Jeanne: Confronting My Own Racism

Butternut squashAs you’re probably aware, over the holidays the Romance Writers of America (RWA) had kind of a melt-down over the issue of racism. A prominent RWA member and former board member, Courtney Milan, received word that her membership was suspended for a year and that she could never serve on an RWA board again as punishment for posting, on her Twitter account, a criticism of a fellow author’s book which she felt to be racist.

There are lots of aspects to this issue. Milan is Chinese-American and has been instrumental in helping RWA to confront some of the bias in its policies and processes. There appear to be some irregularities in how the ethics complaint was handled and there have definitely been some inconsistencies–the punishment was retracted the next day after Milan shared her situation with her 42,000+ Twitter followers.

If you’re interested in more detail, Google “RWA Milan ” The Big G will cheerfully deliver a full day’s worth of information.

In reading through the complaint, I became painfully aware that the last book I released, The Demon’s in the Details, contained character descriptions that Ms. Milan would almost certainly find offensive. Continue reading

Nancy: They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale Part 2

Happy holidays once again! Last week, I presented part 1 of Cynthia and Derek’s prequel story. If you missed it, you can read it right here. And after today’s entry, you might want to read the story that started it all, They Shoot Flamingos, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale

As a reminder, to meet this year’s story challenge, my heroine received the unexpected Christmas Eve gift of an open bar tab in Vegas. Of the six random words I did not use last week, I used four this week: northern, knuckle, dove, and pure. Happy reading!

They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale, Part 1

Shortly before 10 PM, after an excellent dinner and just a couple more shots of very fine whiskey, I walked two blocks to the fake volcano. It seemed absurdly early for the last show in Vegas, but it meant seeing tall, dark, and delectable that much sooner, so I hung on the edges of the crowd and waited for him. The volcano rumbled to life, spewing smoke and fake magma to the delighted oohs, aahs, and flash photography of the crowd. After a few unimpressive minutes—at least, if you’ve seen the real thing—the show was over.

And so was any hope I’d had of catching up with Mr. Right Now. Derek had stood me up. Second guy in one night. A girl could get a complex from less. Continue reading

Nancy: They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? Part 1

Two years ago, I returned from a trip to LA shortly before we got our Christmas story prompt and challenge words. One of the words that year was flamingo, and somehow my trip and that word sparked a fun, steamy story I called They Shoot Flamingos, Don’t They? It was a blast to write that story, and I’ve always intended to revisit that world. So for this year’s challenge, I’m doing a prequel to Flamingos, flashing back to the previous Christmas when Cynthia and Derek met. In Las Vegas, because of course. Since this will be another long short story, I’m breaking it into two parts. I hope you enjoy it and come back next week for part 2!

Regarding the story prompt, our heroine receives an unexpected gift in the form of an open bar tab…you’ll see what I mean. And the challenge words I’ve used in part 1 are: blinking, warm, seed, bittersweet, bauble, invitation, coat, sticky, aversion, and challenge.

They Shoot Lounge Lizards, Don’t They? A Christmas(ish) Tale, Part 1

There had to be a better way to get a date.

I sucked down the last few bittersweet drops of my Jack Daniel’s Black Label—neat, thank you very much—and tapped my phone to consciousness to check the time. My could-be loverboy from LoveStruck was officially fifteen minutes late. That’ll teach me to swipe right on anyone willing to meet for a drink on Christmas Eve in Vegas. Continue reading

Michaeline: Word of the Year!

Father Time with a butler snuffing out 1889's candle, and lighting 1890's candle.

Reflecting on words of the past year, looking forward to the new words to come in 2020. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Merriam-Webster (THE go-to official dictionary for many US publications) has declared that their 2019 Word of the Year is (drumroll, please) THEY.

I can’t help but think that M-W is absolutely right. Oh, sure, “they” has been around for a very long time. In fact, “they” has been used as a gender-neutral pronoun to correspond with “everyone” and “someone” for more than 600 years, M-W said on their website. It’s only recently that “they” has been used for nonbinary people.

I’ve seen “they” used in stories (both news and fiction), but in June, I heard it on my TV for the first time while viewing the BBC/Amazon Prime mini-series, Good Omens. (I talked about it in August here on the blog.)

The character was Pollution, and in the book, I remember Continue reading

Michille: Unusual Strategy for National Novel Writing Month

NaNoAs the title of this blog post suggests, I plan to have an unusual strategy for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or just NaNo), which commences on November 1. The typical NaNo goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. That’s about 1,667 words per day. I am taking a different approach this year and working on the words I got on the page last year and trying to incorporate them into the overall manuscript.

I started with a skeletal story of about 40,000 words that was my master’s thesis. Then last November wrote 50,000 more words to flesh it out. I wrote the first 40k in a coherent order and the NaNo 50k in random scenes. Right after NaNo ended, I made excellent progress on inserting scenes where they should go and re-figuring the plot to make some other stuff fit. In working so diligently through November and probably through about January/February, I made great headway.

And then Life interrupted. As I’m sure at least one or two of you have experienced that, I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say work stalled and then I got so far out of the story that I could never get myself motivated to get back into it. I’m going to use NaNo to hopefully get back in my story. Continue reading

Elizabeth: A Turn of Phrase

agents, editors, agent, editor, pitch, pitching, manuscriptIt’s probably no surprise to anyone, but I’m a big fan of words.  When writing, I love it when I find just the right one, with just the right nuanced meaning to get an idea across.  I like words that are slightly old fashioned or not commonly used; words that are whimsical; and words that are evocative.  I’d give you some examples but naturally, all the words in my head went into hiding as soon as I tried to find them.

I’ve been doing more of my reading on my Kindle app recently and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed is being able to click on a word and instantly get a definition while I’m reading along.   Sure, I could pull out the dictionary when reading a physical book, but that’s not nearly as instantaneous.   I’m finding that I’m looking up words fairly frequently – even words I’m pretty familiar with – just to be sure I’ve got their meaning correct.  I’ll admit there have been a few occasions where my understanding of the meaning of a word was not quite as precise as I’d thought.

Looking up a word when you are not completely sure of the meaning is one thing, but what happens when you encounter a phrase that leaves you puzzled?

I’m thinking about a book I read a while back that had the line: Continue reading