Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blog Spew

In case you can't tell, I've been stockpiling. Love that Alphasmart. Too bad I can't take it into the shower. I'm even more profound in there. {rolls eyes}

I know he's not a traditional hunk, and he had potential geekiness, but when he tells Sydney he loves her, OMG, I just die.

Not bad, huh?

Happily Ever After is for Fairy Tales

Don't get me wrong. I think all fiction should have a happy ending. Yes, that's a generalization, and one that, of course, does not hold true for everyone. Some really good books have downer endings. I just don't want to read them.

But the whole Happily Ever After thing is a pet peeve for me. It's often referred to in publishing circles as HEA, and usually related to romance. It's an obvious reference to "...and they all lived happily ever after" and, in my strident, never-humble opinion, that's the main reason people like Oprah say romances aren't realistic.

The words Happily Ever After imply that nothing bad will ever happen to the couple that got together during the course of the book. That neither will ever make a mistake, that they won't encounter challenges that test the fiber of their relationship, that they will live fairy-tale lives.

I much prefer the term Happy Ending. That means the book ends on a positive note. That the couple did achieve a new level of commitment in their romance, defeated the bad guy, met their goals, whatever. But it also means that hopefully, they have the strength to face those previously described challenges as a team. That when bad things happen--as they always do--they just might get through them whole.

So I cringe whenever I see someone in the industry mention happily ever after. I fear it trivializes not only our genre, but the real-life ups and downs we all face in our everyday lives, and which we try so hard to depict with realism.

Netflix is Ruining My Life

Well, okay, not my whole life, but my discipline, at least. And that was never great to begin with. I can write 20 pages in a good evening (that's between 9 and 11, usually) and over 50 in 7 hours of focused work. But my stellar productivity is interspersed with entire blocks--big ones--of goofing off time. Anything interrupts my flow, and I'm in trouble. I even wrote an entire article about href="http://www.nataliedamschroder.com/Articles/Inertia.htm"

But my troubles have never been so bad as they've been since I started getting Netflix. Specifically, since I started using Netflix to watch Alias.

Netflix started out innocently enough. I have a friend who watches movies every Friday and Saturday night, and that's a family routine. So she gets her movies by Wednesday or Thursday, watches them on the weekend, and sends them back Monday. Perfect.

Not so perfect for me. If a good movie comes in on Tuesday, I feel a need to watch it that night. Of course, night time is my only writing time, so if I watch a movie, then I have no time to write. Luckily, most movies aren't THAT appealing--any that are, I usually buy instead of rent--so I used to sit on them for days and even weeks. That's where the real value of Netflix is for me. No late fees.

So anyway, I got hooked on LOST last fall and started watching Alias, which had always interested me but I'd never made the time to watch. I started Season 1 on DVD from Netflix at the same time I started Season 4. And talk about hooked! I'd watch four episodes a night‹once, I even watched five. That's a lot of TV for someone who never used to watch anything except the second half of In a Fix.

So I'm all caught up now, and summer should be about writing. I should be able to finish the short story I'm writing for Amber Quill, and write the new book for Amber Quill, and finish the new proposal for Bombshell, and write the new single title that's going to launch me into Diana Peterfreund territory. Right?

Um, not quite. Because now I'm getting the Alias DVDs again to go back and watch the episodes that have commentary. I watched one last night, and it made me want to watch the actual show again, from the beginning!

Help! I need a Netflix Anonymous Support Group!

Perfect Father-in-Law

I adore my father-in-law.

I mean, I always did, for a lot of reasons. He raised an awesome son who turned out to be, while not perfect, perfect for me. He likes me. He and my mother-in-law are wonderful people who do a lot for us and don't give us the grief a lot of in-laws give their kids' families. He's a hands-on
grandfather, and likes talking about football with me.

But when I became published, he kicked it up a notch. He has always talked me up, as proud as if I were his daughter. Since my last book came out, he's been buying copies by the dozens and giving them to everyone he knows.

But wait, there's more!

I don't know if he'd like me saying so, but he had a heart attack on Sunday. One of those healthy-men-working-out situations. He's going to be fine--he's going home tomorrow. But this afternoon he called me from the ICU to ask me to bring a couple of my books to the hospital when I visit tonight so he can give them to the nurses.

I mean, is that amazing or what!

Poor Memoirists

I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, and even though I'm a rabid reader, the Books section is my least favorite. I just don't understand how they can positively review a movie like Jackass and yet be totally disdainful of most popular fiction.

But that's not what this post is about.

No, it's about memoirists. I read a review of a memoir today that indicated the author was to be elevated to the status of a list of other famous memoirists, which the reviewer obviously considers to be exalted. And I just don't get it.

Memoirists don't have to work that hard. Okay, sure, the stuff they write about was extremely difficult to live through, I'm sure, and they have to have talent to write about it in the way they do. But the story is all there. They just have to chronicle it. And anyone can talk about themselves.

But I'm not trying to belittle memoirists. Like I said, most of them had difficult lives if their books are held in high regard, and their prose itself can be beautiful. What makes me sad for them is that once they've written the book--or maybe two or even three, but three is really the limit--there's nowhere to go. Especially if they're in their 20s or 30s, which so many seem to be. There's no more story, once they've caught us up to now. So what's next?

It's probably unfair of me to comment. My life has been nothing worth writing about, so there goes my chance for exalted acclaim. It's just, I want my books to be successful so I can be MORE successful with the next book, and that can only go so far for a memoirist.

Poor things.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

You Know You’re a Grownup When…

I turned 34 in December, and I was thinking that it’s only recently that I’ve really started to feel like a grown-up. Several hallmarks testify to this, and I decided to list them. So here they are…

You Know You’re a Grownup When…

1. You start sentences with, “Twenty years ago, when I was in high school…”

2. You give your parents advice. On parenting.

3. You’d rather see “Bride and Prejudice” than “Without a Paddle.”

4. The guys in your heartthrob posters have silver in their hair. If they have any at all.

5. You want to pants someone, but to teach a lesson instead of to play a joke.

6. You think Bowling For Soup’s hit “1985” is about you.

7. You actually want soccer and dance class magnets on the back of your car.

8. The kids being gone overnight means lying on the couch two hours early, not hitting the clubs.

9. “I need a drink” refers to a double caramel mocha with skim milk and whipped cream.

10. You’ve been at the same job for a third of your life.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Vacation Reading

No one is reading my blog at the moment (they have to know about it before they can read it!) but I feel compelled to post about my vacation reading.

The most interesting thing is that I really don't like first-person fiction. Really don't. There have been rare exceptions over the years, but I have tended to avoid first-person, or at least approach it warily, because I always feel like I'm being told the story instead of living it. That's not the interesting thing. The interesting thing is that I read four very different books this week, all of them were first person, and I loved them all.

In the contemporary "mystery"-slash-humor category, the one I'm just finishing now is Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich. She's one of those rare exceptions I mentioned. Her humor transcends the first-person stumbling block. This isn't the best book of the series (the masturbating rabbit book was the best) but I am loving the new dynamic with Ranger and have flown through the book in less than two days.

Before that I read the dark futuristic action-adventure romance (my description) Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter. I saved that one so I could savor the anticipation. I loved every minute of it, from the intense sensuality to the intense action to the intense revelation (though I did see it coming--pat me on the back :) ). I'm really looking forward to the next alien huntress book.

Before that was the contemporary paranormal chick-lit Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson (I think I got her name right). I first heard of this book from Deidre Knight, and it sounded like something I'd like. It was. I can't wait for the next one. I've always liked contemporary paranormals, especially with romance, and though the romance in this book was very fledgling, it still enhanced the story of a woman entering a fascinating new world like whipped cream enhances chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

The first book I read on vacation was book two of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Very violent and dark, but still fascinating enough for me to head to book three pretty soon. Though I have a huge TBR pile filled with scrumptious choices, including the newest Silhouette Bombshells, two Dee Davises, Julie Leto's Downtown Press book, and dozens more.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I just downloaded Picasa and Hello (awesome programs!) Is this a good start for my beefcake postings?

This is Me

I, Natalie J. Damschroder, author of indulgent fiction, hereby swear to do the following:

  • Post to this blog regularly, except when I forget or don't have time or am too tired to
  • Be funny, unless I'm not
  • Offer opinions on all things that generate an opinion, but not when I'm afraid it's so controversial or divisive you'll strike me from your reading list forever
  • Copy Gena Showalter and post beefcake pics from time to time
  • Copy Deidre Knight and post about books I really like and hope you'll read
  • Copy Diana Peterfreund and lament the less positive aspects of various portions of society
  • Try to be original from time to time
There will be stuff here about my writing--after all, what's a blog for but self-promotion?

There will also be stuff here about things totally unrelated to writing, usually stuff that's very profound when I think of it in the shower in the morning, but much less so by the time I get it written down--because even more than self-promotion, blogs are about self-expression, right?

I hope people who read this will post their own comments, even if they are not in agreement with mine, and only ask that respectfulness always be maintained. That goes for me, too. :)