Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Ghosts’ Category

Prueba1675
This has been a week for socializing more than reading, which has been a lot of fun. I’m about 75% introvert, but that other 25% really loves to get together with like-minded people…often other writers! I’ve had out-of-town writer buddies stopping by (something about Florida’s balmy temps while their hometowns are still getting snow flurries, perhaps?), and so I’ve been lunching, brunching, coffee-ing and dinnering like a fiend. I’ve loved every minute.

However, even during weeks like this, I read a little. I couldn’t get to sleep without reading at least a few pages of something wonderful. Here’s what I played with this week:

STUMBLED ONTO AND BREEZED THROUGH, UNEXPECTEDLY: ELLEN FOSTER, by Kaye Gibbons. I hadn’t ever heard of this little gem, though apparently it’s one of the Oprah Book Club picks. I saw it at the library, and for some reason I can’t explain, it called to me. It came out in 1987, so it’s not new, and it’s not exactly a happy read, but I loved it. The story is told by an eleven-year-old girl named Ellen Foster, and it could all by itself provide the basis for a master class in the art of voice. She’s brave, unsentimental, and unique. I won’t forget her soon.

books reading wolf gibbonsGOT SIDETRACKED BY: THE KANDY-COLORED TANGERINE-FLAKE STREAMLINE BABY, by Tom Wolfe. I wasn’t anywhere nearly cool enough to read Wolfe when I was younger, but isn’t it weird how your tastes can evolve? Because I’m excited about the upcoming HBO movie about Phil Spector, I decided to read Wolfe’s essay, “The First Tycoon of Teen,” written about Spector when he was only 23. All I can say is…wow. Strange, brilliant, stylish. Now I have to read the rest! This, too, could form a master class in writing. Except I’d want to title that class, “Great Stuff You Could Do With Style if You Were A Genius, Which You Aren’t.” Or…”Don’t Try This At Home.” 🙂

FINALLY GETTING INTO: GARDEN SPELLS, by Sarah Addison Allen. I’m probably not past page twenty, but I love it already. I understand not everyone likes magical realism (where trees throw apples over fences, and neighbors know you’ll need a breath mint long before the hunky neighbor unexpectedly drops by), but I really do.

It’s tricky, isn’t it, this matter of personal taste? So inexplicable, and yet so powerful. Take the one single issue of “paranormal,” for instance. I’m fine with it. Unless I’m not. I love Sookie Stackhouse, for instance, but was lukewarm about Jim Butcher, who is obviously brilliant. Why? I can’t put my finger on it…so how on earth is a writer to know what will work?

I even have “hot” words…words that, if I read them on the jacket blurbs, will make me put the book down like a hot potato. Some of the hot words, for me, are “espionage,” “arms dealer,” “Vietnam,” and “Mafia.” Okay, you might think, she’s just a sheltered little priss who doesn’t like disturbing topics. 🙂 And that’s not entirely untrue. But then how do you account for some of my weirder “tingle” words, the words that, if I read them on jacket blurbs, will make me hug the book and squee? “Tingle” words include “plague,” “psychopath,” “Bedlam,” and “Civil War.” If I get “hypnotically enigmatic” and “hauntingly evocative” in the same blurb, I might as well kiss my money goodbye.

And then there are the abrupt about-faces I can do if the writer somehow transcends his “hot” word. I tend to avoid “religion,” AND “1930s,” and yet I was obsessed with Susan Howatch’s series about British clergymen in the 1930s. Sometimes it even goes the other way around–I’m a fanatic about anything Tudor, and yet, in spite of a dozen enthusiastic recommendations, I can’t bring myself to read WOLF HALL.

So…what’s a writer to do? I guess the moral of the story is you have to write what you like, because, in the end, there is positively no guarantee of pleasing anyone else.

Read Full Post »

When I’m under a lot of stress, I use my entertainment hours (if I have any) to calm myself down.

When I’m stressed out and want to read a book, I almost always pick something dramatic and full of tension and suspense. It’s as if I want to remind myself that there are far worse problems out there than mine….like zombies, monsters,serial killers, madmen and ghosts. I especially love a writer who shows me an average person taking on the Big Bad Things and winning. If they can conquer the werewolf, then surely I can conquer my …insert problem here…

But when I decide to cope with my stress by watching a movie, I am completely the opposite. I want sweetness and light. I mean seriously sweet. Red velvet cake with sprinkles sweet. Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream sweet. Musicals and cute kids and sparkly costumes and flower-filled fairy fields and satin wedding dresses.

Taken together, those stress-relieving techniques can make me look pretty schizophrenic. Take yesterday, for instance. I sat in the family room with a few of my favorite people. By my side was my Dan Simmons horror novel, “Summer of Night,” in which a group of pre-teen boys ride their bikes to a showdown with the Forces of Evil. And on the TV was my favorite sweet-treat musical, “The Slipper and the Rose,” in which Richard Chamberlain’s Prince sings and dances to win Cinderella’s heart.

How about you? How do you calm down when the world is pressing in a little too hard? Do you go for the wild ride for total distraction? Or do you cuddle up to some warm fuzzies? I’d love to hear what works for you!

Read Full Post »

I’m the guest writer today over at Irene L. Pynn’s blog.
This blog is something a little different. Most of you know me as a romance writer, but I also have a couple of larger romantic suspense titles, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER and QUIET AS THE GRAVE. Both of them have wonderfully creepy houses.

I’m crazy about terrific, spooky, atmospheric houses. This is probably because I grew up in a house that was full of magic and deep personal symbolism.  Some fictional houses are so real to me it’s almost as if I could actually walk into them and prowl around.  Misselthwaite Manor, Manderley, Usher, Bag End, Green Gables…I love them all, good or bad.

Irene L. Pynn is, among other things, a fantasy writer, so when she invited me to blog for her, I decided to discuss the phenomenon of the Scary House. What is it about haunted houses, or houses that have been the scenes of terrible crimes? Why do they take on such mystical qualities?  Could you ever bring yourself to buy one?  In my research, I read that Nicholas Cage owns one but won’t ever sleep there.  What exactly are we afraid of?

Exploring this topic is a little silly, a little sincerely curious, and a lot of fun.  I hope you’ll stop by and offer your ideas, too!

Read Full Post »