A couple of weeks ago, the DH & I took a quick trip over to Branson, MO pulling our “tiny house” (AKA our camper trailer). Well, it actually wasn’t so quick. I call it “Turtle Travel” because not only do we carry our home with us, we have to go much slower than usual when hauling the camper. One of the reasons we picked this particular style of trailer was that it would accommodate 4 adults, so we could take my parents with us sometimes. When I was a kid, they took me camping all over the western US, so it seemed only fair to bring them along to Branson.
In case you’ve never heard of Branson, it’s a cool little town tucked away in the beautiful Ozarks. But what makes it special is that there are dozens of theaters where you can see musical reviews, equestrian shows, comedians, classical violinists & Chinese acrobats.
Their theme park, Silver Dollar City, is sort of the Ozarks answer to Disney Land, complete with rides & a water park. And Branson is outlet mall heaven (if you’re into that sort of thing. Remember, I am the Anti-Shopper!) There’s literally something for everyone.
In addition to a couple of days camping, we took in the show Moses. This is a pic of my mom in front of the Sight & Sound Theater. This particular theater specializes in biblically based productions and as venues go, it’s quite a state-of-the-art complex.
Here’s the DH & my dad in front of the Moses statue that dominates the foyer. (I tried to get them to lunge & point like Moses, but they wouldn’t cooperate.) The theater really is lovely and absolutely huge! We had great seats, about 10 rows back from the stage almost dead center.
As a former stage performer myself, I have to tell you I was blown away by the production value of this show. The sets were incredibly complex–some of them three stories high! The music was on a par with anything I’ve heard on Broadway or in London. And the special effects! The parting of the Red Sea was spectacular. Not only did water seem to rise around us on either side of the theater, the audience was bathed in a fine mist of cool, moist air as if we were actually in the middle of the parted sea. We were in the center of the action. No doubt about it. That moment was thrilling!
However I have a bone to pick with the writer of the script. I really didn’t like the way they depicted pharaoh’s daughter. In case you’re unfamiliar with that Bible story, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Pharaoh had ordered all Hebrew baby boys to be killed at birth, but Moses’ mother didn’t comply. When she could hide him no longer, she fashioned a basket of reeds & set him adrift on the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and took pity on him. She defied her father’s edict by taking him in and make him her own son. She even paid Moses’ birth mother to wet nurse him. Pharoah’s daughter was the Good Samaritan of the Old Testament.
But contrary to the biblical account, the writer of Moses made her out to be Disney villainess, obsessed with gaining power. They completely abandoned the scriptural story of this courageous, compassionate woman for no good reason. Especially in a time of “us versus them” politics, why waste an opportunity to show that not all Egyptians were cruel any more than all Hebrews were righteous?
Anyway, that’s my writerly rant. I always hate it when women are depicted as either saints or whores with nothing in between. We’re all a complicated mixture of our best and worst selves. Books, TV, movies and theater should reflect that. It’s my opinion and it’s very true! 😉
I love to hear what you think. You can weigh in on how women are characterized in entertainment or now that Back To School Sales are in the air, maybe you can share the typical 1st day of school essay–What I Did For Summer Vacation. Either way, it’s your turn now!
…IT’S NEVER REALLY DONE.
Wanna pull back the curtain and peek into the life of a full-time writer? Contrary to popular belief, we do not sit by the pool with a feather boa artfully draped around our necks while sipping adult beverages, eating bon-bons and ogling Raoul the cabana boy. (Of course, I can’t speak for all the JQs. Perhaps some of them do have a cabana boy!) You’re more apt to find me in jeans and a T-shirt with a dog crammed next to me in my recliner while I peck away on my laptop.
Writing is a job like any other. We have deadlines and unless we want to seriously stress ourselves out, we have to set schedules in order to meet our obligations. I map out how many pages I need to complete per week, pad the estimate to allow for life to intervene, and then put in 9-5 days (or longer) to fulfill my daily goal. In addition to our current Work-in-Progress, writers are likely to be simultaneously making revisions to upcoming releases and final passes through galleys. I revise to the last second and the galley is our last chance to get it right! Perhaps that’s why I compare writing with doing laundry.
Then at some time during the day, we have to take off our pointy writer hats and put on our savvy business person hats. Here’s when we answer emails from our agents and editors, respond to questions from our webmistress about improvements to our websites, and decide what blog invitations to accept. We put together workshop proposals and register for writing conferences. We Facebook, tweet and blog like crazy to help get the word out about our books.
I try to keep this portion of my day in a very small box, but it tends to creep into larger chunks of time.
I know I said writing is a job like any other, but in so many ways, it’s not. For example, I get to hunt down unusual factoids and dream up creative ways to use them in my stories. I float away from my writing chair each day and mentally time travel to another place and time. And the writing isn’t confined to time spent before my computer. My DH says sometimes my eyes sort of glaze over and he knows he could tell me anything and I won’t really hear him. I’m writing, you see. I get to live in a world of my own creation where the heroes are always conflicted and fascinating, (not to mention the fact that if you put them in a speedo, they’d put Raoul the cabana boy to shame!)
When I was a young girl, I had a little book called THE CHEERFUL CHERUB by Rebecca McCann. One of the delightful little verses in there confused me as a child, but makes perfect sense now.
If your job is work to you,
Quit it, I’m here to say.
Find the work you’re meant to do
And it won’t be work, but play.
So thank you, readers, for making it possible for us writers to enjoy our playtime each day. Since I’d love to hear from YOU, here’s a question to start our conversation:
What job would you consider play?
Mia’s first sweet contemporary written under her new pen name, Lexi Eddings is coming this September! She’s so excited about the start of this series and hopes you’ll pre-order YOURS today!
~Kristan Higgins, NYTimes Best Selling Author
Very late with this announcement but in my defense, the prize has already been delivered. LSUReader won a copy of One Night with a Rake, thanks to her comment on my June 6th Say What? post.
Congratulations to Dawn A! She’ll be receiving a signed copy of Ashlyn Chase’s How to Date a Dragon!
I first met the amazing Ashlyn Chase at a meeting of the NECRWA back when I lived in Boston. She was funny and enthusiastic and I knew right away I wanted to have her for a critique partner. Now, on paper, our friendship seems unexpected. We’re sort of opposites. She’s blond. I’m a brunette (well, I used to be!) She’s a Wiccan. I’m a Christian. She’s a Democrat. I’m–you guessed it–a Republican. We were even obsessed with very different genres. Ashlyn writes funny contemporary paranormals. I was writing historicals at the time. But the writer’s craft is the same no matter what type of story you write and between the two of us, Ash and I solve the world’s problems on a regular basis.
At least in our fictional worlds. 😉
Anyway, she’s stuck with me even though half a continent separates us now. I’m blessed to have her for a friend and can’t wait for you to meet her!
Mia ~ What would you like our readers to know about you?
Ash~ I’ve always been extremely creative. I missed the clues that I might enjoy writing…Loved my creative writing class in high school and earned an A from a tough teacher…but like I said—Duh. I pursued Fine Arts instead.
Fast forward several years and lots of twists and turns in my journey, and I became an RN to put food on the table. In nursing, creativity is highly discouraged by doctors who want you to follow their orders to the letter. Sheesh. I needed an outlet! So I took a course in screenwriting. That taught me how to tell stories, but Hollywood passed on my romantic comedies. Oh well. I live closer to New York, anyway. So I turned my ‘movies’ into novels. And the rest, as they say, is history. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Well, I don’t have to worry about that!
Mia ~ Ha! Me, neither! What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Ash ~ Making jewelry, reading, visiting friends, shopping…
Mia ~ Yet another way we’re polar opposites. I am the Anti-Shopper! Now for the standard get-to-know-you question: If you could have lunch with one person, dead, alive, or imaginary, who would it be and why?
Ash ~ Jim Carey, because he makes me laugh, and I love to laugh.
Mia ~ The thing about him is when he’s not mugging for the camera, he’s actually a handsome man. And he makes me laugh, too. One of the reasons I also love reading YOUR books! But right now I’m reading Deanna Raybourn’s A Curious Beginning. Her writing is witty and wise and more likely to make me smile than burst into a belly laugh. What are you currently reading?
Ash ~ 3 books. One on my Nook, One on my Kindle, and a paperback for the bathtub. By the time this is posted, I’ll have moved on to new titles, but I’ll still have 3 going at once.
Mia ~ I’m afraid I’m more of a one book at a time sort of reader. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?
Ash ~ I don’t know if she’s new or not, but Tricia O’Malley wrote a wonderful series set in Ireland.
Mia ~ Every author I know has had their “ah-ha!” moment when they realized they had a story or two boiling inside them. How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
Ash ~ A romance series got my through the terminal illnesses of my parents. I took care of them in their home for several months. I read every time they were sleeping or had visitors. It was my guilty pleasure. Thanks, Diana Gabaldon. I try to pay it forward.
Mia ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?
Ash ~ Best: Meeting authors and fans who are now dear friends.
Worst: Being judged harshly or unfairly.
Mia ~ Who’s your biggest supporter?
Ash ~ My husband, whom I call Mr. Amazing.
Mia ~ As you know I’ve recently switched from writing historicals to writing small town contemporaries as Lexi Eddings. Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
Ash ~ I write what I know. I lived in Boston for 4 years and it’s still in my blood. I live in NH now, but it’s like a suburb of Boston. Only an hour north (depending on traffic.)
Mia ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release I Dream of Dragons and what inspired you to write it?
Ash ~ To be honest, I wasn’t going to write any more dragons—and then my agent said I almost hit one of those prestigious lists with How to Date a Dragon, and my publisher wanted more.
Mia ~ What’s the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
Ash ~ For me, it’s the physical act. I have severe arthritis in my neck and I never learned to type, so I have to look at the keys. Shoulder and neck muscles kill me if I sit at the computer too long. Add to that a recent ‘yoga accident’ and resulting tendonitis. I now use dictation software, lying on my back with my monitor projected onto the ceiling. Thank goodness for Mr. Amazing and his MacGyver skills.
Mia ~ What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?
Ash ~ Charming men. You know the type. They tease, but never in a mean way. They’re funny.
Mia ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
Ash ~ I’m trying to get Book 3 in the Boston Dragons series finished by its deadline. I’ve never missed a deadline, but with a lot of interruptions in recent months, this might be the first time.
Mia ~ Naw, you always get it done, girl. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Ash ~ Never. Give. Up.
Mia ~ Well, those are words to live by no matter what you’re trying to do! Thanks so much for being with us today, Ash. And for being with me when I (and my writing) need swift kick in the pants!
If you’d like to learn more about Ashlyn Chase and her hilarious Dragons, I urge you to visit her at AshlynChase.com!
How about YOU? Do you have a friend who challenges you and makes you better? I’d love to hear about them.
Oh! And Ashlyn has graciously offered a SIGNED COPY of her hysterical How to Date A Dragon to one lucky commenter!
Bliss Russo thought nothing exciting ever happened in her life. Until her building caught on fire and she had to be carried out of the flames in the arms of a gorgeous fireman. Sure, her apartment is now in shambles and she’ll have to start her huge work project completely from scratch. But at least her love life is finally looking up . . . if only she can find her red-hot rescuer again.
Dragon shapeshifter Drake Cameron is the last of his clan, and the loneliness is starting to claw at him. He’s met only one woman who might be able to stand the shock of his true nature. After all, she barely batted an eyelash when her home burned down. And feeling her curves against him was just as hot as the inferno. Just when he thinks he’ll never track her down, she walks into his firehouse—with no idea what she’s about to get herself into.
Don’t forget to check out this big reader/author romance party coming this fall at the peak of foliage season in New England! Click the banner for all the details!
When my kids were little, we read the Anne of Green Gables books together. We laughed. We cried. We added to our family’s private lexicon.
Lexi-what? I hear you asking.
It’s a bit of private shorthand you can use when a group has had a shared experience. For example, when one of my girls would say something had “no scope for imagination,” I knew exactly what she meant.
We do it with movies we’ve watched together too. Whenever there’s a family disagreement, eventually the peacemaker among us will quote Delmar from O Brother, Where Art Thou? His “I’m with you fellers” always makes us laugh and brings an end to any contentious topic.
We regularly borrow from The Princess Bride. When isn’t it appropriate to tell someone you love “As you wish…” If we’re in a hurry to get the fam out the door, we’re likely to quote a little Shakespeare and remind the dawdlers that “There is a tide…”
Just for fun, can you name where these memorable phrases came from?
- I swear by my pretty floral bonnet that I will end you.
- Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?
- That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.
- Fish are friends. Not food.
- I feel the need…the need for speed.
Does your family use this kind of verbal shorthand? Share one with us and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a digital copy of One Night with a Rake!
(If you don’t want to take a chance on not winning, it’s available now for only $1.99. Hurry! This deal won’t last.)
For Lacy Evans, returning to flyover country is the definition of failure. She had everything she wanted—an award-winning design firm, a chic city condo, a handsome, aristocratic almost-fiancé. Then her boyfriend ran off with her receptionist and her clients’ money. Now she’s out of business and crashing on her parents’ couch. When she slides into a booth at the Green Apple Grill, she’s feeling lower than a worm’s belly.
But Lacy’s old classmate Jacob Tyler is happy to see her. Coldwater’s football hero came back from Afghanistan short part of a leg and some peace of mind, but he’s counting his blessings, and Lacy could be one of them. Then there’s her ex Daniel, wearing a sheriff’s badge and a wedding ring but looking like young summer love.
Lacy thought she knew her hometown, and herself. She just wanted to get on her feet and keep running. But the longer she stays, the more she finds to change her mind . . .
Available for pre-order now at these fine stores: