Monday, December 9, 2013


 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If I want to link my silly blog to silly ol' bloglovin, I have to post this silly link advertising them. Nothing is free anymore is it?

Hi. How are you? I'm well thanks. My new hero is being a bitch (such a bitch) and so I haven't been around much lately. I apologize. I promise you'll see more of me in the coming month. When I say you'll see more of me, I mean more blog posts. I'm not gonna get naked or anything. No one wants to see that. Well actually my husband might...

The point is... uhhhhm..... I love Doctor Who?

That's the point of everything really.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Great Article on what it means to "Write What You Know"

I am back! Sort of... see I used to write my posts at night while I'm falling asleep at the keyboard. Then I'd edit and post them during my work breaks. But my work computer is now glitchy and outdated and I cannot post directly and I forget to do it when I go home because Doctor Who is on Netflix and that's important.
Anyhow, I love Kristen Lamb's blog posts. She's brilliant. I'm linking to her. This article is informative, sad and a little beautiful. That is all.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

IWSG: Admitting Defeat

Insecure Writers Support Group Link Here.
1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group. Wherein I post about the difficulties and joys of writing. I'm running a bit late this month :)

I've been very unhappy with my manuscript for a long time. I have edited the first five chapters roughly ten times and I've finally made it chapter eleven and I have just been pulling the story out of my rear because I'm not loving it anymore. It could be because I've been editing it for nearly five years and that is four years too long to be yanking my eyelashes out over it and to still not know my heroine's motivation.

So for a few months now, I've been wanting to set the story aside but I was scared to do it. I worried that perhaps I'm just being a baby about editing and that I'll be doing the same thing with my next novel when the process gets difficult. But for the last month I've been on Pinterest figuring out what my next novel's characters look like, what kind of car my heroine drives, creating the name of the small town in which it's taking place. I have been setting up my next story and avoiding my current one like the Red Death.

Then my friend and fellow writer Meika, sent me a link to a hilarious and wonderful blog post called, "25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author; Lazy Bastard Edition" by Delilah Dawson. Seriously if you are a writer, you need to read it. It's helpful and funny and full of cuss words (which I love). So I read it and realized how much work is involved once the manuscript is written. After you've poured your blood and sweat and tears onto the paper, edited them, revised them, eaten your self-congratulatory cupcakes, you still have sixteen more painstaking and exasperating steps to get the thing published. And once I read those steps, I realized that I didn't like this novel enough to take those steps. At least not right now.

So I have set it aside. And it sucks. I rely heavily on my writing group for support and I feel like I let them down. I know it's for the best, but this feels a lot like a failure.

On the upside, I started my next novel and it's coming along nicely. I love my setting, I love my hero and I think my heroine is awesome. So theres that.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm Obsessed with Poetry Jams

I have an intense love of poetry jams. Spoken word poetry is all about mixing theater with the art of wordplay and those are things I adore. I have never forgotten the first time I saw spoken word poetry. I was fourteen and watching SNL. Usually after that, I tolerated Midnight at the Apollo, because I knew that once that was over, I was gonna get to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000, which was my favorite thing ever. But this night, between the R&B songs and comedians on Midnight at the Apollo, there was a young, white guy. I don't remember his name but I remember him; white t-shirt, scrawny body, carrying nothing to the stage but a piece of paper. And he began to speak and what came out was a bombastic, brilliant, funny poem about himself and the world around him. The audience (mostly black folks who raised some serious eyebrows at him when he took he stage) stood up and cheered and hollered and let him know that he was a bad-ass writer and performer.

I became obsessed. I pulled back my frizzy hair and sat down to write my first spoken word poem. It was about being biracial and it was called, "The Other" because when I took tests at school, I always had to check the other box, for my race and it always bothered me, being not enough of any one thing. I wrote it. I was so proud of it and it was terrible. If I have learned one thing over the years, it's that I'm a prose girl all the way. Pentameter scatters before me. Rhythm and cadence disappear.  But back then, I performed them with zeal. I was a biracial Eminem, all broad hand gestures and pseudo-urban affectation. My town didn't even have paved roads but I wrote like I was Tupac in the ghetto.

I gave up poetry when I discovered how much better I was at prose, but my love of theatrical poetry continues. Thanks to YouTube, I spend a lot of time having communion with writers. People like Taylor Mali Sarah Kaye make my heart happy and poetry jams fill me with child-like joy.Watching spoken word is like going to church. My sad little heathen heart loves having someone standing at the pulpit, up on the stage, making broad hand gestures and preaching  about love and sexuality and faith and technology. I have always connected to my fellow human through words and in this way, it becomes a kind of communion, a supping of the wine. They give the body and the blood and I consume in order to share their humanity. 

I want to share with you this little gem that I found on YouTube. This young man is Marshall Davis Jones. His piece of brilliant but it's a little too theatrical. I think if he toned it down a bit at the end, it would shine even more.  But here it is, beautifully imperfect and so full of wordplay and pathos and... truthiness that I needed to share it with you.

I am aware of the irony of posting this on my blog, but... I'm doing it anyway.

Get outside sometime. Enjoy the sunshine, the moon shine (or the moonshine), the hustle and bustle of your fellow people and remember that touch is best experienced with someone or something that can touch you back.

When the outside gets to be blinding and all the touching gets to be too much, check out some more fantastic spoken word poetry. 

 This is one of my all time favorites. Note to Self by Ebony Stewart. When I love the way love, I love on purpose.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

IWSG: Let Yourself Be Terrible

1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group. Wherein I post about the difficulties and joys of writing.

This is an embarrassing post.

I was a very smart kid. I had a high IQ and they put me in the gifted program in school. I never had to work hard to be smarter than other kids, so I didn't bother working hard. I was a mental sloth. But a time came when I wasn't precocious anymore and by then, most of my peers had bypassed me because they had been paying attention and working hard and I had been coasting along with a big vocabulary and a poor work ethic.

It turned out that you can absolutely get by in this world with very little knowledge of things like grammar, punctuation, science and algebra. I have been to plenty of job interviews and never once have I had to solve a quadratic equation to get hired.Take that, seventh grade math teacher!

What I lacked in knowledge, I made up for by trying to be charming. Charm does a pretty good job of masking ignorance at a job interview or a party, but on the written page, charm is useless. My ignorance gave me away every time.

When I wrote the first draft of my work-in-progress in 2009, it was awful. Despite being an avid reader, I knew next to nothing about writing dialogue. All my previous stories were first person and in the head of the main character with no dialogue at all. I didn't know when to use commas, what an adjective was or even basic things like when to make a paragraph break. I'm actually still not sure when to use a semi-colon. My manuscripts tenses shifted with the wind and my main character drifted from first person to third with startling frequency. It was largely unreadable.

But I was proud of my ugly baby and too ignorant to know how bad it was. I gave the first couple of chapters to my friend and fellow blogger Jeannie. A week later, she brought it back to me with a wild look in her eyes and said, "I can't read this, it's making me nuts. You have to put paragraph breaks in it."

I knew so little about the craft of writing that I couldn't figure out where the breaks should go, so I went into the file and chose random places to hit enter. Yup. I had always been a very good report writer but I couldn't put together the concept of paragraph breaks in a story being the same as it is in an essay. When I got back my next draft from Jeannie, she was as patient as one could be when dealing with someone with so little basic knowledge.

Four years, several grammar books and one awesome writing group later, I am a much better writer then I was. I still struggle with adverb-itis and misuse of semi-colons but I can write dialogue like it's no ones business and I'm learning to edit myself in a constructive way.

 Last week, I wrote a new chapter and I shared it with my hubs. After reading it, he told me that it was the by far, the best thing I've written and that it's amazing how much I've improved. It was the best compliment ever. I am still warm and glow-y from it.

Why did I tell you all this? To tell you that it's okay to be a dumb-ass artistically. It's okay to not know how to do it and to do it anyway. Because the thing that will make you less of a dumb-ass, is practice. It's persistence. And it's a good friend who will patiently explain what the difference between tense and perspective. Thanks for that Jeannie.

We all want to be perfect writers and we want to sell novels and be validated. But you won't get good if you wait until you know it all. You won't miraculously become a Hemingay or an Austen by sitting on your ass. You've got to work. You've got to let yourself suck. Make bad choices, poor plot structure, one dimensional characters, boring sex scenes. Do it all. Be brave and foolish. Name a character something ludicrous. Change your tense halfway through the story. Have muddy themes. Don't be afraid to be terrible, because if you let yourself be terrible, while striving to be better, someday someone will tell you how awesome you have become.

Go write the best shit you know how to write. And then learn to write better. Perfection is unattainable. Learning to be less terrible is a lot closer to your grasp. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Perfectly Positive Monday #3

Whoohoo Monday! Get ready for a shitstorm* of positivity and exclamation points!!!

*I am so classy.


·         Made some headway on Chapter 10 of my damnable work-in-progress. I'm finally at the point where I'm writing from scratch which is actually an improvement over laboring on the 22nd revision of my first eight chapters.

·         My husband earned himself a foot rub because he read the last completed chapter of my novel and told me, "Seriously, this is the best chapter you've written. You're getting so good!" I'm so proud of myself because it really is the sharpest, funniest thing I've written. I have always loved writing but if I'm gonna be honest, four years ago when I started writing seriously, I sucked at it. Now I can honestly say I suck much less. There's at least a fifty percent reduction in suckage. Feel free to add your own suckage reduction/marriage joke here.

·         Because I can't wait to get started with my next novel, I spent a lot of some time on Pinterest searching for character inspiration. My next novel is about a female rock star and her face hasn't come to me yet. The first thing I do is focus on coloring and go from there, so I'm still unsure if she'll be a blonde, brunette or redhead? My inclination is to write a redhead because I am obsessed with gingers and secretly dream of being one. But my husband picked out this itty bitty tattooed blonde on Pinterest and said, "That's your character."  Hmm.

Other Parts of Life:

·         Saw Avenged Sevenfold and Halestorm last Friday and it was so rad! Halestorm was surprisingly good and A7X can truly do no wrong in my eyes. Mostly because my eyes are busy ogling M. Shadows' arms.

·         Got to eat at Cops and Doughnuts in Clare, MI which is always the best thing ever. They have this doughnut called the Bacon Squealer and it's a long john with maple icing on top and two strips of bacon. It's the best doughnut I've ever had and it tastes like pancakes! Don't judge me. They make everything with love there and everyone knows that things made with love don't have calories.

·         My hubs found a job! This comes after a miserable year of searching, applying and rejections. He started today and said he already loves his coworkers which is usually a good sign. Better to work a job you don't like with people you do, than to work a job you love with people you can't stand. I've done it both ways. I'll take the sucky job with awesome coworkers every time.

·         My Mother-in-Law made some seriously delicious Lasagna last night. When I say it's delicious you can bet on it, because (with the exception of Raman and Mac n' Cheese) I hate all forms of pasta. I know, I'm a weirdo.

·         My best friend (who lives in Mexico) is staying in Michigan for the summer. Yay!

And now it is time again for...
Stuff That Makes Me Cheerful!

Maple Bacon Squealers from Cops & Doughnuts.

Avenged Sevenfold's new single, Hail to the King.

Because seriously, SHARKNADO.

What brings you joy on this fine Monday?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Perfectly Positive Monday #2

It's another marvelous Monday and it's time for some damn positivity!

While my new chapter did not magically appear like I'd hoped, I managed some spectacularly fun ways to avoid writing that accidentally resulted in productivity. How'd I do that?

  • Revised two chapters.
  • Named my character's bridal shop and made a logo for it because I'm a 12th level dork.*
  • Finished the photo collage for my novel.
  • Made individual character collages.
  • Cleaned up my OneNote notebook on my novel.
  • In OneNote made individual character bios with the collages.
  • Sussed out my characters heights, weights, birthdays and astrological signs.
  • Did some brainstorming with my friend Meika in regard to my novel's title.
  • Made a mock up of the cover of my novel.

So while not much writing happened other then the revisions, I'm happy to say I have a better handle on the characters and the story.

In things not related to my novel, I finally roped my hubs into sitting down and watching Veronica Mars. He liked it. I am prepping him for the upcoming MOVIE, Squeeeeee! Also, I've never seen season three so we are going to rent it this weekend if they have it at our local video store.

Now onto things that make me smile:

 The first time Logan Echolls and Veronica Mars kissed:

Actually anything that has to do with Logan and Veronica,especially fan videos about their relationship set to angsty music:

Actually anything Logan Echolls related (much like Veronica, this girl loves her bad boys):

What you want something not related to my never-ending love of Veronica Mars? You are no fun.

Avenged Sevenfold's new album will be available in August! And they released a single today!  Woot!

Mmmm, bad boys

What makes you joyful on this fine Monday?

*If you got the "12th level dork" reference, congrats, you love Veronica Mars and you are indeed a 12th level dork as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Perfectly Positive Monday #1

I feel that if you only know me through this blog, that it looks like I never make progress with my novel and that I'm a big, insecure whiner. But a blog post is like a photograph, you only see that one moment, but there are lots of other moments (some better, some worse) that never get captured.

So in the spirit of positivity, I will TRY (and sometimes fail) to post something positive and true on Mondays. Because Monday is the day you need positive thinking the most.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a new end to my last chapter and wrote two new chapters for my novel! Yay me!  It turns out that over the next few weeks I'm going to be doing a lot of new writing. I changed the timeline of my story which means I have a week with my characters that is not written yet (originally they only spend a day and a half together). It's gonna work a lot better and I'm actually excited to start working on it.

When I told my husband that I was worried about what my characters will do for this unwritten week, we ended up brainstorming for half an hour and he came up with some really good ideas. That's one of the many things I adore about him. He's not a writer but he's endlessly supportive of me and the best person to brainstorm with.

 So yeah. Positive.

Now, some things that make me feel cheerful and grateful to be alive:

Pictures of dogs:

Grilled Cinnamon Rolls from Sparty's in Lansing, MI:

David Tennant's smile:

What is something that makes you happy on this fine Monday?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG: The Indecision Tango

1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group. Wherein I post about the difficulties and joys of writing. 

My writing is going fairly well. The rewrite is moving at a decent clip. Not as fast as it should be, but that's okay, I forgive me. However, I recently discovered two things about myself:
1. I can't make decisions
2. I'm terrible at naming things.
This is a bad combo. Whether it comes to character names, novel titles, or the simple name of a restaurant, I suck. I come up with long lists of terrible ideas and then I can't narrow them down. So I find myself reaching for a lot of outside help which in turn makes me feel like a talentless hack. Aren't writers supposed to be creative? You may be thinking, "Oh Mencara, you can't be that bad, can you?"

I named one of my characters Tiramisu. I'll let that sink in.... 

Obviously I woke from my fugue state and changed it. But it took weeks of deliberation, discussion on Facebook because wanted her name to be Anika but I was worried people wouldn't pronounce it right. They wouldn't pronounce her name right in their head while they read the book and this was unacceptable to me. Basically, I'm a wackjob.

Finally I settled on a name, but then I had to change her surname because it no longer worked.  That took a week of searching and pairing names together and requesting that my friends participate while I figured out the best one. Then I couldn't figure out what to name a restaurant in my novel, so I turned to my creative friend, Jeannie, who came up with one for me. Then this past week, I've struggled and failed to come up with a name for my character's bridal shop.

Then yesterday, it occurred to me that I wrote the rough draft of my W.I.P. back in 2009 and never titled it. Imagine having a four year old child that you never bothered naming. I'm becoming Holly Golightly now. So I tried to come up with a book title and each one has been worse than the last.  I'm back to taking suggestions for the name of a novel that no one has read fully but me. See what I mean? I'm a hack. I wondering if I have to give my Facebook friends credit when the book gets published, since they're making all my decisions asI run to them for input.

Also it took me an hour to choose the image on the right ---->

Am I just a needy writer? Indecisive? Perhaps it's a bad case of Atelophobia? You decide in the comments below!*

*See what I did there? I'm hilarious.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Writer Worries: when your fictional business name turns out to be a real one

"Blushing In Pink" dress by Ouma

A character in my novel is a fashion designer starting an urban, alternative bridal boutique. She upcycles old dresses into couture gowns that people can actually afford. My character's business deserves a cool name.  I have spent the last week making up every cool name I could think of, just to Google and find out it already exists.

Now I know if I were actually starting a business, my business name is  only held in the state where I copyrighted it. But for the purposes of a novel, can I use the name of a business that already exists? I googled and didn't really find an answer.

I have a huge list of buzzwords that I have been putting together and tearing apart like refrigerator magnet poetry  and I'm getting frustrated. I need a name that is romantic and edgy and urban. One that declares that this is a bridal shop but not that kind of bridal shop. You aren't going to get white blindness from staring at generic gowns in this boutique. You won't find $10 worth of gauze sold as veils for $70. Instead it's a place where the prices are reasonable, the veils are birdcage-y and the dresses are made with love and color. It's the kind of shop where chick flick moments are optional but feeling like a badass is not.

Wow I think I just wrote the commercial for it :)

Anyhow, these are the names I made up that turned out to be real bridal shops:

Claire Pettibone Gown

She Said Yes
Something Old, Something New
All Frocked Up
Frocked Up

I also have a list of ones that I googled that didn't come up as being shops but I'm not sure if I like those as well as the others:

Aisle Less Traveled
Rock the Frock
Gorgeous But Deadly

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

IWSG: Editing is for lesser beings, right?

1st Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writers Support Group. Wherein I post about the difficulties of writing. 

 I hate editing. There I said it.

Before I had an actually work-in-progress, I imagined that the editing process would involve meeting my editor in a sun soaked cafe in L.A. I'd slide my Michael Kors* sunglasses off my face and air kiss my obsequious editor who would slide the manuscript across the table and express her shock and joy that every manuscript has been so well written that she has not needed to edit a single one. Then she'd let me know that I was contacted by two more movie studios who are dying to make my novels into feature films. From there I wax on about my art and how I would never sell my artistic integrity to Hollywood.

Apparently when I imagine being a romance writer, I think I'm Mary Fisher, living in a pink palace by the sea. Except without the nervous break down over a broken fingernail.

As it turns out, editing is less glamorous than you'd imagine. When I signed on to be a writer, I had no idea that anyone would actually have anything negative to say about my work. I mean, how ridiculous. I'm clearly a frickin' savant of writing. My 7th grade writing teacher said so. My best friend nods when I say so. It must be true. So why, WHY do I need to take all the those glorious words, those fantastic characters and those genius love scenes and criticize them? Doesn't that seem a tad unreasonable? I mean, isn't revision for amateurs? Everyone knows that real writers complete perfect manuscripts...

Hush you.

I'm told by other writers that no one writes perfect manuscripts. They are, by nature, a bumpy, lumpy mess. Mine is worse than most because I wrote my novel during NaNoWriMo. If that combination of letters means nothing to you, it's National Novel Writing Month. Every November thousands of insane people from all over the world decide that it's a good idea to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. People often ask me, "Why would you do that?" The short answer? Well clearly I'm a masochist. The long answer? I'm SERIOUSLY a masochist.

NaNoWriMo is actually a lot of fun. You go to local meet ups with other writers and you do contests like fifteen minute timed "sprints" and the winners get stickers and emotional validation. The entire point is to prove that you are capable of writing a novel. You have to turn off the part of your brain that judges your work as good or bad. You learn to turn off your inner editor and just write. Just puke up whatever is in your soul and put it on the paper, no matter how silly or how poorly written it will be. The point is quantity. Quality is irrelevant.

The upside to this is that you end up writing a the bones of a novel. Also you prove to yourself that you are more than capable of doing it and finding time to do it, no matter how busy you are. Also, if you survive the thirty days and still want to write, then you are probably on the right path (or you are a bigger masochist than the guy from Fifty Shades of Grey).

So the great part is that I can say, whoo hoo, I wrote a novel! Sort of. The downside to that great expulsion of creativity is that I now now have a steaming pile of manure to edit. Because IT IS BAD. Make no mistake. Writing without any editing at all means you end up not with a novel but with the skeleton of the story and all the skeleton's bones are broken and need to be set before you add on the muscles and tendons and all the gross innard type stuff they talk about on Bones.

Basically I have a bunch of disconnected, hurriedly written scenes and I've been writing in circles trying to edit a story that is finished in only the most generous of definitions. I don't actually know what happens in the second act of the story because I never really wrote it. I was in a hurry to get to the end and just listed a bunch of stuff I thought should happen.

Wow this is getting long and wordy. As you can see, I'm really bad at editing my own work.

I've lived my life as a pantser, not a plotter, meaning I write intuitively (by the seat of my pants) and don't plan or plot my work ahead of time. But now that I'm editing I'm seeing the necessity and beauty of at least having a rudimentary outline of how I'd like the story to be structured. But every time I try to read about HOW to outline a novel, my eyes glaze over and I fill up with the fear that I'm going to destroy the art process by limiting my story.

So after much whining on my part, my lovely friend Meika sent me the Youtube link on the left here, to a video by writer, Katytastic. She breaks it down in a way that isn't overwhelming to me. She tells how she creates an outline by breaking her novels into three acts, nine blocks and 27 chapters. I took notes during the video and then went into my manuscript and noted where each chapter and block occurred so I can see where my novel is missing parts and what I need to do. It was very useful.  

Yeah, this post is meandering and I don't feel like editing it. Because editing sucks.

And yes, I pretty much plan to use every IWSG post to whine about editing. It is way harder than writing the damn book in thirty days.

*Also I'd like it known that I do indeed own a pair of Michael Kors sunglasses that I found at T.J.  Maxx for less than $20 and I have never worn them without namedropping the designer. Mostly because I used to watch Project Runway and I love MK with a fierce passion but also because I'm kind of a douche.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Love Makes You Do the Wacky

I'm currently on a How I Met Your Mother kick. I have Netflix and I made myself keep watching because I hated almost the first half of season one (it was so awkward it was almost unwatchable for me), but then it suddenly got interesting and funny.

One of my favorite things about the show is seeing Alyson Hannigan on there. It's a throwback to my teen years. Like a game of Six Degrees of... I have became nostalgic for Buffy again.

I have every season on DVD. I loved that show so much. It had all my favorite things: epic romance, fabulous fashion, quips, sarcasm and most importantly, death by crossbow.

Never underestimate the importance of death by crossbow.

Anyhow I dusted off the old  Buffy DVDs, picked a random episode and watched the season three episode, Lovers Walk. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Spike before Marti Noxen ruined everything forever by neutering him and making him repulsive in every way.  Note to any and all romance writers, myself included; sometimes sexual tension is wonderful in it's own right and adds depth and fascination. But, just because it's there doesn't mean your characters should act on it or even would act on it.

Tread carefully because sexual tension doesn't equal happily ever after.

That's really the extent of what I have to say about writing. This whole post was really an excuse to post one of the many fantastic Spike-isms about love. This particular one was directed at Buffy and Angel as they went about trying to be friends after their long and painful relationship ended.
You're not friends. You'll never be friends. You'll be in love 'til it kills you both. You'll fight, and you'll shag, and you'll hate each other 'til it makes you quiver, but you'll never be friends. Love isn't brain, children, it's blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it. 

I love that.

What is your favorite Buffy Quote? Not a Whedonite? Then tell me any favorite quote about love.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A quick question for my writerly friends...

What is your process for editing a very rough draft? I feel as though I'm editing in circles. I rewrote the opening chapters so I rewrote the next four chapters. In rewriting those I changed some things and then re-rewrote the opening chapters and then had to rewrite the next four... the snake eating it's own tail is still in my house.

What is your process for editing? In detail please, because I clearly need a system and I don't know how to do this. Previous to this book I've only written short stories so editing was a very different beast. I just rewrote everything over and over until I liked it. This requires being more systematic but I don't know how to begin.


IWSG: Genre Shame

Insecure Writers Support Group

There are many things I love about being a romance writer. I love watching a relationship unfold between the pages of my story. I love considering all the ways love can blossom in inhospitable surroundings.

But the thing I most hate about writing romance is having to tell people that I write romance. People will lean toward me, their eyes sparkling and ask, "So what do you write?" When I tell them my genre, their shoulders pull back, the eyes glaze over and their entire being radiates disappointment. They mutter a vague, "Cooooool" and change the subject.  They thought I meant that I was a "real" writer.

I'm going to digress for a moment (because I love a good digression). Have you ever watched the show, The Big Bang Theory? I love that show. The main male characters are three astrophysicists and one engineer named Howard. Howard takes a lot of guff for being the only one without a PhD. They scoff at the idea that his job has value because in the grand scheme of things, he is simply an "Oompa Loompa of science".  What's weird about this kind of snobbery is that the disdain is saved for the person who offers the most external value. It's a lot easier to see the value of an engineer because we see what they do, whereas with physicists (especially theoretical physicists) the work is only known and understood by a small and elite group of people.

You may be wondering where I am going with this. Well it's been my experience that the things that are the least accessible to the masses are often treated having the most value. Any weighty tome, any lofty philosophy. Any physicist with his head in a particle cloud generator.  And it's true that sometimes those things are incredibly valuable, but it always sucks to be the one near the bottom of the hierarchy.

For writers, being a literary novelist is gold standard. The denser and more complicated your tome, the less your average person wants to read it, the more certain circles of white tower academics will laud you for your genius. Then you get the worker bees, the folks who write Literary/Genre fiction and from there, more traditional genre fiction: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Fantasy. Now it's true that most genre writers take a load of crap for being too readable, too easily accessible and therefore not as cool as that lofty Literary writers. You would think that the other genre writers would band together and support each other but my experience, even the other genre writers treat romance novelists a bit like the scudge you'd find on the bottom of your shoe after walking across a filthy parking lot in the ghetto. Truly, we are the Howard Wolowitzs of the writing world.

Romance novels account for more than half of all the book sold in the world. How is it that my genre is the most read genre in the world and yet, I sometimes feel ashamed to tell people what genre I write? Well it's because I've been beaten up by everyone over it. I'm not exaggerating to say that people feel free to let loose with the most painfully insensitive words when they find out that I write love stories. Some of the comments/phrases I've received from my friends (most of them repeatedly);

"Your silly little love story"
"your cute little novel"
"Maybe when you are ready you'll write a real book"
"Have you ever thought about writing real books?"
"Do you think you should be spending your time working on something more serious?"
"Your goofy book"
"Oh so you write porn huh?"

 And these are from people that actually like me. Strangers are even nastier. I went to a writer's workshop and I asked a young, strange guy what he wrote and he gave me a detailed list of all the interesting genre combos he writes. He says he has never finished a story but he writes Norse/Sci-Fi and other cool things like that. He asked what I wrote and I hesitated because I already sensed this was gonna go badly for me. But I plowed ahead and said, "I write funny romance". He looked me dead in my eyes and said, "Aren't they all funny? I read one and I couldn't stop laughing because it was so stupid."

Right in my face. I hadn't left the room or turned invisible or anything like that.

I sat right there while he called my genre stupid and did nothing. What I should have said, was "Oh yeah butt-wad? Well your genre combinations are nonsensical! That zit on your nose is grossing me out. Also your hair is lank and greasy and I bet you jerk off to that really gross anime with tentacles and stuff."

Alas, I kept all that razor sharp wit to myself. But even though he is just some weird guy I'll never see again, his attitude really bothered me. I've found myself becoming shy about telling people my genre. Someone asked me recently what I write and I hesitated and considered just saying, "fiction" and save myself the embarrassment of their disinterest. I didn't. I couldn't.

It pisses me off that I even have to feel that way. I'm part of a huge collective of people from all walks of life, from all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, who have the same driving desire; to tell the story of how a relationship came to be. How love happened. How can that not be deep and meaningful? Love is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Our relationships often shape the course of our lives and cause us the most pain and pleasure of anything you'll ever experience (outside of having kids I assume). What is more awesome than love?

So I guess this meandering post is meant to ask my fellow writers to consider that even if you don't understand the genre someone writes, respect the hard work they put into their craft, which is no less valuable than the work you put into your own.

So quit picking on the Howard Wolowitzs of the world. Don't forget that he became an astronaut. Also he ended up being the first guy in his group to get married and not just to a cute bimbo, but to an awesomely smart girl who makes a ton of money and has huge sweater yams and probably has a few romance novels on her shelf. 

Don't count us out.

Heehee, sweater yams.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Post About Being Insecure About My Post About Insecurity

There is an Insecure Writers Support Group post coming. But I'm having some trouble editing it. I've written four different beginnings and they are all genius (IMHO) but I think the piece loses something if it's simply four beginnings and no middle or end. Kind of like the blog equivalent of the cancelled show Heroes. A million beginnings that start off so well and soon you just want to tear out your eyelashes and shout, "Could you resolve anything, just one.damn. thing?!" Then you cry a little, but you still watch it because you secretly love Sylar and you'll pretty much watch a show that is nothing but him eating potato chips and using psychic powers to kill other people. So there you are, in despair because you know it's not moving ahead one, single step and you'll have to listen to what feels like 30 minutes of Mohinder rambling on about the universe and mysteries that lay therein and the voice over feels a little bit racist even though you can't pinpoint exactly why...

Reading my post as it is would be exactly like that. So I need a little time. Check back with me later tonight.

Ironically this COULD be an Insecure Writers Support Group post about being insecure about my Insecure Writers Support Group post. Wow, that is so meta it becomes a snake devouring it's own tail. I kind of like it.

Anyhow, stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of fototastisch

Apropos of nothing, did you know that Zachary Quinto is dating Jonathan Groff? That is the most sexy and adorable pairing in the history of ever and I squee-ed a little a lot about it. In honor of Colorado lifting their ban on gay marriage and putting some of my dearest friends a little closer to having equal rights in their own state, tell me who is your favorite celebrity gay couple?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ups, Downs and Siren Songs

Truly a day full of ups and downs...


I fixed my header. Apparently when you save a .png as an image from MS Publisher you must save it at highest resolution otherwise it comes out all choppy and awful like mine did.  So I fixed it! Woot!


My husband started feeling sick again this morning and went to urgent care. He was diagnosed with Viral Gastroenteritis. He has Norovirus and most likely I do too which explains why I feel so run down, nauseated and headachy. Booo.

Wow once it's all written out it really seems more down than up doesn't it?

Oh well. Time spent resting is time I could be writing. I might do it too, you know if Gossip Girl doesn't lure me away from the computer. I'm on season four and Chuck and Blair are off (again) and she might be about to date Dan Humphrey and I mean... I have to see what's gonna happen with that train wreck. Because no. Dan and Serena need to be together. Not because I care about them but because they deserve each other. They are both insufferable jerkwads, permanently attached to their high horses.

Plus I love Blair's clothing. I COVET.

Anyhow, assuming Chuck Bass doesn't seduce me away from the computer, I have two fantastic story ideas that are trying to derail me from editing my current novel. There is nothing more alluring than the siren song of a brilliant idea. There is no judgement, no frustration, it's perfect because it doesn't exist except as a dream. It's like having a crush on someone, it's beautiful and flawless because it's only in your head (like my love affair with Chuck Bass and Ryan Gosling). They are whatever I want them to be. Truth is Chuck would be a terrible boyfriend and Ryan Gosling... he probably farts in his sleep and leaves the kitchen counter all messy. Reality is a harsh mistress both when it comes to love and to romance writing.


Gossip Girl


A Post About Nothing... and Gamma Radiation

Sorry for the absence. Life got in the way. It's still in the way but this evening I kicked life in the gonads and it moved aside just a step or two so I could write this post.

There is only one problem. I have nothing to say.

Dammit, life lies there, writing in pain and I haven't a deep thought rolling around in my pretty little head. Except for Ryan Gosling. When nothing else is going on in my cranium, Ryan Gosling is cavorting around without a shirt on. Sometimes Ryan Reynolds shows up and they cavort together... but I fear I've said too much.

I got an adorable Jessica Simpson purse from Meijer of all places and it's very nice. It's pink. Mmmyup.

I fiddled with the blog header here again. I made a gorgeous header. I saved it as an image, I imported it and it looks like crap. Again. I really need to get PhotoShop but I hate working with it and I love working with MS Publisher but when saved everything looks like garbage. Sigh. 

Oh, remember how I'm a writer and stuff? I have gotten a bit of writing done. Started a new chapter one that was met with tepid reviews from my writing group. It needs work. Went to a writing conference. I have a lot to say about the topic of being a romance writer but I'm saving that gem for the Insecure Writer's Group next month.

Oh I lost my Kindle at the writer conference. Left it in the public bathroom. Didn't realize it was missing until 10pm and that led to panic because it had my personal info on the stupid thing, as well as BUCKETS OF SMUT. I mean it. The joy of an e-reader is that you can buy some seriously dirty books and read them anywhere. Sorry to over-share but I happen to enjoy some good smut every now and then. It turned out that the organizer of the conference had it and yes, she went through it looking for information. I'm not going to name a single one of the titles I had on there but put yourself in the shoes an older lady and then imagine something like twenty books with titles like "Booty Smackin' Two: Electric Boogaloo" and you'd have an idea of what she saw.

What else, what else? My husband got the flu and I thought he was gonna die. He also got electrocuted by an outlet at his job. That was an exciting trip to the ER at 2am. Having never been to the airport in my life, I have never experienced having to walk through a metal detector and all that stuff. But that's what they do now at the Emergency Room. I found it very exciting when the police officer x-rayed my purse and I could see my Kindle in it and my nail clippers. That was so cool. Afterward I wondered if my Kindle would develop super powers since it was exposed to radiation. So far it's still just a humble e-reader but is it me or does my case look a little... green?


Once my Kindle hulks out, Captain America and Iron Man and Thor all show up at my house right? Because I think I have smutty book with that premise (if I don't I should write one).

Mmmm Captain America.

Well hell we are through the looking glass. Tell me who your favorite Avenger is and why in the comments below.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Hideous Betrayal...

The premise and hook of my romance was already done (almost identically) on an episode of some show that shall not be named because I'm being pissy about the whole thing.

My lovely friend Meika text-ed me, saying, I know there is a way to make you love your story again. I hope she is right. I have listened and read a lot of advice from my wonderful friends and fellow writers on how to handle this. I've decided that first, I need some time away from my manuscript to deal with my disappointment. I had never been more confident in any of my work as a writer than I was in my ability to sell this novel and now that confidence is shaken. Maybe it's not original or interesting like I thought. Now I can't stop wondering how much of it is trite and derivative and maybe I just couldn't see the truth of it because I am too in love with my own work.

After I shake off this new found insecurity, I need to get back to work on the novel. Though I'm going to make some changes to distinguish my premise from the POS show that got there first (insert colorful cusswords here, followed by grumbles).

But truly, the hardest part is the betrayal I feel. Because all of this time I thought it was just me and my premise; laughing, drinking caramel hot cocoa in cafes, painting our nails and admiring the hell out of each other. I never asked how my premise felt, I just assumed that she felt the same way as I did. That we were perfect for each other and belonged together. Little did I know, my premise took a much looser approach to relationships than I did. Where as I am a one premise kind of gal, she turned out to be a filthy cheating whore. 

She rubbed some serious salt in my wounds too. She didn't just cheat on me with some newbie writer from Scappoose, oh no. She cheated on me with famed Buffy writer, Jane freakin' Espenson (who co-wrote the episode which will not be named). I cannot express to you how much that pisses me off  because it's awfully hard to be mad when I'm secretly sort of thrilled that Jane Espenson and I had the same idea.

Can I be both a sore loser and a squealing fangirl?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG: My novel is now royally effed...

 My first IWSG post couldn't have come at a better (or worse time).

I completed my rough draft of this novel in 2009 during my first NaNoWriMo. Years earlier I worked at a medical supply and I had to watch an employee safety video for home nurses and it was all about checking under your car and in your backseat before getting into the car. It was designed to create horror and paranoia. I scribbled on one of my many scraps of paper that it would be a funny idea if the person in the backseat were the victim and the driver was dangerous. That idea became my first novel, a romance about an accidental carjacking in Detroit.

It's my hook and it's a huge part of the entire novel. I worked very hard to come up with a believable premise as to why my hero would be in the backseat of his car. I have labored over every scene and built a friendship between unlikely characters.

Tonight (I'm writing this a hair before midnight) a friend of mine informed me that she saw a television show that had a romantic episode with my EXACT PREMISE. I do mean exact. The episode aired in 2012.

It's enough to make a writer reflux and cry, which is actually what I'm doing right now.

I've been tooling around with this novel for three and a half years. Eight months ago I finally started making headway on my editing and I've been rewriting like crazy. I really thought I had something unique and funny. And now I find out that my brilliant gem is going to look like costume jewelry from the dollar store.

I have no idea what to do or how to proceed. I'm so disgusted with myself for not getting on the ball and getting my novel ready to publish two years ago. Now no matter what, it will look like I stole my premise from the show.

My friend who dropped the bomb on me suggested I move on and work with the pieces. So easy. Just rewrite the thing you've bled over. I know it's a romance novel and not highfalutin' literature but it's my greatest achievement, something I dreamed of creating and putting out there since I was twelve years old. And now I just have to throw it out and start over.

My stomach is burning and in a big knot. I'm at a complete loss.

What the hell do I do now?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Mythical Organized Writer

This is not what my office looks like.
I'm not one of those writers who has everything neat and tidy. But I long to be a be one of the few, the fabled... the Organized Writer. A writer who is never buried under piles of paper bits and dozens of half empty notebooks. Someone whose computer files are sorted and organized for easy access. A Wonder Woman of organizational prowess who has her stories cataloged and organized so manuscripts can be easily picked up and edited on the go.

But I am not that writer. I'm more of a, I'd work on my manuscript but I can never seem to find it, it's around here somewhere, kind of writer. The week before last, I lost the jump drive with all of my novel edits on it. That weren't backed up anywhere because sometimes I'm an idiot. I was in tears and I searched for about three days. Luckily my husband located it buried in the debris of scrap-book stuff and receipts that litter my home office.

When he handed it to me, I was disgusted with myself and my inability to be organized. I vowed to work on becoming an Organized Writer. I began doing Internet searches to get some helpful advice. I needed an organizational muse, someone who could give me concrete advice on how to get out from under the paper piles, sticky notes and disheartening file cabinet.

Twenty different websites later, and I still haven't' found any useful advice. Oh there are websites that will all give you the same general ideas, written different ways but it's never helpful (sort of like Cosmo articles about sex).  Most of them say something like, If you aren't going to use it right away, toss it or file it. Well sure, but then I end up with bloated file cabinets and no room for things like receipts and bills and the instruction manual for my toaster oven. Does no one think of the toaster oven?

Throwing scraps of thoughts or ideas away is out of the question. Those are little bits of my genius just waiting for the right moment to be useful! The scrap I'm holding right now says, peanut butter diva sings the blues. I have no idea where that came from or what I might do with it but it's intriguing don't you think?  I don't want to throw it away yet, in case I eat a PB & J with some Ruffles and inspiration strikes me.

I've tried the filing thing and organized baskets and file sorters too. I even tried using a cork board for a while. It was great. But  then my notes began to devour it. All you could see were tiny peeks of the wood frame trying to escape. It was so full of paper that the angry cork began spitting the pushpins out and onto the floor (and into our delicate foot meat). My clutter hating husband took it down because the chaos was giving him palpitations.

So in my mad Googling, I had hoped to find someone who could tell me in detail, not just in vague generalities, how to organize my writing on the computer and on paper. So far I've found almost nothing. Most of the advice isn't practical or truly useful. It's like the paper inside of fortune cookies. You know when you break open that stale cookie and the paper says, You are a very nice person and you are like, well sure I am but that's not a fortune, it's a statement. The advice for disorganized writers isn't really advice. It's a list of commonly known strategies for being organized with no further instructions as to how to implement them. If I knew how to file papers in an organized manner, I wouldn't be looking it up online you douche-canoes! I'm completely useless at this and I need you to walk me through it as though I don't speak English.
The Organized Writer in it's natural habitat.

So I have come to believe that there is no such human as an Organized Writer. This creature appears to be as fictitious as a unicorn.

Oh I know you'll say, Nu-uh Mencara Christina, cuz my friend's sister's cousin is a writer and is totes organized! Well after I sock you for saying "totes" un-ironically, I will tell you, Your friend's sister's cousin was ALWAYS organized.

Here is the key. I think the reason that the organizational advice is vague is because organized people don't know how to explain what they do to unorganized schlub writers like myself. It's instinctual and intuitive. Either you are a person who always kept things tidy or, like me, you will always be struggling to stay ahead of your papers. You can't explain something that is simply inherent to your personality. I imagine to an organized person, it seems so basic, Just throw it away or file it neatly. But that sentence is so foreign to me, it might as well be written in Klingon. How the hell do I let go of the need to keep every stupid thing and how do I organize my files so they'll be neat? The advice seems to reply, You just do it. I throw my arms in the air and shout, How? Where do I buy the unicorn magic necessary to figure this out?

So perhaps my unicorn simile was inaccurate but I'm a writer and I like it so I didn't edit it out. It's not that there are no organized writers out there, it's that there aren't any previously sloppy writers who became organized. The myth is that with some vague generalities, you will shift from a person drowning in papers to a happy, organized person. And I call shenanigans on that.

Now that I think about it, I read a great book once about home organization. I can't recall the name of it and that's a shame, but I do remember one piece of advice. The writer said there was no point in buying bunches of boxes or baskets or pieces of furniture in order to force yourself to be organized. It just doesn't work. The writer suggested instead that you work around yourself. If you always leave your papers in this area, make that the paper area. It's that simple. If you always leave your shoes by the front door, arrange the area to accommodate what you are likely to do. Because it's unlikely you'll actually shift from what you're doing to match some arbitrary system.

So I guess I had the unicorn magic in me all along. My shit is in Mencara Christina order and I just didn't know it.

Also I've been staring at the scrap of paper that said, peanut butter diva sings the blues, and now I'm more interested in eating a PB &J than in organizing my office. Mmm, PB & J with Ruffles on the sandwich. Salty. Sweet. Perfect.

So screw organization, how do you like your peanut butter and jelly sandwich prepared? Leave me a comment and let me know.