Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true ...
All I want for Christmas
Is you ...
~Mariah Carey

Last day of school for a whole week! Hooray! You know, I think when we were kids we never really understand that huge grin on our teachers’ faces as we raced out the door for winter recess/spring break/summer vacation. Boy, when you grow up you sure do!

I have no writing news to report, no ups or downs, just a plan to do some concentrated writing over break to shape up a couple of manuscripts I hope to send out anew in 2007.

Really, my goal is not to eat every single cookie or plate full of food that is put in front of me this holiday season…and to try and limit the eggnog and the red wine, as well. But it’s everywhere - have you noticed? I walked into my bank the other day to cash a check and they had a whole spread laid out: cookies, chocolates, coffee, cider.

Didn’t I read somewhere that people gain more weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other 6 week period?

Here’s to our writing gaining weight instead: our words getting plump and full, our plots swelling with juiciness, our characters bubbling over with flavor (and how’s that for a metaphor or two to start the weekend?).

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This and That

"The magi, as you know, were wise men - wonderfuly wise men who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents."
~O. Henry

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I love the Christmas season; I really do. I think part of it may be because I have a December birthday as well, so it’s a festive season times two for me. Though I’ll admit that growing up, I always felt a little cheated when it came to presents. I mean, my parents were super about making sure my birthday (the 15th) and Christmas were two completely different and separate days of celebration. Still, I always envied the kids who got to have pool parties for their summer birthdays. Plus, they got gifts every 6 months or so. Me? All jammed together within 10 days.

However, the gift thing actually became an interesting barometer for the guys I dated when I got older. Anyone who tried to give me one gift to cover both birthday and Christmas wasn’t going to stick around long. I actually had one guy write “For Birthday/Christmas” on the tag. I mean, come on! Would he have tried to pull the same thing if I’d been born in March?

My future husband, however, knew instinctively that they were to be celebrated as two completely different occasions. I knew there was a reason I married him…

As a gift to myself this December, I picked up “Good Poems for Hard Times” edited by Garrison Keillor. Didn’t even know the book existed, but I was browsing in a local bookstore and stumbled across it. Keillor’s introduction itself is worth the $12 price tag. He talks about how poetry -- really, all writing -- should be accessible to everyone, not a mystery for academics in ivory towers to puzzle over.

And so the choices he’s made to include are varied and wonderful. Here’s one of my favorites:

“After Love” (by Maxine Kumin)

Afterward, the compromise.
Bodies resume their boundaries.
These legs, for instance, mine.
Your arms take you back in.
Spoons of our fingers, lips,
admit their ownership.
The bedding yawns, a door
blows aimlessly ajar
and overhead, a plane
singsongs coming down.
Nothing is changed, except
there was a moment when
the wolf, the mongering wolf
who stands outside the self
lay lightly down, and slept.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Judging the Golden Heart

"Love is a friendship with erotic moments."
~Antonio Gala

I signed up to be a judge for the RWA Golden Heart contest again this year (it’s the one for unpublished writers), and my 5 partial manuscripts arrived yesterday.

Last year, I was a little disillusioned with the whole process, because of the 5 I read, the one I scored lowest, by far, ended up being a finalist. I still have no idea how that might have happened. Anyway, I thought it would be good of me to participate, so I volunteered for another go-round. This time, I’m reading ms. in the category “Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.” Should be interesting, right?

I’ve just skimmed the opening pages, but it looks as though 3 are pretty mainstream, one is a paranormal (cool, esp. since I never read that genre…good for a change), and one is…ahem…borderline erotica. I question a little what “romantic elements“ actually means, but we'll see...

Anyone else ever judge writing contests? Thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the experience?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Exploring Possibilities

“Every writer has to figure out what works best - and often has to select and discard different tools before they find the one that fits.”
~Nora Roberts

In this month’s Romance Writers Report, a feature interview with Harlequin editor Beverly Sotolov discusses their new line, Harlequin Everlasting Love.

She writes: “The series is open to a wide range of plots and situations; each story requires a significant conflict that creates urgency, excitement, and momentum. Structurally, there are many more options--interesting and nonlinear ways of organizing the story--than the traditional series romance typically allows. The narrative can start at any point, can include diaries or letters, can move freely back and forth in time, etc…”

Seems like an interesting, if challenging, idea. I’ve never targeted a Harlequin line because I don’t think of my novels as category, per se. I’ve picked up a couple in the past and not been totally impressed (sorry). I just think single-titles have more power and complexity; they’re more interesting to read. For me, anyway.

But I might go back and take a look at one of my earlier works and see if it might fit this new Everlasting Love line. Always have to explore the possibilities, right?

6 shopping days 'til Christmas - yikes! Anyone have any cool stocking stuffer ideas?

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Holiday

I have found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said, "Journeys end in lovers meeting." What an extraordinary thought.
~from “The Holiday”

So I saw the movie “The Holiday” over the weekend (dragged my hubby with me because it was my birthday - the fact that he was one of 3 men in the theater didn’t really amuse him).

Very cute movie, not too terribly predictable, and of course since I’m a romance writer I was interested in how they created character and conflict and how believable it all was.

The story, if you haven’t seen the previews, is about two women who switch houses on a home exchange for 2 weeks: one in the English countryside and one in L.A. And of course, both have just broken up with their boyfriends, and both find love (or at least its potential) while they’re away from home. The thing I found hardest to accept was the fact that it all happens in 2 weeks - but of course that’s a nicely built in external conflict, and it’s Hollywood, so…

The best part of the movie, honestly, were the actors: Kate Winslet is matched up with Jack Black (sort of an odd pairing, but it seems to work), and Cameron Diaz is matched up with Jude Law. Now, say what you will about his real-life personal antics, but Jude Law is definitely easy on the eyes. I could look at him for well over 2 hours.

Actually, he has probably one of the more interesting characters to play in the movie. And the way Diaz (and the viewer) discovers the secret he’s hiding works well, I think.

It’s a cute movie, so if you’re looking for something light and entertaining this holiday season, you could definitely do worse.