Wednesday, June 29, 2005

First off, is it because I live under a rock that I only first heard Michael Buble on the Starbuck's commercial? Saw his It's Time CD in the library yesterday (got no books, more on that later, but stocked up on CDs and DVDs) Just popped it into my CD player, and Yes, yes, yes. The boy can sing. The retro thing is SO working for him that I will smack anyone who tells me he writes questionable letters to his veterinarian, married his stepaunt or has a compulsive Scrabble habit. Or that he lives in the 21st century. I do not need to know all of an entertainer's dirty laundry or real life doings. Let the boy sing and we'll all be happy.

Second, there's a thread on AAR's reviews board on what romance readers want from a hero. I'm going to have to read through all of the responses before I opine, but the original post gave me an idea for my 'someday' file. If I were going to do a "rake" hero (and if I may go off on a tangent for a moment, talk of "rakes" and "ho's" makes me wonder if we wouldn't like to move the discussion from the bookstore to the garden center. New terms needed, I tell you.) I'd do a real one. Not that it would be a sexually explicit book -- but it would deal with the aspects of such a lifestyle that might not often recieve treatment in romance as we know it.

Yes, I'd want to deal with the children such a man may have created. Diseases? Emotional entanglements? Broken hearts along the way? What happens to the married women involved in said affairs? What about their husbands whom he may still come across in social or professional circles? How much of himself did he give aways, and does he need those parts now?

Come to think of it, it might be something to explore in an inspirational historical. I'd love that. Will give it a good think when I finish OitS.

In the meantime, I surrender. I am a fangirl. Must buy Buble CDs.

Monday, June 27, 2005

My real life hero really does slay dragons.

I can at least vouch for the one he killed yesterday afternoon. I was coming in, he was going out, and I informed him there was a huge wasp in the entryway. He asked me which window, and took a can of bug killer out with him. There was noise.

He came back in a couple of minutes later to inform me that the thing has as he put it 'an eight foot wingspan' and may possibly have been packing heat, Antonio Banderas-style (what movie was that? anyone?) He told me the wasp flew straight at him, even after three spritzes of bug killer. DH trapped the thing in an upstairs landing window, drenched it in bug killer and gave strict orders that I was not to open said window until he got home. Yeah, like that was even a remote possibility. First of all, the landing is an oven, second of all, I can attest that this was perhaps the biggest wasp I've ever seen. As in big enough to ride in the commuter lane big. I think it was wearing some kind of hat.

DH comes home after his shift, checks the window of bug death, and informs me the target has been neutralized. I checked this morning, and while still dead, I'm wondering if maybe she was the queen. There is a nest on the porch, and the decendent does seem to have a bit extra in the booty department.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Project of the week is to get all the 'connective tissue' in OitS done. Those are the "put scene here" or "describe room" thingybobbles. Sometimes fun, sometimes a neccessary evil, always an interesting endeavor.

It is easier to get back into Simon and Jonnet's story than I thought it would be, so I'm very happy about that. Still a little scary to know I'm heading into the beginning of the end part; currently in the end of the middle, or very close to it. It's a neccessary part of writing the book, though. Must finish before can sell, so finish must I. (How did Yoda get in here?)

Settling into my summer routine, which looks to be quite nice this year; breakfast with the previous evening's Desgrassi reruns (I am hooked more than perhaps a grown woman should be, but the writing and acting are excellent, and it's a good study in character arcs) then email, favorite boards, and look over the previous day's work. If things aren't clicking, I can take a break and come back after lunch. Art during the break, if lap not comandeered by very fuzzy kitty.

Writing, come fur or high water, will be done after lunch. Chat with writer friends online at times, sign off when other hew-mons require my presence. Plan strategy of how to beat DH to the computer if he's going to be home. My Sims2 and his World of Wonders (I think; fantasy adventure game) are on the same puter, so only one of us can play at a time. Though the other does get control of the remote, which is only fair. Of course there are those moments like last night, when DH asked if his session could go a bit longer, when I get to reply, "I've got a good book; I'm happy." Which is a good motto for anyone, if you ask me.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A little thinky today. I finished reading Bertrice Small's Lara, and started in on Johanna Lindsey's A Loving Scoundrel. Been reading both authors for years, and got to thinking about how we've all changed since I first started reading their stories and writing my own. This may get rambly.

I wrote my first historical romance when I was seventeen. Actually, that's when I began it. It took me my entire college career to write the whole darned thing, which was really two books (big monster volume.) I'm somewhat older than that now, and my first book is coming out in January. The abovementioned two-headed monster lives in the back of my closet at's traveled with me to everywhere I've lived between then and now, and always claims the back of the closet for its room.

One reason -- it stinks. The influences of my favorite authors shows, and not in a good way. Though I learned my love of historical romance from them, it works much better when I let things I love from other writers come through the filter of my own voice rather than tryint to imitate theirs. Character arc could be called pastiche by some, and while I did glean a love of a strong heroine, the fact that a historical romance can be packed full of history, and it's fun to follow one's h/h through many years before rewarding them with a HEA, only Small is Small, only Lindsey, Lindsey, only Sherwood, Sherwood, and so on. Only Bowling is Bowling, too.

My grasp of the historical period was nebulous at best -- I'd switched from Elizbeth Tudor's time, to her dear ol' daddy's when I got the bright idea for a sequel about the heroine's daughter, and I'm pretty sure I didn't go back and change everything. I am much better now at both history and editing.

Plus there was life. College, not finishing it (which is not a regret; college and I were not a good fit) and other aspects of adulthood, involving a great husband, good family stuff, a stint in retail before I figured out I can't be anything but a writer/artist. I don't know how seventeen-me and now-me would get along. I think seventeen-me would be a little wary of now-me, come to think of it, but I know she'd love the hair. I like to think she'd pick up my books, too.

But not that first one. It had its good parts, and I do go back and mine those for inclusion in my current writing, but as a whole, it needs to stay where it is. It keeps my sequinned sneakers, also from the 80s, good company. I'd hate to break up the pair after so long an acquaintance. I like knowing they're there.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

How Sweet it Isn't, part two

Part one was the previous post; the title hadn't occurred to me before then, and I think the HTML will beat me up if I go back into it one more time this morning.

I was thinking on another thing that struck my interset -- one thing that the inspirational and dare I say erotica/romantica (yeah, I am going to have to come up with better terms, at least for me -- I was going to say "spicy" but then if a book isn't "spicy," is it bland? If it's not "sweet" would that make it "sour?" I'm picky with the food metaphors, being married to a cook.) seem to have in common is a desire for an intense emotional experience. A look into the core of a person, yuck and all, and a love that will see that and take it in.

Some of my favorite inspirational or CBA fiction has been much more intense than sweet. A working prostitute heroine in the American west (Francine Rivers' classic Redeeming Love) or a futuristic scenario where the US is a wasteland where roving bands of cannibals are a real danger (thriller The Land of Empty Houses by -- hmm, blanking on the author; my 77 yr old aunt may have this one.) An author's personal experience with incredibly difficult personal circumstances such as divorce or abortion (The Forgiving Hour by Robin Lee Hatcher and The Atonement Child by Rivers, for example.) An 18th century Scotsman who finds himself married to two sisters --at the same time (Thorn in my Heart and sequels by Liz Curtis Higgs.) Heartrending medieval romances in a gritty, realistic world (Angela Elwell Hunt;s Theyn first intro to her, though she writes pretty much everything and Carol Umberger, for starters.)

I plop these in my book basket along with Marsha Canham and Jane Feather, Bertrice Small historicals and Megan Chance's historical fiction.

It's the intensity of emotion that ties it all together. Sometimes it focuses on (eventual) spouse to spouse, sometimes it's God/human, and sometimes it's a combination.

So yeah, new term needed, at least for me.

Pardon my dust. I've got cyber-decorating fever from the website redesign in progress and coudln't resist playing with things here. Of course I misplaced a bunch of my links so if you were there before and aren't now, I'm putting you back. I'm still an HTML doofus but getting better.

With recent book buying, UBS and B&N browsing I've been doing lately, I've had a lot of booky things on my mind. Combine that with various brouhahas in the online romance community and I get thinky. There may be rambling in the days ahead, but I need to do some mental housecleaning to get brain in gear for going into geurilla mode to finish OitS over the summer.

First up -- inspirationals. CBA fiction. Love it. Inspirationals and/or CBA fiction are not always "sweet." I hate "sweet." Conjures up images of fwuffy kitties with yellow bows on teenytiny flowery backgrounds and grownup people who would be shocked, shocked, I tell you, at the thought of where babies come from. It connotes, at least to me, something more suited to the youngsters who aren't yet ready for big grownup stuff . Light. I could be alone in my perception, but it's my space, so I can say what I want.

My books would likely be classed as "sweet" by current ratings standards because I don't use graphic sexual content, but as the DH said, "if someone picks up your book looking for something sweet, they might get a surprise." Uh, yeah. I think so. I like angst. I like drama. Bad things, sometimes very bad things, and sometimes Very Bad Things (tm) happen to good people on the way to HEA. I may not point the camera into the bedroom, but I do acknowledge that there is one. The same as I acknowledge that my story people do have a spiritual aspect to their lives. This may take a bigger role in some stories than other, but it's there. It's the relationships, the emotion that I like to keep on top.

Maybe it's time for some different terms? Both romance and CBA fiction (I know why the term inspirational is uesd, and will blog on that later; put a sticky note on it, as I will be back) are going through growth and change. I dunno. Got that itchy feeling about it, so I'm thinking.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

DH and I had a "who's more tired, overheated and sweaty" debate yesterday when work was done and one of us had to go get takeout and bottled water. Neither of us was in any mood to move, and then he said the magic words..."do you need anything from Barnes and Noble?"

Boooinnng! I am suddenly refreshed and more than happy to go on aforementioned food and water run. With aforementioned stop at B&N. I'm easy that way. Dangle a bookstore in front of me and I can take on the world. A friend of ours is quite certain that I would climb out of my own coffin if someone proposed a bookstore visit during my funeral. She's probably right. Came home with water, sandwiches, the new Stamper's Sampler, and Johanna Lindsey's newest. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the heroine disguised as boy device. Great way to put self in mood for a good writing day to come.

Which was only cemented by an email I recieved from author Lisa Samson. (Go read her books, she's fab) Lisa had asked readers for character suggestions for an upcoming work, and I was delighted and honored that my suggestion was one of the choices.

Heading out to nag group for the first time in a couple of weeks; I've missed those gals, and we all have stuff to share, so it's going to be a real pleasure.

As for tomorrow, I gots me some books to write.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Life in Pages

Woo and hoo (she says, thereby betryaing her major Degrassi habit) -- Angela Hunt has a blog. Love, love, loooove her books.

I'm getting ready to put away some recent book purchases from two different UBS runs. I have my pencil at hand to lightly note where books fall within series where applicable. A "2" for Judith E. French's The Barbarian, a "6" and "7" for the two latest in Jo Beverley's Malloren world. After some flipping around, a "1 1/2" for Roberta Gellis's Desiree (confession; I have not yet read this series. I am hoarding against the day when there is some sort of historical romance Y2K crisis so I know I'll have something great to look forward to. )

There are books like that; the ones I save for when I've been very good, or feel very bad. The sort of book that *is* a good friend to hold the reader's hand while life rains down torrents of crud, or pop open the bubbly to make an already good day downright perfect. For candlelit bubble baths or stalled cars with broken heaters. For hospital waiting rooms and plush hotel suites.

They're different for every reader, but what they have in common is the ability to touch the right place in our inner selves, to take on a life of their own. These are the ones I want to write. Not just bestsellers. Bestkeepers.

::ahem:: That was a lot deeper than I'd intended to be today, but it must be my brain getting into writing gear. It looks like I should be able to knuckle down and finish OitS by the end of summer. I like goals, and I work well with deadlines. Most importantly, I've told myself I can't start a new book until I've finished one of the WIPs.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I'm having an image problem. Not me exactly (I'm the one with the long red hair, and there is no such thing as too many broomstick skirts and except for boots, I do not own shoes with backs.) -- my website. The one I've been hiding from since January. (Has it been that long? It has? Eek.) Time to pack it all in and give it a more professional and less schizophrenic makeover. Which has me putting on my thinking cap (it's a lovely sage green brocade, with long tassel and lappets) -- I need one cohesive image to convey me/my books/my writing.

The budget? Beg talented graphic designer friend. (wave hi, Kat) That said, a few questions I'd love your answers for; there are more, but this should be good for a start:

What do you look for, visually, in an author website?

What images convey "historical romance" (other than people) (added: the first book is colonial, but I write in a range of periods)

what should images tell a reader about the tone or content of the novel? About the author?

What historical romance authors' sites do you find particularly appealing?

Any questions I should have asked, but didn't?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Actually reading again, huzzah. Bertrice Small's Lara and a 70s gothic, The Slashed Portrait by Jeanne Hines (aka Valerie Sherwood.) One new, one old. Both by authors who first got me started in this genre. Both something a bit different than their historicals, too. Lara takes place on the World of Hetar, which seems to be an alternate earth. Over a hundred pages in and I don't think we've seen any sign of a hero yet, but I can be patient. The Slashed Portrait is contemporary to its period (early 70s) which does make for interesting reading.

Knowing the voices and styles of each author, it's also fun to pick up and see what was echoed or expanded on later, what's a kiss to the past, or a particular turn of phrase, etc.

I always do write better when I'm reading, and when I'm doing art, so since I've been doing much of the latter over the last couple of days, writing is going well. Feels good to be back in the saddle again, so to speak. Though I could do without the high heat and humidity. Ah well, more reason to park self in front of fan and read.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I haven’t been reading much lately. I know the biggest factor is that I’ve been catsitting at two different places, which I love. It also left me exhausted, stinky (four litterboxes, people) and envying those who can take naps on the windowsill, in the middle of the floor, or high on a shelf in the basement. Cats are the masters of "me" time, both ensuring that they get it, and making the most of it. I think we could learn from them in that respect.

But reading. I was overtired last night, exhausted but couldn’t sleep. Ended up reading snippets from a back issue of Romance Writer’s Report, the RWA magazine. Don’t remember much about what I read, but I do know that it was lovely to read something.

This got me wondering, does anyone else have a hard time getting back into reading after a few days (or more) of not? Not for lack of want; I’d love to let a good book devour me, and I get to start on Jo Beverley’s DEVILISH right after I finish her SECRETS OF THE NIGHT, and I have a batch of great-looking older titles waiting for me, as a gift from a travelling friend.

I’ve been talking with friends about books online, in email and on loops/boards. I have tons of can’t-wait-to-read-them books at the ready, and even found a Ted Dekker book that I’d forgotten I have, and hadn’t read yet. All of Karen Ranney’s Scottish Lords books. Marsha Canham’s latest medieval, and Rebecca Brandewyne’s THE NINEFOLD KEY. Not to mention Beverley medievals, Mary Reed McCalls, Tina St.Johns, and many many more.

Headed off to a nice warm soak with a good book, hoping this will shake off the non-reading. I know I write better when I’m reading, so that, along with the overtiredness, brings you today’s crab. Talk amongst yourselves; I hope to be reading.