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Too Stupid to Live: A heroine's prerogative

I've often heard people complain about heroines being "Too Stupid to Live" or TStL for short.

This phenomena is when a heroine (it always seems to be the heroine) puts herself in danger and needs to be rescued by the hero. The typical damsel in distress, I guess you could say. But, the thing that makes TStL so annoying is that the heroine knows better. Most of the time it's the heroine blindly walking into danger, oblivious to the oh so obvious dangers: the blind naivety that sets reader's teeth on edge.
Or so I understand.

You see, I've never really understood why people label someone as TStL. I've always been able to justify and understand why they were desperate enough to take the steps they took. Why they felt like that was their only option. Why walking down that dark alley to meet that dark figure seemed like the only available option. 
Until now.
Recently I read a book that had me shouting at the heroine. She was so BLIND to the obvious dangers and the actions were putting her, her daughter, her sister, her lover...everyone she thought she should be protecting in life threatening peril. And it drove me bonkers.

Her need to do something, and doing the wrong thing every single time, was the major driving force of the story...which is a whole different post. But about half way through the book I realized. 
THIS is what too stupid to live looks like. I finally get it.
I wish I could have continued to live in ignorance. 

What about you? Do find a lot of heroines too TStL? Or are you more like me, able to justify and understand their actions-most of the time?

As a complete side note: Emerald City Writers' Conference sponsors the Emerald City Opener, a contest for unpublished writers. Contest closes May 31st. Go to for more information and to enter.

Balancing the Scales

I've been having one of those phases where life is not cooperating with my plans. We've had some staffing issues at my day job which have created something of a time suck for me as I step in to help. With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, my children have become social butterflies, flitting from one party to another. And they're still in elementary school, I can't imagine what it's going to be like when they get older!
And, last but not least, is my writing. And with the writing, I'm lumping in the work I'm putting in for the Emerald City Writers' Conference, which will be taking place this October. I'm the conference chair this year, which means I get to talk to everybody involved. All the time! It's great fun.
I find myself jotting emails to my writer friends in the unlikeliest of places-all perfectly sanitary, I assure you- and sending myself notes on characters that haven't managed to grace my pages yet, or the solutions to little plot issues that have been eluding me. It's sheer chaos. And a not so secret part of me is thrilled by it.
The ideas are flowing, even if I don't have two seconds to jot them dot. The inspiration is practically beating me over the head. Plus, my guys are really stepping up to help out, which always makes me happy.
Let me share a secret with you men; you don't need to buy flowers or diamonds for your lady. All you need to do is clean the house and she will do whatever you want. 

 Seriously. I promise. ;-)

Okay, I've completely lost my train of thought on that one....oh yeah. Juggling. 

Everything seems to be hitting all at once around here. How do you juggle it all?


Chatting with Christy Reece, also known as Ella Grace

A couple days ago I introduced you to Christy Reece, author of the Last Chance Rescue series, who recently released a new series under her new pen name Ella Grace.  Over the past couple of weeks I've been emailing my questions, which Christy has graciously answered between the release of TWO books, one for each of her names.

Hopefully you'll learn something new about Christy...I know I did.

Carmen: CHANCES ARE was recently released: it's the latest LAST CHANCE RESCUE novel and your first self-published novel. How did self pubbing differ from your previous publishing experiences?

Christy: It was exciting, exhilarating, and nerve-wracking. There were so many things I didn’t know about, so many questions I had that I didn’t even know how to ask. Setting my own deadline—without a publisher telling me when the book was due was a challenge. I had some personal issues going on while I was writing the book and didn’t get it finished as quickly as I had planned. Since I was the one who set the deadline, that gave me some leeway I wouldn’t have had with a traditional publisher. Also, being able to choose the cover that depicted a scene from the book was a lot of fun. I worried that it was too racy but since it came from the book, I think readers appreciated it more. I’ve always thought a cover should help tell the story. The cover for CHANCES ARE definitely does that.

Carmen: Angela, whom readers of the LCR books previously met as the LCR office manager, isn't the typical heroine in the previous books of the series. Did you run into any challenges morphing a secondary character into a main character?

Christy: Not really. Except for RESCUE ME, most of my characters have been secondary characters in previous books. Even though Angela had never had any on page words, I had a good grip on her personality. With her working so closely with Noah McCall, I knew she would have to be a strong-willed, self assured person. However, I never knew what she looked like until McKenna and Lucas were married at the beginning of SWEET REVENGE and Jamie describes her. I think that’s when Angela came alive for me. From there, it was easy to create the rest of her personality.

Carmen: All of your LCR characters have dark pasts. Do those come to you organically as you're developing the characters, or do you have a nasty little book of awful things you can apply to characters as their pasts?

Christy: Ha. I wish I did. That would be so helpful to have a ‘disaster’ book! In my Last Chance Rescue series, most of my main characters work for LCR. They’re dedicated to their cause. That kind of dedication is usually personal, which means there’s something driving them. The concept of LCR is to rescue the innocent, no matter the cost. For a person to have that kind of drive, there’s got to be something behind it, which means something happened to them. I don’t usually know what that something is until I’m in the midst of writing the story. If the characters are talking to me, I listen. Then I write their story.

Carmen: CHANCES ARE ends with a bit of a cliff hanger, and hint as to the plans you have in store for LCR? What about Noah and Samara?

Christy: Noah is and always will be the leader of LCR. His location may change but never his life’s work. LCR is going to grow and expand beyond anyone’s expectation. (And that’s all I can say about that right now.) J

Carmen: Were there any major differences in writing a self published continuation of a series at the same time you are writing an new series under a different name?

Christy: Not really. I know my LCR characters as well or better than I know my own family. Getting to know my Wildefire characters took some time but once I immersed myself into that world, there were no real issues. 

Carmen: Midnight Secrets is the first book in a new series that you are writing under a new pen name. Were there some unexpected challenges writing as Ella that you haven't faced writing as Christy?

Christy: Yes, a few. I’d been immersed in the world of Last Chance Rescue for over five years (I wrote RESCUE ME in 2007) so taking myself into another, completely different world took some adjustment. And since my LCR characters have a tendency to be high energy, kick ass, take charge people, I had to tone them down a bit for a small Southern town.

My publisher requested that I concentrate on the relationship between the characters and the romance. Though my LCR books are full of romance, they’re plot driven, with my hero and heroine racing to solve a case and rescue someone. Sometimes the romance is put on the back burner till or while the case is solved. With the Wildefire series, the romance is front and center. Being able to develop the relationships between the hero and heroine was fun but a challenge, too. I kept wanting to throw them into danger! J

Carmen: Midnight is an incredibly quaint Southern town. Were you inspired by a specific place to weave that small town charm into Midnight?

Christy: Having lived in small communities and small towns a good part of my life, I’ve seen and experienced small town dynamics. And I’ve been to places like Faye’s Diner, Tillie’s Hair Today and Gertie’s Wash and Wait. Small towns are a unique entity. It was fun to create a small Southern town with all its different delights and eccentricities. 

Carmen: In both your LCR series and MS, your villain/s are incredibly twisted. How do you get into the mind of the most vile of characters?

Christy: I honestly don’t know. When the story idea comes to me, the villain is only a mist of an idea. As the story takes shape, so do my characters, including the villain. My stories develop organically, so I rarely know exactly what kind of villain I’m dealing with, however I do like to evenly match my antagonist with my protagonists. My hero and heroine deserve a worthy villain to defeat. When they triumph, I want it to feel like a victory.

Carmen: Were you surprised by any of the twists that came about as you were writing the Midnight Series?

Christy: I’m always surprised by the twists in my stories. That’s half the fun of writing to me. And I figure that if I’m surprised, then readers will be, too.

Carmen: The concept of that one moment of time in someone's past shaping and changing their life is incredibly powerful. Did that moment for the Wilde sisters hit you and you knew it would be a series?

Christy: I have a tendency to write in trilogies. I think my brain became trained that way because that’s how my LCR books were released. When I agreed to write a new series, I needed at least three characters who could star in their own book. The idea of writing about triplet girls came to me. Then I needed a defining moment for each sister. It made sense that an event occurred that they all shared. Their parents’ murder/suicide changed each sister significantly but in different ways. I’m fascinated by how the exact same event can shape each person so differently.

Carmen: Which of the Wilde sisters do you identify with (personally) most? Why?

Christy: All three of them probably have a little of me. I was a bookworm like Savannah, a cheerleader like Samantha, and kind of ‘different’ like Sabrina. However, I like to think of my heroines as individuals who have their own personalities without me molding them into something I want them to be. Yes, I know that sounds weird but after all, I am writer

Carmen: What is the craziest thing you've done in the name of research?

Christy: Ha. I’m not known for my crazy research strategies. I’m usually sitting at my computer for hours looking up obscure information that leads me down a path I never expected to go.

When I first started writing, I needed to talk to the Atlanta police department about their arrest procedures. I was living in Indiana at the time and called directory assistance for their number. When I called the number, I was embarrassed and shocked that it was the 911 emergency number in Atlanta. The operator was kind enough to connect me to the public affairs office but I cringe even now when I think of that.

Carmen: If you could trade places for one day with any of your characters, which one would it be? Why?

Christy: Oh, I think I’d have to go with Inez Peebles, the oldest resident of Midnight. She seems to know everything that goes on in that town. I think I would refrain from eating the clove of garlic she insists on eating everyday, though.

Thank you so much for stopping by and answering my-endless- questions!
We will be giving away a digital copy of CHANCES ARE as well as a signed copy of MIDNIGHT SECRETS today, so be sure to leave a comment along with any questions I didn't think to ask Christy. (I swear, it didn't seem like that many when I was sending the emails!)


2 days until Christy Reece/Ella Grace stops by!

That's right, 2 days. 

Day after tomorrow. 
Also known as: 

I'm so excited that Christy is going to be stopping by. She is one of the people that started me down my path to writing. I can't remember all the details, but a few years ago I took one of her characters and wrote a short scene, just for fun. It involved a potato silencer, guns and possums. It was riveting, let me tell you. (Ha!) But because of that one little scene Christy reached out to me and told me I had talent. (Seriously?) She pushed me to join RWA, strong armed me to step out of my comfort zone and attend my first meeting at my local RWA chapter (GSRWA) even though it was about taxes and I didn't think I should attend. She sent me a few resources about writing romance which she found helpful when she was starting out...all of it. I couldn't have asked for a better cheerleader or friend in my corner. 

So, to introduce you to Christy (who has just released a book as Ella Grace as well) I wanted to point out a few things you might not know about her. Directly from her website.

Seven Obscure Things You Might Not Know About Me: 
1) I once jumped out of a plane to impress a guy. (Fortunately, I had a parachute attached to me)
2) When vacationing, I prefer the beach or lake. (Hubby prefers the mountains)
3) I once fell asleep on a plane and got off at the wrong airport. (It wasn’t funny at the time)
4) I adore all animals but am partial to dogs. (I have 5)
5) Weeping willows and Mimosas are my favorite trees. (I’m allergic to both)
6) My first day of college, I walked into the men’s bathroom. (I thought it was a classroom. Honest!)
7) My dream vacation is Scotland and Ireland. (I’m quite certain I will see Gerard Butler)

Be sure to stop by on Friday to chat with Christy. There may even be a prize being offered. ;-)

See you all then!



Men vs. Women

Part of the fun about writing is figuring people out. Developing the characters, learning what makes them tick, what they desire, what they fear. The women I write about all tend to be emotionally strong, they're interesting, career women who don't need anyone to take care of them.

The men are a little tougher. They too have overcome obstacles of their pasts (or think they have) and are career oriented. But pinpointing what makes them tick...

You see, I'm a woman. (duh) I don't think like a guy, despite the fact that I can't remember important dates in my marriage (my husband will be able to tell you the date we met, the date he proposed-all of those things that girls are supposed to be better at remembering than guys), watch sports (football is my favorite), drink beer (I love the microbrews of the NW-Kilt Lifter is my current favorite).

Currently I'm tinkering with a scene where my hero and heroine reunite for the first time after a fairly turbulent parting. I had my husband read the scene and he asked me what keeps the hero from just turning around and walking out the door if he really didn't want to be there. "Well. She's hot. And she's been hurt." I answered, holding my breath, hoping that was enough.  Sure enough, Hubby nodded and told me I was good. "He'd have stayed even if she was just hot. Hurt just gives him an excuse."  Okay then. Good to know.

Same thing happened when I was writing a fairly gut churning scene where the heroine unloaded her past on him. The hero wasn't sympathetic like I'd planned on him being. He got mad. REALLY mad. Once again I ran it past hubby who explained that he was mad because he wasn't in control of that past. She'd made some decisions for him and that ticked the Alpha Man off.

Huh. Maybe I do get these guys. At least a little bit. Not that I'll ever admit it to my husband or sons. Something about them still mystify me on a daily basis.

Who are some of your favorite heroes? Do you get them, or are they a mystery?

I'm thrilled to announce that this Friday Christy Reece/Ella Grace will be joining me to chat about her newest releases, Midnight Secrets and Chances Are. Be sure to stop by and say hi!