Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From the middle of the stormy, snowy, sleety, rainy midwest (as in "Is this the ice bowl?" "No, it's Iowa."), I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the coming year.

Thank you for joining me here on my blog and on my website. I'm so glad to have had your companionship over the past year and I look forward to another year here, sharing books and ideas and heroes (especially, but not exclusively, Hugh-in-a-towel) with you.

If you have questions or suggestions for making this a better place to visit, please share them.

Blogs aren't one way streets. It helps me to hear your ideas and learn about what you want to read about, too. Let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Take care and have a wonderful holiday season!

From all of our family to all of yours,

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Bye, George!

By George, he's gone.

George, that is. He took his heroine and cyberspatially took off on the weekend so he'll be spending Christmas on the other side of the pond.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Neither could his heroine, Sophy. I am sooooo glad they finally got it together and managed their happily-ever-after.

I hope the ed likes it when she reads it which, she tells me, will probably not be until January. Not a problem. The last thing I want is George coming home for Christmas. Even though I love him dearly, we need a little space. A little less togetherness.

I'm now in the throes of planning Christmas in a week. Or less, obviously. Fortunately before I threw myself headlong at the last few chapters of George, I got most of my Christmas shopping done and the presents that needed mailing were mailed. And a week ago last weekend we put up the tree.

But since George left the building I've been baking and cleaning and washing sheets (for descending grandkids and kids to have places to sleep) and shoveling snow and figuring out Christmas dinner. At Thanksgiving I came within a blink of forgetting potatoes. So I need to start making lists.

It's snowing again tonight. It's supposed to snow for the next three days. That should make the indoor preparations easier and the shopping preparations tricky, to say the least.

I'm off now to write my blog for Tuesday for Tote Bags 'n' Blogs. Drop by and say hi.

To get you in the holiday spirit, in case you're not, this is where Sophy and George are spending Christmas.

Where are you spending it?

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Watching out for a hero

Monday I am doing the coveted "Male on Monday" post over at The Pink Heart Society.

As it is already Monday in much of the world as I write this, my column about Raoul Bova is already up.

Stop by and ogle the pix. Celebrate the social conscience of a man who is more than just a pretty face. Drool, if you wish.

I sent his picture in with the art information for Demetrios in my upcoming The Virgin's Proposition. In fact, I used several pictures to get my brain in gear every morning.

Several of them I posted there. But this one -- which was the main one I used -- I'm posting here.

I still have others for inspiration. Somewhere over 1000 now -- Demetrios almost any way I can imagine him. And probably future heroes as well. George may even get a look in.

What can I say? I don't want to waste my effort, after all.

It's my job. I do my research.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Who Can You Trust?

One of the really enjoyable television programs of the past eight weeks has been the new USA network series, White Collar.

It's fresh, snappy, charming -- and there is great buddy chemistry between the leads, slick, handsome con-man Neal, played by Matt Bomer, and witty but by-the-book FBI agent, Peter, played by Tim DeKay.

Since it began in October, I looked forward every week to my dose of White Collar and I was not looking forward to it being on hiatus for the next 6 weeks until its return in the 3rd week of January.

Now I'm not so sure.

Now I'm just annoyed with it. Everything was fine up until the last scene when,

* * * * * * SPOILER ALERT * * * * *

after they'd solved the current case with a bit of a question left over about the new FBI guy on the block, Neal got his phone call from Kate.

It wasn't a surprise that he got a phone call from Kate. He periodically gets them just when things seem to be going well and the writer wants to shake things up a bit.

But this time it's followed by Kate herself coming into a room where Peter, wearing the same stupid pinky ring on his hand as the mysterious guy in the photo we've seen of Kate, is waiting for her.

A twist. But not at all a satisfying twist for several reasons:
  • we've had no indication that Peter is playing a deep game of pitting one person against another and it isn't even hinted at in his character as we've come to know him. Peter is the straight guy. And while I'll certainly buy that he has hidden depths (he's the one who in an earlier episode used a voice recorder very cleverly after all), I won't buy this. It feels far too much like Alias did when they were doing 'twists for twists' sake' and losing their credibility with their audience at the same time.
  • The 'twist' undermines the whole setup of the earlier seven weeks, because as a viewer I felt as if I'd been set up for a cheap shot. It made me distrust the premise (which is pure escapism anyway, which is fine, but then don't mess around with it).
  • a good twist is one that you don't see coming but which, on further reflection, delights you because you can see the groundwork was there to make it believable and yet surprising. Nothing about this twist was believable. It flew in the face of everything we've been led to believe about Peter's character. It's a betrayal of the character because it isn't built on what we've seen so far and if the writer says it is, then he didn't convey it well enough in earlier episodes.
So I'm frankly disappointed, left with a bad taste in my mouth, and feel exactly the way I did when Alias betrayed my trust.

I stopped watching because I felt uncomfortable in the world being created -- it wasn't a world I wanted to buy into any longer.

Right now I'm teetering on that edge with White Collar, which is not a good thing. Alias had a couple of good seasons behind it before it went south. White Collar doesn't have near the claim on my loyalty.

And if I were Tim DeKay I'd be seriously annoyed because I can't believe he knew about this twist in earlier episodes. If he had, he's a good enough actor that he'd have played it differently, given us a hint of what was to come, allowed us a measure of knowledge that Peter was playing a deeper game. The writer sold him out with that twist.

I don't usually wax poetic about why television shows disappoint me. But I write characters, and if there's one thing I understand, it's when motivation isn't there to underpin behavior. That means you have to go back to the drawing board and make sure it does. And if you can't rewrite previous episodes to make that happen (which for obvious reasons on TV you can't), then you have to work with the characters you've already created, with the motivations you have already given them, and you have to be true to that.

If you don't, you sell your audience out and your characters down the river.

Peter and Neal are a great team. Or maybe they were -- for seven and nine-tenths episodes.

All I know is I feel betrayed, and the writer has dug himself a big deep hole to get out of with his characters and his story intact. I can see several ways he might redeem himself, but I don't know if any of them will really be satisfactory -- and I don't have a lot of patience left to see if he can do it.

Sad, really.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hijacked -- or something

I went to my blog yesterday and it was gone.

So was my website. In its place was an email server access point which apparently is a legit thing, but . . . huh?

I wrote my hosting company and they seem to have done something in the past 24 hours because I'm back -- at least I am at the moment. But I'm not sure what happened or why or how to prevent it happening again.

Is this normal? Is anything about the internet normal?

George is moving along. The end of the tunnel is out there somewhere. I cut about 3000 words the other day and eliminated Friday. I can't decide if Friday is going to come back and be dismissed in a paragraph or if Friday is just vanishing entirely. I'm thinking the former. But in that case I have to account for it somehow.

One measly paragraph, yes? And then it's - if not clear sailing -- at least a downhill run to the end. How hard is that? Hard enough. I've been staring at the blank screen for two days.

How about: George slept most of Friday. They had pizza for dinner. After he went back to sleep again.

By George, I think it works. You might not see much in it, but it gets me 24 hours closer to the end game. And really, that's all I do need.

I spent part of yesterday (when I wasn't trying to get George through Friday) putting together a collage of all the kids and grandkids to send out at Christmas. I usually do something for Christmas with pix -- and this year I think the collage might be the best. And what a terrific time waster -- er, time-consuming activity. Once I get an up-dated pic of Glow Kid and her mom, I'll be all set.

Let's hope the blog remains viable and doesn't disappear again!

Glad to be back!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Splish Splash

Anne Gracie wrote me an email the other day and said, "The weirdest thing just happened. I went to your blog and it sounded like someone was throwing stuff in the water. So I left. And people stopped dropping stuff in the water. But when I went back, they were doing it again." Or words to that effect.

Um, yeah.

Because there's this fish... Or rather this dolphin on my side bar.

I changed the skin of my Neoworx widget listing the Number of Countries that have visited my blog -- and the new one comes with a dolphin.

The water goes up and down -- the dolphin jumps (as dolphins do) up out of the water and splashes back in again.

Hence . . . if you are here more than a minute or two, your computer may sound as if it's being dunked in the sea. Sorry about that.

Except I have to say I'm not terribly sorry because I like the sea. I like listening to it. I don't get to do that a lot. So this dolphin is an extra added benefit to my changing the widget skin. Who knew?

If you're curious, this is the widget you're looking for.

It says people from 124 countries have visited my blog. I'm amazed -- and impressed -- that so many places are represented.

If you know some that aren't, send them on over for a visit. I'd love to have them drop by. Thanks.

George is approaching 40,000 words now. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to say everything else I need to say in the 12,000 or so left to me. Might have to do some judicious cutting. But better to run long than be short. It's always easier to cut.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's Spring in December

At least it feels that way. The temperature is nearly 60 F this afternoon. I know it's December 1st, but it sure doesn't feel that way.

I am so tempted to go on long walks with the dogs, but I'm in nose-to-grindstone mode with George and Sophy. They need to be finished by December 15th and I'm on track to get there. It would be nice to have a week beyond it to 'tweak' it myself before the ed makes her own tweaking suggestions. But that would take us too close to Christmas, so it's not going to happen. I just want to get it out of the house before the holidays.

I'm pretty well done with Christmas shopping. The internet has made my life so much easier that way. But I still have to find something fun for the 5 year old twin grandsons. Got any suggestions? They're each getting a sweater, but that's no fun for kids. So I'm open to suggestions. The rest of the grandkids are all taken care of as are the kids and The Prof.

I was talking with a friend the other day about Christmas gifts and I said that the best gifts I ever got were from two aunts who, each in her own way, seemed to understand what I would like even when I didn't realize it myself. One of them bought books regularly -- and they were always really special books that I usually had never heard of, but then fell in love with. And the other, who taught piano, was always good at thinking of record albums (this was pre-CD, you understand) that I would love.

So I'm trying to think about the people I'm buying for and come up with things they'd like. That's why I know the sweaters will only please the twins' parents. But I need something else for the boys that they will like.

Their dad says they like all sports, games, DVDs and books. Got any good ideas?

What was the best present you ever got? Do you still have it?

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