Friday, February 12, 2010

"It started out just like Romeo and Juliet..."

"...but it ended in tragedy."

One of my favorite Simpsons quotes. Poor Milhouse. Bemoaning the crash and burn of his grade-school love affair. And yet... and yet... the little bespectacled dork has a point.

Romeo and Juliet is considered by some to be the most romantic, most tragic, most passionate and beauteous love story of all time.

Poppycock, sez I.

It's no tragedy. That play is a comedy!

"What?" you say. "Have you lost your Shakespeare-addled mind?" you say.

I have not.

That play is, in fact, a farce that hinges entirley on catastrophically bad timing, one wacky friar's "cunning plan", and the gross inadequacies of the Italian postal system back in the day.

Did you know that it's entirely likely that most of Shakespeare's audience would have considered Romeo and Juliet to have been justly served by their fate? That's right. Elizabethan society looked poorly on the kind of impetuous disregard for social convention and hotheaded recklessness shown by the two lovers. They would have thought the end unfortunate but... enh - what are you gonna do? They got what was coming to them.

How's that for romantic?

You want romance from Shakespeare? Real romance? I give you Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. Often considered to be nothing more than a frothy romp, nothing too deep and meaningful, I put it to you that - in fact - the love story in this play is far more profound than that which springs up over the junior Montagues and Capulets.

Here we have a couple of stubborn, set-in-their-ways adults - determined not to give in to the painfully obvious attraction that has been building between them over years - rather than overnight - and, when forced to confront the truth of their mutual attraction, they act like a couple of giddy schoolkids, profess their love, demand oaths of bloody revenge for wronged relatives (Beatrice), promise - after some fiery convincing - to exact said revenge (Benedick), take the time to solve a mystery Scooby-gang style, and through a bit of clever deception make absolutely certain that everything will turn out all right for everyone (not just themselves) in the end.

That's what I call romantic.

Don't believe me? Rent the Brannagh/Thompson movie and watch as these two go from adversarial, to goofy-smitten, to deadly serious, to giddy joy all in the name of love and honor.

And, I have to say, the scene where Beatrice is on the garden swing and Benedick is diving through the fountain is one of the all-time cinematic greatest visual representations of true love ever committed to celluloid, in my opinion!

Now... don't get me wrong. I still have to wring my hanky out after a good production of Romeo and Juliet - a good one mind you - I just think that, maybe it's reputation as Shakespeare's most romantic play might be a teensy bit misleading.

All that aside, and speaking of love... I LOVE Jillian Cantor. I LOVED her first book The September Sisters and I cannot wait to dive into The Life of Glass. Congratulations, Jillian, on the release of your second book. And for everyone reading this post - what are you waiting for!?!! Go leave a comment for a chance to win TLOG!

Have a Happy Valentine's Day kids! And - remember - don't listen to the crazy friar!
That whole "faking your own death" thing might sound like a good idea at the time but.....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Finally Here!!!!

It has been so exciting to have my second book, THE LIFE OF GLASS, make its way into the world this week! And a huge thank you to my fellow Novel Girls for all their kind words and support.

The reason I picked the topic of love stories for the week is because the idea of love stories plays a big role in THE LIFE OF GLASS. The book takes place about a year and a half after 14-year-old Melissa loses her father to cancer. As she begins her freshman year of high school, all she has left of him is his journal of strange facts and interesting stories, a journal he’d been keeping as notes for a book before he died. As the book begins, Melissa’s mother decides it’s time to start dating again. And that’s when Melissa decides to start keeping her own journal, a journal of love stories, specifically, the love stories that make up her family history. She begins just as her mother goes on her first date, with the idea that, if she doesn’t write it down, her mother and father’s love story might disappear forever. Then there is also her grandparent’s love story, which seems especially important to record as her grandmother’s memory is slowly fading away due to Altzheimer’s.

Through the course of the book, Melissa questions the idea of love and what it means to love. Is her beautiful pageant-obsessed older sister, Ashley, really in love with the captain of the baseball team? Could her mother really be in love with this new guy, whom Melissa nicknames “the cowboy” because he lives on a ranch and rides horses? Could her best friend, Ryan, really be in love with Courtney, the deceptively beautiful new girl? And then there’s Melissa herself, who suddenly finds herself the object of Max Healy’s attention – one of the cutest and most popular guys at school. But is what she’s feeling for him really love?

Here’s a little excerpt from the book where Max notices Melissa for the first time:

Staring right at me, his big brown eyes all sparkly and sweet-looking, was Max Healy. “Hey there, Ashley’s sister.” He smiled. He had this sort of cocky smile that seemed to say he knew just how gorgeous and nice and funny he was, and if you couldn’t recognize it , well then, too bad. . .

I have a name,” I said, surprised by the no-nonsense sound of my voice, because I hadn’t thought the words through before they popped out of my mouth.

“A secret name?”

I felt my neck getting hot, and I knew it would only be a matter of seconds before the flush spread across my face and I was completely bright red. “Melissa,” I finally mumbled, and then looked back into the locker as if I were searching for something very urgent, which, unless you were counting piles of old gum wrappers and balled up math homework, I wasn’t.

When I looked up again, he was gone.

If you want to know what happens in their love story, you’ll have to read the book! To read a longer excerpt from the book, you can click on over to the Harperteen site here.

I’m also giving away one signed copy of the THE LIFE OF GLASS, chosen at random, from everyone who leaves a comment all week long. So leave us a comment if you want to enter to win!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Way To Go, Jill!

I can't talk about The Life Of Glass Release week without first taking a moment to give Jillian Cantor a huge, heartfelt congratulations. I'm always telling her she's the real deal. She can pump out a beautiful story in no time flat. Her writing is, well, superb and it seems to me that prose flows out of that girl as effortlessly as love does from a mom.

I'm going to head to Davis-Kidd, our Nashville indie, to pick up a copy of The Life of Glass today. The cover is ingenious but I'm sure it doesn't even compare to the brilliance inside. And every one of our wonderful NG followers has a chance to win a signed copy. All you have to do is post a comment. The more you post, the better chance you have of winning. So post, post, post!

Since "Love Stories" is the topic that Jillian has chosen for us to talk about this week, here's my two cents.

When I hear the words Love Story I can't help but think about Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. I know it shows my age, but honestly if you grew up in the 70s this was THE movie of the decade. It evoked sobs, you know the messy-cry kind that before you know it, has your whole face smeared with nose fluid. Love Story's got all the makings of the perfect star-crossed, tragedy. Oliver, a Harvard pre-law, blue-blooded, hockey player and Jenny, an Italian/American, blue-collared, Radcliffe music student fall in love. Oliver's father is hell-bent to put the kibosh on the relationship. Then the unthinkable happens.

We know how the love story will end from the opening line of the film. Oliver narrates, looking back:

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?

It's a little sappy, but if you like love stories, it's definitely worth a trip to Blockbuster or the 99 cent investment at Netflix. Or by all means, read the novel. I read it in a day, if I remember correctly.

This just dawned on me. Maybe my real Novel Girl roll is to educate all of our young followers on the comings and goings of the 70s. Tell me, has anyone out there seen Love Story? Does anyone out there even care about seeing Love Story? Go ahead and post. You'll be happy you did when The Life of Glass shows up in your mailbox!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, The Life of Glass!

It continues to amaze me that some of us have already graduated from our debut years, and are on to releasing our next books into the world. Jill is next up on that list, with the release of her second book, The Life of Glass. I get the privilege of posting on the book's actual release date, so make sure you head over to Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million or your local indie and order a copy!

This is usually the part where I say that I can't wait to read it, and that I'll be stalking my mailman until he delivers my copy. However, after much begging, cajoling and attempted bribery, Jill graciously sent me an ARC. So I can honestly, truly say that this book is wonderful. It's beautifully written, with a high-relatable main character dealing with realistic, real-life struggles as a teenager. The title relates to the narrative in such a unique way; here's the first sentence: "The last thing my father ever told me was that it takes glass a million years to decay."

I got about five pages in before I emailed Jill with something like this: "OMG! LOVE IT! SOOOO GOOD!" Clearly, I have difficulty articulating when excited.

My long-winded point is this: buy this book. Jill is also giving away a signed copy this week, to celebrate the release, so leave a comment to enter!

So this week, Jill chose Love Stories as the topic. For me, what really hits me square, aren't huge, romantic gestures between two characters. It's more the little, everyday things like a shared look, a slight arm nudge or a teasing smile. I think it's much more difficult (and much more realistic) to convey chemistry and love through two characters teasing each about about, say, rival sports teams, than through candles, champagne and flowers.

What about you guys? What works for you in love stories? Don't forget to comment to win a signed copy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Life of Glass Release Week!

Wow, can you believe it? We have another TNG release to celebrate this week! Jillian Cantor's second novel, The Life of Glass, is available tomorrow--February 9th! Yay, Jillian!!!!!

I'm in love with the cover of this book and can't wait to delve into the story. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to read it right away (sob! double sob!) because I have other books to read first. Hey, I have to. They're contest books and I'm a judge. I promised I'd read them in a specific amount of time, so they are my first priority for reading time. As soon as I finish the last of those books; however, I'm going to jump into The Life of Glass with enthusiasm. Lots of enthusiasm!

To celebrate Jillian's release, she is giving away a signed copy of The Life of Glass. All you have to do is comment this week to be entered! And, as readers of this blog will know, we always have a special topic the week of a release. Jillian's topic of choice is Love Stories, which is fitting for the book but also with Valentine's Day right around the corner.

I'm a romance writer, so it should be pretty obvious to all that I love a good love story. Whether it's a true story being told to me by a friend, a fictionalized story in a book, TV show, or movie, I'm a goner. For one, I'm a romantic (duh), a softie (double duh), and am about as emotional as a person can get. My heart is touched easily and often, for which I'm ever grateful. I love being swept away.

And I think that's one of the reasons why love stories hold such appeal to so many people. We're able to become swept away, to fall in love again, to connect with the people we're reading about or watching on the screen. Love is an emotion that people can identify with--it truly needs no explanation--so we're able to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Those are the reasons why I love a good love story, but what about you? What makes one love story stand out above others? I admit I like a lot of humor, but a good tear-jerker will stay with me forever.

Don't forget to comment for a chance to win a signed copy of The Life of Glass! And huge congrats, Jillian!!!