Friday, February 29, 2008

The Winter of My Discontent


This winter seems endless. We have snow on top of ice on top of snow on top of ice. Every time we get sand dumped on our driveway, it costs $50. I’ve hardly left the house except to go to work. Just walking to the car is perilous, and even with 4-wheel drive, I'm slip-sliding away. I’ve had so many snow days off from school that I’ll be going until July. Plus, I don’t get paid for them, only when they’re made up. So June looks flush, but January and February have been frugal.

You’re reading this, bored out of your mind. It’s like the weather conversations in a romance novel, the protagonists killing time before they kiss. And how, you are asking yourself, is she going to tie this to writing?

I’m big on turning negatives into positives. My hermit-like existence has been good for my writing. This enforced indoor seclusion has made revising Waking Beauty less avoidable. It should be finished this weekend. But what will I do when the mountains of snow disappear and the robins are bobbin’ on the lawn? I may be tempted to stop typing.

Are you more productive in winter, cocooning at home? Want to complain about anything? Grumble away.

Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours." ~Robert Byrne

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Revision Rant


Spy satellites have revealed the remains of ancient Mayan ruins from outer space. Archaeologists are now excavating buildings, murals, precious remnants of a dead civilization.

I feel much like an archaeologist myself. I'm still chopping vines and swatting bugs as I revise the jungle that is Waking Beauty. Right now, I find little beauty in the process. Underneath the detritus are good bones, but I really need my own spy satellite to unearth the best stuff. Sometimes I think it would have been easier to construct a brand new pyramid. *g*

I am actually unwriting, since the editor has requested a much shorter manuscript. I've killed off countless characters and scenes---over 25,000 words and I haven't shed a tear. By far the most fun I've had is with the "find" search of Word. I typed in "ly"---and lo and behold, about 25,000 adverbs popped up. I'm exaggerating slightly. See, I'm still adverb-prone.

It's taken almost four weeks from the time I won the contest to where I am now---which is almost finished. There's a ream of paper, a new ink cartridge and a priority mail envelope ready. Then we'll see if WB is ready...or rejected.

Aside from adverbs, I forbid myself to ever type the word "blush" again. What's your bad writing habit? What drives you crazy when you read?

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Friday, February 22, 2008

What's His Problem?


We all love a tortured hero. This poor guy looks perplexed. Pained. Puzzled. Positively pensive. Just for fun I thought you could write my blog for me. Has Caterina kicked him to the curb? Has he lost his car keys? Killed his cat? Tell me what he's thinking.
And check the Vauxhall Vixens this weekend when we unveil the very first of our historically hot heroes. You can decide if he is worthy to walk with into the pleasure gardens!
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. ~M. Kathleen Casey

Monday, February 18, 2008

Me Too! Me Too!


Okay, so I’m a crusty curmudgeon when it comes to technology. I learned to type (such as I do---it’s the old hunt and peck method with about four fingers) on an old Royal upright typewriter whose “e” key stuck. I didn’t get an electric typewriter until college. Fifteen years ago I had to get my kids to help me turn on the computer when it was time for me to send out the minutes from the hospital auxiliary board I was recording secretary for. I still don’t know half the functions of my Word program. Are you getting the picture? I’m clueless. A woman of a certain age. But not dead. Thus I’m now on Myspace and Facebook after much professional prompting and the sudden flurry of writing friends. See the Cyberspace Spots link on the sidebar.

I know all about the networking, blah blah blah. I confess I don’t really like either face-space. Pop-ups and ads are excruciatingly annoying. It’s hard to define yourself by favorite movies, inspirational quotes and who you’re tossing Mardi gras beads to. My kids are horrified I might read their pages. Two of my daughters helped enhance my Myspace page anyway the other day, hating the boring floral wallpaper I picked and the cello music---but hey, I used to hang boring floral wallpaper. I used to play the cello. If I’m branding myself, I’m just a boring flower-loving ex-cello player who happens to write romance novels. And I'm way cuter than the lady above.

I find my blog-hopping and blog-writing (Three? Who thought that was a good idea?) time-consuming enough without further diversion. So right now I’m not sending any invitations. However, I’m accepting them (and so are the Vauxhall Vixens), so let me put up your little avatar. But don’t hug me or poke me or otherwise try to find out my favorite Johnny Depp movie because (lowers voice so Hellion can’t hear) I haven’t liked Johnny Depp since 21 Jump Street. I told you I was old.

Are you a little lemming like me? Any tips for networking? Do check out the fabulous slide show and musical program Ely put up on V V's Myspace page---get a luscious Vixen fix!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Highly Seasoned


The first full-length book I worked on was Bride by Midnight, a Cinderella-ish historical. A snowstorm strands a desperate-to-marry young man, Sir Harry Chalmers, and Cynthia Elling, who is traveling to London with her stepmother and two empty-headed stepsisters. Fortunately the inn they were stuck in was right across the road from a church, he has a special license, and Cynthia becomes Lady Chalmers just in time. By midnight, in fact.

How many times have you read the stranded-by-a-snowstorm story? Probably lots. It seems pretty lame to me now. And quite frankly, I don’t think BBM will ever make it to a bookstore near you in my lifetime. I worked on winter imagery some, but after rereading the manuscript, not nearly enough. I did write “sugary snow.” Somewhere the windows panes were frosted. Living in Maine, you’d think snow and ice descriptions would come easy. The fact is, I dislike winter intensely. I’d much rather write about summer, as I did in this passage from my current languishing-because-I'm-revising-something-else WIP, Mistress by Midnight (I still am fixated on midnight, apparently):

They were in the field once again beneath the hot sun, his long-discarded hacking jacket tossed beneath them. Her skirts were rucked carelessly, uncomfortably. He smoothed the stiff fabric with impatience, his hands brushing against the curve of her belly. The scent of fresh cut hay clouded his senses. The rich dark soil pillowed soft beneath his knees. He heard the insistent buzz of insects spreading life from bramble to berry in the distance. But soon there was nothing in the natural world to divert him but her body, her own scent, her cries, the sun-warmed heat of her skin. In their haste there were still too many layers of clothes between them, but nothing had the power to stop this summer storm or bring them down to earth. Not Con’s duty, not Laurette’s innocence, not even, when it came to it, his marriage.

Okay, so it’s more about the sex than a weather report. *g* But I’m now consciously trying to use the seasons to my advantage. Hello Lisa Kleypas. Fall’s my favorite time of year (being an October baby). What’s yours? How do you use the seasons when you write, or do you think about them at all? Do you prefer indoor or outdoor sex scenes (in fiction, people---I’m not that nosy!)?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Stupid Cupid


You’d think being a romance writer I’d love Valentine’s Day. You’d think wrong. Red roses and heart-shaped boxes of candy kind of bore me. Of course, once my husband got creative and gave me a table for the cellar so I could fold laundry. That wasn’t a great Valentine’s present either. He’s since been instructed that anything practical or electrical is verboten.

I still get flashbacks from elementary school Valentine’s parties. We’d decorate our own boxes and then count up how many cards we got. It was the end of the world if you didn’t get the right number, or a card from your crush. Nowadays I’m sure kids are instructed to hand out Valentines to every single person in the class, if they are permitted to celebrate at all. I worked in an elementary school where the principal said you couldn’t have a party unless you made a rubric showing what you expected the kids to learn from it. Seriously. Uh---arranged plate with precision? Didn’t spill punch? Laughed when appropriate?

For some unromantic Valentine’s fun, visit this anagram site. You too can wish someone a Happy Valentine’s Day is a unique way. Heavenly Tipsy Panda! Nipple Savant Heyday! Dainty Heavens Apply! And my favorite: Apathy and Pensively.

Do you have any sweet Valentine stories? I’ll take sour ones, too. Any fun anagrams?

Congratulations to my Virtual 100th Blog Party guest Marnee Jo! E-mail me your address (maggierobinson8@yahoo.com) to get your party favor! Thank you 100 times to each of you for gracing me with your presence and not spilling your punch. You all get an A+.

Monday, February 4, 2008

100!


One hundred bottles of beer on the wall---no, wait. This is my 100th blog, so let’s go with bottles of champagne. I’ve worked in elementary schools where they celebrate the hundredth day of school. Kids bring in 100 pennies, 100 pieces of macaroni, 100 Legos. You get the idea. What are you bringing to my Virtual 100th Blog Party? Note the capital letters. This is a big deal to me, considering I was so clueless about blogs I named this one completely by mistake and I’m stuck with it now.

Remember, a hundred bucks just doesn’t buy what it used to. A hundred heroes would be excessive and probably put my back out (and John wouldn’t like it). Of course, you may bring me 100 somethings and 100 somethingelses. The more presents I receive, the better your chances to win a fabulous, or at least free, prize! I want Pandora to be jealous. She only got one box.

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.~Author Unknown

Thanks for sticking with me one hundred times! Check back February 12 to see who wins and for some early Valentine fun. Don't miss the official ascension into the blogosphere of Vauxhall Vixens on February 5 and my own debut post there on February 7.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Let Us Entertain You

Once upon a time, Vauxhall Gardens was the place to go for music, wafer-thin ham...and stolen kisses along the Dark Walk. Vauxhall and its entertainment are front and center in many historical novels. And now, some new history is being made! The Vauxhall Vixens have arrived to share our variety of voices with you. We're a group of writers determined to find pleasure and publication. Come join us in our journey. We're still getting dressed backstage, but we'd love to have you stop by.

And because I am certainly certifiable, you will still find me blogging here at MRMR and on Sundays at Romantic Inks. Because I'm blog-bewitched, my next post here will be the 100th! Who knew I had 100 ideas? Please come to my virtual party. You know there will be fun and prizes. See you soon!