July 28, 2007

Chicks Dig Dusty Rhoades

The Tarts are tickled to have J.D. "Dusty" Rhoades guest blogging today.  Not only does Dusty have a cute accent and a great wife, but he's one helluva writer.  January Magazine calls Safe and Sound, Dusty's latest novel featuring bounty hunter Jack Keller, "a trip down the murkier passages of the soul . . . . Rhoades' commanding writing will leave viewers simultaneously disturbed and hugely enthralled."  Put us on the list of chicks who dig Dusty, and visit him at his website or his blog.

Chicks Dig Me

by J.D. Rhoades                                              

     "Chicks dig me because I rarely wear underwear.  And when I do it's usually something unusual."        --Bill Murray

Well, in my case, it's not the underwear.  I do wear it, and it's not all that unusual.  (Briefs.  Black.)  But it can't be denied, chicks dig me.  Why else would the two blogs that asked me to guest recently have been The Lipstick Chronicles and The Good Girls Kill for Money Club?

What is it about me?  Why do women adore me?  I don't know.  I've always been afraid that if I asked that question, whatever it is would go away.  But don't worry.  I've vowed never to abuse my gift or misuse it for crass or selfish purposes.  And I believe in giving back.  So here's a tribute and a "thank you" to women, specifically the women who have shaped my writing and my life.

MY MOM: Obviously, had it not been for my mom, I wouldn't have been anything at all, much less a writer.  But my mother also taught me to read by the age of four.  She got me a library card and hauled me down to the library once a week until I was old enough to get there on my bike.  She gave me a love of books and reading that's stayed with me until this day.  And, unlike my dad, she doesn't feel the need to let me know about every bookstore she's been in that doesn't have my books on the shelf.  Thanks, Mom.

MOLLY IVINS: Her writing has spoken to me ever since I read her column collection, Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?  In fact, it was that book and its down-home style of liberalism that first inspired me to start writing letters to my local newspaper, in a style inspired by (and occasionally blatantly lifted from) her distinctive voice.  The letters led to a weekly column writing gig, which in turn led the editor to syaing, in all innocence, "Hey, you ought to write a novel."  The rest is history.  R.I.P Molly.  We need you now more than ever.

KATY MUNGER:  I met Katy online when I was hanging around the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.mystery.  She was a writer living in Durham, right up the road from me.  I picked up Legwork, the first book in Katy's Casey Jones series, and it flat knocked me out.  Casey's a bad, bad girl with a checkered past, a forged P.I. license, a smart mouth, and a heart of gold, and she could take that little Plum girl Janet Evanovich writes about and drop-kick her back to Jersey.  Not only did Katy introduce me to one kick-ass heroine, she showed me that you didn't have to set your P.I. fiction in New York or L.A.; you could write mysteries about wherever you lived and make them good.  When I first started writing in this field, Katy was one of the first professional writers to offer encouragement and advice.  We haven't seen a new book by Katy since 2001's Better Off Dead, which is a damned shame.  Come back, Katy, we miss you!

LAURA LIPPMAN:  I know, everybody loves Laura, but I'm throwing my two cents in anyway.  I went to Mayhem in the Midlands one year when Laura was guest of honor and came back a raving Lippman fanboy.  In a community noted for kindness and generosity, Laura stands out.  She's not only generous with her encouragement and advice, it's good and thoughtful encouragement and advice.  And she writes books that I put down at the end and go, "Whoa."  Keep writing 'em, Laura.

And finally, MY WIFE, LYNN:  It may come as a shock to you that I'm no day at the beach to live with.  I'm not sure any writer is, frankly.  But Lynn's been there for me, pulling for me, encouraging me, taking the kids places on the weekends so I'd have peace and quiet to write.  She's also the one who'll read the book and tell me not only what's right, but what's wrong with it, and she does it in a way that doesn't piss me off.  She's the one who heard a suggestion from my editor about about a possible plot twist and turned it down flat because "no way would that girl do that." And she was right.  She's done all of this and more, even when, quite frankly, I didn't always deserve it.  So, finally, here's my toast to my biggest fan, my first reader, my best friend, the mother of my children, my love . . . . my wife.

So, TLCers, male, female, indiscriminate or indeterminate: who are the members of the opposite sex who've shaped your writing or your life? 




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Any man who can quote from "Stripes" has got to be a chick magnet. Second to the Graduation scene, that is the best one in the movie.

It's great to see you here at TLC, front and center - your comments are always good too.

What men have shaped my life? My grandfathers. Polar opposites in terms of personality, but even as an adult, they always seemed bigger to me.

Mom gets credit for encouraging me to read and write. Writing was tricky because my handwriting was/is so terrible.

Despite my handwriting issues, my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Hale, noticed that I communicated complex ideas with "clarity of thought." Mrs. Hale must be some sort of writing now, because I still remember "those words" 34 years later.

Welcome, JD!

Your blog made me smile; my mother was similar to yours; as a former English teacher, the family consensus was Mom had me reading in the womb. My father used to joke I came out with a book in my hands (OUCH! Sorry, Mom.) Libraries were a wonder, and when I discovered bookstores, where you could buy a book and NEVER HAVE TO TAKE IT BACK, well, that really was a case of letting slip the dogs of war..:)

You are funny, JD. You are also very lucky to have such a wonderful in-house editor. I'm jealous.

Good questions about the influences. This is so cliche, but 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Barker. Put copies of Lorna Doone and Les Miserables in my hands and said, "You should be reading THIS." So I did, and I still like the brain-busters.

As a writer, it was Madeleine L'Engle. I saw her in Pittsburgh years ago, and she talked of her struggle to get A Wrinkle In Time published. "Never give up. Never stop believing in your story." A Circle of Quiet remains one of my favorite writing books.

JD, this is beautiful.

My father-in-law is my earliest "civilian" reader, finding my manuscripts, stealing the ARCs. He is wildly, loquaciously generous in his praise. Thanks, Pop. I realize you never read TLC, so it's a little odd to be addressing you directly, but thanks.

Since I'm not a writer but a poor college student/mom with teen boys and a McHub...I'd have to say the biggest influence for my twisted sarcasm on my blog would be my mom. I learned it form her as my boys have learned it from me. Snicker.

Bloggers aren't real writers.

Janice, I agree that *some* bloggers aren't real writers, but others are brilliantly so! (I always love your comments here.)

Thanks, JD, for the nice guest post!

Welcome, Dusty! Love this post. I happen to think you have a terrific wife. My hubby is also my greatest editor, and has been known to come up with a few brilliant plot twists, also. I couldn't write without him.

Hi Dusty! Great to see you over here with the "ladies." And I can vouch for how super your lovely wife is!

As far as members of the opposite sex influences, I have to say my dad is tops. He's most likely one of the strongest people I've ever known as well as one of the most gentle. Also, I had an editor years ago who taught me all the words that Annie uses in my books, so he was obviously a huge influence. And then there's my husband, whose love of Frank Sinatra and all things Mob related have played a huge role in my writing. He's also incredibly patient with me and has been known to wear hair clips and barettes as my daughter experiments with hair styles. Is it any wonder why I married him?

I've had a few male influences for whom I'm grateful. My dad, for his sense of humor and fun, which he passed to me and helps get me through a lot of days. My husband, who has taught me how little it matters what everyone else thinks of me, as long as I'm happy with myself.

Great blog, Dusty - thanks for guesting for us.

(still stalking you)...

I've been lucky to have a lot of great influences, but it was probably the fact that I had almost given up and my husband decided that he wouldn't let me that most changed my life. I won't bore you with the story -- suffice it to say that I was naive enough at the time to listen to some very negative stuff without realizing the other person had an agenda. But my husband saw me struggling, saw my heart breaking because I didn't think I could ever write fiction, and he took me back to school and enrolled me. He knew I wanted to go and knew I was afraid--I was "too old" and was sure I would stand out. (No one knew.) I didn't have what it took to do the classes anymore. (I ended up making straight As.) I couldn't sell. (um, did that) He told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to him and he'd be doing me and himself a disservice if he didn't guarantee that I had the opportunity to write. So he worked lots and lots of weekends and extra jobs--for years--to give me that chance. How do you ever really thank someone for that? I'm still trying to.

toni, that's a beautiful story and beautifully told. It cries out for the long form.

Hello, Dusty. Yup; mom, library card, bicycle (with an extra-large basket on the front). Mrs. Wells was our head librarian, followed by . . . Mrs. Borland? Mrs. Borchardt? It's been a while . . . but our little store-front library, as it developed, became known as the home of one of the best SF and Crime Fiction collections anywhere around Chicago.

There was also an after-school Great Books program run by a squad of the parish parents (uh . . . okay, a squad of parish mothers). I was fascinated. It made a huge difference in my life.

Toni: I knew there was a reason I liked that husband of yours, first time I met him. Y'all are both good people, and perfect for each other.

And many thanks for all the warm welcomes I've been extended from the cast and commenters of The Lipstick Chronicles. Lynn says hi, and thanks for all the good wishes as well.

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