Notebook of Doom

So, Saturday night, we went to a baseball game, as one does.

(Before that, we went to dinner, as one does.  To Medium Rare, which serves bread, salad, steak frites, and that’s it.  And we had a fantastic dinner — better than I’d expected, with perfect, salty, crisp frites that complemented the steak perfectly!)

Anyway, we went to a baseball game.  And the Nationals knocked around the Brewers pitcher pretty badly in the first inning, so the game had a pretty relaxed, easy-going feel.  And about halfway through the fifth inning, I all of a sudden realized that I didn’t need to write the next scene in CENTER STAGE, because it was boring and talk-y and didn’t tell the reader anything the reader didn’t already know.

But I *did* need to add a scene with a direct confrontation between two major characters, one where one guy says, “Do this and there’ll be Consequence X” and the other guy says, “I’m doing this, so get your consequences ready.”

Being an author, even an author at a baseball game, I had a notebook with me.  So I took out my pen and I scribbled away at a full page of dialog, using the extensive abbreviation scheme that I created in law school, so that I could transcribe hours of notes on Commercial Paper and other classes that left me clueless.

Today, I’ll be writing up that scene.  And I have the cheerful feeling that it’s already half done.  It’s almost like I get to spend the day editing instead of writing!  Yay, yay, yay.

And the Nats won.

And I spent yesterday at the Washington Romance Writers summer barbecue, chatting with friends, eating a killer chocolate cake I had no business enjoying as much as I did, and having a grand time away from the computer.

So, today is pretty much perfect :-)

How about you?  Did you have a good weekend?

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Reclaiming the Trope

Look up the word trope in your dictionary.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

The first definition is probably something along the lines of “a metaphor”.  The second definition is probably something along the lines of “a cliche”.  The second definition likely isn’t tagged “pejorative”, but it should be.  People sneer at tropes, whether they’re talking about movies, books, or any other form of art.

And yet.

And yet romance novels, especially category romance novels, are built on tropes.  The entire idea of the genre is that we take a relatively few elements — a lover, another lover, (maybe more lovers), a trope or two or ten, emotion, conflict, and a satisfying ending — and we tell a story that is different, interesting, engaging, unique.

That’s the challenge of the genre.  That’s the joy — both in writing and in reading.

Tropes fade in and out of popularity.  It’s a pretty hard sell to set a romance in contemporary times and have a credible ward/guardian love story without setting off every possible creepster alarm — but it *can* be done.  It’s easier to use the trope of the secret baby now that lots of women are enjoying lots of sex.  Royalty — especially sheikhs — are a bit sparse on the ground, but there are an awful lot of athletes and military men.   Some tropes have become inflated — millionaires have become billionaires (I guess that’s the value of shrewd investing, early in one’s financial career.)

So?  What’s your favorite trope?  You know you have one.  Or maybe more than one.

I’ve put together a list of romance tropes:  http://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

Check it out, and let me know if I’ve missed your favorite!

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9 Uses For a Flip and Tumble

Flip and Tumble — brand name for a light cloth bag that folds into its own pouch and can easily be tucked into a purse or, in a pinch, a pocket.  (First pointed out to me by Justine Larbalestier!)

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  1. Hold snacks purchased for early morning flight from Washington DC to Albuquerque (by way of Minneapolis, because why shouldn’t one fly north to end up south?)
  2. Hold rental agreement on “compact” car, which turns out to be a Chevy Malibu the size of the Queen Mary’s younger sister, because no “Corolla equivalents” were available in the parking lot.
  3. Hold funky keys for room at the Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe, which looks like it could be the movie set for a film about convent life in the old Southwest (if, you know, the nuns had king size beds in their bedrooms and massive multi-jet showerheads in their bathrooms and drank lemon ice water every time they passed through the hotel lobby on their way to some fun exploration).
  4. Hold refillable (and many, many times refilled) water bottle for use at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Festival, where over 200 artisans from dozens of countries display and sell handmade art and crafts (along with a fun international “food court”, and a surprisingly cool breezeway at the top of the hill, just perfect for taking a break in the hot-but-not-blazing (it’s a dry heat!) afternoon.
  5. Hold raincoat for afternoon gulley washer that created a 15 minute deluge followed by 15 minutes of light rain.  Oh.  Wait.  I left my raincoat back in my room, so the Flip and Tumble wasn’t any good for this.  But I was under shelter for almost all of the rain, so no big deal.
  6. Hold guidebook with information on Tia Sophia’s, a hole-in-the-wall breakfast restaurant with a yummy, yummy, yummy breakfast burrito featuring sausage, potatoes, cheese, and lots of red chili sauce.
  7. Hold cell phone used for navigating from Santa Fe to Los Alamos, where one can watch a fun short documentary about the “town with no name” where the atom bomb was developed.  One can also peruse the science museum on site, but one might want to have higher degrees in science to understand some of the exhibits.  Or, one can play with the brain-teaser games on spacial relationships that become addictive the closer one gets to (not) finding a solution.  (Don’t rely too much on the cell phone, though, because coverage will cut out about 5 minutes away from the museum.)
  8. Hold laptop and Kindle while attending the Annual Feast Day dance at the Cochiti Pueblo, because even though it’s warm in the shade and hot in the sun, it’s much, much cooler than the trunk of the car, where the suitcases are waiting for their return journey home.
  9. Hold snacks purchased for on-flight dinner, after a cross-airport sprint when Leg One of the return flight lands 35 minutes late, due to weather in Minneapolis.

All in all, my mother and I had a wonderful trip.  We found amazing treasures at the Folk Art Festival, spoke with dozens of friendly, kind people, and truly enjoyed our mother/daughter break!

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A Writer of Independent Means

So, we celebrated Independence Day.  Which doesn’t mean much — we didn’t head out for fireworks (too crowded on the Mall, and I didn’t even realize we *had* a closer-to-us local display until I heard the pounding in the distance…)

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But we enjoyed the long weekend nevertheless, folding in:

  • Fourth of July dinner of hamburgers, Tater Tots (what?!?  Our forefathers would have fought a revolution for them!), watermelon, and homemade apple hand pies (verdict — *perfectly* tart for me, needed some sweetener for normal eaters),
  • Knitting and frogging the first eight rows of a new pattern (Teardrop — first the triangular shawl, then the rectangular one) at least forty times before I decided it just wasn’t meant to be my pattern (at least not with the yarn I have, and at least not while I try to watch TV or do anything else),
  • Orphan Black, at least the first season on binge, and a few episodes of the second season, but we aren’t through watching yet, so no spoilers please,
  •  Private Lives, at the Shakespeare Theater, which was thoroughly amusing in a very arched-eyebrow way,
  • a pedicure (notable for the *bright* pink polish on my toes, but most enjoyable for the chance to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in far too long.)

And there was the usual not-enough-reading, and the eating of the season’s first corn, and the watching of baseball, and the gorging on the season’s first cherries, and, and, and…

And now, it’s the workweek again, and I have a chapter of CENTER STAGE staring me in the face.  So, what am I waiting for!  I hope you had a good weekend, and a good long weekend if you were in the States!

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Define: Irony

Yesterday, in celebration of the launch of THIRD DEGREE, we went to a Washington Nationals baseball game.  (Okay, it wasn’t really “in celebration of” — it was one of the 20 games we attend on our partial season ticket.  But I was carrying over my celebration to the ballpark.)

The stadium was much more crowded than it has been for earlier games.  That’s not because the Rockies were such a great draw; it was because summer is officially here.

The row of seats behind us is typically sold to Groupon people — they buy their tickets at half price.  Usually, these people are young (in their twenties), and they have zero interest in the game — they’re using the stadium as a convenient place to have an extended happy hour get-together (although with domestic beer going for $9 you have to wonder at that logic…)  Last night was no exception — we sat in front of a group of about ten who asked such baseball related questions as “Where are the Rockies from?” as they cheered “home runs” that were obvious foul balls, etc.

Around the seventh inning (just before last call) the loudest and ditziest of the group came back to her seat after a foraging expedition, bearing a “daquiri” — a $14 slush drink served in a yard-of-beer plastic glass.  At some point, some amount of that drink ended up in my hair.  I only discovered it when I ran my hand through my hair and my fingers came back wet, sticky, and smelling like cheap lip gloss.

Grr.  Sigh.  Argh.   But no real damage done.  The Groupon folks left at 10:00; we stayed to the end to cheer the Nats to their victory, and we headed home.

Whereupon, I decided to take a shower, to wash my hair so that my pillow and pillowcase didn’t end up wet, sticky, and smelling like cheap lip gloss.  Shower taken, I wrapped my long, wet-with-clean-water hair in a scrunchie and went to bed.

And this morning, I woke up to discover that the scrunchie had stained the pillowcase, the pillow cover, and the pillow.

Irony, much?

(Linens are now soaking in Oxyclean.  Pillow will survive :-) )

Um, yay Nats?

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