Monday, May 30, 2011
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!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
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
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
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.
Monday, March 28, 2011
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.... :).
Saturday, March 26, 2011
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!
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!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
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
I am a puzzle person.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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!
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.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
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.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
But he was really so much more than that. He was an everyman, in a way you never hear of anymore. If you read about his life, he seems at once extraordinary and normal. Foolhardy and brave. Always adventurous. And with a gift for words the likes of which has not been seen since.
He went to Dartmouth, where he began writing under his mother's maiden name because he'd been thrown off the school paper for getting caught drinking gin in his dorm room in the heart of prohibition.
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
He went to Oxford in search of a PhD and found love instead.
"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams."
He penned a series of political cartoon during WWII that scathingly denounced Hitler and Mussolini.
"I meant what I said and I said what I meant."
His work there got him noticed by Warner Brother's studio and he moved on to help create Private Snafu, a series of very raunchy animated soldier training films.
After the war, he and his wife would move to California and he would turn his attention to writing children's stories. His early books would win countless awards, but incredibly, he would never, in all his years, win the Newbury or Caldecott Medals, the most prestigious of the children's literature honors.
Then in May of 1954, Life Magazine published an article about illiteracy among school children, and concluded that part of the problem was that their books were boring. William Ellsworth Spaulding, the Director of the Education Division at Houghton Mifflin Publishing, would then sit down and compile a list of the 348 words he felt were most important for first graders to learn. He gave this list to Theodor Giesel, who none months later would return with a book that used 236 of those words - The Cat in the Hat.
Friday, March 4, 2011
My son has always been fascinated by deep sea life, even as a young toddler. We spent hours watching cool National Geographic movies and researching funky creatures like giant squids and bizarre deep-sea fish.
Anglerfish are probably the quirkiest fish in the sea. They are fabulously-well adapted to life at the bottom of the ocean floor, often times a mile below the surface. Their appearance is grotesque. The massive mouth, sharp, jagged teeth, and diabolical lure make them efficient predators and hideously ugly. The females have a modified dorsal spine that hangs over the mouth, tipped with a luminous bit o' "bait." They are able to swallow prey twice their size due to this huge mouth.
It's too bad mere mortals can't explore the deep sea....it's probably one of the most amazing experiences on earth....and scary, too.
Hope y'all have a good weekend!
Monday, February 28, 2011
Although it's an invitation only event (but still non-profit), and is prohibitively expensive for the average Jane, it's expanded to sister conferences and has reached the people through it's on-line presence. The feel of the organization is not exclusive, but inclusive and community building. Global community building. Interconnection of the world. Check out the website and start to watch some of the extraordinary videos. We all need some inspiration.
Charlie Rose recently interviewed the current curator of the conference, Chris Anderson, who said that in a world where we fear that globalization is a force that is "dumbing down" the population, this global, almost viral phenomenon centered around the excitement of thinking, innovation, connectedness and new ideas is disproving that. It instead creates hope.
Here's the four minute documentary "A Taste of TED" that should give you a feel for the phenomenon. I hope you get a chance to watch some of the pod casts and find inspiration where you can. I know I need some.
Friday, February 25, 2011
One of the highlights of my recent trip to NYC was visiting China Town. My sis, her boyfriend, and several of their friends who are connoisseurs of Asian cooking, took us to a fabulous restaurant for dinner. Even my picky kids loved the food!
The waitress talked us into a special dish they were offering which celebrated the Chinese New Year. It's called "yee sang" and has a mixture of raw fish, daikon, jicama, candied papaya, candied persimmon, wonton crisps, rice crisps and colorful taro chips. The waitress adds the contents of a red envelope to the top (I thought it was real gold leaf bits, but now I'm not so sure!), and drizzles honey over the salad (for sweetness for the new year). Everyone at the table uses their chopsticks to toss the salad together, ensuring a lucky year for all.
The salad was bright, crunchy, flavorful. What a sweet and symbolic tradition!
Another "quirky" detail about China Town....we loved the outdoor markets. This one had tons of crazy stuff, including a dozen different kinds of dried sea cucumber! Cool!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
It's release day for Jaq's Harp by Ella Drake! Congrats to Ella, a fellow NECRWA member. I reviewed this book several weeks ago at Penelope's Romance Reviews, and I thought I would reprint the review here at The Quirky Ladies. Ella will be joining us on Wednesday, Feb. 23 for an interview and giveaway. Please stop by on Wednesday to chat with her and enter the contest.
From Penelope's Romance Reviews.....
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Guess what I'm doing today? Talking about one of my favorite subjects...promotion for romance writers! I'll be speaking at the NECRWA meeting at Brandeis University at 1:00. (Unfortunately, the Chippendale's dancers cancelled, but hopefully there should be chocolate.)
Here are a few tips on self-promotion to get us started...
1.) Don't post naked photos of yourself on your website. Unless you look like Bo Derek. And even then it's probably not a good idea.
2.) Including 5-star review snippets from your mother is ineffective as a promotional tool.
3.) Choose appropriate sites for your blog tour. Doing an interview on "Flyfishing For Big Boys" is most likely a waste of time and won't increase book sales. Although you never know.
Looking forward to chatting with everyone!
See you soon,
Friday, February 18, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Sometimes life comes full circle. Once in awhile, you reconnect with childhood friends, or visit a place and get a sense of deju vu before you remember you had been there before. Sometimes you pick up a book, get half way through it and realize you've read it before. Or is that having a senior moment? Anyway, I recently had this strange experience of life coming full circle.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I'm back! I survived my trip to New York City....42nd Street, Toys R Us, the Natural History Museum, and best of all....the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show! (First photo is an adorable pug at the dog show, taken by my eight year old daughter, Natalie).
Friday, February 11, 2011
Chocolate! We all love it, crave it, become obsessed by it, particularly at certain times of the month. (You know what I'm talking about, ladies.) Perhaps it's our inner child demanding to be let out. But chocolate and romance go hand in hand. Think Valentine's Day, so fast approaching. Think the research saying women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life. So no wonder romance writers are fascinated by the stuff. I thought I'd include some interesting facts about the substance here. And to find an erudite source, I went to the experts -- articles written for kids. I found the following tidbits in the National Geographic Kids magazine, February 2011 issue, so all the research credit goes to their staff.
Fact #1 Chocolate is made from seeds of the cacao plant, grown only near the equator.
Fact #2 Theobroma cacao is the scientific name for chocolate. It means "food of the gods."
Fact #3 The ancient Aztec believed chocolate had magical properties.
Fact #4 There are 30 to 50 seeds in each cacao pod, which is football-shaped. That can make seven bars of milk chocolate.
Fact #5 Average Americans eat roughly 12 pounds of chocolate per year.
Fact #6 As early as 1000 B.C., the ancient Olmec are believed to be the first people to use the cacao plant.
Fact #7 Just one whiff of chocolate can make people feel happy. A chemical in cacao releases "feel-good" vibes in the brain.
Fact #8 Chocolate has a natural chemical in it that helps suppress coughs, so eat up next time you have a cold.
Fact #9 It would take 15,133,852,800 Hershey bar squares laid end to end to reach the moon.
The magazine lists more interesting facts, but I thought I'd stop here. I need to go now. I've gotten a bit hungry, go figure. If you can resist impulsively searching for chocolate of your own for a few more moments, let me know what else you've come across about this "food of the gods."Michelle
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
But what I really want to talk about is that freaking Doritos commercial. You know the one...
Maybe it's an occupational hazzard, but I spend a lot of time thinking about what's sexy and what's not. For example, the other day I got it in my head that I wanted to describe something as spongy. And I tried. I really, really tried to work it into my scene - because the object in question does feel spongy. But then I had to accept what countless other authors have no doubt had to come to terms with in the past - there is no way to make "spongy" sexy. There just isn't.
So what is sexy? Love? Yes! Romance? You bet! Erotic romance? Oh, hell yes! Homo-erotic imagry in commercials? It sells! You don't believe me? Look at the picture above again. Is that how your coworkers behave? And note that even Doritos apparently thought they'd taken it too far, since they felt the need to put wedding rings on both the men. Those kinds of details don't happen by accident in advertising.
And what's not sexy? Finger-sucking! Oh, wait... I am certain this can be a very sexy thing to do. If you'd asked me before yesterday, I might have told you that it's always a sexy thing to do. But I would have been wrong.
When that man sucked his coworker's finger into his mouth, I (a woman who I think we can all agree has a very strong fondness for homo-erotic imagry) screeched like a banshee. It was hilarious. It was disturbing. And it sure as heck was incedibly effective marketing (because here I am, talking about it and craving that nacho cheese goodness every time I type the word Doritos). But definitely not sexy.
So does this ruin finger-sucking for everyone? Definitely not. As my wise friend Eric Ruben commented last night, it's not in the dust, it's in the delivery.
And thanks to the Frito-Lay corporation, I have finger-sucking on the brain today. I wonder what I'll write about tonight...
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Here's a fun vid showing the awesome superiority of Steel over Cheese.
I don't think we need to get into a discussion about whose hair is better....Troy Polamalu or Tom Brady. (Troy)
Happy Superbowl Sunday!
Friday, February 4, 2011
Here's a nice Bostonian story. A woman lost her 3-foot pet boa constrictor on a Boston subway car a month ago...she had the snake around her neck (!!!) when somehow it escaped. The lost snake (named Penelope! Win!) was discovered on a subway car this week, and rescued by a train attendant. Penelope's owner is overjoyed to be reunited with her scaly friend. And she's still planning on taking Penelope out into public. Oh joy for Bostonians everywhere.
Happy Weekend from The Quirky Ladies!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
It's Feb. 2, time for the most celebrated of all holidays....Groundhog Day. Unfortunately for those of us living in the New England area, the groundhog is unable to make an appearance since he's buried beneath 5 ft of snow, ice and freezing rain. Hopefully he'll survive and drag himself to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the festivities.
Anyone looking for a quirky activity for the day (since we're all house-bound and it's a school snow day!), I would suggest watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. It's hilarious!
Best of luck to groundhogs everywhere,
Friday, January 28, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
After a lot of thought (I'm a Libra, we weigh all our options forever until ready to take any plunge), I have decided I will likely (see how my scales are still balancing there) purchase a condo or small house this year. I saw five properties in one day. On this rapid fire Sunday everyone I met brought me back to my favorite part of people watching, it's always grist for the mill of character development.
People watching can be so illuminating, especially when you are plotting your current WIP and working on character sketches. This weekend while looking at various properties, I felt like an actor doing Improv. Going from property to property, meeting real estate after real estate agent, reminded me that there are so many different types of people in this world, many of whom do the same job, but approach it from so many varied directions.
There was the long-term real estate agent that scuffed at a neophyte such as myself, forcing me to get my game on and ask real questions so at least I would know what I was doing at the next property I saw.
There was the geeky agent with a nervous laugh, who couldn't look me in the eye, but admitted he was the owner's cousin and they were just throwing him a bone. Even though I knew the property wasn't for me, I still took his card. I guess I threw him a bone too.
There was the bewildered agent struggling to unload an undesirable property, doing her best to keep herself interested, while trying to get me to want to buy it. I stayed for 20 minutes because she reminded me one of my aunts, and I felt bad she had to waste her Sunday in a home that will be on the market for months, I'm sure, since it was over-priced, falling apart and came with creepy neighbors peering through windows to see what was going on next door.
There was the pushy agent who swore he had so many potential buyers that unless I gave him a check today to hold the property, had 20 percent to put down and could move in February, I was wasting his time. I made him show me three condo options. Yes, I did waste his time, not because I couldn't afford the property, but because I would never buy anything from him.
Then at the last property, which I almost didn't bother with because I was tired, I found a real potential property of interest, and a real estate agent who was kind, thoughtful and really wanted to make sure I find the right place for me. She had six other buyers she was showing the property to at the same time, yet found a way to make us all feel welcome. Regardless of what happens with the property I saw, this very nice lady is now my real estate agent.
As writers, we spend a lot of time in our heads. We are all borderline schizophrenics if we are really honest about it - after all, multiple people talk to each other and have whole lives inside our heads. Observing our own behavior, and the behavior of the people we meet is a great way to add nuances to our characters, so they remain as alive in our heads and hearts as they are to our readers on the written page.
Happy People Watching!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Here's a quirky bit o' news for the week....hee hee! I love this! From Germany.....
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Anyway, the point is that no matter what - you name it, I like to write it.
A close second on my list of joys is reading. And nothing makes me more stupid giddy than reading a review for something I wrote. Good, bad and ugly - it means someone read it, took an interest and is being kind enough to offer me and my potential readers their feedback. Now sure, a bad review can make a girl cry, but a good one can make a girl's week!
And here's a goodie for sure:
And as if that wasn't enough to make me do a happy dance, I'm up for 5-Heart Sweetheart of the Week. If you think that's just as great as I do, please vote for me HERE.
So, that's all for me. I know - too short. But it's baby steps for now. Maybe someday I'll be able to quit the pesky job, but until then, I will carve out more time for The Quirks and my characters.
In fact, I think I hear Patrick, Brandon and Destiny calling me now...