Mistletoe Key: A Christmas Romance...in June?

Most romance writers will tell you it's hard to write Christmas romance novels. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, production schedules usually mean we're scribbling sexy snowball fights and cozy kisses by the fire in the dead heat of summer. 

And let's face it, it's hard to make imaginary people want cuddle when you're sitting in front of a fan, sweating in your office because it's 100 degrees with 97% humidity. There's only so much Burl Ives on repeat that can put you in the holiday spirit when all you want to do is stand spread eagle in front of the AC vents. 

Or maybe that's just me. 

Enter Mistletoe Key. . . 

Ah, Mistletoe Key, Florida--our sunny, romantic island where it's perpetually Christmas in paradise...and kissing Santa Claus is encouraged. 

Except it's not paradise for my heroine, who is a total Ms. Grinch. But don't worry, Hunter "Blue" Bowen, bona fide hockey god, is gonna turn her frown--and her whole world--upside down. 

If you took a peek at last Friday's post, I teased Mistletoe Key and the BOOK IN A WEEK (BIAW) competition Lindsay Emory and I are starting this week. (Okay fine. It's not a competition.) 

Come this Sunday, June 25th (ahem, exactly six months until Christmas), we'll be starting our BIAW project. And it's absolutely perfect because our holiday books are set in the Keys, so maybe I'll figure out some way to make humidity sexy. (It's like method writing, right?)

It's been SO DIFFICULT to hold off writing until June 25th. But I'm a Rule Follower. So no scribbling until at least 12:00:01AM. 

Because the nature of BIAW means I'm drafting so quickly--with huge word count goals each day--I won't have time to sit and daydream. <sigh> That means no pantsing--can't go by the seat of my pants with this one. I had to <gulp> plot it. Beat by glorious beat*.

And because I had to meticulously plot the book, it means I'm dying to write Blue and Kelly's first kiss. (Okay, I'm excited to write their meet cute too. But their first kiss, man. It's gonna be a doozy.) 

So keep your eyes on my social media as Lindsay and I start this BIAW thing. I won't be crazed at all, I'm sure, with all of those huge word counts in front of me. If you need me, I'll be looking just like this inspiration pic for Kelly, totally glam and put together at the Halliday Inn** for a business lunch. (Don't mind me, gleeful author, over here in the corner rubbing my hands together plotting all the ways Blue is going to completely unravel Kelly, the grinchiest of all the Mistletoe Key residents.) 

OH! And before I forget. I think Lindsay is going to share some of her pages AS SHE WRITES. (Say whaaaaaat?) Don't expect that from me. BUT, you might want to expect some flash giveaways as I'm scribbling away on my flash draft. Ho, ho. ho. 


*If you're a romance writer writer and haven't bought yourself a copy of Gwen Hayes' ROMANCING THE BEAT what are you waiting for? 

**The super-fancy (yet to be named) family on Mistletoe Key got sued for naming their inn the Holiday Inn, duh. ;)

Writing Romance the Old-Fashioned Way

2014 is halfway over. Or we have half a year left. (I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of living to do between now and 12.31.14, so we have half a year left.)

We are twenty-six weeks into my #TheYearToBe___ blogging/mindful living experiment. This week, we have to pull out the big guns: the zed. Well, arguably, it was a lot easier to find “z” words than “x” words, so I suppose X is the biggest gun in the alphabetic arsenal. At least in English. (I’m pretty sure I won’t be organizing 2015 around any type of alphabetic system. Maybe colors?)

At any rate, this week, Z is for zany.

I could talk a long time about how zany isn’t just an adjective used to describe children’s cartoons and screwball comedies; it’s also a noun, taken from zani (or zanni), the trickster servant stock character type in Commedia dell’ arte. I could dig out my old Sony Vaio laptop from college—no wait, I think my first laptop from high school was a small-giant Toshiba—and publish the papers I wrote on the subject. And somewhere, I’m sure one of my classmates has video footage of one of our movement classes dedicated to commedia.

But for the purposes of my sanity and yours (I mean, my theatre history professor told me those papers were brilliant, but, honestly, how much brilliance can come from a freshman theatre history course?), I won’t. I’ll just give you my favorite zani: Columbina.

She is a stock character, the female counterpart to Arlecchino (the harlequin), and she is often the smartest character on the stage. She observes and plots and schemes to help her mistress, the innanmorata, gain her one true love.

Now, I’ve been known to matchmake a time or two—with varying degrees of success. (So far we have two marriages resulting from my meddling/helpful matchmaking. And a 50% divorce rate. Moving on…)

This week, though we are early in the week, I’ve already thought quite a bit about the art of writing. This is a carry-over from my mind exploding seeing both Diana Gabaldon and Graeme Simsion last week at their respective author events in Dallas*. (Throw in my local RWA meeting on Saturday and a marathon lunch with Ophelia London and Lindsay Emory, and it's a wonder I have a functioning mind.)

See if you follow my semi-functioning mind here, and feel free to weigh in:

Like Columbina, Lexi, the writer, observes and plots (er, pants) and schemes to get her mistress (the heroine) together with her one true love (the hero). But unlike my half-disastrous real-life success rate, my heroines live happily ever after with their heroes.

It’s quite satisfying.

(And if along the way I am utterly ridiculous in the pursuit of my goal, well, I’ll just blame it on the audience expectations for the zany.)

Speaking of ridiculous, I'll be in San Antonio in a few weeks for RWA's annual conference. If you'll be there and haven't experienced my own brand of zany in person, please schedule a meet up with me. I'd love to chat! 

*If you'd like to see my tweets from these events, click DIANA and GRAEME, respectively. 

Interview with Author Mary Ann Rivers

A confession: I get really nervous at Q&A sessions. Dallas has this super series called Arts and Letters Live. I love attending; I cringe during Q&A—it’s agony. (I also switch off NPR when they open it up to callers.)

So I was super squirmy when Amy Jo Cousins interviewed me. And I’m even squirmier interviewing Mary Ann Rivers. Because. Wow. Eeep. And all the squee.

Speaking of all the squee—I share cover space with some incredible writers in SUMMER RAIN: Ruthie Knox, Molly O’Keefe, Cecilia Tan, Charlotte Stein, Mary Ann Rivers, Amy Jo Cousins, Audra North, and Shari Slade. But I am even prouder to say that 100% of all proceeds from this volume of Love In The Rain go to benefit RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization.

So, without further ado…my interview with Mary Ann Rivers.

AH: I really enjoyed Rainy Season—though “enjoyed” seems so tepid. And, honestly, your Dear Reader letter grabbed me by the heart. I confess to re-reading it several times, putting it down, walking away from my eReader, and coming back to it.

You’re so generous with your readers, in all your stories, and, ultimately, your characters learn to be generous with themselves. This is powerful to me. And very much appreciated.

You are so smart. I like your brain. I love reading your stories because I always learn something. Like, I had to google cumulonimbus (and the image results: wowza!). I know cumulous; I know nimbus; I didn’t know cumulonimbus.

And Mark explains math in a way that made so much visceral sense, I called my math-teacher friend and read her the passage aloud. We marveled. (Had someone explained math to me that way, way back yonder, it’s possible I could have conquered the world by now!)

Um….I guess I don’t really have a question about that. Maybe this “interview” is really just me gushing and fangirling. 

So, um, Ms. Rivers, do you have anything you’d like to share with me/us about that non-question?

MAR: I am so pleased you felt moved to share the math parts with your math-teacher friend. My experiences with math teachers have been overwhelmingly positive.

I have always enjoyed math, and have been lucky to have an affinity for it, and to have had work where I use different kinds of math on a regular basis, and have had the chance to teach a theoretical math course, myself. I am oriented to narrative, so when I've thought about math and explaining it, I find I always tell myself, or others, little stories. Math is a kind of language, of course, and the math teacher character in my story has very strong feelings about math's ability to explain things.

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