Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Peaky Blinders and My Outlining Style

I haven't really been writing very much in the past couple of weeks--not much time to--but I have a new approach in mind for a short story I've been tinkering around with. I think it's because my dad and I started watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix the other day (we haven't finished season 1 yet, so if you've watched it, no spoilers!)

It's kind of a dark, violent drama about a gang becoming a crime family in post-WWI Birmingham, England, with lots of men with bad haircuts. But it's really compelling and the lead character, Thomas Shelby, is an anti-hero.

Peaky Blinders literally has zero to do with the short story I've been working on, but it is a darker creepy short (more "Haunted Lake" then "When Mary Left," though that wasn't rainbows and puppies either) and I'd been thinking that for a short story, it wasn't getting to the crux fast enough.

But I'll try out my new idea for the story in the next few days and hopefully, it'll come together.

Aunt Polly is my favorite character so far

My romance outline is plugging along. It's more of a very basic first draft in a lot of ways, since it's pretty detailed. Like, I have full scenes written in this thing--dialogue, I know the setting, I have an idea of the level of emotion of the characters or what emotion or action is going on. I have page breaks and transitions marked. I don't have descriptions yet and I'm not invoking sensory things and the narrative voice isn't there either, therefore I don't really consider it a full first draft.

So. I'm determined to not be worried about how long it's going to take me to finish this first outline and move on to the other three stories in this series idea.

It'll take as long as it takes.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge: 10 books read!

I have finished my first ten books of the year! Here they are:

1. Hate To Want You (Forbidden Hearts #1) by Alisha Rai. Fiction/Romance/Contemporary/Erotic. 5 stars.

2. Wrong To Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai. Fiction/Romance/Contemporary/Erotic. 4 stars.

3. Waiting On You (Blue Heron #3) by Kristan Higgins. Fiction/Romance/Contemporary/Small Town. 3 stars.

4. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Cultural/Korea/Japan/1930s/WWII. 3 stars.

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Fiction/Classics/Historical Fiction/American South/African-American lit. 4 stars.

6. Sex With Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman. Nonfiction/History/European History/Royals/Biography. 3 stars. 

7. A Wrinkle In Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L'Engle. Fiction/Classics/Children's Fiction/Sci-Fi and Fantasy. 4 stars. 

8. His Perfect Partner (Matched To Perfection #1) by Priscilla Oliveras. Fiction/Romance/Contemporary. 3 stars. 

9. Tessa & Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as told to Steve Milton. Nonfiction/Biography/Memoir/Sports/Athletes/Figure Skating. 3 stars.

Nonfiction/Travel/Memoir. 4 stars.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A new Research page

Last Monday, I received a really sweet email from a blog reader who said that some of the sources I had listed on my Blog Roll page helped her writing group students with this month's genre assignment of "historical fiction" !!

What I'm writing at the moment isn't historical fiction and I'm not 100% sure when I'll get back to historical fiction, but I'm sure I will.

But that email made me go take a look at my Blog Roll page. Some of the links are totally helpful for research of various kinds, but it's all Internet-based and they're not necessarily all geared toward researching for historical fiction.

So then I decided to go through nine years of blog posts (nine. years. I feel old) and organize them onto one page--the new Research page. Any research-y post I've written about the Regency or the Victorians is linked on that page, along with a list of books I've read, whether it was for research or for fun. Everything is divided by century or historical period or era.

It's in the menu bar above, but here is the official link for official purposes:


Friday, March 9, 2018

Lobby Hero on Broadway

Hey y'all! I must tell you briefly about an outing I had with my two besties, my usual Broadway partners-in-crime. I think this is my first Broadway show of the year, in fact--and it's kind of a different one, since Lobby Hero is a play and not a musical. Written by Oscar winning screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Lobby Hero also marks the Broadway debut of Chris Evans aka Captain America aka one of the Men I Google-Stalk the most often. 

Gah! He was on stage and everything, guys. 

The play also stars Michael Cera, Brian Tyree Henry, and Bel Powley. Basically, it takes place in a Manhattan apartment building's lobby, where Michael Cera's character is a graveyard shift security guard/doorman and subordinate to Brian Tyree Henry's character. Bel Powley is a rookie New York City cop and her partner is the older and somewhat shifty Bill, played by Chris Evans. 

In brief, the play was hilarious--Michael Cera has really good comic timing--and the way the four characters played off each other was energetic. But the play gets into much deeper territory: what is the truth? Do you always have to tell the exact truth? What if you're protecting a loved one? What if the truth will protect you? Does the truth set you free? And what does being a cop or in any other uniform do to someone's personality?

It was seriously interesting and I think the audience was pretty into it. It was definitely a younger audience than we usually see for a theater crowd (by younger, I mean a lot of the people around us were about our age range--somewhere in the mid-twenties to mid-thirties). So, Evans plays kind of a douchebag and during one of his more douchier moments, a woman in the audience gasped and was like, "Oh, no, no." In fact, I think there was a collective revulsion from the women in the audience as a whole during that part. 

Okay, so, there's a certain matter of a mustache. That is, Chris Evans has a mustache for this role and we nicknamed it the 80s Pornstache. But it kind of works for this character? I mean, he's not a particularly nice fella. Also, we'd heard that he was doing a New York accent for the part which immediately made me cringe inside because I hate listening to actors attempt New York accents because "dey nevah fuckin' soun' ri'."

Digression: By age 13, I had a pretty thick Queens accent (only NYCers will claim that there are differences between Long Island, Brooklyn, and Queens accents...but there are subtle differences) which I then spent most of my teen years trying to lessen. Thankfully, I've lost it. 

...Back to the topic at hand: Chris Evans' accent was noticeable but it didn't bother me, actually. The sounds sounded familiar and he is playing a police officer and New York cops tend toward really thick New York accents. 

Also, as this was Evans' Broadway debut, I was just hoping that the play was good and that he would be good in it--and he was! Yay! Lobby Hero is on a limited run, but I hope Chris will come back to Broadway in the future!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG March

Hey, hey. It's time for IWSG in March! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a network of writers and we post about our insecurities and writing on the first Wednesday of every month. Come check out the group right here
This month's question:

How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

Umm...I'm not sure if I do? I've given up on two projects in the last year alone, so I'm climbing the mountain on an outline and trying to sort of write a creepy short story that I keep putitng on hold because I have a limited amount of time to write. 

But at the end of a story or finally finishing that chapter or finally figuring out the key to a character's journey--how do I celebrate? 

I breathe a sigh of relief and move on to the next thing.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

My Fave Romance Tropes

How is it that in all my yapping about the romance genre, I've never talked about romance tropes?

This might be because I really only read historical romances until fairly recently and there are some very specific historical romance tropes.

Tropes are plot devices that bring romance characters together or character archetypes that the romance characters fulfill. Tropes are the familiar scenario--sometimes, tropes are the hook that draws a reader in. If there's a combination of tropes or a twist on tropes, then the story can be really intriguing and even original.

So, my fave tropes to read?

In historicals, I love a good marriage of convenience story. It's not a plot device that really works well in contemporary stories, but in Regency stories, it's entirely possible to have a hero and heroine who have to get married to inherit something/keep something/stop a scandal from erupting/give a child a father/stop the heroine's evil uncle from marrying her off to someone else...

This can also go along with the arranged marriage trope.

Overall, in any type of romance though, I love a good Friends to Lovers story. They might be my favorite romances, along with Second Chances--because there's usually some level of history between the characters, so I feel okay in that they really do know each other and aren't, like, just about to pounce on one another with incomplete information. I like Slow Burns, too, but not too slow. And I've read some Best Friend's Sibling-type romances, which were cute.

Forbidden Love tends to be extremely angsty--that can be fun to read, sometimes.

It's not really a trope, but I also really like extremely competent people falling in love. Whether it's the female lead who is really good at her job/good at running her household or family/really really smart--and the hero who is either just as brilliant or brilliant in a different way or super supportive. In particular, I get this vibe from Alyssa Cole and Courtney Milan's books.

So I was trying to think of what tropes I'm using in my contemporary romance idea.
There's definitely Actor/Actress/Celebrity/Musician going on. I guess they qualify for Workplace romances, though in general I find workplace romances kind of creepy.

But tropes I don't like? Amnesia plots. Secret babies. Billionaires.

For more on romance tropes and archetypes, here are some links:

Genres and Archetypes

Romance tropes, tropes, and more tropes

Historical romance: 101 tropes