The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Gone Fishing!



The Quirky Ladies are embracing summer vacation (just a tad early). We will be taking a break from the Quirky Lady blog for a while, but you can find us at these other locations....Please stop by!

Samantha Wayland

Michelle Picard

Vicki Morgan

Tara Truesdale

Dalton Diaz

Michelle Polaris

Kate Macarthur

Penny Watson


Happy Summer!
Penny

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NECRWA Conference This Weekend! Woo!



The NECRWA Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference is coming up this Friday and Saturday, April 29-30 in Salem. Our New England Chapter hosts this event every spring, and it is a wonderful conference. This year speakers include Annette Blair, Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich. The Quirky Ladies can't wait to attend. We hope to see some of you there!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fun Theory

I read a blog recently about The Fun Theory. Yes, it's an initiative of Volkswagen, which makes it suspect since any PR effort by a corporation is ultimately about making money, even if it promotes other positive outcomes. I was willing to put this aside when I heard the thrust of the idea: that "something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it's change for the better."

I am endlessly fascinated by how change occurs, so this idea caught my attention. Lasting change, I believe, most often happens incrementally and with much repetition of a change to behavior. This aruges that in order for these fun experiments to really cause lasting change, Volkswagen better keep them around for quite a while.

Below is a YouTube video of one of Volkswagen's change through fun experiments, the result of a contest for ideas to promote the concept. It's called Piano Stairs. If you visit The Fun Theory site you can see the rest of the contest winning experiments. Maybe you saw this one circulating on social media. Enjoy. And tell me what you think about this pathway to change. Do you buy it?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quirky Bit O' Fashion



Fergie wore an age-appropriate dress for the 2011 Kids' Choice Awards recently. This quirky dress is made entirely of Legos....by L.A. designer Michael Schmidt. My son would have been impressed if the whole thing was made with Bionicle pieces.

Sitting down might be a problem.

Rock on,
Penny

Monday, March 28, 2011

Golden Heart Finalist


Last Friday I got the call that changed my life. It wasn't the "I-love-your-book-and-want-to-purchase-it" but it was equally as exciting. I learned that my manuscript Changing Fortunes is a National Romance Writer's of America® Golden Heart® Finalist in the Historical Romance category. I think my neighbors heard my screams. My dog was cowering under the table. I was stunned, excited, and honored. My fellow Quirky Ladies kept telling me that this was 'the one', but sometimes it's hard to believe. With this nomination, I'm a little bit closer to believing.... :).

Changing Fortunes is the story of Garrett Sinclair, the Earl of Kendall who is a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Suffering from post-traumatic stress and survivor guilt, he has spent the last six months trying to drink himself to death. It is not until he learns of a plot to kill him, that he is surprised to discover he wishes to live.

The only person holding clues to the men plotting his murder is Lady Alexandra Langdon, who recently lost her fortune to Garrett in hand of cards. While preferring to see the murderous plot succeed and Garrett six-feet under, Alexandra reluctantly agrees to assist Garrett in identifying his assassins. If the two don't kill each other first, Garrett might survive.

Despite these obstacles threatening to tear them apart, the two are drawn together when Alexandra assists Garrett with his post-traumatic stress and Garrett begins to unravel the secrets to Alexandra's past. Defenses are lowered, hearts are opened, and they find that their life together is worth fighting for.

To read an excerpt, visit me at my author's blog.







Saturday, March 26, 2011

She's Got A Golden Ticket!


WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! The Quirky Ladies are very excited to announce that our very own Victoria Morgan has been nominated for a Golden Heart Award by the RWA!


YEEEEE HAWWWWWWW! Go, Vicki! Go, Vicki!


Hugh Jackman just stopped by to say.... "Congrats, Vicki! That is fabulous news. I'm cheering for you."

Vicki's wonderful historical, Changing Fortunes, has been nominated in the Historical Romance category. The Quirky Ladies and everyone at NECRWA is thrilled for her. Can't wait for nationals! Woo!

Happy, happy days!
Penny

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Change or Perish - A Bookie Learns to Love Technology

Last week I had the privilege to see President Bill Clinton speak at a conference I was attending in San Francisco. He is, as he has always been, a captivating speaker. His talk focused on the power of the Internet to transform lives and how our lives have changed, and will continue to change, as we move forward, and sometimes stumble forward, into a global economy driven by technology.

As I absorbed his words I thought not only of the implications in my work, but also the changes in my personal life due to technology. Just a short 7 years ago, I still had a desktop computer that would have been way too heavy to drag home every night, so when I was I done with work, I was done with work. I also only had a phone with a cord at my desk – couldn’t take that home either. My brick of a cell phone was for personal, emergency use only. Now I have a personal smart phone, a blackberry for work, an iTouch for cool apps and music, a laptop for work, a laptop for home, and a netbook for travel, not to mention I work more than ever since I’m always connected (I could write a whole other blog on that subject). I also have a Kindle, which brings me back to Bill Clinton and how I think his words relate to the ever changing publishing environment.

While in San Francisco I stopped by a Borders Bookstore that is closing soon. I was able to find some good books that would fit in my suitcase for steep discounts (always fun for a bookie), but as I was checking out, I had an interesting conversation with the clerk. Come to find out, that Borders location, perfectly located in the heart of Union Square, was once considered a flagship store when the company first expanded nationally over 20 years ago, and now it doesn’t stand a chance because of a changing marketplace and high real estate premiums.

Growing up and into my twenties, I loved going to smaller bookstores and finding that special gem of a book, but as time went on, I was more than happy to go to the one stop shopping mega-bookstores.
I know, I know, blasphemy. But hey, the big stores had coffee and music too, how could I resist? As e-books began to become popular, I told myself I could not cave. I had to remain a staunch purist. I might succumb to buying most of my books in one place, but I was still physically buying books.

Times change. Again. And Again.

Just a few years ago, e-publishers were considered fringe at best. The literary elite in New York turned their noses up at the idea – as did a lot of bookaphiles. E-publishing was a marginal way in to publishing, but most everyone still wanted a book with their name on it that they could hold in their hands and put on their bookshelves. No such much anymore.

I was a late adapter to e-books, not only as a reader, but as a would-be novelist. However, after getting the Kindle for my birthday last October, even I have to admit I enjoy getting books as quickly as I can type a few keystrokes. I also enjoy seeing so many of my friends getting their stories published, earning decent money and finding their way as authors. I would also now consider e-publishing as a means to publish my own manuscripts. Part of my transition is that I grasp that the marketplace has changed, and one must change with the marketplace, or perish. As a reader, I also like the fact that I don’t have to lug five books in my suitcase whenever I travel. I can just bring a device that can hold 1000s of books.

Bill Clinton told us that he felt that the Internet is now an inalienable right of every single person in the world given the benefits it can bring to our lives. I agree. Look what it did for college kids in Cairo, look at how quickly we can help earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan, and think of how your doctor can now look at your older medical records and compare that information with your new test results with a device they holds in their hands while they are consulting with you. Brilliant.

Technology is a powerful force for good. Yes, there is some bad too, closing bookstores and limited print runs being just the tip of the iceberg, but as Bill Clinton mentioned; it is okay if we stumble a bit, as long as we stumble forward.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Puzzle People


I am a puzzle person.
(Disclaimer: this does not include Sudoku. Sudoku=numbers, numbers=math, math=hell.)

My favorite are jigsaw puzzles, and Quirky fact I may have mentioned before, my favorite jigsaw puzzles are Thomas Kincaid. No, I do not have pictures of cottages and waterfalls in my house, and I don't plant ivy up trellises, etc. In fact, I don't plant anything. I kill plants. Even my MIL, past president of the local garden club, has given up on me there.

So, back to puzzles. There is something relaxing about sitting down and making pieces fit. Not forcing anything, not having to use a lot of brain power, just the ease of, "It goes there, therefore it always works." Can you think of anything else in life that is that clear? Certainly not writing books, though I am a pantser, puzzler there.

When I first started writing, I wasn't even a linear pantser puzzler. I literally started with a sex scene and/or the black moment and wrote scenes as they came to me. Inevitably, those first scenes never made it into the book because I didn't know the characters well enough at that point to have any real development. It worked, but there were a lot of rewrites. I still edit to death, especially those first three chapters, but I'm no longer working with multitude sticky notes, napkins, notebooks, whatever I could get my hands on when inspiration struck.

I still love that magical moment when it all comes together. It's toward the end of the puzzle, when each piece makes sense. When you can look at it and know where it goes. When you've built sections and you figure out the connection that glues them to the main picture. Whether I'm talking about intricate plot lines or cheesy jigsaw puzzles, that moment exists and it's gratifying. Any puzzler worth their salt knows what I mean.

My puzzle awaits...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quirky Stuff about Kate George and Bree MacGowan



The Quirky Ladies are thrilled to have author Kate George visiting with us today. Welcome, Kate! She is a fellow member of the NECRWA, the conference chair for this year's exciting conference happening in Salem, MA (hope to see all of you there!), and a wonderful, humorous and quirky author. Her first book, Moonlighting In Vermont, was a fun, sexy adventure in Vermont (my favorite state in the USA), and I loved it. (See Penelope's review here). I haven't had a chance to read California Schemin' yet...can't wait. Kate has been gracious enough to share some quirky traits with us....her own, and of course some from Bree, the heroine of her new book. Take it away, Kate!




Five Quirky Things about Author Kate George.....

1) I’ve had something like fifteen or more different careers. Among them are answering service operator, motorcycle safety instructor, actress, assistant to the dive officer on Catalina Island, and foreclosure officer (that one was awful).

2) I come from a musical family. Sometimes when someone is talking my mother and I would break out into the same song at the same moment. For example, if you were to say “That happened yesterday,” we might start singing “Yesterday” by the Beatles. I still do this even though my mother passed on several years back. My daughters are afraid that one day they will start to sing with me. The boys figure they are immune.

3) I can quote lines from Megamind. “It can be reheated in the microwave of evil…” and “I’m not sure what to do with that.” Or how about “Oooh! I’m shaking in my custom baby seal leather boots.”

4) In my mind’s eye I’m still a twenty-something young woman with a wicked sense of humor – not a stodgy old woman – which is what I see when I look in the mirror. Is it possible to be a young of mind stodgy looking old woman with a great sense of humor?

5) I prefer not to read serious books or watch serious movies. I love humor. I get addicted to books and movies that make me laugh. Among my favorites are The Thin Blue Line, (English Comedy), Welcome to Temptation (Romance by Jennifer Crusie) and… heck. I can’t think of any more. I know there are more. That’s another quirky thing about me - I lose things in my head. Words, movies, how to cook noodles. You name it, I’ve forgotten it.

Five Quirky things about Bree MacGowan......

1) Bree can’t resist rescuing dogs. She makes an effort to find them homes, but if she can’t find one in a week or so she becomes too attached to give them away. In the same vein, Bree would rather make friends with a skunk and figure out how to keep it from spraying her dogs than to kill it.

2) Bree doesn’t realize that just because she thinks she in control of a situation that doesn’t mean she is. In other words, the skunk is still is only cooperating because it wants to.

3) While Bree doesn’t mind snakes in the out of doors, she’s not over fond of finding dead ones on her pillow. Still a dead snake on your pillow is better than a live skunk. Who let that animal in the house?

4) Bree’s not sure why she goes through men faster than chocolate. She doesn’t realize that while the boyfriends she had are mostly nice, it’s going to take a guy with balls of steel and an exceptional sense of humor to keep up with her.

5) Bree reads Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Bree secretly wished she could be a bounty hunter and date Ranger and Morelli. Author Kate George secretly wishes that too.


*****

Thanks, Kate, for the fun lists! I love your quirky jobs....my weirdest job was analyzing Bowhead whale songs at a research station. I got to listen to whale songs all day long!

Any visitors have quirky jobs they'd like to share with us? Let us know! Best of luck to Kate with her new release.


Award winning author, Kate George, originally hails from Northern California, where she was raised on a ranch alongside two brothers, feral cats, cattle and at least one mountain lion. After working in a variety of occupations from actress to motorcycle safety instructor she earned a degree in anthropology from UC Davis before deciding to return to writing. She now lives in Vermont with her dogs, kids, husband and currently several feet of snow. You can reach her at www.kategeorge.com. Her latest release is California Schemin’ available at http://mainlymurderpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=52, http://www.amazon.com/California-Schemin-Kate-George/dp/0982795246/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299175652&sr=8-5 and can be ordered from any bookstore.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Writerly Life Lessons From A Mad Professor Chef



Any Top Chef fans out there? My husband and I only watch 2 shows on TV....Project Runway and Top Chef. Both of these shows are appealing to me because of the creativity factor. It's amazing to watch fashion designers take burlap sacks and create gorgeous and innovative clothes. Likewise, it's totally inspirational to see master chefs produce wonderful meals using.... stuff from vending machines, kiddie-friendly fare, and fish they catch themselves. I love seeing creativity in action.

Which brings me to the finale of Top Chef, and my light-bulb epiphany last night. There are 5 contestants left in this Top Chef season, and one of them is Richard Blais. (Let's call him Richie, shall we?) Anyway, he is the mad professor of the bunch. He loves liquid nitrogen, he loves thinking outside of the box. He's part chemist, part chef, part scowling, self-doubting faux-mohawk dude.

Last night he made the fatal error that may break him. He stopped focusing on the food, and focused only on the win. The competition. He wants to redeem himself and his past failure. He wants to out-think his colleagues. It's all about "the game." And that, my friends, may be the kiss of death for Richie. Because it has to be about the food.

I've been struggling with my WIP, Lumberjack In Love. (Yes, it's about a lumberjack in love. I'm not great with titles.) It was feeling flat and I didn't know why. Instead of brainstorming about the story and the characters, I've been thinking about where to publish it. Self-pub? E-book? Try for a larger pub? Print? I haven't been letting my brain do its typical stream of consciousness thing. Where scenes and dialogue and romantic moments pop into my head. I've been too consumed with the endpoint, the game, the competition, the win, and not focusing on the creative aspect of writing.

As soon as I decided to forget about the game, I figured out how to fix the story. (Suffice it to say, it has something to do with a humorous POV and an English bulldog. But I digress). Anyhow, I owe it all to Richie. Maybe I'll dedicate Lumberjack in Love to him. He made me realize it has to be about the writing, not the win.

Because the writing is the win.