Thursday, October 30, 2008

Writers, Articulation and Intellect

I’ve always admired people who are so articulate in their ability to skewer a point or write blog posts that are scintillating in analytical detail. I tend to ramble and just throw something out there. Even in my stories I tend to ramble. I’m getting better at reining that habit in though.

Still, when I read posts at different blogs, I’m in awe of the minds that write these posts. I mean these people must have brains like Einstein, because I read them and think OMG, I am sooo not posting a comment because what I have to say will pale in comparison to their intellect. Of course, I generally wind up ignoring my own advice and I post much to my regret. *sigh*

Duh Moments

I consider myself pretty intelligent, sometimes, I read blogs and comments and I’m thinking, WTF?? Did these people go to Harvard, Brown, Smith, Yale…etc. I feel somewhat ashamed of my lack of knowledge, and yes sometimes even insight, about the topic of romance. It makes me wonder if I’m a superficial author. A writer who doesn’t delve deep enough into the intellect of my characters for my readers. In some respects, it makes me wonder whether I’m supposed to be writing Jane Austen for the masses or Stephen King for the masses.

Jane Austen wrote romance that also was a commentary on the society she was a part of. All of her books delve into different aspects of the social structures of the time and she’s become well loved for her work and the analysis of her work is expansive.

Stephen King on the other hand, doesn’t generally write about the society we live in, rather he writes books that are meant to “scare” you, while entertaining you in the same breath.

I was trying to be analytical when thinking about these two writers, who you CAN NOT compare in terms of apples to apples, but here’s what suddenly popped into my head. Jane Austen is like a lovely art museum. Her books are beautiful portraits that you can drink in pleasurably and just sit and relax with for the simple joy of it. Stephen King is an amusement park ride (think roller coasters). His books are strictly for setting you on edge of your seat when he pulls you up one hill and then he plunges you down that same hill at lightning speed to the point you’re so scared you have no spit left.

Drinking From The Well

I drink from both wells (art museums and amusement parks) equally and can still be satisfied. And it makes me wonder if most readers aren’t like that—able to drink from the socially conscious type of books and the “fun, just for the hell of it” books. I know that a lot of blogs out in the blogosphere purport one opinion or the other, but there's a large percentage of the population that doesn't read those blogs and probably have a different opinion as to what constitutes good romance writing or bad romance writing.

For me, I’m convinced I’m a Stephen King kind of writer. I just want to write what I love to read, and I want to entertain my readers with a good story. I write for the masses and I don't worry about putting hidden messages or social issues in my books. I don’t want to over think my work, although I sometimes feel intense pressure to do so when I read some of the blogs out in the blogosphere. But what I really desire is to have a reader, say "Damn, that was a good book. For a couple of hours I was wrapped up in somebody else's troubles enough to get away from my own."

So where do you think you fit in?
Do you see yourself more as a Jane Eyre or more as a Stephen King writer/reader? Perhaps you’re neither and think you’re like someone else…Thoreau, Emerson, Poe, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steele…tell me who you see yourself as when it comes to writing or reading.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's It All About Monica

Over at the, my friend Natalie challenged us to fess up to some different writer questions. Here they are.

What's the last thing you wrote?

The Sheikh’s Courtesan

Was it any good?

My first reader says so, the jury (my agent) will have the final verdict and the judge (editors) will have final sentencing.

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

If we’re talking novels, that would be Sweet Shrew, which I wrote for HQ (rejected) and is a contemporary take off on The Taming of the Shrew

Favorite genre of writing?

Historical and paranormal.

I’ve tried contemporary, but I don’t think I have the voice for it, although I do have a couple of old stories that might work well for HQ’s line. It’s just finding the time to rewrite. Grrrr

Most fun character you ever wrote?

Simon Carton from A Bluestocking Christmas. He’s an arrogant, son-of-a-bitch in the first part of the story, but as the story progresses and Ivy brings him to his knees, he’s totally redeemed and I love him. He’s just so bold, charismatic and he has a wicked tongue.

Most annoying character you ever wrote?

My characters tend to be love ‘em or hate ‘em. I don’t know of any characters of mine that I found annoying. Now I’m sure that there are readers who would probably find some of mine objectionable, but I can’t name the characters.

How often do you get writer's block?

I don’t have writer’s block per se, more like “God, I’m so tired of this crap, I don’t want to write.”

How do you fix it?

I watch movies, tv, read, play video games. It’s amazing the number of ideas I get playing a video game with Baby

Do you type or write by hand?

I pretty much type, but when I’m editing I print off the book and I write new paras or rewrite paras on the back of the paper or on a notepad. I also carry a pad of paper in my purse (small spiral) and sometimes I use my PDA…I’ve even used the back of a medical form at the doc’s office. LOL

Do you save everything you write?

Yep, I’ll gut something, but I cut and paste it and then I put it in a file. I’m a digital pack rat. I often will go back into those files and review lines, because some lines that I have to cut are wonderful writing, but I can’t find a way to meld them into the current story, so maybe I can utilize the in a later story. I like to recycle. LOL

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

Yes, In fact, there are two books I want to rewrite as time permits because I love the story so much but the writing stinks.

What's your favorite thing that you've written?

Damn, I hate questions like this, because I love ALL my works for different reasons. If I had to choose one that means something special it would have to be Love’s Portrait because it’s about overcoming something terrible and learning to live again rather than shutting oneself from life. It’s truly a personal story for me.

What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Call me crazy (because personally I can’t take the heat and I’m terrified of snakes), but there’s something incredibly romantic about the desert. In particular the Sahara and Egypt. If you look at the dunes in the Sahara, there’s some exquisite scenery that tells me God loves the raw, primal vitality of the land, despite its lack of water. Maybe it’s the challenge it requires to live in the desert that I like, because I love challenges.

How many projects are you working on right now?

Well, I just finished a book and I’m working on the synop…but I’m also planning out the next paranormal novella, and two historicals are burning up the stove in the back of my head, plus the possibility of a sale with my Master of Sin book subsequent series. Lots popping, which makes life hectic.

Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper?

Yes, I’ve been published in the Beta Sigma Phi magazine, and I’ve had a photo used by a Biker’s magazine. I also wrote a number of articles for Virginia Business Magazine on technology.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Well, I’ve finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart, the Eppie’s, and the Passionate Plume and the Red River Contests. I don’t consider 2nd or 3rd places or finals anything of substance. If my work isn’t first place, it’s not an award as far as I’m concerned. Truthfully, the only reason I do contests is to hope I final so I can gain a little exposure for a few bucks. It's amazing what a final in the Eppie's or GH or etc. can garner you in the online community. It does have it's advantages in terms of publicity, but rarely translates to sales.

Ever written something in script or play format?

No, although I did explore the idea. My nephew is studying at the UNC’s film school, and we’ve talked about me writing something and him directing it. THAT would be sooooo cool for me!

What are your five favorite words?

that’s a tough question, because I love words period, anything that I don’t get to use a lot of would be a favorite -- vitriolic, fragrant, epiphany, pithy, equanimity

What character that you've written most resembles yourself?

Lady Aurora Lyndham from Dangerous. I wanna be her when I get old. Tough, feisty and definitely the mistress of her domain. She’s the epitome of tough love

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?

It’s more of a what does the hero/heroine need in order to get to point B from point A

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Some of my best stories have evolved plot wise and dialogue wise in my dreams. I specifically lay in bed and think about what I want to happen before I drift off to sleep, and then while I’m under the Muse does her work. I’ll wake up and while I won’t necessarily remember dialogue word for word, I do remember the gist of it, and when I write it, the words come back.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliffhangers?

I think it depends on what type of book I’m reading. I want an ending that’s satisfying, but it doesn’t always have to be a happy ending. Although I do favor them more.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Nah, I’m good at both, and generally Word just ticks me off because it doesn’t want to cut me slack when I know I need to use a comma vs. a semi-colon. Yeah, BILL, the semi-colon might be correct, but it stops readers cold.

Quote something you've written.

“He stirred in his slumber, and a long, muscular leg thrust its way out from under the sheet to reveal the limb from foot to hip. The line of his thigh was beautiful. No artist could have created a shape so perfectly male. And there was nothing more dangerous than Morgan St. Claire and the unbelievable maleness of him.” Julia Westgard, Love’s Portrait

The Forgotten Princess is now at Fictionwise!

Winner of the FTHRW Wallflower contest, awarded 5 Coffee Cups at Coffee Time Romance, and winner of the Coffee Time Reviewer Recommended Award, don't miss out on your chance to own this tale of honor, devotion and desire.
For all that King Eric knew that he couldn’t take a barren bride to wife, neither could he ignore the King’s widow. Drawn to her loneliness by his own, he couldn’t resist just one kiss—but the kiss they shared that awakened the forgotten princess and set her free, imprisoned his heart.
Visit my website to read an excerpt!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Little Rebellion Now and Then Is a Good Thing


I have two issues I want to touch on today, and they BOTH could be volatile. First, let’s talk about authors throwing themselves out into the political fray. Now if you read this blog fairly regularly, you know I like to pick a …errr…DEBATE an issue. That sometimes gets me into hot water (the subject matter that is). I definitely keep politics off my website and off my reader boards, and I try really hard to keep them off this blog and my other blogs as well. I do this because I feel like I have to respect my readers and their opinions. Besides they visit my website, reader boards and blogs to learn about my work, not my political leanings.

But of late, and particularly with this presidential election, I’ve noted a lot of authors posting their political beliefs on their blogs, on Twitter, etc. Both sides of the fence POVs, but it seems there are more who lean to the left than to the right. I post on Twitter and I do speak my mind (yeah when don’t I speak my mind), but Twitter moves so fast that unless you monitor it via phone or hourly, your comments will get lost (as mine do! LOL). And other than inundating my DH with political rants, it’s pretty much the only place on the web that I express myself freely under my pen name. My real name, I’ll have you know I’m the best damn letter to the editor writer out there! *grin*

Satirical Observations

However on Twitter, when I express myself, I do more satirical postings on political issues, where I just shake my head and say things like…

“What the hell was Biden thinking; making that crack about it’s patriotic to pay taxes.” I can’t think of one rich person who wants to pay taxes. But then I don’t know any rich people. So, it’s easy for me to forgive the guy. He’s one of us…errr…me--we both have hoof and mouth disease.

Then there are McCain’s thumbs up signs…he reminds me of Nixon (our greatest foreign policy Prez since maybe Jefferson, thanks to his appointment of Kissinger). Nixon’s signature gesture was the peace sign with both hands in the air and his head mashed down into his shoulders. McCain’s got a similar stance when he raises both thumbs upward and bent back; all the while he’s hunched down at the neck. Come to think of it, does he even have a neck??

Clearly, Obama’s been hanging with Joe Biden too much. I mean WHY would you be so stupid as to use the “lipstick” reference when you know, you JUST KNOW, your opponent is going to add makeup up to that statement and they’ll make you look like a clown. And the “cling to their guns and religion” comment???? Are you fricking insane!! You cannot cling to religion, it’s not a tangible object. Besides, there are some things you just don’t say, people. If you do, then you deserve to catch hell. God save us from people like me who speak before we think. This country needs more diplomats (like Natalie – That’s it, that’s the ticket, Natalie for President!).

I can’t really make too fun of Palin because so far, she’s not done a lot of stupid things, YET, but then she’s not been on the national stage long enough. Give her time. She’ll be like everyone else, she’ll but a huge hoof in her mouth and the circling vultures will go in for the carrion, and it won’t be moose either. One word of advice though, DO NOT watch any “Tina Fey as Palin” skits in the library. It’s very difficult not to shout out with laughter in one of those Shush settings. *sigh* And that Palin/Clinton skit was absolutely hysterical on BOTH sides of the aisle.

All of these things remind me of a Mark Twain quote. “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

Funny how little has changed over a century. So my first question. Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing for authors to put their political leanings out for readers to see them?

My answer to the question is no. Don’t share your leanings, and if you’re so compelled to speak out (as I seemed have been), poke fun at both sides and you might just get away with it. *grin*

Second Verse Same Rebel Verse

This is Banned Books Week, and as usual, I’m being a rebel. I might be German / Italian heritage, but DAMN, sometimes I think I was sprung from the loins of Patrick Henry himself. Both of us opinionated, fiery, but he got all the oratory skills. But Thomas Jefferson loaned me his pen to act as a sword, so I’m all set to charge out and be a rebel.

Take a look at the current books that are the top 10 most challenged books in 2007. The number one book is And Tango Makes Three. This is a children’s book based on a true story. Apparently there were two male penguins at the New York Central Park Zoo who hung out together and zookeepers gave the two birds an egg and damn if they didn’t raise a cool little penguin named Tango. So two authors hooked up to write a children’s story about the two male penguins and how they worked together to raise Tango a female penguin.

Someone complained about the message and demanded that it be removed from the shelf, one of them HERE in Virginia. The home of Jefferson himself. The man is rolling in his grave! I understand a conservative parent not wanting their child to read a book that might present an “alternative” family message. That’s definitely their right. I understand their need to control what their children are exposed to, read, see and do based on their personal values. I respect that.

But their beliefs aren’t mine, and their rights end where mine begin when it comes to freedom of choice. One person ranting that they don’t want “filth,” anti-JudeoChristian, or other objectionable books in the libraries/schools because libraries/schools are supported by their tax dollars is ridiculous.

I don’t care for organized religion; does this mean that because my tax dollars bought several copies of the Holy Bible those books should be taken out of the library?
Of course not, a library is a source for ALL people to access books because not everyone has money to buy books. And for Pete’s sake a little accountability is in order here. If you don’t want your kids doing something, then take charge and outline those limitations to your kids. Leave mine alone. Don’t expect me or anyone else (including the government) to adhere to your values. It’s your business, your responsibility. Just because you don’t want your kids reading something doesn’t give you the right to tell me what MY children can read.

I am very Jeffersonian in my thoughts and beliefs. The minute you put your foot on my doorstep with the notion that you’re going to tell me what I can or can’t do, you name it, you're pushing my hot button. And while I don’t own a gun (too easy just to pull the trigger), I have swords. My Xena broad sword is good for a quick in and out action. (“an elegant weapon for a more civilized age” – thank you Obi Wan) and I’m not afraid to use them.

So go out and rant a little about Banned Books Week. Stir up support for your local library, and lets see what kind of hell raising we can do!

Your Jeffersonian Rebel - Monica

New reviews for Dragon's Heart and Enchanted Beauty!

Margo Arthur at The Romance Studio gave Dragon's Heart a five heart rating, and had this to say about it,
The bond that was forged between them was complemented by the loving way Ms. Mathews wrote the tender moments into the plots. Dramas that besiege these two give them both the strength to face and overcome the strong odds that they where up against, causing them to excel in great power to defeat the enemy. An excellent adventure story filled with magical elements that make this book one to enjoy.
Link to full review, and it's also up for Five heart sweetheart of the week,
I'd appreciate your vote!!!

I also received a great review from Kasey's View for Enchanted Beauty,
What a charming and sweet story.
Enchanted Beauty by Marly Mathews puts a new spin on the old tale of Beauty and The Beast. With a little bit of magic and along with some truly fascinating characters and a mesmerizing plot she weaves a spell-binding story that keeps you guessing right up until the end...

This is one of those stories that I found almost impossible to put down, which can sometimes make for a very late night...

If you enjoy stories about beautiful damsels in distress,wizards, magic and ever-after then you're sure to love Enchanted Beauty...

Thank you so much Margo and Kasey!

Have a great Thursday everyone! It's a wet, cool definitely Autumn like day here!