Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108f - SYTYCD Dueling "Time" 6/8

First off, full disclosure. This routine, about Mia's relationship with her father, came the first time when I was caring for my father, who had Alzheimer's. That was near the end of the road for him, so that probably colored my experience. I know it's a very emotional piece for many, very close to the choreographer's heart, but I don't love it. Don't hate it either. Don't really anything about it, so this won't be the most emotional recap.

I do like the contrast of the costuming - the all white ensembles of the dancers, against the rainbow of flowers on the ground, and the emotion of the joy shared between the man and the woman -in this case, a father and his adult daughter- comes through clearly. Lacey is still a favorite of mine, so she's always fun to watch.

I was eager to see if different dancers would provide a different viewing experience for me, and went into this with an open mind. Audrey certainly fits the sweetness of the character, and if there's any dancer who should be frolicking in a field of flowers, she'd be my pick. Matthew's wistful/joyful facial expressions in his first closeup fit nicely as well, though as Nigel says, the essence of that particular character could have been a bit stronger.

Splitscreen from Jroxy13:

Verdict: It's not them, it's me. Really pretty, though.

How about you, dance fans?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ten Questions With Gerri Brousseau

Historical romances of the piratical sort have always been among my favorites, and if I can combine such with another of my favorite things, talking with like-minded writers, I consider that time exceedingly well spent. So it is that I'm pleased to announce two debuts: A Pirate's Ransom by Gerri Brousseau, and a new feature here at Typing With Wet Nails. I first met Gerri at a meeting of Charter Oak Romance Writers, and was pleased to find that we both share a love of pugs and historical romance novels.Which made Gerri a natural choice to introduce my Ten Questions feature, but more on that later. If that cover has whet your appetite, read on.

1) When did you first know you were a writer?

That’s difficult to say because I have been writing stories since I was about 8 years old and I was the editor of my high school newspaper. As an adult, I worked in the legal field and wrote law briefs. So, I guess I have always been writing. I think in a past-life I must have been a scribe.

2) What draws you to historical romance?

I have always been enchanted with the romance of certain periods in history, such as pirate times, knights in shining armor, the French revolution, and the civil war, just to name a few. Although these periods may not ring “romance” I’m sure there was romance going on at the time. I have always looked at history as the story told about what happened, but I always wondered what stories were not told; stories of the people history happened around. “ ... It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...” yes, the French revolution was not particularly romantic, but I ask myself how those people survived. Who found romance in the midst of their circumstances and what made them strong and made their love survive. That’s what intrigues me, imagining and writing those stories.

3) How long had you been writing before receiving the call (or the email)?

The first novel I ever wrote was According to Legend (release from Soul Mate Publishing 11/12) which I wrote in 2009, but set it aside. Subsequently, I wrote a second novel (under consideration for publication at the time of this interview) and then in July of 2011 I completed A Pirate’s Ransom. I submitted Pirates and Legend to Soul Mate Publishing in March of 2012 and they snapped them up. All in all, that was pretty quick. Certainly nothing like some of the horror stories I have heard. I really can’t complain. I’m actually pretty excited because that first book is not in a box under my bed, but is being published.

4) What was the first thing you did after you heard you’d sold? I got an email at 10:30 p.m. so I couldn’t call anyone. I screamed, I jumped up and down and I did the happy dance with the pugs. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night!

5) What was your inspiration for A Pirate’s Ransom?

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Oh, sorry (excuse me while I wipe the drool from my chin) ... well, maybe he did have a bit to do with it. I’m sure I’m not the only woman who would find him to be an inspiration. However, I have always loved the romantic notion of being swept away by a handsome pirate, and wanted to try my hand at writing about it. I hope I have done it justice but I do have to tell you, I’m totally in love with my handsome, rogue, Pirate Captain Edmund Drake.

5) Tell us something that very intriguing book trailer doesn’t tell us about Edward and Catherine (and Blackbeard.)

Something only briefly mentioned in the book trailer, the Duke of Devonshire. He does play a larger part in this tale, but you’ll just have to read the book to see where my story takes you. (wink)

6) What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve ever received? The best advice was NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!!!

The worse: one editor told me I should go to school to learn how to write. It should be noted here that this happened only weeks before I got the call and sold not one, but two books.
I would like to say to any writer who might be reading this. I had “friends” tell me I was crazy to think I could be a writer and ever get published. I had one “friend” in particular who actually said, “Do you actually think you will ever make enough money writing to ever be able to quit your day job?” Writers, get away from these people. DO NOT listen to them. Keep writing, keep submitting and never give up.

7) What is your all time favorite romance novel? Your most recently read?
Right now I’m reading The Undead Space Initiative by Casey Wyatt and I’m really enjoying it. My favorite novel of all time ... wow, that’s a tough one, I have a few I could read and re-read, and I do love Mister Darcy, but I could never pick a favorite. I will tell you though that the very first romance novel I ever read was The Flame and the Flower by the late Kathleen Woodiwiss, and I was hooked.
8) Surprise! I hid a parrot in your office while you worked on final edits for A Pirate’s Ransom. (Don’t worry, he’s back home now.) What three words or phrases did the parrot learn during that time?

Arrr ... I thought I heard that rascal. I apologize if he’s now screaming “OMG! You want me to add what??? WTF!”
Three words he would have learned: scoundrel, derriere and courtesan.
Here are three phrases he may have seen:
1. Spoken by Captain Drake to Lady Catherine (Countess of Dorset): “Countess, why must I continually remind you that you are, in fact, my prisoner, and as such, you are in no possession to be making demands? Now, if you would kindly excuse me, my crew awaits.”
2. Spoken by Lady Catherine to the Quartermaster, Tobias Smith (don’t you just love that name?): “To devil with the Captain and his orders.”
3. Spoken by Captain Drake to Lady Catherine: “Every Lady needs a scoundrel in her life.”

9) Imagine you’re browsing your favorite bookstore and encounter that rarest of birds, a curious reader who has never heard of a romance novel. In one sentence, how would you define the genre to this reader?

A handsome hero enters into an adventure where he meets a beautiful heroine and sweeps her off her feet, but circumstances and conflict separate them, yet they strive to overcome these circumstances and ultimately find love.

10) What can your readers look forward to next?

In November 2012 Soul Mate Publishing will release According to Legend. I hope my readers will enjoy this time travel novel. Legend has it that when the spirit of the Tribal Princess is born again and she holds the enchanted stone in her hand, the lovers will be reunited ... even through time. This story is about a woman who comes into possession of a dream catcher (which has the enchanted stone woven into the net) and through her dreams she is drawn back in time and into the arms of the handsome warrior chief. This story actually takes place right here in my home state of Connecticut. For more information on this adventure romance, I invite you to visit my website where I share more about it.

Thanks for stopping by, Gerri. I know what's going on my TBR pile. Readers, if you're convinced, too, stop by Gerri's site or cut right to the chase and get your copy directly from Soul Mate Publishing here.

Readers, if you are an author of historical romance and would like a crack at Ten Questions (and don't mind sharing your office with a parrot, hypothetically speaking) drop me a line at

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108e - Deuling Beds 5/8

The bed dance. Three words, and a whole story is told right there. I'd never heard "Dreaming With a Broken Heart" before seeing the original performance of this, but it immediately went on the playlist I have for my I Would Know You manuscript. There's a raw, unbearable emotion that plays across the man's face as well as the movements of his body, testament to tWitch's (aka Stephen Boss) acting skill. He hits us hard with the pure, unadulterated grief too many of us know too well, capturing that moment between sleep and waking, that moment of remembering a loved one is gone. That desperate reaching. Angstbunny me clamped right onto that, and it was as pure a picture as I could see of my tormented hero, Anthony's longing for his believed-dead Christine.

This could have worked as a solo, highlighting the man's aloneness, but when the woman, the shade of his beloved, appears behind the bed, sliding into it, but still out of his reach, angh, my heart. Add to that her own frustration - does she, too, want to be next to him once more, but can only look? Then we have rose petals exploding everywhere, the lyrics with that it-makes-sense-in-grief question of the man grasping at even giving her gifts in his dream, and reality crashes in. No, she's gone. I dissolve at the sequence that starts at 1:15 below. All it takes is the eye contact to hear the entire conversation. No, she's not back. Yes, she's really gone. Yes, he has to live on without her. No, she didn't want to go. Yes, this sucks. It's raw and it's bleeding and it's gorgeous.

I have to admit to being really curious as to who would essay this dance in the new version. Dareian and Janelle, again, have very different physical types from Kherington and tWtich, which does help differentiate the two performances. I liked that Mia tailored the choreography to showcase the dancers. Dareian's spin at 2:40 was gorgeous, another rip my heart out moment. I do appreciate Janelle sharing that this dance came at a pertinent time in her life. Method dancing? Could be. Dance begins at 1:35:

I got a different feel from this performance, more vulnerable than raw, but still very effective. Dareian gave the male character an everyman quality. This is our brother, our friend, our neighbor, and this is one night of many he's alone with his pain. He'll get through the day all right, but the night, well, that's rough.

The female character was a bit harder for me to grasp. First, that's part of the story. She's dead, for one thing. Second, while Janelle has really gorgeous curls, for me, that obscured some of the facial expressions that convey the character and relationship. The soulful eye contact in the original becomes a gentle head shake. Still a sad "no, I'm not here," and a valid acting/choreograpic choice, but I missed the facial expression. Especially since this is far different from Janelle's usual dance persona. This couple feels younger to me, and can make it a sweeter ache.

Now for the split screen, courtesy of jroxy13:

What I found most interesting here was who I watched, and when, given the chance to see both routines at the same time. tWitch and Kherington have me one hundred percent at the eye contact, but when Dareian does his spin, then I'm there 100% as well. For me, tWitch's character was bleeding his pain, Dareian's soldiering on, and they both have me. My notes say "the original is the movie; the remake is the tv series." The same heart is there, but one is bigger, one quieter, both effective. What about you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108d - Deuling Koops 4/8

Ah, the b*tt dance. "Koops" in the post title is to avoid disappointing those whose search engines were looking for posts about b*tts (same reason for asterisks) because while this is a dance focused around a b*tt, it's an artistic b*tt, not a salacious b*tt. Not that I believe for a minute that the man character doesn't have pictures of women's b*tts wherever it is he hangs that hat of his, because I'm guessing he does. Man of mature years admiring the posterior of a potential paramour several years his junior is not the highest of concepts, but (no pun intended) it packs an impact.

One of the aspects that stands out for me the most from the original Randi and Evan performance is not on the clip, that of Evan's charming apologies to Randi's husband for having to focus on Mr. Randi's wife's b*tt all week. It's that contrast between the decency of Evan-the-dancer and the character of the dirty old man in this performance that ramps the latter up a notch and makes me admire the talents of the younger Mr. Kazprzak all the more.

As for Randi, I can definitely see the Mia in her performance and the character of the woman fits in with the whole world of this story. I'm thinking 1930s, slightly seedy town, possibly by the sea, and this ain't this gal's first rodeo. She's at least willing to accomodate her companion, and the relationship is fun to speculate. Plus the look is dead-on, but enough of my blabber.

I have to admit that I actually squeed when I saw that Amelia had been cast in the new version, because honestly, is there any other choice? Her 1920s persona and look fit perfectly here, and I had to wonder if this was going to surpass the original, even as I wondered if that was possible. My Google-fu skills did not turn up a performance-only clip, so dance begins at 2:20 below:

Will's interpretation of the man struck me as both more humorous and dirtier than Evan's, though the head waggle could have been taken down a notch. Amelia's presentation gets an elebenty out of ten for capturing the look of the story. I knew she'd (and hair/makeup/wardrobe)nail that. I also want her shoes.

For me, this was more a case of apples and oranges. I like both versions, and maybe it's the different physical types of the dancers -Evan's more compact physique isn't the same as Will's tall and lanky frame, and while Randi and Amelia are both gorgeous, they have very distinctly different "types." I think that went a long way towards letting me take this new version in without constantly (only sometimes) referencing the original in my brain.

Have to say that this is the split screen I've had the most fun watching so far. It puts me in mind of two different but related stories set in the same world, and I could definitely go for that. Final verdict for me is apples and oranges; different from each other, but both delicious. Also going in the idea file.

Oh, and b*tt b*tt b*tt b*tt b*tt b*tt b*tt b*tt b*tt.
Because it's fun typing "b*tt."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108c - Dueling "Hometown Glories" 3/8

Were I one of the dancers during Mia Michaels week, and were I to draw "Hometown Glory," there would likely be a few minutes of breathing into a paper bag. First, Mia Michaels choreography in general. Second, the deeply atmospheric Adele song. Third, it was originally performed by Katee and Joshua. Fourth, and possibly most important, the assisted run. Granted, I'm not a professional dancer, so I have no idea what goes into actually executing something of that nature, but from an audience sort of seat, it's amazing, so conjecture is allowed.

This is one of those performances that sticks with me years after first seeing it, and the lyrical dissonance of the claustrophobic cloud looming over the melody, compared with the rather well adjusted lyrics teeters on the line of something amazing. Or maybe that's only me. I'll grant that I don't get the choice of mock mohawk on Katee, but small quibble.

While Mia says this is the story of two people on their own journeys, who then collide, my brain insists this takes place in the hours before dawn, a pair of characters desperate to escape their current situations. Maybe not sure that was even a possibility, but they clash, collide, and ultimately the two struggles become one, and continue. I love the grim determination on both Katee and Joshua's faces, the straightness of the initial movements contrasted with the frenetic struggle of the rest, and then the assisted run - I'd never seen anything like that. Amazing.

When I first saw that this would be performed by Tiffany and George, I wondered if it would have that same sense of impending peril. Tiffany and George seemed perfectly suited, to me, for the NappyTabs babysitter routine, and this is, well, different. There's more vulnerability here, which has its own flavor and stays true to the overall atmosphere. The choice to leave Tiffany's hair mostly loose adds an added visual, especially the sequence starting at about 0:43. The assisted run didn't hit me as hard as the Joshua/Katy version but it can't be easy to pull off for anyone, and when the bar was set that high, any comparison can be hard to make. The finish, as well, has that vulnerability that's softer, but still effective.

Splitscreen, courtesy of JRoxy13:

Definitely still prefer the Katee/Josh version, but I think this one had its own merits as well. What about you, dance fans?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108b Dueling "Mercy" 2/8

When I decided to compare this week's performances to the originals, my first question was which to look at first. Not as easy a task as it seems. For most of us, the original performances are what we know, unless, like the week's guest judges, the ballet boys, they had not seen the original and then the new performance is all they know. There's also the fact that Mia choreographs for the original dancers, and stepping into someone else's role has an added challenge.

Still, I want to look at the new performance in its own merits. What do these dancers bring to the performance? Are their characters unique while still maintaining the flavor of the piece? making something the same but different is a tough challenge, and one writers of genre fiction face on a regular basis. Reach happily ever after, solve the crime, save the world, come of age, etc, but in a different way with each new story. It's all in the details, and that's what makes comparing the same dances with different dancers this much fun for me.

That said, it's time to get down to business. For ease of writing, each dance story will have two characters, the Woman and the Man. tWitch and Katee's original performance has a definite dynamic to it. I get the craziness of the relationship, the Man's easy swagger, his cooler demeanor contrasted with the woman's perpetual and prickly determination. I imagine the man has been through this scenario before. He's doing what a man does in his own home, and then she's baaaaack. He opens the door, there's the kiss and it's on.

All wrapped up with that achingly vulnerable look on the woman's face when the door closes with her on the outside yet again.

Love tWitch, love Katee, so I was curious who they'd put in this version. Cyrus and Eliana definitely put their own spin on things. Cyrus' interpretation of the man seems younger (understandably) and Eliana's woman strikes me as less deranged and more aggressive. What stands out to me most for the flavor of the new performance is at about fifty seconds in, where the man puts the woman outside the door. The man flat out grins. (Yes, tWitch's character grinned as well, but this has a different feel.) I like the way that fits in with Cyrus' looser movements, giving, to me, a more humorous take on this scenario. I don't think the man minds the woman's actions as much as the previous incarnation, and when the woman finds herself shut out at the end, I would suspect she'd be back before too long. Like Nigel, I would not have been surprised if the woman had been the one to shut the man out this time.

I don't know if anything like this exists for the other performances, but I found an interesting split screen of both versions here:

Okay, dance fans, which version did you prefer? Apples and oranges? Mix and match? Are there any other dancers you'd want to see perform this routine? If you were/are a dancer, would you ever want a crack at such choreography?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #108a - SYTYCD Mia Michaels week 1/8



You may have noted the "a" at the end of the post number, and there's a reason for that. The reason being that my birthday and Christmas seem to have come early this year and at the same time, with the first ever SYTYCD episode devoted to one choreographer, Mia Michaels, who happens to be my favorite contemporary choreographer (Travis Wall a close second, but more on him later.) Those who also read the Saturday at the Movies posts know that I like to compare remakes to the original, (as in post #39, Dueling Alfies) so when the top fourteen dancers get to recreate some of Mia Michaels' classic routines, there is only one thing this blogger can do.

Individual recaps. Yes, you read it right. This is a seven part Happy Dance Friday. Considering that real life things are happening at Stately Bowling Manor, Sunday is double booked (most likely) with committments, and other things are on Schroedinger's schedule (must plan to both do X and not do X until I know which way things go) more than usual, this does pose a challenge, but I think it's worth it. I tried condensing things into a single post and it couldn't be done.

So. We'll start with the opening group number. Nigel called this the Fifty Shades of Grey dance. I didn't make that connection, but then again, I haven't read the book (bailed out of the Masters of the Universe version at chapter five, for full disclosure)but if Nigel Lythgoe ever wants to name one of my titles on national TV, he can apply it to any choreography he wants. Mia looked a bit befuddled by the connection, so I'm guessing it's not on her nightstand.

I'm not familiar with Active Child or "Hanging On," but I know Mia Michaels always provides something special, so when I saw the combination of formalwear, birdcage skirts, the black/white/red color scheme, and cables coming from the ceiling, I knew we were going to see something out of the ordinary. Then we have flying dancers, roses flung about, amazing music, and it's bliss. YouTube is not liking me at the moment, and I'm getting long-winded, so clip posted by IdolXFactor2, here:

Best viewed fullscreen, because there is so much going on. I'm going to have to view this one a couple more times before I can comment more, but it definitely made me sit up and take notice, and whetted my appetite for what's to come.

How about you, dance fans? Are single-themed weeks a good idea for SYTYCD? If you could get Mia Michaels to choreograph any dancers to any music what would you pick?

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Saturday, Not at the Movies

Photobucket No movie talk today (well, sort of. Postulating post on BBC's amazing White Heat miniseries, which will come later) but as my Second Life avatar ponders her world, (click to embiggen, and that is a theater behind her, so it sort of counts)I got pensive.

The northeast US is currently boiling in the sixth or seventh (I have lost count) heat wave of the summer, and the humidity level is at "swimming pool." DH wasn't up to attending our friends, Mary and Brian's, renewal of vows today, which was gorgeous and spiritual and romantic and intimate. I am declaring that we sat at the fun table for the reception, and I got to be a reception rock star by lending a set of multicolored highlighters to the six year old seated next to me (yes, this was a grownup table)so she could draw and color page after page of scary heart shaped guys. I have great hopes for this kid and her awesome aunt. Plus the bride insisted we have seconds on cake, and one cannot say no to the bride.

After the reception, my friend Linda and I headed to Barnes and Noble, coming away with a knitting magazine for her, the new issue of Where Women Create for me (which I first noticed because my brain said "Tessa got the cover, awesome!" Yeah, brain goes straight to Highlander shipping. Can you spot the romance writer here? No, that was not HL's Tessa nor her actress, Alexandra Vandernoot, but that's beside the point.) and of course a historical romance novel we will share, because that's what friends do. This time around, it was Persuasion by Brenda Joyce, which I will devour soon, but I may first want to wallow in Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex.

I finished that in the wee hours of the morning and still want to marinate in the excellence. Scandal avoided, believably so, heroine disguised as male in a seagoing story, British navy, love the heroine's surprise sister-in-law/friend; all good stuff. I still have another of her books at home yet to read and need to go nab one more.

My humidified brain asks me where I was going with this, but I can tie it in. Mary and I first met and then bonded over a shared love of historical romance, so it was only natural I went straight to the bookstore after the reception. All of which puts me in the right mood to go home, shove DH over so I can sprawl on the bed in front of fan and air conditioning and fill my historical romance well, because there's a new work week coming, and I can't wait.

Oh, and that mist? It's swirling. I like swirling mist.

How's your weekend going?

Friday, August 03, 2012

Happy Dance Friday #107 - SYTYCD Romance Anthology?

Season nine of SYTYCD is not disappointing, and while we're on a two week break from my favorite summer show due to that sporting event, what we got on the most recent episode gives us a lot to feast off in the meantime. Seeing as how I'm one week behind, I'm counting that as very considerate of them. More details will follow later, as I like playing armchair judge, but on a tight schedule today, so hitting the high points.

Witney and Chehon's Mandy Moore contemporary had Anna bait smeared all over it. Let's take stock: ballroom dancer and ballet dancer tackling contemporary, classic song written by Dolly Parton, sung by Whitney Houston, angsty romantic storyline...stunning.

Lindsay and Cole also impressed and good mercy, the lighting in this one made me want to go play with my mixed media art. Or maybe Photoshop Elements. Okay, probably both in the end, but the shadows, people. Gorgeous.

No wonder at all why Amber and Brandon's Ray Leeper jazz routine got such a reaction. Baby making performance indeed. This felt like the sticky, steamy South, a peek back in history (which naturally got my attention) and two characters whose love for each other is stronger than the challenges life throws in their way. Hm, kinda like a romance novel when one comes to think of it.

Come to think of it, a little tweaking here and there, and there could be a darned good romance anthology in these routines. What stories do you see in this week's performances? What author(s) do you think could tell them best? Hint: it's okay to put your own name in there. Inspiration is for everybody.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Writing for Fun

Writing for fun has been on my mind a lot lately, because real life has taken one of those turns that can best be described as "aaaahhhhhhh." The robot uprising has begun within my own personal electronics as multiple devices decided to go belly up or seriously wonky at the same time (Linda, Kara, E and la, you have saved my patoot as well as my sanity) and at least one is one replacement part away from having more than I'd like in common with Frankenstein's monster.

Which goes a long way to explain my recent absence here. A beloved uncle passed, our family is looking at a long anticipated interstate move that may happen in quick fashion, a heat wave and summer cold do not cancel each other out, and I am using the Not at Nationals tag here, as, despite my best intentions, blogging about not being at Nationals did not happen during the course of the actual gathering. Nope, did not go this year, but I will make it at least once. :shakes fist at monitor:

So, writing for fun relates to this how? I will admit that it's easy to get distracted and off on bunny trails. I will admit that those of us pursuing a career in commercial fiction do need to pay some attention to market trends, the state of the industry, the state of the genre, and nobody but me is going to write my book, same as nobody but you is going to write yours. A page a day is a book in a year and butt in chair, fingers in keyboard, yes, all of that is true. Writing is a business and those of us who are in it have to do the work.

At the same time, where is the love? I've thought back recently to those afternoons of cobbling together a desk out of tv trays and letting the story spill out of me because I knew it, I lived it, and the characters had to get out of my head and onto the page. (Though in full disclosure, do they really leave?) Right now, I'm overhauling a ms I've already written...and rewritten. It's natural in such endeavors to get bogged down with the "do I have to go over this again?" refrain. Who cares? I know how it turns out, so good enough and on to the next? Well, no. If it were, I wouldn't be writing.

While I'm doing the grownup writer thing by putting butt in chair and fingers on keyboard/pen in hand/chalk on cave wall (refer to robot uprising mentioned above)there's still a need for fun to keep the spark alive. Sort of a dating your spouse thing. In real life, DH knows that ordering takeout and suggesting trips to Barnes and Noble keep him in my good graces, especially when in full on writer crank. It's the same in writing. I've found a need to play in the mist, let characters have their way with me, perhaps toss around with a few like-minded souls. Not sure what track this will take, but knowing the need is halfway to fulfilling it, right?

Have you ever written only for fun? What's your favorite creative playground?