Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holidays and Writing

They don't mix.  Simple as that.  And in case you're wondering what that pic is - it's the cover for the reissue of HIGHLAND ANGEL coming out in January.  In fact it may well be on the stands right now which shows you how far behind I am.  Did wonder what happened to the chest shot.  Pretty though.

Missed entering my books in the RITA, too.  The sign-up time is a bad one, always coming in the midst of my deadline and the holidays, but I've never had a problem signing up at the last minute or near to.  Well, this time they were full so that's out.  Am now trying to send my books out for a bunch of other contests.  I'll have to find at least 10 more copies of one of the books, however.

See?  Holidays and the work of writing do not mix.  I don't know how some people do it.  There's the cleaning of the house, the cooking, the shopping, and all the various relatives visiting.  And on-line shopping does mean you don't have to go out in the cold but it isn't all that fast, either.   Especially when you're looking for something that isn't exactly a top seller.  And did anyone else notice that every store seemed to have the exact same stuff for sale?

Enough whining.  Right now I'm supposed to be doing my latest vampire novella tale.  Vampires at Christmas.  Is it me or is there something just a little off about that?  I will have to crack down on it tomorrow.  The hubby is back at work for today until Thursday and then it's the New Year time so I need to use those two days for some hard core writing.  Lachann MacNachton isn't going to wait for me to bring him together with Adeline Dunbar for much longer.  He's getting really annoyed stomping around the Highlands in the misty, moisty morning(sorry, been listening to way too much Steeleye Span lately) without finding his woman.  And Adeline's adopted son, poor little Osgar, is probably wondering why I've left him in danger with no stalwart hero riding to their rescue.(oh, dear, all of sudden all I can hear in my head is - Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, riding through the glen.  The great Monty Python curse strikes again.)  So, tomorrow it's back to the pen and paper and hot vampire men. 

So - since I will be writing and then enjoying the New Year - may I wish you all a joyeous and good fortune-filled New Year.  I will leave you with a little superstition about the New Year - on New Year's Eve open the window a few minutes before midnight to let the bad luck out and the good luck in. (Hopefully you don't live where I do so that doing that will probably cost you a lot in lost heat.)

Oh, and for those of you who saw an announcement on my website about a certain someone blogging here on December 23rd - very sorry but they never sent the blog and didn't answer Leeann's(she handles the bookings) messages.

See you in the New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Emily-Jane Hills Orford finds inspiration in real life

Life is full of stories. There are so many stories to share, to write and to preserve for future generations. People's stories inspire me. Music inspires me. I started writing music mystery/romances because I felt there was a need for musical main characters. With my background in music (I am a private music teacher), I felt I could write convincingly and knowledgeably about a classical musician.

Hence, Melanie was created for my first novel in The Four Seasons series, Spring. Melanie was a talented young classical violinist growing up in southwestern Ontario, Canada. She has a very valuable Grancino violin that contained a mysterious symbol inside and a mystery as to its origins. As Melanie's career blossoms, so does the mystery.

The second book of The Four Seasons series, Summer, brings in a new main character, Hope. This character grows up in northern British Columbia, Canada, and she is part Gitxsan/ part Scottish. She has a valuable violin as well, with quite a mystery. Hope begins as a fiddler, inspired by the folk songs of her joint heritage. As her career changes to classical music and her reputation grows, so does the mystery of the violin.

Having written two novels about musicians in two geographic regions of Canada, I thought it only fitting to write my third book of The Four Seasons series, Autumn, with the setting in Canada's far north. Martha is an Inuit (Eskimo) pianist who is totally self-taught because there are no piano teachers in her community of Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay) on Baffin Island. Her instrument has made a remarkable journey and holds a valuable secret inside. Will Martha live long enough to unravel this mystery? In between writing mystery romance novels, I like to write real-life stories, extra-ordinary stories about truly extra-ordinary people. There seems to be no shortage of stories to write, both non-fiction and fiction.

Click here to visit my website.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

That time of the year

Time for Christmas cards.  Groan.  I used to like doing Christmas cards, scribbling all over the empty part about what I've been doing for the last year.  Well, that slowly slipped away and the notes grew shorter as my deadlines grew closer.  I am now going to do the year's end newsletter bit.  Type it out on the computer and print out enough copies to fill the cards that go out to people I don't see much, if at all.  One big writing down of all that happened during the year with a few sentences of a handwritten message at the bottom. Funny thing is - I write for a living - but have a hard time thinking of what to write in that newsletter.  Maybe it is because I can't make anything up.  You know - no Hannah went to DC for a conference but was kidnapped from her hotel room while playing Luxor and whisked away by a studly immortal who needed her wit and connections to save the world from an evil entity from another dimension who craved the sexual energy of humans, forcing odd couplings everywhere it goes and ...  That would be so much better than 'Hi, I wrote, I drove, I love my grandkids but won't drown you in pics of them, everyone's fine, alive and still kicking(but not as high as before)' and so forth.  Could be fun, though.

So what have I done this year?  I have written 2 books and a novella story.  Each of which has copy-edited pages I need to go through and then page proofs I need to go through.  Then up to half a dozen page proofs of the reissues coming out that year to go through.  Then three conferences, 2 writers groups meetings a month for 8 months and 1 a month for four. And then there's all the other 'stuff' - website, blogs, getting promo items, several booksignings, research, etc., etc.   Then there's the family - the hubby, sons, grandchildren, daughter-in-law, cats.  It make make a page or two.

Maybe it's just that I have been doing it for so many years that it has become a chore instead of fun.  Oh, I love getting cards, no question about that, but sitting down at the table and writing some?  Not so much any more.  Still, I'll do it and, in the end, be glad of it, because in some cases it's the only real contact I have with some people.  So - inbetween cleaning the house and putting up decorations, I will write my cards.

Now - decorating the house for Christmas is a whole other bag of nuts.  I have way, way, too  many Christmas decorations.  Love putting them all up.  Not so much fun putting them all away.  And maybe someone can explain to me why I keep buying things that can be turned on or wound up to play little pieces of Christmas carols, even knowing that my grand-daughter will turn on each and every one when she comes round and I will begin to heartily wish I had never seen a music box, musical snowglobe, or singing reindeer, or santa, or snowman etc.

And then there's shopping.  Am I the only one who begins to think that every time one steps into a store at this time of year a little bit more of the old Christmas spirit is immediately sucked right out of you?  The sameness of the items in each store, the tinny Carols playing, the crabby people, that over-riding sensation of tension emanating from so many of the people seeping into you until your skin itches.  One does wonder why - if they hate to be there so much - they aren't home on the computer doing their shopping there and saving all of the rest of us from their bad mood.   And as a side note - if one more harried shopper nearly sideswipes me because they are so busy looking for a parking place near the mall door they don't see my bright blue car, I will not be answerable for my actions.  Nor for what I do to the next one who nearly runs me over because they aren't paying attention.  I know I'm short but I'm pretty sure I'm visable above most bumpers.  So watch it - you know who you are.

My next big chore is deciding what my new year's resolution will be. Or if I will even have one.  I try to keep my resolutions small and doable so that I don't feel like a complete failure when I don't keep them.  That requires planning and thought.

I do hope everyone is having a good time getting ready for the big day.  I have discovered that - despite how big a hassle it seemed at the time - it was a little bit more fun when the kids were still young and at home.  So all of you who have kids still young and at home - enjoy this time with them.  Trust me - it's gone so quickly and then you wish it was back(and not just because that would make you younger, too)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Holidays Are Acoming!

And to the left you will see why Hannah has a little bit of trouble getting her tree decorated.  She has also put all of her grandfather's ornaments in storage for now and uses only shatterproof ornaments or unbreakable ones.  That's Perkins - one half of the demon duo(Jackson being the other half and yes they were named after the rose sellers but that's another story.).  It was taken the first Christmas(07) but was duplicated last Xmas as well.  I am hoping that she and her brother will eventually reach that mature age that makes a cat not want to clambor up the tree.

As for moi - on Friday I sent in my manuscript for IF HE'S WILD - due out June 2010.  Also a synopsis for the next Highlander book - called HIGHLAND PROTECTOR at the moment - due out 12/2010.  It will be Sir Simon Innes's story and he will have Isabeal Murray Armstrong to deal with.  Fun times are ahead for him.   Now I get to work on the Vamp novella which has to be in by the end of January.  As I work on the Highland tale I have to think of what I want to do next and my editor says another Wherlocke tale would be just fine.  So - we'll see where the mind wanders over the next couple of months.  Right now, just thinking about all that work has me wanting to take a nap.

And - IF HE"S SINFUL - drum roll please - made *23 on the NY Times bestseller list for mass market paperback fiction.  Yes, the happy dance was done all around the house causing great consternation amongst the cats.  I am also doing a bit of promotion.  I was interviewed by Stephanie Giancola for Romantic Novel Examiner http://www.examiner.com/x-2533-Romance-Novel-Examiner   And tomorrow starting at 12 noon central time I will be doing an interview/chat on Bitten by Books.  You can RSVP up until it starts and that will give you 25 additional chances to win one of two prizes.  #1 - a $50 gift certificate to Amazon, #2 - a copy of IF HE'S WICKED plus all that's needed to make yourself a nice cup of tea.  Go to http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=13436  to RSVP.  If you don't want to do that then just go to their site tomorrow sometime.  Not exactly sure just now how long I'm there for but it's at least until midnight.   Have to double-check that.

So gang - hope you are all surviving the big shopping and decorating season of the year.  I'll be back soon but have to go put dinner on now.  Take care, wish me luck in putting up my tree without the Perkin's star at the top. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Have you Danced With Deception lately?

Hi, everyone!

Thank you so much for inviting me to guest blog today, Hannah! My name is Tracy Goodwin and my bestselling debut novel, Dance With Deception, was published by LBF Books in November 2007. It is the first novel in a trilogy set in early Victorian England.

Dance With Deception was the story of my heart years before I ever put my fingers to the keyboard and began writing it. I was inspired by novels by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters and fairy tales like my all time favorite, Beauty and the Beast. Growing up, my mother never allowed me to read romance novels so I immersed myself in the classics. You see, not only do I adore sweeping Historicals, but I love emotional tales filled with forbidden attraction, lost love, and second chances. Epic romances complete with heroes and heroines who make you laugh, cry and wish the story would never end.

What could be more romantic than Mr. Darcy declaring his love for Elizabeth? Or Emma finding love in the familiar face of Mr. Knightley? Or of Jane finally returning home to a blind Mr. Rochester?

Early in my twenties, I read my first romance novel and was immediately hooked. Still, that story I always longed to write was calling to me. Yes, my characters do talk to me – sounds crazy, I know, but it is true. My husband is the one who encouraged me to write my own novel and with that, Dance With Deception was born. While writing it, I thought long and hard about why my favorite stories were so compelling and realized that, for me, it came down to the emotional pull they held within my heart. Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, writing my characters’ angst and exploring their raw emotions comes quite naturally to me and is my favorite part of writing. Thankfully, readers who have written to me regarding Dance With Deception have been touched by the emotional journey that leads Gwen and her dashing Duke of Davenport, Sebastian, to their much deserved happy ending.

The point of my blog today is to encourage all of you to find inspiration wherever you can and to follow your heart. Thanks to my husband’s endless support and encouragement, and inspired by Authors who I greatly admire, I wrote the story of my heart and have subsequently completed my next two. As I write this blog, my husband and I are excitedly awaiting the birth of our first child next month, our miracle son who we’ve long wished and prayed for.

Follow your heart. And may it lead you to inspire others as they have inspired you.

Dance With Deception, a double finalist in the Anne Bonney Reader’s Choice Award, is available at LBF Book and online bookstores such as Amazon, BN, and Chapters-Indigo. It is also available in eBook format at All Romance eBook and Fitionwise.

To learn more about Tracy or to read excerpts from Dance With Deception, visit her website http://www.tracygoodwin.net/. You may also touch base with her at www.facebook.com/tracygoodwin.author, www.myspace.com/tracygoodwin, or at www.twitter.com/tracy_goodwin.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Loving Romantic Suspense

Hi there- I’m JM Griffin, and I’m excited to be Hannah’s guest blogger today. It will be fun to share my love of romance, suspense and humor with you.

For me, there is nothing better than escaping into a world where you become intrigued by characters that can make you feel their joy, sadness, laughter and romance. Where you try to figure out who did the dirty deed. I must say though, I enjoy a healthy dose of humor laced with a good measure of irony mixed into the story, too. Especially since real life is often all too serious.

Romance has to be an integral part of the story, whether it is sweet or of the hot and heavy variety, it simply has to be there. After all, isn’t that what romantic suspense is about? Mysterious happenings fueled by a romantic encounter between the characters, a great story filled with spine tingling events driven by attraction too overpowering to resist. The sort of attraction that makes you hold your breath and squirm in your seat.

Curling up on the sofa sipping a glass of wine, munching Hershey kisses and covered with my comfy blanket, a good book is the best way I know of to remove oneself from the strife of everyday life. Sink down and enjoy the story, wile away the time in a brief encounter with strong characters and a rich suspense ridden story.

Find out more about JM griffin and her humorous romantic suspense novels at www.JMGriffin.net

Thanks Hannah & Happy Reading Everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why I Love Romance novels

My name is Maureen Fisher, and I am thrilled to be a guest on Hannah’s blog. I’m here today to celebrate romance fiction.

Here’s the thing. I love romance. I love the loyalty. I love the treachery. I love the courage. I love the frailty. I love the hope. I love the despair. I love the honesty. I love the deception. I love the tears. I love the laughter. Call it total escapism. In a world of growing uncertainty, constantly bombarded with news about disasters, tragedies, wars, murders, deaths, and corruption, I crave an antidote. A world of wonder, a world of falling in love, of unlimited possibilities, of overcoming impossible odds, and of living happily ever after is more to my liking. What better way to escape than to curl up in front of a fire with a cup of tea, a chocolate brownie, and a good romance novel?

Romance novels are addictive. Here’s the thing. I’m a psychologist wannabe, a voyeur of the human psyche, an emotional junkie. I suck up internal conflicts like a Hoover sucks up dust -- emotions, feelings, and emotional baggage that characters drag around, providing their motives and affecting their actions. A good romance novel is a psychological jigsaw puzzle that feeds my craving for an emotional fix.

And if anyone asks me whether I think men should read romance fiction, my answer is an unqualified YES. How can any man in his right mind resist learning about feminine secrets--what we love, what we hate, what turns us on, what turns us off, in short, what makes us tick? Romance fiction provides unlimited opportunities for men to plumb the depths (so to speak) of the mysterious world of Venus. Who knows? In the process, they might even reach new insight on Martians.

I leave you with a visual. Picture a man sprawled in a chair at the airport, waiting for his flight, briefcase and laptop propped at his feet--a manly man, a man who is truly comfortable in his own skin, a man who has tossed aside his business report documenting recent financial trends and who is dabbing his eyes, happily engrossed in the latest Nora Roberts bestseller.

After all, only real men dare to read romance fiction.

Find out more about Maureen Fisher and her paranormal romantic suspense, The Jaguar Legacy, at www.BooksByMaureen.com.

Thanks again, Hannah, and happy romance reading everyone.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas Memories

Oh, my! I get to be a guest on Hannah’s blog. Thank you so much for having me over. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Anne Hope, and I’m here to talk about that famous holiday looming just up ahead. No, I don’t mean Thanksgiving. I’m talking about Christmas.

I must admit, I have a great fondness for Christmas. Not the over-congested stores, the desperate shoppers, the mad rush to find that perfect, last-minute gift. Not the snow-dusted trees, though they can be a lovely sight. Not even the numerous family get-togethers that are usually customary around this time of year. What I love is what this holiday represents—love, togetherness, hope.

When I was a kid, Christmas was a magical time. The air itself seemed to tinkle with possibilities. Everything was fresh and new and sprinkled with a mystical energy that made my skin hum. But as I grew, I lost touch with that. Christmas became another chore, another holiday I needed to survive. Like that old miser Scrooge, spouting the famous words, bah, humbug, I forgot what this holiday was meant to inspire.

Then, a few years ago—just a day after Christmas—my son was born, and I remembered. Hope and love flooded my veins. The world suddenly sizzled with promise. Since then, I have seen Christmas through my children’s eyes. I feel their anticipation, experience their happiness as the holiday draws near, feed off their energy. Christmas songs lift my spirits and give flight to my imagination.

It seems only fitting that my debut novel, Where Dreams Are Made, should be set at Christmastime. My hero, Daniel, is a scarred, reclusive toymaker, living a lonely existence on a quiet island. He, too, has forgotten what it feels like to have hope and experience joy. It takes the heroine, Jenny, to open his eyes to the possibilities. Jenny’s childlike innocence sparks something deep inside him, teaches him that each and every one of us can infuse our lives with a small dose of magic, should we choose.

So, in the coming weeks, as the stores begin to bustle and the tinsel begins to fly, please try to remember what this holiday meant to you as a child. Remember the excitement, the thrill and the enchantment. And if you happen to be in the mood for an emotional, romantic read, curl up in front of the fireplace with a copy of Where Dreams Are Made. I deeply hope Jenny and Daniel’s story warms your heart the way it did mine.

Where Dreams Are Made is available at Samhain Publishing and at all major bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and Chapters. For more information, please visit me at www.annehope.com.

Thanks again, Hannah, and Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I had to ask for a week's extension  on my deadline.  Took my cat Spooky to the vet because she was going bald on her back end - very attractive.  Fleas.  The vet was combing through her fur and it looked like the poor thing had some nasty skin condition.  We didn't actually find a flea but she found what she called flea poop.  Who knew there was such a thing as flea poop?  So she got a few shots added to the usual round of rabies, etc. shots and a smear of flea preventer on her neck.  As did the other two I had managed to corral.  Asked the hubby if he had noticed any fleas as they always seem to go for his ankles and he said no but I am now on a spray, powder, wash, vacuum binge to make sure.  The heat is on now and that could make them nice and comfy so kill them now, I say.  The vet did say that it has been a bad year for fleas.  Obviously bad enough that flea collars just didn't get the job done.

So Hartley and Alethea are only going to get sporadic attention for a few days.  As I work to kill the fleas my overactive imagination now envisions massing for an attack beneath the sofa cushions I am thinking about what to do with Sir Simon Innes for the next Murray novel.  Have to get the synopsis and first chapter done for that by the end of the month.    Sir Simon needs someone special and that someone is who I am concentrating on.  Someone who has the wit and strength to deal with a man who spends a lot of time figuring out crimes.  And just what crime will she be in the middle of so that the two of them meet?  There's a puzzle that needs to be carefully solved.  After all - being a Murray lady - she will have hordes of brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. who could help her so she has to have a very good reason to be depending upon Simon.
Coming up with good reasons for someone to be in trouble and not asking help from their family is a not easy.  It's going to take a lot of thought.  Guess the hubby will have to put up with me being glassy-eyed and distracted for a while.

And after that is cleared off my desk I will settle down to write the next vampire tale for another anthology coming in Fall 2010.  But can't let that enter my head too much or I'll be having Simon and his lady fighting the creatures of the night and that won't do.   Now, of course, that idea had stuck itself in my head and my mind is trying to run away with it so I think I will go and strip all the beds and wash everything.  Nothing like housework to dull the brain.

IF HE'S SINFUL will be for sale November 24th according to Amazon.  I will post a teaser here soon.  Off to fight the demon flea now.  Ta

Monday, November 2, 2009


Yes, the great evil deadline is looming over my head.    If you don't see a posting here for a while it's because I am glued to my computer trying to finish typing in my manuscript and editing it.  I am to have it ready by Nov. 15th.  My own plan as I don't want to be dealing with a deadline over the holidays.  There is another MacNachton tale I have to have in right after the holidays but it is a short story so won't be quite so needy.

My biggest problem is that I can't seem to break the need to write everything out by hand.  I am not the best typist, either, so that 95 - 100K manuscript takes some time to type in.  I have tried to write on the computer but it doesn't work well.  For one thing I can't type as fast as I think and when the words are there in my head I need to get them down on paper ASAP before they leak out of my brain and vanish.  I also can't seem to connect well with my characters and story when I do the work on the computer and a writer needs to always be in touch with her characters.  When pressed I can write out by hand the first half of the chapter and then finish it on the computer.  By the time I've got that half typed in I've caught the flow, so to speak, and can continue.

So, I am now typing in everything I have handwritten with the occasional break from the computer to scribble down some more.  The story is almost done because Hartley and Alethea finally straightened themselves out and are panting after each other as they should but the typing of it in looms before me like some huge mountain I need to climb.  The hubby has already been warned that I will be glued to the computer until the fifteenth.  Might take a brief break to bake him a cake for his birthday on the fourteenth and had better expect that work will be disturbed by the family trotting up to congratulate him on aging.  Also have my publicist/friend coming down on Thursday, dinner out on Friday, and an all-day conference on Saturday so these next few days will be a little hectic.  If nothing else, I have to pause here and there to do a little housekeeping.  My main plan is to have a lot to type in so that I can do that when she is busy doing something else, like checking her e-mails.

The other thing that is currently looming over me is - the ending.  Sigh.  I hate endings.  It'd be so nice if one could get away with just writing - and they lived happily ever after.  The end.  But, no, nothing's ever that easy.  I always sweat over the ending.  Oh, I know how it ends, just not exactly how to write it out so it's completely satisfying and doesn't just wind down.  That requires a lot of thought, sometimes rewrites, and always a little editing.  Those last few sentences can be like a slow bleeding.

So - back to typing and writing and sweating out the ending.  Before I was published and faced with deadlines, it wasn't such a problem.  One worked when one could and played around with the story as one wished to.  Then, when it was done, it got sent out and the wait began.  Come to think of it, deadlines are better than sitting around wondering if some unknown person at an editor's desk will like or reject what you sent.  So I will stop whining and get back to work.  I'm sure I'll pop up here from time to time in the next 2 weeks as I'm not always ready to write before noon.  Not a morning person.  Sometime inbetween letting the cats out, cleaning the litter boxes, feeding the birds, checking my e-mail, and all those other time consuming chores I will probably stop in to babble from time to time.  Wish me luck.  November 15th isn't all that far away.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Time - guest blogger author Susan Hanniford Crowley

Hi! I'm Susan Hanniford Crowley, a new paranormal romance author.   Thank you, Hannah, for having me over.  Halloween is my favorite holiday.  It's filled with mystery and fun.   The scraping of dead leaves blowing across the black asphalt of the street.  The shadows of skeletons hang from the trees under the full moon.   Werewolves howl.   Bat wings flutter.  Ah, the brisk night air just filled with adventure and creatures of the night.

My family has traditionally celebrated with the usual construction of a cemetery in the front yard(doesn't everyone?), ghosts hanging from the trees, handing out treats to whoever ventures to our door and the reading of a paranormal tale.  I especially love telling the story of " The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving with ghoulish effects.   "The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe is another favorite.   In the first we are scared of a ghost, while in the second, it's the character's own imaginings that terrorize him and us.  Ah, Edgar.  Baltimore recently celebrated the 200th Anniversary of his birth.

This year I'll be reading my first published paranormal romance tale WHEN LOVE SURVIVES, the story of two supernaturals who meet and fall in love on September 11th as they become rescue workers at the World Trade Center disaster.   Regina O'Malley, a college student who's discovered she's magic, will walk into Death to save others.  Gregor Vasiliev is a financial advisor and shapeshifter on a donut run from his office.  He finally sees the love of his life.  Then disaster strikes the World Trade Center.  Will he lose her forever?

It's available from All Romance Ebooks.  http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-whenlovesurvives-362921-143.html  and published by Tease Publishing LLC.  Listed as SciFi/Fantasy, it's a story that means a lot to me personally and I've dedicated it to those who rescue.

By reading stories and books and in celebrating Halloween, we forget our daily worries and terrors and play with our fear.  It's a healthy exercise.  So when the night grows dark and the cold winds blow and our imaginations dredge up our childhood fears of a bogeyman, we drink our hot cider, watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", and dress up like pirates, witches, and anything we fantasize about or fear.   This year I'm dressing up like a paranormal romance author.  They look like everyone else.  (evil wink)

Thank you, Hannah.  I loved dropping by. - Susan Hanniford Crowley

National Cat Day

Didn't even know there was one.  Cats are either loved or loathed.  I know very few people who are inbetween on  that.  I love them but I had a friend once who was sitting on her lawn with her son, the cat sitting on the edge of the lawn and some guy purposely swerved as he drove by to hit the cat.  There are shelters who won't let you adopt a black or white cat at this time of the year because of the horrible things some people will do to them.  I am allergic to dogs and a little afraid of big dogs but I don't hate them and would never willingly hurt one.  There are also a lot of people who feel a cat should live outside and the huge numbers that just get tossed aside is appalling.  A cat has been domesticated for thousands of years - they are no longer a wild animal.  They are also prey for a wide range of animals.  Coyotes see them as snack food.

Now you can't always domesticate a feral cat as - big surprise - they no longer trust humans and have regressed to a more primal state, but there is no need for people to keep making more feral cats.  Get your cat fixed.  And don't just discard any pet - cat or dog.  There are shelters.  True, too many still use euthenasia on unadoptable animals but that is changing.  And, considering the hard, short life any discarded pet has to live, euthenasia might just be a mercy in the end.

There's my rant for the day.  I have hugged all five of my cats and hope that will ease their annoyance when they are toted off to the vet in a week or so.  Bad owner that I am, I am a little behind on their shots.  So I must brace myself for trying to grab them and get them in the carriers to go to the vet.  It usually takes a couple of trips as once you get one in a carrier the rest scatter and one thing a cat can do very well is hide.  Two of the five in carriers is a good day, three is a miracle.  Then I have to wait a few days to lull the others into complacency before I make a go at them.  Fun times ahead.

So - be kind to a cat today and maybe make a small donation to a shelter.  If you are in a position to do so - adopt a stray.

Tomorrow we will have a guest blogger.  Author Susan Hanniford Crowley will talk on her new book and vampires.(oops - must have had vampires on the brain)   Halloween traditions.   Perfect for the Halloween season. Hope you will tune in and leave a comment for her.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This and that

A title that pretty much covers everything I write here.  Got sidetracked by the need to go to a conference and all the prep work for it.  Got back late yesterday and am trying to recharge today.  NJ always has a good conference and I meet a lot of old friends there.  I was sorry to see that attendance was down a bit but the economy sucks, so it wasn't a big surprise.   It's such a good conference that I'm sure it'll bounce back when the economy does(fingers crossed that the economy does bounce back)

Wrote an article for the RIRW newsletter about Black Moments - that place in the story where the main character - or characters - think all is lost and they won't see that Happily Ever After.  In romance it's that moment when the hero or heroine or both think they have failed in love or will never be able to be with the one they love.  As I confessed in the article - for the first few books I got published I was never really sure where that was in my story.  Then again, at the start I was more or less flying solo.  Then I discovered RWA and the local chapters.  And that is when I suffered a bout of extreme lack of confidence.  Had to slap some sense into myself by reminding that quivering inner coward that I must be doing something right or I wouldn't have gotten published to begin with.

It was then that I decided I couldn't take everything I heard at the workshops as the perfect way to do things - no matter how big a star was giving me that advice.  I tried everything, didn't just shrug it off, because it might have worked for me.  Some did.  Some didn't.  I finally had to accept the fact that I am not a particularly organized person.  Plot charts, character charts, plot points, marking and pre-planning all conflict ups-and-downs, etc.  work marvelously for many people.  Not for me. 

For me thinking about it works.  It's in my head.  Characters form and change and stabilize in my mind.  I then ask - okay , what would put these two people together and what could work to try and keep them apart - what is the thing they must overcome.   I scribble down notes on scraps of paper and stack them on my desk until I feel ready to get going on the story.  Sometimes I just abruptly start writing a first chapter, sometimes more, and that solidifies everything.  Because sometimes the opening scene is so clear in my mind it seems a waste of time to wait until everything else falls into place and once I get that part of the story so clear in my mind down on paper, the rest starts to come together.   Or not.  I do have a lot of false starts tucked away that may see the light of day somewhen.

And, yes, I do have to do a synopsis for each story.  I find them a painful exercise.  One thing I do, aside from all this thinking and mental character development, is collect up a bunch of possible plot points.  Then I scribble out a very thin list of things - conflict(inner or outer and I tend to prefer the outer conflict such as a psychopath after the heroine), places they will go or stay at, her inner insecurities, and such.  And, let's face it, what woman would not feel insecure or worry that she hasn't got what is needed to win the heart of the type of heroes we put in romances.  It usually gives me enough to come up with a reasonable synopsis, albeit one with very little middle to it because I don't really know what's going to happen there.  I could put something in but the chances of it changing as I go along are great. So, as all who know me have heard, the middle is usually little more than They fled across France  or They hunted down the killer.  That's what is going to happen but the details of it just aren't there yet and won't be until my characters get me to that part of the story.

So, right now, as I wrap up the tale of Hartley and Alethea(who are doing things that aren't in my synopsis thus behaving just as I knew they would - leading me along for the ride)  there is a part of my brain already playing around with an idea for the next book.  Simon Innes from HIGHLAND SINNER is skipping around in my head and he wants a Murray lass.  Which one?  Don't know yet.  Why would she meet up with Simon?  Who knows, but since he is so good at solving crimes, I have to suspect she will be smack in the middle of one.  I still have about a month to figure that out so I will let him continue to root around in my head until he finds what he thinks he wants.   He's a cutie, so I don't mind.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Happened To Autumn?

I wouldn't live anywhere else but sometimes New England weather is enough to drive a person nuts.  It should be in the high 50sF or low 60s right now.  But , no, it's in the 40s and we've already had a few touches of frost plus snow in many areas.  Not much and mostly quickly gone, but still - it's only mid-way through October.  The wind has been strong for the past couple of days and so that 40ish feels freezingish(and I know that's not a real word but I'm sticking by it)

All the old wives' tales (and why aren't there any old husband's tales?)  are drawn out to warn of a hard cold winter ahead.  The favorite is the high number of acorns.  And there is a very high number.  You risk getting pelted with the things every time you step outside if there's an oak tree around.  They are promising slightly warmer weather, more normal, starting Tuesday but we'll see.   This is New England after all and our weather is never predictable.

So, having had to spend too much time changing all the curtains in the house(silently cursing the hubby's love of windows - I have 8 in my office not counting the door) from lace to winter heavy ones, I have done little writing.  I have done a lot of 'thinking' so here's hoping the writing will go smoothly once I can sit down and get back to it.  Unfortunately, that might not be for a while as I now have to get ready to go to NJ, hitting the road on Thursday.

And, that brings me to the crux of my whining.  Life interferes.  Simple things like needing to change the curtains or bring in the frost tender plants.  I should be writing; I want to be writing.  But there're cats to let in and out, litter boxes to change, laundry to do, floors to sweep, a car to be inspected(almsot forgot that - better make note) etc.  I wonder sometimes if I am the only writer who finds her days of writing whitttled down by the necessary minutiae of life.

I'm not talking time with the family, either.  That I will take whenever I can.  I am even trying to figure out a way to keep going to the NJ Conference since they switched the time from Columbus Day weekend to the weekend after - right at the time of my grandson's birthday.  Right now he is really too young to care much whether I am there amongst the crowd of children that come to his party or not.  But I care.  I will call him while in NJ but it's not the same.  I am certain that - if the NJ Conference falls at the same time next year - I will figure out some way to do both.   Whoever I go with may well find themselves dragged out of bed and into the car at 5am Sunday morning so that I can get home in time to go to the birthday party - even if there's a chance I will fall asleep there right in the middle of the chaos that is a child's party.  Either that or my room-mate will be kidnapped en route and have to enter that chaos with me.

So - for now - Hartley and Alethea are stuck in a corner.  The same corner so maybe they will be doing something interesting by the time I get back to them.   Lots of things one can do while stuck in a corner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Short vacation

Sorry 'bout that.  Got distracted.  Didn't realize how many days had slipped by since I last pontificated.

Let's discuss workshops.  I have one to do in a few weeks.  I have been fine-tuning my little speech, adding a book or two to my recommended books list.  Noticed that a lot of them are from Oxford University Press, too.  Very odd.  Am now trying to come up with a handout that summarizes what I said in a clear and clever way.  And good luck with that.

After I get over my first panic attack about standing up in front of people who are expecting me to say something intelligent and helpful(poor little dreamers that they are)  I actually don't mind doing a workshop.  I especially like to answer questions as I think I am much better at that than at the pontificating part.   Those having a brief nap at the back of the room might not agree but I don't wake them up to ask them.  However, I do know that I relax when I am wrapped up in question time.  I have to wonder if there are other writers who prefer that, too.  Probably.  So be kind - at the next workshop you go to, ask questions. 

My point here, which I will eventually get to, is that I find it difficult to say what exactly I do to pull my story together or to make it something people will spend money on.  I don't have any set scheduale or plan when I write nor can I name even half of the grammar rules I blindly follow.  How does one explain something one just does?  Writing isn't like riding a bike where you can tell people exact movements to make.  If I had a special trick I would share it, but I don't think I do.  I will not tell you just how long it took me to figure out if I actually had a true Black Moment in my story but several books had already been and gone on the stands.

For instance - I have been asked how I come up with my characters.  I have no idea most of the time.  They are there in my head, nudging at me to give them a story.   Slowly, the little voice whispering in my mind takes shape as a character.  I might scribble out a few notes to fine tune that character - likes, dislikes, etc. - but he or she is already in my head.  Sometimes one is better formed than another so I matchmake for that hero or that heroine, trying to come up with a perfect mate.   I am, I believe, a writer driven by the characters more than the plot, conflict,or anything else.  If I hit a glitch - I look to the characters as I am sure there must be something I haven't done to fully flesh them out, that I have left something missing in them.  Most of the time that is exactly what is wrong.

I do do a workshop on characters.  If one ever listens closely to it, you'll hear mostly what not to do.  I know what I don't like and what I don't want my characters to do but I am not 100% sure how to tell any writer how to develop a character.  Telling someone to 'think' about it, as I do, just doesn't cut it for everyone and so it shouldn't.  Everyone has their comfort zone, and my somewhat confused stumbling to a story finale would drive them nuts.  They would never be able to get a story done.  Much easier to tell what I think a good character should and should not have even if I don't use all those things myself.  Certainly not in every character I write about. I even made up a character chart, composed of all the things I thought were good to know about your character, things that would help flesh him or her out and make writing the tale easier.  Since it is comprised of all I like I sometimes even look at it if I hit a glitch in my story.  Don't really fill it out, just look it over to see if there's something there I didn't yet know about my heroine and hero and that's why they are sitting around, twiddling their thumbs and not doing what I want them to.  That usually works but, again, some people would be made nervous by such a lack of organization and actual hands-on planning.

So, right now I am trying to organize what I need for a workshop on Words - The Magic Of Words - to be precise.  I know with every fiber of my being that the words one uses are important, can make or break the mood, the suspense, the romance.  Yet - how do you make it clear to people when it is just something you
know?   I must be making myself pretty clear, however, for the members of the RI writer's group I belong to seemed to understand me.  Wish I did.

And therein lies the crux of my insecurity.   I am more than willing to talk about what I do and share anything I have learned, answer questions and pontificate.  I just worry sometimes that I might not make clear things that I don't have the best explanations for, things I just know  and do.   Or that I sound as confused about the whole creative process as I sometimes feel.    Here's hoping I don't.   So, stay tuned - soon I might talk about how I don't plot, either.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why am I attempting to do this in the morning?

Hi, Stuck the picture there because I thought the place needed more color.  I have decided that the 'little ' things that need doing have gotten out of control.  I spend hours doing 'little' things when I could - and should - be writing.  Sometimes it's avoidance, but at the moment it's starting to be an aggravation.

Now, it's true that not all of this is little stuff.  I need to get all my things ready and printed out for a talk I am giving in NJ at the end of the month.  I know that, if I sit down to begin seriously writing, I will suddenly realize it is almost time to drive to NJ and I haven't gotten anything ready.  Procrastination is my middle name.  So - do it now.  Then there's cleaning out my website mailbox because it got so horribly spammed and we have set up a new mailbox with better Spam control.  Takes a long time to forward about 200 or so e-mails(which is all the reasonable mail that was in amongst the thousands of Spam)  Also takes a long time to get things together for a new website but I am pleased with it.  And there's more stuff like that and we all know that getting anything done on the computer doesn't really go as fast as it should.

So - Monday is the kick off day for serious writing.  I have been playing around from time to time putting in more sexual tension but I need to crack down or Thanksgiving dinner could end up being pizza.  Frozen.  Throw it in the oven, dears, and let me know when it's ready kind of thing.  Also want to be able to go really crazy with the Christmas decorations - and hoping the Demon Duo(my two youngest cats) are no longer inclined to run up and down the tree.  I am a Christmas decoration junkie.  Got a collection of angels, of Santas, and of Nutcrackers.  Also have three trees because I have so many decorations.  Takes time to put all that stuff out and I intend to have it this year.  Hartley and Alethea better shape up.

Probably should have reread my other blogs so I would know I'm not repeating myself - but Hartley and Alethea are the hero and heroine in my current work-in-progress.  She is fine, having all her visions and doing her best to be sure the man she came to London to save stays alive and getting all hot and bothered and dewy-eyed whenever he's around.  It's Hartley that's really being a pain.  I think Monday will be spent trying to wrestle him into shape.  Popping in and out of the story while busy doing other things hasn't worked.  I'm a strong believer in characters making the story - and being most of the problem if there's a glitch.  So Hartley better gear himself up for a slap-down as it's coming to him on Monday.  I think the problem is that he is being too much the gentleman so it's time to introduce him to his baser instincts. 

Now, back to being the doorman for the cats.  Ta

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lagged a bit

First, I have discovered that Face Book is addictive.  It's the nosiness in me.  I feel compelled to check to see what everyone is doing.  By the time I get done with it, my regular e-mail. my website e-mail, my loops, and My Space the morning has slipped away from me.  Have to fix that as I have a deadline looming.

As for work on the book - IF HE'S WILD - that's churning along.  Have about 7 chapters written.  That's when I discovered I had become so involved in the psychic angles - Alethea, the heroine has visions, even has them when she touches things, and is staying with a cousin who sees ghosts and impending death - I had rather lagged on the sexual tension between her and the hero - Hartley.  Bad me.  So I must type in what I have written with the thought of sexual tension to the forefront of my pitiful brain and attempt to edit some more in.  I did some editing on the paper but it might need more.

And - yes - I write all my stories out on paper first.  I can't connect on the computer.  It's an editing machine to me, a necessity as my editor requires typed copy and a disc.  Also my handwriting is rather small and I have been told that it is a little hard to read.  I find that writing it all out by hand keeps me more involved with my characters.  In my opinion, the characters are the story and anything that keeps me in touch with them is good.   Besides, it's hard to doodle on a computer.  It's my rough draft, let's say.   I just wish I was a faster typist.   Have to leave a lot of time to type it in and edit.  Oh, and reread it a lot as I am prone to using the wrong words, reversing phrases, and letters.  When I went to school it was called being a little backwards.   Never, when riding in the car with me, suddenly tell me to go right.  I will go left.  Had the R and L written on the insides of my shoes for an embarrassingly long time.  TMI?

Had the hubby home for three days.  That meant little writing work got done.  He can retire soon and I am going to have to whip him into shape.  No walking through the office to get to the deck, no asking me where the hammer is, no coming in just to chat, no meandering through just to stare out a window at another part of the yard, no interruptions at all.  I will probably have to learn to shut the door to the office although that will annoy the cats.  Who - by the way - have been trained not to get up on the desk or on the keyboard so why can't I get the hubby to grasp - no interruptions?  He's an aero-engineer so he has to have a bigger brain than a cat.   I have the dreaded feeling that I will have to get a set scheduale and the mere thought of that gives me a headache.

Anyhoo - hope to have a guest blogger soon - one on the pschic gifts of my heroine in IF HE'S SINFUL(Dec. 2009).  She sees ghosts.  This woman is a ghostbuster.  Yes, I know there's a much more acceptable word for it but I like that one.  Every time I say it I can see that stupid movie - and the giant Stay- Puff marshmallow man walking up the streets of NYC.  Ha.  Well, back to Hartley and Alethea and making them get hot.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Am I going to have to think of a clever title every time?

That's surely going to make my brain hurt.  So - I have added pix.  Well - cover pix - but, hey.  Beginner here.   Went to the dentist yesterday for the great torture called the six-month cleaning.  Thought I'd escaped any further work and wouldn't have to go back until another six months had past.  Was home barely an hour when they called to crush all hope.  Worse - stuck me with an afternoon appointment so I can think about it all day.
Getting some good reviews for IF HE'S WICKED which delights me on several levels.  As a writer - I naturally like to hear good things about my work.  But - am also glad because it may well mean that I can do more stories on the Wherlockes and the Vaughns.  Hoping IF HE'S SINFUL will do as well.
My next big step for this blog is to add a list of links.  Good luck to me.  Had to do the covers twice because I hadn't realized they wouldn't line up right unless I planned it so.  Typical. 
Went to Gloucester(MA) the other day with the hubby.  I love that place.  It's so beautifully rocky.  Same reason I love parts of Rye Beach, NH and the Maine coast.  Adds a nice roughness to the whole ocean vista.  All very nice places to visit.  Especially if you like seafood.
Also hoping to get the website fine-tuned.  It's looking good now but a few tweaks are needed.  Then I shall endeavor to say something of great wisdom and interest here.  (Hah!)  Figure I will write out a few so that I'm not just winging it as I am now.  That leads to babbling about things like the dentist.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I've got a plan

I am going to attempt to blog every other day, maybe have some friends put in a word if I am feeling too brain-fried.  Right now have spent way too  much time getting my new website up.  We(me and my webmistress) were up until 2:30am Saturday night trying to fine tune and then launch.  Then had to called the server because there was a blank screen and you had to click files to get the pix.  Now it's slightly off-center.  It's still very readable but we will get that fixed.  She says all the interent problems are because Mercury has gone retrograde big time.  I wonder if I'm a jinx when it comes to computers.
I've decided to give myself until October first to get all this kind of stuff sorted out.  Notice I don't say learned or conquered.  Never wish for the impossible.  Then I will crack down on finishing IF HE'S WILD the third in my late-Georgian series with the psychic family.  I am writing - can't not write really - but the typing in and editing will all start then.  I fear I can't shake the habit of writing all my stuff out by hand.  Of course that means I do have a back up copy when I crash my computer or hit the wrong button and everything magically disappears.  Another skill I have developed.  Then I start on yet another novella tale of the MacNachtons, my vampire clan.  My cunning plan is to get IFW done so I can have time to enjoy the holidays and then get the vampire tale done leaving enough time to do the next book - another Murray tale.  We'll see how well that works.

But - on to my plan for this site.  I am studying others and there will undoubtedly be odd mistakes - I never make a simple one when it comes to computers - but I hope to have more than me occasionally babbling.  Have roped my psychic/shaman friend into doing a few blogs on psychic talents such as the Wherlockes and Vaughns have in my late-Georgian series.  Also hope to get a few of my writer friends to blog, perhaps when they have a new book coming out.  So be patient, I will get this sorted out.  Either that or I will whine to my son for help - at least for putting up more than my little smiley face.  This claw and crystal ball is one he did for me to use on my promotional items.  (It's copyrighted to moi)  It was the only pic I could find fast.  Off to study this business more closely and then go battle the weeds.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Have no clue what I'm doing

If you happen to hit this before I have figured things out - be patient. I'll get it sorted eventually. I'm just blabbing now so that I can see what it looks like with the background I chose.