Saturday, July 26, 2008

Conference Call

My oldest daughter thinks I've become a recluse. She doesn't seem to understand when I'm at work, I talk to hundreds of people every day, and in the summer, all I want to do is write and not talk to anybody (except for my husband, kids and their kids...and even then...*g*). But the Other Grandmother, a wonderful woman who shares my joy with Sadie, invited me out to see three published romance writers at her local library, a place with which two of them were amazingly familiar.

Yes, Kensington vampirist Kathy Love and Golden Heart nominated, Harlequin and LBD author Julie Cohen both grew up a few towns over, went to high school together, hung out at the library and now take the romance world by storm. They were joined by debut romantic suspense author Anna Louise Lucia.They made me laugh, answered my obnoxious questions, and gave all the proceeds of the sales of their books to the library. I had my own mini-RWA conference right here in Maine and now have three authors to glom. Their call stories were inspiring. Anna waited eighteen months to hear about her book from a publisher. I've only been waiting ten, LOL.

This week the romance world will go simultaneously dark and bright. San Francisco will be the epicenter of light; those of us not there will glumly go about our business in the gloom, living vicariously. My goal is to 'almost' finish Mistress by Midnight, when perhaps the Internet distractions will not be so alluring. If you're going to SF, what do you hope to achieve? If you're not, what's your goal this week? Do you want to go to Washington, D.C. next year? What authors have you met/inspire you?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Putting the Me in YouTube

Some months ago, I made an impassioned plea to myself to forgo Internet time. I want to finish my work in progress (Mistress by Midnight---15,000 words to go!), and now that I actually know what will follow it (Mistress by Mistake, Mistress by Marriage), I’m all kinds of itchy to dive into Trilogyland.

But I’ve discovered YouTube. By a distinctively un-hip route. I’m watching kids’ programming. My nine month old granddaughter Sadie is fascinated by Elmo and the Muppets, so Elmo it is when she comes to visit. This little wiggleworm sits absolutely still in my lap while we watch Andrea Bocelli sing Elmo to sleep, the Goo Goo Dolls turn Slide into Pride about Elmo being ‘furry, proud and red,’ REM bounce to ‘Furry Happy Monsters.’

I’ve watched YouTube clips I’ve stumbled over on blogs before. I’ve seen the kiss from North and South and the Filipino prisoners dancing to Thriller. But now…Michelle Obama on The View? Check. The entire movie Amazing Grace in eleven parts? Check. You know my obsession with Ioan Gruffudd. I discovered the last scene in Great Expectations (just beautiful even if I’ve never seen the whole movie), and even watched him speaking Welsh for eight minutes in a swimming pool and In-N-Out Burger, having absolutely no idea what he was saying. This could be dangerous.

What are you watching on YouTube? Do you watch authors on sites like Romance Novel TV? Are you ready for your close-up?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Feeling Sheepish

Sheep. I know next to nothing about them. I am just like my hero Hart in Paradise who “now owned a vast quantity of sheep about which he knew absolutely nothing, save that they tasted delicious and their wool was warm.” Wool sweaters make me itch, and I can’t even remember the last time I ate leg of lamb.

When our kids were little, we restored (or tried to) an 1820s farmhouse on 40 acres. We had a fenced pasture, and our neighbor would put his sheep in it, and later his Clydesdale horses. It was perfect for us to experience the animal part of farming without the work. The only thing I could tell you for sure is that sheep sh*t a lot. But somehow I have gotten Mistress by Midnight’s Marquess of Conover, Laurette Vincent and their children ensconced in the West Yorkshire dales with a flock of sheep.

I know. As the mistress of my domain, I could have kept them in London or Dorset, totally sheepless. But honestly, how could I resist? The Marquess’ given name is Desmond Ryland, and there happens to be a sheep breed called Ryeland. Ovis Kismet. Ovis, by the by, is Latin for sheep. I now know drovers’ tracks through Britain, and that if sheep are not sheared, feces sticking to the wool breed maggots which kill the host. Ugh. According to the Medieval Bestiary, “The sheep is a defenseless, placid animal. It is covered with soft wool. Sheep gather grass in early winter before it is destroyed by frost. The ancients first offered sheep as sacrifices, rather than bulls.”

If you want to see an adorable lady with her adorable sheep, click here . According to her site, she met with Prince Charles and he and he is now the owner of two of her sheep. King George III (Farmer George) also owned Ryeland sheep, so if they’re good enough for royalty, they’re good enough for me.

How did I, a middle-aged woman who grew up in a suburb of New York City, veer off into sheep territory? I’ll do anything for romance.

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve written or read about? What's your favorite farm animal?

The concept of two people living together for 25 years without a serious dispute suggests a lack of spirit only to be admired in sheep. ~A.P. Herbert

Huge thanks to all of you who played along with Finish This Mess last week. Secret sheep and babies around the world are grateful for the recognition. You just don't know how your support and hilarity has helped me get closer to The End. A big bad baa goes to Terrio! E-mail so I can send you your prizes!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Contest Crazy

You'll see a new picture on the sidebar. Mistress by Midnight finalled in the 2008 Golden Claddagh contest! And fellow Vixen Elyssa Papa's Take a Chance on Me is also a finalist! I'm pretty excited. My pages will be read by an Avon editor and I'm hoping to get valuable feedback. I'm in the homestretch now, about 25,000 words to go to get to HEA-ven. For the first time in ages, I haven't written the last part first. The whole book has been freakishly consecutive. In fact, I don't really know how it's going to end, because, as we've established, Pants R Us.

I have a few balls in the air. The evil uncle may not really be dead. A good guy may turn out to be bad, or at least a bungler. There are two children whom I do not wish to seriously imperil---as the mother of four, nothing is scarier to me than children-in-danger themes, even if my babies are grown up with babies of their own. Serious secrets need to be revealed, and since no therapists are handy in 1820, I need to have a reasonable resolution. All in all, I have written myself into a challenging corner.

(And then there are the sheep. To find out more, come back to read my next post on Wednesday, July 16.)
Contest: Who wants to write my ending for me? Here's your chance.

Hero: Desmond Ryland, Marquess of Conover (AKA Con) (age 32)
Heroine: Laurette Vincent (age 29)
Con's son: James (age 11)
Con's and Laurette's secret baby (yes!!!): Beatrix (age 11)
Evil, possibly undead uncle: Lord Ryland (if alive, 70s)
Good/bad guy/bungler: Jacob Carter, retired soldier/farm manager (40ish)
Setting: West Yorkshire dales. There are caves. Ruined outbuildings. Sheep (see above).
Time: Summer, 1820

Serious or silly entries only. Those participating in Finish This Mess (hereafter known as FTM) will automatically be entered into an MRMR contest with a fabulous, or at least free, prize package! Random winner selected and announced on 7/16. Enter early. Enter often. Tell your friends. Extra points for talking sheep.

And is it finaled or finalled? Spellcheck hates either one.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Convenience Store

I had good intentions. I had my husband's laptop. I had the pendrive. Unfortunately, the computer could not read one word of 62,000 of them in Mistress by Midnight. Everything suddenly became coded into little rectangles and doohickeys. After I panicked, thought I might vomit, took my blood pressure medicine, I decided it was a sign from God to just relax and have fun on vacation. So I did.
Since we were in Vegas, I thought it was appropriate to watch What Happens in Vegas on pay-per-view. I don't get to the movies much, and this looked appropriately silly. A romantic comedy, it had all the trappings: the marriage of two strangers (one of my favorite tropes, even if they were blotto), forced togetherness, man vs woman sabotage, big bucks riding on the line. There were lots of things which were annoying (the interoffice intrigue came off as racist to me), but on the whole I laughed out loud quite a bit.

It made me think of how little romantic love had anything to do with marriage until recently. In some cultures marriages are still arranged, and they often work out as well or better as those founded on severe attraction/lust. Marriages of convenience are fun to read, although they work better in historicals than contemps. It's difficult for an independent woman to imagine being stuck with some random guy. But with half of all marriages ending in divorce anyway, there's no guarantee that love will last.

Could you marry a stranger? Could you live with somebody for six months so you could split 3 million dollars? Could you live without a bathroom door? Could you live with a guy who thought of empty beer bottles as decor? Do you wonder why men sit with their hands down their pants? Who would think a fluffy romantic comedy could be so thought-provoking?
Breaking News: Stop by Vauxhall Vixens July 7 to read Eve Silver/Kenin's excellent guest blog about her tortured heroes. One lucky visitor will win an ARC!