Thursday, July 28, 2011

If you liked...

The quick bite-sized morsel of romancey goodness that was A Cop & A Feel, then you just might love the latest release from my (bias-alert) good friend Kelly Fitzpatrick, Dodging Cupid.

After a string of disastrous Valentine’s Days, broken hearts and failed relationships, Jenna’s decided to spend this Valentine’s Day in the least romantic spot possible—the coin-op laundry.

No flowers. No candy. No annoying couples or romance of any kind. The only glitch in her plan is the leather-clad biker in heart-print boxer shorts who walks in as her washer starts. This just might turn out to be the best Valentine’s Day Jenna’s ever had.

Light, fun, and goes down in one gulp. Get it HERE.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thoughts on Originality

I seem to be having rather a lot of conversations about plagiarism and original thought lately. Sometimes the universe just seems to want you to consider a certain topic.

Then, in the wake of all these conversations, I picked up Eloisa James's When Beauty Tamed the Beast. I knew I was going to love it (as I do all her books) and I'd actually recommended it for an impromptu Twitter book club @JamieWesley and I did. Little did I suspect what the most thought-bender-provoking element of the book would be for me.


For the record, it's an excellent book and my reading experience was one of pure delight, but the thing that really sticks with me about it was the fact that the hero was Gregory House. Not just similar, but as if the man himself had been dropped into it. A brilliant, misanthropic diagnostician with a permanently damaged leg (suspected to be due to muscle death no less) which causes constant pain and requires the aid of a cane. He has the familiar side-kicks - Sebastian certainly has echoes of Wilson, though his specialty is surgery rather than cancer. He has a keen awareness to a susceptibility to a substance abuse problem. He roughly berates his students and underlings and makes jokes at the expense of his patients as he saves their lives. He is House.

It was done not just intentionally, but blatantly - so the reader can't avoid the comparison if she is familiar with the television show. I'd be curious to know why. What motivated Eloisa James (an undeniable goddess of romance writing) to take this step that almost seems to veer in a mildly fan-fiction direction? When does an homage become something else?

I enjoyed the book thoroughly. The banter between the House-esq Piers and his beauty was brilliant, but while the dialogue was all unique and brilliantly EJ, the sentiment behind those lines was so frequently an echo of the Fox series. It was... I'm honestly not sure what I want to say it was. I love what she has constructed, and the book itself is so unique it is hard to think of it as derivative, but the character is borrowed.

There is a nod to it in the author's note, to all her sources and references, but this seemed more than source material to me. I'm honestly not sure what I think about it. My inclination is positive - but is that only because I enjoyed the book so much? And had I known this was going to be the case before I read the book, would I have approached it with a more jaundiced eye? If this had not been a historical romance, but a contemporary doctor, would I have reacted more negatively? Would the similarity of era made it seem like a cop out rather than a fascinating choice?

Ideas are not copyright protected and I am of the opinion that truly original ideas pretty much don't exist. Current writing is based on a foundation of centuries of literature and I'd say it is unlikely there is a thought that has not been thought by someone somewhere in the millennial history of art.

I love all the adaptations of Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Pride & Prejudice. I love the refreshing of a classic with a new twist.

I also love satire. I'm currently writing something with shades of satire and it's like a game, to draw the reader into my references. I write with many references and allusions, but the idea is to sort of point the reader to our shared cultural knowledge, rather than to draw directly from it. This character, while brilliant, felt slightly... lifted.

The House question has me... puzzled.

Have you read the book? Your thoughts?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What the Reader Brings

**There are some spoilers for The Sexoricst (minor) and A Cop & A Feel (slightly less minor) below. Consider yourself warned.**

Yesterday, between my first exposure to Bones episodes (I'm not yet addicted but I am intrigued) and conversations in which my friends tried to convince me I should write a Superhero story about "The Amazing Math-o, fighting Inequality everywhere and battling his arch-nemesis, The Empty Set" (not a bad idea, really), I spared a few moments for ruminating on what a reader brings to a book.

You see, not so long ago someone asked me why I ended The Sexorcist with Brittany catching the bouquet. Did I have some hangup where it had to be all marriage-marriage-marriage to be a Happily-Ever-After? I replied that the book actually ends before the bouquet lands. Brittany just believes she will catch it, and apparently this reader did too. So was it my hang-up or the reader's? It's implied, but unstated. And catching a bouquet isn't exactly a contract in blood that marriage will follow. I caught my first one when I was about eleven years old, standing right next to my sister at my aunt's wedding. My sister, who has been married for over a decade while I remain happily single, is bouquetless to this day. So bouquets? Not infallible. I thought of the toss as ending the book with promise and possibility, it was the reader's mind that made it a contract.

Jasper Fforde talks about the dimension a reader brings to a book in his Eyre Affaire series (brilliant and highly recommended!!). He says something along the lines of (wildly paraphrasing here) the bulk of the book lives in a reader's imagination. The reader does most of the work. The author gives you the word "room" and a few descriptors. Your imagination fills in the walls and makes it real. Cool, huh? But the flip side of that is that as readers we bring the biases of our own lives to the book too.

I got Giggled this week. Mrs. Giggles, infamous purveyor of romance review snark, reviewed A Cop & A Feel. In the past, she's been a fan of the Karmic Consultants, but this one didn't float her boat, earning a 59 (out of 100, my worst score yet!) and the tagline "It's rather disturbing how a story this short manages to drive home so many times the mule-headed ineptness of the supposedly capable and intuitive cop hero." Oh dear, I don't think she cared for it, do you? But what intrigued me about the review, which my friendly Google Alert was kind enough to send me, was what it revealed about the reviewer's personal reading preferences and biases.

Take this line here: "The romance barely figures because there is no courtship here, just a mate ex machina plot device that expects me to accept that these two are just meant to be. They just are!" If you've read more than one of Mrs. Giggles's reviews, you learn quickly that she is rather violently opposed to any romance where a fated-to-be couple figures into the plot in any way.

But what's funny to me is that this is a story about a girl who can see the future. This isn't about whether they are meant to be, it's about whether they will be. Ronna meets Matt, sees a vision of a future with Matt, decides she wants that future and spends the rest of the book chasing after him to make sure she gets it. There is no mating. No Hand of Fate shoving two incompatible people together and forcing them to sex it up until they love one another. Just a hint from a future-glimpse that this guy could make the heroine really, really happy and the heroine trying to hang onto that future.

And here's the kicker, we don't know that Matt and Ronna are definitely forever gonna end up together. That, like so much of any book, is left to the reader's imagination. It ends when Ronna and Matt agree to go on their first date. There is no courtship because this story is an event, a moment in time. A Meet Cute with a Murder Plot.

But Mrs. Giggles saw nothing romantic in that twist of fate. She had a very negative reaction to Serengeti Heat for a similar reason. Oddly, I've never thought of my characters as being devoid of choice when it comes to their love-lives, but Mrs. Giggles sees that in my books (or at least in S.Heat and A Cop & A Feel). And you can't really say that she's wrong. Because the reader is so much a part of the experience, when she reads those books the "mate ex machina" is in there - whether it's there when you read it or not. Do you see what I mean?

I recently read When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James (and I'm still collecting my thoughts about it). I wondered if the knowledge I brought to the book, being familiar with the TV show House, drastically changed my reading experience. It's impossible to ever know, but the book I read isn't really exactly the same book someone who's never seen House read, is it?

I'm intrigued by this whole concept.

The reader's bias is a powerful thing, boys and girls. A very powerful thing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creating OFF the Interwebz

I saw this link to a John Mayer Q&A which was excellent (which apparently has been making the online rounds all week so y'all probably already saw it, but I wanted to share). I found myself distinctly surprised by the similarity between the way he talks about writing a song and the way I think of writing a book. For some reason it hadn't occurred to me that songs don't just magically arrive in their best state, that there is editing and revision and a dogged perseverance in that artistic process as much as there is in mine. Fascinating. And it helps me to better understand those who don't see the challenges behind the kind of writing I do. Understanding: never a bad thing.

Also enjoyed the mindsets to avoid section. In particular: "Nobody’s music is the enemy of your music…" Yes. THIS.

Just thought I'd share...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Prediliction for Psychic-ness

So I wake up this morning and what to my wondering inbox should appear, but a notice of a 4 Star Review from Romantic Times for A Cop & A Feel. Check it out, y'all. They said, and I quote, "...readers will find this story has just the right mix of action and romance to keep them entertained. " Why, thank you, RT!

And in other, Cop & A Feel related news... or perhaps not news but just a random tidbit I feel the need to share...

Last week when I was on the Samhain Cafe site, talking about A Cop & A Feel, the conversation turned to the inspiration behind the story. It was rather fun to think about, and I've decided to reprise it here. So here goes.

This story of a palm-reading psychic and adventure at a carnival had been percolating in my head for a long time before I finally sat down to put it to paper. It all started right after I signed my very first contract (lo, these three years ago) for The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo & the Poltergeist Accountant. My aunt & I went to an amusement park to celebrate and we stumbled upon a roving palm-reader (working out of the back of a van inside the amusement park, so... a little sketchy...). Since I was clearly en route to fame and fortune with my shiny new contract, we decided we needed the palm reader to predict my wild success for me... but she never said word one about my future as a rockstar goddess. Instead she took one look at my palm and told me I could predict things would happen before they did. Afterward, as my aunt and I were walking off to our next rollercoaster line, I wondered aloud if she got better tips if she told her clients that they were psychic... because we all want to have a little psychic tendency, don't we?

And that line... a gruff skeptic voice saying "Do you get better tips if you tell people they're psychic?" was the start of a plot bunny that refused to leave my head until it eventually evolved into Ronna and Matt's night of adventure, A Cop & A Feel.

So my question for you... are you a little bit psychic? How would you react if a palm-reader told you that you were?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Writer

Apparently I am in the right career.

I'm road-tripping at the moment, which means I'm spending a large portion of my writing hours in exciting locations like... McDonalds. Periodically people feel the need to speak to me as I'm sitting there guzzling bottomless Diet Coke refills and tapping away at my stories. More often than not they want to marvel at the compact size of my mini laptop and quiz me about how it works, but the other day a woman came up to me and declared that I must be getting good messages because every time she looked at me I had the biggest grin on my face.

I hadn't realized I was smiling. I wasn't getting messages. I was just working on my new story and being entertained by myself. Which seems rather self-absorbed, really, to sit there giggling at my own attempts at wit, but it's nice to know I enjoy my work - even when I'm not conscious of it.

May we all be so lucky as to work at something that makes us smile without realizing it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fix It Fridays: Pirates of the Caribbean 4

It’s time for the second edition of Fix It Fridays! Today on the chopping blog: Pirates of the Caribbean 4!

Ready? Okay. Let’s commence. (Yar!)

**Disclaimer: I liked this movie, but in my subjective opinion, it could have been even more entertaining… and here’s how. Oh, and there are beaucoup spoilers. You’ve been warned. Or, in pirate lingo, ye've been waarrrrned.**

The beginning of the movie was riddled with Tell Don’t Show exposition – for shame, pirates! Once it got going, it really picked up steam, but the beginning was ponderous at best.

We open with a random dude being drawn up in a fishing net and taken to Spain. Spain plays a tiny role, the random dude plays no role, and all it does is establish that we’re talking about the fountain of youth. Blech.

In MY VERSION: We open with the Black Pearl sailing through the night, another ship firing on her – it’s Queen Anne’s Revenge! Blackbeard! (Though we don’t SEE the pirate himself at this point so he still gets his Big Entrance later.) We SEE the preacher do something stupid and heroic (to establish his character more effectively than just seeing him strapped to the mast.) We SEE Geoffrey Rush hoisted up by his foot as the Black Pearl comes to life and snares its own crew. We SEE the ship begin to sink, see Barbossa realize what is about to happen and pull his sword from his scabbard. He draws back the sword, lightning flashes, illuminating the blade as he swings toward his own leg, and… SMASH CUT TO THE TITLES!

Thus, when we see Rush enter later with his peg leg, we have an ooooh moment. Savvy?

We fade in to London. The fake court scene and chase through London is... silly. I don't really think we need it. I would actually like it better if Jack was being chased because of a crime committed by the Other Jack Sparrow - the lovely Penelope. He tracks her down, in the unusual position of trying to clear his name, and they fight...


How does Jack know her? He recognizes her from a sword move, but it is later revealed that he knew her as a sheltered virgin convent girl? Whaaa? Perhaps instead of fading in to London, we fade in to Spain, Fifteen years ago... and see the scene ourselves... but honestly, my main problem with Penelope is that her character is all over the place. Is she a virtuous maid or a sword-fighter? Blackbeard's mercenary daughter or his conscience? Her character is not in conflict, because her character is conflict. And we are never rooting for her.

That is the central problem of the film. When we get to the climactic scene at the fountain, we aren't rooting for any particular event. And this is not a problem with the climax, but rather with all the ground-work laid to get us there. When you watched the first pirates movie, you were rooting in that swordfight between Barbossa and Jack. Can you say the same of Pirates 4? The outcome was blurry because we had just been fed a string of silliness at the beginning when the filmmakers should have been making us care about the outcome.

I am, however, deeply in love with the Evil Mermaids and therefore will forgive much. But still, my fix? Show. Don't tell. You're a visual art, film. Act like it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

RWA 2011 Photos!

As promised, and only a few days later than I said I would put them up (let's all pretend to be surprised that I'm slightly behind schedule, okey doke?) we have the RWA Nationals photo album!

I arrive early in NYC to see some of The Broadway. It was quite awesome.

I get gussied up to go to the ballet at the Lincoln Center, wearing my brand new favorite shoes... (I love you, Strappy Heels! I love you so hard!)

Then, while sight-seeing downtown, I find a good location to dock my yacht, should I ever feel the need/have the stupid money to buy a yacht. (If you squint you can see the Statue of Liberty...)

And finally, it's conference time, baby! The conference kicks off with the Literacy Signing - for which eager readers lined up over five hours early!

Five hundred authors in one room... luckily the air conditioning worked so it was only the temperature of the second circle of hell...

Even amid all the conference hustle and bustle, I still manage to take time out to grab one more show (Jersey Boys) with some Ruby cohorts.

On Thursday, at the Carina Cocktail Party, I reconnect with some of my all-time favs: Leah Braemel, K.A. Mitchell and Vivian Arend.

And Leah Braemel scolds Viv Arend & I for tempting the universe to implode by being in the same place at the same time. Had Vivi Anna been there, Mayan Prophecies might have started coming true on the spot...

We zip over to the Harlequin Black & White Ball at the Waldorf Astoria (where we are issued dancing socks, though I resisted wearing them for at least two hours because I am IN LOVE with my new strappy black shoes)

I party it up with fellow Rubies Rita Henuber & Anne Marie Becker...

The always elegant Jeannie Lin...

The delectable Liz Talley...

And there is much dancing...

And as the clock strikes midnight, we put our shoes back on (reverse Cinderella!) and are whisked home in a white limousine.

The following day, Samhain has it's inaugural Publisher Signing at Nationals and I get to give away books! This was hands down the most fun I had at Conference, because Samhain readers are beyond awesome. I was high for hours afterward. Which may have been entirely due to the fact that I got to gaze across the aisle at Viv Arend. ;)

That night, it was the Rita & Golden Heart Ceremony. The lovely and talented Sara Ramsey snuck me into the VIP section as her plus one...

And we enjoyed Meg Cabot's playful MCing as the ceremony zipped along.

Sadly, no one at our table took home necklaces or trophies, but I did nab a blurry picture of a nearby Rita...

Afterward I said my goodbyes to fellow Rubies Vanessa Barneveld and Sara Ramsey (and everyone else I ran into in the bar)

...and went up to my room to pack up for my morning flight to the Family Fourth Festivities. Thus Endeth RWA 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cop a Feel, Baby!

It's here! It's here! My bite-sized morsel of Karmic-y goodness! My cops & robbers, palm-reader-style! A Cop & A Feel is officially on the ereader shelves, y'all! Happy release day, reader-minions!

He’s going to be the love of her life…if they survive the night.

Karmic Consultants, Book 5

With a single touch, Ronna Mitchell can catch stolen glimpses of the future and separate truth from lies. But life as a human polygraph machine can be lonely. Craving human contact, she moonlights as a palm reader whenever a carnival comes to town.

Officer Matt Holloway is intent on trailing a hit man when he ducks into a palm reader’s booth to avoid being spotted by his quarry. The beguiling Jamaican fortune teller is definitely intriguing, but she’ll have to wait. He’s close on the assassin’s tail.

When Ronna takes his hand, a startling vision of the future flashes in her mind’s eye. Matt isn’t a typical client, he’s The One. Before she has the chance to introduce herself as the mother of his unborn children, he’s gone, leaving her with a terrifying vision of her soul mate covered in blood. And dead certain she’s the only one who can save her happily ever after.

Warning: This book contains carnies, cops, chases, chance encounters and love at first touch.

Sound like your brand of trouble? Click here to buy from Samhain (on sale for only $1.75!) or direct from Kindle or Nook.

Today I'm doing my usual release day routine, flitting around the interwebz. I'll be at the Samhain Cafe this morning to share excerpts and chat about life, the universe and everything. Stop on by and say hello!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Miscellany

First things first... we have a winner! Congratulations to Susan! Please email me ( to collect your copy of A Cop & A Feel!

And in other news...

In the "Oh Lordy, not again" category, we have folks saying romance novels are bad for you. This time the cause is an article from a family planning group with what appears to be primarily anecdotal evidence stating that “Sometimes the kindest and wisest thing we can do for our clients is to encourage them to put down the books – and pick up reality.” They do give a nod to the studies done which argue the opposite, but the end result seems to be a concern that romance novels are not providing responsible sex education with regards to condom usage and sexual enjoyment. On some level I can agree with that, but see, I consider my job to entertain, not to provide a sex ed course. (And I would probably be much more receptive to their argument if they didn't have fuzzy math statements like: "some fans read up to 30 titles a month, one book every 2 days" followed by "exposure to ...romantic novels may be as much as a day every week")

Of course, reactions to the article abound, but one which I find rather entertaining is this one, entitled Are Romance Novels Hazardous to Your Sexual Health, which concludes with the question: "And if so, how can we change this genre to promote healthy sexual practices for both women and men?" To which I respond: Go buy the books that promote those healthy sexual practices. This is a business, people. You can't change it by vilifying it. Pitchforks don't change minds.

And in totally unrelated news, I'm over at the Ruby blog today talking about various publishing houses, of all things. Samhain is, of course, excellent beyond reason and I love them with all my fervent little heart, but there are other places out there and it's good for writerly sorts to know about them. So if you are a writerly sort and you want to head on over to take a look, here's the link:

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Hey, guess what? I have a release in less than a week! I know! I'm surprised too! (Okay, surprised is the wrong word. Unprepared. That's a good word. But surprised sounds better, don't you think?)

Brace yourselves, y'all! The Karmic Consultants return with a little bite sized short story, A Cop & A Feel. And if you aren't familiar with the series, this is the perfect place to start. None of those pesky cross-over characters to confuse things. A quick, fun read to suck you into the Karmic World. We're all about the sucking. (Wait, no, that sounded wrong...)

The Romance Studio even gave this little darling a 5 Heart Review! Calling it a "great novella" that will make folks wish they could see into the future. (Awww, thank you, Romance Studio!!!)

Today (just because I can!) I'm giving away an advanced-reader-copy of A Cop & A Feel! How, you may be asking, can you win this bit of fabulousness? It's so simple! Since this is a fortune telling book, just comment on this post before Monday with a prediction of the future. It can be serious or frivolous. Look into your crystal balls, boys and girls!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fix It Fridays: Limitless

Hear ye, hear ye! Today we begin what may (or may not depending on my whim) become a recurring feature on the blog. It’s Fix It Fridays! Hi, my name is Vivi and I’m a movie addict. But if loving movies is wrong, I don’t want to be right, baby.

I’ve always loved movies, even before I possessed the critical faculties to distinguish a good one from a bad one. When I was a youngun, I used to say I loved every movie, because I didn’t draw a line between the movie & the movie-going experience. And while I still love all movie experiences, I am now much more critical of the films themselves. (Tangent: I think that editorial part of the brain develops during puberty while the creative part develops much earlier. Your thoughts?) I’m also the kind of girl who doesn’t like to notice a problem without coming up with a solution, so when I’m watching a movie and it isn’t quite working for me, I rewrite it in my head. I identify the pieces where it went off the tracks and rework them in my head so they are perfect, shiny and new. Sometimes, I become so attached to my version that I forget how the movie actually went.

Anyway, I’ve decided to post a few of my “fixes” here on the blog, just because I find them interesting and I can, because I am the god of my blog-iverse. Today, we're taking a look at Limitless. A recent not-so-blockbusterish release starring Bradley Cooper & Robert De Niro.

You ready? Let's get to it. (Oh, and there will be HELLA SPOILERS so consider yourself warned.)

Basic Premise: Our hero is a smart guy who never lived up to his potential. He is a writer chock full of writer's block, living in a lousy apartment (which probably costs a mint cuz he's a New Yorker), divorced and currently being broken up with by his hot, successful blond girlfriend. He bumps into an old (drug-dealer) acquaintance and is given a designer pill (first one's on the house, that's how they hook you, baby). Said pill is like Adderall on Crack (which would be actual crack, right? but in this case is just Magic Potential Juice called NZT-### and our boy has been told by the totally credible drug dealer that it's FDA approved and all that good stuff...). NZT makes you sharper, more focused, and basically smartens you up and motivates you at the same time. Our boy cleans his apartment, writes his book (genius!) in a matter of days, and then decides he needs to think bigger. And that's when the real fun begins. His drug-dealer buddy has taken a bullet to the head and there are other people who are veeeery interested in Our Hero's (stolen from the dead dealer) drug stash. Let the thriller portion of the plot commence! Of course the drug has side effects and well, I'll stop it there because I have to leave some surprises.

That's the basic. Here are my issues:

1) I didn't like the hero. Even my natural instinct to like Bradley Cooper (and his dimples) couldn't overcome the douchiness with which the hero is first introduced. His problems are very clearly his own fault and while the dickhead hero might have a ring of verisimilitude, it doesn't make me want to root for him to overcome and prevail and all that good stuff.

THE FIX: We want to like him. We do. So maybe let's not have the very first thing he does under the influence of the drug be to manipulate his married landlady into having sex with him in exchange for help on her law school paper. And also, instead of a mid-morning drinking binge and literally no words written (I have no sympathy for that), let's show him struggling. Down on his luck, but not self-sabotaging. Writing, having his editor reject his chapters as uninspired, or better still, have his editor tell him that the book is good, but the market is shifting and they just don't have a place for it in their list right now - so it looks like he is trying, doing everything he is capable of without the drug, but it just isn't enough. Then the message of the story becomes about rewarding EFFORT, rather than the rather unsatisfying rewarding of the Douchebag that actually occurs in the film.

2) The publishing industry don't work like that. How exactly did this apparently UNPUBLISHED science fiction author get a contract with an advance without having written a SINGLE WORD? Did he somehow sell on a pitch? WTF? And why is he hand-delivering printed out pages to his editor's desk. Did his internet get disconnected? Does he not live within tripping-over distance of one of the gajillion Starbucks with free internet in the five boroughs area? And since he hasn't bathed in a while and looks a little like the Unabomber, how did he even get in the building with the suspicious manuscript shaped package?

THE FIX: Easy easy easy fix. Just have him be a writer in a sophomore slump. Have his first book already released to tepid reviews. Someone can ask him about his published book and say something like "Why haven't I heard of it?" (Writers hate this question. At least I do.) His option book is due, it's already looking like it won't be published, the numbers just aren't there. His career is over before it began... Depression is circling, self-doubt triggers the writer's block, then the pill enters the equation. He writes a BRILLIANT second book. Epic. The publishing house reverses course. They will relaunch him. Promo campaigns and book tours are suddenly on the table. His new book is JUST THAT GOOD. (But he emails it. Dear God, please let him flipping email it. And the actress playing his editor misses out on those luscious twenty-two seconds of screen time.)

3) The stock market don't work like that. Our hero makes two million dollars from a hundred thousand in a week on the stock market. That isn't possible. I realize he's supposed to be freakishly brilliant and that makes it possible, but the math just doesn't work (and we all know how rabid I get over faulty math). The margins of return are too low per sale, the way stocks (especially speculative ones) are effected by large orders, taxes... I'm not an expert on this, so I consulted with my dad (who is) on this particular point because it seemed hinky and he was even more bothered than I had been by this flaw.

THE FIX: Poker. It's that simple. Gambling does have the rate of returns we're talking about. There is even a montage showing our boy cleaning up at poker - which is logical considering his ability to calculate statistics, read body language, and psychologically profile his opponents. But then, immediately after the high living poker montage, he is broke (wha? what happened to the money he stole then gambled into a larger amount?). He goes to a loan shark. Ugh - stupid plot device because you need the threat of the loan shark later... but really you don't. Have the Thug role be played by someone related to the Drug Dealer, not someone our Idiot Hero owes money because he somehow spent (how is that smart, brainiac?) all the money he stole/won. The truth is, our hero could make forty million on poker alone. So why the big significance placed on making a forty million dollar bonus brokering a merger? I suppose if our hero wants to be president, it would look bad if he made his millions gambling... but not if he invested those millions in philanthropy. Anyway, can you be elected president if you are a person of interest in multiple homicide investigations? Wouldn't that be the PR campaign from hell.

Okay, moral of the story - the movie was good. Fascinating. But the hero needed to be less of an ass, he needed to have a book (failed) under his belt before he got the contract he couldn't complete, and the money trail needed a jolt of logic. Still, intriguing premise. Very interesting idea.

Sadly, it's impossible to actually predict events the way he was credited with doing because people are often irrational, illogical, or just plain dumb. And while you can predict that we will react irrationally to a certain stimuli, it is impossible to predict the stimuli, the trigger that will set off the ripples in our jacked-in society - which is why we're always chasing yesterday's successes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

RWA 2011 Recap: Writer, Know Thyself

I have returned from the Romance Writers of America National Conference and I am full of gushy admiration for my awesomesauce publisher, Samhain, after they took such good care of me at both signings, the speakers who were all fabulous and inspiring, and a giddy delight that may or may not be related to a case of mistaken identity. You ready for the stories? Cuz I'm about ta hit ya with 'em. (Pictures'll be coming tomorrow... as soon as I can figure out how to get them off my new phone.)

The theme of this conference could have been Writer, Know Thyself. Or at least that's what I took away from it. Maybe it was the message I needed to hear amid all the others. Jennifer Crusie, in a fabulous workshop entitled "Everything I Know About Publishing I Learned from Wonderwoman" (yes, I am wearing my secret decoder ring as I type this), told us that we have to know who we are, because if we don't there are people lining up in this business to tell us. If we don't have a vision, we can't get mad at someone else for filling in the blanks, so know your vision! Sherrilyn Kenyon, in her moving keynote speech, proclaimed she would rather be a first rate version of herself than a second rate version of anyone else. And Susan Elizabeth Phillips, in her craft chat, advised all the hopefuls in the room to put her advice through the "stomach test". If it made your stomach twist, then it wasn't right for you.

I loved that truth, that all writers are different, that we all need to cultivate our own awesomeness rather than getting caught up in the latest trends and waves. I've never tried to be anyone but myself, but every now and then its nice to be reminded that we don't have to be someone else's version of fabulous to succeed.

And speaking of someone else's version of fabulous... I had more than a few fangirl moments at conference when I saw authors I worship to a startling degree.

I am still, apparently, completely incapable of being cool and suave (or even semi-human) when I meet authors whose work I adore. I spaz out gracelessly and make everyone uncomfortable with my fangirl frothing. I did, however, have three fabulous goddesses still deign to talk to me whilst I was mid-spaz.

On the Wednesday luncheon, who should happen to sit at my table? Joanna Bourne. Yes, that Joanna Bourne. When she introduced herself I nearly swallowed my tongue and gasped, “Omigodiloveyourbooks.” At which point she was the picture of poise, smiling and thanking me. AND THEN after lunch was over she made a point of coming over and saying she’d appreciated my kind words about her books and chatting so graciously with me and fellow fangirl Sara Ramsey. We talked about being small towners in the big city, moose and coyotes, and her genius grandchildren (good genes). That conversation alone would have made my conference…

But wait, there’s more! On Saturday when I was sitting in La Guardia, waiting for my plane, who should sit next to me and say I look familiar, but Celeste (Holy Crap No Way!) Bradley. Seriously, how often do you get to chat with TWO of your autobuy authors in one week? We talked about pets and the similarities between Albuquerque and Alaska (more than you might think!) and generally passed the time until our flight. (And I didn’t hyperventilate once! Though I did mention with freakish regularity how amazing her books are.)

You think that’s all? Oh no. Ooooh no. On Friday afternoon, at the Samhain signing, I’m happily scrawling my June Hancock all over books. (And if you got one of those books, please forgive the inverted letters in my dedications. I’m not full on dyslexic, but I have trouble keeping letters in the right order when I’m writing things by hand. And I’m pretty sure I spelled laughter with an “f” a couple times. So that was a speshul moment.) So I’m at the signing, right? And this familiar-looking redhead comes up to my table and I glance at her nametag and literally hide behind my hands because I can feel my face turning bright red. Jacquelyn Frank. I LOVE Jacquelyn Frank. Her books rock my little socks right off my feet. So I tell her I love her work (and COMPLETELY lose my cool… cuz I’m normally so cool and composed, right? Heh. Right. I said, “I’m high energy” to my roommate about halfway through the conference – while talking about working relationships and chemistry with editors & agents – and the fabulous Sara Ramsey laughed at me while pretending to be stunned by my revelation. So yes… I have a slight tendency to bounce. Even in four inch heels… Dude the Harlequin party was so fun! And I also tend to flit off onto tangents whenever I see something shiny… and people probably think I’m ignoring them because I have a hard time maintaining eye contact when things are shiny or moving nearby… but it’s not ADD, cuz I’ve never been tested and if you aren’t tested then you don’t have it, right?).

So JACQUELYN (OHMYFLYINGMONKEYS) FRANK is standing in front of my table and she says she knows who I am.

At this point, I must ruthlessly suppress my desire to tell her that she is mixing me up with someone else and she is Wrong, I am not this cool person she thinks I am. I am still, I confess, CONVINCED that she thought I was Vivi Anna. She couldn’t have mixed me up with Vivian Arend because my darling Viv was sitting right across from me at the signing. But seriously, I think she thought I was the other Vivi (whose books are also awesome). And it is a totally understandable mistake (and one that would make the world feel like it makes sense to me. Jacquelyn Frank is too awesome to know who I am. It’s a world gone mad, I tell you!).

But the thing is, I was kind of recognized a lot (or a lot for me at least) at conference this time. One reader got her picture taken with me (my first!), one dedicated reader had printed out a poster-sized print of the Serengeti Sunrise cover art for me to sign (how cool is that?!), and others stopped me with kind words about my blogging here or at the Ruby site and clearly knew who I was. But still, even when I can’t immediately argue that they are mixing me up with that Other Better Vivi (i.e. Vivian Arend or Vivi Anna), I STILL feel like there is this other, much cooler Vivi Andrews out there that these people admire. It couldn’t be ME.

It’s not a self esteem thing – I have a VERY healthy self image. It’s more like the disjointed feeling I get when I meet people who read my books. Like the readers are really just a figment of my imagination until they are standing in front of me and I don’t know how to react when my imaginary readers are suddenly real. (Yes, my beloved blog buddies, you are all inside my head and if we meet in person, I will be weird and awkward at first because your existence will be shocking to me. Just embrace the crazy.)

But even believing in my heart that Jacquelyn Frank didn’t REALLY know who I was, I still called my mom after the signing to tell her about it. She was duly impressed… then asked, “Who’s Jacquelyn Frank?” At which point there may have been some horrified yelps of “You call yourself a romance reader?” which I would now like to publicly apologize for. Sorry, Mom! (Go buy Jacob right now. Go go go. Commence addiction.)

And if you haven’t read Joanna Bourne, I recommend starting with Spymaster’s Lady. And Celeste Bradley’s Liar’s Club books are always a FABULOUS place to begin your Bradley addiction. (The first is called The Pretender.)

Speaking of books I love, I’m thinking of adding a recommendations & “if you liked…” section to the website. What do you think? Good plan? Like If you liked the Karmic Consultants, you’ll love Stephanie Rowe’s Date Me Baby One More Time, Molly Harper’s How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf, and Mary Hughes’ Bite My Fire. Sound good?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth!

Happy Fourth of July! I'm back from conference with stories, stories, stories (and a scattering of pics) but today is dedicated to family cookouts and fireworks, so it's gonna be tomorrow before I can break open the tales of RWA 2011. In the mean time, happy fourth! Go explode something for celebratory purposes!