“Tell me honestly. Can I pull this off?”

Matt Lucas as Dongloor in Krod Mandoon

Switching styles, like Dongalor in “Krod Mandoon”, played by Matt Lucas

So yesterday I got bored, and to distract myself from watching my ‘selling’ items on ebay, I published one of my recent romance novels under a pen name I’ve been cultivating for a couple of months, Lauren Boutain.

This is the one that M&B requested the full MS of three months ago, and having just won round one of their Facebook and Twitter-based #TemptedToWrite contest pitching another idea, I have too many stories in my head now to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting. For now, I’ll stick to self-publishing until something better comes along… (like I don’t know, having a life?) 🙂

I did get some encouragement from having had it requested, and a couple of good friends. Friends are very important when you’re venturing into anything new, and contemporary modern romance is definitely new ground for me…

Matt Lucas, Dongalor

Supposing Dongalor wrote the next romance blockbuster, who might he ask to take a peek? 🙂

And then there’s all the stuff I don’t usually write. The bedroom stuff… I found that was where planning to write under a pen-name up front really helped. Not by trying to distance myself from it – by getting inside the head of someone else while writing. And not just the characters, for a change. By being another author completely.

For the first time I started a Pinterest board for my muses and also a Facebook page early on.

However, I found that waiting to hear from publishers still didn’t really fit – I had momentum in my creativity, and didn’t want to let it drop once I’d finished the story, I wanted to get it out there and move straight on to the next. So I’m afraid to say that yesterday I decided I couldn’t wait for either the good news or a rejection, and published anyway 🙂

Matt Lucas as Dongalor

“Can I pull this off?” Chancellor Dongalor’s big, er, ‘reveal’

Ahem… probably the main relevance to Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire is I recently watched it all again on DVD, and the line “Can I pull this off?” (besides being bloody hilarious in this scene) is very pertinent to me as an author who has been writing contemporary romance mainly in secret for a long time, but has not yet put it out there for readers to judge. I’m feeling brave. Perhaps not quite brave enough to slap on a bearskin codpiece, but definitely to sneak a book out under the radar, in the deluge of self-publishing going on in the world today 🙂

If you want to take a peek, or a download for 77p (99c) and judge for yourself, you can check it out on Amazon Kindle here.

I promise I don’t do executions in response to criticism, unlike Chancellor Dongalor 😉

One Stolen Kiss

Does not contain zombies… 🙂

L xxxx

Another word count…

Lauren Boutain

Two days into the next novel in my series, and the word count is just over 5100. I’m excited about this one too. I’m picking up the story of two characters who played a small supporting role in the last one.

I spent my ‘rest week’ doing final edits and corrections to the first book in the series (the one currently out on submissions) which brought it up to 76,000 words – not bad for only five weeks’ work for the first draft, plus one week for revisions. I’ve never worked so fast. Steadily, but not necessarily fast. Six to eight months was the norm for me previously, to write a novel from scratch.

I’ve found it’s the new limitations I’ve set myself for writing Romance. A specific genre and style, with no more than two central characters taking centre stage, with very limited air-time for background characters. Not allowing…

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London Book Fair 2013: After it has all sunk in…

Kobo at Clapham Junction

Kobo reader at Clapham Junction, awaiting train home after LBF13, 15th April

There’s not much I can say about this year’s London Book Fair that hasn’t been said already. Authors ruled. Early in the day on Monday, you could see the tumbleweeds blowing through EC1 – while in EC2, at the Author Lounge, it was an ants’ nest of inquisitive and industrious minds around Mark Lefebvre‘s talk ‘From E to Eternity’.

Mark Lefebvre of Kobo speaking at the London Book Fair 2013

Mark Lefebvre discussing the Zombies Run app as an example of progressing interactive e-reading experiences

The authonomy blog shared a mind-blowing fact afterwards – that around 25,000 new titles are currently being released to a worldwide audience every week (April 2013). With more and more folk picking up on how easy it is to self-publish using free ebook and POD platforms, this number looks set to continue growing exponentially.

Standing room only inside and outside the LBF13 Author Lounge

The outcome of this year’s Book Fair was that there was some traditional publishing buzz afterwards, but even the high bidders, staking claims to their meaningful contribution in the industry, couldn’t contend with the sheer overwhelming presence of (and interest in) the independent authors at this year’s event.

Photo by Kobo Writing Life

To me, the most daunting thing facing a writer today is the sheer number of people doing it. The same thing has happened with the indie music industry and indie film industry over the past 15 years.

Suddenly everyone is producing work, and putting it online, and trying to reach people with a taste for their style using the promotional platforms available – and while the creative market is exploding, the audience is progressively shrinking. As consumers, we don’t have enough hours to see, hear and read everything out there (even less so if we’re also the creators, and need most of that time to be creative ourselves), and the chances of finding our perfect entertainment to fill our small amount of spare time, although it may be out there, is tiny – like hunting for our own personal needle in a haystack full of needles.

Which is why it’s important to ensure that your creative hobby is fulfilling you, before you even conceive of who else might appreciate it. You are your primary audience.

The major concern that I’ve heard other authors voice recently, is that their one fear about publishing their work is “being judged on the content” which suggests they’re not writing for themselves, or from personal experience, but for some seedy underbelly kind of voyeuristic audience that they wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, let alone at a book signing.

If you wouldn’t want to be judged on the content of your writing, why are you writing for that particular perceived audience? For the potential money? For the notoriety? Are you simply in denial of a fetish for that specific genre yourself? Writers who enjoy their work, and are writing in a way that reflects them accurately, aren’t suffering from that fear. Anyone meeting them will find their personality consistent with the writing. They’ll leave them feeling that they were indeed the only person qualified to have written that particular work, and that if it was to their taste, that they’d happily want to learn more – in effect, to spend time with that author getting to know them better through their writing.

Sometimes, as a reader, there’s nothing more disappointing than an author who doesn’t live up to their stories. The author is supposed to be ‘the authority’ on their individual writing. Not a collector of ideas applied to writing, in order to make a fast buck.

Sometimes, that’s the reason true life stories are more interesting than fiction. You already know that it really happened to the author, which makes them an interesting person – one with a story to spend time on.

An author whose only personal story is that they churn out ideas, like a machine, in the best tried-and-tested manner to generate income, may be running an effective business, but are they living a life worth sharing with lessons worth learning? Are they inspiring people to live differently or explore life by being the best example of that lifestyle that there is?

By accident, I found out that parody sells. I enjoy parody, as a consumer – fantasy and sci-fi parody is my favourite genre, alongside graphic novels. I wrote my first parody as a test of publishing platforms, once I’d taught myself the technical know-how to format and publish for free – which led me to publish other original works I’d written years earlier. But ironically, it’s the parody that keeps selling. Is it because it’s my favourite genre as a customer? Or just that it fits a mainstream contemporary audience?

But here’s what I wanted to write. When I was about fourteen, I read an interview with a Mills & Boon author at the time, Mary Wibberly. She had been writing romances for years and submitting them to Mills & Boon for about a decade before finally getting published (she’d even been submitting them under different author names, in imaginary fear of having been blacklisted by the editors). It made me want to write romances one day. I still do. But although I can satirize and produce parody of it, I feel like a fraud whenever I attempt more traditional ‘romance’ with a straight face, because I don’t have any romantic experience. Ideas aren’t the same as having experience. I can read all the advice books around, from writing advice by Sue Moorcroft to relationship advice by Greg and Amiira Behrendt – but in the real world where nothing remotely like romance is happening and the only nudity I see is dead and trussed up in the frozen meat counter at the supermarket, I have to kick the daydream of writing romance aside and stick to comedy and fantasy for now (and sometimes zombies, see above). I’m one of those writers that has to be identifiable to myself first, and if I tried to write something that could only be comfortably and authoritatively written by a happily married housewife or a happily dating city girl, it wouldn’t seem real to me and most likely wouldn’t seem real to anyone else.

I guess we all have dreams of creative and professional success, the same way we have dreams of achievement in our personal lives. The internet makes it possible for everyone to compete in the same playing field. Meaning that the potential for anyone to rise head and shoulders above the rest, where everyone has the same level of electronically-supported social skills at their disposal – subject to time and budget – is slim.

If you picture the internet as such a playing field, with the population of the world strolling around on it trying to get noticed with their business cards and check-lists saying ‘reviews’ and ‘advertising’ (or ‘dating profile’ and ‘has genuine recent photo’) – what would stand out to you, as a potential customer? It’s not Dragon’s Den, where you get five minutes to pitch individually. Everyone selling themselves online, is online at the same time as you. You have, at most, about 0.4 seconds to catch someone’s eye and make them look again. (If they’re an RAF pilot, about 0.1 seconds).

And your budget doesn’t stretch to getting them all sociably drunk and conveniently impressionable – and that’s even if you could fit them all into Groucho’s.

As a customer, for me, it’s in regular high street bookshops and the supermarket where I look for books, so the dream is probably still to reach one of those publishers who can distribute to those places. I’m a proud reader. I think people being able to see what I’m enjoying reading on the train is better than writing a review any day.

Although perhaps not this book… I was laughing, but I don’t think that’s what the intention behind it is…

IMG-20130904-00296

Weirdest thing I’ve ever read on a train… didn’t make me want to try it out, let alone read past page 45…

So, besides misrepresenting myself as a person occasionally by picking up weird cult books to read, my philosophy of ‘write what you know’ is about as flexible as it is to continually increase what I know, to a valid and confident level where I know I won’t be misrepresenting or misleading anyone else.

That way, the fear of being ‘judged on the subject/content’ as a writer doesn’t sabotage my enjoyment of writing. After all, I may be the only person who ever reads it for more than 0.4 seconds, and I wouldn’t try and delude myself with artificial knowledge and lack of experience, so why try it out on anyone else?

So like I found with parody – what you think you want from writing early on may turn into something else, leading you down other creative pathways.

How writing affects you as a person – whether it defines you or misrepresents you – is probably more important, particularly for your sanity and whether it affects how comfortable you are around other people, talking about your work. If you’re considering pushing for a career in a certain genre, or as a certain kind of writer, and want to reach those upper echelons of success obtained by JK Rowling, James Patterson and Sir Terry Pratchett – try recording yourself in an imaginary interview, answering all the most awkward questions you can imagine being thrown at you, or write down your answers. Watching it or reading it back, you’ve only got to convince yourself that you’re the star for this job.

If you don’t seem convincing as the star candidate for this subject or this story – maybe try interviewing yourself about a different genre or story. Because if your passion doesn’t come across and your personality doesn’t sparkle as you talk about your work, how are you going to convince others that it’s a story worth selling?

The real challenge is, how to stand out from the 25,000 other books being released the same week as yours… never mind in the weeks following, under the increasing deluge 😉

IMG-20130415-00135

Mark Lefebvre of Kobo Writing Life Author Relations at London Book Fair 2013

Zombies Run 2 app trailer

Merry Kindlemas!

Harlequin/Mills&Boon rock the freebies on Kindle

Hey folks! 🙂

If you’re looking forward to getting a new eReader or tablet this Christmas, either as a gift or when out shopping for yourself, I thought I’d share what it’s possible to get free from Amazon Kindle – not just in the occasional promotions, but as regular items.

Like many tablet-owners, even though my very basic Wi-Fi Android colour touchscreen was a steal at only £44.99, I have the Kindle app installed, and I do browse the store for free books. Buying a Kindle, after all, is about spending a hefty chunk of cash, on what is essentially an empty bookshelf that you then have to buy books for. So I’m not going to cough up print list prices when I can wait a few months and buy those print editions for a penny, just the same as usual… 😉

Those of you who know me as a reader/writer will know I have a soft-spot for romance fiction (even though I generally write about hit-men, zombies and psychos myself), especially Mills&Boon. What I’ve recently discovered is that you can get a great many of the books in their recent back catalogue, completely free on Kindle.

This is a fantastic idea for M&B books. Especially for readers like me, since my local supermarket no longer stock them.

Being category romance, set up for subscription readers, their turnover of new books is possibly the largest of any publisher. Keeping them available in the Kindle store as free books is no loss on the company’s part. It may round up many new readers, plus supply fans of their current authors with access to a hot and professionally-released backlist.

The best way to find these freebies is to type one of these titles in, or a favourite author name, and look at the ‘Customers also bought…’ list on the product page.

It’s worth noting that although the books I’ve included here are the usual novel-length M&B books, which you can currently find free in the Kindle store, you’ll also find Harlequin/M&B short stories and novellas, in both paid and free sections. A useful guideline is that anything under 200 KB file size is a shade short for a novel – some may say ‘short story’ or ‘novella’, while others are given away by customer comments, who perhaps didn’t realise the book wasn’t the expected full-length read.

If you’re new to Kindle books this Christmas, it’s worth looking at the file size to figure out if it’s your kind of read length – for example, some may be as short as 90 KB, while my own special extended ebook of Death & The City: Heavy Duty Edition, is a whopping 1277+ KB. Some ebooks have a ‘print length’ in the details to give you an idea, while others show from the ‘Look Inside’ 5% preview feature how short they are. (My Look Inside of the Death & The City leviathan is four and a half chapters!) I have seen previews of stories so short that the preview was only the title and copyright pages – invest a bit of time learning your way around.

Other books I’ve recently downloaded as free, include A Little Bit Of Everything For Dummies by the reknowned ‘For Dummies’ collection, and Alice In Wonderland. You’ll find every classic you could possibly want for free on Kindle, from Jane Austen to Bram Stoker.

You’ll find promotional offers on ebooks as well, in short freebie slots, so you’ll find different books in the Top 100 Free every week – so worth checking back in for surprise treats. These short slots can be anything from 24 hours to 5 days, depending on the author or publisher’s schedule.

You don’t need any special Amazon membership to ‘purchase’ (download) books listed as free to buy. If you want to borrow books from Amazon, the current scheme is for Amazon Prime membership US customers, where Kindle readers can borrow one title per month. I imagine if I was there, I’d be looking at the NYT bestsellers, listed at that controversial print price for my library loan borrowings 😉

Death & The City: Book One

On that note, you’ll be able to download Death & The City: Book One and Death & The City: Book Two by yours truly (check to see whose blog you’re reading, that’s a clue), both free from Amazon Kindle on the following dates:

25th and 26th December 2011 (48-hour free promotion, PST)

1st and 2nd January 2012 (48-hour free promotion, PST)

Death & The City: Book Two

Lara Leatherstone – not her real name, she got it from an internet Porn Star Name Generator…
…And Connor Reeves, also not his real name, as it turns out – how he came by his, is less clear…
Both are obliged to work their way through the To Do List of ‘Hollywood Hit-Men’ – a breed mostly preoccupied with gold chains, impressing barmaids, and shady contracts – erasing these unwanted pests with the minimum of paperwork. Or pay.

Both books will be completely free in both promotions scheduled. No catch, just Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from me!

And enjoy those Harlequin/M&B freebies – let me know how many more you come across!

🙂 xxx

Ye Olde Money Shotte…

What purpose does the bedroom door serve nowadays?

Since ditching the safety mitts and tackling D.H. Lawrence’s self-published legend Lady Chatterley’s Lover recently – not to mention dipping my writerly prudish toe into Mills & Boon waters – I’m sensing the issue of bedroom door shenanigans looming in my writing at some point. Yes, I can mash up another historical author’s work and make a parody of it. I can even make a mutant man-alien suspect squirm in the interrogation room of a sci-fi police procedural comedy feature script.

But leaving that fictional bedroom door open while keeping a straight face somehow escapes me. Or maybe, the point of it somehow escapes me. Unless it has something specific to do with furthering the plot or character development, to my brain, it’s somehow gotten filed in the same place as ambulance-chasing to sell a story.

Like D.H. Lawrence’s characters wonder, would you describe the joys of going into detail about toilet scenes? Do they have a place in the great literary novel/pulp romance? I’m sure that some have gone there. And gone again, with extra lavatory paper (to make notes about the experience).

Firstly, the subject of story. I recently got into a lovely writer’s discussion about such a scene being used to illustrate a traumatic event in a book for young adults, which concerned her as to its suitability for the readership, and was evidently giving her issues about comfort-zone in her own writing. In terms of the story itself, she realised of her own conclusion – after a number of us gave feedback – that the traumatic event could also be a fight or beating, not a sexual assault scene. In terms of her story progress, an alternative situation served the same purpose, for the long-term effect on the character that she wanted to share.

Secondly, sex scenes don’t necessarily illustrate automatic progress of a relationship between two characters. In the original Lady Chatterley, her initial affair with the playwright Michaelis shows that the sex a character experiences can be a downright let-down, not even lasting long enough to satisfy her need to be held for any length of time. She wants to feel that the connection between them is romantic – and he does indeed want her to leave Clifford and marry him – but he’s so one-sided in the bedroom, she seems to know it would be equally doomed. The sex in this case is driving them apart from the beginning, not together – something which really hasn’t been discussed in the mainstream dissection of the work. Mostly because Michaelis isn’t the primary ‘hero’ of the piece.

So if you wonder whether on your route to publication (or increasing fame) as an author, when the question comes up about whether your frequency of squeaky bedsprings (or Ford Focus suspension) is gratuitous or not, perhaps “relationship development” between two characters isn’t a substantial enough answer. Now authors are expected to face dissection on all angles and metaphors in their work, an ulterior motive is going to stick out a mile (what’s that in inches again?) so sex scenes for the sake of bigger sales are going to be leaking financial euphemisms all over the proof-reading sheets.

“He was sweating like a bank-robber with that stocking over his head.” Yum.

Anyway, before I make a new book out of that one (ahem) I’m a bedroom-door-closed writer when it comes to writing straight romance. Stop laughing, I really am. Want to know why? I just don’t feel qualified. Lots of readers in the world have experienced relationships, and I haven’t yet. So besides having the sophistication of a South Park eighth-grader which only works in comedy and parody, I’m not going to convince anyone of the quality and authenticity of such scenes in my writing if I don’t convince myself first.

There’s a lot you can use to show character and relationship development, between your characters. I don’t mean that they just go for coffee and look at puppies together to show romantic progress, in between visits to bedsprings and Ford Focus. In Harlequin/Mills & Boon, it’s about conflict and resolution acting as a binder, which works if your characters are attracted to each other physically. Overcoming a lack of physical attraction, or repulsion initially, is a bit more difficult to justify as a character arc, and hints at a metaphor for prejudice. Besides, it’s been done already – in Beauty And The Beast. Self-repulsion within a character is an interesting one – since The Elephant Man (a true story), overcoming any issues, romantic or otherwise, about one’s own manifestation in the world are a much more interesting angle, particularly if both partners in the story suffer. Otherwise it becomes one character’s ‘poor me’ tale of woe, with the other providing all the support and enablement.

When I wrote Death & The City I gave both protagonists issues, and strong views about relationships, and their relationship development wrote itself, having made both of them so complicated. Do they sleep together by the end? I’m not telling. You’ll have to read it to find out.

But there is help out there, for those of you who want that bedroom door unbolted, to start it flapping like Jack Sparrow’s Jolly Roger. Bestseller Shoshanna Evers has edited How To Write Hot Sex, an ebook guide for authors, written by authors, including references and slang dictionaries within relevant chapters, so you don’t spend red-faced hours on Google looking for trustworthy definitions of the terminology in use. There is a lot of emphasis by these authors on story, and on character arcs, and on whether stereotypes are a good idea or not – particularly when writing for target markets. I do recommend it for anyone considering taking their bedroom door off its hinges when writing. Or parking that Ford Focus anywhere with good CCTV coverage.

Most of all, enjoy your story and characters for who they are, and keep that safety lid on your fountain pen. Sticky keyboards aren’t the best writing tools. Or you might have your own eye out.

😉

Mills & Boon’s New Voices

The Mills & Boon New Voices contest (Football sentiment not included!)

Yay! I did it! I submitted a first chapter into the contest. Neptune’s Island is my first stab at direct romance writing.

And I found a suitable category – warm and fuzzy. I mean, Warm and COSY. As I can’t switch off my wit when writing, I was really pleased to see that romantic comedies come under this roof. Mine’s a rom-com with a sense of adventure – the holiday-read chick-lit.

No zombies in this one. Although at least one of my other outlines that I had in mind involved zombies, in the paranormal scheme of things, I’m saving those for later.

I’m surprised there aren’t more entries in this category yet. I thought chick lit was hu-u-ge. I love a sense of humour with my romantic stories. I read a few straight ones, mostly paranormals, and a few romantic dramas – but I have to be careful because quite often I’m inserting my own jokes into scenes at the back of my mind. Like that person in the cinema you can sometimes hear, who has a comeback occasionally funnier than the one Dwayne Johnson just said.

There are some great plot lines on the site already – fab identity mix-ups, awkward situations, and some great suspense openings. It’s very inspiring. The busiest category is Contemporary Romance, which I guess has the scope for everything that involves complex webs in relationships, skeletons in closets, old flames, and up-to-the-minute issues alongside the more traditional ones. I avoided that one, I suppose, because I haven’t had a relationship in real life, and wouldn’t know or identify with a real-life scenario or complex issue if it bit me. Biting is very boring in my concept of real life – it comes under Common Assault in nightclub incident reports, or ‘abuse of staff’ in a hospital ward. Extraordinarily dull.

I ended up with four ideas, but you only get one entry – and since I’ve found the door is open to chick lit and romantic humour, I’ve had more ideas arriving all the time. So I’d definitely be interested in writing more romance in future.

The www.romanceisnotdead.com competition entry website is a bit glitchy, and every time I click on a link or try to post a comment it crashes at the moment, but they’ve got ongoing maintenance to try and keep it afloat!

It’s nice to have freedom of imagination, even if nothing romantic has happened in real life yet. My friend Sophie Neville was discussing the age-old issue of husband-hunting with me at work the other day, and how she worries about her acquaintances currently in the market and the problems they face. She knows I’m also permanently single with no history or boyfriend experience, and when she asked my age, there was a full minute of rather horrified silence 🙂 I heard that life begins at forty, but I didn’t realise it meant literally ‘begins’ – I’ve had one blind date morning coffee since my 40th back at the start of July, and it’s lucky I’m more interested in dieting and writing at the moment, because dating so far has possibly been the biggest waste of petrol I’ve used in my life. The only other thing dating does so far is add to my caffeine intake 🙂

It is true that basically it just means I haven’t met the right man yet. It is really bizarre meeting up with guys you don’t know, and chatting over coffee. Perfectly normal and pleasant conversations, usually. But no chemistry. I know what a crush on a guy feels like, or regular physical attraction, but so far those things have completely failed to turn up on dates. Quite a few I’d have been open to second dates or longer chats – to see if it’s true that you’re meant to let someone grow on you first – but as it turns out, I haven’t been asked by any of those guys for second dates.

Luck of the draw, I guess. I’m not looking for dates any more because I’m too busy – but it isn’t the case that ‘not looking’ means you suddenly get asked out all the time. It just means guys click on the next online profile.

I could try just going out where there are people, but I don’t have any friends nearby because nobody else wants a 40-year-old single woman around either 🙂

So I’ll just fantasise about romance instead for now, and write it down – it’s much easier than finding it in real life.

🙂

Today, I will mostly be reading…

Hot Island Nights

Sarah Mayberry, for Harlequin (UK) Mills & Boon

…This one above, in paperback from Tesco’s, special promotions inside the cover. Wow. I’m only up to Chapter 5, and will probably have gone blind by the end, so luckily it’s one of their shorter books. It’s definitely taking my mind off food anyway.

Nice weather to read in the last couple of days, out on the hammock between gardening and hula-hooping and diet shakes. Saw the doctor, who was able to show me that last time I was weighed at a check-up in December 2010, I was 5kg less than now, so it was as I suspected – gradual re-gain of weight lost previously.

I super-glued the incision where the keloid scar was and it’s started healing up in a nice neat line instead of a ropey random-shaped blob like before. As I said, don’t do this at home. If you must fidget while watching TV, do knitting or something. Not DIY surgery. I’ll probably still need to get it checked afterwards at some point, unless God is in a good mood and the whole mark vanishes without trace. I was lucky to have already had it biopsied – just sorry they didn’t take the whole thing out at the time.

So I’m dieting, hula-hooping, catching up with the housework gradually, and started on writing my own straight romantic fiction efforts. Yes!! Finally, I came up with two ideas which have potential. I think giving up on the idea of dating in real life helped. Gave me licence to be totally inventive, and not worry about being judged (not until submissions time, at least). Mills & Boon are running their New Voices contest again next month, and I’m debating whether or not to enter a competition with a public vote (I don’t have that many friends to round up!) or just go for the straight submissions route. I’m tempted to go with the latter. Maybe because it would be the real response when it came, that I could work with immediately on whatever the feedback is. I have a feeling about it of ‘start as you mean to go on’ in the working professional writer sense.

In the meantime, thinking of putting together my ideal hula-hooping playlist. So far, the best of Santana, and Justin Timberlake are getting me going, and have also found remixes of Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson, the Beastie Boys, the Noisettes, and Faithless are great stuff to hoop along to. I have a need to test out the hooping potential of De La Soul. My instincts tell me there is something very hoopable in those tunes. Oddly enough I couldn’t get anything out of Madonna. The rhythm was all wrong. She’ll have to incorporate it into her assimilated repertoire of fashion crazes to come up with the right beat.

For custom hoops and jamming, wiggle your way over to Hoop Express and get inspired! 🙂

Now that’s what I call a cover…

This one broke my world speed record for deciding whether or not to buy the book when I saw it in the bookstore. I think my exact decision-making process was “FWORRR!”

It’s staying where I can see it while writing. I might even read more than those pages in the middle when I get time…

Send him round. I’ve never had a real live muse before 🙂