Friday, September 18, 2009

The (Guiding) Light goes out

I haven't watched Guiding Light in years. In college, though, it was a different story, and one of the reasons I loved my nanny job in my freshman year was that it allowed me to watch GL without interruption during my three-year-old charge's nap. His infant sister learned to recognize Josh and Reva when they were on screen. They were my favorite couple on the show and long after I stopped watching, through all the breakups, reconciliations, other spouses, amnesia, kidnappings, misunderstandings and such I gleaned from the world at large, still held out for their happily ever after. Yep, definetly a supercouple in my book. Today is the last episode of GL ever, after several decades of scandal, trauma and over the top weddings. Even though I haven't watched in years, I will miss it, but no matter what happens according to that final script, I'm going to believe Josh and Reva are living happily ever after in the locale of their choice.

Below, perhaps *the* iconic Josh/Reva scene, and below that, a few brain droppings of my own.

Why this scene sticks with me: It's raw, honest, emotional and risky. At this point in the story, Reva and Josh, though they do love each other, have a lot of baggage. Reva has already married and divorced Josh's brother and is now married to his father. Josh has some attitude issues and we have two alpha characters with big chips on their shoulders and things are going to come to a head.

This is definitely something I want to bottle and learn how to use in my own writing, and I would love to see more scenes of this impact in historical romances. Passion doesn't only occur during love scenes, but is at the core of both characters and that depth and intensity of feeling will spill over into everything they do.

Heroes and heroines do make mistakes and bad choices and they will have to live with the consequences, but for my money, that's part of what makes the ride to the HEA that much fun. For a supercouple, ramp that up another notch or two.

Other soap supercouples I have loved: (I didn't actually follow this one by watching the show, but still enjoy the dynamic)

and the classic that started it all:
(though I do maintain heroes do not rape and rapists are not heroes)

There are others, which I will explore later. What couples would you put on your supercouples list?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yes, these bottles are all from my own personal collection, and yes, they do have something to do with romance fiction.

Granted, in the periods where I set most of my stories (roughly from the end of the Wars of the Roses to the end of the American Revolution/War for Independence (depending on which side one is on in that one)) nail polish did not exist. I shudder to think what a time traveling heroine would do if she jumped to an earlier era before nail polish remover with a full manicure from her own time. Chips give me the heebie-jeebies like nobody's business.

Okay, fine, but what does that have to do with romance fiction? I'll point you to the caption. A friend has dubbed the container where I keep my polishes as "the shelter" because there are all those lovely things crying out "pick me, pick me" every time I open the lid, but no matter how many of them, no matter how creamy or sparkly or pale or dark or bright or neutral they are, I only have ten toes. I can only wear one at a time. In the rare cases that I do paint my fingernails, we can expand it to two, but usually only one.

This weekend, I attended a library book sale with my friend Maria Louisa (new to the blogosphere, go say hi to her here) and we both came back with more than a couple of volumes each. To be added to the more than a couple of volumes each we both snagged on our UBS run the week before. Which were added to the TBR mountain ranges in both of our homes. You see the problem here.

As part of my mojo restoration project for this fall, I'm making finding time to read a priority. Some authors prefer not to read in-genre while writing, but I'm contrary. Give me gobs of historical romance, preferably big thick bug-squasher books with loads of angst and adventure on the way to happily ever after. The settings and plots and types of characters vary, and I do fully intend to have at least a crack at everything in the TBR, but as with the limited number of toes, there are a limited amount of hours in the day. Limited further still by the time that must be spent writing, doing art, caring for the four legged furry contingent, keeping domestic sanitary conditions bearable, and the like. One could argue that the bookcases are their own shelters. We will save the discussion of ideas to be written and works in progress for another entry, but the spirit is the same. Thankfully, with reading, I can work in higher multiples; a book for my purse, one for the tub, one by the bed, etc. How many do you read at a time?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

About the whole notebook thing:

I have a lot of them. There's the Moleskine family: the cahier I have almost filled and its siblings; the red pocket sized one that is still blank; the pink duo that are a little heftier than the cahiers,also still blank, and finally the faux (or maybe not) that I use for my art notebook. This is in addition to my dedicated blank books for IWKY and the as yet unnamed Mick/Beth historical, Ember and the Endless Summer legal pad clan. Plus my handmade art notebooks. I will not mention my gigantic stash of blank books, altered notebooks, and legal pads of various sizes. Do binders count?

The correct answer to "how many blank books does Anna need, anyway?" is "all of them." Doesn't matter if they look too plain or I don't like the cover images. I have art supplies, and a good coat of gesso and/or a few passes of sandpaper can cover a multitude of ugly stuff.

All these blank books and I do not keep a diary or journal. I tried when I was about eight and recieved a pink book with a tiny lock on it. I remember starting most entries with "dear dairy" (sic) and most of those consisted of something about that week's episode of Donny and Marie. I remember chucking the thing in the back of one of our end tables that had storage space and that was that.

Other attempts came when some teacher decided we had to keep journals in class. Usually the term "creative writing" would be used at some point, and I like the term "creative writing" as much as I do "diary" and "journal" which is to say not at all, and will instinctively respond to any of the above with a pained eyeball roll. Fine words for those who like them, but they don't fit me. Those same teachers who assigned us journal writing would find that I used the time to make lists, but would add another level of challenge to vocabulary assignments by finding a way to use all the assigned words in a short vignette. Which resulted in some pretty interesting storylines, now lost to some end of year locker cleanout.

what, then, do I do with all these books? They don't have much in common, being of multiple sizes, from an oversized ledger to tiny volumes that could serve as picture books for Barbie's endless parade of baby siblings (hah, siblings, my patoot. I'm looking at you, Ken. Or GI Joe.)Bound books, looseleaf, legal pads, Moleskines (a recently discovered tendre) as well as composition books, spiral bound, the aforementioned handmade, and whatever else finds its way into my grubby paws. I write in them.

Every story of mine has its own notebook, and choosing the proper book for the notes to inhabit is a crucial part of the process. Format, colors, customizability, what sort of pen would be appropriate and how much glue, paint or embellishments the pages can take are all important factors. With the exception of the legal pads, none of them recieve only regular writing, and will undergo some form of abuse.

I'm fond of gesso and rubber stamps. Recently, I learned about adding texture by stamping with painted bubble wrap. I have gone through many glue sticks and my Somerset Studio magazines of various flavors have had their influence. Once the book has been prepared, then I can dive in and start filling it.

General impressions are usually the start; a big mess of everything I can think of regarding whatever first inspired the story at hand. From there, things can get more specific, but the whole process is more instinct or intuition than organization. This is not wasting time making things pretty for no reason. this is the way my brain works. I plan for it to keep working. It's how I get out of slumps.

The whole purpose is to keep writing. Bashing my head against a wall, trying to do what I'm "supposed to" do only gives me a headache and dents the wall. Neither of which are good. I call what I do when the stories are slow in coming (or refuse to come altogether) "bloodletting" because all that stuff has to be let out before the actual story can start to move.

It will, though, eventually, and often in a new and different and better direction. My favorite inspirational quote is from Bishop T.D. Jakes: "What you feed, lives. What you starve, dies." Basic stuff, but very true. If I want to be a better writer, I have to write. If I can't write the actual text of my stories, I can write about them. Impressions, questions, what-ifs, rants, even things I know will never, ever make it into the book. That can often geta stuck story moving once more.