Tropey Tropes!

Been a lot of criticism lately of the way genre novels (and others) often employ “tropes” – what MW online calls “a common or overused theme or device.” The assumption, of course, is that the occurrence of a trope in a book means the author is full of cliches, has no imagination, and cannot write their way out of a soggy paper bag. I mean, if you were a REAL writer, you’d come up with stuff that was so unexpected and meaningful that nobody has ever thought of it before!

Except…

We’re humans, and we think up shit constantly. No matter what it is, somebody already thought of that. Tropes are actually, for writers, more of a shorthand way of identifying or including elements in a story that readers are known to seek. Tropes are akin to genre fiction itself, except in more detail — they’re like going to a restaurant that has things on the menu that you recognize. You order spaghetti (or romance books) because you want some damn spaghetti. And you order meatballs on your spaghetti (or a best friends to lovers trope) because you like you some damn meatballs.

The meatballs and spaghetti at this restaurant, and the best friends to lovers story by this author, taste different from other restaurants. And you love them more or less. You might even recommend them to friends. And you love spaghetti and meatballs regardless, even if you just had a plateful last week.

Because spaghetti. And best friends to lovers romances.

Am I right?

Hint: yes, I am right.

ANYWAY, this is all just because I found this list of tropes on author Mindy Klasky’s website and I wanted to share it!

https://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

I’m also going to start including the tropes I sprinkle into my books at the bottom of the blurb, for those of you looking for spaghetti WITH meatballs.

Jody W.

PS — Best friends to lovers is one of my favorites. My stories that employ this trope are: Kiss the Bride, Liam’s Gold, Holiday on Ice, and Pack and Coven 

 

Double Oops

Oops #1. I made my third cup of coffee today (I KNOW! SHUT UP!) with the Keurig and forgot to take my used orange spice teabag out of the cup. It was actually pretty good! It added a neat, subtle flavor to the coffee, so I drank it too fast and now I’m SO BUZZED HELLLLP MEEEEEE.

Oops #2. My mom found a long-standing, massive, chunky lake of cat barf behind the recliner in the kitchen. I swear one of the cats must have been sneaking back there and adding to it daily for about a week. I’ve never SEEN so much cat barf in one spot :/. Why do I like cats again??

funny-cat-pushing-things-off-table-fuck-this-animated-gif-picsJody W & Meankitty

Smart. Snarky. Seductive. And that’s just the books.

http://www.jodywallace.com * http://www.meankitty.com

PS I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Meankitty who did the barfing.

Gross. Don’t Do That Again.

I bet you thought this post was going to be about cats or kids, didn’t you? Well, it’s about cooking, and it’s actually a link to Selena Robins’ site where she shared some recipes by various authors, one of which is by me. Go read it and see why my blog title is appropriate. (Hint: it’s not because of the OTHER authors’ recipes!)

http://selenarobinsmusings.wordpress.com/fellow-authors-delicious-recipes/

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

There’s One Thing You Should Know

Like yesterday, today’s post is also not brought to you by Meankitty. It’s more from my kids. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I am currently working, or attempting to, and the kid (only 1 right now since the other in school) is supposed to be quietly jigsawing a puzzle.

Interruption number two went as follows:

Kid2: Mom, there’s one thing you should know about Capri Sun.

Me: *look of annoyance — look of death doesn’t come until interruption 4* And what is that?

Kid2: They are a hundred percent.

Me: A hundred percent of what?

Kid2: A hundred percent of fruit juice.

Me: Okay. *tries to turn back to computer*

Kid2: There’s one other thing you should know about Capri Sun.

Me: They’re a hundred percent of fruit juice? (Kid2 greatly enjoys emphasizing her points through repetition; this is not a stupid guess on my part.)

Kid2: No! *laughs* They squirt a hundred percent to the ceiling if you squeeze them!

Me: ************

***

Yeah. Not releasing that short story today, either. Where’s the mop?

Sincerely,

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

PS: Meankitty says the one thing you should know about Capri Sun is that it does NOT taste good when licked off of one’s paws and fur.

PPS: Neither does Nutella. Don’t ask.

Writing Checks I Have To Cash

So, Kid2 likes to spend an hour or more at meals playing with her food and hoping she can get out of eating it. Truth is, she never has to EAT her food, but if she doesn’t eat a certain amount, she doesn’t get a fun snack later, she has to have a healthy snack (and sometimes her “snack” is her reheated plate from her untouched meal). And by “eat” I mean chew and swallow, not cram into her mouth, pretend to choke, and spit out. After dinner, if she doesn’t eat, no dessert. Not that dessert is an entire candy bar or breadbox-sized slice of cake — they get one small sweetie or posssibly a Mom-created strawberry smoothie, something like that.

I don’t know why this kid keeps doing this. I don’t give in, and I don’t let DH give in, either. I’m THAT mom. You think she’d learn. But she keeps dawdling over meals like the earth is going to switch from round to square and her parents are going to let her eat cake. We’ve started giving her deadlines, at which point we remove the plate and she loses her chance at fun snack/dessert.

This morning, it was one of my work days where Kid2 goes to preschool, which she does 2x a week. YAY! So exciting for both of us! She commenced her standard breakfast dawdle and I gave her the standard deadline, with a twist. Eat some of your breakfast by Xo’clock or you’re not going. I can’t send her off to school with no food in her tummy.

She didn’t eat. At all.

I had to cash the check my mouth wrote on my behalf. I’ve lost my workday, not to mention the $$ invested in each preschool day. I am sad. My WIP is sad. DH is going to be sad when he gets home and his wife and daughter are cranky.

Kid2 is kind of sad…but mostly hungry. Not for her breakfast, though. She wants some cake.

I know I’ve done the right thing, but why does it feel so unfair to MEEEEEEE???

Jody W.
www.jodywallace.com * www.meankitty.com

PS The lesson for writers, since this is a writer blog of sorts, would be not to commit yourself to a writing deadline unless you are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

PPS The lesson for meankitties, since this is Meankitty’s blog, too, is say whatever you want and do whatever you want, especially if it inconveniences the dog. And sometimes the two-legged staff if they’ve stolen your chair or refused to give you any roast chicken lately. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t seem to have much to do with the example, but do you think cats care about that? Cats don’t have to make human sense.

13 Resolutions I Can Keep for 2011

Have you noticed all the resolutions and goals and accomplishments going up thither and yon lately? All my peeps on the writerly internet — if they’re not ranting about self publishing or traditional publishing or ranting about people ranting about self/trad publishing, they are posting shiny, enthusiastic or at least reflective lists of 2010 summaries or 2011 predictions/dreams. Well, I thought I’d get me a piece of that blogging action by creating my own 2011 list. So here’s my list of things I WILL NOT DO in 2011:

1)Write a book about sparkly vampires. I hate to put this first because I know you were hoping I would, but I’m not going to. I think I’ll write about a fabulously sparkly werewolf instead. But don’t call him Butch, honey!

2) Get a dog. Meankitty would have my hide and scratch it too.

3) Have a book on the NYT Bestseller list. Karma…Fate…Mother Nature…Santa…I dare you to make a liar of me on this item! Double cat dare you!

4) Waste all my “work” days online or offline or anywhere. I only get 2 a week when I’m lucky and they’re only 4.5 hours apiece. That’s 9 hours a week total. Now, if some kid breaks her arm or something, necessitating weekly doctor visits and xrays and PT because some kid refuses to USE that arm, all bets are off. But so’s Christmas 2011. You hear that, some kid?

5) Date anything I sign “2009”. Hah! I totally mastered writing 2010 in September of last year. While I probably won’t write 2011 for awhile (and I don’t want to tell you the number of times I’ve had to edit it in this post so far, because the number is approximately the same as the number of times it has appeared), I definitely won’t slip up and write 2009. I know it’s not 2009!

6) Tell my family what toys they’d better f-ing not get my kids for Xmas or b-days. Because that worked SO WELL with the Barbie Glitterizer in 2010. (Note the 37 reviews and average of ONE star.)

7) Wear those pants again. Oh, pants. You know who you are and you know what you did to me. Never again, my ugly friend.

8) Go to the RWA National Conference in NYC. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t.

9) Believe all that hype. I mean, you know it’s never accurate and you always end up disappointed.

10) Crochet a human-sized afghan. Yeah. That takes too long when I could crank out a whole passel of these.

11) Sell my soul to the devil.

12) Learn to cook menudo (see #11).

13) Make chili that damn spicy again. Kid1’s favorite food is chili, and this batch is probably going to make her cry come dinnertime. Which is now, so I’d better pretend I have some emergency and leave the house so DH can deal with the tears. I love him madly. But there’s an EMERGENCY at my TAP CLASS tonight and I must go!

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

Meankitty’s Special Sardine Supper

One of Typing Slave’s buddies is working on a cookbook (and an interview with me, which should clearly take precedence!). When asked for a special feline recipe, here’s what she sent for us to share with visitors. Keep in mind Ms. Dawn the Cooker did come up with this recipe herself and checked it with a number of pet recipe sites to make sure the proportions were doable. She probably explained it better, but Typing Slave is kind of a moron.

Meankitty’s Special Sardine Supper

Be sure to refrigerate any unused portion.

Ingredients:

1 3″ piece of fresh carrot, shredded
1 3.75 oz. tin of whole sardines packed in oil
1/3 cup prepared brown rice (leftover is fine)
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley

Directions:

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix the carrot shreds with some of the oil from the sardine can. Nuke at 50% power for 2 minutes and let cool.

2. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and use a fork to smash up the sardines and then stir all the ingredients together.

Sincerely,
Meankitty & Typing Slave
http://www.meanitty.com/ * http://www.jodywallace.com/

Snippet Saturday: Foodies!

Snippet Saturday is the brainchild of author Lauren Dane, wherein a group of authors selects thematic excerpts from their work and shares them on Saturday mornings. This week the theme is food and foodies. I have posted about food before from a banquet in A Spell for Susannah, so today I’m sharing a post from a book that isn’t contracted yet in which the hero reveals just how much of a foodie he is…or is not. This is from the first scene of the book.

***

“Sorry, sweetie, we’re out of porterhouses.” Annette, Harry’s grey-haired waitress, slid a stemmed water glass onto the table in front of him and flipped her receipt book to the next page.

Out of porterhouses? How could Miss Sandie’s Tea Room run out of steaks when he was the only customer who ever ordered them?

Harry stared at the frilly, blue-checkered menu as if another werewolf-friendly item were going to appear among the scones and scotch eggs. Miss Sandie’s was his customary lunch spot, but he’d rather fire up the grill himself than settle for a fruit plate.

Which was saying a lot. Harry hadn’t gotten a culinary gene, just a furry one.

“Are you sure, Annette? Did Sandie order T-bones?” He sniffed the air, but he couldn’t detect much beyond the fresh flowers on his table and apple pie that saturated the dining room. He didn’t have the greatest nose in wolfdom, but it wasn’t as dull as a human’s.

“Your friends from earlier cleaned us out.” Annette slipped into the chair across from him, clearly intent on a chat. The café wasn’t busy at this hour. “Sandie doesn’t mind keeping you in steaks, Harry, but this isn’t a greasy spoon. It’s a tea room.”

“Which friends?” Harry peered around the pastry cabinet next to his chair, but a table of female diners blocked his view of the café.

“Your lady friends.” Annette smoothed a wrinkle out of the tablecloth. “I use the term ‘lady’ loosely, you understand. No ladies I know behave like that.”

He didn’t like the sound of that. He had a number of lady friends, and none would give Annette a sour face. Or order steak at a tea room. He liked his women sweet, talented in the kitchen, and one hundred percent human. He also liked them roughly his own age, if not species, which left most of the staff of Miss Sandie’s out of the running. Too bad. Miss Sandie was one of the best cooks he’d ever known.

The question was, why would Annette think some random, steak-eating women were connected to him? “My friends, huh. Did they mention me by name or something?”

Annette tapped her pen on her receipt book. “They said they knew you. They looked familiar, but I haven’t met every single person in town.”

“Maybe they weren’t from around here.” Millington, West Virginia, wasn’t big, but it was close enough to Wheeling that they did get tourist traffic. It was possible some of the independent shifters he’d known in New York City were visiting.

“Could be.” She leaned toward him. “I certainly don’t know anyone in Millington who thinks dog collars make good fashion accessories.”

“Not even pink ones?”

Annette rolled her eyes, so Harry changed the subject. He’d been in Wheeling all morning buying supplies for his garage, and he was starving. “What are the specials today?”

“Same as every Thursday, kiddo,” Annette teased, but she told him anyway.

While she talked, Harry cursed inwardly. Hell and hairshirts! These “friends” sounded like local pack members. He frequented the tea room and befriended humans as part of his strategy of pack avoidance. If the pack invaded his sanctuary, he’d be severely put out. It had taken years to cultivate Miss Sandie and her staff, trading discounted automotive repairs for steaks cooked the way he liked them, friendly faces, and the occasional heated bunco session.

This was his place. His. Why did they have to ruin it? Couldn’t they just leave him alone?

***

Cute, huh? I should probably find somebody to buy it.

Jody W.
http://www.jodywallace.com/ * http://www.meankitty.com/

For more excerpts about food and fun:

Lauren Dane
Mari Carr
McKenna Jeffries
Shelley Munro
Taige Crenshaw
Vivian Arend
HelenKay Dimon
TJ Michaels

Back from Cincy and I Still Haven’t Unpacked

As I have mentioned ad nauseum on the blog the past month, I attended the Lori Foster Readers and Writers Get Together this past week-end as my first foray into booksignings as a published author. While that part of it wasn’t a roaring success for various reasons, the rest of the week-end was a highly enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share because (a) my sister wouldn’t let me take pictures; (b) I kept forgetting the camera; and (c) ok, maybe I did take a few pictures and they stink like diaper pail, so I’ve deleted them without even showing them to the people IN the photos, which they’d thank me for if they only knew. I’m *so* not a photographer, unless you count my mysterious talent of always capturing expressions of demonic possession on people’s faces.

At the Get Together, I met a ton of people I’m not going to list because I know I’d forget somebody. I also ate a ton of food and chocolate I’ll be remembering almost as long as I remember the people and party atmosphere. Part of the Get Together was pizza Friday night, pastry Saturday morning and a really tasty lunch of sandwiches and soup Saturday afternoon with awesome, thick wheat bread. On Saturday night, some local Nashville folks teamed up to dine at…oh dear, some nice Italian place I’ve promptly forgotten the name of, but the food was delicious and the service was impeccable. See what I mean about names?? They don’t stick with me, but the impressions linger. I also loved the spinach and egg white fritatta I had when I breakfasted with my agent Sunday morning and the Moolatte I got from the DQ on the way home. Food is an important part of my daily diet, so it rarely goes unremarked.

The service at the Marriott was incredible, too. I think they hire extroverts and part of their job description is to smile at patrons and make them feel welcome. Combine that with the beds, and even if I hadn’t been schmoozing with authors and readers all week-end, I’d still have had a grand time. And I only squabbled with my sister (that’s Nanny Slave to those of you who follow Meankitty’s exploits) about half the time! I can’t verify whether the two ladies we drove to Cincy with threatened to separate us if we didn’t behave, but it’s possible.

Now that I’ve returned to normalcy, or what approximates it in our household, I believe I owe my newsletter subscribers a much delayed release and everyone else the name of my contest winner, now that I have cool additional loot to stuff inside my handmade giftbag. I’ll be announcing that as a separate entry and soon, like tonight or tomorrow morning, after I randomize the selection process. The newsletter will also go out soon, though not AS soon as the contest winner’s name, but it should include the next part of the free story I’ve been sharing, another delicious (ha!) recipe, and other updates.

While I was gone, I gather DH and the girls partied like rock stars, but he’s so competent that the house was CLEANER THAN WHEN I LEFT when I got home. Isn’t he amazing?? So far, nobody except me has gotten sick! I have considered milking my sinus thing another day so he’ll break down and unpack for me but that seems a little selfish, all things considered.

Contest results soon —

JW

What You Didn’t Get During the Holidays…Yet

Humans, as we all know, are lazy creatures. So lazy that they’ve started giving one another money and gift cards for the holidays instead of shopping — something about giving one another something that’s actually useful? I don’t know, dude, but what it means is that your human is going to have gift cards that need to be cha-chinged in the next couple of months. Here are the best ways we could think of off-hand on how humans should share the gift-card wealth with the cats who own them:

1) ALL I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM MY CAT (AND THEN SOME) — My human got this book years ago, as it was originally published in 1992. In 2007 it has been updated and improved, so if you decide to take my advice and get this book, make sure you’re getting the newest one.

The book is written from the viewpoint of Binky the Cat, with little sketchy illustrations by the human, Suzy Becker, that are much more skilled than anything *my* human can do. First you’ll see a quiz for humans so they can find out whether or not they’re cat people (they’d BETTER be, if they know what’s good for ’em), and then you get the original words of feline advice from the Bink, such as, “Get someone else to clean your bathroom” and “Have a sneeze that is the envy of others.” And then, best of all, you’ll get a passel of new and improved advice, such as, “People watching is a legitimate pastime.” (How true that is! Just ask Nanny Slave what happened on her most recent date.)

While some of the pieces of advice might not seem impressive as text, the illustrations make the book. So this is at the top of our recommended list. Read it over your human’s shoulder and hope that the advice sinks in!

2) Tuna. Straight up, unadulterated, spring water tuna. Mmmmmmmm. You can rarely go wrong with tuna, especially not if you eat it and then “thank” your human by breathing your fishy tuna breath into her face when she is supine, trying to take a post-holiday nap.

3) Bird TV. Even in the city, your human can install a window-based bird feeder for your amusement. There are a bunch at Amazon.com and other places that suction cup right to the glass. While Big D and myself have destroyed many a suction-cupped item (glass prisms, dragonflies, etc) it might work since it’s on the outside of the glass instead of inside. There are also bird feeders that are built out from window sills. The Party Cats have a so-elegant feeder that’s essentially a big plank on a stick that is balanced between the stick and the sill. Sometimes it has birds, sometimes cats, sometimes skinks, sometimes possums and racoons. Of course, the Party Cats also live in a barn in the country, and by “barn” we don’t mean a place for livestock, we mean a human house that used to be a dairy barn.

4) Crinkle balls. Since stuffed mice are kind of passe, and plus they were hard to cram into the magnet-mailing packets, we also sent out a number of crinkle balls to our fans, and apparently they are a huge hit! I’m pretty pissed about this because I’m not allowed to play with small toys until Loud Thing is older. Something stupid about her putting things in her mouth and choking on them. Can’t she just kak them up like hairballs? Puh-lease! But these are definitely a must-have item if you’ve got a gift card burning a hole in your human’s pocket.

5) Metal garbage that are tall and narrow beside all the beds. Humans spend a lot of time in bed, as all creatures should, and so they often have garbage cans beside their beds to hold used tissues or pacifiers with cat-tooth-shaped holes in them or weird pieces of clay found in the sheets or ripped up magazines and other things they consider “trash”. Anyway, since they want trash containers there anyway, why not make them metal and easy to tip over, to better entertain their feline masters? The delights of scratching a metal trash can beside sleeping humans with one paw must be experienced to be believed. There are few greater pleasures in life. I don’t think it’s very obedient or kind of your humans, if they continue to deny you this luxury.

What are your top 5 gifts the humans should get you with all those gift cards?

Sincerely,
MK