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!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


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,

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

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!