Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Prometheus - the peril of the prequel and the sins of a series...

 Forget the Hunger Games, let’s talk Prometheus. I’m so excited about this film I don’t know how I sleep at night. First, you’ve got Noomi Rapace doing SCI-FI. She was brilliant in Girl in with Dragon Tattoo. Kicked butt in every scene. (As nice as it is to see Daniel Craig they did not need to remake that film.) Then, just when you think they’ve got Ripley’s lead-up-but-totally-different-kind-of-character cast to perfection, they throw Michael Fassbender into the mix as an android. If any man ever got the f***yeah from me, it’s him. He rocks.

So this movie’s now like Christmas and your birthday all rolled into one! Twice the cake! Twice the presents! (I know... Inevitably someone will try to welch and only give you one gift. Never mind them. They get no cake.) And then, just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, there’s Aliens! The scariest damn Aliens to ever hatch onto the screen and try to affix themselves to your face! Awesome!

 I’m willing to acknowledge that there have been some bad prequels. A series is a sticky thing, no matter which way in time it’s moving. Some work, some don’t. Some work up to a point but then they start to suck. Take Aliens 3 where they killed off Newt and Hicks in the first five minutes. The less said the better.

The same principle, of course, works for book series. Things can ebb and flow. I just finished the latest instalment of J.R.Ward’s Black Dagger series, Lover Reborn, last night. Let me be up front here, the idea of replacing Wellsie was repugnant to me. As a wise woman once told me, romance readers tend to be like ducks. We imprint on the first hero and heroine to come along. Wellsie was Tohrment’s heroine. She was there first and never should they have been parted. But they were...

 The romance between Tohrment and No’One was nice. The way the story was handled in relation to him and her checking in their various items of emotional baggage was good. If you love the Black Dagger Brotherhood then it’s a foregone conclusion that you got your fix like I got mine. But it was no Zsadist and Bella – of course, see above, I’m prejudiced (quack quack quack). I’ll be buying the next book because I’m invested in this world. I love it. It’s warm and familiar and snugly to me. There’s guns and interesting slang and expensive tequila. They live in a mansion and wear lots of leather. It’s a lot of fun.

But I’m hoping a return to the familiar chill of the Aliens’ universe is going to be more of an awe-inspiring occurrence. Do you remember the first time you ever watched Aliens? The cold of space followed by that silent, spooky colony? Where were all the people? What the hell was going on? And those monsters just waiting to pounce. Shivery stuff. Here’s hoping people.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

How arguing with my husband and staring at half-naked men is all part of the *process*...

Research is a funny thing, isn’t it? I spend hours scrutinizing Sexiest Males of 2012 type lists because selecting exactly the right physical match up for a hero is an integral part of the writing process. Absolutely. Positively. Cannot do without it.

But my husband says I’m being lecherous. Lecherous? Me?

We verbally spar over it (good-naturedly of course...) and all the while some part of my brain is clicking over thinking... Hmm, the way he just wiggled his finger beneath my nose to over exaggerate his verbose point about my leering at that models abs, I can use that in scene XYZ! Yes!

The Writer never turns off. I’m not driving, I’m plotting. And I can’t wait to use that excuse on an Insurance Claim Form when I accidentally trim a guard rail one day.

Every part of your life is subject to the scrutiny of your inner writer. People watching becomes a must-do activity. Body language is fascinating stuff. Let alone what’s betrayed by a particular tone of voice... I knew my husband had a thing for Alicia Silverstone by the faux incredulous tone as he tried to deny it. Pathetic really.

Bear witness to all of the little day to day interactions people have with those they love and those that are on the outer circles relationship wise. Use this information. From the not quite there honey that works at the cafe where you have lunch to the way your Grandma used to tut over your tats... All of this is gold when it comes to bringing your characters to life.

Watch the world around you. Carry a notebook with you. Use it.

Now, here’s a picture of Alicia Silverstone for my long-suffering husband. Oops, couldn’t find one. So here’s Ryan Kwanten, a national treasure...  

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Why my Dad will not be reading my book in this life time, over my dead body...

Crit Partners are invaluable. I believe I’ve mentioned that before. Reason number 256 being so there is someone your Father feels comfortable asking “Will I be able to read this book?”

Reason number 257 is when your Crit Partner looks your dear sweet Da straight in the eye and says “No. Absolutely Not. You must never, ever attempt to do that.”

Which leads us to our topic in a roundabout manner... Authenticity and Passion.

If you’re not writing what you love it shows. A friend was concerned about adding heat to her MS because she wanted to be able to show it to her Mum.  The answer there is to have an alternative version for Mum, not to alter what you are writing. Look to what you read for a guide. You wouldn’t spend hours befriending those books if they didn’t speak to you.

But be authentic.

If you’re not comfortable writing about how Bruce tied up Wendy and a fun time was had by all, then don’t go there. I’ve also read where one Author who specifically wanted to use certain language practiced same in front of the mirror, over and over.You can always give that a go.

But back to the parental concern. Here’s the thing about writing fiction, in a very real way you are hanging your day-dreams out to dry. Some people will not be kind. Other situations will be downright awkward. I am concerned about what friends are going to think when they finally get to read this book of mine. Toes crossed it’s someday soon. I’m concerned, but I didn’t let it sway me from the story I wanted to tell. The one I was passionate about. (And that story got rather smutty in places. Naughty characters. I’m heartily ashamed of the way they carry on sometimes.)

I know I’ve jumped around a bit but I hope the point was made. Authentic. Passionate.

I offered my Dad an amended copy, certain pages stapled and other sections blacked out. He asked if there would be anything left. Should be. I mean sure, Dad... There’s bound to be a bit. Probably.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Australian Women Writers: "In defence of books written by women for women"

Australian Women Writers: "In defence of books written by women for women": This week a Twitter discussion broke out as to whether romance , as a genre, is inherently feminist. The discussion was prompted by a review...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Hump Day Happy List of Favourite Books

I haven’t written a book review since high school. Mess with you not. But now that I’ve decided to write one, I can’t for the life of me narrow down the selection. Therefore let me welcome you to the Hump Day Happy List of Favourite Books. I know, not the catchiest of titles but let’s persevere.

First up, Science Fiction.

Even if you don’t read science fiction. Even if you don’t like first person point of view... read ‘Gabriel’s Ghost’ by Linnea Sinclair. Fantastic world building and a fallen, bad-boy hero like no other. A lovely dose of sexual tension tucked away between the pages along with a great action story to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Second, the bad day book. Or rather, when you need a laugh.

Anything by Shelly Laurenston. Seriously laugh-out-loud-burst-something-inside-of-me-that-was-probably-important funny. In particular, give ‘Here Kitty, Kitty’ a go. The redneck jokes are mighty and the shifter men so lovely you might just want to relocate to the nearest holler.

Third, BDSM.

I’m breaking this title into two. First up is Cherise Sinclair. For her very human submissive heroines and her breath-taking doms. The Shadowlands Series. Any of it. Perfect.

Third, part two, BDSM.

My issue with BDSM is that I respect the subject sufficient to own up to the fact that I don’t quite understand it. I want to. I’m reading up on the how to. But still... That’s why I think Cherise Sinclair is awesome. She gets inside the heads of the submissive and the dom. What drives them. But if you really want to sink deep, deep, deep then try Joey W. Hill.

‘Natural Law’, the only female domme story that has appealed to me so far. And the hero. The submissive hero. Delicious. A great love story and an amazing journey carried with the assistance of assortment of interesting toys. Joey W. Hill gets deep into the psychology of submission and domination. She also happens to be one of the best writers around. Add her to your list.

Fourth, Suspense.

Anne Stuart. Anything. Anytime. But in particular ‘Ice Blue’.

Fifth and finally, Yee Haw! Cowboys.

I read cowboys as much as I read female dommes. Not a lot. But anything Lorelei James puts out goes to the top of the reading pile for me. ‘Cowgirl Up and Ride’ was a great virgin heroine tale with a bit of an age gap thrown in for good measure. Try ‘All Jacked Up’ for sexual tension that scorches the page.

Alright, that’ll do it from me. So do tell, what are your favourites?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

I vaguely know what I did last summer... Or, more accurately, what I learnt from entering competitions.

Criticism is tough to take. Rejection sucks. These are the basics of life as we know it. Add to this paradigm that your book is your baby and you’re throwing it out there into the arms of a faceless, nameless stranger who may or may not have just had the worst day of their life and be more than willing to take it out on your pride and joy, and you get all the thrills and fears of entering competitions.

But here’s another fact - without feedback you get nowhere. Zip. Nada. Nothing. If you’re writing is purely a hobby, no problem. Have fun. But if you want more than your friends and family to wax lyrical over your words then you need to pull up your big girl pants and face a larger audience.

Start with a couple of Beta readers whom you trust. Join a writer’s group and give swapping your work a go with someone of similar ilk. When you’ve polished up your piece to the point that you’re ready to go the next step then do so with your chin held high. But be warned... your reception may not always be warm.  You don’t have to embrace everything judges say. You’re allowed to disagree, the baby is yours, and yours alone. Don’t furiously rush into any major changes without giving yourself time to think the feedback over.  Step back, give it a day. Some judges can shine a heavenly light on the tweaking required to raise your tale to the next level. Others, not so much.  

Judges are only human. They may have just been dumped, have a pounding headache and dog that refuses training and has just ruined another rug. Who knows... Maybe your story is just not their thing. You’re allowed to file those far, far away from anything of relevant importance.

Step back, give yourself a day off and think some happy thoughts. But DO NOT GIVE UP. Here’s a picture of a pretty man. Let’s call it a prop for the happy thought process.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

When the truth just isn’t out there...

Following a great TV show is one of the simpler joys of life. But it can also be a heartbreaker. Take ‘X-Files’ for example. Those early days of Mulder and Scully positively simmered with possibility. It was exciting, ground breaking stuff. Crazy, wild, eccentric but intelligent plot lines that kept you on the edge of your seat. Oh, the drama and the suspense and the ever present sexual tension brewing beneath the surface. It was heady stuff.

Then things went iffy... A bit wrong somehow... Eventually, we had to face the fact that the truth just wasn’t out there. Or it wasn’t worth finding out about.

‘Lost’ sadly also seemed to go down this track. A stack of ingenious ideas, but tying them altogether into some plausible, satisfying ending... Tricky. 

And now there’s ‘Alcatraz’. If you haven’t caught it yet then you’re missing out on some solid entertainment. It’s suspense and drama with that touch of ‘what the??’ that hooks you and gets your imagination going. It’s a little different. But with different comes that risk. Is there an end game that’s going to make it all worthwhile? Or will it dwindle away to naught? Worse yet, will it go the way of ‘Carnivale’ and just disappear into the ether mid-sentence, the truth of it, good or bad, never to be revealed?

Come and share with me in this warm, supportive environment where no one shall be judged... Which TV shows broke your heart and why? 

Saturday, 10 March 2012

An excerpt tackling the sharing aspect of the story in my surviving-the-zombie-apocaylpse-world-gone-mad. To set the scene, I just gave my Heroine a concussion. I'm harsh like that...

Daniel did not want to share her. Not with the kid, not with anyone, not even a little. He knew it would work, this insane idea of going halves, he just didn’t want it to. He had only just found her and she was his. But he couldn’t keep her safe, not on his own.
A fact that bit deep and hard and hung on like a pit bull.
The kid hung his head, shoulders rising on a deep breath. “I’ll go do another lap.”
“No.” Daniel sealed his eyelid’s tight. Then opened them. Belief that he was actually about to take this step was a long, long way away. “You’ve been at it for hours... My turn at guard duty, your go at being the pillow.”
There was a moment of relief followed by a flash of WTF on the kids face. “What? Whoa, aah… I don’t think she would be keen. Let’s not upset her.”
Funnily enough, the thought of his girl upset at Finn didn’t bother Dan. But it wasn’t a step in the required direction. “I think she would be less keen about having the hard ground beneath her when she’s feeling tender.”
“I can get my towel out of my pack, roll it up for her. You know, like a pillow.”
Even in the low light he could see the emotion playing out over the kids face, wary and want going to war. There was a certain satisfaction in making Mister Cool and Calm squirm. He didn’t hesitate to lie to the git. “She has nightmares sometimes, loud ones. You need to be close, we can’t afford the noise. Lie down on her other side.”
Finn’s eyes flared in panic.
Sweet baby Jesus, the man could go all urban guerrilla warfare but was too shy to snuggle up to Ali. And he knew the kid wanted to.
“Dan, it’s been a while, and… Man, I…”
“Like her?”
The kid nodded. Emphatically. “Yes I like her. Uninfected female, how could I not? And we’ve got enough on our plate.”
“Yeah, she’s very likeable. Especially when she’s asleep, all soft and cuddly like this.”
“Sort of my point. I don’t want to cause any trouble here.”
“I appreciate that, really, I do. But take in the big picture here, buddy. World gone mad, chaos, carnage, we all nearly died today. That we’ve survived this long is pretty wild when you stop and think.”
The kid groaned. “So you’re saying you won’t shoot me in the back if I’m jonesing for your girlfriend?”
Tempting… but no. Dan shook his head. “Nuh. You’re more use to her alive than dead.”

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Myths of Romance...

When I decided to get serious about writing a while back, I did not read romance. I certainly did not write romance. Chicks flouncing about with big hair and bigger dresses, waiting on someone to rescue them, did not interest me. Nor did Fabio. I did, however, want to have a romantic relationship central to my storyline. And I demanded a happy ending. Call me an emotional coward Robert McKee, I don’t care. I want my damn happy ending. I make no apologies.

In the interests of getting a clue as to what I was about, I attended workshops. The first was a writing sex scenes workshop with the wonderful Louise Cusack and run by the QWC. It was Louise who encouraged me to join Romance Writers of Australia. I also met my now bestie writing buddy, Babette, who was likewise a member of RWA. Various romance books were discussed. I thought, what the heck... I’ll give one a go.

I’d read a few Anita Blake books by Laurell K Hamilton but I didn’t classify that as romance. Not really. The first romance I read was ‘Ice Blue’ by Anne Stuart. If you haven’t read the book, then you should. Anne Stuart writes stories that are tense, dark, fast-paced and fascinating.  Next I read a Lauren Dane, one of the Chase Brothers series, followed by Denise Rossetti’s ‘Gift of the Goddess’. I discovered Loose Id, Ellora’s Cave and Samhain and my VISA bill was never the same.

Historical? No, I don’t like historical romance. Only contemporary or paranormal thanks. Except then I met Anna Campbell at something and she was so darn nice I figured I’d give ‘Claiming the Courtesan’ a go. I sat up till two in the morning, unable to put it down.

The point here, if there is a point, is not to base your opinions on some misguided notions of the way things were way back when. The 80’s are long gone, baby. Romance spans a wide array of styles and subjects. Romance outsells every other type of book out there, in digital or print. There’s a reason for that. Life is about relationships. Hope never goes out of fashion. All you need is love... Sorry. I’ve gone too far. But you get the point.  Open your mind.  Pick up a book. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

For Friday I give you my current favourite Cocktail Recipe accompanied by an Excerpt from one of my favourite scenes...

1.  Get a nice tall glass and half fill it with ice.
2. Chuck in a quarter of a lime. No, it's not too much. Limes are awesome and taste great.
3. Fill a 1/3 of the glass with Silver Tequila. Try Australian brand "Chappas" for some cheap but surprisingly delicious thrills. Otherwise, try "Peron" if you're feeling flushed with cash.
4. Top up the glass with 1/3 Guava Juice and 1/3 Soda Water.
5. Stir. Drink. Repeat. 

“Relax.” He lifted one of her hands off the butt of the pistol, checked the safety was on, then released the clip and set it aside. Tasks he could do in his sleep, perfect for keeping his mind occupied no matter how good she smelt. Because he couldn’t stop breathing her in. But it was all about sex, or the lack thereof, not her in particular. An important fact to remember. “Okay, keep both hands on the gun. Grip it like you’re holding a bird. Firmly enough that it’s not going to get away from you, loose enough you’re not going to hurt it.”
“Alright.” The frown line above her nose deepened and her slender fingers re-aligned beneath his. “Like this?”
“That’s good.” Finn held his hands up, made the peace sign then stuck a finger in the middle. “This is what you’re after, line up your front sight centre between the two at the back. Raise the nuzzle. You’re pointing low.”
Al adjusted her aim.
Finn adjusted a piece of her hair tickling his nose, tucking it stealthily behind her ear. Resisted the urge to rub it between his fingers, to feel it and sniff it. Yet his fingers lingered. He breathed in deep. Again. Finding words got hard. “Good, good. Don’t forget to breathe.”
She nodded, her face the picture of concentration.
“Pull the trigger nice and slow. Squeeze it. The gun,” he said, more for his benefit than hers.

 Have a great weekend and I hope you enjoyed the Excerpt...