Monday, June 27, 2011

Little Town Blues Melting Away

Today I went walkabout in Manhattan. It's been a couple years since I visited and a decade since I lived here and New York can always be counted on to change. It is a city in constant evolution. Gotta say, it's impossible to be bored here. I definitely understand the appeal.

I wandered from Times Square (where the RWA conference will be held) down to my old office in Chelsea - which no longer houses the film company I once worked for. I discovered the High Way (new since I lived here) walkway - a lovely landscaped elevated pathway that runs along tenth from 30th almost all the way to the village. I wandered through Greenwich and down to see Ground Zero (very different from when I lived here only months after the attacks). The high rise at Liberty Plaza is creeping toward completion, but the mall at the World Financial Center is already in action, so I stopped in at the food court to cop their wifi and write this (after taking a moment to wander through Battery Park and pick out a good spot to dock my yacht if I ever have Stupid Money to spend).

I've caught two Broadway shows so far - Catch Me If You Can, which was surprisingly romantic and a delightful theater experience ("a spectacular spectacular" according to New York magazine), and the ballet of Cinderella, which definitely primed me for romancey-goodness this week. (And the step-sisters were BRILLIANT. I love when they are played with such comedic flair.)

But playtime (at least of the non-writing variety) is almost over. Tomorrow the conference begins! If you are in the New York area, the Literacy for Life signing is open to the public, 5:30-7:30pm at the Marriott Marquis. Over 500 of your favorite romance authors will be signing their books and visiting with readers. Don't miss it!

And if you don't hear from me for a couple days, I promise to have beaucoup tales from the trenches as soon as I recover my sanity post-conference! Have a great week, y'all!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Romance Trading Cards!

Greetings, reader minions!

I'm getting set to venture forth to the RWA National Conference in New York City (departure in T-minus eight hours!). The last few days have been packed with my usual last minute shopping frenzy as I cram a year of purchases into seventy two hours. I also got my very first ever pedicure. Do you like those? I wasn't really expecting to love it but the experience was soooo relaxing. I might become a spa convert yet... though my pretty manicure is making me nervous of chipping a nail as I type - excellent reason not to have a pretty manicure, but it's fun to have hands that look like they belong to someone older than a five year old for a change. (My hands are freakishly small. Seriously. I could be a sideshow act.)

Many awesome things will be happening at conference (Broadway! Broadway!) and I will be signing books and chatting with readers at both Samhain signing (next Friday 3pm) and the RWA Literacy event. The massive Literacy signing is Tuesday afternoon at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and open to the public if you live in the area (technically also open to the public if you don't live in the area, but kinda expensive once you factor in plane fare...). All your favorite romance authors in ONE ROOM. (Don't worry, it's a BIG room.) Come for the books, come for the authors, come for the trading cards!

That's right, boys and girls. For those of you who haven't already heard, the newest trend (which I kinda love) is collectible romance trading cards. Visit the website to see the bevy of awesome and collect them all.

I have three available at the Literacy Signing - where the Rubies will also be having a scavenger hunt & giving away a gift card to someone who collects a certain set of cards.

Here are mine.

What do you think? (And if you think Zoe's looks a little different than the one I previewed here, you're right. I changed it up because it was bugging me.)

And if you won't be at conference (oh, the sadness!) you can still collect them. Just email me (vivi AT viviandrews DOT com) with your snail mail address and the number of my cards you would like and I will send them off to you. Sound good?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Biggest Loser: Romance Reader Edition

Weight loss is one of those things that I believe is a gazillion times more difficult to do on your own. Technically, yes, you are the one burning the calories, or counting them or both, but having an accountability system and folks in the trenches with you always helps me think healthier and get my butt to the gym. I would never go if not for my Gym Buddy. (I love you, Gym Buddy, AKA Workout Enabler!) And I need to go. Writing is sitting on your butt in front of a computer all day. It would be so easy to lose all concept of muscle tone.

The Biggest Loser show is a kickass concept and I love the mini-BL competitions that always seem to spring up, spurring us all on to healthier life-styles. My sister won her office's edition (that's my family kicking ass and taking names, baby!) and now romance readers get in on the action!

In the category of Cool Stuff Made Possible by the Interwebz: Ashley March is launching a romance reader & writer version of the Biggest Loser! There will be prizes, teams, motivation and support. Want to drop a few or more than a few? Visit Ashley's blog to find out how you can participate.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fox & Mormons - a day for WTFery

First off, an apology for being so absent the last week. I've been road-tripping my way across the country and while this has been awesome, it has not really been newsworthy, so I just didn't have anything much to say. I'm boring. It's true.

But you know who's not boring? Fox News and the Mormons.

Item the First: Fox News equates women reading romance novels on ereaders with senators tweeting naked pictures of themselves and getting all porny online. (Be sure to take a glimpse of their classy - and not at all faked! - spread of "romance novel covers".) Let's all take a moment to appreciate their logic, shall we? (Are you appreciating? While you're appreciating, remember not to throw heavy objects at computer screens. They're delicate.) You know, I've heard the Girl Porn classification for romance many a time, but this is a new spin. Watch out, female congresswomen! You might be asked to resign because of that Julia Quinn book you downloaded to your Kindle last week!

WTF Number Two: Mormons! (Is everyone all psyched that The Book of Mormon won all those Tonys? I wasn't that jazzed about it until I heard it was a collaboration with Bobby Lopez of Avenue Q fame and then Oh Baby!) Anyway, a chickie from the LDS has proclaimed that romance novels are addicting (duh) and bad for you and your relationships (actually there have been studies showing the opposite but oooo-kay). And then the internet community commenced the smack-down. I love being called "unbalanced" by pseudo-psychologists because of my reading material, don't you? Worthy of a giggle, at least.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Too Good to be Liked

Earlier this week I caught a performance of Measure for Measure at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in picturesque Ashland, Oregon. (Though I don't have any pictures to advertise the awesomeness of this little town because my camera battery died before I could document the picture-perfectness.)

The production was lively and fabulous (if you're ever in southern Oregon, I highly recommend grabbing a show). Measure for Measure is a lesson in conflict - chock full of characters being forced to make impossible choices or battering themselves against various definitions of justice, but it left me preoccupied with the same question that always bothers me about this play. The question of Isabella.

Is there a point at which virtue for its own sake becomes so virtuous that it ceases to be noble? At which a character is so good, they actually become unlikeable?

In Measure for Measure Isabella is forced to choose: give her pure, chaste self to Angelo or see her brother Claudio executed for the crime of fornication (which also leaves his fiance ruined and alone to raise his child which will be born a bastard because he was arrested before they could get married). Isabella refuses to sleep with Angelo - her view being that it is better for her brother to die once than for her soul to die eternally. In the argument with Angelo, I was wholly behind her. She was about to become a nun, clearly devout, and her virtue was her defining trait. But later when she was explaining her decision to Claudio, I started to hate her when she got mad at her brother (who initially agrees the price would be too high for her) when he wants to live and suggests that fornication is surely the least among the mortal sins.

That's when I started thinking, Hey, isn't Catholicism all about sin and forgiveness? If she couldn't confess and be made whole, then her brother would be going to hell for schtupping Juliet.

She continues to be pure and pious - and through the classic bed trick Angelo believes he has slept with her when really he has slept with his own ex-fiance. But then in the end, she lies (as instructed by the duke in disguise) and accuses Angelo of taking her virtue when he orders her brother executed anyway.

It was hard for me not to dislike Isabella. I feel like the moment she crossed the line from sacred to sanctimonious was in that moment with her brother - when she was so inconsiderate of his will to live. Her virtue started to feel like stubbornness. And selfishness.

I understood the stand Isabella was making, but I stopped liking her. Her intransigence felt like giving up to me. Fight for your brother! Come up with the bed trick yourself! Do something, you pious brat! Don't just tell your brother to resign himself to death.

She was so unremittingly good, I just couldn't stand her.

We've heard, as romance writers, that you have to make your heroines likeable. But not everyone is going to like the same thing in a heroine. I prefer survivors to saints. There are so many perfect Pollyanna heroines out there in Romancelandia, making my teeth ache because they're so sweet, but I like spicy. Give me a jalapeno heroine any day.

What about you? Would you find Isabella virtuous or vain of her own virtue?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Release-y Preview Goodness!

Hello, boys and girls! We've got all sorts of release-y news comin' at you. First, I'd like to take a moment to send a gushy thank you to everyone who has been enjoying Serengeti Sunrise. I'm positively gobsmacked that as of my writing this the little novella that could is still on the Samhain store's top ten list. How crazy is that? So a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped put it there. Y'all rock.

And now, on to coming attractions!

We have review-y goodness for A Cop & A Feel! Literary Nymphs Reviews got a sneak peek at the book and they liked it! Four and a half nymphs! "There are some stories that plod along…be assured…this short story isn’t one of them. This contemporary paranormal grabbed my attention with the very first sentence and didn’t let go as it raced to the end. " Woot! Check out the full review here.

Also on the upcoming agenda (and I'm not sure I remembered to mention it here because we had guests and things were kinda chaotic) this fall I'll have a post-apocalyptic romance novella coming out. Reawakening Eden is a story about learning to love after a plague wipes out most of the world, when it's hard enough just to survive let alone find joy in life again. So yeah, it's a bit more serious than some of my stuff. But then in January we have Ghosts of Boyfriends Past, which it is safe to say returns us to my less-than-serious happy place. This paranormal romance novella is ghosts, curses, and giggles.

And last but not least, we have pretties! In the spring of 2012, three of the Serengeti novellas (Storm, Lightning & Sunrise) will be combined into the Serengeti Sins print anthology and we have cover art! Lookee, y'all! What do you think? Sassy, eh?

I think that's all I've got for coming attractions. Now I'm back to work on the works in progress!