Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top Ten Things I'd Like to See on 'Bachelor Pad'

Hello. My name is Kristin. I'm an all-things 'Bachelor' addict.

Last night, as I watched yet another spin off called 'Bachelor Pad', Husband asked me what I like about the show so much. It got me thinking...

Why on earth do I watch shows where people put their best foot forward, turn their best face toward the camera (as contestants often have two), and go on ridiculous "reality" dates that are FAR from reality.

The answer is the Promise of Love.

It's fun to watch people fumble around on first dates (as opposed to being the one fumbling). I get to experience a couples beginning with them...and I can judge all I want with no tension and no expectations. I can sit back in my PJs with a bowl of popcorn while the girls get all dressed up and taken out on wild excursions that leave you wondering "how couldn't a girl fall for this guy?"

Yet every season the couples flounder once they are whisked from La-La land back to real "reality". It's the same ole thing. Guy meets hot girl. Guy also meets semi-hot girl. (Oh no! What to do!?!) Guy likes semi-hot girl better, but can't leave hot girl behind until after fantasy dates. Guy picks hot girl, breaks semi-hot girl's heart. Hot guy hot girl break up. The end.

So in partial jest, I give you Top Ten Things I'd Like to See on 'Bachelor Pad'.

10-I'd like to see a fight. Oh, I know the contestants get kicked off the show if they throw the first blow, but come on...they're not really there for the girl anyway. Stop with the puffing chests and tests of masculinity and just nail the guy in the jaw. Become my real hero. If I were the Bachelorette I just might look you up after the show. (Granted there's no one hotter than you, of course.)

9-I'd like to see a "real reality date". How about grocery shopping in Food-4-Less where the clerks are grumpy and there's kids screaming everywhere and you've got to bag your own shit, cart it home, unload it into a packed refrigerator, then make dinner from scratch and do the dishes afterward...and all that after working a 9-5. How's that for reality? My heart's swooning already.

8-The uber-hot guy fall for the geeky girl. Wait...that might be my reality.

7-I'd like to see contestants without makeup. It might be a test of true beauty, don't you think? If you're watching this season, you have to know Tenley. She's absolutely stunning. Thin. Tone. Long blonde hair. Bright blue eyes. But she wears about 10 tons of makeup. I wonder what she's hiding underneath that plaster...

6-Someone actually fall in love. I know there have been a few shows where the couples move on and get married and have kids. (*See Trista Sutter and Jason Mesnick) But isn't this supposed to be a show where people leave their baggage behind to find love? Or is it an excuse for hot singles to lounge in the sun while stabbing each other in the back? The answer, sadly, is obvious.

5-I want to know how old Gwen is. Did you notice when they streamline her name, occupation an age, the age section shows this: ?? I have two theories. She's either a really good looking 50 year old woman who has invested in Botox and the best plastic surgery around and doesn't think anyone will pick her if they know her true age. Or she's a vampire and wouldn't want to tip anyone off by saying she's five hundred years, eleven months, and twenty eight days old. I'm rooting for the second option.

4-I'd like to see someone pick Chris Harrison. He's got to be the hottest host around. Wouldn't that be great if one of the women in the house decided she'd rather go with someone more mature...more in touch with his emotions...someone whose salary could make all her worries disappear with the swipe of his VISA.

3-Follow up with the contestants who've been kicked off. I just wonder if the producers could get clearance into their mental hospitals...

2-I'd like to see the producers take away the cash prize half way through and watch them scatter like rats leaving a sinking ship in order to expose how shallow they really are. Unless you're Elizabeth who "is not shallow, but doesn't know what shallow means".

And the number one thing I'd like to see on 'Bachelor Pad' is...

1-I'd like to see someone in one of the couples (ie: Tenley, Kiptyn, Elizabeth, Kovacs, Dave, Natalie) go all the way to the end. I'd like to see them in love. I'd like to see them promise to spend the money together. EXCEPT...I'd like them to be upfront about the game. Wouldn't that be great if, up until the finale, you thought the couple was madly in love, only to find out that it was IN FACT a game to win $250,000? I could see Tenley now: "Kiptyn, I love you! Omigosh, we won the money? You're giving it all up for me? Wow! You must really love me...is the game over yet?" *looks to producers and gets the thumbs up while cameras still roll* "Great." *looks back to Kiptyn* "I have to tell you something. I came here to win the money. Now that I have, I'm going home the same way I came. Alone. Thanks for making this partnership stronger by investing your feelings...but now I'm going to invest your money." *kisses Kiptyn on the cheek and leaves, waving the cash in front of her face like a fan*

See? Wouldn't that make a great ending? Like I said. The reason I watch these shows is the Promise of Love. But the reality is that these relationships hardly ever work. We all know in the back of our minds that these couples will split faster than BPs executives after the gulf oil spill.

It's just fun to watch the contestants suffer through the process.

Monday, August 30, 2010


I couldn't tell you how many times I shouted the phrase today. Yes, today was a milestone in the Miller household.

Both my children were in school this morning.

Which left me totally, utterly FREE. Oh, I know there are those of you who love having babies around and feel sad when those babies separate and walk into the classroom. I know there are those who try for more children once their oldest gets into school. (What, are you crazy?!?) There are also those who cry as their little ones walk through that classroom door and they're left alone to their own devices. (And by devices of course I mean housework, grocery shopping and laundry.)

But not me.

Today (just to prove to myself that I could) I went shopping for a writing chair and desk. (Found the chair, not the desk, but it was oh, so much fun just perusing.) I had lunch. (Veggie burritos from a local taqueria because they're DELISH and Tank eats all mine when we take him.) It was great.

I might've been the only mother skipping to my car as I dropped the kids off at school. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face all day. It's not because I won't miss them around the house because I will. It's just that this is the moment I've waited for since they were born. I've groomed them through the years. Primped them. Taught them. Built them to be good people and good students. (At least that's the hope, right?) And now they get to put what they've learned into action.

Yes, it's a little scary. That Freedom in all its glory also means that anything could happen...

I feel the exact same nervous energy about my new WIP. I have the characters backstory solidly in my head. I know them inside and out--how they hurt, why they feel the way they do. But what if when I start writing (and I give them the freedom to move and breathe around the pages) they misbehave and ruin the darn good story line I've concocted in my head? Those darn characters are mischievous and never seem to behave properly (at least in my books, they don't). My real-life children will behave better, I know they will.

Writers, do you feel me? Do your characters perform on cue, as expected, always? Or do they rummage around and get into trouble where you didn't plan on having any? Mothers, were you the type that relished your newfound freedom with your children in school or did you skulk for the few hours they were in the classroom? Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mr. Bean's Performance Anxiety

I have a problem. No, it's not that I eat too many Oreo's or drink too many Mocha Frappucino's.

I have performance anxiety.

Book #2 in the Crimson Bay Series, Immortal, Beloved, is plotted out. I've got enough strife to make Jerry Bruckheimer cringe. I know my characters. I know the details of the plot that they're going to spin around and OH YES the hero and heroine will dance for me like puppets on my twisted string.

But I haven't started writing yet. This hasn't happened to me before. Usually when an idea takes root I can't stop myself from digging into page 1. Lately though I sit with my notebook and a pen and can't come up with a single idea how I'll start the ball rolling. I think it's because I know it has to be Good. Better than Good. This book has to knock the socks off Enemy, Beloved which means it has to grip the reader from the first line and not let go.

That's a lot of pressure.

I've been having bouts of insomnia lately. All I can do is lay in bed and daydream and try to lull my conscious mind to sleep with super random thoughts about sheep and fences and trips to Europe I have no desire to take. As I stared at my ceiling last night I imagined myself on the edge of a diving board. It's sweltering in the summer sun. I'm DYING to get in the pool. The water looks fresh and cool and...I just can't make myself jump in. Finally, after watching everyone else swim and splash and thoroughly enjoy themselves, I sit on the lip of the diving board and dangle my feet in the water. It feels great. I WANT to jump with every part of my being. But I know I won't. I can't. It's kind of depressing.

When I awoke this morning I found this old Mr. Bean video. (Remember him? Wasn't he great back when silent comedians were It?) Anyway, his antics on the top of the high dive fit my little daydream perfectly.

All Beans aside, I know I'll write the hell out of this book. I know I'll love it more than any other because, let's face it, every book gets better and better. As you go and learn more about craft, writing gets tighter, characters wallow in more angst, and blood continues to spill on the page at increasingly gruesome levels. I guess I'd just rather wade into the chilling pool than jump right in. This is the most concrete outline I've ever done...but hesitating and overthinking is not how books are written, are they? They come from inspiration and DARN IT I'm going to get me some this weekend. (Inspiration, that is.) (And yes, that was a little Cali-ghetto coming out of this English teacher.)

Wish me luck. This weekend I'm diving headfirst into Immortal, Beloved. Let's just hope I don't bust my head open on the concrete bottom of the creativity pool.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Locking Up Your Writing Part Deux

Ready for more editing on this fine Wednesday morning? (Wasn't I the most twisted English teacher ever? I'm pretty sure my kids loathed my giddiness for anything grammar.)

1-Check comma placement in compound sentences. Two complete sentences joined with and/but/or are fused with a comma where the period would go if you were to create two separate sentences.

Don’t: The door opened and she stepped through it to face her nemesis. (This could be broken up to read...The door opened. She stepped through it to face her nemesis.)
Do: The door opened, and she stepped through it to face her nemesis.

2-Singular Possessives – It is correct to use only an apostrophe following a proper noun that ends with an S, however, it is also correct to use the usual apostrophe S. Whichever choice you make, though, you have to show it in consistent fashion.

Example: Marcus’ (or Marcus’s) hand covered his eyes. Both are right, but keep it going throughout.

3-Sensory - Use all five senses in creating your scenes. A final read-through should be to make sure you included these with enough frequency to make the scene come alive for the reader. I realized after a few re-reads of Enemy that I'm missing the element of sound. I'm a visual learner--always have been. And besides dialogue, the occasional sigh or the roar of battle, the book is pretty quiet. That's something I need to go back and fix if I want it to be a stronger read. Don't forget "The Five".

Aim for at least one sense other than sight on each page. But come on, we all know it should be far more than one, right? Right? Good.

4-Dialogue Tags - Action tags are stronger and can be used to show the character’s emotion. If both a dialogue and action tag are used, keep the action and delete the dialogue. Don’t leave in non-descript action tags like ‘he smiled,’ “he nodded,” “he laughed.” These don’t relay enough information. If you keep them, add to them.

EXAMPLE: “Even my mother is excited about it,” Meg said with a smile. “She’s already planning the wedding.”
BETTER: “Even my mother is excited about it.” Meg smiled and set her glass aside. “She’s already planning the wedding.”
BEST: “Even my mother is excited about it.” Meg forced a tight smile as she set her glass aside to keep from spilling it. “She’s already planning the wedding.”

See what a difference a highly evolved tag makes?

*As for me...I had not one, but TWO fantastic plot sessions yesterday. I swear I have the best friends ever. This next project is proving to have more conflict, more depth, and more emotional tugs than anything I've written before it. And I'm so excited to get started! More fine tuning this week for me and then I'm back to the drawing board...or keyboard, as it were.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Huffington Post and...Treaddesk?

Good Morning! First things first (because that's the way it should always go, don't you think?), my literary agent was featured in the Huffington Post. You should check out what he has to say on the ebook revolution. Brilliant! Brilliant, I tell you!


Second things second (and oh, so much fun), you must take a look at what fellow San Fransisco Chapter member Tawny Weber has developed to help ease the ache of writing at a desk for long hours every day.


Pretty cool, huh? On both counts.

Have a great one!

Monday, August 23, 2010

I almost forgot!

Today is...

...over at Cali Cheer Mom!

Meet some new writers, authors, friends, comment and follow if you wish, but most of all just get out there!

Lock It Up!

Oh, I just looove Wedding Crashers. If you like Vince Vaughn and a hearty laugh as much as I do, this movie won't disappoint. Not to mention other stars in the film such as Rachael McAdams, Owen Wilson and Christopher Walken. With a cast like that, it couldn't go wrong.

But tall, hunky men with strong comedic sense are not what this post it about. (Sadly...*sigh*...they're my favorite type.)

It's about Locking Up Your Writing.

There's some editing basics every writer should know before kick starting the query process. (I hate to use the word "basic" because I've been guilty of doing some of these, but that's what they really are. They're the building block of solid writing...)

First step after writing The End? Do a spell check.

Once you've finished using the computer's checker (and after you've gone through yourself and edited until your eyes blur because, really, who relies only on Word to spell?) you should look for these commonly misused words and make sure you've used them right:

1. accept/except
2. affect/effect
3. alright/all right
4. altogether/all together
5. altar/alter
6. among/between
7. amount/number
8. bad/ill, good/well
9. blond/blonde
10. brunet/brunette
11. board/bored
12. complement/compliment
13. council/counsel
14. discussed/disgust
15. fewer/less
16. fiancé/fiancée
17. here/hear
18. idol/idle
19. lesson/lessen
20. lie/lay
21. lightning/lightening
22. loose/lose
23. message/massage
24. principal/principle
25. stationary/stationery
26. that/which
27. there/their/they’re
28. then/than
29. to/two/too
30. who/whom
31. who’s/whose
32. your/you’re

Then you should go through your document with a fine tooth comb and Search and Destroy "that's". Most of them are useless space fillers that expand your writing faster than Size 8 jeans after my birthday.

Next you should really take a look at -ly adverbs. There may be a tighter way to say what you mean.

EXAMPLE: Sarah leaned close and spoke softly.
BETTER: Sarah leaned close and whispered.

And finally (although you should be far from the editing finish line at this point), SHOW NOT TELL. Here's some words to watch for that might indicate you're telling what's going on:


Instead of using "He saw a black cat dart across the street", simply have the cat dart across the street. Put the reader in the action instead of on the outside watching it happen to the hero or heroine. See what I mean? You can use that example for all of the above. "She realized..." should be changed into exactly what she realized. "He heard" should be transferred into the sounds heard. Drop the tags and tighten things up.

Okay, I think that should be a good start, right? This week I'll go over some other hurdles I'm constantly tripping over in my own writing and, hopefully, along the way help someone else too.

*As far as my own progress goes, I'm plotting the sequel to Enemy, Beloved currently titled Immortal, Beloved (though that will most likely change at some point). I'm looking forward to a plot session with my new critique partner (Hi A.J!) this week (if I can manage to get away sans kids for a few hours), and I'm setting my goals on typing Page 1, Chapter 1 by Monday of next week.

**Also, I've been given an awesome blog award over at Nocturnal Reading. Thanks Kaiti! She's giving away tons of cool stuff once her follower count reaches 100, so if you haven't gone over there yet to take a look you really should.

Now dive back into your WIP and Lock It Up!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Let me pick you up...

I don't want to pick you up in the physical sense--you're not here for me to attempt for one, and two you might be too heavy for me to lift...don't be offended, I can't lift more than 35 pounds as evidenced by my time at the gym this week--Anyway, I want to pick you up and make you laugh!

Seems like there's been a lot of drama floating around lately. People wanting "to talk things through" or "rehash what's going on" or "sift through old feelings that seem new". I kind of feel like I'm wading through stagnant waters, thick silt clinging to my calves with each hopeful inch forward. It must be the Summer months dwindling to a close, making people feel like they want to shed their negative feelings like big-leafed maples in Fall.

But I'm not ready for Fall.

I was grateful to laugh a bit tonight as I perused the blog-o-sphere funnies. I tripped over this site a few months back, and at first glance I thought it was lame.

Then I found THIS post that reminds me why it's fun (and absolutely, positively essentail) to cast aside responsibilities time to time and let loose.

In the words of Bugs Bunny (or Van Wilder, depending on your generation and tastes) "Don't take life too seriously...you won't make it out alive anyway."

Have a good laugh and hopefully a great weekend!

Author Spotlight with Kiersten White

I'm so excited about today...not only because it's Friday and the weekend looks bright but because I'm interviewing blogger extraordinaire and future NYT Bestselling Author Kiersten White. I asked her a slew of questions about how she got her start and what's propelled her to where she is today: on the precipice of her YA novel breaking out.

1-Your debut novel, Paranormalcy, comes out August 31st from Harper Teen. What's it about?

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

2-What inspired you to write it?

A shiny pink Taser showed up on my doorstep one day, and as I considered its various uses a tall dark man sporting some very sharp canines jumped out of the bushes and lunged for my neck. Luckily my finger was already on the trigger and he was in for a shock. After I subdued him, several people in suits showed up and said they'd take it from there. Which got me thinking--if the goal were to neutralize vampires and other dangerous supernatural creatures without killing them, what better way to do it than a secret, international government group? And who better to work for them than a sarcastic, delightful sixteen-year-old girl?

Except minus the part where I got a Taser and took out a vamp.

3-What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Finding the time. I love writing first drafts and I love editing--but as a stay-at home mom to two energetic young kids who have issues with bedtime, finding the time to do any of it is a daily challenge!

4-What would you say is the easiest?

I love editing. I know that makes me weird, but I really enjoy having a finished draft that I can then tweak and rearrange and smooth and prune. It's not as much work as actually creating, and I love seeing something that I made progress and become what I'd hoped it could be!

5-How long did it take you write Paranormalcy, find an agent, then sell it?

I already had my agent when I wrote Paranormalcy. Another novel of mine was on submission with editors and I needed something to distract me. I wrote the first draft of Paranormalcy in three weeks, edited it a couple of times, and then set it aside. When we decided to pull the book on sub, I went back to Para and spent a solid three months editing it--sending it to critique partners, cutting 10,000 words, smoothing it out, and even going so far as to read the entire thing out loud to myself to make sure it was in the best possible shape. My agent loved it, editors immediately responded, and three weeks later we had a three book deal with HarperTeen in a pre-empt. It was definitely a whirlwind, and much, MUCH more fun than the first book that never sold.

6-Finally, do you have any advice for writers seeking publication?

Work! People freak out when they hear that I wrote Paranormalcy in three weeks, but what they don't see are the four years I spent writing before that novel, or the months I spent editing, using everything I'd learned through reading, my own writing, and from my critique partners. Writing is fun and engaging and wonderful, but if you really want to get published, you're going to have to put an insane amount of time into it. You're going to have to sacrifice. You're going to have to work, and it's going to be hard.

But is it worth it? Absolutely!

Thank you so much Kiersten, for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by Pararomance and answer some questions! I, for one among many, can't wait to get my hands on Paranormalcy come August 31st.

I'm already counting down...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do romance writers practice what they preach?

I was at the gym yesterday talking with a long lost friend (well hello Laura!), when an older man who happened to be part of an earlier conversation asked me what I wrote.

I replied, "Paranormal romance."

"You mean the real smutty kind?" he asked, wrinkling up his nose as a grin spread across his tanned face.

I tried to push down the blush creeping across my cheeks. "I write about vampires and shape shifters. You know, suspense and plot-driven...and stuff." (See how smooth I am when I talk about my writing in person?)

He laughed, a resounding bull-horn of a hoot that echoed through the gym lobby. "You and your husband practice the romance stuff you write, or what?"

A too-tight smile pulled at my lips. "No more than I practice the killing scenes," I said, and turned before I could see his expression turn grim.

I wish I could say this was made-up...but I can't.

I can't believe this stranger was bold enough to ask whether or not I practice the scenes I write.

For those of you who've ever thought about asking that question think about it logically...does Stephen King kill people in his basement or get visitors from TommyKnockers late at night in order to write those scenes effectively? Does John Grisham spend all his time in a courtroom to get all those pesky details right? Is Dan Brown a member of the clergy or some secret organization hell-bent on keeping the true holy grail a secret? He'd have to be, wouldn't he, in order to write so compellingly? Likewise, does a romance writer practice the romantic scenes in a book before they put the hero and heroine into a steamy scene?

The answer to all of these is No...just in case you didn't know already. After all, I killed off an innocent secondary character in my romantic suspense and have some pretty nasty torture scenes in my paranormal...if I put into practice things I wrote Husband should be very concerned.

Any other writers out there experience something like this? What kind of looks do you get when you tell people you're a romance writer? Do you tell them at all?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Light a Fire

At the San Francisco Romance Writers' meeting Saturday I got to talking with Beth Barany about the one thing that makes writers break into the industry over others. She said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that persistence and dedication are what make a writer successful.

I completely agree. All you have to do is take a look at the slew of blog posts about rejection and eventual success to know writers have to be The Little Writer That Could in order to finally make it to their publishing destination.

I'd take it a step further. I think Donald Maass was on to something when he wrote The Fire in Fiction. He says (again paraphrasing) that there has to be "something" unique about your book...a fire...that lights your characters and your stories brighter than the others flooding the market. But how do you contain that fire? And how do you draw people in?

Look at any popular figure in the music, television, or movie industry and you'll find the answer.

Why does Angelina Jolie garner so much more attention than, say, Katherine Heigl? I dare say it's the FIRE within her that people are drawn to. Whether it's strutting the runway, gazing at her man, or working in the field, flaming passion sparks from Angelina Jolie.

You want to be around her. You want to listen to what she has to say and maybe, just maybe, pick up on some of that excitement and passion that's flowing off of her in waves. I'm not saying Katherine Heigl isn't beautiful, because let's face it, she's drop dead gorgeous...but the pull to watch her in life or on the screen isn't the same.

She's beautiful and a great actress and also does great things for those less fortunate...but she's...plain? Is that the word I'm looking for? Can you see the difference too? There's just something less interesting...

Now look at Eminem...he's rocked the music industry time and time again. What does he have over all the other talented rappers that keeps people (myself included) coming back to his work?

It's his FIRE. It's the desire burning deep down in his core fueling his lyrics. If you listen to his music at all (and if you don't, you should), you know he's talented...but it's more than that--there's thousands of talented rappers out there waiting to make their big break. It's the pull to him that makes him the star he is.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you want something bad enough, so bad that a spark of an idea gets ignited into something larger, and you keep fueling that fire with positive energy, hope, determination, then the fire will emit from you too. People will be drawn to you as much as your work. (And believe me, I can attest to this after RWA National where I saw many a fan girl drooling over Nora Roberts or Eloisa James.)

Writing is no different.

Life is no different.

Beth Barany was right--persistence and determination get you far. Angelina Jolie sets an example of how to be known--rock the boat, work hard, and look smokin' hot doing it. And Eminem, showing no fear, did whatever was necessary to reach his goal.

If the passion is in your heart for being a published author, your words will be fuel on the page...and people will take notice.

At least that's what I'm hoping as I start plotting the sequel to Enemy, Beloved. Two years ago next month I started writing. I definitely feel the burn to write, edit, and become a part of this bustling industry...now I guess others just have to believe in it too. I'll keep you posted on how my little theory plays out.

What about you? What one thing do you think makes a writer successful? Voice? High-concept material? Luck? Timing? Determination? Fire?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is Chivalry Dead?

Chivalry. Men wielding swords, standing up for their women. Men willing to fight for what's right, regardless of the consequences. Honor and virtue above all else.

That's what I'm talking about. That's why I write romance. I'm a sucker for a knight in modern clothing.

But lately I wonder what's happening to all those men. They seem to be disappearing. Case and point: the following video.

Take a look and tell me what you think. Is chivalry dead? Are there no men who'd take a hit for a girl anymore? Watch the video and leave your comments; I'm dying to hear your take. Maybe we could figure out what's going on with men lately. (Not my man, per se, but men in general. Just clarifying before I get in trouble. Love ya honey. *wink)

So? Do you think the lights got in his eyes like he said?

Yeah...I didn't believe his coward face either.

Conflict using the SATC Model

I had an epiphany last night while watching a 2001 rerun of Sex and the City. I'd been thinking a lot about how to infuse heartbreaking conflict into a paranormal story line with multi-dimensional (and seemingly unrelatable) characters. In other words, how to make far from natural characters, natural. And how to make you FEEL for them and their circumstance even though you've never been able to shift shapes or empathize with something that needs to suck someones blood in order to survive. (At least I hope not...and if you have please keep your dirty fangs away from me.)

Back to Sex and the City. In order to set up the awesome conflict in the specific episode I'm talking about, you have to know the most basic character points of the leading ladies.

So take the characters--what do they want most?

Carrie: To be independent, yet find Mr. Right (or Mr. Big, as the show would have it) ON HER TERMS.
Miranda: To be successful at her career with no strings attaching her to family of any sort.
Charlotte: To have a loving husband, 2.2 babies, a house in the Hamptons with a white picket fence.
Samantha: To be in complete control over her relationships, whether they be sexual or otherwise. Absolute freedom where she has the opportunity to walk at any point is her saving grace.

So now take the scene from last night's episode "Just Say Yes"--what's going on?

Carrie: She's losing her apartment. To stop her from having to move, Aiden buys her apartment, the one next door, and a ring...a very hideous ring.
Miranda: Learns she's pregnant.
Charlotte: Can't get pregnant. Wants to try InVitro, while her husband is against it.
Samantha: Sleeping with her boss. He takes her to Rio...on his plane and his terms.

See the conflict taking form?

The brilliant writers of the show took what the characters want most and flipped those goals on their head. Then they set some of the characters directly against one another and watched the blow up.

All Charlotte wants is a baby and in the breakfast scene I'm talking about, Miranda shows contempt for having morning sickness and a growing belly. Can you see the resentment building between them? How good would the show have been if Charlotte got pregnant with Trey on their first try? How about if she had the perfect marriage she'd always dreamed of? I'm guessing you wouldn't relate. Most people have to give baby-making a go for awhile. And there is no such thing as the "perfect" marriage.

Samantha's the easy one. She needs control in the form of the ability to walk out the door on her partner at any given moment. Even if she's giving it up in the bedroom she has to be the one to say when, where, how much...wait...no, that's Julia Robert's in Pretty Woman, isn't' it? Well, I suppose the control issues are the same. And yet, in the scene, her boss is the one in control. They take his jet to Rio and she's whisked away to his world...only when she starts to feel like a side character does she run home to her friends.

Oh, Carrie. The writers completely screwed her over time and time again. In this scene, Aiden couldn't have made a bolder move in buying her apartment so she wouldn't have to move. I think a normal gal would've been appreciative of the gesture. Not Carrie. She's Miss Independent. Miss Do For Herself. Leaving the conflict at this level would've carried the show...but then the writers up the ante by tossing in an engagement ring into the mix. BUT WAIT! Not just any ring--a hideous pear shaped diamond on a gold band. Oh, the irony of it all. No designer ring for the designer gal.

The minor conflicts (the ring gets replaced for a gorgeous one, Charlotte apologizes to Miranda for her feelings, Trey comes around with InVitro for the time being, Samantha comes home and moves on, etc, etc) get resolved by the end of the show, but the core conflicts remain throughout the series. Most SATC watchers would tune in next week to see the new minor conflicts form and swirl inside the larger ones...and people like me will watch the movies no matter how far-fetched (hello Abu-Dhabi *see below) just to see how the major conflicts will be resolved.

(For the record, Carrie does rope in Mr. Big and learns to depend on him despite herself, Charlotte reaches her dreams of having the "perfect" family {albeit with a "perfect" nanny}, Miranda keeps her job and her sanity by balancing both work and family and accepting love, and Samantha finds happiness within herself)

So that's my take on conflict using the SATC Model. Take your main characters. Find out what they want most and WHY. Then scramble them up so it seems like they have no chance in hell at achieving their goal. Then when you think you've piled them under enough baggage that they'll never get free, throw another couple pounds on the stack. Isn't that about par for the reality course? Doesn't it sometimes feel like the world couldn't possibly throw another log on your already raging fire?

For my own writing, I have to remember my characters are resilient. I tend to be a little to easy on them. But they'll bounce back, won't they? In order to make paranormal creatures believable and relatable, I have to make their conflicts resemble ones from believable and relatable people...ones like Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.

When it's all said and done I'm going to miss the show. But where the writers really nailed it is here: I'm going to miss the characters the most. THAT'S how good writing should be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dashes, turkey legs and gremlins, oh my!

I think I may have just won the title of the most random blog title ever! My brain is a little fried today and after reading this post you may know why. And the title fits! It does! Let me tell you...I've had a great (albeit exhausting) week. And it's not even finished yet!

Saturday my sister-in-law was married in a gorgeous Irish-themed wedding. I was over-the-moon excited to be the matron-of-honor and, after re-reading this paragraph, promise to quit with the dashes from here on out. Games were played and Queen's favors were won. Smoked turkey legs were deliciously evil and there seemed to be an endless supply of beer. In the midst of the reception where I scored major points in archery and bocce ball challenges and where Husband won the stone toss, I discovered two things about myself. One, that I can wear the heavy, flannel, traditional garb that the women did back then without groaning too much about it. The temperature licked at 100 degrees, but my dress stayed on. It was a larger feat than it seems...take a look at what I was up against...

Which leads me to the second thing I discovered about myself...there is nothing sexier than a strong-jawed, wide-shouldered man in a kilt holding a bare turkey leg. (Side note: I'm not much for historical novels, but as of late I don't know what's going on with me. First, I love McCarty's The Chief, and now I'm drooling over Husband in a kilt. I think it's time I re-evaluate my writing/reading preferences.) (And YES, I have a left arm...it's wrapped behind my back and hidden beneath 10 pounds of stifling fabric. Hungry, sword-wielding Husband didn't gnaw it off.)

After the wedding, Husband and I packed up our two munchkins and headed to Pinecrest Lake, a campground with loads to do. Actually, even though there was fishing, horseback riding, and miles of trails to hike, I sat on the beach and looked at *this* all day:

Not such a bad view, huh?

This is me and Husband back to our modern-day selves, lounging like two lizards on the beach. Don't say anything but I think I liked him as a stone-throwing Irishman better. Ha!

The rugrats had never been camping and I was a little hesitant. In my worst nightmares I could not have imagined how dirty they'd get. The ring around my bathtub looked a little like those gulf oil spill pictures floating around the internet. Although I freaked out every time they kicked up plumes of dirt and laughed or shoved dozens of marshmellows in their little cheeks, they loved every second. Every single sugar-filled, dirty-little second. When we left, they were innocent and cuddly...a little like Gizmo. Remember him?

"Please let me go camping and eats tons of sugar! Pleeease! I'll be a good little gremlin!"

Now imagine Gizmo whacked out on pixie sticks and doughnuts and candy and picture him swimming in the lake waaaay past his bedtime. Yup. You got it. My cute, cuddly kids came home looking a little like this:

"Open this refrigerator so I can get to the deep-fried twinkies or I'm going to saw off the handle with my chainsaw! Raawr!" (And, why yes, that is me hiding behind the wall, too scared to enter the kitchen for fear the gremlins will eat off my right arm. It'd be awful to post a picture here tomorrow of me missing BOTH arms, right?)

Needless to say, I'm so glad the week is over. It's over, I tell you! We're home safe, the kids are clean (back to their mildly innocent, cute and cuddly selves), the piles of camping gear are (mostly) unpacked and I'm drop-dead tired. Wait...it's Thursday? Shoot. What should I do with the rest of my week?

Maybe I could convince my knight in shining plaid to dress up again. *wink

(Edited to add: Anyone wanna do a dash tally? Think I broke the twenty mark?)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Let's Blog Hop! Follow me! This way!

It's Blog Hop time again! These Mondays are sneaking up fast...and I looove it because that means school is starting soon...and with school comes more time to write. So exciting!

On to the blog hopping!

Here's how it works:

READERS: Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We'd love to chat with you!


•Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
•You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
•Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
•The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
•If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Can't wait to meet some new authors, writers, friends. *grin

Oh, by the way, I'll be buried to my ears in a new venture this week but will be back Wednesday or Thursday with loads of pictures and more writing. Can't wait to share it with y'all. Have a great week!

Friday, August 6, 2010

100 Follower Winner!

Okay, first, I'm a little irritated. I made my first vlog (video blog) to announce the winner of the 100 Follower Contest but it was taking FOREVER to load. So, I apologize and will try to fix the problem by the next contest. The reason I wanted to vlog it was so you could see my genuine excitement when random.com randomly picked a winner!

Second, and much more importantly, I'm jumping over the moon because LYDIA KANG won Pararomance's first contest! Please email me and let me know your prize of choice, either Lisa Sanchez's paranormal romance Eve of Samhain or a $15 Starbucks Giftcard. I'll get it in the mail ASAP so don't forget to include your mailing address.

I'm so excited about all the entries and blog mentions and tweets and retweets...I can't thank you all enough. I have plenty more things to giveaway so stay tuned.

Lydia Kang: congratulations again. To everyone else: thanks so much for participating in my first contest!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birthday Blues

My grumble, grumble, thirtieth, grumble birthday is coming up on Saturday. I'm kinda freaked out about it. I've never been one to fret about growing another year older. I drown myself in random quotes about birthdays that make me feel young and vibrant when that time of year rolls around. It pretty much works. A few well-knowns like "age is nothing but a number" and "it's not how old you are but how old you feel" do the trick on days I search for those creeping grays.

But thirty? Holy hell.

I'm the last of my friends to cross the threshold.

I really do feel older. (Thanks largely to the two knee surgeries that have left me with a slight gimp and aching pain that rears its ugly head when it's cold out.)

I tell Husband to turn down his loud music when he ramps it up. But come on, who wants to get their eardrums blasted out by Rage Against the Machine or Slipknot every "quiet" Sunday morning?

I'd MUCH rather spend my mornings with a mocha from Starbucks, a Chewy granola bar, and my blank word doc than a sweat session at the gym--even though I know which of those I *should* be doing.

And I'd much rather spend my nights cuddled beneath a blanket than out drinking with friends.

Is that so wrong? Am I making thirty the new fifty? I worry sometimes. Especially when Husband gets back from an open track meet this weekend and says he feels younger. Younger! Can you believe that? The nerve of him to mention youth when I'm about to be old and gray. Hmph!

I actually have plans for my thirtieth. A big bash with family and friends and beer and yummy cake and presents...it's my sister-in-laws wedding! Oh, I'm sure I'll do something the day or week after but for now there's no plans. I kinda just want to curl up on my rocker, pet my cat, drink some tea and watch 60 Minutes*.

*For the record I don't own a rocker, or a cat, I don't drink tea, nor have I ever watched 60 Minutes. And I've especially never done them all at the same time which would absolutely catapult me into the Depends-Zone.*

Anyway, back to my thirtieth. I don't want presents this year. Hell, I don't even want to drink. (Did enough of that at RWA National, thank you very much.) What I would like is a day with no cooking, no cleaning, no loud music, no stress, and hey, what the hell, maybe a book deal thrown in at some point.

Yeah, that'd pretty much blow the top off year thirty.

I'd looove for you all to weigh in. How did you feel at thirty? Were you as freaked out as I am? What did you do? (And if you say you watched 60 Minutes I'm going to chuck my MTWTHF pill container right at your head.)

Edited to add: I forgot to mention (not surprising seeing as memory loss is the first thing to suffer in old age) that the 100 Follower Contest is coming to a close. I'll pick the winner of Eve of Samhain or a $15 Starbucks Giftcard TOMORROW. If you're interested don't forget to follow the "Author Spotlight" link and comment.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More RWA Orlando Stuff

I'm going to warn you--this will be a longer post. There's just so much to tell. If you don't want to hear ramblings about RWA National or see the weird pictures just scroll down below where I make a very cool announcement regarding the 100 Follower Contest!

First things first, I came upon these ladies in the "Hemisphere" portion of the Dolphin hotel:

The picture is proof how absolutely crazy writers are about books. (I am undoubtedly a part of that "crazy" label.) There were so many autographed books given during the signings that many needed boxes to mail home their things. Checked luggage wouldn't cover it by a long shot. I just couldn't believe their stash! They told me they'd fill all the boxes and then some. Insane. They were from North Carolina (or was it the South--forgive me ladies) and were very nice to let me take their picture to show you all the level of commitment to our favorite books and authors. I think it sums up the dedication well.

While walking through the hotel from one workshop to another, I couldn't help but feel the hand of fate guiding me. I always seemed to find myself at the right place at the right time. I met some amazing people and learned great things from them. BUT I have to say I freaked out just as much when I talked to Allison Brennan as I did when I saw this in the lobby of the neighboring hotel.

There it was--staring me in the face. For those of you new to my blog, I've been an avid collector of anything Titanic since around 1992. It was beyond cool to see that even across the country, so far from things comfortable and familiar, something simple like a Titanic crate can make me feel like I'm home.

Then of course there was this kick-ass waterslide outside The Yacht Club.

I didn't bring my bathing suit otherwise I might've given it a whirl.

I did, however, remember to bring my formal dress for the Golden Heart and Rita award ceremony. People were dressed to the hilt--I even saw a hoop skirt! You wouldn't believe the extravagance of the night or the thrill of seeing the winners take their awards, hearing them make their tearful, joyous speeches unless you were there--and you really should be there next time. I didn't make it to the award ceremony last year and now I really regret it. I didn't realize how inspiring it would be...I want one of those Rita's. Just one. I won't be greedy. And I'll get one if I wear my fingers down to nubs typing away all hours of the night...better get started, shouldn't I?

Here's a picture of our wonderful table who had to put up with my giddy-sleep-deprived-antics during each song. Sorry, gals, but I had too much fun with our finger kick-line, jazz hands, and awful karaoke style singing. (The awful was on my part, of course. You guys were great).

And now, for the announcement! Pararomance has reached 100 followers! Woohoo! We did it! Now I can start giving away some wicked cool stuff. I'm going to use a random number generator to pick the winner of Lisa Sanchez's Eve of Samhain or a $15 Starbucks giftcard on Friday. You have until the end of the week to comment and enter the contest or tweet and blog about the contest to get your entries up. You can read all the rules on the "100 Follower Contest" tab above.

Good luck!

Monday, August 2, 2010

RWA Overview

I'm now home safe and sound from one of the best conferences ever. I couldn't possibly explain to you how much I learned or how tired I am this morning. Both are equally overwhelming. I have great stories to tell and will most likely be blogging about them all week, but for today I wanted to give an overview. Let me take you back to the beginning...

I'm a die hard Dumb and Dumber fan and had to take a picture as we were flying over the Rockies. The scene in the Rockies where Harry had an extra pair of gloves the whole time Lloyd's hands were freezing kept coming to mind. I know, I know, I'm a dork. I'm well aware. Here they are:

This was the entrance to the Swan and Dolphin hotel where the conference was held:

Beautiful, isn't it?

I lost my voice early in the conference (Day 2, I think) and it's mostly due to the fact I spent most of my time on the lobby trying to network over the raging sound of this:

A short walk from the hotel was the Disney Boardwalk. Shops and arcade games lined the boarded street as well as restaurants and dance halls.

I even ate dinner one night with two friends (Hi Pamela Fryer and Vanessa Kier!) at Disney Brewery. Disney. Brewery. Two words I would never have expected to see together. The food was great and our server was from Antioch! Great to meet someone from my neck of the woods. Here's the waterfront view we had from our table:

Nora Roberts was the keynote speaker for the first luncheon. Lisa and I got slammin' seats thanks to awesome line-stalking skills. This is us a little blurred:

And this is proof Nora Roberts has sold her soul to become a romance writing Goddess. She's seriously glowing. When I ran into her a few days later I showed her the picture. She thought it was hilarious and said she's no God. I bet there's a few in the industry who beg to differ:

I was invited to a Doughnut Party hosted by Carolyn Jewel who was up for two RITA's at the award ceremony. For those of you who don't know what a RITA is, it's like the OSCARS but cooler. A RITA is won by votes from other published writers. In other words, your book has to be the best of the best in its category and is voted on by probably the most critical people in the business. It was great to meet a handful of nominees, chomp on some sticky, sugary goodness and drink margaritas from sparkly plastic cups. It was awesome. Here's two of my party crashers, Adrienne Miller and Monica Newcomb (both writers and great people):

And there's no way they're that innocent, fyi. I'd show you the picture snapped right after this one but Blogger officials may shut me down. I'm totally joking, but not about the fact that we had a blast.

This week I'll post more pictures of other author friends and late-night happenings (boy, are some of the stories C-R-A-Z-Y) and more from the RITA's. Have a great Monday! Mine will be filled with sleep, sleep and more sleep...but after this conference I'll dream big. *grin