Archive for the ‘For Your Amusement’ Category

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Blog Tour: “My Fault” by RJ Conte

June 16, 2018

My friend and fellow author, RJ Conte, has a new book out! This time it’s a Christian rom-com – and guys, this book is laugh-out-loud funny. 😀 Her protagonist, Cleo, has one of the best character voices. She’s unorthodox and random and brazen, and somehow RJ manages to marry this hilarity seamlessly together with the deep, heartfelt issues she is known for writing. It’s a wonderful, sweet, quick read. And I get to share an excerpt with you today!

First, here is the blurb and cover…

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

A devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

And now, an excerpt from the story! This is my favorite scene from the book, because it’s just so Cleo and adorkable. 😀

An Excerpt from My Fault!

My phone still rang. And I knew who it was.

“Mom.”

“Cleee! Happy birthday, honey!” came the soft, twangy squeal. Couldn’t take the south out of Mom, no matter how long she hadn’t lived in Louisiana.

“Yeah, thank you…” No use squelching the matriarch. One celebrated one’s birthday in the Stanton family. There was no other option. Even though Jaq and I had outgrown birthdays like forever ago.

“What are your plans? You going out with friends? You have to spare us some time too. Evening? Afternoon? What works with your work schedule?”

It was so cute how Mom thought I had a life. The delusions were strong with this one.

“Um… let me ask Gra… Let me get back to you.” Scratch that. Why was I hiding Grayson? “There’s a guy I might be hanging out with.”

“Eh…” Mom hemmed.

Okay, so I hadn’t chosen award-winning guys in the past. What the fo, Mom. Where was your extreme optimism in my life choices from a moment ago?

After hanging up with her, I ran a brush through my bedhead mohawk, smoothing my crazy red strands down to fall to my chin. Then on went the lemon yellow kicks I had bought for myself. “Happy birthday, loser,” I cheered myself in the mirror – while only wearing underwear and the new Converse sneakers. Clothes were overrated. Maybe I should snap a selfie. What would Grayson think of that?

I had a new book idea suddenly: How to Lose a Guy in Forty-Three Days by Cleo Stanton, Jailbird and Drunkard.

Sighing, while the baby in my head reprimanded me with some loud screaming, I pulled the shoes back off and threw on some skinny jeans before returning the Converse to my feet. Lastly, I pulled out my favorite white t-shirt that said, “Inigo, I am your father. You will kill your father. Prepare to die.” The background image was Darth Vader holding up a hand with six fingers. The thing had cracked me up so much, I had shed tears over my computer keyboard, and couldn’t press “add to basket” quick enough. I bought three, just in case I ruined the first and lost the second. One couldn’t be too careful with favorite shirts. This was back when I had money to blow.

One also had to wear their favorite shirt to a Stanton birthday celebration. I needed the emotional hug from Six-Fingered-Vader just to handle whatever passive aggressive present Jaq showed up with. Last year it had been a set of hand weights. “For the… arms…” he had said, giving a polite cough that hid none of his actual meaning.

I had played dumb. “Thank you! I broke the armrests off my computer chair. I’ll nail these bad boys in as substitute! How did you know what I needed for all those afternoons browsing Reddit eating Reese’s Pieces? Best. Brother. Ever.” I had even patted him on the head like one would a dead lobster they were about to slather with garlic butter and eat with a teeny, tiny, sharp fork.

Jaq had gone home as red as a hard-shelled crustacean, that’s for sure. Stupid brother.

But wait. Grayson had called me “tiny.” I glanced in the mirror and tried to see Tiny Cleo. Yeah, we were good. I could do this thing.

Isn’t she awesome?? You can buy the book here on Amazon, or add it to your Goodreads!

More About RJ Conte

RJ Conte has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since. She writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.

RJ writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at http://blonderj.wordpress.com/

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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Ten Things Writers Are Thankful For

November 21, 2017

1. Our characters—all the precious details about them and their lives, how they entertain us, and how they keep us company at all times.

2. Coffee/tea/cocoa/wine…our writing beverage of choice. Also SNACKS!

3. That non-writing friend or family member who asks how our writing is going. Sometimes we feel like nobody in our lives cares about this massive part of our reality. Thank you for being that person who asks.

4. Those lines and scenes we secretly go back to read over and over again, amazed that it came out so beautifully.

5. Reviews! Even that 1 or 2 star review, because it means a reader with criticisms was kind enough to leave us feedback anyway.

6. The fact that the rough draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

7. The fact that edits and revisions do, in fact, eventually end.

8. Good editors. We’d be lost without them.

9. Writing friends who support us, cheer us on, and listen to us rant and rave about how Character A is all the feels today and Characters B and C aren’t getting along, and Character D is being a spoiled brat. 😛 Thank you for understanding and welcoming the chaos that is our brains!

10. And lastly, we are thankful that our antagonists and villains do not actually exist. Amen.

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What Really Happens When You Set Aside a WIP After 10 Years of Revisions

February 8, 2017

An Autobiography of the Past 7 Months in GIF Form

Last June I set aside the trilogy I’d been striving to revise for 10+ years, because I could no longer see the forest for the trees and it had problems I could not see a way to fix.

It’s gone about like this…

Step One: First, you realize that what you’ve actually done is ripped out a chunk of your heart and left a gaping hole of raw, bleeding soul.

Step 2: You feel like you don’t know your purpose anymore, or where you’re going in life.  You’re not even sure if you’ll ever want to write again.

Step 3: Suddenly God provides you with a new story idea, and it’s actually exciting to you and you want to write again!

Step 4: You start writing your new idea and are getting pretty excited about it. And your friends like it!

Step 5: You hit a snag in your new story. You start to have doubts. I couldn’t make that other WIP work after 10 whole years!! What makes me think I’m ANY good at this whole writing thing??

Step 6: And all you want to do is go back to that beloved WIP and talk to those characters and hug them and never let them go…

Step 7: You spend months trying and dropping WIP after WIP. Nothing is coming together. Each new writing project feels like a fresh experiment in discovering your own inadequacy.

Step 8: But you try to have a good attitude about it all. You’re learning, right? You’re growing, right?? This is a GOOD THING, RIGHT?

Step 9: Finally you reach a kind of peace. You’re still not sure where you’re going anymore, and you still think wistfully about the project you can’t go back to yet…but you’ve found assurance again that God has a purpose for your writing and you’re not a failure.

Step 10: Confidence boosted, you charge forward with purpose toward new possibilities.

Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. – C.S. Lewis

I haven’t quite reached Step 10 yet…I’m still repeating Steps 7, 8, and 9 (with occasional fallbacks into earlier steps). 😛 But by God’s grace, I’m sure I’ll have clear direction again, one of these days!

And while I’m still not there, I’m pressing on, bit by bit, learning more than I ever thought I needed to learn and laying down more pride than I ever saw before in my heart. I’m finding joy in my journey – even when it hurts and all I want to do is rush back to the hobbit hole of my comfortable, familiar trilogy where my heart lived for ten years. I’m entrusting that world and all those dear characters to God, who knows the very best thing for them (even if that best thing is…gulp…that it might never see the light of day).  And while I wait for the right time to return, I’m following His call to write into new places where I never thought I’d tread.

Life is an uncertain rollercoaster, but He is good. Stories may shatter, but He is faithful.

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. – C.S. Lewis

Did you ever lay down a dream after working toward it for a really long time? How did God teach you and bring you to a new direction?

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Simmer Starters – February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016

Simmers

Narrating Dreams & Visions (Mythcreants) – Sleep stuff fascinates me!  This is a good breakdown of information about things like sleepwalking and sleep paralysis, as well as suggestions about how to write dream sequences and visions. In TKT I actually fall afoul of one of their tips to not change tense or switch between 1st and 3rd POV. Oh well. I like what I did and will keep it for now. 😀  (I also have to include a direct link to the link they share on sleep paralysis…Sleep Paralysis is an Inescapable Waking Nightmare by Brian Barrett. So fascinating!! And also terrifying.  And is it weird that after reading that I kind of want to experience it? 😛 Not the most horrifying versions of it, though…whew!)

Brief Analysis of Alphahole Trope In Romantic Fiction (Ilona Andrews) – I have to warn you, this can be a bit crass at times. But it is hilarious.  And oddly informative. 😀

Corpus Linguistics (Valerie Hobbs) – This is a slightly complex topic, but I enjoyed this rebuttal to a recent Tim Challies article.  I totally agree with some of the conclusions here, as I wasn’t a huge fan of the original article it’s rebutting.

Romance in Christian Fiction: How Much Heat Is Too Much? (Nadine C. Keels) – I really liked this thoughtful post.  “Christian Fiction books have and will continue to come in different styles and levels of content. There’s no one-size-fits-all-Christians kind of novel out there, and, just perhaps, there never will be. And that’s absolutely okay.”

Nothing to Celebrate (Carl R. Trueman) – “Take for example the creeping intrusion of so-called celebrations of life into Christian churches as the default liturgy of death.  Such things deny death its due by attempting to numb the pain in the strangest of ways. If ever there was a way to underline the devastating trauma of a death, it is surely to recollect the joy and laughter which the deceased brought to the lives of others.”

Writing With Jacob’s Sticks (Shannon Stewart) – Love this. “Ultimately, whether I’ve picked a strategy that works or one as seemingly crazy as Jacob’s sticks, it’s God’s desire to bless me that actually blesses me. ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man [sticks, baby-raising, social media], but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand’ (Proverbs 19:21).”

 

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Simmer Starters – February 19, 2016

February 19, 2016

Simmers

Frank, the Beagle of Unexpected Plot Twists (Janeen Ippolito) – My other links today are kind of heavy, but not this one – enjoy this fun look inside an intuitive writer’s brain. 😀

Is a Surrogate a Mother? (Michelle Goldberg) – Long article that illustrates the kind of moral conundrums and heartbreaking situations we’ve created in this Brave New World of fertility technology.  “The natural mother is irrevocably committed before she knows the strength of her bond with her child. She never makes a totally voluntary, informed decision, for quite clearly any decision prior to the baby’s birth is, in the most important sense, uninformed, and any decision after that, compelled by a pre-existing contractual commitment, the threat of a lawsuit, and the inducement of a $10,000 payment, is less than totally voluntary.”

The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture (Nora Samaran) – I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article but there is a lot of fascinating stuff to take away.  “Men have capacities to heal that are particularly masculine and particularly healing. They often are not fully aware of this deep gift and how helpful it can be for those close to them, whether family or close friends.”

Scream It Until Their Ears Bleed (Chuck Wendig) – WARNING: as you’d expect with Wendig, lots of language in this post. I include it in my Simmers because it spotlights a major issue – that Huffington Post is vocally “proud” that they don’t pay their writers, because that means the writers’ work is more “authentic.”  Which has all kinds of terrible implications about writing and the value of a writer’s work.  If you’d rather not wade through the language, here’s a clean snippet –

When you go to Huffington Post, it is primarily made of one thing:

Words. Lots and lots and lots of words.

Hundreds or thousands on a page. Millions at the site overall.

And nobody paid anything to anyone to write them.

Imagine walking into a building and realizing nobody paid anybody to lay the bricks that built the walls. Imagine sipping a drink and realizing that nobody got paid to build the machine that makes the can or what is inside it — nobody got paid to formulate the beverage or drive cases to stores or put the cans on shelves. Imagine that those who made the most fundamental component of the drink — the drink itself — never get paid. They were told that work was a privilege. They were told that to get paid to do those things would somehow make the process crass. It would make it impure. Better to drink a drink made out of love, they would say. Love is an ingredient! They would bellow that as they use a literal rake to rake in profits while those beneath them starve.

The only thing HuffPo has is words, and it chooses not to pay for them.