Sunday, January 26, 2014

How to Kiss on Facebook

I'm not a big fan of facebook. When I log into it, I get distracted and lose time -- so many shiny things --  and when I don't log into it I miss things. Gah.

But this blog post comes from Stuff That Happened on Facebook, so I guess it isn't all bad.

It started with this:

Which, of course, comes from "The Empty Hearse" episode of the third season of the BBC's Sherlock. And yes, that was a good may-or-may-not-ever-have-happened kiss.

But as I felt duty-bound to point out on my facebook page, if ANYONE knows how to kiss a woman, it's Dr. Danny Castellano on The Mindy Project.

My otherwise sensible friend, Emelle Gamble, countered with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway (click the photo to view the clip).

But I ask you, readers, is it just me or is there NOT EVEN A KISS in that clip?!?

Now I'll grant you, Emelle, there's some red hot sexual tension going on over that chess board. But that doesn't even begin to compare with the life-changing liplock that Danny laid on Mindy in the last episode of The Mindy Project (click the photo to view the hotness).

Sherlock and Steve McQueen you just got schooled...

And with THAT covered, here's another. Cover, that is. For my upcoming young adult book, Witch Boy.

As you might have guessed, there's a lot of kissing in Witch Boy...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Am Sherlocked

Ask me about Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' reimagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detecting duo and I'll admit it. I am Sherlocked. If you're Sherlocked, too, you know the premiere of Series 3 airs tonight on most PBS stations. And even if you're not Sherlocked, you probably haven't been able to tune out all the tweeting, blogging, and other media coverage surrounding last season's finale--and this season's beginning.
So what is it about this British television show that makes tongues wag? And more importantly, what does all this viral enthusiasm have to teach us as TV viewers, as readers, and even as writers?

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

are Sherlock Holmes and John Watson for

21st Century London
Here are three facts Sherlock has taught me. See if you agree . . .

1) First of all, good writing rules! We think we know that. We say we know that. But to watch Sherlock, in my opinion, and its impact on viewers everywhere, proves it. What makes this show's writing good, however? As an adaptation, it sticks pretty closely to Conan Doyle's original vision. And his vision is foundational to our concept of detective fiction. So if you love a good detective show, Sherlock hits all the bells and whistles because Conan Doyle first told us what those bells and whistles should be. It teaches me that to be a satisfied viewer or a reader, I need to seek out work that jumps though all the hoops. And as a writer, this proves to me I need to pull out all the stops.

2) Secondly, smart really is the new sexy. Sherlock says this to Irene Adler. And he's right. To be satisfied as views and readers, we dig in to dig out the mystery. Conan Doyle knew this over a hundred years ago. As writers, we know every story we write has a mystery element, even if our work fits another genre. That element is "How will this story end?" By connecting the plot dots for our readers, and keeping them thinking "How will this end?", we keep them mentally engaged. They're smart! Meet the challenge to stimulate their brains and they'll think you're writing's sexy!

3) Thirdly, it's the connection that counts. Sherlock and Dr. Watson have a bond. Six times now, we've seen them push and pull as they try to stay connected, and try to stay apart. That's a Big Picture problem. If we have moms, kids, friends, or lovers, we know all about that tug-of-war in spades. This tells me I need to watch and read stories where the Big Picture things matter to the characters--because those Big Picture things matter to me. As a writer, it can hurt to write about those kinds of issues. But writing about them through characters means I'm making a connection. And as Sherlock had proven, that's what counts.

Now, it's your turn to talk to the Rockville 8. If you're not Sherlocked, that's all right. What show has taught you what it means to be a satisfied viewer, a rabid reader, or an excellent writer?

Monday, January 13, 2014

I love a good C word

The first time we all chose a word for the year, my best friend, Deborah, told me my word should be "open." I can only hope that Deborah didn't know when she gave it to me that it would require being BROKEN open. Ahem.

Last year, the word that kept coming to mind seemed particularly ridiculous considering my recently broken open state. But when I told my friend, Ava Miles, that I was searching for my Word for the Year and she came up with the same ridiculous word -- LOVE -- I decided it was fate.

Just for the record, "Love" worked a lot better than "Open" -- or at least it made me happier this past year than the word "open" made me the year before. Of course, "open" set an extremely low bar...yes, 2012, I'm looking at you...

But this year when I was talking to Ava she immediately said, "Your word this year is YES!"

And I am not ashamed to tell you that my reaction was immediate and emphatic: NO.

No! No. And oh, by the way? NO.

Which meant that I now had to come up with my word all by myself. And I did! I came up with "connect." A perfectly good word. If not related to "yes" it is at least "yes" adjacent. It's "yes" with a few amendments. "Yes" with an eye to quality over quantity.

So I feel good about this year. And I feel good about this word. And while I'm at it, here are a couple of other C words that I'm feeling good about right now...

I pulled out all the stops a while back, trying to finish up my novella for the Once and Forever anthology. But after I turned that in, the holidays hit and I haven't gotten back to my writing practice. So this afternoon, while Deborah and I were waiting for The Desolation of Smaug to hit the big screen, we decided that what we needed -- other than some hot dwarf action...was to make a commitment. And so we did. This Thursday after work I shall progress to an undisclosed Panera location to work on my YA book, Witch Boy.

Witch Boy is finished. Mostly. It needs just a little reworking before it's good to go and come this Thursday I shall commence with the reworking. Oh, see what I did there? Commence! A word which begins with a C.

And which brings us to my next and final C word for this post!

By a stroke of magickal good fortune I've connected with a wonderful cover artist and we are now, even as I type, finalizing the cover for Witch Boy.

This is already a good year.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Word of the Year!

Each year, we women of the Rockville 8 choose a new Word of the Year for ourselves, a sort of talisman, if you will, that helps focus our thoughts and actions throughout the coming months. We invite you to join us in the practice - read below to see the R8's crop of words, then comment for a chance to win Mackenzie Lucas' debut book from Soul Mate Publishing - Essence.
     J. Keely Thrall
Last year I chose bounce - and I certainly feel like I did a lot of bouncing around, up, down and sideways. This year, I'm hankering for a little more focus and the word that speaks to me is Clearing. As in, clearing the path of obstacles (real and imagined) as I make steady progress on my goals. As in, using the image of a sun-dappled clearing in the woods as a meditation focal point to bring me back to center. Just thinking the word seems to relax my shoulders and invoke a peaceful, easy feeling (to quote an awesome song). I could definitely benefit from a year of that!
     Lisa McQuay

The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘evolve’ as “to develop or achieve gradually; to work (something) out, devise; to develop (a characteristic) by evolutionary processes.”  Evolve is a verb which denotes action.  Action is what keeps us moving, hopefully toward our goals. 
I’ve been developing as a writer for many years.   For example, I’ve increased the speed at which I can write.  Given a writing assignment at my day job, I flew through it and returned it to management long before they thought I could.  In that moment, I realized how much I’ve strengthened my writing muscles over the years to be able to write so much in a short time.  Sometimes, it takes looking back to see how far you’ve come.  Looking forward is wonderful—it keeps you going.  But, remembering where you came from can give you incentive to travel the rest of the way, especially if you’ve experienced a setback or are feeling discouraged along the way.
I’m working out this writing thing every day—plotting, researching, writing down the bones of my stories and editing.  This year is a year of personal evolution.  Not just in my writing but in my personal life.  I’m doing several things to take care of myself and will come out on the other end being better than I’ve been in a long while.  Because life is about evolving—hopefully into what you envision your best life to be.  
     Mackenzie Lucas
My word for 2014 is RELEASE. There are several reasons for my choice of this word in this particular year. First is because my first book release from a publisher is out in the new year. I hope to have at least two more releases in 2014--one is a confirmed sale, the other is just wishful thinking so far. Second, this year I'm determined to RELEASE and let go of anything that's not working. I have a tendency to just plow ahead once I've set a course and not really evaluate if something is still working. So this is the year for re-evaluation, reflection, and RELEASE. Third, and probably the hardest and most important, is that my oldest son (Spiderman) is going off to college in the fall. So I'll need to learn to let go and RELEASE him into the world to fly (or to cast his Spidey web). All in all, I think RELEASE is the word that will typify my year.
     Nichole Christoff
Well, 2013 was quite a whirlwind! New house, new neighborhood, new job...Whew! I jumped feet first into each new experience, searching for my groove and refusing to let the newness break my stride. And that was great. But as I bounced from new situation to new situation, I sometimes found myself wondering which way was up. That's why my 2014 Word of the Year is Breathe. Breathing is a good thing to do once in awhile, don't you think? I'll still have plenty of new things to tackle in 2014, like a couple of new writing projects. But this year, I want to remember I'll enjoy it all so much more--and I'll be much more effective--if I pause to breathe.
     Evie Owens
This year, for reasons I will explain further in my next blog post, I am forced to come up with my own word and I choose CONNECT. I choose it for all the meanings you'd expect, but also because, when I looked it up, there was a sports definition as well which is, "to make a successful hit, shot, or throw" (connected for a home run).
     Misha Crews
My word for 2014 is short and sweet: DO. Although the word itself is tiny, those two little letters combine to form a huge and powerful concept: bring something to its goal or finish; accomplish. Like a lot of artsy folks, I can do no end of dreaming, cogitating, even over-thinking. But in 2014, my focus is going to be on gettin' stuff done. Less cogitation, less worry, and more doing.
     Marjanna Bogan
Better. I thought my word was better. I mean, practically anything had to be better than 2013. Better coping. Better experiences. Better health. Better bank balancing. Better creativity. Better time management. But Better gives so much power to the incredibly awful year that was 2013. So, then I thought, as I was driving home last night, I want to be Lucky. Better is a depressing. Lucky is fun. Better is wiping off a sweaty brow, and a tired hope for the future. Lucky is a long-shot, a surprise, a life-change.  The older I get, the more I realize my life is based upon my choices and the completely unexpected, unplanned events that happen to me. So, while I try to be better, I'm hoping the universe will serve up some Lucky onto my plate. The good kind, that is.
    Shellie Williams
I (Keely) am totally choosing Shellie’s WotY, here. She’s taking a few months off the merry-go-round so she can come back to center and realign her priorities. We all have times when it’s crucial to take a long hard look at our lives to see what’s working, what isn’t, what we can change and what we can’t. Kudos to Shellie for recognizing her need and acting on it.