Archives for the month of: March, 2014

Caution: This blog post contains Adult Themes.

Not only am I a late-blooming writer, I was late-blooming in the relationship department as well. I won’t bore you with the details, because I think I already shared some of them. However, the good news is I met, fell in love with, and married the man of my dreams.

And now that I am writing again, writing romance novels with some sexy bits, my husband helps me with research. He doesn’t even mind.

Sometimes when we kiss, I take mental notes: taste, textures, scent, sounds, eyes closed or open. Anything different this time? I knew I would love Mike the first time we kissed. He has asked me to tell him what exactly about his kiss made such an impression on me. I don’t do justice to the experience. He tasted and smelled fresh, clean, warm. He focused on me, whatever I felt seemed important to him. And he was really happy to see me.

We’re both very affectionate, holding hands, kissing while in line somewhere, touching each other every time we walk past each other at home. There’s not a lot of sexual tension any more, so I wouldn’t write a couple like us unless I planned to tear them apart.

I do my research between the sheets. A few things happened at about the same time to help with this. I lost a substantial mount of weight, and we women carry most of our estrogen in our fat. Along with that I began to walk and to be more active, and to write Romances with Sex Scenes.

I can be talked into sex just about any time, and anywhere private. Mike says I lied to him about being an extrovert, but that may have been back when I would have said anything because I had fallen in love. And we have been very happily engaging in sex since the second day we lived together. We were much too tired the first day. Over the years, our sexual urges and stamina have kept pace with each other.

Understand that Mike is currently one of those millions of Americans who have been ignored by employers after being laid off 4 years ago. We struggle to make ends meet, but more than that he struggles with depression and the resulting lethargy. But he is walking with me and losing weight as well. But I just have more energy than he does.

Not only am I writing some pretty hot and spicy scenes myself, I am reading the same from my friends and group on Scribophile. Good gracious! There are some talented folks out there, and they are getting published through many channels. In addition, my Romance Writers of America friends are advertising and blogging about the hot reads and chapters. There are classes to take on all these subjects. Wow. “Honey, I need to research something I read today. You busy?”

As if the words written aren’t stimulating enough, all the romances have sexy people on the covers. Since I think I may be self publishing at some point, I looked at a of couple sites for possible usable photos. Oh, my! or “Really, I can’t get any more writing done until I work this out.”

I don’t know why more men don’t encourage the women in their lives to write romances. Or to write them themselves and ask for help. Of course, it’s awesome that the market for non-traditional romances is opening wide. Damon Suede is president of Rainbow Romance Writers, a virtual gathering for LGBT Romance writers much like RWA. RWA does welcome and support LGBT writers, but one will often seek comfort from a gathering of like minds and bodies. And like the annual RWA Conventions, there’s Gay Rom Lit Retreat (GRL) in Illinois.

Sadly, while Mike is game for many things, and he is definitely straight but not narrow, he’s not exactly keen about researching gay romances for me. He would be happy to help me with lesbian romance, so I’ll keep that in mind. And luckily, this is why I am a writer, because I have an (over)active imagination. I can imagine having sex in zero-Gravity, I can imagine a Roman orgy if need be, and I can snuggle up with my research assistant and imagine the happily ever after all my characters deserve.

See you Wednesday with more observations.

When I blogged about memory on Sunday, I got the idea for that from the book, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Well, when I Googled that on Good Reads, the site suggested a few other books in a similar vein I might like. And a few that almost seem impertinent.

I did read Sanditon when it was first completed and published. I enjoyed it, and could not tell where Miss Austen’s actual writing stopped and the completing author’s started. And I have toyed with a few ideas for novels based on the untold stories in her novels. Like Elizabeth Bennet’s sister Mary, whatever became of the poor dear after her parents were gone?

And oh, what if Colonel Brandon passed on and Willoughby were a free man at the same time? Rats, someone has already written that one! Willoughby Returns. Well, close enough, as Jane Odiwe doesn’t kill off Brandon.

We Jane addicts do so love Elizabeth Bennet, and with the idea of seeing some of her life as Mrs. Darcy, here’s a good idea! The Darcy Cousins.

Similarly, what could life be like for Georgianna Darcy with her brother married? As Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister she should be able to have whatever she wants! Or should she?

And yes, my dear Mary Bennett has her own story already committed to paper, in A Match for Mary Bennet which I have to put on my must read list.

How romantic it is to think of a brilliant author like Miss Austen, and the men who must have loved her. The Man who Loved Jane Austen takes a charming look at that idea, and is another one on my list.

Do you ever wish Jane could have written a lusty, funny book with Lizzie and Darcy? The thought hadn’t occurred to me, but it did to the author of The Trials of Honorable F. Darcy.

Well, the vein of ideas has been mined extensively, and why not? I could do with a new Austen book of any sort every now and then. Why does the discovery of all these send ups and take offs not discourage my own inspiration in that area, but only make more ideas grow?

Have a good week, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

This week, my commute-busting audio book is “Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict” by Laurie Viera Rigler. I found the story fun, interesting, engaging, all the good buzz words. I even enjoyed the obligatory meeting with Miss Austen that all this sort of novel must have.

One more of the fun parts of this hugely fun book is the protagonist having memories from her own life, and obtaining memories from the woman in whose body she finds herself. Confusing, alarming, often sad, this is a situation with which I can totally identify.

I am of a certain age, that age when memory starts to fade. And I had an unusually good memory for most of my life. Making the times when it fails me so much more annoying, if not devastating.

In the years past, I loved video games. I’ve played Quake, Halo, Half Life, Blade Runner, Castle Wolfenstein, DOOM, Call of Duty, Civilization, and more whose names I can’t remember. How I know I can’t remember is that I have a very clear mind picture of something that happened in the game, or of a scene from the game.

Imagine walking through a building for the first time, and getting a flash of memory telling you that if you take this elevator up, the Flood will find you and consume you. Only as you check for weapons and ammo do you remember that you’re on the wrong planet for that memory.

Enter television, movies, books– yes, I even get flashes of how I pictured the settings and the action in all the books I read and have read. Amazing that I have any storage space left in my gray matter.

Songs – How could I forget? My mother joined the church choir when I was about 2 years old. I got to accompany her to practice every week and was at least in the church on Sundays. The choir also served my mother as her social group, so we had parties where people actually gathered around a piano and sang. Music is one of those things I get, with little formal training. Move over, phone numbers, I just learned a new song.

I don’t know how long ago I memorized my social security number, and I can tell you my address and phone number from when I was in the second grade. Been married 16.5 years, still have to ask my husband for his social whenever I need it. Now and then I get our address wrong. Well, we’ve only lived here 12 years, so give it some time.

I squeaked out of high school with a D in basic math, much to the disappointment of my teacher who so looked forward to flunking me. I have gotten enough joy out of telling that story that forgiving her is easy. Back to numbers, they are a week area in my brain, possibly because of the evil teacher, and possibly because I just couldn’t memorize multiplication tables. Today, give me a calculator and I’m good to go.

As I said, I’ve been married for nearly 17 years, and lived with my husband a total of 19 years now. I cannot remember which events of the past were shared with him, which events were shared with a series of roommates, and which events I just went to alone. I’m not talking about the days when we first met, because that sequence of events is indelible. But conventions I attended, movies I saw, book signings I got to. The lines blur so much, and maybe because I don’t want to remember when we weren’t together.
Some times a good way to move a story along is to have the main characters lose an important memory, temporarily. If you read the book “Up in the Air” (I can’t speak for the movie, haven’t seen it yet) but memory plays a key role in the events that unfold. A Romance trope involves one of the lovers losing their memory, and having to learn to trust – or not trust – the one who claims to be their lover, and so on.

Too bad there aren’t more Romances involving older main characters. They could fall in love at first sight, every time they left the room and then returned. Which reminds me of one of my favorite movies of all times, “Love Among the Ruins” starring the great Katherine Hepburn and Sir Lawrence Olivier.

Have a good week, and I’ll be back on Wednesday. Unless I forget.

I love my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I might not always have the same opinions of the other members, but they usually make me laugh. For instance, our speaker last Saturday was saying, “Let’s assume your name, the name you write under, is not on the tip of the tongue with people on the street.” One of my table-mates leaned over, and said with a straight face, “That depends on the street.”

Now I am thinking about streets. In the Regency romances I write, I have to find information about London in the early 1800s, I’ve had to search out the best route from Yorkshire to the nearest port city, and I’ve searched and searched for the correct location in Dorset for the cottage I speak of.

Here is the very best thing I ever found on the web for that: When I am rich, these people are getting lots of donations from me. I love maps. In fact, Windrose refers to the compass rose or compass star on older maps.

Looking for the most dangerous streets in the world, I found depressing, mortifying statistics at this site: Think of how many stories there are in these communities. It’s the only way to live with this.

To make up for it, here are videos and photos of the most beautiful streets in the world. What tickles me is the idea that anywhere in China has an old town.

And everyone’s favorite voyeurs, Google Street Scenes:

What about the safest places on earth? For the most part, they are places most ordinary people can’t get to. Fort Knox, for instance.

As I write romances, guess what’s the next thing I Googled?!1-intro

I hope you have had some fun in checking out these links, and I leave you with a meditation video to help you relax, raise the consciousness of the earth’s people, and find inspiration for your writing. See you on Sunday.

What kind of character would have been considered a nerd in the Regency era? When all the girls focused on clothes and dances and picking a husband, and all the boys focused on wild living, or as wild as they could afford and get away with, who were the nerds?

I’m working on a character who is beautiful and wealthy, well-connected, but would trade all her fine clothes and jewels if she could be allowed to study archeology, especially finding evidence of the Roman occupation of Britain. She also reads novels, but she’s not a bluestocking, that is, she’s not focused on academics. She still loves to go to balls and dance, she loves to ride in an open carriage in Hyde Park during the fashionable hour, and honestly cares if her gown is in the height of fashion. Probably because she knows her dream of digging up real Roman things is unlikely to come true.

We are lucky to have such conveniences as Google and the internet. Those give us access to the Roman Britain Organisation.

The RBO has so much excellent information linked to a map so you can see where everything is, that it’s unsettling to follow a link and find out the page for that site has not been written yet. But there’s a link to the web master who will be happy to write that specific page for you in a hurry if you need it. What would he say if I said I’m writing a Regency Romance about a girl who loves Roman antiquities. Would you please direct me to every shrine to Minerva, please?

The History site has some interesting information about Roman Britain. Not as comprehensive as the RBO, but still informative.

Britain Express has wonderful links and photos, especially the revolt led by Boudicca. I always loved that story. Except for the rape and the flogging part. And these people say she was misguided and ineffective. So scratch that historical gem from my memory.

So what happened when? My heroine has to know this information, so this page will help me see what she knows.

More info on The History Learning Site. But what I am not finding is books that were available in early 1800s on the subject of Roman times in England! This is the closest I can come, Early American Bestsellers for 1800 to 1809: Lots of other decades to pick, but the best sellers seem to be novels, philosophy, and poems. I may need to look for papers published at the time, instead of books.

Searching for the History of Archeology, I find that Uncle Wiki has names that I can google to zero in on my needed information. I follow Wiki’s link to William Cunnington who first realized digging would be the best means to find out what was in the barrows. Really?

Here’s an interesting pamphlet on Ancient Wiltshire, but with modern commentary. The original work was published right in the correct time frame, so close and yet!

I’m including this page because of the nice photos of Roman artifacts. To sum up, archeology in the time I am writing of is just getting off the ground. Pretty much there’s little science or methodology to the practice, and some of it is simple treasure hunting and looting.

So my Regency nerd will have learned to love the Romans through books she has read, plays by Shakespeare, and the odd structure around her, like the bathhouse in, you guessed it, Bath.

Now, turning to the novels she would be reading, there is a lot to choose from. Here is a link to information about Books Jane Austen Read:

And while some of the novels were very popular at the time, they do not stand the test of time. Little holds up as well as Jane’s delightful works. Still, I would like to read the works of the authors she admired, Novelists Frances Burney and Maria Edgeworth as well as Charlotte Lennox. And so the search continues, for the novels of these ladies, and any works published around or before 1815 regarding archeology.

Have a great day, and come back Wednesday for more fun.

I am having issues with developing the character of a brother in one of my Regency romances. I’m nearly done with the first book in a series, and this character, the brother of the hero in the first book, will be the male main character in the second book. Or possibly the third, if I can’t breath a little more life into him.

His name is Robert Everett Coleman, and he is the younger son of a duke, and the brother of a viscount. He has no job, no work to keep his active mind busy, so he spends time with his friends doing what all rich young men like to do.

Rob: You can’t be suggesting that I actually work? It’s just not done. And I would need an entirely different wardrobe. My velvets and silks would not stand up to hard labor.

Interviewer: There are acceptable paths for the upper class. Younger sons usually join the army or navy, or take orders and enter the church.

Rob: I’m speechless. The military? You stopped here on your way to Bedlam, did you? My dear ma’am, I cannot imagine wearing the same coat for days on end. And to take orders, no. One should have at least a slight feeling of spiritual calling. I am not a cad.

Interviewer: You are, I see, dressed in the height of the latest fashion.

Rob: Don’t be absurd. I am dressed in the newest fashion which I am about to make all the crack. Ask any of my set, they follow my lead in all things sartorial.

Interviewer: Your friend William St. James followed your lead in other matters.

Rob: Ah, now we get to the reason you wanted to talk with me. Yes, William was my dearest friend, we grew up together, and now he is deceased. Accidental gunshot. A sad loss.

Interviewer: Do you feel responsible for his death?

Rob: I do not. No more than I do for the carters who were killed when the horses bolted through town. The way of the world, and ought we can do about it. Now, I do hope you will excuse me for ending this entertaining session, but my bootmaker is awaiting my arrival. Good day.

Well, that was deep. He puts up a good front, but I think the key here is the death of his closest friend. Do check back whenever I get around to publishing his story.

Thanks for reading, and I will be back on Sunday.

Side Note: I rejected the following titles for this post: Sex in a Nutshell. Sexes for Dummies. Everything You Always Wanted to Write About Plus Sex.

Those of us of a certain age had to sit through wonderful slide shows explaining the World Of Puberty and the Parts We Can’t Touch in grade schools. I certainly hope things are better for school children today. Since I went to a Catholic school, I also got a good dose of Eve Caused the Worst Evil Ever So That’s Why You Girls Menstruate.

Those days certainly were simpler. For instance, there were only two sexes. Hetero boys and Hetero girls. All of us wanted to find someone of the opposite sex, get married, adopt some kids, and go way into debt for a house and a car or two. Oh, we didn’t know exactly how the boy parts and the girl parts got together to make babies, so adoption seemed the best option.

I’m here to tell you, as a writer, anything you can imagine can be fit into a story. Beside two sexes, what if there were three? In this scenario, all three would contribute something to the eventual offspring. And then imagine if a single organism can reproduce. Snails are hermaphrodites, another intriguing sex. Still, they have some exchange of sexual material, but there’s always a possibility. Imagine having to tell your family you knocked yourself up.

Recently, being homosexual has been an interesting choice. And by choice, I don’t mean the persons involved had any choice, I mean the author has made the choice to write about two men in love or two women in love. From what I’ve read, there’s not a whole lot of difference, as far as emotions and stages of intimacy.

I have a few story ideas zipping through my back burners that involve bisexuals. One for all and all for one, style of thing. I remember the first time I felt some attraction for another woman, and wondered if my life would go in that direction. Oddly enough, I do like women and can find them attractive, but at the end of the day, I am horridly normal. Maybe that’s one reason why I write.

To be complete, I need to mention polysexual, pansexual, and polyamory, very complicated (to my untrained mind) and distinct situations. I’m handing this one over, so to speak, to Uncle Wiki.

Recently, thanks to Scribophile, I learned about asexual people, also called ace. I am fascinated. As a child, events happened that led to my sexuality being rewired slightly. Sex is an integral and necessary part of my life. So to think there are people who don’t experience any sexual urge is so amazing. On Scribophile, just hearing the basic plot idea on one story has me thinking about this, and also reconsidering my sympathy to historical figures who never married. Maybe that actually worked for them.

Sex parties and orgys recall the 60s and 70s, and even the days of ancient Rome and Greece. Guess what? These events, if you can believe the internet, and I think we know the answer to that one, are still happening! An interesting thought that every person who arrived at the party could be evaluated as a potential sex partner.
Again in fiction, especially those dealing with witches and magic users, and forms of Wicca, group marriages or triads are explored. Open relationships allow for the bonded members to pursue relationships outside the group. Closed ones do not. Line marriages were not invented by livestock breeders, apparently. Who knew? Some Pacific Island cultures allow a man and his brothers to marry a woman and her sisters, and not keep track too much of who did what to whom. Another type of line marriage adds new spouses every decade or so, as a guarantee that the marriage will never end. That’s a sobering thought for some.

And so, class, what have we learned today? Well, primarily, we learned that anything the mind can imagine, the mind can weave into a work of fiction. We also had the opportunity to learn that snails lay up to 100 eggs at a time. And the reason some snails have been endangered is due to needing a boy and a girl to reproduce. Possibly some habitat issues as well, but really. Lesson learned, folks!

See you on Wednesday.

One thing I know I don’t like is to be in the point of view of a character when he or she dies. That decision by the author makes me foam at the mouth. Or maybe that’s the new artificial sweetener I’m using. Anyway, over the years many characters in many books have snuffed it. Sometimes even the bad guys. And it hasn’t always been fun.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought he could retire from the Sherlock Holmes racket by throwing our hero off the Reichenbach Falls. No one was happy about this, least of all Mr. Holmes. He not only returned to live a long life, he keeps coming back in movies and television. So do we count hims as a character who died or not? Well, we’ll toy with the zombie category and move on.

Speaking of TV and Movies, Joss Whedon. That’s all I have to say on that account. Next.

Wuthering Heights by Ellis Bell aka Emily Bronte features a heroine who kicks the bucket in the arms of the antihero. But that’s the movie version, and really, the book isn’t a romance so much as an allegory on surrendering to social pressures. I hear.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a fun series of books. But outside of the main family, you never know who is going to die, who is going to stay dead, and who is going to turn out to be a cousin twice removed on the distaff side. Or your monkey’s uncle.

Uh. Here’s a chuckle, Forbes puts out a list of 15 richest Fictional Characters. Cute.

Well, whether your characters live or die, you want the audience to care about them. How do you do that? Watch and learn:

Have a great week, see you on Sunday.

No, I am not writing about Peter Pan, although some of my heros start out as little boys who don’t want to grow up. I’m talking about the hook in the story that keeps you reading. You need a hook in the first few paragraphs of the story. You need hooks at the end of every chapter. You better stock up, you need hooks by the dozen.

Most important, however, is the hook with which you will get the attention of an agent, or publisher, or editor. As Angie Fox says in this interview, answer three questions, and you should have the perfect hook. Not that the author of a series featuring “a gang of geriatric biker witches” has to work much harder than that for her hook.

Years ago at an RWA meeting, I learned to sell the book based on High Concepts. For instance, if you had a bunch of whacky misfits shipwrecked on an island, in 1815, you could call it a Regency Gilligan’s Island. Meh. But you get the idea. Alexa Schnee explains what readers look for when they first pick up your book. While this changes slightly for ebooks, the read will still be looking at the same three things, and the good news is, if you publish your own work, you get to choose the cover, the blurb, and the opening line.

Suzannah Windsor Freeman explains clearly the issues I try to get across when I critique work for writers on Scribophile. She puts in order 4 things you must avoid, and 6 things to do. I feel like a broken record urging new writers not to use a line of dialog as the opening line, ever. Yes, you can point to many great novels where the writer got away with it. Ask yourself this: Was it that author’s first book? How long did it take you to know who spoke the line?

Every chapter should have its own little arc, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. And that end has to have a hook, or the reader could easily set the book down, yawn, and forget about the whole thing. I don’t mean that the end of the chapter should end the scene. In fact, you want something to happen at the end that makes the reader turn the page in a hurry. Eddie Snipes uses a system he calls Hooks and Nooses. And while I resent his supposition that genre readers have shorter attention spans than literary readers, I. . . don’t remember where I was going with this. Oh well.

Be sure to scroll down to his list of other awesome subjects. Eddie is president of the Christian Authors Guild, just so you know. All the books he recommends have a religious theme about them. But then, all my books have a romantic theme about them. We can’t help but write from our own interests.

Here’s romance author Rebecca Zanetti’s wonderful post about hooks, back story, and showing vs. telling. She’s a pantser* who recommends outlining the first chapter. This is the part of the book where it all happens, you win or lose the reader, and knowing where you are going with it, at least, makes perfect sense.

Marge McAllister at Writing 4 Success explains that once you have a great hook, you must follow through. You can’t have a character wrestle an alligator and then never explain what the Chinese family was doing in Florida in the first place!

Romance University posted Laura Griffin’s great message on how to keep readers hooked. And while I agree with her example on which word served as a better hook, I will always feel that I am being cheated if I don’t get a bit of the emotions the point of view character experiences as we leave them.

Here’s what I mean. Kelly watched Elliot’s unconscious form float away in the oar-less row boat. Now, that isn’t a bad chapter or scene ending. But we don’t know what Kelley thinks or feels about Elliot at this time. Now add the following: What had she done? And how had she ignored her love for him until she lost him forever? Tears impeded her vision, filling her hollow heart with certain doom.

So it’s not a perfect example, being spur of the moment, but hopefully you get the idea. I leave you with Sandra Kischuk’s Writer’s Toolbox post about literary hooks and a few great exercises to strengthen your writing. Have fun!

*A pantser writes by the seat of their pants, through intuition and habit, as opposed to those who write using outlines and/or storyboards. I’m a combination writer, myself.

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