A quick insight into the first look at a hero and heroine meeting. Take it with a grain of salt because it’s only my opinion.
Between the h/heroine – no matter the circumstances, there has to be an instant attraction. I’m not talking: “Gee he’s got a nice ass I’d like to sink my teeth into.” That can come later. I’m referring to that inexplicable draw. You all know the one. An immediate thrill that strokes you inside – not out.
Which got me to thinking about the first meet of a h/heroine. I’ve seen a lot of emphasis being placed on physical attributes to justify this draw and instant attraction between characters, but is that what it is? For the hero, maybe. Men are much more visually stimulated than woman. For a woman? What’s the draw? Does she know – or is it that attraction isn’t a choice for her – it just is. Something indefinable, but present. And if that’s true, how can a writer capture it and sell the reality of what boils down to primal instinct to the reader? I have a few ideas – anyone else?
After participating in THE FRESH VOICE CONTEST over at Mills and Boon, what did I learn?
Well, for starters I can’t pick a winning entry to save my life. But in my defense I certainly didn’t have a chance to read all 824 entries…still! *shaking head* One would think that I may have picked at least one that would eventually final…but, um, no.
That was interesting.
Also interesting was how the contest played out. Writers, who posted their chapters (in most cases) stuck around and read other entries leaving, oftentimes, helpful and constructive criticism. Oh, sure, there were the Simon Cowell wannabes, signed in under assumed and clever names – but I ignored them so I don’t have much to say on that score.
I want to talk more about the process because really, if this contest had any drawbacks – this was it. In my mind the contest unfolded like this. You sent in your entry and it was read prior to being uploaded (you know, in case there was a budding romance between a fiery heroine and her horse;) ) so, right from the get-go I was thinking each entry had a kind of grade or position in an editor’s mind. Therefore, it didn’t matter who voted, why they voted or what they voted on a particular entry after that point. I was okay with that. After all, this contest (to me) was about getting my feet wet. Between you and me? I’m an all or nothing – go big or go home – kind of a gal, so yeah, using this HUGE public forum for my very first official contest entry was the way to go.
However, I quickly began to see that votes on my chapter were stacking up and yet strangely there were hardly any comments. Hmm… This was a real head scratcher. I mean, if you’re going to take the time to READ a chapter – click out of it to get back to the vote page – why wouldn’t you leave a comment, right? SO, I hopped on to the debate thread and answered a nice gal who was kind enough to leave a comment on my work while at the same time assuring that I would read and comment back on anyone’s work, who read and commented on mine. Made sense, right? Quid pro quo. I guess not, because I still had people voting on mine without comments. Weird. Until I noticed that I really wasn’t in the game…in that, the top few entries in my category seemed to be competing for a first place position (even though, remember? Position didn’t matter) So what was the deal here?
When I figured it out – I was so bummed!
Quite simply, because of my position in the category – I was being used as a deflector. Man, that rarely ever happens to me – I feel so cheap. No, I feel like a ping-pong ball. One minute up and the next down – sheesh, it was enough to make you dizzy. Especially when there was no rhyme or reason to it. So a big THANK-YOU to the people who did comment on my chapter. That’s why I entered!
Anyway, I had fun, but I think, if M&B is going to run a competition like this next year – they need to sort out the voting process – that’s all I’m saying. Maybe at the first round (when votes don’t REALLY matter) – change the rose and percentage format to something like what the editors were actually looking for: voice, content and skill. Just a thought.
Again, had fun – met a lot of new people – you gotta love that! And hey, my hat goes off to the Mills and Boon crew. Considering the daunting size of the competition and everything it entailed – they did a smashing <- new word I learned from one of the participants across the pond. job!
WELL, if you didn’t get the chance to check out The Fresh Voice Contest over at Mills & Boon, you should do so right now! I had a blast speaking to some of the gals from across the pond about their ideal alpha male crush. Here’s one example of how much fun these girls are to talk with:
Me: Seduced by the alpha male? This is my favorite topic and all you guys picked some great ones for me to dream about tonight. Thanks guys! Now, for me?
*insert no thinking at all here*
Okay, got it! I wouldn’t kick Gerard Butler out of bed for eating crackers. Come to think of it, it would be hard to kick him out when he’d probably be sporting handcuffs firmly locked to my bedpost… hehehe
Sally: @ M. Mitchell, I am slowly coming around to Gerard Butler. He’s been a slow burn for me.
Me: That’s okay Sally. I wouldn’t want you getting too attached to him anyway – you know? On account of the handcuffs, my bedpost and three being a crowd.
I’ve googled your guy, though. And girl? I like the way you get inspired!
Sally: @ M – Eros is absolutely beautiful, isn’t he? I was smitten at first sight!
Me: @ Sally – YES! And, because we’ve just met – I’m going to be gracious and offer you a set of my newly purchased handcuffs, but sorry, you’ll have to get your own bedpost for him, k?
Sally @ M – Oh I think I can manage that, but funnily enough, later in my novel a silk scarf comes in handy
Me: Gee, Sally, you sound like my kind of gal. Now, why didn’t you mention the scarf idea before I went and bought all the handcuffs? Drat!
Sally: I figure that a girl is more likely to have a silk scarf to hand than a pair of handcuffs. Sometimes you just have to work with the tools you’ve got
Hilarious! I met so many wonderful and talented people. I’m glad I participated.
Check it out! There are a multitude of things to learn from reading the comments alone. Really. It’s interesting to see what holds a reader’s attention and what doesn’t. IMO, the writers who were brave enough to submit their work early on in the competition (like me ) wound up getting the most out of the experience. Hey, there were writers who actually took the time to look up my profile and track me down outside of the competition – that certainly was a bonus I hadn’t counted on.
So, if you haven’t made your way over there to read some of this undiscovered talent, you should. A few of these gals (and I know who you are) are going to be the bright stars of tomorrow and the rest that aren’t quite there yet? Well, you’ll get your turn, because it took a huge amount of confidence and guts to post your work out there for people to read.
To everyone who did? Congratulations! You deserve a big honking gold star with blinking lights and sparkly glitter with a little fairy sitting on top – who’ll grant your every wish <- (hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?) . Hello? Gerard?
Crapatola! When I envisioned Gerry in handcuffs and made my wish – this really wasn’t what I had in mind. Phooey!
The best of luck to all that participated, not just for the contest outcome, but the for the coming months, when you’ll take everything you learned through this experience and apply it to become the kick-ass writer you want to be.
So The Boy can get off. Seriously? Why is it when I’m sick I’m like:
“Gee, I think I’ll go rest for a bit. I’m not feeling quite right.”
Translation? Let me get away from you for two reasons. One, I don’t want to make you sick and two, I don’t want to bother you.
NOW, when The Boy’s sick he sulks in front of me every chance he gets. There’s only SO many times I’m willing to ask: “Are you okay?” before I’m ready to dig out the pick-axe. Trust me, I thought about that a few times yesterday.
Yes, it was right after he coughed in my face and just before he started digging through our life insurance policies to make sure we were all paid up on his premiums. Really? Unbelievable! I will admit, he does do a fine job of looking like he’s been laid-low. Why, by mid-afternoon I was thinking he’d need to climb a ladder to kiss a gnat’s ass. That kind of pathetic – takes a certain kind of talent to pull off – you know?
So, What’s the deal? Why is it that a woman can run her household, do that huge presentation at work, and stand outside in the pouring ran watching her child’s football practice while she’s got a horrible case of walking pneumonia, but when a man is faced with the onset of a measly 24 hour bug he’s suddenly bed-ridden and, if by some miracle he does struggle to get himself out of bed, we now have the additional problem that he’s physically unable to dress himself! Why?
Inquiring minds want to know…
After my guest post with subsequent comments, I’ve had a few questions come in about my website, The Boy, and the boys. So here’s the scoop of how it all began.
First: The email conversation Jami (my CP and I had) after she got her first gander at my site.
Jami: “I LOVE your guys!”
Me: “You mean my boys?”
Jami: “Yeah, where did you get them?”
Me: “I bought them.”
Jami: “You bought the boys?”
Me: “Yep, and I’m going back for more because they’ve all got friends.” hehehe
Jami: ” Okay, but can I come with you this time?”
And then the conversation I had with The Boy about the boys.
The Boy: “So, this is what you do all day? Stare at half-dressed men?”
The Boy shakes his head and leaves the room. I count to four and he’s back. “Really?”
The Boy: “You know, if I were a writer and looked at pictures of half-dressed women all day you’d divorce me.”
Me: “I know.”
The Boy: “You know?” Imagine him absolutely stunned that I agree with him, because I rarely ever do. “So you’ll stop looking at the boys when you write?
The Boy: “But you just said you’d divorce me if the shoe were on the other foot.”
Me: “Yes, and I meant it, too.”
The Boy: “How is that fair? What if I said that I’d divorce you for doing it?”
Insert me frowning to ponder the subject. Then: “Um, wait, are we talking about the same thing here? I don’t think so, because I wouldn’t divorce you for ogling naked women all day.” He blinks and I blandly smile. “I’d be divorcing your sorry butt for not getting anything done – I mean how much could a writer actually type with only one hand?”
The Boy: “Only one… ?” He blinks again and then grins. “Humm, you make a good point there. Carry on.”
And letting down my hair. Today my critique partner, Jami Gold, is doing a guest post on fictiongroupie about our professional relationship. Translation? I don’t have to come up with anything to say today because her mouth is big enough for the both of us (Pssst, don’t tell her I said that, though).
Actually, she’s doing an in-depth view of what it’s like to work with me. The highs, the lows, the good, the bad and the perfect…well, there’s not much of the last because I don’t like to flaunt my perfectness in her face, if you know what I mean. I’d feel bad if she didn’t have a boat load of work to do on my MS.
Oh, come on, I do but kid. Trust me, there’s been a lot of less than perfect prose thrown down by both of us. My personal favorite? (It’s my mistake, btw) Jami was gracious enough to correct this way:
I wrote: “Clam down.” You wouldn’t mind, but it was at a very crucial point in the story – talk about pulling you right out. Sheesh!
Jami corrected it and wrote: I’m assuming you want this to read: Calm down, or should I have changed the down to an up instead? Might be a problem if you want her to continue with her confession. LOL! Hey, sometimes she’s the funny one!
So, show Jami some love today while she spills the beans about the intricacies of our critique partnership and then checkout her contest @ JAMI’S SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL CRITIQUE PARTNERSHIP The contest? It’s another one of my mistakes and, um, if you can find it. *insert me brandishing the gauntlet a moment before I toss it to the ground while I dare you* you get a chance to win a neat prize.
STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!
This is the sage advice I gave a girlfriend this morning. Yes, I know, it’s pat and well, generic, which got me to thinking. Maybe she needed to be reminded of the meaning behind those words. So, great friend that I am, I decided to do a post on it.
Let’s define what I consider small stuff first. Here’s my list:
Your car won’t start.
Your husband’s irritated you spent a hundred and twenty dollars on shoes.
Your neighbor’s non-athletically inclined kid plays catch with his dad beside your car.
Your job is the pits.
Your garbage disposal broke.
Your dog chewed your hundred and twenty dollar pair of shoes.
You have a ding in your car. Hmm..?
You have cinch bugs in your lawn.
A person at work hates you.
The pesticide you used to get rid of the cinches killed the grass instead.
Your boss makes more money than you do.
Heck, everyone makes more money than you do.
All small stuff.
NOW for my list of big stuff:
So, um, if I sounded flip when you were freaking over a comment made on the chapter you submitted for the world to see – I’m really sorry. But in my defense? I’m thinking that’s one of the little things, ya know? I mean, look at the above options – it’s insignificant compared to death, right? And, as painful as it may seem now – that comment isn’t going to kill you. So, if it was constructive – deal with it. If it was mean – ignore it and consider the source.
Life’s too short PEOPLE! If you don’t put yourself out there occasionally – you’ll never improve. You know what I always say? Get busy living folks, because you ain’t getting out of here alive!
(who respects EVERY writer who entered the Mills and Boon New Voice contest)
I need a disclaimer here. First off, this is a true story and I’ll apologize ahead of time to all who were inadvertently involved, but to my credit I’ve changed all names, including the main event. So if you were there, and you read this and somehow manage to put two and two together? You’re much more clever than I originally gave you credit for and again, I’m sorry.
It’s a Saturday night and The Boy and I are out with a neighbor couple. We’ve had dinner and head to a local lounge for a nightcap. Once we’re in there, we realize that it’s Tons Of Tuna Nite. An evening where this establishment hosts a meet-and-greet for a local online dating service. This was the nuts and bolts of the organization – literally. If you belonged, a girl gets a huge metal nut and for the guy a huge metal bolt. So, when you make a connection, the nut and bolt are one. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Okay, there we are and I’m looking around at the odd patchwork of people, thinking…which is never good. The Boy knows this about me, but fortunately the neighbors are new and don’t. It doesn’t take The Boy long to throw down a dare. Um, have I mentioned that a reasonable dare to me, is like chocolate-coated chocolate to someone with a sweet-tooth?
Anyway, the dare is that I sign up and become a fish. No biggie. Since I have to sneak to the ladies room, I figure I’ll throw my oar into the dating pool on the way by (After all, this was a very official function. Your name and information had to be included on a list before you got your name tag and in my case a nut.). My neighbor says she’ll come with me (honestly, at this point I don’t think she believed that I go through with it), but I did. Yep, I stood proudly at the hostess stand and told the woman my name was Linda G. Sothimer. (Not my real name – but strange enough to be believable, right?) After a few more questions, which I fudged my way through, I got my name tag and slapped that sucker on my chest.
The hostess then turned to my neighbor, but I cut in. I gave the woman my neighbor’s real name and answered all the questions honestly for her. When I was done and she had her name tag, we headed to the ladies room. On the way there, she chased behind me and demanded to know why I got to be Linda and she was stuck being herself? There was only one answer to that. I didn’t want anyone of these people to know my real name. The look on her face when I told her that was priceless, but then listening to her bitch about it, when we were in the restroom? Not so fun. I was almost regretting this little escapade, until we headed back to our table and got high-jacked.
There I am, shouldering my way through the thickening crowd when this big guy, I mean he was six foot five and three hundred pounds, steps in front of me. I’m nose to nipple with him. He doesn’t move. When I look up he has this odd look on his face (later that night, I decided it was his version of sexy-smoldering) and he says: “Oh, little Linda, we are SO going to dance later.” I can only image that I frowned before I stepped by him and shook my head. I probably even muttered, “idiot” under my breath. It wasn’t until my neighbor caught up with me and grabbed my arm that I stopped and demanded:
“Did you hear that guy?”
“What a Freak.”
“Freak? What do you mean?”
“He called me Linda. Who the hell is Linda?”
She poked me on the shoulder and pushed. “You are, you freak. Name tag, remember?”
I made a wordless ‘Oh’ and tried not to feel bad for the guy and within seconds he was forgotten as my neighbor started whining about why she hadn’t been approached by anyone. At this point I suggested we head back to our husbands so she can complain to them about her not being picked up. I have to give her credit, she did just that. Which prompted the guys to get into the action.
A few minutes later, The Boy is Ray Smith (as you can see, I’m the creative on in the family) and my neighbor’s husband is now Chester. The Boy sits back down and connects his bolt to my nut and for all intents and purposes that should have been the end of our Tons Of Tuna extravaganza. But you know? It just wasn’t. My neighbors forgot about their nut and bolt, and with no connection in sight, a little while later we received a visitor to the table. How she got there is a mystery. If the glaucoma hadn’t stopped her, you’d think her walker tipping on the uneven concrete floor would have. But nope, she came and stood right beside Chester. She held her nut up, in a gnarled arthritic hand, while she intently peered at his shoulder (her Dowager’s hump precluded her angling her head back far enough to look him in the eyes) while she patiently waited for the mortified man to respond.
This is when Chester turns to me and is dead serious. “She’s not looking at me, is she?”
I’m dead serious right back. “Yes.” And it’s like he’s cemented into place. He doesn’t move. He just keeps his back to her and swallows. Kill me now is written all over his face. What to do? I take a quick gander at The Boy. He’s doing his usual, ‘Oh, Lucy, you got us into this mess – you better think of something to get us out of it’ look. So I do.
I lean over and pat the table beside her. When she turns those coke bottle lens my way, I nod. “Chester, here? He’s not in the market for a nut.” I wave a negligent hand toward The Boy. “Neither is Ray. They both prefer bolts if you know what I mean.” I smiled and winked really hard, and when her mouth dropped open, I knew my work there was done. She pursed her lips, sniffed deeply, and hobbled off. Easy-peezy.
Chester thanked me. The Boy, on the other hand? Not so happy. He pulled me over on my barstool, closing the distance between us, and whispered in my ear, “How can you say I don’t like nuts? Look who I’m married to?” I didn’t have anything to say back to that, because, you know, he had a good point. Instead I was determined to get out of this place unscathed, but it wasn’t to be.
Ten minutes later, the woman organizing this shindig stopped by our table. She made note of our connection and congratulated us. She even went one step further and told The Boy and I that we looked like we belonged together. The second she left, The Boy growls, “After thirty years, we better look like we belong together.”
The next thing I know, here she comes again, only this time with a photographer in tow. Happily, she declares that The Boy and I are their love connection for the night. They’d like a picture to post on their website. And before I know it, the flash goes off and we’re famous, which would have been okay, if I hadn’t spotted one of my son’s friends mother in the crowd. I tried to duck, but she saw us and waved.
Try explaining this one to the kids on Sunday morning. I mean, there’s no easy way to say: “Guess what guys? Mom and dad are the new poster couple for online dating.” *Sigh* Yes, that was a tough one. But, if you knew me, you’d know I’m immune to the phrase: “Aww, mom!” And you’d also know that I thank my lucky stars every day that my children are smart and successful, because when they need therapy (as I’m sure they will) they’ll be able to pay for it themselves.