Going to the Hop!

Look at me doing my first Blog Hop! I got into this predicament through the wonderful offices of Ms. Louise Redmann, an English woman married to an Italian raising their two boys in Switzerland. And if that isn’t a plot for a romance, I’m Marie of Rumania.

Amazingly, Louise finds time to write her blog and her romances, and to participate on Scribophile, where we met. Here’s her blog link: https://louiseredmann.com/wordpress/blog-posts/

And a taste of her fiction: https://louiseredmann.com/?p=339

So Louise tagged me, and I have to answer these questions. Then I get to tag two friends and so on and so on. Be sure to follow all the blog links, these are talented and prolific people.

1) What am I working on?
So many irons in the fire right now. My Regency Romance, The Viscount’s Mouse, was pitched to an agent and she asked to see the entire manuscript. So mad revision skills are I use. I started the sequel to that story, and hoped to write on it for the RWA Chapter Challenge, to set a goal of words written for the month, and then meet that goal. My goal is 40,000 words and I have written just over 4,000. Almost there! Plus I started a series of Regency Erotica, because I am months away from retiring from the day job, and will need a bit of ready income before that.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Overall, because people who read Regency Romances expect a formula of sorts, there are many similarities, but I have a sense of humor that comes out through my characters, sometimes at the worst possible moments.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Because I can! No, the real answer is I had no romance in my life except what I read in books. And as you may have heard before, some of those books were so poorly written I couldn’t start them, let alone finish them. I knew I could writer a good romance. In the middle of starting to write romances, I met my husband, got married, and had all the romance I wanted. But after the kids left home and retirement loomed closer, I decided to try writing again. Not that I ever stopped writing, I was just writing other stuff. Romance is what thrills me and inspires me.

4) How does my writing process work?
This is a really good question! Who came up with this question? I want to “thank” that person face to face. Ideas flow from my muse into my brain. When I get to a keyboard or have pen and paper, the ideas flow down my neck, through my arms, fingers, and keys until words show up. Then the words become sentences, the sentences become paragraphs, and viola! A story forms up out of the mass. Then, of course, I have to put the story on a table and ratchet it up to the roof until it’s struck by lightning. That is when the story comes to life!

In reality, anything I see or hear might inspire a story idea. The Viscount’s Mouse came to me in a dream. The second story in the erotica series came to me after thinking about a workshop coming up on bondage, kidnap stories, dominance, submission, and that bit of interests. How I get it on paper involves a rough sketch of the chapters, not carved in stone by any means, and a few days talking to the characters. When I realize the correct moment to start the tale, I begin.

I use Scribophile for critiques and polishing, and try to only work on one thing at a time. No more than three, by any means.

Well, if you made it through that, here’s your award! Two wonderful authors to follow.

Stella Williams is a Blogger and Romance Author, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama. She has a degree in Anthropology from The University of California, Santa Cruz. Her first novel, Xander’s Claim: Maura’s Men Book One, a paranormal romance, was published through Amazon late last year. She blogs at stellawilliamsauthor.wordpress.com. Her latest project is the second installment of her Maura’s Men Series, Claude’s Conquest, set to be published next year.

Stella Williams is the author of Xander’s Claim: Maura’s Men Book One. She blogs at stellawilliamsauthor.wordpress.com.

I’ve been privilege to read some of her work on Scribophile, and she has brought life to a complex world of paranormal characters in amazing and original situations.

Mika Jolie is also a Scribophile friend whose writing inspires me. She says: I’m a mother to two energizer bunnies, a wife, a writer, a graduate student and an analyst. In my spare, I enjoy hiking, jogging, working on my gardening and knitting skills.

I think I was about fifteen when I started reading romance novels and fell in love with the genre. I can’t believe how it has grown. Gone are the days when the MMC is 36 years old and the FMC is 18 and a virgin.

I am a soon to be published working on my first series called Martha’s Way. I write contemporary romance that reflects our diverse society. In my first novel, the Scale, book one of Martha’s Way series, the FMC is African-American and the MMC is Caucasian. Although they are of different race, it is not something that is focused on. It is mentioned once. I am currently working on the follow up novel titled Need You Now. I love the romance genre but I find it does not reflect our current society, a beautiful multi-culture melting pot.

I’ve been having some fun using my blog as my diary to getting my first novel published. Stop by at Mikajolie.com and join me in my journey. I’m looking forward to connecting with you.

And I will be back on Sunday!

Advertisements

Another Day Fighting the Monsters

If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, and are working away at the craft, you may or may not know that you are in the business of fighting monsters. Some of the monsters are big, some are tiny, and some will win the battle, if not the war.

My roll call of monsters starts with the sweet-looking Inspiration. I had a story arc bubble up in my brain recently when I was supposed to be sleeping. Why is that a monstrous thing? Because I have three projects in process right now, and may never get to this one. Stupid monster.

Next are the twins, Laziness and Procrastination. Sometimes Laziness tries to disguise itself as fatigue, but I recognize it most of the time. Procrastination also tries to disguise itself as Duty. But when I suddenly think that scrubbing the bathroom is the most exciting thing I can do, I know the truth.

Behind the twins is another very sneaky monster. Competing Priorities. My current three projects try to get my attention, the laundry needs me, the birds need feeding, and I have a deadline of sorts to meet before the end of April. Along with CP comes a close relative of Procrastination, Block. I rarely have to fight off Block, sometimes just taking care of CP creates Inspiration. As long as I can direct it to the right place, this works.

Other writers battle Structure, Plot Orcs, I mean Arcs, and Conflict. Just thinking of a story will give rise to Hooks, Endings, and the Dreaded Opening Paragraph. There are many helpful links that will give you the knowledge to defeat these foes. Put out some chocolate to distract the monsters, and look at http://jamigold.com/2011/05/do-stories-need-a-theme/ which not only has great advice, but includes lots of links to more good monster-defeating knowledge!

Do you know who else fights monsters? The heroes and heroines of the stories I write! That’s really interesting. My heroine in The Viscount’s Mouse is fighting Disability, Class Snobbery, Poverty, and Loneliness. She fights off Seduction and Desire, but she doesn’t get carried away with the whole virtue thing. The hero who sweeps her off her feet fights Boredom, a common monster that attacks the titled and privileged classes, Lechery, and the desire to thrash his sister. I guess that’s more genetic than a monster.

Then we have to decide which one is the protagonist, and which one is the antagonist. Usually the story belongs to the female lead, so she’s the protagonist. The male lead is bringing trouble her way with a capital T, so he is the antagonist. These great pages will help you work out those Monsters: http://jamigold.com/2011/05/make-your-antagonist-a-force-for-good/

If you battle enough monsters and win, you unlock the next level:

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2009/09/9-ways-to-strengthen-your-beginning.html

http://anoveledit.com/novelending.html

http://theeditorsblog.net/2013/11/06/build-toward-the-storys-end/

http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/04/06/deliver-the-payoff/

http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/06/23/resolution-tying-up-the-ends/

http://www.lbgale.com/2013/08/27/guest-post-how-to-structure-a-whammy-of-a-climax/#.UwzdNKP5NL-

And now you get to submit your work to the Monster we dread most, Critiquer! Just to help out, run it through this edit first. You’ll be happy you did. http://rainbeforerainbows.com/sluggish.html

We have advanced to the fifth level. Our story is written, our critiquers love it, and we have edited it to a nicety. There are a few paths we can take now, each with a different Monster. One is to submit it to a contest, but you face a clan of monsters known as Judges. However, if you get to the final circle of this level, you can brag about that when you take the next path. Here’s a few places to start: http://www.freelancewriting.com/creative-writing-contests.php

http://www.writermag.com/writing-resources/contests/

Laurels in hand, you must now choose the path of self-publishing, where you will encounter the dread Monster Disparagement. But as long as you have a good book to publish, you can ignore the minions of Envy who try to bring you down. http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2014/04/25/how-to-self-publish-your-book-through-amazon/

Suppose you are more of a traditionalist, then you probably will seek out the monster Agent. The secret here is, once you have proven yourself worth to this Monster, you will have him or her on your side. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lev-raphael/publishing-can-break-your_b_5213302.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books

Armed with your tamed Agent, you now face the final level in the game of battling Monsters: Publishing! http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2014/04/25/doing-the-work/

Have a great week, and Wednesday I’ll be back.

Games to Play With Books

An advantage to Facebook and Scribophile is the ability to play weird games that would be much less fun face to face. Imagine getting out lists of silly words, one for each letter of the alphabet and one for each month of the year, and having your friends at a party tell you what their porn star name would be, based on the month they were born and the first letter of their last name. Not enough alcohol in the world to make that funny.

111617 flip through book

Continue reading “Games to Play With Books”

Chance Encounters

I met my husband on-line. This was many years ago before the internet was such a big deal. We both belonged to a bulletin board system, a BBS, that specifically wanted people to get to know each other and make matches. I’d been on there for a couple years, and Mike had been on before that. He just happened to log on again, and we played in the nightly trivia game.

Many other things had to happen, and did, and we are still happy together, but I sometimes marvel that the chances of a moment brought us together.

I’m sharing most of the first chapter of my Regency Romance, The Dandy’s Wager. The chance encounter of Lady Elizabeth Underwood and Lord Robert Coleman in an old church yard sparks an attraction neither looked for. They are both there for a wedding, following which Elizabeth sneaks away in her quest for Roman artifacts and ruins. She is behind a hedge when Lord Robert and his friends come out to the yard. I hope you enjoy it.

The Dandy’s Wager

Voices from the other side of the hedge startled her out of her meditations. Smoke, too, drifted past the leaves. Some gentlemen had come out to the churchyard to smoke cigars. She shrank back to the wall, thankful for the lush coverage and concealment.

“Thank your brother for us, Rob,” one man called. “This wedding has inspired our mothers to push us toward parson’s mousetrap.”

A chorus of laughing agreement and ridicule followed. Then a different voice answered, “You know I tried to talk him out of it, Will. Being the last unmarried child, both my parents are on me now to settle down.”

Yet another man chuckled. “Perhaps we should just pick one of the pretty girls here today. None of them are hard on the eyes, and none too silly. If we have to marry, we can do worse than these, and we can make it interesting.”

A fourth man, at least Elizabeth thought this one had not spoken before, said, “We court then, wed them, and bed them–”

Shouts and comments interrupted him, mostly things she could not understand. Then Rob, the first speaker, said, “We must have heirs. Then our parents will be satisfied, and while the woman takes care of the child, we are free to return to normal life.”

“Gilbert, what say you? How can we make this interesting beyond the eventual bedding?”

“That’s simple. As long as we can each agree to which female we wish to pursue, the first one to marry will win the wager.”

Rob laughed. “A marvelous plan. Pick your intended bride and the first of us to wed will have twenty pounds from each of us.”

“Twenty pounds? And we still need to be leg shackled?”

“Indeed, Toby, a high price.” She thought this was the first speaker again, Will. “Surely 20 schillings would do?”

“Miss Twigg for me!” one of them called out. “And twenty pounds that she will marry me in three months!”

“Lady Elizabeth,” Rob pronounced, making her jump. “The only title in the bunch, and therefore my match.”

Elizabeth could not stop a gasp at this, but she covered her mouth in the next instant. The arrogance of the man!

“I will gladly try for Miss Sebastian. That leaves Miss Preston for you, Will.”

“She will do as well as any.”

A noise from the church put an end to this conversation. Elizabeth waited for the footsteps and comments to fade away. One more glance at the Roman well, and she hurried toward the gate.

She collided with something firm and unyielding as she rounded the end of the hedge. Her eyes traveled up several inches. Somber gray eyes studied her.

“Lady Elizabeth,” Lord Robert Coleman steadied her with a hand on her arm, but did not let her step back from contact with him. “You are in the habit of eavesdropping?”

“No! I wanted to see the well. Excuse me.” She managed to get her hands up to his chest and push herself away. She took a step back, and straightened her gown. Anything to not meet his disturbing gaze.

“If I promise not to court you, would you–” he hesitated and reached to take her chin in his firm grip. “Promise to not reveal what you heard?”

“I don’t know what you mean, my lord.” Elizabeth returned his look steadily. His hand, ungloved, burned against her skin, with heat and with steely strength. “But I vow I will not repeat a word of it, no matter what you do.”

He grinned and let her go. She walked around him, but before she passed the hedge, she looked back. A smile escaped her. “Perhaps I wish for you to court me.”

His eyebrows rose, causing a flutter in her chest, and giving wings to her feet as she hurried away.

***

The little vixen! Rob watched until the last flash of her peach muslin skirts were gone from his view. God, what a delicious pocket Venus she could be. Did she have any idea of the danger she flirted with?

He chuckled and glanced back at the well. Antiquities seemed an odd interest for a titled young woman. Intriguing.

Footsteps in the yard drew him out from behind the hedge. William St. James, his closest friend, had come back to look for him.

“Did you scare off the chit?” he asked, looking around.

“Apparently I did.” Rob clapped Will’s arm. “Come, let’s go wish the happy couple well and proceed to drink ourselves blind.”

They walked to the front of the old church. Rob’s brother, Viscount Miles Coleman, and his new viscountess Cassandra, nee Jennings, continued to talk to family and well wishers. The coach waited in the road, the flashy pair of bays showing signs of restlessness.

“Robert,” Miles flashed a strained smile while giving him a firm handshake. “Can you distract the crowd so we may leave? Cassie can’t stand much longer without collapsing.” He nodded amiably to William.

Rob looked at Will, smiling. “I don’t doubt we can think of something.”

“I know just the thing,” said Will, and he hurried off toward the church. He returned in a few minutes with his arms full of very young orange tabby kittens.

The women in the crowd sent up oos and ahs and moved in on Will. This shift opened the path to the carriage. Cassie smiled and took the arm of her husband.

“Thank you, brother.” She stretched up to kiss his cheek.

“I wish you both joy, sister. And if he does anything you do not like, be sure to send word to me. I will thrash him soundly.”

Bride and groom laughed, with Miles adding a low-voiced, “You would have to stand in line behind her uncles, you know.”

Rob managed a thoughtful look. “I suppose I will have to settle for thrashing whatever they leave of you, then.”

He watched them step into the carriage, watched the crowd realize the couple were making an escape, and watched the shower of flower petals follow the dust of their departure. An arm extended out of the carriage and coins rained down on the crowd.

William appeared, still clutching a kitten. “One left. Does she not touch your heart, Rob?”

He looked at the animal in horror. “Do you think I would allow orange fur on my black velvets or silks? Surely not!”

“I suppose I will take her, then. Perhaps Miss Preston likes cats.”

With a theatrical shudder, Lord Robert pulled a lace-edged handkerchief from his pocket and dusted the arms of his coat. But his thoughts turned to Lady Elizabeth and what sort of things she liked. With a surge of anticipation, he decided he would find out soon.

Maybe the Moonlight Causes It

Writing a novel or short story or anything in a historical setting lays many restrictions on the writer. For example, my female nerd in the Regency era has very little chance of being able to study the areas of Roman occupation of Britain that she would like to. And very little went on that we would recognize ourselves as archeology. Digs were just starting to be done with any record keeping worth noting.

Likewise, my star-gazing hero in another story needs to carry his telescope and other equipment with him wherever he goes to look at the stars. He would particularly dislike the full moon we have now, but perhaps the eclipse would have distracted him enough. Or perhaps he would be moved by the moonlight to kiss the woman he loves.

I’ve been distracted from all my writing this month by a resourceful, bold, mischievous young woman who convinces her older twin brothers to take her to a gentleman’s club. Being just as mischievous as she is, they take her to a brothel. Yes, it’s complicated. However, as this story is erotica, she does have her very first orgasm.

I made people laugh in my posts on Scribophile trying to think of what terms a 19 year old woman in Regency England would use in thinking about her lady bits. “Opening” seemed to be the right balance between flowery and crude. Then to go on describe the sensations of a climax certainly took research. On a side note, my husband wants a t-shirt that reads “Research Project.”

In my search for real-life revelations of this type, I found this wonderful article from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/18/the-elusive-orgasm-excerpt_n_1982509.html Don’t miss the slide show at the bottom of the page on the health benefits of orgasm. As if we needed any more excuses!

Moonlight played the role of calendar in times past, telling women when they should expect their “courses” and men when the tides would be to their benefit in commerce or battle. http://www.moonlightsys.com/themoon/ancient2.html

But if you stayed out in the moonlight, you would risk becoming a lunatic: http://novice101.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/lunatic-where-did-this-word-come-from/ The moon took the blame for much of the unrest and discontent in the past. In modern times, we just write a song about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mdc6jZRZxU and take advantage of the beauty to fall in love.

Have a good week, and I will return on Sunday.

The Flow of Bonding with Your Muse

No matter what activity my physical body pursues, a part of my mind writes. I write in my dreams, plotting, exploring characters. I write while I drive, and have to back up the book on CD I listen to at the time when my writing muse went off exploring.

I imagine this flow of ideas happens to all writers. The actual advent of an idea entering the brain can come at an awesome time when your are ready to write it down. Usually, it comes when you are having your annual dental check-up and cleaning, and can’t spit, let alone write. Not even a voice recorder will help in that situation. Or when you are playing doubles tennis on National Television. You have to hope the idea stays around.

The best advice is, Don’t Worry About It. Worrying, as my oldest motivational poster reminds me, does not remove troubles from today, it robs tomorrow of strength. Worry about remembering the idea, and it will go look for a calmer spot to roost. Make your mind clear and assured of your good, and the idea is attracted back.

Ideas flow in an open, calm mind. Your muse collects them, and sends them down your arms and out your fingers. When you sit at your keyboard or pick up a pen, you plant the ideas on the screen or page, and they blossom into words, into pages, into chapters, and so on.

Now, you may have ideas that your characters disagree with. For instance, one of my heroes will be taking a bad fall, about 10 feet into the chamber of an ancient Roman something or other. The landing breaks his leg badly, and causes enough problems as it is, but then there is a cave-in and a flood. By the time he and the heroine are rescued, and this is 1817, medical science may do him more harm than good. My idea involved the amputation of his leg.

This young man demands that I find another arc to the story, as he is very happy with both legs, thank you very much. My muse and I shrugged at each other, and so the heroine will get to try some Ancient Roman medicine on him. Won’t that be fun? Vinegar, St. John’s Wart, and honey will save the day.

While this article is more for people who write short pieces on a nearly daily basis, such as bloggers, it’s a lot of fun. http://writetodone.com/21-unexpected-places-to-find-your-muse/ The young man in #6 looks a bit too much like my son, who always wanted to try free running. And #17 is right on. 8)

Here’s a quote about the Muses that I like: “This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

A site for daily writing prompts, this link contains lots of good ideas for getting your characters to talk to you. Apparently, that’s what they are supposed to do! http://thewritepractice.com/characters-lost/

This entertaining blog admits the secret, that your characters may not talk to you when you start writing. A new writer needs to put in hours and hours (and hours) of writing to be on a first name basis with characters. http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/2010/06/10/getting-your-novels-characters-to-speak-to-you/ In the nearly 20 years when I put my fiction writing on hold, I wrote minutes for various groups to which I belonged, I wrote some Live Journal articles, and I wrote prompts now and then when I could get into a writing workshop. I think that helped.

Here are tips on getting the voice of your character just right. http://avajae.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-make-your-characters-talk.html I think I’m going to post that on my group in Scribophile, it sounds like fun and the result will be improved writing. My Muse will do the happy dance!

Then there are those who don’t or can’t believe in this character chatting stuff, and still manage to be excellent writers. http://www.blog.angelaaddams.com/2011/02/do-your-characters-talk-to-you.html Different strokes, I guess. Maybe the muse of these folks has retired or taken a very long vacation? I guess it’s better to not judge.

I hope there has been a touch of fun, a spark of the creative, and some bookmarked sites to go back to later. See you on Wednesday.

Dream Real Estate

My close, personal 585 friends on Facebook know that every weekday, I post some photos of owls, some photos of parrots, some jokes, and cute photos of each, Valais blacknose sheep, Highland cattle, and pygmy goats. Don’t ask why, it’s very silly.

While searching for the Highland “coo” I often find such tempting photos of beautiful cottages and serene landscapes. Only the knowledge of what the winters are like there keeps me from packing up and moving.

http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-most-expensive-homes-in-the-world.php JF Sargent has a yummy accent and a great sense of satire. This fun list of homes showcases people who have more money they they know what to do with, and not one of them makes my top ten list of where I’d like to live.

Fallingwater, on the other hand, is very near the top. http://www.digsdigs.com/fallingwater-one-of-the-most-famous-houses-in-the-world-built-over-a-waterfall/ As long as I don’t have to clean the windows. OR the stream.

Beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder, the houses on this list do very little for me. I wouldn’t mind too much to have a castle, but I want it in a Forrest. Is that too much to ask? http://www.homebeautyideas.com/top-ten-most-beautiful-houses-in-the-world-ever/

Maybe somewhere more isolated would spark my interest. Oh, the Hall in Wales! http://www.nature-pictures.info/the-33-most-beautiful-abandoned-places-in-the-world/ Did I mention I don’t like to clean windows? So that’s perfect, it has none.

Five country homes in Scotland: http://www.countrylife.co.uk/property/article/530438/5-of-the-best-Scottish-houses-for-sale.html

Five Lake resorts to visit in Europe: http://www.eurotravelogue.com/2014/01/top-5-lake-destinations-in-europe.html

Now it I could just make up my mind between the former rectory in Devon and the cottage in Cornwall where Noel Coward stayed: http://www.eurotravelogue.com/2014/01/top-5-lake-destinations-in-europe.html

Hope that inspired some story ideas for you! See you on Sunday.