Romance Writers Want to be Hookers

After the amazing Maggie Marr spoke to my RWA chapter in September, our afternoon speaker was Debbie Decker. She’s the author of the Key to Her Heart series and a Speech Pathologist. She also works at a food pantry and a regular judge at the California Dreamin’ Hooker Contest. No, authors are not judged on how many tricks they can turn in a weekend. Continue reading “Romance Writers Want to be Hookers”

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Hollywood Calling! Part One

September was a great month for my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. We had the pleasure of listening to Maggie Marr who has one of those bios I love because it’s funny and sharp. And she’s a Hollywood Insider. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. She probably knows Brad and Johnny and Leo and George. Sigh. Continue reading “Hollywood Calling! Part One”

My Train of Thought has a Nice Baggage Car

Pinterest is both great and horrible. Great in that I can find models that match what I think any of my characters look like, and then make it easier to describe them. And horrible in that I waste a lot of time looking at half-naked men, tall ships, and funny goat pictures.

I like to find a model who has lots of pictures up on Pinterest and elsewhere, so that I can get lots of ideas of what the person looks like happy, sad, dirty, tired, etc. I apparently found a one-shot wonder in my model for David Cooper. The young man, terribly good looking, is Russian and only the one photo of him is available. (David is the hero in my published novella, Appetizer: Pure Seduction from the Regency Banquet series.)Featured image

That happened again with my choice for Valentine Archer in the Bowman’s Inn Anthology. Stunningly good looking, but no match on Google Image Search and no information on who he is. I even looked at page after page of sexy blond men hoping to find the original photo I pinned. No need to thank me, I sacrificed my time willingly.Featured image

On the other hand, my model for the Curtis twins in the Regency Banquet series is Parker Hurley, and not only is he eye candy with amazing ink, he’s had lots of photos posted on Pinterest. I grabbed so many, I think I should start a folder or board or whatever they call it just for him.Featured image

But that’s only peripherally what this post is about. I watched a great movie today, a docudrama about sled dog racing. The Spirit of the Wind is about George Attla, Jr. Probably the only actors in it that you will have heard of are Slim Pickens and Chief Dan George. But the movie didn’t need bigger names to be moving and entertaining. And the best parts are that some of George Attla’s actual relatives had roles in the film, and there is a post script at the end to tell you what happens between the end of the film and present day.

I went looking for the film because Buffy Sainte-Marie, an idol of mine since high school when her great song Welcome, Emigrante accompanied a civics film on immigration. She did all the soundtrack music for Spirit of the Wind, and won a number of awards. I was reminded of her when I searched Pinterest for a Native American woman model to be Amanda Boone in The Bowman’s Inn anthology.Featured image

I also discovered another song by Ms. Sainte-Marie, Indian Cowboy in a Rodeo. Sadly, Pinterest has zero photos of Indian Cowboys in Rodeos. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 13

The most exciting parts of traveling are the day you leave and start the adventure, and the day you roll home with tons of laundry to do and weariness you wouldn’t trade for anything. So let’s jump off of Cypress and head on to Gambia. Where the Gamers all live.

241. Gambia. Mid-week, I mentioned my love of horses in fiction, novels like The Black Stallion making up a large part of my story-spinning daydreams. Alhaji by Ebou Dibba is the story of a 16-year-old boy who owns a dream horse, and what happens when he is offered a lot of money to sell the animal to a rich man. Horses aren’t just property, nor is any animal who shares our lives. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4552704-alhaji?ac=1

242. Germany. Yeah, missed it completely. So much great literature here, but I think Three Comrades: A Novel of Germany Between the Wars by Erich Maria Remarque is a good choice. Trying to keep alive and employed in a country devastated by war and treated as less than human by the rest of the world, these three young men keep each other going, and are the most vulnerable to love. There’s apparently a Russian version that is equally well received. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91203.Three_Comrades?ac=1

243. Grenada. What if you emigrated to a beautiful island in the Caribbean just in time for a Communist Revolution to break out? Why, you’d probably write a book about it. That’s what Kay Howard did. Memories to Die For: An American Family’s Terror-filled Adventures on the Island of Granada. Reviews are mixed, some complain about the ethnocentric Americans looking down on the native inhabitants, and some enjoying the page-turning pace of the adventures. It’s worth a look. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/218531.Memories_to_Die_for?ac=1

244. Guinea-Bissau. As a country on the coast of Africa, Guinea-Bissau has lots of needs, such as clean water, improved economy, and good health care. Or is that California? Anyway, I admire the woman who set up clinics to treat many diseases that were rampant in the country. I don’t know if I admire the fact that she came to do God’s work, which meant creating a written version of the language and translating the New testament into that language. That feels a bit heavy handed to me, and a bit of the culture might have just changed completely. Still this book is God’s Needle: How Lily Gaynor Brought Hope and Healing to the Land of the Witchdoctors. It could have been much worse.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17575050-god-s-needle?from_search=true

245. Kosovo. I have the pleasure to be acquainted with a woman who sponsored a family from Kosovo. Their experiences while leaving the war-torn area are horrific. And one can only rage impotently at the brutality and death the children of the family witnessed. My friend calls the children her grandchildren, and they are her spiritual family. We say one person can’t do very much alone, but there are so many examples of what one person can do that we have to stop saying that or believing it. I picked The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley because it’s a true story and it’s an accidental book. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21945723-the-hemmingway-book-club-of-kosovo?ac=1

246. Kuwait. Once more a book is set between two wars, these the Gulf wars with poetic names like Desert Storm and Desert Shield. In the intersection of the lives of five different people, lies a crime of abuse against a young woman. The reviews of Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet (what an awesome name!) are mostly ecstatic to have found the book. Wise and well paced, said one. Another quoted wonderful lines and noted the pages. Looking forward to this read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6845658-small-kingdoms?ac=1

247. Nauru. One of many people who “discovered” this island called it Pleasant Island. During World War II, the island was invaded by Japanese soldiers, two-thirds of the population taken away without communication to those left behind. Captivity and starvation on the island, exile off the island, the people survived, and Jemima Garrett wrote their story in Island Exiles. Not found on Goodreads, so here’s a Google link. http://books.google.com/books/about/Island_Exiles.html?id=zuD_PAAACAAJ

248. Netherlands. So many choices, but as an avid fan of Gregory Maguire, I had to go with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Yes, the reviews are mixed, and yes, he might belabor a point or two, but his retelling of Cinderella has to be worth the read, as well as giving us a glimpse into seventeenth-century Holland. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18943.Confessions_of_an_Ugly_Stepsister?ac=1

249. Sint Maarten. Oh, how I love islands. The privacy, the luxury, the sand and the sea. A Time to Love by Barbara Delinsky is referred to by one reviewer as Lifestyles of the Rich and Horny. Okay, I’ll buy that. Rich girl with a broken heart meets celebrity photographer, and lust ensues. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1268352.A_Time_to_Love

250. South Africa. There are people who can’t wait to leave the place where they were born and grew up. Then they realize they will be taking with them everything they inherited from that place. Imaginings of Sand (Afrikaan’s title would translate to Sand Castles, I believe) by André Brink tells the story of a woman who escaped, but her loyalty to her family calls her back. The reviews complain a bit about a man writing as a woman. So I guess my book about a bisexual male in Regency England would not work? I wouldn’t worry about a man writing as a woman, I would comment on a person doing well as a writer. But that’s me. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/509676.Imaginings_of_Sand?ac=1

251. Sudan. I want to mention a children’s book, A Long Walk To Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7981456-a-long-walk-to-water?from_search=true I have to read this one, just to see how the two stories come together. But I also like the true story Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir and Damien Lewis. All the reviews are 3 to 5 stars, the first one saying that if you are a Politically Correct sort of person, this book is going to piss you off. Not for the faint-hearted and life changing follow. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3170677-tears-of-the-desert?from_search=true

252. Switzerland. I picked The Raven and the Rose by Susan Wigg because it takes place in the Monastery of St. Bernard, where the beautiful and intelligent dogs were bred and trained. But there are half a dozen books with that title or near enough titles, and even an author named Rose Raven. If ever a book called for a subtitle, this would be it. However, our story takes place in the time of Napoleon, which I know covers a few decades, but the hero known as the Raven is sent to kill a royal bastard of Louis the XVI who might be able to derail Bonapart’s plans. The Rose, the natural child of the king, knows nothing of her heritage, and, well, it’s been a long war and the Raven could use a little R and R. (See what I did there?) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1293412.The_Raven_and_the_Rose?from_search=true

Well, that’s the world, so now we need to go somewhere else. How about a quick trip out through the Solar System?

253. The Sun. Full disclosure impels me to admit I am a huge fan of David Brin, I will sit in on any panel he is on at a convention, and I love the Uplift War sagas in the extreme. So of course when thinking of a book that takes place on the sun, I thought of Sundiver. I really loved this murder mystery set in space on the most unique ship I have ever encountered. Reviews are mixed, but that’s humans for you. Not obsessed with current technology, and Brin does have a way of making things just work. The concept of the food dispensers doesn’t come with diagrams and synthesizer discourses. It simply gives food. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/96472.Sundiver?from_search=true

254. Mercury. I learned something very interesting while researching this book. Before Lord of the Rings came out, there was a very similar epic (similar in basics, not in detail) called The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison. Tolkien himself even acknowledged its influence on his books. That makes it a must read for me. Most reviews are 5 and 4 stars and very complimentary, so let the enchantment continue. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13624.The_Worm_Ouroboros?ac=1

255. Venus. The Radio Planet by Ralph Milne Farley (who also writes as Roger Sherman Hoar) deals with the invention of matter transmission by radio, allowing the hero to encounter monsters, dinosaurs, and giant insects! This is the third book in the Radio Man series, and has that macho, weapon-wielding Earth man bit we grew up with. Two out of three reviews gave it high marks. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2258426.The_Radio_Planet?ac=1

256. Mars. (We did earth, remember? Look back a few weeks, I’ll wait. Ready now?) John Carter of Mars is the perfect series for the Red Planet, and the first book in the Barsoom series is A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is the plot that turned up in the movie John Carter. Now I have to go watch it again. I don’t care what the reviewers said, this is a great story. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40395.A_Princess_of_Mars?from_search=true

257. Jupiter. Well, yes, but there’s no real land mass on Jupiter, so we’ll visit the moon Callisto. And in a style much like Edgar Rice Burroughs’s, Lin Carter presents Jandar of Calisto. You know, battling mean aliens, saving the beautiful princess, and being the first in a series. Good reviews, worth a look.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1005186.Jandar_Of_Callisto?from_search=true

258. Saturn. We turn from the epic sagas and such to much more “hard” science fiction. Robert L. Forward was a scientist and an aerospace engineer. His books, like Saturn Rukh, are cited as having scientific credibility. Some fans of sci-fi want to read the fluffy stuff and let the facts fall where they may. That’s why space ships were making noise in space long after we knew that wouldn’t happen. But if you can challenge yourself to read this interesting premise of four people being paid to research Saturn’s atmosphere and the possibility of turning that ball of gas into useable fuel, you won’t be disappointed. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/263467.Saturn_Rukh?ac=1

259. Uranus. Another gas giant. Oh, stop giggling. Goodreads has never heard of this book, although there are a bazillion titles by the author, Edmund Hamilton. And Amazon has it as a double book, so that’s the best I can give you. Treasure on Thunder Moon is a story of someone on the edge of being too old for their chosen profession, but getting one more chance to pilot a starship and find untold wealth. No reviews available, love the pulp fictionesque cover. http://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Thunder-Moon-Trail-Astrogar/dp/1612871348

260. Neptune. Well, let’s just put in on the moon called Triton, shall we? Neptune Crossing by Jeffrey A. Carver is a First Contact tale, and not just meet and greet sort of contact. Allowing an alien to set up housekeeping in your personal brain. Exciting idea to some, claustrophobic to others. A good, hard-science read, maybe a little weak at the end, but maybe that’s to allow a sequel some day. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/590747.Neptune_Crossing?ac=1

260A. Pluto. Please take any debates about the planetaryness of Pluto outside. I don’t care. I grew up with 9 planets, and I am happy to be a Niner. I only made this 260A because otherwise I am over my limit of 20 books per week. So there. And what a wonderful book to mark this last stop on the way out of the solar system! Whisperer in the Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft. Did you know Mr. L actually discovered Pluto? In his dreams and imagination? Of course, he called it Yuggoth. And while he was writing this story, the planet was discovered. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/912625.The_Whisperer_in_Darkness?ac=1

Honorable mention to E.E. “Doc” Smith’s First Lensman novel, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/826521.First_Lensman?ac=1
And Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit – Will Travel. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20417.Have_Space_Suit_Will_Travel?ac=1

Next Sunday, I’ll be back to writing things about writing, and my new mid-week day is Thursday. See you then.

I C Summer Blog Tour – “Navigating the Writing Path: From Start to Finish”

My on-line writing buddy, Louise Redmann, thought of me as a participant in this great blog tour from I C Publishing (www.ICPublishing.ca). Thanks so much, Louise, I had a great time answering the questions and thinking about writing more than usual. Please visit her blog at https://louiseredmann.com/?p=423 and soak in the photos of her awesome first-hand research opportunities.

Here are my responses to those questions:

1. Share how you start your writing project(s). For example, where do you find inspiration? Do you outline? Do you jump right into the writing? Do you do all of your research first?
I have a few ideas that came to me from dreams, one or two that evolved while I was reading some book that didn’t go the way I thought it should, or watching a movie with the same situation. I’ll have a conversation in my head out of nowhere, between two people I don’t know. Inspiration finds me, I rarely have to look for it. Sometimes my husband gives me an idea with a pun or silly thing he will say. I jump right in to jotting down the notes about the idea, and over time have filled notebooks and computer files. It’s not likely that I will get all my ideas written out, but I hope to come close. I outline if I have a complex story that I need to keep track of, but I don’t expect to adhere to the outline rigidly. Funny thing about research, I do a lot of it before I write, but I can’t count the number of times I have paused mid-sentence to go look up one detail that I forgot to clarify.

2. How do you continue your writing project? i.e. How do you find motivation to write on the non-creative days? Do you keep to a schedule? How do you find the time to write?
Motivation to write is always an issue that comes up in my Scribophile group. I don’t have much trouble in that direction, but if there seems to be a gap between what I want to write and what’s forming in coherent sentences, I walk away for a while. I read, watch a movie, pull weeds, clean the kitchen, play with the odd parrot or two (I live with way more odd parrots than that) and in general free my brain to work out the problem. I have a schedule that gives me about 20 to 30 minutes in the morning before I go to work, and two evenings when I can squeeze out an hour or so. The weekends are split between what must be done to keep things running, like bird cage cleaning, feeding, watering, people food shopping, events, and so on, and Sunday which is my sacred writing day as much as possible. Now and then, during breaks at work I pull out a pad and pen and start making outlines, notes, even posts for my blogs that I later transcribe. It’s all good.

3. How do you finish your project? i.e. When do you know the project is complete? Do you have a hard time letting go? Do you tend to start a new project before you finish the last one?
I give my project to others to critique and read for me. When they can’t nitpick any farther, then it goes to my live-in editor, who formats, spell-checks, nitpicks a bit further, and then it’s done. I don’t have any trouble letting go because by the time we reach the end of the process, I have read the story a thousand times at least. I do start new projects before I finish one to keep myself from getting bored, and also to keep up with various projects that keep coming along.

4. Include one challenge or additional tip that our collective communities could help with or benefit from.
My characters grow in my head, and I learn surprising things about them as time goes by. I found a great way to bring out some of those secrets and peculiarities is to interview the character. It’s fun and it helps so much to give the character free rein over the keyboard. Another great idea is to list five to ten things your character would have in their medicine cabinet, or freezer, or closet. Then put it into a sentence that starts: (Character Name) is the type of person who has (list things) in his/her (pick a location from the three choices above.)

This has been great fun! I hope more of you will want to jump in and participate in this tour. Here are the two great writers and bloggers who agreed to carry the torch from here:

Kate Whitaker writes for fun and profit from the woods of Pennsylvania. You can most likely find her sitting at her kitchen table yelling at kids and cats as she tries to figure out a new way to kill made up monsters. http://wordsthatburnlikefire.wordpress.com/ (I love the chapters she shares on Scribophile, we’re talking serious talent here!)

Ian Faraway is a silly person, and has this to say about himself: I’m not that old but not that young, though I act like my 3 year old niece on a sugar rush at times! I hope this summer I’ll have enough time to write more, and do more in the writing community! Occupation: I’ve been writing since I started writing… all in all, it’s been a very strange day! Interests: Writing, Chess, Games, that thing where you take a pen and write words on paper, learning, joking, exercising. Websites http://ianfaraway.blogspot.com/ (Ian obviously has some not-so-serious talent)

Please drop by and say hello to these talented folks, and help us spread the tour far and wide! Enjoy your week, and I’ll be back on Sunday.