Apps With ‘Tude #2

The First Date Edition!

~ By Melina Kantor Hello! And TGIF! I hope you’ve all had a great week! The weekend’s almost here, and for many that means getting ready to dive into some serious writing. Which means that some of us need to wake up our muses. Luckily, like I said last week, there are apps for that! Here are this week’s muse-pleasing apps with ‘tude. * Drumroll please! * Question of the Day -- Your Character Building App: Has this ever happened to you? You’ve thought up a perfect protagonist, with a cute flippy haircut, an adorable sidekick in canine or feline form, and a group of quirky friends. You’re in the middle of writing this fantastic scene where your protagonist's love interest has finally, finally noticed her and has even started to flirt. But then your heart sinks because, well, you realize you don’t know your protagonist as well as you thought you did, and it seems she doesn’t have much to say. The scene comes to a screeching halt. Not to worry! Question of the Day is an app full of thought provoking questions we can "ask" our characters. The questions range from “light” to “heavy” and some of the questions have attached video clips of people’s actual answers. So give your protagonist a cup of tea (or something, ahem, stronger, if necessary) and ask away! Soon, Mr. Love Interest (and your readers) will be mesmerized by all her witty anecdotes and opinions. First Date Advice -- Your Romance App: Now that you’ve questioned her, you've gotten to know your protagonist, and she’s been pleasantly chatting away with Mr. Love Interest for several chapters now. Any chick lit writer worth her salt knows that this just can’t continue! Characters are created to be tortured. And few things are more torturous for a chick lit protagonist than a first date. Enter the First Date Advice app. It’s full of good advice about everything from what to wear to whether or not to kiss on the first date. But rules are more fun when they’re broken. Take a rule the app gives you, like “don’t discuss your ex on the first date” or (gasp!) "be honest" and make one of your characters break it. Thanks to the Question of the Day app, you already know what makes your characters tick. Get ready for some delicious conflict! Now step back and admire the tangled web you’ve woven. My Writing Nook -- Your Writing Tool: Away from your computer? Maybe you’re on your lunch break, or on a train, or just too comfortable to get off of the couch. But that’s no excuse not to write. Especially since you and your muses have just cooked up the best scenario for a first date scene. Strike while the iron's hot! Pull out your phone or iPad and open My Writing Nook, a writing app so handy it even allows you to organize your scenes into chapters. It also has a built-in dictionary. And there you have it. With these tools, your next first date scene is sure to become a classic. Then again, sometimes, thanks to real life, you may not need to rely on apps for inspiration:

2007-07-04

(Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.)

As always, let us know if you try these apps! And do tell us if you’ve got any apps to recommend. Have a fabulous, writing filled weekend! Next Time: Apps With ‘Tude – The NaNoWriMo Edition! See ya! Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. By day, she is an elementary school computer teacher (hence the affinity for apps). You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

‘Tude-torial #2

~ By D.D. Scott Here at Chick Lit Writers “It’s all about the attitude”... So what better way to showcase the Chick Lit genre than to “show” some of that attitude?! Starting with last Wednesday’s post and continuing today, that’s exactly what we’re doing! To kick-off today’s ‘Tude-torial, take a look at this fabulous quote by award-winning journalist and multi-published author Jennifer Coburn:
“...I find the attack on chick-lit more than a bit disheartening.  Is this where we are – one group of women writers mocking another, deeming its work irrelevant?  Are women really criticizing each other about what they read?!  An author recently commented that the term chick-lit sounds as if the writing is about, for and by women, nothing more.  Nothing more?!  Why isn’t that enough?!...” --- Jennifer Coburn, “Two Literary Chicks”, THIS IS CHICK-LIT
When I first read Coburn’s take, and every time I’ve read it since, I just want to stand up and shout ‘Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  You go, Girl!’ I look at it like Advice Columnist E. Jean Carroll once said:
“If Joan of Arc could turn the tide of an entire war before her eighteenth birthday, you can get out of bed.”
Yeah, as in get outta bed and read whatever the Hell you want, right?!  Kind of puts it all into perspective...just sayin’... Now once you’re out of bed, take a look out your nearest window at the gorgeous Autumn splendor coloring our world.

And remember this little gem...
“Every great oak tree was once a nut that stood its ground” --- Author Unknown
So “be a nut” and read and write whatever makes you and your muses dance like nobody’s watching. I mean, really!  Who the Hell cares what other people think?! Sexy Sassy Smart Chick Lit “It’s All About the Attitude” Wishes --- D. D. Scott P.S.  Don’t forget too that we’d luuuvvv to hear your favorite Chick Lit Attitude Quotes and Anecdotes!  So leave ‘em for us in our Comments Section.  We just might feature your Attitudes in a future ‘Tude-torial post!!! D. D. Scott is a romantic comedy debut author plus a Writer’s Go-To-Gal For Muse Therapy.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books and her Muse Therapy Online Classes and Live Workshops at http://www.DDScott.com .

Pink Carnation Follow-Up

Happy Tuesday! Yesterday, we talked about Lauren Willig's novel The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, a "genre-bending" novel with a distinct chick lit voice. Today, we thought we'd share a video of Lauren reading from her book so you can hear the chick lit voice for yourself. The video was taken last spring at Lady Jane's Salon in New York City.

So? What do you think? Do you hear a chick lit voice? Is this chick lit?

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Review – The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Chick lit in 1803?  You better believe it.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig ~ Reviewed by Hillary Raymer Lauren Willig has a wonderful chick lit voice despite the fact that her novels feature espionage, fantastic flower spies, run-ins with Napoleon, and men in knee breeches.  Her characters are a savory blend of everything we love: witty, humorous, charismatic, intriguing, and sometimes stubborn.  The men are dashing, the women are riveting and they’re perfectly paired with suspenseful plots and beautifully described history. Willig begins in modern-day London through the eyes of Eloise Kelly, the narrator of the story and an admirable young woman who is working on her dissertation but somehow manages to unlock the mysteries revolving around the Pink Carnation, one of the most elusive spies of all time.  Willig highlights the quirky Eloise while writing in first person, and I quickly found myself bumbling along with Eloise throughout cold, rainy London and feeling embarrassed for her during her frequent bouts of bad luck.  But it is upon stumbling upon family letters and journals that had been kept secret for years that we are transported back in time to 1803 during the Napoleonic War, and from there the ride only gets better. Lord Richard Selwick, the swashbuckling caper known as the Purple Gentian, who unravels Napoleon’s evil plots is thrown off-guard by the adventurous and strong-willed Amy Balcourt, a woman who is bound and determined to uncover the man behind the mask, though she finds Richard despicable for consorting with Napoleon not realizing the nature behind his reasoning. Willig creates a delightful atmosphere, with her novel centering around Richard and Amy (though Eloise’s back to real life chapters are intermingled) and their comedic yet dangerous escapades and romantic interludes.  Willig’s voice is strong and unique, combining lovable characters whose flaws and personalities are the perfect mix of chick lit and historical romance.  But don’t just take it from me; Meg Cabot’s description of Willig’s Pink Carnation says it all. “This genre-bending read—a dash of chick lit with a historical twist—has it all”

~

Chick lit, these days, comes in many packages. Yet fans of the genre instantly recognize it in any form.

What do you think classifies a chick lit voice? Do you have any "genre-bending" books with a chick lit voice you'd like to recommend? If so, tell us in the comments! It's been a year since I fully committed myself to writing and realized that it is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I am currently at work on my first paranormal romance and have fallen in love with it already.  I am from Virginia but currently live in North Carolina with my husband and my daughter.  I like drinking tea, curling up with a good book, and long walks on the beach. You can visit me at http://www.hillaryraymer.com/

Apps With ‘Tude

Useful, muse pleasing apps for the chick lit writer. . .

~ By Melina Kantor Hello Fellow Chick Lit Writers and Fans! Congratulations! You've made it through another busy week. If your week was anything like mine, you didn't get any writing done. But fear not. The weekend's here! And for many, this weekend is three glorious days, so there's plenty of writing time ahead. However, my muses (aka "Basement Divas"), which I told you about earlier this week, have had the week off, and they've been sitting around doing nothing but drinking cafe au lait, putting their feet up and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sadly, I think they may have forgotten me. Hmm. But that's okay. Believe it or not, there is, in fact, an app for that! Many, actually. My iPhone is full of them. So I thought I'd pop in here every so often, usually on Fridays as a kick off to the writing-filled weekend, and share some of them with you. Surprisingly, most of the apps I'm talking about aren't directly writing related.  The most helpful to me are the ones I use to spark ideas and get my Basement Divas chatting. Ready? Here are the apps for this week. 1. Develop Your Characters with the Horoscopes and Tarot app! Need to find just the right challenge or weakness to torment your protagonist? Of course you do! With this app, all you have to do is click through the horoscopes and / or tarot readings until you find something suitable. I just clicked on it now, and was told, "It may seem like everyone around you is happy and getting what they want while you're stuck in the trenches," and goes on to warn "don't compare yourself to others." And presto! The app has just given your muses a jealous, slightly insecure protagonist to work with! Dig a little deeper with a tarot reading and you'll really know how to bring out her attitude. 2. Sweeten your story with the Top Romantic Ideas App And what work of chick lit would be complete without at least a little romance? Has your protagonist's love interest gone and done something awful, for which he needs to redeem himself? Or worse, has he not even summoned up the courage to get your protagonist to notice him? No problem. The Top Romantic Ideas app has a ton of romantic acts to draw from. My favorite? The treasure hunt idea. The instructions couldn't be more spelled out (let's face it. . . some heroes need more guidance than others). Oh, and here's a twist: have the love interest mess up one of these romantic acts. Will your heroine scoff at the romantic act and try to ignore it? Will she be angry and tell the guy off? Or will she run into his arms? Trust me. If you use the horoscope app to help you figure your protagonist out, your divas will tell you. 3. Now that your muses are speaking to you again, use WriteRoom to write! When you're writing, do all the bells and whistles on your computer call to you like a siren? Really, how are we supposed to write when our computers are sitting in front of us, just waiting for us to email, look at photos, watch movies and play games? That's where WriteRoom comes in. It's just a blank, distraction-free screen. I've got it on my phone. It's great for when the Divas start chatting when I'm on the subway or walking the dog through the park and I just have to write. Now go rest up from your week so you'll be ready to start writing! Try these apps and let us know how they worked out for you. And if you've got any writing apps to recommend, let us know! Before I go, I'll give you one last bit of inspiration:

Happy Writing!

Melina writes contemporary women’s fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. By day, she is an elementary school computer teacher (hence the affinity for apps). You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

‘Tude-torial #1

~ By D.D. Scott Here at Chick Lit Writers “It’s all about the attitude”... So what better way to showcase the Chick Lit genre than to “show” some of that attitude?! Starting with this post today, that’s exactly what we’re going to do! I’m calling these little feature-ettes “Attitude Tutorials” or “‘Tude-torials” for short. So here we go with our first Chick Lit Writers’ ‘Tude-torials’:
“Only time can heal your broken heart, just like only time can heal his broken arms and legs.” --- Miss Piggy, the Queen of Sassy Swines
“Enemies are so stimulating.” --- Katherine Hepburn
“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.” --- George Burns
Okay...that does it for our first Chick Lit Writers’ ‘Tude-torials. Fun and super-sassy stuff, right? We’d luuuvvv to hear your favorite Chick Lit Attitude Quotes and Anecdotes too! So leave ‘em for us in our Comments Section. We just might feature your Attitudes in a future post!!! Sexy Sassy Smart Chick Lit It’s All About The Attitude Wishes --- D. D. Scott D. D. Scott is a romantic comedy debut author plus a Writer's Go-To-Gal For Muse Therapy.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books and her Muse Therapy Online Classes and Live Workshops at http://www.DDScott.com .

There’s a Diva in my Basement

A chick lit writer talks about her muses. . .

~ By Melina Kantor Some people have nightmares in their closets. Some people have boys in their basements (and not in a serial killer way). My basement, however, has a diva infestation. I’ve never seen them, but here’s a picture of their ancestors, The Nine Muses:

The divas live in a private section of the basement that I never get to see, and are way more girlie than I. They decorate with daffodils, gerbera daisies, and a lot of pink. They’ve stocked up on champagne, tiaras, boas, and big squishy chairs. They have really fast Internet that never, ever, ever goes out so they can order shoes, books and chocolate whenever they want. The divas sleep on mattresses with marshmallow-like pillow tops and feather beds, with Egyptian cotton sheets (the thread count, of course being about 1,015). When I moved from California to New York, the divas agreed to come, but they still insist on having café au lait and pain au chocolat flown in from Café Fanny in Berkeley every morning. Incidentally, the café’s delivery men are smoking hot, as were the moving men the divas hired to move their many belongings across the country. Their taste in music differs from mine. Yet, they have control of my iTunes account, so sometimes I find songs by the Bangles and The Cure on my iPhone, usually as part of a playlist for the book I’m working on, and I listen, happily. And they have a huge thing for glittery pens and flowery sticky notes. Whatever works, right? So that’s why my writing space is full of junk like this, and why my computer cover is pink. The deal is, I give the divas what they want, and do what they want, and in return, if they’re feeling happy, they shout messages up the stairs. Only I can hear them. What kind of messages do they send? Here are a few gems: “Your hero and heroine have to help a goat deliver her kid! Oh yeah, and while you’re at it, make it a breech birth. BTW, the goat’s having twins. You don’t know Jack about goat births? No worries. Get thyself to YouTube.” “Force your heroine to do karaoke! Trust us.” “You’re naming your heroine Polyhymnia, after the muse of sacred hymns and poetry. Just go with it. You can call her Polly. You have our permission to joke about how she wants a cracker. You’re welcome.” “Guess what?!? Your heroine’s ex just got engaged. Sucks to be her!” “Your hero and heroine are in the process of removing each other’s clothes. For the first time. Bwah ha ha. Oh, wait. Uh oh. The village is on fire! Did you hear us? There’s. A. Fire! They better get their clothes back on. NOW! So much for that.” And they absolutely love when my heart is broken. They sit back on their divans, basking in the schadenfreude. “You know the playlist that guy gave you? We know you want to delete it, but no! Your heroine has to listen to the one the song that breaks your heart, over and over again. Mel, don’t argue! We know that’s him playing bass. But in return, we’ll let you import a picture of said guy into your Scrivener file, and label it villain. You want to win NaNoWriMo, right? That’ll get you at least 7,000 words.” They were so right. Not only did I win NaNo the year I wrote that book, I wrote tissue worthy heartbreak scenes. The divas have one last special message they asked me to share with you: “We divas want to make it clear that chick lit is absolutely not dead. As long as there are muses, in diva form or otherwise, happily providing you chick lit writers with sparkling ideas, the genre will thrive. We muses have been around as long as people have been telling stories, and we’re here to stay. So listen to us, and keep writing.” How can you argue with that logic? And there you have it. For the writers among you: What are your muses like? For the non-writers among you: What inspires you and sparks your creativity? I’ve got to run. The divas are getting snappy. I’m supposed to be revising. Ciao! Melina writes contemporary women's fiction with a pinch of oregano and a dash of chutzpah. You can visit her at http://melinakantor.com.

Voice – The Conversation Continues!

What's so important about voice?

Agents and editors ask for voice by name.

~ By Chris Bailey and Melina Kantor When asked what they hoped to find in a successful entry, a third of the final round judges for the 2010 Get Your Stiletto in the Door contest said voice topped their wish list. Young Adult final round judge Emilia Rhodes from Simon & Schuster says “a voice that sparkles” sets a winning entry apart from the rest. Editor Megan Records, Kensington Publishing Corp., one of the final round judges in the paranormal category, says she’s first attracted to a story by the voice. A final round judge in the Single Title category, Harper Collins Editor Amanda Bergeron says, “I will be looking for a strong voice."  With that kind of demand, it makes sense to let your voice color your writing. In honor of the Stiletto contest and yesterday's discussion on voice, we thought we'd throw a little writing party and give you all a chance to show off your colorful voices with a small writing exercise:
Write a paragraph or short scene in which your protagonist is in a shoe store looking for the perfect pair of stilettos to wear to her ex-fiance's wedding. It's been a very long day, she's green with envy, her feet hurt and every pair of shoes she finds are either too expensive or don't fit.
Don't think about voice while you're writing. Hopefully, by writing something quick with no strings attached (like worries about pacing, goals, character development, etc.) your voice will automatically shine through. Every person who does this exercise will have the story, but no two stories will sound alike. That's the beauty of voice. What did you discover about your voice? Are your sentences long or short? Did you write in first person or third person? Are there any words you love to use? Which lines do you think your readers (including critique partners, friends and family) would feel "are so you?" If you try this, leave a comment and let us know how it went! If you're feeling particularly brave, feel free to post some or all of your exercise.

There’s still time to give your manuscript a final polish! Enter the Stiletto contest electronically by midnight Saturday, Oct. 2.

See http://chicklitwriters.com/home/get-your-stiletto-in-the-door for details.

The Elusive (and All-Important) Voice

By Chris Bailey I remember a moment in a coffee shop when my critique partner wailed, “I can’t find my voice.” “Just focus on the writing,” I said. “Your voice will find you.” Sage advice. I totally believed I was right until a contest judge shook my confidence by noting on my score sheet, “The voice isn’t strong enough.” After a day or two of the usual post-feedback self-talk—OMG! WTF? IDTS!—I realized my personal inconvenient truth. I had only a vague idea of what voice means. Hearing voices I know I have the ability to recognize different voices. If I read two 50-word passages by Janet Evanovich and by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I can tell that they’re written by different authors. And not by clever deduction, like whether one of the selections involves a bounty hunter and the other doesn’t, but by taking into account far more subtle clues. The two authors sound different, in the same way that my sister and my daughter sound different on the phone. Their tones are different; the pace of their speech is different; their word choice is different; the subjects they address are different. Their voices reflect their personalities, educational level, interests and ages. Desperately seeking approval Unfortunately, I’m not secure enough to rely on my own thought processes. I need verification. I went to conference workshops, read more books on craft, checked out blogs and took online classes to satisfy the need to learn about voice. At the 2008 South Carolina Writer’s Workshop, Darnell Arnoult (Sufficient Grace, 2006) differentiated between the voice of the author, the voice of the main character and the voice of the story. The voice of the author, she explained, is the voice of a body of work over time—so I can leave that analysis to reviewers to describe. Voice reveals character It’s enough for me to be concerned about developing voices for the main character and the story. According to Darnell, the main character has a world view and a background that influence her word choices, creating dialogue so distinct that she doesn’t need a speech tag. The voice of the story is revealed in rhythm, energy, pacing, subject matter and word choice. In The Fire in Fiction, agent and author Donald Maass says voice is revealed in “the outlook, opinion, details, delivery, and original perspectives that an author brings to his tale.” Agent and author Nathan Bransford offers a wide range of craft and business assistance on his blog. “Voice, at its most basic level, is the sensibility with which an author writes,” he says. “It's a perspective, an outlook on the world, a personality and style that is recognizable even out of context.”

New York Times bestselling author Shirley Jump, who teaches online writing classes when she’s not facing a deadline, says, “You have your own unique way of looking at the world, and that perspective bubbles over into the way you tell a story, relate a joke, comment on a play—almost anything you do or say is tinted with your views on the world, your perspectives, where you live and where you work.”

At the end of a twisted quest for certainty, I arrived almost where I began. Just keep writing. Your distinctive voice will emerge. Share with us. What’s your view on voice? What steps did you go through to discover yours?

***

Well, chick lit fans. Have you had any luck finding your voice? What's worked for you?

Please take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments!

~ Chris Bailey’s writing for hire has appeared online, in numerous U.S. newspapers and in mailboxes across the U.S. and Canada.

Chick Lit Gets Conscious

No Need to Check Your Brain at the Door: Chick Lit Gets Conscious

Chick lit isn’t in the coffin yet. Women today are just demanding stories and characters as awesome and complex as they are. BY: Melissa De Silva

Chick lit is brainless. It’s frivolous. It’s dead. We’ve all heard the common slurs of detractors of the genre. But is it? The last time I checked, chick lit was about the experience of contemporary women – their career struggles, their challenges in navigating the minefield of dating, relationships and romance, and their friendships and family – mostly seen through the humorous, snappy personal lens of Every Woman.

Says Kalidah Jamil, a court interpreter who counts Isabel Wolff and Sheila O'Flanaghan among her favourite chick lit authors, “I enjoy reading chick lit because it’s a delightful form of escapism. After a whole day at work, settling dinner, dishes, whatever, and finally getting the kids to bed, when I manage to squeeze in some time to read in the loo/bus, why would I want to read books on history/politics/philosophy or other cerebral stuff? I want sweet, funny stories about love and life.” Keeping it Real: Chick Lit as Awesome as We Are I think that the key to chick lit staying relevant to readers and enticing as a product category is simply for it not sell women short. What do I mean? Well, for example, lots of chick lit deals with men and relationships and there’s nothing wrong with that. These are crucial elements in our lives. But perhaps what publishers and other critics who claim that chick lit is dead (and brainless and vacuous and inane…) see is the barrage of pink-covered books pouring into the market that are crammed with cardboard characters who all seem to be obsessed with an identical (vacuous) goal: landing a date/ relationship/ diamond engagement ring so that things will end happily ever after. For most of the women I know (and having been a women’s magazine journalist for almost 10 years, I know a couple of women), this isn’t what their lives look like. It’s a whole lot bigger than some guy, no matter how great he might be, and includes jobs, friends, play, volunteering, sports, dogs, whatever. Sometimes chick lit reader Ahila Sonarajah, a human rights lawyer based in London, says, “The only stuff I've enjoyed is where it reflects modern day women and the funniness of being one, but doesn't pretend there are happy endings. I reckon Sex and the City is probably the best chick lit I've seen because it deals with the struggles of being independent, etc without pretending that a woman always ends up with the perfect man. Life is more complicated and often, being independent means you're not going to have the fairy tale life.” What Women (Really) Want So what chick lit critics may not realise is that most women aren’t tired of chick lit at all. They’re just demanding more from the genre, that it adapt to reflect the reality of their own lives, which involves a whole lot more than obsessing whether he will/he won’t  __________ (fill in blank with desired romantic gesture). Because seriously, we have better things to do. And one of them is reading about the kind of woman who’s life is like ours, but funnier and more interesting, so we can be entertained* at the end of a long day. And maybe sometimes, besides laughing, we might cry a little, and even learn a thing or two about ourselves and that big thing called Life. *Being entertained doesn’t translate to reading about some bimbo whose life revolves around chasing men in between manicures and microdermabrasion sessions. …In the next post in the ‘Chick Lit Gets Conscious’ series: Hold the Bimbos, Please. Melissa De Silva is a freelance magazine journalist based in Singapore. She is currently working on a luxe-adventure chick lit novel set in Asia with an international cast of characters. When she isn't writing for work or play, she paints like a child and takes long walks in tropical parks, squirrel-spotting while trying to avoid evil, thuggish monkeys.