Monday, March 25, 2013

Hidalgo versus Premium Rush. What’s your “I call BS” expertise?

First off, welcome to the new blog format! I hope we’ll all find it easier to post comments without the Evil Captcha Genie crossing his arms and growling “you shall not pass” every time we misspelled “gxsmirch” or “bloobing.”

Second, congrats to ANN M for being last week’s winner! There’s an ARC of Summer at Mustang Ridge headed your way this week! WOOT!

And now …

As those of you who follow me on social media may know, I watched Hidalgo over the weekend, and kvetched at the end when the hero released his mustang to return to the wild, leaving the horse’s shoes on. While this could protect his feet from the rough terrain in the short run, shoes that get torn off rather than taken off tend to do major damage to the equine hoof. And a wild horse needs to have all four feet working at all times, folks.

Of course, that wasn’t my only quibble. I rolled my eyes over the wide range of noises Hidalgo made without ever moving his facial muscles (hey, he’s a ventriloquist!), and how a nosebleed becomes a shooting offense. It’s not just horse movies, either. Although I try to control it, I have limited tolerance for bad science and police work, like when the characters in Bones mispronounce technical words, or any of the TV techs go “aha!” and grab evidence without photographing or documenting it first (but, hey, they’re wearing gloves, so it totally counts).

I know. Sigh. Artistic license. Suspension of disbelief, etc., etc. But at the same time, I think that these little catches can allow us viewers to interact more with our TV shows and movies. Heck, here at the Tree Fort (so named because defensibility was high on Arizona’s house shopping list), catching mistakes is practically a drinking game.

This is especially fun because we’re so different in the things that send our BS meters into the red zone. He’s a numbers theory guy, so I’ll only watch NUMB3RS reruns with him when I’m feeling smart enough to follow what he’s saying when he catches an error. He’s also a mountain biking wonk, so it was pretty fun to watch Premium Rush with him recently and have him point out every time they switched up the bikes, or when there was no way one bike would keep up with another.

I know we’ve all got our areas of expertise when it comes to the entertainment BS meter, and I’d love to hear from you. What hits your radar screen? Have any fun examples for us from movies or TV? Inquiring minds want to know! And to celebrate our move to the new blogger software, one randomly chosen poster will win a $10 gift certificate from Amazon or (your choice). So have at it!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hunky bodyguards, Bowie, and Douglas Adams

Published on the old blog on 03/18/13

Last night, as I lay in bed with Arizona snoring happily away, my brain did its race-race-race thing as I tried (unsuccessfully) to come up with an original way to promote the new books and ensure a crazy-good launch for Summer at Mustang Ridge come June. And I realized I wanted to be David Bowie.

My former stratospheric career goal was to be so wildly successful as an author that I needed bodyguards at my booksignings. You know, the inhumanly large and forbidding guys who stand there and … well, I’m not exactly sure what they do in the context of a booksigning, but it looks really cool. And, well, hunky bodyguards. ‘Nuff said. But I’ve decided there’s a new level of cool out there: when the lack of promo is itself promo.

Mind you, I’ve been a David Bowie fan since the 80’s (Labyrinth. Need I say more?). And, since I was a hipster before it was cool (ha), I didn’t just glom his current stuff, I went back to his Ziggy Stardust days, telling anyone who would listen that it was silly to use Space Oddity as the background music of the moon landing when it was a song about an astronaut getting lost in space (even though said incident was well before my time), and using “Major Tom” as my first pony’s show name. Though that was an improvement over his perplexingly awful registered name of Star Jet Lode (American Quarter Horse Association, I’m looking at you!).

I wished for two different colored eyes, though not the history or head injury that had produced his. I giggle-snorted when Douglas Adams, in his brilliant Restaurant at the End of the Universe series described a character as (paraphrasing) looking like what would happen if you took a David Bowie, tied a David Bowie to each of his arms, and then tied a David Bowie to each of his legs. “In short, he gangled.” And there was the music. Some wonderful, some less so, but forming a lifetime body of work that continues to impress me today, even when catching a few minutes of Labyrinth on TV provokes more giggles than sighs.

The aging star had slipped out of the public eye in the last bunch of years, and I honestly can’t say I did a whole lot of “hey, whatever happened to …” except when watching the walk-off scene in Zoolander and hooting because hey, it’s David Bowie! Then back in January, he pops up and is all like, “Hey, I know I’m seventy-something and said I was done writing songs, but it turned out I was wrong. Here’s the new album!”

Turned out, he’d been working on it all cloak-and-dagger for a couple of years now, swearing the crew and musicians to absolute secrecy, and it actually worked. Save for one leak that nobody believed, the whole project was kept under wraps until they were ready for the big reveal, and it’s been selling like crazy. So there it is. When I grow up as a writer (and yes, it might take until I’m seventy-something and have a gazillion hits already under my writing belt), I want to be able to promote my book by keeping it a complete secret, and then whipping aside the curtain with a big TA-DAA!

A girl can dream, right?

Dear Cialis Cowboy

Published on the old blog on 03/11/13

Certain TV ads make me smile every time I see them … like the Fancy Feast commercial where the sweet man proposes with the white fluffycat (and its sequels), or just about anything with a Budweiser Clydesdale in it. Or my all-time favorite, the long-ago Superbowl commercial about cat herders.

On the other side, though, are the ones that either annoy me to the point of changing the channel (“less is better than more” and the Geico cavemen, I’m looking at you) or just leave me staring and going, “Wait. What?”

The Cialis Cowboy falls into the latter category. He’s driving along in his Big Truck, towing his horses in a stock trailer, when the truck and trailer get stuck. So he unloads his horses, hitches them up, and uses them to pull the rig free … leaving me wondering why he’s got driving harnesses with him rather than saddles and bridles. Or, if we say he’s one of those rare pairs-driving cowboys (or maybe a charioteer or something), then why doesn’t he have a cart strapped to the top of his stock trailer? The rig isn’t big enough for the cart to be inside. Is he borrowing a friend’s cart? Is he actually headed off to a rodeo, and just happened to have a couple of harnesses along for the ride in the black hole of tack that often overtakes the back seats (and sometimes the fronts) of a horse owner’s vehicle?

And, well, what does this have to do with erectile dysfunction?

ED commercials typically baffle me, in fact. Why show a man riding a bike? Is this some metaphor for the “you never forget how to do it” thing? Because Arizona assures me that a bike ride would not be his first choice whilst in, er, the relevant physical state. And he’d pick a bike ride over a bucket of extra krispy KFC most days. Or there are the ads with two people watching a lovely sunset from separate bathtubs. Share the tub folks! 

One of my all-time favorite riding coaches was big on saying, “Make sure that what your horse learns from you is the lesson you intended to teach today.” In the same way, I think advertisers (and writers!) sometimes need to ask themselves whether they conveyed the message they were going for. Like when I’m reading a scene where the hero comes off as a total alphhole, but I suspect the author meant for him to be forceful or conflicted. Or when a joke falls flat for me because it makes the heroine seem small-minded or a little nasty.

The fix? Well, I’m a fan of critique partners and beta readers, for starters. Even if I decide to go with my original plan, it’s good to know where I might be pushing the readers’ buttons. And sometimes, I sit there, blink, and go, “Oh, hell. They’re right.”

So, to the ED folk, get yourself a cowboy, a mountain biker, or, yanno, someone who’s ever tried to fool around in a bathtub and knows that it helps to be in the same tub. And to my writer friends, when a scene doesn’t feel quite right (and sometimes even when it does), it can be useful to step back and ask yourself, “Is this telling the reader what I mean to tell them?”

Finales, mitochondrial DNA, and new beginnings

Originally published on the old blog, on 03/04/13

(Warning: the following contains mild spoilers for the endings of the Harry Pottermovies, Friends and the new Battlestar Galactica. Don’t read on if you don’t want hints about what happened at the ends of these series. But, really, they’ve all been out for a bit, so get on it!)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had gotten Arizona hooked on the newBattlestar Galactica, and we were watching all of it back-to-back. Now, I’m a huge fangirl, but the big finale left me cold the first time around. So I was hoping that I would warm up to it this time, thinking that my initial reaction was from saying goodbye to a show that had been something I looked forward to each week, at a time in my life when I needed something to look forward to. Unfortunately, bad science is still bad science, and an unsatisfying ending is still an unsatisfying ending (in my opinion; your mileage may vary).

For those of you who haven’t seen BSG (I realize we can’t all be sci-fi wonks), the show spent four years following the space-going survivors of a near-genocidal attack on humanity as they: a) fought a rearguard action against their enemies, the Cylons; b) tried to find a new planet where they could rebuild the human race; and c) struggled to figure out what their culture and political structure should look like in their new reality. With space battles, religion, romance, intrigue, and a bunch of other stuff.

Okay, so the finale did a very satisfying job of dealing with the Cylons and finding the survivors a new planet to call home—aka Earth 150,000 years ago, where they dispersed, intermingled with the existing natives, and became our long-ago ancestors. However, the show missed on the ‘rebuilding the human race’ front when, in a scene in our present day, it claimed that mitochondrial DNA sequencing had identified an ancient skeleton (belonging to a human-Cylon hybrid, Hera, who had been a pivotal character in the series) as being humanity’s progenitor.

Now, I’m deleting my Ranty McRant tirade on mtDNA and how this means that only females descended from Hera survived to reproduce, and why this totally short-circuits the idea of ‘these forty thousand people are all critical to the survival of the human race.’ I was afraid it got a little boring, and it’s not really the point I want to make. Because, really, the most disappointing thing about the finale for me was that things ended with everyone agreeing to reject technology and the social structure they had spent four seasons hammering out, and scattering across the planet to start small villages. Worse (from my perspective, anyway), most of the main characters I had grown to love were either dead, or headed off into the wilderness alone, grieving for their dead. Now, I don’t mind a good weep-fest, but I’d like there to be some smiles and optimism to balance the angst. I didn’t get any of that from the BSG finale.

See, that’s the thing for me with finales. I’m willing to say goodbye to the characters I’ve grown to love, but I really want to feel that they’re going to be okay when I close the book/power down the Kindle/turn off the TV/etc. I want to believe that their lives are going on without me, that they’re doing new and interesting things, and that there’s some joy in their lives.
Friends did it right for me, in that while I was sad to say goodbye, it felt like they were moving on to new chapters of their lives. They might be living elsewhere, might not spend so much time in Central Perk, might be more focused on being parents, couples, and whatnot, but Joey was still going to have an odd pet or two, Phoebe was still going to be Phoebe, and … well, you get the point.

The end of the Harry Potter finale (the movie; I didn’t read the books) was a miss for me, not just because I didn’t buy the ‘everybody a decade later’ makeup, but because I didn’t want to immediately think of Harry and the others as middle-aged parents; I wanted to imagine them as young wizards and witches coming into their own as full adults and having more (and hopefully less dire) adventures along the way. For me, that ending felt so much smaller than the rest of it, and left me dissatisfied.

I had meant to talk about writing the last Nightkeeper book, Spellfire, and how I really wanted it to feel like both an ending and a new beginning … but this is getting long, I need to get to work, and, really, it feels overweening to put my stories in the same breath with BSGFriends and Harry Potter. So instead I’ll ask you: what do you love/hate about finales? What were some of your favorites?

Wedding Oops Moments (and Kristan Higgins’s THE BEST MAN)

Originally posted on the old blog, on 02/25/13

Plenty of authors are autobuys for me, but only a few make it onto my calendar so I’m sure to get their books right away … like the fab Kristan Higgins, who has a new release this week: THE BEST MAN. Better yet, because the hero is a veteran, she’s donating a portion of the first week sales to Fisher House foundation (like the Ronald McDonald house for military families, so they can be together when a family member is in the hospital), and an awesome reader has agreed to match whatever she raises. So pick it up this week!

Here’s the blurb for THE BEST MAN:

Sometimes the best man is the one you least expect…

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she's ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family's vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there's some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief—and best friend of her former fiancé. There's a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it's not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she's having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.

Here are a couple of buy links for you:

Reading the early (glowing!) reviews of THE BEST MAN got me thinking about wedding “oops” moments—not the ones where it gets called off, but those inevitable little stumbles that, for better or worse (ha) are often remembered long after the I do’s.

When Arizona and I got married, I planned a low-key wedding in less than three months, partly because that’s our style, and partly because his mom teaches abroad and would be in the States for her summer vacation. So I rented a pretty local historical house with a nice garden, found a hall where I could bring in food rather than catering, and bought the perfect dress for a hundred bucks off Ebay. Arizona did his part by hiring the world’s sweetest Justice of the Peace and renting a tux and shoes, even though I told him he could wear whatever he wanted, including flip-flops.

The wedding wound up being one of the hottest days of one of the hottest New England summers on record, but everyone assembled cheerfully that evening, steaming gently in our fancy clothes. Without any real fanfare, Arizona and I took our places under the pretty little arbor and the JP began the ceremony. She had just gotten to the “do you, Arizona, take this woman…” when I blurted, “Oh, crap. The rings are still in the car!”

Yes, folks, I interrupted my own wedding.

Arizona got this horrified look on his face and hightailed it out to the parking lot (in brutal heat wearing a rented tux with the thermal properties of an electric blanket and the breathability of a Hefty bag). Meanwhile, I stood up there trying not to giggle-snort, and fielding catcalls of “Is he coming back?”

He did, of course, and we started over with the rings, and everything else went perfectly. I’m not really a wedding person, but I have very fond memories of my own. It was exactly right for Arizona and me, even down to the “oops” moment. Because the guests’ memories of the details will fade over time, but I have a feeling that our wedding will long echo in family lore as: “Remember when Arizona had to run back to the car for the rings?” (Well, that and "Remember how Arizona ripped off most of his tux about five seconds after the ceremony finished?" but in his defense, it was either that or pass out from sunstroke. Snicker.)

Stories that change along with us

Originally posted on the old blog, on 02/18/13

I’d like to say that this post was spawned by my rereading a piece of classic literature, but really, it’s because I’m currently re-watching all four seasons of (the new) Battlestar Galactica. And, yes, I’m a total fangirl, even five-ish years after the series ended.

Now, Arizona came to me as a Star Wars wonk who didn’t put much stock in other sci fi movies. He enjoyed the recent Trek reboot, but only because I rented it and said, “Trust me, you’ll like it.” So the other day, needing a break from a River Monsters marathon (yes, I married a fisherman), I did the “Trust me, you’ll like it” on Battlestar and cued up my DVD of the initial miniseries.

Three-plus hours later, eyes glazed, he turned to me and said, “There’s more, right?” Which is how we wound up watching the first two seasons in a week, and ordering the full series on Blu-Ray when it turned out that somewhere along the line, two of my DVDs had crossed paths with something very sticky. Orange juice, maybe, or Gorilla Glue.

Watching the shows back-to-back has been a real treat, like rereading a favorite series in a delicious weekend orgy of bookness. But I’ve also been surprised by how my perceptions have changed.

When the series was on the air, I dug the world building and spaceship fights, tolerated the politics, and didn’t always get the relationships and decisions. For example, I didn’t understand why Starbuck pined for Anders after leaving him behind on Caprica. They hadn’t known each other for long, after all, and she was tough and practical. It seemed out of character, or like he was easier for her to fixate on because he was far away.

Watching it now, though, I get it. I know what it feels like to know someone for only a few weeks, yet feel like a piece of you is missing when they’re gone. My perceptions have changed because I have changed. I’ve experienced more and loved more deeply in the years since I first saw the show, so the themes of family and sacrifice mean something very different to me now.

The same is true for some books. To my childhood self, Jonathan Livingston Seagullwas about a bird being bullied by his peers. Later, as I was working on first getting published, I read it as encouragement to push past what the people around you think is possible, and break invisible boundaries. More recently, I read it as reassurance that there is love after death, at a time when I badly needed to hear it.

Tolkien, too, has changed as I have, as has David Brin’s excellent Startide Rising. When I was a kid, it was a story about dolphins in space (trust me, it works), with poetry that I skipped over. In my teens, when I could read the dolphins’ haiku-speak, I figured out that it was about racism. And later, it became a cautionary tale about what happens when a planet is gutted and its ecological balance disrupted.  

Storytelling Trumps Perfection Any Day (and Blizzard)

Originally posted on the old blog, on 02/11/13

Hello from snowy Connecticut! We’re mostly dug out from beneath the blizzard of 2013, and finally have our power back (yay, shower!). Our internet is down, though, and since I stubbornly cling to my ancient flip phone, my ‘net fixes are limited to daily excursions to the Panera in the center of town. Which is a long way of saying that I’m going to be late responding to comments … but respond I will!

Anyway, in addition to the entertainment value of cooking on a camp stove (and our friends laughed at our Cabela’s camo-laden wedding registry-ha!) and spending candle-lit evenings cuddling with Arizona, being snowed in gave me the down time to judge the entries from several writing contests I have on my to-do list.

Each year I critique chapters entered by unpublished writers, and each year I notice that there are trends in my comments. I don’t know whether that reflects what I’m focusing on in my own writing, trends in the marketplace, or recommendations made in an online class that everyone except me took (probably a combination of all three), but each year it’s something slightly different.

Last year, many of my comments centered on the opening of the story, where I felt the authors were rushing so quickly to get to the Point Where Things Start Happening that I didn’t know where I was, what was going on, whose head I was in, or why I should care. Now, I’m a fan of keeping the story moving, but I also need to bond with at least one character, or I don’t really care to keep reading.

This year, the openings were much better, but the caring … not so much. In chapter after chapter, I found the writing proficient, the setting clearly described, the plot nicely introduced … and had trouble connecting with the characters. Some were too self-centered, some were too emotional, some were just cold. The conflicts were there and the chemistry was fine, but I just couldn’t get excited about spending several hours with these people in my head. So I worked on pointing out places where the writing worked for me, and places where (in my opinion, your mileage may vary, etc.) the characters could use some work in the likability department.

Then I read a chapter that wasn’t like any of the others.

Now, I’m not perfect by any means (ahem, hello typos), but most of my grammar gaffes are deliberate choices. So when I’m judging a contest, errors in spelling, punctuation and other mechanics will usually distract me so much that I have trouble seeing the story through the trees (so to speak). But with this chapter? The mechanics were a mess, but I found that I didn’t really care.

When I looked past the flaws, I found a lovely heroine with interesting friends, believable conflicts, a good backstory, and a call to action in the form of a “come and help me” from a beloved family member. And she answered that call, even though it means going back to her old hometown and seeing an ex-fiance who still rings her chimes.

Was it terribly original? Nope. But darned if I couldn’t see that hometown, feel her reluctant pleasure at being back, and practically hear the “zing” when Ye Olde Ex showed up on the page. Not because it’s perfectly written, but because the author is a storyteller. She made me care, drew me in, and made me smile. And I’m grateful to her (I’m assuming it’s a ‘her’) for that, because sometimes in the midst of deadlines, outlines and all the other ‘-lines’ publishing can throw at me, I worry that I lose track of my storytelling.

So to all of the writers out there who send you work into peer-judged writing contests like the ones I judged this weekend, I commend your bravery and sincerely hope that the judges’ comments help you with your craft. And to the unnamed author of that unnamed chapter, thank you for reminding me of something that I have since written on a piece of tape and stuck to the edge of my screen: Write a story you love and fix everything else later.

My Brain Doesn’t Work That Way!

Originally posted on the old blog, on 02/04/13

My name is Jesse, and I’m captcha challenged.

There. I said it. Didn't even hurt much.

Now, I’m willing to admit that the captcha generator for this blog can be a bit … shall we say temperamental? I once had to reload ten times to get one that I could figure out. I’ve pinged the developers on the topic, but for the moment, please try a few times if the verification box claims that it didn’t really say ‘agdink’ even when it clearly did.

You’re not nuts. The captcha genie is evil.

That being said, I have a talent for flubbing even the simplest word verifications, just like I can’t ever see the hidden images in those crazy polka-dot pictures that were a novelty a few years back. I would stand there for way too long, focusing and unfocusing my eyes, but it was no use. I never saw the pirate ship or the kids playing ball or whatever—it was all dots to me.

I faked it a couple of times, doing the “Oh, right. I see it!” because if I didn’t, one long-ago boyfriend would keep haranguing me, moving me a little to the left, little to the right, and insisting, “You can see it now, right?” Um, no, but I was young enough that it felt like it mattered.

These days, I don’t have to fake it. (Heh heh) I’ll sit there and stare at the gibberish excreted by the captcha genie for too long, trying to make the squiggles, blobs and acute angles into recognizable letters.

It feels a little like writing, really. I try one thing and it doesn’t work, so I try another, and another … and eventually, I hit on the right combination of letters, the gate opens, and I’m in! The words flow, the story moves, the characters come to life.

Ah. Heaven.

The Curse of the Happily Ever After (on TV, anyway)

Originally posted on the old blog, on 01/21/13

This past week, I watched the heck out of the new episode of Criminal Minds. Now, I'm not going to directly spoil anything—in fact, that’s the last time I’ll mention the new episode—but the topic is kind of spoilery by nature, so if you’ve DVR’d it and don’t want to know anything about what happened, then stop reading now!
Okay, so here’s the thing. I get that sexual tension is a good thing in TV, just like it is in a romance novel. And I get that some favorites have foundered and sunk once the main couple gets together. Moonlighting comes to mind, as does Scarecrow and Mrs. King. (And I just so dated myself- LOL.) And while Bones is still a solid show that I make a point to watch, I’m not as riveted as I was in years past.

HOWEVER, those are shows with a main crime-fighting couple, and it seems to me that the ‘rules’ are different for more ensemble casts. Take CSI: NY, for example. I enjoy knowing that Mac is happily paired off these days, that Danny and Lindsay are solid, and even Flack is doing the heavy flirt thing. That doesn’t make me any less likely to watch the show. In fact, I like it more because of the relationships.

So I have to wonder when a show like Criminal Minds kills off a loved one rather horribly, as they did with Hotch’s wife (or, ahem, another recent character). Yes, it’s a dark-dark-dark show, and yes, shock value can be a powerful tool. And, okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s one of the few shows that can creep me out enough that I have to change the channel. But still. This past week’s show did not give me a happy, and it made me question whether I want to continue watching.

What’s my point? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t really have one—I know that the rules of a long-running TV series are going to be different from what I work with when I’m writing a romantic suspense or (most certainly) a gentle contemporary romance. I guess I’m trying to decide where romantic conflict ends and shock value begins. 

So talk to me, dear friends … what are some of your favorite long-running TV shows (or book series) that have lost momentum after the main characters got together, and what are some that have made it work? Which do you prefer? I’m curious if there’s some sort of pattern here, or if it’s one of those ‘sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t’ things. I mean, sure, Eve and Roark of the In Death books work, but not everyone is going to be able to pull that off! 

Happy 40th To Me! (aka Of Revision Letters and Dust Collectors)

Originally posted on the old blog, 01/14/13

The day I turned 30, I got an brutally to-the-point revision letter from my editor, basically telling me that I needed to go back to the drawing board on the book proposal I had sent her… except that I had been waiting so long for the letter, I had already finished the whole story along the original lines and was all ready to send it in.

Can you say buzz kill?

Now, the editor was entirely right—I’d had most of the story happening to the heroine’s friend rather than the heroine, and taking out that degree of separation made it a far better book. And that Intrigue (Secret Witness) went on to be aRomantic Times Top Pick, got nominated for a Reviewers’ Choice Award, and was reprinted just a couple of years ago as part of a special promotion by Harlequin. So it was all good in the end. But ten years ago today, I was far less copacetic about it than I am today (imagine lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth).

Back then, if you had asked me where I would be in ten years, I probably would have said something about where I would be in my writing career, or what level I would be showing my horses. Bet you a million bucks I wouldn’t have said I’d be living in a far smaller house with no horses and a new husband. Or that I’d be trying to start a family, with all the challenges that come with doing that at forty.

But that’s exactly where I am. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. 

This morning, said husband (henceforth to be known as Arizona) surprised me not just with the present I had asked for—a laptop sleeve made by the company that produces our mountain biking body armor (woot!)—but also with a piece of art glass that I had admired back in the fall, in an artisans’ shop in Mystic CT.

Now, our home is pretty darn sparse—on the theory that we have to clean anything we buy—but I had mentioned to Arizona that this shop was one of the few places I could see myself spending money on décor-type stuff. And, bless him, he filed that away. And, just as I found myself wanting to put up a Non-denominational Holiday Tree for the first time in many years, now I’m finding that I like the idea of putting up a shelf in the living room and adding to the art glass menagerie now and then.

Dust collectors. Go figure. And, yeah, my thirty year-old self might not understand … but that doesn’t matter, because she’s stuck in her writing cave, revising the hell out of a book. Me? I'm going out for dinner and a movie. The writing can wait until tomorrow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Is it a problem when you start talking about a split personality like it’s a good thing?

by Jesse Hayworth (originally posted at old blog on 01/07/13)

Well, it’s finally happened. I’m going into my second decade as a published author, and it’s time to take a pseudonym. Enter Jesse Hayworth! That’s my real first name and a combination of my Grampie’s surname and my own unpronounceable married name. And, well, it’s got the word ‘hay’ in it, which makes me smile, especially since I’m writing dude ranch romances J.

There are a ton of reasons why an author might take a pen name, including privacy concerns, difficulties with spelling or pronunciation, wanting not to ‘fess up to your mother-in-law … 

For me, the pseudonym is designed to let readers know what they’re going to be getting. Where Jessica Andersen writes paranormal romances and romantic suspense with lots of running, screaming, and sexytimes, Jesse Hayworth writes gentler, funnier books about a Wyoming cattle station-turned-dude-ranch. So rather than create confusion … voila! Jesse Hayworth.

Jesse has less of a dirty mind than Jessica, though she still makes plenty of cringe-inducing typos. She’s also twenty pounds heavier, and far more likely to post cute animal pictures on her Facebook and Twitter feeds. And beyond that … Well, we’ll have to see how things evolve, won’t we?

So, anyway, that’s my rather scattered intro to the new me. I hope you’ll poke around the new website, check out the excerpts, and (pretty please) pre-order the new stories. Also, keep me in mind every Monday, and check back here for blog updates.

But back to the pseudonym idea … I’ve told you how Jesse Hayworth came into being, but there are lots of ways to come up with pen names. Say, for example, using your porn star name! This, for those of you who don’t know, is composed of the name of your first pet plus the street name of your childhood home.

Mine is Tilly Broadway, which totally works. My hubby’s is Coast Guard Magdelena, which doesn’t so much. What’s yours?

Testing, testing ...

By popular demand, I'm switching my blog to a provider who uses less evil captchas. Let's see how this one looks!