Sunday, May 29, 2011

Golden Heart Finalist

We haven't been updating regularly, but this news is too exciting to forget to share. THE SOLDIER, my paranormal Viking warrior romance, is a 2011 Golden Heart [tm] finalist in the paranormal category. I've had a wild ride buying makeup (I truly had nothing but a couple lipsticks and ten-year old mascara in the drawer), getting a PR photo, and working on my first website. So, introducing the made-up, airbrushed, dressed-up me:

You can read an excerpt from THE SOLDIER at the first version of my website, Pretty soon it will have a cool customized background showing a bunch of my heroine Theresa's desk junk. I'm also active on Facebook as Anna Richland - please join me there for more frequent updates and lots of pictures.

Winners of the Golden Heart will be announced Friday night, July 1, 2011 at Romance Writers of America's national conference in New York City. I'm looking forward to sharing the excitement with Mr. Richland. I don't think he can imagine what a ballroom filled with almost 3,000 romance writers is like. Even Stars on Ice had more men in the audience. Win or not, being a finalist has certainly bumped me up to the next level of career excitement (not to mention forced me to revise the middle of my manuscript!).

Monday, January 31, 2011

Slow, But Not Stopped

We haven't been posting regularly.

I'm sure you've noticed.

Why the change in speed? Well, the four of us are each at different points in our respective writing careers. Some of us need more time to promote specific projects. Some of us need more time to finish our projects. All of us are wondering how this blog fits with our overall career plans.

We aren't ready to give up on Damned Scribbling Women yet. We are not, however, sure how we wish to move forward. We're taking the first part of 2011 to reflect on the future of this blog. How can we find a healthy balance between writing and publicity? How can we generate more traffic on this blog? Or should we disband and pursue individual promotional projects?

When we know more, dear readers, so will you.

In the mean time, you can expect to see the occasional random post. And if you have any thoughts to share, please do so.

Happy New Year, and take care!

Monday, January 03, 2011

A List for Last Year

Farewell 2010 - a very fine year, even though I passed through another decade. Here's a short list, no particular order, of some favorites from last year:

Favorite "Vintage" Romance I Read for the First Time: Harvard's Education by Suzanne Brockmann (originally 1998 but reissued in a two-novel collection this year).

Memorable Spam Offer: Encourage Your Winky.
Fave Romantic Suspense: Body Heat by Brenda Novak.

2010 Winter Olympic Event I loved more than expected: Curling!
Fave Cake from Mr. Richland: the Lego Articulated Bus.
Don't-Miss-Regencies of 2010: Soldier's Lady by Susanna Fraser (Carina Press) and In For a Penny by Rose Lerner.
Best concert with children: Great Big Sea at Woodland Park Zoo. Try a little Canadian Celtic rock with Excursion Around the Bay. You'll want to hoist a fizzing drink and jump around, remembering sticky floors you stomped sometime in the '80s (me) or '90s (Kate). Concert without children: Pink Martini at Chateau St. Michelle. Try Dosvedanya Mio Bombino from Hey Eugene! or the two-song piece from Splendor in the Grass. Her version of the breakup is And Then You're Gone. He sings But Now I'm Back. There's a romance novel in six and a half minutes. And I have no idea how to add song links to Blogger so find them yourself.
Most extreme contrast between my real life and my writing life: the "Dirty Laundry" miniseries at Carina Press. Plenty of that in my basement except ... well, you don't have to be over 18 to tackle my pile of socks and towels.

Share your favorites from 2010 or comment on mine. Here's hoping more great books, music and cake come our ways in 2011. (Um, and an agent and book deal too, please).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

Last night, my ears were assaulted by an abomination: an a cappella version of "White Christmas" in four-part harmony.

Don't get me wrong. It was a perfectly lovely rendition of the song and I'm sure the band worked hard to make it so. Then why, do you ask, was it an abomination? Because it wasn't the Bing Crosby version, of course!

I believe that certain things have been done so well that they should never be redone. For me, Bing's version of "White Christmas" is one of them. It should be put on the "do not touch list" and enjoyed in its original glory forever.

Oh, sure. I'm all about innovation and re-imagining. I know that there are only 13 plots (or something like that) out there in the world. You could argue that anything I do as a writer has been done before. You'd probably be right.

However, there are lines. And artists of any kind--be they musicians, actors, writers, what have you--should not cross those lines. Some lines are personal. Some lines have been drawn in the collective sand. This is why the movie-loving world cringed as one over rumors that Ben Affleck and J-Lo were going to remake Casablanca.

Again, lovely people... but you shouldn't mess with a classic.

We are all influenced by what we love. We find ways to bring elements of our favorites into the fresh worlds we create. I know exactly why I want to write a longtime-friends-to-lovers romance. It has everything to do with the favorite books of my childhood.

But writing a story about friends falling in love is totally different than writing about a redheaded Canadian orphan falling for her best guy pal. If I ever cross that line, I'll have gone to the dark side. And I'll probably be sued.

Let's face it: Anne and Gilbert, like so many things, have already been done to perfection.

So: how do you re-imagine favorite stories or songs without crossing the line? What movie, song, book, or TV show is on your "do not touch" list? (And if anyone wants to turn this into a rant about remaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer without Joss Whedon, do feel free.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Do you have a favorite holiday movie? Me, I'm a sucker for the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol (any version, but my Scrooge of choice is Michael Caine in The Muppet Christmas Carol). I love all holiday movies, but for some reason those stories are the most irresistible to me.

Maybe it's the fact that they take place on Christmas Eve - a time I've always associated with magic ever since I realized Santa was going to need some mad space-time-continuum-bending-skills to complete his route. Maybe it's the songs (Kermie's Only One More Sleep Til Christmas is my personal anthem). But I think the main reason is the idea of love redeeming even the most curmudgeonly on Christmas.

I'm one of those people who doesn't view villains as "evil". That is one of my pet peeves in reading a villain's POV - I think it's very hard to do it right because in my opinion No one thinks of himself as evil. And if you aren't "evil" then you aren't beyond redemption. And I love that little flicker of hope. You may have been hardened by life and the poor choices you made. You may have realigned your moral compass so "merciless" becomes a mercy in itself (deprivation of coal is teaching Cratchett toughness, you know). You may have built up walls to protect yourself from the very love you want so badly, but it's never too late.

I love that message.

When Carina press contacted me and asked me to write a paranormal Christmas story, I knew I wanted to play with the idea of going through hell to learn to open your heart. It was an homage to my favorite Christmas awakening stories. But No Angel didn't end up having three spirits or Cindy Lou Who. It has angels, demons, Hollywood celebs, and Lucifer himself - but most importantly to me, it has a character who, though she loves Christmas and never thinks of herself as Grinchy, needs to learn to let herself love and be loved. And if a Christmas Eve trip to the Underworld can't convince her, nothing will.

What's your favorite Christmas/Holiday story? Do you have certain ones that you watch or read every year as part of your holiday traditions?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

I know, I know. There's been a shocking lack of new posts around here. If you must know, I got distracted by my day job (something you've never heard here before...) The bad news is that I had an epic load of grading, remnants of which are still haunting my desk area. That's right. Nothing says "fun" like a stack of Animal Farm journals still waiting for my attention...

The good news? (Yes, there's a "good news" reason I've been remiss on this blog.) I passed National Boards!

Now, for those of you not in the teaching world, this is a rigorous process that involves a year or more of endless navel-gazing. We tape ourselves teaching, we watch the videos ad nauseam, we send our reflections out for other teachers to evaluate, and we take tests in our subject area. During this time, candidates are hard to live with. We're also not the world's best teachers.

Go figure.

There's all kinds of hooplah around What This Means. But let's set aside the official scoop and take a trip in Kate Land, shall we? Passing my Boards means that I have a valid certificate for the next ten years. I have a decade off from certification hoop-jumping! Hurray! Perhaps that will give me more time to write... assuming, of course, that I can force myself to stop celebrating and hunker back down with my manuscript.

So. There are some of my excuses for (a) not blogging and (b) not working on my novel.

What are some of your favorite excuses for slacking off on your writing and PR?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Round with my New Mentor

This is my first blog week since I had the awesome huge news that THE SOLDIER won romantic suspense writer Brenda Novak's mentoring contest. She's published forty novels - many, many bestsellers - and she's going to read mine, three chapters at a time, and guide me through the fixes. Last night Miss Bossy Boots and I read stories with fairy godmother-equivalents from Germany, China, and Russia. It seems like I've found a real one from Sacramento.

I've had one wonderful phone call already and received Brenda's initial feedback to incorporate into my Golden Heart entry. For lots of people Thanksgiving means turkey, cranberry and relatives. For unpublished romance writers, it also means hurry and mail that entry to Texas. Run to Kinko's, check the collating of each packet, put on those clippies, count everything one more time, and then hit the FedEx desk.

Brenda suggested including more internal thought, especially from my hero, which is extremely hard for me. I'm not a very introspective person in my own life, so pulling thoughts out of the deep hearts of my characters is a big reach. Also, she hopes for a stronger sense of place because I've nailed the Army stuff but I should pump up the Afghanistan setting. On rereading my pages, I completely agree. Fifty pages with one reference to heat, two to mountains, and one to dust. Realistically dust should be on every page. Dust should fall out of the manuscript into readers' laps, Afghanistan as a 4-D Imax movie. But I'll look for a happy medium with respect to sand and dust. Third, Brenda suggested I be more specific about the passage of time between or during scenes. Right again. The challenge for me is to add specificity without constantly writing "Three hours later" or "The next day." When I have a challenge like that, I randomly pull a bunch of books off the shelf and look at chapter and scene transitions and try to learn from the greats.

I can do this. I am doing this, last night and tonight as soon as I finish this blog. (Legal stuff: Photo of Marines in Afghanistan by Lance Cpl Brian D. Jones. See more great photos at this Flickr photostream.) Side note: It is snowing in Seattle! Right now, out my window. Talk about distraction!