Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Alpha Female

After seeing the new movie the Transformer, I realized how the Alpha Female has come into prominence in our society. She’s everywhere, in the form of cops, firefighters, and young teenage heroines who aren’t afraid to go to battle. When I was at National conference there was a lot of talk about the Alpha male, and the kick butt heroine.

She’s not just kick butt, but an alpha on her own and the head of the pack.

I’m a baby boomer.

I now can see the influences the Alpha Female had on me. Of course, back in the late fifties and early sixties, she was anomaly among the June Cleavers of the world, and was rare, at least the kick butt stand alone types.

My first heroine, was Jo in Little Women. She swam against the tide of the 1800’s. Not out there fighting for justice and the American way, but in her own way she brought to light the struggle young women had during the period, where they couldn’t vote, hold down jobs, and have a say in life altering decisions. But Jo wanted something different, than marriage and kids, she wanted to be a writer.
Every few weeks Jo would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex', as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.

I admired Nancy Drew’s independent spirit, and smarts.

I wanted to be the supper agent, Mrs. Emma Peel of the Avengers. To kick butt while remaining 5th Avenue fashionable.

Today’s young women have a flotilla of heroines and Alpha Females to choose from. As long as they don't confuse the Britney Spears and the Paris Hilton of the world some twisted heroine to strive to see rehab and the inside of protective custody in jail. There is so much more to choose from. Actually every young heroine in a book, movie or show seems to have the strong hero qualities.

Harry Potter’s Hermione, is smart, strong, loyal and brave almost to the point of foolishness.

Mikaela of the new movie the Transformer is a real kick butt no holds bar heroine, for a teenage girl and beautiful.

My personal favorite as an adult is Ripley of Aliens. I loved the second movie the best. Ripley was the very definition of the hero’s journey and she saved the alpha male, if only for a short while.

When I write my heroines, I combine all these heroes to make one often damaged alpha female.

I love my alpha females…They are truer to life then one might think.

What’s your favorite female heroine?


Monday, July 16, 2007

First RWA National Conference

Last week I attended my first RWA National Conference and I am exhausted.

Since it was my first conference for RWA, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I attended as many things as possible to get a feel for the conference. I found the workshops were very informative. I was amazed at how many people attended each workshop; some of them were standing room only. I was also pleased to see the various types of workshops that they had and it seemed there was something for every author depending on where they were in their writing journey.

I was also very impressed with the literacy signing, there were over 400 authors donating there time to this cause signing books for everyone. The Black Diamonds donated a basket for the signing and it had some wine, a Poppy Laurel Original Believe necklace and autographed books from Tawny Weber and Karin Tabke.

One of my favorite memories of the conference was having Nora Roberts autograph a book for my grandma and have my picture taken with her. I will be giving both the book and picture to my grandma this next weekend and I can’t wait.

I thought the conference was awesome and that everyone was very friendly and warm. I would be in the elevator and people would ask me how I was enjoying the conference since I had a “First Timers” ribbon on my name tag.

There were so many moments at the conference I will cherish and think back on fondly over the years. I know what to except next year when the conference comes to my back yard, San Francisco. So what is your favorite conference memory?

Lyn Emerson
Black Diamonds Vice President

Monday, July 9, 2007

Off To RWA National

In 24 hours I'll be getting on a plane headed to Dallas. At our chapter meeting we discussed the cost of this trip. Give or take a few things, those of us flying from the west coast to Texas are probably putting out $2,000. I sat back a moment. Wow, can I afford this money? Am I worth it? But, stop!! Those are the old me thoughts. Yes, I had to put away money here and there to save that amount, but it is all saved and ready to go. Yes, I'm worth it. This is an opportunity you can't put a price tag on. The friendships made, lessons learned, and networking done are priceless.

As writers we spend so much time alone with just the characters in our heads and putting them on paper. We need time to recharge, to replenish the well of inspiration, to form bands of comraderie to get us through the writers block, dry spells, and frustration of thinking we aren't writing good enough. We are too close to our work. We need to build bridges to other writers with fresh eyes to tell us if we are going in the right direction, if we have a plot hole, or we are good to go, just keep writing.

So, I go to refresh, to be rejuvenated, to see old friends, and make new. I go because I need to be a part of the writing world. I write; therefore, I go.

Jill James, president

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

California Dreaming

I was born, raised, and lived most of my life in New York. For all it has to offer, New York wasn’t a place I liked all that much. As a confirmed dreamer and a writer from the age of ten, I was forever looking toward the horizon – to “someplace better.”

My undefined yearning finally took on a particular focus when one of my classmates returned to school after Easter vacation. She was so excited and bubbling over with all that she had seen that our fifth grade teacher, Sister Mary Paschal, finally threw up her hands and let Linda stand up in front of the class for one of the few show-and-tell sessions in my memory. Show-and-tell was not a feature of our Catholic elementary education, so that made the occasion special all by itself. But it was what Linda had to say that really galvanized me. She was filled with fabulous tales of a far away place she and her family had just visited, a place they would move to as soon as the school term ended.

Her excitement was infectious as she regaled us with visions of bright blue skies, golden sunshine, endless beaches along a beautiful coastline, and a ceaselessly moving ocean that was every shade of blue imaginable. I was dazzled to learn the reality of such a place, immediately smitten with just the sound of its magical name: California!

Thus began for me a precious dream that I would hold close for the rest of my life. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I wanted to go there to live. It was nearly a compulsion, so certain was I that it was the very place I was meant to be. My mom gently disabused me of the notion that our family might escape to what I thought of as paradise, but she didn’t crush my dream, saying only that “some day” it might come true. Though the dream retreated to a back room in my mind, it never died. Every bright, sunny breezy day with a brilliant sky over head -- a relative rarity precious as sapphires in the heavily humid city – would whisper the name of my dream place to me. I took to calling that particular shade of sky “California blue,” and never stopped believing in my heart that one day I would go to this fabulous place of dreams.

Well then, of course, life intervened, and many years passed before I even took my first vacation to California with two good friends. We spent three weeks traveling up the coast from San Diego to San Francisco, to Yosemite, to San Jose and back to San Francisco. And I have to say right here that the state was all that I had dreamed – and more. In fact, my friends and I were so taken with it that we all tried finding jobs while we were there, and when we were forced to get back on the homebound flight, even the flights attendants caught on to the fact that we had gone “California crazy.” They plied us with drinks and sympathy, and laughed when we didn’t want to get out of the plane at JFK.

Ten years later, I went on a business trip for a weeklong conference in San Francisco, and again I was infused with this special kind of excitement that felt like champagne in the blood; it was a kind of nitrogen narcosis of the heart, and it only confirmed that, yes, indeed, this was the place for me. But then, life intervened again, and the dream went back into its cubby hole in my brain.

But, you know, dreams that are really meant to come to fruition usually have a way of asserting themselves in our lives. Less than seven years after that business trip, my company downsized a large number of staff into early retirement, including me. For some reason, I wasn’t at all unhappy with this circumstance. Perhaps I sensed that the universe was getting ready to make my dream a reality. At any rate, the events that followed had an almost spooky feeling of “rightness” to them, even though they were not all the stuff of happiness. The upshot of it was that -- two years after I retired from a thirty-two year career, with the help of my sister and two good friends who had moved to San Francisco two years before – I moved myself, my cat, and as Dickens had put it so well in “A Christmas Carol,” my “few mean sticks of furniture” out to California!

And I can say with perfect sincerity that this dream’s fulfillment is even more wonderful than I had dared hope.

Now what does this have to do with writing? Well, it’s really interesting that my writing dream exactly paralleled my California dream. Though I had written all my life, and even had stories published in small press magazines, I had never managed to make that dream a reality. I hadn’t even thought of that until I heard “California Dreaming” on the radio again the other day, and it reminded me that one precious dream of my life had already come true. So -- why not the other?

Well, once again, friends have become the architects of my future success. Coming out to California, settling in and making new friends, most notably the Black Diamonds, all seem to have been part of another universal plan for me, this one to see the greatest dream I have ever had come true. And though I have often been plagued with doubts, and suffer from a huge lack of self confidence, and though I have still not quite reached the fruition point with this particular dream -- I realized that having made one dream come true, no matter how delayed it was along the way, I can make this other dream, this writing dream, come true as well. And I don’t think, now that the realization has come clear to me, that I will ever be quite so fearful ever again.

So, my friends, continue with your dream, whatever it is, wherever it takes you -- and know
that you can and will make it come true. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Life can intervene, years can pass, but if it’s the right dream, one day all the doors will open, and you will find yourself there, where you always wanted to be. Shakespeare said it best, I think: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on….”

Sweet dreams!
-- Juanita Salicrup