Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cozy Moi

I've spent a lifetime battling image issues. I know, silly for a woman who pretends to care so little what people think of her, but there you have it. You see, I am plagued with blonde hair, blue eyes... I'm tall... *cough* rough, right? *snort* Seriously though, this 'highly desirable trifecta' is paired with a distinct lack of boobs, which means instead of BOMBSHELL (a curse I could live with) we get the distinct impression of ALL AMERICAN GIRL. This is not me on SO many levels.

Dark and Mysterious Leanings

I've always wished I could get away with that gothic look. I even dyed my hair black in college, but my complexion is all wrong. Maybe there was a need to role play—I'm not sure. I know as a kid I wanted stereotypical girl stuff—to be a princess, saved by a prince, taken to a castle. Somewhere along the way though, I rebelled and decided good equaled BORING, and not JUST boring, but judgmental (how judgmental of me to think so, ne?) Maybe it was just the good girls I was exposed to. Or maybe I was reading into it because I just didn't want to behave.

Try as I might however, people would see the good girl in me.

Evidence to the Contrary

See, no matter how much I WANTED to sort of be BAD, I didn't want to screw up my future. This over-developed responsibility gene was inherited from my mother, and in my defense, I think I balance it well with the 'get into mischief' gene from my dad. No “all work and no play” for me. But regardless of hitting every party I could find, I also maintained high grades and was involved in a fair few activities, so TEACHERS thought I was a good girl. (and that was okay, life becomes a hassle when the teachers don't trust you).

And every once in a while I'd get a wild hair and do something distinctly main stream—trying out for Junior Miss (and winning), joining a sorority... the kinds of things rebels aren't supposed to do...

In my head somewhere was a 'beat 'em from the inside', but I never made any grand efforts to that effect (and the sorority I joined wasn't one filled with privileged bobble-heads, though I maintain the rest were *shifty*).

But the Boys

See, this was where it really bugged me. The BOYS who were drawn to me ALL thought I was that nice girl. Not a ONE of them was looking for a Bonnie to their Clyde. I suppose my problem is the opposite of Jessica Rabbit's. She's not bad, she's just drawn that way... me, I'm much naughtier than I look, so watch out.

So what does this have to do with Cozy Mysteries?

Will you get to the point already? Yeah, yeah... I just needed to lay some groundwork.

Y'all can maybe see that my blog isn't so serious. It's a rare day I don't spice it up with something silly or naughty. But the BOOKS I've been writing up until now have tended to be dark. There is a little humor, but mostly they are troubling, or mysterious—filled with angst and trouble... drama...

And I've been thinking about this image thing of mine... my NEED to be dark and mysterious, when in most ways, I'm just not drawn that way. Don't get me wrong. I will NEVER jump over to sappy, inspirational crap (you heard me, I called a genre crap—not that it's crap, but it's NOT me--'zat make any sense? I don't stomach most inspirational stuff unless it is a very well done life lesson and the person SUFFERED really a lot—see how rotten I am?)

But this COZY genre allows me to be just a little dark, and relatively naughty (oh, sure, it's PG naughty, but still...) LOOK what I get to do!

1)  I have a murder victim whose primary crime was goosing too many women
2)  I have a primary character who says, “I'm naked!”
3)  There is a way to fit in an inside joke now and again and make it fit.

In other words, I am getting to combine the best of being a little tricksey and mysterious, with being a naughty tart, with following some rules so the darned book may actually see the light of day! How perfect is THAT?

I sent 4 chapters yesterday to MY AGENT, who said she is out of town most of this week, but I should get feedback soon after that.
I will still work on my other stuff—in fact I want to make some serious progress on CONSPIRACY before I hear back on whether I get this gig or not (wrote a whole page last night—though that isn't as bad as it sounds, since it takes a little time to acclimate). But I am thinking maybe it is time to spend some time working in a framework of the craft—honing what strengthens stories... lessons of tension, etc... getting feedback from an agent and editor about my writing... then maybe my rewrites will be much more productive and I will finally get one of these babies of mine out there.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it!


Jan Morrison said...

What you talk about here is something that drives me a bit mad too. Quelle surprise! I am considered to be quite funny by my pals. I've even done stand-up but I don't think my writing properly reflects that. should it? I just don't know. My playwriting does - I do that with a partner and we pride ourselves on being witty - need to be with a musical called Death, the Musical right? Funny and dark. But my books don't show that enough or I don't think they do. Now I've got to go look. Gee thanks.

Watery Tart said...

Jan, you ought to give cozies a try! My favorite contemporary authors are Peter Straub (very dark--though the man seems to have a sense of humor--he keeps angling for cameos on One Life to Live because 'they're a hoot') and Tom Robbins--Now Tom Robbins is TOTALLY my humor, but I don't think I am QUITE that out there. I need some reality boundaries that his stuff would be BORING if he maintained.

Cozies were something I know I'd read now and again, but I didn't realize they were an intentional genre until I met Elizabeth (you write what?) and that they have a large following.

The fun thing about writing with the humor is it feels more like playing. It's not as personal--I won't be as offended if people don't like it, I think, as they are a little campy (intentionally) but it is a looser, easier thing to do that milking those deep dark brain children out of us. I want to do BOTH, but I find this may actually be an easier FIT which makes it a logical middle step for me.

Not Hannah said...

I love how I've managed to find a bunch of folks online who were JUST LIKE ME, back in the day. I don't know how many boys told me I was "cute" and "good" and "innocent." Why I didn't say, "If you knew what I was THINKING right now..." is beyond me.

Anywho, I don't go dark or bad in my writing, usually, but I am precisely as saucy, sardonic, whatever as I wanna be on my blog and on FB, which is generally a shock to any doodz who thought I was Sally Fields in "Smokey and the Bandit." (Which, you understand, I LOVE.)

Also? I'm loving Watery Tart and the Wondrous Agent. It's a MUST READ.

Watery Tart said...

*high fives NH* I actually ACTED on a lot of my naughty thoughts. In fact by the time I got to college, I had honed the trick of shocking people by blurting something totally inappropriate *snort*. Didn't help with those blasted boys though.

It's great that your writing already reflects you! Seems I need to try the other extreme in most aspects of my life before I find the middle ground.

WTaWA: *grin* Love it!

Lisa K. said...

Sounds like you might just have found a perfect little niche with cozies. And whatever happens, it seems like this will wind up to be an excellent experience for you.

B. Miller said...

I'm often naughty, but people expect it of me. ;)

I'm also stereotyped often by my appearance or my lifestyle. I love the freedom that writing gives me, because it's like creating my own little universe I can control. Right now my book is my best friend.

I love your blog. I hear your voice so clearly! This was a great post. Thanks, Hart.

Watery Tart said...

Lisa- Thanks! I really think it will be--a chance to use what I CAN do (innuendo and misattribution) while I learn to do other stuff better! *snort* It really though, seems like a fabulous training ground.

B. *teehee* You're Becky, yes? You do have a pixieish quality that implies mischief. And the books are GREAT for trying a variety of hats (or alternative accessories) and thanks so much for the voice compliment! I'm pretty sure that was the key to this 'cozy opportunity'.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

You're so right--we're usually not just 'one way' or 'another way'...we're made up of a lot of different personality components. There's definitely a part of me that would love to do a historical saga, children's nonfiction, and lit fic--one day! But there's a big part of me that loves the humor, campness (for my books, anyway), and puzzles of cozy mysteries.

It's also nice to know you have built-in readers behind you--and the readers are really great people. Very responsive, love series...it's a real community of readers out there.

Working inside the parameters of cozies also offers something of a challenge--putting in the bits we want in a way that works for the genre.

Got my fingers crossed for you!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Helena Soister said...

Weird coincidence -- I read your blog about wanting to be bad, then happened upon a book review on the Daily Beast about Stieg Larsson’s thrillers and his heroine Lisbeth Salander. So I copied down some descriptions of her you'd like...
Brilliant hacker, deranged pixie look, Goth clothes, jagged haircut, dragon tattoo,
emotionally detached, incredibly sexy, sometimes mistaken for being a teenage boy (as in no boobs!). And guess what? This bad girl is really popular with readers. So you're right. Who wants to be a goody two-shoes?

Watery Tart said...

*teehee* Elizabeth--all your somedays are the few that are NOT on my list... I have a someday chicklit, a someday memoire (my grandpa's VERY sad tale), can see doing Sci-Fi (in fact it is my next NaNo plan), horror, thriller...--we seem to overlap at the cozies!

I'm excited about the thought of having readers that count in thousands rather than dozens, and REALLY excited by the idea of having a book in bookstores and libraries--very cool that the pen name can be public. *note to self to reserve my web domain*--that is MY next mountain to conquer... erm... other than ACTUALLY getting published, I mean.

Helena-funny--you are my second Larsson conversation today! I've been intending to read, as they appeal to me descriptively, but the tart is cheap, even if she were not BROKE, so I've been waiting for the hype to slow so I could get a library copy of the first... but there is no harm getting on the waiting list NOW! (I love the sound of the heroine! and besides, one grandmother was Swedish (the other Norwegian) so it seems I just ought to!)--the no boobs thing though... see, while I DON'T have THOSE, my lower half is the very peared woman... nobody will be mistaking me.

Liz said...

I'm having a day where me thinks I will stay with beer. . . I'm worn out trying to impress all you True Writers! We Pretend ones just can't keep up. Too much laundry to fold or something. I've had a hell of a lot of "real naughty/real life" experience but somehow it ain't translating properly to the page to suit any publisher or agent. (can you tell I got another rejection on top of losing another beer account although I had a good meeting with my K'zoo distributor but who really cares about that?)

Keep up the great work Tart. Have a beer, once we open.
I'll be the frustrated one behind the bar, ogling my brewer, not paying attention to all the blogs I'm currently trying to follow!!

Kassy with a K said...

I've always wished I could get away with the goth look too. So awesome. Instead, I rock out my converses and pretend. :) And hm, now you've got me thinking about how people perceive me. In high school I'm pretty sure a lot of people thought I was mean, and some definitely thought I was scary. In college everyone thinks I'm this super happy positive person and I'm so not. I was talking to my roomie the other day about how people's perceptions could possibly be so off... hmm. How does that happen?

On another note, I just started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I feel like it's a little over my head right now... I'm just not that smart about political type stuffs, but it's definitely interesting so far. Too bad you don't have a nook, I could "lend" it to you. :)

Watery Tart said...

Oh, ET, sorry about that! My august submission batch last year I did a bunch of mailed queries and somehow about 5 rejects came back in hard copy on the same day, so I FEEL THE PAIN! (todays blog may help). And I will DEFINITELY be there when the brewery opens! It's walking distance from my house, so I may just be there OFTEN! (you have an outlet for my computer? Maybe I will write there! *snort*) but I love the idea of a drinking establishment close enough to walk home from.

Kas *dies* YOU? Scary? I so can't picture that. You're the sweet one! It's true though, that people will put us in their definition boxes, even when we don't fit. I bet Dragon Tattoo may just be a bad combo with school--when I have a brain full of technical stuff, I have less 'spare attention' for reading, but when that goes away, suddenly I love it. Save it for summer break. (any word on your summer research?)

Liz said...

yeah well, perhaps what the world needs is fewer pretenders such as myself, I don't know.

Kassy with a K said...

Yeah, I would meet people and they would be like Wow, I thought you hated me, or something of the sort. And I would stare at them like they were loonies because I didn't even know them! Apparently it's an evil looks thing that I don't always realize. (One kid told me once that he felt like I could suck out his soul with my eyes. Graphic, but there you have it.)

The sweet one. Hah. Tell that to my family and friends. :)

Urgh.. summer research. I'm supposed to hear back by mid-April. Keep your fingers crossed for me, because after the talk one of my psych classes got on grad school this morning, my hope is dwindling.