Monday, June 28, 2010

Climbing Mt. Readme, one book at a time...

In my continued quest for more consistent blogging, (not to mention my penchant for snappy titles) I'm dipping my toe into a new theme. Not exactly reviews, but more of an overview of what I'm reading and how I do that.

Summer and reading seem to go hand in hand for some. While some people shop for the right beach read, my quest is more for an air conditioned room read. I am pale and prone to heat exhaustion, and after the time I had full on heat stroke and did not have a book with me (thus spending four hours in an amusement park's infirmary with nothing to read, oh the horror) I am smart about things like this. Purse always contains the current purse read, usually at least one magazine, my general purpose notebook (I like these with the kraft cover) and possibly one of my dedicated story notebooks or legal pads. Also pens. My favorite by far is the Micron, good for writing and doodling, so it multitasks. Sticky notes are a must for me as well, and I prefer the 3in x 4in size, and color or pattern must be other than yellow. My absolute favorite sticky notes are promotional items snagged at conferences.

Magazines are usually one of the following: Romantic Times Book Review; some member of the Somerset Studio family or Romance Writers Report, which is part of the RWA membership.

Then there's books. I am known for multitasking and my all time total of books read at one time is (brace yourself) ten. If I'm doing this right, you'll be able to see my Shelfari bookshelf on the side here :makes vague wavy gesture toward sidebar: If I somehow managed to launch missiles at Norway, as Dave Barry would say, link is here. Current purse book is Joanna Bourne's The Spymaster's Lady, though my copy is the original mass market edition, not the lovely new trade size. I did get this book when it first came out, but as I am anal about reading in story order (a whole post in itself) I wanted to wait until the prequel, The Forbidden Rose, came out. Which I devoured in record time and am now able to proceed through this intriguing world of the French Revolution. After that, refer to my previous post on my TBR shelf.

Interestingly enough, though I have four titles in electronic release, I do not own an e-reader. I do read some e-books, but on my laptop, which goes pretty much everywhere with me. That's working well so far, but I would consider a dedicated reader in the future. Jury is still out on which model would best suit my needs. Laptop is where I do a lot of my writing, and also critiquing of friends' manuscripts.

Periods of non-reading are rare and extremely frustrating, though they do happen. Last summer, I combatted that by setting myself the default of reading through Mary Jo Putney's Fallen Angels books. No default set yet for this summer, but might be a good idea to get one in place in case I need one.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #6

Hasn't she run out of movies yet? In a word, no.

Riding in Cars With Boys may be one of the most perfect movies to see with the strong women in one's life. Based on the memoir of Beverly Donofrio, directed by Penny Marshall, and featuring a stellar supporting role by the late Brittany Murphy, this is one of Drew Barrymore's best. Drew doesn't hold anything back in her through-the-years portrayal of Bev, who starts as a bright but boy-crazy girl in the 1950s. The men in her life, from her father, her first love, their son and more, take Bev down some very unexpected turns that get her where she needs to go at last.

Want to make that girlfriend movie trip a double feature? Allow me to suggest Mermaids. Cher plays free-spirited single mother Rachel, who moves her family frequently and never cooks meals, only appetizers. Winona Ryder plays her daughter, Charlotte, equally passionate...about being her mother's exact opposite. Bob Hoskins plays Rachel's extremely but oh so absolutely perfect love interest. When mother and daughter come to a crossroads in their lives, as a family and as women, it's going to take a lot to figure things out.

Ready for some guys now? Dead Poet's Society deserves to be termed a classic, but the trailer, eh, not so much. One might think the film is on the lighter, more comedic side of things...and with Robin Williams in the lead, that may be what new viewers will think automatically. Wrong-o. This is very very very much a drama; an inspiring drama to be sure, but anyone expecting a comedy will get a beeeeeeeeeg surprise about three quarters in. Robin Williams does deliver an iconically brilliant performance as an inspired and unconventional teacher at a private boys' school, who urges his students to seize the day and embrace the poets within. This goes over better with some than others and consequences ensue.

The misleading trailer award, however, has to go to An Awfully Big Adventure. Georgina Cates' debut role has her playing Stella, a starstruck young aspiring actress in post WWII England. Stella practices acting constantly and recounts her innermost secrets and hopes to her mother in furtive phone calls. Hugh Grant plays Meredith, the loopy, self-absorbed director of the children's theatre troupe where Stella is a girl of all work...and falling in love with Meredith. Her attentions only amuse Meredith, when he bothers to notice, as she's not his type at all. When famed actor PJ O'Hara, played by Alan Rickman in one of his best performances, joins the troupe, everything changes. The formerly shaky troupe now has a bona fide genius of the stage amongst them, though he still pines for his long-lost American love. Not so much that he and Stella don't strike up an intimate acquaintance, though she insists she loves another. Then, bit by bit, threads of the past weave themselves together and PJ learns a truth that rocks his world to its very foundation. May be triggering for some, but Alan Rickman's last scene is beyond genius. Needless to say, NOT A COMEDY. Repeat, NOT EVEN REMOTELY A COMEDY, but an emotional tour-de-force with an ending the Greek tragedians would applaud.

Embedding disabled by request, so for trailer, click here.

Ladies in Lavender delivers exactly what it says on the tin, but is still full of surprises. Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith portray elderly maiden sisters on a windswept English coast during WWII. Life has gone on in a comfortable, predictable manner until a handsome twentysomething young man washes ashore on the sisters' beach. He has no memory, and the sisters discover his native language is German...and that he is a violin virtuoso. His arrival provokes two very different reactions in the sisters, and the arrival of a beautiful young artist, played by Natasha McElhone threatens the status quo even further. Something's got to give.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy Dance Friday #8

Believe it or not (I had to count twice myself) this marks two months of Happy Dance Friday. I had a theme all set to go, but as I cannot resist the Kasprzak brothers, this time we get Evan:

In Glee, the character Artie uses a wheelchair, but his big dream is to become a dancer:

The episode where the above dream sequence appears does contain a plot thread about tempering dreams with reality, and that Artie's desire to dance isn't realistic, but I (and Dancesport) beg to differ. Last time I checked, a smoking hot samba like this counted as dancing:

I purposely keep politics out of my blog, but I am firmly convinced that all parties could benefit from more of this in Washington:

Officially lodging a protest here; I have lived a five minute walk from a mall for double digit years, and never once has this happened:

Finally, for the 80s purists among us, (including my DH) the original Safety Dance video:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday At the Movies #5

Focus on Hugh Grant comedies this time. We've already covered Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually, but there's oh so much more.

Two Weeks Notice has Hugh Grant (once again playing an Englishman in New York) as George, the insufferable yet chipper (and extremely wealthy)boss of Sandra Bullock's Lucy, an attorney who wants to stand up for what's right, be that preserving a local landmark or observing common courtesy. George, as she discovers, is far from common or courteous, and Lucy puts her foot down after George pushes her one step too far. This is a delightful romantic comedy spin on the old maxim "you don't know what you've got until it's gone." George's all out efforts to reform and win Lucy's loyalty and love (especially what he does during the traffic jam scene) show Lucy that she can't always take things as they are at first glance. The final scene, capping a long-running gag involving takeout food, is heartwarming as well as amusing.

Notting Hill also belongs among Mr Grant's best, as he plays Will Thacker, recently divorced and the owner of a small travel bookshop who never expects anything exciting, and has those expectations blown out of the water when a surprise encounter with Anna Scott, the most famous actress of the moment, portrayed by Julia Roberts. Will offers Anna a moment of everyday courtesy in her moment of need and thus begins an unlikely, and surprisingly real love story. Anna's celebrity isn't treated as glamorous, but focuses more on the hard work involved in the job of an A-list actor. Though both want the comfortable space to work out their relationship in its own time, the publicity machine has other ideas, and these two are going to have to work hard and risk much for their eventual HEA. The time-lapse scene of Will walking through Nottting Hill during his separation from Anna is one of the most gorgeous pieces of film I have ever seen, and Will and Anna's dinner with his family touches even the hardest hearts. Rhys Ifans provides sparkling comic accents as Will's horrendous flatmate, and Harry Connick Jr's music wraps everything in a big, beautiful bow.

Music and Lyrics has Alex Fletcher, the other half of 80's supergroup Pop! - the unsuccessful half. With his former partner having gone on to stratospheric success, Alex is resigned to life as a has-been, performing exclusively at 80s nostalgia venues. A career path that his manager, played to perfection by Brad Garrett, informs him is petering out, as there are new old acts coming along all the time. Possible salvation arrives when Cora Corman, the current big thing in the pop music world, invites Alex to write her next hit song, and perform it with her. Two hitches. One, there's an extremely tight deadline and two, Alex is great with a melody, but hopeless with lyrics. During a session with a hired lyricist, he seizes on a much better option - his plant waterer, Sophie Fisher, played by Drew Barrymore, who is a born natural for this sort of thing. Though Sophie resists at first, out of her own fears of being washed up as a writer, the two find a way to make beautiful music together, both literally and figuratively. Yes, that is Hugh Grant doing his own singing and piano playing, skills he learned for this role.

Giving a nod to Father's Day, let's look at About A Boy. Adapted from the Nick Hornsby novel, Hugh Grant's Will (different character from Notting Hill, no relation) is a proudly shallow libertine, living off the proceeds from his late father's hit novelty song. Will prides himself on living only for himself and not needing anybody, but there's one activity that's much more fun with somebody else, meaning female somebody elses, and when Will discovers that single mothers are often emotionally vulnerable, he sets off on a path that doesn't lead anywhere near his expectations. Will masquerades as a single father to join Single Parents Alone Together, going through ridiculous extremes to create a phantom child and phantom ex, until reality, in the form of school-age Marcus, played by Nicholas Hoult, smacks him in the face. Or a duck in the head, to be exact. Marcus tags along on Will's date with a friend of his mother's...while his mother, Fiona, played to perfection by Toni Collette, attempts suicide as a way out of her deep depression. Marcus and Will become unlikely friends and allies, stumbling their way through a first friendship for both of them as they try to make sense out of their complicated lives. This film shines a light on the hope that remains even in the most dire of times and reminds us of the importance of love, trust and friendship, even when those aren't the most comfortable things in the world.

Note: The music in the trailer, while one of my favorite songs, does not appear in the movie. Soundtrack music is entirely provided by Badly Drawn Boy, theme song here:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Dance Friday, Father's Day edition

Some of my best and earliest memories of my father, gone three years now, are of him teaching me to dance. He'd told me once that he'd wanted to become a professional dancer as a young man, but his father discouraged that career. My father had many jobs over his lifetime; soldier, teacher, fine artist (his great love) and commercial artist and even worked as a consultant in his field after his official retirement. He never lost the love of dance, though, whether it was in the living room with school-age me, out with my mom or busting his moves at family celebrations.

Since Father's Day is coming upon us, this week, we'll focus on the men of So You Think You Can Dance. No disrepect to the women, but so far it's the guys who are catching the attention at this phase of the game.

Happy Father's Day to all the guys in my life - I'm blessed to know you and you all make me feel like dancing every single day.

First, Alex Wong. I do not blame the Miami ballet for refusing to let him out of his contract the first time he auditioned for SYTYCD, but he's "ours" now:

Next, Billy Bell. I think *I* needed pain management when he had to leave the competition last year due to illness, but I'm glad he's looking all better now:

Kent Boyd's clip gets a possible trigger warning. The spoken word portion addresses Alzheimer's. Still, watching this dance gets a "yes, that's exactly how it feels" from me, proof that Mr Boyd is going to be a very successful dancer.

Can't let this go by without some love for the all star guys either.

Pasha + paso doble (aka the man's dance) = very appropriate:

Mark Kanemura + Bohemian Rhapsody = genius win:

Stephen "tWtich" Boss - I have no idea why it's the second letter in his stage name that's capitalized but with talent like his, does it really matter?:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Climbing Mt. Readme

AKA the To Be Read (TBR) pile. Actually, in my case, shelf. Piles of books make me antsy. I like shelves. Here's a peek at my recently acquired, soon to be read adventures in waiting. Some new releases, some older. Anybody who wants to play "spot the common threads" may feel free to do so.

Since I read by story, it's book title first, then author and books are listed in no particular order.

His at Night Sherry Thomas - Sherry Thomas is one of my autobuy authors. I could drown in the depths of her characters and she delivers a new and engaging story every time. Hopes are high.

Breath of Heaven Cindy Holby - I'm always on the lookout for a great medieval. Hopefully this will fit the bill.

My Reckless Surrender Anna Campbell - though her courtesan books aren't my favorites, I love the grit and emotion Ms. Campbell always delivers, and she had me with the names Diana and Tarquin (no other reason than the names strike my fancy.)

His Border Bride Blythe Gifford - Blythe Gifford writes amazing historical romances with great flavor of the times. I expect her first foray north of the border to Scotland to be as real and riveting as her other tales. Harlequin Historical again, here.

Marrying the Royal Marine Carla Kelly - Harlequin Historicals made a very smart move in snagging Carla Kelly. Her trilogy about seafaring men (military, not pirates) and the women who love them winds up with this entry. I already predict achingly real emotion, full immersion atmosphere and characters that will stay with me long after the covers are closed.

Lord of Devil Isle Connie Mason - one of the grande dames of the industry, always good for an entertaining adventure. Bonus points for coming out of retirement in response to pleas from her many fans.

What a Scoundrel Wants Carrie Lofty -- I am oh so very late on this one, so it may get priority. Reviews have given high points for flavor and emotion and I've always had a soft spot for anything Robin Hood related, I must indulge.

Rising Wind Cindy Holby -- I am a sucker for anything colonial era, and colonial frontier can get bonus points.

Jack Compton's Luck Paula Marshall --Harlequin Historical, out of print, but set in early 20th century and thus of interest.

Switchback Robin Stevenon and Tom Blade - this is an out of print time travel story, so couldn't find any links to either author or the title and must express myself through, bunny.
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures Modern woman takes silent film star grandmother to a screening of silent movies...only to see herself on the screen in a movie her grandmother insists was never made.

Note: This does not mean that I will not pick up additional books to add to the short list for my TBR shelf. I pick books by mood, often having to "pet" the shelves for a while before I know what story wants to be read next.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #4

Can you believe it's been a whole month of Saturday at the Movies? Thankfully, there are still a whole lot of movies out there, so I won't be running out anytime soon. Let's pop some corn and get down to business.

Four Weddings and a Funeral: my first exposure (thank you, Elise) to Hugh Grant and English movies with big gaggles of cast. I love this movie muchly and always get something new out of it, either watching for the sociology (no, really) or following the oodles of love stories, catching an easter egg here and there and soaking in not only that slice of Britishness but that part of life where everyone pairs off and having to deal with the worst as well as the best, as adults. John Hannah's funeral scene kills me every single time, and the exchange at the final wedding where Hugh Grant's character must interpret his Deaf brother's objection to the ceremony captures comedy and heartache at their best.:

Always one to follow on a theme, let's hop back across the pond for another wedding - one that will allow us to party like it's 1985. Adam Sandler as a romantic lead? No, we're not in the Twilight Zone, we're in The Wedding Singer and yes, he pulled it off, as a perfect foil for Drew Barrymore. Two songs Adam's character, Robbie, performs for Drew's character, Julia, both stand out as classics; one for its wide-swinging pendulum of devotion and despair, and the other for straight heartwarming romance. Again, a pocket of time and a place that holds something special to me -I think I've been to those weddings- and the iconic rapping granny:

How about Adam Sandler as a dramatic romantic lead? Impossible, you say? No, no, very possible. For proof, I present Spanglish. Not only does Adam Sandler play it straight (beautifully so) but the rest of the cast, notably Chloris Leachman, Tea Leoni (never more gorgeous) and Paz Vega hit this one out of the park, striking every emotional note in a story that covers love, loss, right and wrong and how the choices we make affect those around us. Adam Sandler's John, a chef with a family teetering on the edge of destruction, employs the beautiful Flor, who speaks no English and must raise her young daughter in a strange new country. This movie hurts in a good way:

Birth delivers Hitchockian (Hitchockesque?)in both style and plot, as Nicole Kidman's Anna, a widow about to remarry, meets a ten year old boy with uncanny knowledge of things only her ten-years-dead first husband should know. While the kid is spooky indeed in his sincerity (but watch the opening scenes verrrry carefully and all will be revealed, that's all I'm saying) it's the women that carry this film; Nicole Kidman, Anne Heche and Lauren Bacall all deliver flawless performances. Also, I want to live in that apartment building. Minus the scary preteen, mmkay?

Back to Blighty, sticking with Nicole Kidman and the spookiness, we have The Others. No, not a Lost reference, but a masterpiece of misdirection. Nicole Kidman;s Grace and her two children, Anne and Nicholas, take a house in the Channel Islands near the end of WWII. Grace's husband is missing in the war and Anne and Nicholas, both bright, active children, live with photosensitivity. Direct sunlight must never touch their skin or they will become very ill. When Grace's servants disappear and strange noises and visions commence, the mystery begins to unfold. The atmosphere could very well be called the star of the film, as the house and mist are characters in their own right. The ending isn't my favorite, but what a ride this is:
Happy Dance Friday again, and how appropriate is it that this comes after last night's So You Think You Can Dance preview?

If anyone had ever told me I would full out cry when watching someone do the robot dance, I would have said they were crazy. That was before there was Bryan Gaynor, who serves us his soul on a platter, and all we can say is, please, sir may we have some more?:

Proof positive that Nigel Lythgoe does have dance experience:

Then again, the clip is taken from a show called "Brits Can't Dance," so....

...oh, wait, they can. Which would explain the London Royal Ballet:
Good thing we got that straightened out.

Deciding whether to feature Travis Wall or Benji Schwimmer for the next clip proved impossible, so let's have both:

Another favorite SYTYCD moment- Pasha and Sara's West Coast Swing, choreographed by Benji Schwimmer:

Got a favorite dance clip or one you'd like to see? Come join the party.

Monday, June 07, 2010

By my count (and I could be wrong) I do believe I've come to the end of my "every post must reference Lost" week. Who knows, I might give myself other theme weeks and this is definitely not the last we've heard from me on Lost in general.

This fan-made video properly expresses my excitement over taking the Alpha Males class with Laurie Schnebly Campbell:

Seriously, Lost is a fabulous source for studying different ways characters undertake the hero's journey. Also, take Laurie's classes. They're great. Trust me.

the Sawyer song properly conveys my bounciness today:

...and to take advantage of the current mashup trend, I pay tribute to some very talented fanvidders who have mashed Lost with other hit least in the opening credits:

Well, that gets me feeling all creative and inspired and ready to go pound keys. How about you?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cat Sitting and Writing - two great tastes that taste great together?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I am getting good at this- and by "this" I mean making every post relate to Lost in some way. Though I am good at both writing and catsitting. That's Dharma Initiative cat food with the LOLcat there, and I now have a burning desire to obtain some. Ah, the swan station. Good times. Ayhoo...

Closing in on the end of the second round of catsitting. I have giant blisters on both heels (this is what happens when the temperature soars, melting the glue that held the top layer of padding in my shoes, thus making my dainty footsies slide too much...and this is way more than anybody wants to know about my feet, so I will change the subject.)There was an incident involving a cell phone that resulted in a bruise and some chafing and on this day alone, I have had two cats upon two separate occasions chitter outside the bathroom door, with one of them busting in on me. The recording of So You Think You Can Dance that I set for last night turned out to have a second half comprised entirely of a still shot of the McDonald's logo. Still on pee watch for one of the kitties and the fire alarm does not understand my explanations that while I recognize its need for a new battery, I was unable to obtain same in either of the two merchants within walking distance. :points to giant blisters mentioned above:

That previous paragraph is not complaining, it's statement of fact. Also statements of fact are: three out of three critique partners agree I wrote a very sexy apple; my walk from 2kitties location to 1kitty location provided me with the extremely rare weather where I can whip off my overshirt and get cool air on arms and shoulders (thank you, cloud cover, for I am porcelain of skin and can burn under a forty watt bulb, much less the summer sun.) Okay, that didn't have much to do with writing, but I have my blue racerback tank dress on and that always gives a boost of confidence. (I'm girly. I love clothes. Deal.) Plus my metal water bottle is red with black skull and crossbones and it makes me happy.

So does rambling. I am talking about writing today, I promise. Last night was my weekly nag group, especially precious this time because it comes after one member's trip to Ireland and before her trip to Louisiana. Lucky stiff. So we got virtual travel tales along with the usual benefits. Which is where the sexy apple comes in.

Before anyone gets any weird ideas, no apples were harmed in the scene in question. There is an actual apple, and besides being a tasty fruit, this apple is a symbol of the life my hero has been afraid to admit he wants, but finally admits he does. It's not so much the apple he wants, but what the apple and its seeds represent. I'd had some concerns about using this scene to set up the road story to come, as well as the tension between hero and heroine. Having three out of three critique partners agree that it worked is heady stuff, and gives me impetus to boot Word and get cracking on polishing that story to a fare-thee-well. :cracks knuckles:

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Happy Dance Friday #4

This week's edition inspired by this blog entry by the fabulous Kimberly Loomis. Okay, I will admit that there isn't a heckuva lot of dancing on Lost, but read on. I'll find a way. This week, I declare an all-So You Think You Can Dance edition, because my geekery for this show knows no bounds and rivals my Lost geekery. So this week, performances from and relating to SYTYCD.

First, I had the great pleasure to see the Season Three tour live, and rank Hok and Jamie's "Hummingbird Dance," seen live, as one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life.

More Kasprzak love - Ryan Kasprzak's choreography reel. This guy makes me want to think of ways to convince DH that I really do need someone to choreograph tap routines for random events in our lives. Maybe it's like Steve Martin said, that all world leaders should be given banjos, because it's impossible to be angry while playing the banjo. Same with tap dancing, I'm thinking. Hm, Lost told entirely through tap? If anyone could do it, it would be Ryan Kasprzak. Though Ryan didn't make the top twenty when he auditioned for SYTYCD, his brother, Evan, did, thanks in part to Ryan's choreography. Stuff like this:

Another dancer who I would have liked to have seen go farther on the show in seasons past was Ben Susak. Here, he dances with Pam Chu (who is new to me, but wow, is she wonderful) in a piece choreographed by Wade Robson, another one of my choreograpy crushes. This routine was performed on SYTYCD by Joshua and Katee, but this is raw, intimate, and it's longer and a bit more, um, mature. I want to bottle this and pour it into one of my stories.

Wade Robson himself. This only makes me like parking garages more. (I have had a thing for parking garages since I was a little kid. Do not ask me why.)

Here's the routine that made me fall head over heels in love with the genius that is Wade Robson. Who knew dancing zombies could be beautiful and elegant as well as scary? To make another Lost allusion, if Ryan Kasprzak could choreograph the happy part of Lost, I want Wade Robson to handle the scary ones. Dancing Smoke Monster? You know he could make it work.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Don't Tell Me What I Can't Do....

See what I did there? Worked a Lost reference into an actual writing blog. Hm. Wonder if I can keep that up for a whole week.

For those who haven't been sharing my obsession for the past six years, "don't tell me what I can't do" was the motto of Lost character John Locke. When he actually was John Locke and not the dead guy whose body the smoke monster borrowed, that is. We first hear Locke make his iconic statement when he is refused a place on the Australian walkabout he'd come halfway across the world to undertake. Granted, he was, at the time, a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, but that didn't stop him from doing the research, amassing a truly impressive cache of hunting equipment and flying all the way to Australia to pursue what he firmly believed was his destiny.

The tour company's insurance provider had other ideas, and so Locke didn't get to make that walkabout. That one. He didn't plan on getting put back on a plane home to his truly depressing life...nor did he plan on the plane crashing on an uncharted island...or the island curing his paralysis. When the survivors' food ran out and they'd spotted a wild boar in the jungle, well, golly, Locke happens to have all this hunting equipment and he knows how to use it. Free range pork dinner for all. That's only one of the things that branded Locke as the show's man of faith. Don't tell him what he can't do, indeed.

This carries on over to the writing life, especially for those of us who write genre fiction. In my case, romance. I knew I was a writer early on; there was never anything I wanted to do more than tell stories. There was a time when I honestly thought the only genres I would be "allowed" to write were science fiction and mystery, neither of which are right for me. For others, they are a perfect fit, but for me, about as good a fit as a Harley Davidson is for a goldfish. Still, I thought that was all there was. Don't ask me where I got this idea, but I got over it and I pushed through and found my voice.

Being a writer means having a strong sense of self and a tough hide. It means going after what one wants -destiny, if you will- even in the face of the "everybody knows" clan and the "supposed to" monster. Romance is fluff? Pah. Guilty pleasure? Half right, no reason for guilt. I'm proud of my books and proud of my genre. I am a Christian. I am a romance writer. These two are not mutually exclusive, nor am I restricted to the inspirational subgenre. I like to color with every crayon in the box. Love. Hate. Life. Death. Sex. God. Thought. Doubt. Faith. Despair. Triumph. Everything in between. I make my hero and heroine earn their HEA in a time and place that directly affects their personal journeys, individually as well as romantically.

No matter what genre or subgenre a writer calls home, someone (okay, a lot of someones) are going to start laying down "supposed to" stuff: the only period that sells is Regency England. Readers only want series and those only about the same generation. No blond heroes. Heroines must/can't be virgins. Add your own "supposed to" stuff here. Do all of that or your book and career are fated to share John Locke's seat back on the plane to his beige cubicle at his job in the office of a box factory. Wrong-o.

Tell your story the way it comes to you, because nobody else can tell it for you. Tell it until it's told, and finish, revise, submit, repeat. When all else fails, face your fears and give a hearty shout of "don't tell me what I can't do." Then gather your tools and go hunting, because you know you can bring home the goods.

Where I Am

I could be flippant and say I’m at Panera, or more grammatically correct, in a chair at Panera (though that would arguably be on the chair rather than in it – thank you, Professor Facos from Vermont College for haunting me all these years with that particular nit) but I’m feeling more writerly-philosophical than that.

After a break of a few days, I’m back in the cat-sitting game for the rest of the week. Not that I mind; I love the furries, they love me and litterbox duty is a small price to pay for companions who will not give me any sassback or roll their eyes when I start talking plot or characters out loud without being aware that I am doing so. They may exchange condescending feline glances, but they will not roll their eyes, and I’ll take that.

Thunderstorms slated for today, and if they can hold back until DH is at work and thus breathing his workplace’s air conditioning, I promise to remain calm. I love storms as long as nobody has to go to the ER. I have a thing about ERs.

That’s pretty much the real life stuff going on, so now we can get to the writing. I am still in Lost withdrawal. After a second viewing of the finale, I landed (pun unintended) in the thumbs up camp and off the WTF fence. Officially counting Lost as my favorite series, period. (Highlander and Moonlight vying for second, for those who care about these things.) Currently working my way through the Season One DVDs, planning to rewatch all six seasons, adding each season as I finish the last one. Discretionary budget permitting. Must check library. One more time through for pleasure, then time to break out the notebooks and start studying; what works for me in Lost and why does it work and how can I adapt parts of that for my own use?

During dinner with one of my critique partners, Melva, last week, we discussed current and upcoming projects. After regaling her with the big hairy jumble of stuff I’m working on now (I am the queen of multitasking; I’m happiest and most productive that way) she asked “what after that?” and I had a :blinkblink: moment. Yep, time to start thinking ahead for future stuff, even though I have days of thinking I’m drowning under what I’ve got. Refer to parenthetical comment above.

Which means it's time to start gathering inspiration; paying attention to what I'm reading, what I'm watching, the music I play over and over (apart from the playlists for each story I'm writing; every story has its own playlist) and indulge my addiction. In short, time to put another pot of Idea Soup on the cooker. If one must know, the stove where these stories cook is an Aga. One of these, in pillar box red.

Haven't made icons in a while, but that may cycle around again. :pets Photoshop Elements: Though most of my Sims2 time recently has been devoted to Asylum challenges (I'm twisted that way) I do have plans for photoshoots so that's another reason to break out PSE and play.

New artistic kid on the block is beading; the necklace in the picture above reads "more," and is my favorite piece I've made to date. There will be, ah, more.

I’m blogging more, and I like that. Many thanks to those who comment either here or on Facebook. Since theming my Fridays and Saturdays seems to have lit the fire, I am considering other themes for other days. Maybe a similar look at keeper shelf or TBR books? TV? Writing process? Anything you’d like me to blab about? Drop a line and let me know.