mollyringle: (chocolate)

Everyone knows what Valentine's Day is really about: chocolate!

I ran a search on my books, and predictably enough, nearly all of them mention chocolate. Some examples:

Summer Term:
He set down the glass, thought a moment, and said, “I would like to make chocolate chip cookies.”

Persephone’s Orchard:
Adrian peeled the plastic wrap from the brownie, broke it in half, and handed the larger section to her.

Immortal’s Spring:
Must be the scents and nourishment of a proper home-cooked meal at last. And the wine. And the chocolate cake—from scratch.

Of Ghosts and Geeks:
When Gwen heard the knock, she imagined it was a local kid selling fundraiser chocolate bars, or Uncle Bert dropping in to beg more details about her “student’s” ghost.

The Ghost Downstairs:
“But he did. He had chocolate with me.” Lina closed her mouth before disclosing what happened after the chocolate.

What Scotland Taught Me: (To my surprise this one has the most references to chocolate of any of my stories. Here are a few.)

“Can we just get some chocolate,” I said, “and go home?”

“Be a dear and serve your boyfriend some chocolate trifle, won’t you?”

Coffee, I needed coffee. No, better yet, chocolate. Chocolate might put my calendar in perspective.

“I was wondering if an old friend could stay at your flat tonight, if that friend brought like a cubic buttload of Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars.”

Valentine’s Day resolved nothing. That afternoon apparently featured Amber wearing lingerie and chocolate body paint in Laurence’s room, and still not getting laid.

---
My apologies for the damage this post may have done to anyone trying to cut calories.



mollyringle: (Hughes - Night)
My erratic blog hop (or blog tour, if you prefer) is still underway. So please DO go leave comments at these latest two posts, which puts you into the running for a free ebook! (Either Relatively Honest or What Scotland Taught Me--winner's choice.) Feel free to enter with intent to give the ebook to a friend instead--it's a fun and easy gift. Holidays are a-coming.

Ending in a few days: giveaway, with my post on small presses.

Just up today, with giveaway lasting for the next week: some thoughtful and frivolous interview questions I answered.

Again, do enter, and spread the word if you know YA fans with e-readers among your friends.
mollyringle: (chocolate)
As the latest stop on my blog tour, here's another giveaway you can enter--this time for either What Scotland Taught Me or Relatively Honest (winner's choice). Even if you have those ebooks already, you can always enter to win a copy for a friend. Because you're nice that way.

Also this past week on the blog hop, I visited Dean Mayes' blog to talk about settings I've used in writing. Dean's new novel is out now, and you can enter to win a copy of that too! I highly recommend doing so. By the way, if you're an avid reader and haven't created a login at Goodreads.com so that you can browse the book giveaway section of the site, you're missing out on serious kid-in-candy-store action.

Norelle Done at the Seattle Wrote blog also invited me on for a quick Q & A about NaNoWriMo. Norelle is a great writer herself, who generously features all the Seattle-area writers she can get a hold of, and I'm honored to be in the same list alongside so many shining stars.

Finally, in chocolate news, we made these Chewy Chocolate-Cinnamon Cookies last night and they're awesome. Easy recipe, too. It's odd; Hershey's chocolate bars/Kisses don't impress me much (even the Special Dark), but their baking cocoa is excellent, and we've loved the cookie and cake recipes we've tried from their kitchen so far. They must know their stuff, so I wish they'd create some higher-quality eating chocolate for us fans.
mollyringle: (passiflora - cara_chapel)
Some writers are unable to write a story without including a recipe. Others can't resist reciting song lyrics. Others always insert a dog or a cat or an exotic animal. For me, my random habit appears to be plants--flowers and trees in particular. It isn't intentional, but it's an accurate reflection of my gardening hobby. Here's a quick review of flowers appearing in my novels (we'll do trees some other day):

The Ghost Downstairs
Lots of mentions; the Seattle mansion has a lovely garden, and tending it is among Ren's duties. This may be my favorite flower moment:
"She walked to a clump of daffodils growing at the base of a tree, picked one, and brought it back to the grave. She kissed its petals before dropping it."


Summer Term
Hey, it's summer. Lots of stuff's in bloom:
"But he did say we'd go out into Woodbine Park and eat in the rose garden. That sounds kind of romantic, doesn't it?"
"It sounds suspiciously romantic."


What Scotland Taught Me
Eva is interested in botany and horticulture, and notices violets sprouting in Edinburgh at one point. She also notes regarding one of her crushes:
"...he smelled like that alluring bed of carnations, with a dose of boy pheromones sprinkled on top."


Of Ghosts and Geeks
Paul is Gwen's gardener, so naturally flowers and other green growing things abound. Their first scene together is a skirmish over the little daisies in the lawn:
"They're in the grass. You wanted the grass cut, right?"
"Yes, but not the daisies. They make this gorgeous spangled carpet of--" She stopped before she started comparing her lawn flora to some scene from a fantasy movie. "Don't cut those!" she repeated.


Relatively Honest
This one probably has the fewest number of flower mentions, because my narrator is an 18-year-old urban male who doesn't think about stuff like that. Still, Daniel does think briefly of making out with his girl-crush "under lilac trees" come April. And when sidling up close to her, he notes:
"Her hair smelled delicious, like apples and the star-shaped white flowers that grew all round a French hotel I had once been to."
(Daniel has no idea that was jasmine, but it was, of course.)


In my novel in progress, a Hades/Persephone story, flowers and other plants play a huge role. After all, in the original myth, what was Persephone doing when Hades kidnapped her? Yep: picking flowers.
mollyringle: (Hermione)
The endlessly asked question: what does Young Adult mean? I'm a lumper rather than a splitter, so I'd be more or less happy to see bookstores divided into merely "fiction" and "nonfiction." Well, nonfic requires more subdivision to be helpful, but as a writer, and a reader too, I don't like all this pondering I have to do along the lines of, "It's kind of teen lit but kind of adult, and it's part paranormal, or maybe we should say urban fantasy, but part romance, and with both comic and tragic twists..." Yeah. It's fiction!

On a related note, I really like writing/reading the age 18-24 range--basically, college age--because a lot is changing in life then, as compared to high school. That's the true "young adult," if you ask me, and I'd call the high school stuff "teen lit." But it's far too late to change the industry terminology now. Some people have called books about the college age "new adult," and I've seen it applied to my books of that category (RELATIVELY HONEST and WHAT SCOTLAND TAUGHT ME), but introducing that distinction is splitting more instead of lumping more, so I don't think it's necessary.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] modmerseygirl for pointing me to that article and getting me rambling about it.
mollyringle: (Elvgren girlie)
When you write for certain genres, there are rules you have to follow, or you'll likely get rejected. And the rules for romance include a couple of--if you ask me--unrealistic and silly ones that I simply cannot always follow if I'm going to write an interesting story.

The big one is about cheating. Infidelity on the part of the hero or heroine is an absolute big-time no-no in the romance genre. Now, I understand it's a sensitive topic, and that cheating has hurt lots of actual people, who therefore don't want to read about it. However...yeah, it does happen to lots of actual people. Therefore it's a pertinent issue. And while infidelity is usually not the *best* idea, I wouldn't qualify it as pure evil in most cases either. And, more to the point when we're talking about writing, it usually makes for juicy plot twists. Therefore, though I don't want to include it in all my stories, I do sometimes explore the sticky and interesting issue of being not 100% faithful to one's significant other.

Mind you, in both the published books where I've gone into that territory--What Scotland Taught Me and Relatively Honest--I was dealing with teenagers, not married adults. Age 18 is a time when plenty of us make questionable decisions, and learn from them. I was going more for realistic coming-of-age than strictly for romance. Nonetheless, I think a love story benefits from a dose of reality--and a dose of juicy gossip.

Also: how come we modern romance novelists have to stick to this no-cheaters rule when some of the most acclaimed love stories on film--and on paper--had infidelity in spades? A couple of whopping examples off the top of my head:

Gone with the Wind: All right, it's more like historical fiction masquerading as a bodice-ripper, but it's still considered to have set many a standard for romance. And, dude! Scarlett marries two other guys before giving Rhett a chance--stringing him along all the while--and, in the meantime, does her best to seduce Ashley, a (mostly) happily married man. This would never fly with a modern romance editor. But it's a great book, and Scarlett's ruthless, clueless flirtations make for a ripping good read.

Sleepless in Seattle: Again, held up as a contemporary classic of the romantic film genre. But Meg Ryan's character, throughout, has a fiance, a nice guy, who she's sleeping with throughout most of the film, and lying to about her crush on this stranger in Seattle. Again, romance editors would send this a tidy rejection letter. But if she didn't have the fiance, she'd have no particular reason to be so conflicted about checking out Tom Hanks, and you'd have no story.

Can you think of other examples? Do you have non-negotiable rules for the love stories you read? Or are there no deal-breakers as long as the story is well written?
mollyringle: (my life is so thrilling)
Novelist [livejournal.com profile] kateelliott first introduced me to the Bechdel Test in this post about epic fantasy. The Bechdel Test was originally created for movies, but can be applied easily to books too. As its official page states, the test rates a movie (or a book, we could say) on the following three criteria:

1) It has to have at least two women in it,
2) who talk to each other,
3) about something besides a man.

This test has stuck in my mind ever since reading Elliott's post, because, as she says, it's kind of astonishing how many books and movies don't pass all three criteria. I do believe in basic equality, and those three simple rules seem more than fair.

So naturally it made me look at my own novels. And I'm chagrined to say that some of them barely squeak by, or might even fail. Quick rundown:

The Ghost Downstairs: Passes with full marks. Lots of female characters--in fact, more females than males. They do discuss men (it's a romance, after all), but they also discuss ghosts and jobs and stuff.

Summer Term: Hmm. I do have a number of active female characters, but most of them don't interact with each other, or only meet briefly. The two best friends, Paige and Ky, do chat a lot, but it's almost always about men. Again, in my defense, it's a romance, and of the most frothy sort. Still, they take sidetracks into movies and academics for a line or two here and there, so maybe this book gets a pass.

What Scotland Taught Me: Passes just fine. Of the four main characters, three are young women, who do plenty of interacting. Again, squealing (or squabbling) over boys constitutes a lot of their subject matter, but there are soberer discussions involving family members and career plans and ghost legends.

Of Ghosts and Geeks: (Novella; likely soon to be published--yay!) Highly silly, given that one of the main female characters is an obnoxious ghost, but it does pass. She and the living female protagonist occasionally talk of non-romance issues, but not much, since the whole point is that the ghost is obsessed with romance.

Boy in Eyeliner: (Not yet published. In revision.) Eek. This might fail! But my defense this time is somewhat better. It's from a first-person male point of view, and his main love ends up being with another man. Hopefully that regains some of my gender-equality street cred. Also, I've scattered the characters across the globe--Portland, Seattle, and London--so the three or four important female characters simply aren't in the same location at the same time, on the whole. Still, maybe I should reconsider that.

So. How do your favorites--or your own creations--measure up?
mollyringle: (Scotland - castle)
Fun and time-sensitive news! Today only, you can download a completely free copy of What Scotland Taught Me. This is in honor of Read an Ebook Week, which begins today.

Though my book will only be available free of charge for this particular day (Sunday, March 6), ireadiwrite Publishing will be putting up one ebook each day this week for a special free download, so keep checking that same link daily. I know I will be.

Also: If you take advantage of this, please consider leaving an Amazon review after reading the book. Scotland currently doesn't have any, and of course I'd like some. Thank you, and have fun downloading!
mollyringle: (Scotland - castle)
Thanks to my friends and family scurrying to cast their votes over at the Preditors & Editors site, I placed as a top 10 novelist of 2010 (heh!), and my novel What Scotland Taught Me placed as the #5 young adult novel of last year!

What Scotland Taught Me

In celebration of this honor, I'll be giving away a free ebook copy of What Scotland Taught Me, with a (scanned) personalized signature, to one lucky winner, chosen at random from those who comment upon this post. Simply enter your comment before March 1, 2011, and upon that date I'll let the random number generator select a winner. My publisher can provide the file in any of the major ebook formats, so don't hesitate on that account.

Thank you so much to those who voted, and of course to those who have already enjoyed the story and let me know about it.
mollyringle: (Powerpuff - by Xenia)
So many of you out there are the creators, owners, or performers of fabulous goods or services, any of which would make excellent holiday gifts. I want more of the world to know about you, plus I want some good ideas for my own holiday shopping, so here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to give you this space for free advertising!

If you have anything you want to advertise that could potentially be given as a gift, tell us about it in the comments below. Keep in mind that good ad copy gets more click-throughs, so I advise keeping it to a brief, clear, fun paragraph, complete with handy link.

I'll start by (of course) reminding you of my books currently for sale:

The Ghost Downstairs, for anyone who likes moody ghost stories. (Purchase from the publisher, Amazon or an indie bookstore near you. Ebook or paperback.)

Summer Term, for the steamy-beach-read fans. (Purchase from the publisher, Amazon, or an indie bookstore near you. Ebook or paperback.)

What Scotland Taught Me, for snarky teen girls who require comeuppance, anyone who remembers the perils of being 18, or anyone who adores Edinburgh. (Ebook only; purchase from the publisher or Amazon.)

Now you! What are you selling? Tell us of your wares. Offer open for as long as this LiveJournal shall live, though readers will likely diminish the older this post gets.
mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
What Scotland Taught Me, the novel once known as Tourist Attractions or The Yank Girl's Guide to Cheating Abroad, is now finally available as an ebook. Look--it's currently on the publisher's front page! And seriously, I can't get over how gorgeous that cover art turned out.

As it's the featured book of the week, or month, or something, its price is cut in half for a limited time, making it a temptingly low $2.50. The genre is young adult on the cusp of adult; a snarky-yet-sweet comeuppance tale with lots of romance and a few ghost stories, and several moments in which I describe how pretty Edinburgh and other Scottish locations are.

Read the first chapter for free here.

This novel underwent lots of merciless and extremely useful critiquing by several writers, who I hope are reading this. I worked your suggestions in, and the book has become much better for it. I can't thank you enough!

Incidentally, it's also available for Kindle, but Amazon controls the pricing there.

Now, in OTHER fun writing news, here's a complete short story of mine that you can read for free. It's called "Midsummer Daisies" and is 3,000 words of paranormal romance, and is currently being outvoted by my competition, so get yourself a (free) login at AllRomanceEbooks and please vote for it! Here's the page--my worthy competition and I are Pair #8.

Have a great weekend, regardless of what you read or don't read. Cheers!
mollyringle: (Scotland - hills and thistles)
I am seeking a beta-reader of sorts for a novel set in Edinburgh, and due to be published as an ebook within a couple of months (hurray!). What I need is someone who knows Scottish speech habits and Edinburgh very well, so you can catch any errors I've made on those counts.

You wouldn't have to worry about plot, character development, formatting, or grammar, except within Scottish characters' dialogue, perhaps. You'd merely read through and see if any Scotland-related mistakes jump out at you. Also, I would want this read-through done by the end of July, ideally. Short notice, I know--apologies.

In return I'd send you paperbacks of both my existing published novels--The Ghost Downstairs and Summer Term (though that one doesn't come out till Aug. 27, so you'd have to wait a bit)--and the ebook of this one, What Scotland Taught Me, once it's all polished up pretty. I'll happily send the paperback of this one too if it ever goes into a print edition.

The novel is about 100,000 words long (eek!), genre is teen lit crossing over into women's fiction, and mood is realistic and somewhat romantic-comedic. Feel free to advertise among your Scottish friends. I may take on more than one such reader to cover my bases, if I get more than one taker.

To apply, either comment here or email me directly-- writerofirony at earthlink dot net. I think I have enough takers for now. Thank you so much!

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