MFRW 52 Week Blog Challenge 2018, Uncategorized

Woohoo! Celebrate Good Times! #MFRWAuthor

Today’s topic: How I celebrate completing a manuscript

By starting a new one?

I’m only kidding–sort of. I’ve always been blessed with tons of ideas, more than I could hope to write in five lifetimes. Thank goodness for Evernote to keep them all straight. I’ve always got tons of new story ideas that I’m excited to explore.

The truth is that writing “The End” is always an enormous relief. I’m usually excited to get to the end of the current story and start something new, with new characters and issues to explore. Plus, my books always end happily so I’m sending the characters off to enjoy their new life, with their own happy ending.

Having said that, it is a bit more difficult to end a series. When a series is still going on, I can always drop in and visit on the earlier characters. Ending Cupid’s Coffeeshop was especially heart-wrenching for me, which is probably why I have not one but two spin-off series in development.

For a while, I commemorated each book by purchasing a small piece of jewelry. For example, when I wrote a book with a teacher heroine, I bought the Alex and Ani apple bracelet. But then, I realized I wasn’t really wearing all that jewelry so I stopped that tradition.

Writing this prompt made me realize that maybe I should have some smallish sort of celebration for finishing a manuscript. After all, it is a big achievement and the occasion should probably be marked somehow. I’m just not sure what I would do. Anyone got any ideas they’d like to share?

 

Uncategorized

Imagine a Literary Dinner Party #MFRWAuthors

NOTE:  I intended to post this on Friday morning but I set it for the wrong year! GRRR! Here it is anyway.

 

This week’s prompt is a fun one. Five authors (alive or dead) that I’d like to meet.

Did I ever tell you all about the first time I met Nora Roberts? As I mentioned in last week’s prompt, reading Nora’s book Partners launched my romance reading hobby. She and her husband own a charming bookstore in the little town of Boonsboro, Maryland, about an hour’s drive from my hometown. So, in the mid-90s or so, my mom, my best friend, Lynn, and I set out to go to a signing.

During the long drive, I brainstormed what question I, as a budding writer, would ask when I finally came face to face with my beloved writing idol. My mom and BFF (who clearly possess the patience of Job) helped and we had a lively discussion. We enjoyed lunch in town and then moseyed over to the bookstore to get in line. All through the line, I’m excited to ask my question and having a roaring good time chatting to all my new buddies in the fairly long queue. My BFF got her book signed first and then I stepped up to the table.

Nora gave me a warm smile and asked my name. I said, “Ummmm.” She blinked and looked up at me again, “What’s your name, sweetie?” I just stared back blankly, overawed to be in the presence of greatness. Finally, my best friend, concerned that I was now breathing like a landed fish, answered for me and spelled it. Nora graciously signed my book and my friend tugged my sleeve to lead me away. Yes, that’s right. I completely forgot my own name, much less my thoughtful and incisive writing question (which I don’t now recall).

Mortifying. So mortifying! Never meet your idols, kids.

Several years later, I won a tarot card reading for La Nora at a writing retreat and we had a lovely chat. She’s always gracious and warm with fans. A lovely person in addition to an amazing talent.

So, since I’ve already met her, I’d pick the following for my fab 5.

Anne Lamott. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books on writing, Bird by Bird, plus, she’s just a hoot. Here’s her amazing TED talk which you should go listen to right now. 

Chuck Wendig. He’s the author of the writing blog, Terrible Minds. His amazing piece on writing 350 words a day helped me to form a writing habit, after years of struggle. Plus, he wrote the Aftermath trilogy so I think we’d have a grand time chatting about Star Wars.

Jane Austen. I’d definitely want to hear more about that unfinished manuscript (The Watsons). She wrote three of my favorite books–Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.

Agatha Christie. Love her mysteries but what a life story too! I’d love to hear more about her life in archeology digs. Her autobiography is a great read, if you haven’t read it yet.

J.K.Rowling. Adore Harry Potter and would love to meet her. I’ve got questions too 🙂

Honorable mention: Hemingway. I’m not a fan of his writing other than A Moveable Feast. I’d love to walk around Paris with him. What a tour that would be!

 

How about you? Who would you pick?

Uncategorized

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Binge Watch

First, let me say thank you to all of my wonderful, amazing readers. The Happily Ever Alpha: Falling for the Billionaire anthology boxed set had a terrific launch. We made it to #1 on Kobo and #4 on Barnes and Noble’s romance list. We stayed in the top 500 on Amazon with over 110 reviews in the first week. I understand we did well on Google and iTunes but I have no idea how to verify that. But overall, it was a thrilling week last week. We won’t know if we met our goal—hitting the USA Today and/or the New York Times bestseller lists—until midweek this week.

 

It’s agonizing! I hate waiting. The die is cast. My fellow authors and I gave it our all but there’s now nothing left to do. Waiting is tough. My concentration is low. I should be writing as I still have Abby and Shortie’s story to finish but it’s a struggle. So, instead, I binge-watched Crazy Ex Girlfriend! Now I need someone to talk to about it. Lucky you, blog readers!

 

Have you seen it? It’s a musical sitcom or a comedic musical about attorney Rebecca Bunch (planed by Rachel Bloom) who, after running into her summer-camp boyfriend, abandons her prestigious New York job to move to West Covina, California, which just happens to be her boyfriend’s hometown. It’s totally coincidental (not!) Once in California, she finds a job and a group of friends as she single-mindedly pursues her heart’s desire, Josh.

 

And interspersed in there are full-on musical production numbers with insanely clever, witty, subversive lyrics. This show is funny, smart, and has heart. It’s awesome. Seriously, I binge-watched it in less than a week. You should too! It’s got like 31 episodes total. You can do it!!

So, here’s the ex-boyfriend, All-American, bland Josh Chan (I’m not a Josh fan). He’s the object of Rebecca’s devotion. I like Josh. There’s nothing not to like about Josh, except that he’s a terrible match for super-smart, super successful Rebecca.

Here’s her fling, Greg, who happens to be Josh’s bestie. Greg (who voiced Hans in Disney’s Frozen) is smart but not driven like Rebecca. He’s snarky instead. He’s not my favorite. To quote his departure song, they are a bit of a s**tshow together. (Warning: adult lyrics ahead).

And here’s her new boss, Nathaniel, who is Draco Malfoy, if he became a California lawyer. He’s awful and vile. And I adore him. He’s as smart as Rebecca but has major daddy issues too. I totally want to see these two together for season 3. Not as an OTP but just as a train wreck worth watching!

The real OTP of the show is Rebecca’s friendship with her bestie, Paula, who becomes absorbed in Rebecca’s crazy life as a way of coping with her boredom and frustration in her own stale marriage. In the second season, Rebecca falls in with her girl squad as Paula pursues her own dream and the show handles that tension really well.

Here’s the Spice Girls send up: Friendtopia. Still makes me laugh.

There are other plot lines, including one of the best explanations of bisexuality ever and a loving relationship between two men that is pitch perfect. It’s an extremely addictive show.

When I was trying to analyze what makes the show work—because, to be clear, often the characters are not all that likable and make terrible decisions—I think there are two things: 1) Rebecca may be a total train wreck in her personal life but she’s a really awesome lawyer. We tend to root for competent people. Years ago, I wrote a vampire romance with a heroine cop who was dreadful at her job. It didn’t work for many reasons but that was one of the reasons the manuscript died on my hard drive. 2) The songs are clever, witty, and truthful. Her Sexy Getting Ready song is just one example of this. Great comedy often conveys profound truths. We learn while we laugh.

And here’s my favorite all time Crazy Ex Girlfriend song, just because 🙂

Uncategorized, Writing

More Lessons Learned from Watching Friends

Last month, I talked about watching the first two seasons of the sitcom, Friends, on Netflix. Now I’ve completed watching through the end of season five and I thought I’d share what more I’ve learned since then.

 

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1) Archetypes

Last time I talked about how Joey, Chandler, and Ross are archetype equivalents to Kirk, Bones and Spock (respectively). Now I wanted to talk about the girls. They are also a power trio called the Three faces of Eve. Phoebe equates to the playful innocent one, Rachel equals the hot and sexy one, and Monica is the calm and capable wife or team mom. Interestingly, Monica is the one who shown to be someone who could build a home life and is therefore a good match for Chandler. Rachel is definitely the hot one, the one we all desire to be. Phoebe veers toward being a manic pixie dream girl when the show highlights her eccentricities to the point of weirdness.

Utilizing archetypes with a twist is makes an effective story by combining a universal element with a unique spin.

 

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2) Comic Exaggeration

Over five seasons, the comic identifying characteristic for each individual becomes increasingly exaggerated. Joey starts out as somewhat dimwitted but by the end of the fifth season his stupidity is often played for laughs. Sometimes, I think he gets dumber every show. Phoebe was always eccentric but now she is just weird. Ross was always high-strung and type A but now he delves toward whiney jackass.

Some of these are due to the sitcom format. But it’s still a cautionary tale. Character quirks can quickly become irritating if exaggerated too far.

 

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3) Couples

At the end of the second season, Ross and Rachel became a couple. In a sitcom format, they couldn’t allow them to be a happy couple for long so by the middle of season three, they go “on a break” and never really reunite as a couple. So therefore the beta couple of the show, Monica and Chandler, become the main couple and the heart of the show within a single season. They get together in the finale of the forth season and are moving in together at the end of season five. Ultimately, their relationship is shown as a healthy example and much more interesting than the endless on off-again, merry-go-round of Ross and Rachel.

I’m still enjoying watching the show. I’ll report back at the end of season seven.