Monthly Archives: May 2009

Fitness and the writer.

Ah, what sluggards we writers are! Get up at the crack of noon, paddle to the computer with a coffee in one hand, a double chocolate donut in the other, and a pair of tiger paw slippers on our feet. Sit and feel our bottom expand as we craft our lovely romances and mysterious murders.

Well, though the above scenario is not exactly true – I am usually at my computer by 7:30, and if I can’t sleep that’s 6:30, and though I do drink coffee, I don’t eat much except for some cereal or a piece of toast – what is true is that the battle of the bulge is an ongoing stand-off for many of us, armed camps on both sides, lobbing insults instead of grenades. This subject was brought to my mind by Barbara Samuel’s Romancing the Blog topic.

So what do we do to fight it? Alison Kent mentioned that she does Wii Fit, and while it is no cure-all in the weight department, at least it keeps you moving and active.  She is getting Wii Sports Active and I’m anxious to see how she likes it.

Dancing with the Stars Cardio Dance

Dancing with the Stars Cardio Dance

But I’ve got a new DVD I’m anxious to try… Dancing with the Stars Cardio Dance, a fitness DVD. I’ve always envied how the stars learn to salsa, mambo, cha-cha and rhumba (as opposed to a Roomba, which won’t help you dance unless you trip on it), and I want to learn! If I can learn a few moves and from Maksim and Kym, no less, and get more fit at the same time, I’m game.

I’ll let you know how THAT goes!!

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Is morality absolute?

There is an interesting blog post at Romancing the Blog today about morality and sex suggesting that sexual desire within a monogamous, loving relationship is “an expression of moral character, and one way of achieving the best kind of human life.”

While I can’t disagree entirely – I do deeply believe in monogamy – I am hesitant to talk about ethics and morality in relation to it.

And I suppose, in thinking about it as deeply as I can when I’m in a hurry and have only a few minutes to spare (isn’t that the way of the world… deep thoughts of morality have to be fit in among work duties and between washing the dishes and running out to get groceries) it comes down to my musings about morality as a whole: is morality an absolute? Is there some rock bottom morality that must cover all human life if we are to consider ourselves evolved beings? I’m troubled by both extremes of thought… “No, there is no moral bedrock because morality is a part of human culture and that inevitably implies differences based on that culture”, or “Yes, there is one morality for us all.”

The first allows atrocities like the subjection of women in some countries, while the second would say that the differences between, say, Canada’s having ended the death penalty while the United States allows it means that one of us is moral and the other is not. I don’t know what to think about that.

If morality is a sliding scale, then we have no business interfering in another country’s treatment of its people according to their own morality, but that would mean, then, that we must not interfere in cases where a woman could be sentenced to death for adultery. Wrong!

But if we say morality is absolute, while it gives us the right to interfere in a case like that, it also implies that we would be morally bankrupt if we don’t, and what then of a country’s right to govern itself according to its own moral laws?

I’m no ethicist, nor am I a philosopher, and so I struggle with these ideas. No answers, just questions… lots and lots of questions.

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Win romance novels from Sourcebooks Casablanca authors!

Enter at AAR’s News & Commentary blog to win a wonderful prize package of several Sourcebooks Casablanca romance novels!

http://www.likesbooks.com/blog/?p=1657

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Joni Mitchell – Canadian Treasure

I’ve always been a big fan of Joni Mitchell’s but had never heard any live performance. With the wonder of YouTube I can time-travel back to 1969 – 1970s and enjoy her live performance. Now I’m even more impressed!

Chelsea Morning

From what I understand this was written in New York, the Chelsea Hotel, and I’ve never heard a song that so magically invokes that feeling of the perfect day.

And my favorite Joni song of all time…

Help Me

I love the original but this rendition adds such great nuances that it is worth listening to just for her vocal agility. And watch her face, while she sings.

“I’ve seen some hot hot blazes come down to smoke and ash.”

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Bad reviews and bad reviewers.

There is an interesting discussion going on at DA (Dear Author) about the origins of romance reviewing on the ‘net, and it brought to mind all the kerfuffle over Michelle Buonfiglio’s apparent remarks that basically said (paraphrasing because I haven’t read the original remarks and shouldn’t really be commenting on them but it’s my blog and I can say what I want) that if you don’t have anything nice to say about romance novels, you should use your mouth for eating pie.

I couldn’t disagree more. You are entitled to call my work a big, steaming pile of dog-do if you want. It won’t hurt my feelings. Really.

Now… if you say that my characterization is weak, or that I have crafted a poorly constructed plotline, I’ll consider the source and decide if it has value, then I’ll feel a little bad about it if I respect your opinion… or not. And yes, I do occasionally feel bad if I respect the source and they don’t like my book, but I get over it quickly and move on. I’d still rather hear an honest opinion than a fake ‘You are sooooo good!’.

However, I am not going to use the negative review in my promotion. I will use the ‘nice girl’ review if it works for me. Or if I need a positive clip. Sometimes even good reviews don’t give you quotes to use.

My feeling is that if you are going to be in this (writing) or any subjective artsy business where you are being judged, you’d better grow alligator hide and be prepared to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous reviews.

And to any fledgling writers out there… trust me, you will learn more from one honest nasty bitchy review than from a hundred arse-kissers. Should you believe everything they say? Nope. Not from anyone. Take what works and leave the rest behind, baby.

Edited to add… I went away and realized it may sound as if I think that all good reviews are ‘arse-kissers’ but that is not the case. I value every honest review and it’s easy to spot the honest ones. They will offer a balanced opinion; IOW, they will tell you what worked and didn’t, and why. That makes a good review!

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Soup and Writing

Don’t you love analogies?

Here goes with one of mine: Writing is like making soup.

Onions

1 – Neither writing a novel or making a pot of soup should be rushed; the flavor has to build over time and there are no short-cuts.

2 – Some cooks should definitely follow a recipe, and some writers should stick to following guidelines, while others, once they have learned the basic skills, are talented enough to wing it.

3 – You should never ever throw every ingredient you have into soup or a novel. Choose carefully plot elements or styles in the case of writing, or ingredients in the case of soup, that will complement each other.

4 – Test – or taste – often and think about what the plot or soup needs.

5 – Be critical: have you gone awry? Have you used one element too much to the detriment of the soup or plot? Have you spiced it too abundantly or is it too bland?

6 – Plan ahead; it helps! There is nothing like starting to make a big pot of chicken noodle soup only to find you don’t have any chicken. Even worse is planning a sprawling epic novel only to find you don’t have the ingredients (the talent) and should really stick to short pithy commentary!

7 – Some things make everything better, and thus, the onions. I don’t think I’ve ever met a broth that wasn’t improved by onions, nor a story that wasn’t improved by good characterization. Both are vital.

Once it is done taste it (or read it) and see if there is anything you would change. Enjoy it, but not for too long. Start planning your next pot of soup or novel right away!

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Spring and blogging

I’m so excited… spring is most definitely here (tulips and daffodils and all) and a robin is nesting above my front porch light. But my writing is so much fun right now, too.

I’ve finished Book Three of the Lady Anne books and it’s been approved. I’ve got another three book Regency romance proposal at my editor’s, and I’m working on my own secret pet project. And I need to finish Awaiting the Magic for all those patient readers who are still, a year and a half later, asking about book four of the Awaiting Series.

So much lovely work, so little time, and all when the sunshine is beckoning and the cats want to go outside!

Is anyone else having trouble concentrating on work when white puffy clouds drift across the blue sky outside the office window, and robins sing songs about the joy of life?

Sigh.

On the work side, join me tomorrow at the Casablanca blog for my post on how I used Zodiac signs to create characters for Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark.

http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

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How I Justify Watching Reality TV

In writing to a fellow reality show fanatic, I realized just how much ‘Reality (??) TV’ I watch. In no particular order and not counting them all, I watch:

American Idol – AI

America’s Next Top Model – ANTM

Survivor

Amazing Race

Dancing with the Stars – DWTS

The Biggest Loser

So You Think You Can Dance – SYTYCD Canada

Big Brother

Canada’s Worst Handyman

The Bachelor/Bachelorette (I know; I hate myself, too)

~::~

And those are just the big ones. I also catch:

Pretty Wicked

Ace of Cakes

Paris; My New BFF (Again, I know. It’s pathetic)

Ultimate Recipe Showdown

~::~

Wow.  Just… wow.

And now for the justification part. I know much of this is a real as Dolly Parton’s Double DDs, but it makes for fascinating TV because the people are not as polished as real actors, and if you watch their faces you can often catch the subtle changes when they are deciding how to react to something.  I can imagine them balancing their real emotions against how they’ll look on TV, besides acting out enough to be featured prominently. No one wants to watch reasonable people on ‘Reality TV’ and the editors know that. Act out, be outrageous, and you’ll get more air time. Thus, Coach on Survivor.

Coach and Jeff

Coach and Jeff

Does anyone really believe he is as self-deluded as he seems? Is that even possible? I think there’s a good chance Coach is a deliberately crafted persona, much like Richard Hatch on the first season. It’s part real, part assumed and completely brilliant. (BTW, For Jeff Probst’s take on this, read his blog!! Here: http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/05/jeff-probst-blo.html)

I find it interesting, too, to see the obvious choices the editors are making in crafting ‘storylines’ for these ‘real people’.

I’m not naive, I know that most of the folks on ‘Reality TV’ are there because they desperately want a career in television. They think someone will see their ‘work’ and pick them up.

This brings me to CSI Miami last week. First of all… bleh!! Who hired David Caruso? I had watched a few episodes of CSI New York replayed on the Action channel and Gary Sinise did such a great job as a chief detective that when I saw CSI Miami was doing an episode on a ‘Bachelor’ type show (they apparently got smashed in the ratings last year by The Bachelor; instead of doing a show as revenge they should have just fired Caruso and hired someone with at least an ounce of acting ability rather than one single expression… that of constipation). But if you watched the show they made great play of how the one girl was cynically there to get footage for an acting audition tape. I suppose lots of girls who go on The Bachelor do that, but how successful are they?

Which brings me to the rest of my ‘justification’ for watching reality TV. It’s funny! It’s TV for those who don’t want to watch ‘Professional Wrestling’, and it is probably just as real.  But it is lovely ‘vacant mind’ TV, meaning, when my mind is tired from writing all day, it takes me away.

And that is it! I am a Reality TV Addict, and I’m not going to lie about it anymore!

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