Friday, April 24, 2009

Back to the Future

My husband and I had a delightful time in Sin City. The temps were in the 90s, and I sat slathered in sun block and read Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly, Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham, Why Mermaids Sing by C.S. Harris, The Secret Wedding by Jo Beverley and Beyond Heaving Bosoms by those smartypants bitches Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell. The latter, a gift from Ely, is a hoot. Since I've been giving major thought to what makes the 'essential' romance, I'm paying careful attention to their theories and themes.

My books fall pretty solidly into what I call the Redemption Range. Everything I've written in the past couple of years features characters who have made mistakes, usually when they were much younger, but have not let the mistakes make them. Oh, there's plenty of guilt and regret to go around, but I'm reminded of the layers necessary to form a pearl. Without the irritant, that mollusk would not secrete the calcium carbonate and conchiolin to create one of nature's beauties. Everything in our past determines who we are today.

I'm looking forward to transforming Paradise's Hart and Eden into lustrous, smooth, layered characters. It's been a while since I reflected on them. Eden's mistakes are rather more spectacular than the usual Regency heroine's, and I'm sure I made a few of my own as I worked on the manuscript. I'll keep you posted.
Read any good books lately? What's your theme?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Call

Thanks so much to all of you who stopped by to give me your good wishes! You didn't ask, but I'll tell my Call Story anyway. *g*
It was April 15, that dreaded day for taxes and tea parties. :) I was at work in the high school library. It was quiet, extremely quiet. Usually I have about 25-30 kids and adults working on projects and using computers until 5 P.M. But when I got The Call, I was down to two teenage girls and one of the custodians, who came to take a break and eat a forbidden snack in our back office. Don's a really nice guy. We talk philosophy and non-fiction, politics and family. I'd been out sick for three days with bronchitis, and we had a lot of catching up to do. The school and the country really can't run without us. ;)

Then my cell phone rang. When that happens, I hardly ever answer unless it's a number I know. I don't need to pay for a call that tells me the warranty on my car is expired (duh, it's a 1996 Ford Explorer---I'm surprised the damn thing even starts up in the morning) or that I 'won' a cruise if only I'd pay for it. But I recognized the area code of my agent, Laura Bradford. She'd e-mailed me that something might be in the works for Paradise. So I answered, and she talked. Trade paperback. Berkley Heat. 2-book deal. Summer 2010. Some revisions. We were disconnected TWO TIMES, and I was beside myself. Finally on the third connection, which was still all crackly, we agreed she'd call me at home after work. I kept saying, "I'd make more noise, or talk about sex scenes, but I'm in the library."

When I got off the phone, Don had disappeared. One of the girls---I don't even know her name---was smiling at me. I told her I'd sold a book, and the girls got excited, more excited than I was, because I felt like I'd been hit by a very large, very yellow school bus. I'm just now picking myself up off the road.

I finished Paradise 3 1/4 books ago, in December 2007. My agent and my editor are more familiar now with it than I am, LOL. So, I'm off to reread, revise and tweak. Now I'm really going to Las Vegas.

And btw, do you know what happens when you type 'woman' and 'phone' into Google Images? Hello phone sex!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Words kind of fail, so I'll just let this snippet from Publishers Marketplace say it for me:

Maggie Robinson's PARADISE, in which an honorable man in the market for a virtuous wife must address the complication of his late Uncle's ward, who he discovers was also his late Uncle's mistress, the subject of an erotic book called The Education of a Young Lady of Doubtful Virtue and the woman who makes him forget all his good intentions, to Kate Seaver at Berkley Heat, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Summer 2010, by Laura Bradford at Bradford Literary Agency.
April 16, 2009 at 1:05 p.m. Eastern

Thank you, Laura Bradford! Thank you, Kate Seaver! Thank you, best critique partners ever---Elyssa Papa, Tiffany Chalmers and J.K. Coi. Thanks to the wonderful women I've met along the writing road---super-inspiring authors, Pirates. Vagabonds, FanLitters and Bon Bons. Thanks to my family, most especially to my husband, who has done without dinner and matching socks for several years now.

This is beginning to sound like an Academy Awards speech, so I'll stop babbling. Going off to pinch myself and celebrate in Las Vegas. The trip was planned long before recent events, LOL. The laptop is coming along for revisions. See you in a bit!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Do I Dare?

April is National Poetry Month. This year's poster is kind of subtle, mostly shades of gray, but interesting. It features a foggy wet surface with finger marks dragged through quoting T. S. Eliot: "Do I dare disturb the universe?" It is formidable to think that one's words have the power to alter the universe, but it's true. Just ask Shakespeare, Thomas Paine, Voltaire or Jane Austen. While I don't think anything I write is in the 'disturbing' and 'important' category, I hope to provide a few hours pleasure and release from everyday life.

(And that is a disturbing and important thought. For the book you spend months on---perhaps years---will be read in just a few hours. If writers got paid for the amount of time actually writing, we'd probably be getting invisible fractions of a penny per hour, LOL.)

As you know, I'm back in the risky business of taking a seriously fractured hero and taping him up together in Master of Sin. I need help with Italian (iGoogle!) and psychology. I've got to create a fictional Scottish island too, because my husband says we can't afford the "research" trip to the Outer Hebrides. Heck, I'd settle for the Inner Hebrides. :) But before I get too far into the book, I need to have my feet firmly planted in Andrew Rossiter's universe, where poetry is a luxury and "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Classical poetry may have fallen out of fashion, but many song lyrics speak to the poetic souls in all of us. Here is humble romance from Jamey Johnson's In Color:

This one is my favorite one---
This is me and grandma in the summer sun
All dressed up the day we said our vows.
You can’t tell it here but it was hot that June,
That rose was red and her eyes were blue.
And just look at that smile,I was so proud
That’s the story of my life---
Right there in black and white.
And if it looks like we were scared to death
Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other
You should have seen it in color.
A picture’s worth a thousand words,
But you can’t see what those shades of gray keep covered.
You should have seen it in color.
Go color your universe! Any lyrics/poems you'd like to post?
You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you. ~Joseph Joubert

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Progress Report

I woke up the other morning at 3 A.M. and there she was, like an even ashier Cinderella. She was tiny, scrawny, brown and dirty. Her hair was a mess, her tongue as sharp as an adder. She was my unlikely heroine for my unlikely hero Andrew, and she was still nameless. I kept thinking of the fabulous Shakespeare Re-Told Taming of the Shrew. Shirley Henderson played Kate, and while a bit over the top, kind of fit my mental profile. So here's when Andrew first meets Miss Peartree:

He tiptoed down the hallway as quietly as he ever had eluding a suspicious wife or husband, coming at last to the kitchen. A raggedy serving girl dressed in what appeared to be stray Tartans and tablecloths was bent over an empty fireplace, a pitiful pile of sticks on the hearth. At the sound of his footstep on the bare slate floor she turned and shrieked.

Some of Andrew’s childhood Gaelic had come back to him the further north he’d come. Immersion with the village women earlier had helped a bit too. “Gabh mo leithsceal.” Excuse me.

“Does bloody anyone in this bloody place speak any bloody English?” the girl muttered.

She looked like a street urchin. Her brown hair was a nest, her pointed, unfashionably brown face was smudged and her brown skirts muddied. She was so very brown. Surely she couldn’t be---

“Miss Peartree?” Andrew asked, praying not.

The little wren’s mouth hung open like a baby bird waiting to be fed. Then she looked like she tasted the worm. “Oh, good lord. Mr. Rossiter?” She curtseyed, nearly tripping on twigs.

A little later on in the day, she became Gemma, because she is a jewel just waiting to be polished.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to write?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wet and Wild

Some people think baths are yucky. These are the "You're soaking in your own filth" crowd. But I'm definitely in the liquid relaxation line, beginning almost every morning with a steaming hot bath. I don't have to worry about falling down while shaving my legs, and I've got one of those removable showerheads so I can wash and rinse my hair. I've lived in houses with tubs only and houses with showers only. If I had to make a choice, I'd take the house with the tub every time.

Now I know you're asking yourself, "Why the hell is Maggie talking about her personal hygiene routine?" It's simple. I finished Mistress by Marriage on Thursday. And what did I want to do to celebrate? Drink champagne? Eat a pound of chocolate? Nope, I wanted to take another bath, even though it had been only three hours since I took the last one. So I talked myself out of it, because I hadn't done anything to get myself dirty except touch a keyboard and my skin is still kind of dry from the longest winter ever. But now you know my mad method of having fun. I am one wild woman.

What do you do when you finish a big project? Do you prefer to shower or bathe?
There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them. ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (uh, perhaps not the best bath advocate out there)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Abandon Ship

In the last couple of weeks, I've put down almost as many books as I've picked up. Yes, I'm picky. Perhaps part of the reason I'm so nonchalant about abandoning them is that I don't have a vested cash interest. Ely paid for them. She and I swap books. I love getting boxes from her that have little stickies on each book with pointed comments: "Not so horrible, just so-so for me," "The best part about this book? The dog on the cover," "Spooge! It's so bad have liquor nearby," "Oy vey, the Scots are coming."

Now, the fact that I can shut a book midway, or skim ahead to the HEA is something new. I used to be a good girl who read every word until the bitter end. Now I operate on the "Life is short so eat dessert first" principle. If something tastes bad or boring to me, that is The End, even if I'm on page 127.

Do you abandon, skim or read the last chapter first? Do you do a book swap or donate your books? (I do both.)

It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer. ~Albert Einstein (who probably never read a bad romance novel, and who was definitely not an April fool.)