BabesinBookland

2 Blondes, 1 Redhead & a Reviewer

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

who wants to be a writer?

I never wanted to be a writer.  My idea of a writer was a skinny soul scratching out stories by candlelight.  I was a lic. cosmetologist.  Making beaucoup bucks at it, too.  But like most of us, i was a reader.  often, when I was a kid, sneaking books I’d get grounded for reading because they were too adult. (Stephen King!)

I was a voracious reader, but the urge to write came when I read a romance that wasn’t all that great.  Hear me, I’d read a couple hundred already that were fantastic and I tried to understand why I didn’t like it.  That was the seed.  ‘I’d have done it this way’  runs through your mind.  Then I metioned this lousy book to a pal and she challenged me to do better.  She was insulted I dared be critical one of HER authors.  It was really more like, oh reallly?  you think you can do better, try.   While our kids played, I sat right there and wrote.  Oddly, she read it and said, not half bad.  If she said it stunk, I’d have just kept on being a reader.  what prompted me to keep going is I hadn’t finished the book and didn’t know jack about writing.   After we relocated to Okinawa, I was in full bore writing mode.  I also had my first experience with fellow writers.  I’d never met anyone who wrote fiction.  (met lots of military non fiction writers, naturally)  they turned me onto all sorts of new ideas and avenues.  I love them for that.

So the jist of this is that it was happenstance.  I never intented to write for a living. I was just writing to see if I could do it. It was all about the challenge of something new.  (for me, at least)  In 1992….I found out that, yup, I can and a publisher wanted to buy it.  This September I’ll have been a memeber of RWA for 22 years and the 20 yr anniversary of my first sale.  37 books in 20 years.  In any other genre that would be phenominal.  In romance, I’m small potatoes.  In that same time, Maureen Child has written over 120.  See, small ‘taters.  =)

Why I wanted to be a writer…

I loved telling stories, and entertaining myself with them.  I loved to read and spent lots of hours escaping from my own childhood into a book.

That was the coolest magic I know, and I hope I provide the same for others who read my stuff! It’s good mojo.And positve feedback from readers feeds the fire!

I was just reading a review of Diary of a Bad Boy on Goodreads where a reader gave me 3 out 5 stars, because even though the book was good, she guessed, and even brought her to tears over the character development, there was a little too much Jesus in there for her 🙂 Which is totally fine, I am not a Christian writer, but I stayed true to the story – what makes me happy about this review is that even though this person has a thing against Jesus in her stories she was hooked enough that she read it all the way through. And yes, cried. For me that’s a win.

On another note, other writers tell me all the time that they don’t read their reviews. Reviews are subjective and the truth is that everybody has an opinion. Sometimes people just don’t get your work, or like your style. I’ve had the same editor reject five projects over a period of five years – she doesn’t like the way I write. There is nothing I can do to change that, so I had to learn to let it go. I don’t mind reviews because maybe I can learn something that will teach me to be a better writer.

The best thing about being a writer is creating stories and worlds for readers to move around in.

The worst thing about being a writer?

Marketing. It kind of sucks the life right out of you 🙂

Happy wednesday!

Traci

Amanda wins!

Hi Amanda and congrats – yes the car changes color during the book – opps, bad author.  But you’re my winner, please email me at rhonda@rhondapollero.com and we’ll work out your selection of gifts.

 

Regards,

Rhonda

You know you’re a writer when . . .

Before I ever had aspirations of becoming a writer, I was a voracious reader.  Aside from the assigned material in high school and college, I was always drawn to commercial fiction.  My hero at 13 was Sydney Sheldon.

As a family we always vacationed at golf/beach resorts so I learned the art of relaxing with a good book at an early age.  I could ‘see’ the characters in my head and all the locations came to life.  I really wanted to try my hand at that, too naive to know it isn’t as easy as thinking up a story and putting fingertips to IBM selectric (Yes, I am that old).

I was far from an overnight success but those 10 years of failure taught me a lot about the craft of writing.  Not only did I need to be a storyteller, I also had to be proficient in plotting, pacing, characterization and conflict.  There’s no writer’s school for that.  It’s one of those on-the-job learning things.

The closest you can come to moving closer to that goal of being a writer is to read and learn.  There is no magic handshake.  I attended conferences and at every possible turn, I went to hear speakers at local libraries and community centers.  I learned volumes.

At the end of the day, you have to want it.  I know a lot of people who are in love with the idea of being a writer; they just don’t want to put in the time and effort to actually write.  Still working on that manuscript you started 2 years ago?  Well, you might want to rethink that.

I wanted to be published so badly I could taste it.  And when I say it took me 10 years, I’m not kidding.  I started (and stopped) about 20 manuscripts in that amount of time.  It wasn’t until I learned the only secret that I finally sold.  And that secret is voice.  The way you tell a story is your voice.  Some voices are more appropriate in historical fiction; others work best in YA; mine just happens to be either humor or serial killers.  Or I can combine the 2 and do funny killers – just kidding.  No one can give you a voice; you have to find your own.  Sometimes that takes 10 years.

 

Happy Writing

Gypsy Boy, by Mikey Walsh

Gypsy Boy

My Life in the Secret World of the Romany Gypsies

by Mikey Walsh

A heartbreaking, ultimately triumphant memoir, Gypsy Boy will have you cringing, laughing and crying, sometimes all at once.  Mikey was a remarkable, resilient boy, who has grown into an insightfully sensitive and intelligent man, much to the reader’s delight.

Part of a wandering Romany Gypsy group, Mikey’s family is set in its violent ways, knows no other way, in fact.  When Mikey’s father begins to notice the first signs of his son being “different,” as in, a gypsy who doesn’t like to fight, he becomes hell bent on toughening him up, making him into a fighter.  While Mikey’s mother doesn’t exactly approve of his father’s aggressive ways with her son who’s just barely out of diapers, she can do nothing to stop him.  In fact, she gets beaten badly as well, more often than not, for trying to step in, with the result being that the father is then even harder on Mikey.  The father’s total lack of remorse is just one of the many incredulous facts of little Mikey’s life.

There are several aspects of Mikey’s character that make him a misfit in the Gypsy world.  For instance, he is much too sensitive a soul to fit the Gypsy ideal of a man.  That’s a hard thing for any kid to hide, and Mikey is no exception.  He can easily see that his father is totally disgusted with what he perceives as weakness in his son, and it cuts Mikey to the core.  Mikey, however, is nothing if not stoic.  He takes all that his father dishes out partly because he has no choice, but mostly because to do anything else would mean his father had won, and Mikey is not about to let his father win.

This is a gritty coming-of-age memoir, and along the way you will see glimpses of the man Mikey is to become.  As much as he abhors the regular training sessions in the gym and in the ring, they do teach him to stand up for himself, not to mention that they get him in fine, physical form.  He learns who he can trust to be in his corner—a surprisingly low number compared to those he cannot.  The abuse that Mikey is forced to undergo is hard to take, indeed; however, the fact that he somehow managed to come out of it alive and well and with his head screwed on straight is nothing short of amazing.  His courage and fortitude are truly inspiring.

On the lighter side, it’s quite interesting—and often amusing–to learn of the gypsy ways, especially the ostentatious gypsy women, who love to clean their trailers in stilettos and tight-fitting clothing (I kept picturing Peg Bundy of Married with Children fame.)  Also, some of their customs, including singing and storytelling, are quite charming.  And parties, Gypsies love to throw them for both minor and major occasions. Weddings and funerals are attended by every Gypsy, related or not, for hundreds of miles around. It’s easy to see the things that Mikey found appealing about Gypsy life.  Too bad for Mikey, the unappealing ways far outweighed the appealing ones.

Gypsy Boy is a worthwhile memoir that I have to believe was cathartic for Mikey to write.  I do hope this contributed to his healing process, as he clearly has it in him to live a productive and enjoyable life.  He may even have another book or two in him, which would be good news for his fans, of which I am now one.

Bonnie Crisalli

Thanks!

Thanks for sharing SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR release week!

Hopefully some of you have read the book by now.  If so, kindly feel free to leave a comment on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or at http://books.simonandschuster.com/Slightly-Irregular/Rhonda-Pollero/9781416590736/reviews.  If you enjoyed the book, tell your friends!

This brings me to the dreaded topic of promotion.  So not my strong suit.  This week has been hard for me because I’m really not one of those people who can comfortably say, “Pay attention to me!  Buy my book!”

Not that I don’t want you to buy my book, I do.  Buy several, it makes a great gift *g*.  I used to toss a lot of money at promoting books but quite frankly, I didn’t see a lot of return on my investment.  So I’m doing a couple of signings and had some Paradise pens and bookmarks created but the major promo item on this book has been the excerpt booklet my publisher put together for me.  Not only does it have SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR in it but it also includes a peek at the next Finley book, BARGAIN HUNTING.  It gives people a taste of the tone and content of the book so they will hopefully be inspired to buy it.

I know writers who spend their entire advance on publicity.  Not me.  I don’t think it’s a good business move to spend like crazy.  I use the pizza parlor model.  If I was opening a pizzeria, I’d need to advertise but I’d also have to buy the equipment and food.  If I spent all my money on advertising, I wouldn’t be able to afford the dough to make the pizza.

Thanks for spending the week with me!

Hope you enjoy SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR . . . And remember the giveaway . . . the first person to answer this question gets an autographed copy of Slightly Irregular and a Paradise pen (or a coffee mug if you prefer).

What kind of car does Finley drive?  Make, Model, Color

Be the first one with the answer and I’ll send you your gift. (announced on Monday)

 

Where oh where . . .

I hope SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR is living on your shelves or eReader by now.  Even better if you’ve already read it!

So how did I go about researching the book?  I approached Finley the same way I’ve approached every other book.

First, I scout locations.  I go to the place, in this instance downtown West Palm and Palm Beach.  Here’s my admission about Palm Beach.  The first time I walked Worth Avenue I kept seeing these small water spigots dripping into oval pools.  My first thought was what a great way to cool off your feet on a hot Florida day.  Nope – doggie fountains.  More than half the women I saw shopping had decorator dogs sticking out of their purses or on blinged out leashes.  They also had staff.  It isn’t uncommon for a woman to have a man – usually large – walking a few paces behind them, carrying their packages.  It’s a very different world.  I don’t know about you, but I schlep my own purchases.

Getting the physical locations is important.  Nothing will get you hate mail faster than having a character go north on a one-way road that only goes north.  I also had to get a sense of the smells, the traffic patterns, the architecture, etc.  I take tons of photos so I don’t forget things.  I also have a general idea of what kinds of places I need to see – churches, cemeteries, possible dumpsites, etc.

The second thing I do is research the professions.  Having worked in a law firm, which was pretty easy and didn’t really require much.  But Finley’s friends were another story.  Becky is a lawyer, so that was a no brainer.  Olivia (Liv) is a party planner and Jane is an investment counselor.  So I employed my favorite research technique.  I asked around until I found people with those professions and did personal interviews.  This is tricky because you have to be prepared with the right questions.  “Describe your average day.”  “Would X be plausible?”  You want to find out if your plot element would work, not if that person has actually done it before.  So you give them the scenario and see what, if anything, they have to add.

The last thing I do before starting the book is gather my pictures.  I’m a visual learner, so I take actor/model photographs off the internet so I have a physical image of each character.  Soap opera sites are great for this since they have a wide variety of ages and genders, so I can usually find a green-eyed blonde, or whatever physical type I’m looking for.  I transfer those photos into Write Way Pro, the program I use to organize my character’s bios, etc.

When I’m writing the book, I’m all about Google.  I want an answer and I want it fast.  Yes, I could read a book about guns but it’s so much easier to just Google ‘guns that shoot under water’ than to read the history of weapons trying to find what I need.  I do try to crosscheck all my facts with a second source.  I also have some bookmarked sites I rely on heavily.  One is Nordstroms.com; I dress Finley and her friends from there and a few other sites.  I’m not exactly a shopper and I don’t know half of the designers, but I can find the right outfit and shoes in a matter of minutes.

So . . . Remember the giveaway . . . the first person to answer this question gets an autographed copy of Slightly Irregular and a Paradise pen (or a coffee mug if you prefer).

What kind of car does Finley drive?  Make, Model, Color

Be the first one with the answer and I’ll send you your gift.

Even More Slightly Irregular

 

What makes Finley, well, Finley?

By now you all have your copy of SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR, right?

Creating a character requires creating a world.  World building is a long process.  At least it is for me.  I thought long and hard about the world Finley would inhabit.  Knowing I was going to write a series, I had to remember to cast a wide net.  Give her many friends, create a workplace that allowed for lots of conflict and lastly, she needed some family.

I get the most hate mail about Finley’s mother, Cassidy.  She’s been called vicious and unbelievable.  Well, that just makes me smile.  Finley’s mother is a nicer version of my mother.  No, that isn’t a typo.  Cassidy can’t hold a candle to my mother.  There’s an old adage about writing what you know.  And I know a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship.  Just as an FYI, my mother never saw herself in Cassidy – more smiling.

But Cassidy isn’t just overly critical; she’s also goal-oriented.  I think that’s a positive character trait, so when I was building the world I made sure Cassidy had a purpose beyond belittling Finley.  But their interactions do have a profound effect on Finley.  She’s relationship shy, maybe because her mother has been divorced/widowed so many times.  Or maybe like so many people, she just doesn’t trust her instincts enough to commit to any man.

When it came to Finley’s friends, I purposefully made them all successful.  I wanted to show that Finley is capable of holding her own with her friends and that her career choice was just that, a choice.  I also made one of her friends stunningly beautiful.  I did that because I wanted to play off Finley’s insecurities.  It’s easy to relate to being the friend of the prettiest girl in the room – it’s called getting the leftovers.

When it came to her physical locations, I made choices as well.  Finley was a trust fund kid, though her mother has now cut her off to teach her how to handle money better.  I moved Finley from a condo to a tiny cottage in Palm Beach proper.  Kind of like getting the best zip code only instead of a mansion, you get the smallest place on the beach.  But Finley is happy with her home.  She’s more than content with her small slice of paradise.

For her job, I wanted a conservative law firm.  I did that so Finley’s escapades would put her job in jeopardy and without the safety net of her trust, she has to be mindful of her employment status.  The three partners all have unique takes on Finley but my favorite one to write is Vain Victor Dane, the managing partner.  He’s a metrosexual tightass who has mani-pedis more often than Finley.

So that’s what makes Finley, well, Finley.

And remember the giveaway . . . the first person to answer this question gets an autographed copy of Slightly Irregular and a Paradise pen (or a coffee mug if you prefer).

What kind of car does Finley drive?  Make, Model, Color

Be the first one with the answer and I’ll send you your gift.

Slightly Irregular week

T’was the night before release day . . .

Some of you may not know that sales on the release date of a book are seriously important to the editors and the author.  It kind of indicates if the book will have some success or if it’s going out there only to be ignored by the reading public.

So mark your calendars and run to a brick and mortar store and/or any of the online booksellers and get your copy of SLIGHTLY IRREGULAR.  Finley is back!

For those of you who haven’t read the previous books in the series, fear not.  Each book stands on its own.  This installment has Finley trying to solve a murder that is decades old.  At the same time she’s attempting to balance her complicated work and love lives.  Finley is a West Palm Beach paralegal who just happens to be a secret bargain shopper and an underachiever by choice.  She is surrounded by good friends and two men she’s attracted to for different reasons.  Then there’s her mother . . .

Cassidy (five Surnames) is into serial divorce/widowhood and sees her daughter as a complete failure because Finley took her LSATs but never went to law school.  Finley looks even worse when compared to her younger, perfect sister, Lisa.  Lisa is a pediatric oncologist and is about to marry one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta.  Finley struggles just to find an escort to the event.

And yes, her initials spell FAT.  And yes, she’s heard every joke on the planet.  None of them very flattering.  They are family names, though.  At the time Cassidy got pregnant she was sleeping with Mr. Mr. Finley and Mr. Tanner, hence the name.  Finley doesn’t have any daddy issues though, she just accepts what is.

And what is in this book reveals a long-held secret that may have deadly consequences for her closest friend.  Finley will do anything for her friends, including putting herself in harm’s way.  Especially when sexy P.I. Liam McGarrity has her back.

Finley is a fun character to write and I hope you enjoy.  I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Slightly Irregular and a Paradise pen (Or a coffee mug if you prefer) to the first person who posts a comment answering this question . . .

What kind of car does Finley drive?  Make, Model, Color

Happy Reading and don’t forget me tomorrow!

Rhonda

The Odds: A Love Story, by Stewart O’Nan

The Odds

by Stewart O’Nan

 The Odds is a real-life love story, definitely not one of the Harlequin variety, where boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back and all is bliss.  The Odds is the story of a couple who have been struggling for thirty years to make their marriage work.  Just why they stuck together is clear at times, not so clear at others.  The effect is like a zoom lens, with the image sharpening up at times when honing in on something good, then blurring again when confusion sets in as to why they’re together at all.  In reality, it’s normal, everyday stuff that they argue about, that bothers them, that plagues them (i.e., finances, affairs, lose of employment, etc.) What will keep you reading is the uncertainty of their current situation—will they beat the odds in both the casinos and their marriage?

What galvanized me in this short gem of a novel was the blatant reality of it.  I felt as if I were front and center at a Neil Simon play about characters as familiar to me as any of my relatives and friends.  Everything about it rang true—from the dialogue to the details.  If that doesn’t sound all that interesting, think again.  It was eye-opening, to say the least.

Marion and Art Fowler are on the verge of bankruptcy, foreclosure and divorce.  Art comes up with a plan to take the very last of their money (around $30,000) and bet it all on roulette.  He read about a system to beat the odds, if you’re brave enough to risk thousands and let it ride.  One last spin of the wheel will make or break you, and they both go on their second honeymoon knowing and accepting this—they’re either all in or all out.  So they return to the scene of their first honeymoon to either restart their flailing marriage or accept that this will be their final weekend together.  Marion’s convinced they’re  history, but Art has high hopes.  Quite honestly, I found myself wavering from side to side, able to understand and sympathize with both.  Here’s Marion’s take on the situation after reading about a boy who went over the Falls and survived:

She imagined the boy, Roger Woodward, struggling to swim against the          current.  She thought she knew the dread and panic of being swept inexorably toward the edge, except that sometime in the past few months, whether to preserve her strength or sanity, she’d stopped fighting.  Now she was just floating, waiting to go over.  What happened after that was beyond her control.  Unlike Art, she didn’t expect to be rescued.”

Art, on the other hand was like a puppy dog, so eager to please, to make everything okay again—the way it was thirty years ago.  And he really does believe in “the system,” that he has the power to put their marriage back together with several spins of the roulette wheel.  So Marion accepts his lavish attention (i.e. a diamond ring, a rose, champagne, expensive meals, etc.), though begrudgingly, not wanting him to think there is a chance it will all come out okay. Here’s how she came to view Art that weekend:

He lurked like a butler, attending her.  His eagerness reminded her of the             children on Mother’s Day, so pleased with their own offerings.”

The contrast between the two—one hopeful, one hopeless—makes for high drama and much pathos, as well as a laugh or two along the way.   Guaranteed, anyone married for a significant amount of time will relate to numerous scenes; unless, of course, you do have that one-in-a-million Harlequin marriage.

I said it was short—and it is, at 192 pages—but it packs a wallop, and you’ll be thrilled about the short amount of time you have to invest in a story that will stay with you for much, much longer.  The ending, too, is a memorable one, always a nice bonus, no matter how much time you invest.

Bonnie Crisalli

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