Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Interview--Natalie Duvall

Hello all,

Another week over and, what does that mean?

It means I’m interviewing another author. This week it’s Natalie Duvall. She’s a romance writer and two-time graduate of Seton Hill University. The first time in 2002, she got her MA in Writing Popular Fiction. Nine years later in 2011, she went back, as they say in the higher education world, to get her “F” for “Fine.” She was in the first class of Seton Hill’s program to receive an MFA rather than just an MA. She did both of these with her husband, Matt Duvall, and now, she’s here to talk about her writing. Floor’s yours, Natalie.

-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed reading. Everyone in my family did. It must be genetic – like the penchant we all share for pizza and funnel cake.

I think wanting to write grows naturally from being a voracious reader with an imagination. I have faded and crinkled scraps of paper from when I was super-young and wrote down my story ideas on notebook pages. I never had the fortitude to finish a story, though, so those papers are all beginnings and no ends! When I was looking for a grad school and saw Seton Hill, which said it would make me write an entire romance novel, I just had to jump in and try. The rest, as they say, is history.

-What genre(s) do you write?

I write Regency-set historical romances. For those who don’t know, those are romances set during Jane Austen’s time period. I love it because who wouldn’t want to fall in love with a duke, have servants perform their bidding, and dance through the night at balls? Plus, the wealthy got to stay up late and sleep in equally late. I’d travel back in time to live there if they had better dental care.

-What project are you working on now?

Right now I’m revising a book called His Mistress. It combines two of my favorite Regency tropes – the marriage of convenience and the unrequited childhood love. This is probably my fifth revision of the piece. *Sigh* I have high hopes for it, which will surely be dashed upon submission!


One of the things I’m working on in His Mistress is fixing how my heroine, Helena’s, father is portrayed. I want him to be a sympathetic character, but he’s forcing his daughter to marry a man she doesn’t love. Back then that wouldn’t have been seen as bad parenting. Today, however, it would/ 

-For other aspiring writers, any tips?

Write every day. Every. Single. Day. Oh, and honestly, it helps to do an outline first (I hear the shrieks of seat-of-your-pants writers right now!).

-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?

I love Regencies! I’m reading a great one now. It’s called Along Came a Duke, by Elizabeth Boyle. If you’ve never read a Regency, I highly recommend Julia Quinn. She’s funny and does a great job of creating characters with believable flaws.

-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

I’m going to cheat a bit here. I’m not going to tell you about my favorite thing I’ve ever written, I’m going to tell you about my favorite project. It’s a book called Hazard Yet Forward. It’s a multi-genre book featuring over 700 pages of short fiction. My husband, best writing friend and I put this book together to benefit our friend Donna Munro, who’s fighting breast cancer. I’m not being biased when I say it contains some amazingly awesome stories. At 14 cents a story, it’s a great buy for a great cause. You can find it here.

Want more from Natalie? Says she…

I have a low-functioning website that can be found here. My slightly-higher-functioning Facebook page is here. Last, and probably least, my Twitter name is natt444. For as much as I love putzing around on the internet, you’d think I could keep up with my website, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Read my novel, maybe? Pop for Writers

“’I just met you/and this is crazy/but here’s my number/so call me maybe’ worst rhyme in the history of pop.” – Eric Whitacre

Good Wednesday,

I believe I promised you a rant on Monday. I take it back. Something better came to my attention.

While perusing Twitter this morning, I saw a tweet, followed by a link, that read as follows:

I just met you
And, this is crazy
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

I thought this was wonderful, so, rather than the supposed rant I promised (I’ll put that up next week), this Wednesday I give you…

“Read it Maybe”

This is a parody/to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” I’m not a huge fan of the song, but I have a feeling that’s a generation thing. If the song had come out when I was in high school (six or so years ago), I probably would have loved it. As it is, I’m only familiar with the tune because I heard a bunch of middle school kids singing it in a hotel. If you’d like music to put my lyrics to, play this YouTube video along while you read.


I threw a wish in the well
Went out and learned how to spell
The plot’s as clear as a bell
And so I write away

I’d trade my soul for a bless
To fix the work that’s a mess
Now all I want’s some success
And so I write away

My dreams were holdin
First draft, it was showin
Edits, through words blowin
To submit I’m gowin, baby!

Hey, I just met you
And this is crazy
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

Tough to find the right
Agent, baby
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

Hey I just met you
And, this is crazy
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

All the other agents
They debase me
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

You took your time with the call
I took no time with the fall
You gave me nothing at all
Now I revise away

I fix the format and font
Still, I don’t get what I want
My mind the rejections haunt
And I revise away

My dreams are holdin
Fourth draft, work is showin
More work, this is blowin
Submit more I’m gowin, baby!

Hey, I just met you
And this is crazy
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

Can’t get it all right
First time, baby
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

Hey, I just met you
And, this is crazy
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

All the other agents
Away chased me
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

*Before writing was my life
I messed up so bad
I messed up so bad
I messed up so, so bad

Now, every day I just write
And mess up so bad
Other writers know
I mess up so, so bad

It’s hard to just write
Perfect, baby
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

Hey, I just met you
And, this is crazy
But, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

One other agent
Is gonna pay me
And, here’s my novel
So, read it maybe

*(Repeat through “Other writer’s know”)

So, read it maybe

Monday, August 20, 2012

But his Eyes were Blue: Character Genetic Alterations

Good Monday,

Welcome to another Media Monday and another week at the Lockbox.

Today is going to be a bit different. I’m going to rant a little. It’s nothing major, but it’s something that’s media related and been bugging me for years. Why a rant? I’ll be honest. I haven’t seen any new or new to me movies in the last week, and I’ve been feverishly reading George R. R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” for class. That will most likely be next Monday’s topic. So, if you have any interest in the book or know someone who does, remember to stop by and/or spread the word.

Right, my rant. As you may have gathered from the title, this is about the appearance of our characters and what media does to them. I first noticed this with the acclaimed video game Mortal Kombat.

Children of the 90s, step back in time with me for a moment. The year is 1992. Sega and Nintendo are primary gaming systems. The first Mortal Kombat game is on shelves boasting 7 playable characters and a fighting game worth your time. Three of said characters—Scorpion, Sub Zero, and Reptile—are identical except for their color—yellow, blue, and green respectably. The game is in 2D—awesome graphics. There is a limited amount of button combinations—many of which overlap between characters. To top it all off, the arenas are simple backgrounds, and the characters look like little more than cardboard cut-outs of people. Oh, also, the letter C is practically non-existent.

Fast forward to 1993—MK2 is on shelves. Now, there are 12 characters to choose from. The graphics are a bit better, the arenas are slightly more detailed, and the characters look a bit more like people.

Okay, now fast forward to 1995. Mortal Kombat the movie has been made. Actors have been put to the test of portraying the cardboard cut-outs that we’ve enjoyed beating one another’s characters to a bloody pulp with.

The next game to come out—MK4 (or MK Gold on Sega Dreamcast)—did so in 1997. Up until this point, the characters have been portrayed by actors—the basis for their looks. MK4/Gold, however, is computer generated. What does this mean? It means that, if you look at the 1995 movie and the characters of the 1997 video game, they look remarkably similar. The movie had a profound impact on the appearance of the MK characters. Now, in this case, it wasn’t so bad. I’m confident that the movie actors were picked and made to look enough like the game characters to keep players happy. Also, it’s a video game. The characters don’t have to look exactly the same as they did in the movie. That doesn’t negate the fact that the character’s appearances changed with the making of the movie, though.

I’m willing to overlook this because I love the games, and the character’s looks really aren’t that important. It’s just something I’ve noticed.

There are situations, however, where the change of a character’s appearance is, in my opinion, more important.

I got my DVD of “The Hunger Games” this weekend. I saw it in theatres—see my post about it—but I was focused on the deviations from the book’s storyline. Thus, many things went over my head. Looking at the DVD cover, though, I don’t see how I missed this. It’s more likely that I didn’t overlook it but just forgot.

Either way, Katniss Everdeen looks very different from book to movie.

In the book, Katniss describes Gale as having black hair and olive skin. She then says that she and Gale looked enough alike to be siblings. Katniss of the movie has light brown hair and skin more reminiscent of the shade her mother and Prim are described as having in the book.

I’ve seen this happen so many times. The character is described one way in the book and looks totally different in the movie adaptation. A part of this is—I’m sure—due to acting skill. No one can argue that Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal wasn’t stunning. The sad part—and the part that bugs me about people who won’t read the book and will only watch the movie—is that Katniss will be remembered as having the movie, rather than the book, look. Not for nothing, but the similarity between Katniss and Gale’s looks becomes a bit of a plot point in “Catching Fire,” when they are depicted as cousins because they look enough alike for the lie to be believable.

It also hits home for me as a writer. We create our characters. Many times, we give our characters a certain appearance for a reason. Whether we want them to stand out, blend in, match the normal look for their region—we invest time into appearance. And, for many of us, it’s something we want to see kept true.

All righty, that’s my rant. And, to be fair, it’s not just “The Hunger Games.” I know I already said that, but I want to repeat it. I bought the movie despite Katniss’s changed appearance after all.

See you out of the box,

P.S. If you haven’t, stop by last Friday’s interview of romance author Rachell Nichole. Have a read of a bit of her new contemporary erotic romance novel “An Affair Across Times Square.” If you like what you read, leave a comment and be entered into a drawing to win a copy. The book comes out tomorrow, and a winner will be chosen on Wednesday. Don’t miss out!