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August 2014

McGovy’s Favorite Hero

Deciding on my favorite hero above all others was a grueling task. Ha! Just kidding, it really wasn’t. The grueling part was not making this post a dissertation. 😀 It was an easy decision, although there is a distinguished list of front runners, not a few of which are played by Harrison Ford. What is up with that? Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Steve Rogers, Jack Ryan, Wolverine, Bucky Barnes (duh) – all of them make me seal clap, but there is no one in the galaxy like

James Tiberius Kirk

james t

This is where you act surprised at my choice, even more surprised that it involves Star Trek and Chris Pine. Go on. Be shocked. I’ll wait…

kirk in chair

MmmHmm. That’s right. You sit in that chair.

When I say Kirk is my fave, I’m referring to TOS Kirk (The Original Series for any neophytes) AND AOS (Alternate Original Series) Kirk. I love them both. The biggest difference between the two is reboot!Kirk is more openly conflicted, suffers from abandonment issues, is damaged and insecure. My complaints about the rebooted character have everything to do with the movie’s writing and nothing to do with the character itself. I’ll defend Jim Kirk to the end of the star system and save my fangirl rant for later.

Luckily, the character issues in the new movies are assuaged – for me at least – because he’s played by this guy:



The only reason the man can get away with those eyebrows is because his eyes are like KAPOW! BAH-LUE!

Ok. Shake it off. NOW, on to the major points of…

Why James T. Kirk Is So Awesome


What You Think You Know About Captain Kirk, But Really It’s a Misconception Perpetrated by People Who Never Watched The Show and They’re Wrong

First, James T. Kirk is the awesomest of awesome heroes because:

  • He’s a leader who respects his position. He’s open minded, quick witted and compassionate. He does his best to help those who need it and is often the most patient senior officer on the Enterprise. He’s not just a leader; he’s a damn great one. He listens to those around him, heeds their input and learns from them. He’s not afraid to take chances, do the grunt work and give credit where it’s due. He’s considered one of the greatest captains in Starfleet’s history and there’s a reason. He kicks ass at his job!
  • He’s extraordinarily brave, sometimes brazen and always bold. Hello, the entire franchise is based on him and his crew boldly going, but if you really think about it, they are BOLDLY going. They take off into uncharted space, very little clue what they might find and all sorts of life forms out there. His thoughts on it? “You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.”
  • He’s smart. Scratch that, he’s a genius. He’s a driven, handsome, brilliant captain of a starship who believes in what he’s doing and believes in those around him. That is so hot and I’m not even sorry.



  • He’s no stranger to adversity and the strength of will it takes to survive. Whether we’re talking about living through the genocide on Tarsus IV (TOS) or growing up in an abusive home (AOS), Jim Kirk is a survivor. He’s also a bonafide optimist and in this era of angry, resentful heroes, he’s like sunshine on a cold day. He’s not some molly-coddled male who’s had everything handed to him, nor is he holed up in a dark corner, bemoaning his past and succumbing to his man pain. Jim Kirk worked hard for everything he has and he strives every day to make sure he deserves to be called Captain.
  • He loves his crew. They are his friends and family and he wouldn’t be Captain Kirk without them. He knows he’s been saved from catastrophe because of Lt. Uhura. He’s alive because of Dr. McCoy. The Enterprise isn’t a pile of ashes because of Scotty and you really don’t want to get me started on Spock. Really. You don’t. His Starfleet family and the Enterprise mean everything to Kirk and, for them, he’s willing to risk his life. Like, all the damn time.



What people get wrong about Captain Kirk and it drives me crazy:

  • Jim Kirk is NOT a womanizer. I don’t care what you think you’ve heard or seen, the man isn’t a skirt chaser. Don’t believe me? Watch the show. Sure, Kirk flirts a lot, but Kirk flirts with EVERYONE. He’s one of those people who can’t help but flirt as a way of communicating. Women, Men, Aliens, Flowers, Whatever. He grins, bats his lashes, gazes with starry eyes, teases, jokes, pouts and wears tight pants. I know a lot of this came from Shatner’s interpretation of the character, but now it’s canon.

Yes, Kirk kissed a lot of females on his five year mission, but a) it was only about 10 women in 5 years, most of which while he was possessed or drugged, a few others he kissed as a maneuver to gain intel or save his ship, and a select 2 or 3 were women he genuinely liked and kissed out of attraction. b) None of the women he willingly kissed were part of his crew. James T don’t play like that. Remember what I said about being a kick ass captain? Responsiblity of rank is part of that.

This is where the reboot went wrong. They took one of Kirk’s greatest attributes and screwed it up royal. In both reboot movies we see Kirk ogling fellow cadets and even a science officer in her undies. No. Just…NO. Jim Kirk would NEVER. There are entire blog posts out there about Kirk’s position as a feminist. If you doubt it, google it…or watch the show. He’s an officer and a gentleman and a feminist and Abrams et al should pay for the err of their ways and beg Starfleet Command for their forgiveness. (I’ll stop here or the fangirl fury will fly free. *deep breath*)


  • Kirk is not some blow-hard, hot head who goes in, photons blazing, firing torpedoes first and asking questions later. I don’t even know where this Chuck Norris style stereotype came from. Maybe because he got into some fisticuffs? Because boy got swagger? True, Jim will throw down if some down needs to be thrown, and true, he seems to enjoy a good wrestle (some occasions more than others *cough* not gonna say it *cough*) and getting his shirt torn, but he’s not an inherently violent character. His enthusiasm seems to stem from too much energy; an exuberance like “Yes! There shall be physical activity!” versus actual angry fighting.

“Our missions are peaceful…not for conquest. When we do battle, it is only because we have no choice.”

“[War] is instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We’re human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands. But we can stop it. We can admit that we’re killers…but we’re not going to kill today. That’s all it takes. Knowing that we’re not going to kill today.”

This seems like as good a place as any to stop because we all know I could keep going. I’ll wrap up by saying: Star Trek! There’s a reason it’s a cultural phenomenon. Live Long and Prosper, y’all!

jtk awesome1

jtk poster2


You Will Be Missed



Today I honor the life of one of my favorite Bad Girlz—Lauren Bacall. I can’t tell you everything about her amazing life in this blog, but I can touch on a few high-lights.

She was born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx of New York on September 16th.Coincidentally, we share the same birthday. I won’t say the year. 🙂

Even though Lauren Bacall was absolutely gorgeous, she wasn’t exempt from insecurities. She felt her chest was too flat, her height too tall and was extremely self-conscious of her shoe size. However, she didn’t let her insecurities stop her from achieving her dreams.

At seventeen, she took acting lessons at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. One of her classmates, Kirk Douglas, eventually became a co-star. Small world, right?

As a teenage fashion model, she was featured in Vogue and graced the cover of Harpers Bazaar. Her issue was referred to as “Iconic.” That cover would ultimately lead to her big break into Hollywood. Nancy Hawks showed the picture to her husband, Howard. He decided to have his secretary put Lauren on his girl-to-watch list.  (Way to go Nancy!)


Fortunately for us, his secretary misunderstood and sent Lauren a ticket to Hollywood for a screen test instead. (Thank you Secretary!) After that test, Hawks recognized her talent and signed Lauren to a seven year contract.

Lauren Bacall was famous for her husky voice and stylish grace. Interestingly enough, she was trained by a voice coach to make her voice even lower, deeper, sexier. Her signature move of holding her chin down and eyes up, came from a drastic attempt to keep her head from shaking with nerves.

At nineteen, she was cast in the movie To Have or Have Not, where she fell hard for her leading man, Humphrey Bogart. They were married a year later when she was only 20. Bogart 45. Lauren didn’t let a 25 year age difference keep her from true love. (You go Bad Girl.) They were blissfully happy until death did them part, when her “Bogie” died of cancer in 1957.


“I was so blinded by Bogie, I couldn’t think of anything else.”

Lauren had a reputation in Hollywood as being difficult.  Do you know why? Because she only took parts she considered interesting. I wouldn’t call that difficult. I would call that standing up for what you believe in.

She co-starred with some of the greats: Kirk Douglas, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, the man himself—John Wayne. And the list goes on and on.

The Big Sleep, Key Largo, Murder on the Orient Express, The Mirror Has Two Faces, How to Marry a Millionaire (Love this one!) were only a few of the movies she’d starred in.

Lauren was also known for her quotes. Below are a few of my favorites:

“I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.”

“Imagination is the highest kite that can fly.”

“You don’t always win your battles, but it’s good to know you fought.”

Who can forget her most famous movie line?  “You know how to whistle don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Lauren was truly an Icon on the Silver Screen and off, known for her strength, beauty and talent. She wasn’t scared to speak her mind, and her passion for life was never ending. That’s why I’m honored to have her as my guest Bad Girl today.

Thank you Lauren Bacall for your tremendous contribution to the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Lucky for us, we can watch your movies for years to come.

Remember to Dream Big!



End of Summer Inspiration

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill


It’s the last week of summer vacation at my house, and I’ve spent the past few days purchasing everything my little monkey will need for school this year. The pencils are sorted, his clothes are folded, and his new backpack is hanging on the back of the chair at the new desk in his bedroom. With this level of organization and preparedness, I can’t help but remember this time last year.

Last August, I was going through a rough patch on all levels of my life. I was struggling to complete and turn in HOW TO LOSE A LORD IN 10 DAYS OR LESS on time to my new editor. We were moving to a house on the other side of the city, a house that required a massive renovation before we could live there. The little monkey was already late starting school, and that was before the house flooded on move-in day. Then, he was extremely late to school. There was a constant stream of misfortune that followed my family for months.

flood pic 1


But, then something happened—we survived it. The house became more and more habitable every day. The little monkey finally started school. I turned in my book. And, everything else in our lives slowly fell into place. It was a struggle, but with small steps in the right direction, we crawled out of the pit we’d fallen into.


Why am I telling this story other than I’m feeling nostalgic today? Because bad days happen. Sometimes bad weeks, bad months, or even bad years happen. There are times when life is nothing but a pile of roadblocks to our goals, but I think the bad is balanced by good if you’re willing to fight to reach for it.

Whether your roadblocks look like form rejections from agents, sales numbers of your latest release, the word count of your manuscript, a stack of bills to pay, a house to renovate, or the number on the scale in your bathroom floor, you can overcome it through small steps every day in the right direction.

I’ve spent the past year putting my life, and my house, together after disaster. And today, I’m celebrating progress, not completion of my goals, but progress.
My little boy is about to start school—on time and prepared.
I’m back on the treadmill attempting to shed the pounds I acquired since the great flood of 2013.
My first 3 books are on book shelves, and I was able to sign them for the first time at RWA.
My fabulous agent just sold my new series, The Spare Gentlemen’s Society, to Sourcebooks in a 4 book deal!
…Do you like how I slipped that in there like the fourth item on a grocery list? *grins* With this great news, I now have a new mountain to climb—a 4 book mountain! And, I’ll climb it one word at a time, one step at a time, and one day at a time.

My small daily steps toward my new goals include walking 2 miles and writing 1,000 words every day for the next year. Keep me honest, Bad Girlz, alright? Whatever your goal, you can reach it! Even if by the end of your journey your hands look like this. It’s just an excuse for a spa day.


What small step toward your goal are you taking every day? Let’s celebrate progress!

~E. Michels



The Perfect Polish

bar keeper's friendWith what I’m about to say here, I risk looking pathetic, but I’ll take that risk….Bar Keeper’s Friend has changed my life! It’s the best cleaner, like ever! It whitens my sink even better than bleach, yet it’s gentle, simple, and cheap. And hey, any friend of a barkeeper is a friend of mine.

So I’ve found my perfect polish, literally speaking, and it just so happens that I’ve got a go-to metaphorical polish for my manuscripts, too. Just like Bar Keeper’s Friend, it’s simple, effective, and cheap. And also like my new favorite product, it’s no big secret. In my opinion, the single best tool to polish a manuscript is reading it aloud.
That’s no earth-shattering advice, I know. Lots of people use this technique. Lots of people think they use it, too, yet don’t see the benefit. Here’s the thing: it does work. It’s the Bar Keeper’s Friend of editing: but you’ve got to commit to it.

Why do I think reading a manuscript aloud is so valuable that it earns comparison with the incomparable Bar Keeper’s Friend? Because it will help you address all sorts of nebulous things that make the difference between an okay manuscript and one that a reader, editor, or agent can’t put down. Stuff that’s hard to quantify, but obvious when it’s right…or “off.” Stuff that makes an apprehensive author break out in hives at the thought of a contest judge holding our precious three chapters, red pen poised for attack. Stuff like:

  • Does the dialog sound real?
  • Am I over-using certain words?
  • Do my sentences have a sense of flow?
  • Does my pace feel right for the story?
  • Are there any parts that are….for lack of a better word, cringe-y?

It even helps with more cut-and-dried editing tasks like proper word choice (think two/too, peer/pier, etc.) and transposing errors (form/from, sign/sing) that Spell Check won’t catch. Your word processing program’s Find and Replace function is good for picking out “ tic” words that you know you overuse, like just, that, and was, but reading aloud is the only way to find the ones you didn’t notice. For example, I once repeated the word “dock” three times in a single paragraph. In my defense, it was a nautical setting. Point is, I had no idea they were there until I read it aloud… after submitting it to an agent who requested a partial based on my query. Oops!

Reading aloud activates additional areas of the brain that silent reading doesn’t. In effect, it gives us that much-needed “fresh set of eyes” within ourselves—and that’s a great thing, indeed when a critique partner isn’t available.

I’m not going to lie—it’s a long, tiring process to read an entire 85,000 word manuscript out loud, and if you really want it to work, you can’t skim over anything. But if you’re going to do it, you really need to do the whole thing. Going through until the end will help you make sure your writing doesn’t weaken after those first crucial chapters. If I’m not constrained by a deadline, I do 2-3 chapters in a day. Reading your own writing aloud is also awkward. If there are other people in the house, I feel like a first-class dork. But whatever, my family already knows I’m a weirdo, so I don’t let it bother me too much. As for the sex parts…. an empty room is a necessity. Then again, it could be just the thing to spice up your relationship—no judgment, here!

Whether you read from your screen or from a printed copy is a matter of personal preference. I find I read more thoroughly when my words are on a physical page, and I write notes as I go, to edit later. But if printing out a 300 word manuscript makes your printer sound like a cross between an early Kraftwerk record and an overworked breast pump, in-screen reading is probably the way to go.

Reading aloud to edit a manuscript isn’t particularly exciting, and it’s certainly not new, but it totally works. It’s the secret ingredient in Author’s Friend…the perfect way to get your manuscript perfectly polished!

Happy writing,


Climb Every Mountain; Write Every Book

Do you ever stop for a second, look at your writer goals, and think, F$()@$()@@)(@)CK?

I know I sure do. It’s like I’m standing at the base of a mountain, gazing up at that summit, and goddammit all, but that elusive peak looks impossibly far away. Worse? It feels like I’ve already been climbing for weeks!

I’ve been thinking a lot of late about how well mountain-climbing works as a metaphor for the road to publication. Allow me to share with you a few of the similarities I’ve discovered:

  • It takes effort, training and dedication. If you went up to the foot of a mountain tomorrow and started going for it, guess what? It would end poorly. Same thing with writing. You have to prepare for it. You have to train. You have to learn.

    It’s not just a matter of learning how to climb, either. Every mountain is different. To really prepare yourself, you need to study up on the specific challenges that particular upward slope is going to present.

    Not every path to publication is the same. Not every genre is the same. Not every book is the same. With every endeavor, you have to do your research.

  • Every climb makes you stronger. So maybe you didn’t get to the top this time. You built muscle. You built skill. Your next run at that sheer cliff face is going to go better than the one before.
  • There are so many routes to the top. Most mountains have multiple trails all leading to the top. If you’re a strong climber, you may take the steepest path. If you’re a stronger hiker, you may take a more level one. If you’re a photographer looking for a really great view, you may go out of your way to find the very best vista.

    Between traditional publishing houses, small presses, and self-publishing, there are so many ways to find success as an author these days. Pick the one that plays best to your strengths and your schedule and your preferences. And if one route ends up having a downed tree blocking the way, well… it’s never too late to go back and try a different path.

  • Never climb alone. Never write alone. Have buddies. Check in with them regularly. Be responsible to each other for keeping each other going.

  • Set up base camps. If you’re climbing Mount Everest, you’re not going to do it all in one day. You start out bright and early. You climb some six thousand meters. And then you set up camp.

    You then work from that camp to get to the next one. Starting on the morning of Day 2, you DO NOT have to go all the way back down to the base of the mountain and start over. You get to start from Camp 1. You’re partway there. You use the height you already have to help you get to the height you’re trying to achieve.

    Take your writing career one goal at a time. Write a book first. Then use that book to get an agent. Then use that agent to sell to a publisher. Then use the platform of that publisher to sell a bazillion copies.

    Remember: Every new height you achieve is not one you have to give back if the next step doesn’t go the way you planned. If you don’t agent on your first manuscript, you still have the experience of finishing that manuscript to help you write a better second manuscript. If your first agented book doesn’t sell to a publisher, chances are, you still have an agent. Use her feedback and expertise to write the next book that will sell. If your first published book doesn’t sell a million copies, use the platform from that first publication to reach even more readers and sell even more copies on your next foray out.

    In the case of a blizzard, there’s no shame in staying at the final camp for an extra day. Regroup. Wait it out.

    Tomorrow, you get to climb again.

  • There’s always a bigger mountain. Based on my conversations with experienced climbers, the sport of climbing is an easy one to get addicted to. As soon as you’ve summited one peak, you’re thinking about the next.

    Same story as a writer. Once upon a time, my only goal was to finish a novel. The instant I’d accomplished that, though, I was already unimpressed with my effort in getting that far, and I was obsessing about how I was going to manage to get my baby published. Once that was done, I was impatient with myself for not having made a best seller’s list yet. And on and on and on.

    Appreciate the view and the sense of victory you get every time you achieve a goal. But be aware: the next goal will always be waiting for you.

And finally..

  • In the end, you’ve got to love it. Mountain climbing and writing are both grueling, difficult journeys. They take their toll on your body, your time, your family and your soul. Both have incredible rewards.

    But there are easier ways to get a workout. And there are easier ways to make an income.

    To put yourself through either, you have to love it. So love it. Love climbing. Love the view from the top.

    Love writing. Love stories. Love your world-building and your characters and your incredible imaginary little universe.

    Be good to yourself. Believe in yourself.

    Keep trying and keep writing.

    And keep the faith that somehow, some way, you are going to reach the top.



The Importance of Hook and Emotion

Very few of you may know that I minored in dance and choreography in college. Back in the day, dance was my creative outlet and passion. I tell you this because when it comes to dancing, I know a little of what I’m talking about. Also, I have a lot of dance feelings. 🙂

My dancing is now limited to my living room, writer conference parties and some of the Southeast’s finest gay clubs, but I get my professional fix from the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance. Last week, they narrowed the dancers down to the Top Ten. Watching their performances, I began to draw a connection between which dances really wowed me and why. This brings me to the point of today’s blog entry: The Importance of Hook and Emotion.

At this stage of the dance competition, all of the dancers have skill. Some are a little stronger than others, but no one stands out as being significantly weaker or stronger. It’s not just about technique anymore, it’s about connecting with the audience. The dances that grab viewers by the hand and don’t let go are the ones with a captivating concept, or hook, and the ones in which the dancers share genuine emotion that speaks clearly throughout the piece. Even if you know nothing about dance or choreography, you can feel when a routine has both a strong hook and emotion.

I’ve included two quick routines if you’d like a visual example. Don’t let the length of the video fool you because they include the judges’ comments at the end. Each dance is really only 2 minutes or less.

The first routine is the story of someone helping a loved one through the crisis of illness and the work it takes to heal. It’s a real life situation that many of us can relate to. You feel the love, sorrow and hope in every move. I…I just can’t with this dance. *fans tears away from eyes*

The second is about two futuristic female warriors. It’s a clever hook because not only is it about two female warriors, but they’re working together and not fighting each other. The dancers never shift out of the style and stay “in character” even past the end of the song. The feel of the piece is clear and effective. There’s some epic industrial music by District 78 too.

These dances got me thinking about my favorite books. Why are those books in particular the standouts? Yes, the author is talented and I like the way they tell a story, but why that particular story over the rest of their list? It comes down to two main things: Hook and Emotion.

One of my favorite series is JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, but the standout love story for me is Rhage and Mary in Lover Eternal. While the hook of the series caught me, it was the real world emotion of Mary and Rhage that made it a consuming read. The depth of what they felt for each other was beautifully shown, and I connected.

Another standout is Lisa Kleypas’ Again the Magic. I cry every time I read the emotional climax and resolution with Aline and McKenna. Kleypas did such an amazing job of showing their long-burning love for each other, but also the legitimate reasons they thought they should be apart.

These books are my keepers. They first pulled me into the story with a hook that made me want to read. Then they kept me there because they satisfied my emotional needs. The same is true for the two dances in the videos above.

What are your favorite books? Tell me about one or two of them. Think about why those particular stories are your favorites. Now, consider what would make your book stand apart from the rest. What can you do to hook a reader, who may not know you from Adam’s house cat, into picking up your book? Then, how will you keep them invested in the pages, sucked into the story? How will you make them feel? Don’t be afraid to step out there and open up, on the page and to your audience. An attention grabbing hook coupled with genuine, heartfelt emotion is a beautiful combination, in dance and writing.

Finally, one more bonus dance, because I love it too much not to include it. Ooooh, you gotta watch it!!! My favorite choreographer, Travis Wall, one of my favorite dancers, Ricky (I bet you can tell which one he is too), paired with my fave song of the summer. This routine is my crack! McGovy goodness in dance form! Sorry. I did warn you that I have a lot of dance feelings. 😀


A BadGirl Photo Diary of #RWA14

A couple of weeks ago, four of the members of BadGirlzWrite traveled to San Antonio, TX, to attend the national convention of the Romance Writers of America.

One survived.

No, I’m kidding. Everyone made it home, and everyone had an amazing time.

Laura Trentham, Elizabeth Michels, Jeanette Grey, and Brighton Walsh

Laura Trentham, Elizabeth Michels, Jeanette Grey, and Brighton Walsh

Elizabeth Michels signing copies of her books from the Tricks of the Ton series at the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing

Elizabeth Michels signing copies of her books from the Tricks of the Ton series at the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing

Jeanette Grey signing copies of her RITA-finalist novella Take What You Want at the Samhain publisher signing

Jeanette Grey signing copies of her RITA-finalist novella Take What You Want at the Samhain publisher signing

Even at a conference, there is always time for fashion.

Even at a conference, there is always time for fashion.

Elizabeth Michels, Jeanette Grey and Brighton Walsh, prior to the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.

Elizabeth Michels, Jeanette Grey and Brighton Walsh, prior to the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony.

Jeanette Grey, Brighton Walsh, and Laura Trentham before the RITA and Golden Heart awards.

Jeanette Grey, Brighton Walsh, and Laura Trentham before the RITA and Golden Heart awards.

The Bad Girlz toasting a very successful conference.

The Bad Girlz toasting a very successful conference.


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