Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Flying Leap Into 2010

2010 is not a leap year, but if it were, it would be a piping hot bowl of terrific. Alas, we must wait until 2012 to enjoy the enticing debauchery of that February day that may, or may not, exist. In my time thriller, Until Midnight, the entire back story hinged on a February 29th many years earlier in which a group of scientists used the day as an outside-of-time excuse to engage in all manner of behavior unfitting to respected scholars.

For 2010, we have the Universal Pictures release, Leap Year, starring Amy Adams as a woman with an elaborate scheme to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day, according to some far-fetched Irish custom and Matthew Goode as a hunky Brit who annoys her to the point that any other man pales in comparison. Yes, this is recycled chick-flick plot, but we're not shooting for Shakespeare here, people. Although no respectable romance writer can land a contract for a romantic comedy these days, Hollywood is eating them up. Such is the cycle. What's hot in Romancelandia will be hot in Hollywood in, say, five years, and vice-versa. People want to laugh. Especially women, who always carry more than their fair share on their shoulders at any one time. And guys, you're all geeked-up on multiple viewings of Avatar. Am I right? The universe must have balance.
What new movie are you excited to see in 2010? What was your favorite of 2009?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

For the Love of Pete...and Vortex Readers

Over the holidays, I read an article about the hidden traps of online communities. You didn't know there was a boogey-man lurking behind that phone booth, did you? Or, so I've been told, there is a strong possibility of contracting MacGyveritis around here if you are already of the female persuasion. Always, you could be Rickrolled. Okay, time to be serious.

Those who received RWA's Romance Writer's Report know the article. Most of the cautionary tales involved things we writers know intuitively: watch what you say, don't join a community/blog just to promote your books, beware the time-suck. But something the author, Corrina Lavitt, touched on was a more insidious problem: a community can become so comfortable, so familiar, that it forgets about its silent lurkers.

I'm the first one to stand up and say I'm guilty of alluding to jokes or commenters without giving proper linkage to catch my newer, silent visitors up. For that, I shall Rickroll myself. I do think it's easy for blog owners to become comfortable in the familiar and forget to nurture that which is growing. I see you, lurker Vortex reader, and I get that sometimes there's nothing to be said besides, "For the love of Pete, what is she talking about?" (and who, exactly, is Pete? Pete Thornton?). I appreciate all of you, silent or otherwise. My true "itis" is cliques. Hate them. Everyone is welcome here at the wacky table.

Speaking of wacky, I'm co-coordinating a writing contest for the next month and I'd be remiss if I didn't pass along it's shiny awesomeness. Aside from the fact that wonderful things happened to me the year The Night Caller placed first, the Great Expectations contest is often mentioned alongside the Daphne and the Molly in romance writing circles for consistent, high-quality critiques. The deadline is tomorrow, so what are you still reading this blog for? Go forth and enter!
Are there any hidden traps you've noticed in online communities?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Removing Web Footprints

Like my phone booth? It screamed, "Pick me! Pick me!" while seeking out the new and different. I suppose, like everyone, I'm looking more ahead than behind this time of year. We'll see if the booth takes me where I want to go. Not sure if I'll keep him just yet. Is it me or is there a reflection of a face on the left side?

At my request, The Wild Rose Press has returned rights to me for "The Lost Highway," part of the Love, Texas Style anthology. To those of you who had the opportunity to read my time travel romantic short over the past two years, thank you. It was the perfect way to dip my toes into the publishing pool. To those who haven't read it, I'll still be giving away the final few copies from time to time. As I'm removing the cover art from my web-carbon footprints, I can't help but wonder how many of the 665 views on YouTube might have been from outside my mother's abysmal circle of knitting friends who can navigate cyberspace or Bon Jovi fans on a drunk-click binge. Some of them might have actually stayed for the home-grown promotion. Some day this will evolve into a 10 second prime time spot where I'll promise to kill off my bestselling hero if you do not buy my latest, ala James Patterson, but for now, I'll hold fast to my delusion that it was riveting. Meanwhile, seeking a place to give "The Lost Highway" new publishing life is on my 2010 to-do list.

What's on your 2010 list?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Martha Stewart Was Never a Bond Girl!

Guys, you may have to check your man card at the door to get into the 007 Bond Girl blog today. We're talking....shhh!...decorating. I know! I have no idea what came over me. If you need a visual, like most men do, here's a cheat sheet for you:

Nate Berkus
(Oprah's Interior Design Guru)

John DeSalvo
(Romance Cover Art Model)

Jonas Armstrong
(Yes, Jen, this one was for you)
Remember, real men wear pink and can see past Martha Stewart's days up the river. Be sure to leave me a comment so I know you took one for the team.

Monday, December 14, 2009

On Shiny Noses and One-Trick Poses

In anticipation of Tuesday, when I'll once again strap on the thigh-high boots and slip into my Bond girl persona, I can't help but want to get these newsy items out of the way. They're cluttering my brain and could impede my ability to create a coherent non-time-travel-ish post. Believe it or not, not everyone gushes at the idea of time travel. I know! Crazy, isn't it?

This past weekend, I flipped through channels aimlessly and landed on the sequel to Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Rudolf's Shiny New Year. Who knew there had been a sequel? Better yet, who knew that Santa and Father Time would send Rudolf on a time-traveling adventure? Nevermind that the monster bird, Eon, would blow his nasty old breath and send Rudolf spinning in the wrong temporal direction. It happens. Mostly in the form of a nasty old plot siren at the end of your rewrites saying, "Wouldn't it be better if you changed your protagonist's internal motivation for the entire book? Hmm?"

CBS is now jumping into the science fiction hour of ratings power by developing a series called Murmurs. The drama involves a group called The Commission who must repair alterations in time known as "murmurs" to ensure history remains untouched. No doubt they'll follow their proven CSI formula and have female agents with mummy-tailored, cleavage-enhanced shirts, a moody leader with only one expression in his acting repertoire (ala David Caruso), and camera angles and neon lights to simulate the fun not found in any office setting. Anywhere. Score one for time travel though.

Time travel back to this post where I was considering entering my novel in the Next Best Celler contest. This was the one sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and where authors post their stories in bite-sized increments hoping to hook their readers into a serialized, frequent experience. The five most-followed romance manuscripts have been announced and have a shot at becoming Dorchester's newest author. Search by title to read the entrants' stories from the beginning.

Those teachers across the pond really know how to plant the seeds for our next generation of time travel obsessed authors. Imagine being called out of a mundane junior high school day in England to see a time machine parked in the teacher lot and witness a company of theater actors in period costume stumble out, teach about their era, and jump start a research-based history project. So much more engaging than staring at Dee-Snyder-ish slideshows of French Revolutionary leaders in the coma-inducing dark in Mr. Coffee-Breath's class. In a futile attempt to re-summon a link for you to view this foil masterpiece, the article seems to have vanished into the ether. Or my imagination. Or another time.

Finally, rocker David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, formerly known as Zowie Bowie of what-the-hell-was-my-father-thinking fame, is developing a time travel movie called Source Code, fresh off a Best Debut Director accolade at the British Independent Film Awards. According to Variety, Source Code is "a story about a soldier who finds himself repeatedly placed into the body of another person just before the detonation of a bomb on a commuter train." Jake Gyllenhaal is in negotiations to take on the lead role. Um, negotiate? What, the degree of his awesomeness? Sign him up, Mr. Jones. Me thinks Mr. Prince of Persia has the same affinity for time stories as someone else we know. Mmmm?
There. I think I have it all out of my system so tomorrow I can speak of something relatable and grounded. Or as grounded as a Bond girl can get. Be sure to pop back tomorrow and follow the stiletto boot prints to my alter-blog.
Until then, let us know how you would spend the time if I gifted you an extra hour today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Three Coherent Quotes

I'm holed up at Casa Vortex with a nasty case of Strep. Thankfully, all I can expose you to is cyber-breath. The debilitating body aches are gone; the bowling ball that was my head yesterday has returned to normal. Hooray for coherent thought.

One of my ambitious holiday gift projects involves writerly sayings. My search for inspiration online netted me more than I'll ever use, but I found a quote that could not have been more perfect for me:

"Without a pen I feel naked, but it's writing that is my exhibitionism." ~Carrie Latet

If we were to meet at, say, a holiday party, I'd be the one blending into the curtains at the room's periphery. I'd stare out the window and you'd think me aloof. Really, I'd be be so painfully trapped in my introversion, I'd long for the pate to sprout lips and start a conversation so I wouldn't have to. Speak about Desmond Morris's fifth stage of intimacy? I'd rather skewer my eyeballs with a fireplace poker. Write about it? Now you're talking. Maybe I view the playground of the mind as sacred, something that loses its magic when drizzled out past the tongue.

Here's another quote that made me stop and think:

"No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman." ~Van Wyck Brooks
Mr. Brooks was a historian, biographer and American literary critic just after the turn of the twentieth century. He received a Pulitzer in 1937 for his novel, The Flowering of New England. This quote makes me want to read something he wrote, even a snippet. Do his words slant romantic? Is there a subtle rawness only a woman could appreciate?
Lastly, I found this one:
"One writes to make a home for oneself, on paper, in time, in other's minds." ~Alfred Kazin
What a perfectly-wrapped gift this quote is for me. It is as if the writer must ask for permission to enter a reader's mind, dance that awkward moment of first introductions and engage in a subtle give and take until residence is established. And, there is the time thing. The ultimate time travel for a writer. The days and months I spend in creation answered months, even years, later in the reader's hours of experience.
Do you have a favorite quote? Share it, and tell us why it speaks to you.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

But the Fire Is So Delightful

It's a round-up of awesomeness here at The Vortex. Yea, have I been the Queen of Less-Than-Fruitful-Multi-tasking but not so busy that I failed to keep up with temporal and writerly links of awesomeness.

Remember Physics of the Impossible, that ultra-fascinating non-fiction book by rock-star-to-time-travel nerds, Michio Kaku? In a fit of pure inspiration, the powers that be at the Science Channel have translated the bestselling book into a series that began in early December. Already, they've covered parallel universes and light sabers. Light sabers, people. I'd roll my hair into two sticky-bun-shaped saucers if I could get my hands on one of those.

If the thought of LOST returning in mere weeks has Sawyer-esque wisecracks slipping off the tongue at your holiday festivities, why not feed your sarcasm with the Top 70 LOST quotes from Seasons 1-5? And while we're on the subject, the just-released season five DVD set features LOSTUniversity. Who wouldn't want to be schooled on how to survive the jungle by Josh Holloway? Ants? Sure I'll eat them if you'll share my airline-seat-as-recliner.Link

And finally, for those moments when your scene isn't flowing, why not try the authormatic? Three minutes of pure mad-libs-type fun. If you try it, be sure to leave yours in the comments for us to enjoy.

I'm firmly entrenched in an epic holiday battle between what I want to do and what I must do, so posts may ride the coat tails of randomness right now. While holing myself up to write in a mountain cabin with a fire and a raging snowstorm outside seems unlikely, it's still on my list for Santa. Someday, it will happen. Right about the time this guy shows up on a rescue snowmobile with a three book contract in one hand and a box of Ho-hos in the other.

What do you hope to find in your stocking this year?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hoarding Inspiration

So awhile back I was watching the CMA awards, because that's how I roll when I'm not listening to Elvis or vintage Metallica, waiting for my main music squeeze to perform when he rolls out the first few notes of a song I thought would remain in obscurity forever. He has those-the heavily-banjo-ed, borderline Hee-Haw ones that will forever be trapped between more commercial radio releases. I never dreamed this quiet, sad, painful little song would reach so many. Damn and double damn. One, because I'm selfish, and it was my perfect little find when everyone else was singing his number one hits. And two, because it hit me during the perfect time this past summer when the planets aligned and story lightning struck. Now, as with everything on the pop-culture radar, freshness eventually stales. I fear editors-especially in romance-will see a surge in this unique setting, at this unique time, with this unique human experience. Yes, author voice does ensure no two stories are the same, but one has to only say, "Vampire" to witness the eye rolls and see how that theory has played out.

I am also in full-hoard mode this week because I had to surrender my old satellite box for the new HD one. A Kleenex moment to rival the commercial of the soldier coming home at Christmas. The Elvis movie Roustabout, gone(which, incidentally, was the Yang to the previous Yin of fictional inspiration this summer). Forty MacGyver episodes, gone. And while watching him try to escape a nuclear reactor in ninety seconds would make it all worth it were in experienced in high-def, sadly, it is not to be. Put me on a 52" beach with Josh Holloway come January and I'll bring the suntan lotion, though. With my DVR cupboard bare, I'll turn to the best high def experience around: writing fiction.

What do you do with your inspirations?