With most of my work done on the Diamond Brides Series (all the writing is done, and the last book–ALWAYS RIGHT–has gone out to its proofreader), I’m settling in to my next big project. I considered lots of things–fun books and meaningful books and challenging books and important books and lots of things in between. (In fact, I invested most of the time at my last writers retreat scribbling on a calendar, mapping out what could be completed by when, calculating how I could create as much as I want to create in the coming year.)
And now I have decided. (Drumroll please…)
Next up: The Rational Writer.
This collection of non-fiction essays and writing exercises will be broken down into three parts–Business, Craft, and Career. Each part will be released as a separate work, or people can buy all three together. They’ll be published over the first quarter of 2015.
I’m excited about this new direction. The Rational Writer is forcing me to think about some of the things I do by reflex, about many of the choices that I make without contemplation. And that has to be a good thing, right? With so many new projects clamoring for attention, just around the corner?Read More
It’s been a crazy week or so. I completed edits on ALWAYS RIGHT (the last volume of the Diamond Brides Series), only a couple of days later than I planned back in February. I drove up to Baltimore and participated on two panels at the Baltimore Book Festival with the Maryland Romance Writers. I attended the Crafty Bastards craft show and bought more yarn than any human being should buy (also enjoying a great lunch with a close friend I never have enough time to see.) I enjoyed lunch with my cousin, catching up on all sorts of family stories.
And, oh yeah. I BECAME A USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR!!!
Ahem. I hit the list with PLAYING FOR PASSION, the limited time collection of twelve sports-themed romances that includes PERFECT PITCH (the first volume of the Diamond Brides Series.)
I am over-the-moon thrilled with this recognition. PLAYING FOR PASSION is a great set, and eight of us authors had never been on any national bestselling list in the past. You can buy the collection until October 14. After that, it disappears forever! (Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo)Read More
Oh. Wait. I *was* on vacation. That *was* its name
I spent last week in Ashland, Oregon, attending the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my husband, my college roommate, and her family. We saw seven plays in four days — a matinee and evening show every day but one (when we just had an evening performance). The plays are all performed in repertory, so we got to see many of the actors multiple times. (We also saw two understudies who did amazing jobs!) It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’ll try to sort the shows:
- THE GREAT SOCIETY: This was the best play — a sequel to ALL THE WAY, which we were lucky enough to see in New York, with Brian Cranston *channeling* LBJ. SOCIETY picks up immediately after the events in ALL THE WAY. The actor who played LBJ, Jack Willis, was very different from Cranston — he wasn’t as tall (Cranston wore lifts), and he was heavier; he didn’t have the same physicality, and he didn’t present a caricature of the president. Rather, he delivered his lines with emotion and skill, *acting* to resemble the former president. The script was wonderful as well — over and over again, I was struck by how similar to a Shakespearean tragedy it was — LBJ could have been any king in the histories, seeking counsel from his advisors, receiving some good advice, some bad.
- INTO THE WOODS: This was the best musical (see what I’m doing here?) — great performances with some difficult music, staged well with minimal sets and lots and lots of doubling of actors. Many of the musicians were students, playing with the professionals; they sounded perfect to my ears.
- RICHARD III: A very close second to best play. Dan Donahue’s Richard was utterly unredeemed evil (per the script); he brought the audience in as co-conspirators, sharing his plans with us with wicked, conniving joy. He was the most disabled RIII I’ve ever seen — he needed to use a leather strap around his neck to hold his contorted left hand, whenever he needed those fingers. I didn’t remember the women’s roles being as prominent as they were.
- A WRINKLE IN TIME: This was a world premiere adaptation, and it was an earnest attempt to make one of my favorite children’s books come alive. Alas, it wasn’t entirely successful — mostly because the book is so *vivid* in my mind, with such wonderful otherworldly settings… I was always aware that I was watching a play, instead of getting involved in the characters.
- THE TEMPEST: I’ve never liked this play — it has a lot going for it (magic! books! enchanted isle!) but it never really manages to deliver, and the clown scenes go on for *way* too long. That said, this production had some good things going for it — an otherworldly set, cool fairies that assisted Ariel and Prospero. The best thing about the production, though, was the romance between Miranda and Ferdinand. The actors who played those roles played the title roles in the best ROMEO AND JULIET I’ve ever seen, a couple of years ago — they have amazing chemistry, and they truly sold their scenes. (Another high point — the music and dance number in the second act was kept short — sometimes, it turns into its own endless spectacle!)
- TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA: This all-female production was confusing at first — it wasn’t clear whether the performers were supposed to be women playing women or women playing men. (They were women playing men, it turned out.) There was some odd doubling, with a very distinctive actor playing Launce (a clown) and Sylvia’s father. The dog, Crabbe, was played by a wonderful Great Pyrenees who was very fun to watch
- COMEDY OF ERRORS: Another play that isn’t one of my favorites. This highly edited performance (1.5 hours, no intermission) was set in Harlem in the 1920s. The actors who doubled the leads did a good job of bouncing back and forth through their many fast costume changes, but the play itself is silly (and there’s no good way to stage the ending, when other actors need to come on to perform the final confrontation scene.) Some of our group thought that this was one of the best plays, so it was obviously a matter of taste!
In between going to plays, we ate massive amounts of very good food. We also spent a lot of time talking, reading, generally relaxing… And I couldn’t pass up the yarn at Webspinners — I came home with two new projects. (That yarn shop has the most different (textures, types, etc) yarn I’ve ever seen collected in one place! I ended up with several small skeins of mercerized cotton for one shawl and some beautiful hand-dyed silk-and-camel for another shawl…)
And now I’m home, a bit shocked to realize that none of my to-do list got done while I was gone
One of the amazing things about the so-called ebook revolution is how readers have access to more amazing books for less money than they ever have before. Case in point: PLAYING FOR PASSION.
This limited edition collection (available for only one month!) gives you ***twelve*** sports-themed romances by New York Times Bestselling authors, USA Today bestselling authors, and some of the leaders in the sports romance field — including, um, me. For $0.99, you can read books that range from sensual to erotic, following characters who play baseball, football, soccer, or hockey. PERFECT PITCH, the first volume of the Diamond Brides series, is included in the set.
Come on. It’s less than a buck. At that price you can buy a copy for yourself and four friends and still not spend more than you would on that extra-large pumpkin spice latte. And PLAYING FOR PASSION will keep you warm a whole lot longer than that cup of coffee!
Buy the book! Spread the word! And revel in the power of ebooks!
I just spent the weekend at a writers retreat, and it was sheer, unadulterated heaven.
Once upon a time, I used to sandwich writing time in between all the other aspects of my professional life. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to write before going into the law office. I sat at ergonomically torturous hotel desks late at night after long days on the road as a librarian. I hoarded my vacation time, and I used those “free” days to write, write, write.
Now, writing is my day job. I write all day every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (and I do career support activities all day Tuesday and Thursday.) So why would I ever bother to go on a writing retreat now?
Part of it is the socializing, of course — the chance to chat with “co-workers” about the trials and tribulations of our “office”. (And, yeah, to chat about movies and books and families and all those other things you gossip about with co-workers.)
An even larger part of it is the chance to learn more about my job. This weekend, I picked up some formatting tips from one colleague. I learned about new online tools to help with newsletters. I heard about some great how-to-write guides that sound like they might help with some specific problems I’m working on. In short, there were lots of ideas being tossed around, all weekend long, and a lot of them were pertinent to my work.
But the largest part of why I go on writing retreats is because they make me productive. Yes, I have large chunks of uninterrupted writing time at home. But when I go on retreat, there’s a certain level of friendly competition — everyone else is working, so I’d best keep my butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard so that I can be as productive as they are. Also, I need to make the time away from my husband and our home (and our very needy cats) worthwhile — I need to accomplish a *lot* to justify (to myself — my husband is always very supportive) the time away.
This weekend, I accomplished three major tasks. One of them would typically have taken me an entire work day to do. One of them would typically have taken me two to three days to do. And one of them would have taken at least three days, maybe more, because it was boring and full of fiddly bits that I most likely would have procrastinated about for far too long.
So, yeah. Retreats are still worthwhile. And now my to-do list is so long that my eyes are bugging out of my head. Small price to pay!Read More
Make that “the best sort of ‘theatre’” because virtually every acting company in DC that has the-a-ter in its name uses the British spelling…
Friday evening, we headed downtown for Studio Theatre’s (see?) production of BELLEVILLE by Amy Herzog. Why, yes, you might have noted we shifted our subscription to Saturday matinees. Why, yes, you might have noted that a Friday night is not a Saturday matinee. Why, yes, you might have noted that when the schedule arrived, we had a conflict for “our” Saturday — and for every other Saturday matinee the play was showing!
In any case, we headed downtown for the evening performance, and we hassled with parking, and with a less than stellar dinner, and with having extra time before the show, and, and, and…
And it was all worth it.
We saw another Herzog play last year — 4,000 MILES. We knew that she could write realistic dialog spoken by people in crisis who are trying to conceal parts of their pasts to protect themselves in their presents. But that didn’t prepare us for BELLEVILLE.
The play is set in Paris, in a neighborhood inhabited by many immigrants, including a young American couple who have moved their so that Zack can help children with AIDS. His wife, Abby, has had trouble making the adjustment to her expat life. The entire action of the play takes place over a 24-hour period, as the couple confronts each other about the problems in their relationship.
BELLEVILLE follows in a long line of “relationship” plays. For me, it resonated most closely to WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY — Herzog’s play has the same vicious use of language, the same domineering thrusts and parries by people who aren’t afraid to fight with words. About 15 minutes before the end of the play, I realized that I truly did not know how it was going to conclude — there were at least three very realistic, fully supported directions the play could have taken.
Despite my years as a litigator, I am not a Warrior of Words — I hate the type of brutal confrontation that takes front and center in BELLEVILLE. But as a theater-goer, and a student of people, and a general admirer of beautiful words, I’m in awe of the play and its performance.
(One minor flaw — two supporting characters primarily speak French to each other in their dialog. I understood what they said, but my theater-going companion felt that he missed almost all of a crucial late scene.)Perhaps my admiration for Herzog’s work is based, at least in part, on a scene in ALWAYS RIGHT — the first knock-down, drag out verbal fight I’ve ever truly written. (Zingers, yeah, I’ve got those down. But all out warfare? That was a first for me…)Sigh… Off to edit now!P.S. The rest of our weekend was relatively quiet, marked mostly by the death of the power of the baseball cap — the Nats finally lost a game while I wore it to the park. Oh well. Time to start a new streak!Read More
This post talks about Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA and Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE. If you haven’t read both and you don’t want to be spoiled on the endings, then stop reading right now. (But really. They’ve both been around for long enough that if you don’t know the ending and worry about spoilerage, I really hope you’re fifteen or younger )
So… Last night, we watched the 1940 movie of REBECCA, which I’d never seen before. I was amused to see how clearly I remembered the book — down to most of the dialog. The first time I read the book was in ninth grade, but I know I re-read it at least twice in high school. (As an aside, in an interesting mini-documentary after the film, I learned that Hitchcock originally adapted the novel to be very different from the book — he changed the story, created new scenes that emphasized the psychological dimensions of the events, and generally created a derivative work (in the copyright sense) — until David O Selznick told him, “We paid a lot for the book, and we’re going to use it, thank you very much.”)
Some time before I first read REBECCA, I first read JANE EYRE. (We had to read WUTHERING HEIGHTS in eighth grade, and that set off a spate of Bronte-reading among my friends…)
So how is it that I didn’t realize REBECCA was the same story as JANE EYRE until last night?!?
Young girl, orphaned and alone. Experienced man, sweeping her off her feet, taking her from obnoxious protector(s). Spooky haunted house, with areas girl is not supposed to go. Revelation of existence/nature of crazy (ex-)wife. Fire destroying house (and naivete, and the old way of doing things, etc.)
I was an English major. I’m supposed to parse these things in my sleep. But I don’t remember anyone ever commenting that these stories are THE EXACT SAME STORIES. I’m sure they did, and I just ignored them. But wow. Eyes now opened (and I can see, because, you know, Maxim wasn’t blinded. Big difference in the stories there )
::shaking head::Read More
Amazingly enough, FROM LEFT FIELD wasn’t the only book released this past Tuesday! I am absolutely thrilled to announce the publication of Deborah Blake’s first novel, WICKEDLY DANGEROUS!
Deborah was one of my first editing clients, years back. Over time, we’ve become good friends (we regularly write emails to each other that are longer than most novels!) Deborah has a long career as a non-fiction writer, publishing a variety of pagan-related books with Llewellyn. WICKEDLY DANGEROUS draws on that background in magic, but Deborah has added a marvelous unique touch, basing her story on Russian folklore.
Here’s the back of the book blurb:
Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…
Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.
But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.
Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…
When I read a draft of this book, I was blown away by the creativity and the *fun* of the story. Deborah combines real-life environmental concerns with a fantastic take on the otherworldly. And you can buy your copy today! (Amazon | Penguin | B&N | Indiebound)
If you follow baseball, you know that things are really starting to heat up, now that it’s September, and rosters have been expanded, and so many playoff races are in close contention. Things are heating up in the Diamond Brides world as well! FROM LEFT FIELD hits stores today! (Amazon Kindle | Apple | B&N Nook | Book View Cafe | Createspace Print | Kobo) (More links coming soon!) If you like stories about friends who become neighbors, about the girl/boy next door who suddenly seems a little more attractive… well, then, this one is for you!
Here’s the “back of the book” copy:
Adam Sartain is the face of the Rockets baseball franchise, a long-time left fielder with an easy-going attitude and a reputation for helping out in the community.
Haley Thurman is literally the girl next door; she and Adam grew up like siblings, raising hell and sneaking out for late-night hijinks at the neighboring Reeves Farm. Now, Haley dreams of buying the farm for her no-kill animal shelter.
Haley’s plan is perfect, until Adam learns the farm is for sale. His unscrupulous manager has cleaned out his bank account, and the only way he can regain his fortune, save his reputation, and continue to fund a charity for underserved kids is to buy the farm and develop it as high-end condos.
Sparks fly as Haley and Adam fight over the farm – and neither one of them is prepared for the heat when they realize they aren’t just neighbors any more…
There’s an excerpt available online: http://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/books/passion/diamond-bride-series/from-left-field/
So? What are you waiting for? FROM LEFT FIELD is a fun, sexy September read. Get your copy today!Read More