Monday, March 08, 2010

Goddess In The Machine

There are times in life to be humble, and others when one wants all the credit due one. This is one of the latter. For I think I deserve a heaping helping of, “Oh, you’re brilliant!” for having the foresight to lure Becke Davis and her extraordinary talent and incomparable enthusiasm over to the Pink Side last year.

For by association today, we at RBTB can bask in Becke’s glory since Becke this weekend was chosen as a contender for top prize in round three of NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction Contest! NPR offers listeners/viewers a photographic prompt, then asks them to submit a 600-word max short story. NPR’s book critic chooses the contenders and winners.

Becke’s story, “Deus Ex Machina” was chosen from more than 3,000 entries, and when you read it you’ll see that Jonathan Railey of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop had this to say about it

“Becke Davis' voice-driven 'Deus Ex Machina' is fun and meta-fictive. It's the literary equivalent of a basket of late night fried mozzarella cheese sticks.”

Now, we all know what cheese sticks are, and, since we’ve read Becke here awhile, you know how tasty her entertaining pieces can be. But are you goin, “Huh? Meta-whative?”

Well, just keep in mind as you read Becke’s short story, that within it her character refers to a literary device called “deus ex machina,” which is – simplistically put -- a kind of cheesy way an author ties up a sticky plot problem with an “out of the blue” character or solution. Because she uses the device later, her story then becomes a work of fiction that refers to a fiction device. That’s the “metafiction,” part, again, put really unsophisticated-like. Becke’s kind of poking fun at the idea of deus ex machina, then herself for using it.

Becke says she loves writing to prompts like the photo in this NPR contest, and recalls an 8th-grade teacher who inspired her love of this style of creative motivation. "It's like the event awhile back where the Romance Bandits wrote vignettes on," she says, "and asked people to complete them." She won that contest! And, believe it or not, Becke jammed out "Deus Ex Machina" in under an hour, thinking she was just limboing in under the deadline pole.

Becke's kind of a "Goddess in the Machine" 'round here, dropping into RBTB from out the cyberblue and helping to make things more fun along with the new RBTB team. We couldn’t be more proud of her, and are kind of bracing ourselves for when we lose her to her full-time writing career. In the meantime, we’ll look forward to more of her exceptional RBTB posts, short stories like her exclusive for RBTB, “Silver and Gold,” and to her dynamic presence here and elsewhere online.

Did I mention I discovered her?

Chat about Becke's NPR story here! Why do you love/not love the deus ex machina device? Is it ever ok to use? Like, you know, when the parish priest shows up and proves the hero's not a groom, but a duke, and the heroine's first-marriage lines weren't legal and...


Becke Davis said...

Can you see me blushing???? You're the best!

This isn't a final, because they won't announce those for awhile yet. It's a good sign, though, that they picked it out of so many.

I wrote this in about 15 minutes. I only wish I had this kind of luck with the stories I spend months on!

Becke Davis said...

To clarify - I'm definitely a contender. But I prefer "goddess." Thanks, Michelle, I'll see if I can get my DH to go for that one!

Anonymous said...

Blush,a good Color for you..So happy,proud and Prestigios..yes all of that..I am totally there with you..We all are,you are "Becke" and have been a joy on BN,making us feel so welcome 'In your "Cottage" Thats how your Board feels like,we will have Tea later,and Ruggalah..Best Susan

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Susan/vtcozy! So nice to see you here from BN. :) I happen to know that you had something to do with the planets aligning on this one. Is it ok to share? And you've so captured the essence of Becke, how good she makes us feel.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

(from Dave B.)
Congrats, Becke. That's very cool, and there's more accomplishments coming your way, for sure.

-Male Perspective Guy

Becke Davis said...

Susan, what a nice thing to say! And I have you to thank for sending me the info about that contest.

I read the other entries they posted and one of them, called "Saturday," is really good. Makes me wish I'd written it!

My husband is excited, too, but he wants to know what happens next in my story. Noooooooo . . . I have too many other stories I'm working on; can't start a new one now!

Michelle - it was really nice of you to promote this, but you deserve serious credit. Writing blogs for you has helped me learn to write a lot tighter than I used to. Your editing skill has taught me a lot!

I want to share the credit for the Romance Bandit's vignette contest at the Romance Dish. It was such a fun contest, and I was very excited to win one of the contests. But I also want to share the glory with the other days' winners, too!

The Reading Frenzy said...

Yay Becke !!!!!!!!!

Just remember I knew you when ;-) She's a contenda

This is just super news and couldn't happen to a better , nicer, more deserving person.

And of course Ms. Queen Bella herself deserves a lot of kudos for promoting it.

Wow it's just wonderful.


Becke Davis said...

In the big scheme of things, it probably doesn't count for much. But to a newbie fiction writer struggling with Imposter Syndrome, it feels like a step in the right direction.

Paula R said...

Hey Becke, I LOVED Deux et Machina! The snarky voice of the protag was awesome. I wanted more. I want to know what happens next...does he go after the perp or not? Does he continue to lament his sorrow in the Big Apple? You have got to finish this one, at least for me...yep, I can be selfish. I can't wait to get my hands on your book...I don't think it will be too long now before people are hankering for your work. Brava chica, Brava!!!

Michelle, Kudos to you for discoveering Becke. I didn't realize I was sitting next to such great talent at the Jack's Bar Luncheon last year.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Becke Davis said...

Paula - wow, now I'm REALLY blushing. I had a blast sitting with you last July! I'm so bummed I have to miss National this year, but one of my darling nieces is getting married the same week. Are you going to be at RT by any chance? It will be my first time there.

As to the rest of the story -- not you, too? My husband wants more. And my critique partners want that Christmas story to be expanded to a full story. If I could find a way to write without needing endless revisions, I might be able to finish more of these!

Becke Davis said...

P.S. I think the perp has to elude him. Nothing comes easy for this guy.

Monica Burns said...

I got a heads up about this late yesterday, and Becke already knows I think the story rawked! She's a terrific writer. And I'm certain she's gonna win this NPR deal! I feel it.

As for the DeM, I don't know whether I like or dislike it. I think it depends on the story and how obvious it is. I think sometimes we over analyze things instead of just enjoying a good read. Let's face it, men are stubborn animals who sometimes do stupid things. Same for women. In real life people do idiotic things, and sometimes there's a DeM moment, so if it seems real I can live with it.

WTG Becke and kudos to Michelle for recognizing talent!

Becke Davis said...

Thanks, Mon. I know about "deus ex machina" because I used one of those annoying plot twists in an early story and someone pointed it out to me. I figured out what she meant and rewrote the story. (It's one of those that STILL isn't right, unfortunately.) So I often don't get it right, but I do learn.

Like meta-fictive. I've got to find some sentences I can drop that one into now.

Gannon Carr said...

Your story is fabulous, Becke! Huzzah!! Don't forget all of us "little people" when you hit the big time. ;-)


Becke Davis said...

Thanks, Gannon. Believe me, if I ever sell a story the whole world is going to hear about it!

Paula R said...

Hey Becke, I am working on getting to RT. I would really love to go too. It would be my first time, and I hear it is a blast. You know, I haven't wanted to do anything this much in a very long time. I am keeping my fingers crossed on getting a posi answer on this one. First, I have to figure out how it can be considered Prof Dev, so that I can miss three days of work. I think I have it fine tuned, but I still worry. I got this idea from my boss...go figure...LOL!!!

Now, here is an idea. If you consider the next step like this NPR three minute things, you can write that fast, so you could potentially write the full does that sound? No pressure or anything.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

amy kennedy said...

Oh Becke...who knew there lurked the soul of a dillusioned London detective, in that joyous brain of yours? You are fabulous.

Michelle -- I think you do deserve credit. Sally Fields never got the cred for discovering Julia Roberts.

And I'm casting my vote for more of the story -- it could be a weekly installment...

Tiona said...

Oh, it's Becke day! How great!
Oh, I simply love when they use the machina thingy (talk about well-written)! After all, usually it's a totally difficult possision we're talkin' about here and yes, the machina thingy may be totally unrealistic, but hey, isn't that why we love our romances?
And, yes, QB, YOU discovered our beloved Becke, hehe and will never let us forget it. Go...QB!

Pamela Keener said...

Becke the story was wonderful just like Silver and Gold I wanna know what happens next. You are awesome!
Love & Hugs,

Becke Davis said...

Wow, I feel like Bella for a Day, but being a goddess could become contagious. Don't be surprised if you start seeing me in tiaras! I do love any excuse for bling.

Pamela, I think I'm my own worst enemy. I write short stories and then my friends want me to turn them into long stories. I need to start writing faster!

Aw, Princess - what a sweet thing to say! Michelle definitely spoils me, that's for sure.

Amy - it's a little scary wondering who else is living in my brain!

Paula - you know I'm going to start thinking about expanding this now. I know who to blame (or thank) if it turns into a book one day!

Paula R said...

Becke, I would be very honored take the blame for this one...and the punishment too, but I think I won't be alone...LOL!!! Safety in numbers and all that. I would really be happy to see you turn this into a book. It sounds like it would be a fun ride.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Becke Davis said...

Well, let me finish the one I'm working on now, and then we'll see how it goes!

pjpuppymom said...

Congratulations, Becke! I've been out of town and missed yesterday's post. I'm so excited for you! Of course, we've all known of your extraordinary talent through your posts here, at BN and around the web. Each day of our Romance Bandits invasion, I awoke, eagerly anticipating your creative contribution for the day and you never disappointed me!

It's only a matter of time before we're stepping up to the counter to buy your published book!

Becke Davis said...

PJ - thanks so much for your encouragement! Those vignettes were beautifully written, so it was a blast coming up with endings for them! That was a fun week.

Myrin said...

Big congrats to you, Becke, this is absolutely wonderful news!

And I love the story! This maybe sounds meh, but I especially like reading little stories like yours because it helps me to improve my knowledge of modern and colloquial English - but of course that's not the main reason why I like your story! It's just ... cool. Sorry, don't have another word atm.

Yeah, Michelle, you're wonderful, too, of course you are! You seem to have an eye for talented people!

In general, I'm not a big fan of the DEM-thing though when well done, it can be a fitting solution. But most of the time I find it just unsatisfying and think "WTF happend now?".

Becke Davis said...

I agree, it can be really frustrating when there is no good reason for something major to come up out of nowhere and solve a plot problem.

I'm not sure about using my stories as a guide for colloquial English. I'd never thought of that!

Lucy Monroe said...

Becke...I think your profile pic *does* need a tiara! Your writing style is fabulou! And the voice?!!! You got that detective down so well, I could see him and hear his gravelly Cockney accent in my head. You so rock, ma'am!!!

So, what do you write novel length, who have you sent it to and what are you working on now? If you write hot as well as you do voice, shouldn't you be with Brava? I'm just saying... I know someone there, you know? ;-)

Lucy Monroe said...

Oh, and how could I forget to say, "Well done!!!" to Michelle? I've often said (no seriously, I really do to people you don't even know) that you've got an amazing taste for good fiction!

Becke Davis said...

Ahhh, Lucy - are you going to RT? Lori Foster? Let's hang out!

I have one story making the rounds - a contemporary romance with magical elements. It's with two editors and five agents at the moment.

I am getting much nicer rejections these days. I also have a hot paranormal novella that needs some work. An editor at Loose ID said to send it back to her if/when I get those revisions done.

I'm juggling several other stories, too, writing and revising. I used to write fast; now I've slowed down but don't need as much revision. It's definitely a learning process. Thanks for your encouragement!

(And, ahem, I do tend to write on the steamy side.)

Becke Davis said...

Here's a summary of the romantic suspense novel I'm working on now:

A search for her birth parents takes Lorna Kendall to the English town of St. Margaret’s Mead and then to London’s Whitehall.

The roots of her adoption are tangled up in a scandal about Russian sleepers and double-agents in MI5, the British Secret Service.

Lorna’s teenage crush, Will Satterthwaite, offers to assist, but he has hidden motives.

Lorna wishes she’d let sleeping Russian spies lie when murder hits close to home.

Luckily, Aunt Jane, a helpful neighbor who appears and disappears like a ghost, offers helpful guidance to the two amateur detectives.

Lucy Monroe said...

Okay, that would SO work for Brava. In my opinion, which admittedly is not the editor's. LOL But I seriously want you to email me so we can talk about this. (monroe dot lucy at gmail dot com)

And yes, I'll be at RT!! So, I would love to get together and chat. We'll talk more about that in email too. :)

Sadly, Lori Foster's get-together falls on grad weekend here and we've got yet another nephew graduating from high school. But next year? I am SO there!

Becke Davis said...

I loved RWA National last year but it was also a little overwhelming. I so badly wanted to go this year, but it's just not going to work. I'm excited about RT - my chapter is taking Charles Paz, Mr. Romance 2009, to lunch -- but Lori's event is a favorite because it's so low key.

I will definitely email you - thanks!

Keri Stevens said...

I'm late to say I lurves you, Becke, but you know I do.

And I lurves all of your short-shorts even though they are all seeds of novels I can't read the rest of because you haven't finished writing them yet.

And I lurves the novel you DID finish and the novellas I got to read (and for those of you who haven't yet, neener-neener! Privileges of the critique partner, you know.)

And I lurves how in the midst of squeezing 27 hours out of every day, you still find time to give me encouragement and terrific feedback on the stuff I write.

As for you being a "newbie" writer--PFFT. Silliness.

Becke Davis said...

Aww, Keri, you know I love reading your work. And I get to say neener-neener because I've read Stone Kissed!

Jenny Gardiner said...

Becke!!!!!!! HOLY COW!!! that's so fantastic! Am thrilled for you!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becke,Michelle..We are not done with "Miss Thing" yet.Top"10" Pretty Good'actually,excellent considering 3000 entries and tough judging..Nice meeting you Michelle,and I will ttyl "Our Protector on Bn"Becke keeps us safe from any "Nasties'We are a "Pure Party /Girls with Pearls Party must stop in Michelle for "Lunch"..Tomorrow on Bn,,Bye Girls..Susan

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