Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ten Things I Love About You

There's an official release date for the next Julia Quinn!

There's also a book cover.

I know what I'll be doing on May 25th! What about you? And is there anything else that should be on my reading radar?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saucy versus Serious

Amanda Forester, a friend from our Seattle chapter of Romance Writers of America, has two fun book trailers for The Highlander's Sword on her website. She made both (with help from two real life heroes - her husband and his bagpiping buddy). One's saucy, one's serious. Vote for your favorite and you could win a FREE BOOK.

Amanda's videos rock like Canadian curlers. I watched them and thought ... when I sell a book I'm going to have to learn how to do that? And my mother thought romances would rot my mind!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I [Heart] The Olympics

I misplaced the Valentine I vaguely remember buying at the grocery store for my husband and haven't bothered to look for it. My husband gave me a card at breakfast Monday. Our romantic dinner February 14th consisted of potstickers and onion cakes shared with our children off styrofoam plates. Lunch was hot dogs and Klondike bars. That added up to the absolutely best Valentine's Day ever. Ever ever ever.

This week isn't about hearts, flowers, or chocolate in the Richland household. It's about - and I need to yell this at the top of my lungs - the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics! We spent Valentine's Day in Vancouver sitting on a metal bench watching USA vs. China women's hockey. True love, Olympic-fan style.

I believe winter sports and romance go hand in hand. Did you see the kiss between Canada's Alex Bilodeau and his girlfriend when he won Canada's first goal medal of the games? Or the amazing skating of husband and wife Chinese pair Shen and Zhao? She supposedly laid down the law, "no wedding, no Olympics." And while we're okay skipping cards and flowers here, I admit Mr. Richland's romance prospects would not be improved if he rhapsodized over my "quadzilla thighs" like cross-country skier Sara Renner does over her alpine skier husband.

For those few still missing the connection between the fleece and goretex-clad crowd and romance, I present my final evidence: Rob Fagan, Canadian Olympic snowboarder, age 33. He competes today (Feb 15) so watch and cheer. You can see several of his teammates here. Well worth a cheer.

Over the years we've taken our children ice-skating, skiing, tubing, sledding and curling. Watching Big Boy make a slow wedge turn on skis, watching my husband skate backwards in a crouch while pulling Miss Bossy Boots, watching both kids play street hockey with full-size sticks twice their height, watching them act out curling matches with Playmobil toys, this all fills me with love. And that's so much more Valentine's Day than some dorky grocery store greeting card I can't find anyway.

Does anyone else love the Winter Olympics like I do? Or have any Olympic-themed romances they can share? Post a comment and then go cheer for Lindsey Jacobellis in Women's Snowboard Cross on Tuesday, Feb. 16. She's looking for a second chance, like so many romance characters. Here's to her happy ending!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Another rejection. A less than stellar review. Disappointing numbers. Difficult feedback.

My shoulders sag, my stomach winds into knots. Chocolate cake screams my name. My pajamas become my uniform and I won’t even start on my sudden aversion to showering .

Been there, done that?

Exactly. As much as I love the joys that come from creating a compelling story, the high of dreaming of future success, pain along the way is inevitable. But, at times, the pain immobilizes my progress. I hit a slump. I stop writing. I postpone those dreams. To snap out of it, I've learned this trick: I grab a journal, a pen, and I ask myself the following questions:

1. Can I imagine being as happy or happier doing anything else in the whole wide world?

2. If I set it all down and walked away today, how would I feel?

3. Am I worrying about what people think rather than about what I want?

4. What is not (writing, promoting, querying, submitting) doing for me? What do I get out of it?

5. What can I learn from this (rejection, review, critique, etc.) ?

Here are some of my answers:

1. Yes, damn it. I could become a make-up artist. I could meet Adrian Grenier and have a torrid romance. Okay...maybe. I could find a way to get paid to read all day. I could land a job at a chocolate factory.! Not at all. I’m a writer. And I love it. Even the hard parts.

2. I would feel empty. Sad. Bored.

3. Maybe. That reviewer wasn’t exactly nice. And form letters suck. And I just know my sister’s going to ask how it went and I’ll have to tell her and she’ll say she’s sorry but I’ll imagine a hint of joy in her voice. Except, what other people think is none of my business! (I then proceed to chant this several times until all the “but, what about _____?’s” are gone.)

4. Ah, yes. The tough one. Being honest with myself is always the most difficult step but it is also the most freeing. Not writing allows me to keep the dream alive. Because if I do nothing, I’m not failing. If I fail and fail, eventually, I’ll lose my dream! Or, at least, it seems that way. Sitting around moping in my chocolate smeared pajamas does please my inner child and supports my inner tortured artist, the one I pretend doesn’t exist. Doing nothing keeps me safe because I’m not opening myself to further rejection or ridicule or embarrassment. But it also is keeping me from my biggest pleasure, writing something someone might love. Outside of my adventures in motherhood, there is no better feeling in this life than connecting with a reader. It feels like when someone laughs at your joke or loves that song, too, or cried at the same silly commercial.

5. I can learn to write better, to relax and not be so hard on myself. To have more fun.

By this point, I am able to step away from the cake. The knots untie. The shower beckons. I then decide how long my pity party gets to last. One more hour, one more day? I stick to it. And often, I find those pesky doubting party guests leave early and on their own. I find myself back at the keyboard, back onto the road of my own hero’s journey. Thrilled anew.

What motivation tricks have you learned along your writing way?

:}Amber Scott

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Burn

I think in every writer's career there will come a time when you are demoralized and disheartened. Rejection compounds with disappointment over a lack of marketability or a sense of helplessness in the face of all these variables that need to align to create a long term career in this business. There may come a time when you are thinking of calling it quits, hanging up your spurs and heading off to find your bliss in some other pursuit.

Should you? I can't tell you that. I can't give you the pep talk and say, "Absolutely not! Keep going, no matter what!" Because it isn't about how good you are, it's about you. Your passion. Your "burn" as Roxanne St. Claire puts it in this EXCELLENT blog post about a writing friend of hers making the decision to hang it up.

Last September, in this blog, Josh Olson (screenwriter of A History of Violence) says "You cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you're not a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, I've done you a favor, because now you'll be free to pursue your real talent, whatever that may be. And, for the record, everybody has one. The lucky ones figure out what that is."

I agree mostly, but I don't think it's necessarily about talent. My feeling is that it is more in keeping with Roxanne St. Claire's burn. It's passion. (Of course, that doesn't mean it has to be a raging inferno inside you, sometimes passion is so deeply imbedded it comes out in quiet moments - Jane Austen style.)

Here's my little personal anecdote about finding your bliss:

About a gazillion years ago, for about fifteen seconds, I worked in the film industry. I love movies. Love them. Always have. You can ask my parents. I wore out our Beta player as a kid. In college, I began to get involved in film - the production side. For a while there, film editing felt like my calling and I was good at it. I landed an internship with an independent film company in New York and went to get my first inside look at the biz.

It didn't last long. It wasn't that I realized I wasn't good at editing - I am. It wasn't that I realized I didn't love editing - I still do. What happened was I came to the realization that I didn't love editing enough to make it worth the uncertainty inherent in working on movies. Those projects don't last forever and then you're out of the job, struggling to find your next paycheck. I didn't have the burn, the passion. At least not enough to make it worth it to me. So I left and I've never looked back. Never had a coulda-shoulda-woulda moment. Not for one second.

And, yes, I recognize the perverse irony that I left that career path only to pursue one with just as much flux and instability. But with writing, no matter the uncertainty attached, I have the burn. I've never considered quitting. And if I ever did, I know it wouldn't stick.

So my question to you is: have you ever considered hanging it up? What stopped you? What keeps you going? Have you been lucky enough to find your "real talent", as Josh Olson calls it?