Friday, December 01, 2006

Portrait of the artist as a very young woman.

I liberated a family photo album from my dad's house this past weekend. More accurately, hauled it off after my friend Linda caught my attention with "hey, what's this?" while we were both sorting through assorted objects outside a room nobody had used for anything, for years.

Big. Square. Brown with a gold curlicue thing on the top. I'd always remembered the "real" family photo album as notebook sized and orange brocade (it was the seventies, okay?) but as soon as my aunt dusted the thing off, yeah, there it was. The other photo album. Time machine, oh my.

Some, like this one, were easy to figure out. Me, in the driveway of our house in Bedford, NY. It was on the same page with others -- a slightly older me standing by a rhododendron bush (I only remember the name of the bush because Dad liked posing me and my mother by the thing about a billion times) then my mom standing by the same bush. The two of us together. Some Mexican relatives I had to have my aunt identify. There's a picture of two young women in early 1900s dress that neither my aunt nor I could identify. I'm thinking possibly my mother's mother and aunt, or another acquaintance of similar vintage.

Looking through these pictures, it's pretty darned obvious I am not my parents' genetic child, though it took until I was 22 for Dad and I to openly talk about me being adopted.

I'm scanning a bunch of these pictures to computer to make family gifts, and it's quite the trip. I've noticed that the "will you take the darned picture already" look on my face is the same from toddlerhood to now; I've never liked having my picture taken. Of course I have to come up with an author photo for Uncial...think I can send them this one?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wow, has it really been nearly a month?


Olivia kitty says if I'd put her in charge of my blog, this would not happen. She's probably right. Cats can often be furry day planners, and I think they have a lot to teach us (okay, me) about punctuality.

Once again, real life chewed me up and spit me back out. Not always fun, but we get through it.

A big step in getting through it has been reclaiming my home office. Like a garden gone to seed, it had long since gone to storage. It didn't get that way overnight, so it's going to take a while to get it back to what it should be, but I've staked my claim with laptop and Mrs. Tea (albeit sitting atop my Caboodle makeup case until I can figure out how to get the miniscule power cord to reach a normal outlet) and with a small change in schedule, I've carved out some time to get my groove back.

Of course there are still vestiges of crud that need to be dealt with, but all in good time. I have the small tinned candle I got from last year's Let Your Imagination Take Flight conference on my desk, and the new rule is that if the candle is lit, I am writing. Doesn't have to be good, doesn't have to be usable, doesn't even have to have anything to do with the manuscript I'm currently creating, but it does have to be written. Discipline first, then content will follow.

So far this week, I've managed to fill several pages with notes on old Highlander episodes and what I think is going on in songs off a recently rediscovered CD. Let me tell you, this office is archealogy central at the moment. Kind of funny to look at things that once held my interest, but no longer do, as I revise stories that will be rereleased this spring -- but then again, I need who I was to be who I am.

That, my dears, is the deep thought for the day.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I found a time machine in my dad's house

No, not the Outlander sort, but the kind that comes in an old box in the back of a spare bedroom closet. Sunday afternoons mean going through things at the old family homestead, and this spare room used to be my room for a while, though now I'm quite comfy calling it "the middle bedroom" as my aunt has started tagging it. But that's another story.

The box was behind some other boxes, under an old duffel bag, so when I opened it like all the others, ready to sort into keep/sell or give/toss piles, I was surprised to find file folders. Okay, papers of Dad's? No, papers of mine. Onionskin typed pages. A file of fanfic ideas, the start of a spec script, and the first few pages of a historical I'd started years ago and then lost.

To be sure, I've improved a lot since those days, and I'm not doing fanfiction, but writing for the historical romance market. Still, there are a few things in there that I had lost along the way and am glad to have back.

My outline for the spec script was quite similar to the detailed outline format I thought I had only discovered this year. Who knew that I had it over a decade ago. Don't know what wiped it from my mind, but it worked then and works now. The historical pages reminded me how much I used to like to go for a big emotional impact right at the start, before I'd thought I had to ease into things, that what I wanted to do was too rough somehow, not nice, or what have you. Again, something I've come back to. It may have been a circular path, but I'm sure one that was needed.

Perhaps those earlier days were a scouting expedition of sorts. Maybe they were practice, or maybe seeds to be planted and harvested in their own time. I did take the files with me, to look over, see what I want to tweak, and what needs to go line a birdcage without delay. Not sure what will go where yet, but it did give me a much needed spark to keep on doing what I'm doing. Because nobody else can tell my stories for me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Some days we fight the good fight and get trampled anyway.

Yeah, writing did not go well today. Part of it is some of the current ick of real life and the tiredness that comes from said ick. The rest of it, I think, is discipline. Maybe there are a few rogue particles of it that are due to something else. Lack of Diet Coke, perhaps?

Still, I've done some of my most prolific writing during equally stressy times when my own health was not as good as it is now. Seeing as how I do not intend to return to serious illness as a writing aid, it's got to be something else. I'm going to focus on the discipline angle, in that case.

I'll start by quoting Bishop T.D. Jakes -- Whatever you feed, lives. Whatever you starve, dies.

Easy enough, pretty basic, and yet, something I had to remind myself about, so that does say something. Butt in chair (cat on lap optional, but likely)and fingers on keyboard. Doesn't have to be good. Doesn't have to be usable. Doesn't have to be for this project. Only has to be.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I'm in the middle of a Philippa Gregory glom at the moment, even though I have a gorgeous stack of books for review glaring at me. Gloms happen, and this one caught me unawares, but happily so.

Some friends and I had decided to read a book together and discuss via email. They settled on Philippa Gregory's The Other Bolyen Girl. I love Tudor, so okay. Really wanted a romance, but hey, Tudor. No luck at the library, discretionary funds said inxay on the adesizetray, but I did have the Wideacre trilogy waiting for me in my TBR mountain range. I followed the twisted and evil Beatrice's legacy through three generations, and then turned to a reread of A Respectable Trade, which had given me the impetus to include such trade in one of my WIPs. Then after a frantic hunt, finally found Fallen Skies, set in 1920s England rather than the Georgian age of the other titles, but hey, Gregory. Plus it appeals to the part of me that will always ache with love for Brideshead Revisited and sniffle at pictures of Castle Howard (because I know it's really Brideshead, and poor, poor Charles. Sob. But a happy sob.)

I'm halfway through that at the moment, and last night's library visit netted me Ms. Gregory's 17th century duo, Earthly Joys and The Virgin Earth. They also had another Gregory, The Wise Woman, which I purposely left on the shelf, because if I took it, that would mean I wouldn't have any more Gregory novels to read. Other than the royal books, and I can't do historical biographies right now, not for the life of me. At present, I'm more than happy to follow the adventures of Stephen, the WWI veteran and lawyer who has what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder, and Lily, the spirited singer who has decided she's not going to acknowledge the war because it's boring and dumb and she doesn't like it. Will they have a HEA? I have no idea, and if you konw, shush. Do not tell me; I want to find out on my own.

See, if the first two Wideacre books had been able to have HEAs (and no, I am not advocating that anyone should look amongst their sibling groups for romantic partners) or if Frances and Mehuru of A Respectable Trade had been able to have HEA, those would have been perfect romances. So it serves me well to study them.

Along with all of that, I'm delving into some of the old school romances I missed the first time out. I recently finished Love's Tender Fury by Jennifer Wilde and have some notes to make on that one. Apparently the heroine went on to have two more books of her own, though I'm not sure if the same gent was along for the ride; we'll see when I can hunt my copies of the sequels down.

Sure, I'm getting some good discussion going with friends both in person and online, but there's another benefit -- remembering why I fell crazy in love with historical romance in the first place. Especially the deeply emotional, meaty kind. Granted, that's not what's in the greatest demand these days, so it's easy, as Camilla posted here, to get jaded. Only jaded doesn't get the books written. Reconnecting with that love of writing so that it translates into actual words on page/screen does. Inspiration plus discipline makes for a winning combination. At least for me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Don't fall over backwards, but I'm actually posting. Getting the urge to fiddle with the blog and website again...and yeah, before I got everything turned over to the current design, too.

Spent a good deal of today (my supposedly resting day, hah) researching sugar sculptures of the Georgian era. Yes, sugar sculptures are exactly what they sound like, and I need one for a scene in The Wild Rover so I did a bit of poking in that regard. Some of those things could get way over the top -- which is why I like them. Hey, every once in a while, the upper crust had the urge to commission a replica of their house and gardens or the dinner table (fully set, of course) entirely out of sugar. The Georgians weren't that different from us in that regard, now, were they? Not that I stack sugar cubes in the shape of a raised ranch or anything like that.

Today's lesson: do not try and create part of the menu for a grand dinner party for your historical while between breakfast and lunch. Because then one's thought process becomes entirely "foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfood" which does not jibe with the image of one's undies-clad form in the Lane Bryant dressing room mirror. Though the clearance sale they currently have is well worth it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

After having to reinstall AOL on the desktop, one of the first things I did was make sure my playlist was still intact. It was. Humungous sigh of relief from me.

Some writers can't work without a picture of someone who reminds them of their characters. For me, it's music. Simon from Orphans in the Storm is Five For Fighting's "Superman." His father, Roderick, an important secondary character, didn't gel until I figured out he was Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying." When I was writing My Outcast Heart Dalby and Tabetha's theme was "Lost in You" by Chris Gaines (aka Garth Brooks) with "It Don't Matter to the Sun" for the angsty parts.

Hearing any of those songs now is like a visit from an old friend, and assembling "soundtracks" for upcoming projects helps set the mood. At present, for a project I'll begin in January, I have James Blunt's "Goodbye My Lover" and "God Give Me Stregnth" by Elvis Costello...for the heroine. Add in Aqualung's "Brighter Than Sunshine" and perhaps a few others I have yet to find. I even have vague ideas about incorporating The Verve Pipe's "The Freshmen" into a story someday, but that's for another day. (But really, wouldn't it be perfect for a tortured hero in Georgian England?)

James Blunt's "" plays in my head when Drew from my current WIP, The Wild Rover sees the heroine, Trista, for the very first time. "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield is Trista's personal theme song.
How musical is your muse?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Drive-by blogging for a while here, as real life is holding me hostage.

Since becoming more involved in family health care, I find myself packing a lot of bags -- the bag that goes with me to visit my father in the nursing home or hospital, and now the one that carries his blanket for his dialysis sessions. I always include one of my writing notebooks and at least one book, and either Romantic Times or Romance Writers Report.

It would be easy to not-read in the middle of all of these changes, even easier to not-write, but I have to. If I don't keep at it now, it won't be important, and it is. So even if it's one page or one paragraph at a time, reading or writing, it's forward motion. It's doing something. It's a rest or a reach or a moment to dip a toe into the wonder of another time and place.

Current read is Philippa Gregory's Wideacre. Historical, yes, and in a favorite era of mine, Georgian England. Not a romance, but there is the overriding passion of the heroine (though in a romance, she'd make a great villain) Beatrice, for the land, her estate, Wideacre. No bones about it, she is twisted, amoral and evil through and through -- and fascinating.

Gregory makes us understand why Beatrice does the awful, unthinkable things she does (no spoilers, read it yourself) and though that doesn't make any of her choices right, I have found myself talking back to the book (yes, I talk to books) and telling myself "you do know you're rooting for the villain." Fascinating reading, and I have the next two related books rubberbanded together to prevent peeking.

Well, most peeking. I had to know who the protagonist of book two was. Should be a very intriguing trip on that one as well.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Movie-ing Experience

I have truly not meant to not blog, but real life caught me in a frenzy. Hospital stuff, nursing home stuff, trying to write through it all.

Decided to go for some cinematherapy a week or so ago and visited Blockbuster with a friend. Didn't end up getting anything. Was looking for something along the lines of The Last Picture Show or Suddenly, Last Summer No such luck. Lots of teen comedies, horror flicks, etc. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place, or maybe it was just a bad day. I would've settled for yet another viewing of The Lords of Flatbush

I love that movie. Love, love, love it. Love it so much I hunted down a tie in novel, and boy did the novel stink, but I loved visiting the characters and their world again. Love the scenes on the roof with Stallone and the pigeons. Love Henry Winkler's proto-Fonz (and still to this day think Happy Days would have done better, at least for me, sticking with the more dramatic focus of the first season; Chuck Cunningham, come home. All is forgiven.) Love the way Perry King guesses wrongly that Susan Blakely's character has "purple eyes." Love the diner booth and the kerfluffle over the clerk showing Stallone's fiancee a too-expensive ring. Love the misplaced apostrophe in the lettering on the jackets. I have stayed up late, risen early, and moved schedules around to watch it. Definetly a movie to own, and I will cherish it (when I find a copy) as much as I do my beloved copy of the Robin Wright Penn version of Moll Flanders.

DH is working the dinner shift tonight, so I will have ample time to pop in the DVD of Four Weddings and a Funeral (he is allergic to Hugh Grant movies, unless Hugh Grant dies in the war, and then it is automatically a good movie.)Yes, the funeral is one of my favorite scenes, as I am all about the angst. I like it that way. Would I want Four Funerals and a Wedding? Hmm, that might be a book idea for the future, but I'll take the movie as is. Though Love, Actually, is a close runner-up for favorite British comedy if only for the Bill Nighy factor. But I own Weddings. Though I have to share a squee over finding out his partner is actress Diana Quick, who played Julia in another all time favorite of mine, Brideshead Revisited.

No surprise that being a romance writer, I like love stories, and emphasis on characters. If it's got a British Isles setting and/or is set in a historical era, all the better. Remains of the Day is about my all time favorite. Though it doesn't have an HEA ending, and would have been completely ruined if it did (don't stone me!) it had a right ending. The last scene, of the now-middle aged lovers sitting on a bench, watching the street lights come on and talking about what remains of the day (and their lives, in subtext) tugs at my heart.

Not that I would leave a historical romance h/h sitting on the bench at the end of the book, but in the middle? Well, sure. But then they find a way to make it work. That would be something for sure.

Not that I want to leave

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Me again.

After being immersed in the good bad and ugly of real life, yesterday was the first real work day at writing since things began this current turn, and I have to say I surpirsed myself with the flying fingers. So The Wild Rover is on once more. Feels good to be back.

Also have to brag about my two newest releases, the romantic historical short stories "Tommy" and "Queen of the Ocean" now available from Eaglesong Books.

Love my covers, and the quotes from fellow e-author Gwynn Morgan absolutely floored me. I am very, very pleased indeed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Whee, covers!

Short stories coming soon from EagleSong Books:

-- in which a banker's widow in 1900 England discovers it's never to late to go in search of the love of a lifetime.


-- in which a 16th century Cornishwoman has one chance to break free of her family's grisly legacy and seize her heart's desire...the dashing Mateo.

I loved writing both of these stories, and am very pleased they have a chance to see daylight once more. Yes, "Queen of the Ocean" is the same story as "Frances, Queen of the Ocean" that appeared in A Hint of Seduction ezine. The original title wouldn't fit on an ebook cover, so we scaled it down.

Along with the novel work, I'm also writing a third story for EagleSong, "The Hired Husband," this one set in Wisconsin and New York in 1852. Widowed on the frontier, Mariah, a city girl at heart, advertises for a new husband to take her back to her hometown of Germantown, NY. German immigrant Kurt needs a wife and he is planning to go back east -- all the way back to Germany. What better wife could he find than one who wants to live in a German town?

Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Still dealing with family health issues, but hope to have things in that regard settled soon.

One bright spot -- I've sold two short stories to Eaglesong Books. "Tommy" (subtitled Quest for a Lost Love) is a turn of the century tale of an English widow who decides it's not too late for second chances. "Queen of the Ocean" takes place in 16th century Cornwall, and follows the adventure of Frances, a wrecker's daughter, and Mateo, the half-Spanish sailor. Both stories are very special to me (and have great covers, too) and I am thrilled they will be available once more. More details as I get them.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Due to a downturn in my dad's health, I'm a little scarcer than normal, but still hope to get some posting done in the midst of everything else.

This file was on the hard drive of the puter that got virusified, under the filename "manifesto"

• I like beautiful heroines. Not that there is only one kind of beautiful, but I want her to have impact.
• I like blond heroes. Or red-haired. Or bald. I honestly do not have a preferred hair color, but please, for the love of creamed corn, if hair is "dark," say dark what.
• I like stories that play out over years instead of weeks or months.
• I like stories that sweep across continents.
• I like it when beloved secondary characters die in the course of the plot.
• But not the dog, cat or horse.
• I want someone’s heart to break.
• I like long separations.
• I don’t mind if the hero or heroine has other spouses after meeting their true love, as long as they wind up together in the end.
• I like heroines who disguise themselves as male, and I like when they have to work to keep from being found out.
• I like it when they finally are.
• I like it when they transition back to being girly again.
• I like when hero and heroine clash.
• I want the highs to be worth the lows.
• I want my history to be an integral part of the romance.
• I want it to do that without turning into a textbook.
• I like it when the mores of the time affect how the hero and heroine deal with their attraction to each other.
• I want books to be real; sympathetic characters do, feel, and say not so nice things. They can have moments of being selfish, mean, fearful, dense, etc, and still be a hero or heroine.
• I want to break the box, take the risks, do something new.

Do you agree with any of these, or do they push your hot buttons?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Here in the northeast, it's somnolent weather. Which is fancy writer talk for hot and humid wherein one is prone to dozing at the first opportunity. Weather saps energy and initiative so it's a good thing my work involves staying inside and making stuff up.

It also helps that I'm currently researching things Carribbean and piratical and at least getting virtual sea air. But more on that later. I did promise a recap of the Long Island luncheon, so you get the quick version today.

Ferry rides there and back were fantastic and reminded me why it is I love having ships in my stories. There's something about being on the water (in joke for Jane S -- on a BOAT. A BOAT. On the WATER.) that puts one in a different frame of mind.

I went with my chapter sisters, Shirley, Jane and Melva. Despite one of Jane's car windows getting stuck in the open position right before boarding the ferry (packing tape and plastic sheeting to the rescue)and almost accidentally being stowaways -- it took all four of us to figure out how to handle passage for passengers in the car, but all was done in proper fashion, we had a great time getting to know each other better and enjoying some time on deck.

As soon as we got to the hotel, we began circling the tables like vultures to see if there was assigned seating (only for the editors/agents) and then to see who was sitting where. I ended up at a fabulous table and could have sat there yapping all day with my tablemates. I'm not going to name-drop as I'm self-conscious about that, but the best-best part was getting to see a dear family friend after far too long. Okay, that and getting requests for partials on both books from Dorchester and also from agent Maura Kye-Casella from the Denise Marcil agency. Talk about esteemed company.

Wonder of wonders, I actually won one of the raffled gift baskets, and will now share my strategy for such auctions. I bid on those baskets with tea things in them. I loves me some tea.

For those who know my esteem of artist Elaine Duillo, yes I was a slobbering, stammering idiot when introduced to her. Especially since she remembered a letter I'd written her upon her retirement, also gushy, but I am a raving fangirl here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'd hoped to use this post to recap the Long Island Romance Writers Luncheon this past Saturday, but the darned phone went off and family sutff requires me. Feh.

Recap will have to wait for tomorrow. I will say though, that I got a lovely mention (albeit misspelt) on Bertrice Small's summer newsletter:

Note to Camilla -- I've tried three times to respond to your comment but for some reason my computer feels compelled to eat the response. May be a post of its own, but short version -- I think that's a very big part of things. I love historical romance dearly and I don't think happy ever after has to mean exactly the same ever after or in a bubble ever after. But more on that later.

Monday, June 05, 2006

"Don’t write what you know—what you know may bore you, and thus bore your readers. Write about what interests you—and interests you deeply—and your readers will catch fire at your words." ---Valerie Sherwood

Today's quote was found at:

Very apt that I found it today -- and how much do you want to bet that's going to find its way into an appropriate font and printed on specialty paper for my office? I'm currently reading a new (as in released this year) historical romance by an author who is usually a favorite (no, I won't give name/title) and am overcome by a big dose of "meh." The "I will finish reading but after that straight to the UBS bag" sort of meh. Which I don't entirely like having.

So it's likely time to dip into my stash of old favorites. Could be time for a Sherwood, at that. Never mind the accusing glares (oh yes, books can glare) of read but to be reviewed books that are right next to the desktop. Never mind the smaller stack of books that need to be read for review. Never mind the books still with their perfect, intact (okay, I admit it, I like to rub unbroken spines before opening a new book for the first time) spines still with the straight from the Waldenbooks bag aroma. Never mind the box of books from yesterday's library book sale (except for the big thick ones on the histories of soap operas and sitcoms -- which I have zoomed through in the last 24 hours) I need me some swash and buckle to fill myself for the writing week to come.

Especially since I am headed for the Long Island Romance Writers Luncheon on Friday. Hopefully some good networking, definetly some good company. Hmm, can I call diving into a nice thick classic historical "training?" Maybe after the grocery shopping. There is still the real world. But the quote definetly does apply.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

HEA required?
(inspired by Camilla's blog at

For romance, yes. I will be the first to say there are some fabulous love stories out there without it -- Remains of the Day, where the female lead decides to stay with her husband, with whom she is not in love, for the sake of their unborn grandchild, rather than return to the love of her life and the house they both loved. Mary Canon's historical O'Hara saga (I'm jumping in the wayback machine here) where the first book ends with the male and female leads forced to go their separate ways, never to see each other until his deathbed nearly twenty years later. I still get choked up over his final words to her, "We had some times, didn't we, girl?" and sobbing myself, because yes, they did, and though separated, loved each other to the last. One of my favorite Angela Elwell Hunt historicals (CBA fiction, not marketed as romance) has a love story between an Egyptian queen and a slave, which because of class, can never be. Romantic? Yes. Romances? No.

There is a difference. In fact, one of the reasons I chose romance as my genre was the absolute delight I take in seeing if I can take some of those devices used in stories such as the above, but have it work out so that the hero and heroine do get their HEA. To me, the HEA is, at its very best, like climbing Mt. Everest. Yes, they've been through hell and high water, and dash it all, come out together and on top. I want to feel the pull of the pain h/h feel at the prospect that things may not end well, and the joy when it does.

This does not, however, mean that everything is wrapped in a neat shiny bow; I like a little more grit than that. I'm fine with beloved secondary characters taking a dirt nap, the family estate going bust or burning down, our h/h being on the losing side of a war. Starting fresh in a new place can be HEA as well. What it all boils down to, for me, is that the h/h's union is greater than anything else that may have been lost. Not that the other things don't count, but that with their beloved in their lives, they can handle it. Those are the books I sigh over as I hug them after closing the last chapter. The books I love to write. In short, for me, the best HEAs have a cost attatched. How high the price would depend on each individual couple and their own mountain to climb.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's catsitting time again, when early mornings begin with trotting off to see to a friend's two Maine Coon Tail cats. This annual event coincides with the arrival of summer, and usually blazing hot weather. I could do without the weather, but I enjoy the extra exercise and a double dose of giant kitty love is always a good thing.

I'm also putting together my summer reading/rereading list. Recent discussions at and happen to echo my own thoughts of late -- it's no secret I miss the sweep and adventure that were once upon a time the norm in romance. While they don't appeal to every reader, those are the things I always gravitate for, and having finished reading the wonderful debut Viking historical by Diana Groe, Maidensong I'm more determined than ever to see exactly what it is that catches my fancy and how I can put my own touch on it to offer something unique.

Which means rereading old favorites; Small, Sherwood, Woodiwiss, McBain, Busbee, etc as well as poking about for authors of that era I missed the first time around, and newer titles like Maidensong that have the same feeling. Will I be able to read through Karleen Koen's Through a Glass Darkly duo before September? Will I be able to hunt down any new to me Aola Vandergriff titles at any of my UBS haunts? Will I actually keep some sort of a record of this? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I thought this cover (for Philippa Gregory's A Respectable Trade was utterly gorgeous and romantic. Tells everything a reader needs to know right up front, and the book is fabulous, too. I, of course, have a US cover on my copy, but I may have to track this UK cover down, because it's one of those covers that is flat out perfect, something I would be proud to have on a book of my own. I think my copy just inched its way higher up in my to be reread list.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I am still here, still alive, but I have been extremely quiet lately. Not sure exactly why, but it does bear looking into.

I've written several versions of a long talky post but they keep getting eaten, and my patience is low at the end of the day. So, bullet points.

* Terri Brisbin conference this past Saturday = good.
* Close friend getting food poisioning the same day = bad.
*Dad went into hospital on Monday, is now home and things look good; I will know more this weekend.
*Various discussions about historical romance in various venues have had me both inspired and un, but this is the genre I love, so I will keep on keeping on.
*Things go in cycles where genres are concerned, so sometimes it's a waiting game.
*Photos came back from my book launch party; fabulous time, but I need image work.
*Raining now -- very lovely
*Sometimes keeping my big mouth shut can be hard but prudent
*Good friends are a treasure
*I have finally come to accept the fact that I walk better in heels than flats.

Friday, April 14, 2006

One week after the conference, and I have work to do. I got to pitch twice, once to an editor and once to an agent, and both asked to see partials. So pages have gone out to beta readers. Hopefully there will be good news soon, or at least some more interest. I'm looking forward to sharing Simon and Jonnet's story, and diving into new projects.

Of course this does have to be the same time the monitor on the office computer blows (I wasn't there at the time, but reports are that smoke was involved)so the monitor from the really old puter at the home office had to be put into service, which puts a kink into the retrieve everything from Frankenstien puter plan, but we'll find a way.

The next week's projects include sending out partials to the editor and agent who requested them, as well as other places OitS might find a happy home. Also updating my website at long last, with some of Marguerite's lovely graphics, and getting a batch of reviews to Italics. Not to mention setting up notebooks for TWR and the as yet unnamed story for my second colonial couple, Jonathan and Alina. I'll admit to putting another colonial on board so I can make some more research trips to NY.

Current reading is Jo Beverley's The Rogue's Return and for research, Shipwreck! (sic) by Jean-Pierre Andrieux. I have a shipwreck planned for Drew and Trista in TWR, though in more tropical climes than the northern isles of this book, but I have a feeling some of the items that wash up might find their way to Drew and Trista's island as well.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Random moment in which the readers are invited to eavesdrop on the author as she addresses her characters...

All right, let's settle down. Everybody find a seat, please. Weapons may be left with Ignacio, the swarthy fellow by the door with the big box. There will be no eating or drinking during the address, and I want all eyes on me. Villains are to be seated in a separate box, so as not to interfere as they are wont to do.

Now that we're all comfortable, I have a few matters that need addressing. Number one, I am finishing the first draft of Jonnet and Simon's book this week, so I will not be available to the rest of you until after the conference. After that, numbers will be assigned and schedules planned so everyone gets a fair shot. The administration here has a plan for the year's work that should work out well for all of us, though it will mean some changes.

First of all, there will be at least two books this year rather than one. I know this will mean longer days and perhaps more stomping about, but it does also mean I can deal with you all in a far more timely fashion. Once numbers have been assigned (Ignacio will be right to that as soon as he has everything in the box tagged so it can be returned to the rightful owners when we are done) you are to form a queue to the right, and I will be with you in order.

How is this order to be determined, you may ask? I know there have been rumors of marketability, and I will say up front that it is one of the factors. I know most of you have your affairs taken care of with estates and inheritances, commissions, salaries or prizes, but those of us on the other side of the keyboard depend on you for our livelihoods and we do not recieve our portion until you have achieved your happily ever afters.

The order will not neccessarily be chronological, and before I hear any grumbling on that front, please hear me out. Some of you ::cough cough:: have been more reticent in talking to me than others. Some may be keeping mum about their pasts, their hopes for the future, or their familial relations. You in the back, stop snickering. Some may be shy about their own shortcomings or have not yet allowed me to tour their domiciles. This only puts these characters' stories off until later.

Let's addres the research issue -- if I need to know it, I will find out. There. It doesn't matter if I do not at present know what sort of architechture was prevalent during your period -- I'm warning you, in the back. One more time, and you get demoted to sidekick.-- I will find out. If I do not know the name of the Dutch monarch in power, I will look it up. Ditto trade routes, what countries are fighting or friendly with what other countries and so on.

We will take a short recess and then reconvene for the rest of our program. If you have any questions, Ignacio will be glad to record them and convey them to me via the comment section.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Another fine mess...

Houston, we have a problem. Several chapters of the nearly finished WIP have vanished from where I thought I'd stored them. The first 115 pages are fine, and the most recent chapters are fine, too, but the stuff in between not so much. I do still have them on the old computer's hard drive, so they are recoverable, but I still need a moment to scream.

Lots of work to do at present, and much of it in a short time, but those who know me well know I like a challenge. So in a way this is kind of a good thing. Of course if the virus from the other computer comes over along with the files, it may be a different, uh, story. Pardon the pun.

For today, I'm writing today's pages, keeping up with the contest stuff and hopefully printing off a few dozen brochures, since I left a bunch of those on the table at church where people leave freebies (everything from fliers to food, household supplies, etc) and taking a few Sims 2 breaks to keep sanity in place.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Midpoint on my week with Kat, and a few hours before the book party tonight, so I'm grabbing a moment to blog.

Kat and I had a lovely walk yesterday afternoon, trying to tell each other things about ourselves we didn't already know. Seeing as how we've been good friends for a long time, it was a bit tricky, but we did find out about our mutual hatred of celery, that tomato soup should only be properly made with milk if either of us are expected to eat it, and we would each rather chew off a limb than work retail again.

So, in that spirit, things you, the blog reader, might not already know about me:

*The playlist most often played on my laptop is named "angst, and contains multiple selections by Meat Loaf and Alanis Morrissette.

*My slippers are big bear heads

*It was either that or big orange cats, but I thought they might give Olivia a complex

*I once considered going into cosmetology as a career

*The toasted coconut donuts are always mine

*I don't understand why anyone thought lemon was a good flavor for toothpaste

*When I ride a carousel, the horse should be black if at all possible

*I love rollercoasters unless there is a loop -- then you're not getting me on it ever

*Current song stuck in my head is "Bird in December" by George Canyon -- it makes me weep, and I like that

*There are three sets of disposable contacts in my medicine cabinet that are at least two years old, but have never been opened. Not sure if I'd seem like a doofus if I asked the optometrist if they're still safe.

*Correct order in which to eat Chuckles candy, according to me: orange, yellow, green, red, black. (Going from least to most favorite, that's my technique.)

*I have to start dialing the numbers for voting on American Idol as soon as they start showing them (at the end of the program) because it takes me that long to figure out how to punch in the whole thing. (btw, I voted for Chris last night; sorry, Taylor and Mandisa. There's always next week.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Apologies for the low profile, and the huge lag in updating the actual website (with Marguerite's wonderful graphics, too; should get on that ASAP.) I have informed the DH that I intend to make a pup tent out of our fuzzy duck blankey and live in that for at least two weeks, subsisting entirely on a diet of midget cans of Diet Coke and Kentucky mints.

Why? Besides the fact that Kentucky mints are nummy, that is? Glad you asked. You know those times when real life and writing life all go foom in your face at once? Uh huh. That's where we are at the moment. Besides plugging towards the end of OitS, being historical category coordinator for our chapter's contest, getting ready to look for new online class instructors, moderating a faaabulous online class, helping to plan a book launch party some wonderful friends are putting together for me, and getting ready for a houseguest (the delightful Kat, only days away now) while in the midst of two big decluttering projects...and the cold snap we've been having and the cold sore that may be brewing, I really do think the pup tent idea has merit.

Of course I will have my review books and laptop in there with me. As well as the world's most comfortable headphones -- which Rheuben got at the dollar store of all places. The things were apparently designed for joggers, but work equally well for computers. We now own three pairs. I am spoiled for other headphones.

Rheuben beat me to the punch by informing me that he knows when I slide the Phil Collins CD out of the pup tent, that means I am done with it for the time being and he is to slide in one of Rod Stewart's American Songbook albums (which Rheuben bought me on his own, no prompting; what a guy)and when I slide that one out, the next one in the stack. He also insisted on putting in a chicken sandwich once in a while, which I do appreciate, as long as he keeps the level of the Kentucky mints up to the line I will mark on the dish.

Can't complain much, though. Reviews for MOH are starting to come in, and so far all of them have said lovely things about the historical atmosphere (which thrills me to no end) and characters. I got my first fan letter yesterday; actually first and second, ass the gal wrote back after I told her she was my first. (Thanks, Mary Ann)Now I really have to get started on that "first year as an author" scrapbook.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Okay okay, I admit it, I am a very very baaaaaaaaaaad blogger. It's been a rather full (and cold, as in freezing, as in dive for the flannel sheets and add blankeys to the wardrobe kind of cold) week around here. Writing is going quite well; I think I've hit my stride for this part of the book.

I will admit that part of my quietness is that the last complete scene I wrote was a tough one. My heroine had to say some things -- and not say other things-- to a character she might not see again, and let me tell you, this is one of those that takes something out of a writer. I love when that happens.

Matter of fact, I wish it happened more. That's when I know it's doing it right. When I want to run to the rail along with Jonnet and heave lunch over (okay, gross and graphic, I know, but bear with me) myself, it's because I'm feeling her turmoil along with her in more than the usual way.

I remember the first time this happened, when I was still writing "1" as the first digit of my age, and visiting an aunt in NYC. She understood I needed writing time (one of the many reasons we always did and still do get on that well.) As I sat down for that session, I told myself "when I get up from writing this, X will be dead." I liked X. I liked X a lot. Killing him was rough on me, but needed for the plot, and if I ever revisit that story (though I would have to fight the abominable mothball monster for it) X is still going down. I don't think I would have been happy with myself or the story if X hadn't gone out when and where and how he did. Nor would OitS be right if Jonnet didn't go through what she just did.

Bad things can happen to good characters, and make the story even better. Make it right. Since I'm writing romance, I know the happy ending is there, waiting at the other side of whatever lies between once upon a time and happily ever after. Call me twisted, but that's where the fun lives.

Friday, February 10, 2006

First time in around a month I've been able to do any stamping. I got the Feb/Mar issue of Stamper's Sampler last night, got inspired by some fabulous envelope designs this morning, so after breakfast, I decided to get started. When I was stopped by two realizations that hit at the exact same moment -- 1) I had misplaced the most important stamp I neeeded for this project, and 2) my jeans split. It's okay; they had led a long, full life and were too big for me anyway, but they were ready to lay it down at last.

Since the other winter-ready things I could possibly wear are in the wash, I am now dressed, ah, creatively on the bottom half. May have to send my friend Linda by Target on the way to come grab me to do evening errands so she can pick up something that will fit me and *not* look like I mugged a clown on my way to the beach. Ahem. I really do look quite well put together from the waist up.

Big ol' snowstorm headed our way which should seal me in at home on Saturday. That might actually be nice. I can finish judging Golden Heart entries and read books for review. Okay, and play Sims2 until my eyeballs fall out. I am nothing if not realistic. Does hot chocolate and teeny flavored marshmallows count as a necessity? I'm thinking yes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Anybody out there with experience on removing a stuck floppy disk from the disk drive? This thing is fingernail-munchingly stuck and refuses to budge even a smidge. Ah well, that is one good thing about being a five minute walk from Best Buy. I may be getting to know the Geek Squad soon.

Other than that, progress on OitS clips along. I'm at the point where my heroine is about to ditch her biofamily and make a break to head back to the Isle of Man. She hates to skip out on her mother in law, so she'll let that one in on her plans, but this is something she has to do. I'm kind of lump in the throat-y about it myself. I like heroine's MIL.

This is a trying time for my heroine, as she's going to be out on her own, among people, for the very first time as she tries to get her own transport. Still, it's what she has to do, so she's going to get about it. So she's going to have to give her creator a kick in the patoot to get things into gear.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I spent most of my morning today crafting the immunity idol for my local RWA chapter. Whoever possesses the idol cannot be volunteered for anything at that meeting. I'd mentioned it as a joke at lunch one month and the other gals insisted I actually make it. We'll see if it passes muster. Sorry, no digicam, so no picture yet. Nor can I show you my very painty fingers, but take my word for it.

Speaking of immunity idols, new season of Survivor started last night; I watched it live while taping Dancing With the Stars (and the following Primetime Live special on ballroom dancind.) Should be an interesting round this season. Still getting to know everyone, but Cirie looks like one to watch, and how neat is it that they have an author on board? I'm sure he'll get a ton of ideas from this experience. Lots of potential in a shipwreck situation. Okay, so he's not a romance writer, but the setting is a natural. Love the whole Exile Island factor, too.

Had a name from my random idea file float to the top of my noggin when I went to check my email. I can't remember when I thought of Lennox Matthews as a heroine name, but it's there and perhaps it's her way of leaving a calling card of sorts. Not talking to me yet, only letting me know she's there when I'm ready for her.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Huzzah! My very first reviewer-review will be up soon. Very neat. Add to that the fact that tonight is both Survivor and Dancing With the Stars, and it makes for a good evening (though I did have to skip romance reading group to run errands and put away laundry, oh the excitement.)

Definetly moving on toward the end of OitS, with the last scene I'll be doing in a certain locale until help arrives. Time for my heroine to make her move, and the quasi-bad guy to make a choice for good.

Finished reading The Novelist by Angela Hunt, and this only confirms why all I need to see is her name on the cover and I know I'm in for a great read. There's a story within a story in this one, good use of allegory, and even a few writing hints hidden within. This one wasn't romance, but her hard to find contemporary romance (blanking on title) is being reissued by Steeple Hill, so I will certainly keep my eyes peeled for that one. ::Happy sigh:: Maybe time for a reread of some of her historicals. In the romance department, I'm reading Jeane Westin's Lady Anne's Dangerous Man, for review, so I will save the vast majority of my comments for that, but the cover is beyond gorgeous and I am doing virtual backflips ::floop:: over the Restoration setting.

RWA chapter meeting this weekend, and my very good friend and critique partner, Melva, will be joining our chapter, which makes the meeting extra special.

Friday, January 27, 2006

First of all, a big Snoopy dance for my buddy Marguerite Arotin, who just sold her historical romance The Locktender's Daughter to Wings E-press!

Then to soothe my tired tootsies, a friend came into possession of some Body Shop foot soak and body scrub she couldn't use, and passed on to me. I now have ten digits of peppermint soaked, properly salt scrubbed bliss, comfortably ensconced in my padded walking socks and bear head Happy Feet slippers.

Writing today went very well. My hero, Simon, is finding out the truth of the Very Bad Moment of his youth and get the push he needs to keep hope in a Dire Circumstance. (Forgive the Capital Letters, as I'm reading a delightful book for review that has chapter titles like that.)

Another contender for best moment of the day was when my dad asked for copies of promotional stuff so he can hand them out in his travels. Seeing as how he was an advertising professional for a few decades, I think I may have the health care market covered. If there's a nurse or technician in town who has not yet heard of my book, they probably take care of parts he doesn't have. This coming from the man who had the firm stance that he'd never read a romance novel and never would, makes me happier than my peppermint soaked feet.

Also reminds me, I need to print his "my daughter writes historical romance novels" bumper sticker which he has said in front of witnesses he *will* put on his car.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Snarkling Clean

I'm guest snarking on Snarkling Clean in the "Pooh's Thoughtful Place" at the moment. Come and see! My first guest spot, how exciting.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This should fix the margin problem, and boy does it show off the graphics even more. Huzzah. Keep an eye out for more cosmetic updates. Thanks, Marguerite!

Group went well last night; everyone's on track, and ideas are starting to creep back into my brain for the next book, The Wild Rover -- a few new developments I hadn't thought of before, which should help the story along greatly, and let me justify watching hours of Survivor on tape. I look forward to getting back to Drew and Trista...but still need to finish Simon and Jonnet's story first.

I've been doing a lot of reading online from various sources, and even if the historical market is going through a soft period, I firmly believe it's ready for a resurgence. Better than ever maybe? Maybe. It's still what I'm passionate about reading and writing, and what naturally comes out no matter what sort of story I sit down to tell. I may soon start myself on a program of rereading and studying the historical romances that are in my personal classics collection. How can I incorporate what works for me from those stories into my own work, and keep what doesn't work, out. All with my own personal flavor, of course. Should be an experience.

Currently finishing reading Jennifer Blake's recent historical, A Challenge to Honor and enjoying that muchly. Set in 1840s New Orleans, not usually my parvenue, and admittedly bittersweet in light of recent events, I find myself completely swept into the atmosphere, which is something I love dearly whenever it happens. I will definetly be getting the sequel, and apparently several more are in the works. I will clear shelf space now.

Up next in my reading revue; Lady Anne's Dangerous Man by Jeane Westin. Restoration era, highwayman, gorgeous cover, I am there. It's a review copy, so will post here when I have the review up at

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I should be writing furiously to come up with a scene for nag group tonight, but
A) Dana just told me she can make her own Photoshop brushes, which excites me to no end. Historical pictures of my eras, here we come!


B) I found My Outcast Heart on Mobipocket, and apparently people who have bought me have also bought:

THE GAMBLE by Joan Wolf (I've read another of her books, liked it, and the heroine of this one is named Anna...hmm, is that the connection?)

Pocket Oxford English-Spanish / Spanish-English Dictionary -- I speak Spanish. My high school actually had to invent a Spanish Five class for me, since I still wanted to take Spanish and I'd already aced one through four. My teacher gave me a play or novel in Spanish each week and we discussed it one on one on Fridays. I loved that class. Miss Von Neida, are you out there?

VANESSA, by Lynne Connolly -- another historical romance, Regency era. Also Awe-Struck, and I'm on at least one email list with the author.

THE JESTER, by James Patterson -- don't know if my DH has this title, but he reads Patterson.

THE GAURDIAN, by Nicholas Sparks -- never read him, but I understand he writes love stories with tragic endings. Hmm, there is angst in mine, but I promise a happy ending.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Kudos to Marguerite the Magnificent, creator of this lovely new background. We've been talking about some very exciting graphic things, so look for notices of new stuff to come.

This has been one of those days. Woke up two (EEK) hours late, so had to hoof it in to work, where I was greeted by a very peeved cat who was not pleased I deviated from the schedule. Olivia is very big on schedule. We refer to her as Franklin Kitty (after Franklin Covey day planners) because she has things down to a science.

Hard time settling in to work, and by two thirty in the afternoon, have not yet been actually writing. Nor yesterday -- that was other work related stuff, but not actual writing. Plus I bought two stamps last week that have yet to see ink or paper. Plus I will not have free time on Monday. ::lay head on desk and sob:: Spent much of the day screaming something not unlike "BAH!" at the computer every time my fingers think they're on a split keyboard, or my wrist (or kitty) touches the wrong button and sentences, windows or pages move of their own volition, transplant themselves elsewhere, or close entirely. ::whimper::

But Lost was great this week. I love Eko, and poor Charlie. If Claire doesn't forgive him, well, I umm...will put them in New South Wales penal colony and let them hash it out in some future book? Quite possibly.

Found out only today that Elizabeth Boyle loved reading Bertrice Small and Valerie Sherwood, too, so now I must go dig out her first novel that I've had in the TBR mountain range for pretty much since it was new. Don't recall why I haven't read it before now, but it will be interesting to see if there are any influences.

There have been a couple of threads on various boards and email loops about 70s and 80s romances, and I always have a soft spot for those. I miss the sweep, the adventure and the larger than life but still believable characters that often turned up in these. I hope to bring a lot of that into my own work. Probably more in OitS than MOH, but have I mentioned I have had a book out for a whole week? Huzzah! I love getting mail from people saying they bought my book, or are going to do it. Now to finish OitS so I can enjoy the whole process over again.

Then the next phase: what book to write next?

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

When I was eight years old, I announced to my parents that I wanted to write love stories when I grew up. Why not? I loved Barbie and Ken, Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Snow White and their respective Princes Charming. Arthur and Guinevere (sorry, Lance) and Scherezade, whose storytelling was so compelling it saved her life and won the heart of a king.

When I was eleven, a family friend published her first novel, one of the seminal historical romances. My mom read it. I wanted it. I pestered Mom until she told me the basic plot, of a Scottish girl who was kidnapped into a harem, fell in love with the sultan, and stayed there until she was much older and returned to Scotland. But I was too young to read it, so stop asking.

I did stop asking. I snuck the book instead, and when caught reading it under a brass bed with a flashlight during a power outage, announced with a straight face that I was reading it for the history and costumes. Which was much of the truth. Still too young. Snuck the next book, too. Got my own of the next, because by that time, okay, I was still young, but I'm sure Mom knew I was going to sneak it anyway. Those books called me and I had to answer. I knew that was what I wanted to read and write for the rest of my life.

Today, my first historical romance, My Outcast Heart, is officially on sale. Eight year old me is very very satisfied. Thirtycoughcoughmumble year old me says "okay, time to finish the next one." And the next and the next and the next.

Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Aunt Sunny.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

January 3rd already. Much much white stuff on the ground outside, still coming down. Gorgeous to me, and normally great for my creativity, though the kitty with whom I share my writing space can get reeeeally agitated when she sees snow falling, so blinds are drawn.

Not much actual writing done today, but writing related things, and publishing talk with other writer friends. Maybe it's an easing back into the actual work mode. As much as I love the whole Christmas and new year's time, getting back into the swing of things can be a process. Though it does help that the DH is doing the grocery shopping this evening.

Ah, the Tristan and Isolde movie trailer. Must go see that one. I never fail to find it interesting that I live a five minute walk from a multiplex and never get to see movies. Though the DVD player in the laptop makes up for that a lot.
Three more days until My Outcast Heart is available. Wheeee!