Monday, January 31, 2011

Irritation Nation – Male Body Spray

Strange topic for a Monday. It started with an incident at a restaurant on Friday night, and I’ve really tried to let it go. Really.

It harkens back to the recently celebrated milestone birthday. One of the gifts was a gift card to a fabulous eatery. Reservations were made, and before you know it, there we were sitting on our lovely banquette. Grinning at the pristine white table cloth, linen napkins in our laps, both of us working very hard to be ‘proper’ (not the uncivilized heathens we are most of the time) and trying to keep our elbows off the table so as not to offend the elegantly suited waiter.

I’d only started sipping my ice cold martini when a lovely family is seated next to us. Not close mind you, but at the next table. With a very handsome teenager in tow. It was clear he didn’t want to be there, but he does get props for working very hard to keep the ‘tude in check. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for his cologne. It wafted in with him, and proceeded to make itself at home with us. And there is no doubt it belonged to him because every time he passed us to go, to the loo, outside to smoke, to make a phone call, who knows this time, the smell became even stronger and then receded as he did.

Nothing like eating a fabulous designer meal, overlaid with the smell of don’t-you-think-I’m-sexy.

Now a guy who smells just right is a hot item, no doubt about it. But the smell should be enticing. It should make you want to step in closer and investigate. Thoroughly. It shouldn’t hit you in the face like a bat from ten feet away.

Dudes. Ease up on the vat of eau-de-clean after the shower, ‘kay? Soap, clean clothes, and just a hint of spray will do it. Having one son and two step-sons who’ve made it through their teen years has proven my research. None of them have trouble getting dates. I know of what I speak, young padawan.

I mean surely, you know that the chicks throwing themselves on the guy in the commercial were paid to do that right? If you’re not handing out the bucks, or a celebrity, they’re not waiting in line to jump you.

And if you’re still hanging on to the fantasy of whatever the girl of your dreams wants to do to you, (something brought on by the smell, no doubt), man, a girls got to be able to breathe to do most of them.

Guys, you can rock a girl’s world. I believe in you. Just stop trying to do it through her nose.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Excuse Me, Do I Know You?

Or maybe the title should be, How Well Do You Know Your Characters?

As it turns out, not nearly as well as I thought. I’ve had the plot for my current WIP for a long time. In fact, years. Unfortunately, this led me to make a major mistake in getting to know my characters. And I didn’t even realize what the issue was, until I read someone else’s book.

This book is not new, it’s a couple years old. It’s essentially, an ‘insider’s guide’ to a popular series that’s been out for several years. It contains deleted scenes from the books, author interviews with the characters, in reverse, the characters interview the author. A novella, profiles of the characters, and questions to the characters posed by readers. And this barely scratches the surface. And no, the title doesn’t matter for the purpose of this post.

As I read, the sales and marketing person inside me stood up and cheered. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Once I finished the book, I marveled at how well this woman knew her characters. It was like they were real people to her. They came to her house, she went to theirs. Now don’t get me wrong, my characters are real to me too. But not like this. I confess that we’ve never shared a glass of wine.

And this led me to realize my own mistake. I’d overlooked something critical in my story. Because I’d carried this story around so long, I didn’t take the time to really know my characters. I thought I did. I’d spent years with them. But familiarity led me to brush right by a really important detail.

The problem I’ve been having is that I just didn’t buy into my heroine. I had no faith in her abilities to handle the problems I wanted to throw at her. So I went back to all the ‘how to build your characters’ information that I’ve gathered over the years, re-read it, and then thought about it in the terms of actually knowing this woman as a person. Not a character, but a real, live, breathing, need to earn a salary to make a living person.

That’s when it hit me. I wouldn’t hire her. She was missing a major experience component for the job she applied for. She would have been a pushover. In fact, she was. There was no conflict in the woman. Julia Cameron didn’t want to hire her, she felt pressured to do so, at my behest. Well, damn. If I didn’t believe she could handle the job, how could my readers believe it?

I tried to justify keeping her. To myself, to Julia, and to the rest of the team. A total, no-go. I couldn’t believe this one tiny detail had stalled my story. But it did. So, unwillingly, and after several rounds of painful editing, I let her go. She’s gone.

Reluctantly, I started the interview process again. It wasn’t long before a suitable candidate appeared. I passed her on to Julia, and she agreed. This woman rocks. If the team gives her a hard time, she’ll hand them their ass on a platter. As for Damon, this guy is literally in for the ride of his life.

My point to all this aimless rambling is that hopefully you can learn from my newbie mistake. If your plot hits all the proper high and low spots, your pacing is tight, and your story still isn’t working, take another look at your characters. In fact, invite them to dinner. You might be surprised at what you find out after a couple of glasses of wine.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I've been away this week planning a surprise party that's supposed to be a 'surprise' tomorrow. One of those milestone birthday thingies.

And no, he doesn't read this blog so no worries.

Thus far, nothing is cooperating, not even the weather. Hopefully the invited out-of-town guests will be able to arrive safely.

It seems the only thing still functioning correctly is my sense of humor. Everytime something gets screwed up, all I can do is laugh. At this point, what else is there?

You know, I keep thinking things will get back to normal, and I'll be able to blog in a more predictable fashion. Thus far it hasn't happened. Omg, what if this is normal??

Hope all of you have a terrific weekend.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Wondering

Working out in the snow, in places that aren't normally snow covered has led me to wonder about a few things.

1. Why is it, when the roads are dry, but there are snow flakes falling from the sky, do people drive twenty miles an hour under the speed limit?

2. Why is it, when the roads are not only covered in snow, but also a layer of ice, do some (not all) people in SUV's believe they can stop on a dime?

3. And last, but by no means least, why do people wait until they are right in the middle of an icy bridge to hit their brakes?

It's ugly out there folks, travel safe.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Books Are For Reading

Caught this article in yesterday's PW. Books For Decoration.

While I totally understand the concept, it's very sad for those people who are missing out on something the rest of us thoroughly enjoy. Something we are incredibly passionate about. Books.

One would hope that these people actually do read, and have real books stashed somewhere. On their ereader or iPad perhaps? Imagine missing out on the comfort you get from stacks and stacks of books you've read and enjoyed.

How many hours have we spent, transported to another world, another life, by someone's words. Haven't you felt the thrill of sharing one of your favorite books with a friend. Or recommending one to someone because it gave you hours of pleaure? Words have power all their own.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Friends, Followers, and Other Stalkers

Enjoying my first cup of coffee this morning, I perused the recent posts of blogs I follow. As I read one of my pal’s posts about ‘unfollowing’ someone, I thanked goodness that I’d at least posted this week so she wouldn’t be using that term for me. At least not yet. But it did make me wonder, why do we follow people?

Continuing the morning ritual, I checked my facebook page for requests, and discovered I received two from people I didn’t know, and one from an old high school friend, which brightened the day. While there, I sent two friend requests and ‘liked’ an author whose book I recently finished and enjoyed. At the same time became irritated because there is someone on my list who posts every single day about her book being for sale. Grrr. If I buy it, will she go away and leave me alone??? But couldn’t bring myself to unfriend her, just yet. After all, she’s doing more marketing than I am at the moment, and I do applaud her for it, so for now we’re even.

I love to follow my friends and fellow authors because I feel it keeps me connected and I have a way of knowing what’s going on in their lives. I follow or friend them everywhere I can. I do it to authors whose work I enjoy as a way of supporting them. So here’s the truth of the matter. It makes me feel good. If you knew me, you’d know anything that makes people ‘feeeeeel’ good makes my eye twitch.

But strangely enough it does. It’s become more than marketing, as I find myself invested in things that are going on in others people’s lives, some of whom I don’t even know except by their avatar. When I read they’ve signed a new contract or something else good, it brightens my day.

So, I’m curious. Why do you follow, friend and tweet? And over time, has the way you feel about it changed?

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Beginnings

After all the holiday hoopla, don’t you love the moment you walk into the living room, or where ever, and everything is clean and neat? No greenery, ornaments, tinsel, etc. Just furniture and what usually passes for normal. When you’ve just vacuumed, dusted, and before the mail starts piling up. Nothing but unimpeded space. A place of possibilities, where anything can happen.

Um, that’s not quite true of the Fox household yet, but by the end of the week, maybe. lol.

I love this part of the New Year. Not really a resolutions girl, simply because I like to break rules and the temptation is just too much. But I do get that clean slate feeling. Even though there are things on my plate needing finishing from last year, at this point, I feel renewed. Invigorated. Like this is the year I’ll make it happen. When I figure out exactly what ‘it’ is, I’ll let you know.

Until then, here’s wishing each of you, a year of boundless possibilities, love that will make your heart overflow, and dreams that do come true.