Michaeline: Welcome to Riverdale

Puff pastry with a layer of cream, more pastry, more cream, more pastry . . . more better! Strawberry on top.

The many layers of a Japanese mille feuille (by Miya, via Wikimedia Commons)

Over the holidays, I binge-watched Riverdale, which is a live action reboot of the 75-plus-years-old Archie comics, and I loved it. I always love a good soap opera, because they are layered like a mille feuille, but Riverdale? Riverdale has layers in five dimensions.

First, artistically speaking, I was struck by the Twin Peaks vibe from the first shot. We open on the tragic drowning death of campus hero, Jason Blossom. In some ways, it feels like a prologue, but it is exactly where the season’s story starts. We’re given a gorgeous backdrop of river and mountains, somewhere near the Canadian border, and the stunning contrasts of all that summer green, and the Blossom twins’ pale skin and red hair. (Tone alert: Riverdale has Twin Peaks’ striking look, but there’s 50 percent less mumbo jumbo. The story references Twin Peaks as an influence, but it’s got better pacing, in my opinion.)

When I headed back to the DVD menu to click for my next hit, the episode names reminded me of old movies and short stories. Stuff like “Heart of Darkness” and “Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!” I bet a reading/watching program of these references would provide quite an education in how to set up murderous fictional situations. But even if you’ve never read or seen most of these classics (and I haven’t), you’ve heard of them. They are in a million pop references, and you get it. It’s a little touch that re-inforces what you know about this series: it’s a pop rendition of some of the best of the twentieth century. That cult-hit vibe makes it even more cool and mysterious.

The next thing you notice is the stars. I’ll circle back to the younger stars in a paragraph or two, but the older stars? If you are a woman of a certain age, Archie’s dad (played by Luke Perry ((!))) and his mom (Molly Fucking Ringwold! THE red-headed sweetheart of my generation!) will provide all sorts of other feelings and memories. They don’t particularly Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!  Hope you’ve had a good week and, if you were in one of the areas with earthquakes, high winds, lashing rain, blizzard conditions, or just politics-as-usual, that you have survived unscathed.

It has been a hectic week at the Day Job, so I’m looking forward to some downtime and dinner with friends this weekend.  If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, then you’re in luck.  Saturday marks the 3rd Annual Women’s March.  The main march will be in Washington, D.C., but there are satellite events scheduled across the globe, including one just blocks from my office.  If you’re interested in attending, check here to see if there will be a march near you.

Not in the mood for marching this weekend?  Well, Saturday is National Popcorn Day, so maybe you can celebrate by heading off to the movies with a big bucket of buttery deliciousness.

I’ll be here curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a mug of coffee, and a lazy cat, alternating between reading the latest Louise Penny book I’m in the midst of, and doing some writing of my own.  I’ve got a story with a sagging-middle that needs some work, but before I tackle that I think I’ll try and jump-start my creativity by giving today’s “what-if” and random words a try.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), if you’re not feeling random, we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope today’s story prompt and/or random words will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

What if: Your character got passed over for a promotion?”

Feel free to include any (or all) of the following random words:

whisper           cadaver            freak                 blend

announcer      landscape        adhesive            flash

curse               lemon              anonymous       future

drunk              arrival              wholesome        gloves

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

Michille: Write Your Novel in a Year

wendig

As so many people say, or in this case after I googled ‘write your novel in a year’, so many web pages say it. I’ve discussed Writers Write and Anthony Ehlers series called Write Your Novel in a Year. The blog very kindly consolidated all 52 posts here. I have Chuck Wendig’s infographic on my bulletin board (if you don’t like foul language, skip this one). And I’ve tried the NaNo method (although I knew I wouldn’t write an entire novel in a month). I don’t read these because I think any one of them will be the magic bullet, but I do regularly find motivation to keep writing. Here are some of the new ones I found: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Golden Heart® Public Service Announcement

RWA’s Golden Heart necklace, awarded to each Golden Heart winner.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been reading the blog recently, several of the 8Ladies buffed and polished up manuscripts and entered them in this year’s RWA Golden Heart Contest.  It’s the last year of the contest, which may been just the extra motivation they needed to get those words flowing and stories finished.   Best of luck to all who entered the contest.

I have been a Golden Heart contest judge since my earliest days in RWA.  In addition to supporting the organization, contest judging can be a learning experience for the contest judge as well as the entrant.  I have often found that mistakes I don’t see in my own writing, or concepts that just don’t make sense in my own head, can be startlingly clear when reading someone else’s entry.  Plus, you get the chance to read some really good stories that you might otherwise never have seen.

The judging process is not terribly onerous for the judge.  You typically get 5 to 7 entries to read, no longer than 55 pages in each, consisting of a story synopsis and the first pages of the book.  There are no in-depth comments/feedback to provide (though as an entrant, I’ve always wished for just that).  Each preliminary-round entry is scored individually on a scale of 1.0 to 10.0, with 1.0 being the lowest (poor) and 10.0 being the highest (excellent). Judges are allowed and encouraged to use decimal points (7.5, 8.8, etc.) when scoring.

Preliminary-round judges answer the following three questions in addition to assigning one overall score to each entry:

  • Does the entry contain a central love story?
  • Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?
  • Does the entry fall within the category description?

That’s it.  Not a huge time demand.

You probably can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

Today I got an email from the Carol Ritter, the contest coordinator, saying that there has been a delay in getting entries out to the judges because they don’t currently have enough members signed up to judge the number of entries that were received.  It’s a problem they’ve had in the past, and one of the many reasons they are retiring the contest after this year.

Are you an RWA member?

If so, would consider signing up to be a judge.

You can find all the information here on the RWA website.

Who knows, you just might find a new favorite author in the process.

Jeanne: Happy (Book) Birthday to Me!

demon's in the details ebook cover

The second book in my Touched by a Demon series comes out today!

It’ll be a cold day in Hell before artist Keeffe Blackmon gives up the statue created by her late mother, a world-famous inspirational sculptor. Keeffe’s not selling—not even to a man as rich as devil’s food cake and handsome as sin—the gorgeous but morally repulsive billionaire Seth McCall. That is, until Keeffe decodes a fiendish contract and discovers she has just one month to prove she’s earning a living with her art or lose her sculpture forever.

Demons will ice skate on the Lake of Fire before Satan puts Abaddon, aka Bad, the demon of sloth and Hell’s brainiest minion, back in charge of Hell’s technology hub. But when Satan’s stooge McCall fails to acquire the powerful statue, Bad seizes his chance. To win back his job, Bad offers to possess McCall and, with the unbeatable combination of McCall’s good looks and his own smarts, melt Keeffe into selling him the sculpture.

As Keeffe races to complete a mural in McCall’s McMansion and earn the cash she needs to keep her statue, the billionaire blows hot one minute and cold the next. It’s almost as if he’s two different men: one a jerk, the other sweet and nerdy—and hot as Hell.

Aboveworld for the first time, Bad finds out his heart is even bigger than his brain. He is entranced by Sedona’s stunning landscape and seduced by Keeffe’s passion for art, life and the man she thinks she sees in McCall.

Bad may be the smartest demon in Hell—but is he smart enough to win Keeffe’s trust and ice Satan’s devilish plan to destroy Sedona?

You can check it out on Amazon in either ebook or print format.

Nancy: The Fine Art of Receiving a Critique

Last week, Jeanne discussed critiquing manuscripts for newbie writers, and yesterday Justine talked about revising (and revising, and revising!) the opening chapters of the first book in her historical romance series. With both of these posts on my mind and no less than three (three!) revisions of my own to complete, from minor tweaks in one story to major revisions in another to something in between on the third, today I’m thinking about the best way to bridge the gap between getting back comments from a trusted critiquer and putting a revision plan into action.

We’ve discussed a lot of the steps I’m going to suggest here at 8LW in the past, and much of the way the Ladies approach critique work is based on the guidance Jenny Crusie* gave us while we studied with her in our McDaniel writing program. But with so many of us knee deep (or eyeballs deep) in the critique and revision process, let’s revisit some of the basics, ICYMI (or ICYNAR – in case you need a refresher). Continue reading

Justine: Leaving Well Enough Alone

“The more we stur a tourde, the wours it will stynke.” So said J. Heywood in the 1546 Dialogue Prouerbes Eng. Tongue. How true is that? I have muddied around with the first several chapters of my book for MONTHS now, but as the Golden Heart deadline approached on Friday, I found myself having to follow the equally proverbial “fish or cut bait.”

In other words, I had to make whatever changes I could get done before the deadline, then send it off on its merry way. (I have few hopes of finaling, but I thought because it’s the last time RWA will hold the Golden Heart–the “Academy Awards” of romance writing for unpublished authors–I should give it a go.)

When I finished my submission, and in conjunction with my Word Of The Year (which is DEADLINES), I told my husband that I was not going to touch those first five chapters again. And he made me sign THIS:

img_6593

So it’s moving forward, starting with Chapter 6 and going until it’s done and I turn it in to my editor.

Do you put a stake in the ground when it comes to your MS? Do you only allow a certain number of revisions to a given chapter?