Archive for March, 2010

networking socially

I would consider myself, maybe not a computer nerd, but good with technology, for the most part. I’ve done my own hardware upgrades. I own lots of gadgets (including an ereader). I’ve designed websites. I’m a Mac user, although I don’t know if that says anything about me besides that Steve Jobs owns a tiny piece of my soul.

But trendy things? I think I’m, like, six months behind whatever the new trend is online. But I’m told that the key to marketing one’s book is social networking, so I’ve been getting accounts all over. Feel free to follow/friend me! I like friends!

I just got a LibraryThing account. It’ll be a shiny author account soon! I haven’t posted anything there yet, but I will. (Or, correction. I’m currently reading an Andrew Grey novel, so I added that. If you’re curious, it’s Bottled Up. And, yes, I like it so far.)

I’m also on GoodReads. I’ve read a lot of really good books over the last couple of months, so excuse the gushy quality of some of my reviews. :-D

And I’m on Twitter, natch.

And LiveJournal. I don’t really know what to do with the LJ account, so you’ll excuse the lack of posts there (I mean, I can’t even find the time to update this blog more than once or twice a week, you know?) but it can be an easy way to read blog posts from this here blog if you are a big LJ user, because I have everything here cross-post over there.

I have lots of things in the works for April, so check back for that.

gimme a break

Firstly, In Hot Pursuit got 4 cherries from Whipped Cream Reviews.

So I took some time off from writing this week. I’m normally a pretty self-disciplined writer, making it a goal to write at least a little every day. I lead a fairly busy life, and I think you have to have some measure of self-discipline in order to make things happen. It’s tough, though, making the time for writing on top of everything else; I suspect that is most writers’ chief complaint. There are just not enough hours in the day. (I can’t even imagine how writers with children manage.)

Anyway, I had a week where I had to take a break from writing. I think sometimes I just need to clear my head and reboot. I put in some extra hours at the day job, I saw some friends, I watched a lot of trashy television. I sometimes also just need some distance from what I’m working on so I can look at it again with fresh eyes; I’m more likely to catch consistency errors that way.

The good news is that my brain is back functioning again; I woke up this morning, started thinking about a WIP, and came up with a whole bunch of ideas. And now I have coffee, so forward progress!

sunshine and the city

Due to construction at my office, I’ve been blessed with a rare Friday off. I took the subway into Manhattan, I’m currently in a cafe near Astor Place, having taken a rather lengthy walk through the West Village, mostly enjoying the astonishingly beautiful weather (it should be 70°F and sunny all the time!) but also looking for inspiration.

One of the things that I love/hate about New York City is that it’s always changing. I walked by a restaurant this afternoon that must have closed recently, because I’m sure I ate there a couple of months ago. The restaurant has been there a while, since I remember eating there with my mother after we took a tour of NYU back when I was applying to college. It was strange to see the awning gone, the for-sale sign in the window.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would take the bus from my hometown in the Jersey suburbs into Port Authority—which I still kind of think of as the eighth level of hell, though it’s been cleaned up considerably—and we almost always took the subway down to the West Village. We were mostly lower-middle-class kids, so we never had a lot of money. One of our favorite occupations was thrift-store shopping, and it used to be that you could wander around the Village and pop in and out of stores that would sell you clothes by the pound.

The first time I walked down Christopher Street was kind of an accident. It was a couple of years after I moved to New York City. I was lost. It’s not hard to get lost in the Village; it’s literally off the grid, not even the numbered streets running parallel. I was trying to get to a bar on West 4th Street (which, much to my great disappointment, closed a couple of years ago) and I’d made a stop first at some store, and then I just started walking in the direction I was pretty sure was west. And then I realized I was on Christopher Street which, at the time, was all glitter and rainbow flags.

Today, it felt a little sterile. Maybe it was just the sun. Maybe everyone’s in Washington Square Park. The Stonewall Inn is, naturally, still bedecked with more rainbow flags than any building you’ve ever seen, but the rest of the stretch I walked today looked surprisingly nondescript. Across the street, all of the benches in Christopher Park were occupied, people sharing space with the statues, painted white, which I thought looked kind of ghostly (maybe the intention?). The statues commemorate the Stonewall Riots. I also walked by a scary number of empty storefronts today. A sign of our current economic climate? A sign of a bygone era? I walked east a little ways and stopped in a cafe for a snack, ran into a schmoopy gay couple, alternately kissing and trying to decide which kind of cupcake to order. It’s hard not to think about the course of events here, not to remember that those weird white statues are meant to represent the event that made it possible for these two men to kiss in front of a bakery display case just because.

I’m currently trying to revise a novella and having kind of a hard time of it, because sunshine distracts me. I also like reveling in the weird ephemera of New York, in the memory of a city that no longer exists, in ponderings of what the city might become.

I wonder sometimes if it’s a cliche to write fiction set in New York City, but write what you know, right? I love New York and love reading and writing about it.

(Funny, though, that my first published novel does not take place in New York! But Noah is a New Yorker.)

My mind’s still reeling a little, too, after a writers group workshop in which a murder-mystery WIP of mine (which takes place almost entirely in Brooklyn, for what it’s worth) got pretty well eviscerated. I’m taking it as an opportunity to think that the group saved me from sending out a novel that didn’t work. I miss sometimes, and it’s good to be reminded of that. So I’ll go back and revise. But after I spend a little more time in the sunshine.

kiss out

New York is a fairly progressive city, and my pocket of Brownstone Brooklyn is kind of yuppy and liberal, so it’s easy to forget that horrible acts of violence can, and do, still happen here.

A few weeks ago, a 22-year-old man was attacked by five men after leaving a gay event at a pizza parlor in Carroll Gardens, which I would consider a pretty classy neighborhood. I think I’ve even been to that particular pizza place; my brother used to live around the corner. Anyway, when I read the news, I didn’t quite believe it.

There was a vigil held last night, preceded by a bit of civil disobedience the organizers called a “kiss out.” Couples (of all stripes: gay, lesbian, straight) stood on all four corners of an intersection and kissed for twenty minutes. There’s been some controversy of the “ew, kissing” variety (see this HuffPo story) but I think it’s great, kissing as a way to raise awareness and (hopefully) counteract the violence. Towleroad posted video.

oh, hey, another review

The weather in New York has been just awful the last couple of days. I spent way more time outside than I wanted to yesterday, the rain soaking into my shoes as I prayed my umbrella wouldn’t invert, so I decided to sequester myself in my apartment today to get some writing done. This has mostly been a successful endeavor, though my current work-in-progress is in part about inclement weather, and I could really use a sunny spring day right about now.

Or else a good review! This one from Theresa at Ebook Addict:

All in all this was a beautifully done romance about finding new love, with lots of tears and laughter. Be prepared for the sparks these two create, they will definitely heat up the cold winter nights.

Ahem. If you, like me, are dreaming of sunny Florida while the weather rages outside, you may want to buy the book. Just saying. :-D

wait, nobody told me i couldn’t do that

I like the thinky posts on Dear Author, and this week’s, on whether there can be a second chance at love in a romance novel is no exception. The discussion here is about the One True Love trope in romance, wherein it’s so common for characters to have been in relationships before, but for those relationships to have been not so good, or, for example, you have a widower who thought his dead wife was the love of his life, but the love he feels for the heroine in the novel is so much better. So the question is left hanging: is it possible for a romance hero(ine) to fall in love twice in his/her lifetime?

In romance, there doesn’t seem to be room for a character to love, fully and completely, more than once. Upon meeting the true mate, the character must justify past feelings for another as not as complete or full or passionate.

Maybe this is true in a lot of the genre, but I don’t think it’s true in life. People fall in love more than once in a lifetime.

I bring this up because I don’t think I had ever seen this particular trope spelled out for me before, which is weird because I read a lot of romance and should have put it together sooner.

But I didn’t. In In Hot Pursuit, for example, Noah loses his partner Josh in the early pages of the novel. Noah and Josh had a solid, loving relationship. Josh is killed very suddenly, leaving Noah bereft. Noah then meeting and falling for Harry in no way invalidates (to me, anyway) his relationship with Josh, doesn’t make the past relationship any less solid and loving.

Nobody told me that I couldn’t make Noah fall in love twice.

It’s an interesting thing to think about, about the genre and the idealizations therein, about what authors can and can’t get away with and still pull off the HEA (or HFN), about how fiction has its own rules. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a writers group workshop where someone criticized a plot point for being too unrealistic, and the writer said, “But that happened to me in real life!”)

I like complicated stories, where there is no easy path to the Happily Ever After One True Love Babies and Weddings Epilogue, if you get what I mean. But I want a hopeful ending, too. I’m a sucker for a story where two people meet and it sure looks like they’ll be together for all eternity when you turn that last page, but what about the characters who lose their soulmate? I mean, shit happens. There are accidents and illness and things go wrong and these are the facts of life. Is the partner left behind expected to spend the rest of his life mourning? I prefer to think there are second chances.

saturday sun

I tweeted this a few days ago, but here’s another review of In Hot Pursuit: “In Hot Pursuit is about second chances, forgiveness, and acceptance. It is a wonderful blend of action, suspense, romance, humor and erotic play.” (4.5 nymphs here)

I have a tendency to surround myself with people who have wildly different interests from mine, so although I have a lot of friends who are writers, hardly any of them are romance writers (or even readers, come to think of it). But the thing with writing a novel is that, when it’s published, all your friends want to read it. I’ve been showing people the excerpt, and my own friends said things like, “I don’t like romance, but I like this.” That’s great, but shows a misconception about the genre. I’m working on disabusing my friends of the notion that romance as a genre is all bodice-ripping and purple prose.

It’s been a fun few weeks with the reviews, and some really positive feedback from both friends and strangers, and even a few fan emails (which totally made my day).

The weather looks pretty spectacular outside, so I plan to go out in a few. My agenda for the weekend involves writing and editing and trying to finish a short story that’s not quite right yet.

Oh, and I saw the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland last night. Maybe my expectations were low because I haven’t been that impressed with the last few Burton projects, but I thought Alice was great. I saw it in 3D with some friends, we all agreed it was fun and the visuals are lovely.