Saturday, December 29, 2012

Setting the Scene

I need two three-minute bits to read aloud for school. One's for open mike night. That's tough because three minutes isn't long enough to read much of a novel to any purpose. So I just steal from the funnier of my posts here.

Last summer, I modified this post on Deciphering Romance Novel Blurbs & Reviews. Seemed to go over well enough.

This time (which is to say, next week's Stonecoast residency which is also next month's residency, and the first of next year's residencies) I plan to do a shortened version of my post on The Two-Minute Orgasm, possibly just for the thrill of saying "fuck" in front of my classmates.

The other read-aloud is more private. The ten or so students who started in Popular Fiction last winter got together midway through the residency and read aloud to each other, for practice. (I read a foreplay scene, perhaps again for the thrill of using the word "fuck" in front of my classmates.)

This time, someone asked for excerpts that "set the scene," meaning they establish a time and place for the protagonist to move through.

I've selected two really short bits from Love in Reality. First up, the hero visits his parents:
   Rand pulled into his parents’ driveway, turned off the car and sat for a moment, gazing at the perfectly-maintained landscaping. His parents’ house wasn’t large by Bel Air standards, but it sat on a particularly gracious lot, perfect for entertaining. Perfect for his mother to swan around, impeccably dressed, making sure everyone was comfortable. Perfect for his father to entertain industry moguls with his stories of clashes with the network honchos. Perfect for everyone to feel smart and creative instead of just lucky.

   Even the air smelled perfect as Rand opened the car door. He shook his head. All this perfection and he still dreaded the duty Sunday brunch visit. He loved his parents, but he and Alan-Jennings-the-TV-producer (as opposed to Alan-Jennings-his-dad—when was the last time Rand had a conversation with his own father that hadn’t been about the industry?) seemed locked in a tug-of-war over Rand’s disappointing career choices.

   The only imperfect thing the Jennings had to deal with was their son. No wonder he didn’t feel comfortable coming home.
Second excerpt is Libby early in her time on the reality TV show The Fishbowl:
   While the others were chatting about nothing in particular, waiting for the disembodied voice to tell them what to do next, Libby went back into the living room to look around. There was always a challenge involving details of the decor, so no reason not to study for it now. The walls this year were vaguely rounded in places, but they still had the large, built-in fish tanks, stocked with colorful fish. Libby crouched down to see the camera behind the fish tank, getting “watery” shots of the contestants in the background with real fish in the foreground. She memorized the number of fish in each tank before turning back to the living room furnishings.

   The decor was like Little Mermaid on Ice sponsored by Ikea—lots of blues and greens with sleek Swedish modern furniture. Tall, spiky potted plants mimicked seaweed and the few paintings echoed the sense of being under water. There were a lot of round shapes, too—rugs, wall art, pillows. Bubbles, Libby thought as she counted them.
 Nothing earth-shaking, but I think they get the job done. With luck, the reader can visualize the space and get a better sense of the character(s).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Next Big Thing

I got tagged by Ellis Vidler, author of TIME OF DEATH in the Interview Meme, The Next Big Thing.

Q. What is the title of your book? 
A. LOVE IN REALITY, available as a digital book from Harmony Road Press.

Q. Where did the idea come from for the book?
A. Watching too much reality TV! Specifically, shows like Big Brother, where contestants are locked in a fictional "house" and have to kick each other off one at a time until a winner is selected.

Q. What genre does your book fall under?
A. Contemporary single title romance. (That just means it's longer, about 90,000 words.)

Q. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A. What a great question. Rand, my hero, thinks he looks a bit like Ryan Reynolds, but I really don't have a specific actress in mind for Libby. Plus, I rather think the couple on the cover is pretty close.

Q. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A.  Can love flourish when a law student is pretending to be her twin on a reality TV show and the TV producer is using her to write a winning screenplay?

Q. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
A. Love in Reality is published by Harmony Road Press, a "mom-and-pop publishing empire" I run with my awesome husband, Ross. (So, yeah, it's indie-published.)

Q. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A. About three months. Then I completely rewrote it, so add on another few months, and then I rewrote the first third of the story and the ending, so all told, about three years! (That's called "writer's math," kids.)

Q. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A. I'm not sure there is anything similar, but it's funny and contemporary, so maybe Kristan Higgins or Susan Elizabeth Phillips?

Q. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A. It's standard on these reality TV shows for the contestants to talk directly to the camera.  I started to think about the relationship that might develop between the producer asking the questions and the contestant. It seems like a very intimate situation, but still fraught with challenges.

Q. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
A. It's the first book in The Blackjack Quartet, a series of interrelated romances in which Jack "Blackjack" McIntyre plays a role. And then, in Blackjack & Moonlight, he falls in love. (Blackjack & Moonlight was a finalist in the 2012 Golden Heart® contest and will be released in mid-2013.)

Okay, for all you authors out there…here are the rules:

 •Give credit to the person/blog that tagged you

 •Post the rules for this hop

 •Answer these ten questions about your Next Big Thing on your blog

 •Tag two or more writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ta-Da!

Just like that, this is now officially an AUTHOR BLOG!

Okay, I'm not an author yet--Love in Reality will be on sale early next week--but I have a laundry list of stuff to do that's a mile long and includes school work AND writing the next book in the series, so forgive me if I'm jumping the gun.

Plus, I'm excited. Okay, so that's actually nerves. I'm nervous. Nervous that someone will write to me about some hideous mistake. Not the other kind of mistake--the kind where all you can do is thank the person very sweetly and inside you just shrug.

For example, I made a modest effort to learn about how a reality TV show like Big Brother (i.e., a locked house with a motley crew of contestants in skimpy costumes competing to win a lot of money) is made. I even called the production offices. They hung up on me. So if someone who's worked on a Big Brother-style show writes to say, "Boy, are you dumb," I'll write back and agree with them.

But if one of my law professors writes to say, "Did I teach you nothing?" I'll die a little. How embarrassing!

Okay, that's one of the things I'm nervous about. Here's another: Crickets. As in, Cue the...

How mortifying if we publish this, I tell everyone I know it's out there, I advertise, I guest-blog, people review it on Amazon or Goodreads, and...

Nothing.

Not even crickets.

Yeah, okay, so it's unlikely, but it could happen. Even the possibility makes me nervous.

On the other hand, bad reviews? I think I'm ready. Yes, really. Bring `em on. Tell me how hideous you found it, show me (and the world) all the places it could be improved. Tell me you thought it would have more sex, less sex, more of the TV show, less of the TV show, or even you bought a copy thinking it would be about converting a 1970's-era TV set into a fishbowl and boy do you want your money back!

Because at least a bad review is better than no review at all. And way better than those darn crickets.