It’s been a very busy week in the blogiverse. Between writers getting sued and RWA National conference, blogs have been filled with excellent advice.
First up, unless you’ve been buried for the past week, I’m sure you’ve heard about Roni Loren’s post about how a photographer sued her for using one of his photographs without permission. Because of that post, I’ve been going back through my blog and deleting most photos. I plan to go back and find new ones, but in the mean time, my old posts will have no pictures. In all honesty, when I first started blogging, I worried about copyright. This comes form using photos with my day job. But then, it seemed like everyone used photos from wherever without given any attribution. I almost always cited my source. But now, I’m playing it safe.
To help you avoid Roni’s fate, here are some great resources.
August McLaughlin has a post on making simple graphics. You might want to look through her archives because she has some older posts on Pinterest that would help here too.
Marcy Kennedy has 7 free and legal places to find photos. Bookmark these. I personally like Free Digital Photos. They give you the html code for putting with the photo that links back to their site. Easy-Peasy. Stock exchange is also good, but harder to wade through.
Tonya Kappes talks about getting into the flow of writing so she was ready to pound out 20K words in a long weekend. She did what I didn’t do, plan ahead.
Jody Hedlund writes about knowing when you should go to a writing conference. As I said yesterday, in the past, money has been a big issue in my decision to not go to RWA Nationals. In looking at Jody’s list, I see that the first 2 reasons she gives for going don’t apply to me: getting an agent and pitching publishers. But the next three are things I do need to keep in mind, especially building connections because that’s something I suck at.
Onto some fun stuff– Moriah Densley did a guest spot over at Coffee Time Romance about her hero’s first kiss. Not first kiss with the heroine, but first kiss EVER. I’m a sucker for a good kiss scene. If it’s done right, it could be better than the first sex scene. But I don’t know if I could ever write a hero that was a bad kisser. For me, that kiss is so important, I don’t know if a hero could bounce back from it being bad. I guess I’ll have to read Moriah’s book to see if she pulls it off.
Natalie Hartford has a post about how long it takes for love to develop. I’ve talked about this before, especially since I don’t really believe in love at first sight or soul mates. Natalie has some interesting stuff.
And finally, since I’ve been a total slacker on my TV posts as of late (not that I haven’t been watching a ton of TV), I’m going to rely on Tiffany White to give you good info about summer TV. First, Tiffany talks about Political Animals. I admit that this show looks really, really interesting, but I chose not to watch it because I already have way too many things on my DVR. Then Tiffany talks about one of my favorite summer shows, Rizzoli & Isles. I never miss this show (and I admit to having a bit of a girl crush on Angie Harmon)
If you’re a romance writer, you probably know that this week is RWA’s national conference in California. I’ve never been to Nationals for a few reasons. First, my husband usually travels for work a lot over the summer and trying to work that schedule around a conference and getting backup for the kids is more of a headache than anything. Second, it’s expensive. The conference itself is almost $500, then you have travel expenses. Finally, I’m a wimp when in comes to crowds. My chapter holds a conference every 2 years. We had one this year and it was fabulous. This was my third Spring Fling. Every time (with the exception of this year), I’ve had to leave early because of a migraine. It’s not that I wasn’t having a good time or that I was stressed. For me, it’s just being surrounded by that many people for so many hours. I can’t imagine how bad it would be for a conference as big as RWA. I kind of imagine myself hiding out in my room a lot. Which would totally be a waste of money. I am considering going next year, since I can be part of the book signing and by then, my second book should be out, but I don’t know.
If you aren’t at Nationals, but want to get a lot of great info, follow #RWA12 on Twitter. People are tweeting from all kinds of workshops. Lots of info and laughs without leaving your house.
image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowaki
In other news, I participated in a writers’ retreat last weekend with some chaptermates. A friend hosted at her house and we all brought food for a pot luck lunch. Although Ryann was prepared and had a goals board posted, I didn’t walk in with a goal in mind. Part of me wanted to be able to finish my WIP, but I knew that was a bit too lofty as a goal. I’ve never tried to spend an entire day writing. As I’ve said before, most of my writing happens in hour chunks of time during my kids’ extracurricular activities. The idea of writing all day was a little overhwhelming.
But then we got down to work. I didn’t plug into the Internet. I just sat down and wrote. I hadn’t written in days because I’d had a migraine earlier in the week (yes, another one), so I had ideas about where my book needed to go and what scenes were coming next. Even with breaks for drinks and chatting in the kitchen with fellow writers, I accomplished WAY more than I thought possible. I wrote over 8 thousand words and put myself in a position to finish the rough draft of my WIP by the end of the month. (Except of course I got another migraine this week which prevented me from writing.) It was such a fabulously productive day that I highly recommend that if you get a chance to participate in a writers’ retreat even if it’s only for a day, take it.
I’ve always loved going to my RWA chapter meetings because there’s nothing like being surrounded by people who get you and what you’re doing. Being in a writers’ retreat was even better. Because it was a smaller group, about 10, and we all know each other pretty well, we had back up if we needed brainstorming help or a little nudge to keep working. This is something I’d definitely love to do again.
Have you ever gone to a big national conference or a writers’ retreat? Was the experience good?
Many of you might have heard about six sentence Sunday from other writers on other blogs. I’ve seen it around and finally decided to jump in. It’s simple enough, you just post any 6 sentences from something you’re working on. If you’d like more info, go here. For me, this will give me a chance to share some more of my writing and make up for those days when I don’t blog (like last Tuesday). So here we go, my first 6 sentence Sunday, from my upcoming book MORE THAN THIS:
Quinn stared at her sister. Finding five dates would never be difficult for Indy, but for her it was a challenge of huge proportions.
“Look, you said you’re in a rut. This’ll pull you out. Consider me your tow truck.” Indy usually got her own way, and without her Quinn would’ve missed out on a lot of fun.
It’s been a busy week, as usual. I keep lying to myself and saying that it’s bound to slow down. Someday I might even start to believe those lies. Anyway, to kick things off this week, if you haven’t been online much, (or if you’ve had your head under a rock) you might’ve missed the big mess over on Goodreads. For those of you who don’t know, Goodreads is a social networking site for readers. It’s all about books. I’m a member, but haven’t done much over there. Basically, some reviewers give books bad reviews. It’s part of the game. Now there seems to be another group, who is remaining anonymous, who has made it their job to “out” the “bullies” on Goodreads. Things have gotten ugly, and I’m not going to link to that mess. If you’re really interested, Google it.
Instead, I offer up The Art of Practicing ARC from Babbling About Books, and More (by KT Grant). Here, ARC stands for Awareness, Respect, and Confidence. You should read this.
Amy Andrews wrote about blue collar heroes over on The Naked Hero blog. I love blue collar guys and I think they make great heroes. Amy says it well when she points out that blue collar guys are capable and good with their hands. It’s all very sexy.
Kait Nolan has 2 great posts up this week about romance. The first is about the word count of contemporary romance. If you’re not a writer, this probably won’t matter to you. She did what I’ve always been too lazy to do–she copied some favorite books into a Word document to see how long they are. I was surprised to see how short some of my favorites are. She also talks about conflict and external plot, something I’ve talked about before in regard to contemporary romance. Although the plot needs conflict, I’m not so sure that it has to be external.
In her other post, Kait simply talks about why she reads romance. I agree with everything she says — falling in love, the fist kiss, watching the hero and heroine have to work for love, the friends and family, and of course, the HEA. These are the things that keep me coming back over and over, especially for favorite authors.
Finally, I’m sure you’ve all heard “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s one of those crazy songs that sticks with you and it’s been parodied and lip-synced everywhere, but I needed to post this one. God, I LOVE a man in uniform.
If you visited my blog last Friday, you’ll know that I offered a few different links about romance in the news. One of the things I talked about was a PBS film about the genre of romance titled Guilty Pleasures. When I wrote the post, I admitted that I hadn’t yet watched the film, but I had it waiting on my DVR.
Then, I decided I should watch it. I watched maybe about half and that’s being generous. The film is filled with stereotypes about readers of romance: woman sitting on her couch eating chocolate while reading, another woman getting a facial with a Harlequin in hand… Isn’t it bad enough that as a reader I have to suffer these stereotypes in real life? That picture of a woman with her chocolate? My husband has teased me for years while I’ve been a stay-at-home mom about my life being soap operas and bon-bons. At this point, he no longer really believes it, but it’s there in the back of his mind. Stuff like this doesn’t help.
The women in this film read romance as an escape. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve said plenty of times that the reason I write contemporary romance is because I love new love. I don’t read it and write it because I hope that it will become my life. I’m not trying to fill some void with imaginary characters. And most (like the vast majority) of romance readers aren’t either. But the film portrays these women as people who blur the line between reality and fantasy.
Then there was the inclusion of interviews with a male cover model. This guy came across as superficial and almost cartoonish. It was like — take his shirt off and it doesn’t matter what he says. Completely insulting (to both him and me).
I will say that there was an earlier review of this film, back in April 2011 over on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Sarah links to it, so I am as well. That reviewer states that she enjoyed the film (although she laughed at the male model too), but she came at from the viewpoint of an observer, someone looking in at something she’s not part of. She viewed the couples portrayed in the film as characters and enjoyed their stories. I couldn’t get past the ideas about romance that were reflected in these portrayals.
The only part of the film that didn’t drive me batshit was the romance author. Unfortunately, according to Jennifer Lohman, the librarian who reviewed for Smart Bitches, the filmmaker, Julie Moggin used a male romance author in the film for comedic effect. If I hadn’t read that part of the review, the author portrayal in the film wouldn’t have bothered me much at all. He talks about how difficult it is to be a writer — how you don’t “churn out books,” how sometimes you sit there for an hour, write 3 lines and discover they’re all shit– but he does have some funny moments. For instance, at a workshop he tells participants that a hero can have hair on his chest, either going across or in a line down, but he can’t have a hairy back. Yeah, that’s funny, but it is part of the unwritten rules for romance writers. We want the fantasy. (There might be some women out there who like hairy backs, but I ain’t one)
Overall, I was sorely disappointed in this film. I wanted something that would show how good the books are and that smart women read them. That romance isn’t trash that gets slapped on the page as “mommy porn.” I wanted something that would take down the stereotypes.
Yes, I am fully aware that I want too much. So I guess I’ll just continue to be disappointed.
Any suggestions for changing the attitude others have about romance? I’d love to hear it.
I’m still behind in my blog reading and what makes it worse is that we’re at that point in the summer where the kids are a little bonkers. They’re restless even though we go out plenty and when they’re not fighting with each other, they go out of their way to irritate me. This is when I start checking the calendar to see how long until school starts.
First up, free stuff!!
Elena Aitken is celebrating her first year as a published author by giving away books. Stop by her blog to check it out.
Jami Gold is celebrating her blogiversary and she’s offering up a couple of worksheets for writers.
Here’s an interesting article about something I’ve blogged about before (here and here)– Soulmates. Kristen Mark writes about how many people believe in the concept of finding a soulmate. I was kind of surprised that so many people do. One thing that I found most interesting is that believing in soulmates can actually hamper your ability to find a long-term mate.
Emma Burcart extols the virtues of playing hooky. This idea is near and dear to my heart because I firmly believe in an occasional hooky day (although when I was a teacher I called it a mental health day). I sometimes let my kids play hooky. And it’s one of the things the heroine in my book MORE THAN THIS has to do as part of her list for the summer.
Chuck Wendig has a 25 things post — This one on Bad Writer Behaviors. I certainly hope that if I were to ever do any of these things someone would smack me upside the head.
I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but romance has been in the news a lot lately. Much of it is because of the attention 50 Shades of Gray has gotten. Regardless of what you think of the book, I like the fact that mainstream media is picking up on the fact that romance is not only big business, but intelligent women read it and write it.
PBS aired a show last night about romance novels being a guilty pleasure. I recorded it but haven’t watched yet (so if it sucks, let me know so I can save the hour). It is available online if you missed it. Guilty Pleasures
Even without watching it though, I found this infographic amazing. I especially love what it says about the rise of ebooks (since my book will be an ebook)
Then, as if that’s not fabulous enough, the Huffington Post ran an article about Why Smart Women Read Romance. She also names some really smart authors (although I was a bit surprised that she didn’t name Eloisa James in that list).
And last, since Sexy and I Know It is such a huge hit at my house (I think I mentioned before that I don’t know which is more disturbing to see — my husband or my son singing along). This video made me laugh when I saw it earlier in the week (totally safe for work):
Have you ever read a romance novel? If not, what would make you try one?
I’m going to start off by saying that I’ve never been much of a news watcher. In fact, I pretty much avoided watching the news altogether. The news is depressing. Plus, when you’re watching the local 10 o’clock news, so many times you wonder how something can qualify as news (Katie and Tom, anyone?)
Anyway, that all changed a few years ago when I started looking for a work-from-home job. I was hired by an education company as a writer, and the position evolved into an editorial one. My current job is to read the news, choose headlines and assign them to my writers. My writers then create on-line assignments for students based on the article I’ve sent. My job requires that I read the news everyday Sunday through Thursday. I have to look at how different sources handle the same material and choose the one I think will work best for students.
When commercials for summer TV shows started airing, I saw something for The Newsroom, but I hadn’t given it much thought. As I said, I have to read the news most days, did I really want to watch how the news was broadcast? But then I started hearing the buzz about Newsroom and the fact that Aaron Sorkin, who did The West Wing, was behind it. I decided to set my DVR and check it out.
I’ve watched the first 3 episodes and let me tell you, I knew after the first one that this would be a must-see show. The premier opened with a cable news anchor lashing out and telling an audience why America isn’t the best country in the world (low test scores, starving kids, unemployment, lack of health care, etc). He didn’t say anything we don’t know, but it was some pretty refreshing honesty. It’s the trademark lack of real honesty that keeps me from all things politics. Anyway, Will, the anchor, takes a break and when he returns, he finds that most of his staff is leaving his show and his boss has hired Will’s ex-girlfriend to be the executive producer.
So, immediately we have some personal drama of the romance kind, and Mac (the ex) wants to push the show to be real and honest. The first episode they covered the BP oil spill (it takes place in spring 2010). This drew me in because I remember covering that for my day job and its interesting to see how they made it unfold. The second episode covered Arizona’s immigration law, which I’ve been covering for the day job from then straight through until now.
Besides my own personal connection to the headlines they choose (and I’m sure there will be so much more), the show itself offers some great characters and they’re all smart. You heard that right, even the pretty young girl who was promoted from nobody to assistant producer simply because she didn’t quit is smart. They’re not perfect and they fuck up, but it is a cast of characters who are truly intelligent. What’s not to love there?
And finally, of course, since this is Aaron Sorkin, the dialogue is phenomenal. If you’re a fan of The West Wing, you’ll be a fan of The Newsroom as well.
When looking for clips for the show, I’ve come across a lot of criticism of it. Many have said that it’s a disappointment and Sorkin has flopped. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really expect it to be true-to-life. It is HBO after all. I think most days in the newsroom are probably pretty boring, so they’ve livened it up. Sure, part of why the characters seem so smart is that Sorkin knows how the stories will play out. He’s using news from 2 years ago. Part of my hesitation to watch in the first place was that I thought it would be boring. Who wants to watch a bunch of people staring at a computer screen and scribbling notes for the anchor? That would be about as exciting as watching stock trades on the floor of the Mercantile Exchange.
Instead, we get this (not really safe for work):
I prefer the made up version. Have you tried The Newsroom? What do you think?
I had an odd conversation this weekend. At 9:30 Sunday morning, Trouble came into my bedroom. She reminded me that I promised to take her to McDonalds playland for breakfast. Then she went on to explain that she’d gotten caught up in watching a movie and didn’t pay attention to the time, but she really wanted to go for breakfast. Then … she tells me that Jim (not his real name), my best friend’s ex-boyfriend, was on the deck and wanted to talk to me.
My first thought — You should’ve led with that info, kid.
So I stumbled out of bed, still in my pajamas, and went to the deck. Although I invited him inside, Jim wanted to talk away from the kids. We got into a lengthy conversation, mostly him talking about how he’s not ready to give up on his relationship with my friend. It’s not my place to tell him that she’s really no longer interested and has moved on, so I just listened. It was interesting to hear how he interpreted their relationship because I certainly have her side of it and they really don’t match up. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they’d been in a relationship with different people.
But I digress (as usual). Part of their issue was that she would only carve out specific times for Jim. She has 3 sons and a mostly uninvolved ex-husband. For all intents and purposes, she’s both parents. Could she make more time for Jim? Sure, but she doesn’t want to. I can’t blame her. I’ve said lots of times that if I were to divorce, I don’t think I’d date at all. It’s too much work.
Then Jim said that he didn’t understand why she had to go to all of the boys’ games and activities (soccer, baseball, basketball, football, track, etc). He asked, “Does it make her a better mother if she goes to everything?”
That made me pause. Then he asked if I go to everything for my kids. I think he was hoping that I’d say no, but the truth is, pretty much, I do. I might miss something if 2 kids have something scheduled simultaneously, but then my husband and I are good at each taking one thing, so there’s still a parent there. Or sometimes, I catch part of both.
Jim went on to say that then my friend would make family “field trips” on days when they could be free, and he didn’t see why she always needed to fill the schedule. I get that too. It’s not about filling the schedule, but when you spend the bulk of your time with your kids shuttling them here and there to do the things they want to do, sometimes, you just want to be able to hang out with them. Remarkably, we actually like our kids. And if we stay at home, they’ll do their own things. They won’t hang out with us.
But if we’re at the zoo or a museum, they’re kind of like the captive audience they were as toddlers — they have to be with us.
Both my friend and I had uninvolved parents and I know that plays a huge role in us being part of our kids’ lives, but this conversation with Jim made me question helicopter parenting again. I talked about it awhile ago, and now I wonder again if I’m strange.
Do you attend all of your kids’ activities? If not, what pulls you away? Would you give up being at a kid’s game for a date?
I have been horribly behind in my blog reading. I’ve been struggling to get my own words written, as I said in yesterday’s post. I’ve been plugging away at it, knowing that sooner or later, everything will click into place and the words and pace will pick up. In the meantime, I’m reading and hanging out with my kids and praying that this awful heat wave will end. I love summer, but a week of 100 degree days makes me long for cooler weather.
On to a few links for this week:
Over on Two Smart Chicks, Ms. Sharpie writes about how use loves being a reader and how sometimes that translates into book hangover. I know that feeling.
Tiffany White talks about a new show for the summer called Men at Work. I’ve said before that I don’t normally watch comedies. They tend to be on too early in the evening for me to remember and then of course, they get canceled. (Remember Bent? I like that one at it lasted 6 episodes) Anyway, Tiffany’s description makes me think that I might want to give this a try. The creator of Men at Work is the same as Franklin & Bash, and I really like that one, so I might jump in next week.
For those of you who have never read The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson), you should. She’s hilarious. And in case you have you doubts, check out her anniversary present to her husband. I wish I could pull something like that off.
For all my fellow writers out there, a little video that basically tells you to get back to work. Write, polish, submit, but then get right back into writing.