Monday, December 28, 2009

On the 4th Day of Christmas... I give you Russell Crowe

Today is the fourth day of Christmas. (Or third, depending on how you count it.)*

After a week of holiday crazies, I'm back at the computer today, but I have my Christmas music going. I am in love with Tori Amos's Midwinter Graces. I also bought Sting's If on a Winter's Night with my Birthday iTunes gift card, and I really like it, too. Both have winter/holiday/Christmas music that isn't the normal overplayed, overproduced schlock you hear in the mall loudspeaker, so they actually put me in a good mood. (I managed to get through the holiday with only one trip to the mall, and that was to the attached bookstore.  Yay!)

Today I'm slogging through my mailbox so that I can enjoy the rest of my winter break. I haven't played nearly enough Rock Band to suit me. I have, however, baked a ton of cookies, knitted fifteen scarves, moved all the furniture in the guest room, shoveled my desk out from under all the crap that seems to accumulate on it, watched Terminator: Salvation (which I liked much better than reviewers led me to anticipate).

Oh! And my favorite Christmas present?  The discovery of the trailer for Robin Hood. Oh, Summer 2010. How will I stand the wait for more Russell Crowe/ Ridley Scott historical bad-assery?



Now I must go finish answering email so that I can go watch Gladiator about a kazillion times.

Happy Holidays!

RCM
--
*If you've missed my rant lecture explanation in previous years, the "Twelve Days of Christmas" aren't the ones leading up to the day, but rather the twelve days between Christmas Day and Epiphany on the Church calendar.  Unlike the secular season of Christmas, which the retailers kick off in November, the actual religious holiday doesn't start until the 25th. The season preceding is "Advent" and not "Black Friday."  (I think of Mall!Christmas as a socio-cultural holiday like Thanksgiving and Valentines Day and a completely different animal than Church!Christmas. If anything, I wish they'd just call it something different, so that the non-Christians don't hate us so much for inflicting Santa Claus and "O Holy Night" on them.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

AVATAR (no spoiers)

First off-- It's Friday! That means a post over on genreality.net. This week: Seasonal sense memory, and writing. How they go together. It's awesome, go read it.

Next-- Schleped out to the midnight showing of AVATAR last night/this morning. You may have heard a little bit about this movie. When something I want to see is getting a lot of hype, I always try and see it before the reviews come out, so that I can enjoy it untainted. Too many times I read a review that points out flaws that... yeah, sure, maybe, but while you're enjoying in the movie, you don't notice. Until you're standing at your refrigerator later, or someone points them out.

So anyway. No spoilers here. The movie was visually stunning. Saw it in 3D and it was WELL worth the surcharge. It was one of those movies where I felt so immersed in the world, it was a little weird coming back out of it. The alien characters were just amazing. Jaw dropping realism in the scenery. I totally bought that they could have gone to this planet (or moon, I think) and shot this movie there.

A friend of mine described the story as sort of Dances With Wolves meets Ferngully, and I can't say he's wrong. The plotline did call up echoes of DWW... and many other 'wounded warrior goes native and fights against the evil imperialists' stories. But seriously, are you going to see this movie for an original, twisty plotline? No. You're not. Does that make it any less enjoyable? Not to me. I was invested in the characters, I wanted to see the bad guys get theirs (in truly spectacular fashion), and I was totally and completely rooting for things to work out for the hero. Not to mention his love interest, whom I loved; I'll say this for James Cameron, he loves a strong female protagonist. (Rose from Titanic was more willful and bratty, IMHO, but Neytiri is awesome.)

When I say it wasn't twisty, I don't mean that I knew how everything was going to play out. I know Sherlock Holmes will out the murderer by the end of the movie, too, but I can enjoy watching it unfold. There were times when I really didn't know HOW they were going to get out of their pickle. (This is where reviewers sometimes miss the point, I think. Sometimes you don't need complex characters. You need someone to fill an archetypal role so that the cool stuff can happen.)

Worth the hype? Yeah. I really think so. Definitely worth seeing in the movie theater, whether you do 3D or not.

[Also, saw the trailer for Alice in Wonderland. I would SO want to see that if Johnny Depp didn't look like a horrible creepy clown. The only thing that creeps me out more than Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton movie is clowns. (And Santa.)]

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carol(e) of the Bells

I have to confess. One of my favorite Christmas albums growing up was from the Muppets. Dr. Teeth's band playing "Run Run Rudolph" is priceless. (When I hear the Beach Boys version on the radio, there is a disappointing lack of yelling, so I add my own, a la Animal. RUN RUN RUDOLPH!!!

Animal may be a big part of why I love to play RockBandDrums. So as you can imagine, I found this rendition of "The Carol of the Bells" pretty hysterical. I love the Internet.



(PS This video is in dubious honor of my awesome friend Carole, who is a bell ringer (an actual Carole of the Bells). :-D)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Field Trip Friday

Looking for a field trip? Swing by www.genreality.net where this weeks topic is Angels and Demons (the movie), Up (also the movie), and the old "gun on the mantle" axiom of writing. When is a Conveniently Useful Character Trait a carefully laid groundwork and when is it just clumsily convenient?

Also, Check out the ridiculous amount of cute that happens in my house every day. It's a wonder Chez Clement-Moore doesn't implode.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Beatlemania

So, I really love Beatles Rock Band a ridiculous amount. I love the songs, I love the little cartoons, I love the random screaming girls. Forget vampires and werewolves. If I were a teen during Beatlemania, I would be on Team Paul. I'm sort of on Team Paul now; Rock Band Avatar Paul really is really rather cute.

Of course, it helps that I love the music.

Playing Beatles Rock Band reminds of my my teen theater geeks friends. Between matinee shows we would put on Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and dim the house lights, and have elaborate air guitar concerts. My friends Tom and David loved the Beatles, and I can't help thinking about them and my other CATS friends when I hear those opening riffs of that particular song.

Anyway. Rock Band. I've determined that playing bass is really my niche. I don't want to devote the time to really practice to get good enough for lead guitar, and that stupid kick drum is my downfall when I play drums. After embarrassing myself at Rocksgiving at my friend Jenny's house, I have gotten in sufficient practice that I hope not to repeat my humiliation when we have a rematch.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Field Trip!

Hey guys. Every Friday I will be posting over at the Genreality blog. It's a fun blog with authors from mixed genres: romance, urban fantasy, mystery/adventure, and more! Today I'm taking about introductions, as in, introducing your characters to your reader. But I also blather about Carmen, Harry Potter, and Little Women. (Please go check it out! It's my first post, and my fragile ego needs stroking.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Done or Dead? DONE!

There are authors, or so I’ve heard, who work at a nice, steady pace, and writing the end of a book is no different than writing the middle of the book.

That’s not me. It does not matter how long I’ve been working on the book, how steadily up to that point, how smoothly (or not) it’s been going. The last week of work is crazy. Full immersion, all take-out, no laundry, little sleep, (few showers)…

It’s not necessarily an issue of OMG I have so much work to do before the deadline. (Though… well. Sometimes.) It’s more a case of being the zone, immersing myself in the book-world for the last push to completion, and not letting anything take me out of it. Not errands, or cooking, or laundry… Eating is a distraction, and even if I’d like to sleep, I spend the night staring at the ceiling thinking about the book, so I might as well be up working on it.

We call it ‘done or dead’ mode here at Chez C-M, and everyone hates it, but they’re pretty supportive. Mom holes up in her rooms and says a lot of rosaries. I’m not sure if it’s for me finishing the book, or to keep from killing me. (I admit, I’m like a hibernating bear and will attack if you get in my cave at this point.) Mr. RCM picks up take out. I stock up on dog food, coffee, soy milk and people chow (aka Go Lean cereal, which I live on during done or dead mode. That and Smarties.)

So when I finish a book, I feel a lot like Rip Van Winkle. I’ve been in another place, and I’m surprised to find the world has been going on without me. I don’t know what’s going on in the news (What’s the deal with Tiger Woods? Do I want to know?). My fridge is empty, the sink (and counter) is full of coffee cups and the garbage can is fully of take-out wrappers. My car battery is dead because I haven’t left the house in a week, but I do have clean clothes, because I’ve been wearing sweats and pajama pants the whole time. I cannot see the top of my desk, because it’s covered with mail, catalogues, printed and scribbled on manuscript pages, and sticky notes everywhere.

So the first thing I have to do when I finish a book is take a shower. Then eat something. Then put coffee cups in the dishwasher. Then look at my e-mail and who hates me because I haven’t answered them in two weeks. Then excavate my desk and make sure they’re not going to turn off the gas or water because I haven’t paid the bill. (I do pay bills before I go into ‘done or dead’ mode but for some reason, more of the darn things are always coming.)

Normally I go to the grocery store, but my car battery is dead.

And THEN, when I’ve taken care of the dogs, the laundry, the most pressing business, then I take care of myself. I get a massage to work the kinks out of my shoulders. I get a celebratory piece of cheesecake. I catch up on all my TV shows and the movies I’m behind on. (I finally get to set up Beatle’s Rock Band! Oh, Rock Band, how I’ve missed you!)

But really, I can only handle a day or two of that. My mind is already brimming with ideas for new books, new projects, new adventures for beloved characters. But first there are Christmas decorations to put up, and baking to do, and shopping and errands, and grocery shopping and laundry and dishes and I have to get a new battery in my car and…

And wow. I’m already sort of missing done or dead mode.


Question of the day: I know a bunch of you just finished with NaNoWriMo. How did YOU reward or pamper yourself afterward?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Restitution in Cute

I feel terrible for not posting on my blog more often, because I'm writing writing writing. To make it up to you, I shall share with you with Possibly the Cutest Thing I've Seen In My Entire Life.



Seriously. I cannot write any more because I'm dead from the cute.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm told that the galleys of The Splendour Falls went out to reviewers in a beautiful package! Wrapped in velvet and rose petals with an "hand-written" page that comes from Hannah's Journal:

It is harder than I thought it would be. I think the day is coming quickly, and I look forward to it, grateful for escape.


Still hard at work on the next book. Turkey day approaches, followed by Avoid-the-mall Day. Actually have some presents purchased this year, which is, like, a record for me. Took a break to play Beatles Rock Band at a friends house. It. Was. Awesome. (Also, friends, I CAN sing, I just can't sing on Rock Band, because you have to follow the little bar thing, and do exactly like them and used no vibrato and... and really. I sound better than that, really.)

Back to work!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sofa Rambles: Ghosts of TV past

Under the weather the past two days. Spent a good bit of today on the couch watching Joan of Arcadia mini-marathon on Syfy. There are shows that are fun, consistently entertaining, and have some episodes that really stand out as awesome. And then there are the shows that are just stunningly well crafted, make me think, laugh, and occasionally bawl a little. Shows were *everything* just clicks. Vintage West Wing is like that for me. Joan of Arcadia was like that.

Simple premise: This very ordinary girl (bright, sarcastic, bit of an underacheiver) starts having conversations with God, who quotes Bob Dylan and the Beatles, but almost never scripture. I love that God is portrayed as having infinite faces (and very often ones that you would dismiss or overlook), and that what the characters profess to believe (or not) doesn't automatically make them good or bad people, just human beings.

This show is a study in character and storytelling. Unfortunately, the second half of the second season gets all out of whack (I'm sure due to network tinkering*) and ends on not only an unresolved chord, but a discordant one. You should watch it--but stop with season two through "Friday Night." (Episode 2.8) This episode is heartbreaking, bittersweet, and ends beautifully--painful and hopeful and oddly joyful, against the odds. Just like life.

Anyway. I wonder if this show influenced my writing YA as much as anything else. It wasn't a YA show, but the protagonist was definitely in that 'figuring things out' stage. I think it illustrates why YA literature can have such wide appeal. We're ALL trying to figure things out, over and over again, at different stages in life. I have the same struggles and questions as Joan, about the world, the divine, and my role and relationship to both. And I love shows and books that explore those questions without dogma or easy, pat answers.

There you go--today's ruminations from the sofa. You're welcome. ;-)

*JoA wasn't bringing in the demographic than CBS wanted, so there was substantial inconsistancy and lack of focus, not to mention dumbing down of the characters and plots. This was a show about subjects with no pat answers or clear villains. It was replaced by The Ghost Whisperer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just so you know...

...Petsmart will not ship gerbils to you by mail order.




In unrelated news (Seriously) my Fresh Takes Column is up on Fresh Fiction. Read what books have caught my eye in November YA releases, and the cool books from the cool chicks I met at the Texas Book Festival in Austin. (Did I say this already?)

Also, booksigning on Saturday in Highland Village, Texas. Barnes and Noble, 2 - 4. I am having cheese fries at some place with the scary name of "Snuffers" before hand. Pray for me.

And Saturday at 5 PM, it's Getting Fresh With Vampires, with me and Candace Havens. Lincoln Park Barnes and Noble, across from North Park Mall in Dallas.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Splendour Falls

Check out the cover for the UK edition of The Splendor Falls!



I know. Looks about the same, right? It's missing the blood drop, and this rose is a little sharper and more violet than pinkish purple. But check out that extra letter in Splendor. So British, right? (jimsissy on Twitter quipped that the book should be even fatter with all those extra u's.)

I wonder if they translate other differences. Like the whole pants/trousers and trunk/boot thing. (Since a major character is British... well, Welsh, he makes me point out... I tried to watch those in his dialogue at least. I hope I didn't screw it up too badly. I'm sort of angsting about that. Because, you know, I never have enough to angst about.)

Oh, and you guys in the UK and it's territories are so lucky. Apparently the cover price is zero pounds.



Other places I'm on the web today: My Fresh Fiction column is up, where I talk about the Texas Book Festival and upcoming November YA releases that have caught my eye.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Movies and Writing (my favorite things)

Wow I tweeted a lot yesterday. You can tell I was at my desk working all day.

Tonight! Mansfield Writes. Checking out the webpage, I see that they'd like for you to reserve a spot if you're coming, but I *believe* it's otherwise free. (Though if you join the Friends of the Mansfield Library, you get a tote bag.)

Among yesterday's tweets was a mention of That Hamilton Woman, a movie starring Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier as Emma Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson. It may surprise people to know, since I write contemporary fantasy novels about snarky girl detectives and sarcastic ghost plagued ballerinas, that I grew up obsessed with all things nautical. The Hornblower books, the history of the Age of Sail. I loved everything ship--except actually being on one, because I get horribly sea sick and slightly claustrophobic. (Okay. A lot claustrophobic.)

I wrote my thesis for my military history and leadership classes about Lord Nelson, which is only funny because the class was taught by the Army ROTC department.

But That Hamilton Woman isn't about Lord Nelson. It's about Emma Hamilton and her love story with the war hero. Which is why I'm going to talk about point of view, not in the first/third/omniscient sense, exactly, but in the sense of perspective and what is important to the character in whom you're investing your story.

Decide what your story is about, and then tell (or show) your reader only what they need to know about that story. That Hamilton Woman is Emma Hamilton's story. What's going on with Nelson and the British Navy is important, but only where it impacts Emma Hamilton.

Except for, I believe, one brief battle scene midway through the movie and the depiction of the Famous Thing That Nelson Didn't Really Say (Exactly), there's not that much Naval stuff in it for a movie about a famous admiral. The interesting thing, to me, was that because it was through Emma Hamilton's eyes, it was about victualing the ship, politicking with Naples to get water and supplies. Which, of course, is a big part of war. Armies march on their stomachs (a quote attributed to Napoleon).

Obviously, Nelsons fame and success as an admiral is such a part of that, you can't leave it out of the Emma/Nelson story. It would be boring... and incomplete. But what we see of battles and tactics is through Emma's eyes. Nelson goes off all beautiful and whole (and Laurence Olivier was certainly lovely, I'll say that), and comes back missing an arm and the sight in one eye. Because we didn't see that battle, only the after effect, watching Leigh/Emma's face as she sees him and processes what happened is truly heartbreaking, because we're experiencing it through her eyes. "I'd heard about your victories," she says, "but not the terrible price."

Likewise, there's this scene later, where she and Nelson have been cozy and domestic for awhile, and they have his old navy buddies over, and Nelson starts talking tactics at the dinner table, using salt shakers and gravy boats to illustrate naval tactics. (Which, by the way, was awesome, and the way I first really understood why the British beat the holy heck out of the French and Spanish at Trafalgar. He basically did what the Americans did in the Revolution--ditched the idea of standing/sailing/marching in a straight line.)

Anyway. Are straight line naval tactics important to the story? Does the movie go into a big long discussion of them? No. The moment is just long enough to show that 1) Nelson is an out of the box thinker and 2) he'll never be happy sitting at home being domestic. The scene is about Emma realizing he's going to leave her for the sea. Again.

What a lot of you will find as you're writing your NaNoWriMo projects is that, writing without editing, you're going to tend to go off in directions, and put everything and the kitchen sink in the book, and include a lot of author-vanity scenes--that is, scenes that are interesting or fun for YOU but maybe don't serve the book that well. That's great for first draft. (THese scenes are the reasons it takes me 600 pages to write a 300 page manuscript.) But remember it's okay to leave those on the cutting room floor.

I always come back to staying in character. Emotional resonance, info-dumps, sidetracked plots, show don't tell--stay in your character's head, and it will keep you on course. Always come back to think: How would my character view this? Does she need to know this? How is this important to her?

Happy read-- er, writing. :) Come by in Mansfield or in Southlake (Barnes and Noble 5 - 7 PM) tomorrow, and say 'hi.' We can chat about naval tactics, Laurence Olivier, or even writing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Upcoming DFW Events for readers and writers

I'll be all over the DFW Metroplex the next two weekends!

This Friday, November 6th

Mansfield Writes
Are you working on your NaNoWriMo novel? Are you an aspiring writer working on something at a reasonable pace? Do you just want to know what goes into writing a novel and getting published? Then you should get yourself to Mansfield, Texas on this Friday, November 6, from 7 - 9 PM. SEVEN super authors will be speaking on the craft and business of writing, taking your questions (and signing books).

Featured authors:
Sandy Blair ("The ABCs of Solid Storytelling")
Rosemary Clement-Moore ("The Actor's Guide to Better Writing")
Candace Havens (... I have no idea! But Candy is ALWAYS great and inspirational)
Arlene James ("And Introduction to Christian Publishing")
Wendy Lyn Watson ("Murder by Numbers: Plotting the Mystery Novel.")
William F. McKinney ("Let Your Characters Go Where They Will.")

The event takes place at the Mansfield Public Library.

This Saturday, November 7
5 - 7 PM
Booksigning
Southlake Barnes and Noble

This is a fundraising events for the Southlake Association for Gifted and Talented. (Perfect, since I am so very gifted and talented.) So come chat, buy books, and support education.

Other gifted and talented authors who will be there:
Lillian Stewart Carl
Suzanne Crowley (Music warning, in case you're at work.)
Marianna Jameson
Karen Kendall
Misa Ramirez

Next Saturday, November 14th

From 2 - 4 PM -- Multi-author (Like, a bazillioin local authors) booksigning at the Highland Village Barnes and Noble. (Sort of near Lewisville and Flower Mound.)

From 5 - 7 PM -- Getting Fresh With Vampires. (Yes, really!) Talking about vampires with Candace Havens, who wrote (among other things) Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy, and is tapped into the current bloodsucker entertainment trend. And I'll just be giving my Deep Philosophical Opinions about Vampires and Certain Vampire Sagas. Facilitating will be Gwen Reyes of Fresh Fiction. Should be a spirited discussion. /understatement

That smackdown will happen at the Lincoln Park Barnes and Noble, which is directly accros from North Park Mall in Dallas, TX.

Whew!

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Soul's Day

Had a great time on the panel "Hot Reads for Cool Chicks" which I talk about in my Fresh Fiction column. But do you ever do that thing where someone asks you a question, and you give some lame answer, and then later you realize what you really wanted to say but couldn't seem to come up with at the moment?

Being Halloween, and a panel full of writers who write paranormal and fantasy novels for teens, of course the question came up, have we ourselves had any paranormal experiences, maybe of a ghostly variety. The other panelists--Victoria Laurie, Isobelle Carmody, Katherine Marsh--had amusing things to say, and I blathered about how my mom keeps my dad's urn in her closet so that she can talk to him while she's getting dressed and ready for her day, just like she used to when he was alive. (I should point out, my mom's closet is a palatial sort of arrangement. It's not like he's stuck in some cramped little hole.)

So, I said then, as I do believe, that I think we're closest to the spirits of our departed loved ones maybe not so much in the big dramatic moments, as happens in books and movies, but in the small domestic times, in the routines that we shared from day to day.

(See my dad? This is, like, his high school picture. Somewhere I have his army photo, where I swear he looks a lot like Elvis in G.I. Blues.)

What I didn't say, because I didn't want to be That Girl Who Brings Up Rather Personal Beliefs in a Public Forum, is that as a reasonably spiritual person, is that I hold that we are more than just flesh and bone. I have a character in The Splendor Falls who says pretty specifically what I think; I do believe there is some part of us that continues after the physical body has ended, but I hope that there's something better destined for us than hanging around here. :-)

So I don't really think every "ghost story" is really a ghost. But I'm not a complete cynic, either. And who's to say that evoking someone with memory and imagination isn't as "real"--at least to the person experiencing it--as any "true" paranormal activity.

And this is NOT as untimely as you might think, despite Halloween being over. Today is The Feast of All Souls, when the Church remembers and prays for the souls of the departed.Awesomely, in Latin America, they turn it into a big, rather macabre, party.

So today I remember specifically my dad Wallace, my grandfather Eugene, and Jean, the mother of my dear friend Carole, who passed away just a few weeks ago. Who are you thinking of today, on All Soul's Day?

(If you like, I'll remember them by name at Mass tonight. But only if you post before 6:30, since I will NOT tweet/check mail while waiting for Mass to start, like I did on the Feast of St. Luke. I forget that my mother reads my tweets, and I'm not too old for a maternal reprimand.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In which Richard Burton and I appear in Little Rock

I was going to write about my drive to Little Rock, AR, only I had this crazy dream last night. I was rehearsing Taming of the Shrew, and Richard Burton (I know, right?) steps in to play Petruchio, and suddenly I can't remember ANY of my lines. And Richard Burton is looking at me like I'm an idiot and this is keeping him from the bottle of whiskey in his dressing room.
http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00012/BURTON_12969t.jpgRichard Burton (front)

So the prompter is feeding me my lines and suddenly I realize why I don't know any of them, because we're not doing Taming of the Shrew anymore, we're now doing Anne of a Thousand Days, and I'm Anne Boleyn.

http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Pelicula/ATD02.jpg'Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold

So then I think, "Oh, well, no wonder." And right about the time I figure it out and get on the right page of dialogue, I wake up. Which doesn't seem quite fair, because that play has a great monologue in it.

I used to have dreams all the time about showing up for work and being shoved onstage with no idea what play we were doing. This is the first time there has been a Famous Guest Star, though. Kind of a random one. Also, I'm not sure what it says about my mental state that I was in a play where I get my head chopped off at the end."

On a weird side note, I'm always think that Richard Burton plays Richard in Lion in Winter, but that's completely wrong. That's Anthony Hopkins, another Welshman. Um. Hannibal was hot as a youngster. Just saying.

On another weird side note, I never saw either Cleopatra or the Burton/Taylor Taming of the Shrew, because I never saw ANY Elizabeth Taylor movies until I left home for college. My mother never watched them on TV, because she never forgave Elizabeth Taylor for breaking up Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
http://www.insidesocal.com/outinhollywood/,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,fisher.jpg


Anyway. I'm signing books with Melissa Francis, Stacy Jay, Linda Gerbsan, Marley Gibson and Chloe Neil later today at the North Little Rock Books A Million from 5 to 8 PM. It's a whole event called "Books, Blood and Bones" (Spooky!) and there are activities, and the blood bank is going to be there. (For deposits, not withdrawals, you vampire loves.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Dawn (New book!)

Now updated through Breaking Dawn...



A New Dawn: Your Favorite Authors on Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series

Which favorite authors, you may ask?
  • Robin Brande
  • Rachel Caine
  • Cassandra Clare
  • Rosemary Clement-Moore
  • Linda Gerber
  • Cara Lockwood
  • Megan McCafferty
  • K. A. Nuzum
  • James Owen
  • Janette Rallison
  • Ellen Steiber
  • Anne Usru
Wait? What? Yes, THIS favorite author. (More on that in a minute.)

Though "completely unauthorized" (sounds so illicit!), the book is full of some really interesting (and some really funny) critical essays about the series. (Updated because, as you can imagine, many of us had much to say about Breaking Dawn.) Seriously, my mother hasn't even read the books, and I caught her laughing hysterically over Rachel Caine's piece.

Linda Gerber explores the real wolf myths, including those of the (real) Quillete Tribe. Megan McCafferty has an interesting essay on the attractions of the bad boy, and whether those are lasting, or passing. Anne Ursu writes a piece that I love about the fantasy of a perfect love. And I write about what Bella Swann has in common with Antigone, Juliet, Ellen Ripley, and Jim Carey. (No. Really.) It's a purely literary analysis, geeky in the extreme. In other words, it's still me.

This is for fans of the Twilight series, but I also recommend it for people who want to talk to fans of the series. (Teachers, librarians, moms.) Many of the authors do an admirable job (seriously) of bringing up good points about the characters and relationships while still being respectful of the author, her work, and her fans.

SO, pick it up, or order it from the links at the Smart Pop website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In which I ramble and post pretty pictures

I went down to the Hill Country this weekend, and it couldn't have been a more perfect couple of days for the trip. The terrain in this state varies from coastal savanna to desert to mountains to black prairie, but the Hill Country to me is the most iconicly Texas in landscape. You've got ranchland and wineries, and kitschy small towns and old dance halls. Not to mention Luckenbach, Texas. (Willie's place is a little farther over on the interstate.)

We took the non-interstate route. (The main disadvantage of state highways is the sparsity of (approved) rest stop opportunities. In other words... plan ahead.) We had pie at the Koffee Kup in Hico on the way down. (Voted "best desert" by Ride Magazine, and word had clearly gotten around. Very popular with the hobby cyclists, who were out in herds this weekend, enjoying the weather, too.) There's also this amazing chocolate place. So chi-chi chic in... Hico. Went by Dublin, where they make Dublin Dr. Pepper. (If you like DP, which I don't. I'm sure this is state sacrilege.)

Went right by Enchanted Rock. (Which I did not stop and climb.) Then on to Fredericksburg, which is the sort of Town Square Texas place that trades on kitschy antique shops and boutiques. Everyone seemed to be having festivals--which of course you would, since October is when the whether is (usually) really pretty. (It's been freakishly rainy this year.) Also, Oktoberfest is big in those parts. Big contingent of German settlers. That's why you have towns named Boerne right next to Blanco.

So I trekked out to Guadalupe River State Park. The terrain was perfect for getting 'in character' though as I huffed and puffed up one of the hills, I realized the benefit of getting boots on the ground, so to speak.

Here are river pictures:


I'm not sure what it says about me that I was more worried about the person leading their small dog over a tangle of exposed roots where he might fall and strangle himself on his lead, than the poeple letting their barefoot children wade through the same branches underwater. Hello water moccasin, sharp rocks and branches. Also, water moccasin.

For proof that Texas really isn't for the faint of heart, I offer the following picture. The shade is sort of dappling it so I'm not sure the full impact is there. But this is an ant mound. It's like Linengen and the Ants.



ANyway. Here's some gentler fauna I met on my hike. You have to look close under the trees.



She was so pretty! We stood and stared at each other for a ridiulous amount of time. We were actually much closer than this fuzzy picture implies. (I was trying to get it before she took off, and predictably she did right after.)

Then I had to run and get Mom, and we started the drive home. No pie on the way up, unfortunately.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I get around (or so they say)

Much like David Letterman, I must confess that I have strayed. I've been cheating on this blog. I've had several guest appearances on the internet, and have been neglecting to post on my own page. I'm heartily ashamed for these my misdeeds, and promise to do better... until the next time I get overwhelmingly busy. (I know you'll forgive me, because I'm busy writing new books.)

But, you can still benefit if you hurry over to Jeri Smith-Ready's page--which you should do anyway, because she's having guests every day in October, with fantastic prizes! You have two more days to post in the comments of MY POST for a chance to win a signed copy of The Splendor Falls.

You'll also find my October Fresh Fiction column is up. In Fresh Takes From the Teen Shelves, I highlight a few of the month's upcoming releases, especially ones that I'm particularly excited about or I think will have appeal to people who haven't really discovered (or still dismiss) the teen and YA shelves. October has some of my favorite things, including fairy tale retellings, alternate histories, fallen angels, Austen-esque romances, and historical fiction. So go check it out.

I also have a TON of upcoming in person events, starting THIS SATURDAY:

Saturday October 10th -- Arlington, Texas
1 - 3 ish at the Barnes and Noble at the Parks Mall
(It's Educator appreciation week, so teachers and librarians get a discount. Perfect day for shopping and stopping by to say "hi.")

Sunday October 11th -- Richardson, Texas
Buns 'n Roses Literacy Tea
This event raises money for literacy, and it's a ton of fun. Romance authors from all over come and host tables, where you can sit and chat with the author, and there are prizes and raffles and a general good time. Julia Quinn is the guest of honor and Candace Havens is the Emcee. You can still buy tickets on the website.

Saturday October 24th -- Little Rock, AR
5 pm at the North Little Rock Books A Million
Big multi-author event, blood-drive, fun stuff. My first visit to Arkansas!


So I'll see you around! 'Cause that's where I'll be!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Name that band...

Help a writer out...

I need a name for a crossover/alternative country band out of Austin, TX. Their music is along the lines of Reckless Kelly, Mike McClure Band, or Cross Canadian Ragweed. The band's founders are all young, about 21. They started in college (University of Texas) as sort of a country garage band sort of thing, but now they're playing dance halls and bigger bars.

I could just call them the Joe Smith Band (that seems to be the theme with bands of this subgenre), but I thought it would be fun to throw this open for idea from my readers. Heck, I've no name for the front man so you can name him yourself if you want. (I know girls can front country rock bands, but for the purposes of the story, gotta be a guy.)

Any ideas? I'll put the ones I like in a hat and draw one out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fun Stuff Friday

Fun stuff today.

First off, I'm blogging at Fresh Fiction today: Warning: this book may be hazardous to your diet. Comment and win prizes. Whoot!

And just because I haven't been obnoxious about it in a day or two, just a reminder that I have a book signing tomorrow (Saturday, September 12th) from 2 - 4 pm at the Hurst Barnes and Noble (near North East Mall). Even if you hate me and you don't want to buy my book, you should come, because the first booksigning is always full of my author friends. It's a great time to meet other local writers.

The official B&N Site about the event is here.

And my page with the details and a map to the location is here.

On the rest of the country front: People are telling me that some of their stores are already sold out of The Splendor Falls! If you go to your local bookstore and they don't have it on the shelf, be sure and ask for it. They may have copies in the back, and they can always order it for you.

My readers rock!

In a completely unrelated to books note: I've been saving this link for ages. I don't know why I think it's so funny, but I do. And since there are a lot of contemplative posts today, with it being September 11th and all, I thought maybe it was time for a funny one. What Stormtroopers do on their day off.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Field Trips and FenCon

I'm blogging all over the place this month, so you'll be getting a lot of field trip assignments. First is my agent Lucienne Diver's blog. She's also a talented author, and if you're not reading her blog, you should. It's full of good stuff, including this post on strong heroines and how you have to aim your rocks at their soft spots.

Then there's this interview at Hooked on Romance. There's a NEW EXCERPT from The Splendor Falls there, so if you're still waiting on your copy, go read it. It's one of my favorite moments, and I saved it for their blog because Nikki is such a doll and made sure I got on the right plane home from DC when I was a complete space case thanks to euphoria, lack of sleep, and just a little bit of anti-anxiety medicine. (Just a little.) (Note: The authors on this site write quite steamy romances, but there's nothing racy on the link above.)

Finally, here's my preliminary schedule for FenCon next weekend. This is much for my reference as yours. The whole schedule should be on the website soon.


Friday 5:00 pm Trinity 1/2
Non-Genre Shows We're Watching (M)

Description: There are plenty of TV programs out there, and they don't all have to be space opera to be enjoyable. We'll discuss what else fans are watching these days.
___________________________

Friday 8:00 pm Trinity 1/2
Reboot to the Head: The New Star Trek

Description: There's a new Star Trek now, and we discuss if it's a revitalization of the "Trek" enterprise, or a bad mistake. What can we expect to see in the future?
___________________________

Friday 10:00 pm Trinity 3
Liars Panel

Description: Round out your evening with tall tales from convention veterans. Once the door closes, don't believe anything you hear.
___________________________

Saturday 10:00 am Director's
Reading

I'm reading something COMPLETELY NEW AND UNPUBLISHED!!
___________________________

Saturday 11:00 am Trinity 1/2
Sword and Sorcery Movies: The Good, the Bad, the Downright Terrible

Description: Admit it - for every good one there are three bad ones. What we love about Sword and Sorcery movies, and what...could have gone better.
___________________________

Sunday 12:00 noon Trinity 1/2
Trek vs. Who (M)

Description: Which is better, Star Trek or Doctor Who? Our panelists discuss why one is the greatest Science Fiction show ever while the other is just rubbish. It's all for fun, so come and see which show wins!

--
Go forth and comment on my guests posts! It's called networking.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book Birthday Party!

The Splendor Falls comes out today! 

I hope Amazon delivers your pre-orders and bookstores are obligingly stocked with copies!  I haven't been out to make the rounds yet, because I LOST A DAY this weekend. Seriously, I got up thinking it was Monday, went to check my mail and couldn't figure out why I had an inbox full of congrats on my release. Because it's TODAY not TOMORROW.

Not only that, but if you are cheap like me, and haven't picked up your own copy of the award winning book HELL WEEK, you're in luck.

Hell Week comes out in paperback today!

That's two books!  It's like having twins.

I know that most of you want to RUN out to your bookstore to either buy your copy while they still have some, or harangue (nicely!) the bookseller for not having it in stock. But if you're in the DFW area, you might want to wait for Saturday, because I'm having a...

Book Release Party
Hurst (Texas) Barnes and Noble
(at North East Mall)
Saturday, September 12th
2 - 4 PM

Can't make it that day?  Here are some other events I have coming up:

FenCon -- September 18-20
Booksigning at the B&N at the Parks Mall -- October 10
Buns 'n Roses Literacy Fundraiser -- October 11
Booksigning in Little Rock, AK with many other spooky book authors -- October 24
Texas Book Festival -- October 31

I'm also doing a bunch of guest blogs, interviews and giveaways in the next few weeks, so I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Q and A Day

Okay before I give you the answer to today's question, you have to go read the interview I did over at Body Count, Inc, the blog of the funny and ferocious Jacqui Jacoby. We met at RWA Nationals, where she was a Golden Heart finalist and was teaching a workshop on Plotting lessons learned from Firefly. Awesome.

Are you back?

Okay, so the question was from the comments in that interview, in regard to The Splendor Falls. (Which comes out in seven days. FYI.)

Q: Was it hard stepping out of Maggie's world (to write the new book
)?

A: As far as the world is concerned, not really. Maggie world is much like Buffy and Supernatural, more overtly magical (for all that it's hidden). The magic is softer in The Splendor Falls. The theme is on hidden, secret things. It fits strongly into the gothic tradition that way. I loved writing that part of it.

The challenge was in changing the voice. Maggie is a very natural character to slip into. Her voice is really conversational, and she's so open--if she thinks it she 'says' it. She's in touch with her feelings, and doesn't leave the reader guessing about them. Those of you who follow this blog MAY have read me whining about how Sylvie is... not any of those things. Her humor is darker, and she's more complex and complicated, and I love that about her. But boy, she did not way to open up about her feelings--she didn't even acknowledge them to herself!

It was a challege to get at what was inside her tough shell, but (eventually) it was all the more satisfying because of that. I hope readers will love her as much as I do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Yet another teaser...

Have I mentioned that The Splendor Falls comes out in eight days? Tuesday, September 8th. A week from tomorrow. 9/8/09. Just saying.

An excerpt for your enjoyment...

Chapter 1

I wanted to hate Alabama, and nothing about my arrival disappointed me.

To be fair, there aren’t many places that are easy to fall in love with in ninety degree heat and eighty-five percent humidity. The bumpy flight from my connection in Atlanta, on a miniscule plane with doll sized seats, hadn’t helped. And that was before some snafu at the gate forced us to deplane on the tarmac and ride a bus to the terminal.

I’d been out of my walking cast for two weeks. My leg throbbed like a sadistic metronome as I limped down the concourse, and the toes of my right foot were swollen like fat, pink cocktail weenies. Gigi’s carrier bag hung from my shoulder, my fingers white knuckled on the strap. Bad enough to dread something. Even worse when the pain of moving forward is more than metaphorical.

I could rest a minute, sit down between the barbecue restaurant and the souvenir shop with the confederate flag coffee mugs. For that matter, I was inside the security checkpoint. No one could come in and get me without buying a plane ticket. I could just live here until my mother and her new husband got back from their honeymoon and reported me missing.

Granted, that wouldn’t really convince anyone that I no longer needed to see a psychiatrist.

. . .

Saturday, August 29, 2009

One more day to enter to win some splendor!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Don't forget all the ways you can enter and win a copy of The Splendor Falls!

1) Become a fan on my Facebook Fan page. (You are not alone in not knowing I had one. *I* have only half figured it out.)

2) Comment on Monday's Post.

3) Mention me, Maggie Quinn, or the books somewhere on the internet. Tweets, goodreads/shelfari/Amazon reviews all count. (Go to the original posts for links to my author pages on those sites.) Leave a comment bragging on yourself--I'll trust you.

You have until tomorrow to do any, or all, of the above.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mixed signals

Okay, I know I said I would spare you puppy potty training stories. But this is made me laugh.

When I take Penny outside, I take a treat with me and tell her to 'tinkle' and she does, pretty much on cue. Just now, I was taking her out, and we were on the way to the door. I reached into the treat bowl the same time I said "Let's go tinkle." And boom. Instant results, right there on the floor in front of the door. Oops.

So I exclaimed "Oh no!" and Penny of course does what she always does when I tell her 'no.' Immediately sits and flashes me the "Is THIS what you want?" innocent look. In the puddle. So now I have a puddle, a fluffy dog who's fluffy rear end is now, um, soaking up the puddle, and I'm laughing so hard, there's no way I can turn this into a training moment.

In other news, Lizzie is still sick. She's not drooping around scaring me to death with her lethargy any more, but her ear is... okay, there's a reason I didn't love audiology. And icky ears is #1 on the list. Ironic, yes?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

School Supplies

Yesterday evening I went to the store to buy some mailing supplies (so that I can mail books to the lucky winners of the drawing). I forgot, however, about the start of school, and Staples was PACKED with parents and kids buying supplies. And I was filled with nostalgia.

When I was a kid, I used to love the start of school. It wasn't that I was some kind of masochist--I didn't really want summer to be over, either. But there's something invigorating about a new year. New classes and new teachers mean a fresh start. Later maybe I would get behind on deadlines and spend all night writing my English papers and fudging data on my biology lab assignments because I let my bean sprouts die... (Er. Not that I advocate this method. Water your science experiments, guys.) But the first day of school, it's all a clean slate and the year is all unwritten possibility. (Yes, I am an optimist by nature.)

Plus, there's that feeling you get from brand new school supplies. Fresh new pens and clean, unmarked spiral notebooks. Your binders haven't had Coke spilled on them yet, and you haven't written notes and phone numbers all over the covers. There's this Dutch saying my Oma and mom are always telling me: New brooms sweep clean. There's just something about a fresh, clean start.

I guess this is part of my love of office supplies. It evokes that same feeling, that a new pen will give you fresh ideas. That a new notebook symbolizes a world of new possibilities. Plus there's that feeling that THIS time, you have the chance to get it right and make it perfect. (Maybe that's just me.)

Because I've always worked either a vaguely school type schedule (theatre seasons usually run summer to summer, too), September has always been more of a "new year" for me, much more so than January. It's a time for getting my office in order and getting a fresh jump on things. I also love knowing that cooler weather is coming soon. (Relatively speaking.)

So, fess up-- Do new pens and pencils and notebooks fill you with excitement? Do you go to the office supply store and get lost looking for the next wonderful thing that will help you get a fresh new start on a project? Does anyone else have to start notes for a new book with a new pen, or is that just me?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Splendor Falls Giveaway

Guess what came in the mail yesterday? Three boxes of The Splendor Falls! That means I can give away beau coup copies. Yes, you could win this book before it's even available in the stores.

Okay, to mix things up--and to be just a tad self-serving, because, darn it, we're talking 520 pages of free book goodness--you've got several ways to enter to win. I'll draw from three different pools (which means you could have at least three chances to win).

1) Comment in the comments. What could be simpler? Don't know what to say? How about: Your book sounds awesome, RCM! If I don't win it, I will be at the store when it opens on September 8th... (It's okay if you lie to make me feel good. You can go after school/work.)

2) Become my fan on Facebook. I will draw for one book every 25 fans, so it behooves you to recruit your friends.

3) Okay, this one is a leeeetle more effort: Mention me and/or my books anywhere on the internet. Twitter your friends, mention the books in your blog, add me to your books on goodreads, library thing, shelfari, etc. Post a review on B&N or Amazon. It doesn't have to be a good review, either. If you give me one star, your name still goes in the hat. (This is my secret revenge--to force another RCM book on you when you hated the first one you read.)

Now, you need to tell me where you mentioned me. You can post in the comments, OR you can e-mail me at rosemary at readrosemary dot com. Give the link only if you want; I'm willing to go on the honor system, if you tell me you spammed your friendslist or whatever. (And if you gave me one star, just... seriously, just tell me you left a review and leave it at that. ;) )

Stumped what to say? How about: this author you LOVE, who writes this AWESOME Maggie Quinn supernatural mystery novels, has got a NEW BOOK coming out on SEPTEMBER 8th. It looks spooky and romantic and stupendous.

Ahem. Just a suggestion.

And YES, your comment telling me where you mentioned me counts for drawing #1 and drawing #3. So that's two entries in one!

I'll draw names on Sunday so I can put your books in the mail on Monday.

Easy peasy! Comment now, while you're thinking about it!

Random Buzz about The Splendor Falls (teaser)

Hey guys! I'm chatting today at Random Buzzers, Random House Teens message board. I'm getting a ton of questions, so come and check it out.

Here's your Monday teaser from The Splendor Falls, which comes out in two weeks!

Pasha set me down, soft as moonlight; the orchestra covered the hollow tap of my pointe shoe. I balanced on one leg, the other stretched up behind me, prolonging the illusion of flight.

I could never say what went wrong in the next eight bars. The stage was clean, my pointe was solid. It wasn’t even a particularly difficult combination. Come down to fourth position, port de bras and changement to second position and a quick series of chaîné turns.

Right foot, left foot, right… then a strange crunching sound that seemed to come from inside my head. Without knowing how I got there, I was face down on the stage, and the murmurs of the audience were escalating with worry. In my dream—my memory--I tried to get up, but Pasha held me down, lapsing into panicked Russian. I didn’t have to understand the language to know that something had gone very wrong.

It’s funny how so much can hinge on one missed step.

Not funny ha ha. Funny that the moment that should have been the pinnacle of my seventeen years on this planet, ends up making me famous for the entirely wrong reason.

So, I really don’t mean funny so much as “tragically ironic.”

Dancers get injured doing the flashy things, jetés and échappés. I mean, who the hell breaks their leg on a turn they teach in the tiny-tots class?

Me, I guess. The month before, I’d gotten a full-page write-up in Ballet Magazine. The month after, I was a tragic item in a sidebar to an article on insuring your legs, Betty Grable style, against career-ending injuries:

Sylvie Davis, the youngest-ever principle dancer for the North American Ballet Company, during her stunning debut at Lincoln Center, suffered a compound open fracture of the tibia and fibula in front of hundreds of horrified audience members.

At least I knew how to make an exit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Hard at work amid distractions. Here's the main one. Penny is a pain in the butt. She wants to play with Princess Lizziebelle, who is having none of it. She cries when in her crate, which, since I'm housetraining her, is a LOT of the time. Including all night, when I'm trying to work, when I'm trying to sleep, when I'm trying to think... In other words, she's a puppy.

A good thing she's cute. She looks like a fox!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bonus Monday Excerpt

For your reading pleasure, a short teaser from The Splendor Falls (which, as I may have mentioned, comes out September 8th).

Shawn said, “I could show you around the town, or whatever you wanted.”

He stood just on the edge of my personal space, smiling with boyish charm. It was a Tom Sawyer smile, the kind that could get him into, or out of, all sorts of trouble. I had no difficulty imagining that a smile like that could be Becky Thatcher’s downfall.

In a way, it was the strength of that pull that made me hesitate. Liking Shawn was very easy, and it was against my nature to do anything the easy way.

“I’ll think about it,” I said, not entirely shutting him down. “If I feel like getting dressed.”

His grin widened. “Don’t bother on my account.”

He managed to make me blush. Out in the truck, Addie leaned on the horn, and Shawn hurried to join her, letting the screen door bang behind him. The effect of his smile lingered behind him, liked the Cheshire cat’s disappearing grin.

I let Gigi out of her crate, thinking, strangely enough, about picket fences. Believe it or not, there’s a ballet Tom Sawyer. It’s by a Russian, so I wouldn’t use it to write a book report. But my point is that Tom, with his southern charm and boyish grin, was still a trickster. Maybe I needed to remember that.

I sighed, and pulled the scrunchie out of my tangled hair. As if I had any business even thinking about guys when there were big, important things to worry about, like what was I going to do with the rest of my life, and how I was going to keep from going crazy while I was stuck here.

Crazier, I mean.

Because the thing that shook me up when Shawn mentioned ghosts wasn’t the idea the house was haunted. It was that, just for a second, I hoped it was. If I was grasping at the supernatural for a lifeline where my sanity was concerned, I was a lot farther gone than I thought.

Vampires, Gray's Anatomy, and the end of civilization as we know it.

Exciting times at Chez Clement-Moore:

1) Armadillo Con was great. Managed to stick my foot in my mouth only a couple of times. (On that subject, see below.)

2) The Splendor Falls comes out in three weeks (!!!) and I hope you have the date (September 8th) marked on your calendars. (And for you all in the DFW area, September 12th is the book release party at the Barnes and Noble near North East Mall in Hurst.)

3) And of course, I'm trying to housebreak a puppy. (Because Penny, now nicknamed Penelope Pitstop for rather unfortunate reasons, is definitely still a puppy. I need to remind myself that ALL my dogs were pains in the butt as puppies. At least dogs grow up faster than children.)

Point of Clarificiation:

Believe it or not, I was laying in bed thinking of this last night. I have to correct something from the Young Adult Books panel at Armadillo Con yesterday. While I have joked in the past, "I don't do vampires," I don't hate vampires or vampire books on principle. I'm personally at the point where I look for something different--but there are plenty of vamp books I love.

My favorite vampire books include: Sunshine, by Robin McKinley, the Vampire Academy novels, by Richelle Mead, and The Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine. Also popular but I haven't read it yet, is Red Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells, and the books by P.C. and Kristen Cast. For lightweight vamp fare, check out Vamped, by Lucienne Diver and Bite Me! by Melissa Francis.

There. I feel a little better. Vampire books got a really bad rap on that panel, and I need to correct that karmic imbalance a bit.

Oh, I also sort of slammed Grey's Anatomy, lumping it in with lowest common denominator television. I don't know what I was thinking--that was a brain fart. The program doesn't do it for me personally (neither does House or Lost), but there has been some great writing and acting on that show. While they don't make my list, they are leagues above things like The Bachelor (and it's clones) which I consider evidience of the break down of society. (I don't now how I mixed up GA and The Bachelor, except that both seem to be about attractive women basing their self worth on the approval of McHotties. But in GA they wise up eventually, at least long enough to save someone's life now and then...)

Er... I kind of undid my restitution on that one. But oh well.

I will atone with a scene from The Splendor Falls (in the next post).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The More the Merrier (canine edition)

If you've been wondering where I've been lately-- We've had a new addition to the family.

Now, Princess Lizzie and I are very close, as anyone who's met us (or had to suffer through my showing off dog pictures) knows. But my mother has been hinting lately that she needs a new granddog. She's been cruising petfinder.com, sending me links, pointing out how much Lizzie loves Abby (Mom's dog), but Abby doesn't really play, and wouldn't Lizzie love to have someone to play with. I certainly didn't think she'd have a problem adapting to another dog, but the timing hasn't been right.

Well, the timing STILL isn't right, but Mom sent me ANOTHER petfinder picture and somehow, before I knew it, I was calling Recycled Poms (a Pomeranian rescue organization) about a new family dog. (I was swayed by the fact that, in the pictures, she looks a little similar to Lizzie--more on that in a sec.)

This was going to be 'our' dog, part of the pack. Then on the way there, Mom starts talking about how, well, maybe SHE can have her OWN new dog, too. And I'm all: we'll see. And then this little miniature honey bear of a dog gets in Mom's lap, curls up and goes to sleep. Boom. Done deal. We're going home with two dogs.

Tentatively named "Clare" because yesterday was the feast of Saint Clare, Mom's little dog was rescued from a puppy mill. How could we NOT give her a home? She needs the kind of spoiled silly, couch potato life that Mom will give her. (Though she also loves to walk on the leash--which Mom really wanted. Her current dog, Abby, is a big fraidy cat and won't walk on the lead.)

"My" new dog--and the quotes are because ultimately, I'm the alpha dog of this pack, so all dogs are my dogs, especially when something goes wrong--is taller and longer than Lizzie (taller and longer than I was expecting for a Pom), and has this beautiful foxy face and soft blonde puff-ball hair. She's like a supermodel next to my cute, goofy little Lizzie (who is, like me, rather compact, though I have to admit, Lizzie had a cuter tail).

But she's a sweetie, and everyone seem to get along okay so far. We haven't quite worked out who gets to be where while I'm working. (The couch in my office is big enough for two dogs but not four. Well, not with me in it, too.) But I'm sure it will shake out.

Here's a picture caught with the iPhone. I will upload better ones soon.

Clockwise from the top left that's Abby, leaning away (she did great meeting everyone, but the photo op was a little much for her), Clare, Lizzie, and the newly christened Penny.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Texas, my Texas

Every summer, I complain about the heat in Texas. (Summer, heck. I start in May and gripe about it until October.) This, and my grumpy attitude toward certain Texas attitudes, may give you the impression that I don't love my native state. But I do. It seems to me, as I'm sweltering in the August heat, this seems like a good time to list of a few things I do love about Texas:

1) Spring wildflowers. We don't have a very pretty autumn here (though the weather is usually really nice in October, our leaves don't turn here--well, they just turn brown and fall to the ground). But springtime in Texas means wildflowers. They are everywhere. Open fields of them, the highways are lined with them--yellow and red and blue. By far my favorites are the bluebonnets.

2) Kolaches. This is a pastry that the Czechoslovakian immigrants brought with them. There are kolaches (ko-lah-cheez) in the rest of the world, but I doubt there's nothing like a good, doughy Texas kolache. Certainly nowhere else do drivers plan their routes around where to buy them. There are fruit ones and sausage ones, but really, the classic cream cheese will always be my favorite.

3) Shiner Beer. Made just up the road from where I used to live. If you go up to Oklahoma, they call this an import.

4) Lyle Lovett.

5) The Texas Turnaround. I don't really love these. It just amuses me that it originated in Texas. And considering how often I overshoot and have to get myself going the other way on a highway, I do actually get a lot of use out of these.

6) Stonehenge II. World's most famous stone circle in two thirds scale. I could not make this stuff up.

7) Dublin Dr. Pepper. Not Dublin, Ireland, but Dublin Texas. They make their DP with real cane sugar according the original recipe.

8) Bats. We had lots of bats out on the ranch. (They also lived in the rafters of the theater where I worked, appropriately enough.) These things eat a ton of mosquitoes. And they're kind of cute, in a terrifically ugly sort of way.

9) Austin. The blue speck in the center of the red state. Great music, great arts scene, a bit of counterculture thrown in for good measure... Here, the bizarre excesses of the state take a cool turn, less bubba, and more hipster. And I'm headed down there next weekend!

10) The people. I know we have a bad reputation. But we're not all obnoxious and bombastic blowhards. There's some genuinely cool people in this state, but we tend to get overlooked, because the asshats and weird stuff make better news stories and punchlines.

SO, there's my reminder to myself why I put up with Texas when I'm so physically miserable three months out of the year!

Fess up. What are the quirky, iconoclastic, or unique things you love about where YOU live?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Q & A Day: Page Counts and Processes

Today’s Q & A Day is brought to you courtesy of a colleague*, who asked me a questions, and as usual, I’m so darn long winded in my answer, it turned into a blog post. Yay!

So the question was: What’s your daily page goal?

The short answer is: Depends on when the book is due.

Though seriously, when I went up to OU last week to talk to the YA Lit class (*wave to Karin, Mark, and Courtney*), one of their questions was about my writing process. And I said, quite honestly, I have a wacky process that I don’t recommend to anyone.

However, I’ll share it with you, because I always hear people post their disciplined, 5, 10, 20 pages a day routine, or their 8 hours of writing, or whatever, and sometimes, if I’m not doing that, I feel like a failure, or an undisciplined hack, or both. Any of which might be true, but there’s no sense in making myself depressed over it. (/sarcasm. I know am not a failure. Though the undisciplined part is arguable.)

Usually when I start a book, I’ll write some chapters (which may or may not be the actual beginning of the book) do some research, write my outline. And then I’ll go into this phase where it doesn’t look like I’m working but I’m thinking about the book all the time. This is my germination period. For instance, before I wrote The Splendor Falls, I watched every ballerina movie I could get my hands on, and re-read my favorite gothic novels, and went and drove around Alabama (not something I always have the luxury of doing.)

This may go on for a couple of weeks, then I’ll usually start back in slowly and, to be honest, go in some wrong directions while I convert the internal process to an external one. Then things will get rolling. (knock on wood.)

During my active phase, my goal is usually "write every day." Sometimes I go on a research tangent, and end up writing one page. Sometimes I do a lot of thinking, running a scene different ways in my head, write barely anything, and then turn around the next day and write 20 pages. (That's what happened yesterday.)

When I do set myself a page/word count goal (which I always eventually do), it's usually because I'm letting myself get distracted when I really need to buckle down and get the story out of my head and on the page. In other words, I don't really NEED more research, but I'm using it as a procrastination tool. Or I'm second guessing myself, and I need to force myself to more forward.

So the moral of this story is… find what works for you, what motivates you, and what keeps you moving forward. For most people, it’s a combination of things. Give yourself germination time, but know when it’s time to turn incubation into perspiration.

I'd love to hear your creative process in the comments, whether it’s for writing or any other activity.



*Colleague is Tess Mallory who's time travel romances are being reissued from Berkley with awesome new beefy Scotsman covers instead of the old-fashioned clinch covers. (You know, with the flowing hair and awkward not-so-romantic grappling poses?) Anyway, I have a sekrit and ridikulous love for a good time travel romance.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Field Trips and Freebies!

Missed yesterday's blog post, which is sad, because I had it all planned! I headed up to Norman, OK, where I spoke to a YA Lit graduate class about writing, books, general blathering. They've been great hosts, and only made fun of my "Horny Toad" TCU sticker on my car a little bit.

So I come bearing gifts! On my website, I have Desktop Wallpapers for The Splendor Falls. They are tres awesome and artistic, so click and check it out. Thanks to for making them for me!

And while I'm on my OK field trip, I'm sending you guys to Pink Me, a blog that I enjoy reading ANYWAY, but today she's reviewing HIghway to Hell. I think this blogger is fun and funny (she's a librarian with pink hair!) and so it thrills me she gave H2H a great review. (This is not a children's blog! She reviews YA books for Adult readers. However, there's nothing untoward in this particular post.) Go read that review, then explore her site a bit.

Off to breakfast, then home to Texas. Oh, I-35, how I love you. Joy! /irony

Monday, July 27, 2009

This sign points the way...

Went last week to see the new Harry Potter movie. (The Half Blood Prince, duh.) Enjoyed the hell out of it. The story sure seemed to zip along while I was watching it, and it was only the two (count them: 2) bathroom breaks I required that let me know how long it was. I know there were changes from the book (and people will moan about them) but they still managed to cram an awful lot of story into one movie.

The movies have really reached the point where you really need to be familiar with, at the very least, the movies that have gone before, even if you haven't read the books. This is really not the place to try and pick things up. LOTS of stuff going on.

My favorite stuff is on my livejournal version of this post, because I didn't want to ambush you with SPOILERS since the movie is still fairly new. (Even if it was knocked out of the #1 spot by a bunch of talking gerbils. Seriously? Talking rodents. *shudder*)

ANyway, if you want to read my rambling opinions (and they ARE rambling) or geek out with me about the movie, click here.

But I will share this, which cracked me up because... Dude. Dumbledore in ZZTOP. How awesome would that be?

billy gibbons
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Random Friday Stuff

1) I went to the Y to exercise this morning. I hate to exercise, but I love to eat, so I make myself go. I do Zumba, this sort of dance aerobics thing, and I love it. Free form, I dance like Elaine from Seinfeld. I do okay, though, if there are steps I'm supposed to follow. Then I'm only a little Elaine-like.

Anyway. Zumba is I guess very "fusion" as far as dance styles. It's Latin, Bollywood, Hip Hop, all that mixed together. The instructor is this cute girl, good at all of it, but I have to wonder if she thinks it's funny, all these suburban soccer moms (and me, and I've mentioned how I dance) trying to do these hip-hop, salsa, belly-dancy kind of moves. (The belly dancing stuff is my favorite. I have a lot of hips to bump, though I can't shimmy worth a darn. Too uptight, I suspect.)

2) My friend Katherine from NTRWA and DFWWW is moving to Ohio next week. I has a sad. I mention this, because Ohio keeps coming up in random ways! It's synchronicity. Or a sign. I don't know. But it's freaking me out.

3) Lizzie isn't supposed to get snacks, but I can always tell when my Mom has been sneaking her yogurt, because she is the messiest eater in the world. She just trotted into the office with all her neck fur stuck together and yogurt in her ears. Gross. The least a grandmother could do is wash off the evidence.

4) I had a dream about my Dad this afternoon. (Yes, I had a nap, what about it?) I guess because I mentioned him in my thank yous at the Rita ceremony. You may notice a running theme in my books, that my protagonists tend to have special relationships with their Dads. Not a coincidence, I guess. (Though I'm changing it up with the new book. You'll have to find some other link between this character and yours truly. We've all got some corresponding quirk.)

Speaking of quirks-- I rolled the dice and picked a winner from the comments on my Wednesday blog on character. Oddly enough (more synchronicity!) it's Ailya, who wrote in with her question. Thanks for all the great comments, though. Lots of new people. Yay.

I'll leave you with a loldog, that made me smile.

funny pictures of dogs with captions
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Q&A Day: Building Character... the fictional kind

From Aliya (Who’s letter cracked me up. Thanks Aliya!):
As an avid reader and a hopeful writer I find something that really makes or breaks a story is the characters. So many times I find a book that has a sturdy, interesting plot, with flimsy little characters whose only purpose seems to be to carry out said plot. What's something you found helpful when building the characters in your books, as well as keeping them from seeming too similar/one-dimensional? Was it something that came easily to you? If you could provide a little insight that would be awesome =).

My answer:
Characters are my favorite thing, except maybe for dialogue. I won't say it always comes *easily* but it's something I don't remember having to learn how to do. I had to sort of retroactively figure out what I was doing with my best characters, so I could do it consistently do it with the rest.

A good main character is three things:
1) Multi-dimensional (They aren't just one thing, they have facets and layers)
2) Relatable (You can put yourself in their shoes, even when they're making mistakes.)
3) Internally consistent and internally logical. (Their traits mesh together and make sense as a whole).

When I create a character who’s going to get a lot of page time (a protagonist like Maggie, or major supporting character, like Lisa or Justin), I start off with the character "hook.” I like that term, because it's the thing that the writer holds onto, and the thing that grabs the reader. If you had to describe ONE THING that told you the most about a character, what would it be? I knew, before I put my fingers on the keyboard, that Maggie was going to be plucky and inquisitive: the girl detective type who won’t let a mystery rest.

Everything else has to work around this core trait, whether it supports that trait, compliments it, or contrasts with it. It's the thing that drives your character's decisions, gives them direction like a compass. If you think about it like drawing, it's a bold, dark stroke on a clean piece of paper: you can't erase it, so the whole picture must be build around it.

Then you add other lines to make a more complete picture. These are secondary characteristics, quirks, hobbies, history, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses (never forget weaknesses!). Add shading: dark and light areas, fears and flaws as well as good stuff. But they all have to work with that first bold stroke. If they don't relate to it, that's when something rings false and fake. Going back to Maggie: she's very determined, but the flip side of that is she can be a bit pig-headed. She's extremely loyal, but she can be blind to her friends' faults.

See how every trait has a positive and negative side? That makes them seem natural, like a real person, and not like I'm just giving her random strengths and flaws as the plot demands it.

While many stories concern the growth and change of a character, what's actually changing is the outer layers: perspective, feelings, and how they express their core trait. For instance, Luke Skywalker starts off as a idealistic farmboy who craves action. He's a hothead, but he basically wants to do good: save the princess, join the rebellion, etc. He struggles with that hotheaded impulsiveness and when it is expressed as anger, it tempts him to the dark side, but his good nature wins out. (He's still a 'doer' but he learns to "let go of his anger.")

Stories with a major change to the character (i.e., a bad to good redemption) mean you have to think ahead and give them a core character that can be expressed in different ways so it the change is plausible. For example, if character who has a focused iron will realizes his goal is wrong-headed or even 'evil,' and then repents and changes, he's still iron willed. (It takes a lot of willpower to change.) Alternatively, you may hide the characters TRUE core with a lot of layers of other stuff. (A fearful character may find his backbone, for example.) If you don't want this change to come out of nowhere, you have to make those layers logical--why is the character fearful, and what would motivate him to change?

By playing with the core character, and all the layers and contrasts that you add to it, you can come up with a character who is textured, but in a way that seems plausible, logical, and realistic, so that all their actions, reactions, and changes ring true.

So, here’s a writing assignment. Take a character from a favorite book, whether your own work in progress or someone else’s, and say what is their ‘hook.’ My example above was Luke Skywalker, the hotheaded but idealistic boy who controls but never loses those core traits.

Post in the comments and discuss. On Friday I will randomly choose a poster from all blog comments to receive a copy of my (RITA® Award winning) book HELL WEEK.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Review of The Splendor Falls

Okay, I just HAD to share. So excited about this!

Kirkus: August 1 issue

Clement-Moore, Rosemary THE SPLENDOR FALLS

Clement-Moore forsakes her Maggie Quinn series to craft a stand-alone Southern Gothic with a Celtic flair—and leading man. After an injury destroys 19-year-old Sylvie’s ballet career and she gets drunk at her mother’s wedding, she finds herself and her dog shipped down to her dead father’s Alabama family, complete with huge estate-cum-inn and resident ghosts. The local teens wield an inordinate amount of power, their cute leader wants Sylvie and Welsh guest Rhys infuriates and attracts in equal measure. The mythological and historical grounding—legendary Welsh prince Madoc; natural magic; hidden journals; family secrets—is excellent, artfully shared via conversation when exposition is necessary, although Sylvie’s resistance to admitting the paranormal drags on a bit given all the hints. The dialogue displays the author’s trademark wit and zip, especially when Sylvie and her aunt’s business partner’s daughter spar. By digging up—literally and figuratively—her family’s past, Sylvie begins to heal and move past her accident. Long, satisfying and just chilling enough, this will please a wide audience and leave readers hoping for more. (author’s note) (Fantasy/mystery. 13 & up)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rita Award and Stuff

So some of you may have heard that my book

HELL WEEK won the 2009 RITA® award for best YA book.

Yes, that’s right. Award winning author in the house.


If you saw me on Saturday night, I was sort of a space case, because of course I was ecstatic, but it’s also this surreal and kind of humbling experience, because the other books in my category were really awesome, too. That’s not false modesty--I would not have been surprised if the award had gone to either of them. (And in fact, Tera Lynn Childs did win the Rita for Best First Book!)

And of course, despite the fact that I DID jot down my notes on what I wanted to say, I completely messed it up when I got on stage. Some of that was because I was confronted with my own giant head on the big screen, and you have a lot to think about at that moment. Including:

1) Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m standing here.
2) Is that what my hair looks like? Holy crap my teeth are HUGE!
3) Don’t say anything stupid.
4) Don’t hyperventilate and pass out.
5) Don’t forget anybody.
6) Don’t trip and fall.
7) Don’t drop the statue.

Another cool thing? The “walk down” music was the theme from Buffy! I didn’t hear it on the way down (I didn’t hear ANYTHING after “Hell…” and then it was just this ocean surf roar and my voice in my head going: “Don’t trip don’t trip don’t trip”) but on the way back… that was fun. Thanks programming people!

Anyway. I’m so grateful, and so honored. I know some people are head scratching, thinking “But Hell Week isn’t really a romance.” No, but it has what the RWA describes as “Romantic elements.” That is, a strong romantic subplot. Though, as a reader wrote to me recently, “There should be more kissing scenes.” Thankfully, the judges felt what was there was sufficient.

(Though personally, I agree--you can never go wrong with more kissing scenes. Look forward to The Splendor Falls for that. Lots of kissing in TSF. ;-) )

So, now Rita is home, and in her place of honor atop my desk:


Of course, this makes it look like she's staring at me, which is good and bad. Bad: It's a little creepy. Good: I feel she's admonishing me if I surf the internet when I should be working.

Thanks to everyone for their support and congratulations!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Random Items from D.C.

Random Collection of Items from the last few days when I've been too busy to post from D.C./RWA Convention:

• Total panic attack on the plane! That has never happened to me before. But seriously. The seat I was in was SO TIGHT, and they air wasn't on, and the walls just closed in on me. It was... actually, not funny at all. Moving on:

• I'm so lame. I haven't remembered to bring my camera ANYwhere. But there's a picture here of me and the other two finalists in my category for the Rita awards here. (I'm the one in the middle.) We are holding up our handmade "Rita Finalist" flags because the real ones didn't make it to D.C.

• Other exciting things... Went to the National Zoo (with Tina, who is on the left in the picture) and saw cheetahs and otters. The otters were SO cute. (After dogs, they're my favorite animal. They might be my favorite, if one could keep them as a pet. But they only like to cuddle with each other.)

• Mom has been sending me pictures of Lizzie. She's been making art with her toys. No lie! She arranges her stuffed toys into patterns. Stars and lines mostly.

• Internet surreal moment #346. My Mom is following me on Twitter. I guess I better stop Tweeting every time I go to the bar.

More on Monday!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Win Books!

I can't believe I haven't made a bigger stinking deal about this, but as I mentioned back in March, I'm a finalist in the RWA's RITA award, in the YA category. I couldn't be more thrilled, especially since I share the card with two writers I really like, Tina Ferraro and Tera Lynn Childs.

Over on her blog, YA Fresh, Tina is giving away copies of all three nominated books! Coolness! Go and read the post-- all three of us posted what we would have pitched if given the others' titles. For example, for Tina's book Hot to Hook a Hottie, I said: "A carefree summer fishing trip goes horribly awry when..." Well you just have to head over there and read for yourself.

Then comment to enter. Tell her I sent you. ;-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Q&A Day: How to stick with it when the end seems endless...

Hi all. I love getting letters from readers, and sometimes they ask me good questions. I love how many teens write to me and tell me they're working on their own writing projects.

Here, I'll let Grace ask her own question:
I was wondering how you stick with writing on one topic for a whole book let alone 3 books. I have a slue of journals with stories that never quite passed the 50 page mark. I just lose interest because it is not quite time for the climax and back ground knowledge and thickening the plot can only go so far. How do you keep your self interested until the end of the book?

Here's my answer:
Before I wrote Prom Dates From Hell, I also had a whole mess of projects/books that I'd started but never finished, for exactly the same reason. I would lose interest and abandon one project for the next shiny thing. A couple of things helped me: I wrote a bunch of shorter pieces so that I got used to finishing things. A short story can be 4 pages, or it can be 40 pages. But it's good practice being able to get a beginning, middle and end into a short space. There's not space for the boring stuff.

For a book, I don't just plan one climax at the end. I have several turning points that are like mini-climaxes over the course of the book. This seems obvious, I know, but it's not just about plotting an exciting book. It's about giving myself goals that don't seem so waaaaaaaay far away and unattainable. If you think about the book as a series of successively higher hills rather than one long, tedious climb up a mountain, it really helps. And since those parts are usually fun to write, it's both a goal and a reward. (I love to write the Maggie/Justin scenes, so I tell myself stuff like: well, I have to get through this scene where they explain how magic works, but then Maggie and Justin get to fight then make out... er, I mean make up.)

But whatever you do, NEVER throw away those journals! One of my abandoned projects turned into the idea for my September book (The Splendor Falls). Way back when, I had an idea for a story about a ballerina who breaks her leg and goes to stay in an old house with a ghost. The setting and whole rest of the plot ended up being completely different, but it all started from about 50 pages of story I began (then abandoned) in high school.

So to all you budding writers out there, good luck! And if you have any other writing related questions, post them in the comments or e-mail me. We can make this a regular feature.