Romantic Life Lessons, Whining

Day #24 of Staying Home

Greetings from Awfulville!

How is everyone doing and when is this going to end? Remember the days of *no* daily press briefings and packed streets on a Sunday?

I hopped off listening to the “coronavirus task force” updates and transferred my allegiance to local reporting since urban COVID has a different twinge and I just want facts. Today was the first day where the number of deaths had gone down from the previous day. A grizzly, sad but positive-ish sign.

Here are other positives about staying home indefinitely:

*It’s training for your future nursing home/hospice care. You make your own schedule. You get a fifth wind at 4am? Go for it. You have nowhere to be.

* Wearing a bra is optional. Sorry, Mom. You know it’s true. Your own mother is applauding this point from Heaven.

* Impulse (not affordable?) purchases are excused because mental health is crucial. I bought a trampoline and a sewing machine! In addition to wanting to help healthcare workers, I made Sam a shitty mask but it brings out his beautiful green eyes.

* Talking with loved ones rocks. I don’t need a lot of human contact. My phone convos are purely altruistic. Just kidding! I usually feel better after a good chat on the phone. It’s fascinating to learn that I actually miss people.

* Makeup tutorials are relaxing. Bobbi Brown’s MasterClass is excellent. I also enjoyed Kim Kardarshian’s five-minute contouring routine. Her use of bronzer to minimize her forehead is one I’ll attempt. Kim is a total face-Monet.

* RuPaul’s MasterClass releases endorphins. Best quote so far: “If you want money, wear a suit.” I want money. Not enough to wear a suit, but I get it: Get your lazy butt out of those pajama bottoms. Also, RuPaul recommends meditation to get in touch with one’s “frequency.” This in itself triggered deep vibrations to my frequency.

* The Tiger King! It’s depressing, entertaining, seedy, and binge-worthy in not a virtuous way. Sort of how you saw that one thing in the garbage, and even though you insist you never eat anything once it’s been discarded you go back and–ugh–wolf it down and insist this is your last depraved act. Once we finished the series, I went to my closet and gasped. Sam is terrified of me.

* You may find unexpected beauty in watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. This one will cleanse you after The Tiger King. Mr. Rogers was one of my fixtures while growing up. Hard to believe such an angel existed.

* Reading and editing heal. I never regret turning off the TV for a book. I am about to start Harlan Coben’s The Boy from the Woods.

* No more endless campaign speeches or debates. Remember when the most stressful thing was that upcoming presidential election? And the Russians. What happened to them?

In today’s briefing, our gov said that Cabin Fever will make people irritable and resentful. Because it’s now an official illness, I blame Cabin Fever for my irrational resentment of Influencers giving us advice and support, saying “We’ll get through this” and “We’re in this together.”

That’s true. But really, this is a never-before situation. We don’t know what will happen, which in itself can be bonding. Some are natural social-distancers. Some have coping skills to manage during gigantic disasters (just not the little ones). At the end of this spectrum, there are some whose suffering is on such an epic scale that “You’ll be okay” isn’t nearly enough. Healthcare, essential workers seem to be the ones who bear the brunt of everything horrific.

I don’t even know what to say except, “You’ll be okay.” What else is there when you don’t know?

There is always Yossi.

Uncategorized, Writing Tips

Five Tips for Fine-Tuning Your Romantic Voice

17SCANDAL-superJumboAdmit it, you were expecting my Barry White impersonation. No such luck! Instead, after reading a whole pile of submissions, I’ve put together pointers for you as you write that proposal/manuscript/and even that Powerpoint presentation. I swear, I follow these tips when I have to talk to a group. Be thankful that I’m not singing. Others aren’t so fortunate.

Here we go:

1. Create intimacy with your reader. I love it when a writer’s voice invites me into the story, like I’m about to get some juicy insight into a character’s plight. This is the reason why I watch reality TV, as if I’m learning about a secret world–though I don’t always like what I see! Scandal is very good at showing us the scandalous behind-the-scene world of politicians. The more a writer does this–creates a connection, reveals–the more I want to read her book. I want that intimacy with your story. Show me what the characters are hiding.

2. Start in the right place. This is a tip I repeat over and over. Part of what stops me from reading is that the set-up can seem so ordinary. Boy meets girl. They hate each other on sight. Or, girl is intrigued by boy as they are assigned together. Boy goes to destination, meets girl, conflict ensues. Some of these set-ups are necessary, but to lessen the editor yawns, there must be excitement and tension. Take a chance and start your romance in a riskier place. Those too-easy set-ups are sometimes not the most effective.

3. Take time to flesh out a moment. I may be contradicting myself here. As you create the above mentioned excitement, be sure to expand upon those mundane moments. They can please an editor’s senses. I am a big fan of routine, descriptions of a person’s process (code for: food preparation; colorful portraits of nature, which are lacking in NYC; interesting wardrobe choices), and how one lives in everyday life. Show us how the heroine decorates her cupcakes (mmmm, cake!), how a cowboy/girl takes care of a horse, how a spy may agonize over what to pack. These tiny details reveal character. If you loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, you must have enjoyed passages about their daily chores. They are the reason I cleaned my room, joyfully did laundry, and enhanced my work ethic. I could have read those chapters on baking, sweeping, and walking to school forever. Don’t deprive the editor of those details! Also, don’t go overboard.

4. End chapters with a bang. One of the reasons why everyone read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code–aside from scintillating content–was because every chapter ended with a bang. You don’t need to give your reader whiplash, but the opening three chapters–and many chapters afterwards–should end with a crucial moment/question that leads the reader to the next page. I like the whole “this is the last thing I wanted” or “do you dare to take on this horrendous yet provocative assignment” type of situation. Also ask, what does your character want to avoid–then, make it unavoidable.

5. Stay focused on the purpose of your story (romance). As I read submissions, I can usually tell when even the writer gets tired of her story and just wants to get it done. It’s important to¬† find ways to revive your story, invest in it, keep those central themes in mind, believe in your characters. When I devour thrillers, which is often (hello, Harlan Coben), I love how the writers have at least four subplots going to augment the “Oh no” factor. Always remember the reason why you have to write this story.

There, I’ve solved everyone’s problems. Now it’s time to get back to it. I realize many of you are sad that I didn’t sing. I’ll make up for this here.