pinnacle of forehead: fifth grade. Hmm...does anyone else see a resemblance to Marcia Brady here?

4. High school graduation. Still flashing the forehead, but at least now I'm not pulling all the hair off my face to accentuate the expanse.

5. Dh calls this my "Robert Plant look." But hey! At least I finally started to hide the movie screen above my eyebrows.

6. My wedding day (21 years ago today!) The very 80's bi-level was in. If you don't know what I'm talking about, rent The Wedding Singer starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (one of my favorite movies--I wonder why?) Still hiding the forehead behind a mess of curls though.

7. Finally got tired of trying to keep up the blond look and my hairdresser convinced me to bring out the red that was so prevalent in my hair. I struggled with it for years, never sure I didn't look like Lucille Ball stuck in an electrical storm.

8. Ditched the curls and the red for a softer style and a golden blonde. Nice, but too much upkeep with a little one (who is now 16!)

9. The hair compromise. Less body wave, more red. So long as the forehead's not quite so noticeable, I'm a happy camper. In looking at this photo now, I think this is when my thyroid started to go bonkers. Look how little flesh is left in my face: definitely not a healthy look for me.

10. I turned forty and had to cut my hair short. (I think it's the law.) Kept the red to rebel against the whole soccer mom mentality. And look! The forehead's back!

11. Kept the color and updated to a bob. A little longer, only a bit of forehead peeking out. All in all, not a terrible look.

12. Dh has this thing about long hair on a woman. Color's a nice rich red that I love, the forehead's back, but let's face it. That forehead is who I am! Why fight it?

13. In a moment of weakness I let my daughter streak my hair pink.(Remember that little girl sleeping in photo 8? That's her on the right, all growed up!) She keeps asking to do it again, but I think I've done my Good Mommy deed in trusting her the first time.

Okay, I'm ready. Let the laughter begin!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

To Cut Or Not to Cut...That is the Question

The edit process between author and editor is a delicate balancing act. Each party has the same goal: to make the story the strongest it can be. Yet we approach the goal from different angles. I've heard tales of authors who refuse to let editors change a single word of their work since, real or imagined, their prose is sheer genius and shouldn't be "messed with." On the opposite end of the spectrum are authors who expect an editor to fix every misspelled word, every loose thread in the plotline, etc.
Most of us, though, fall into a middle category. We know our editor is on our side, and we work together. An author must choose her battles wisely: sometimes giving in, sometimes standing her ground. Often, we mourn those scenes we're forced to delete, those scintillating bits of prose that for whatever reason don't work as well as we'd hoped. For me, nowhere does this scenario bear more truth than when a joke or humorous scene fails to gain the right reaction. Stand up comedians often talk about how they hone their craft, night after night. They'll gauge reactions from an early evening show and make improvements or adjustments in a later show that same night. For them, it's about rhythm, about word choice, and about gaining the biggest laugh with the quickest punch.

Writers, however, don't have the luxury of a truly live audience so that if the joke doesn't work in the eight o'clock show, we can't tweak it before the ten o'clock show. We have one chance to get it right. And most of the time, our preview audience consists of a few close friends (who are often too close to the joke) and an editor. So what happens when your editor doesn't get the joke? Should you stand your ground and insist it stays as is because a wider audience might pick up on the humor? Well, you could--if you're like those authors I mention who believe their own press. But sometimes it's better to take a different tack.
Basically, you have two options. The first is to make the joke stronger. Sometimes a new word choice, a quicker journey to the punch, or a new way to tell the same old cliche works. When it does, zing! Pure magic occurs. doesn't. And when that happens, you're left with Option #2: ditch the joke or scene.
It's a painful decision. But ultimately, they're just words. And if they're not making magic on every page, your reader will walk away unimpressed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Question From the Pile

Today's question comes from Judy Leger:

"I recently blogged about a dream that inspired me. What inspires you when writing?"

In a nutshell, LIFE. Anyone I like or anything I enjoy can provide inspiration.

Take, for example, my soon-to-be-released story, A Little Slice of Heaven, which takes place in a pizzeria on Long Island. Why a pizzeria? Because the guys at one of our family's frequent haunts, Via Pizza in East Setauket, asked. Nick, in particular, wondered why no one has ever written a romance that took place in a pizzeria. I promised him I would. But then I had to find the right story out of the catalog in my head.

Enter a book of short stories by a famous British author. One story told of a wealthy woman who wanted to test whether her family's love would survive a financial downturn. Hmm... Here was something I could work with.

Now, to put the characters into place. I chose two dear friends (who don't know each other) as inspiration for the hero and heroine. Their personalities came over to the written page intact; their looks were borrowed from Hollywood. And then I set them onstage and let them direct their story to a satisfying ending. I hope you'll like the results as much as I do.

Another example would be my current WIP, Nobody's Perfect. Once again, I thank an acquaintance for placing the germ of an idea in my head. While on the practice field for my son's football team one evening, one of the moms said, "You should write about what goes on here. Think of the fun you could have!" Hmm...

The cycle begins again. My characters are in place, the stage is set. The rest is up to them. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: Hooray to my good friend, Debora, for finally moving into her new home. May you share love and prosperity within its walls for decades to come!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Maxine-isms

13 Maxine-isms
You all know Maxine, right? That cranky old lady pictured above who graces greeting cards, calendars, and coffee mugs. Here are some of my favorite sayings from the Old Girl.

1. "I can't use the cell phone in the car. I have to keep my hands free for making gestures."

2. "The key to a nice-looking lawn is a good mower. I recommend one who is muscular and shirtless."

3. "All I'm looking for is a guy who'll do what I want, when I want, for as long as I want, and then go away. Or wait nearby, like a Dust Buster, charged up and ready when needed."

4. "I do my housework in the nude. It gives me an incentive to clean the mirrors as quickly as possible."

5. "I find it helps to organize chores into categories: Things I Won't Do Now, Things I Won't Do Later, Things I'll Never Do..."

6. "My idea of rebooting is kicking somebody in the butt twice."

7. "Ever notice how people who tell you to calm down...are the ones who got you mad in the first place?"

8. "I don't make snowmen. If I'd wanted to hang around with a cold man with slush for brains, I'd still be married."

9. "I wouldn't say my love life is bad, but the last guy I turned on was Mr. Coffee."

10. "The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket."

11. "If you woke up breathing, congratulations. You have another chance."

12. "Take every birthday with a grain of salt. This works much better if the salt accompanies a margarita."

13. "Money can't buy happiness, but somehow it's more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than a Kia."

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The End

For a writer, there are few sweeter words. "We want to buy your manuscript," and "We'd like to turn your book into a movie" might be sweeter, but they don't take away from the feeling of satisfaction a writer gets from typing (or thinking since most of us don't actually type those two words) The End.

As a romance writer, the event is even more joyous. Why? Because your characters have come through their turmoils with love on their sides. They will now live happily ever after. And so there is a quiet celebration in ensuring your "babies" the ending they deserve.

Today, I reached that quiet celebration moment on Two For the Money, the sequel to the soon-to-be published, A Little Slice of Heaven. Now, they'll slumber on my computer for a week or two while I reconnect with family, friends, and life. Then, I'll awaken them slowly and begin the Final Edit process before sending them off to my editor for consideration.

Ain't love grand?