Saturday, December 31, 2011

More Laughter with Brea from California Girl Chronicles

More funny moments with our girl Brea from California Girl Chronicles. These clips are from both books in no particular order.


TOM JONES?

We left and headed downtown to an urban upscale bar where all the desperate housewives hung out. It was one of those places where the barstools had fabric-covered seats. Little LED lights hung from the ceiling over each of the chairs and tables. Denise waved at her boss. He was some middle-aged guy who looked like an engineer. He even wore a white shirt with a pocket protector. He was rugged and handsome with salt-and-pepper hair and kind brown eyes. He introduced himself as Tom. She was fucking a staid, middle-aged engineer (in the supply cabinet) whose name was Tom Jones. I am not kidding. Tom Jones! Do you know how hard it was not to laugh at his name. I had a flash of him as a slimy lounge singer who seduced all of the girls.

INT. RED-VELVET LOUNGE – NIGHT
Tom Jones wears a boring white shirt and trousers. He walks on stage, strips off his horrible corporate attire to reveal black disco pants and a red silk shirt. He sings, “She’s a Lady.”

WHAT MEN DON'T LIKE
“Men don’t do well being told their wives and girlfriends cheated,” he said. “We men have very fragile, pea-sized egos you see. We like to believe, true or not, that we’re ‘the guy’ with the biggest hard on. You understand? You tell this Kale friend of yours you fucked someone else. You will shoot down his mighty ego. My best advice: keep it to yourself.”

Denise stroked his arm and said, “Oh look at you Mr. Manly Man. You’re such a stud-muffin.” She stroked his arm like it was his ego, which metaphorically at this moment it was. When she stroked that shirt, I noticed the man, in fact, might have a nice body under that conservative façade. Look at me. I was focused on his muscles and not his words. Good God someone please take me to behind the woodshed, take aim, and fire. Maybe I was worse than a man. 

TAKE YOUR BIKINI BODY AND GO
Letty pouted and acted unhappy, because I was quitting. I stood there, staring into her sad brown eyes. She was adding receipts at the counter and looked down as she talked. “Oh fine! You go be a big rock star,” she moped.

“You mean screenwriter,” I chided her, hoping to lift her sour mood.

“Oh yeah, take your cute bikini ‘bod’ and go, fine, fine,” she continued to mope.

FUN WITH LETTY
“Letty!” I cried as she sprung on me and jumped me so that we fell backwards into my apartment onto the sage green carpet.

She was laughing uproariously and straddled me as I fell onto my back. She pretend slapped me for a moment and then got up. “Doll face!” she cried with enthusiasm. “Let’s get out of here! You look bored.”

I started laughing. She wasn’t my boss anymore, as I had said goodbye to what Kale had called “bikini hell”. Letty in true style and form wore a cropped mini-jean skirt with a pink t-shirt that clashed with her purple hair that said, “Up Yours!” She looked appropriately chic and rebellious all at once.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Time for a Funny Rant -- Stupid Guy Tricks

I have no idea other than curiously clicking on this how I got signed up for a Top Face account. Since when did a curious click give you an account on anything I don't know. Now I also don't know how to remove it either ... so there you go: I'm stuck! So since I appear stuck in Top Face hell, I will simply make fun of it and entertain you at the same time. Today's "interested" party sent me this photo, and let me describe it for you: A guy stooped over on his knees, hands clasped behind his neck, and head down in front of what is essentially a wide, open view of the ocean. It's also a black-and-white shot. What about this is sexy or appealing? Beautiful and artistic, yes. (One comment: If I were sitting on a beach of all places I would not be looking down but at the beautiful view.) Can I see a face, no. Does it look full of angst, despair, and dare I say, grief? Yes. Would anyone woman in her sane, right mind date this gentlemen? Um, well, no. That picture while aesthetically pleasing would not even hang in my house as a piece of art it's so depressing. The logic behind some guy using this to date women is so beyond my brain's capacity to produce a thought, I can't even think of anything witty to say about it. Other gems I would like to, err, make fun of include the 16-year-old boy photos. I know that I look "youthful" for my age, but come on! Most 16-year-old boys don't really want to date a woman my age. I got lots of those invites too! I just had a 28-year-old ask for me to respond too. How old am I compared to a 28-year-old? What's the game? Oh yeah, colder, cold, luke warm, no ... cold! Not even close friend-Os. Not even close! Again, since I can't get off this stupid site, I guess I will continue to get a glimpse into online dating, and why I am happily not participating ... EVER!

Movie Review: We Bought a Zoo

I went to the movie We Bought a Zoo, and I was pleased discover this movie was another film that is about a writer turned zookeeper. Anything about a writer who takes an adventure is a great premise for me. Before I launch into the guts of my thoughts here, I want to say I thought this was a children's movie. It contains children, yes, but I would not call it a children's movie. It had adult themes about loss, love and family, but it was not like a viewing of Toy Story. At specific parts, I had some tears welling up in my eyes. I don't know that children will be moved in the same emotional way since they may not fully understand what is being expressed in those scenes. The good news, older children will appreciate the kids and animals.

Matt Damon gives a nice performance as a dad left widowed after his wife is presumably taken by cancer (they never say, but it seems obvious). He and his children (a seven-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy) are still grieving and coping. Damon soon decides to start over and finds himself drawn to the idea of buying this zoo. What comes with the zoo, a menagerie of characters who work there. Of course, the story is your typical fish-out-water experience as Damon's character learns how to manage a zoo and deal with numerous unexpected costs. The plus points about the movie, the story is honest about grief and while Damon has a love interest, he does not plunge headlong into a new relationship and quickly forget the old. The movie fully explores his loss even to the very end. I respected that the storytellers didn't think his wife could be easily replaced and forgotten.

Overall, I was engaged in the movie, but then found myself getting antsy. What does that mean? I would give it 2.5 or 3 stars. It bogged down a little bit in some parts such as the decision to buy the zoo; the financial stuff; and the love story with the teens wasn't realistic. Let me comment on that love story for a moment. I felt that most respective 14 and 12 year olds don't declare their "love" at such a young age -- that felt odd and inappropriate. At least they didn't have these young actors kissing, which would have felt wrong too since the girl (Dakota Fanning's younger sister) was only 12.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Manuel's Murals was Selected as 3L Publishing's First Children's Book

We are presented with dozens of concepts and ideas for children's book. In fact, I have been pitched more children's books ideas than adult fiction. I resisted doing a children's book for a number of reasons.

1. Cost of color print runs is expensive and makes it difficult to make a project profitable.
2. Most authors wanted to force a particular illustrator on the project. Most of those illustrations were subpar. (Hint: You think it's cute to use your kindergarteners to illustrate a book, and maybe it's a sweet idea, but it is still a bunch of five-year-olds' drawings you're suggesting for a professional book you hope will become a classic.)
3. Costs to hire a professional illustrator are very expensive. Again, the added cost makes it difficult to turn a profit on not only a labor-intensive and expensive project, but also a full-color book (as noted above).

Those three issues alone kept 3L Publishing from jumping into this market. I didn't not want our first illustrated children's book to be anything less than spectacular. I can now proudly share that we hit our mark. Jeaninne Kato's brand new Manuel's Murals should be off press in about two weeks. The book is absolutely visually stunning (see that cover alone). The success in working with Jeaninne is that while she initially had some different ideas about the illustrations, she did listen to me when I told her that to do it right she would have to have the ideal illustrator. She is a smart woman, and she understood the value of the investment and the importance of hiring a professional. As a result, her book is just what we hoped it would be -- an incredible story that contains beautifully illustrated, vibrant images children will love. The perfect children's book balances the story with the visuals. The story has to draw in readers, and the pictures have to keep young children's attention.

You can pre-order the book on the 3L website. For more information about the book, visit Jeaninne's website on Tumblr at: http://manuelsmurals.tumblr.com.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Relatable Characters: Melancholia and Justine or California Girl Chronicles and Brea

The discussion about the likable or unlikable character sparked some responses on Tumblr particularly in reference to Justine in the movie Melancholia (Justine suffered severe depression and as a result did some pretty unlikable things). I was considering the discussion that suggested that her depression and behavior should be understandable since she was sick. I guess the discussion (for me) needed to veer toward whether or not you can relate to a character enough to sympathize with him or her. In Justine's case, I could not relate to her enough to understand what I felt was "unlikable" behavior. When I was younger I had my own bout with depression (certainly not as severe as Justine's case) but even while I spent a number of days crawled up in bed, I didn't do things to hurt others or lash out in passive-aggressive ways (e.g., her sex on the golf-course moment). Hence, I could not relate to her. Watching her behavior was more like watching someone through a lens albeit a camera lens and feeling more like a spectator. In other words, I didn't feel a part of the film. Really great movies do draw you in so you lose yourself. When you can't find a touchstone in a character then you're more likely to sit like I just describe and feel like a spectator.

Now let's compare that to my character Brea in California Girl Chronicles. When I wrote Brea, I wrote her as a misguided but fun young woman. What I did not expect was the number of older women who would later tell me how much they related to Brea (the younger gals I expected them to relate better). I never considered that the reader's ability to relate to her misguided behavior would generate fans. I sat with one such fan the other day who told me she went through so many of the same adventures in her younger days. She understood Brea's behavior. She saw it as much more than lust. I've had some reviewers only see it as lust. I won't deny Brea is a lustful young woman, but she is deeply conflicted and really wants love (don't we all). Her actions, while questionable, never come from a hardened place of malice or spite. She does things out of her desire for love, and she deeply regrets her mistakes nearly the minute she makes them. If she had come from a purely selfish place, readers would lose their abilities to relate, and hence, like her. You cannot have a heroine expected to carry a book series do unlikeable things, because over time the fans will not like her and lose interest and rooting value in her journey.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Warm Thank You to the Growing Fan Base of California Girl Chronicles

Dear California Girl Chronicles Supporters,


I want to thank so many of you who have been so gracious and supportive of my book in its early release. I am honored and thrilled to have so many Brea lovers. You are doing so many things to support my efforts: Girlfriends giving it as presents to other girlfriends; Facebook followers sending me pictures of the book in various poses; fans and friends of the book posting some 20 positive Amazon reviews; and so many others who have spoken to me or written me notes about Brea. You have embraced Brea as a good friend. This small and growing fan base is what will expand the book now and into the future. The TV show development is under way, and we truly expect some kind of deal in 2012. In the meantime, you all have touched my heart in so many ways. I thank each and every person who has reached out to help me. I am blessed to have so much love and support!


With warm gratitude,
Michelle

The Hardest Job in Publishing -- Proofing!

I bet those of you in publishing will raise your hand when I say this: the hardest job in publishing a book is the proofing. Proofing the final products is an all-hands-on-deck process. When you work with 3L Publishing, we involve our authors, editors and anyone else who can read the final product with a fresh set of eyes. I recently encountered difficulties with California Girl Chronicles. We found numerous mistakes after the book was printed. Fortunately, I am the publisher too, and I had the far-thinking wisdom not to do a huge print run on the first edition. I have learned from experience that no matter how hard we try, something always gets missed. In this case, it also gave me the opportunity to adjust some character development issues. The revised edition is full of new material, and I entirely rewrote it. If you read the first edition, and you want to read the newly added scenes (we'll call this the "director's cut") then send me an email at info@3LPublishing.com. I will give you free of charge the PDF of the new version.

I also felt the first edition was too cluttered in the writing and needed a rewrite. I broke it apart and smoothed it out to make it easier to read. Many of you were perfectly happy with the first edition, but I thought it could be better. I am always striving to improve my work and when the opportunity presented itself to make some revisions, I happily seized the chance.

Now for the rest of the grammar police out there ... before you cast stones at books with a few minor errors, please realize the average books contains 50,000 words. It is a monumental job to get all 50,000 words right. I can assure you when you run into a problem, the author probably doesn't want to hear it anymore. Unless the printer ran amok and somehow destroyed the entire prose, you would be wise not to bug the author about it. I would especially caution you not to bring it up if you found only one mistake. It's like baking a six-story cheesecake that tastes sublime only to have someone tell you, "But there is a tiny spec of dust at the top." Remember people ... 50,000 words ... just count them!

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Funny Moments with Brea from California Girl Chronicles, book two


My favorite funny moments from book two of California Girl Chronicles, Brea’s Big Break: 
REAL BODY PARTS
“And you think you’re going to get somewhere with me like that?” I flatly asked.
Johnny looked up, quit eating, and looked me right in the eyes. “Fuck no!” he retorted. “You’re hot and nice. I like you. And I like that you have real body parts,” he chuckled as he looked down to take another bite.
I looked down at my body parts and nodded, “Yep! Real! No one would purposefully make their boobs this small,” I said with a laugh. 
I CUT HER HAIR
As Johnny talked about the business and his encounters on various movie sets, I started to like him. He was candid and enthusiastic about acting and his craft. He mentioned his last girlfriend was a major film star, but he would not divulge whom. He did say he met her when he played a small role in her film. He said she was down-to-earth but had this strange obsession with her hair. She wanted to become famous for her hair like Jennifer Aniston. He thought it was a crazy goal, and he said her hair was okay but that it wasn’t likely going to create a national sensation.
“Why’d you break up?” I asked.
“I cut her hair off,” he said totally kidding and laughing with a gregarious outburst. 
OBSERVATIONS ON AMERICAN’S ENTHUSIASM
“You know Americans are the only ones who get all excited and say they love shit,” he suddenly offered. “We’re like the most enthusiastic nation! Other people say, ‘Hey, I like it,’ but not us, man. We love everything!”
DRINKING …
She glanced at me, “How was your trip?”
“Bizarre … and nice,” I sighed.
“How’s that?” she asked nonchalantly.
“Um, well, I don’t know how to describe it. Johnny asked me. Ryan, his roommate, had sex with me.”
Denise’s eyes grew big, and she sat up and shifted toward me, “What?”
“Don’t ask me,” I said with a sigh.
“Why did you screw the friend?” she asked.
“I was drunk,” I replied.
“Oh, got it,” she said, laughed and nodded.

My Favorite Picture of Alexander Skarsgard and My Unpopular Opinion

All right since you all voted with your page views about the blue sweater picture, which was just a picture I posted to make a point, I am going to vote on one of my favorite pictures. I love this one. It's very dark and sinister, and it reminds me of True Blood. I don't think it really even looks like him in his "unvarnished" state, but it's my favorite shot regardless. I love the blue tint to it among many other things. So, there you go -- my personal favorite.

P.S. I know many of you are going to throw tomatoes and other assorted vegetables at me for saying this: but I noticed on Tumblr, fans are clamoring for more current shots of Skarsgard out in public. Again, I can already feel the tomatoes pelting my head, but I am not encouraging more of his private moment shots be taken. The paparazzi are awful! Have you seen them dog celebrities? I personally think it's fantastic when a celebrity consciously sits down for a photo session to get new pictures taken. I think it's another thing altogether when a celebrity is out privately working out, eating breakfast or shopping, and paparazzi are taking random shots. I noticed posts in regards to a recent piece of gossip that someone had seen Skarsgard working out at the LA-based gym Equinox. The reason you probably didn't get to see a new shot of him after his workout at a high-profile gym like Equinox is because they probably don't allow their clientele to be photographed while in the gym. I could be wrong, but I think I'm probably right. So, okay, I'm picking the tomato bits out of my hair. Thank you for respecting my possibly unpopular opinion.

Funny Moments from California Girl Chronicles

It's a holiday and a Monday, so I thought today would be a great day to have a little fun on the blog. I wrote California Girl Chronicles to include humor. What I did not realize is that the humor would be one of the stand-out parts of the book (I kind of thought all that sex would eclipse the humor ... just saying). It turns out the humorous parts are being praised by both readers and critics. So, it's a holiday, and I feel some fun coming on. Here are some humorous moments from book one Brea and the City of Plastic.


Hungrier than Horny
I decided no way was Lance going to get the “pooty” unless he paid for a great meal. I also felt he should make an effort at some kind of real conversation perhaps over at least raspberry muffins and Folgers coffee at Denny’s coffee shop. Food is food – and I’m hungrier than I am horny. 
Clean Teeth or McNuggets
When we passed a McDonald’s, I had an urge to ask for a Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal. “Oh, a little honey and pressed-chicken stuff would satisfy my hunger,” I thought and nixed the idea. He was probably Vegan or some anti-fast-food hater. He might be really grossed out that I like nuggets (most people are, Vegan or not), and the date would be over. I once told a guy I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in a year, and he broke up with me. I quickly went to the dentist and never mentioned that faux pas ever again – at least not to a potential lover and/or boyfriend. 
Rockin' Rock Band
“These guys rock,” Lance said enthusiastically. He wasn’t looking at me anymore. The guy who wore white also mesmerized him. I wondered if Lance realized he said a rock band rocked?
Hamburger or Hotdog
“Do you meet women who try to seduce you for jobs?” I asked and grinned. “You’re pretty hot. I can only imagine young actresses all over your shit.”

Kale frowned and replied, “That’s not how I roll, sweetheart. I respect women. My mother is a scientific genius who works as a professor at MIT. She raised me right. You don’t treat women like hamburger, and they won’t treat you like hotdog.”
Coconuts
I reluctantly took my tiny, white sundress that was no more than soft cotton with a palm-tree print on the front that said, “Love my coconuts.” I tried to hide my scorn and darted into the dressing room where tried-on bikinis were still hanging on the hooks. 
Pout for You

My best friend Denise glided into the room and heard me laughing to myself. She knew not to interrupt me, but she positioned herself right at the kitchen counter where I couldn’t miss her. She was sipping a screwdriver. I thought it was early for a drink, but didn’t say anything. She seemed rosy and flush. “What the hell, Brea?” she asked. “Are you laughing alone? You’re like an alcoholic drinking alone. Pout for you. How sad.”

“Who’s the alcoholic?” I motioned to her drink.

She cracked a smile and replied, “Who me? This is orange juice,” she said and winked. 
I'm a Super Hero Now

“I think that was the best sex I’ve ever had,” I replied and reached across to wipe the sweat off his brow.

This suggestion seemed to intrigue him. He looked at me with this strange grin and replied, “Really? You? Me?”

I sighed, leaned into him, kissed his lips, and replied, “Quite right.”

“All right, look at me. I’m a man now,” he declared facetiously. “Sweetheart, you made me a man. I think … no, I know, I have superpowers too. See what you did! Now I’ll have to save the world or something. Or just make a movie about it.”

 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

California Girl Chronicles: Chapter 1

I have a treat for you right before Christmas. I revised book one for the second print run. I did an early focus group for the book, but after a broader "micro" release of the book, I received some feedback I liked and wanted to incorporate before the book goes national into the bookstores this spring. Now several producers are interested in making this book into a TV series. In fact, I am in serious talks with one production company, and their head decision-makers loved the first version; but you can always improve your work. I had the opportunity to do so.

P.S. A little CGC trivia fun. Brea is pronounced: Bre-e. Where did I get the name? I call my daughter two nicknames, Bree and Lulu. In book two watch for Brea to say her sister's name ;).

Now back to the changes ...

I did four important revisions:

  • Narrative: I took out the colloquial expressions and tamed it. Most readers understood that as a first-person narrative, I was staying in her voice. Some readers, who decided to measure this against traditional narrative, did not appreciate the non-traditional approach. So, I revised my technique without stripping her voice, which is important.
  • Drew, our resident bad boy, needed a clearer motivation for his behavior (I thought). I didn't want to be "on the nose" in adding his background to help explain his actions. So, I rewrote some Drew material to point readers in the right direction.
  • Kale and Brea: aren't they fun? Their witty banter is so enjoyable to "sit in on". I wanted to show more layers to their relationship other than their obvious physical chemistry. I wanted readers to see more of their natural chemistry as a couple. So, I added more conversations. I also dropped some more hints related to Kale's character development that become more fully explored in book two. Kale becomes more complicated in book two, and I planted a hint about what he says and ultimately does that are in direct conflict. 
  • Brea at work: I wanted readers to see more to Brea than her relationships and her bikini job. I wanted to form the basis for her professional life that is front and center in book two. In this version, you will see Brea work on her script, but in humorous ways. She tends to quip and joke through her comments in her writing. I think readers will find this funny and interesting about what a screenplay actually looks like. 
So here is an excerpt from the revised first half of chapter 1. Please enjoy. The re-released book will be available in two weeks. 

1

I am the ideal California girl born and raised in the great state famous for sun and fun. I have blond hair, blue eyes, and a fake tan. You know no respectable California girl would actually lay in the sun anymore without sunscreen, right? I’m practical and smart. No way I’m going to be 40 with a bad case of basal-cell carcinoma aka skin cancer. Although I do find it logical to slather 50-proof sunscreen on my skin, let it gradually tan, and add golden spray on top of it. You can’t be taken seriously as a true California girl with white skin. Even Irish descendants know that a well-sculpted spray tan is a girl’s best friend. I find it odd when my best friend Denise, who has wonderful brunette hair, gets an orange-looking spray tan. I’ve never said this to her, but she looks like an Ompa Loompa – and not the little green-hair-colored midgets from the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She looks more like the cute dudes in the modern version with the different title of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that stars Johnny Depp. I think Johnny Depp is sexy, but now he is around 50-years-old – and that’s kind of “pervy” and gross. Let me clarify that I am 22 years old. He could be my dad. I don’t want to have sex with a guy who looks old enough to be my father.

I defy all of the stereotypes about blonds. I am actually a slightly “geeky” and bright California girl. People see the blond hair and think I’m stupid or my IQ is around Forest Gump’s level, which as I remember he had an IQ right below the borderline that would put students in special education. What throws everyone off is that I’m very smart. I managed to get my first bachelor’s degree at 21 from Sacramento State University, which is located in my hometown. I earned my bachelor’s degree in three years, which all my friends took five to six years. Sometimes, though, my teachers talked to me really slow like I was a dimwit. I rolled my eyes and would respond in the most eloquent way.

“So Brea, what did you think about The Stranger?” asked Professor Nelson, peering down at me through his spectacles that looked straight out of Jeffrey Dahmer’s eye doctor’s office.

“Which one? The book by Camus or the movie directed by Orson Welles?” I quietly replied without looking at him. He was silent, which made me look up into Professor Nelson’s dark eyes that flickered in surprise. His reaction was a common one and always amused me. I would also make things slightly worse by painting my fingernails on my desktop and only half listening to his lectures. Professors never said anything about this stinky, toxic habit (to my surprise), but I think they “crushed” on me anyway so I got away with it.

Sometimes I didn’t make a lot of friends in class. I’m gifted in English and writing. My other classmates hated me. I only attended half of the lectures and still got perfect test scores. They worked hard and grumbled it wasn’t fair. One girl had the nerve to “tell on me” to the teacher, who was blessedly one of my admirers. He admonished her for not minding her own business. I just shrugged and winked at her. She slammed her books on the desk, sat down, and folded her arms against her chest.

When I started graduate school, one guy named Lance sat next me in every class and stared at me. He had super intense green eyes that were as translucent as clear water. He was very tall and stood 6’ 4”. When he walked into a room his height made him stand out. I have a fetish for tall men. I don’t know what it is about a tall, sexy, and well-built guy, but it’s so appealing to me. So Lance sat next to me in every class and either consciously or unconsciously stared at me. I kept wondering if he was going to ask me out. Lance is an engineering student about to graduate who had to take a few English classes to finish his degree. He was pretty good at writing, though, and I found it aggravating that he was good at math and English. It didn’t seem fair to me. I am decidedly not gifted at math and science.

One evening, Lance was staring again. It was the last day of class. I was writing down something when I turned and found his eyes fixed on me. “Lance, are you going to graduate soon?” I asked out of curiosity.

“Yes,” he smiled with pride and continued, “PG&E is hiring me down south in LA,” he replied. “I move in about a month.”

I nodded and thought it was too bad he was moving. Yet he never asked me out so what did I care if he moved? Just as I thought this, he started to leave, stopped, and stared. “Jesus, what is it with the staring?” I thought to myself.

“Hey, can I have your phone number?” he asked. “We could go out sometime.”

Now the staring made sense, but he just said he was leaving. “Well, I’m not marrying him, so what the heck?” I thought. I gave him my phone number. Maybe we could go out during the holiday break. “At least I’ll have a date on New Year’s Eve,” I thought. “Sure,” I heard myself say aloud as I wrote down my number on a piece of paper from my notebook, tore it out, and handed it to him. 

A few days later, Lance called and asked me to dinner. I was pretty excited. I have to admit his piercing light-green eyes melted me. So I invited him over to pick me up. I live alone in an apartment with this gas fireplace that lights up when you flip a light switch. It’s really quite disturbing to be able to light a fire with a light switch. I personally think you should use wood and a match. I don’t know why I’m telling you this information. It’s an unimportant detail about my apartment. I think, though, it says something about the place. It also suggests I don’t have much money to afford an apartment with a real fireplace.

Lance showed up on time. Nice! I like a guy who has good manners and doesn’t think it’s sexy to leave me waiting. I’m dressed in my best skin-tight black skirt, black leather boots, and a dark purple angora sweater that hugs my breasts perfectly. The sweater sends out the message: perky, average-sized, and hot! My long blond hair is softly curled and left loose. I just bought this Smashbox makeup case and played with the eye pigments, trying to create smoky eyes with the purple and black. I figured this would be attractive and alluring, according to Cosmo, which I don’t read but glance at when I get my hair cut. I also recently started messing with fake eyelashes, but I try to make sure it’s not obvious. Nothing is worse than someone saying, “Nice fake eyelashes.”

I heard the perfectly timed knock on the door. I pulled my skirt straight, peered through the peephole, and swung open the door – and there stood Lance in all his hotness dressed in an Ed Hardy t-shirt and jeans. “Hmm, not too casual and definitely sexy,” I thought. He held out daisies and smiled with this uncomfortable look. “Daisies? Not exactly red roses, but flowers are flowers and that’s a sweet gesture,” I thought. I took them from him and stepped backward to let him through.

“Hi,” I said, “come on in.”

“Hey,” he replied. He looked uncomfortable, standing there with this boyish look on his clear, milky complexion.

“Let me put these in water,” I said.

I turned to head toward my kitchen to the left. I suddenly felt two hands wrapped around my waist. He briskly swung me around. Without warning, Lance kissed me with fierce passion. I was stunned and taken off guard. I was being pushed into my dining-area table. It’s not exactly a room, but more of an extension of my living room – and the table is not that big (it’s only made for two). I was not sure how to react. I enjoyed the kiss, but I was not ready to have sex on the tiny table that will surely break anyway. It’s not very big and pretty old. My dad’s friend gave it to him, and he gave it to me. It wobbled ready to crash. I tried with all my strength (did I tell you I’m tall but very petite) to push off this big man. I finally escaped his grip and moved away. I stared at him, trying to muster up true indignation all the while more attracted to him than ever. I set the daisies on the nearest counter and glared at him. He now stood there with this impish and half-embarrassed look on his face. “I’ve wanted to do that for months,” he admitted enthusiastically.

I adjusted my clothes and grabbed the daisies, crossed around the counter, and walked into the kitchen. I opened a cabinet, pulled out a red vase, and tossed the daisies in. I wondered if I should fill them with water, but I figured daisies are hardy flowers – well, they are technically weeds – and decided to leave them there. I walked back around and just stood there, waiting for him to open the door. I also hoped he would offer an apology for attacking me.

“Can I kiss you again?” he suddenly asked.

“Interesting,” I thought. “He’s not apologizing but at least he’s asking to kiss me this time.” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or give in. He smelled pretty good, and he eyed me with those damned sexy eyes again. I pondered the proposition and realized he intended to skip dinner. Now I am an editor on a local magazine, but I don’t make much money. A free dinner was definitely on my list of ways to skip a trip to the grocery store. I decided no way was Lance going to get the “pooty” unless he paid for a great meal. I also felt he should make an effort at some kind of real conversation perhaps over at least raspberry muffins and Folgers coffee at Denny’s coffee shop. Food is food – and I’m hungrier than I am horny. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Fictional Characters

When you fall in love with a fictional character, they become your friend. I have been thinking about this since my character Brea in California Girl Chronicles now gets talked about like she's a real person. I had a "fan" start to argue with me about her the other day. I actually dropped the argument. It was silly. She's not an actual person, and I know what motivates her better than anyone else. When readers are this invested in a character then the author has done his or her job and created a well-developed character people love to love. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite fictional characters both on screen and on paper and why.

Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie) -- you're perhaps puzzled about a choice from juvenile fiction. Laura was, of course, a real person but her prairie stories were mostly fictional accounts of her young life on the Great Plains as a pioneer girl. I fell in love with her when I was 10 years old. I read and re-read her adventures at least 10 times each. She was my generation's Harry Potter (for me). Laura was spunky and experienced angst like all little girls. She loved her family, and when she fell in love with her husband, I fell in love too. Her work was a reflection of an old-fashioned spirit and time. As a young girl, I loved the Ingalls family and Laura. I craved more, and when I was old enough I read her real autobiography. I came to understand her life as a real person, and I loved it too. In fact, it was the real Laura who inspired me to become a writer. And here I am now with my own book series with my own character who is much, much different but certainly a reflection of an updated outspoken and contemporary female character that my readers do love to love.

Eric Northman -- I know here we go from innocence to anything but with our 1,000-year-old vampire. Eric in True Blood is similar to the book Eric in many ways. As a fan of the show, it's hard not to read Eric in the books the same way he is played by Alexander Skarsgard. It's almost a chicken-before-the-egg characterization for me. I didn't read the books until I watched True Blood. So I almost naturally inserted the actor's voice into the books. What do I like about Eric in both the books and series? He's smart, complicated, guarded (most of the time), fiercely loyal, and sexy. He was characterized as a villain in the first season of the show, but I don't see him that way at all. He's a vampire, and excuse the banality, vampire is as vampire does. His love for Pam, Sookie and his maker Godric (in the show version) not the books endeared him to me. I have to be honest. I only read the Eric/Sookie stories in the books. I do prefer the TV series for the rest of the storytelling. Although I read almost all of the last book Dead Reckoning, but only because I was on a cruise ship with nothing else to read. I'm not going to knock Harris' books -- I respect all authors who create a best-selling series and obviously she appeals to a broad audience.

Isak Dinesen -- she is the author of Out of Africa. Now my love of this character is complicated. I didn't fall in love with her reading Out of Africa. I fell in love with her in the film, and then I read the real Out of Africa, which is nothing like the film. She's not a cookie-cutter person you love to love. Her book Out of Africa was like reading an homage to the continent. It was a pleasant diversion, but I love her because she lived some a rich, complicated life. Again, the movie doesn't truly reflect that life accurately not according to her biography. The love affair with Robert Redford's character was dramatically changed in many ways. From her biography, I got the impression he wasn't necessarily the love of her life the way the film depicted it. She had a big life -- and for a woman of her time that was trailblazing and interesting.

Sergeant Brad Colbert from Generation Kill -- I know he's a real person. I just have to say, the book and the mini series depiction (because they're very closely mirrored in dialog) revealed a quiet but sharp man with impeccable calm in the midst of chaos. He says some of the best lines in both the book and the series since they're aligned. I love the "Iceman" for his wit, and how he constantly tells babbling brook on Rip Fuel Ray Person to "shut the fuck up". I think he says "shut up Ray" at least a hundred times. Other classic one-liners, "Turn and we're money." I know these could be construed as trite, but you have to love lines like, "It's an affront to my warrior spirit."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wow! What is about the blue-green sweater??

Okay, I am blown out of the water. You ought to see the number of hits Mr. Skarsgard's (aka Eric on True Blood) sweater picture is getting! I posted that as a lark and to discuss Tumblr blogging. I have to tell you, I don't think anyone is reading anything I said as much as they're gazing at the sweater!! I had no idea that sweater had its own fan base. Maybe the sweater needs a shrine all by itself. You all love the sweater. All hail the blue sweater is all I'm going to say.

One final note: he does fill out the sweater rather well ;).

Blog Content in Moderation

Continuing my discussion about building a following on Tumblr, I wanted to pick up on some pieces of advice I was given by other Tumblr bloggers. One very nice fellow said just to repost snippets from the Internet and grab photos. I'm not comfortable grabbing photos all over the place unless I took the photo then I don't mind. So, I wouldn't necessarily suggest that one as a piece of advice to follow. I even squirmed grabbing the blue-green sweater (see below) to illustrate my point about the sweater in the True Blood series. So my advice about photos is ask permission unless it's in the public domain. I know the Internet is the "Wild West" when it comes to copyright, but I guess I'm just not a gunslinger.

The other piece of advice about posting small snippets is good to a point. Small snippets work best on social media like Facebook or Twitter. On a blog site like Tumblr you need to go deeper. Tumblr is what is called a "blogger-sphere" aimed at the blogging community. People expect you to really blog. No, you don't always have to go deep into a discussion, and it's a good idea not to always go too deep (your readers may lose interest). It does give you a wider berth to express opinions and ideas. If you do nothing more than post items that are just one-liners, though, your readers may lose interest too. So, do try and provide fresh content and don't go too short or too long. I personally think about 1-2 paragraphs is about the perfect length to satisfy. Oh, I know ... moderation! Works for everything doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alexander Skarsgård's Infamous Blue Sweater is WAY more Popular than Brea's Bikini :(

Season 3's infamous blue sweater!
All right I am learning all sorts of interesting tidbits of information about what works on Tumblr. I will keep sharing with all of you as I go along. Then maybe you can avoid feeling the need to post naked pictures as the only sage words of advice offered from another article I read. No, don't keep going to my Tumblr page to look for advised birthday suit pictures as you will never find any. Sorry! So, yesterday I posted this wonderful picture of Mr. Skarsgard's infamous green sweater that made a long-running guest appearance throughout at least three different episodes in True Blood's season three. This bluish-green number went through the ringer as I recall. It ended up with some nice blood splatter by the time it completed its appearance. I was posting absolutely useless trivia about the sweater and the show's wardrobe choices. Guess what? My useless and inane chatter resulted in an absolute deluge of "heart" icons which mean likes.

Reality check time when you use Tumblr to market your book or product. While fan sites are the rage and people want to see pictures of their hunk du jours, don't be surprised if your book gets pretty much ignored. The best I can offer is to somehow slip your book in context with the discussions on the fan sites. What I've done to keep its name out there and focus more on literary discussions about Charlaine Harris' Sookie books and mention how I wrote Brea to be a strong heroine much like Sookie, which is true. By doing this, I am actually introducing Brea to prospective new readers who enjoy that kind of character -- and as a result, I am introducing my brand! Yes, I am introducing the California Girl Chronicles name brand to a broad audience in hopes of attracting fans out of this cloud of interest. Engaging with popular topics has allowed me to do this. As a result, I am able to slowly build followers too. They aren't yet interested in Brea as much as they're interested in Mr. Skarsgard IN the blue sweater, but 1 out of 25 lovers became a new follower. So you see: it works! And this Friend-Os is the best piece of Tumblr advice you will find outside of strip and post it. Post to popular topics and then massage your message into the discussions. Someday Brea will be popular and have her own fan sites, but right now it's about building that following.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Smell a Rat Baby ...

So, in this recent small spat of mean-spirited critiques on my book from people who are such pussies they can't leave a legit name on these attacks, I decided to take a closer look at California Girl Chronicles. First, I am almost out of the first print run, and I thought this would be a very good time to assess it. I received some valued comments from some readers I respect. I decided I agreed with these educated and respectful opinions that were not delivered to me in a thinly veiled hate message. I actually got very excited to make these revisions. I love the fact that this information came to me right as I was preparing to do the print run to provide the books for the Oscar parties. As a writer, I also encourage my authors to do focus groups. I also think you have to open your heart to make changes that would improve your work. I don't think I am the last word on what makes a great story or even a great book. I'm fishing through creativity like the most of you.

One last note: please don't read California Girl Chronicles like it's meant to be some great literary achievement. It's not meant to be anything more than pure escapist fun. Readers who know me know very well that I have clearly said this from day one. I wrote the book to give people a couple of hours of good, old escape from real life. In that respect, it has done its job. Readers happily go off to Brea's make-believe wild world of fun and fantasy. If you read this book with the expectation that it's the next Catcher in the Rye, well, you will be disappointed, it's not. In fact, I had no idea it would be even get as much attention from Hollywood producers as it has received. The producers love the concept of Entourage meets Sex in the City. Their interest has been happy fallout from the book. Finally ... word to the mo' fo' ... if you're going to have the nerve to slam my book with your "righteous" knowledge of grammar how about you spell the word grammar right. Just saying ... Oh, and maybe add your real name too! What's the words to that song: "I smell a rat, baby."

Things I Do When I Can't Sleep

Another bout of insomnia later ... and I decided to make a little list of things I do when Tinker Bell forgets the magic fairy dust and doesn't give me tickets to the Sleep Train. See if you can relate to my list.

1. Lay in bed and worry
2. Lay in bed and worry some more
3. Lay in bed and worry some more and get up and grab a drink of water
4. Lay in bed and worry some more then decide chocolate sounds good
5. Lay in bed and worry some more then get up and grab more water
6. Lay in bed and worry and remember who I forgot to buy Christmas presents for this year
7. Lay in bed and worry that I worry too much and how unhealthy that is for my mind
8. Lay in bed and worry that I'm attracting more worry to my life
9. Lay in bed and worry that I'm going to get fat from the chocolate I consumed at midnight
10. Lay in bed and worry and finally fall asleep from worry and exhaustion

Tomorrow's topic: what I write about when I can't think of what to write about.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Favorite Fan Tumblr Blogs

I am learning so much about how to work with Tumblr and create a following for Brea's Blog. I am still learning, and I suspect I have a long way to go. In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple of tips and my favorite bloggers/blogs.

1. I noticed you need to find common ground and interests with your Tumblr "mates". I am a huge True Blood fan. I love other shows too, but the show has so many compelling characters that I find interesting to discuss with others. It is also based on Charlaine Harris' book series, which gives it even more fodder to discuss as opposed to just the TV show. So I started following some of the Tumblr blogs that focus more generally on the books and show than just an obsession with a single character on the show. Believe me when I say there are some serious (and I mean serious) fan sites on Tumblr. I want to comment on that for a moment. Wow! The amount of time some of these fan sites devote to their favorite actor just blows me away. I barely have time to keep my business and book marketing going let alone surf the Internet to amass some of the most obscure photos and information these sites gather. In some ways, I would find it somewhat overwhelming if I were one of those actors, but I digress ...

2. Participate in your community of interest. Once you start participating in your community of interest versus just blogging your own content you will start to attract followers. I'm not saying don't put good content on your site. I'm just suggesting that if you do run out of fresh material or ideas, go Tumble with your mates. You will enjoy the discussions too. I've found that the more literary-interested channels are in a small way like a book club. You get to dissect your favorite subject and hear some refreshing perspectives on the material. I am really enjoying that part.

3. Keep your content interesting, fresh and relevant. I had one person suggest I re-blog other Internet information. I prefer to write my own content or at least comment on the content provided. Since I am promoting my creative projects, I want to post material from those projects and provide commentary about it too. If you are a fan of my new book California Girl Chronicles, Brea's Blog is where you'll unearth many nuggets about book two and updates on the book's progress with Hollywood.

Now for my two favorite fan-specific Tumblr blogs:

Unreconstructed Fangirl -- this is devoted to being (what else) an authentic and very literate and intelligent "fan girl". She's quite a writer. Her snippets don't reveal her talent. Go read her entire "essays" (I guess you would call them that). I enjoy her analysis of her favorite characters among them Sookie and Eric from True Blood. She's really good! I have been thoroughly enlightened by her thoughtful dissection of the show. Thank you Fangirl for being such an intelligent fan!

Still Hidden or Irrelevant -- not sure what to call this Tumblr site. The icon says Still Hidden and the site says Irrelevant. Needless to say, this authors' comments are pretty far from irrelevant, if you ask me. This one contains another wealth of limitless discussions on a variety of topics, but it does tend to favor True Blood discussions. I love it. Again, anther big thank you to the authors for keeping it interesting.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Immortality and Low Blood Sugar


I haven’t widely shared yet, but I am working on a new book titled We’re All Dead. It’s a parody of the vampire and zombie craze. Here is the preface so you know what it’s about, and then the short excerpt. Remember, it’s a parody even if the preface sounds somewhat serious.
Summary
It’s the year 3010 and the great Apocalypse of Death is nearing the end. After 50 years of death, war and destruction, the zombies, vampires and humans are about to take their last stand. At stake – the survival of the human race.
Zombies and vampires have brought the human race to the verge of extinction. Now only a small population of humans have survived, which has created a great famine for vampires. The head of the vampires Colonel Baptista has declared all zombies must be annihilated. His rival necromancer General Doc Wilhelm, though, has a secret weapon – one that is sure to kill all of the remaining humans, and therefore, eliminate the food source of the vampires and destroy their race as well.
And then zombies will rule the world.  
Excerpt from Chapter 2
“Shut up! It’s your job to know these things … brother!” I hissed at him. “We can’t let these putrid zombies kill our food supply. They’ve already infected half the human race. What do you suppose will happen when there are no humans left you walking, talking idiot?”
“But we’re immortal,” he said with a vacant stare.
“We’ll starve and live forever hungry and irritable like I am now! Always! It will be immortality and low blood sugar.”
This is just a fun project we’re doing for a limited release at the Sci-Fi cons. Who knows if it will pick up steam, but we thought it would be fun to take our useless knowledge of vamps and zombies and just have a little fun. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My All-Time Favorite True Blood Dialog

I wish I could remember all of the fantastic one liners and dialog I pick up on my favorite shows. I don't notice one liners in books so much. Maybe because I can't hear them said aloud. Well, the show that shines with a plethora of fantastic one-liners is True Blood. I know you all know it's one of my favorites, and the throw-away lines have a little something to do with it. So I thought for fun, and since it's Saturday, I would post a list of my top favorites. See if you like them too.


Pam to Arlene's kids: “You make me so happy I never had any of you.”
Eric: “Now come on, Pam, they're funny. They're like humans, but miniature -- teacup humans.” (
This is my favorite one-liner of all time on the show).



Eric: "Is there blood in my hair?"
Lafayette: "I... I don't know. I can't see in this light."
Eric: "How about now?"
Lafayette: "Y... yeah t... there's a little bit of blood in there, yeah."
Eric: "This is bad. Pam is going to kill me."



Sookie to Eric: "How's your bullet wound?"
Eric to Sookie: "Well, it would have healed a lot faster if you had..."
Sookie to Eric: "I will never fall for that again."
Eric to Sookie: "Maybe the next time you shoot me."



My second all-time favorite out of Pam's mouth: "I'm so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina. And her unbelievably stupid name. Fuck Sookie!"


And this is completely unrelated, but on the You Tube MyFutureLover, this writer adds commentaries to clips that are slap yourself just funny. She used this once in place of the word "aw" and for whatever reason, it tickled me. So during this sweet moment between Eric and Sookie, she writes the word "squee" ... ah, I like that word ... "squee". 



Friday, December 16, 2011

This Wonderful Little Allegory is Brought to You by Nathan Gilbert

I love my Facebook friends! Feeling low and down and out for a number of reasons yesterday, I sought refuge among my "kin," who being loyal and caring "family" immediately rallied to my side. Here is what Nathan Gilbert sent me on Facebook, which I found hysterical. Enjoy! And keep it around if you're ever feeling particularly low one day:


I feel an allegory coming on: When I was a kid I loved to go to the zoo. But every time I went to see the chimpanzees, they would start throwing their turds at me. I was like, "what the hell was that for?" I started to take it really personally. What had *I* done to deserve a poop-hucking from these animals? Then I realized that they did this to everyone, they were really bored, and, frankly, dookie chucking is just what chimps do. After that I ignored it and even kinda felt sorry for their empty lives. Anyway. Internet message boards are like that: all heat and no light. Except instead of heat it's ape crap. Don't let it get you down, is all I'm saying. M'kay?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sitting in the Peppermill Lounge and Laughing About ...

I attended eWomen Reno networking last night. I had a complete blast with my girlfriends not just at the event but afterward when we all retired to the Peppermill lounge to chat and laugh. It got pretty funny, and I'm not going to specifically cite the culprits of this conversation. But after a drink, the mouths ran over. Pretty soon we began to explore the erotic nature of chocolate. As I sat with my partially consumed shot of Patron (yuck! I'm not drinking that anymore) and listened and participated in the "scrumptious" and dare I say decadent discussion of the various naughty ways one could use chocolate, I laughed until my side had a stitch. So I'll give you the highlight reel, which included uproarious explorations of what one could do with a chocolate-covered banana (your minds are going crazy now) or various chocolate dipping products one might imagine for various, how shall we say, erogenous zones.

As the evening progressed, we also discussed my book (two of the ladies have read it). Again, since I didn't ask permission to speak out of turn here, I am not going to say who I shared the evening with, but one gal actually told me she wanted more "raunch" in California Girl Chronicles. More? No, not just longer sex scenes as suggested by the San Francisco Book Review, but more graphic and vulgar material. Okay, I give up. I've now heard it all. One woman told me she was shocked over the "graphic" sex and another is telling me to "raunch it up". I can't win! You all just enjoy Brea, and what I can promise is, "Yes, there is plenty of sex." What I can't promise is whether or not it will satisfy you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My All-Time Favorite Characters

We all have our favorite characters we love to root for whether in fiction or on TV or film. So, I thought I would share my short list of my favorites and see if you agree. P.S., there is no particular order here. I couldn't say if I had a no. #1 or not. And for all of you writers out there, pay attention. Your favorite characters are so, because they are well-developed and given so much "life" that you suspend your disbelief and root for imaginary friends. The "imaginary" part is what makes the story telling process so unbelievably powerful -- that we would cry, laugh, scream and cheer them on (and they're not real people).

Sookie Stackhouse (Charlaine Harris' version not Alan Ball's version on True Blood) -- in the books Sookie is real, fierce, brave, outspoken, funny and independent. While the book Sookie would never give herself over to the idea that one should ask forgiveness after really doing nothing wrong (like Sookie did in the season 4 finale when she forgives Bill and asks for his forgiveness too ... um for what?), the TV version suffers from inconsistent writing (hint, hint). The book Sookie has no interest in being kept by Eric or sitting around "his house" and doing nothing. She wants to keep working and be independent. She's none too impressed when Eric covertly gets her to "marry" him, and she's brave and real. The TV Sookie possesses these traits too, but seriously, her relationship with Bill drives me ape shit (can we say Daddy complex?). The fact that they would push the "love" thing with Bill into her love affair with Eric -- totally ape shit! In the books, the love affair with Eric is the central relationship, and with the series soon to end, my best guess is she will definitely end up with Eric. Let's see if I'm right.

Carrie Bradshaw or Samantha Jones -- I love Sex in the City. While Carrie Bradshaw as portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker surprisingly turns off men I know, she was always interesting to watch. I adored her with Mr. Big the entire time. I liked Aidan all right (he was sweet), but Mr. Big was always Carrie's foil and right there to as she says in the second to the last episode "shit all over everything" whether he intended to or not. Samantha Jones is like the uber version of the sexpot in a very self-empowered way. I love that she shows no shame. After a brief dalliance with celibacy (remember the Yoga guy Sadartha), she gets frustrated and blatantly asks two guys, "Do you want to fuck?" which the second guy takes her up. Between classic lines like "funky spunk" and "bozo the bush," she had the best stuff to play. You have to love Samantha.

Margaret Schroeder, Boardwalk Empire -- a new character to add to my list. Complicated, mysterious and passive aggressive, Margaret was if nothing else a wee bit of an enigma. She was intense and interesting to watch. Was she good or bad? Was she moral or amoral? I can't say one way or the other. She tries to be good and has some kind of moral compass, but then she does sneaky things like sign away Nucky's land deal in the season finale. She seeks religious guidance and clearly feels guilty (as she should at times); she steals from Nucky; and she has an affair. But then again Nucky is no saint either. Does she love him? Who knows. She marries him though in the end. And for all those unanswered questions, she's a fascinating character.

Sergeant Brad Colbert (the book and series) -- I completely love the "Iceman" both in the book and series Generation Kill. This guy (who is real) says the best lines! And for the fact that he really said them makes him fun and interesting. Actually, almost every line that came out of Colbert's mouth was witty, clever and interesting. Here is a line up of some of them:

  • Back at Mathilda, he said he could hook me up with a free satellite TV.
  • Gentlemen, we just seized an airfield. That was pretty fucking ninja.
  • Point, Ray. I was one of those unfortunates adopted by upper middle-class professionals and nurtured in an environment of learning, art and a socio-religious culture steeped in more than 2000 years of Talmudic tradition. Not everyone is lucky enough to have been raised in a whiskey tango trailer park by a bow-legged female whose sole qualification for motherhood is a womb that happened to catch a sperm of a passing truck driver.
  • Stay Frosty.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing Sexual Tension: Part II

As a book coach (yes, 3L Publishing provides coaching services), I am working with a client who is writing a romantic fantasy book. As I was coaching her, I noticed she ran right into a problem with her love interests. She had them immediately bonding and kissing within pages of their initial encounter. After having written my first contemporary romance books California Girl Chronicles, I had stumbled across this great piece on writing sexual tension. When I pointed out to my author there was 12 steps, she was surprised. She didn't know there was so much involved in creating sexual tension between characters.

But haven't you ever wondered why you're on the edge of your seat, demanding your favorite love interests get on with it already? It's an emotionally manipulative process for sure, but nothing wrong with that. So with a big acknowledgment to where this material originates from, here is the "12 Steps to Intimacy" written by Nancy Odell and reposted as a simple list by Angela Quarles in regards to why it's so steamy between love interests Eric and Sookie on True Blood.


  • Eye to body

  • Eye to eye

  • Voice to voice

  • Hand to hand (or arm)

  • Arm to shoulder

  • Arm to waist, or back

  • Mouth to mouth

  • Hand to head

  • Hand to body

  • Mouth to breast

  • Hand to genitals

  • Genitals to genitals



  • Here is also a point I made to the author. Sometimes the sexiest thing doesn't even involve sex or exposure to nudity. Sometimes the sexiest thing is a small, intimate gesture or touch. It's the longing and anticipation it builds up. So let me take two simple examples.

    The Lover -- in the film adaption who can forget the car ride where Jane March's character and the "Chinaman" (as she calls him) touch fingers? It wasn't anything more than a forbidden touch of fingers no less. Yet by the time she gets out of the car, you want them to jump each other. That simple clandestine moment became infamous and used in other films.

    Sense and Sensibility -- the longing and looks between Emma Thompson's character and Hugh Grant's character were all we got to see for an entire film. These two never touch each other. They talk and take walks together and many, many looks pass, but no kissing or sex. It's a completely chaste courtship, but you want them together none the less.

    True Blood -- Eric and Sookie took essentially three seasons to build up to their romance. The first season was a lot of looks passing between them. In season two, the looks escalated and the "dreams" sequences commenced. Yet we still didn't get to see them in real life until season four. Even then Alan Ball doesn't immediately give us the payoff. We spend a lot of time on more looks -- and Alexander Skarsgård plays longing and vulnerable really well. The look on his face in the episode when she introduces and leave him in his "cubbie" to attend "human stuff" was pure longing.

    My point in these descriptions. Notice the sexual tension does not involve actual sex. The tension is the build up. And build up requires work in your writing. You cannot make characters meet (unless there is a no purpose involved in the storytelling) and then just go at it. Classic love interests play on the readers or viewer's emotions. We want our lovers to consummate all that desire -- that's the payoff. But you can't shove them together in two or three pages and expect the audience to having rooting value for them.

    One more note: the way you go about building that tension and how you tactically apply it sends other messages about the nature of the character's relationship. I pointed out that in my book California Girl Chronicles, the tension between love interests Drew is always a bit twisted, as is the nature of their relationship. When he "looms" over her that is about sexual dominance -- and he is the bad boy love interest. So pay attention to the kind of tension you build and how you build it to make a statement about the relationship too.