Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Total Eclipse of a Mullet with Headlights

Recently, I begged my school librarian to do some research for me regarding book trailers. This is all part and parcel of my "work smarter, not harder" campaign. I figured I could have my students compose book trailers as a final project. Through teaching them, I would learn how to do it on my own for later promotional purposes. Day job, dream career--two birds, one stone.

Lovely, isn't it?

I have yet to implement book trailers in my classroom. Happily, however, my librarian went on a hilarious research tangent that I simply must share with you all. Have you heard of literal videos? It's where someone changes the lyrics of a song so that they describe what's happening in the (ridiculous) video.

This has to be my favorite literal video. Do yourself a favor and watch the whole thing! Let me know what you think.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Meowy Christmas to All

By this point in December we've covered all the holiday topics - cooking, writing while busy, gifts for readers and writers. What's left for me?

One thing only - Christmas Kittens!

Several of my fellow romance writers - including members of this blog - have claimed to be unfamiliar with one of my absolute all-time favorite romance sub-genres. What? Truly you do not know of Christmas Kitten books?

I pulled four Christmas anthologies from the scary-basement book bins. To my shock, only one cover prominently featured felines, Winter Kittens (1999). From the back blurbs: "Having lost his wager, his intended bride, and his favorite horse, Lord Carrington is in no mood to be enchanted by the sweet kitten that tumbles down his chimney." Or "Every afternoon, the cat that belongs to Lord Stonehill's sister disappears, only to return with a new toy or a bright ribbon." I could rhapsodize about the rest, but doesn't the cover tell you everything you need to know?

Despite having feline-free titles, kittens lurk in my other Christmas anthologies ready to pounce. From Boxing Day (1997, Jill Barnett) in A Stockingful of Joy: "She sat in the middle of her convenient bed, surrounded by mangy cats with the bright Christmas bows." From Christmas Wish List (1999, Barbara Metzger) in A Regency Christmas Present: "They went up to the nursery together, the kitten complaining at being in the basket so long. Gerry spoke softly: 'Hush, Mistletoe. It's not every cat that gets to be a Christmas wish come true.' "

For a dash of happiness with fur, search Amazon for "romance kittens". My 581 results began with Mistletoe Kittens, and proceeded through Bewitching Kittens, Christmas Eve Kittens, Valentine Kittens, Wedding Day Kittens, and Snowflake Kittens before stumbling over Stocking Stuffers.

Before you begin a quest to read hundreds of holiday kitten anthologies, let me alert you to the dark side of the genre. Yes. A dirty secret about kitten anthologies. Many books are reprints with new cover art. For instance A Stockingful of Joy from 1997 was reissued in 2005. Other anthologies will mix a popular old kitten story with a couple new ones as a "new" book. I'm sure the publisher does not intend to trick a reader into buying something she's read before, and it's wonderful that the authors continue to receive royalties, but savvy kitten-readers check copyright dates inside the front cover.

The genre did not end with the '90s. It transcends treacle. It is not limited to Regencies. Nalini Singh (of the Psy/Changeling series) and Lora Leigh wrote novellas Stroke of Enticement and Christmas Heat, respectively, in The Magical Christmas Cat (2008). I have a very hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that the author of the Breed series and the Nauti Boys books has a Christmas kitten story.

Why? Why do some people, like me, love kitten romance anthologies? How have others never noticed them? Are we romance readers blind to sub-genres we don't read? Do we not see cars when we cross the street? At this time of year Christmas kittens are everywhere, like lit-up plastic candy canes, like icicle lights, like red-kettles and bell-ringers. Enjoy one with cookies and good cheer.

Me-owy Christmas to all our readers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Writing Through Holiday Mayhem

For most people, calling the holiday season chaotic is an understatement - regardless of which religious/traditional celebrations you keep. For me Christmas is all about family, but the to-do list still seems to get longer every year.

Picking out, wrapping and mailing presents. Getting the tree, lighting and decorating it. Cookies, carols, elementary school holiday pageants. Snowball fights, sledding, and snowmen with the niece & nephews. Free time is a forgotten luxury this time of year.

Which can be particularly stressful for writers whose "free" time is actually writing time.

So how do you keep your writing mojo strong during the chaotic holidays? Do you vow to write every day - even if you can only spare the time for jotting down one sentence? Do you take a hiatus from the writing grind and come back to it refreshed after the holidays are over? However you do it, odds are you're going to have to find some method that works for you, some way of keeping the writing fires burning as bright as the yule log.

I like to take into account holiday madness when I'm making out my writing schedule. This year, I have an added obstacle. One of my very best friends is getting married, in St. Thomas, the week before Christmas (this week!). The bridal party is sailing down together - away from email and cell phones for a real vacation! I don't have any writing goals for the next two weeks (cruise & Christmas), but I'm taking my computer with me. I may not write much on the ship, but I would go through withdrawals if I couldn't write for ten days. And who knows what inspiration will strike me on the high seas? Maybe this vacation from schedules and goals will be just what my writing needs to be reinvigorated.

What are your writing plans for the holiday season? A holiday from the demands of the pen or a diligent continuation of your usual good habits? (I'm giving you the benefit of believing we all have good habits. If not, that's what New Year's resolutions are for, right?)

Happy Holidays and Happy Writing!

P.S. I have a free holiday story now available at the Samhellion - mistletoe and mischief, shape-shifter style. Enjoy!