Laura Spinella's Blog - Posts Tagged "rwa"

If you’ve visited the News page on this website, chances are you’ve noticed that BEAUTIFUL DISASTER is flirting with a few awards. If you’re my friend on Facebook, chances are you’ve just quit reading. Hide it under a bushel, tell it to the world. It’s a precarious balance in the age of social media, a free forum for sharing. If I had a publicist, news like this would be his or her domain, and I’d retreat to higher ground. That’s the place where you can shrug at self-promotion and spend your time sharing thought-provoking insights from The Huffington Post.

I’m a debut novelist. It’s not my lot in life. If I don’t beat the drum, nobody will. That said, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a BEAUTIFUL DISASTER post. I wrote quite a few in the beginning. Most of those exploited the knot of nerves that was me during its release. Apparently, I survived. Now I get to be a knot of nerves over its legacy. My book straddles the genre line, meaning you buy it in the women’s fiction section of the bookstore, but it’s a love story that drives the plot. In a few readers’ opinions that equates to, dare I say it, romance, and not something that should be showcased on their side of the bookstore. But I’ll admit, when I wrote BEAUTIFUL DISASTER that was precisely my intention. I wanted to write a love story that transcended boundaries—or aisles as the case may be. So in many respects, I got what I wanted. It is a careful what you wish for achievement, for sure. Some serious women’s fiction readers couldn’t relate; a few author purists who politely avoid me. At one book club gathering a woman announced, “You should know, I hate love stories. I particularly hate love stories that take place in the South.” Blinking wide while clutching a copy of the book, I said, “Sorry, but I think it’s too late for me to do anything about that.” I believe it was right after that I retired any and all apologies.

On the other hand, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER has struck a chord with those who embrace the three H’s. That’s heroes, heroines and happy endings for those not savvy to the vernacular. In July, the book and I will travel to California for the Romance Writers of America annual convention. Here they bestow the RITA, the Academy Award of the genre. Along with a few thousand members, I’ll join 63 other authors who have been named a finalist in the coveted national contest. It’s three-thousand miles on paper, but it’s a trot or two around the globe for a book I once labeled my permanent desk drawer liner. In case you’re wondering, it’s true what they say: It is an honor and a thrill just to be nominated.

It will also be an interesting trip in many regards. To be honest, I’m not a dedicated reader of full-fledged romance. Perhaps that’s what drove me to write a story like BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. I couldn't find what I wanted to read. Regardless, I don’t think I had a choice. You do have to write the story that shows up. Recently, a reader suggested I put my effort into writing thrillers. While he’d enjoyed the book, it was Flynn’s narrative about his time as special-ops marine that resonated. Would I consider writing a book that centered on this type of plot line? In a word, “No.” He continued to make a strong point, a woman writing thrillers in a male dominated genre, that in itself would be a hook. Couldn't I see that I was missing a fantastic opportunity? Probably. I’m all for introducing fringe elements, but I don’t believe I could convince myself to make the love story a sidebar. Maybe that’s narrow-minded on my part, a fact that will forever draw criticism from certain readers. I get that. But it’s not the story I’m meant to tell and I have to give deference to that. Admittedly, I don’t think of my characters in traditional romance terms. I don’t consciously strive for a happy ending. Yet, for the most, I suspect a positive outcome and THE END will always go hand-in-hand in my books—and I’m okay with that.

So, at the end of the day, it seems my permanent desk drawer liner has found itself in some pretty fancy company—a RITA finalist, along with a few other nifty nominations. For the latest on BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, you can pop over to the News page. Me? I’ll be here guarding the legacy.
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Published on June 01, 2012 16:26 • 107 views • Tags: beautiful-disaster, laura-spinella, rita-2012, rwa
I’ve been on novel hiatus for a few weeks—okay, maybe closer to a month. Savvy writing advice suggests novelists start another project immediately after finishing one. Unfortunately, this strategy is not in my author DNA. I need a break. Novel writing is hard work, and my muse is a lazy soul. With this mindset in motion, it’s not long before a writing sabbatical lulls me into a Haagen-Daz, what’s my purpose in life, mode. It’s a slippery slope, though I slide willingly—onto my living room sofa. From here I drift, like a garbage barge on the ocean, toward the oasis of reality TV.
I retreat to the Food Network where distraction is a staple menu item. This is low-maintenance reality TV. There are no dysfunctional families to sort through; no convoluted backstories to grasp, meaning you can pull into Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives anytime. Here, bleach blond, spiked-haired host Guy Fieri travels the country, visiting quirky road-kill um, roadside restaurants. At a glance, one can presume that lax sanitary conditions are meant to be a metaphor for atmosphere. During these visits, Fieri ingests enough lard-based house specials to be on prepayment plan for his future triple bypass. Sadly, one can only stomach so much of Fieri’s orgasmic reaction to pork parts slathered in Jimmy-Joe’s volcanic hot sauce, and I move onto Chopped.
I am amused by this post-Julia Child generation effort, a program that is not so much about cooking as it is about the $10,000 prize. The money is poised to transform any one of the competitors’ lives. Seriously? Ten-thousand bucks is all it’s gonna take to turn your life around? Most contestants want to open a restaurant. Unless the plan is to open a restaurant in their basement, ten-grand isn’t enough to keep a diner in doughnuts, never mind using it as venture capital. Regardless, you have to love the show’s energy. Four wannabe Emerils put their creative and cooking moxie to the test by using secret basket ingredients such as tree bark, goat urine, and Japanese jellyfish to prepare their dishes. Sometimes I feel for the contestants, but mostly I sympathize with the judges who have taste test the results.
I am restless, needing something with more substance. I stick with the Food Network and tune into Restaurant Rehab. This is boot camp hell for wayward restaurateurs. Have the ‘80s called asking for their mauve drapes and mirrored walls? Do you employ your toothless, recently paroled cousin as your chef? Is your staff under the impression that they are indentured servants, too stupid to quit, trapped like rats on a sinking ship? Well then, enter iron-armed, drill sergeant chef Robert Irvine. This guy looks like he bench presses Viking stoves for fun. In forty-eight hours Robert is going to fix everything from the décor to the cousin, perhaps sending him for dental implants before the grand reopening. Frankly, Robert scares me. But maybe that’s what it takes to rewire thirty years of learned behavior in thirty minutes. Assuming he understood the premise of the show before he signed on, Chef Robert appears oddly outraged to find himself thrust into this hopeless mess. After berating the widowed proprietor for her inability to get a clue or at least a functioning carpet sweeper, he tears apart the dining room décor. Usually, this is cavernous square footage that could seat hundreds. It occurs to me that the real problem is location. The rehab restaurant is almost always situated in a pea-size town, bypassed by the bypass a decade earlier. Nevertheless, Robert goes to work ushering in his design team. Now, if you look closely, you’ll recognize Taniya Nayak, his go-to designer. She’s a decorating refugee from HGTV and saddled with the dilemma of stretching a $10,000 budget to cover the 100K makeover the place truly needs. She also appears oblivious to her short of end of the stick. Taniya’s chipper attitude never wavers. Not even when Chef Robert berates her for taking too long to execute an overhaul that, in real reality, should take six months. Someday Taniya will decide she’s had enough, taking kerosene and a match to the sprawling space. In the meantime, Chef Robert heads into the kitchen to scream at um, mentor the chef. As we suspect, this is a doomed encounter. In no time, he’s made the ex-con cousin wish he’d violated parole. But no worries, it’s all going to be okay; Chef Robert has a plan. He’ll teach the unskilled chef how to prepare foolproof dishes, complete with sauces, mastering each one before the grand reopening—which occurs in about an hour. Of course, this three-act drama plays out to perfection as Chef Robert saves the day. He waves goodbye to a restaurant brimming with happy diners and staff, insisting a call from Zagat is imminent. I flip Chef Robert off and sigh longingly at my pollen covered laptop. Novel writing would be snap if only my next book had a slot on the Food Network.
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Published on June 08, 2012 05:58 • 130 views • Tags: beautiful-disaster, chopped, cooking, food-network, laura-spinella, restaurant-rehab, rita, rwa