When a Review Shapes a Career

When artists – whether performing, visual, or literary — release their work into the world they’re de facto inviting the world to express an opinion. However, no matter how personally validating a leading role, or a gallery showing, or a published book might be, exposing your work to potential attack is still difficult, frightening, and sometimes so disheartening it can derail an entire career.

Consider Harpo Marx, the silent Marx brother, arguably one of the most gifted physical comedians in stage and film history.

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Lost in Geeklandia Release Day

I’m thrilled to announce that Lost in Geeklandia releases today! The heroine, Charlie Forrester, is a data scientist, more comfortable with technology than people, and while I was writing the story, I couldn’t help but think about my own conversion from computer-phobic to computer-dependent – and what a long, strange trip it’s been.

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Blue Balls in the Bookstore

One of my good friends – I’ll call him Roger, since that’s his name — is a visual artist and musician. We met when we worked in the same bookstore, back in the day when I was in the process of getting my B.A. in theater.

So a musician/artist and an actor-in-training in a store full of books. What do we talk about?

Blue balls.

No, not that kind. Let me explain.

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Controlling the Knee-Jerk Response

Some years ago, my Curmudgeonly Husband got hit up by a very earnest telemarketer. Now, in my opinion, CH has a skewed reaction to telemarketers. While my inclination is to say “Please take me off your call list” and hang up, CH is just as likely to engage them in some kind of bizarre role-playing conversation. In this instance, however, the caller was representing a construction supply company that carried products CH was actually interested in.

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The Right Man for the Job

I think our internal romantic preference may be permanently set at the dawn of our adult hormonal lives – in that dim, dark, scary pre-teen place where we transition from total child to official angst-ridden teenager. That’s right. I’m talking middle school, or as we called it back in my day, junior high.

Those were the days when my friends crushed on the latest pop star or celebrity. Bobby Sherman and Davy Jones, simultaneously actors and singers, were popular cross-over hits for a lot of my friends. (Yep. I’m that old.) My tweenager crush?

Mr. Spock.

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Hooray for Hollywood

“To place in the limelight a great number of people who ordinarily would be chambermaids and chauffeurs, and give them unlimited power and instant wealth is bound to produce a lively and diverting result.”

–Anita Loos, A Girl Like I

Several months ago, my publisher, Entangled, put out a call for submissions for an anthology of historical novellas. I’m a sucker for special calls, but I normally stick to contemporary. It made me wonder, however – if I were to write a historical romance, what era would hold my interest long enough to do the required research?

Only one came to mind – Hollywood in the days of silent films.

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HEA — My Drug of Choice

The first romance I ever read was a gothic – Menfreya in the Morning by Victoria Holt. I was in 8th grade, and didn’t realize at the time that gothic romance was a genre. I just thought Victoria Holt was awesome, and read all of her books that I could get my hands on.

I didn’t read the quintessential romance, Pride and Prejudice, until after I graduated from college, and then almost by accident – I was visiting my cousin in Indianapolis and pulled the Holy Grail of Romance off her bookshelf because I had nothing to do while she was at work other than read (and try to keep the crazy landlady from soaking the inside of the apartment when she hosed down her aluminum siding every day). Again, no clue about the genre. I just thought Austen was fabulous and read all her books.

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Free: Not Necessarily a Good Price

As a dyed-in-the-CPU geek, I’ve attended beaucoup technical conferences and I can tell you nothing fires up your average nerdy type like free stuff. We stampede the vendor hall to scavenge the giveaways. T-shirts. Water bottles. Tote bags. Orange rubber duckies.

I’ll always grab a XXL t-shirt for Curmudgeonly Husband. I’ll score a water bottle for Lovely Daughter to cart to her daily gym sessions (she just joined a Muay Thai gym…be afraid).

But the problem with most of that stuff? It’s not technical. The most successful swag, in my opinion, is something a tech person would actually use. A USB flash drive (even a piddly 1GB model…pish) beats out a water bottle by a mile. Free software body-slams the Tyvek tote bag every day and twice on Sunday. And as for the t-shirts…well, never mind. No self-respecting geek would ever turn down a free t-shirt.

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Foreplay and Afterglow

One of my favorite love scenes ever isn’t in a romance novel.

In 1997, Steven Brust and Emma Bull co-wrote Freedom & Necessity, a massive epistolary novel set in 1849 that puzzled me greatly because I expected a fantasy (Brust and Bull write some of the best out there – Bull’s War for the Oaks remains one of my favorite books of all time).

I kept waiting for the magic to occur, but it didn’t — at least not in the hocus-pocus sense. That first love scene between James and Susan though? Now that was magical — unbelievably sensual and touching and gently amusing. It also surprised the hell out of me, set down as it is amidst all the philosophy and political intrigue and convoluted family drama.

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Last summer, I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Roxanne Snopek at the Entangled in Vegas conference. She invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Chain, in which writers share information about (wait for it…) their writing process, by answering the following questions:

1) What am I working on?

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