Thursday, November 20, 2014

Your Internet Boyfriend

If your Internet Boyfriends were like your High School Boyfriends...

Channing Tatum: He’s the guy whose friends openly mock you. He laughs along with them, but later comes up to you when you’re alone to apologize. You’re touched and still offended and mostly confused so that when he suggests you make out, you say sure. He is hot and you're in high school. This happens maybe two more times before you stop talking to him altogether.

Verdict: You’ll probably watch Magic Mike 2 when it comes out on cable, but that’s it.

John Cho: You can’t believe your luck when he asks you out. He is so funny and hot and smart, but also quirky and weird in a way that makes your relationship even more intense. You feel like the only two people in the world. Everything is clicking, everything is perfect. Then his dad loses his job and has to move away. You write letters and keep track of each other online,  but after awhile it becomes clear you’ve both moved on.

Verdict: It wasn’t your fault they canceled Selfie. It had a terrible name.The reason you felt like you were the only two people in the world was because you were the only two people in the world watching it. Come back to Sleepy Hollow, John Cho. Even if you’re a slimy, demonic lizard creature with all pupil and no iris, we will make this work.

Benedict Cumberbatch: He’s so cool but awkward at the same time. He runs with the theater kids and you just can’t penetrate that group no matter how hard you try. You even join the debate team and Latin club just to be near him, but he never notices you. By chance, you bump into him at a walk-a-thon fundraiser event to benefit cancer research. He’s cordial and kind, but seems surprised you go to the same school. The next day he finally notices you in class (you have three together) and he waves. Your heart soars. You suggest he collect donations with you. He agrees. When he tells you about his Nan who passed away from cancer the year before, you both have tears in your eyes. He gives you a hug. You pluck up your nerve over the weeks of friendly comradery to ask him to prom. The look of pain on his face when he tells you no breaks your heart. He tells you he’s already going to prom with his girlfriend from another school. You suspect he’s lying, but otherwise, it’s the kindest rejection you’ve ever had. You stay hi and bye friends but it’s not the same. When prom rolls around you’re shocked to find out that he was telling the truth. He did have a girlfriend from another school. That school is Hogwarts and his date is Hermione Granger.

Verdict: You’re more hopelessly in love than ever.

Donald Glover: Everything is so amazing between you two. He’s hilarious and adorable and it feels like you’re going to be together forever. Then he tells you he’s leaving to focus on his music career. You stay Facebook friends and sometimes go over his pictures late at night. Sometimes he posts weird stuff and you worry about him. Whenever you call he says he’s fine, but you still wonder.
Verdict: If Childish Gambino is half as successful as “Werewolf Bar Mitzva,” everything will be okay.

Cillian Murphy: Things are hot and heavy between you for a while. He seems like a different person every time you meet. This is intriguing at first, then frightening. He disappears. You hear he’s moved to England, you’re not really sure. Suddenly he shows up at your doorstep and tells you he needs a place to stay while things “cool down.”  Your parents aren’t home, so you let him come upstairs to the half-finished attic. Things get weird fast. You get it on while he’s wearing one of your mom’s “skinny” dresses. This is the most bizarre thing that will ever happened to you, but it’s also the best sex you will ever have. (Adulthood will be a huge disappointment.)  You wake up sticky and alone, covered in glitter. Every time you hear a bump at night or find something out of place, you wonder if he is still living in your attic. When you think about it you get turned on and terrified in equal measure.

Verdict: The next time you visit your parents’ house, check the attic.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I'm so tired...

Sorry I’ve been away for a while, but something exciting has happened in my personal life that’s taken precedence over everything.
About two weeks ago, I had another baby!

With my four-year-old and everything, I’ve been busy.  There have been many late night feedings. One lucky thing that’s coincided with the new addition to the family is that we’re getting free HBO for a couple months, so I’ve been catching up on a few films while I take care of my new daughter.

As I was struggling to feed my tiny infant, I thought, what does the internet need more of?  The answer seemed obvious: reviews of movies that are upwards of nine-years-old by someone who is barely watching them because of sleep deprivation. Hence, this post was born.
Spoilers abound, be forewarned.

Game of Thrones
I haven’t read the books and I’ve never seen any of the episodes, but I kind of know some stuff just from living in culture. I know winter is coming and Peter Dinklage is a guy on the show and Khaleesi is the mother of dragons.
I watched the episode with the Purple Wedding, where that dickish prince who looks like he’s about twelve is poisoned. My overall take-away is that Peter Dinklage is awesome. I would watch him do just about anything, but watching him be Tyrion Lannister is extra awesome.
There are other people on the show, and they did things. I don’t remember what those things were besides dying of poison.
I still want to watch all the episodes and read the books now.

Imagine You and Me
I watched this in two parts, the ending first then the beginning and middle. Anthony Stewart Head is in this and because of my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had to watch. He’s great. He plays the dad of a woman who’s getting married to Matthew Goode. He does a silly dance that’s quite enjoyable.
At the wedding, she sees the actress who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones and begins to question her sexuality. This was sort of sweet and mostly sad. Then they played “Happy Together,” and all I could think about was that part in Adaptation where Nicholas Cage chases after his twin.
I’ve never questioned my sexuality, but if I were married to the character Matthew Goode plays in this movie, I find it difficult to believe I’d start. Even though his name is Heck, he still looks exactly like Matthew Goode and he’s incredibly sweet and funny. I was really attracted to him in Stoker, long after it became obvious I shouldn’t have been.  All in all I enjoyed this movie. Highly recommend if you like to see hot guys being devastated, Anthony Head dancing like a gibbon, or sweet, tentative love stories between two lovely women.

Ruby Sparks
This movie is like if that first world problems meme made a film. I can’t imagine that anyone was clambering for the weird faith healer kid who gets beaten to death at the end of There Will Be Blood to become the lead in a romantic comedy, but here he is. Eli Sunday is shirtless and ready for love, so watch out before he drinks YOUR milkshake, ladies! Skip this movie unless you like spending time with an incredibly privileged man who doesn't learn anything about himself.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
This movie is billed as a comedy, but it’s the grimmest sort of comedy there is, despite the presence of Steve Carell. You could watch this with the apocalyptic fare that came out last year, like The World’s End and This is the End, but see this one first so the other two can cheer you up before bed.
I had just gotten home from the hospital when I watched this one and was holding my infant in my arms, gazing into her trusting, perfect face, so maybe that’s why the premise punched me in the tear ducts so hard.
The movie is about the earth’s eminent destruction. Everyone knows they are going to die, but there’s nothing to do, so they carry on more or less. Steve Carell’s wife leaves him, he meets a careless young woman played by Kiera Knightly. They go on a road trip. They fall in love. Then the world ends.
And the lesson is that love helps to bring meaning to this strange, fleeting existence and that’s really the best we can hope for. That’s it.
My description sells all this short. There is an amazing performance by Steve Carell that anchors the movie. He’s so good in this that I found myself feeling kind of attracted to him, which is like going into a bar, checking out a cute guy and realizing too late that he’s your friend’s dad. It’s just wrong.  I’m used to thinking of him as Michael Scott and Brick Tambland. He loves lamp, guys. You shouldn’t want to make out with the I Love Lamp guy, but when he whispered in Kiera Knightly’s ear that she was the love of his life, I was sobbing and turned on all at the same time.
It was pretty gross.
The emotional journey of this movie made me feel so much. I highly recommend it.

Pacific Rim
I only caught the last half hour of this. Everyone seemed to be using Bill Paxton’s performance in Aliens as an inspiration. I feel like I should make a “Game over, man!” joke, but I’m still pretty shaken up from thinking about Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
From what little I saw, Pacific Rim was campier than a John Waters-themed slumber party. It was the good kind of campy, though, with ample doses of Ron Pearlman and that guy from Torchwood. Not Ianto. The slutty one that died the worst death of any character ever. I’ll look it up. 
Burn Gorman! 
How could I forget an actor with the first name “Burn?” I’m very tired, that’s how.
Yes, so despite the fact that Burn Gorman spent most of his life in Great Britain and he does a seamless British accent, he’s the most amazing English stereotype in this movie. I remember him having a monocle and a bowler hat, holding a cup of tea, but I don’t think that’s true. Idris Elba is also in it, which improves any movie by six-hundred percent.
Anyway, I need to see more of this movie to tell if it was actually good or bad, but I can tell you it was loud and brightly colored.

The Five-Year Engagement
Honestly, I didn’t catch much of this movie as I was breast-feeding and eating a ham sandwich at the same time as I was trying to watch it.
Here are some highlights: Jason Segal endures verbal abuse from many different characters. He drives a taco truck. Rhys Ifans plays a shady dude. Emily Blunt is the girl Jason Segal is engaged to. I always confuse her with Olivia Wilde and Olivia Munn. Of the three, one is married to Jim from the Office. Good for her (whichever she may be.)
The most exciting part was when Mindy Kaling was in it. I didn’t know she was going to be in the film and was so happy to see her. Yay, Mindy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Late Thaw Cover Reveal

This is a book my friend, Ana Blaze, wrote. She's had dramatic problems with the publisher who originally released the book, and is re-issuing it in a self-publishing format.

I have known Ana for years and we've been supportive of each other's writing. She came up with the concept for One Lucky Night, and invited me to participate. I also helped edit A Late Thaw and her novella for Love and Other Games.

Her work is a lot like going on vacation to a place where everyone is beautiful and their intentions are pure. It's like a cross between really clean Canada and how I'd imagine heaven, really. Anyway, if you've had a rough day, wrapping yourself in the universe of A Late Thaw for a few hours will make you feel better. Seriously, reading her stuff is like drinking wine and eating cupcakes, except you won't feel guilty afterwards.

Here's the info on A Late Thaw:

TITLE: A Late Thaw
AUTHOR: Ana Blaze
GENRE: Comedy, Contemporary, Romance (Adult)
RELEASE DATE: April 2014 (originally published October 27, 2013)

SYNOPSIS: Barrett, Vermont, home to nearly as many goats as people. It’s the perfect picturesque spot to stop for cocoa after a ski trip or to buy your Christmas tree from a hunky farmer wearing snug jeans and a pair of well-worn boots. Kiley St. Claire isn’t there for either. She’s come home for one reason and one reason only: make enough money waiting tables at the local tourist trap to survive her final semester of graduate school. Of course she is going to have to see that Christmas tree farmer eventually. That’s fine; Kiley isn’t the same nerdy little girl he palled around with. Nope, she’s done crushing on Cole Thomas. Totally done.
Cole thought he was ready, but seeing Kiley again is a punch to the gut. She rejected him and ran away without explanation. He still couldn’t imagine a future with another woman.  Now at least he’ll have a chance to say what he’s needed to say for years and then, just maybe, he’ll be ready to move on. He only wishes she didn’t look so damn good in her uniform.

The cover was created by one of our other collaborators on One Lucky Night, Aria Kane, and I think she did a beautiful job.

Here's a little more about Ana:

Ana lives just outside Washington DC with her very supportive husband and three rather demanding cats. She loves the ocean, Indian food, Ikea, and cooking. Ana admits to watching too much television and she swears that someday she’s going to learn how to play the guitar resting on the bookshelf in her office. Ana is a member of Romance Writers of America.


If you buy this book, you could enter to win a copy of Love and Other Games, which features stories by Ana, Aria, Kara Leigh Miller and another of our collaborators, Melinda Dozier.
: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Book Buzz Tours

Friday, April 4, 2014

Big, big, big Cover Reveal!

So today we're revealing the cover of the book. I waste no time because my child has arisen and will be wanting to watch clips of Yoshi's Island on Youtube if he sees the computer open.

We'll be releasing the book on May 7!

Here are some blurbs to pique your interest:

One night can change everything…

The crew at Boston’s Brazen Head Pub hasn’t been very lucky in love. Can a mysterious visitor inspire them to look past old hurts and misconceptions and give romance a chance? One Lucky Night is a collection of five sexy interwoven novelettes by Aria Kane, Grace Teague, Ana Blaze, Constance Phillips, and Melinda Dozier.

Individual Blurbs

Lucky Break by Aria Kane
Four years ago, chef Derek Chase walked out of Andrea Rivera’s life after a tragedy neither of them were prepared to deal with. When she’s called to the Brazen Head to repair a dishwasher, old sparks ignite buried feelings.

Lucky Star by Grace Teague
When her life is threatened by a mugger, Charlotte Price realizes she's in love with her best friend, Tommy Leung. The Brazen Head seems like the perfect neutral place to confess her feelings, but nothing goes according to plan.

A New Tune by Ana Blaze
When it comes to dating, Holly Hall has one unbreakable rule: no musicians. Not even gorgeous ones. Especially not gorgeous ones. Dating them only leads to heartbreak. So why did she let singer-songwriter Cian O’Neill kiss her? And why is she thinking about doing it again?

Lexi’s Chance by Constance Phillips
As a bartender, Sean Whalen meets all kinds of women every night, but none turn his head the way that Lexi has. She’s been playing cat and mouse with him for weeks. Tonight, Sean’s determined to get Lexi to quit teasing and take a real chance on him.

Drink or Dare by Melinda Dozier
A bachelorette party Drink or Dare game pairs paramedic students, Rachel Robertson and Killian Whelan, in a flirting match. Soon, the dares threaten to turn their academic rivalry into something much more.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Joy of Smurf

Today I’m going to talk about writing love scenes. I’m not an expert on this, by any means, but I do have a few tricks which I will pass on to you.

When I was editing for a friend of mine she had real trouble with the explicit words necessary to make the whole thing work. Either you can go the oblique route, and risk confusing the reader or jarring them out of the story with a gem like, “purple-helmeted yogurt slinger,” or you can just write “penis.” Sure, the second one lacks dramatic flair, but at least you know what you’re working with.  My friend had trouble writing the explicit words, so I told her to just write in the word Smurf, and I’d put in the dirty bits.
By the time she got to the important part, she felt so silly writing Smurf over and over again, she could actually use the real words.

This was a married mom, somebody who has lived her life and done most of the stuff she was writing about many, many times. 

Talking about sex is a different thing than having it, though.  You’re laying your mind bare in a way and going against thousands of years of history that insists women don’t talk about this kind of thing.

Some of the most famous erotic literature penned by women has been published under pseudonyms, like The Story of O, or under the name of the author’s husband, like the Claudine novels by Sidonie-Gabriel Collette. Anais Nin’s unexpurgated diaries, with all the juicy stuff, weren’t even published until after her death.

(Disclaimer: My writing isn’t as good as theirs. That’s not false modesty, just cruel reality.)

Anyway, female sexuality is everywhere, but somehow a female taking control over it is still an uncomfortable subject.

When I was younger, I’d seek out romance novels and stuff like that for basic information. If you’re an avid reader, you know this is the worst place for someone to find decent information about the mechanics of sex. Especially now that vampires and werewolves are in the mix, I fear for what the youth of tomorrow will think happens during orgasm. (Hint: You don’t black out or sprout fangs.)
So, when I took on taboo the first time, I used a strategy to try to keep myself from being too embarrassed. 

It has worked well so far.

I always come up with something emblematic of the character’s personality. In One Lucky Night, the main female character, Charlotte, is insecure in her crush on the much more polished and sophisticated Tommy. When it comes to the love scene, though, their experience levels flip in a subtle way.  I also portrayed that as a positive thing. I thought that was a neat way to develop character even while you were reading “the good part.”

Now I’m so comfortable I can usually write a love scene while my kid is sitting next to me watching Brave.

It helps that he can’t read yet. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

About the book

We are in the end stages of moving the book to print! 
This is the official blurb about the anthology. Please check it out on Goodreads. We're set to reveal the book cover on April 4th, so if you're interested in saucy images with my pen name near them, it's going to be an extravaganza of that.
One night can change everything...
Five couples take a chance at love on one snowy Boston night at The Brazen Head Pub. 
One Lucky Night is a collection of five interwoven magical realism romance novelettes by Ana Blaze, Aria Kane, Melinda Dozier, Grace Teague and Constance Phillips.
I feel very lucky to have been included in the project, given that I am the only author without a previously published work of fiction. I've written tons of news stories, but none of those articles about city council meetings ever involved humorous meet-cutes or steamy, erotic exchanges. Even if they did, I was never allowed to write about them.
So, thank you, Ana Blaze, for giving me a chance. I hope my contribution is as delightful as yours.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Grace Teague isn't my real name

Grace Teague isn’t my real name, it’s a collection of inside jokes and literary references. Just like my writing! (I hope not.)
The first name, I’ll explain right now. I stole it right from Grace Metalious.
I read Metalious’ novel, Peyton Place, in college. The book was out of print so we all had work with an unwieldy stack of photocopies, which should tell you a little bit about how long ago I went to school.  Even though I was an English major, this particular book wasn’t assigned in a literature class—it was a window into the history of the nineteen-fifties.
This book caused a huge sensation upon its publication. The opening line doesn’t hold back: 
“Indian summer is like a woman. Ripe, hotly passionate, but fickle, she comes and goes as she pleases so that one is never sure whether she will come at all, nor for how long she will stay.”  
It stays with you and is so beautifully put together it makes you forget for a second you’ve just read a collection of uncomfortable stereotypes.  The whole story is like that, which makes it genuinely indicative of its time, but painfully dated.
This book offended me at the time I read it, and has never sat well with me since. It wasn’t just the rape scene that is played for romance and ends with the victim and the perpetrator happily married, or the implication that having a mom who was too affectionate would make a boy gay, or even the queasily racist back story of the town. The whole thing was designed completely to provoke.  This is some seriously overheated prose that makes the journalist in me want to edit.
Yet, I can still remember passages of text even though I read it more than fifteen years ago.  This book is kind of brilliant in its own way. I think Metalious was a talented writer who told a story about the private lives of women that hadn’t been told in that way before.
This quote from a 2006 Vanity Fair article by Michael Callahan says it all:
"She was a totally unbridled, free, glorious spirit," says Lynne Snierson, the daughter of Grace's longtime attorney, Bernard Snierson. "I didn't know any other woman like her. Grace swore, a lot, and she drank, a lot, and she had lots of guys around her. She got married and divorced and had affairs. And she talked about sex and she talked about real life and she didn't filter it. I didn't know any other woman who was like that in the 50s." 
Metalious was an outsider; well-read but never able to continue her education after high school, a housewife who married young and lived in a small town in New Hampshire.  She was a tragic figure as well. Her success led to divorce, she lost custody of her kids, squandered every penny she made from her writing and drank herself to death by the age of 39.
So why take her name?
I guess I wanted to pay tribute to one of the trailblazers in the genre. I am lucky enough to be able to write about stuff that interests me: woman stuff, relationship stuff, sex stuff. Even though there are a lot more woman now writing with Metalious' frankness, there's still the fear of backlash. Peyton Place was published in 1956, but I still feel the need to use an assumed name. 
Make of that what you will.