Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Boldly Going

Jumping off a cliff can be scary at first, but here I go. Beginning February 1st 2008, I will boldly go into a new frontier -- teaching my first online workshop.

In another age, a young woman perused the ads in an issue of Starlog magazine and wrote a letter to a fanzine editor, taking the first tentative step into what would become over a decade of playing in sandboxes rightly owned by Star Trek, Highlander and other "universes." She took beloved characters off on tangents, twisted time and space and yet knew something was missing. There were zines, sites, conventions, and the still small voice that finally urged her to take the plunge and dive into her real love, historical romance.

It was scary at first, venturing away from established places and characters, but her own ideas had begun to go further and further from what had attracted her in the first place, and she knew it was time to move on.

Along the way, she met many friends, talented writers all, who also wanted to make the same journey. They shared ideas, shared struggles, and cheered each other on. The young woman, more comfortale writing about butter churns or farthingales than transporters or spacesuits, knew she could use many of the techniques she first learned in her new venture. So came the idea of the workshop.

Really, if I can dress up in full Klingon gear in public, I can teach a class from the comfort of my office chair. Or maybe from under it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

How can I ignore this face?

Or the stripety stripes, the creamy underbelly or the single cream toe on a front paw? I'm trying, though, as my current office assistant, Miss Skye, still needs some time to get used to her new environment. She's had a rough life for a young kitty and needs to figure out she's in a good place at last. She's been a survivor, but now she's learning to be a pet.

Survival, I've found, is a very interesting theme for a romance as well. (Nice segue, eh?) As my Christmas reading binge included Jenna Kernan's Winter Woman, a western from Harlequin Historicals, (okay, not a Christmas book , Christmas is not even in it, but there's snow on the cover, so I'm counting it) I found myself thinking of exactly why this book worked as well for me as it did when westerns aren't my usual choice.

First off, snow. They had me right there. I loves me the white stuff. Lived for two years in Vermont, would happily go back, but I don't think I could convince the DH to come, so any returns would have to be of the weekend vacation nature. My first fan novel back when I was fanficcing ST:TNG was set on a planet where it was all winter, all the time. I had a blast.

Then there was the fact that for most of the book, it was all h/h, all the time. Isolated on the frontier, battling dangerous environs, carnivorous critters and tempermental weather with a distinct minimum of secondary characters kept me riveted. I love a good adventure and a tight focus on the main h/h relationship, and this had it in bucketsful.

I really liked the structure of the wilderness adventure leading to civilization, and that the heroine did want to go back to a more structured world. Also liked the compromise that came with the HEA.

Also liked the inclusion of a faith element, done with exactly the right touch; worked very well for me. It was part of the characters, and struggles made sense.

At the (pardon the pun) heart of the matter was that the h/h, once they decided they really did love each other, went all in; they'll give up what' s most important to them because their beloved is even more important than that, and in the end, they get it all. Happy sigh.

Which got me thinking, what other settings can some of these elements be used for? I've enjoyed stories set in the wilds of Australia, Africa, Asia, various islands, even the colonial frontier (physically restraining myself from making notes on one of these until I have finished a current project.) Recommendations, anyone?