36 Odd Things

Friday, March 27, 2009
Have you ever gotten those fun emails where you're supposed to fill out weird, personal information about yourself and send it on to friends and family. Well, obviously I have since that's what I'm doing here. Cut, and paste, and forward, deleting my answers and putting in your own, if you want to join the game. Otherwise, merely read on to learn a couple facts about me you probably never cared to know:)!

1. Do you like blue cheese? Sure. Especially as salad dressing.

2. Have you ever smoked? Nope.

3. Do you own a gun? If that what's-mine-is-yours-and-what's-yours-is-mine thing is true in a marriage, then heck yes... otherwise, no. No guns for me.

4. What flavor of Kool-Aid is your favorite? Fruit Punch

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Well, yeah. You mean, some people don't?

6. What do you think of hotdogs? I don't typically sit and philosophise about hotdogs, so honestly I don't think much of them. But I'll eat them when there's nothing else around, or if I'm too lazy to cook something extravagant.

7. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story.

8. ****I don't know what happened to 8***** Sorry, I was hungry.

9. Can you do push ups? Can I? Yes. Do I? No.

10. Favorite piece of jewelry? Wedding ring.

11. Favorite hobby? Reading. (shocker, huh?)

12. Do you have A.D.D.? Sometimes, I wonder. But it's never been proven by a medical professional. Plus, I can sit and read an entire day away, which cinches my answer to a definite no right there.

13. What's one trait you hate about yourself? Physically: Overly-long, gangly body Personality: Too shy. Bluck.

14. Middle name? Kay (hence the pen name, Kage).

15. Three wishes? (1). To have good health again (I do miss all that hair I lost). (2). Money (enough that I can quit my day job and sit around, reading and writing all day. Sigh). (3). Happy, satisfied loved ones.

16. What three drinks do you regularly drink? Water, Fruit Punch, Lipton's Citrus Green Tea

17. Current worry. Is the economy going to make me lose my day job?

18. Current dislike right now? Spiders.

19. Favorite place to be? Ah, home! (Especially if all the spiders there would go away)

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Stayed home. Invited friends over. Nice.

21. Where would you like to go? Since I rarely go anywhere, I'm curious about all sorts of places: Yellowstone National Park, Las Vegas, Florida, Cancun, Paris, Germany, Ireland, London, Washington DC, New York City, Arizona, Egypt, Jerusalem, Alaska...have I named enough places yet?

22. Name three people who will complete this. I think I'll just skip this one.

23. Do you own slippers? What a coincidence. My husband just bought me a pair. Isn't he a sweetheart?

24. What shirt are you wearing now? Oh, no. I'm supposed to be wearing clothes? (Kidding. It's a long-sleeved orange thing)

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I'll let you know when I try it.

26. Do you whistle? Not typically.

27. Favorite color? Purple

28. Would you be a pirate? The one eye, peg leg, and parrot dung on my shoulder really isn't my style. Neither is pillaging and stealing from other people. I'm not much of a sailor either. Not very good at bossing other people around, so I'd have a sucky ship crew. Over all, I'm going to have to go with a no on this answer.

29. What songs do you sing in the shower? Sorry, I'm not a shower singer. But I do like to sing along with the radio while driving. Right now, "Hey There, Delilah," and Gnarles Barkley's "Crazy" are among my favorite singalongs.

30. Favorite Girl's Names? Anna and Lydia

31. What's in your pocket right now? Pocket?

32. Last thing or person that made you laugh? Gena Showalter's Book, The Vampire Bride.

33. Worst injury you've ever had? Not that I remember it, but my mother told me I was less than a year old when I was just learning to walk. I found a couple of hard, concrete stairs and fell against them, splitting my forehead open. There's still a scar there today.

34. Do you like where you live? Since I'm the one who created the floor-plan for its design, I better go with yes here. So, yeah. But honestly... I do. I love it.

35. How many TVs do you have in your house? Three, and wow, two actually work!

36. Who is your loudest friend? I'm going to have to go with Denney on this one.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Finalists are announced today for the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart (for unpublished writers) and RITA (published authors) awards. These two contests are the biggest recognition for romance writers across the world. So, I say a hearty congratulations goes out to all these talented storytellers.

And the winners are... Click Here to Find out.

What a Puzzle

Saturday, March 21, 2009
I've started playing an online game of Sudoku every morning to exercise my brain. Guess it's my own version of coffee to get me up and at 'em. Something else you can do to stretch the thinking muscles and get them nice and limber for a hardy day of work or... hmm, writing, are puzzles. So, here's a fun puzzle I've created from my book cover, The Stillburrow Crush, for you to solve and get yourself awake and conscious for the day.

Click to Mix and Solve

Setting: Don’t Start Your Story Without It.

Sunday, March 15, 2009
My friend, Erin (who writes Paranormal, Sci Fi, and overall all amazing romance under the name Jackie Bannon), wrote an article for the January edition of our MRW writing group’s Newsletter, Impressions. It was so amazing and thought-provoking, I found myself still thinking about it the next morning.

In her piece about sci fi world building, she definitely broadened my horizons (yes, sorry, corny pun intended there) to make me realize there was so much more to think about when creating a galactic world than naming a few planets and sticking a couple of strange new creatures on them. Fictional or not, it was downright daunting. Upon reading the article, I threw my hands in the air, defeated, and said, “That’s it. I will never ever attempt to do something as in-depth and complex as that. I’ll just stay on my simple planet earth, thank you very much.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized… it didn’t matter where my story took place, I still need to consider its world. I need to know about the place I put my characters, even in a mere earthling story.

Gravity, climate, atmosphere, time zone. Good Lord, I realized with a certain about of panic, the setting of my story could change the plot, the characters… my ENTIRE manuscript. But then I remembered a Nora Roberts book I read long ago (Sorry, can’t even remember the title now). There was a flashy, big-city-girl-type character that found her way down to Louisiana or some such swampy locale, and I remember her being so upset because the damp climate shot her expensive hair-do all out of sorts and made it frizz.

I could completely sympathize with this poor woman. Having naturally curly hair myself, I spend an unmentionable amount of time each morning in front of the mirror with blow dryer in hand, trying to manage my bangs to look how I want them, not just how nature thinks they should look. It’s a control issue. Control my hair, control my life. But as soon as I go on vacation with my husband to beautiful Branson, Missouri, I might as well throw my dad-gum blow dryer out the window. It’s useless.

There’s just something about the climate in that town that makes my hair frizz out and do whatever it wants. There I stand, in front of the Showboat Branson Belle, and I just want to get a cutsie picture taken with my sweetie on the deck in front of the sunset. But I can’t because I refuse to immortalize myself looking like Cousin It’s ugly step sister in some cheap cardboard-framed photo that’ll cost me thirty bucks or more to buy. It makes me feel so frustrated, and helpless, and scared that I’ve lost that small piece of control on my life. I can’t understand why, why, why this has to happen to me.

But as Erin says in her article, it’s all about the solar system and the position of the earth, causing gravity’s pull to form mountains and valleys in their respective places, directing the flow of water and precipitation and making climates and atmospheres. Everything really does affect everything else. There’s this huge world out there, and I’m just a small little cog. A nothing.

So, now I have a completely new appreciation for setting. It’s a lot bigger than I’ll ever even begin to imagine. But never fear. It can be used as one of the most handy tools in a storyteller’s arsenal and it doesn’t have to be complex or scary. Nora Roberts was able to use it with one tiny detail like a bad hair day to reach out and connect with a reader—me—so I could bond with her character and feel a part of what she felt. After reading about another woman—even a mere fictional woman—experiencing something I’ve experienced and feeling what I’ve felt, I wasn’t so alone in my situation. There are others out there just like me, doomed to suffer through bad hair days because of no fault of their own making. I’m not such a nothing after all.

What a liberating experience. And I had it all because Nora Roberts thought to consider the alignment of the solar system and gravity’s pull on earth, causing… well, maybe she didn’t go that deep into it, but she did have a very real sense of setting and climate.

Put that way, it sounds so simple and easy to do. It makes me eager to try something like it in one of my tales. Now, I just hope I remember I said that when I start my next story. (Egads!)

Location, Location, Location. It really does affect your plot and characters and makes a difference in your story. If you don’t believe me… Just talk to Erin.

SB Message Board

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
It’s been brought to my attention that Suzanne Brockmann has shut down her online message board. From her farewell note, she seemed to be overwhelmed by an influx of visitors and couldn’t handle the enormous weight of responses—the nasty responses in particular.

My first reaction to this news has to be utter awe. Here we have one, single writer. She created a whole new world in her Troubleshooters series, putting such believable characters in that world millions of readers delved into the lives of these fictional people. They delved so deep and became so emotionally attached some of them actually became enraged to the point they turned a personal attack on the author herself. Amazing. Now, that’s talent right there. No mere mediocre writer would ever be able to stir up such an uproar.

After my initial moment of awed envy, however, I feel a fissure of horror. But, holy guacamole! Do fans actually become so extreme they harass an author enough to make her shut down her message board? Scary. It makes me think of all those Hollywood stars that flip out and shave off all their hair when their fame grows too big. They’re built up so high by so many adoring admirers, there‘s nowhere to go but down, and down tumbles a really, really long way. Makes me think maybe I don’t want to be as great a writer as Suzanne Brockmann. Mediocrity doesn’t look so bad after all. It appears a lot less painful anyway.

From that point of view, I really can’t blame her at all for closing her doors. I probably would too if I was attacked so viciously for something a couple of characters in my book did. Then again, it doesn’t take much to hurt my feelings, so… yeah, I’d bail. Plus, there’s plenty of other online discussion groups readers can visit where they can chat about her books. No, you won’t get her personal comments like you occasionally did on her message board, but there’s still gobs of other places to network.

On the other hand, as a Decker/Sophia supporter, I gotta feel just a little smug deep down inside. There’s this tiny taunting voice in me saying, “Now see. If you’d only given Sophia and Decker a happily ever after in Dark of Night, you wouldn’t have created such an uproar, causing so many fans to revolt and making you shut down an entire operation. Ha, ha.” Then again, who’s to say all the Sophia/Dave fans wouldn’t have created an even bigger stink if they hadn’t gotten their way.

But honestly, Brockmann had to have known she’d tick off at least SOME of her readers. She set up two men for one woman. And you can’t argue she didn’t do that either because there’re too many arguments saying she did. Besides, it would’ve been obvious from the get-go on all the back cover blurbs who would end up with who if she’d wanted us to know that answer before reading the book. She intentionally built the mystery and anticipation, which she did admirably, by creating a competition between Decker and Dave for Sophia’s love.

But the thing with competitions is the people watching them—that would be us readers in this situation—tend to take sides. If you go to a ball game, one side of the stands will cheer for one team and the other side cheers for the other team. At the end of the game, an entire half of the stadium is going to be disappointed. It feels very strange to me that Brockmann was surprised to learn she had disappointed readers after Dark of Night when she’s the one that forced us to take sides by creating a competition.

Of course, disappointment is no reason to be nasty. Despite how true-to-life it might’ve felt or how intensely our emotions were sucked into the series, Dark of Night is—after all—just a book. Its outcome gave no one any reason to attack anyone else. Brockmann is the author of said book, and she’s totally within her right to deal with her characters how she wants… even if so many people disagreed with her.

Now, with that said, I think the most valuable lesson learned here is to be very careful when creating two perfectly acceptable heroes of seemingly equal status and then setting them BOTH up for one heroine. There is only one constant formula in a romance novel. ONE. And that’s: Two people + Their story = One happily ever after. Add a third person or take out the happily ever after and it’s technically not a romance any longer. If you take the romance out of what’s supposed to be a romance novel, avid romance readers will uprise, giving you a war on your hands. And when that happens, it ain’t pretty.

So, that’s my opinion—er, rather—my many, varied opinions on the topic. What does everyone else think about the end of the message board? Yay, nay, or don’t give a flip? Personally, I’ve already moved on to the dark, paranormal Dark-Hunters, created by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and am currently being sucked into their world. Acheron, here I come!

Last Day of the YA Web Tour

Sunday, March 8, 2009
Day 1 - Kimberlee R. Mendoza
Day 2 - Deb Logan
Day 3 - June Sproat
Day 4 - Kitty Keswick
Day 5 - Terry Wilde

Day 6 - Linda Kage (Me!)
And today : Drum roll please.....

LAURIE LARSEN concludes the YA Web Tour at her site, http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/. So, please visit her and learn all about her young adult book, The Chronicles of Casey V, OR Mental Ramblings of the Most Awesome Summer of My Life, coming soon to The Wild Rose Press. Then email her at laurie@authorlaurielarsen.com with today's secret code "CAMP" for a chance to win a whole pile of books.

Thanks again for taking the tour. I hope you enjoyed the ride and won lots of books. Until next time....

YA Web Tour Day 6

Saturday, March 7, 2009
Wow, it's already my day for the YA Web Tour stop. Thank you so much for visiting. Since my first book, The Stillburrow Crush, is still in editing and hasn't even received a release date yet, I'm giving away two $6.00 gift certificates to The Wild Rose Press so you can check out their catalog and choose any ebook you'd like.

TOMORROW, author Laurie Larsen wraps up the tour with her grand finale at the web address: http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/. She'll be giving away a copy of her ebook, The Chronicles of Casey V, OR Mental Ramblings of the Most Awesome Summer of My Life (Wow, I love that title!) as well as a gift pack of YA books. To enter the chance to win a prize from her, email her at laurie@authorlaurielarsen.com with the secret code : CAMP.

Previous Tour Stops:
Day 1 - Kimberlee R. Mendoza
Day 2 - Deb Logan
Day 3 - June Sproat
Day 4 - Kitty Keswick
Day 5 - Terry Wilde

YA Web Tour Day 5

Friday, March 6, 2009
Day 1 - Kimberlee R. Mendoza
Day 2 - Deb Logan
Day 3 - June Sproat
Day 4 - Kitty Keswick
Day 5 - Terry Wilde (TODAY)

Have you gone to Terry Wilde's website yet this morning? Well, you should. She has today's focus in the YA Web Tour. So, head on over to http://www.terrywildeteenbooks.com/ and check out her collection of books. To possibly win one of them, send her the "SECRET" word of the day to terryspear@ymail.com.

YA Web Tour Day 4

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Kitty Keswick has the spotlight on today's stop in the YA Web Tour. Her first book, Freaksville, will be out soon from the Wild Rose Press. To win a prize from her, email her today's secret word "wolfy" to KittyKeswick@kittykeswick.com.

If you've gotten behind on the tour, here are the previous days' stops to help you catch up.

Day Two: Deb Logan
Day Three : June Sproat

YA Web Tour Day 3

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Today, visit the site of June Sproat, to catch day three of the YA Web Tour. She's giving away a free t-shirt and a signed copy of her book, Ordinary Me.

If you missed Day One and Two of the tour, that's okay. You can start now. Just go to http://www.kmendoza.com/ to begin and visit author Kimberlee Mendoza, who'll direct you to Day Two's author, Deb Logan.

YA Web Tour Day 2

Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed themselves on the first day of the YA Web Tour yesterday. If you missed it, I'm sure you can still check out our first author, Kimberlee Mendoza. She's already drawn a prize for her book, "Love thy Sister, Guard thy Man" and found herself a winner, but there's still plenty to see if you want to visit her place. Just head over to http://www.kmendoza.com/ to look around.

But TODAY, our tour bus stops at the internet mansion of author Deb Logan. Her address is http://www.debloganwrites.com/ and if you want to win a prize from her, email her secret code (found on Kimberlee's website) to debloganwrites@gmail.com.


Dr. Seuss Day

Monday, March 2, 2009
"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
--Dr. Seuss

Today is the 105th anniversary of Dr. Seuss's birthday... more commonly called Dr. Seuss Day. So, make sure you celebrate by reading a Dr. Seuss book. According to my mother-in-law, my husband's favorite book was always Green Eggs and Ham. If she ever tried to skip over a page, he'd catch it, make her go back, and read it right. But I must say, I'm partial to There's a Wocket in my Pocket myself. It doesn't matter which story you pick, though, just don't forget to set aside a few minutes for the Seuss-man. I'm betting all of us would've had a duller childhood without him.

And don't forget to begin the YA Web Tour I'm participating in this week. It starts today at the website of Kimberlee Mendoza.

Have a happy Dr. Seuss Day!

YA WebTour

Sunday, March 1, 2009
Tomorrow kicks off the YA WEB TOUR.

Seven young adult authors (me included!) have banded together to entertain you with a tour and free prizes. To begin, go to the website of author Kimberlee R. Mendoza on Monday, March 2nd (tomorrow) and follow the instructions she gives you.

Each day thereafter, you'll be sent to a new YA author's home page to visit her site. She'll in turn, give you a secret code to give to the next author the next day so you can enter a chance to win FREE STUFF at each and every stop.

To learn more about this, check out my Contest Page.