When Your Work of Fiction Meets A Disturbing Reality

You know why there are seasons don’t you?

Zeus’ granddaughter Persephone was kidnapped and taken to the Underworld by Hades, the God of the Underworld. Hades he rode a chariot from a crack in the earth’s crust, saw Ms P and snatched persephher. Persephone’s mother, Demeter, the Goddess of the harvest, was devastated that her daughter had been kidnapped and went looking for Miss P, searching all over the earth. of course she searched alone because in Ancient Greek mythology there was no FBI, and Grandpa Zeus preferred to go around the world disguised as a swan so he could boink pretty women instead of helping with the investigation. Meanwhile, since Demeter spent so much time looking for Miss P, she sorta forgot about being the Goddess of the Harvest, which meant the crops withered, died, and it became winter.

Forever.

OH MY GOD WHAT A FUCKIN’ NIGHTMARE!Leda

Yes, I said that exactly like Marisa Tomei did in the movie My Cousin Vinny.

Then, one day Demeter figures out Hades, who it turns out is Miss P’s UNCLE, was persuaded to give up his niece Persephone for half of every year. So yeah, that’s why was have spring and summer. Part of the year Miss P is down with her Creepy Uncle, the other half of the year she’s making rainbows, drinking lemonade, and having a BBQ.

The point of this is, myths once gave explanations for what we now know to be scientific fact about the ear’s orbit around Mr Sun and blah blah blah.

It almost feels opportunistic of me to write this post, considering I have a book with an albino hero about to come out, but HOLY SHIT I read an article today that made me feel sick.  It was about African country Malawi, where people with albinism are being hunted for their bones because myths and superstitions say the bones will bring success and wealth, are made of gold, or have special powers, or can cure HIV. 

None of that is true. We have the scientific facts about albinism, but those bizzaro myths about the condition still exist. In the twenty-first century.

I feel very much like William Murphy standing on his soapbox today. I know tired to make light of something horrific. It’s the way I cope, or explain it to myself since I wrote a work of romance fiction with an albino hero who’s really just an ordinary great guy in a great suit. I tired to show William Murphy as a regular Joe with a skin condition that gives him fair skin and not so fabulous vision. But there are other fictions out there, like in Malawi, that continue to perpetuate myths about albinism–twisted horrifying myths. And they need to end. 

Shyness and The Art of ‘Verting’: Intro, Extro, Ambi

Shyness is not introversion. There are those who mistake introversion for shyness.

NextToYou CoverfinalShyness often occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people. There’s a sense of apprehension, awkwardness, and a lack of comfort. Shy people may avoid social situations entirely.

In Next to You (see what I did there? A COVER REVEAL) It’s easy to mistake Caroline for shy. She has a sense of apprehension about moving back to Chicago, feels awkward, displays a lack of comfort, hesitates in social situations — and for good reason. No, I’m not telling you why because spoilers. However Caroline is anything but shy. Caroline is an introvert — like a lot of my fellow authors.

I’m not an introvert. I’m not an extrovert. I leave extrovert to my husband. He draws energy from social interaction.  So then, what am I? What is Caroline?

Moetball

  Move over Grace Kelly

Story time! Last year I went to the Moet and Chandon Black and White Ball.  I got all dolled up in strapless black satin, did my hair like Grace Kelly, and put on eye makeup. I even wore a pair of pantyhose that were supposed to give my shapeless, flat ass shape. I looked good and I was ready to have a glamorous evening with men in dinner suits and women in splendid finery.

The fun of going to the ball with my dashing Dr Shrinkee husband lasted seven and a half minutes–the length of time it took us to get from the front of the building, have our photo snapped by some local magazine, and ascend the grand staircase to the ballroom.

Don’t know about you, but the word ballroom fills me with images of high ceilings, chandeliers, a dance floor, banquet tables… Despite the lack of a high ceiling, all those other things were there. Also present in the ballroom were seventy-five bajillion guests. It was wall-to-wall people and three bands, all using giant speakers, meaning it was crowded AND loud. No, wait. It was deafening.

After twenty minutes I was overwhelmed. My husband was IN his social butterfly element.

I’m what you’d call an Ambivert. I’m comfortable with groups and social interaction, but I need time away from the crowd to renew my energy. To be honest, my comfort level with groups reaches its limit at 6 people. I don’t like loud noises. A crush of seventy-five bajillion people and a wall of sound (not disco-ball-727116_1920the Phil Spector music kind) wiped away my ambivertedness and transformed me into an introvert. It was loud EVERYWHERE. People were everywhere. Even the ladies room was packed. There was no place I could go to restore my psyche. For the rest of the evening, I did the only thing I could to save what Carl Jung would have called my my ‘mental energy’. I stood with my back to the wall, behind a speaker, with tissue stuffed in my ears, a deer in black satin caught in the twinkly, spinning lights of a disco ball. Acquaintances shouted small talk in my face. Nice men in dinner suits tried to get me to dance. People stepped on my feet.

This was an extreme case where I became an introvert, and for the next week, my very extroverted husband had to answer questions or field comments regarding his ‘shy’ wife at the ball.

Again, shyness is not introversion.

While being in such a large crowd of people made me apprehensive, while I was so far out of my comfort zone it surprised my husband, like Caroline. I do not have a social phobia. Sure, my social skill isn’t the greatest, and I can be awkward when there are more than 6 people at a dinner party, but I don’t fear rejection. I don’t care what people think of me. I don’t worry about being humiliated. I do not avoid social contact. I have friends. I enjoy the company of others. I can carry on a conversation. Although my ‘vert’ may shift in some situations, like when there are seventy-five bajillion people, I am not shy.

Neither is Caroline.

Next to You comes out on 25 July. You can read the first chapter on Wattpad for free.

 

My Next Big Thing, Next to You

Writing takes time. Lots of time.

Getting published takes time. Lots of time.

Submitting queries and manuscripts takes time. Lots of time.

This book’s taken time. Lots of time.

And by lots of time, I mean this books’s taken me 12 years to get accepted for publication.

This doesn’t mean the book that took me 12 years book is published. It means it took me 12 years that consisted of 9 months of writing it, a week where a well-respected and very dear author friend of mine read it and thought it was better than the first book I wrote (Bless you, Megan for getting through that piece of shite), a year of sitting on it, a week of my very lovely one-time critique partner Gabrielle reading it, and 9 years of sitting in a box under the bed before a writers’ weekend at Rachel Bailey’s house made me think to drag it out to see if it could be resurrected, followed by rewriting, editing and rewriting, and submitting and pitching, and submitting pitching, and submitting until….

Yes, kids, my Next Big Thing is about a motorcycle-riding albino hero who loves 60s Bubble Gum Pop. it’s called Next to You Don’t know about a release date, seeing as I just got the ‘we’d be delighted to accept Next to You for publication’ email,  but you know publishing is all about waiting.

And I can’t wait for you to meet William.

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That Thing When Your Fictional World Bleeds Into Real Life. Sorta.

ironing

It’s not much of a secret that I excel at housework, or that I like housework as much as I like writing books about smartasses. But I admit, and I have admitted before, that I have a rather complicated relationship with one chore: ironing.

A few days after I met the man I would later marry, I shot myself in the foot by offering to iron his shirt. It’s been 22 years and I’m still ironing his shirt.

I used to love ironing. Honest.

I. Loved. Ironing.

Truly. I loved the process. I loved the mind-clearing, methodical pattern of pressing the collar, the sleeves, the yoke. I loved how I’d start with the chaos of crinkles and wind up with crisp fabric. Oh! It was bliss to iron!

Really. I swear to the deity of your choice. I loved ironing.

Before my husband and I married we actually discussed the division of labour, meaning we discussed what chores we would and would NOT do. For some reason, twenty some years ago, I picked ironing over mowing the yard because I loved to iron. What’s happened over time is that I began to dislike ironing the same bloody 10 shirts (my beloved has a squillion other shirts, yet chooses the same 10 all the time). However, I did not want to trade or switch to mowing the yard–or weeding or anything that would make me get dirty and sweaty because I am a complete and utter wuss. So when I ironed I tried to recapture what I loved about it.  Then I just would try to make it, let’s say, FUN.

Yeah. I know ironing = fun.  BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Anyhow, I’d set up the ironing board in front of the TV, pop in a DVD, and get down to pressing my beloved’s business shirts. I’d try to find solace in that DVD, try to forget that I was ironing the same shirt I’d ironed a week ago. I endeavoured to lose myself in Casino Royale, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Bourne Identity, Three Days of the Condor, in anything that would engross me enough that I’d forget I was ironing.

What happened instead is that I wound up with a comedic romantic suspense novel featuring a smartass heroine who was all about the mind-clearing methodical order out of chaos through ironing.

Then I took that character, Mae Valentine, and put her in an apron because I wear an apron whapronen I’m doing housework– I also wear pyjamas when I clean and iron, but an apron works better on a professional butler than a pair of flannel pyjamas. It took me a little while of writing Mae before I realised she and I shared certain proclivities–like wearing an apron and keeping things tidy. I was cool with that. I understand that characters are sometimes imbued with elements that come directly from the writer’s psyche. I’m totally cool with that. It happened on an unconscious level while I was trying to make ironing fun.

I know! Ironing = fun! BWHAHAHAHAHA!

Anyhow, when a writer friend of yours, whom you admire, tells you that they enjoyed beta reading your romantic suspense book about Mae Valentine, but they pictured YOU as Mae Valentine.. and then they tell you that they got all OH DEAR GOD when they got to the sex scene because they’d pictured IRONING-APRON-WEARING YOU as the character doing it with the hero you wrote, a cross between Toby Stephens, Daniel Craig and Clive Owen.

Oh, ironing for me will never be the same again. Now when I iron I’ll blush, and think about how Rebekah Turner pictured me naked and bonking a cross between Toby/Daniel/Clive.

Or I’ll simply put on an apron and a DVD and try to come up with another way to try to make ironing fun.

I know! Ironing = fun.  BWAHAHAHAHA!

 

 

Photo credits: Ravages via Foter.com /CC BY-NC-SA

‘Playingwithbrushes’ viaFoter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

Expecting Your Expectations to Meet Your Expectations

 Sterin via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo: Sterin via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Is there another time of year that sets the bar so high for how things “should” be?

Holidays are weighted with expectations, as are birthdays, and certain books and movies — you know, like the latest in the James Bond film or Star Wars franchise.

We, as in a lot of people, approach these events with preconceived notions of what we want them to be, who we want there, how we want to be treated, the kind of pie there’s going to be, and if SPECTRE is going to be better than Skyfall, Quantum of Solace, or Casino Royale.

Some of you might get cranky and snippy if no one in your family helped you to decorate the Christmas tree, like you expected. Some of you might feel all losery and friendless because no one sent you a birthday card by actual snail mail, like you expected. Some of you, like me, might get all ornery because Monica Bellucci only got a few minutes (7 min, 14. 73 seconds according to my stopwatch) of screen time in SPECTRE when she should have had more time, she should have swapped roles with Lea Seydoux and given James Bond an age appropriate and more believable ending… like I expected.

See what I mean? I got all wrapped up in expectations. I had to see SPECTRE two more times to realise I enjoyed it–once I stopped picking it apart. I sat back and enjoyed the ride.

We love something so much, like James Bond movies and Star Wars and Christmas and birthdays and books by Jo Goodman because they give us a warm, rosy glow. We love these things because they feel familiar and, for some reason we cover the things, the events, movies and books, and people we adore with a cloak of expectation.tree2015

We make comparisons.

We forget there is no such thing as perfection.

We forget that life’s what we make it.

Preconceived expectations have a way of elfin’ up (see what I did there?) the fact that decorating the Christmas tree alone meant the tree looked exactly the way I wanted it to. Preconceived expectations have a way of elfin’ up a book that was different to the author’s previous book — which was exactly what I wanted because I dislike reading something that’s the same as before. Preconceived expectations have a way of elfin’ up the warm rosy glow of familiar and full of the feels.

Yesterday, when I went to see Star Wars The Force Awakens, I tried to avoid the Bah-Humbuggery of shoulds. I reminded myself that this was a different movie. I reminded myself this was not Episode IV and prayed there would be no Ewoks. I reminded myself I wanted something different, yet familiar and full of feels. I reminded myself I was there for the fun.

I made the 2 hours and 14 minutes what I wanted it to be. I ate a crap-ton of popcorn, sat back, and had fun.

Yes, kids. It’s Advice Time! When you next head off to a holiday event you really don’t want to attend, before you pick up a new book by an author you like, or go to see a sequel or movie in a franchise, before you start reading, or watching, set those expectations aside, forget thinking this ‘should be like so.” Life’s what you make it. If you go in with expectations, then you may just miss the fun.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep drinking coffee, because I know that’s what you expect of me. I’ll also keep writing familiar, yet different smartassed books where the leads are over 40.

Sandrabooks1

 

That Odd in Between Time Holiday Party Introvert Writer Thing

smalltalk_zThis being the holiday season means it’s also the Season of the Holiday Party. It’s cocktail parties, BBQs, Beer and Bubbly, meeting new people, and small talk.

I totally suck at small talk. Mostly because I am an introvert, When I tell people I’ve just met that I’m a writer and I’ve had three books published, the question I am asked most is never what I expect.

I’ve garnered comments such as “Mature protagonists? You mean your books are like Fifty Shades of Even greyer Grey?” and “It’s about time someone showed that women aren’t invisible after 40!” I like that comment.

There was also the well-meant, and very cringeworthy “Mr Turnbull, my wife can show you how to sex up a cost-benefit analysis,” to which, thankfully, the now-current Prime Minister of Australia offered a gracious smile.

I’ve been asked “What do you write?” and “Do you do research for sex scenes?” and even, “Have I ever read anything you’ve written?”

Yet, the the most frequent question is “When will your next book be published?”

I find that flattering and tremendously WTF at the same time before I remember the general public has no real idea how long it takes to write a book, let alone have it published.

Rather than become indignant, I get self conscious. I’ve drawn attention to myself, and I think I better, you know, get over myself and engage in small talk. So then I get a little teachery and FEEL THE NEED TO EDUCATE!

The man with the schooner of beer is waiting for me to answer his “When will your next book be published?”

I respond with:

True, some writers are able to hammer out a story in a few weeks. Others a few months,. Me? I take about 9 months to a year. Getting the book published can take even longer; from a few months to a year or even longer if the book is in print form. I have two books out there right now, both waiting to find a home. Yes, I have a publisher, but that does not guarantee my next two books will be accepted for publication, and even if they are, there is still the editorial process. The editorial process can take months. So this book I wrote two years ago, might not come out until next year.

Then I notice that his eyes have glazed over and his beer/rum-n-coke/champagne glass is empty and I totally sucked tremendously hard at the whole small talk thing.

Ho Ho Ho, Kids.

 

Looking for a smartassed presents to give to those who love to read smartass?

My three books go so well with coffee!

Sandrabooks1

 

Driving Along With The Romance Bandits

banditasHey Kids!

The awesome band of authors known as The Romance Bandits, have very graciously invited me for a stay in their Lair.

During my visit I chat with the amazing Historical romance author Anna Campbell about Driving in Neutral, my PhD research, romantic comedies, the inspiration for my  books For Your Eyes Only and A Basic Renovation, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, and my tiny little mom. On top of all this, there’s a giveaway of not one but TWO of my books.

Stop by the Romance Bandits Blog for your chance to win Driving in Neutral and For Your Eyes Only!Sandrabooks

 

 

Thirty-one Days of Halloweenie Day 4: Georgina’s Arabian Halloween

SandrabooksWhile the inspiration for my writing seems to be rooted in food, what with all the cookie, peanut butter and coffee references, as well as all the bits where character seem to be eating, my Guest today, author Georgina Penney found her muse in an exotic location and tells a Halloween tale of Arabian Nights.

Georgina Penneysml

Georgian Penney

Halloween used to be just a scary movie or something that I’d see featured in American sitcoms as a kid. In fact, other than a couple of really memorable Simpsons episodes, it never flew across my radar until seven years ago when I moved to Saudi Arabia.

The compound we moved to was pretty much a simulacrum of 1950s American suburbia right Ras Tanura Beachdown to the bake sales and coffee mornings. There were churches on camp, a golf course and, because the compound was built on the Arabian Gulf, some fantastic snorkeling and diving to be had… all right next to the world’s biggest oil refinery. (“Just don’t breathe the air and everything’s perfect honey!”)

The first inkling I got that Halloween was something that I would be experiencing for the first time was the decorations on my American and Canadian neighbors’ homes. In fact, even my Saudi neighbors got into the swing of things. There were suddenly scary ghosts hanging from palm trees and plastic spiders stuck to the golf carts we women drove around camp. People started talking about how the weather always shifted from scorchingly hot (50 plus degrees SaudiCelsius) to winter after Halloween and all of a sudden I started to have something to really look forward to.

Then I started to get women asking me if I could co-taxi with them into the nearest city, Khobar to get sweets and costumes for their kids. (If you’re smart, you never take a taxi on your own as a woman in Saudi.) Before I knew it, the sun was going down one weekend and my house was besieged by munchkins and their parents in costumes. It wasn’t just the American kids but the English, Lebanese, Australian, Saudi and everyone in between and I had a hoot of a time. (Thank God I’d stocked up on sweets on one of those trips into town!)

The surrealness of that evening, the sheer inclusiveness and the fun the kids and their parents were having really drew me in and became the inspiration for my first attempt at a novel. I haven’t stopped writing since and nowadays when Halloween comes around, I always make sure I’m well stocked up on sugary treats just in case there’s a ring on the doorbell.

irrepressible

Georgina Penney first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that’s alright, she was busy doing other things until then. You can find Georgina’s latest, Irrepressible You here.

A Day in the Writing Life of Sandra Antonelli– That’s Me

I bet you’re ALL so desperate to know about a day in my writing life. Hands up. Who thinks cookies and coffee play a part? Hop on over to the RWAus blog and see more and find out if you’re right.

Let’s give a good coffee fuelled morning to Sandra Antonelli, whose book Driving in Neutral is out now!

Antonelli pink sweaterIn one or two sentences, please tell us what genre you write in and what made you decide that particular one is your calling.
I write contemporary, smart-assed romantic comedy for grown ups who aren’t really very grown up at all, which is due to my smartassed nature. Although, I do have a dark side…

Visiting Cafe Cala with Maggie Christensen CHAMPION OF WOMEN!

Maggie-Peregian-260x300I dropped by Maggie Christensen’s Cafe Cala to report on what condition my condition was in.  Maggie is:

An author of contemporary fiction. I love to write about mature women and examine how they face and overcome the family and the career issues they meet. I’ve chosen to write in this genre because this is what I love to read. I believe that older women and the events which impact their lives are often ignored.

Amen to that, Maggie. Amen to that.

 

 

Stop by for a chat!