Saturday, February 28, 2009

Live It Up

I'm still on a vacation high, even if it snowed two feet the other day. Yes. Two feet. But I came home filled with a refreshed zest to write and have knocked out thousands of new words on four different projects (amongst them, more spice to the two Courtesan Court books, which my agent likes. Hurray!). My new hero is haunting me, too. If Paradise had a really tortured heroine, this next book is going to have a really tortured hero.

He's Scottish. Bad. Bent. Looks like an angel with golden curls and blue eyes. Right now his name is Andrew Rossiter. The Rossiter stays, but I'm not sure about the Andrew. He's done things he should be ashamed of. Isn't. But his reformation is right around the corner, aided by an Italian-speaking governess (who isn't necessarily Italian) named Miss Something Peartree. And that's all I know so far. I'm kicking titles and names around, and I need help. I'm thinking of Master of Something (to go with the Mistress books). Here's your chance to name my book and my characters. If I ever get published, you'll be in the dedication.

Andrew is not quite a drag queen, but he's crossed a line or two. That's Daughter #2, who encountered these gentlemen on the street in Key West and had the presence of mind to take the picture. Ah. Memories.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


No I'm not talking about Marathon Key, although we did drive through it on the way to Key West. The vacation was in so many ways perfect---the weather, the laughter, the girls dancing in the street outside Sloppy Joe's, seeing my handsome son for the first time in almost two years. But while we were away, I never checked e-mail or phone messages. Didn't watch the news or pick up a newspaper. Apparently a lot of stuff happened.

One thing was that my agent requested the first two books in the Courtesan Court trilogy. Paradise has made the rounds. Although it's still out with three houses, the upshot is that the writing's good but the subject matter's too edgy. I knew that it was risky from the get-go (not for nothing do I think of it as "The Bad Book"). But almost everyone who's passed on it wants to see what else I've got. So I spent all day Sunday---over 12 hours---making sure Mistress by Midnight and Mistress by Mistake were all shiny and devoid of those pesky red and green lines in an editing marathon. (If someone knows how to turn off the sentence fragment warning feature, please let me know.)

I'd already done revisions, but wanted to double-check that everything was clean. It was kind of weird. I cried at the sad parts and laughed at the funny parts, as though somebody else had written the books. I don't know what that means, but I'm hoping it will spur me on to finish the third book, Mistress by Marriage. I did indeed lie under the palm trees in Florida in 2009 and contemplate London in 1820, and I'm raring to go.

So, I'm ready to be in limbo again. Or still. Or always. I'll keep you posted.

Do you ever write outside your comfort zone? What plot points turn you off?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On Writing

True confession. The writing---it's not going so well. Well, that's an exaggeration. It's not going so fast. I've been in the middle of Edward and Caroline's book for almost a month. I love them---it's an 'Opposites Attract' story. Caroline is frisky and feisty and Edward is proud and prickly and there are sparks galore. They are the last book of a trilogy, and I've been analyzing why it seems so difficult to finish. Mistress by Midnight was done in 6 months, Mistress by Mistake in 4. Am I experiencing separation anxiety? I do have something to look forward to---I actually know what I'm going to write next and am relatively enthusiastic about it even though it's all very amorphous.
I didn't start Mistress by Marriage until the beginning of December, so it's not like Edward and Caroline are withering on the vine, their edges curled, their skin fragile. They're still plump and juicy. But I spend many of my waking hours wondering just how to get them to their HEA. So far I haven't a clue.

So I've done something shocking. I took Stephen King's On Writing out of the library. I love this book so much I might have to break down and buy it. Now, I'm the original bumble-around-in-the-dark girl. No helpful hints about craft for me, which explains why I didn't know about GMC and POV for the first three years I wrote. The book, in King's words, is 'snapshots out of focus,' vignettes of his development as a writer. I stopped reading King's fiction somewhere during his alcohol and cocaine-fueled years---the books were becoming progressively darker for me and I do hate waking up in the middle of the night wondering if something is under the bed (besides my first three manuscripts). But he is a brilliant writer (my favorite is The Stand) and still married to his college sweetheart, which I love. He includes a poem his wife wrote in one of the chapters, and to me it was a truly romantic gesture. It is obvious he respects her words and her consistent support. Without her partnership, the first few pages of Carrie would have stayed crumpled up in the trash can.

I've been thinking a lot about support systems. Everyone who visits here (especially the Vixens) is part of mine. My husband is convinced without ever having read one word of my stuff that it's absolutely great (poor sap). My heroine Caroline is a writer, and she's blocked, too. I believe it's time for Edward to overcome his prejudices and help her out. So by writing this blog, I may have uncrumpled a page or two. And major, major public thanks to Elyssa Papa, critiquer extraordinnaire, for reading the first 50,000 words and giving me so much insight into my own characters. I'm bringing her notes with me on vacation this week, where I shall sit by the pool with a drink or two and think about what she wrote. Become inspired. Or drunk. (But that won't be Ely's fault.)

How 'crafty' are you? Do you know what you're writing/reading next?
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Friday, February 13, 2009


Come slowly, Eden
Lips unused to thee.
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee,
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars -alights,
And is lost in balms! ~Emily Dickinson

May your Valentine's Day be filled with nectar, kisses and humming chambers.
I generally hate Valentine's Day, though. I keep having flashbacks to grade school, where the number of Valentine cards you got was such a big deal. It didn't get much better as an adult. Once my husband gave me a metal table for the basement so I could fold laundry. He has been since warned that practical presents are prohibited. What's the best/worst gift you've ever gotten?

Friday, February 6, 2009

We Interrupt this Broadcast

I woke up the other day---just another morning in Maine. Daughter #2 got us the handy-dandy L.L. Bean weather station which is perched on an old-fashioned oak icebox (very fitting) in the hallway. Without stepping outside and squinting, I could see it was minus 13 F. Daughter #1 got me ice creepers to put on my shoes for Christmas, because one morning I slipped under the car as I was brushing snow off it in my driveway. Daughter #3 put a pumice stone in my Christmas stocking for my dry wintry feet.

Enough. These feet are going barefoot during my school's February break. All the schools in Maine shut down for a week for the state basketball tournament. Yes, it's true. And the games are televised. For this old New Yorker, I couldn't quite comprehend it when my husband told me he'd been on television playing high school basketball a thousand years ago. But I've got videotape of Daughter #3 shooting baskets when she captained her high school team, and last year I got to watch my husband make announcements on TV when he served on the Maine Principals' Association tournament committee. Weird or what?
This year, no one's playing or announcing, so we're going to Key West to see Son #1 and Only, and all three girls (and one son-in-law) are sharing a condo with us at the Parrot Key Resort. I'm more than ready to be stunned by the paradisiacal gorgeousness. It will be the first time in over two years that the siblings will all be together. I can't wait.
Of course, the last time we went to Florida, there was an ice storm which completely screwed up our travel plans. I need you all to keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that Mother Nature behaves herself on the 16th. I don't care if we get trapped in some airport on the 20th, so you only have to pray for me once.
How do you feel about winter? Where's your ideal vacation spot? What should I order to drink?
A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking. ~Earl Wilson