I haven’t done a Friday Favorites in what feels like forever. I’m not even going to go look to see how long it’s been. The truth is, I’ve let a lot of my blog reading slide. There are still blogs that I read daily, but I never remember to make note of them to put together for a post. I’ve been spending most of my time writing and figuring out promotion and stuff. But I managed to carve out some extra blog reading time this week and I came across some posts that were so good, I have to share them.
First up, Merry Farmer posted about how some readers just don’t get it. This has to be one of the biggest things an author needs to learn. Some people argue that as an author, especially a new one, you shouldn’t read reviews. Admittedly, I don’t follow this advice, and I’m not going to deny that it stings when someone gives my book only one star, but for every negative review, I have a bunch of great ones. I understand that my book won’t appeal to everyone. And that’s okay.
August McLaughlin wrote a post this week about the female orgasm and first sexual experiences. My favorite part is reading about how Cosmo readers describe orgasm. As a romance writer, this is one of those things that’s hard to describe. The best part of the post, though, is the idea that women need to be empowered when it comes to their own sexuality. For all the fun people poke at romance, I believe this is one of the many reasons why women read it. They feel in control of their own sexuality because that’s the way most of us write it.
A blog that’s on the new side for me is Accidentally Sexy. I’m not sure how I originally stumbled onto the blog, but Ana Fernatt writes about love and dating and it’s great fun. A post from last week goes right along with August’s post as Ana describes what it means to be accidentally sexy. I love her list, especially “Being your truest self.” I think so many of us spend years pretending to be what we aren’t in order fill someone else’s expectations that we miss out on who we’re supposed to be.
And finally, just for laughs, the Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms had a hilarious post about what it means to be the kid of a mom who blogs (or in my case, writes). The first one is my favorite — “My mother used t bake cookies with me…but now she blogs and I pretty much raise myself.”
What fabulous thing have you come across in the past few weeks?
This past week was Banned Books week. For those of you who might not be aware, Banned Books week celebrates openmindedness. As a teacher, I loved Banned Books week. I started the year with a whole unit on Banned Books. The great thing about it was that I taught kids who were amazed that books still get banned. Personally, I don’t really censor what my own kids read. That’s not to say that I don’t care or that I don’t pay attention, but I don’t want to discourage them from reading. No, I wouldn’t hand them my book to read, but if it falls under YA, have at it.
Here are a couple of great posts for Banned Books week:
There was so much great advice about writing this week.
First up, August McLaughlin writes about having a teflon mind when it comes to rejection. If you’re a writer, rejection is part of the business. It’s a tough part of the business. I wouldn’t say that I’m as good as August, but I think I handle rejection pretty well. Some of the rejections I received stung, and I let them, but not for long. Then I pushed myself forward and moved on.
Marcy Kennedy talks about knowing when it’s time to quit. I don’t think I’ve ever given quitting much thought. I’ve set goals, and last summer, I told myself that if I didn’t have an agent and/or a book deal within a year, I would go back to teaching full-time. Notice, I didn’t say I would give up writing, but that it wouldn’t be my focus. For me, things aligned and within 8 months, I had both an agent and a 2-book deal.
Jami Gold talks about the writing process as compared to sculpting. Since I’m mostly a pantser (write by the seat of my pants with no outline), I do a little of both — I built the original story and then I chisel away at the parts that don’t fit. For me, the chiseling usually involves big giant parts, but you get what I mean.
Tawna Fenske cautions us to stop the glorification of busy. I totally understand what Tawna means when she feels like she’s been slacking when she doesn’t meet her daily word count. Right now, I don’t have a daily word count, or a page edit count, or anything. I’m getting ready to start something new. I have done no writing for weeks. In my head, I know this is good. I’m letting the story develop in my head and I’m getting to know the characters. I have completed collages and a soundtrack for my new WIP. But I still feel like a slacker. I have those moments of panic, like “Oh my God, I haven’t written. What if I fall behind? What if I can’t produce something quick enough?” Even though, in my head, I know this discovery time is well-spent, it’s hard to stop myself from writing simply because I feel lazy.
Chuck Wendig has a post for 25 things to do to get your writing groove back. As usual, he pulls no punches. Things like “Get out of the Goddamn House, you mumbling Shut-in,” and “Quit moaning and mount up, motherfucker” will surely offer you the right inspiration.
I didn’t even realize it until I got a message from Twitter earlier this week that I had been on Twitter for a whole year. For some of you that might not seem like much, but in 2 months time, I went from having zero presence on the Internet to being on Twitter and having a blog (I’m still avoiding Facebook, though). I felt good jumping in because I was taking a class with Kristen Lamb. She gave us each other so we had an instant following. My 1 year blog-aversary isn’t for a few weeks, but let me tell you, it was a great feeling sending out my first post and knowing that people would read it. I starting talking on Twitter and I had followers. It made social media much less frightening.
I’ve been swamped between the new school year, cheerleading, figuring out promotion for MORE THAN THIS, and thinking about starting something new. So while I’ve been active on Twitter, Friday Favorites hasn’t been happening because I fell behind on blog reading. I’m running late writing this now, but I did finally catch up on blogs. Please excuse the lack of organization I usually offer for these posts, but enjoy:
Tawna Fenske wrote a post on believing in a happily ever after. As romance writers, we must have some faith that the HEA exists, especially for our characters, but it’s just that — faith. In reality, more than half of married couples get divorced. We don’t even know what the statistics are on couples who aren’t married. But we want to believe that HEA is possible. It’s why we write romance.
to better accommodate them. And then they take over said renovations. Their artwork fills every empty space. Their toys litter tables. For as much as these things would bother some people, for me, it makes my house a home. I love seeing the evidence of my children everywhere.
Elena Aitken talks about how as a mom, sometimes we can’t fix it. For me, this is one of the hardest things about motherhood –knowing when to let go and let them deal with things themselves because I can’t fix it.
Chuck Wendig offers up a post on 25 things you need to do before you start your next novel. As usual, Chuck’s post is dead-on. I need the reminder to really get to know my characters. It’s hard, though, because as soon as I think I know them well enough, I’m anxious to write. What ends up happening then (and I know this from experience), is that I write tens of thousands of words that get scrapped because those words just helped me understand the characters. So I’ve learnednot to rush the process. I am collaging and I’ve made a play list for the new book and the ideas are flowing.
Now that the kids are back in school, I’m doing my best to catch up and get back into my regular routine of blogging. Not an easy task. I spent way to much time attempting to read the backlog of blogs and finally gave up. I really, really hope I didn’t miss anything vital. I still have a great collection, though.
Parenting and family stuff–
Elena Aitken has a post about treasure hunting. I’ve heard about this before and I think my kids would love it. I just never bothered to get off my butt and make it happen. After reading this post, I am newly inspired.
Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms has a funny post called “Ten Things About Our Mom Cars.” I laughed because my car fits the bill on everything except first-aid station. I never carry stuff with me. (Although there might be a first aid kit somewhere in the back)
Emma Burcart is traveling across the country to move to Miami and she wrote about getting lost. It’s a great story about how people aren’t as bad as it seems when you watch the news.
Heroes and Heartbreakers had a couple of great blogs. In the first, Elizabeth Vail talks about underdeveloped sympathetic traits to make Alphahole heroes more likeable. She calls them “Empathy coupons.” I agree with her that a lot of authors use this as a shortcut to show the readers that the hero isn’t all bad. Luckily for me, I can’t come up with an example of it being phony. I think the same traits work if they are developed realistically.
Then, Sarah Anderson has a funny post on names for the vagina. She has a valid point. We have lots of names for the penis, but nothing really good for vagina. I can’t get behind va-jay-jay. It sounds ridiculous.
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)
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.
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 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.
Sorry for the lack of a good title for today’s post. My brain just isn’t into titles right now. Here are your links for great reading this week:
image from www.playerblock.com
Over at The Naked Hero, Amy Andrews touches on a hot button issue. Is it ever okay for a hero to cheat? Is it a redeemable action? For a long time, I would’ve said no, it’s completely unacceptable. And really for a romance hero, I think it should be unacceptable. BUT… this is something that happens in real life and real life couples sometimes do get past it. That makes me think that depending on the circumstances and how it’s handled in the book, it might be possible. My gut still says, though, that books are escapism and I don’t want too much reality there.
Dana Kaye, publicist, has a great flow chart of how a book is born. You can probably spent 10 minutes just following different paths.
Kat Latham posted a test to see how fast you read. I came in at 376 words a minute, which means I could read War and Peace in about 26 hours (not that I’d want to). I’m faster than 50% of people. I guess being an English major finally paid off.
Although not directly related to books, since I write romance and think about relationships for my characters, I’m adding a post by Emma Burcart here. Emma talks about choosing safe guys. You know the ones — you know exactly what to expect from them. They exist for a good time, no commitment, no permanence. Emma writes from her own experience in relationships, but for me, this is great fodder for character development. In fact, in the book I’m revising right now, the heroine always chooses guys who aren’t serious because serious scares her.
Myndi Shafer has a fabulous list of things she is pretty sure she knows. I personally love #4. It’s a common belief in my house.
(4) If momma ain’t happy, ain’t no-one happy.
One thing that I’m pretty sure I know is that a good book can often erase a bad day.
Another week gone and only one more until the kids are out of school. I’m beginning to worry about keeping up with 3 posts a week while they’re home. I’ve gone back to teaching part-time (college level writing) and although it’s only one night a week, I spend hours prepping and grading. Add in the kids and keeping them busy, and something’s probably going to give. Usually my writing suffers over the summer, but this year, I have a deadline, so that can’t really happen. Right now, I’m ahead of schedule and I’d like to keep it that way.
Anyway, onto great links for the week.
Samantha Warren likens modern online romance to romance when back when. She has some interesting ideas about how contact through email mimics communication only via letter. Since I’ve been married a long time, I don’t know if this holds true, but I do agree with her that the idea of building a relationship with words is far more fascinating that jumping into bed together.
Chuck Wendig has one of his fabulous 25 things post up. This time it’s 25 reasons you should quit writing. I know most writers will tell you that they can’t NOT write. I don’t know if I fall into that category. It’s certainly true at this point in my life, but I stopped writing from the time I left college until about 5 years ago. I was busy building my career and writing didn’t enter the picture. I don’t know if that would happen again if I went back to teaching full-time. I tend to throw myself 100% into whatever I do. Chuck’s points are great, though. Writing is tough and it’s not for everyone.
On the other end of advice, Ingrid Schaffenburg was recently at a conference and she shares the advice she learned from seasoned professionals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: conferences are a great way to fuel yourself as a writer (even if you’re an introvert like me)
Tonya Kappes writes about how often writers are expected to produce books. It used to be that an author could be successful writing one book a year. Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes one about every 18 months. But with the advent of self-publishing and ebooks, readers have gotten impatient. They want it NOW. I get it. I hate having to wait for a favorite author’s new book (I’m looking at you Julie James) and we want them to write faster. I’m currently set to release 2 books a year. I hope that’s enough to build a following.
(this one’s a little TV and more on writing, but…) Over on Romancing the Naked Hero, Paula Altenburg writes about secondary characters who steal the show. She opens with talking about Boyd Crowder from Justified. How could I not include this?