August 14, 2013 § 2 Comments
I have been reading a lot of New Adult (NA) books. It turns out that this relatively new genre is what I’ve been writing in all along. College-aged protagonist experiencing first true love, first real relationship, first split from family, and trying to figure out what the heck to do with her life. I love this genre. Here are some NA books I’ve read, or are currently reading, that I really enjoyed.
Losing It by Cora Carmack—(Read). Light, hilarious, fun.
Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines—(Read). Spunky heroine. Great premise. Great voice.
Faking It by Cora Carmack—(Currently reading). Love. Love. Cade is my dream man.
Entwined with You by Sylvia Day—(Currently reading). Just as sexy as the first two in the series.
Three days after I returned from RWA, I submitted the requested material to the agent I pitched to. Yeah, I jammed on it right away. I didn’t spend the last several months holing up every weekend and not getting enough sleep for nothing! Now, I play the waiting game. It’s not a bad place to be. I can do some supplemental research. Sketch ideas for the next book. Read—a lot. Re-invigorate my social life. And I really have to get on the social life thing. I hermitized for so long that my beta reader Dia is threatening some elaborate schemy-scheme to get me hooked up. And that sounds like a disaster and a half.
I was one of the 5.9 million viewers who tuned in for the final premiere of Breaking Bad on Sunday. After I spent the last few months frantically catching up on the series via Netflix. Now I know what the infamous “Box Cutter” episode is all about, the one that Steven Michael Quezada brought up during the Breaking Bad panel at Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) in June.
Giancarlo Esposito said that filming THAT scene in the season four opening was tough. “I had to try to elicit some compassion somewhere behind my dead eyes.”
BTW, in person, Giancarlo is a very handsome, gregarious, charismatic man with an amazing, resonant voice. Not like Gus Fring at all. When an audience fan announced breathlessly to Giancarlo, “I love you,” he replied, “Did you just say I’m a handsome cat or what? Yeah! I love you, too!”
l-r: Steven Michael Quezada (Gomez), Giancarlo Esposito (Gus Fring), Jeremiah Bitsui (Victor). Breaking Bad Panel at Albuquerque Comic Expo, June 22, 2013.
Steven Michael Quezada told the story of his audition, when Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan asked Steven what he thought of the script. Steven didn’t know who Vince was, so he said, “I read it twice. This shit’s so crazy, it just might work.”
When Vince said he was the one who wrote it, Steven thought, “Shit. I just blew it. I just did the opposite of what I tell my students to do. Just go in and read the lines. They don’t care what you think about the script. I don’t know what he [Vince] saw in me to give me the part.”
Giancarlo said, “You know what it was. You. You were being yourself. He saw you. When you go in, they want to see you. Who you really are.”
June 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
June 23, 2013
I started Entwined with You, but my reading has been limited to me trying to get in a couple of pages at night before I pass out. I’ve been getting to bed too late a lot, because . . .
The RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in Atlanta is fast approaching, and I have to get my manuscript finalized, vetted by my Hot Tub Readers, and prepped for the pitch. The Return phase is coming along pretty well. Only problem is, I’ll go into a scene thinking that all I need to do is polish it up a little and then I’ll realize, oh, wait, this scene has been rendered totally obsolete by all the changes I made in the previous fifteen chapters. As Charlie Brown would say, “Augggh!”
Headed to Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE) on Saturday even though I was tired and had a killer headache that Excedrin couldn’t even stifle for longer than two hours. I wasn’t missing ACE, though, no way. The art, the costumes, the Breaking Bad panel. (More on that later this week.) I got to see Michael Golden again, and picked up a luminous Power Girl print he created. I told him that I remember a lot of his tips from his storytelling workshop last year, and that I am applying them to my current project. “I’ll think a scene is really cool because it’s subtle, but my readers will say, ‘I don’t get it’ and then I remember: Okay. I have to spell it out again. Right here and now in this scene.”
Michael said, “Number one rule. People are stupid.”
June 24, 2012 § 5 Comments
What I really love about Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE), besides the people and the energy and the comic books and the art, is the chance to talk to the superb storytellers in the business.
“No amount of money matches a reader telling you they were touched emotionally by something you’ve written.” —Len Wein, co-creator of Wolverine, editor of The New Teen Titans
I got to talk to Len Wein a little, when he was signing my New Teen Titans comic book, about what being an editor entailed. He said it equated to doing the least amount of work so that the other writers could do their best. He would make suggestions about the direction of the characters and the composition of the superhero group. He came up with the idea for the character that became Raven, one of the three females in the Teen Titans group of seven. Raven was the broody, withdrawn one, constantly battling her dark side, her demon father’s side, within her. In my opinion, she added a mature, mysterious edge to the series.
“I don’t have a favorite hero. I love them all. It’s like asking a father who is his favorite child. You can’t do it.” —Stan Lee, former president and chairman of Marvel Comics; Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment
Stan Lee’s genius was lauded by his contemporaries throughout the entire weekend of ACE. Allen Bellman, a comic book artist who started out drawing backgrounds for Captain America at Timely/Marvel in 1942, called Stan “the godfather of the comic world.” Michael Golden, creator of the X-men’s Rogue character, said Stan could cut through all the fluff to the essence, the heart of something. Herb Trimpe, artist for The Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, explained that Stan’s technique was to work from plots that were often hashed out via verbal pow-wows with the staff in his office. Len Wein marveled at how Stan could come up with the perfect name for a hero off the top of his head, after everyone else on the team had struggled for an idea. Stan Lee himself, at almost ninety years old, was one of the most spirited, engaging, and lively panel speakers at the Expo. He brought the audience to its feet when at the end of the hour he said that being a writer is like being a god. A writer can make anything happen, can kill anybody off, can make somebody come back from the dead. “That’s why I chose to be a writer instead of the President of the United States.”
“End it. Wrap everything up in a nice little bow.” — Michael Golden, at his Storytelling Workshop
After the panel I walked around Artist Alley and came upon Michael Golden’s art table (where I bought one of his prints, a Golden Age depiction of Wonder Woman in her original outfit with the skirt, out in the battlefield, fighting Nazi soldiers). Golden asked if I’d learned anything in his talk that I didn’t already know. I told him I really appreciated what he said about the importance of a story having a satisfying ending. I then launched into a rant about how the movie 28 Days Later being shown with two different endings was bullshit (my words) and that turned into a great conversation about how the ending to Angel Heart was obscure, yet perfect (his words). The movie talk with Golden was a major highlight of my ACE weekend.
June 12, 2012 § 5 Comments
June 10th, 2012
I started reading Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra by George Jacobs. Jacobs worked as Sinatra’s right hand from 1953 to 1968. I picked this book up at the library for some background research on one of my main characters, who is Italian and grew up in the fifties and sixties. It’s fascinating to read about this era’s entertainment scene and the socio-political goings-on and the drama and intrigue of the stars, particularly the bittersweet love affair between Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. “It seemed to me that the entire fifteen years that I had been with Frank were a kind of crazy odyssey on his part to do everything in the world, and I mean the entire world, to get over losing her,” Jacobs writes.
I thought I knew my characters. I really thought I knew my characters, until I started going through the Character Profile exercise outlined by Kirt Hickman in his book Revising Fiction. Not only am I finding out that I do not know my characters like I should know them, but I am discovering new layers to my characters whom I thought were already pretty multi-dimensional. Last week I worked out their astrological signs. This week I’m visiting their earliest memories and childhood traumas. I had been so focused on the characters’ current and recent traumas, it never occurred to me I need to understand their childhood, even though I am always saying everything stems from childhood. I ran into Kirt Hickman at the ABQ Comic Expo (ACE) this weekend and told him that he’s causing me more work. “You thought you were done,” he said. Exactly. Speaking of ACE . . .
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how I had lost a whole chunk of comic books from my adolescence, and it felt like I had lost a chunk of my adolescence as well. This weekend, at ACE, I got it back. I was wandering around the huge exhibition room with all the comic book vendors and saw a box with a divider sticking out if that read “The New Teen Titans.” I ran over and flipped through the plastic-wrapped comics and there they were. Copies of almost every issue I had lost, plus a few more that I had never even known about. I bought them all. To make this whole thing even sweeter, the man who was the editor of the Teen Titans series back then, Len Wein, was at the Expo. I now have a “New Teen Titans” comic book signed by Len Wein. That which was lost, plus a whole lot more, has been found. ACE rocks!