Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Nine

So is anyone else watching this new TV show?

The Nine

I've really become addicted - great characters, great suspense, and, usually, good writing. But this past week's episode got me thinking.

One character, Egan Foote (great name, right?), has decided to leave his wife, since he's going through this whole mid-life awakening and is dissatisfied with his middle-of-the-road existence. He says to his wife, "When was the last time you were happy? Really, truly happy with your life?"

And she can't answer him.

I had 3 thoughts at that moment. The first was, wow, how sad. The second was, wow, I'm really lucky that I don't feel that way. I'm pretty much happy all the time. And the third was this sort of realization about why a lot of people read romance.

Is it because they're not happy with their own lives? Is it because they want to escape to a place where everyone does in fact live happily ever after? Is it because while they're reading they can forget about their own dissatisfaction?

Maybe not everyone feels that way. But I'm feeling like a lot of people do pick up a romance for those reasons. To remember the rush of falling in love. To know that somewhere, even in a fantasy world, problems can be solved and obstacles can be overcome.

I watched the movie "The Break-up" with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston last weekend. Anyone seen it? Well, I won't give away the ending, but let's just say that though it is billed as a romantic comedy, the ending let me down.

I think, for me, keeping in mind that there are heavy hearts out there is a good reminder of how to shape a romance. Sure, we have to give our characters conflict and baggage. But at the end of it all, we also have to show the redeeming power of love. Right?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


So much depends upon it in the publishing world, I think. Right place, right time, right genre, right look, right name.

I was looking over the finalists for Romantic Times' American Title contest; voting on first lines is going on now. I checked out the finalists' websites and was really interested to see the variety of experence the top 10 have. Some have won multiple awards. For others, this is their first. A couple featured excerpts that, when I read, made me wonder why they weren't already published. Then I pick up a new release in the bookstore and flip through and can't get past the writing on the first page.

So much talent out there, and only a fraction of it gets the recognition it probably deserves. I guess that's true with anything, though: movies, TV shows, musicians...sometimes you look at the ones who have made it to the limelight and wonder who else is in the shadows that we never hear about.

That's not to say that some authors aren't totally deserving of being best-sellers. But gotta wonder.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More from The Essential 55

OK, this post really isn't about writing, but I finished Ron Clark's book on teaching (and life) yesterday and promised I'd share some other favorite rules.

Number 26: Do not save seats in the lunchroom. If someone wants to sit down, let him or her. Do not try to exclude anyone. We are a family, and we must treat each other with respect and kindness.

How great is that? I think probably every one of us, at some point, saved a seat for someone else or had a seat saved for us. Not always terrible, if we're talking getting a good view at the movies. But at school? In the lunchroom? I like his logic.

Kids are cruel to each other, in case you haven't noticed or conveniently forgot since you were in 5th grade. But bullying, including telling others they can't be part of your group, continues to be a huge problem. My students, 16 and 17 years old, tell me there's nothing schools or teachers or parents can do about it. I tell them they're wrong.

It's hard to "do something," though. It's hard to get actively involved, to tell your child he or she muct include everyone, to teach others to stand up for the right thing even when the right thing isn't the popular thing.

I like this rule because not only does it discourage kids from being exclusive to other kids, it reminds us that even one person can make a difference. If Ron Clark can make a seating chart for his 5th graders in the cafeteria, then the rest of us can do something equally small and meaningful, at some point.

In other news, I got this fantastic idea for a new novel yesterday while I was in the shower (all my good ones usually come then or when I'm running). These characters, and this setting, just popped into my head and refused to leave until I sat down and got something down on paper. So another storyline to file away for next year's projects.

All creativity is not lost!