Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Dance Friday #122 - Get Lucky Supercut Driveby post

Entering the writing cave for a big chunk of the day, so will wax eloquent on SYTYCD semifinals later. With so much talent, this is going to be one phenomenal finale, and while I'm going to miss Paul (I always have a thing for the ballroom boys) mightily, this is going to be a battle of champions, guys and girls both. I do want to talk about the gals as well, but I can see my story people tapping their feet and staring at me, so that's later.

I found this extremely creative supercut of movie dances set to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" while searching the interwebs. Wow, did somebody ever put a ton of work into getting this all together:

Did you catch all the movies represented here? What's your favorite movie dance scene?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In Love With The Lotus Palace and the Wide World of Romance

The Lotus Palace (The Lotus Palace, #1)The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jeannie Lin creates an intriguing, immersive world of the Pikang li, where the most unlikely of bedfellows (literally and figuratively) can lead to the love of a lifetime.

Failed scholar Bai Huang and maidservant Yue-ying, a former prostitute known as "half-moon" for the wine colored birthmark that tints part of her jaw, join forces to find the truth behind the murder of a famed courtesan. The greater mystery, however, is the undeniable bond that forms between the two outcasts, finding in each other the place where they truly belong.

The course of true love, however, never does run smooth, and Ms. Lin makes effective and poignant use of the stringent rules that shape both respectable society and the separate world of the Pikang li. Bai Huang's life is set out before him, and there is no room for one such as Yue-ying, who hopes only to remain as a maidservant. Even the status of concubine is out of her reach, and yet....

The passion in this book builds at a deliciousky decorous pace, not will they/won't they, but should they/shouldn't they until one soul shaking rain-soaked kiss proves the rule of love is the one that must be obeyed above all.

Whether a reader is new to the intricate, intoxicating world of Tang Dynasty China, or already acquainted with Ms. Lin's stories, The Lotus Palace is not to be missed.

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After reading a few Jeannie Lin books, a reader starts to wonder why there aren't more historical romance novels set in Tang Dynasty China. Seriously. With The Lotus Palace, the ever-amazing Ms. Lin entices readers into the lushly imagined world of the pleasure quarter, where courtesans, servants, scholars, villains and heroes intermingle and secrets abound.

Can I resist that kind of lure? Heck, no. I cut my reading teeth on Bertrice Small's The Kadin, and other novels where the settings were varied and scattered all over the globe, and I loved it. Over time, things changed, and the vast majority of my favorite genre settled somewhat comfortably into nineteenth century England, give or take a few decades.

Fair enough. There are some great authors who write wonderful stories in those settings. Still, my ears prick when I hear of something that blends the best of old school and current romances. Which is why I remembered meeting a friend of a friend at NECRWA a few years back, a quick "hi, person, this is other person" thing which gave way to the standard writer's conference icebreaker, a game we call "what do you write?" This person responded "historicals," which elicited a nod of recognition, because hey, I write historicals, and that advances to round two, "what era?" This is where things get fun.

The answer, in this case, was "Tang Dynasty China." I have to say I think my ears actually perked, but my hair probably covered it. Other person in this case was, of course, Jeannie Lin, and I knew then and there that I was going to have to read that book. Did I already know very much about Tang Dynasty China? Nope, not at that time, but that's one of the great things about historical romance. There's a whole wide world of it, and I say if an author has a chance to fling back the doors of history and splash out a gorgeous love story in a period that is close to her (or his; I've met some very talented gents at these conferences as well) heart, then I say not only "do," but "please do." Please oh so very much do.

Because here's the thing; the story of two people finding their ideal other half isn't restricted to one time or place. I want to be taken into another world, introduced around, well fed, learn the customs and the history and see how "ohhhh, this is going to get complicated for Our Lovers because X is going to happen, and X cannot happen between them because of reason Y, but I love them and they have to be together and I am going to stay up all night and read this entire book to make sure that they do."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Dance Friday #121: Tuckered out and the Brothers Tidwall

Yep, this is my reaction to most eliminations at this stage of the game, because let's face it, when we get down to the top eight out of how many thousands of dancers who auditioned, everybody's good, and saying goodbye to anybody hurts. Given my druthers, I'd keep everybody and form a dance company, but A) I am not yet a billionaire and B) SYTYCD is a contest. Even so, this one, well, this one hurt.

I knew it was going to be hard when my brain "got" it that Fik-Shun and Tucker were in the bottom two for the men. First, there was the surge of "Do not make me choose, people" and then the solos. I loved them both. I want them both. As I've said to DH, if I had a production company and asked a talent agency to send me a male dancer, I'd be thrilled if either of those gentlemen walked through the door. So, either way, it was going to hurt.

Tucker Knox, whose name I would totally steal if I were writing contemporary romance, who waxed eloquent about knowing how fortunate he was to have a father who supported his dance career when many other male dancers do not have that help, who won my creative affection forever in this cha cha:

...I am going to miss your weekly presence.

Even so, it's not goodbye-goodbye, thanks to the magic of YouTube, which is a good thing. There are those moments that I dearly wish every creative person could have, where art and life transcend the boundaries and make something that is beautiful and true and has a life of its own. Which is where we get to the Brothers Tidwall.

Normally, portmanteau names make me itchy, but I'm going with this one, because the sheer poignant beauty of the routine Travis Wall choreographed for Tucker and all star Robert, of one brother helping another up from rock bottom, pierced right to the heart. Though Travis has other brothers, the fact that this story was told in dance told me immediately it was probably Danny Tidwell who inspired the brother's character.

Mr. Tidwell, (as apparently, I am addressing dancers directly today) I don't know what challenges you've faced, but know that watching you dance live on the SYTYCD tour was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life, and was a special treat during a very dark and trying period of mine. Such is the power of story and dance.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Never Too Late In More Ways Than One.

Never Too Late cover photo NeverTooLate.jpg

Never Too Late was concieved during a writing group I attended some years back, along with Melva Michaelian and M.P. Barker. We'd been given a suggestion and were to write whatever came to mind, keeping pen in motion, until the moderator called time. I don't think I had any idea what I was going to write, and then, there it was, and I was in turn of the century England (and later, Italy) in the mind of a heroine ready to chuck it all and go after what she's always wanted.

It wasn't until the story was complete and had spent some time marinating that I noticed I'd never given my heroine a first name, and calling her "Mrs. Sinclair" in query letters and promotional materials was going to get clunky. She ended up being Amelia, and I managed to slip that information in there in a not too clunky manner. Being that this was a novella, and e-publishing then was different from e-publishing now, I wasn't sure where a shorter work should go, but lo and behold, one of Awe-Struck E-books' then-co-owners was starting a new venture, and looking for such stories. Perfect fit, but then life happened, and "Never Too Late" ultimately went to Uncial Press, along with "Queen of the Ocean."

Today, while walking in the park, thinking about writing and future projects, I spotted a man with a long silver ponytail walking the path in front of me. He wore khaki shorts and had text tattoos on the back of both calves. Though I can't have tatoos myself for medical reasons, I'm intrigued by the art form, and of course wanted to see what his said. I stepped up my pace and then stopped in my tracks.

On the backs of both legs, in all capital letters, were the words, "Never Too Late." Important words, those, important enough for a man of some experience to have them inked onto his body more than once, big and bold. Nothing to do with my story, I am beyond sure, though I did make a sound not unlike a squeal at seeing those words. Only a small one, mind, and I did remember that it's not socially acceptable to chase down strangers and quiz them about their body art. Still, it does make me wonder. What, exactly, was the story behind this gent's tattoos? What was it never too late for, for him? Why on the calves, and why, for that matter, both calves instead of only one? Was the phrase a reminder? A warning? A mantra? A prayer? A motto? And why, for that matter, did this total stranger with this phrase, repeated, cross my path on that particular walk while I was thinking those particular thoughts? Coincidence, maybe. Grand design, maybe. Either way, pretty cool, and I headed for home, my writerbrain fortified. On with the next book. BTW, if you're curious about "Never Too Late" itself, you can read the first chapter and/or grab it here: