Heroes and Bonnie Tyler

Oh look, it’s the eighties all over again. If you’ve been shopping for clothes you’re likely already aware. Bright colors are spilling out of the stores. Granted, I discovered this while shopping with my teenage daughter, so they were her stores not mine…but still. There may be some neon in my future. We do love our flashbacks!

Which makes me think of music. And who doesn’t think of the songs from the ’80’s without thinking about Bonnie Tyler? Who, by the way, is busy recording a new country/rock album. Because, who isn’t these days?

But back in the ’80’s she was Holding Out For a Hero and asking;

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?

Picture loafers with no socks. Mascara. And lots of hair gel. Miami Vice? Don Johnson?

Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?

How about Blane from Pretty in Pink with his turned up collar and his baggy blazers?

Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream
of what I need

Which makes me think of Ayla from The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel. Although she had the opposite problem, all she had to pick from were Neanderthals.

And then we come to…

It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet.

At the very least a G.I. Joe. Or Indiana Jones.

All she was left with was an eclipse, a really bad heartache, and nothing’ but a fool’s game.  I can’t wait to hear what she has to sing about in the twenty-first century.

So, flat iron or big hair? How about leggings and wedge heels? Where do you stand on the all important issue of skinny jeans?

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Costume Changes

We all have a personal style. A way of putting things together that makes us unique. We all have a closet containing items we love, the one’s that boost our confidence. Those articles  of clothing that make you stand a little taller or sit a little straighter. Then we have the casual stuff. Maybe even the quirky. The pieces we need to make up our work wardrobe. Because of course I’m sitting here all nicely showered and dressed to make the most of my day. Not planted in front of the computer wearing a monstrous, seen-better-days, black cardigan and wrinkled pajamas.

Because that closet also contains the not so great choices. The cast-offs. The clothes that somehow shrunk in the wash and are now a bit tight. That rockin’ outfit from the eighties you’re hanging on to for no good reason. We do always dress perfectly. We all succumb to stop-and-grab shopping. Stacey and Clinton aren’t on hand to be our personal shoppers whenever we need them. If they were I’d never waste another dollar on stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. We have good days and bad days and -there’s-not-enough-time days.

Just like our characters.

Some of my favorite fashion quotes from TV characters.

 “I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.”  Carrie  Bradshaw, Sex and the City

“I get up at dawn to look this good!” Mimi Bobeck, The Drew Carey Show

“I say go with black. It makes you look all villainy.” Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries

“Oh, no! Hipster. No. Do not think we are on the same team, we have nothing in common. I wear knit hats when it’s cold out, you wear knit hats because of Coldplay.” Max, 2 Broke Girls

When it comes to creating a character’s personal style it’s not only fun but necessary to emphasize personality. Every one of the characters quoted above can be considered over the top. Not only by what they say and how they act, but how they dress. Their style reinforces their personality. And a character’s style can change to enhance the advancement of the plot or the help showcase their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.

Which takes me on a little detour into costume design? Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes and having those clothes be appropriate to the story and setting, I didn’t know  a lot about the process. I’m still a rank amateur. But I’ve picked up a few hints watching bonus reels.

Example: The 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice – The costume designer spoke about Mr. Darcy’s wardrobe and how uptight and buttoned up he was at the beginning of the movie. How they gradually loosened him up in terms of wardrobe choices and fabrics to reinforce the changes to his character.

Makes sense, right?

The following quote is taken from The Secret Lives of Costumes. It’s a great look into the world of costume design.

“I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like.”  Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer

It’s something to think about when creating characters. Or during the editing process when you’re busy adding in the interesting bits and quirks. We need to think about style in terms of character development, even if it’s not obvious or part of the plot. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually it’s not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Using subtle changes can make an impact, too.

My current work-in-progress, Off the Grid, is a romantic suspense novella. It will probably end up around 25, 000 words. That’s not a lot of time. Every costume change counts. Dr. Sophie Monroe is a dedicated physician and activist. She doesn’t give a lot of thought to her fashion choices. Caleb Quinn has just been named one of Canada’s Top Lawyers Under Forty. He dresses with purpose and is impeccably groomed. it’s my job is to show how things fall apart and how they put them back together again. By reading up on costume design I’ve learned a few tips and techniques I can apply to the written word and how I can use it to emphasize these changes.

Do you love a certain TV character’s style? Have a favorite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?

 

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On Katniss and Other Opinions

I was one of those annoy girly girls as a teenager. I was also clumsy and scared of grasshoppers. I wouldn’t have lasted three seconds in a Hunger Games arena. Which is probably why I loved the book so much, and the main character, Katniss Everdeen. To busy surviving to worry about being likable, she’s gutsy and loyal and a bunch of other things.

For me she’s the epitome of one of my absolute favorite sayings!

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”  Unknown

For Katniss Everdeen it’s not about being likable, or even being the best. It’s certainly not about choosing between Boy A or Boy B. It’s about survival. It’s about winning. And it’s about clinging to your humanity while forced to do the unspeakable.

It looks like it’s going to be a terrific movie! It’s already a damn good book. So, if you haven’t read it, reconsider. Katniss Everdeen is a hero worth knowing.

In other news, I’m reading Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill for our April book club pick. It’s about five generations of men named Langston Cane. I just hope I can stay awake long enough to finish it. And the thing about ereaders? You can’t gauge where you are in a book. I was sure I had to be at least halfway through because I’d been reading for like ever. But no, 19% read. I don’t know if I can survive another 80% worth of Langston Cane’s. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a poignant story told by a masterful storyteller. It’s just meandering and taking it’s time to the end.

What I was doing while I should have been reading or writing. Watching Swamp People! One gator jumped right in da boat! I don’t why but this show fascinates me. Maybe it’s the need for subtitles! I don’t know…Also Battle Castle. Six mighty castles; six epic seiges. My new love – the History channel.

Any new loves? Going to see The Hunger Games? What are you reading?

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Questionable Plotting

Teachers create lesson plans. Coaches put together plays. You keep careful track of your finances, plan for retirement, your children’s education, emergencies.Not to mention holidays, ’cause no normal person shows up at the airport on a random Tuesday, looks at the available flights and says, “I’ll  pick that one.” No matter how much you may want to chuck everything and get the heck out of Dodge.

I love plotters and don’t they make the best villains! I mean it takes an awful lot of malicious forethought to be the proper kind of evil. Think Regina Mills/Evil Queen, the relentlessly plotting Mayor of Storybrook from TV’s Once Upon a Time. Now there’s Queen with a plan. Or not so evil. How about Charlie Eppes from the now defunct TV show Numb3rs? Employing mathematical equations and using statistical analyses is kind of like plotting. I think. I didn’t really understand half of what he said, I just liked to listen to him talk. It certainly takes a great deal of thought. Guaranteed neither of them would plop themselves down in front of a blank computer screen and wing it.

Then again maybe you apply more of a pantsing approach to life. A free spirited come what may type of thinker. Like Kaylee from Joss Wheadon’s Firefly. Remember the one where’s she’s all dressed up in her pink ballgown talking mechanics with all the boys. But not so stereotypically free spirited you wonder how she managed to dress herself that morning or find her way to work. Or Phoebe Buffay from the show Friends.

 Phoebe: (On the phone) Hi, it’s Phoebe. Someone needs to take my 9:00, because it’s like, 9:15, and I’m not there.

Definitely pantsers. Not a bad way to go. After all, activity beats non-activity any day of the week.

For me most of life requires a plan. A way to get from point A to point B. How much detail you include is up to you. Especially, if you’re like me and are weird about that kind of stuff. So for the love of Mike, why would I pants my way through writing an entire novel?

“Books choose their authors; the act of creating is not entirely a rational and conscious one.”  Benjamin Franklin

I don’t know. I guess I’m still looking for that magic formula for creating that first draft. I guess because writing the first draft is not my favorite part of novel writing. I love revising. Using the computer program, Scrivener, has helped me be more of a plotter without losing that pantsing feeling that seems to stimulate creativity. I’m making progress.

With it’s cork board, recipe cards, and other project management tools it’s a system that works for me, even though I’m only utilizing half it’s potential right now. Hopefully I’ll be taking a class in the fall. See, I have a plan.

There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence-an overwhelming determination to succeed.  Sophy Burnham

Such is life. Life or writing, are you a pantser or a plotter? Have a favorite character that’s a plotter? Maybe a pantser?

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Friday Fantasy

If life were like that I’d be sitting out in the middle of the wilderness today on this beautiful deck reading and relaxing. Or maybe I’m on a mini writing retreat – yeah, that’s more like it – I’ll be busy revising my novella, Off The Grid. Surrounded by all that glorious nature, I’m sure to be inspired. Oh, I know, I’ll have someone come in and give me a massage right there on the deck after a particularly grueling scene. Because obviously money’s no object! Sounds good, no?

Instead, I’ll be cleaning.

No, no, you say? Go for option number one? If you could see the state of my poor house you’d agree – it has to be done.

So, while I dream of wooded decks I’ll be mopping and scrubbing and doing the necessary. Because that’s what life is all about here at Camp Good today. What’s your Friday fantasy? What’s your reality?

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What Scent Attracts You?

I love perfume. You’d think I’d have a particular scent that I wear. But at the moment I’m scent free. In fact, I haven’t worn perfume for some time. Unless Pledge counts, or Pine-Sol.  I didn’t worry about spritzing on perfume to do arts and crafts or car pool. Also, there were so many scent free places that it hardly seemed worth it. But, gosh, I’m finding that I miss the sense of comfort and beauty that comes from dabbing on your favorite perfume. Maybe because I shy away from any other kind of scented product, I miss having a much loved perfume. Or two.

 

In my twenties Opium was one of my favorites.

A legendary fragrance for the woman who adores Yves Saint Laurent. An oriental and spicy harmony. Sheer sensuality, a voluptuous, provocative and controversial fragrance with notes of Mandarin, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley and Vanilla.

The other was Cinnabar.

Cinnabar Perfume by Estee Lauder, Launched by the design house of estee lauder in 1978, cinnabar is classified as a refined, subtle, oriental fragrance. This feminine scent possesses a blend of incense, flowers, spice and amber. It is recommended for evening wear.

Then I had children and I don’t know…things changed. Something about that time in my life changed what scents I was attracted to and suddenly my favorites didn’t have the desired effect. Hum. Maybe my hormone levels altered my skin’s chemistry. I don’t know. Now, years later, I’m back in the market for perfume.

Choosing a perfume might seem like a daunting decision given the range of choices. But this is one choice that’s completely visceral. While so many of our choices are governed by reason, it’s refreshing to have to make a choice that is purely emotional. Governed by nothing more than, “I don’t know why, but I love it!”

Perfumes have ‘families’. You can start by deciding what family attracts you. Maybe you’re target family has more of a Florals personality – feminine and fun-loving. Could be, like me, you’re drawn to those Orientals scents – exotic and mysterious. Then there’s Fresh and Clean – invigorating and dynamic. Citrus makes me think summer and sunny days – fresh squeezed and sharp. Woody – a power scent – mossy with shades of romantic.

Keep in mind this is not a decision to be hurried. You can’t smell a strip of scented paper and decide it’s the one for you. Or pick one because you fell in love with the packaging. Don’t you adore those pretty bottles? Not to mention the commercials. They’re enough to make you run out on the spot and buy it. Risque, sexy, romantic, bold – perfume commercials definitely invite a reaction.

No. You need to test it out on your skin. Decide on a ‘family’ and start sampling. Note that perfumes have top notes, middle notes, and base notes. Top notes last for the first 5 minutes to half an hour, by then the  middle notes of the perfume’s ‘family’ emerge. Finally base notes show themselves. They give the scent weight or holding power. So dab a little on your skin in a couple of different places and wait it out. We all know about pulse points.

Smell equals memory. Our ability to remember a smell is greater than our ability to remember what we’ve seen. Whether it’s your grandmother’s perchance for Chanel No. 5 or her chocolate chip cookies, those scents pull you in, bring back memories. Memories are how we pick the right family fragrance, choose what attracts us. So why not choose a perfume to help create memories.

A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.  Christian Dior

So how about it? Do you wear perfume? What’s your signature fragrance? Or do you prefer to go sans scent? How about a favorite memory centered around smell? What scents attract you?

 

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I Do Love a Man in a Suit

You know how they say a suit is to women what lingerie to is men?

You won’t get an argument out of me!

After all, The Suit walks out our door every morning on his way to work. After twenty-two years, it still works for me.

What about you? To shy to share? What about your favorite hero? What would he leave the house in: Three Piece Suit, Head to Toe Leather, Uniform all the Way, or Cape and Spandex, Baby?

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My New Home and Other News

Welcome to my new website! I’m so thrilled to finally show it off. Huge thanks to Jo at Glass Slipper WebDesign for doing all the work. She is wonderful to work with and very helpful, especially if you’re a luddite like me. I’m learning the ropes here at wordpress, like I said I’m not tech savy, but I’ll get the hang of it. Eventually. So, please, take a moment and have a look around. Let me know what you think.

In case you’re interested, a little bit about the color purple, one of my favorite colors. A rare color in nature, it lends itself to mystery and intrigue. Often associated with royalty, of which my characters are definitely not, it is also the color of passion and romance. And I’m a huge fan of those two things! Which leads to the sexy couple in the corner. Hot, yes?  They’re having fun over there wrapped up in each other?  I think so.

How about you? What’s your favorite color?

Other NEWS

I’ve signed on to do a reading at our local Chapters. I’ll be reading from our anthology Love, Loss and Other Oddities: Tales from Saskatchewan. Look for us there on Saturday, April 21. More details to follow.

Saskatchewan Romance Writers Anthology

Timing is everything isn’t it? Or ask and the universe will provide? The March edition of the Romance Writers Report arrived with the following handy article: The Art of Reading Aloud by Janet Mullany. I need all the help I can get! I’m grateful not to be doing this alone, but with fellow members of my writing group, The Saskatchewan Romance Writers.

I’m also busy booking my first Virtual Blog Tour with the help of the wonderful ladies at Goddess Fish Promotions. My first one ever! There will be prizes and everything. So excited. And just a little bit nervous.

Schedule to Follow

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed your look around my new home. Come back again!

 

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Welcome to My New Home

Isn’t it lovely! Jo at Glass Slipper Web Designs has done a wonderful job. Look for more info come Monday, March 5th!

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