Monday, September 01, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Back when I was a Spanish major at university in California, I read a short story by Jorge Luis Borges called “The Garden of the Forking Paths.” Most of what I remember about it now is exactly what I’ve told you up to this point. But it struck me then, as someone pretty much just embarking on the “main” path of my life, that there were decisions to be made, and that by choosing one – and then by extension, all the paths that grew out from that one – I would by leaving others behind.
That’s life, my dad reminded me. Well, yes. And I have always enjoyed the path I chose. It’s brought me a great man to spend my life with, a bunch of kids – and by extension, grandkids – who have enriched it over the years and continue to do so to this day. It’s given me cold winters and hot summers, and a Master’s degree in Theology (wasn’t expecting that!) and the opportunity to write almost seventy books along with all the traveling and researching and great friends all over the world who have come my way as a result.
Sometimes I think about those other paths. I wonder what it would have been like if we’d moved to my grandparents’ place in Colorado as my dad considered, and I’d spent my formative years on their small ranch. There’s a ranch person lurking inside me, I am virtually certain. My inner cowgirl has often found itself coming out in my books. And the time I did spend there has been formative, too, even though it wasn’t a long part of my life.
It drew me then, and in some ways it still does. Yet as we contemplate moving full-time to Montana, I find myself looking in town, not in the country. I think my inner rancher may have to wait for another lifetime. Or live vicariously through my books and others’ in this one.
One of my boys early on imprinted on Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The summer he turned ten he went on an archaeological dig with his dad. I lived vicariously through that dig – and the couple of actual days I got to go, too. It wasn’t underwater, but it was – for Iowa – quite good enough. It still has tugged at me from time to time.
So this year I decided to do something about it. Next month I’m going down one of those forking paths, taking a week in Virginia around Williamsburg and Jamestown participating in an archaeological dig through a Road Scholar program.
A week isn’t much – but my inner archaeological is thrilled at the prospect. I may do no more than grub around in the dirt and/or wash potsherds. No matter. It’s a taste. And I am eager for the taste. I’m eager to learn more, to experience first hand a small part of what an archaeological life can be like.
I used to wish I could get old enough to go on a Road Scholar program (back when they were ElderHostel). But now they’ve lowered their age limit to 40! And there are quite a few programs that allow you to take family members (or go with family members who do qualify). So ‘waiting’ is not such a huge issue anymore.
I am making a list of other great places to see and things to do. I can spend hours just paging through the catalogues and coming up with ideas (the finances are a different issue entirely). Some of them I hope I will get to do down the road a piece. Some of them I will look longingly at and then decide that even for a week, I can’t do it.
But this – the archaeological road – it’s going to be mine for a week. I can hardly wait.
If you are looking to spend some vicarious traveling time, check out Road Scholar online. Also, please tell me what paths you didn’t take that you’d still like to have a taste of. You might very well whet my appetite for a forking path I haven’t even considered yet!
1) Kingsmill Plantation near Williamsburg, See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2) John Cadsby Chapman, Coronation of Powhatan. Work in the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Friday, August 22, 2014
Katie Buick dreams of opening her own niche restaurant, but finding a financial backer for a reformed party girl is proving impossible. Until she makes a final desperate plea to Ric Emerson, former geek and high school friend turned successful businessman. Too bad they haven't spoken since she humiliated him before their prom. The last thing she expects is for him to say yes, or for him to have made such a complete transformation from old friend to heartthrob. But she learned the hard way that nothing good comes from mixing business with pleasure.
Ric knows Katie's idea is brilliant, and with his business acumen and her work ethic, they're sure to be a success. Building the business brings Ric and Katie closer together. Chemistry still simmers between them, blurring the lines between personal and professional despite their best intentions. Ric trusts Katie to make their business a success, but can he trust her with his heart a second time?
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
What If Your Genre Isn't Selling?
- That voice thing. Like I said in the above paragraph,
developing a unique voice takes time. Yes,
you can develop your voice writing different genres, but in my opinion, it
takes longer. Why? Because different genres have different styles. For example, how are you going to hone that
edgy romantic suspense voice if you suddenly decide to write historical? If you are going to jump, at least pick
genres that are somewhat related – for example, romantic suspense and
thrillers. Or YA suspense and mainstream
suspense. Save the drastic change for
when you have to reinvent yourself.
- Editors’ decisions to focus on a
particular genre (or subgenre) are driven by marketing and profits. Likewise, agents’ decisions regarding
representation are based on whether they can sell your book to an editor. Like I told my friend, when they say the
market is glutted, or a certain kind of book isn’t selling, what they really mean
is that the books aren’t profitable enough by the publishing houses’
standards. That doesn’t mean there
aren’t readers. As self-publishing has
proven, there are plenty of devoted readers in every genre. Publish it and they will come.
- Trends change. Wasn’t that long ago, the publishing world proclaimed straight contemporary romances dead. Then along came Susan Mallery, Robin Carr, Jill Shalvis and others. Wait long enough and the type of book you’re writing will be back in vogue. Or, if you need a counter argument – by the time you finish your manuscript, there’s a good chance the trend you’re chasing has peaked.
Friday, August 15, 2014
That's not to say he didn't make some stinkers, too, of course he did (hasn't every performer?), but I still wanted to do a little PHS tribute this Friday to my favourite movie of his. Weirdly it isn't one of his comedies. I did enjoy those, but for me, Good Will Hunting is one of those films that just keeps on giving and it's the scenes which Matt Damon's Will shares with Williams that are the bedrock of this drama.
The script written by Damon and his pal Ben Affleck launched the two of them in Hollywood and tells the story of a surly, blue-collar kid who works as a janitor but is actually a maths genius. His genius comes to light when he is doing the night shifts at MIT and starts solving the problems professor Stellan Skarsgard leaves on the board overnight just for the hell of it. Skarsgard wants to use the boy's genius, but quickly realises that Damon has some severe problems with authority. Enter Robin Williams as the rumpled, mild-mannered psychiatrist Sean Maguire, who Skarsgard enlists to give Damon some much needed therapy to make him more manageable. But of course Maguire isn't interested in using Will, he's actually a principled, thoughtful therapist who want to help Will for Will and as such, soon realises that Will's problems in relationships, his surly, sulky attitude stems from something terribly traumatic in his childhood. And as their sessions continue, Maguire begins to wonder if maybe, just maybe, he can help Will overcome these traumas. Or at least confront them, so they won't continue to scar his future as they have scarred his past.
This is not a role anyone would have expected to see Williams in - given his talent for manic stand-up comedy. Sean Maquire is the polar opposite of Williams' on-screen persona. But beneath Maguire's apparently mild-mannered surface is a man who has some demons of his own that he has had to overcome - and that's where Williams' sharp snarky persona gives the character a wonderful edge making it entirely believable that Will might finally respond to him.... So as Maguire forms a real and genuinely strong and supportive friendship with Will - and uncovers and helps him to confront the hideous abuse he has suffered as a child - we begin to fall in love with them both and with the movie.
Williams won an Oscar for his work here (in one of those rare occassions when they actually gave the Oscar to the right person!) Here's just one clip of him in the movie, that brings a tear to my eye every time I see it. Because Will is not a likeable person, he's difficult, tough, troubled and taciturn. But Maguire sees past that to the terrified child that is cowering beneath.
So now, tell me what your favourite Robin Williams role is?
Heidi is currently working on an exciting new project that she will hopefully be able to brag about soon. Until then she has a new Cosmo Red Hot Read coming on in October called 10 Rules to Sex-Up a Blind Date. No prizes for guessing what that one's about! Chat to her on Twitter (@HeidiRomRice), Facebook and on her blog.