Friday, April 29, 2011

Progress Friday

Late posting today because of this *points at picture on the left*. It's now close to 5 pm here and I've been in front of my TV since 11 am this morning catching everything and anything about the wedding! After all the waiting, the hype is over and this goes down as a page being written in the book of history.

Absolutely beautiful wedding, no other words to describe it but perfect!

Back to business... no WIP progress per se this week. I have worked out some kinks about the 'future' for the protagonists. Need to point out I'm taken by some contract work at the moment, and my spare time is going into studying for my university exam happening in exactly 3 weeks.

Going into the weekend on the love wedding high. :) Nothing much planned this weekend, except for maybe some work as I've got deadlines on the contract stuff.

What are you up to?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Link Thursday: 15 Things Men Don't Want You to Know About Them

Men... Need I say more? They fascinate us, horrify us half the time, make us wonder if there's something inside that skull...

Turns out there is something going up there!

Check out this artucle, which sheds some startling light on the male psyche. It's accessible here, and is from Glamour.com, written by Andrew Lincoln. Some of this insight is funny, some is downright in ?!?!? mode, and some is downright sweet.

Enjoy, and discover!

*****

15 Things Men Don’t Want You to Know About Them


No matter how much of a know-it-all your man can be, chances are, he still keeps at least a few of these secrets.
1. We’re actually paying really close attention to the amount of carbs we eat.

2. Those Ryan Reynolds romantic comedies we’re always complaining about being dragged to? They’re totally watchable! We wouldn’t mind seeing one tonight...

3. No matter how many times we do it, we get a little nervous every time we have to take off your bra..

4. We steal your deodorant all the time—even the kind that smells like lilac breeze or whatever...

5. We’ve thought about which of your sisters we’d sleep with if we had to. And we’ve decided..

6. When you leave the house to go running, there’s a 47 percent chance we’re going to masturbate..

7. We’re still a tiny bit confused about all that anatomy down there..

8. Say we’re at a baseball game and we’re sitting in left field. We’re really kind of scared a ball’s going to be hit to us and we’ll have to catch it or be embarrassed..

9. For approximately the first 49 times you see us naked, we’re sucking in our stomach..

10. We wonder if you think it’s too small and obsess about whether it’s at least as big as your last boyfriend’s..

11. We want to try yoga...

12. There’s a good chance we shave our chest hair with clippers...

13. We don’t want to pick up the check nearly as often as we pick up the check...

14. Your dad still scares us...

15. We’re often way more into you than we’re comfortable letting on...

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing Wednesday: The Good Host & The Perfect Guest

I have recently been taken in by a show on satellite TV here, on French channel M6. The show is called Un diner presque parfait, which translates to, A near perfect dinner. It runs for 5 days every week, in one specific region of France every week. 5 strangers, decided by the production crew, meet and invite each other for dinner every day. Each contestant is then judged by the remaining 4 guests on the food, the table decoration, and the ambiance/atmosphere of the dinner. The one with the highest average, wins.

Nothing complicated there, true. But what I like watching is the score sheets. Was the food actually related to what the menu proclaimed? Was there a theme to the food from appetizer, entree, main course and dessert? Was the theme respected in the decoration/layout of the table? Was the ambiance too in accordance with the theme? Did the host manage to wing it all together?

What my point, you may ask? Well, every story you write is akin to this near perfect dinner, and your readers are the numerous guests coming to sample your brand as a host. The key to your dinner layout is logic, as logic is the key behind your every writing.

True - logic is primordial for paranormal mythology because you are stating about something that doesn't exactly exist and which needs to be conveyed to the reader. The same happens for fantasy (think Tolkien's world, setup, hierarchy) or urban fantasy (think Underworld, how the vamps and weres now exist in the world as we currently know it).

But, a big but here, is that logic doesn't simply apply to a world you are creating from scratch. Logic applies to every world you put across in your story.

Say for example, I am writing about present day London. London is vast, and the area of Walthamstow with it popular markets is very different from the classy areas of Belgravia or Hampstead Heath. How does logic play here? Well, the 'normal', everyday person goes grocery shopping, right? Asda, Tesco's - these are the common shops everyone goes to. But, an upscale snob will not go there. More like Harrod's for their shopping, even the basic stuff. So if you are writing about a modern day London snob who lives in Belgravia or Knightsbridge going out to pop into the nearby Asda that's just around the corner from the hottest spot of the area... Bleep!! That is not logical! A snob doesn't mingle with the commoners, and wouldn't be caught dead in a commoner's shop! Not to mention that such commoner's shops wouldn't be found in such areas normally.

Another example - you are writing a Regency historical. Your heroine is making her debut this Season, and the rogue hero has his eye on her from the minute she appears at her first ball. A waltz comes in, and he sweeps her into his arms and they twirl across the floor-- Bleep!! Wait a second, sugar. You don't dance a waltz so easily in Regency times, especially as a debutante. You need society's approval first, the voucher for Almack, and the old crones' permission to waltz, before you go waltzing. The easiest way to fall from grace would be to dance the waltz before getting this approval.
Here, the logic of the time applies. What makes sense to us today need not apply to a different era.

Now, back to out near-perfect dinner comparison. You write about either of the two scenarios above, and your 'guests' bring out the score cards (reviews, sales figures, word of mouth). You will not be in line with your theme in the Regency setting, the same kind of faux-pas of presenting red wine with fish and, on top, the red wine is chilled! With the London scenario, you strike the faux-pas of your theme about, say, the richness of summer, but your table, with its red, green and white colors, striking as a festive table for Christmas.

Your genre is your theme, and from this theme, you present the dishes (your plot and story), the decoration (your setup, setting, your era's logic, your mythology), and your ambiance (your distinctive voice to bring it all together). Think logically around your theme, and it should all fall into place.

Any question, feel free to holler!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: Today... A Post "Abroad' & An Interview of Another Kind

I'm back online. I apologize for not posting yesterday. The Internet was a hit and miss deal here most of Easter Monday (prolly a lot of people online!) and my pages weren't opening even after 5 minutes (after which they timed out and I had to refresh. See the dratted pattern here?)

Anywayz, I've got quite some stuff listed up for today.

Starting with - it's the 26th of the month, and I'm over at Tabitha Blake's Nocturnal Nights blog for my monthly Agony Zee slot. Check it out! I received queries about editing and the editors' job, which I am answering over there. If you ever wanted to know what goes on behind the title 'editor', drop by there and read all about it.

Now, something else I have set up for today pertains to the Immortal Blog Tour. Remember, last week I hosted a leg of author Gene Doucette's blog tour, and I posted a review of Immortal (read it here).

This is what the book is about:

"I don’t know how old I am. My earliest memory is something along the lines of fire good, ice bad, so I think I predate written history, but I don’t know by how much. I like to brag that I’ve been there from the beginning, and while this may very well be true, I generally just say it to pick up girls.”
Surviving sixty thousand years takes cunning and more than a little luck. But in the twenty-first century Adam confronts new dangers: someone has found out what he is, a demon is after him, and he has run out of places to hide. Worst of all, he has had entirely too much to drink.


IMMORTAL is a first person confessional, penned by a man who is immortal but not invincible. In an artful blending of sci-fi, adventure, fantasy and humor, Immortal introduces us to a world with vampires, demons and other "magical" creatures, yet a world without actual magic. It is a contemporary fantasy for non-fantasy readers and enthusiasts alike.

Well, today I have something a little special, because Adam, the Immortal himself, has agreed to answer some of my questions. This made for quite a lively discussion.

Here we go - a Q & A with an immortal man named Adam...

Where in the world do you think you're from?

Somewhere on the continent of Africa, but obviously I can’t give you a more exact location than that.  I doubt the place is still there, if it ever qualified as a “place” at all.

How hard is it to adapt, since you're not exactly the kind who can perish if you don't adapt?

Oh no, no, I have to adapt, and I will certainly perish if I don’t. 

Getting along without worrying about aging or getting sick is nice and all, but beyond that I still need food and drink and shelter, and I will die if you thrust something pointy into me just like anyone else would.  The only way I could have possibly survived all this time was by insinuating myself into whatever human culture happened to be local.  And this meant adapting, often quickly.  I’ve had to figure out a lot of things on the fly and become very good at both picking up new languages and reading body language.  And stay out of losing causes.  If I happened to be a part of a tribe that was clearly on the verge of being wiped out by another tribe, I had no problem with switching clothes and jumping over to the other side of the line, as it were. 

Any possibility you spent extensive time in England, coz your tone and humour remind me of British irony and wit.

I certainly did, but I believe the humor thing is a parallel development. 

It’s tough to analyze one’s own sense of humor, as it’s something that one doesn’t typically work at, but I would say that broad, bawdy humor is very much a culturally specific thing.  The Sumerians used to think it was hysterical to hang a guy by his own lower intestine, but you hardly see that sort of thing any more.  Likewise, I don’t get the Three Stooges at all.

It’s also possible that sarcasm and high irony stem from an innate sense of superiority, which is something I share with the British.

What's the deal with drink?

I like to drink.  It’s what I do when there isn’t anything else to do, and “there isn’t anything else to do” describes a surprisingly large part of human history.

Let me amend that.  It describes a large part of “civilized” history.  Alcoholic drinks weren’t invented until after leisure time was invented, and that didn’t happen until after we all figured out how to go from hunter/gatherer to farmer.  Feeding oneself is a full-time job when you are entirely responsible, all by yourself, for turning a living thing into an edible thing.  When you have someone else doing part of that for you, there’s more time to have a drink.

Anyway.  Alcohol is the very best community-building device ever invented.  You asked before how easy it was to adapt: drinking is a huge component.  Historically, getting drunk with someone was the very quickest way to become friends.  It cuts through nearly every social more.

Figured an immortal would be a womanizer (picking up secrets of women's psyche after all this time!) but you don't seem to be. Any reason why?

That largely depends on what you mean by “womanizer.”  I get my share, certainly.  I’m not a cad, or a rake, or whatever we’re calling men now for whom conquest of women is a goal of some kind.  I will pursue someone if I think there’s a spark there, but I’m obviously not looking for anything long-term, so it’s much easier for everyone if the woman in question isn’t looking for that either, or at least isn’t looking for that from me.

As to figuring out the woman’s psyche, I’m as good as anyone at interpreting both genders, but I don’t think I have any special insights into women specifically.  I do know clubbing them on the head and dragging them off is no longer appropriate.

Could this be because of the red-haired woman?

You mean am I behaving like a better person because of her?  Or am I saving her because of some sort of “true love” thing?  Nothing like that.  I don’t believe in true love.  I do believe in contingent love and conditional love, and even long-term love, but since I don’t believe in fate or any particular spirituality the idea that there is one person out there that is The One is just… too fantastical to me. 

The whole “happily ever after” idea is entirely Walt Disney’s fault, I’m convinced.  I have lived “ever after” and it’s simply not possible to be happy for all of it.

What's next for you now, and your 'association' with Gene?

For me personally, I have to sit down with Gene again and run through a general idea of what the third book is going to involve.  The second book, Hellenic Immortal, is essentially finished, at least as far as I’m concerned.

But you want a hint about the next book.  Um… I haven’t read it yet.  But the stories I’ve told involve Athens, Las Vegas, and upstate Washington.  There is at least one werewolf.  And Gene will be posting a sample chapter—he said he thinks it might be the prologue but can’t decide—at the end of this tour. 

And I can't wait for this sneak preview at Hellenic Immortal! This is one series that has me hooked. Thanks for answering my questions, Adam. Who said gentlemen are extinct now? You've been the perfect example of this rare breed.

And that's it for me today, folks!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Hey peeps

For a while now, I've been following this bandwagon where authors post six sentences of their WIP on Sundays. If I'm not mistaken, Six Sentence Sunday just celebrated its first anniversary. I thought this was a cool idea, to have a little tidbit up every week, so you guys get to see what we're working on.

Here's mine, and please bear in mind this is my first time at this so I'll prolly mess it all up. *grins*

The following lines are taken from my current WIP, a contemporary romance, and happen at Chapter 3, where the heroine is looking at the hero while they're together in a car.

Enjoy!

"...He had lost all traces of youth.
Had he lost his heart too? Right then he didn’t look human. No – he was the real avenging, fallen angel now. So beautiful it hurt. What had happened to him, to the boy she’d known, who had made her believe there was beauty in the human soul?..."

Let me know what you think! :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, April 22, 2011

Progress Friday

WIP meter up at 40% this week. Measly climb upward, but then I haven't been writing much in the past 7 days. With us being away for the weekend, it took a moment to get back to normal, and then I had contractual work coming in that used up my time and resources. Not to mention that I also have to study for the exam which is less than a month away.

I also hit a stump on the story because the scene I needed to write required some detail-specific information and I had to go scour for that. Thank goodness I managed to find it all online, and haven't needed to bother anyone to give me the pertinent facts. I'm a stickler to authenticity in my stories and there was no way I could've winged this one without giving proper consideration to how the family law system is set up in England. Yeah - writing is a 'knowledge' business too. The amount of things I came to know just because I needed to research them for stories - staggering! The process of writing fiction becomes an education in itself.

So, not much planned this weekend. We're still recovering from last week, and with kids back in school and my exams looming ahead, we'll be sticking close to home mostly. Dunno what I'll force feed the blokes in the coming two days. After the work spree I've just been on, I'm not in the mood or capacity to do anything but wing some basic food on the table. Oh wait - I'll have to badger the hubs to get us some take out!

What have you got planned this weekend? Hope you have a good one.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Link Thursday: The Dos and Don'ts of Being Single

Am I advocating singledom? Tough question... You know those days when you wish you were single, just because then no one would care if you're still in your PJs at 3pm, had cake for lunch and plan to nuke a frozen pizza for dinner all while guzzling a whole bottle of Mountain Dew while you TV-zapped through all the daytime soaps sitting cross-legged on the sofa with a pile of half-open, trashiest romance books you can find all around you... Let's just say I want one of those days...

But then too it's been so long since I've been single (doing a Susan Meyers of Desperate Housewives skit here, thinking 'when was the last time I was single... Uh, ever...?'). I'd be totally out of my depths in today's world - case in point, look at the scenario above.

And unless I want every single heroine I write next to be a Bridget Jones- wannabe, I seriously need to up my game.

That's where the article of today comes into play! You can find it, with all its good pics, here on, as expected, my article bible, MSN Lifestyle Love & Relationships section. The piece is written by Laura Hagans Smith, and pulls knowledge and advice from a wide array of women out there.

*****

The Dos and Don'ts of Being Single

We asked experts and women who've seen it all for their advice on being single and loving it.
by Laura Hagans Smith

Practice Your Dating Skills
"None of us is born knowing how to be in a relationship. Malcolm Gladwell, in his best-selling book Outliers, argues that virtually every skill can be mastered, if it's practiced for 10 years. He writes: 'The tennis prodigy who starts playing at six is playing in Wimbledon at 16 or 17. The classical musician who starts playing the violin at four is debuting at Carnegie Hall at 15 or so.' View being single as practice for being in a relationship. Don't expect to have the skills to be in a relationship right away."

—Juliette Tang, community manager for zoosk.com

Be Prepared to NOT Be Single for an Evening
"Do carry a toothbrush, toothpaste and condoms in your purse. You never know what the night has to offer!"
—Krishana Clark, 24, Tampa, Fla.

Learn from the Mistakes (and Successes) of Others
"Do be interested. Listen to others and you'll be amazed by what you learn (about dating)."

—Debra Goldstein, coauthor of Flirtexting

Put Yourself Out There
"Don't feel silly striking up a conversation with a stranger. The only way to meet people is to talk to them — so say hello! Whether it's a friend's older brother, the waiter at your local restaurant or even a cute guy in the park, people are generally more receptive than you think to a friendly greeting. To start the conversation, ask him a question."

—Sarah Harrison, editor at yourtango.com

Dress Like You're Not Single (Especially Lingerie-Wise)
"Do wear sexy underwear. Who cares if you're the only one who sees it? The sex appeal it gives you will ooze through, and you'll feel super sexy and kind of powerful, too. Same goes for cute nightgowns to bed."

—Erin Scottberg, editor at lemondrop.com

Dating Someone Won't Change Your Entire Life
"Don't look for someone to complete you … you're the only one who can do that."

—Olivia Baniuszewicz, Flirtexting

Stake Out a Good Spot for Dude-Spotting
"Do be a regular—at a bar or restaurant, coffee shop, etc. It's a great way to meet new people."

—Klancy Miller, 36, New York City

Enjoy Your Life Just as It Is, Right Now
"Do spend time dating yourself. Take yourself to dinner, spend the day enjoying your own company, pop into a museum alone and sit down and have a glass of wine by yourself. Too many women are afraid they'll look pathetic, but in reality a woman who does what she wants to do when she wants to do it looks confident (read totally sexy) to the opposite sex."

—Brenda Della Casa, author of Cinderella Was a Liar

Be Open to Taking a Friendship to the Next Level
"Don't rule out dating close friends — especially those who might have let it slip that they're attracted to you. There's always the looming dread of jeopardizing your friendship, but I've learned that these are often the most successful, since there is no cheap pretense of seduction — you can feel secure knowing that he likes you for who you really are."

—Alexandra Rodriguez, 20, Potomac, Md.

You Never Know What Romance May Be in Store for You
"Do remember that your life's plan is not written in stone. It's written on paper that can be ripped up. Be open to new people and events that weren't in the plan."

—Larry Wilson, founder and CEO of oppositesconnect.com

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Hallowed Be Thee, Crit Partner...

 ... Not!!! There's nothing holy about what your crit partner tells you, and you should see it for what it is first and foremost. A critique.

Have you ever watched a movie and then read what the critics are saying about it? Have you noticed that the critics' views may range from this-is-crap to this-is-brilliant and everything in between? Now have you stopped to ponder what your idea of the movie is?

You should be doing the same with your story. After all, who better than you will know what you want to say?

So, am I saying crit partners should be ditched? After all, I'm telling you to have your own opinion, aren't I? The answer is No. You actually need your crit partners, but you also need to know how to weed out what you do need from their words and what you don't.

I came into the writing world armed only with literary knowledge. I wanted my characters to be the foil for a reality I wanted to show. The first thing I realised with crit partners' insight is that I'm not cut out for writing literature. I was blowing too much life into the characters for that, which was making me veer towards popular fiction. I didn't want to write Harlequin type back then, some 7 years ago, because I knew it would never be accepted and published in my country. But in the end, I couldn't keep on rebelling. I had to accept the truth - I wrote popular fiction.

My crit partners showed me that, but afterwards, it was very much trial and error that had me pulling my hair out almost every single day! That was the extent of their 'help' - to show me I was better off writing romance but man, did everyone have an opinion about how to go about the task! I met the know-it-alls and even those who thought they knew much when they didn't know a thing - why does your story start here? You'd have more impact if you made the mother come to her doorstep in London, or if you gave the heroine a mental breakdown.
You write too far-fetched stuff, life is not like this in the twenty-first century.
You're too wordy.
You need to pitch the boyfriend with the ex at this particular point or you're completely missing the point.
A scene is a minimum of 3 pages long. Less than that, scrape it (even if you have something to say!).

Okay, you get the drift, don't you? One day I stopped listening and sat down with my story. So, what were my strengths and what were my weaknesses, I asked myself. How exactly do I write? What am I aiming to portray and show? How can you think you'll make your work better if you don't even have any idea what you need to make better?

Started a long journey for me. I wrote the full story, without getting any crits. I needed to know where I was going. Then I looked up writing resources on the net and devoured everything I came across (sites like those of Charlotte Dillon, Holly Lisle, eharlequin Learn how to write, and Romantic Times were the best I found, among others).

I started to see something emerge - some of these articles said the same thing. And this is something you need to take into account. If 5-10 people in the industry are saying something, there's a good chance the thing they're saying is true. Mind, you I never said it was set in stone. You just need to bear this truth in mind.

In the meantime, I had found the last chapters easier to write. Why? Because it just flowed. I could get into the characters' heads and relate their POV, and the words fell onto the screen, even if it was wordy. One scene I remember writing where I made the couple break up. I was shaken for a long time after that, shaken by the violence in their words, in their emotions, in how they used me as a medium to pass through to the reader what was at the very bottom of their hearts.

I didn't send this for crits. Armed with the knowldge gained from the articles I had read, I created my list of strengths and weaknesses and tackled it. Rewrote the ms. Re-rewrote the ms on another read. Polished, editted, became best buddies with my thesaurus. Then I sent it off to the editor. Not pausing to think, I started a second project. Started writing, again a wordy first draft. Finished the draft and tentatively put it up for crits. The know-it-alls no longer bashed me now. They had no opportunity to do so, other than to tell me I was wordy and my story was littered with echoes.

From there I read all their crits. Took some of their pointers and advice where tightening was concerned. Used a more appropriate word when they sometimes suggested. Gave careful consideration to plot points they didn't agree with.

At this point, I knew what worked for me and what didn't. The aim of a crit was to show me what my eyes had missed, not to provide my crit partner with an English class exercise of 'rewrite this better'. I also paid attention to the fact that if 2 or more people were going, 'I don't know what you mean by this line', there would be a very good chance most readers wouldn't too. This I changed/rewrote.

It all boils down to this - know thy story and know thyself as a writer. This will give you what will work for you and what won't from the sea of 'advice' you'll get from your crit partners. Read about the business and the craft, and always be on the lookout to learn. The only hallowed word is that of your editor, and even there you have room to disagree and argue constructively.

I am lucky today to have trusted crit partners who have steered me in the right track. They all helped me to find my strengths and address my weaknesses, and that too in a constructive, empathetic and supportive way. Nobody plays the know-it-all with me, and I always remember to never sound like one when I do give a crit. Use or lose is my favourite bit of advice at the end, because this is what you should do - use what will strengthen and lose what doesn't work. The best way to know how to make the difference? Invest in your story and in your own writing. Knowledge is the greatest asset!

Btw, that first story I talk about here is actually The Other Side, my first published novel!

I'd love you opinion on this topic! Feel free to holler!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, April 18, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: Trip!

Hey peeps

Hope your week started well. I'm coming down from a high today... sigh... after we spent the weekend at a beach resort here. Remember the beach we went to last Monday (look at last Monday's posting)? Well, I went scouring the Net to find the various hotels listed on that stretch of coast, and we actually found one that didn't cost an arm and a leg (and your first born too, in the process!). Since this was the last weekend of the April Easter break, we thought - why not? And that's how we found ourselves spending Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning over at this resort called Veranda Palmar Beach Hotel. It also has a spa, which I didn't check out this time as we were really rushing to get the bookings done and I wanted to take my time.

So, spent the weekend doing next to nothing, lol. And even that's tiring, because you're letting go, and for someone not used to letting go, your body goes 'oh wait something's wrong so let's put her on standby mode' or something.

I was gonna shoot pics but I hardly got any in, what with me leaving my phone back in the room almost all the time coz I had forgotten to take a small handbag/clutch with me and just lugged my huge leather tote that doubles as hand luggage. Left that too in the room, and no, had no pockets either in the clothes I took. I know - I'm awful at planning!
Went online and found some pics, so take a looksie!

This is the pool, where the boys spent most of their time (and ended up reeking of chlorine even after they'd scrubbed under the shower!). Our room was right across that pool bar, on the left of the pic here.


This is the beach in front of the hotel. Spent half of Saturday in those waters. Now my stepson is one who cannot remain still for long, so here he was running to the beach house and asking about the nautical activities. That's how we found ourselves taking the boys out in kayaks (which are really hard to manoeuver! No wonder rowing is considered such a good exercise. I could hardly feel my shoulders and upper arms when we were done!). Also took out a pedalo (have no idea what it's called in English. It's one of these little boats you have to pedal to navigate).


And did I mention the trip on the glass bottom boat, when I found out I get really sea sick? The trip out towards the reef was great. I mean, I was focusing on the fish. At one point we were like navigating through a swarm of blue green fish. Out of this world, I'll tell ya!
But the return leg... Oops. Spent the time with my arms braced across my stomach to try to keep the roiling feeling in check. Need I say I am NOT stepping on a boat again? Ever?

This is what a room/house unit looked like...


And this is the garden and path leading to the beach...

And this is the restaurant, where we pigged out on buffet offerings for breakfast and dinner...


And this is what our room looked like...


So that's it from me for today. I'm still working out the kinks of that kayak expedition.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, April 15, 2011

Progress Friday

On the fly today, a quick one!

Moving along nicely. Got an in into the story over the past weekend and things seem to be flowing. Hoping to kick some more out of the way this weekend. We're going away for a couple days and I hope to use the free time for some writing on the phone.

Progress meter up at 38%. None too shabby!

Hope you all have a nice weekend! I'll post some pics when we get back on Monday. :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Link Thursday: The Silent Ways He Says I Love You

Not every hero has to be Romeo, blaring sonnets out from under your balcony. Your real man doesn't have to emulate Shakespeare either.

 
And for once, why don't we women let him be a man? I know - he'll never say the words then. Maybe not out loud, but check this out. There are silent ways he is saying those important words. Guys show, they don't tell, ladies!

 
As always, the article is from MSN Lifestyle Love & Relationships section. I accessed it way back in January 2010.

 
*****

 
The Silent Ways He Says "I Love You"

 
Some brave guy friends broke the male code of silence. If he does any of the following, he's pretty much saying, you know, that phrase.

 
1. You catch him staring at your eyes.
The eyes are more than just windows to a man's soul, they can also be a tattletale to what's welling in his heart. Men always ogle the objects they desire — it's the reason you're always busting us cleavage-peeping. So consider: With all that eye candy out there, if it's you he's staring at, his affection runs deep. There are two types of I-love-you looks. There's the secret stare (you'll have to catch him in the act). "Watching my girlfriend at a party allows me a private moment when I can pinch myself and wonder how I deserve this amazing person in my life — a perspective I can't get when she's right there in front of me," says Patrick, 30.

 
Then there's the steady gaze. Guys are guarded when it comes to showing emotion. If they lock eyes for a full-tilt, unabashed stare, they're lowering their shield to let you in. "I'd never hold that sort of eye contact with anyone else, but an intense gaze with my girlfriend reflects how comforted and captivated I am by her," says Chip, 29.

 
2. He stocks his kitchen with stuff you like.
Discovering that his kitchen is loaded with biscotti, lemon-lime seltzer, and other feminine edibles (that would only pass his lips at gunpoint) shows you're lingering on his mind in the most unexpected, unromantic places — like the produce aisle on a solo shopping trip. "One day I checked out my shopping cart and saw all the bags of baby carrots and bottles of diet soda meant for my girlfriend," says Patrick. "It struck me that it had become second nature for me to consider what would make her happy, and that's when I knew I was in love."

 
Furthermore, stocking up means he's gone public with your place in his pad. You see, men like to maintain at least the image of being detached for as long as possible. So leaving unmistakable evidence in our home that there's a woman present in our life is a bright red flag that you're The One.

 
3. He talks about where he wants to live in three years.
Telling you he plans to relocate out West one day may seem like a neon warning not to get any long-term ideas because your man's getting set to leave you in the dust. However, it might also be his wily way of letting you know that he wants you in his future. "Every time I tell my girlfriend where I see 'me' down the road, I'm really trying to gauge whether she sees herself there with me," says Jon, 26. So how do you know when a guy's just bragging about his grand game plan and when he's quietly declaring his love? It's all in the way he talks. If he tells you he wants to move to Tahiti, be a beach bum, and ogle the local girls, no dice. If he mentions that he sees himself eventually settling in San Francisco, then immediately asks if you could ever envision living there, he's emitting serious long-term relationship rays.

 
4. He wears the sweater you gave him all the time.
Trusting you behind the wheel of his wardrobe is something no man does readily. Not that guys are really all that picky about their appearance, it's just that we pride ourselves on being, well, ourselves. "Blame it on the inflated male ego, but to permit any tampering with our identity, even if it's for the better, is considered a sign of weakness," explains Seth, 29. Consequentially, every time a guy does don some item he obviously didn't pick out for himself, he's showing that he's letting you take control and do a little remodeling. It's a bold statement, one that guarantees he'll encounter a certain amount of abuse from his peers. Translation: He's willing to endure his pals' ridicule to make you happy.

 
5. He stands right next to you in public.
Where he stands when you're out together says a lot about where you stand in his life. Consider this key truth: Call us dogs for it, but guys are hard-wired to check out women. "It's second nature for men to scan every room they enter for possible trade-ups if he's still in the market for Ms. Perfect," says Robert, 31. That's why when a man's still uncertain about his feelings, he'll either trail several feet behind you or get out in front and lead the path — two safety positions that keep his wandering eyes hidden. "But if he's in love, he'll squelch this most basic male instinct," says Chad, 28. Sidling up shoulder-to-shoulder is his way of showing his commitment by keeping his eyes right where you can see them. Plus, sticking close puts him in range of being touched in public by you, and that limits his ability to go after a sexy chick he may spy. "Being side-by-side puts my girlfriend within lips' reach, making it easy for her to whisper in my ear or lean in for a surprise quick kiss," says Ryan, 27. "It's my way of telling other women that I'm taken."

 
6. He doesn't flinch if you pick up his phone.
Men never know what potentially image-damaging force might be lurking on the other end of their phone line — from ex-girlfriends looking for a last hurrah to an overly inquisitive mom. If we let you answer that jingling time bomb, it means there's absolutely nothing about us we want to keep concealed from you. "Men aren't big on sharing. So when a guy lets you grab the phone — possibly making you privy to personal information you could use to blackmail him for the rest of his life — it means he's planning on staying with you for a very long time," says Rich, 29.

 
But more than just sharing his secrets, a guy handing you the rights to his receiver is essentially the same as giving you the key to his kingdom. "A guy's phone is the last thing left in a relationship that's truly his own," says Jeremy, 26. "Giving up that remaining piece of autonomy is something I only do with someone I love."

 
Find Out if He's Falling for You: Little tip-offs that the guy you're dating is getting in deep:

 
  • He arrives at the restaurant for your dinner dates before you do.
  • He remembers the names of your friends (and not just the pretty ones).
  • He does things with you during prime sports time (weekend afternoons from 1 to 7).
  • He asks about your family.
  • He tells you the secret that his best friend told him never to tell anyone.
  • He picks you up from the airport ... during rush hour.

 
*****

 
From Mauritius with love,

 
Zee

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Is Over At...

... the Pop Culture Divas today!

It's time for my every-other-month post there. Drop by! I'm asking whether stories get lost in translation from book to small screen. My cases are True Blood v/s Dead Until Dark, and Rizzoli & Isles v/s The Surgeon & The Apprentice.

And yeah - if you're an Eric Northman fan, there are *ahem* pics up... :)

See you there!

http://www.thepopculturedivas.com/2011/04/lost-in-translation.html

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: Dance, Desi, Dance...

Been in a desi mood lately, and following the success of the Bollywood party at the recent RWA conference, I thought I'd take you all to Bollywood today.

Tried to find the cheesiest, totally-over-the-top music and videos. Here's a selection. Lots of them are about weddings, and it doesn't get any cheesier than weddings in Indian cinema. :)

Enjoy!

Tanu Weds Manu - The song that's been making rounds lately, a total hit! It's about a totally mismatched couple in an arranged marriage. The guy comes to India from the US to get married, except for the tiny detail that the bride does not want to get married! I haven't yet seen this movie but it's on my to-watch list.



Aisha - a modern Bollywood retelling of the classic Jane Austen story, Emma.



Now we start to go back a little in the years - the classics!

Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham (translates to A Little Happiness, A Little Sadness) - a family drama spanning 10 years. When the eldest brother falls for a girl who is 'beneath their station', the patriarch sends him away. 10 years later, the younger brother is back from boarding school and vows to bring his family together again.



Kal Ho Na Ho (translates to Tomorrow Might Not Be) - Takes place in New York. Heroine falls in love with the new guy on the block. Except he's a terminal heart patient and vows he'll bring love into heroine's life... in the form of heroine's best friend who's been pining for her all along.



Salaam-e-Ishq (literally translates to A Greeting at Love) - Bollywood's answer to Love Actually. The love stories of 6 different couples.



From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, April 11, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: A Good Start...

Late posting today - we literally just stepped home and I'm sneaking in while everyone else is taking turns to use the bathroom (they're all covered in sand and dried salt from the sea water!)

This is where we were:


And this is a closer look at what the water looked like, though the pics aren't really that good. The real deal takes your breath away!


I'd never been to this beach before. It's at a place called Palmar, on the eastern coast of the island. Now one thing you gotta know is I'm stickler for the familiar and the comfy (give me the tourist-y spots that turn to a Baywatch-type populated area anytime). I'm an old slippers kinda girl (though let's not mention my shoes fetish here, and how a good deal of my money goes into shoes...).

That being said, let me add that I'm saddled with an adventurer. My husband is one of those people who won't do things like 'most people'. He'll trek to out and out roads and ways to find 'the' spot. This is how we found ourselves going to this beach today. It's totally off the beaten tracks, and never if you'd asked me would I have said 'I wanna explore'. Sigh - when you're saddled with an explorer, well then you gotta make do with what comes your way. Sadly (for me anyway), both our boys have the adventurous spirit too. All 3 of my blokes were right into the water within minutes and for the first time they all went snorkeling together.

They had to pull me out of the car - yes, I stay in the car when I can. I don't like the sun, or the humidity, or the sand crystals sticking to my feet, or the spray landing on my glasses and misting my sight... So they tugged me out and plopped me in the water (literally! Lifting me is no problem for my husband).

Now would you believe the water worked its magic on me, and that I didn't want to get out of its comfortable, tepid heat even an hour later? The sea was so clear and the sun shining so bright it was like looking through clear crystal. The sand bed in the water was like the best ever rug, and the beach - powdery and so fine, it was like walking through sifted icing sugar!

Did I say this seemed like a slice of heaven...? No, didn't need to, did I? :)

Hope your week's started well!

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Friday, April 08, 2011

Progress Friday

Finally Friday! Thank God it's Friday!!

One week of the Easter break down, one more to go. Didn't think I'd get much done this past 7 days, what with the kiddo being home and the TV, or the game console, or the GameBoy, or a very talkative and lively 7.5 year old, always making some nerve-jarring noise in the background. All things considered, what I did get accomplished this week is good. Nowhere near where I wanted my progress to be, but it's still good.

The WIP is now standing in at 30% completed. Not so shabby. Could've been better, sure - but at least I got some done while the kiddo was away at my mum's the other day. Seriously, the more the kids get older, the more I find it's hard to write or work or even concentrate with them around. I thought it'd be the other way round, but no. Parenting is a 24/7 thing, a you get time for 'other' things when the kids are in the care of someone else (teacher or Granma). Otherwise, expect that it's your on-the-spot duty to be a parent. Mind you, I don't resent my job as a parent - wouldn't exchange it for anything in the world! - but it's just that sometimes, you want some of these 'other' things. Like uninterrupted time to write...

Oh well, just another week to hold on and I can get back to my routine of kid-free days from 8am-3pm. Patience... It's the name of the game.

Looking forward to testing some desserts on the poor unsuspecting blokes here - I'm making trifle tomorrow, and gonna try to make chocolate lava cakes too. If I can find a good substitute for buttermilk...

What have you planned for the weekend?

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Link Thursday: 31 Things I Wish I'd Known About Dating When I Was 21

Hey ladies

This one that follows is a primer - follow it. Follow it religiously, especially if you're still single. Taken? No problem - catch insight into that strange creature called 'man'.

Seriously, every woman should hear and heed these words. Be she living-breathing or fictional, the advice Erin Meanley dishes here is priceless.

I accessed this article about a year ago (April 2010) on the MSN Lifestyle Love & Relationships page.

Read on for some of the best stuff another woman can tell you! I've bold-ened the ones I think are extra-important! :)

*****

"31 things I wish I'd known about dating when I was 21"

At 31, dating blogger Erin Meanley looks back and shares 31 dating truths she wishes she had known ten years earlier when she was 21.

By Erin Meanley

[Editor's note: Erin Meanley is the female half of the Glamour.com dating blog, Single-ish. This is an excerpt from that blog.]

I never realized how many opinions I have about dating. I've been dating so long I'm like an octogenarian who feels overly strong about what strawberries should cost or how children should act in public. Anyway, here are some things I've learned in my 31 years, and what I wish I'd known about dating ten years ago:

1. If you're confused about whether a guy likes you or not, that's probably not good. Confusion in romance belongs only in romantic comedies because it suspends the plot, but suspense in real life sucks. So try not to analyze the events. The truth will reveal itself without you having to do anything.

2. Sometimes guys flirt with you or pay attention to you because it makes them feel good about themselves. (Hey, we do it, too.)

3. Even a guy who will admit that you're better looking than him should still be able to tell you you're beautiful. If he holds back in order to control the situation, or to keep you, or keep you down, he's got issues.

4. Don't help him ask you out by texting him something nice or polite. I'm glad you're more outgoing and thoughtful than he is, but he doesn't want the help.

5. Guys want to get busy more than anything. They'll say anything to close the deal.

6. It's shocking how much guys will talk about marriage. Until there's a ring on your finger, it will be better for you if you pretend you're deaf.

7. It's better not to lift a finger in the beginning.

8. In the early stages, giving him presents is too much. Generosity looks desperate to guys. You may be a great shopper and gift-wrapper; it may be his birthday and you may be wild about birthdays — even still, he'll think you're just wild about him. Too wild.

9. Guys just do not think like girls. I wish I'd had a brother. Real boys are nothing like the boys in movies. [Note from Zee: even having a brother does not unlock the secrets to the male mind - speaking from experience here!]

10. They might take a decade to mature. Don't hope they'll grow up or be ready in the next six months.

11. Even if your family thinks there's going to be a marriage, don't let them spoil your guy. Yes, he's grateful you gave him your car when he moved out of NYC, but he would rather have had to work for it.

12. Learn to cook. Learn to cook well. I see now that it would have won me a lot of points. A LOT.

13. Just because he might be smarter than you or more talented at certain things doesn't mean he's your servant and won't mind doing all your homework/research/chores.

14. Guys get resentful, too.

15. You're special, unique, and important, but you're not a princess — no matter what Daddy says (although for the record, my dad calls me "Erin").

16. It's okay to say no. It's more than okay. It's always okay. If he stops calling (and many, many, many will), you're only weeding out the guys who aren't truly interested in you as a person. Time saved!

17. Playing it safe guarantees you'll have more time and energy to think about your grades or your work. Less drama in your life will always be better and healthier for you.

18. You deserve to be treated like a human being.

19. Your wants and needs are just as important as his, and if you don't express them because you think it will scare him away, then you're saying you don't count as much as he does.

20. Even sophisticated people with professional jobs can have tempers or hit you or use foul language. I've known men who dressed like diplomats but they were ugly human beings.

21. You can't force chemistry. If you like him as a friend, the attraction might grow, but if it doesn't, don't force it. And don't waste his time.

22. Ease up on the sauce. Alcohol clouds your judgment.

23. No boyfriend-girlfriend relationship starts with a 1 a.m. booty text.

24. When a guy has taken you to Applebee's five times and you say you want to treat him, he'll be psyched. But secretly he'll freak out if you take him to Ruth's Chris, even just the one teeny time. Don't try to match him one Ruth's Chris for five Applebee's. Take him out, but go to T.G.I. Friday's.

25. Women love attention. A guy needs to be pretty crazy about you in order for him to pay enough attention to make you happy long-term.

26. My mom always said, "Men don't think." I thought she meant, "They are mistaken in their thoughts." But they're just not thinking anything at all. About you. They're watching the game. That's why they haven't called.

27. There should be a medium ground between workaholism and his absolute devotion. "The knight departing for new adventures offends his lady, yet she has nothing but contempt for him if he remains at her feet" (Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 658).

28. Never underestimate the quality of "interesting." Men want someone interesting. They really do. Find some hobbies.

29. What are you hoping to gain by hooking up with this guy? If the answer is "him," that's a bad deal for you. "The woman gives herself, the man adds to himself by taking her" (de Beauvoir 659).

30. Expectations? They'll ruin every dating experience you have.

31. You will never understand men. Just try to understand yourself.

*****

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Writing Wednesday: When Cliches Take A Life Of Their Own!

Finally back onto my Writing Wednesday posts! Still a little under the weather and coping with 'real life' but slowly (and surely) getting there.

I kinda lost my drift in the WW postings in the recent weeks, so in thinking where to pick up for this one, I went back to some posts I had written a little while ago. So, yes - this is reposted material, but I thought it'd be fun to get you alls' take on this topic...

So, when cliches take a life of their own...

He was tall, dark, and handsome...

No need to tell you who this refers to - the hero, of course!

But, have you noticed how all romance heroes seem to fall under this description?

Let's try something else.

The best friend whose shoulder you'll always cry on is all the time boyish, maybe with a mop of curly hair, who half the time, is red or blond.


Or, the guy's shoulders are a mile wide.


Or, his hair is luxuriant.

Are you seeing a common thread here? All this is expected. You close your eyes and you picture this kind of description all the time.

Why? Because it's a cliche!

All the men in romance tend to look alike, a carbon copy in a sort.

I ask, aren't you fed up with men who all look, sound, feel alike? Why do we read romance? For escapism, for the HEA, but a major part of it is - to fall in love with the hero!

How then do you fall in love with one same man all the time? Isn't there scope for a variety of men out there? Women in real life aren't all attracted to the same kind of men. There's got to be someone who rocks everyone's boat but who won't rock yours. Case in point, I can't for the life of me drool over Johnny Depp. Throw whatever you want at me, he does absolutely nothing to me. Yet, women the world over would sell their souls to be with a man like him. Side note - I have been known to find Ed Harris sexy though... (!)

This kind of thing doesn't happen just to me. It happens to you too. Think of that geek you found cute. Or that hulking man who peopled all your fantasies once you set your eyes on him. Think of this fellow who caught your eye and you have no idea why coz he's a regular looking guy, nothing striking about him.

Heroes are supposed to be a transposition of real men to the fictional world. Why then would all heroes look like clones if we took them and placed them in the same room in the real world?

Kill the cliche. Emerge with a man who's unique. Why is he unique? Because he's different, and that's why and how your heroine falls for him. At the same time, this novelty is what will make women who read your work fall in love with him too.

Don't think a man has to be tall to woo. Think of Brad Pitt. He isn't a beanpole, is he? Same goes for Andy Garcia.

He doesn't need to be dark to be drool-worthy. One of the men women would die for and men would kill to look like is blond. His name is Daniel Craig.

Don't think he needs a mop of luxuriant hair that would make every woman envy him his locks. He doesn't have to be Patrick Dempsey and he can also be balding like Jason Statham.

Imagine a new hero. The world will thank you for it, because you brought a real guy to life in your story. And, nothing beats the real guy where love is concerned! We don't want a fantasy, or a world like the soaps which is filled with guys one so hunkier than the next we throw the towel in at the level of high-maintenance expected of us to just be able to stand next to them proudly.

No. We want a real man. Someone we could bump in at the corner store.

I'd love your comments. Feel free to tell me what sort of un-cliche man rocks your boat.

From Mauritius with love,

Zee

P.S. If ever all the guys you bump in at the corner store look like they come out of a soap opera, let me know. I'll relocate ASAP.
P.P.S. Or no, wait - you peeps move to Mauritius. I got pulled over by a cop the other day (routine check, thank God!) and he could pass for Victor Webster's younger brother!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday: Brit Pop

Hey peeps

I love all things British (well, except the weather) so it goes without saying that a lot of the music I listen to is Brit pop stuff too. Quite some gems there - lots of indie sounds and feel. To me, there's always an edge, something unique, to the British pop scene. It's always surprising me in some way or the other.

Take this 'new' singer, Adele. She's been on board the music scene for a couple of years at least, and she's 'different'. She's not a Size 0, she's not 'doll-perfect', she looks like she doesn't give a damn! My type of heroine! With a voice to die for, a punch to envy, vocal range and power to bring you to your knees - she's the new gal on the block! At only 23, she's just released her second album, and her story is the stuff legends are made of. In this cut-throat world of competition and everyone thinking they got a chance at fame, Adele's demo ended up on MySpace, posted by a friend. A producer heard her singing, and the rest is history.

Here she is - the song that made me 'discover' her recently.



Now how can you talk of the British music scene and not talk about James Blunt? Another voice to die for, with ballads that are now classics, and better still - lyrics with an actual depth of meaning.

Check out this track, one of his latest singles. It'll speak for itself, I promise.



From Mauritius with love,

Zee

Monday, April 04, 2011

Random Thoughts' Monday: Rise & Shine!!

... is back!! Hell-o beautiful people!

Gosh, I missed being on here. Can't believe it's close to 2 weeks since I had to go away. I've been so caught up in all that's been happening behind the scenes in my life, yet I wonder how I kept my sanity intact in all this time. That could certainly be thanks to the wonderful people in my entourage (mostly virtual!) who have supported and upheld me all through every rough spot in my life. To you peeps - you're amazing! I'm blessed to know you all and count myself as your friend.

So, what's been happening to me lately? Well, without getting into details that would be TMI, let's just say I've had to take a step back to evaluate where my health is at, and where I want it to be in the future. Sounds like a no-brainer - I want to be healthy, like everyone else! Duh - but life, especially my life, is rarely that clear cut. I think I must be one rare patient in Mauritius who has BFF status with her doctors, so much I seem to spend time meeting them and we go over every little tidbit to rehash the 'situation'. Note - courtesy counts, like everywhere else in life. On my bad days - which do tend to strike whenever you insert the word 'hospital' in a 24-hour slot - I'm not exactly someone easy to deal with. But that being said, I'm not a b*tch either and this has helped me in great stead with the people responsible for helping me on the right health track.
So, digressing aside, I'm tackling a new health regimen, which is simple on most days, yet can get rather tedious at times as far as side effects go. But hey, there's always a price to pay somewhere, somehow. Let's just say, thank goodness it's not higher than what it currently is.

Now I did too need a break. As in, getting next to nothing done (don't count studying for the darn final degree module here, will ya?) and just chilling. Did me a world of good. My kiddo is on Easter break here, and instead of dreading the 2 weeks we'll be spending together, I'm able to approach it with a zen attitude and a plan in place. Not sure how much I'll get done in the next fortnight, but we'll see about that as the days go. Plan to get some reading down and slashing the TBR pile, plus writing some long-overdue reviews. That should keep me busy. The WIP is also taking a fresh direction after I'd been blocked for a while, so I'm eager to see how that'll play out too.

And for my laptop - the place I took it for repairs = total rip-off. They got nothing done and it's back to making the awful fan noise. Oh well, gotta live with it, coz I can't live without the device.

Hmm, did I say how good it is to be back? *grin*

So that's it from me. What have you peeps been up to? :)

From Mauritius with love,

Zee
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