Tag-Archive for » Bettie Sharpe «

The RITA Speech

The what, you ask?  Oh, that.  But that was ages ago, you say.  Well, last year I wrote a post called “Summer Omnibus Update” in October.  Seasonality is not my best trait.  :-)

You can’t really see me but if you set your audio to maximum, you can hear the speech pretty well.

 

 

See, you don’t need to speak English all that well to write okay in it.  :-)  (A long time ago, Bettie Sharpe confessed that before she first heard me, she’d imagined I spoke with a smoky voice, kind of like an expat in a French cafe. Darn it. I think I should too.)

My gratitude goes to my RWA roommie Kristyne Raley, for taking the video and then transferring it to a USB stick for me.  (Btw, Kristyne, your USB stick is so fancy it took me a minute to realize it has two ends!  Hmm, did I just reveal again how much of a Luddite I am?)

Since we are it, a couple more foreign covers.  Up first, Slovene HIS AT NIGHT.  The cover model is awfully pretty, but I’d always pictured Elissande a bit fuller–both in the face and in the bosom.  :-)

And now, the upcoming German reissue of PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS.  From what I understand, Cora Verlag (Harlequin Germany) first distributes their titles to train stations and other such convenience spots.  And then later a book might get repackaged for the bookstores.  So here is the repackaging and I’m very excited to have my first leads-lying-down-together cover.

That’s all, folks.  For now.

An Interview with Bettie Sharpe

Guess who has a new novella out?  Bettie Sharpe, one of my favorite writers.  Bettie burst onto the scene in 2008, with Ember, a retelling of the Cinderella story. And what a retelling. The story was posted in ten weekly installments, and readers were counting the days until the next installment.

She publishes infrequently.  So a new release from her is always a cause for celebration.  I did a little interview with Bettie for my newsletter and thought I’d post it here also.

Cat’s Tale

Ember

Once upon a time there was a scheming, lying tart who cared for nothing but her own pleasures and her shoe collection.

Once the peerlessly beautiful Lady Catriona, consort to the king, Cat’s fortunes fall far when her aged husband dies. The king’s wizard turns her into a cat and tries to drown her in the mill pond. Fortunately Cat is a clever survivor and enlists the help of Julian, the miller’s youngest son, in her plan for revenge.

She originally sees Julian as a mere pawn for her plans to break her curse, but as they work together Cat comes to know and care for him. Even if the curse can be broken, can a good-hearted man love a woman who has been as vain and selfish as Cat?

A Few Answers from Bettie Sharpe

Bettie Sharpe Signature

Bettie Sharpe is a Los Angeles native with a fondness for hot weather, classic cars, and air so thick it sticks in your teeth. When she’s not busy attempting to metabolize smog into oxygen, she enjoys romance novels, action movies, comic books, video games, and every other entertainment product her teachers said would rot her brain. She loves to write almost as much as she loves to read. As a child, she dreamed of seeing her name in shiny gold cursive on the cover of a luridly titled paperback book.

Bettie and her husband share their house with two cats, numerous computers, and the possum in their palm tree.

Three out of the four stories I’ve read of yours (Ember, Cat’s Tale, and the retelling of The Little Mermaid in the upcoming Agony/Ecstasy Anthology) are reworked fairy tales. Holy-$%!# reworked fairy tales if I may add. What draws you to these classics?

Cat's Tale

I grew up reading the gory old versions of fairy tales, and was always kind of appalled at the Disney versions (even though I do adore some of the later Disney fairy tale movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog). The cool thing about fairy tales is that these stories were told again and again as folk tales before they were codified in print, and every author who has ever told these tales aloud or in writing has put their own spin on them. It’s what you’re supposed to do with them. Also, it’s really fun to twist and
reshape familiar elements into something new or different.

Are there any fairy tales you look at and say, nope, not interested? If so, why not?

Like a Thief in the Night

Beauty and the Beast. It’s one of my favorite fairy tales, but there are already so many great retellings–Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Robin McKinley (twice!), and all of the many, many romance novels that use variations on the theme. There are already more than a dozen versions
of the tale that I adore. I’m not really sure I could bring anything new to it.

If I’d been asked to answer this question a year ago, I might also have said that I didn’t care for fairy tales that ended tragically, but then I wrote “Each Step Sublime,” my retelling of The Little Mermaid that will be part Jane Litte’s Agony/Ecstasy Anthology, and I had a blast giving those characters an appropriate happy ending. So I guess my main criteria for retelling a story is
just whether I think I can do anything different with it.

You are known for your bad-ass heroines–and when I say bad-ass, I mean BAD-ASS. Yet you in person are a complete lady from top to bottom. Where do your uncompromising heroines come from?

Agony/Ecstasy

Writers tend to be introspective and thinky. Sometimes it’s fun to get out of your own mind and step into the thoughts of someone completely different from you–someone with different morals, different values, different capabilities. While some of my characters’ traits are exaggerated versions of aspects of my own personality (Cat’s obsession with clothes and shoes springs to mind), other traits are the complete opposite.

Also, with the fairy tale retellings, the plot is predetermined. I have to create characters who would logically act and react to plot developments in ways that drive the plot to its proper ending.

I find your heroines exhilarating to read. Why do you suppose I–and other readers like me–get such a kick out of badass girls being badass?

Ember

Probably for the same reason I get a kick out of writing them–they’re fun! My favorite quote on the subject of badassery is from Neal Stephenson’s book, Snow Crash:

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer has to worry about trying to be the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken….Which is okay. Sometimes it’s all right just to be a little bad. To know your limitations. Make do with what you’ve got.

I like to read and write about badass heroines, but I don’t think I’d ever want to be one–it seems like a lot of effort. I follow the Hiro Protagonist Philosophy on Badassery– it’s good to be a little badass. In fact, it’s probably best. But seeing a true badass, or reading or writing about a really fun fictional badass, is always liberating.

Last, but not least, what are you working on now and when can we have the pleasuring of reading it?

I have plenty of projects, but the one I’ve been writing the most on is another fairy tale retelling based on a comparatively obscure story about a princess cursed with perfect ugliness. After the heroine of Cat’s Tale, who was beautiful and quite enamored of her own looks and the advantages they grant her, I thought it might be fun to write an ugly heroine. I can promise you now, she does not whine or wallow in self-pity.

I’m not sure when I’ll be finished, or even whether it will be another novella or –gasp!– a novel. It’s running a little long for a novella right now, and I’m nowhere near the end.

Be still my heart! Thank you, Bettie.

If you haven’t tried Bettie yet, you can read Ember free online at Bettie’s website or buy it for your e-reader for
only $0.99.  And then it’s only three bucks for Cat’s Tale!  What are you waiting for?

How Did This Escape My Attention?


How did I miss this? Bettie Sharpe’s LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT has been out in print, as part of an anthology, since the very end of 2008.

I wrote a combined review for EMBER and LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT January last at Dear Author. It’s not very often that I exhort readers to support a certain author, but I think a special case should be made for Bettie. Cuz she is just too awesome a talent. And for selfish reasons, I want her to get a lot of money from her writing so that she needs to do nothing but write. For my enjoyment. :-)

I haven’t seen the book in the stores yet–not that I was particularly looking for it–but you can get it from Amazon here.

Lisa Kleypas, Richard Burton, Nora Roberts, Sherry Thomas, and Julia Quinn in Bangalore

I realize that, with the exceptionally generous quote Lisa Kleypas gave me, every word I say about her could be construed as deliberate bum-kissing. And I’m perfectly at peace with that. I’ve met Lisa Kleypas, bum-kissing her is no task at all, figuratively or literally.

But it was also a fact that when I picked up my ARC of Blue-Eyed Devil to take with me on my trip of India, I didn’t remember that she’d given me a quote. Not out of ingratitude, that’s just how my brain functions/malfunctions from time to time–I can be relied upon to forget just about anything for some period of time.

No, the reason I picked up BED was because I’d been reading books with various supernatural/paranormal aspects, and I wanted a straight comtemporary. I packed it in my backpack and took it with me on the plane journey. But oh boy, Emirates Airline has the most awesome in-seat consoles and entertainment system. I did not stop watching movies and TV shows long enough to read anything other than the menus.

So it was in my first few jetlagged days in Bangalore that I read BED. I’d started reading it at the end of 2007, right after I finished reading Sugar Daddy. But then, because BED featured a battered woman as the heroine, and I have this huge problem reading about injustice, I stopped after a while when the heroine, after escaping her evil husband, finds herself with a cruel female boss.

But in Bangalore the second half of the book went zooming by. It was hot. It was intense. It was satisfying. And it was such a treat. Every time I read a contemporary of Lisa’s, I feel I get this privileged glimpse into her beautiful soul–she writes with such compassion and wisdom and understanding of human nature.

Bangalore has a reputation as a good place to be for readers. We came across three very good used book stores. At the first one, which was sort of a hole in the wall that was packed floor to ceiling, we bought comics (Tintin, Asterix, Tinkle Digest) for Senior Kidlet. We also bought a copy of Arabian Nights that was still in its plastic wrap. Senior Kidlet enjoys folklores and such, so we thought Arabian Nights would be perfect.

Soon, however, he complained that he couldn’t read the thing. So I opened it to take a look at what was the problem. And this was what I came across:

…when the woman said to the Barber’s second brother, “Doff thy clothes,” he rose, well-nigh lost in ecstasy; and, stripping off his raiment, showed himself mother-naked. Whereupon the lady stripped also and said to my brother, “If thou want anything, run after me till thou catch me.” Then she set out at a run and he ran after her while she rushed into room after room and rushed out of room after room, my brother scampering after her in a rage of desire like a veritable madman, with yard standing terribly tall.

It seemed we’d inadvertently bought some old, High-Victorian translation, possibly Richard Burton’s. I read certain pages aloud to my husband, “yard standing terribly tall” and all, and laughed my head off.

While we were still at the bookshop, I took a picture of the romance section.

I thought it was not bad at all. But then a few days later, my sister-in-law, my husband, and I took our four collective children to bowling. Once they were settled in a lane, I left to check out a used-magazine shop we’d seen on the way. But right outside the bowling place was another used book store, this one much bigger and with several walls of romances (alas, I wasn’t carrying my camera). I bought Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer, which I’d heard good things about—they had a good few stacks of Georgette Heyer books.

I did remember the used magazine shop. I was hoping to come across some old copies of Lucky—an interesting guilty pleasure, as far as guilty pleasures went, since I hardly ever shop–but what I did come across was more fun. A rack of Mills and Boon for 99 rupees (approx $2.50) each! I happily picked up a new one by Lucy Gordon, The Italian’s Cinderella Bride.

During the time we were in Bangalore, my sister-in-law took us and the kids to various places where the kids could have fun. But one day we decided to take a break from the fun. The kids stayed home to play with each other and my wonderful sis-in-law made a beauty appointment for me with a lady who worked out of her own home in the same apartment complex.

My beautician, Poonam, turned out to be a huge fan of Nora Roberts’ straight contemporary romances. She showed me her stash of NR romances and lamented that she had more NR books than did her lending library. So I was able to boast to her of having stood next to Nora Roberts in an elevator in Dallas, and not just any elevator, it was a darn long ride to come down from the top of the Reunion Tower. I remembered Nora started to say “Hail Mary, Mother of God.” J

Since I told her that I wrote too, Poonam very naturally asked me if she could find my books in Bangalore. And I wasn’t too sure. A fan in India had written me and she’d purchased her copy from Walden Books in Hyderabad. There were no Walden Books in Bangalore, so the good husband took it upon himself to call Landmark Bookstore, a big chain, and reported that while Private Arrangements was not physically available in the Bangalore location yet, copies of it had been received at their central warehouse in Gurgaon, outside Delhi. So…woot! I’m in available in Bangalore

And why Julia Quinn? Well, she was in Bangalore too, as evidenced by this mysterious comment. Now I’ll have to track her down at Nationals so that I’ll know exactly what she was doing there. :-)

And of course this is way too late (because Bettie Sharpe kept me up all night and then busy all day–hehe) but the Smart Bitches are doing a giveaway of 5 Delicious ARCs. It ends early morning on July 15th. But even if you can’t make it by the deadline, you should still go over to check out the comments of what special delicacy would make people become very, very, very friendly with whomever brings that particular dish. I plan to. :-)

Random Facts

I’ve been tagged by Bettie Sharpe to cough up seven random facts about myself. So here goes.

1. I am useless between the hours of 11pm and 7am. You hear a lot about writers who get up at 4am to write before they go to work. When Kidlet #2 stayed at home fulltime with me, I think I tried that a bit. And gave up after 2 days. Nor can I stay up late to write. My brain turns into a pumpkin by midnight. So if you are glad that I’m publishing, you should totally send perfumed love notes to my husband, who never—not once—asked me to get a real job, even though there were times when we really could have used the comfort and security of a second income.

2. I don’t own a belt. I don’t remember if I’ve never owned a belt, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t had one for the past ten or twelve years.

3. I went to see Godzilla—yes, the American-made one—twice in theaters.

4. I don’t watch TV. And it’s not because of any personal disdain for pop entertainment—heck, I work in pop entertainment and have extremely suspect taste in movies (see 3)—but because when Kidlet #1 was small, he was a TV zombie. If the TV was on, he’d be staring at it mesmerized, unable to do anything else. I also hate commercials. But I’ll happily watch TV shows on DVD. I have The Office about to be viewed. Next up, Prison Break.

5. The word “trousers” used to be the bane of my existence. As some of you might know, English is not my first language. When I was in fifth grade, and happily ignorant of alphabet-based languages, my grandmother—who, along with my grandfather, had attended an English-medium college in Shanghai in her youth–decided to teach me English at home. Ah, the torment. The sheer WTF-itude of it all. English wasn’t taught at regular schools until 7th grade, why was I always singled out for extra work that I had no desire for doing? But Grandma was a formidable individual and it never occurred to me to dare to refuse. So I submitted to it. But it was slow-going and reluctant and to be honest I sucked pretty hard at it. And I could not spell “trousers” no matter what. Which is kind of astonishing looking back, because there are a bunch of words that I habitually misspell these days, but none of them “trousers”!

6. I compulsively turn off lights whenever they are not shining on someone. Have been that way since long before I’d even heard of global warming or peak oil.

7. I only wear my wedding ring when I am in an environment teeming with cute guys. :-)

In other news, the Pay-it-Forward contest is scheduled to open in the first week of February. It will be a post of its own. The prize? A query letter consultation. The contest will remain open until I’m done with my line-edits and can pick a winner–so it’s not for someone in a desperate hurry. :-)