Monday, October 4, 2010

Getting nailed in Seattle

During a routine conversation at the Emerald City Writers’ Conference, someone asked me what I write.

“Romantic comedy,” I replied, preparing to ask her the same question while assessing her attire to see if I could guess on my own.

Before I could ask, she gave me an incredulous look. “Romantic comedy? Why?”

I’m not sure if it was a comment on the volatility of that sub-genre or the fact that I hadn’t managed to say anything hysterical in the eight seconds we’d known each other.

Either way, I thought about the nail.

If you read the blog on Friday, you know I got a flat tire on my journey to the conference. I discovered it just after I arrived in Issaquah, WA for a “librarian speed dating” event. Though I’ve never been to Issaquah and found it to be a lovely town, I wasn’t keen on roaming it on foot to search for the event location.

A smart person would have assessed the tire damage and contacted a repair professional.

I made jokes on Twitter.

Then I called Pythagoras and described the tire’s condition in a conversation that may have included the phrase “flaccid manhood.”

Don’t get me wrong – there was some crying and cursing, and the obvious panic about whether I was going to have to turn tricks in the hotel parking lot to secure a ride to the event.

As it turned out, prostitution wasn’t necessary. The kind and lovely Marcella Burnard – a sci-fi romance author with no way of knowing whether I routinely kill sci-fi romance authors and bury their bodies in my vegetable garden – read of my flat tire woes on Twitter. Since we have a mutual Twitter acquaintance and were both attending the librarian event, she offered to pick me up and drive me to our destination.

Forget Fabio on the cover of a bodice ripper, Marcella is my hero.

In the morning, I limped my pitiful car to a nearby shop and alternated between sniffling back tears and giggling each time someone began a sentence “I just jacked…”

I stopped giggling when the repair guy suggested the tire was likely ruined, and since the car is all-time all-wheel-drive, would need four new tires.

But luck was on my side, and by “luck” I mean a giant nail the size of my middle finger.

“Turns out the tire isn’t ruined,” the repair guy told me. “We were able to pull out the nail and fix the tire after all.”

I’m pretty sure I swooned with relief. “That’s so great. Can I have the nail?”

He looked at me like I was nuts – an expression you’ll be surprised to hear is familiar – and retreated back to the shop. He returned to hand me the evil implement, which I tucked inside my wallet for safekeeping.

It's possible I was the only romance author at the convention who routinely whipped out a rusty nail in the course of routine introductions, but I thought it made a lovely conversation piece.

It also answered that author’s question – albeit, in a vaguely weird way . This is why I write romantic comedy. Because I can find the humor in all situations. Because flat tires and rusty nails really are funny if you look hard enough. Because even though it annoys the hell out of loved ones from time to time, the fact that I can find the funny in anything is what makes me who I am.

Why did you pick your genre? Was there an epiphany involved, or did you know from the moment you started writing? Please share.

I will share a picture of my nail. Impressive, huh?

28 comments :

Julie Weathers said...

I write epic fantasy because I love creating magical worlds. Plus, it gives me a good excuse to research ancient history.

Patty Blount said...

I write romance because I love happy endings. The world has far too few of them!

khanes said...

A great way to go through life! I feel the exact same way. And I'm really impressed you blog every day - that is hard to do when you're writing books!

Simon C. Larter said...

I write dark, dirty, gritty urban fantasy. Which is a bit of a change, since I used to write dark, dirty, gritty literary fiction. Maybe I should try being funny sometime....

I guess I'll just keep writing till I nail the genre that's right for me. (Get it? Nail? You saw that, right? I was trying for funny. Did it work?)

*wide and very cheesy grin*

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

You mean the correct reaction to a flat tire isn't to immediately sign onto twitter? LOL! That is SOME nail!

j.leigh.bailey said...

I have such terrible luck with flat tires... in 2008 I had to replace 4 and repair 2 and had to replace 2 aluminum rims too... I'll admit I did not log on to Twitter or make a joke (I totally admire you for that, by the way), but I did vent my frustration by adding it to a very important scene in my first published work. :D

Danica Avet said...

I write paranormal romance because I like the idea of creating new creatures, or turning an old myth into something new. It's my world, my rules and I can break them (and often do) as much as I like. Because I'm a REBEL! Not really...I've always wanted to be a rebel, but I'm too scared of prison.

Nice nail, by the way. I hope you hang on to it for Nationals (if you go) cause I think I want to get a picture with it.

Karla Nellenbach said...

You'll be surprised to know that I write mostly YA literary. My life is not at all heart-breaking tragedy...more like a comedy of errors with a little mystery (mostly because I often think my neighbors are serial killers burying bodies in their backyards in the dead of night) but for some reason tragedy has found a home in the creative center of my brain. I don't question it...just go along for the ride :)

Matthew AT Banning said...

Poor nail! You bent it!! :'(

jk jk jk I just couldn't resist. :D

Anyways, that aside, I'm a Sci. Fi./Fantasy writer at heart, although I do like to include a smidge of everything.

I love anything that includes a dragon or two. Perferably, not all the dragons are evil creatures. I don't object to Griffins and Phoenix as well.

It's particularly fun to have my phoenix follow my main character around and pester him for the duration of two whole chapters!! :D

CKHB said...

VERY impressive. I got my first-ever bee sting this weekend, and I was SO INSULTED by how small the stinger was. The pain was BAD, and three days later there's still a swollen red spot on my leg the size of a half-dollar, but the stinger itself? It was the size of half an eyelash. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? I didn't expect a big shark's-tooth size stinger, but something less microscopic would have been appreciated.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Great illustration! :) I may not be able to find the funny in everything, but I'm pretty skilled at finding at least some good.
As for my genre, I think I write fantasy because it's what I love to read. It's kind of a lame answer, but it's true - that's the time of world I love to immerse myself in. :)

Posey said...

What's impressive is you. I can't read any of your post without laughing, and it's a compliment to who you are that you find the funny in everything.

Susan Spann said...

Awesome story. Sadly, I am also in possession of such a nail - only in my case, it's a three-inch screw - and we'll leave that comment there because I know you're already living in a branch of the same gutter I inhabit.

I write historical fiction from a female, first person POV. I do it because I love legends and particularly love trying to figure out where the legend came from, and what kind of people live lives that become "the stuff of legend." Taking a legend and making it real leaves all kinds of room for fun, particularly in the few cases where the legend was still alive at the time the story entered the popular culture.

Dominique said...

That nail looks awesome. I totally would have asked for it too.

Dr. Goose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Goose said...

Are there two rings on your left hand or does it actually form one ring?

I'm beginning an outline on a book involving Psychological theory and its practice within a specific community.

Why? I'm not sure yet.

Nate Wilson said...

I, too, like to find the humor in everything. I fell off a cliff doing something stupid, then joked about it. I broke my hand doing something even stupider, then joked about it. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine (though the cast and the two pins in my hand certainly helped).

As for genre, I didn't pick mine myself; they pick me. I come up with ideas, and as the stories evolve they dictate the genre. So much easier that way. Of course, we'll see if I still think so when it comes time to query...

Thanks for the entertaining post!

Abby Minard said...

OMG, that's a huge nail!

I write YA fantasy because I have always loved reading it. They brought me into these fantastic worlds with wonderful adventures.

Ever since I could pick up a book I've loved dragons, wizards, unicorns- you name it. I always loved coming up with my own fantasy stories, and imagining myself in these new worlds, the strong and independent heroine.

I would love for someone to feel that way about my books.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I write women's fiction and at the risk of sounding conceited, funny women's fiction. I like writing funny things, too, because it amuses me to write things that amuse me. You could call this romantic comedy too, since all my stories staunchly feature both romance and comedy.

I'm a little taken aback by that fellow writer's question of Why. Is it wrong to love or read or write romantic comedy? Never. I'm sorry that person was so rude to you, especially at a venue where writers should know better.

Linda G. said...

(Grrr. Blogger is annoying me. It ate my comment. Again.)

Anyway, I said I would've been tempted to answer the "why" with something that starts with "F" and ends with "u." ;)

Jeffe Kennedy said...

Linda - I'm with you! Who is this mean girl, Tawna? We'll go beat her up.

Signed,

A Mutual Twitter Acquaintance(who's not at ALL bitter to be reduced to that...)

Marcella Burnard said...

I suppose getting a direct Twitter message saying 'I'll come get you', then agreeing to get into a car with a complete stranger was reasonably low risk for Tawna - after all, Jeffe Kennedy, the mutual friend of whom Tawna speaks, came up to WA and stayed a few days with us...she lived. :) No way was I going to leave a fellow author and animal lover stranded in my town! It was a terrific conference. I enjoyed getting to meet you and compare notes after our surreal librarian speed dating (which was great fun).

abby mumford said...

you find the funny in everyday situations, indeed! that's why i love your blog and your tweets and the glimpses into the dark crevices of your, umm, mind.

good luck with the tires!

and i'll be hanging with my fellow thugs, linda and jeffe, if you need some back up.

Tawna Fenske said...

Julie, plus you ARE magical, right?

Patty, I'm resisting the urge to make a joke about the porno meaning of "happy ending."

khanes, thanks! I've been blogging every weekday since Feb. 1 and it's gone well, but my real test begins in a couple days when I start a new day-job.

Simon, hey, there's a good market for that combination of gritty and funny. Just ask Guy Ritchie.

Frankie, the Twitter community was highly supportive about my tire :)

j.leigh.bailey, good for you using it in a scene! I may have to do that someday.

Danica, I'm 99.9% sure I'll be at nationals, so you'll have to remind me to bring the nail just for you. Hey, I wonder if they'd let me on the plane with it?

Karla, your neighbors ARE serial killers. I saw it on the news. You're next.

Matthew, you notice the nail is missing its head, too? No comment.

CKHB, ouch! I think I've only been stung twice before, so you have my sympathies!

Bethany, you wouldn't believe how many authors I've met over the years who say they don't enjoy reading books in the genre they're trying to break into. Makes no sense to me.

Posey, aw, thanks! I've had plenty of posts where I fear I'm not being very funny, so that's nice to hear.

Susan, bummer on the screw! Someday I should blog about my screw story. Not as pornographic as it sounds.

Dominique, the guy said it was huge without showing it to me, so I had to ask to see it, right? (Uh, I really didn't mean that the way it sounded).

Dr. Goose, it's a single ring, but an unusual design that overlaps in front. I'll post pics sometime.

Nate, sounds like we share the ability to laugh at ourselves. Want to laugh at each other, just for variety?

Abby, I have no idea where I picked up that @#$% nail or how long it was in my tire. Wait, did YOU do it?!

Sierra, LOL, I didn't take offense since it wasn't the only time someone at the conference seemed taken aback by my sub-genre. I think there's been a lot of industry buzz in recent years about how romantic comedy is dead, so people seemed surprised to hear a new author tried to write it (and lo and behold, succeeded).

Linda G, I love how I can always count on a Wolf Pack sistah to take down my enemies if need be!

Jeffe, awww...now I feel bad. I kept trying to rewrite that sentence to say you were the Twitter pal who introduced me to Marcella, but it kept sounding like I was implying you were at the conference, too. Sorry!

Marcella, the way I figure it, if either of us killed the other, we'd have something good to write about. Thanks again for the ride!

Abby, I'm picturing you and Linda and Jeffe as a band of roaming thugs now. Thanks for that visual.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Indigo said...

Paranormal suspense that borders to the far left of horror. Why, let's just say I learned at an early age to recognize the monsters in human guise. You wouldn't know it to look at me though, nor by reading my blog.

I kind of like the fact, I write horrific ghost stories, with the occasional unexplained shapeshifter. No one expects it from me.

I remember the first time Paul read a book I'd written, he turned to me and said, "You scare the hell out of me." I laughed and told him, "Thanks, that's the result I was looking for." (Hugs)Indigo

Deborah said...

You definitely have a gift for humor. I ended up with a flat tire at the Surrey International Writer's Conference...I didn't find it funny, though I found the hotel staff excellent in offering assistance (one of the bellhops changed my tire for me :)).

Anyhoo, being the emotional mush-job I am, I write--wait for it--romance (Elizabeth Hoyt/Debbie Macomber tear-jerking style - some, but not a lot of funny going on). But that's me.

Though I always look for the positive side of things, I tend to find the 'silver-lining' as opposed to humor in tragic events. And that's what I love about writing.

We can each be ourselves while doing the same job--entertaining other people with words. :)

Glad you got home safe.

Deb

Claire Dawn said...

I write YA because I've been 16 at heart since I was like 12. And I still am :)

*imagining you calling your husband to tell him you got nailed is putting me in fits of giggles.

Patty Blount said...

Tawna, after this, I'll never be able to order a Friendly's Happy Ending Sundae without thinking dirty things.