Thursday, December 13, 2012

Permission to Bang the Bragging Drum

I grew up under my mother's strict "No Bragging" rule. I was expected to do my best -- to excel, even -- but always with the understanding that crowing about any achievements or awards was a social infraction tantamount to audibly belching the alphabet during a sermon. It was simply Not Done.

To this day, I try to steer clear of shameless self promotion.

I don't follow people on Twitter if all they do is tweet links to their appearances, books, and / or reviews. The gene that makes others want their own reality show is completely missing from my DNA.

But sometimes (once a year or so), it's nice to have a venue that encourages one to publicly celebrate one's successes.

To that end, I hereby unveil The Bragging Drum!

Not only will you have the opportunity to tell the world about your stellar superbity, but you'll actually get to feel good about doing so because you'll be helping deserving kids get some awesome books for the holidays.

Here's how it works:

*  In the comments, tell me (and my awesome, supportive readers) what cool thing you -- or someone you know -- did this year that's worth a brag or two. Did you finish your novel? Have a baby? Get married? Get your first byline? Graduate? Tell me, and I'll celebrate with you.

*  I'll donate $1 to literacy champion First Book for every comment. (Every $2.50 donated to First Book provides one brand-new, high-quality book for a child from a low-income family. Better yet - from now through the end of 2012, Disney has agreed to match every one of those books with two additional books!)

"Let me hear you say yeah! Yeah! Hallelujah! Amen!"

*  Want to feel even better and send even more bucks and books to kids who need 'em? It's easy, and it won't cost you a cent. Just follow. From now till year's end, I'll also donate $1 to First Book for every new follower of this blog (currently being followed by 162 of the coolest readers in the universe).

I'll go first, to show you and my mom that it can be done without selling your soul. Remember the Out of the Box One-Act Playfest playwrighting competition I told you about? Well, I won -- Audience Choice Award two nights running and the juried judges' Grand Prize. So... yay, me!

I won a few bucks. Now help me spend it on kids who could really use some Christmas cheer. Brag below. Go on: bang that drum!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

#TheNextBigThing: Welcome to "The Lion's Club"

I'm honored to be tagged in the wild, woolly, and wonderful meme that is #TheNextBigThing!

The Next Big Thing is a blog hop that not only encourages authors to discuss their current projects, but also lets them tag other authors to tell about their projects. (In the immortal words of Heather Locklear while hawking shampoo in the 80's: "And so on... And so on... And so on...")

I am indebted to the delightfully snarky Alyson Peterson, purveyor of acerbic commentary on the vagaries that afflict one as a woman, a writer, a parent, and a spouse at her Dirty Green Jello blog, for tagging me.

I rarely participate in blog hops, but shall make an exception this time. ~ahem~  Drum roll...

Here, then, are THE RULES for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop if you’re tagged:

1. Use this format for your post.
2. Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress).
3. Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing

1.) What is the working title of your book?

The Lion's Club. (Though I also kind of like Jobe's Pride. Jury's still out on the final title.)

2.) Where did the idea for the book come from?

It began with a screenplay assignment, of sorts, for a week long master screenwriting class with Jim Mercurio that I attended in 2008. I wanted to write a low budget script with few actors contained within a single set that told a story worthy of asking for two hours of an audience's time. The original germ of the story -- about two friends who kidnap a Hollywood star "for his own good" and hold him captive in a cage that once held a lion -- has morphed and mutated, but remains essentially unchanged.
Stalking the story: Heeeeere kitty, kitty, kitty!

The finished script became a story obsession at the same time I was researching the phenomenon of overnight celebrity for a different project, so I put that project on hold and turned the script into a novella exploring both the double-edged sword of super stardom and the perils that accompany doing the wrong thing for the right reasons--

But the characters and the set-up still wouldn't leave me alone (I think it's because I have a tendency to crush on my male leads. This one is no exception.), so I thought I'd delve deeper into their world and see what more there was to tell. That's when the angels sang and the planets aligned. I realized that the story perfectly lent itself to a pet idea I'd long wanted to do: a rather twisted re-imagining of the classic tale of Job from the POV of one of his erstwhile "friends."

3.) What genre does your book fall under?

Women's fiction / literary fiction. Ish.

4.) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Nope. Not going to go there. Not because I don't have definite casting preferences. It's because I am an unceasing optimist, holding out hope that not only will the book be picked up, but that it will be successful enough to warrant a movie. I've already had a director friend show interest. He knows my casting wish-list. But I'm not going to jinx it by putting it into print.

That said, here are the characters:

JOBE: Hollywood's biggest rising star with serious personal problems that threaten his professional life. Mid-to-late 20's. Hotter than Hades. Dark hair. Piercing eyes. You get the picture. Mmm-rowr.

ELLIE: Mid-to-late 40's. Supermom. No-nonsense. Tough as nails. Runs a respected dog rescue facility. Hiding a long-dead secret. Fiercely loyal and protective of everything entrusted to her care.

ZOE: Mid-20's. Ellie's friend and accomplice. Still rocked, but recovering, from a recent tragedy. Knows Ellie is hiding something, but trusts her implicitly.

MIMI: Uber agent. Jobe's stepmother. Evil incarnate. Dangerous when crossed -- and Jobe has crossed her. Big time.

Those who know me well (or even in passing) can probably take a good, educated guess at my dream cast. To you I say: Get out of my head! I like it here all by myself, thank you very much...

5.) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

When animal rescuer Ellie Tieman discovers Hollywood hearthrob Jobe Ramsey unconscious in a dumpster, she falls prey to a blackmailer's twisted scheme: she must keep the hottest man alive under lock and key for six weeks, which will ruin his career, or have the truth be told about her secret sin and spend the rest of her life behind bars.

6.) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Trick question, I fear, for there are more possibilities for publication than just those two.

I'm pushing for traditional publication all the way, whether I sell the project myself or find an agent who believes in it enough to sell it for me. Further bulletins on that front as events warrant. At the moment, things are looking very promising, but it's too soon to tell. Sshhhh... I don't want to jinx it.

7.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

First draft of the script took two months.

First draft of the 27,000 word novella took 72 hours, which is completely insane, I realize, but I was participating in the Three-Day Novel Competition while recovering from a nasty bout of Swine Flu, so insanity ruled.

First draft of the 80,000 word novel took a little over a year because other writing commitments made me put my spec writing on hiatus.

8.)  What other books would you compare to this story within your genre?

Ah, if I knew, I would gladly tell you. I know what other writers have tones similar to mine, but I have never met a book like this one. It's dark and funny and twisted and wry, with hefty doses of both dogs and drama. It's got more in common with the movie "Serious Moonlight" than with any book I know.

9.) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Like I said: my characters refused to let me be done with them. When I finished the novella, they were so real to me that I would find myself looking for excuses to spend more time with them. (Remember the aforementioned crush on my MC? ::sigh:: Yeah.)

I especially wanted to explore the "how far would you go to protect a loved one?" question from the perspective of a strong woman in a stable, long term marriage. IMHO, there are far too few committed, competent female characters in literature.

Plus, I've always found the classical story of Job -- a good man who has everything taken away from him on a whim, making him a tortured pawn in a game he doesn't understand -- difficult. I welcomed the chance to dig into it and unpack it from several different angles.

10.) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

"The Lion's Club" is a feel-good story of addiction, abduction, and murder, with healthy doses of canines, cookies, and one God-awful cockatoo that makes me laugh, but which would only convince my mother, were she ever to read it, that she had failed as a parent. It should speak to anyone who has ever been guilty of going above and beyond the call of duty (if not the law) for a friend.

Include the link of who tagged you (done; see above) and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Hookay! Here goes:

Gale Martin, opera lover extraordinaire, who writes pee-your-pants funny women's fiction and blogs at Scrivengale. (UPDATE: I hear that Gale has already taken part in this meme. My bad. Oh well -- check out her blog anyway. She's good people.)

Crime writer Marguerite Ashton, celebrating the recent release of her first book, "Burned Bridges" (which I had the privilege of editing) and hard at work on her second. Marguerite blogs at Criminal Lines.

Kalla Monahan, lover of the bizarre, strange, and outright weird. Kalla is a publicist for Siren's Call Publications and Pink Pepper Press. SCP and PPP publish horror, paranormal, erotica, & romance -- all stuff that I don't write, which is kind of sucky, 'cause Kalla is great at her job. Kalla writes the Bizarre Kaleidoscope blog.

Yi Shun Lai, fiction editor of the LA Review, triathlete, riveting writer, and all around excellent person. I met her while doing some work for a client's non-profit and she's absolutely aces. Check out The Good Dirt blog and see what I mean.

Quilting doyenne Kelly Smith, who had the audacity to become my friend and then leave the state of Michigan to go far, far away to the wilds of Colorado. She's working on at least two novels (that I know of), one of which I'm dying for the chance to read in its entirety. ~hint...hint~ She blogs about quilting, Colorado, writing, and other stuff at Redheaded Quilter.

I encourage you to check out these amazingly talented writers and all-around awesome people. 'Cause, seriously -- they're the Next Big Thing!