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!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Is Coming....


It's that special time of year....Christmas carols playing on the radio, sipping gingerbread lattes as you shop like a maniac, and doing tons of promo for your holiday Christmas story. (Okay, not everyone is probably doing that last part). But I still am!

Today I will be visiting Book Chick City for her cool "Where Stories Are Made" feature. There are photos of my work space and a discussion of my writing habits. Please stop by to check it out.

I hope everyone is having a merry season!
Penny

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's December!



The Quirky Ladies are taking an early holiday vacation. We're busy drinking peppermint martinis, planning festive family get-togethers, and watching "Elf" for the 10 thousandth time. I'm excited to post my new book cover for Sweet Magik, #2 of the Klaus Brothers Series, published by The Wild Rose Press. It will be out next year (2011). Sweet Inspiration, #1 of the series, is still available (at Amazon, Fictionwise, TWRP, etc) and is currently being read by a group at Goodreads for their holiday reading challenge. So cool! I also posted a free quickie teaser for Sweet Adventure (#3 of the series) on my website. Stop by to check it out.

I've developed an obsession with holiday romances this year. My favorite so far is Robyn Carr's A Virgin River Christmas. Check out my reviews at Penelope's Romance Reviews.

Hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season!
Penny

Merry Christmas from the Klaus Family!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Happy Ending is Worth its Weight in Gold


When asked why I write romance novels, I always give the same answer - there are not enough happy endings in the world. And I mean it. Call me a Pollyanna. I like my rose-colored glasses. That’s not to say I don’t live in reality, I can assure you that I do, but when I want to relax and unwind, I want to read or watch a good love story. I want the same thing when I write. “Once upon a time” is one of my favorite phrases in fiction, right up there with “And they lived happily ever after”.

I want to experience the hero and heroine falling in love, going through all the relationship firsts, and struggling to be together against all odds (the more substantial the odds the better). I want to know that no matter what their love will conquer all. They will triumph in the end. They will get their reward and so will I as a faithful reader. Or when I’m writing, I can get the same thrill my characters do when my hero and heroine achieve their Happily Ever After (HEA).

With hard economic times, lots of pessimism out there, too much stress and too much work, who needs a book or a movie where the hero or heroine dies, someone gets maimed or the villain wins in the end.

Screw that.

I want to smile, to laugh, to cry “good” tears. I want that “damn, that was good” feeling ala Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone. I refuse to read a wall-banger because “everyone else is reading it” or wish I had watched the news instead of the latest film meant to make me “think.” After a hard day at work with only a few moments to manage my personal life each day, do I really want to use my limited free time to get depressed at how harsh life can be? I would rather eat a bucket full of broken glass, thank you very much.

That being said, I like it best when our favorite characters earn their happy ending. Characters that are flawed, get a few bumps along the way, and have to wrestle some internal as well as external demons along the way.

A heroine does not have to be pure as the driven snow when she meets our hero, but she does have to worthy of falling in love with, worth the struggle he must endure to win her heart, not to mention to overcome the obstacles in their path. She must be strong, smart and courageous in her own right, helping the hero (even if begrudgingly at times) at every turn throughout the course of the story. Dim bulbs need not apply.

The hero can be a jerk on his way to redemption, but he can’t be a heel forever. Wounded alpha-males trying to prove they don’t need anyone only to find out they most certainly do are among my favorites, but so are the Everyman beta-types finding their true calling on the way to saving the world, who also can’t believe they finally found the one girl who "gets" them.

With all the ups and downs in life, a good love story can give us all some comfort – a proverbial port in the storm. So, as we hunker down for winter and the days are bleak outside in New England, remember a happily ever after has the power to chase your troubles away – if only for a day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

Our haunted house was a success this year. How do I know this? We made two kids cry, and one who wouldn't even go up onto the porch.

I don't know why. I mean, here's the approach. This isn't all of it, just one view. There was stuff to the right, strobe lights w/silhouettes in the windows, and the creepy eyes in the bushes were on an off cycle when I took this pic. Looked amazing from the end of the driveway.




We did end up moving the pumpkins to the stairs, which was much better.








This was my fave guy, but I can't take credit for him. You can make it, too, by clicking here and getting this guy's books. Freakin' amazing. Getting a pumpkin with growths was my idea, but one I won't do again. They are hard as a rock - took DH's jigsaw to carve him!





There were lots of teenagers here to help. Two were at the end of the driveway daring people to come down. Three were under the porch with a fog machine and noise making devices. Three more were up on the porch to the left, at the end of the gamut, tho it was hard to tell what was real and what was stuffed until they jumped out at you. DH monster was on the right with his mic, scaring the kids as always. There were all sorts of gimicks like blood splats, dropping spiders, lots of cobwebs, etc. The real star this year, tho, was one of our kids. He was at the end of the line, just when they think it's safe to stick their hand in the candy...

Picture this without the camera flash. It was really hard to tell if he was real or not.

Ignore the little candies. We used them to cover him up better. You can see a couple of the big Crunch Bars and we had Butterfingers and some other big bar, but I keep forgetting the name. It has coconut in it, so in my book, it's not worth remembering! I had 120 big bars, but we did end up putting out the giant bags of mixed candies, too, and had very little left. We couldn't possibly have had that many trick or treaters, so I'm thinking the 8 teenagers dug in. They earned it.





The happy couple. Again, camera flash kinda takes the scary out even with the soft flash on, but you get the gist. Til next year...

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jersey-licious


Going to conferences can be good (meeting your favorite authors, schmoozing with friends, working out problems with your WIP while day-dreaming in a workshop) and bad (feeling like the biggest loser on the face of the earth because you don't have enough conflict in your story, getting a hang-over from hell after too many mango martinis, deciding your WIP is the biggest piece of crap in the New England area after attending too many workshops).

I just got back from the NJRWA writer's conference and I am pleased to announce it was a positive experience! Uplifting! Fun! There were no hang-overs, no second guessing of manuscripts, and I even got to meet Anne Stuart in the elevator.

All in all, a great experience.

Here, in no particular order, are observations and high points/low points.....
  • Robyn Carr gives a great workshop (ensemble casts) and a great speech. Classy lady.
  • Kiwi-tinis are delicious.
  • Sharon Sala is hilarious....I love her barking out quotes like this in her Southern accent...."Dish out bad stuff, and it will bite you in the ass!" and "Ignore the bitches who will take you down." Note to self: Don't piss off Sharon Sala.
  • Even though the publishing industry is in flux, I am not worried or suffering from an anxiety disorder. Everything will be OK. (repeat three times while sipping herbal tea).
  • Not everyone gives out great advice. Serving cupcakes at a book signing to promote your book on release day is missing the point. Cupcakes? Cupcakes!!!!!!!! Gah!!!!! (Deep, cleansing breaths......)
  • I get irked if the DJ doesn't play Britney Spears songs. Come on, Buddy!
  • Hannah Howell has really cool sneakers.
  • Robyn Carr was stymied by my "What's Quirky About Robyn Carr" question....she has to think about it.
  • Best part of the weekend...Heather et al doing their Nora Roberts' impression. In a deep, smoker's voice, Heather barked out "It's a job!" I can totally see a hilarious SNL skit happening with that material.....

I'm already looking forward to the New England Chapter's spring conference in Salem. Can't wait! Should be Salem-icious!

All my best,
Penny



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quirkies Welcome Lena Goldfinch!

Today I'd like to welcome the wonderful Lena Goldfinch to our blog. We're celebrating her new release, The Language of Souls, with a quirky author interview. So howdy Lena. I have to tell you that your cover is gorgeous beyond belief. I'm envious. Now, having gotten that out of my system, on to the interview.



Michelle: Let's get going. Lena, could you please take a moment to tell us a bit about yourself and your book.



Lena: Hi, Michelle, thanks for having me here! I started out writing historical inspirational romance, which I still love, but these days I write mostly romantic fantasy, both for adults and young adults.



My first book, The Language of Souls, is being released TODAY, which is kind of surreal, but very exciting. Here's a quick summary: In this short-but-sweet fantasy novella, a healer accused of being a spy and the soldier who captures her find love despite their lack of a common language.



M: That's a great sound bite of an idea. I'm already excited. Tell us, where do you get your story or character ideas? What are your inspirations, either in general or for this release in particular?



L: I love language, the sounds of words playing off one another and the subtle rhythm of sentences coming together to form a story. Very geeky, yes? In general, I also love a good romance and the more deeply romantic the story the better! (Why do I hear the priest in The Princess Bride uttering those immortal words: "Wuv, twue wuv?" LOL)



Although The Language of Souls is a quick read at only 76 pages, it's a story I've worked on for many years. It kept calling to me and I'd pull it out again and tinker with it. It all started with the voice of an old ailing prophet, facing his imminent death and worrying what will happen to his adopted granddaughter when he's gone. That much has remained the same.



What continued to drive and inspire me was the premise: how could two people fall in love without words? That fascinated me and also presented a wonderful challenge as a writer (how in the world do you keep a story going when you don't have dialogue as a ready tool?). So I took it and ran with it, exploring how two people from disparate cultures, having no common language, might find themselves falling in love, through action and not words.



It was more than just a premise though, because Solena and Rundan became very real to me. Solena, a healer with a genuine desire to save her beloved grandfather. Rundan, a conflicted soldier, who strives fruitlessly to please his military father, though he'd rather spend his time pouring over an ancient text.



Even with those elements inspiring me, the story just wouldn't...quite...come...together. Then one day I read an article about speculative fiction. The author talked about turning one aspect of our world on its head and asking what if? For me that question was: what if our soul was a physical, tangible thing we carried around with us, maybe as embers in a small molten jar? With that, the concept of the votif was born and I finally had my story.



M: Wow, I'm completely hooked. This sounds like an amazing project. So given the excitement of a first release, what has been the most difficult part of your writing journey?



L: Pursuing publication at times feels like it's a marathon in which all you do is collect rejection letters! The discouragement can wear on a girl after a while and erode the will to continue. You have to look much deeper for that something that drives you, that spark of passion that just won't go out, no matter what's thrown at you.



M: You obviously found that spark, because here you are. What has been the biggest blessing of your journey to publication?



L: My writer friends, hands down. Critique partners, best buds, fellow chapter members, conference friends...I can't tell you how much it means to have friends who stick with you through the years and offer encouragement. Much of the time, writing is a solitary, all-consuming activity, and it's easy to feel alone. You're the only person who is ever been stuck in the Dreaded Middle, or gotten a stinging contest comment, or received a particularly disappointing rejection. Just knowing someone else is in it with you, who likes you and believes in your writing, can keep you going another day!



M: Wise words. And so true. I can't tell you how the people in my writing life made my journey so much more fulfilling. So, what's your next project after The Language of Souls? Anything in the works?



L: I'm currently working on a young adult fantasy novel that is trying to kill me. If you don't hear from me in a couple of months or so, you'll know it succeeded.



M: LOL! I'll keep on the lookout for you and call the appropriate authorities if you're MIA. To switch tracks, can you tell us what is your favorite snack to munch on while writing?



L: An apple, cut up and mixed with walnuts. Oh, and a tall Arizona Iced Tea, Arnold Palmer Half & Half Lite.



M: Way too healthy, dear. But what is your biggest guilty pleasure?



L: Leftover Halloween candy. (But don't tell my kids. ;))



M: The witchy season is approaching quickly, so you're in luck. Or maybe out of luck. We're reaching the end of our time today, but I want to ask where you see yourself in five years in your writing career?



L: Still writing romantic fantasy! But I wouldn't rule out returning to my historical romance roots too.



M: It's a wonderful feeling knowing that no doors are closed to us as writers. Finally, because we're the Quirky Ladies, please tell us something quirky about yourself people may not know.



L: Uh... Quirky? Me? I don't think any one's ever called me that. My stories are much more quirky than I am. LOL.



Case in point, once upon a time, I married my first (and only!) boyfriend and we now have two kids & a spoiled black lab, own the requisite silver minivan, and live in a quaint small town about an hour northwest of Boston. (Could I be more vanilla? LOL) I haven't always lived in New England, though. I grew up as a Navy brat who moved all over the place and, though I never lived overseas, I developed a deep appreciation and interest in other cultures and languages, which slips into my writing. As part of a campaign to "get moving" (writing involves way too much sitting!), I recently started taking Tai Chi, which is as beautiful as it looks, but more challenging than I ever expected.



M: As far as I'm concerned you've gotten quirky covered, Lena. I'm envious of the Tai Chi. I always meant to try that practice. But thank you so much for joining us today. It was a special treat. And I want to urge everyone to go check out Lena's book, The Language of Souls, and check her out at all of her links. Thanks again. And good luck on release day. Yay!!!!!



Links: website
book excerpt
facebook
twitter

Monday, October 11, 2010

Changing Perspectivies


My art teacher is on sabbatical until February, and I've joined a new class. It was listed as intermediate-advanced watercolor. Well, it turns out most of the people in the class are advanced with a capital 'A'. We critique students paintings at the beginning of class and my only comments are 'sign it, frame it, sell it.' One of my classmates also teaches watercolor and others have taken from this instructor for years. They whip off these beautiful masterpieces within minutes. It is as inspiring, as it is intimidating.

I'm not a beginner painter, but I have so much to learn to catch up to them. I'm still struggling with learning to mix color correctly, the amount of water to use, brush strokes, and various techniques to employ to make a painting come alive and sing. I want to learn, love the process, but this class has been hard for me. I feel like I'm wading in the shallow end of the pool, while they are doing flips in the deep end.

Frankly, I wanted to quit. Then one class, instead of tackling a whole painting, I took the techniques demonstrated in class and applied them to smaller pieces. We were working on a huge still life arrangement featuring pumpkins. I couldn't finish painting the whole set up, and my pumpkins looked like oranges (that's being generous). Discouraged at being unable to complete my painting and at my citrus pumpkins, I came home and dove into painting just pumpkins, lots and lots of pumpkins. My teenage son finally groused, 'I don't mind the paintings all over, but please don't ask me what I think of your pumpkins again.' Okay, so I got carried away, not to mention missed the whole double entendres so intent was I on getting it right.

I brought a couple of my pumpkin studies into class and my art teacher really liked them. He said he thought I had pumpkins down and demonstrated good use of watercolor technique (see above picture). I was thrilled. I felt like I had succeeded.

It made me realize that sometimes in order to grow and challenge ourselves, we can start small and work our way up to the more difficult. We shouldn't always focus on the complete picture, but perhaps tackling a piece of it. More importantly, we need to work at our own pace and at our own level. Mastering creativity is not a competition unless made into one.

It is the same with writing. If you can't finish 10,000 words/day on your WIP, maybe try 5,000. If you can't churn anything out that day and suffer writer's block, work on revising a scene that isn't clicking or try plotting. So you're not published, there is still incredible accomplishment to be derived from typing 'the end' when you arrive there -- published or not.

So, instead of becoming intimidated when something appears beyond my grasp, I'm going to take smaller steps, enjoy the walk, and arrive at my destination in my own sweet time -- but I won't quit. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. No guts, no glory.

Next week, we turn to landscapes in my art class. Perhaps I'll concentrate on trees....

Happy October!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rock this Vote

It is my civic duty to vote.

That said, if I get one more bleepin' phone call in the middle of dinner, I'm going to buy one of those horns and blow the person's ears out. Which, of course, will get me nowhere since most of the calls are automated.

In the beginning, I was kind. I understood the need to interrupt my family time with their phone calls, my personal time with their TV ads, and the environment with their postcards. In the middle of the blitz, I tried to have a sense of humor. (Yes, I was messing with the live volunteer when I said in my best Stepford Wife tone that I didn't know who I was going to vote for because my husband hadn't told me yet, and excuse me, but I have to get his dinner on the table.) During the Senate race, the joking became a family affair. We brought the phone to the dinner table and ran a pool for how many calls we'd get, and would the famous retired Red Sox pitcher call that night?

It got old pretty darn fast, though. Go ahead, call me once. DO NOT call me once a day, sometimes more.

My sense of humor about this is now long gone, and that's not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is, I wasn't even interested in voting during the most recent round. I didn't want any of the players in office, representing me at any level, especially the guy who had his mother on an automated message. His mother? Seriously?

So here's my plea to politician's everywhere: Stop wasting donations by showing those vicious ads at every commercial break. All of the non-stop backstabbing on TV, the daily mailbox full of postcards, and the constant phone interruptions has to stop. All it is doing is pissing your constituents off, and ultimately LOSING their vote.

I can't be alone here. Am I only speaking for myself?

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog


It’s my turn to blog again – lions and tigers and bears, oh my! What to write about? You would think as a “writer” pithy words would flow from my mind to my fingers and onto the computer screen effortlessly.

Sometimes that actually does happen, sometimes not so much. So…this blog is not going to be about writing, it’s just going to be.

I’ve decided like Nina that I need to “get off the treadmill” of my own making and not stress unless absolutely necessary. What a novel concept, especially for women, right? If it’s not in my circle of influence, it’s not my problem. I don’t need to fix everything or save the world every day – I just need to find balance, and focus on the things that make me feel good deep in my soul.

I also need to turn my mind off, or at least tell it to shut up for a while, so my heart can push me forward to where I need to go. I’m a thinker – 24/7 – and my mind needs to go on vacation so my heart (or my instincts depending on what you believe) can run the show for a while. Intuition is a powerful tool and right now it’s telling me to share some of my favorite quotes with you and call it a blog, so I can get back to some much needed soul-searching. LOL!

In all seriousness, I hope you enjoy the quotes and are doing what you need to do right now to find balance in your life. Your soul will thank you.

  1. Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success - Swami Sivananda
  2. True love does not come by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly - Jason Jordan
  3. Don't be discouraged. It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock - Author Unknown
  4. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams - Eleanor Roosevelt
  5. Just when the caterpiller thought the world was over, it became a butterfly - Proverb
  6. When you are going through hell, keep going - Sir Winston Churchill
  7. Rainbows are just to look at, not to really understand - Unknown
  8. Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth - Mark Twain
  9. It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary - Paulo Coelho
  10. May the force be with you - Star Wars

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stepping Off The Treadmill


Once upon a time, I decided to write a book.

I didn't know about agents or editors or POV changes or central conflict, I'd never heard of RWA or blog tours or royalty checks. I just had an idea in my head and I thought I would try to write something.

So, I did. I wrote three chapters of a werewolf romance story and I showed it to my college roommates who were visiting for a "girls' weekend." Well, they loved it. They asked me what my "goal" was. I was stymied. I was supposed to have a goal? My goal was to write a story, and I wanted someone to read it. You need to get this published, they told me.

And thus began my path to publication. I joined the NECRWA, I honed my writing skills with The Quirky Ladies. I entered contests. I finaled in contests. I won some contests. I bagged my werewolf story and started a new story. I finished that story. I sent queries to tons of agents and editors and publishers about that story. And finally, after months of rejections, I got an email that said....I love your story.

But I was soon to discover that getting a book contract was not the end of this path, it was just the beginning. Soon, I had edits and galleys and blog tours and reviews. I had a sequel to write. I had a deadline.

I missed the deadline. But I kept writing. And finally, months later, I finished my second novel. I submitted it to my editor and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

One week later I almost died.

Literally, I almost died.

I had a massive heart attack and had a stent put into my heart.

Suddenly, all of my old "goals" didn't seem so important anymore. Staying alive seemed pretty freaking important. Sitting in a chair for ten hours a day and writing was not conducive to me staying alive. I needed to stay active, exercise frequently, jet my sedentary lifestyle, and most importantly, decrease my stress.

My good friend Vicki, a Quirky, a writer, a mother and wife and artist and traveller and all-around well-balanced and awesome person said she wasn't interested in getting on "the treadmill." She observed that many folks are on a "treadmill of their own making"--and pretty much driving themselves nuts. (Yes, I noticed that Vicki is a very wise person).

I also noticed that Vicki works sometimes, and writes sometimes, and paints sometimes, and goes on camping trips sometimes, and enjoys martinis with her friends sometimes. She doesn't set stressful goals in her life that squash the joy out of her hobbies, and she keeps her priorities straight. This is not a simple task for many people, but it is an important task and one reason that I admire Vicki so much. She has rejected the treadmill and embraced her life, full of friends and family and multiple hobbies and moments of joy.

Which brings me back full circle to why I write. I don't need an agent or a multi-book contract or a bestseller list or a huge royalty check. I just want to write a story and have someone read it.

Simple.

So, I'm back to writing a couple of hours a day. Pantsing the hell out of a cool idea I've had for a while. Don't care if I finish it this year or in ten years. I go for a walk before I write. Then, I go for another walk after I write. Then, I putter around the garden, play with the dog, chat with my neighbors, bike around the block with my kids, and cook dinner with my husband.

And hopefully someday soon, I'll be enjoying a martini with Vicki and the Quirky Ladies. (Or maybe a glass of heart healthy red wine!)

I am making a choice.

I am stepping off the treadmill....


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quirky End of Summer Update


Hello everyone! Time for a Quirky Update....

Michelle Picard is launching a blog tour to promote Surviving Eden starting later in September so is busy typing the interviews and blog snippets to shout out her release news.

Dalton Diaz is hard at work on her second book for the Cougar Challenge series for Ellora's Cave. Once that is done, it's on to another collaboration with Samantha Cayto for the long-awaited sequel to Illegal Moves, and at the same time another collaboration with the one and only Ashlyn Chase.

In between, Dalton will try to find the time to eat and sleep!

Tara Truesdale has been busy brainstorming her crazy idea for a sci-fi/fantasy series focused on an ancient prophecy about a chosen one destined to save the world while working on a homespun, World War II women’s fiction family saga. Yes, it’s true – writers are one gene away from schizophrenia. Tara has also been busy on NEC RWA activities since taking over as president in July. Go NEC RWA!!! With summer nearly over, she is looking forward to getting her butt in her writing chair on a regular basis for the rest of 2010!!!

Victoria was thrilled to recently finish her current WIP, a single title historical set during the Crimean War. Woo hoo! Nothing is more rewarding or exciting than typing those last sentences or THE END. Definitely martini-celebratory worthy. Finishing that project, she is enjoying a brief hiatus from writing (being a lazy bum before the crazy school year starts). During her bum status, she is mulling over the idea of dragging an old contemporary novel out from under her bed to revamp it. The story and characters are still old favorites, and time away from a work often brings new insight as to why it was shoved under the bed in the first place or ideas about how it can be fixed. (I think/hope). We shall see come September. Otherwise, I'll sit down and start typing something new. Maybe I'll even try plotting one this time..... Nah, not gonna happen.

Michelle Polaris is hard at work at a novella tentatively called Fettered Love. She has one big scene left to write. If all goes well, it may be part of a new Ellora's Cave series launching this Fall.

Samantha is just putting the finishing touches on Destiny, Patrick & Brandon's story and hopes to have it off to her editor in the next month or so. Then she's going to dig into some edits on the Hockey Trilogy so that those, too, can be shipped off. Then, she won't even know what to do with herself, since these projects have been looming for a good long time! Nothing like being at loose ends to get the creative juices flowing.

Finally, my own update (Penny Watson): My editor at Wild Rose Press loved Sweet Magik, and we are commencing edits. I am also excited to start my botanical paranormal story called L'Araldo di Primavera...should be sexy, short and sweet.

Hope all of you had a wonderful summer!
Penny and all the Quirks


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lyrics Challenge - A Love Story Encapsulated

Songs inspire my writing, my muse jumping up and down yelling, here's your damn story, pay attention, capture the feeling of this one and you're all set. I've written about this before. I'm almost obsessed by this process. So today I thought I'd challenge blog readers to post the lyrics to a song that encapsulates for them an entire love story. The one that recently hit the mark for me was "Glitter In The Air" by Pink. The song is the yearning moment of the heroine on the cusp of...

You decide.


Here are the lyrics to Pink's song, Glitter In The Air:


Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?

Closed your eyes and trusted, just trusted?

Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, "I just don't care?"

It's only half past the point of no return

The tip of the iceberg

The sun before the burn

The thunder before the lightning

The breath before the phrase

Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?

You're whole life waiting on the ring to prove you're not alone

Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry?

Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?

It's only half past the point of oblivion

The hourglass on the table

The walk before the run

The breath before the kiss

And the fear before the flames

Have you ever felt this way?

la la la la la la la la

There you are, sitting in the garden

Clutching my coffee,

Calling me sugar

You called me sugar

Have you ever wished for an endless night?

Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight?

Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself will it ever get better than tonight?

Tonight


Of course it's better with the music, but this did it for me recently. Created the yearning. So which song would you choose for the lyrics in particular? The one that seems to have an entire story inside of it just waiting for a romance writer to unfold beyond a few stanza's? Please tell.

Michelle

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back in the Saddle



This week was supposed to be another hum-drum week. I guess you never know when you're going to have the epiphany, that moment where you realize your priorities have been off and you can and will readjust them. You can't predict what you'll have that perfect instance of clarity as you look at the insufferable ass you're forced to work with and think, "I could be writing a romance novel and not dealing with YOU".

But I digress.

To back up a little, I should mention that the last few months have been extremely challenging for me. Aside from a boatload of stress at work (which I will get to in a moment), I've had to move twice, had some health issues in my family and generally just had a couple months where I was sure Murphy and his damn law were targeting me with a vengeance.

Now, I'm not really complaining (though, I guess it looks like I am) since I'm just about out the other side. Heck, I have a nice new place to live, I still have my job and all are healthy and well. But in the meantime, I have had to put my writing on hold. I literally have not sat down at the computer for more than 4 months. And as all of you fellow writers out there know, this has been, at times, extremely painful. Like I was trying to snuff out some part of my soul. But there just wasn't TIME to do it and my priorities were (rightly) elsewhere in the short term.

Then Monday happened.

I work with this guy. Let's call him ... Cozmo. To help you understand who this guy is, try to imagine the rowdiest frat boy you ever knew, only it's 20 years and 50 pounds later. He drives a Porsche he can barely fit into, he has a bulging vein in his forehead if you so much as look at him funny, and he hasn't seen his ... er ... belt buckle over the horizon of his own belly since 1992. Got an idea forming in your mind? Now add in that he once told me a story about how he gave his mother crabs (no, I'm really not kidding) and that he thinks he's God's gift to women - and that women are God's gift to him. Now do you have an image of the kind of man I'm talking about?

Needless to say, I just love working with this guy. And on Monday, all that "love" came to a head, with him deciding to take over my meeting and announce to all present that I wasn't "in a position to do what I was doing" and that it wasn't my "place to decide these things any longer".


Say WHAT!? Now, bear in mind, this guy isn't my boss. Got that? Not. My. Boss. In other words, without the authority to determine any of the above and, in fact, had no idea what he was talking about. Not that this made the moment any less humiliating.


And for that, I thank him.


No really, I THANK him. Maybe I won't actually tell him how grateful I am, as that might take away from the royal SPANKING he got from my boss, who flipped his lid at this a**hole's antics, but in the end, Cozmo did me a big favor. Because as I sat there, quietly fuming and wishing I could hurl myself over the table and wring his disgusting neck, it made me stop and really think about this crazy job and why I do it. Simple: The Paycheck. Then it made me think about what I might be doing instead.

Writing.

And suddenly, I just didn't give a crap about Cozmo. I mean, sure, I went to my boss and stood up for myself, I went to the participants of the meeting and apologized for the intensely awkward moment (they all were very sympathetic and thought Cozmo a monster: bonus!), and sure I'm going to keep on the corporate climb for as long as I have to. But when the jerks, the sexist pigs, the looney-tunes and the totally incompetent HR department start to get me down, I always have my lunch break and an office with a door.

Sweet bliss. Writing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reality Check


I'll admit it; I write fantasy because sometimes reality tends to suck. Sometimes it all piles up at once, and there's nothing you can do but get through it because you know it doesn't ALWAYS suck, it just does right now.
You know what gets me through? The Serenity Prayer. No, I'm not going religous on you, but that is my post for the week. It can be used by the minute, hour, day, whenever you feel the need. Try it. If things already suck, what have you got to lose?

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference

Monday, June 28, 2010

Make Your Own Kind of Music


A few years ago, almost by accident, I learned that listening to music while I write can spark tremendous creativity and inspire me to write words I didn’t even know I had in me. I was working on a new manuscript at the time and couldn't get past the first five chapters. I wasn’t even stuck in the middle; I was mired in the quicksand of a good idea that wasn’t turning out so hot on the page.

I was, however, determined not to give up on yet another almost manuscript. I decided to dig in, to stubbornly press on, and of course not much happened. Then I moved, and we all know how much writing usually gets done when a major life event occurs.

But, the move ended up providing me with a fresh start for my writing in a most unexpected way. I found the CDs for a music course I took in college again and feeling nostalgic I listened to the CDs. The CDs were filled with many of the classics, Mozart, Copeland, Smentana, Lidzt, and Brahms, to name just a few.

The music was powerful, emotional, compelling. It moved me, so I listened to it again and again, and then, almost like magic, the music and my characters began to fuse together and I finally I knew how to fix my story.

Life is tremendously busy these days and finding ways to write can be difficult. I’ve been trying to do at least an hour a day, no worries that the words are far from perfect, just as long as they reach the page. To keep me focused and motivated, I’ve been listening to tons of music while I write and I’m thankful to report the magic is still along for the ride.

For me, I think music gets all the parts I need to write (my head and my heart) headed in the same direction. Music is like a force of nature unto itself – it can move you physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The word music finds its origins in the Greek word for muse, so I suppose it is no surprise it can be such an effective tool while writing.

I tend to stick to movie soundtracks, think Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, LOST (composer Michael Giacchino is a musical gem I would recommend to anyone), and Pride and Prejudice (2008), among many others, but depending on what I’m writing, more contemporary music can help to spark my imagination as well (thank you Coldplay, U2, Lifehouse, Sarah MacLachan, The Killers, and anything from the 60s and 70s).

Hey, it’s good to be eclectic.

I’m not one to give advice, but I hope if you ever get stuck with your writing, or if you never get stuck, but want to enhance your creativity, listen, really listen, to the music.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cover Wars


There's a discussion going on right now at the Amazon Romance Community about how irksome it is when the cover of a book does not reflect the actual story itself. Some examples....the hero is actually terribly disfigured and he looks like Brad Pitt on the cover, the hero and heroine are Caucasian but there are African-American models on the cover, the heroine is a petite blond pixie-like woman and there is a tall brunette Amazonian model on the cover....etc, etc, etc. Other potential cover issues: they are tacky, poorly executed, embarrassing for readers to show in public, creepy, etc. I have seen readers give books a lower rating at Goodreads, Amazon, etc because THEY DIDN'T LIKE THE COVER!!!!! Jiminy H. Cricket! Which brings me to the reason for this post....as much as authors say, "I'm going to ignore my hideous cover and just know that my writing is good and can stand for itself"-- the truth is....a book is the sum total of all of its parts and that includes the cover.

I see absolutely no reason whatsoever why authors should not be pushing for cover control in their contracts. Why not? Why does the publisher have the ultimate decision about covers? Why can we not have some input, work with the cover artists and make sure the artwork is accurate? Why can't this be a team effort instead of the authors being forced to accept whatever the publisher decides? "This is how it's always been done" is not an acceptable response to this question. So what? The publishing world is in the midst of a huge adaptation due to the advent of ebooks. It is possible for "The Publishing World" to grow and change and adapt...it's a necessity in order to survive in this new technologically changing world. I think authors need to step back and think outside of the box. Just because we have never had input re:covers in the past, does not mean this is something crazy or unattainable. I think discussions should be initiated with agents and publishers, and authors should be included in the "total package"---for goodness sake, that's our book. That's our name on the cover. Allowing us to be included in the final product makes a whole hell of a lot of sense to me.

But maybe I'm just crazy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Release Day for Magician's Chains

I'm awfuly excited. Magician's Chains, my new erotic romance title from Ellora's Cave, released today. I posted the cover at my blog: www.michellepolarisblog.wordpress.com if you'd like to take a look. This is my first fantasy erotic romance in comparison to Bound Odyssey which was a futuristic. The hardest part was making sure I did justice to the fantasy worldbuilding despite setting the story almost exclusively in modern day Las Vegas. No respectable fantasy author can create a world without understanding how the magic works there and their particular flavor of fantasy creatures. In my case it's the Fae for which I had to find my own spin. I hope you enjoy.

I'm chatting at the Whipped Cream yahoo group loop today if you want to join in. I was interviewed at their site yesterday. If you want to take a look it's still up.

My website has the blurb for the story at www.michellepolaris.com. You can also take a peek at an excerpt from the first chapter if you visit the Ellora's Cave listing for the book.

Hope everyone can take a look.
Happy Wednesday,
Michelle

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview with Samantha Wayland


The Quirky Ladies are excited to interview our own fellow Quirk, Samantha Wayland. Samantha's first novel, WITH GRACE, is due to be released this Friday, June 4th by Ellora's Cave. A hot menage story, Samantha's three protagonist are so beautifully drawn that the reader falls in love with them almost as quickly as they fall in love with each other. Added to the hot romance is suspense, sizzling sex, and a tear-jerker of an ending. To entice you further, let's get Samantha to answer a few questions about her story, her writing and herself.



Victoria Morgan (VM): So can you give us a quick blurb about your book?



Samantha Wayland (SM): Of course!



Grace loves her boyfriend, Philip, she loves her job, and she might just love her boss, but she can ignore that. She and Philip are building a life together and it's almost perfect. So what if their sex life is less than spectacular?



Philip loves Grace absolutely. She's the only woman for him. But the more he gets to know Mark...well, he can ignore that. After all, he's well practiced at suppressing his real desires.



Mark lives for his restaurant, Valentine's, but he can't resist flirting with Grace, his hostess, any chance he gets. And he can't remember ever being more attracted to a man than Philip. Not that it matters, as Grace and Philip are committed to each other and Mark respects that.



A lawyer yearning to shed his inhibitions but afraid to turn up the heat, a brilliant PhD candidate with the secret desire for more spice, and the chef who craves them both. When three passionate people dare to fulfill their appetites, they find the perfect recipe for love.



(VM): Told you it was a hot one!



So where did you come up with this story idea?



Same place all my stories come from -- the wilds of my imagination. I'd like to tell you that this story, a menage with one seriously happy woman, Grace, in love with two smart, interesting, gorgeous men, comes from some kind of personal experience, but it's not the case. Sadly. Not that I don't have smart, interesting and gorgeous man in my life, but I don't think he's going to let me add another like him.



(VM): Well said. Wouldn't we all love to be the heroine in our own romances.... Grace is a really endearing character, sexy, sassy and sensual.



What do you admire most in your characters?



(SM): Wow. That is an interesting question. I think in With Grace, the thing I love most about these characters is how honest they are with each other and themselves. It takes a lot for Philip, a man who has to this point always been in straight relationships, to even consider being with Mark. But he does, and he doesn't try to tell himself it's anything but what it is -- the hopeful beginnings of a new love.



(VM): Very true. Philip's character arc is really poignant as his love story takes him on a whole new journey, and I love how you have him embrace it with such honesty. I loved your characters, their humor, the strength of the emotions, and how you seamlessly join them together so the reader knows that only with each other can they find their HEA.



There is a suspense subplot in your story which pulls in the police to investigate matters. Did you have to do any research for this story?



(SM): Uh, golly. That's a kind of a funny question given the genre. See note above about my own smart and gorgeous man. Safe to say, some of my research is all about the imagination! And some is thanks to very patient friends answering some questions while we all pretended our faces weren't bright red. And then some credit does have to go to my darling man -- but he'll be embarrassed if I admit it, so we'll leave it there.


As far as the suspense plot, there is a wealth of information out there on how something like the Boston PD works, so I started from the internet and went from there. Also, I relished the opportunity to dream up a great restaurant in a neighborhood of Boston that is a foodie's dream come true. If you haven't explored Boston's South End, start saving up your points and get ready for a treat!



(VM): And you get to avoid using the etymology.com dictionary which really bogs down those of us who write historicals! I think I like your research better....



So what are you working on next? What do we get to look forward to?



(SM): I've got a couple things going right now which I'm really excited about. In With Grace, you'll meet Detective Patrick Brown, whose got a story all his own I'm eager to share. You won't believe the mischief, he, his best friend and fellow police officer Brandon and their old friend Destiny get into. I'm also working on a trilogy of shorter stories involving Garrick, a professional hockey player who falls in love with two people (one of whom is his team mate!) and has to make it work!



(VM): Having critiqued some of the chapters in these WIPs, I want to say that Patrick's story has one of the hottest first kiss scenes that I have ever read. Not only does it rock the charts with its intensity, but the setup leading up to it is a riot! It's smoldering and hysterical if at all possible. And I'm not the only fan of this scene --it was a finalist in our own NEC Chapter's 2009 First Kiss Contest. Congrats, Samantha! Now we're really waiting for these HEAs....



On another note, when did you first fall in love with the romance genre?



(SM): Well, it would gall her no end to hear of this now, particularly given the genre I'm publishing in, but my stepmother is entirely responsible for my life-long addiction to reading and writing romance. I used to be bored stupid on weekends at my father's house and my stepmother had an absolute trove of Harlequin romance novels. And I'm talking the old-school white cover, little drawing in the circle Harlequins. The ones where the dramatic conclusion included a kiss and a marriage proposal? LOL.



I tried to read one of those recently and, with all due respect to the many fine authors that create these books, it made me want to poke my eyes out. Now, HQ has some good lines I enjoy sometimes -- like Intrigue and Blaze - but the originals? No longer for me. My stepmother, on the other hand, still adores them. Which, goes to show that one of the greatest things about romance novels is that there is so much variety in the genre, there really is something for everyone.



(VM): That is definitely one of the assets of romance writing. If one line doesn't work for you, there are so many others that can take you on a completely different romantic journey.



In regard to your craft, do you have a writing schedule? Are you a plotter or a panzer?



(SM): Well, as far as a schedule, I work full time and have a bunch of other commitments. In spite of all that, I try to set aside a certain number of nights per week and one day on the weekend to write. Of course, that gets blown to hell on a regular basis, but I think it's important to try.



And I'm definitely a plotter. In fact, I'm kind of a nutty plotter, sometimes writing a third of the book in outline form before going back and fleshing it out. Sometimes I think I love outlining way too much. I mean, this method works pretty well for me about 80% of the time, but on those occasions that I realize I've gone wrong in my story, it can be torture because I've already fallen in love with Plan A. Not that I won't eventually love Plan B, but the transition is tough.



(VM): One day your plotting will inspire me rather than scare me... It is impressive.



On to more important matters, do you have a secret indulgence?



(SM): So You Think You Can Dance. There. I admitted it. I just can't stop watching that damn show!



(VM): I'll have to check it out!



I know you've traveled extensively (I say that with total jealousy). Do you have a favorite city or country? What's the best romantic getaway abroad?



(SM): I've been all over, but I think if I was told I could only go one place for the next five years, I would choose London. I lived there for a time and while it's not necessarily the prettiest, the most romantic and sure-as-shooting doesn't have the best food, it's got so many wonderful people I love in and around it, I couldn't possibly choose anywhere else. Now, that being said, it is pretty, it can be very romantic and and the food has come a long way (baby) in the almost 20 (gasp) years since I started traveling there on a regular basis. Also, it's not possible to ever ever ever run out of things to do and see in that city. It's incredible -- art, history, fabulous jewelry! What more could a girl want?



And it's a quick train ride (through a very long tunnel which is way better than that damn ferry used to be) to Paris-- one of the top three most romantic places on Earth. And can we talk about the food there? Ymmmmm....



(VM): I went to school in London for a semester, and I'd have to agree with you. Add in the fabulous West End Theatre and Colin Firth and who could ask for anything more?

(SM): Colin Firth....ymmm.....

(VM): Yes, well, we digress. Then again, Colin Firth is always worth a detour....

Samantha, thanks so much for sharing insights on your new release, your writing craft, and tidbits about yourself!



We're looking forward to the release THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 4TH of your first book, With Grace. It is the perfect kick-off for the weekend! Grab a glass of wine, download this sexy romance, sit-back and enjoy! I did!



We wish you the best of luck!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Career Choices


I had a very tough decision to make last week. Is it time to quit the day job? I’ve been there for four and a half years, and I love my job. I love the people I work with, the clients, the five minute commute, the mother’s hours. Stress free jobs like this are hard to come by and even harder to leave.

Even the impetus for leaving is a good thing. Business is booming; something everyone in the very small veterinary practice has worked hard to achieve. More business means they need me to work more hours.

The problem is, more hours spent there equal fewer hours spent writing.

There were quite a few factors to consider. Giving up a steady, though small, second income when we’re (hopefully!) facing college X 2 in the next three years was a big one. Especially when the writing income is not a steady paycheck, nor is it a large one despite what you hear from pirates trying to justify their actions. To put it bluntly, I’d be putting in three times the hours for half the pay.

So what was my decision?

I need to write. I love to write. And I’m damned lucky to be given the opportunity right now.

I’m going for it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Four Star Review!


Happy dancing because RULING EDEN got a Four Star review in RT Book Reviews magazine. I arrived at the RT convention in Columbus to my copy of the June magazine with the featured review. Gail Pruszkowski calls it "a satisfyingly magical story." Given my recent contract for the sequel, Surviving Eden, this news made my day and the entire Romantic Times convention for me. Just thought I'd share.
Michelle

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Check Out This Great Article!


Check out this great article by Eileen Dreyer (title: I write romance novels--so what?) about writing romance. I love this quote....

"...when I read a romance, I can return to that moment in a blooming relationship when I could be perfectly selfish, when nothing existed but my lover..."

Viva romance!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kodak Moments


Spring in New England doesn't creep up on you.  It arrives with a bang.  One day it is fifty degrees and frigid and the next it is in the eighties and sweltering.  If you blink, you can miss it. And I often do.  Busy with work, carpooling my kids, writing or painting, I glance up and the flowers are suddenly in full bloom, our brown world is a vibrant green, and I have no clue as to when it happened.  It is little wonder where the expression 'take time to smell the flowers' came from.  It came from our treadmill lives and our inability to stop to appreciate these moments of beauty whether in nature or in our own lives.

My kids are older.  My son a week away from his fifteenth birthday and my daughter coming up on her thirteenth in June.  Over night, they grew up on me.  They are more independent and their friends have replaced me as the nucleus of their world.

I've recaptured my life, becoming involved in my own activities and projects, but I find myself struggling to bridge that gap between being there for my kids and coveting my own time.  I will be typing away on my latest WIP, and my daughter wants to share her latest melodrama with me and we both get annoyed. My daughter will then do something so twelve and so sweet that it reminds me that these moments are precious, and I need to stop what I'm doing and savior them.  I'm talking about those Kodak moments.  When you see your child's first smile, hear their first words, or when they pedal off solo on a two-wheeler.

Being older, my kids moments are more subtle now and sometimes harder to appreciate. Pre-teens and teenagers should wear 'approach with caution labels'.  The first time my daughter addressed me with her hand on her hip and that grating tone of attitude, it caught me off guard.  My son stares at me and my husband with this blank look on his face while we are discussing his not too stellar Spanish participation grade.  My husband said we've become the parents in Peanuts.  We speak and my son hears that incomprehensible monotone in the background 'wawowwo...'.  These are the Kodak moments you delete.

But there are so many others, and I find myself having to watch for them for fear of losing them.  Like when I walk to the car and my daughter skips to it.  That is so twelve.  Or when she dances around the kitchen showing me the new steps she learned in her hip hop class.  Or when I walk into her room and on one closet door she has a picture of the latest teen heart throb but on the other, she has posters of puppies.  It illustrates that poignant pre-teen bridge between childhood and puberty, reminding me that she is hovering between the two.  I am so not ready for her to cross over.

Of course, moments with a teen-age son can be bitter sweet as well as funny.  Like when he advises me that I am no longer allowed to cheer him on at his baseball games unless the other mothers are cheering and to please not get out of my car in the school pick-up line and bellow his name (like I bellow -- it was a soft yell.  Really.)  Then there are those special moments when I'm trying to write a love scene for my WIP, and he interrupts his social studies homework to share with me the pertinent fact that ancient Chinese scholars grew their nails two inches long to show that they don't do manual labor.  Or he breaks into a perfect imitation of Stewie from Family Guy to ask me how my novel is coming.  Kind of kills the romantic mood, but it does make me laugh.

Yes, I want to finish my book, or my painting, or go out for a martini with the Quirky Ladies, but I don't want to lose these moments.  I want to take the time to smell the flowers before they are all grown and it's too late.  In doing so, I might find a wealth of lovely details to incorporate in my WIP....  After all, a good writer is a good observer.

As Ferris Bueller says, 'Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.'  Sad, but true.





Sunday, April 18, 2010

Contracting a Series


Good news on the home front, ladies and gentlemen. Crescent Moon Press has offered me a contract for the sequel to RULING EDEN entitled SURVIVING EDEN. This second book is part of a planned four book sequence I'm affectionately calling the Eden's Court series. Details on cover and release date will follow.


The news is fantastic because I love Rachel and Gabriel and want everyone to hear more of their story. Not to mention that of Tarn and Sebastian and Morven and a few others. Although Surviving Eden is a bit darker book, I finished writing this installment feeling that Rachel's character growth was well entrenched. I have a solid story conflict in mind for the third book and of course I do know how the plot arc over the entire series will end, if not specifically then in general.


Here's the tentative story blurb:


Rachel Rieh wields enough magic to make a goddess jealous, or so she learned three weeks ago when she thought she was an ordinary, reclusive and short-tempered gal from Boston. In this second story of Eden's Court, Rachel, now the new ruler of the Kesayim, (angels, demons, dragons, faeries, vampires, shapeshifters and witches--the goddess-created protectors of mortalkind) finds herself faced with the task of stopping vampire hunters from annihilating the vampire race. Her lover, Gabriel, half-angel, half-demon, stands by her side to help if she can escape her obsession with protecting him at all cost.


Earth is already on the verge of destruction within six months because magic is out of balance. The new threat to the vampires destabilizes the situation more. But is the cold-hearted goddess intent on changing Rachel into her image the greater threat to Rachel and everyone she loves?


Like what you read? I hope so.


This contract news got me thinking about series endings. I recently plowed my way through the netflix instant episodes of a BBC television series called Torchwood, about a team of alien hunters who work above the law saving the planet Earth from certain destruction. Although there is talk of a fourth season, the show had ostensibly been concluded with season three. And in a very dark and morose manner, leaving me depressed. Now I love series. I'm an urban fantasy chic by nature and that stuff is all about series. Particularly series which feature the same main protagonists. But it takes supreme talent to carry through quality for an entire series and end it on the perfect note. I'm not sure Torchwood did that, even if the writer/producer felt he'd took the artistic risk on his vision. It had all the important pieces almost perfect up until the end. But if I walked away aching for the main characters and not feeling any hope, as I did, the end didn't work.


In book series there's an art to matching the nature and severity of the conflict and the development of characters to the perfect number of volumes. Draw it out too long and the reader feels she's getting the same old, same old. Boring. Have your characters finish growing too early in the series, already reaching their final development and the magic leaves the story. On top of it, if you can't end delivering on hope, I'd say the series has not done its job. Hence my complaint about Torchwood.


I feel comfortable with my vision of four books. I believe the number does justice to the overall story conflict, and gives me enough room to answer all of the questions and resolve the relationship issues between my main characters. If I end this series as I intend, there's nothing to say I cannot revisit its world in another form. I've even played with the idea of doing a separate third person story set in this universe once I'm finished with the first person story of Rachel and her adventures.


What do you think about series and what makes for satisfying conclusions? Who has done it well? Who has jumped the shark? There's a wide difference between authors who write a series from the same protagonists' perspectives and those who write stand-alone but related volumes. Share your opinions. It can only help this poor author struggling to deliver the goods for her readers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quickie Quirky Interview with Debut Author Carolyn Crane


As soon as I read Carolyn Crane's debut novel Mind Games, I knew I had to interview her for the Quirky Ladies blog. Why? Because her book is one of the quirkiest, coolest, most original, refreshing and bad-ass books I have ever read. It's a UF/paranormal romance about a hypochondriac who learns to use her neuroses as a weapon. Heh, heh, heh....ev-il!!!!!

Without further ado, here is Carolyn Crane's Quickie Quirky Interview.....

Penny: Hey, Carolyn! What are your top 3 quirky qualities?

Carolyn: What a great name for a critique group! Okay, quirks....

1) When I first sit down in the morning to hand write on draft (if I'm in a handwriting phase) I have to listen to at least half of this one Led Zepplin CD, or I superstitiously think things will go poorly. I am so sick of that CD.

2) I don't like killing bugs. I always trap them and put them outside, or with spiders, I ignore them. Though of course, these are Minnesota spiders.

3) I couldn't think of another, so I asked my husband. Quote: "How about that you lose things in the house constantly? You lose your keys, you lose your cellphone, you lose your purse, you lose your glasses..." The list went on from there!!

Penny: I can totally see the whole Led Zepplin thing. Any tips for aspiring writers? Any words of wisdom?

Carolyn: I think it's all about the work ethic. Plugging away every day. Being in a mode of learning every day.

Penny: Thanks, Carolyn!

Here's a link to Carolyn's website, and to her awesome blog, The Thrillionth Page.
Check out Penelope's review of Mind Games!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is Storytelling Embedded in our DNA?

A couple of weeks ago, I happened upon a new television show, Who Do You Think You Are? - the premise if fairly basic, take a celebrity and using all means possible trace their family heritage. I am not one for reality shows, in particular celebrity reality shows, so I was surprised how quickly I became engrossed with the program. In fact, afterwards I went online and started searching for my own family tree.

My family is the quintessential stoic, stiff upper lip New England family, so very little family history has been passed on down since our motto has always been, no matter what happens - good, bad or indifferent - keep moving forward and keep it to yourself.

As a writer, I have a hard time keeping things to myself - to put it mildly, so in many ways I have always felt like I am an odd fit for my family. If I was not the spitting image of my father, and more closely his mother, I might wonder if I were adopted or a random stray picked up along the way.

My quest for my family history is not unique, but as I searched and found connections to people I have never met, I was struck by how swiftly I started picturing my ancestors in my writer’s mind; how easily I could imagine their lives and their stories; and how alive they felt to me as if they were characters cast in my current work in progress instead of long forgotten relatives lost to an unknown history.

Then, I realized why the reality show and my searching had such an impact on me - both elicited an emotional response. The very point of storytelling.

My research proved fruitful in more ways than I could have imagined. My Dad, whose parents died when he was very young, now knows more about where they grew up, what their childhood nicknames where, when they married, where their families are from.

On my Mom’s side of the family, I learned that there are other storytellers in my family, in fact my grandfather used to write stories. He also played minor league baseball with the Pawtucket Red Sox. Pretty cool!

Like real life people, our characters are alive. They live in our writer’s hearts and minds and then upon the printed page. We want our storytelling to matter, to leave a trace on this Earth, to have a lasting impact of some kind on our readers, just like we want to leave a trace in our own lives.

I am comforted to know I am not the only one in the family who enjoys telling a story. I don’t feel as out of place now. I also got a kick out of the realization that I used the first name of my great-great-great grandmother in my current work in progress without even knowing it. Maybe just a coincidence, but something tells me there is more to the story - no pun intended.

I have had a lot of ups and downs with my writing, and I’m sure my journey towards publications still has a few more bumps in the road before I hopefully find my way to a contract, but my need to tell a story, to leave a trace, is revitalized.

Who knew a reality television show could do all that.

To learn more about your story, go to: http://www.ancestry.com/. Good luck!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tara's Turn To Shine!


The NECRWA conference was a wonderful mix of inspiring workshops, hilarious speakers, fun-filled schmoozing, and debates about Nora Roberts (Vicki and Kate, I promise to read a Nora trilogy ASAP). The highlight of the weekend was the presentation of the Goldrick Award. This award recognizes one NEC member who has gone beyond the call of duty for our chapter. I am thrilled to announce that our very own Tara Truesdale won this prestigious award on Saturday. Jessica Smith wrote an amazing tribute to Tara, which our president Cindy Gregory read in front of all the attendees. Here is Jessica's lovely tribute to Tara, which brought me to tears....

"Tara has helped the chapter in so many important but quiet ways that she might go overlooked. As someone who has held the post of 'snack lady' you know what goes into furnishing goodies for the meetings. There is a lot of lugging and a fair amount of coordination required to get these snacks on the table. Given the number in the membership, the percentage of people who help the snack lady in this effort is actually quite low. Tara did this service well and with little complaint. Much the same way she did when she helped me on the conference committee. She was so calm, patient, and helpful, and it is only in hindsight that I can appreciate all that she brought to the table during our sometimes stormy committee proceedings. She went on to run her own conference committee at a time of big change to the conference -- a new venue, a new board, and new financial constraints on the planning. She handled all with her typical grace and get-it-done attitude, and the conference was a success because of her leadership. And now she is finishing up year three on the conference committee as Book Fair chair. During a year when she should be basking in the glow of the success from her own conference, she chose to spend one more year helping the chapter . . . bringing a steadying presence and the voice of experience to a set of new and untested conference committee recruits. If Tara doesn't embody all that is good and unselfish of volunteerism, I don't know who does!"

Well said, Jessica! Huge Congrats to Tara....you totally deserve this award! All of the Quirkies are so proud of you! We are lucky to have such a wonderful, loyal and supportive friend in our group.