Shannon Stacey
Sunday morning…err, afternoon

Got up this morning at 7:30 with the short kid, went back to sleep on the couch and didn’t get up til 10:30. But why is the day gone? *g*

And where’s Kate? I keep getting that stupid Total Search page.

Back to TSTL heroines. The reason I’m so annoyed that it’s thrown around so easily is that it stands out in comments and reviews. If I’m reading a review and they’re carrying on about how they don’t like secret babies or red-headed heroes or whatever, that’s all skimmable. But TSTL is right there, in your face. It’s all caps. TSTL.

We’re trained to absorb everything we need to want to buy a product in 30 seconds or less. When wading through a paragraph of personal opinions, we come out of that with an impression, but not a strong enough one to keep us from buying a book. But something succinct like TSTL will stick in the consumer’s mind.

Nobody likes a true TSTL heroine. The ‘word’ is short, too the point, hard to miss, and stays with us. And when one reader thinks a heroine is TSTL, other readers who are maybe having a hard time articulating why they didn’t sympathize with a particular heroine will jump right on that bandwagon and label her TSTL, too.

I just think it’s the single most damaging thing when it comes to turning an intelligent reader away from a certain book. And I’m tired of seeing it thrown around because it’s an easy shortcut for a lazy typist.

And I’m missing Gone In Sixty Seconds, darnitall.

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Of all the acronyms I’ve seen around–POV, GMC, BM, MOC–TSTL is probably the one that bugs me the most. I see it a lot, and my idea of TSTL is apparently different from others’.

TSTL is when you hear a news report that Norman Bates has been spotted in your neighborhood and you jump in the shower without an entire SEAL team in your bathroom, and at least one of the guys in the shower with you to wash…err, watch your back.

TSTL is when you have unprotected sex with your bad-boy cop lover, get pregnant, and then, because he didn’t pause during his orgasm to tell you he loved you, moving away, raising the child in secret, and not telling him for eight years until a psycho decides to try to kill you. And TSTL is also running to the lone bad-boy cop ex-lover with his secret child instead of locking yourself in your local police station and calling in the National Guard.

TSTL is when you don’t escape your kidnapper when you have a great shot at it because there’s a sad look in his eyes that makes you think he’s not guilty of raping and murdering those six women.

Making a bad choice does not make a heroine TSTL. Nor does having bad luck or doing something reminiscent of I Love Lucy. Lucy wasn’t TSTL. As far as bad choices, women make them every day. I, personally, wouldn’t want to read about a Stepford Heroine, thank you very much.

Anyway, I was reading a comment on a book I really enjoyed, and the reader called the heroine TSTL. Ummm…no. She, being female, made a choice based on emotion. While that reader disagreed with the choice, if I was in the heroine’s situation, I may have made the same one. It happens sometimes. And that, to me, is the criteria for TSTL–if a normal woman would make that choice, even if it’s wrong, she’s a realistic character. If 97% of the female reading population would set down the book thinking “WTF is she thinking?”, she’s TSTL.

There are enough TSTL heroines out there without it being the catch-phrase for every heroine who does something the reader doesn’t agree with

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I guess. One thing about being a stay-at-home mom is that the day of the week doesn’t really matter, except that there are more or fewer other people in the house, depending on the day.

My first column is up at Romancing The Blog!

I wish I hadn’t had to cut 200 words out of it. The final product came out a little choppy, and I had a LOT more I wanted to say. *g* (That’s the bitch muse–she won’t talk and won’t talk, then BAM! You can’t shut her up.)

Anyway, since the braincell must be in somebody else’s custody today, I’ll be like Emma, Maili, and Alison, and list what I’m listening to:

What I listen to while I write–

The Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack
The Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack
King Arthur Soundtrack

The repeating loop I’m listening to while bombing around online:

Bring Me To Life by Evanesence (theme song for my SIM)
My Immortal by Evanesence
How You Remind Me by Nickelback
Copacabana by Barry Manilow
Hero by Enrique Iglesias
I Drove All Night by Celine Dion
Tell Me Now (from King Arthur–theme song for my current ms)
Our Last Summer by Abba (shut up)
The Enterprise theme song by Russell Watson
Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Keith
I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack
How Do You Like Me Now by Toby Keith
Baby I Lied by Deborah Allen (theme song for Roadtrip)

And usually these songs are accompanied in the background by the Wiggles, Blue’s Clues, the Backyardigans, and other brain-numbing musical acts brought to me courtesy of Nick Jr.

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Short Wait vs Good Rejection

The husband occassionally asks about my fellow cohorts-in-crime and where everybody is in the flight pattern. He also knows that the correct answer for “What’s the average response time for H/S?” is anywhere from 2 days to 2+ years. Because he’s in a business where he has to jump or people don’t have heat, air conditioning, or light sockets that don’t curl one’s hair, it boggles his mind. (Surprisingly, more people get bitchy when they don’t have AC then when they don’t have heat.)

Anyway, he thought H/S’s move toward trying to ensure 3-month waits was a great idea. I disagreed with him, and every single time he asks about the compadres, we have this *cough-heated-cough* debate. I have explained to him in the past that the only way to consistently send out responses within the 3 month mark is to rely heavily on the form rejection letter.

I haven’t received a form rejection yet. Even the really, really crappy partial I sent to Leslie Wainger back when it was for the Yours Truly line (I think) got a few comments, and that was before I even know what POV was. For the Silhouette Romance bullet I dodged, I got a fabulous rejection. I waited seven months, but it was worth it. And the psychological effects on a writer who’s received detailed rejections, who then starts getting forms can’t be underestimated, either.

The husband thinks a rejection is a rejection, and he’d rather have it in 3 months. He doesn’t think the comments are worth it, because I put the ms under the bed anyway. When I explain that I can take those comments into the next ms with me, he just snorts, because he doesn’t think the comments were worth four months of my life.

And since we’re both too stubborn to agree to disagree, we’ll probably have the very same debate again soon.

Now I’ve got to finish editing my RTB column, and do some critiquing. And find the Doritos. The short kid ran off with them

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Adventures in page count, driving, and lack of sleep

Keifer Sutherland voice-over: The following takes place between 8:50 and 9:15am:

After dropping the short kid off at preschool, I head off in the direction of Dunkin Donuts. Having been up until 1:30 trying to get the writing in that I missed due to football (YAY!), I need the caffeine. Badly. I woke up with the same thought that I’d gone to sleep to. How can I have an entire scene in 2 pages? Then some moron decides he wants to be in my space in the road.

Now, normally I’d let him take it–when my kids are with me I’m the most passive driver on the road. But this morning I’m tired, caffeine-deprived, and trying to calculate page counts in my weary little head. It’s MY space, dammit. In the midst of the locking up tires, fishtailing truck beds, roaring engines, flying birds, and tailgating that ensues, I have a lightbulb moment.

For over three years I’ve been doing the Magic Word Count Formula. Set your settings, get 250 words per page. Bam. That’s it, and you never, ever have to think about it again. If you’ve got 4 pages, you’ve got a 1k. If you’ve got 320 pages, you’ve got 80k. Well, doh. The new manuscript is Book Antiqua 12, single-spaced, computer word count. Hello. The average is something outrageous like 497 words per page. That might explain it.

So I get home, ready to dive back into it, and the business phone is ringing. Did I mention my big, obnoxious truck is a rolling 4×4 billboard for the husband’s company? With the phone number written down the side in 8-inch numbers? Luckily, I’m the only one home.

“Yes, sir. I totally agree. She can’t drive and she is a crazy bitch, and I’ll recommend the boss fire her right away. Have a nice day.”

The moral: Never underestimate the power of sleep.

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