Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thank the Writers, Dammit!

It's Oscar Night and I'm excited as ever about the films on the docket because I am a story-nerd and I love fiction in all its beautiful formats.


There is one thing that always makes me freaking insane about awards shows. We are watching the Pretty People accept their awards, giddy or crying and gushing thanks to their hair stylist, their dresser, the folks at the craft service table who made sure their non-fat lattes were really non-fat every day. Would it kill them to thank the people who INVENTED their freaking character? The people who came up with the words that came out of their mouths? This award's season, count how many people thank their dog (I'm looking at you, Christopher Plummer) before they thank the flippin' writers.

What does it say about our world that the Idea Creators are dismissed while those who Play Pretend Well are lauded as gods?

Name the greatest star of Shakespeare's day. Having trouble? What about Moliere's leading man? Ibsen's? Shaw's?

What has changed in our modern culture that we no longer honor the creators, but rather the faces?

The same thing bothers me in music. We revere those with beautiful voices. We ignore those who create the spell-binding songs. Composition, the true creation, that is what people love, but they give that love to those who are the mouthpieces, not those who are the creators.

Not to devalue what the performers do (because they do a lot!), but the imbalance makes me crazy. Probably because of my perspective. As an author, not a performer.

This is one of my favorite interviews of all time, and it plays to this subject - the idea of acting as a man's profession. Is celebrity good for anyone, even the celebrities?

I think the quote Colbert refers to is actually this one from Millard Kaufman (screenwriter nominated twice for Oscars). "Acting? Now that is a miserable profession. An awful life. Even the best of them, they sit around most of the year, not working, not doing anything. Marlon Brando once told me acting is not a job for a grown man. Even the successful ones. Like Humphrey Bogart. Who was a drinker. Very bright. A wonderful chess player. But most of the year he had nothing to do, so he drank. He was a helluva decent man."

Interesting, isn't it? The idea that we need activity, work, creativity to be whole and yet revere those who do their one piece of the puzzle beautifully, the fraction people. Is that part of why young, seemingly well-adjusted actors turn into Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, & Charlie Sheen? (Though, yes, obviously the celebrity/paparazzi insanity plays a huge part.)

I've gotten off on a tangent. The moral of the story is - honor the creators. Especially if you yourself are being honored for taking part in their creation. Here's hoping all the actors remember to give a nod to their writers. (Especially since most of the nominees this year were based on books.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

Dear Self-Published Authors,

Leave. Me. Alone.

Yes, I'm glad you are deliriously happy with your choice to self-publish. Yes, I realize that you are overjoyed to finally be a) a "published" author, b) monetizing your backlist, or c) finding larger success than you had come to expect in your experiences with traditional publishers. That's awesome and I'm seriously happy for you.

Now shut up.

DO NOT tell me I have made a mistake by working with a publisher who has helped me immensely in ways you never bother to ask about. DO NOT tell me I would have been more successful if I had self-published from the get go because you don't know jack shit about my career (newsflash: your way wasn't an option in 2008) or what guided me to write the books I wrote. And please, for the love of FREE CHOICE, do NOT tell me that I "need" to get on the self-publishing bandwagon and I'm an "idiot" if I don't.

THERE IS NO ONE TRUE PATH. Yes, self-publishing is going to be great for some people. And I really am genuinely happy if it's good for you, but you don't have the right to tell me that is the right career path for me. At least ASK me what I'm planning before you start shoving your career choices down my throat. (You might be surprised to find out that I'm considering a foray into your waters in my own good time, but I'm not going to tell you that if you're busy trying to sell me on The Way.)

And when my friend gets ONE rejection on a story, don't immediately react with "Self-publish it!" when you don't know ANY of the details of her situation, have never read the book, and have only gotten on the self-publishing bandwagon yourself a month ago.

Something strange happens when your first book is uploaded to Amazon. The part of your brain that reminds you that people are allowed to make their own freaking choices is swallowed up by the Self-Publishing Missionary - intent on bringing the One True Way of Publishing to the masses. Please, stop drinking the kool-aid and maybe that part will grow back. If we suddenly can't have a single conversation that doesn't turn into you touting self-publishing as the new promised land, I'm going to stop wanting to talk to you really fast.

Self-publishing does seem like a great opportunity. It's the Self-Publishing Missionaries who make me want to never do it. I respond badly to cults, used-car salesmen and door-to-door preachers. Please leave me alone.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do or Do Not, There is No Try

Chuck is a brilliant writer-god font-of-all-knowledgefulness. Who swears a lot. So, you know, my soulmate. Today he has GENIUS WISDOM TO DISSEMINATE on the subject of Aspiring Writers. Trust me, if you kinda, sorta, someday wanna be a writer maybe (meaning it is your deepest held desire but you're scared shitless to admit that to anyone) you MUST go over and have your mind blown by Chuck. Go on. Get blown.

25 Things Chuck Wants to Say to Aspiring Writers

Was it good for you?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sammie Voting!

What, you may be asking yourself, is a Sammie? It's Samhain Publishing's annual in-house awards - and the reader's choose the winners! If you love yourself some books and want to make your vote heard, swing on over to cast your vote for:

Reader’s Choice Best Cover Art eBooks 2011

Reader’s Choice Best Cover Art Print Books 2011

Reader’s Choice Best eBook 2011

Reader’s Choice Best Print Book 2012

Just go to to cast your vote. Voters are permitted three choices per category. Voting is open now and runs through March, 19, 2012. The survey allows each participant to vote once. The blue links for each book/cover are hot and will take you to Samhain Publishing site so you can look at the cover or read the blurb for each book listed. Cast your choice for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category. Then scroll to the NEXT button at the bottom of the page, this will take you to the next category. Repeat until you get to the last category. When you have voted for your choices, be sure to click on the DONE button at the bottom of the last page so your vote will count. Remember, each reader gets to vote once for the poll.

Sound good? Happy voting!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's In a Name?

I'm bad with names. This apparently carries over into my characters too. For the last couple days, I've been trying to get a name to stick for the hero of the novella I'm writing. I gave him a name - Justin - then realized I had not-so-heroic spineless weasel associations with the name and switched it to Nathan (in honor of Nathan Fillion) only to realize, after waaaaay too long a brain freeze, that I already HAD a Nathan. Or at least a Nate. My Special Agent from The Naked Detective.

THIS is the problem with writing a bunch of books, you guys. You use up all the good names! And then you forget you used them and try to use them again and then feel like a total idiot for not remembering the name of a guy YOU INVENTED. Yep, I am that idiot.

How do people who've written fifty or sixty books keep coming up with names? I know there are a gazillion options out there, but you don't want to use the names of people super close to you (at least I don't) because then they will think that you are writing ABOUT them and it will get all weird. So there's this whole list of names you can't really use... and then I stupidly forget about the names I've already used.

I need a list! A list of my character names. Someplace where I can't lose it... like here! Okay, this is about to get boring. Feel free to skip down to the comments and suggest a sexy non-Justin, non-Nathan name I can use for my hero. Ready, go!

And in the mean time, I'll be listing my characters. Let's see if I can do this from memory...

Ghost Shrink: Lucy, Jake (also: the Larrinator, Elliot)
Ghost Exterminator: Jo, Wyatt
The Sexorcist: Brittany, Luis (aka Rodriguez)
The Naked Detective: Ciara, Nate
A Cop & A Feel: Ronna, Matt
Serengeti Heat: Landon, Ava
Serengeti Storm: Caleb, Shana
Serengeti Lightning: Michael, Mara
Serengeti Sunrise: Tyler, Zoe
No Angel: Sasha, Jay
Reawakening Eden: Eden, Connor
Ghosts of Boyfriends Past: Biz, Mark
Superlovin': Darla, Lucien

And then there are the ones that aren't out yet:
Finder's Keeper: Mia, Chase
Naughty Karma: Karma, Prometheus
Spinning Gold: Juliana, Rue
Superbad: Mirabelle, the character formerly known as Justin

And the old drafts that may never make it to the public unless I get off my butt and revise them:
Easy Money: Naomi, Berint, Stephanie, Rich
Picket Fences: Ricki, crap crap crap. I can't remember the others. The hero might have been named Zach? Yes! Ha! Zach! And the side-kick girls were Chrissy and Bella and Autumn! Double ha!
MMP: oh crud. Um... the guy was a doctor... and I think the girl was Kate? No, wait, I know this... I'm not going to resort to looking it up. Not gonna... Okay, yes, I am. Aaaand, I was totally wrong. She's Lou and he's Jack. Dammit.

I give up. (That was way harder than it should have been.)

What do you think? Should I name him Malcolm or Eston or something else entirely? Mal being the total Firefly nod & if you're wondering where Eston came from, it was in a baby name book as a variant of Justin - which is still kinda perfect for a guy nicknamed "Captain Justice." Hell, maybe his name is Captain. Or Kirk. William? Patrick? Stewart? Jean Luc might be pushing it.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm not usually a big celebrator of this most couple-ish of holidays because I am a single-type person, but today I just happen to have a Valentine's-themed book out so I just had to do something in honor of love and cupids. So today on Twitter, I'm giving away a copy of Ghosts of Boyfriends Past. Just send me a tweet @ViviAndrews and include the hashtag #GoBP and you're entered to win. Easy as that.

And if you aren't on Twitter, but still want to play, you can comment here to be entered, but I'm going to make you keep your comment under 140 characters and include the hashtag. So there. Cuz I'm feeling random and twitterpated.

What do YOU think I should do to celebrate V-Day?

Letting him in could mean losing him forever.

Elizabeth “Biz” Marks has the magic touch when it comes to matters of the heart—except her own. In a slightly tipsy fit of loneliness, she once tried to harness a little love mojo to work in her favor. Instead the spell mutated into a nightmarish curse that kills off her boyfriends on her favorite holiday: Valentine’s Day.

With three permanently ex-boyfriends on her conscience and another hearts-and-flowers holiday approaching, the last thing she needs is a too-gorgeous-to-be-true reporter snooping around.

Biz just has extraordinarily bad luck, or she’s a bona-fide Black Widow who bumps off her boyfriends for a chunk of the inheritance money. Either way, Mark Ellison is sure there’s a story here. Especially when his attempts to charm her send her into a panic.

The harder Biz tries to keep Mark and his beguiling dimples as far away as possible, the harder he digs to get at the truth. Now she’s beginning to wonder if his is the love that will finally break the curse...or if she’ll be burying her heart along with him.

Warning: This book contains curses, meddling ghosts, nosy neighbors and enough peppermint Schnapps to drown the inhibitions of even the most cautious witch.

Amazon :: Nook :: Samhain

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Is Romantic?

In honor of the upcoming V-Day holiday, I'm over at the Ruby blog today talking about The Bachelor and what makes a romantic gesture romantic, and giving away a copy of Ghosts of Boyfriends Past. Swing on by and comment to win!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Syndication Is My New Best Friend

I love syndication. The two best inventions (beyond the wheel & the jaws of life) have to be the DVR & syndication. They just make my life so dang happy. Without the beauty that is syndication I never would have discovered The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, NCIS, or, my newest addiction, Criminal Minds (every day on A&E!). How did we survive before shows were rebroadcast in deliciously addictive marathons?

See, I'm a slow adapter when it comes to TV shows - partially because television is designed around insanely slow character arcs that take years to develop and I get too impatient to stick with a show that long. I need growth! I need resolution! (Never could watch Lost.) Coming to a show after there are years of episodes in the can, when I can watch as many as I want in a single binge and see characters growing and changing... it's the only way to fly.

But that's just me. What about you? Has syndication made your life a giant bubble of happy? Or am I the only one?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cliches and Misdemeanors

I can't read books about Alaska. I know this about myself, but every once in a while, I get stupid. There's no other explanation for the fact that, about once a year, I find myself rationalizing my way into an Alaskan-set romance. It usually starts with "Oh, but I love this author! Her voice is so brilliant I won't even notice the annoying fake-Alaska crap." Or every so often, "I know her. She wouldn't screw it up. If she had any doubts about whether something was plausibly Alaskan, she could just ask me."

But it always ends the same way. With me plowing my way through the book like trying to shove a snow-blower through a four foot berm - with much cursing and sweating and occasional cries of "Why, God? Why do you hate me?"

Why do I do this to myself?

I love Vicki Lewis Thompson's Nerd books. I was in the mood for something light and playful, so I grabbed one I hadn't read yet (not recalling that the reason I hadn't read that one yet was because it was set in Alaska). This is NOT an indictment of the book. I'm sure if you aren't from here, you'll love it to pieces and back. But see, here's the thing? Alaska is one GIANT CLICHE in this book. Now, when the deserted island was a giant cliche in another Nerd book, I thought it was cute. When Vegas was a giant cliche in yet another, I loved it. But when it's my giant cliche... I'm having a harder time.


1) All the men up here do not look like lumberjacks and I can't remember the last time I saw a man wearing plaid flannel. (Actually, I can remember. I was in Montana. Last time in Alaska? Might have been the nineties. Plaid was very in then, thanks to the Seattle Grunge trend.)

2) We have access to both dentists and shaving kits. So that guy in your imagination with a bushy beard down to his navel and five missing teeth? Um... we're not all like that. (In fact, I don't know anyone like that.) Nor are we all "quirky characters". Normal people live here too. Normal people with hair dressers and working toothbrushes.

3) We don't live on diet of moose-meat pie and caribou steak. Surprisingly, even the more locally flavored restaurants will have such daring menu items as Cheeseburgers and the always exotic Grilled Chicken. I know it's hard to think of me eating anything other than smoked salmon and reindeer sausage, but today, I have big plans to go for a chicken burrito at Qdoba. I know - doesn't that just sound soooo Alaskan?

See, here's the problem with cliches - they take away the REALITY of the setting. If you had a guy who was big enough to be a lumberjack, with a nicely trimmed beard he'd grown out to protect his face and neck during the cold months, who wore Nordic Fleece and Henleys and was self-conscious about a tooth he'd chipped playing hockey which he hadn't been able to pay to get capped - that's a real person. The lumberjack with the beard to his waist and five missing teeth isn't. Do you see what I mean? About the cliche just serving to make things feel fake?

It's the fantasy-land Alaska thing that drives me nuts. Especially when so few people writing romances about our state have ever even visited, let alone stayed long enough to get a sense of what it's really like.

And then there's the little things. The fact wobbles. They aren't totally wrong, but they don't feel right - so they throw someone with legitimate local knowledge out of the story. For example, Anchorage & Fairbanks are on different weather patterns - so a snow storm in one has nothing to do with the weather in the other. Or how, if you want to photograph wildlife, you should really try Denali, not Fairbanks. And if you are staying at a lodge near Fairbanks that doesn't have an arctic entry (two sets of doors with a little room in between to keep the cold from coming in with you when you enter from the outside), you might want to consider moving to a different hotel because that one is going to be drafty as hell. Oh - and even in "blizzard" conditions (which is not a word we throw around lightly) life goes on. The plows will be running and folks will be shoveling out so they can go to work. You can't let snow stop you when you live up here or you would never leave the house.

So, yeah, those are all the complaints I have so far... but I've only managed to make it through the first 70 pages. In spite of the fact that VLT is holding up her usual end of being witty and charming and fun to read, I'm still having the devil's own time getting through the cliches. If only I didn't find it so damn imperative to finish every book I start... It's a perverse but inescapable need. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Post-Apocalyptically Awesome

Do you love post apocalyptic romance? Of course you do. Cuz who doesn't love a little lovin after the end of the world, amirite?

Well, apocalypse-lovers, you're in luck. Romantic Times Bookreviews has a rundown of some recent End-o-the-World Lovin, including my very own Reawakening Eden. They break it down by the cause of the apocalypse, which I appreciate, as a connoisseur of all things World Endy. Swing on by and get your Final Days Fix.