Theme

The Roses have gone to the movies--and twisted them to suit our creative purposes! For July, we're going crazy and talking about One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and He's Just Not That Into You.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

That Cuckoo flew under the car! ~ by Leah St. James



I had a hard time coming up with something for this month’s theme without getting too dark. (I tend to go  dark to begin with, and the “cuckoo” topic lures me even darker.) But something happened this morning that made me think of cuckoos in a different way, and I figured I’d share.

I was driving with my son near our home, and as we approached an intersection, a small, dark bird kamikazed itself at our front grill. We were only going about 30 MPH to begin with, and he attempted to stop, but it happened so fast, there was nothing he could have done to prevent it.

Photo Courtesy of morgueFile
As we continued forward, we both checked the mirrors to see if there was any evidence of dead bird in the road—but nothing. Then we wondered if it was actually stuck in the front grille. We checked when we stopped the car, and thankfully it, too, was free of bird guts.

Then my son said, “What is wrong with these birds in Virginia?! They’re crazy! They’re always flying right at the car, or the tires! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swerved to miss one of the stupid creatures.” (He's like his mother. He gets a little melodramatic when confronted with something compelling enough.)

Having seen no proof of a dead bird in this case, I told him not to worry about it. But he had a point. It's happened to me many, many times, and it got me wondering. Why do birds do that? Is it coincidental—they’re flying along (like three feet off the ground), and a big, old car happens along and gets in their way? Or, like my son seems to believe, do they see the car from a perch high above the roadway and purposely aim for it?

So I did what I always do when an intriguing puzzle comes along…I Googled “Why do birds fly in front of cars?” I found an online forum on straightdope.com from Julyof 2002 where someone had posed this exact question. There were a number of theories posited, like:  Birds are playful, and maybe they’re playing chicken. (:-)) Or they perceive the car as a giant threat to a nearby nest so go on the attack. 

The one I found most plausible claimed that cars create an updraft, a current of air that birds ride, like we might ride a wave in the ocean. What a neat idea, but so potentially hazardous to our feathered friends! 



I hope that little bird made it across the street just fine, but if he didn’t, I hope my car’s updraft gave him the ride of his life. (Ouch? Did I really just write that?)

Happy reading and writing, all!

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Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the enduring power of love. Learn more at LeahStJames.com.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

How The Martini Club 4 Was Born by Alicia Dean

I am posting off topic this month, because absolutely nothing about the theme occured to me that hadn't already been done, and because, I want to share something really fun!

A few years back, my writer friends/critique partners began meeting every Friday at the Boulevard Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma, for cocktails and de-stressing. We came to call it The Martini Club, and we eventually had the idea to write a series of novellas with a Martini Lounge type establishment as a recurring theme. Our first venture, set in 1924 New York, is in the works. We are having a blast with the project and have held a few weekend getaways to plot and write. (Not only are these sojourns productive, they are FUN! Being good friends certainly helps make the process more enjoyable. However, I do have a confession. Oftentimes, rather than martinis, these weekends involve wine. Lots of wine…) Our final retreat is scheduled in mid-September, and we plan to have the books released this fall. The four stories feature a group of young women who meet on a ship sailing from England to America.

This is us at The Martini Club: Left to right, Krysta Scott, Amanda McCabe, Kathy L. Wheeler, and me (Alicia Dean)
 
Keep reading to learn more about the Martini Club 4 series…

(A few of these are ‘working titles’ and we only have two of the four covers thus far)
 

Wayward: Martini Club 4 – The Twenties by Alicia Dean

Eliza Gilbert flees England after her employer attempts to force himself upon her. She vowed to her dying mum she would be no man’s doxy, and she intends to keep that vow. But life in New York isn’t as promising as she’d hoped, and now she finds herself in a situation more dire than the one she fled.

Former boxer Vincent Taggart wants a quiet life where he can settle down with a nice girl and run his boxing gym. But when his childhood sweetheart disappears, he travels to New York in search of her. He meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation, and he is drawn to her like no other female he’s ever known. He can’t stay away from her, especially when he learns she may be the key to unlocking the sordid mystery surrounding the missing girl.
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Rebellious: : Martini Club 4 – The Twenties by Kathy L. Wheeler
Lady Margaret Montley, needs money, and lots of it. While her singing career is on the brink of catapulting her into stardom it’s not soon enough. And bootlegging is just the answer. With the aid of a make-up artist friend she dons the persona of a young man and jumps in feet first.
Harry Dempsey, undercover investigator, is out to stop the bastard rumrunners--illegal moonshine has cost him everything he loves. When Lady Margaret shows up on the night of a dangerous sting operation, he not only has to save her from the crime lord that killed his father and brother, but from her own reckless behavior.

Bio:
Kathy L Wheeler (aka Kae Elle Wheeler) writes contemporary and historical romance. She has a BA in Management Information Systems from the University of Central Oklahoma that includes over forty credit hours of vocal music. As a computer programmer the past fifteen years, she utilizes karaoke for her vocal music talents. Other passions include fantasy football, NBA, travel and musical theatre.
She is a member of several RWA Chapters, including DARA, The Beau Monde and OKRWA chapters. Her main sources of inspiration come from mostly an over-active imagination. She currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with her musically talented husband, Al, and their bossy cat, Carly. Visit her at http://kathylwheeler.com
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Adrift: Martini Club 4 – The Twenties by Krysta Scott

After escaping an arranged marriage, Charli Daniels lands on a new shore. But things go from bad to worse when her fiancé follows her to New York. Now, instead of realizing her dream of opening her own bakery, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom.
Haunted by a string of failures, Detective Felix Noble is determined to solve his latest case. But his effort to find a murderer is jeopardized by a forbidden attraction to his number one suspect.
When a new threat surfaces, Felix wonders if he is once again on the wrong track. Can Charli convince him of her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?
Bio:
Krysta Scott is a family law attorney in her false life. After years of writing and winning contests, she is now taking the plunge into publishing. A fan of sci-fi and dark stories about people in crisis, she also enjoys the television shows Vampire Diaries, Breaking Bad, and Sherlock. As a result of much coaxing by her friends, she decided to write a 20’s romantic suspense as her breakout story.
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Fearless: Martini Club 4 – The Twenties by Amanda McCabe

Lady Jessica Hatton fled her high-society London life for one of investigative journalism in New York--only to be relegated to the fashion pages.  Searching for a juicy story leads her to The Bungalow, the city's most glamorous speakeasy--and its handsome, mysterious owner, Frank Markov.  But his past puts their hearts--and their lives--in danger...

Bio:
Amanda McCabe is the RITA-nominated author of almost 100 historical romances.  She's loved the 1920s since learning a version of the Charleston for a 5th grade dance recital, and watching 'Downton Abbey' too many times has only made the addiction worse!  Visit her at http://ammandamccabe.com

Friday, July 18, 2014

Romantic Comedy vs. Drama...Finding the Balance by Jannine Gallant

It occurred to me our two movies this month represent these categories. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is drama. Crazy people in an insane asylum. Screams drama, right? He's Just Not That Into You is billed as romantic comedy--a group of young adults filled with angst over their romantic problems. Their situations are silly and over the top and funny. But there's a darker side to their problems, as you'll find in most romantic comedies. The balance is necessary, or the film turns into an...um...Jim Carrey movie. LOL As for our Cuckoo's Nest, well, have you ever seen Jack Nicholson not be funny? He lightens a serious situation with some really comic lines.

So, basically we need to mix our drama and our comedy in the right proportions to come up with a winning combination. Whether it's in a movie...or a book. I never really thought about it before, but subconsciously I've been doing this all along in my writing.

Asking For Trouble is romantic comedy. I've mixed an inept uncle (the hero) with his precocious baby nephew, and thrown in a heroine who saves his butt on more than one occasion. The resulting situations are funny. (At least I hope they are.) But underneath runs a thread of heartache for both characters because they feel their life goals are simply too different to find common ground, despite the love they share. A little tragedy mixed with the babysitting mishaps. Without the drama, my book would have turned into a Three Stooges episode.

I also write romantic suspense. Some of it can be pretty dark. In A Deadly Love, a serial killer is cutting the hearts out of women--literally. But there's a giant dog who constantly digs holes in the neighbor's yard and a grandmother who wears tie-dye and has some great one-liners. They make the reader smile. (I hope.) Again, a little balance to keep the reader entertained while they bite their knuckles, wondering who the killer will strike down next.

So, do you like your romantic comedy with an underside of drama...and vice versa? Or is mixing genres not your thing?

Visit me at my website to find out more about me and my mishmashed works! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Calling A Writer a Cuckoo Can Be A Compliment by Betsy Ashton

Have you ever been called a cuckoo? Or nuts? Or a little off? How did you react? Did you thank the person? Did you get angry? Did you not understand what was happening?

If you've been called these names and thanked the person, odds are you are a writer. Many of us are more than a little bent. We listen to the voices in our heads. We carry on conversations with imaginary friends. Some of us walk around outdoors gesturing madly while we work out a thorny plot twist.

Family learns to tolerate our behavior. They find in us comic relief from the seriousness of daily life.

I work out plot twists in the middle of the night. As I lie in bed, in and out of sleep, plots take shape. Dialogue flows. Characters form. I thank my spiritual muse for these nights of enlightenment.

When this happens, do I get up and race down to the laptop? Turn on the bedside light, write a note and wake up my husband? No. If the plot twist, dialogue and characters are good, I'll work with them in the morning. Some mornings, after a night when the spirit muse is in full voice, I do race to the laptop and let my fingers fly over the keyboard. A good day sees 3000 words pour out, some of which will actually make it into the finished manuscript. Others will be crafted, massaged, rewritten and even deleted over time. At least the draft captures the moment.

Good days find me at the keyboard for many hours. Words flow. Words don't. When the voices in my head are quiet or are arguing among themselves, I take a break and work on some marketing activities. When the voices quit arguing, I look back at what brought on the argument. Often it leads to a new plot line. Sometimes it leads to a whole new concept for a manuscript. Sometimes they paralyze my fingers, rendering everything I type rubbish.

Call me cuckoo. Call me nuts. Please call me a writer.

And then there are days like today when the gummy bears are in charge and nothing makes sense.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cuckoo for Crazy Characters by Donna Michaels

It’s true. For some reason, whether it’s a book, TV show or movies, I’m always drawn to the crazy character. Doesn’t matter if they’re crazy insane, or crazy funny, I’m hooked. Not sure what that says about me. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I want to know...

Take the movie Armageddon for example. I’m a huge Bruce Willis fan, but it wasn’t his character that stuck with me. Nope. It was Steve Buscemi’s portrayal of the brilliant Rockhound with space dementia that struck a chord. Last week, I saw Transformers 4. Loved the special effects and Mark Walberg, but it was Stanley Tucci all the way in that movie! He was crazy obsessive, but had a conscience, and I loved him!

On TV, my favorite character was Haywire on Prison Break; Crowley on Supernatural…okay, love Dean, too. But my all time favorite TV cuckoo is Andrew Scott’s portrayal of Moriarty on the BBC’s Sherlock. Isn’t he great?
Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty on BBC's Sherlock

The character is brilliant and completely insane. Cuckoo. A psychopath, and so wonderfully written and portrayed. I can’t wait until next year to catch another episode. Moriarty is extremely unpredictable, and I love to watch just to see what he says or does next. Actually, same could be said for Sherlock. Benedict is brilliant, too.
Come to think of it, my fondness for crazy characters even spills into my childhood. My favorite Muppet was, and still is, Animal. I think I must subconsciously have an affinity to some because I’ve always had my own I Love Lucy moments.
Just last year, at the Romance Novel Convention in Vegas, I simultaneously wiped out two room keys in one swoop, right after my roommate lost hers. Yep. We were stranded outside our room. And later that night, my roommate and I were in a hurry to get away from some drunk Aussies (won’t get into that now), so we exited the elevator and raced to our room, but it wouldn’t open. We tried her keys, my keys. Nothing. Then we had the foresight to check the room number. You guessed it. Not ours. Did I mention it was 2am? Thank goodness the occupants weren’t there.  Can you imagine hearing someone trying to get into your room at that hour? I swear, only I could be that loopy. And no, I don’t mean drunk. I had soda all night. Maybe a drink would’ve helped. lol
And I guess I can’t say only I, since my roommate is just as bad/funny. I can remember her and I talking in the elevator and one of the guest authors smiled and glanced from me to my roommate and said: “You two are seriously funny.” We looked at each other and shrugged. We were just being us.
At RNC last year...shh...don't tell her I posted this...
 
Do you have a buddy like that? Better yet, do you have I Love Lucy-cuckoo moments? Please tell me I’m not alone in that stereo-type, although, I honestly don’t mind. It’s always good for a laugh…and a scene in a book.
By the time this posts, I’ll be on my way back home from this years’ Romance Novel Convention, and yes, I’m staying with my same author friend. I can only imagine what ‘moments’ I can now add to my Lucy memoires. I promise I’ll tell you about it, but please forgive me if I don’t get on to respond to your posts for a day or two. I really look forward to hearing about your ‘episodes’.
There’s a little bit of me in all my heroines. You can check out my books here: www.donnamichaelsauthor.com  
Have a great day, and thanks for reading,
~Donna

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

He's Just Not That Into You - Women Scorned and Exes by Alison Henderson

Our topic this month, He's Just Not That Into You, got me thinking, but not about the movie. Since I've never seen it, I had to think of something else. I let the words of the title roll around in my brain until they could make a connection of some kind. Here's what I came up with: He's Just Not That Into You made me think of a woman scorned (like Sharon Stone in Fatal Attraction) and also the whole idea of Exes.

Both these themes can make juicy fodder in romance novels, but I've never used either in my stories. I wonder why. They both provide excellent built-in conflict. The woman scorned could be either the heroine or an antagonist. If she's the heroine, she could have been dumped by the hero or another man. How would that make her feel and behave? If she is the antagonist, does she come after the man who dumped her (the hero) or his new love interest (the heroine)?

An ex-lover or spouse can be either a villain, a comfortable old friend, or something in between. Having a past with someone can add elements of jealousy, regret, or outright fury. 

Since I have no personal experience writing characters like this, I'm going to take a little poll. Please chime in and share your ideas.

1. Have you written a story that included a woman scorned? Who was she?
2. Do any of your favorite books include this theme? How did the author use it?
3. Do you like to write about ex-lovers or ex-spouses? Do you like to read about them?
4. What do you think is the most effective use of an ex from a character standpoint?

I've clearly been missing the boat. I need to add a character like this to my WIP. Hmm. I wonder who it will be.

Alison
www.alisonhenderson.com
http://alisonhenderson.blogspot.com 

Monday, July 14, 2014

He's Just Not That Into You...

What makes people “into” each other?

When I was single, I used to have a list. A super-duper dating checklist. It helped me navigate through the sea of potentials. I don’t like to waste time. I’m ridiculously efficient. Why should dating have been any different?

Dating is a task. It’s something you have to do in order to find The One. I figured it should have guidelines. Criteria. A set of standards by which to measure possible candidates.

Shut up. I told you I’m efficient and I'm a teacher. We live by standards. Do you want to see the checklist or not?

Well, then, pipe down and read on.

Christine’s Super-Duper Dating Checklist

Name: _________________(insert name of victim…uh…I mean applicant, here)

___has a job

___likes his job

___is good with money

___can cook (particularly knows what tiramisu is)

___doesn’t care about watching sports on TV

___knows what to do with a table saw

___wears work boots (okay if only on the weekends while using a table saw)

___reads

___likes supernatural stuff

___plays an instrument or is willing to learn

___likes to be active

___is creative

___is intelligent (must be able to play a solid game of Scrabble)

___has a sense of humor (can take and make jokes)

___loves animals

___loves being outside

___questions things

___doesn’t want children (When you're firm on not wanting them, you've got to have this one on the checklist. Must! For me, if the candidate wanted them, we weren't going on a date. It'd only waste everyone's time.)

___doesn’t like the city

___Italian (my grandmother insisted)

___doesn’t settle (always dreams of more)

___is a great problem solver

___tries new things

___is a good kisser

___understands that M&Ms solve everything

This checklist really helped me spend my time on compatible individuals back in the day and allowed me to find The Husband… who, by the way, got very high scores on this. He's been an A+ student ever since too.

What do/did you look for in a potential? Are/were you as tough as I was?

For some fun with guys who are totally into their gals, check out my Maple Leaf Series. Book One is More Than Pancakes and is available now.



And Book Two, More Than Cookies, is coming in August. Check out the cover below. See what it's about at my website.

What do/did you look for in a potential? Are/were you as tough as I was?

Toodles,
Chris