Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Reading Drought is Over

I'm at the bookstore, purchasing two long awaited novels.

Where are you? What are you reading?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Real Romance

This morning, I lolled in bed until a seriously late hour. When I could finally be bothered to kick back the covers, my husband was just coming home from running errands. And what did he have in his hands? A Starbucks latte just for me!

"This is the kind you like, right?" he asked, handing over the perfect cup 'o designer Joe. I was impressed, for several reasons: (1) My drink order is embarrassingly complicated. (2) My drink order has changed since we started dating. (3) Normally I get Starbucks on the way to work, when I'm alone and cranky.

His powers of observation regarding such a little thing made me feel so loved... and so well-known. And, really, the two go hand in hand!

To me, this is real romance. I don't need an emotionally wounded vampire. I wouldn't know what to do with a wealthy alpha oil tycoon. In my daily life, I get my romantic kicks off of little things like this. I'm so glad to be married to even-keeled Mr. Marvelous, who know how to do the laundry and doesn't complain when we eat Cheerios for dinner. What a guy!

I want to know about your real-life romance! What are the little things your hero (or heroine) does to inspire you? Alternatively, who are some real life romance couples you know--and what makes them so great? (Yes, I imagine I'll go on and on about my parents in the comments section.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I feel just so very up.

Catch the filler words in the title? Guess what I'm doing again? I thought I had finished revisions to the nth power of nine, revisions as far as the final digit of pi, revisions that, if turned into frequent flier miles, would take all of the Richlands to New Zealand and back, first class. But no. Last week an agent rejected my full manuscript: "I just didn't feel the rest of the chapters were as strong as the first five." After I moped for twenty-four hours, I agreed. My first five chapters rocked enough for her to request a full and read it a week after submission, but the rest of The Soldier rocks like a chair, not an amplifier.

How do I know? Because finding and replacing the words "feel" and "felt" in the manuscript took me two hours. I didn't have a chance to tackle the third word on my list, "seem," and the list continues with then, just, few, some, even, still, only, up, down, against, back, look(ing), and sound. Last year I judged a writing contest entry that used the word "just" 43 times. In twenty-five pages. Sometimes Control-F is a better friend than coffee, and that is from a Seattle-ite.

I also like Joanne Bourne's technical advice on words to check. It reminded me to look not only for filler words like those above, but also for overused descriptions. Eyes and hands and fingers, oh my. I suspect I'll cringe when I read through the frequent hand/finger references in The Soldier.
(By the way, Joanna Bourne is a wonderfully gracious person - I sat next to her twice at 2008 RWA Nationals - and The Spymaster's Lady is a superb Regency. Please put it on your To Be Read list.)

Here's another word I spread far and wide through my writing - adjust. I tried to layer body language into the manuscript. Instead I created fidgeters. It makes me wonder how the saintly Mr. Richland tunes out my own constant "adjusting" of glasses, hair, bra straps and sleeves.

What words do you know you over use? And how many times do you use just or feel/felt? Can you be more atrocious than two hours of feeling removal? Let me know so we can wave our fingers and grip our hands together.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Writers Giving Back

When I was in college, my friends and I used to joke about whether we would choose to use our powers for good or evil. Essentially it was an "are you a hero or a villain" type discussion. I never really thought of myself as particularly heroic, nor terribly villainous. A lot of the things in our lives fall into that ambiguous grey area - neither good nor bad. They just are. But sometimes we get the chance to do something good. Maybe the heroes are just the ones who take those chances?

One of the amazing things about the various Romance Writers of America chapters I've been involved with is the way they get involved in good causes. The Greater Seattle RWA does a goods drive every Christmas for a women's shelter. The book signing at the RWA National convention always benefits literacy. Each May (right now!) Brenda Novak hosts an auction raising thousands upon thousands of dollars for Diabetes Research. Hundreds of writers participate in these and other philanthropies every year, raising funds and awareness for good causes.

I'm taking a page out of their book for my current one. The heroine of my current ebook release, The Sexorcist, is a survivor of a serious congenital heart condition. She triumphed over adversity and deserves every bit of her happily ever after. In honor of real-life heroines like Brittany, I've launched the Have a Heart promo, benefiting the Children's Heart Foundation.

Here's how it works: If you buy The Sexorcist in ebook, and email a copy of your receipt to heart@viviandrews.com before July 31, 2010, I will donate 10% of my royalties for that sale to the Children's Heart Foundation. If you would like to learn more about this organization which funds research for congenital heart defect treatment, or if you would prefer to cut out the middleman and donate directly, you can visit their website at: www.childrensheartfoundation.org.

How often do you get to read a book and get warm fuzzies for helping a good cause at the same time? Well, luckily, with the efforts of the romance writers giving back, pretty often.

Don't forget to check out the Brenda Novak auction! (And keep an eye out for my Tickle My Fantasy Alaskan Gift Basket while you're there.)