Crowded Virtual House

At any time, I have multitudes of characters inhabiting my head. I carry story ideas that have been waiting their turn for 25 years or more. All romances, some erotica, some also science fiction, but the majority are Regency.

While I am working on the story, they come closer to the surface. I finished my Regency erotica Book 1, and the characters in Book 2 are clamoring for my attention. But I have a deadline for a story that will be part of an anthology, with a bartender and his boss lady. Also there’s a regular Regency romance with an agent, while the second book in that series has started but is waiting these other priorities.

That second Regency is at an interesting point, and I feel the characters glare at me now and then. I’ve talked about both characters in previous blogs. The main male character is a dandy, whom I interviewed, and the main female character is a Regency nerd, deeply engrossed in Roman antiquities.

I have a SciFi Romance that ground to a halt when critiques on Scibophile had more questions than comments about the planet that I had no answers for. I’m waiting for a chance to do some world building to figure out how the ecological disaster came about. Then I can get the MCs back on track for a happily ever after.

Eventually, thanks to my love of the Master and Commander, Aubrey and Maturin, books by Patrick O’Brien, I will deal with an inspiration involving a captain in the British Navy in 1801. I finally fixed on his name, something gallant but not already in use. Now the FMC needs to be discovered. She is an English woman who has relatives in France, living along the channel, who stayed after a visit to help out her relatives. What will bring them together? What will keep them apart philosophically/ What will each of them have to sacrifice for a HEA?

The best way to keep all those characters separated is through character sheets, especially very detailed ones. But on the fly, I just need a reminder of the basics, eye color, hair color and length, height, build, physical condition, obvious things people notice about the person. I need to find a way on-line to pull up a character card with basics and in-depth details available with one more click. Here’s my favorite character sheet so far: http://www.uncleanarts.com/writing/tutorial/tutorialcharacter.htm

Lately, I have developed a great collection of models and such on whom I base my characters or who resemble what I had in mind for the character. Pinterest is the best ever in this regard. Not only do I find characters but also houses or towns or whatever! Here’s the captain: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694893848864/

Here’s the hero in the sequel to The Viscount’s Mouse: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894257684/

And his love interest, my Regency nerd:

I could spend more time looking through Pinterest than writing, so I have to put limits on that activity. And if I haven’t completed my imagining of this character, it could be a choice between one model and another. So here’s your chance to help.

The love interest for the captain is a mid-twenties English woman of French heritage, in 1801. Vote for Link 1: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666716/
Link 2: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666730/
Link 3: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666796/

I’ll shared the winner next Wednesday. And Sunday, we’re back to travel by book!

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Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 10

Why is it that after you buy a new car, you find an article telling you the one you should have bought? Or after you gave all your money to that nice man in Nigeria that you discover it may have been a hoax? So here are ten things to be aware of BEFORE visiting Macau, our last stop on the previous ear lobe of our journey: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/02/travel/10-things-macau/ So, on we go.

181. Hong Kong. As a kid, I was blessed with a sister who worked at the local movie theater. On Saturdays, as often as not, I went to work with her, and took a perverse pleasure in sitting in the front row so that the folks who had waited in line could be surprised that anyone else was in the theater. Good times. However, I saw many movie trailers for films I never saw, and one of the more memorable was The World of Suzie Wong. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnepiAcqb_g Sadly, I was not old enough to watch the whole movie, and besides my church at the time didn’t much care for it. Now I have discovered a book on which the movie was based! The timeless story, it says, of the love affair between a British artist and a Chinese prostitute. Hmm. If you say so, but timeless isn’t the first word to come to my mind. Book by Richard Mason. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/701773.The_World_of_Suzie_Wong

182. French Polynesia. Tahiti figures in many daydreams of excellent vacation destinations. Living there wouldn’t be half bad either. Frangipani by Celestine Hitiura Vaite explores the relationship between a mother and daughter. I never had a close relationship with my mother after I turned 18, and I have been forced out of my daughter’s life. So I understand the popularity of this book. The consistently high ratings in the reviews is encouraging. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1013627.Frangipani?from_search=true

183. Niue. At this point, I ran out of countries I picked up off of Google Maps. I knew there had to be more. However, some people have an odd idea of “country.” Several uninhabited and uninhabitable islands showed up. Niue, however, is beautiful and the world’s smallest country. I wonder how many Niues could fit in Rhode Island? Well, as such, no books showed up as being set there, and that may be a spark of creativity to someone. But then I found this wonderful article on a native son of the island, a self-taught artist who has delved into the world around him and inside him. Great discovery.
http://internetniue.nu/whats-hot/general/niue-artist-explores-the-pacific-and-the-personal/2012/01/

184. American Samoa. I know several folks of Samoan ancestry. My part of California is a pretty popular location for islanders, foremost because so many other islanders are already here, I assume. But I never get over the beauty of island people, their voices, their inner peace in the midst of outer turmoil. What a gift they bring with them and pass on to the children. Why would anyone want to leave Samoa? There was a very popular song in the US after World War I. How you gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris? In this case, maybe, after they’ve been on Facebook. Pouliuli by Albert Wendt is a tale of an island community facing modernization.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1135796.Pouliuli

185. Tuvalu. Many books about island countries are memoirs and real stories. Nothing wrong with that, though I try to avoid the overtly religious just because. Where the Hell Is Tuvalu?: How I Became the Lawman of the World’s Fourth Smallest Country by Phillip Ellis is exactly what the title says it is. The reviews are mixed, and well, people don’t much like lawyers, so that has to be figured into this equation. Read it and make up your own mind.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1188835.Where_The_Hell_Is_Tuvalu_?ac=1

186. Tonga. I love lobster. I don’t love it enough to live without running water and electricity. How would I recharge my phone or my laptop? However, for some folks, it’s a dream come true. A Farm in the South Pacific Sea by Jan Walker explores this running away from civilization from a woman’s point of view. Mixed reviews, but I will put it on my to read list.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10777453-a-farm-in-the-south-pacific-sea?ac=1

187.Fiji. Can you believe it’s taken this long for me to post a romance? Well, this is a Romantic Suspense, I guess, and not the least of books from the author. The Trouble with Paradise by Jill Shalvis starts with a great heroine, someone many of us can identify with. The woman becomes a klutz when in the presence of an attractive person of the male persuasion. Add a murder, a storm, a ship wreck, and leave me alone with the book for the afternoon. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/519743.The_Trouble_with_Paradise?ac=1

188. New Caledonia. Frankly, I’m not done with old Caledonia. Highland Way says it best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okn0pIq03-E But eventually all travelers need to move on, or they become settlers. Sometimes settlers are abandoned, and we’ll look at that more closely in a few posts. But in French Sand by Catherine Broughton, we hear the term Doctor of Tropical Diseases. Okay, then! Good thing diseases aren’t transmitted through the written word. One review states that the author knows the setting and that aids in bringing this story to life. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14428208-french-sand?ac=1

189. Solomon Islands. We have another great non-fiction stop on these islands. Solomon Time: Adventures in the South Pacific by Will Randall. Once a school teacher in civilization, Randall is sent to the islands and finds lots of things that amuse him. One reviewer said there were things to smirk at, but no real plot. I don’t think my life has a plot, but I have been entertained by it.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1170355.Solomon_Time?ac=1

190. Marshall Islands. And yes, more memoirs. No phone, dim lights, no motorcar. But a wonderful beach, lots of warm people, and a global disaster poised to destroy it all. Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island by Peter Rudiak-Gould is a great look at what global warming means to the most affected by it. I firmly believe that what happens to any one person on the planet happens to all of us. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6923108-surviving-paradise?from_search=true

191.Wake Island. A coming of age, important lessons about life book would be great right about now. Fortunately, James B. Kilpatrick wrote A Little Piece of Heaven: Growing up on Wake Island for us. There are no reviews of the book yet on GoodReads, and few details on the book summary, but I would have loved to grow up somewhere close to military left-over installations.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1329389.A_Little_Piece_of_Heaven?ac=1

192. Guam. Even though the only two reviews were written by the author and her best friend, I thought Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories by Tanya Timangelo would be an excellent introduction to the island. Also I had never heard or seen the term Chamorro before. Plus, the author describes herself as a Goddess in training! Amen, Sister!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9841605-attitude-13?ac=1

193. Palau. Most visitors to Palau spend the time there under the beautiful blue sea. I am sure this has nothing to do with the country’s willingness to accept Guantanamo detainees who could no longer be detained due to lack of evidence. I found only one author associated with the island, and he was Japanese. Atsushi Nakajimi only went to Palau to teach, but had very bad asthma and the climate did not agree with him. He died some time after returning to Japan. He wrote about great classical Chinese folktales, legends and histories, which seems to be a popular genre in Japan. So until someone writes a book set on the island, here’s the Moon Over the Mountains.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9811918-the-moon-over-the-mountain

194. West Papau, New Guinea. Rosemary I. Patterson sounds like someone I would enjoy knowing. Some of her other books have real sparks of humor in the titles alone, and cover such subjects as access for mobility impaired persons, and love of gambling among senior citizens. I just may come back and look at those another time. Today, we are highlighting The Last Wild Place: An Adventure Novel Set in West Papua by this clever lady. No reviews on GoodReads yet, I hope I will be the first!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9012376-last-wild-place

195. Andorra. If you are a long time Star Trek fan like me, your first thought is that the citizens of this tiny kingdom in the Pyrenees have blue skin. And odd little antennae. The answer is no, but the place still has great scenery and wonderful history. Also if you have studied history in a broad swath rather that specializing in 18th century Scottish rebels, for example, you know weird little trivia such as the Viking warriors got around Europe and were prized guards in Russian courts. So it’s pretty clear that the interbreeding of Scottish and Norse peoples could produce fierce warriors that did not find what they wanted in the Isles, and wandered to, oh let’s suppose, Andorra and kidnap a luscious wench or two. If You Dare by Kresley Cole is the first in a trilogy about the MacCarrick Brothers, and is one of the few books by the author not involving supernatural characters.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14386.If_You_Dare?from_search=true

196. Anguilla. We are traveling now on no particular route, zipping from one part of the globe to another. Here we are, back in the Caribbean. There are the flip-flops I lost overboard! So it’s very fitting that the book for this island is about people who can travel through time. Ripple Rider: An Anguillan Adventure in Time by Anne Goldfarb presents an interesting concept of time travel, and she will never know why the use of the term “squiggly lines” can render me nearly hysterical. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12388489-ripple-rider?ac=1

197. Cayman Islands. Honestly, could you walk past a book titled Cayman Cowboys? No, neither could I. Eric Douglas writes a series called Mike Scott Adventures, and this is the first one. No reviews yet, interestingly enough. The plot involves kidnapping and diving and a possible romance triangle, were this a romance and not an adventure. Yippee-Ky-Yi-Yay, my dears.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9721561-cayman-cowboys?ac=1

198. Clipperton Island. I have to go here, not to stay, not even to get off the boat. Just to say I saw Clipperton. No book, but there’s a great article that chronicles the brief inhabitation of the island, and the sad history thereof. The Tyrant of Clipperton Island by Marisa Brooks is such an awesome story, I have no idea why there’s no movie about it yet. There’s sex and violence and women triumphing in the end. Anyone have Spielberg’s number? http://www.damninteresting.com/the-tyrant-clipperton-island/

199. The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea islands. I can’t believe they used kingdom. Anyway, this is a place that doesn’t really exist, kind of like Israel after World War II. This place has a Facebook page, however. This micronation came about when Australia refused to recognize same sex marriages. Australia apparently thinks they are better than Colorado, California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey (REALLY?) and a total of 19 states. Better than Belgium, Norway, South Africa, Sweden (obvious) and France (also obvious), for a total of 17 countries. No book yet, but I would not be too surprised if one is available soon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_and_Lesbian_Kingdom_of_the_Coral_Sea_Islands

200. Gabon. A great place to stop in West Africa. And a great novel about the struggles of old and new traditions, the tragedy of normal life, and the misconceptions of jealous people are to be found in Mema by Daniel M. Mengara. One reviewer had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mengara in person at a lecture, and assures us he is that one thing we all want in an author. Polite. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3364431.Mema

We’ll make our usual Wednesday detour and then see what else there is to see in the rest of the world. Have a great week, see you on Sunday.

Ten Commandments of Being a Writer

The First Commandment: Thou shall find many ways to tell your stories. The best way will be the one that works naturally for you.

The Second Commandment: Thou shall make time to write every day. Let me repeat that, for this is the greatest Commandment: Thou shall make time to write every day. Five minutes, an hour, or half a day, just do it.

The Third Commandment: Thou shall write only to rewrite. Write in a forward direction first, from start to finish. Only then may you seek the path of edit and rewrite.

The Fourth Commandment: Thou shall never think that you write poorly. Or that what you write is crap. If you have the drive to write, listen to your heart. The story will be tightened and improved through critique groups, editors, and your own improvement.

The Fifth Commandment: Thou shall need a critique group. You need supportive friends who are also writers, who can critique your work without damaging you. And you need to learn to critique in return, to bond and grow in your craft.

The Sixth Commandment: Thou shall know the evil that is writer’s block, but also thou shall know that it, too, shall pass. Sometimes writer’s block is your mind’s way of saying, take a break! Go watch a movie, read a book, clean out the garage. The words will come when you return. Anxiety helps no one. Deep breath, and relax.

The Seventh Commandment: Thou shall always seek knowledge, from blogs, workshops, books, and friends. If you stop learning, you stop the creative life inside you. Blessed are the perpetual students, for they shall know more than anyone.

The Eighth Commandment: Thou shall nourish thy body through healthy foods, fresh and unprocessed, low in fat, low in salt, and taken in proper amounts at regular intervals. Thou shall drink water without impurities whenever possible. Coffee should be taken in moderation, no more than a quart at a sitting.

The Ninth Commandment: Thou shall seek the sun or light of day once in every 24 hours. Thou shall keep sacred the movement of the body, in gentle exercise every day. Exercise builds muscle, muscles fuel the metabolism, and the metabolism keeps a writer healthy and creative.

The Tenth Commandment: Thou shall sleep once in every 24 hours. Thy brain needs to clear its cache and reboot, your body must recharge, and you must let the muses whisper the next story into your dreams. Sleep at least 7 hours, and if possible, take a short nap each day. Sleep well.

See you on Sunday!

Name That Time Period!

Can you tell how much I like to use this blog to grumble about critiques and so on? Today’s Issue-I-Need-to-Get-Off-My-Chest regards the use of names. I use the name Harris as a first name for a Regency Lord. Someone commented that Harris wasn’t used as a first name at that time. Oh, really?

Let us consult the Peerage. http://www.thepeerage.com/index_custom.htm (I know I could have used Burke’s, but I found the one above first. Here’s Burke’s:http://www.burkespeerage.com/) (Oh, funny little thing, you have to have a subscription to use Burke’s.) I went to the Custom Index for the Napoleonic Wars, because that’s the time period I want. Here are some of the names listed and the years of the battles. I believe the named person was mentioned in dispatches or some such.

Spencer Minchin, 1801. Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton, 1812. Israel Pellew. 1805. Hercules Robinson, 1805. Connell Scanlan, 1813. Adderly Beamish-Bernard, 1815. Whitwell Butler, 1815. Beaumont Hotham, 1815. Fletcher Norton, 1815. Watkin Owen Pell, 1813. Wroth Palmer Acland, 1809. Galbraith Lowry Cole, 1809. Prosper Aime Victor Combe, 1809. Chichester William Crookshank, 1809. Rowland Hill, 1813. Hardress Robert Saunderson, 1809. Baldwin Layton, 1814.

Harris Butterfield was born in London in 1835.

So, you are asking yourself, what’s my point? That a lot of typical surnames were used as first names, along with some pretty strange names. Come on, Wroth? Hardress? Anyway, at least person received the first name of Harris, even though it was later than the Regency. My point is, there’s every chance that at least one person in the Regency period could have had that name. At least I didn’t go with Throatwarbler-Mangrove.

In looking for the names of the period, I discovered a great site, Almanac, that had a great article on how names wax and wan in popularity: http://www.almanac.com/content/name-game And this site shows which names were the most popular in which decade: http://www.galbithink.org/names.htm

Mary and John were the ruling names for babies in the early 1800s, with boys giving way to William in 1840, and girls getting Elizabeth for a change in 1900. That’s pretty impressive. And no wonder by the time George M. Cohan came along. Mary was an old name, even if a grand one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmzxTtAe6bA&feature=kp

Want to find popular names in more recent times? Baby Center has the information: http://www.babycenter.com/babyNameYears.htm and so does the Social Security Administration. http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/

Have fun looking up all your friends and family. See you on Sunday.

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 4

Welcome back for another travel extravaganza! I looked back over the previous posts, and realized I occasionally failed to mention the country I stopped in. So I will go back and reformat those posts, and now list the name of the country first. Got your passports stamped? Let’s go!

61. Jordan. We start off with two very different perspectives of the same country. The first, Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite Van Geldermalsen tells an intriguing story of a New Zealand nurse who ends up, well, married to a Bedouin. The reviews wish she had done more than describe the events, and put more emotions into the book. Still, it’s a marvelous concept and a look at every day Jordan. The second book is Leap of Faith : Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor. This is the story of a very beautiful woman who loved her husband and her new country, in spite of some culture shock. And he just happened to be the king, so she’s the queen, and not just an ordinary woman. Mixed reviews, so make up your own mind.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/925598.Married_to_a_Bedouin?ac=1
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/400598.Leap_of_Faith_?ac=1

62. Saudi Arabia. This book fascinates me. I am certainly going to read it. Finding Nouf by Z. Ferraris is a mystery, a love story, and a fairly highly rated story in Goodreads reviews. The blurb mentions the detective’s years of yearning for love and intimacy, and that is what hooked me. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2302650.Finding_Nouf?ac=1

63. United Arab Emirates. I can’t say no to a Duke. And this story is a wonderful adventure based partly on the experiences of the author. The Duke of Dubai by Luigi Falconi includes glossaries and appendices to increase your reading enjoyment. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3378511-the-duke-of-dubai?ac=1

64. Oman. Here’s the discovery of a lifetime! A book on Goodreads that no one has rated yet! Be the first to read and review Dust and Fury: A Gripping Family Saga Set in Oman During the 1960s Dhofar Rebellion by David Barnet! Well, if we can believe the notes about the book, there’s love, loyalty, bravery, betrayal, and revenge. It’s also a gripping story that will keep any reader entertained. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21341472-dust-and-fury?ac=1

65. Yemen. This country brings up a shelf full of non-fiction, and while that’s not against my criteria, I prefer non-fiction. The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil is a true story of one journalist who went to help a small paper in another country, and fell in love with the strength of Arab women in the work place. The fiction novel that interested me is The Yemenite Girl by Curt Levant, but there’s very little information about it. So once more, take your choice or try both.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8332435-the-woman-who-fell-from-the-sky?from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12187699-the-yemenite-girl?ac=1

66. Eriterea. Searching for novels that are set on Eriterea, I could only come up with collections of poetry. Possibly there are books that haven’t been translated into English yet. But why not absorb a little poetry if it’s the best voice of the country? Who Needs a Story? is a collection of poems from three decades, edited by Charles Cantalupo. While not always inspiring works, the patriotic bent is admirable. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2650224-who-needs-a-story-contemporary-eritrean-poetry-in-tigrinya-tigre-and-a?from_search=true

67. Djibouti. Elmore Leonard gave us Get Shorty and his 10 Rules of Writing. That could be a career right there. But there is an impressive list of other books he’s written and no explanation for this one. Djibouti is the name of the book. It’s a twisting, gripping, sometimes playful, and humorous story of modern-day piracy. Or is it? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7981086-djibouti

68. Ethiopia. I wish I had known about the Girls of Many Lands series long ago. Each novel is written by a different author. Saba: Under the Hyena’s Foot by Jane Kurtz is a rags to riches tale of superior quality. Maybe just the spark needed for a young reader who may one day be a writer. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/561648.Saba?ac=1

69. Bahrain. Speaking of young readers and writers, The Meeting Place by Lucy Caldwell came about from a visit to Bahrain when she was seven years old. The country got under her skin, until she began to dream of it. And the writing flowed. Northern Ireland may have more in common with Bahrain than we know. http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/a-young-author-talks-about-her-award-winning-novel-set-in-bahrain

70. Qatar. We’re all about cultural expectations here at Around the World Book Tours. You may be surprised to read that. I know I was. But the novel Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar explores the similarities between India and Qatar, in how women are valued and treated. There’s stuff about meetings and sparks, so I am in! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15744536-love-comes-later?from_search=true

71. Sri Lanka. Such a lush country could hardly be explored through a normal type of novel. Instead, I picked Children of the Lion by Carl Muller. This is a fable and a folklore tale with prophecies and pincesses and kings and battles, like any good saga would have. A tour de force of the imagination. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3353811-children-of-the-lion?from_search=true

72. Afghanistan. I loved the movie The Kite Runner, in spite of the brutal and savage events. The eventual human love that came about redeemed the brutality to an extent. So here’s another story by the same author. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/128029.A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns

73. Somalia. You might not think having the person you were crazy about in high school show up wanting to make a baby with you to be all that bad of an occurrence. Or maybe it could be the worst that could happen. And if your country is in turmoil at the same time, it’s possible the results will not be what you hoped for. Secrets by Nuruddin Farah. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/328505.Secrets

74. Kenya. You should immediately recognize the top books on the Goodreads list of novels set in Kenya. Out of Africa, Flame Trees of Thika, and all the Born Free saga books. I really wanted to find a book about actual Kenyans, not European colonists, so I kept looking. I liked the premise of a few selections, but the reviews were not encouraging. Then I clicked on a book that I thought had gotten in the novel list in error. The Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson is a novel, and the characters are Kenyans, and not only their own intriguing story but that of the country plays a part. And the reviews were consistently favorable.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3476509-a-guide-to-the-birds-of-east-africa

75. Uganda. A failing of mine, or a reason I write romances, is that I want a happy every after (HEA) ending. Such a brutal history as that of Uganda might only have that in an all out fantasy. So I am going to take a chance on White Teeth by Okot p’Bitek. A story at least of some humor, this sounds like a comedy of errors taking place in Africa. A bride price to prove he can be a good husband and provide for his future wife. I’m in.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4201.White_Teeth

76. South Sudan. The Lost Boys have always touched my heart, but as well, the girls and women who were used abominably. Finding a novel that gives a promise of the endurance of hope is the closest to a HEA I am likely to find. While the Sun is Above us by Melanie Schnell looks at the horror of innocents caught up in a war they want no part of. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13512215-while-the-sun-is-above-us

77. Chad. Only three books come up for this country. One is about child soldiers. One is poorly translated. But I think I would have chosen this book no matter what. It’s a children’s story about going to school. I was not what one would call a good student, or even a willing student. I had many issues, but now I am mature enough to appreciate the fact that I could go to school. I didn’t have to help on the farm, I wasn’t turned away for being a girl, and schools were open to everyone where I grew up. How different it is for Thomas in Rain School by James Rumford. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9199871-rain-school

78. Central African Republic. The temptation is great to go with Malaria Dreams by Stuart Stevens. But it only starts in CAR, and then moves along. Better, I think, to go with Song from the Forest: My Life Among the Ba-Benjelle Pygmies by Louis Sarno. I love the music of the Deep Forrest recordings, so this is a great addition to what I learned researching that CD.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1302786.Song_from_the_Forest__My_Life_Among_the_Ba_Benjelle_Pygmies

79. Cameroon. Africa, you may or may not know, is big. And there are so many things going on that a single heart can hardly comprehend them. Animals need saving, people need feeding, politicians need morals, and children need loving. Here’s a book written by a man who got to experience many facets of that world. A woman of Africa by Nick Roddy.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10561041-a-woman-of-africa

80. Nigeria. Well. I like all the books I have investigated her, from Half a Yellow Sun by C.N. Adichie to I Do Not Come to You by Chance by A.T. Nwaubani. But reading a review from a monogamous woman saying that in spite of her expectation that a book about polygamy would teach her nothing, and yet it did, made up my mind. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7194279-the-secret-lives-of-baba-segi-s-wives

Potpourri

I have been able to beat the odds in many ways during my life time. These incidents have created a rather positive outlook for me, which is probably a good thing. Yet, maybe I’m just fooling myself.

I was single all through my 30s, and never had a steady relationship until I turned 40. I grew up in the male-depleted generation, and often thought my soul mate had died in Vietnam. I read articles that told me I had a better chance of being struck by lightning than getting married. Mike and I always marvel at the fact that we did find each other. I just needed to be willing to love a younger man. Oh, what a sacrifice!

Mike was still married at the time I met him. A dear friend gave me the book which I have since given away and can’t find on Google about dating married men. The bottom line, and something this friend had experienced herself, is that a married man won ‘t leave his wife for his girlfriend. So I had no expectations of having a long-term relationship with him. Mike never read that book. He had long since been emotionally removed from his marriage, and when asked by an interested third party a pointed question, he realized he wanted out.

The question was, If you learned you only had two weeks to live, who would you want to spent that time with? He chose me, and neither of us have ever regretted it.

Shortly after we were married, Mike and I got custody of his two youngest children. The battle to win them from their abusive mother was nothing compared to the struggle to raise the money for the lawyer’s retainer. My own parents told me that the courts would never take the children from their mother. Granted, I hadn’t realized I failed to tell them about the scary things going on, and that Child Welfare Services were involved and on our side, but still it hurt to not have their support. Six months later, and deeply in debt, we were granted full custody.

Sometimes I did think I did myself harm in pushing for custody. Mike had his doubts about the whole business, but supported me. And I knew by then this was my only shot at motherhood. Looking back, I wish I had been a perfect mother, but my daughter was too much like her mother and too much like me on a bad day. I did finally get help for my depression, and found out how to focus on positive thoughts moment by moment. And our son is the very best kid any parent could ever want. I love that he still feels comfortable coming here to talk over the issues that come up in his life.

All these ups and downs and beating of odds have found their way into my writing. My Romance will always have a happy ending. And my life as an author? There’s what I need to know. I pitched my Regency Romance to an agent some weeks ago, and she asked me to send it when I felt comfortable with it. She even knows an editor who likes these sort of stories. So even though I only have 2 rejection slips, and those are from before I married, do I have to get a few hundred? Am I setting myself up for a huge fall by thinking this book is as good as sold?

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury. I can’t stop writing, not only will the people in my head not let me rest, but the critique group and fans on Scribophile tell me to keep going. The truth is, publishing the traditional way will be an awesome step on my path, but I am not afraid to go the self-publishing way. What are the odds?

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!