Monday, August 30, 2004

The hot and cold running nostrils and weird fuzzy throat feeling are either allergies or a cold. Either way, they get trumped by the husband's foot (nothing serious, we think, but we know of a work shoe that needs to go bye-bye) and even that is not getting in the way of me finising those edits. Home stretch here, and I have passed the "this book is total (litterbox filler)" stage to the "yeah, this book is good" stage and am looking forward to turning in my final product. Still kind of scary, but neat trumps scary.

Work on branding continues, as the husband came through with a wonderful date night on Friday. Barnes and Noble. He knows me well. Came home with the third book in Karen Ranney's Scottish series, and the Romance Writing For Dummies book by Leslie Wainger (already have Julie Beard's Complete Idiot guide, both excellent.)

There's a chapter in the Waigner book (I know I spelled it wrong one of those times) about ten plots editors know well. Moment of crystallization; My Outcast Heart is a marriage of convenience story set in Colonial New York. Aha. Concise way to convey some flavor of the book right there. At least part of my brain is working even with the weekend heat. Thankfully, things should be cooling down soon.

Have an appointment to bounce the scene for Orphans in the Storm that has me stuck, off Vicki tomorrow, so that should get me going on that. Also need to make list of all partial ms's, and reasons why I am putting off finishing them. Then we get to rank them in order of how much I like them and prioritize. Cracking whips on each other seems to work very well.

Off to soak.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Ugh, hot and humid today, so went out with a friend to seek air conditioning. Our mission -- to get her stocked on Valerie Sherwood's backlist, because I am a book pusher, oh yes I am. Got her about four or five books, and one Colleen Faulkner medieval for me (I have all the Sherwoods, and this had a gorrrrgeous Gregg Gulbronsen cover.)

Engaged in conversation with clerk, as usual (had to bring each other up to date on things since last visit) and the Harlequin shakeup came up naturally. She hadn't known this, so we started talking about what this is going to mean for the HH authors, and noticed another cutomer waiting behind me. Clerk asked if the customer would like her to ring things up, and she said that was why she came to the register, but this conversation was more interesting.

Turns out other customer was visiting from Virginia (IIRC) and she mentioned she belonged to a chapter down there, and one of her friends pubs with Flipside, and still has books left on her contract, so what is that going to mean? I said I didn't know, it would be better to go to the source, but it spawned more talk about how publishers are seeing things vs how readers are seeing things, vs how writers are seeing things, and as my dad's ex-fiancee would add, "the green grass grows all around, all around, the green grass grows all around." (Familyspeak for talking in circles, even if it's entertaining.)

Strong views and a loud mouth...common to our sort, I'm sure. A good time was had by all, and I mentioned to my friend that I was considering PRO liason for our chapter. She said I'd be good at it. Still trying to find out exactly what that entails, but if the above qualifications plus a desire to do some good mean anything, I think it might be right.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Note to self...never, ever again allow picture to be taken in beige shirt with no makeup and hair pulled back. This is not flattering. The beige shirt must die. What was I thinking? At least one picture has my head turned somewhat so it is apparent I do have hair. Let's not mention the "Joe's Home Brew" sign directly behind my head either. (It was at a friend's home, and her husband's name is Joe, and he does brew his own beer, but we were drinking sparkling cider.) Ah, well. A good time was had by all, and that's what matters. It was a fun evening. Though all in attendance agree these are probably not going to be candidates for author photo-hood. Need real picture with makeup and hair down and no deer-in-headlights expression on face.

Maybe I'd best wait until my singed eyebrows grow back from following comments regarding something I've been following at I have read, I have not commented, and I am staying out of it. Too reminiscent of fan wars from my STTNG days, and when all the fur gets unruffled, several people have very good points that would make an interesting and intelligent debate. Brings to mind my favorite writing quote from the late Eugenia Price: Not every writer is going to please every reader. That's why there are so many of us.

Had a good writing group last night, excellent workday today. I've come to terms that I am at my best when multitasking, so chatting with another writer friend while simultaneously doing email and edits and looking for Sims stuff (fer crying out loud, half an hour to download the leopard-print buyable baby cradle? But I'll still probably get it before the weekend's out) results in me getting more done than if I'd tried to force myself to quietly do one thing at a time.

Should finish reading Sherwood's Lovesong tonight. Will likely follow with another oldie. These suckers are getting my writing gears going, big time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I am still not used to the new daily schedule, though it is "usual" by now. Grr. At least I got the new RWR in the morning's mail, and they had the first episode of Highlander on Spike TV. Both good for feeding creativity. ::pushes HL fanfics under desk with foot::

Another case of Upside Down Head Plague wiped out half of that same Sim neighbourhood. Knocked out three whole families (including one that just left an orphaned boy; deleted him out of pity) and one poor sim and his daughter (and their new kitty) -- this is the third wife he's lost. Darned plague! Hmm, with all these plague problems, maybe I should be writing a medieval? The idea does have merits, and I have sketchy notes somewhere. Though it is tempting to follow my Sims around and write down what they do. But that's not what I'm here for.

I know I need some creativity fuel...laundry doesn't do the trick, but it does provide clean underwear. Looking into possibility of going to NJ conference, which would be lovely. Realistically, may not be do-able, but still nice to think it might be. If nothing else, our chapter has a one day workshop that I can make, so that's going to be great. I'm the sort who needs some face to face with other romance writers.

Ah, enough. I better go make myself do at least one page, else I count this a procrastination day. I don't like those.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Whoops. Did not know the card was going to display full size. Sorry for any slow load times that may have caused.
Because I am unutterably pleased with myself for figuring out how to post pictures, here's the front of a card I made a couple of years ago for a friend. The central image is from a Star Trek calendar page:

Husband and I tried a new Chinese takeout place last night. Which should read as I was wearing go-outside clothes, he was not, so I got elected to go get stuff. Best Chinese we've had in years, and our two regular Chinese places are pretty darned good anyway. The capper, though, is that my fortune cookie said (I am not making this up) "romance will take you in a new direction." Made husband give it back to me after he read it, since this is definitely one for the scrapbook. Which I also need to get back to.

But today's work. I am still a busy bunny, doing the edits and going over what I have to date on The Spirit House, which idea I roughed out roughly (pun intended) about the same time I started Orphans in the Storm, which is what I should be writing on instead of blogging. Especially since I am ahead of schedule (really unheard of for me; must mean I really want it) on the edits. But the Chinese food comes into play.

Not only was it that darned good, but while I was waiting my tired hot and sweaty (not to mention crabby) self for the food to be ready, I sat in a chair opposite a gorgeous photo mural of three boats on a lake in China, and immediately my brain kicked into gear.

Okay, says brain, story here; Europeans in China, or somewhere in Asia. One of those boats has someone Anglo on it, maybe Scottish, looking for English heroine, the only two non-Asians around, trouble brewing, and really, those boats should be facing the other way, since the big happenings are going to be on the shore, and hero wants to get there in time...

...and no, I don't know what happens next, but we did get free chicken fingers for getting such a large order.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Culled from a previous post that was deleted:

Since the husband needed some quiet time to snooze, I talked him into sending me to the movies last night, and he suggested I take a friend. So I did, but when we got to the theatre, there was nothing either of us wanted to see, so hied ourselves over to Friendly's (east coast chain restaurant with faaabulous ice cream) for dinner and talk about books. This friend isn't a writer, but she's a fan from way back in my fanfic days, (not how we met, but part of how we became friends) so it's good to keep her around for book talk. Much talk about the depth of plot and character and historical detail we've seen in the past and which I hope to include in what I'm writing now. That it must be this particular man, and this particular woman, in this particular time and nobody and nothing else will do. That's what I'm shooting for. One man, one woman, one lifetime. Hmm, could be a good "brand." Must add to list.

That should either show you or take you to the picture of Alastair and Luisa's Sim wedding. Now I can turn my Sim energies to revamping the trailer home (not theirs, another family's) into a Martha Stewart worthy showplace. Ahh, not jail. Bad example. From trailer trash with a stove in the middle of the yard and three unhousebroken dogs (actually now four, and two of them are housebroken, the other two almost there) to a Better Homes and Gardens type deal. Hey, it keeps me off the streets.

As does writing. I want, no, need to get the final version of My Outcast Heart off to Awe-Struck. I know I could probably send it right now and it would be fine, but things like the two instances where the character Gray Wolf was listed as "Gary Wolf" and the sage advice of a family friend who is a writer to always always check for myself so there are no surprises, pull at me, and yank me through every single page. I want to know that everything is right and I am giving them the very best book I can.

Of course doing this while reading two of my all time favourite historical romances ever points out all the things I would do book-surgery on in MOH if I could...and really, I could if I wanted, but this is the book they asked for, so this is the book they'll be getting. Live and learn and write another book another day.

Like today. I dug my partial and outline for The Spirit House out of the mothballs so I can run it by a couple of friends who completely jibe with me on related matters. We'll see how that goes. Also have exceeded the editing goal for the day, and it's now the time I usually sit down and start work, so yeah, there is a fire under me.

So many partials that I want to finish, along with the current WIP, Orphans in the Storm, that I could freak myself out if I wanted to, but I'd rather use the energy and the talent God gave me to keep going on with one step at a time and shut off the worry switch. I've had it on long enough.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Very little reading getting done (though I may be unfairly comparing my potential reading time to that of my friend who keeps asking me for really good romances to kill downtime between work spurts at her job.) but I'm ahead of schedule on the edits, and I like that . Would love to get more writing done as well, and that will not be a problem. I'm getting back into my groove as it were.

I'm a talker. There is no surer way to shut off my creative impulses than to stick me in a room without human contact and expect me to produce something. I need to talk it up one side and down the other, inside out and upside down, and then everything falls into place and I can zoom across the keyboard and get things actually written. Which is why it's good that my friend Vicki and I tend to be online at the same time. Second day in a row I've been doing the edits while chatting with her, and second day in a row, met the goal without feeling like I'm peddling a bicycle uphill.

I'm at that "yeah, I could edit a little bit more" stage, wanting to check over a page or two more than I'd planned on, because...gasp... I like it. Every bit I do here gets me that much closer to sending in the final manuscript, which I want to do ASAP and see the release that much sooner.

The RWA PRO booklets (available to PRO members only) were posted today, and I had the best time reading through them. Yes, I did get a good contract, and the more I think on the first refusal clause, the more I think that yes, I can tweak the abandoned book about Dalby's mother into a romance rather than women's fiction and slip that in. I'm also thinking about a futuristic inspirational duo I had put on the shelf, but after talking with Vicki, I'm going to have to hunt for the partial and outline of book one.

When I was writing fanfic, I had a dozen or more things going at once, and though I might fuss and stomp a bit, I could get them all finished. Not put a "the end" on every single one, but get it to a place where I could comfortably say "that's it for now, life goes on." End of that episode. I have missed the plate-juggling aspect of writing and I think I may be ready to pick it up again. Too many partials, and I want them to be fulls. And we all know how that works.

End note for the day: finally got Alastair and Luisa married in the Sims. Will upload picture tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

One would think a romance author would have an easier time getting two Sims to wed. Which is the thought I try to push out of my mind when doing actual writing and writing related things (still not used to the family schedule shifts which have people sucking my air during early morning and evening, when I am used to solitude.) The dreaded upside down head plague struck my neighbourhood two in my Sims game, and sadly, many families were left without one parent. Which of course I can't have, so must find mates for those widowed.

Two families were easy; one had lost the mother, one the father, and both adults left were already friends, so a little dinner, a little tv, a dip in the hot tub, viola, blended Sim family. I've never had a four kid family before, so this is interesting. The fact that they have four bathrooms and the dad defers showering until wife and kids are off for the day makes things much smoother.

Since the plauge mostly hit adult female Sims (probably because those Sims were more sociable, and it's spread through social interaction) most of the singles I had left were males. So, in a very romance-writery mood, I decided I must find new mates for them all from amongst the townies. I will be able to think normally again in my non-writing time, as soon as I can get Alastair (a rather good looking doctor with two sweet boys, and come on, Sim gals, he's wearing a kilt) to close the deal with Luisa Townie, a lovely woman who wears bunny slippers all the time. I like to think of it as endearing. Hopefully, he does, too.

This is not a mere avocation. This has become personal. I, as Romance Writer, must make Sim love blossom. Especially since as of two-ish this afternoon, I met my editing goal for the week on My Outcast Heart.

I'm on a mission. Get the final edits in, send off to Awe-Struck, and keep the ball rolling. I really truly have a book coming out and the hunger has hit. We're not meeting for nag group this week, since one member is on vacation, and will have to miss two weeks in September since another member will be on vacation in Italy, so I'm keeping nose to grindstone. Of course it does help that another writer friend is online during the time that do the edits, and Vicki nags me throughout our conversation. Sometimes I need the cracking whip.

Which also comes in the form of the reading that got me into this business in the first place. Bertrice Small's The Kadin and Valerie Sherwood's Lovesong are my current reads. Vintage Anita Mills, Katherine Sutcliffe, Catherine Lyndell are all getting the eye from me. I'm also eyeing some of the knock my socks off inspirational historicals that first hooked me, for rereading. Angela Hunt's Theyn Chronicles medievals, and Francine Rivers' classic Redeeming Love. Ain't nothing sweet about these babies, and man do they pack a punch.

While I'm on a roll here, I have new reviews of two Laura Kinsale books up at Italics online. Go read.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Taking a short break from the family tree work I've had to do for Orphans in the Storm. Last week's meeting drove home the fact that my hero, Simon, is a firstborn rather than a middle, so move his sisters around on the tree to reflect that. Also finally pick names for the bad guy's parents and work them into the mix, without resorting to the "default" names. By which I mean names I've seen so many times in romance fiction that I automatically put the book back on the shelf because either A) the name is possibly going to be "shorthand" for the character's traits, or B) I've read so many characters with this name that they are more than likely going to blend in with those gone before.

I know I'm more exacting than others on this, and some of the names that get this reaction in me are favourites to others. Then again I have a penchant for more unusual names. Maybe it started with the Disney Sleeping Beauty being Aurora. Still a lovely name, and would love to see it used more often.

This morning's work meant curling up in the comfy chair with Teresa Norman's Names Through the Ages, which I highly recommend. Check to see what names were used in the 17th century, and note the light pencil marks telling me which ones I've already used, what I have tagged for future use, and what's still up for grabs. Had to jettison one name, since it's too similar to a character in a collaborative work who is also on the bad guy side, and I do not have the brainpower for that sort of sorting anytime before midSeptember.

Still need to finish a particular scene before group tonight, and maaaybe if there's time, figure out why it is that my computer isn't reading its D drive as present. I love writing, but for my breaks, I miss my Sims.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

She's back! Had some browser problems, one overheated week, and one RWA chapter picnic in the meantime, but hopefully updates are back on track.

One thing to be noted; when there are four writers in a four-passenger car, that also means there are no normal people in the car, which does matter when trying to find a place that nobody wrote down directions for and everybody kind of sort of remembers pretty much where it was. Also helps to have someone with a charming accent around in case directions are needed. Who can blame someone for wanting directions in a strange country? Especially in a shopping complex where everything really does look the same.

I know I'm going to be getting a lot of mileage out of that ride back from the RWA picnic, especially the fact that nobody had to clarify what "pick somebody who looks like a reader" means.

In short, gathering with those of one's kind is absolutely paramount. I didn't know how badly I needed to be around my chapter sisters until I actually got the chance. Thankfully, next meeting is in the first week of September. Critique session, yay! Though I do have to figure out what to bring. That's always the tricky part. Five pages, usually the first five, but I already brought the first five of this WIP to the last session, so will probably choose from one of the backburner stories. Maybe the prequel to My Outcast Heart. I still have time.

Have actually begun the process of giving the final polish to the final manuscript of MOH, which is actually scarier than sending it off to a publisher in the first place. That gives me the shivers. Then again, that's only the final version that goes to the publisher for the final edit, which comes back to me to check their edit, and then that's the final.

Pant, pant, pant. It's still good, though, and I'm pooped. More manana.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Ugh, summer heat and humidity. We of Celtic heritage (redhead skin, need I say more?) do not take it well. When the floor waves hello in the morning, it's time to call in overheated and plop self in front of box fan with an endless supply of bottled water. Which describes my Sunday.

Of course a book lover like me insists on having something to read, but since my brain was fried, seared and parboiled, picking one out was impossible. Even after a spirited rant to a dear friend on how romances used to be and why I miss that. She tossed (quite literally, lobbed from across the room) me a copy of Jennifer Roberson's licensed Highalnder novel, Scotland the Brave.

Even being pukey-overheated (I do not exaggerate; I've had heatstroke in the past, and now days like this hit me like a steamroller, pun intended) my brain latched onto A) Jennifer Roberson (I love her Tiger and Del SwordDancer fantasy series, which I maintain is really a romance) and B) Highlander -- enuff said. Okay. Open book, start reading in between frequent and extended naps.

Contented sigh...yes, this is what I come to the party for. I especially loved the wistfulness of Duncan's longing for a Scotland he can never have again, and all the poor sots who go for pop-culture version of Scotland and don't know what the real deal was. Roberson can manipulate my emotions like a preschooler with a handful of play dough, and that's the way, uh huh uh huh I like it, uh huh uh huh. Now to carry this over into my own writing.

But first more water.