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!)?

10 comments:

MsHellion said...

I don't really think about them. *LOL* One story does take place somewhat in summer...and autumn...and NYE. It's more HOLIDAY focused, than weather/seasons...

Probably because I'm allergic to everything...so describing the leaves makes me sneeze most of the time. *LOL*

terrio said...

My full length WIP starts in late spring and goes through the July 4th holiday. There's still a bite tot he air at the beginning but it's softball weather.

My short story happens during a heat wave and I have something like "The heat wave suffocated anything that ventured to show signs of life, including the wind." Never said it was good. And I think the real thing is better. Gosh, I hope it is...LOL!

Janga said...

TLWH opens in early May and ends in November. I use a fair number of seasonal references to reflect the changing stages of the H/H relationship--particularly summer references. Summer in Georgia means steamy, sweaty days and nights. :) I use that fact and the clothing such weather requires to add to the sexual tension.

irisheyes said...

I actually think about the seasons a lot. Taking the seasons into account when plotting can be a plus. I made a very short list a while ago of all the activities available and unavailalbe to my H/H throughout the winter and summer seasons. You know... skiing, sleigh ride, snowball fight, etc. as opposed to skinny dipping, swimming, bicycling. Clothing is an issue too - the lack of said in the summer as oppose to the bundled up factor in winter. I also love the idea of a cold winter night by the fire and having to snuggle to keep warm.

I, myself, HATE the winter. I'm a spring/summer gal myself, but I do appreciate the nuances of a good snowbound storyline. I just finished one as a matter of fact - Susan Wiggs' Snowfall at Willow Lake. The whole dormant, snowed-in atmosphere added to the romantic aspect, IMO.

terrio said...

Forgot to mention Balogh uses the snowbound plot in Simply Unforgettable.

Irish's comment made me wonder if the seasons are as important in the historicals? I mean, they are wearing several layers no matter what season it is.

Maggie Robinson said...

Terrio, i think all the time of the clothing restrictions. I just did a display in the library of all the beauty and fashion books we have, and am sooo glad I can wear jeans and a turtleneck.

Hellion, I love to cut grass---a task where you can see what you've done, but I sneeze my head off. Consequently we have this crazy old hippie who does it for us. John pledged when he turned 50 he'd never mow again (he earned money that way when he was a kid).

Janga, I'm intrigued at the weather-love angle. My husband and I first dated in the middle of a New York City heatwave, and somehow ice cubes became involved...

Irish, are you working on something contemporary or historical (do I know this already?)? I have a scene in the book I'm revising where everyone goes to gather greens in the snow. Not sure if it's going to stay, but it was fun to research Regency Christmas traditions.

Keira Soleore said...

Maggie to answer your question: anywhere depending upon the person writing them. It's not like *moi* has to be in them.

Terri, I love that line about the heat wave. Very Susan-Crandallish.

BernardL said...

The stranded theme works well; because it happens so often in real life, people identify with it. Think of all the times people are stranded together by weather in airports, ski lodges, etc. Depending on where you get stuck, it can be a very believable theme.

Maggie Robinson said...

Bernard, I was stranded at JFK this summer, and believe me, sex was not on my mind, LOL. It's a wonder my marriage survived! But I agree, propinquity and opportunity are good to throw people together that otherwise wouldn't find each other. Something to remember for the plot of my next book!

Keira, I agree---in the hands of a great author, anywhere is fine, even up against the library door!

irisheyes said...

Maggie - I have both a contemporary and an historical I'm fiddling with. I love the Regency Christmas traditions written about in a lot of Mary Balogh's books. They really set the scene. To tell you the truth though, I'm so cold all the time that winter love-in-the-snow type of stuff just doesn't wash with me. LOL