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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursday: Fiery Redhead

You knew it was coming!

Trope: Fiery Redhead

Description: Unlike her softer-haired counterparts, the Fiery Redhead is as bold as her tresses. She's outgoing and outspoken, with a strong personality that won't let her back down from anything. You do not want to make an enemy out of the Fiery Redhead. She's got a bigger chance of being a tomboy than the Dumb Blonde and the Brainy Brunette, but it's not a necessity for this trope.

Examples: Anne from Anne of Green Gables, Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter, Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy

Pros: Brash, passionate characters can be a lot of fun. If someone's known for speaking her mind, there's probably not going to be one of those mangled romance plots riddled with silly misunderstandings that could have been resolved by the characters just TALKING to each other. For better or worse, you always know where the Fiery Redhead stands, and that can be refreshing.

Cons: There can be jokes about the hero needing to "tame" the Fiery Redhead, which is a little too misogynistic for my tastes. Outspoken characters can veer towards being obnoxious if not enough care is taken, and there's a risk of the audience finding her off-putting.

Would/Did I Use It?: You know, I don't think I have used this trope. I've written red-haired characters, but I don't think they fit the stereotypes upon which this trope is based. On the flip side, Ro from Disintegration fits a lot of the characterizations...but she's a brunette. Interesting!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hump Day Hook

I'm trying out a new blogging event - Hump Day Hook! Let's see how well I can "hook" your attention on Wednesdays.

A new feature should involve a new project, right? This little excerpt comes from my current WIP, in which I'm *ahem* trying some new things.

Sari leaned over her and stood on her toes. As she groped around the top shelf, Catalina could smell the fruity fragrance of her hair. It seemed completely incongruent with their surroundings, yet the whiff of citrus from her bouncy pigtails brought a smile to the doctor’s lips.

“Why am I the one doing this?” Sari asked, interrupting her thoughts. “You’re taller than me. Reach up and see what’s hiding back there.”

She did as she was told, and retrieved one more forgotten roll of gauze from the dark recesses. Setting it with the others on the counter, she began to organize the medical provisions into neat piles. Her partner snatched a clipboard off a rack on the wall and scrawled some notes on a piece of paper.

They counted in silence and recorded their numbers. The mundane task didn’t consume all of Catalina’s brainpower, and she let her thoughts meander through their shared conversations over the past day. One question lingered on her mind, and the temptation to ask it aloud was too strong to resist. “Sari?”


She kept her gaze trained on the array of supplies spread before her. “Last night, when you said that other than your brother and father, you never saw the appeal of men…what did you mean by that?”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the auburn curls bobbing as Sari shook her head. “Catalina, we already established over breakfast that you are a very, very smart woman, albeit a little too concerned about what others think. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Callum and Ro

I treated myself to some more commissioned artwork at deviantArt, and I am thrilled with the results! Here's Callum and Ro at the beginning of their first intimate scene:

Artwork by Agregor. You absolutely want to check out the rest of his gallery (though be warned, there is plenty of nudity!)

Let's have an accompanying excerpt!

Her eyebrow flicked up in response to his snide tone. "Don't sell yourself short. I admit to being curious as to the various ways your…condition makes you different. But I liked what I saw in our initial training sessions. It's been a while since anyone's actually impressed me." The trademark smirk made its appearance again. "And don't forget, we've already been on top of each other."

Callum didn't know what to make of her candid statements. Nor could he ignore the memory that flashed through him for a moment of her legs wrapped around his body. "Do you treat everything so casually?" he asked.

"You ask too many questions." She sighed and shook her head, further mussing the brown spikes of her hair. "It's just sex, Callum. It doesn't have to be that complicated. I've made it known that I'm attracted to you, and you can do whatever you want with that information. Fucking me doesn't mean we're in love, or that I'll expect anything from you the next day."

Silence ensued. Ro stood up. "Well, I didn't mean to take up so much of your time. Enjoy the extra hour or so of sleep. If you need me for anything…." Her sentence went unfinished as she walked towards the door and opened it.

Callum stood up as well, and turned away from her. He remembered her fingers on his skin, and how it had made him feel whole again. The fleeting thrill conflicted with thoughts of how Meyta used to touch him, and sorrow stabbed at him once more. He struggled with the opposing emotions. The desire to cling to what he had left won out. "Ro…wait."

Her bare feet stopped moving across the floor. Without facing her, he spoke again. "Since waking up here, I haven't given a lot of thought to…certain things. I don't even know the extent to which my injuries or the resulting modifications to my body affected…."

The door clicked shut. "Is that all you're worried about?" she asked.

"It's high on the list. Don't you think it's rather important?" He risked a glance at her.

She was leaning against the closed door, hands tucked behind her back. Her lips curled into a coy smile, and she peered at him through her messy hair. "Only one way to find out," she said.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursday: Brainy Brunette

Part Two of this series! (I bet you can guess what's coming up next week....)

Trope: Brainy Brunette

Description: If there's a female character who's known for her intelligence (as in, that's her most prominent trait), there's a very high chance she'll be a brunette. Hot Librarians and Hot Scientists often fall into this category. Bonus points if she's also wearing glasses. (Extra bonus points if she's still wearing glasses in a futuristic universe when one would think such bulky corrective frames would be obsolete.)

Examples: Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Hermione from the Harry Potter series, Jo from Little Women, nearly every character Tina Fey has ever played (if not Tina Fey herself)

Pros: Regular readers of this feature should know by now that I do enjoy smart women, regardless of their occupation. The more portrayals of intelligent, capable female characters in all forms of fiction, the better! I especially like said portrayals when the characters have multiple dimensions and are, say, passionate love interests or brave action heroes.

Cons: Sometimes (not always, but sometimes), there's a downside to being defined as the "brainy" character. Maybe she's socially awkward, and/or prefers her books to people. Maybe the romantic hero overlooks her for a less intelligent, but sweeter, more charming woman. (Though he usually sees the error of his ways.) Like it or not, there still is a certain stigma associated with being "too" smart, and that can come up with this trope.

Would/Did I Use It?: I suppose I can stick Geneva from Searching the Skies in here. As I've said many times, I like writing smart women, but I see no reason to limit their choices of hair color!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Departure - a newly-released FREE short story!

I had so much fun with the Disintegration prequels, I decided to self-pub some more shorts here and there and release them for free. Fresh off the e-presses, here's Departure!

It was my first time making my own cover (using stock photography, which was credited appropriately in the front matter, and I notified the artist as requested like a good girl). I like it. I don't really want to spend any money on these little ventures; while Boobulon did some awesome work on the prequels cover and I didn't mind throwing some compensation his way at all, I do have my own finances to worry about. (Luckily, I have some very good friends who will proofread for free!) I downloaded Paint.NET, which did all I needed it to do and then some. I don't think I'll ever be a graphic artist, but it's enough to get by!

Anyhoo, here's the blurb!

Earth is dying, and humans need to find a new home before the planet becomes unable to sustain life. Among the Reverie project’s top researchers is Dr. John Verona, a brilliant scientist who tinkers with artificial intelligence in his spare time. While he works on the plans to evacuate his fellow citizens, his girlfriend, nurse Clio Lawrence, contemplates her role in his life. Despite Earth’s inevitable demise, she’s desperate for a family of her own, and wonders if the path to her goals lies with John and his two android “daughters”. Will he be able to meet her intimate needs while ensuring a future for the rest of humanity?

Smashwords link 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursday: Dumb Blonde

This week's TTT is the first of a three-part series about one of the most basic descriptors writers use (and its implications).

Trope: Dumb Blonde

Description: Need a ditzy character? Making her a blonde is one way to solidify that characterization, thanks to some old stereotypes. "Dumb" can cover a lot here - she can be overly naive, a hopeless romantic, oblivious to all that's going on around her, or she really just might be unintelligent. This can lead to a number of roles in a romance setting - Did her lack of smarts land her in trouble, and now she's a damsel in distress who needs rescuing? Does her blind optimism make her appealing? (Note: Male Dumb Blonds pop up every now and then.)

Examples: Goldilocks, Buttercup from The Princess Bride, a large chunk of the movie roles played by Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Owen Wilson

Pros: This can be a quick 'n' dirty way to help establish a character, thanks to the aforementioned stereotype. There's nothing inherently bad about being "dumb", especially when dealing with sweeter, more innocent Dumb Blondes. Not everyone in the world is a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon, right?

Cons: There are plenty of intelligent blondes in the world to counteract this stereotype. As blonde hair is often considered to be attractive or even desirable, this trope seems to suggest that one can't be pretty AND smart. Though it's noted above that men are not exempt from this trope, it does tend to swing female, and I can't help but detect tinges of sexism.

Would/Did I Use It?: In all fairness, the golden-haired Liora in The Edge of the Sphere does start off as a bit innocent and trusting. (She wises up as the plot progresses, though.) That said, the cons outweigh the pros for me regarding this trope. I don't think I'll set out to intentionally use this one any time soon.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Keeping with the Alternating

I finished some writing projects, so you know what time it is......OMG VIDEO GAMES.

*cough* Ahem.

I started Mass Effect 2 on Saturday. I wasn't thrilled with all the gameplay changes (though I am getting used to them), but damn, the story hooked me right away. With the first one, I played some here, played some there, and got through it in a reasonable amount of time. With this game, I'm reaching Dragon Age 2 levels of "I MUST know what happens!" and devoting a giant chunk of my free time to playing it. I played for waaaaaaaay too many hours yesterday. It's okay, I didn't need to move my neck for anything today.

The sentimental part of me gets super excited when I run into one of my old teammates. (Even though I like a lot of the new characters. And - Yvonne Strahovski! Wooo!) The romantic in me is still pining over my boyfriend from the first game, and I'll probably see that relationship out to the very end. (Though nothing will ever compare to the passion I felt for my boyfriend Anders in Dragon Age 2.) Like I said, the plot grabbed me right off the bat, so good for the writing team there. I can always justify my time spent gaming as research and inspiration for writing!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursday: I Have Your Wife

Trope: I Have Your Wife

Description: In this plot trope, the villain does something especially dastardly - he/she kidnaps someone very close to the hero in an effort to manipulate him to follow their orders. As the trope name indicates, wives are usually the victims here, but everyone from children to very close friends can get snatched and held hostage. The hero is then faced with multiple problems: not only does he have to save his wife(/child/best buddy/dog), but he must deal with the moral dilemma of doing questionable things in order to save her.

Examples: Air Force One, the original Saw, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Pros: Drama abounds with this trope, and there's guaranteed to be at least one badass action sequence. After all, the hero must eventually exact revenge on the bastard who Has His Wife, right? This trope also demonstrates the power of love - the hero will do anything to get his beloved back.

Cons: This can skate into "Damsel in Distress" territory, which has its own list of pros and cons. The kidnapped loved one is at risk of being nothing more than a poorly-developed plot device, rather than a three-dimensional character. Same with the villain, actually. If not enough attention is paid to the details, then you're left with a mustache-twirling caricature who does little else than force the hero into action. While I guess this could be said for most plot tropes, it does seem like I Have Your Wife requires a lot of work to be populated with something other than stock characters and cliches.

Would/Did I Use It?: I've never used this one myself, but I am not opposed to it. I could even flip it around and not limit it to husbands saving wives, of course. I do also like the added aspect of giving the antagonist leverage to dictate the protagonist's actions. I don't mind sharing my puppetmaster duties every now and then!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Titled! (finally!)

In this post, I expressed my woes over not having a title for the Searching the Skies sequel. The same thing happened this weekend as with the original book - I finished the first draft, and still had no title. I decided last night that THE TIME HAD COME, and I was going to title this damn book even if it killed me. (Which I believe would make me the first case of "death by untitled manuscript". Alert the medical examiner!)

I went back to the original list of ideas. [Verb]-ing the Skies still seemed like my best bet, especially since I have at least one more book in this series up my sleeve. I made a list and consulted whatever friends were unlucky enough to be signed into gtalk at the moment and nagged them for opinions. I kind of liked Saving the Skies, but I was still wary of the alliteration leading to ridiculous titles down the line. Guarding the Skies topped the list for a while; I was heavily leaning toward it, but I'll admit that some of that was just due to the "ugh, I just want this thing named already!" feeling.

The Artist Known as Boobulon didn't like it. Wah. We discussed at length the plot and themes of the book, and he told me what he felt the key points were and how he thought the title should reflect them. I understood and appreciated what he was saying, but it was still difficult to find a verb that captured all of that. Actually, we did find a couple, but 1) I felt they had negative connotations that I didn't really want in my title, and 2) they just didn't feel right. The seven o'clock hour was drawing near, and it was time for me to put down the computer and pick up the knitting needles and watch Jeopardy. (Because I'm secretly an old boring woman.) I told Boobulon I'd be back in an hour and we'd contemplate it some more.

And then as soon as I picked up the yarn and needles, it hit me! My mind stumbled upon the Verb that reflected the focal themes of the book and still sounded badass. I renamed the relevant documents and finally felt a sense of relief.

So I'll announce it here first: unless my editor changes it, the story of Geneva, Ash, and Marcus will continue on in Defying the Skies. I won't post details here yet, but trust me, "Defy" works on multiple levels. I also like how it calls to mind both death-defying aerial stunts and the song "Defying Gravity". I hope it's a winner!

(And now I can rest easy, for I already have titles in mind for my next couple projects. Thank goodness. We really don't want to have to go through this again.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Spring Air Addled My Brain

In all the excitement with the holidays and the blog tour and buzzing around like a busy, busy bee, I completely forgot to announce winners for the Spring is in the Air blog hop! Ooops. Congratulations to Cassandra and Mark, who will be able to adorn their magnetic surfaces with a kick-ass magnet and read some naughty books while the birds sing and the flowers bloom.

Big thanks to the team at XOXO Publishing for coordinating this hop, and to everyone who participated! Don't forget to keep checking back here for more fun events!