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November 2013

Better Know A Bad Girl: By Lori Waters

What do you write? I write contemporary romance, mostly. I have written a time travel, and my last manuscript was Women’s Fiction. I so wish I could write historical, but the Regency dialogue is a bit tricky for me.

What do you like to read? I love, love, love to read historical. Johanna Lindsey, Mary Jo Putney, and Amanda Quick, are a few of my favorites. I can’t wait for the Elizabeth Michels books to hit the shelves, and then she’ll be added to the top of my list.

What’s your signature drink? I wish I could say something fancy like a Chocolate Martini or a Cosmo, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I’d have to say my favorite drink is a cold Bud Light poured in a wine glass. I’m not a big wine drinker. I do like a fancy drink occasionally, but my go-to drink is beer. Give me a cold beer, a little country music, put me in front of water, and I’m a happy camper.

What movie scares the bejeezes out of you? I haven’t watched scary movies in years, but when I was young (VERY YOUNG) my boyfriend at the time took me to see Halloween. If you’ve seen it, you may remember the scene where the Doctor is walking around Michael’s old house. He’s in Michael’s bedroom and he slowly creeps toward the window. I sat unable to breathe waiting for Michael and his white mask to pop out and butcher the unsuspecting doctor. The theater was completely silent. Then the gutters on the house came loose and banged against the window (not even a Michael scene) but evidently the scariest part for me. My popcorn bucket literally went flying through the air, covering me, my boyfriend and a few unlucky movie viewers sitting near us. Wimp! I’m a big wimp when it comes to scary movies, so I stay away from them.

What’s your favorite movie or one that makes you cry? My favorite movie of all time would be While You Were Sleeping. This movie doesn’t really make me cry—well maybe a little when Sandra Bullock is standing in the hospital sanctuary, professing her love for Jack’s family.  I love this movie. I could watch it every week.

What is your favorite pair of shoes? I’m sure you can all feel my pain when I’m asked to pick only one, but if I must, I would have to say my favorite pair of shoes would be a short-black boot. I love them. They can put a little style to your jeans, and the heel can make any butt look better.

I guess this gives you a little understanding of what makes up this Bad Girl. What makes up the Bad Girl in you? I’d love to hear about it.

Remember to Dream Big!

Lori

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Research–You Gotta

Alright. So, I’m sure I’ll regret posting this in approximately 2.5 months when my first book is released, but it needs to be said. Research—ya gotta do it. It doesn’t matter if you write fantasy or historical fiction, research is necessary.

(And this is the part of the post when I go off on a tangent rant. Just follow along. There’s probably a point.)

In my normal routine, I don’t watch much television. But, when I do, I like to go on a total binge with a series and watch entire seasons back to back. I recently got hooked on a series called Falling Skies. It’s a post-apocalyptic science fiction series centered on a family surviving an alien invasion. (It’s awesome, and I totally recommend it in spite of what I’m about to say.) Now, you might think that there wouldn’t be much research to be done going into this since there haven’t yet been any alien invasions to base events on, but research goes deeper than that. There are undertones in the series paralleling the new United States to the beginning of the original US in the Revolutionary War. Those facts? To my knowledge, they got them right. Good research, Falling Skies writers! But, then we follow this family into South Carolina—my home state. This is where they could have done more research.

They had me totally invested in the story until they introduced a new character to the plot—an engineer in charge of the power. Fine. Not a problem. Then they say he was an engineer from the University of South Carolina…*sound of giant wrong buzzer* USC is a school for business, medicine and law. I know this because I’m from Columbia, SC. If this character had a background in engineering from anywhere in South Carolina, it would be from Clemson—the engineering and agricultural university in the state. This could have been researched online! It’s not that big a detail, but to those who are native to the Palmetto State, it’s a giant problem. Maybe this is my issue, as the granddaughter of a former dean at Clemson, the daughter of a Physics grad, sister of an engineering grad and just general Clemson fan. But, when we write stories, we have to expect that someone out there reading will be from the place we’re writing about or have a brother who has the same occupation as our hero. Research, research, research!

I once read a contemporary romance about a general contractor and a civil engineer. In one scene, the civil engineer heroine was driving an excavator on a job site while the hero watches her from the job site trailer. Hit the breaks—I have a background in construction, and this would never happen. It’s details like this that rip the reader from the story.

All of this being said, did I mess up some historical detail in my debut Regency? Most likely. I’m not perfect. But, I did try to research everything, and that Bad Girlz of the world is all we can do.

Research…let’s discuss it.

~ E. Michels

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When your career plans are (very) long-term

Not to equate life with shit, by any means, but they both happen. When they do, our best laid plans become challenges, and don’t let’s get started on where that leaves our dreams—a far too depressing thought for an upbeat morning blog post.
I’m a writer, and the main reason I write is to entertain. I want to tell stories and make people smile—and I’d love to do it full time, just not quite yet. When I first got re-bitten by the writing bug for the first time since high school, I was rushing manuscripts and queries to the inboxes of editors and agents alike. I was panting to get The Call. I felt like “Yes! This is my dream! All I need is to get published and watch the dollars pile up in the bank like McDonald’s ketchup packets in a hoarder’s kitchen drawer!” Since then, I’ve grown a lot little bit older and a little bit lot wiser…. The second version sounds much better, don’t you think?
So anyway, this older, wiser, me has been having a harder time of it than the young, naïve one. In my life right now, if I get 1000 words in a week, it’s celebration time. I’ve got a husband, a toddler, a full-time job and, in my time “off,” I’m going back and forth between two houses I’m renovating with the help of my aforementioned husband and the “help” of my aforementioned toddler. If I got The Call right now, once the thrill wore off, I’d be devastated. That’s because I respect the work, and realize my limitations. I know if I’m stretched as thin as I can go now (and trust me, ladies, these days the “thin” is purely figurative), then I don’t have the resources to put in the effort it requires to make a first book deal successful. I’m not trying to be a downer, just honest. I know getting that call is only the first step, and the all the subsequent steps will make your efforts to get The Call look like child’s play (and possibly be scarier than Chucky to boot). I know that a contract means working my ass off, which I am already doing in every other aspect of my life—except literally, of course! To make my dream work now, it would be at the expense of everything else, which I’m not willing to sacrifice.
I’m not squashing my dream, but I am readjusting it a bit. My career plan has morphed from it can’t happen fast enough to a bona fide ten year process. That might sound depressing, but it’s not—honest! Here’s: a) why it’s not depressing, and b) how I plan to make it work.

 
A) The Day Job: I work in higher education. I like it. In fact, it’s rewarding. But it is quite demanding, at least nine months out of the year, and I want to devote the time it takes to do a good job and make a difference in students’ lives. It’s not lucrative, but it is comfortable. Except for a lucky few, a writer’s advance is neither of the two, and I’ve lived long enough to realize that it’s not sound economic sense to assume I will be the exception to the rule. I’ve got ten years into the day job. In another ten, I can retire with partial benefits. If I can make it as a published author in ten years, I can write full-time, have the security of some sort of guaranteed income aside from writing, and my son will only be starting middle school. That, my friends, is what I call a plan!

 

 

B) The Timetable: Ten years seems like a long time. Trust me, it isn’t. Ten years ago, I was a carefree Florida girl who hung out at the beach every weekend and sometimes in between. Now? Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, just refer back to the third paragraph. It turns out, time flies, whether you’re having fun or not. That’s why I’m still writing, even if I have no plans to submit to an agent or a New York house this year. If my goal is to make enough of an income to retire after 20 years rather than 30, I need to have manuscripts and a following, at a minimum. Of course, this could always change depending on circumstances, but I see myself either self-pubbing or going with a smaller publisher first. This will allow me to grow my following and get my stories out there, while keeping my goals more achievable. If I keep going, I will get readers, and I will find a larger audience….and I will get an income that will allow me to pursue the dream full time within that ten year time frame.

 

 

C) A Point To Emphasize: This is not me giving myself a free pass to do nothing. I still must write in order to have the manuscripts to make my start, and I must keep writing to follow through on what successes will come. It’s more flexible than the original plan, but it’s still a plan, and if I don’t stick to it, in ten years I’ll still be in Nowheresville.

 

 

I didn’t pick today’s topic out of negativity, I picked it out of hope. Maybe some of you out there have a similar situation: feeling so overwhelmed by your day-to-day that your writing goals seem all but unreachable. If you do, know you’re not alone—and most of all, don’t think this writing dream is an all-or-nothing thing. You aren’t squashing your dreams, you are just readjusting them to fit your reality. It may take longer than you thought. You may start smaller than you thought, but it’s about doing whatever it takes to make your writing successful on your terms, in your life. You are the writer, you are ultimately the one in control!

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Writing Lessons From My Yoga Mat #1: Criticism Makes You Better

After a couple years of delinquency, I’ve recently returned to a regular yoga practice. I enjoy the physical challenges it presents, as well as the chance to be quiet and let my mind drift. Shockingly, it tends to drift toward writing, and recently it’s started to drift toward the lessons I learn in my yoga practice that are applicable to my writing.

And thus this new series, Writing Lessons From My Yoga Mat, was born

yogawriter

Lesson #1: Criticism Makes You Better

Back when I was a kid, I was a goody-two-shoes and a nerd. I wanted to please everyone, especially teachers. When my teacher walked around the classroom, I was all business, demonstrating to the best of my ability how well I was doing, how great I was at this, how I did not need help, oh no, not me.

The instinct to eschew help and to shy away from criticism never really left me, not in yoga and not in writing. And it’s poisonous. Stagnating. Pointless.

In yoga, a good instructor walks around the class, and she performs corrections, sure. She lets you know your alignment is a little bit off or reminds you to angle yourself like so. But she also does assists.

In an assist, she comes along and gently pushes or pulls to help you achieve a deeper version of the pose. It’s not because you were doing anything wrong. It’s because it is physically impossible to get into certain positions without someone there to help you stretch that tiny bit farther, reach that extra inch more.

And that’s how it is with a good critique partner, too.

Sure, sometimes your CP tells you about something you’re doing wrong, and thank goodness, because no one wants to submit a manuscript that demonstrates a complete inability to tell the difference between lay and lie and laid. But more often than not, your CP is providing an assist. She’s pointing out the places where your story could go a little deeper and suggesting ways it could reach an extra inch farther into your readers’ chest cavities. She’s helping you get to the places it would be impossible to achieve without another person there, looking at your work from the outside and figuring out what it needs.

In yoga and in writing, it takes serious effort for me to relax and accept the input from my teachers and critique partners. I put that effort in, though. I try to be the person who can take the corrections and the assistance with gratitude and grace. I have to be, if I ever want to get better.

And so, to the best of my ability, I do.

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Better Know A Badgirl: Heather McGovern

What do you write?

Contemporary and Paranormal Romancemcgovybanner-final

What’s your favorite genre to read?

Probably suspense/action. I love to read romance as well, but it’s harder to turn off my internal editor and growing writer while reading romance. I keep breaking it down into its moving parts and analyzing what I love, etc.

What is your signature drink?

Depends. If it’s a fun and light moment: mimosas or cosmos. If it’s serious business: Makers Mark whisky & diet Coke w/ a lime. makers and diet

What movie scares the bejeezus out of you?

OMG Wolf Creek! I hated it. Here’s the thing; I like to be fake scared. The adrenaline rush from a thrill, like roller coaster rides and bungie jumping, is awesome. Scary movies that require suspension of reality (ie. Aliens, anything with zombies) are fun for me. The ones that are based on true stories with serial murderers, assault, and torture – NO THANK YOU! I don’t want real life fear in my life.

What movie makes you bawl?

Most recently? Tangled and Up. Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks gets me everytime! They are BBM and poignant moment masters. Musicals make me cry as well. Lion King? Sobbed. Cats? Like a baby. Wicked? I don’t even want to talk about it…

Defying-Gravity-wicked-6814093-1280-800

What is your favorite pair of shoes?

Right now, my Gianni Binni Cabana T-strap sandals. This changes often because I’m a big fan of shoes. The cabana babies are too fun to be ignored though. Any time I wear them, they get smiles. They’re comfortable enough to wear all day, playful, and with all the colors AND rhinestone sparkles, they’re perfect party shoes! Of course they were a writer conference purchase. 🙂

shoes

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Better Know a Badgirl: Jenna P.

What do you write?

I write Women’s Fiction and Family Drama.  And I LOVE to torture my characters.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

Anything that helps me see a new side to an issue I might not have considered.  Think Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  I also enjoy reading mysteries that make my wheels turn a bit.  Don’t tell me what’s happening…I like to figure it out.

What’s your signature drink?

A Cosmopolitan.  Definitely.  A splash of fruit with enough Vodka to put me on my ass.  And it comes in a pretty glass.

cosmo

What movie scares the bejeezus out of you?

The Grudge.  That Japanese chic is FREAKY!!!!!

the grudge

What movie makes you bawl?

Yikes….I’m not really a crier.  But if I had to pick a flick that touched the heart strings it would have to be Good Will Hunting.

Good Will

What’s your fave pair of shoes?

These!!  I wish I could wear them everyday.  Doesn’t really work with the day job, though.

shoes

 

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