Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

My (Virtual) Life

What's In a Name?

Some of you know me as Becke Davis. Some know me as Becke Martin. Neither is the name I was born with, but I’ve been Becke Davis since I got married at age 19.

Becke Martin was born in 2007 when I first tried my hand at fiction. I had been a garden writer for many years, with five books published under my real name, Becke Davis. I write for a lot of trade magazines in the landscape industry – a very male-oriented business. I worked hard and long to develop a reputation in that industry, and didn’t want to be laughed off the trade-magazine-page by letting it be known that I also wrote (gasp!) romance.

Becke Martin wasn’t my first pen name. I wrote a Backstreet Boys fan fiction story for my daughter’s 16th birthday and sent it to my garden editor as a joke. She called the day it arrived (those were the days of snail mail), and hired me to write a book about ‘N Sync on the spot. My daughter co-wrote it with me, and I went with the pen name Lexi Martin so the readers wouldn’t realize one of the authors was writing it with her mom.

I might have kept Lexi alive if I’d been writing YA, but I didn’t think she’d work for romance. After some hilarious early ideas, an author friend said the most important thing was to pick a pen name I’d remember to answer to – assuming I’d get published, some day. That’s when I decided to keep my real first name and reclaim the “Martin” surname (which, confusingly, happens to be my husband’s first name).

Becke Martin – I liked it. I could live with that. And, even allowing for senior moments, I was sure to answer to it.


Writing has always been a career for me, so even when I really, really sucked at fiction, I always worked with the assumption that I could and would learn and improve. It wasn’t the thrilling idea of seeing my (pen)name on a book that drove me, or that drives me still. It’s just that I will keep writing, and working at it, until I get it right. So.

I created a website for my alter ego: www.beckemartin.com. Created a MySpace page. Earlier this year, I created a Facebook page using “Becke Martin” because – again – I wanted to keep my professional life as a garden writer separate from my world of writing friends.

I underestimated the power of social networking. Big time.

My husband is on Facebook. My kids are on Facebook. My sisters and one of my brothers are on Facebook. Hell – my dad is on Facebook. So much for anonymity: old school friends, neighbors, friends from my days as a PTO mom – all are finding me here, through my other connections.

The pivotal moment for me happened at my son’s college graduation in June. A young woman came up to me and said, “Hi – you’re Becke Martin, aren’t you? We’re friends on Facebook!” Then she turned to my husband and said, “Hi, Mr. Martin!”

Turns out Amanda – a friend of my son’s – heard I was a writer, and friended me out of that mutual interest. She knew my son’s last name was Davis, but since she only knew me from Facebook, Becke Martin was the name she remembered. It was a very strange feeling – the first time anyone called me by my pen name – but it only struck me as kind of cool.

Then I went to the Romance Writers national convention in Washington, DC in July. Apparently my hair and glasses make me easy to identify, because more people than I could begin to count came up to me and said, “Becke Martin! We’re friends on Facebook!” It was wild – fun and disorienting and overwhelming, like the whole conference was – but mainly fun.

For awhile. The thing is, I have another day job: I moderate the Mystery and Garden book clubs at Barnes & Noble (BN.com), and in July I also started writing a blog for them called Garden Variety. Also in July, I joined Michelle Buonfiglio’s team at Romance B(u)y the Book, where I blog about contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Michelle also blogs at B&N’s Unabashedly Bookish and Heart to Heart, so we have this double connection – that Barnes & Noble was aware of when I joined her RBTB team – and both at RBTB and B&N, I use my real name.

At National, I had business cards promoting my unpublished book, business cards promoting B&N’s Mystery book club (since romantic suspense and mystery often overlap) and I had cards for Romance B(u)y the Book. Some people got my “Becke Martin” business cards, some got my “Becke Davis” business cards. Even Michelle sometimes forgets which is my real name.

At National, the amazing Hank Phillippi Ryan generously introduced me to her agent, not realizing she had already rejected my story. I was thrilled and nervous in equal parts, which made me babble more than usual. I’m sure Hank’s agent has me down as a total lunatic now! Anyway, Hank said, “This is Becke Davis – I mean Becke Martin,” and then asked which I preferred.

I hardly knew how to respond at that point – the movie Sybil with Sally Field came to mind. The whole strange moment became even more bizarre when I said, “Becke Davis,” and, moments later, Hank’s agent introduced me to a friend who said, “Oh, you’re Becke Martin – we’re friends on Facebook!” That whole incident brought home to me the fact that my alter ego has taken on a life of her own – and I think it’s a lot more exciting than my real one.

I now have over 2,500 friends on Facebook. I don’t think I have close to that many friends in real life. Becke Martin has over 700 friends on MySpace while Becke Davis has roughly 150 friends there. I’m on Twitter as both Becke Martin and Becke Davis, too. I’ve met a lot of these virtual friends in real life now, which has made this whole online parallel universe feel even more bizarre. I answer to both names, and have even wondered if I should start hyphenating the two.

As if this wasn't confusing enough, I use yet another pen name, Anya Davis, for my hot paranormals and dark romantic suspense stories. "She" is on MySpace and Twitter and has her own blog, which gets more hits than my real blog. I really relate to Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/Amanda Quick, but at least she's published!

Your name is the first blank to fill in on a job application or a questionnaire, and you’d think it would be dead easy to answer. It shows how much my virtual life has spilled over into my real life, when I realize the answer for me is: it depends.

Words for Women to Live By

Thanks to my sister for sending me this:

1. Aspire to be Barbie - the bitch has everything.

2. If the shoe fits - buy them in every color.

3. Take life with a pinch of salt... A wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

4. In need of a support group? - Cocktail hour with the girls!

5. Go on the 30 day diet. (I'm on it and so far I've lost 15 days).

6. When life gets you down - just put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

7. Let your greatest fear be that there is no PMS and this is just your personality.

8. I know I'm in my own little world, but it's ok. They know me here.

9. Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself.

10. Don't get your knickers in a knot; it solves nothing and makes you walk funny.

11. When life gives you lemons turn it into lemonade then mix it with vodka.

12. Remember wherever there is a good looking, sweet, single or married man there is some woman tired of his bullshit!

13. Keep your chin up, only the first 40 years of parenthood are hard.

14. If it has tires or testicles it's gonna give you trouble.

15. By the time a woman realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she's wrong.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Insanity that is NaNoWriMo

What is NaNoWriMo?

From the NaNoWriMo website:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

On NanoWrimo

This appeared at Maria Schneider's Editor Unleashed website on November 21, 2008:


Nano is…

by Becke Martin

NaNo is panic, followed by sleepless nights, dreaming of your characters, and waking up in the middle of the night (if you aren’t still up writing) to jot down notes for the next scene.

NaNo is making friends, or getting to know old ones better, as you rediscover highs and lows you thought vanished with Clearasil many years ago. (In my case, many, many years ago!)

NaNo is coming up with long ways to say short things, as in this quote from our NaNo loop:
“Dumb as a stump” = 4 words. “Dumb as a box of rocks” = 6 words.

NaNo is sprints, challenges, silly word-use contests, plots that make no sense (Plot? Yours has a plot?), characters who don’t know what they’re doing—much less why—and often live with names like “Hero” and “Heroine” for way too many pages.

NaNo is forming a close, warm relationship with your computer chair, which you sincerely hope will not grow around your butt like that gross toilet-seat story we all read about this summer.

NaNo is rarely cleaning your house (OK, never) during the month of November, considering serving your family Swanson’s Hungry Man Turkey Dinners for Thanksgiving, and wondering what new position you can come up with to keep your husband from a) killing you or b) moving out before the end of the month.

NaNo is wishing someone would invent a waterproof laptop so you can write down the great ideas that come to you in the shower and vanish the second you sit down at your computer.

NaNo is wondering if it’s worth disconnecting your desktop and bringing it out of town with you because, even though you have a flash drive, you still don’t have a laptop.

NaNo is learning that you must back up your story every night. Let’s say that again: Back. It. Up. Every. Damn. Night. Because, in my buddy group alone, two people lost a total of about six thousand words.

NaNo is learning to appreciate the recuperative properties of alcohol, as well as caffeine of all kinds. And chocolate. Especially chocolate.

NaNo is discovering that a lot of freaking weird people are living in your head, and every one of them wants to be in this story.

NaNo is hitting the wall and not being able to write a single damn word, coherent or not.

NaNo is sitting back down at the computer, anyway, and forcing yourself to start writing again.

NaNo is going back to your support groups, again and again, to find the strength to keep pushing forward. And gaining a greater appreciation of all your buddies who are doing this in spite of flu, full time jobs, crashing computers and little children.

NaNo is thinking you are writing a romance, only to end up with a suspense story about werewolves, only not really.

NaNo is hitting 40K and thinking maybe—just maybe—you’re going to be able to pull this thing off after all.

Becke Martin can be found here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Want to join the mass insanity? Here's a link to the NaNoWriMo website:


Add me as a writing buddy: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/258729