Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Fabulous Time Was Had By All

Yesterday I attended the 4th Annual Maine Chapter of RWA Writers' Retreat. It was an unexpected delight. I suppose by now I should expect to get along so well with fellow writers and realize that considering how much we all have in common there are really no strangers and such conferences, there are only unmet friends. I was a late entry to the retreat and truly knew no one when I arrived. When I left it was quite the opposite.

Author Terry McLaughlin spoke first about first kiss scenes and building the moment. She had several clips from movies to illustrate her point and I must say they did the job well. She talked about creating imagery  for your reader to increase the suspense of that first kiss and how much of an impact that can have on your story. After showing a short clip from  Woody Allen film "Annie Hall" about how NOT to write a kiss scene, "Let's kiss now so we get it over with," she showed great examples from movies like "When Harry Met Sally" and "Baby Boom." Sometimes seeing is better then hearing. I must say Terry definately practices what she preaches as shown from this exerpt from her book "A Small Town Temptation" which can be read here. 

She also spoke about writing love scenes confidently and without blushing. Personally I've always been one to jump right into those types of scenes with both feet. I often end up going back to it though wondering if I've written enough or too much. My mother, being rather old fashioned, questions the need for such scenes at all. Over all I feel that Terry gave a wonderful workshop with a lot of valuable information for me as a writer.

Our next presenter was Author Joyce Lamb.  She was witty and entertaining as she spoke about mixing paranormal with other genres in romance. She drew a handy chart listing different types of romance genres and then listed different types of paranormal elements and showed us that we could mix/match pretty much anything and still make it work. It was a great visual.

I loved her 'recipe' for blending paranormal. Deciding how much to add, if you want paranormal to be your 'main' ingredient or another element and using paranormal elements to enhance your plot. Then she explained different ideas of how to pitch your story with the paranormal elements to an agent or editor. Since figuring out how to explain my story is a challenge for me this was particularly helpful.
You can find more information about Joyce and her books here.

After a delicious lunch we all met back for a brainstorming session which if you've never had the privilege of participating in you've definitely missed out. Those of us who were having difficulties with parts of our current stories in progress told the rest of the room the basics of the story and then everyone threw around ideas to help get those creative juices flowing. It was wonderful to pick all those talented brains and easily one of my favorite moments of the Retreat.

Terry spoke again about using your voice and writing from your point of view, which again was very valuable information. She went so far as to tell us that our 'voice' as a writer is what will make or break us in our career and to never try to write a 'voice' that wasn't our own because it would never be natural and then instead of coming easily, writing would be a chore. We watched a short skit and then were asked to write about the scene in 5 minutes. Some wrote strict dialog, some combined dialog with what they saw and some of us set up the scene first. She said that your first instinct was your 'voice' and to recognize and use it well.

When the official business of the conference was over we all retreated to the lobby of the hotel to chat since they were using the room for a wedding later that evening. Getting to know the other members of the Maine Chapter of RWA as well as visiting with the speakers and other authors who had attended was great fun. By the time we all went out to dinner at the Macaroni Grill we were like old friends. We continued our conversation of great food and were even treated to an impromptu Italian Opera performance by one of  our waiters.

Thank you again to all the wonderful ladies who made this retreat possible.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hunky Hump Day!

Today my hunky inspiration is the very handsome and talented Hrithrik Roshan, one of Bollywoods top male actors. I've been watching him for about eight years now and he is an impressive actor, playing everything from an action star to a mentally challenged boy. The only complaint I've ever had about his movies was that they weren't in English - well that has changed with the release of his new movie, Kites. It was filmed in both Bollywood style and Hollywood style - meaning one version is in Hindi and the other in English! Also the Hindi version will have more singing and dancing, typical of Bollywood films. That's probably why I love them so. And Hrithrik can DANCE!! 

Aside from doing what he does, he has been an inspiration to me as a romance writer in depicting smokey scenes between my story lovers. When I'm not sure how to describe the male role I think of Hrithrik or watch one of his movies and I get inspired! I hope he inspires you too! Just because I think it's cool and I can't wait to see it, I've included the trailer for Kites here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland

As usual Lynn Kurland did not disappoint with her wonderful book 'One Enchanted Evening'. I picked it up yesterday at my local Walmart, almost drooling with glee when I saw it. There is something magical about the stories Lynn weaves through time. I love all her characters and reading another story about a character that was introduced to us in prior books makes the world shes created come alive. The more I read the more I crave. Okay well enough of my fawning, on to the story. 

Montgomery de Piaget is the youngest son of Rhys de Piaget, whose children seem to attract time traveling spouses. I've always loved Montgomery for his innocent belief in fairies and when he sees one through a time gate as a teenager, somewhere down deep his belief is verified. Now he is all grown up and ready to man the Keep his father left him. Trouble is there are a bunch of nasty cousins who don't want to leave and would rather kill him then give up their unkept home. 

Enter Pippa Alexander a fashion designer whose tastes runs mid-evil. She's designed costumes for a fairy themed party at her sister's castle in England. Sometime during the party she falls into the moat and instead of the clear water it had been when she fell it is a cesspool of unmentionable nastiness. And of course Montgomery pulls her out. 

While the story does have a few tried and true themes, like Pippa thinking that he's engaged to someone else, the charm of the story overcomes that. I wasn't a big fan of her sister being lost in the past with her - that seemed a bit much to me and left a lot of questions about the sister that the book doesn't answer completely. 

As with all Lynn Kurland books I found myself reading when I should have been doing other things. Like working. All in all a most enjoyable read that was fun to read from beginning to end. I was disappointed when I got to the last page, not because the story wasn't finished but because there are more stories waiting to be told. Thank you Lynn for another jewel to put in my book treasury.

Monday, May 10, 2010

'Researching' at Bar Harbor

My husband surprised me with a lovely trip to Bar Harbor this weekend for Mother's Day and my birthday which is today. We stayed at the beautiful Bar Harbor Inn which is located right on the ocean and our room had a small balcony that looked out over the water. The picture to the left was taken at low tide.

We enjoyed a leisurely romantic stroll down the shore path, a well maintained walking path that goes along the rocky shore above the ocean. Hence the name. The tide was out and the weather was a bit misty but we enjoyed our walk all the more since there was no one else on the path and it seemed we had the world to ourselves. The islands rising offshore in the mist were beautiful and the sounds of the ocean and seagulls was so relaxing. We felt like newlyweds!

While enjoying some pampering in the form of a manicure, I managed to dream up another book that takes place on the coast. (Okay who didn't see that coming?) I actually think it's a good story for the 'Destinies' series, giving Agatha yet another challenge so that will be the next book I work on. I may need to return to Bar Harbor for more research. (ahem) Do you think I can write off the cost of the manicure when I sell the book?

That evening we dined at the elegant Reading Room at the Bar Harbor Inn. The food was fabulous and the view spectacular. Our waiter was charming and very prompt. I decided to live a little and ordered a Blueberry Martini. Yum! I highly recommend it. It was served in a darling little martini glass with real blueberries. 
After a weekend such as this I know for sure I married the right man! Happy Mother's Day!