In Search of the Fiction Fairy

award-wining author Mia Zachary's online diary where she ponders the meaning of life, strives to improve her craft and generally mouths off

Friday, March 31, 2006

Philosophy Friday



My office is clean and, yes, I really do feel great energy flowing in the room
The novella synopsis has been completed and submitted
I'm in the Big Easy and so is Melissa James, my Creative Partner
Afternoon Delight goes live online sale tomorrow!


Creativity Coach, Eric Maisel, is one of the speakers at the NINC conference in New Orleans today. He suggests that one way to spark your creativity is to "Ask yourself an interesting question. Now try to answer it. As simple as this is to say, it is anything but easy to arrive at deep questions worth our devotions or to answer them adequately once we get them framed. Do you stick with the first answer or surrender to the need to find the second? Surrendering to a new answer is the better path. This two-step process — asking yourself an interesting question, then trying to answer it — only sounds easy, but for all its hardness it can result in the best work human beings are capable of producing."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blaze your way to the bookstores!

Of course I want you to buy my book, AFTERNOON DELIGHT [about which reviewer Harriet Klausner said, "This terrific contemporary relationship drama stars two adults struggling with real problems that will hit home to the audience who will believe both of them are family or neighbors. Rei is terrific as she confronts family issues that could easily destroy the psyche of a person with its seeming hopelessness, while she also fantasizes that there is someone for her. Chris is her perfect partner, as he too seeks what he has begun to believe is myth, a woman to love forever. Mia Zachary provides a strong character driven tale that seems authentic and is well written that the audience will enjoy an AFTERNOON’S DELIGHT reading it." ]

But while you're out shopping, grab a copy of my friend Jill Monroe's first Blaze book, SHARE THE DARKNESS.

Hannah Garrett has always felt safe in the dark. It meant she never had to show people the truth. On the run from a man who wants to kill her, Hannah's learned to keep to herself and not get attached.... Until she meets Ward Coleman.
Being around her sexy coworker has awakened a need she'd forgotten — and it's not just this heat wave that has Hannah hot and bothered. But she can't afford to get too close, especially when she's not sure she can trust him.
What she doesn't know is that Ward is on to her and is determined to learn her secrets. And getting caught in a hot, dark elevator is the best place to find out all this undercover FBI agent needs to know.

GO SHOPPING. Apparently the books have been spotted in various WalMart stores. GO NOW

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

AI Top Ten- Bottom Four

Let me start off by saying that I wasn't impressed with anybody tonight, not even my favorites! Limiting the song choices to a six year period is no excuse for the awful performances tonight, though I did have a few surprises

Kicked Ass
ELLIOTT was incredible! I love the song he chose- I was just singing it with the radio earlier today- and even more I love what he did with it. He's one of the few who is getting better the longer he's on the show, as opposed to just maintaining.

Got It Done
You know, I had to agree with Simon about CHRIS being indulgent. He's done fantastic up to this point and I think he's going to win in the end, but tonight he rocked it too hard

I was just saying to my husbadn last week that I'd love to hear MANDISA do a gospel number. I loved her energy and soul tonight, she sounded like she was screaming the lyrics a few times

KATHARINE did a good job but it's so hard for me to be unbiased because I am the biggest Christina Aguilera fan ever she doesn't have Xtina's range.

It's official- I'm old. PARIS shocked me becasue she talked in her interview about being a kid and then sang about some guy 'workin' it out' while she did pelvic thrusts. However, if I closed my eyes, her vocals were damned good tonight

Where was the Soul Patrol tonight? I think TAYLOR did well with the song he chose, but like Randy commented, I think we all missed his manic enthusiasm tonight. The man can sing anything he wants, but he does better- and has more fun- with uptempo stuff

Needs to Go Home
ACE obviously enjoys touching himself- hair chest etc- and just as obviously would enjoy touching the home audience since he keeps camera-f*ing us. But he still can't sing and he mangled a song I love tonight! Enough already! Go model underwear.

I like LISA, I really do. This has nothing to do with her personality or her undoubtedly bright future. I just think she's outlcassed now that the worst singers are gone and she really has to compete. Don't be shocked if she's voted off tonight

And damn it, I like BUCKY even more than I like Lisa. I think he gave one of his best performances tonight [after Thunder Rolls] but his voice and limited range aren't going to hold up against the competition much longer.

KELLIE also did very well with her song choice and she did seem to have a good time. I won't surprise me when her country music CD comes out later this year, but I think she has the weakest voice of the all of the women

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Good changes

As I mentioned, I'm currently taking Bella Andre's online Feng Shui class. And while I'm not yet convinced of the spiritual benefits, I can tell you about the physical ones... Or better yet, show you:

This is what my 'workplace' usually looked like BEFORE since I rarely felt up to tackling the mess:

And this is after the first wekk of class inspired me to ruthlessly eliminate both clutter and anything that didn't serve a purpose or make me happy:

Much better, huh? And much easier to work in!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Your Life List

My new Blaze, AFTERNOON DELIGHT, will be on sale next week and as part of the promotion, I'll be a guest in the eHarlequin Community (under Harlequin Series, sub-heading Special Discussions. I'll post a live link as soon as I get one.)

I'll be talking about getting a life... Or rather a life list.

The heroine in AFTERNOON DELIGHT is Rei Davis, a one-year breast cancer survivor. Rei's cancer support group gave her a journal that she calls Things To Do Before I Die, but she really hasn't pursued any of her goals. So my idea is to start off talking about the book and about Rei's list, then get a discussion going about some of the things on your lists, steps to take toward achieving those big goals and small things you can do each day to make a difference in your life or someone else's. On the last day I'll give away copies of AD.

Hope to see you there, April 3-7!

Audio Contest Winners!

First of all, thank you for visiting my blog and listening to me blather
Second, congratulations and good luck in your writing careers!
Please email me with your full name and street address asap


Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog giveaway since I also cleaned off my writing guides shelf!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bone Sighs

My office Feng Shui project is going really well and it got even better yesterday. I was in the Tranquil Waters Cafe near my house and discovered the art of Terri Urban, founder of Bone Sigh Arts .

Two of her pieces, The Whole and Herself, called out to me and drew me in so I had to have them. I've hung them close to the door frame in the Wisdom bagua area.

I've also ordered five more pieces from her website and can't wait to have them grace my office space with their beauty.

(Okay, I know I sound all New Age-ish but Terri's art is powerful and empowering and I'm so glad I found her work.)

If you don't like ordering online, there is a list of shops that carry her products.

Blessed Be

Saturday, March 25, 2006

RWA Awards


Congratulations to friends and fellow authors whose work was recognized today:

Bronwyn 'Triple Threat" Jameson for her 3 Silhouette Desire finalists!

Stephanie 'Who Says CPAs are Boring?" Feagan for the Best First Book category

RITA-winner Shelley The Inspiration" Bates for the second time!

Diane "Gutsy" Gaston in the Regency category.

Way to go, ladies, and goodluck in Atlanta!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Philosophy Friday


Some of the ugly crap in my grandmother's house was actually valuable
Amazon only has 1(!) copy of Afternoon Delight left
Harriet Klausner gave AD a great review and posted it all over the 'net
The Feng Shui-ing of my office is going well- it's less cluttered already
The birthday dinner I made my husband was almost perfect

"Writing is a craft, as well as an art, and that craft takes time to develop. Forget genius, forget inspiration. It takes time- measured not in weeks or months but years... Page after page, draft after draft, year after year... That's the writer's commitment, and that requires time. Or, should I say, a lifetime?"
- Dennis Palumbo, WRITING FORM THE INSIDE OUT, page 119-120

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Feng what?

This is a quick post coz I'm tired tonight. I've spent the past two days on a school trip with my son.

I wanted to mention I'm taking an online Feng Shui for the writer's office class given by Bella Andre. I don't know if this Shui stuff works but I'm going to be openminded and give it a try. Hell, my office can't look any worse. (I'll post a 'before' picture soon). If nothing else, Bella has gotten me to look at what is not working/ what needs to be removed from My Space because it's negative and making me crazy.

My other comment about cleaning house is in reference to both my office and to Kevin being voted off of AmerIdol tonight. I guess sometimes you have to get rid of things that are good to make room for something great.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fresh Voices

American Idol- Simon keeps talking over and over again about the Wow Factor, that something special that makes you stand out, that makes people like and remember you. As a creative person, I understand that, recognize it intuitively, but am scared that TWF is something you either have or don't- you can't learn IT.

Mandisa has it, yes, indeed. Chris has GOT it. Katharine hints at it. Taylor plays at it. Kellie manufactures it. Elliott and Paris need like hell to find some of it. On this show you have to do it better than the original or do it completely different. Mandisa does the first, Chris does the second and I wish there was a way for me to figure it out.

(BTW- you heard it here first: Chris Daughtry is the 5th American Idol. I'm already setting money aside to buy his first album)

American Writer- I've spent the past days- hell, the past weeks- searching for story ideas. (I know, I hear all of you real writers out there, saying, "I have tons of ideas and not enough time to write them!" Good for you. Me, I've had several ideas shot down for this novella already and now I'm feeling so insecure that my mind has gone blank. (There really ought to be an online store where you can charge plots on your credit card at 3 o'clock in the morning.))

I've been struggling with a synopsis for this witch anthology and while I know the heroine and have sketched story arcs for the secondaries, something is missing. That essence or theme that will make this story more than a story; that plot twist or character revelation that will draw the reader in and then grab them. That Wow Factor.

I can't get my hands on what it is. And I'm quickly losing my confidence since the partial is due in ten days. I want to do something different, I want to freshen my voice. Yet I need to keep a certain inherent promise to meet my Blaze readers' expectations, and more importantly, deliver on the anthology premises the editor came up with. In fact that may be what's holding me back at the moment, is knowing there are certain things that have to be in the story that I hadn't planned on when I proposed it.

So what is that Wow Factor in fiction? What will make my story stand out? What can I say that hasn't been said before or said in a particular way? And where the hell is the phone number for that idea store?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Contest- audio cassette auction

I'm doing a little bit of Spring cleaning and came across some of workshops tapes from various RWA conferences I've attended. I'll give away all ten of them next Monday, March 27.

All you have to do to enter is add a comment to this entry telling me 1) where you are in your writing (pubbed # books/ unpubbed # mss), 2) what you hope to accomplish in the next 10 months

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT – Mia Zachary 2005 on writer’s block
TIME WON’T LET YOU– Peggy Wade 2002 on time management
TALL, DARK & BELIEVABLE- Suz Brockmann 2002 on creating heroes
LEARNING TO LISTEN – Barbara Samuel 2003 on finding your voice
DISCOVERING YOUR AUTHOR BRAND – publicist Teresa Meyers 2005
SEPARATING SIAMESE TWINS – Eileen Dreyer 2003 on writing for two houses
WRITERS WHO DON’T WRITE RIGHT- Pat McLinn 2003 on plotter vs. pantser
HOW TO OUTWIT TRENDS – Alison Hart & Emilie Richards 2003 on getting published
DON’T BRING A SNOWBALL- Cole, Kendrick & McKenna 2005 on career mistakes
SAVVY AGENT’S GUIDE TO SUCCESS – agent Irene Goodman 2003

(DO NOT include your mailing address in your comment- I'll get that from you if you win- but DO tell me which tape you're most interested in)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Philosophy Friday

It's a cold, gray, gloomy morning in Maryland so I offer you a

The scale reading isn't any lower, but it's not higher either
Making progress of my grandmother's estate stuff
Found out two of my books were translated into German
Discovered a very nice review of DELIGHT on the B& website
Stayed out too late and drank too much wine at the neighborhood Ladies Night

"Storytelling is an elaborate form of lying. Both fiction and story are euphemisms for lies. It is the concern of us liars to give our falsehoods the semblence of truth, and a storyteller uses every device at his command to instill in his fiction the verisimilitude that convinces the reader" - Oakley Hall, page 57

"A setting, deftly portrayed, not only tells us where we are but gives the story a sense of truth, the credibility we speak of as verismilitude. It does wonders for that troublesome disbelief and the reader's willing suspension thereof." - John Leggett, page 74

Both quotes are taken from SNOOPY'S GUIDE TO THE WRITING LIFE, a book with good advice but better comic strips

Thursday, March 16, 2006


current clothing: tank top, jeans, flip flips.

current hair: short, windblown from walking to school bus stop, needs combing.

current refreshment: Glaceau Vitamin Water with B + potassium.

current annoyance: late bookreviews, non-updated tour website and that Melissa was voted off American Idol last night while Kevin for some insane reason is still on the show

current avoidance: writing a synopsis for the Sedona anthology

current smell: dust- I need to clean my office

current thing you ought to be doing: writing a synopsis

current thing or things on your wall: dry erase calendars reminding me that I should be writing a synopsis.

current IM/person you’re talking to: No one- I have the house to myself and Lisa is asleep in Australia

current jewelry: gold hoop earrings, Movado watch, ruby bracelet, diamond bracelet, silver and amber necklace

current book: AFTERNOON DELIGHT, available online now, in bookstores next month

current worry: getting my late grandmother's house sold and her estate settled

current obsession: our trip to Tuscany this July- I've been reading travel guides and listening to language CDs

current love: the husband, the boy child, all things Italian

current wish: that I could get motivated to write the synopsis for the Sedona anthology

current plans for tonight/weekend: the monthly Ladies Night at my neighbors tonight, a St. Patrick's Day/ triple birthday party on Saturday

current mood: resigned to writing a synopsis for the Sedona anthology despite my mind being completely blank as to what the story needs to be about

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Idol by the Dozen

Okay so it was Stevie Wonder theme night on American Idol and honestly I wasn't sure how this was going to go. But loved it for the most part:

The Ass Kickers
(I didn't bother to vote because they will all be back)
Chris- I have no doubt he's going all the way. (As a side note he is really sexy! but a little calculated tonight. Note to Chris- don't play with the mic stand)
Taylor -Obviously loves him some Stevie and, judging by the audience reaction including my own, we love us some Taylor. He is just infectious and I loved the suit and new haircut
Mandisa- Having a man kneel before you and take off your shoes on national television? You go girl! And she did- with a great gutsy heartfelt performance
Katharine- Well, heloo there! Where have you been the past few weeks? She did a fantastic job and finally showed what her voice can do

The Bonus Gifts
(I voted for them to try to make sure they're still here next week)
Bucky- Considering he'd never heard a Stevie Wonder song before, I think he did a damned fine job with the rockin' version of Supersticion. (I agreed with Simon about the hair though)
Melissa- I disagreed with Simon that this was her best performance. Her voice sounded strained tonight but I want to see her try again next week. I know she can do this
Elliott- I didn't like the song choice and I think he was intimidated to sing music by someone he admires. But again I have faith in him and want to see him back

The Mouseketeers
Paris and Lisa will both come back next week and they deserve to. It's just that with both of them tonight it was obvious they were seasoned performers and I didn't get much of the genuine emotion on stage that they showed in the clips

The Odd Trio
I have nothing to say about Ace. Still not sure why I don't like him but he does nothing for me. It was a safe song and he tried to sound exactly like Stevie so it was boring.
Kellie is adorable and I like her and her tarantula lashes but she's not great vocally and tonight she sucked. I know she was out of her comfort zone but still there was no spark
And as for squish boy, I couldn't help but like Kevin and his awfull dancing tonight but I don't think he'll stay much longer. He's a nice kid with a nice voice but overall he's out-classed.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The ME Morning

So I'm doing my morning blog tour and find myself on Amazon, so I look to see what- if anything-is happening with my books and I discovered that

Somebody wants six times the cover price for RED SHOES & A DIARY

So then I did the search engine thing. As you'll see, there are a lot of pages deidcated to a missing soldier, MIA Zachary Baumel

but you'll also find that I have a page on the romance wiki

and you can still read NIGHT MAGIC, my free Djinn/ genie round robin story

then go find out which demon I slayed on Julie Kenner's blog

or read about the day I got The Call for my first sale

Last but not least, you can help save a life if you go bid on my Diabetes Auction prize package which includes Autographed copies of RED SHOES & A DIARY, YOURS IN BLACK LACE, 9.5 DAYS and AFTERNOON DELIGHT; an autographed ARC of Mia’s first single title, ANOTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT, the chance to be a character in the next Midnight novel, and a box of GODIVA sugar-free chocolates.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Philosophy Friday

I decided to take a page from Oprah's magazine and add my own version of Breathing Space each Friday. So take a look, take a deep breath then close your eyes and take a moment to just BE


The scale is still at 158 lbs
My baby brother turned 30
Someone put a contract on my late grandmother's house
I got the wording of the RT review: "Afternoon Delight (4.5), by Mia Zachary, is a delight with real conflict, wonderful characters and life-affirming scenes. It's a joyful read."

"Rather than shaping your writing to please others or to latch onto or anticipate the next trendm your best bet is to write what excites and moves you, to make your growth as a writer the ultimate goal. Acting teach Darryl Hickman used to tell his students, 'Keep giving them _you_ until you is what they want.' The plain fact is, you are the sun, and the industry is the moon. It only shines by reflected light."
Dennis Palumbo, WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT, page 107

Thursday, March 09, 2006

IDOL- Stunned, just stunned

Okay, so if you read yesterday's post you know I was on the money about Kinik, Will and Ayla not staying on. But as for the final contestant eliminated tonight, all I can say is


Who stuffed Kevin's ballot box? Which producer robbed the very humble and poised Gedeon of his well deserved place inthe final 12? Who riggd the contest, dammit? Or are there really that many grandmothers watching the show and thinking Kevin is squishy?

There has been a serious injustice when a kid with a nice voice and a cute face but zero stage presence while singing songs older than I am gets to remain on the program while a very talented showman with great personal style is voted off.

This sucks Gedeon, but I hope you know that success is the best revenge!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

AmerIdol Recap

First I have to tell you this:
I was driving to a doctor's appointment this morning and The Doobie Brothers came on the radio and I just love that song and I immediately thought, "Taylor would kick ass if he sang this one" and after I sang along with the radio, I went about my day thinking no more of it but then tonight Taylor actually sang Taking' It to the Streets and HOW FREAKIN' WEIRD IS THAT?!?!?

The Gang [3/7 and 3/8]
Katharine did a great job with Aretha's song and seemed to have fun with her performance
Taylor is a nut and I love him for it. And for that Soul Patrol voice. Yeah, Easter Bunny
Lisa did a beautiful job with her song- not sure why the judges didn't like her choice
Gedeon is very sure of himself and what he can do vocally and plays to his strengths
Paris singing Gloria Estephan was okay, but made me think of a little girl playing dressup
Bucky is another guy who knows who he is and what he can do and gosh darn it I like him
Elliott chose poorly this week but I hope he stays around and shows what he really can do
Kellie may be a 'naughty little minx' [which I think is an act] but her singing isn't great
Ace. I hate falsetto and don't particularly like this guy. But America will keep him.

The Cuts [my predictions]
Kinnik seems nice and she's trying hard but she just hasn't found her niche- or her pitch
Melissa made the Heart song her own but Simon's comments might hurt her this week
Ayla is a great girl and will go far in life but I'm not sure she's staying on the show
Kevin signed his own death warrant with the ode to Vincent Van Gogh. Go, Kevin. Be squishy
Will is clueless. Appealing to 11 year old girls wasn't an insult- it was marketing advice and he blew it

The Finalists [my predictions]
Mandisa is a force to be reckoned with and I think she'll go all the way to the end
Chris is on fire. He's so talented and he might very well win the whole thing

The Five Spot

Gena tagged everybody to join in the fun, so here goes:

Five people you want to see naked:
a. George Cloney
b. Prince William
c. Eric Bana
d. Josh Lucas
e. Brad Pitt

Four things you want to eat while you’re drooling and staring at the five naked people mentioned above:
a. chilled white wine
b. crisp red grapes
c. sweet fat strawberries
d. pourable chocolate sauce

Three things you want each of the men to tell you while you’re eating the four foods mentioned above while you’re seeing those five naked people:
a. I want to be first
b. Yes, Mistress, I'll do anything you ask me to
c. I love middle-aged women with cellulite and stretch marks

Two people you’d let into the room while the men are begging and you’re eating and staring at the totally naked people:
a. Ben Affleck
b. Orlando Bloom

One thing you’d do after you let two people in your room while music was playing and you were done eating and staring at the totally naked people:
a. Smile and make more room on the bed

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I do it to myself

What about you? Do you do it ? It's nothing to be ashamed of, so don't deny it. All kinds of people do it all the time. And that little self-indulgence can be so rewarding.

Get your minds out of the smut pit. I'm talking about hunting for your own name in the major search engines on the Internet.

I was updating my friend Lisa's website this morning and needed to search the 'net for new content since she's got two new books coming out in the next year. I found... Not much. Two interviews, a bunch of online bookstores. Three pages of results, most of which refer to an author named Melissa James Gibson.

Then I Googled myself, as I do at the beginning of every month, just to see what's out there. A Lot. I got to the 25th result page and was still getting hits. And this my writing friends is one key to self-promotion. Get Your Name Out There! Especially when you have upcoming releases and want to try to increase sales.

I've got a website I try to update every two weeks. I've done interviews and taught classes and sent out about 50 review copies and added content to my pages on Amazon. If anyone decides to look me up on the Internet, I guarantee they will find me. And hopefully they'll find their way to my website and read the excerpts and then find their way to the bookstore!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Seven up

Seven Things to Do Before I Die.
Take chances
Appreciate what I've got
Tell my loved ones how I feel
Learn to let go of the past
Be proud of what I've accomplished
Be okay with who I am
Have no more regrets

Seven Things I Cannot Do
Step aerobics
Not read the instructions
Resist the urge to nap
Stay organized

Seven Things that I Admire in my husband
His intelligence
His work ethic
His honesty
His dry sense of humor
His contentment
His parenting of our son
His ability to remain calm

Seven Things I Say Most Often
Am I speaking English?
Are you insane?
Drive, moron!
You're a goofball
Okay. And?
Here's hoping

Seven Books I Love [in no particular order]
The Eight by Katherine Neville
A Place To Call Home by Deborah Smith
If Looks Could Kill by Eileen Dreyer
Manhunting by Jenny Crusie
AKA Goddess by Evelyn Vaughn
Road to Avalon by Joan Wolf
Just Another Day in Paradise by AE Maxwell

Seven Movies I Watch Over and Over
The Thomas Crown Affair - Pierce Brosnan & Rene Russo
American Dreamer - JoBeth Williams & Tom Conti
Miss Congeiality - Sandra Bullock & Benjamin Bratt
Bull Durham - Kevin Costner & Susan Sarandon
All About Eve- Bette Davis & Anne Baxter
The Fellowship of the Ring - Viggo Mortenson & Ian McKellan
Something's Gotta Give - Diane Keaton & Jack Nicholson

Seven Cool Conversations
Jennifer Crusie on Keeping it real

Allison Kent of Rereading your keepers

Deirdre Knight on agents who write

Diana Peterfreund on Revamping the RITA

Lynn Viehl on What to wish for

Sarah Weinman on Playing the numbers

ME talking about disposable fiction

Friday, March 03, 2006

Philosophy Friday

Despite menstrual bloat, the scale said 159.5 this morning!!!
The great review rating from RT
Nausea and headache all week but not full-blown flu
Solved some story problems in ASOM
Spend quality time with my boys each night

"The concept of downtime, or goofing off, is shrouded in mystery for one simple reason: It infuriates the writer's [people in his life]. They just don't get it... But there's a subtle difference between procrastination and creative, productive, process-nourishing goofing off... When a writer is working well, these side activities... allow that part of your brain that creates to work unconsciously, filtering and sorting, slecting and disgarding... One person's day-dreamer is another person's writer in training."
-Dennis Palumbo, WRITING FROM THE INSIDE OUT, pages 141-143

Obviously, I like anybody who gives me permission to goof off. But more than that I've found heeding the advice very helpful. Back in January I started my first book collage after reading Jenny Cruisie's article. While mine isn't 3D or as elaborate as hers, I'm damned proud of how it's turning out. It has helped me enormously to visualize MIDNIGHT, as well as inspiring new ideas. So get a piece of sturdy cardboard, some magazines, scissors and glue and go Have Fun for an hour!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Furor Royale

Now, I have to start by admiting that there is only one Bond for me and you're looking at him!

I think Pierce Brosnan is sexy, charming, intelligent, handsome, sensitive and surprisingly vulnerable- exactly how he has played the character. Also I absolutely adore him in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair [Rent the movie right now if you haven't seen it!]

On the other hand, I don't think I've ever seen any of Daniel Craig's work, so I don't know if he's a good choice for the next Bond movie or not. But unlike these people, I'm at least willing to give him a chance.

Idol guys 2

I just love this show. It keeps surprising me. And I find it harder to pick among the guys.

For example, I voted for Bucky tonight and I didn't last week. I'm not sure if he has what's it takes to go all the way, but I like him somehow for choosing songs that suit him and performing them decently. I voted for Taylor again tonight, but only because I'm taking his overall performances into consideration. I don't think tonight was among his best. I voted for Gedeon too because unlike last week, he really did great tonight. He needs to keep doing Motown. Elliott is another surprise- he keeps getting better and therefore getting my attention. Finally, there's Chris. The man is hot, he really is and even Simon likes him. He definitely got my vote again for the Wow Factor of his perfomance.

[By the way, my placement study continues because again tonight the two most likely contenders, Taylor and Chris, opened and closed the show respectively. When they sing next week will clinch my theory]

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Naked on the page

Romantic Times Bookclub has given AFTERNOON DELIGHT a 4 1/2 Star Top Pick rating. (I haven't seen the actual review yet). Obviously I'm very pleased but actually I think what I'm feeling is stunned.

I can't believe it really. This is the second time ( 9 1/2 DAYS was the other) and both books were ones I struggled so much over that I hated them by then end... So as much as I despise self analysis, I feel like I need to explore what is was that made these stories such a bitch to write and why they seem to have done well despite that.

I call my creative partner Lisa The Drama Queen because she's always pestering me to 'add more emotion, Mika, go deeper'. Yes, I'm teasing her, but with a heart full of gratitude because she alternately kicked my butt and held my hand through both books. Emotions are messy and ugly and frightening and I hate dealing with them because in doing so I have to deal with myself.

9 1/2 DAYS was difficult to write to say the least. I did a lot of difficult research in order to try and recreate September 11th for my hero. But that wasn't nearly as difficult as standing naked on the page to present my "plus size" heroine. In creating Jordan, I had to reveal parts of myself and my prejudices and insecurities and I hated every second of it.

But if that book was hard then AFTERNOON DELIGHT was my personal hell. The breast cancer scare was again carefully researched and presented and somehow I ended up naked on the page again too. That was nothing compared to having to face my own past while Rei dealt with her alcoholic father. (During revisions, I toned that aspect of the story way down. About ten pages never made it into the final version)

Anyway, the point I've been avoiding getting to is that, based on reviews, sales and reader feedback, the deeper I've gone into the emotions of my characters the better the books have done. But I have to wonder at the cost. Because both of these stories have cost me dearly in terms of stress, lost sleep and anxiety.

However maybe that's what writing is supposed to do. The letters I've gotten from readers tell me that I touched them, that they can relate to the situations, that I created realistic characters they really care about. I'm still learning, still honing my craft and finding my way. But I wonder, if I stop being afraid to face my feelings, who knows what I can do?

Idol girls 2

I felt like when the girls sang on Tuesday night it was very easy for me to pick my favorites because several of them got it wrong- either the song choice or the performance. However the ladies I was already keeping an eye on continued to hold my attention:

Paris and Lisa held their own though agreed with Simon's assessment that they were choosing songs a little too old for them. Ayla did a very nice job with a song that suited her well. Kinnik and Melissa continue to surprise me and I think their performances are getting stronger. Katherine has a lovely voice but the song she sang is one of my favorites and I don't think she did it justice. Then there's my girl Mandisa. She just rocks and I want to see her through to the end.

[Which reminds me- I plan to study the roster over the next weeks because I'm developing a theory that the finalist have already been chosen based on who sings first and last in the line up. For example Week 1 Mandisa sand 1st, Katherine last. Week 2 Katherine sang 1st, Mandisa last. And as far as I'm concerned they are the strongest contenders. I'll keep you posted.]