What's In a Name?

Well, in my case, there is not a T

Let me start off by saying, if you have at some point referred to me as Karen Atkins, please don't be embarrassed or feel like you need to apologize. Everyone does. Everyone. I'm pretty sure I referred to Hubbykins as Boyfriendykins Atkins at some point when we first started dating. My mother-in-law warned me before we got married that I would spend the next umpteen years of my life spelling my last name. Karen Akins. A-K-I-N-S. Every single time I meet someone. Or give someone my name on the phone. And almost every single time, that person will repeat it right back to me. Atkins.
Wait? What? No.

If I didn't have aspirations to be published, it wouldn't be an issue. Growing up, I learned to respond to my older sister's name. (To the point that if someone yells, "Ellen!" in a crowd, I, to this day, turn around and say, "Yes?") But do you know who insists on my name being spelled correctly? Google. Amazon. Library catalogs. Dang you, you picky library catalogs!

Options? Pen name. Nah. I understand why some authors take one, but it seems like it would add a layer of complexity that I don't need. Toss my maiden name back in there somewhere? (This was actually suggested by my MIL who felt it would sound more literary.) But that also seems to add a level of confusion in searches.
And, yes, the cart is like, "Hey, horse, what are you doing back there?" on this issue. But these are things I think about.

Meanwhile, guess which Mama Pea had to almost forcibly shove her child into a lion costume (now dubbed Aslan) this morning for preschool? Hmm. Yeah.

It's official.

I'm insane.

I need a little nudge to jump start my new novel, and the energy of NaNo is so infectious. I did it two years ago, and wrote 50,000 words of cuh-rap. But. I went into that one 100% pantsing. This time, I'm going in with a different attitude. And a beat sheet. 

For me, any number of words I write will be a victory. I'm going to dub this my own personal NaNoJuStaMo. National Novel Jump Start Month.

Anyone else NaNo-ing?

Kenny Rogers Week, part 3--Talladega Nights Meets What?

Hubbykins tried to make me watch this with him out of nostalgia. But I made him promise if I could guess the plot just based on the song, he wouldn't make me watch it. I'll just give you a replay of the conversation:

Me: So basically, I'm guessing it's about a washed up race car driver who...

Hubbykins: Hmmph.

Me: Somehow inherits six children (one of whom is incidentally Diane Lane). And...a lady love.

H: Erin Gray (who is incidentally also the lady love on the other oft Hubbykins-inflicted show, Buck Rogers).

Me: Erin Gray (Also. Silver Spoons). And he gets overwhelmed by the responsibility and runs away, but then he realizes he really needs them and goes back to them.

H: Hmmph.

Me: Did I get it right?

H: (silence)
Me: Did I?

H: You forgot the part where the kids become his pit crew.

Basically, it's Talladega Nights meets The Boxcar Children.

Hmmm. You see what I did there? I summed up an entire movie plot in one sentence. Is it a perfect description? Heck to the no. Do you have a good idea what it's about? Yep. Does it kind of make you want to go out and watch one of the cheesiest movies of all time? I should think so. I kind of want to watch it now.

And that's called a logline, my friends.

Now, if I could only figure it out for my own story.

Kenny Rogers Week, part 2 - And We Rely On Each Other

Unh Huh

So I mentioned yesterday that I was introduced to the vocal stylin's of Kenny Rogers by my in-laws on a recent road trip. I must preface this story with (a) Hubbykins was not with us Thank the Lord and (b), prior to this trip, the only words I knew from "Islands In The Stream" were "Islands in the stream...that is what we are...something something something...something something something." Which (quick fun factoid) was written by the Bee Gees.

Sailing down the highway toward the beach, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law treated me to a duet. My MIL sang Dolly's part. SIL sang Kenny. Despite the fact that they are both excellent singers, I was completely traumatized by the time they got to the chorus. There's nothing like hearing your sister-in-law singing, "Making love with each other, unh huh." To your mother-in-law. Now you understand why I was glad Hubbykins wasn't there.

My point in all this is thus. This business is rough. And lonely. Solos suck. We need people. People we can rely on. People we can whine to. People we can trust to be tough on our words and tender on our hearts.

My critique partners have become some of my dearest friends. Even after they've shredded my story and poked hole after hole in it. No, especially then.

Yay for islands!

Tomorrow: Loglines--Talladega Nights Meets What?

Kenny Rogers Week, part 1 - Lessons from the Salt & Pepper Serenader

For those of you who didn't guess what my theme would be this week based on my clues (which is probably somewhere between all of you and all of you...unless you're my little sister), that's right.

It's Kenny Rogers week here at Novels During Naptime.

I want to start by saying that I was not raised on the velvet vocals of Kenny Rogers. My parents were more of the Bob Dylan, Mamas & the Papas, and Peter, Paul & Mary ilk. But my husband was. Oh. My husband was. Like "only seven year-old boy in a sea of Kenny t-shirt-wearing, tambourine-clanging middle-aged women at a concert" was. And on a recent road trip with my in-laws, we listened to almost nothing but Kenny Rogers. For 14 hours. More on that in a later post.

Which brings me to why I'm doing this series. He is now the Pea's favorite singer. Yes. That Kenny Rogers.

And I've realized, after listening to Blaze of Glory more times in the last month than I'd care to count or admit, there are some excellent writing lessons to be gleaned from Kenny. Yes. That Kenny Rogers.

Let's start off by discussing voice. And I'm not just talking about his sultry, gravelly vocal chords. Think of a Kenny Rogers song. You have one? I can almost guarantee you that the song that just came to your mind was a toe-tapping sing-along. That you can sing for several lines...and several more...and then you realize you're singing about sex. And not just any sex. Either sweet, sweet love with the lady of your dreams. Or sweet, sweet love with a lady who's about to leave you. Or who you're about to leave.

Except The Gambler. But that's going to get a post all to itself. 

And Reuben James. Which is a fluke. 

And others which I'm sure you closet Kenny fanatics will bring up.

My point is this. Do all Kenny Rogers songs sound the same? No. Can you tell every Kenny Rogers song is a Kenny Rogers song? Yes. Do you want your 3 year-old singing the lyrics to We've Got Tonight in the checkout line at Target at the top of his lungs? No. You do not. But will people recognize it as a Kenny Rogers song? Yes. They'll also recognize you as a bad mother.

I've been thinking about my voice a lot lately. And voice envy. When I read certain authors that I adore, I find myself wishing I could write more _____. Like them. But that wouldn't be me. It wouldn't be my voice. 

If I sat down and tried to write a Kenny Rogers song, it would come out sounding like Let's Hear It For The Boy. And if I sat down and tried to write a Hunger Games, Katniss would probably end up snogging with Peeta halfway through and booting President Snow in the head at the end.

Up tomorrow: Islands in the Stream--a Love Song to my Crit Partners

Coming Next Week

I'm a little bit excited about next week's series of posts. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but...oh, who am I kidding? I love spoiling surprises.

I have a whole week of writing posts scheduled around a single theme.

Here's your first hint (and if you can guess it off this one hint, count me impressed):  It's a person. hee hee hee

Let the guessing begin!

Pitch Contest

The aptly named Operation Awesome folks are hosting a Mystery Agent pitch contest over on their blog. There are still a few slots left. Should be a fun one!