Tag Archives: writing

Chatting With the Chicks of Chick Lit

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Chatting with the chicks of chick lit Wed blogpost graphic 2016

In honor of #ChickLitMay, we dispense with the formalities and join our local TV channel 7777 mid-broadcast.

talk show host Chuck

Chuck: Ha ha ha ha! Welcome, welcome everyone to Chatting With the Chicks of Chick Lit! I’m your host, Chuck Lottateeth, and I am so thrilled to be able to introduce you to some of the most fascinating characters in literature today. I’m talking about the leading ladies of Chick Lit—those enchanting, romantic, darling, sexy, sweet, funny, headstrong—and, let’s face it, sometimes downright frustrating—modern women who headline this fabulously fun genre. I’m sure you’re going to love getting the skinny on these “novel” heroines, and who knows? You might just find your new BFF on the pages of one of these books!

So. Without further ado, please put your hands together and show some love for today’s guests: Rhonda Hamilton from Roll with the Punches and Alice Chalmers from Alice in Monologue Land.

Audience: Yayyyyy!

Chuck : Rhonda is a librarian with the Orange County Public Library, but when the clock strikes five, she enters that extra-tall phone booth and dons her cape, mask, sexy fishnets and roller skates to become a hot-to-trot roller derby queen! She’s killin’ it on the flat track, right, Rhonda?

derby girl

Rhonda: Actually, a cape and mask would really get in my way on the roller derby track. It’s the reason I didn’t pick “Superwoman” as my derby moniker. I prefer a more solid, regal name, like “Queen Hat Cheap Suit” or  “Empress The Adored One” or “Queen It’s A Belly of Cast Iron.” And I hate masks. We all do. We gotta see where we’re going so we don’t trip over other skaters and cause a dogpile on the track.

Chuck: But you are the sexiest (and tallest) librarian on skates, right? A whole lotta woman there. Listen, I saw you in that red harem girl garb at the fundraiser with that jingly velvet bra that got whipped off, and hello, baby! Va-va-va-—Ow!

Rhonda: Oh, gosh. Does your shin hurt? Put some of this ointment on it right away.

Chuck: Thanks. What’s in it?

Rhonda: Just some capsaicin plus a little battery acid. Great for all the lacerations and contusions we roller derby girls accumulate during a bout. Wanna see my latest road rash? It’s got the pattern of my fishnet stockings etched into the scab. Nice, huh, that purple and green tinge?

Chuck: Ew, not hungry for lunch any more. Well, our other guest today is Ms. Alice Chalmers. Alice teaches English at a local college, where she recently starred in a stage production of The Chronicles of Narnia. You must have made a splendid White Witch. Doesn’t she look the part, everybody?

teacher vector for Alice

Audience: Yes!

Alice: Uh. White Witch? Do I look that bad? I’m only 41. Give a girl a break.

Chuck: Oh, no. Of course not. Well, I’m sure you knocked their socks off as the—the—was it Aslan the Lion? Or maybe Father Christmas? A centaur?

Alice: The Lion? Father Christmas? A centaur? Oh, my God. Do I need a makeover, Rhonda?

Rhonda: Geez. Excuse me, Mr. Lottateeth. Alice was never in that play.

Chuck: So why is she here?

Rhonda: You want me to punch his lights out for you, Alice?

Alice: Not quite yet.

Rhonda: Just say the word.

Alice: Deep breath. Look, Chuck, I was in a production called The Venus Monologues at my college. Only it wasn’t a play. It was a collection of deep, poetic, and powerful monologues, written and performed by the students and faculty at the college. All about being female.

pole dancers 1

Chuck:  Ooooh. Sexxxxy. Are the rumors true? Were you all pole dancing throughout?

Alice: Oh, yeah. We were all pole dancing. You should have seen all us teachers in our black dresses and pearls swinging around those poles while we shrieked out our lines.

chubby pole dancer

Chuck: Oh, man. Will there be another performance?

Alice: You doofus! There was no pole dancing! We were reading monologues! About all the amazing and varied facets of being female in this world, from birth to being a mother to being an artist to blazing powerful trails for future women in business and leadership.

woman reading

Chuck: But you had a superhot romance going at the time, right? I believe a little bird told me it was more like threeeee hot romances?

Alice: Sort of. But—

Chuck: And I heard that you Venus girls wore black bustiers and feather boas on stage and then you all stripped at the end, like in Hair.

Alice: No way! Okay, Rhonda. He’s yours.

Chuck: Now, now, ladies! Put away your knitting needles! Hahaha! Moving right along, I have a few questions to ask you two today. First: If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?

Rhonda: Duh. A quad roller skate, maybe with wings and custom yellow wheels, just for fun.

Retro Style Winged Roller Skate

Retro Style Winged Roller Skate.

Chuck: And you, Alice?

Alice: Comfortable. Blue, maybe.

Chuck: Is that it, Alice? No favorite brand?

Alice: First, you can call me Ms. Chalmers, and second, I need comfort. I teach on my feet all day long. If you want to badger me about it, I can just go read a few grammatically hideous student papers that will be way funnier than you.

Chuck: Touche! Next question. What are the three items you would absolutely need to have with you if you were shipwrecked on a desert island?

Rhonda: My laptop with a battery charged for life. An ice pick to break coconuts open. And my skates. Assuming the island has some sidewalks or roads to skate on. In fact, even if there weren’t any roads, I’d still have them there to look at. They are soooooo awesome.

Chuck: Alice? Er, Ms. Chalmers?

Alice: Oh, wow. A cook, a gardener, and a carpenter. All male, in their thirties.

Chuck: Excuse me? Those aren’t items.

Alice: I know, and you’re excused. But it’s my dream. Stay out of it.

Chuck: Okay. If you had only $15 to spend, what would be the perfect date?

Rhonda: Get ice cream at the beach and walk the cliff walk at Besker Park with my best dude.

Alice: Wait. How did you know I had only $15 to spend on my last date? Did you hack my phone?

Chuck: Of course not! How about if you had $50 to spend?

Rhonda: Take a Gelson’s deli picnic to Anaheim Stadium for a game.

Alice: We’d got out to eat Indian food at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street. I like it spicy.

Chuck: Oooh. You do, huh? Are you free later?

Alice: No.

Chuck: Well then, what’s your ideal date for $5,000?

Rhonda: Are you kidding me? A week in Paris with my BFFs. No men involved.

Chuck: Nice. Alice?

Alice: $5000? To blow on a date? Well, that would be me accompanying my son to the University of California for his first quarter.

Chuck: Okay. Your best friend is asked to describe you in five words. What would they be?

Rhonda: Persistent, clever (shut up—I am, too), devious, strong, and blunt. Maybe loyal. Depends which friend you ask.

Alice: It’s gonna take more than five words for me. Let’s see. Loving, motherly, talented, sometimes a little frustrated, world-wise—no, make that world-weary. Possibly a bit nervous—okay, a lot nervous. And maybe … full. Satisfied. Replete. Who needs men, anyway? They’re so complicated.

Chuck: Hah! Yes, we are, aren’t we? But what if your nemesis is also asked to describe you in five words? What would they be?

Rhonda: Persistent, clever, devious, strong, and blunt.

Alice: I don’t have time for a nemesis. But if you find one, and they want to describe me, I think I’ll just put my fingers in my ears. La-la-la.

Chuck: Ahem. If you could be the heroine in any chick flick, who would it be and why?

Rhonda: Lara Croft. OMG. I’d be all over raiding tombs.

Alice: Oh, I’d be Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, cutting loose and sliding down the muddy slopes of the Amazon River, swinging on vines across chasms, riding in the “Little Mule.” Wait. Did I say that out loud? Oh, sorry. I … mean … I’d be Miss Pettigrew in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Much safer.

Chuck: Well, this has been quite exciting and illuminating, meeting the two of you. Can you two lovely ladies visit us again soon—maybe wearing your bustiers and boas next time? Wink, wink? Nudge, nudge? We’ll provide the poles if you do the dances!

Rhonda: Now, Alice? Please?

Alice: Go ahead, Rhonda. Make my day.

kapow

Amy Gettinger’s books:

Roll with the Punches

What happens when the novel you’ve just finished writing and started hawking to agents gets published by a nationally bestselling author—just when Dad starts storing milk in the tool chest? You hunt for the book thief, of course, aided by a goofy roller derby team and two drool-worthy guys. Whether skating in treacherous derby bouts or downhill chasing Dad, one thing is sure: you’d better not fall, girl. http://myBook.to/RWTP

Alice in Monologue Land

Practice your snort laugh! College instructor Alice is headed down the campus rabbit hole into a world of adventure, romance, and danger. Add a splash of chaos and some cringe-producing talk of female body parts–on stage. But her students are going missing. Can Alice find them in time to avert tragedy in this “carnival ride of a tale with more spins than a tilt-a-whirl?” ~ #DiiBylo of Tome Tender Blog http://myBook.to/Alice

Kiss My Sweet Skull

A collection of seasonal short stories featuring the faculty and students of Garden Beach College, the fictional home of my novel, Alice in Monologue Land.

“Cupid, with a Eucalyptus Tree, in the Teachers’ Workroom”: Annabelle Lopez’s anonymously delivered valentine is so perfect that she knows her soul mate is tantalizingly close by, except none of the local candidates seems quite right.

“Apples and Goat Cheese, and a Red Bikini (In France!)”: Frannie, an au pair girl for a surfing family on the sunny French Riviera, finds  romance … and trouble lurking in the dark. The clue could be in the apples and goat cheese.

“Kiss My Sweet Skull”: Is pumpkin pie seriously the best answer for anthropology professor Dr. Betty Hundleby’s awful skull nightmares at Halloween? Or could an oddly timed kiss be just the thing she needs?  http://myBook.to/Skull

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading and Writing–Preferences

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I am a picky reader. I’m always looking for books that satisfy my particular wants in a read, and sometimes, it’s just more fun to try to produce one than to wade through a lot of generic prose that doesn’t work for me.

I am not drawn to books that are all one tone, especially sad or guilty or wrong or dark or depressed. Or all one pace. (Well, except for Alexander McCall-Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency books, which are quite hilarious at their languid pace.) But usually, I want a variety of feelings and paces in a book.

I want adventure—not just people sitting around talking. Physical adventure. Trips to strange locations. Indiana Jones and that giant rolling rock. Miss Polly on the railroad track.

I want buckets of humor and a pervasive light-hearted tone, with darker things rolling through the story just enough to make the reading ride a satisfying one.

I usually want a female protagonist, a smart, can-do, somewhat earthy, imperfect female—with a brain. Maybe a tall one or a heavy one or a black one or a Chinese. Maybe an older one or a younger one or one with an interesting occupation. Variety is the spice of reading, but I will no longer abide 300 pages in the head of any character who is “too dumb to live.”

I want some mystery. In fact, I’m a bit tired of murder, but give me some kind of mystery to keep me turning pages.

I want some romance. Not highly telegraphed romance, but surprise romance, the kind where I didn’t totally see it coming from page one.

I also want interesting information dispersed throughout the book. (For example, all that info about bees in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees. Or Dick Francis books that each center on a different profession.)

I want characters with mixed emotions and complicated lives and odd quirks, who may or may not be predictable. Don’t give me stereotypical characters unless you write them fabulous dialogue and place them in an unusual setting. (Janet Evanovich continues to keep me laughing after twenty-one books with the same crew—it’s gotta be the dialogue.)

Did I say dialogue? Oh, yes. I want awesome, hilarious, uproarious dialogue. Sharp and real. I loooooove great dialogue.

And I want a real, palpable setting, one that’s so real it becomes a character in its own right. It can have a fictitious name, but I want to smell it and feel it and taste it and hear it, as well as see it. And I want a real time frame with real technology and brand names from this time frame to enrich the story.

So I write. I write about situations I have known as met by characters who I only partly know. I throw in characters I’ve never met and see what happens. I have a vague idea what I’m going to write about, and then I keep it light, adding highs and lows and lots of adventure. Once I start the book, the characters often chime in and tell me what comes next. I let them. Sometimes, they lead me into rich territory. Sometimes, their insights need editing. But that’s my adventure of sitting at the keyboard. That’s the magic of writing for me.

I Need a Blog?

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Written in 2008

They say I need a blog, the women on the craft loop do. To help me sell books.

A blog. Sounds like something big and loggy or doggy, a giant, slimy green bog monster with fangs and rabbit breath. Dripping ooze and demanding cookies for dancing on its back paws. Panting hot, stinky blasts at the end of its leash. But if I drag one of those along to book fairs, won’t it grab all the women buyers and slurp on them? And leak all over my books?

Maybe blog is the blockier, baser form of bloke–a loggy hog with baggy pants. But I have two of those already. They slouch around with bad hair and acne, punching keyboard buttons and snickering at Internet jokes. Then they eat whole pizzas in a sitting and flash green braces when one belches. One stays up late, into the early morning hours, night after night, with homework until he gets sick. Then I get the cold, then I go to Jack Grapes’s class and meet Helen Hunt with a big, honkin’ gi-normous fever blister. If these are blogs, you can have mine.

Wait! Maybe blog is just a mispronunciation of another word by one of my Japanese students! That’s it. It’s really brog, some Scottish thing, like a shoe with fancy topstitching so I can kick sense into all the book-buyers in the country and of course, they’ll see the light and buy my book. When I have one.

Or could it be bwog, an Elmer Fudd invention? Does Fudd have an angle on selling fiction? Does he have the magic in with agents and editors? Could he get my book on Amazon and figure out a way to spread the buzz and get everyone to think they need to read my story? Has he gotten a rep in the publishing world? Oh, so I’ll need a referral even to employ him. You can’t even get a cartoon character to read your work without representation any more. And if I do get a referral, just my luck the coyote will drop an anvil on his head or something before he reads my work.

They say I need a blog. Is that some kind of book log? A journal of how I wrote my book? What could be more boring? The writing process is slow as molasses, no, worse. It’s like walking dogs all day long, picking up their poop, then feeding them and picking up more poop. It never ends. If I were my fairy godmother or muse, looking in from outside, I’d give up and go to Hawaii. And who would want to read about the hours I spend bringing life to these damned characters who haunt my dreams and talk too much? And the book’s not even published. Who’ll read my long, arduous journey on a blog if they don’t want to read the short form that sings in the book itself? My life between writing spurts is even less appealing as a marketing tool. In my free time, I really do walk dogs and clean up dog poop. And wipe countertops and correct pages and pages of bad Vietnamese English and if I’m lucky, I get someone to pummel my right arm so I can go and type again. Let’s face it. My platform sucks. I’m not Oprah, and I was never abused.

They say I need a blog on blogspot. Oh, God. Is that a disease, a precancerous thing on your face? “Yes, the doctor biopsied my blogspots and burned them off with liquid nitrogen. I may not live.” I look in the mirror and see a suspicious freckle on my nose. Ohmygod. There it is. My blogspot. Big as life and ugly as sin, right there on the tip of my nose. And I’ll probably meet Kevin Klein at Jack Grapes’s class today.