Tag Archives: Writing research

OH, the Places I’d go!

Be it ever so humble…..

I’ll admit this freely – I don’t travel well. My husband calls me the “ugly American” and it’s too true. I am a spoiled homebody. I  like nothing more than staying in my house, in my jammies, reading a book or cooking for friends and family. Yeah, I know. I live and lead a very boring, limited life, so this blog topic was one that required a huge amount of thought on my part. The last time I traveled anywhere was when my daughter was in college, doing a semester in Barcelona and then in Dublin. My Husband and I went to visit her in both places.

And just FYI, she graduated in 2011. What year is it now, hmmm? Yeah. That’s the last time I went anywhere.

So, the Top 5 places I’d like to visit.

Well, let’s see…

I actually had to go out and buy the book 1000 Places to see before you die because I couldn’t even come up with one.

I don’t like planes – they are a necessary inconvenience, though. I dislike trains even more, and forget about being in the car longer than an hour without stopping to stretch my legs. Total torture.

So…those 5 places.

Hawaii might be nice because it’s like…Hawaii!! Lava and beaches and leis. But it’s such an asshugging long trip from the East Coast to get there. I might have to make a few stops along the way, like Washington DC. The architecture, the history, the scandals. I could spend a few days there without problems. But I’ve been there already. Numerous times. This is supposed to be a post on places I haven’t visited yet.

Okay, so #1. Hawaii.

2….hmmm. Tuscany. I think I’d like to see Tuscany because I loved that book Under The Tuscan Sun. It would be great for my cooking skills to learn how to make authentic Tuscan dishes using fresh Tuscan ingredients…like wine!

3…..(scratching head) The Swiss Alps because I liked Heidi. My in-laws actually went to the Swiss Alps on a trip once and my mother-in-law told me it was absolutely her favorite part of that vacation. Seeing the Matterhorn, riding the Glacier Express. She loved it and since she’s such a good judge of things, I figure I would too!

4….(biting nails, now) Australia, and mainly Queensland because I lovedlovedloved The Thorn Birds. I was so heartbroken when Colleen McCullough died, I actually went to Church that day and said a prayer for her soul. She brought the Australian outback to full, vivid, life with her writings and she is sorely missed.

5….(really digging deep now!) Got it! San Fransico because I loved the JoyLuck Club. Amy Tan is a fabu writer and I remember reading this book in a day because I was so invested in the characters and their lives as they navigated through their heritage, culture, and tried to assimilate into the American lifestyle and the Bay Area without trading in their old world ways. Her writing is lyrical, fluid, and flows from the page.

So. I could stop In San Fran on the way to Hawaii, and after a week swimming the Pacific shores, move on to Australia. Next stop from there,  Tuscany and finishing in the Swiss Alps.

That wouldn’t be so bad.

Le sigh.

This was a hard blog to write, peeps. Really hard considering I don’t leave my house much!

Let’s see if the other authors in the blog challenge have as hard a time as I did coming up with 5 places… I’m going to bet they didn’t.

 

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Strong Women

The things I do for #Writing #research

Last week I divulged that I am a dyed in the wool nosey parker. Really. I’m also a world class eavesdropper. The reason I’m telling you this is because I attended the NECRWA conference in Burlington, Ma, this past weekend and I got there early – Thursday night ( conference started on Friday) and spent the better part of the early evening hanging out in two places: the concierge lounge on my floor and the hotel lobby.

Talk about opportunities to eavesdrop! Holy Moly!

In the lobby was ( wait for it…) a lounge, aka a bar, and my little eavesdropping heart just went pitter patter with glee at all the fun, tips-i-ly things that were said by the patrons. Can I just tell you how much fun I had!!! I know it’s probably a horrible thing to admit, but I really get a kick out of watching people drink and then flirt/talk/flirt some more and keep drinking.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t drink alcohol… and this is one of the reasons why I don’t. I never want to be on the talking end of a conversation that people make fun of. I mean, let’s be honest here. I say enough stupid things when I’m stone cold sober. I can’t even imagine what the heck would come out of my mouth if I was…inebriated.

Anyway, back to my lobby eavesdropping. Here’s one little snippet I “overheard.”

30 something on her way, way passed being tipsy: “Hey, this hot guy I saw the other night had these cool shots . They looked good. I think they had cimmanon. I wanna try one.”

The other 30 something she was with, not as tipsy: “You mean, cinnamon, right?”

Drunken reply; “That’s what I said. They were called fire crotch, cause they were hot. So was they guy. Hot, I mean.” A twitter of hiccuppy laughs followed this.

Not so drunken reply: “Fireballs.”

Drunken Reply: “What?

Not so drunken reply, only louder this time, as if that would help her understand: “He had fireballs.”

Drunken reply through wide eyes and opened mouth: “Really? How do you know that? Did you, like, do him in the bathroom to find that out?” 

See? As far as research goes, this is pure gold, people. Pure gold.

When I’m not eavesdropping you can find me here relating what I’ve eavesdropped: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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On #bingewatching, #beingcool, and #Millennials

I used to consider myself one of the “cool” people. Really. I did. I was always up on pop culture so I could talk to any age group; my daughter’s friends always asked me questions, opinions, and actually liked sleepovers in our house. They valued my opinion.  I was relatively thin ( for a few years!) and dressed in all the new season’s styles every year.

But something changed and I don’t know when it happened…

Let me esplain it, Lucy.

I was binge watching the E! show So Cosmo about the lives, loves, and careers of twenty-something millennials who all work at COSMOPOLITAN magazine.

I wanted to watch because I wanted to get a “feel” for what millennials are up to these days, to – maybe- use in my writing. I know about women in their 40’s and 50’s but I write about younger gals, so I thought I’d use this show as a sort of reference for putting my finger on the pulse of today’s woman.

What’s that saying about the best laid plans?? Yeah, not so much.

The basic plot line of the show involves the magazine’ surprising turnover of its Editor in Chief Joanna Coles to a new editor. Joanna is 2 years younger than myself ( me, 56; her, 54) and is a powerful, assertive, smart smart smart woman in an industry that has been typically defined and run by men: publishing. She brought COSMO  to the number one magazine women buy – both in trade ink copy and e-zine – during her tenure. To say she is a woman who gets things done and has her finger on the pulse of the Cosmo “girl,” is true. For the purpose of disclosure, Joanna was offered a new position with the Hearst organization ( the parent company of Cosmo) – a much more powerful position, which is why she was leaving Cosmo. You go, girl!

As I started watching the show I was quickly invested in the lives of the cast – all 20 and early 30 somethings. Most of them were single ( one was married with a kid), lived in Manhattan and took full advantage of city living by going out most nights to “party” and de-stress. Now, when I was their age (a millennia ago!) “party” meant literally that. Have a party to celebrate something. Apparently, it doesn’t mean the same thing anymore and this is where I realized my cool moniker was starting to shift.

By the third show I realized I was not only NOT cool anymore, I wasn’t going to be again in this lifetime if this was the yardstick to measure cool-dom by! I didn’t even understand most of the references the cast was using about fashion, life, and relationships. COSMO prides itself on being the voice of female empowerment and I totally buy that.  The Cosmo girl is billed as successful, smart, and sexy; able to live life to the fullest with no regrets, and the women in this cast are. Their purpose is to advise, counsel, and acquaint women on a myriad of topics relating to life, love, career, and finances.

But as I watched this show and the lives of its cast unfold, I began to realize that female empowerment does not mean the same thing to all women. For instance, the word “party” again. To some of the cast women it meant – basically – going out and getting as drunk as they could in an effort to unwind from the stress of their work lives. In the next breath, during the cast interviews, they would say they were living the dream life. So why then, is their work life so stressed they need to get drunk to unwind from it?
See what I’m saying?

They also look at relationships in a much different way than I thought. It’s cool now ( apparently) to hook up ( another word that doesn’t mean what it used to!)  with a series of people randomly, casually, and with no strings attached until you find one you may want to stay with…for a while. Maybe. Cosmo millennials don’t appear to view that whole Happily Ever After with a single mate concept as a  valid thing.

Okay, so now I am not only NOT cool, my whole existence for being -writing the HEA – isn’t ( apparently) relevant!

Before you write me scathing letters, hating me for trashing an entire generation of millennials,  know this: I realize this is just one little “reality” show on a network known for scripted reality shows. My daughter is a millennial who happens to live in Manhattan and I know she and her friends – who are all successful, smart women – don’t think and act in the typical Cosmo Girl fashion portrayed in this show.

Believe me – I get it!

It doesn’t erase the fact that I am no longer cool,  though!

When I’m not bemoaning my lack of cool, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, female friends, Life challenges, love, research, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

On being an #eavesdropper and a #voyeur…

As a writer, I have a basic need to know about humans so I can describe them truthfully in my stories. Their quirks, foibles, mannerisms. Their cadences in speech, their body movements, the physical way they handle stress. I also need to know what they think and how they speak.

Hence, today’s topic. I am a natural eavesdropper and voyeur. When I was a teenager I had to wear rose-colored glasses ( no pun intended) because of an issue with light hitting my eyes. My grandmother ( the witch I’ve mentioned many times in previous blogs) nastily called me SPY-GIRL, because  I could look at people without them knowing it behind those lenses.  This is where my life long obsession with being, well, nosey, came from. ( And if you don’t know the significance of this picture – you are not over 40!)

diana

These are just some of the, shall we say funny, things I’ve overheard and surreptitiously seen over the course of the past year.

At the  gym:

planetlogo

“You know, I bet if you hit him with just a five pound weight you could do serious damage, or even kill him.”

“When he sees how much weight I’ve lost, he’ll come back begging. The dick.”

“I hit something in the road on my way here. I’ve got blood and shit all over my front end. Hope it wasn’t, like,  a body. Hope the cops don’t see it.”

At Panera:

panera

“Are your eggs fresh?” ( In my mind, to this one, I wanted the clerk to say so badly , “No, just a little snarky at times.” think about it!

“What kind of meat is in your turkey sandwich?”

“Can I get an egg with my souffle?”

“What kind of fruit is in your Mango smoothie?”

At the grocery store:

This one was the clerk calling to the floor manager when she couldn’t make change. “Hey, I need coins. I’ve gotta give this lady fifty cents change and all I have is a bunch of dimes. I need some of those twenty-five peice coins.” And okay, here’s the truth in advertising part of this blog – that story was told to me by my hairdresser! but I still thought it was good enough to add here.

At WalMart

walmart

( and full disclosure here, these were pulled off a site – yes, they actually have a website – titled PEOPLE IN WALMART – so I’m not the only one on the look out for these peeps!

walmart3walmart4walmart5walmart6walmart7walmart8walmart

Is it, really, any wonder I’m a writer??

When I’m not watching and listening to people out in the world, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

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How Pinterest made me a better writer! (or, Into the mind of a Writer, part II)

There’s a running commentary of questions in my brain in any given moment on any given day.

How did we cook on the fly before microwaves? How did we keep in touch with one another before cell-phones ruled the world? How did we communicate before the internet and email and texting? Does anyone know how to parallel park anymore? Do people actually still talk to one another at meal-time?

There’s a lot going on in my head at any one time and I certainly can’t remember a life before we had all these gadgets and  inconvenient conveniences.  But there is one computer application that has made me a much better writer because I can tell you exactly what I used to do before it was invented: waste time looking things up!!!

I’m talking- as if the title of this piece doesn’t give it away – about Pinterest. Before I had my boards all lined up on the Pinterest app, I spent a great deal of time flipping back and forth through files and notes to ensure I didn’t mess things up with my characters and storylines. I had a bad habit of not remembering that the hero had blue eyes on page 5 when I gave him green ones on page 200. I gave the heroine short curly red hair in the first introduction and then straightened it to hip length when she met the hero ten pages later. Dumb mistakes. Dumb.

For a while I tried flipping through fashion magazines so I could find pictures of what I envisioned my characters looked like, but most magazines had the same ads in each one, so nothing new was found, and all the celebrities of the moment were featured in each one, as well, in the same poses, etc, so there went the variety I needed.

When I discovered Pinterest I felt as if a dream I had never thought to ask for had somehow magically come true. I could spend hours – literally! – flipping through all the boards, categories, and other people’s boards to find what I wanted — and I did! Now, if I find a picture of what I want my character or her house, or even her pet to look like, I save that picture to whatever board I’m working on. My current favorite boards are AFTERNOON TEA and GEMMA, two new books I’m writing.

I don’t know who thought up Pinterest, but if I ever find out, I’ll be sure to write them and give them a big thank you from me. It is so much easier now to visually keep track of what my peeps, their clothes, what they eat, etc, look like. I usually print out the salient, important, pictures for my story/vision boards, so I can have an even quicker reference when I’m writing. You can see my current one for the GEMMA book ( not the real title, yet) on  a previous post.  All the factors of the book I need to know at a simple glance are on that board, the rest on the board on the actual Pinterest site.

If you are a visual person like I am, Pinterest is a great way for a writer to see their book come to life. And it’s not only a great application/site for writers. I know a few brides-to-be, and moms-to-be who also take advantage of the boards. But it doesn’t stop there. There are travel boards, architecture boards, pictures for refurbishing and rehabbing your house.  There are boards for people who are cat obsessed ( I know a few!), book cover obsessed ( me too!), hot guys obsessed ( duh! of course!)Whatever your imagination or needs dictate, you will find pictures and boards for it on Pinterest.

Using Pinterest as a writing tool has truly made me a better writer because I am more consistent, much more descriptive in my writing, and I have more time to actually write now that I don’t need to stop and look things up!

So… do you use Pinterest? let’s discuss…..

This board has all my book covers

Here’s where you can find me, other than Pinterest!:

Tweet Me// Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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