Wednesday Mornings

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. You may also know that I won NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for 2016. That just means I finished my novel on time. But it also means I signed up for information on meet-ups in my area. Continue reading “Wednesday Mornings”


The Right Time to Write

Authors struggle daily and on-going to live a full life and to find the time to write. I have sat in on several workshops covering ways to solve this puzzle. Lucky for me, I never think I have it right. I keep sitting in on more and more lectures. That’s why I zipped down to the early meeting where author Rick Ochocki explained how he does it. Plan and Manage Your Writing Time. Continue reading “The Right Time to Write”

NaNoWriMo, Why do you hate me?

Okay, NaNo doesn’t hate anyone. I just have the usual love-hate relationship with the event that most writers do. On the surface, 1667 words per day doesn’t sound that bad. I write that much in Facebook messages and Scribophile critiques easily. But this has to be about one subject, the novel. The new novel you started for NaNo. Oh, wait, I don’t have time for a novel.

Yeah, I have to fit in the revision on a short story for an anthology, the sequel to my “friend’s” novella, and two blog posts twice a week. Plus keep track of the group blog and coordinate all the details for the contracts and stuff for the anthology. Yikes!

Wait, I’m retired now. My day is my own. (Yes, all you retirees who know better can laugh now.) As soon as the house is clean, the yard is in shape, the birds are fed fresh foods, the garage is sorted out, I find my husband’s missing hoodie now that the weather is colder, and I read all the books my friends are publishing, I’ll have time to write.

For now, I am putting the NaNo novel first so that I reach the daily goal. I’m a bit behind today, and predictions say I won’t finish until February 4th. I need to write 1823 words to finish on time. So once I get 2000 words per day I will get my anthology short finished, because it shouldn’t take much time to finish it, and others are depending on me to get it all together.

Then I can work on the sequel to Regency Banquet – Appetizer, which is Regency Banquet – Main Course. And you know what, now that I am retired I don’t care who knows that I write racy stuff under the pen name of Roxanna Haley! There, I feel so much better!

The NaNoWriMo site has a to-do list for the first week, but it doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that some people have other tasks then writing. I’m lucky to not have small children or worse, teenagers, to deal with right now. My feathered kids can be put in their cages and covered for short spells if need be. As long as my Amazon Maynard can have access to my feet now and then, he’s happy. That was probably too much information, huh?

I wish I had chosen another novel to work on, but my shape shifters were more insistent than my captian and farm girl characters, or any of the others in the crowded waiting room in my mind. But IF I keep up my NaNo system and write a full novel each month, then things will move along quickly and more ideas will see the light of the computer screen.

Theory vs. Practice is what we have here. And I will be back on Sunday.

A, My Name Is – Hang on a second

Don’t know if you are familiar with that game referenced in the title. My husband and I played it frequently with our children when they were young and impatient and we had to wait somewhere. Or drive somewhere. Each person took a turn at the next letter in the alphabet, stated their name, their spouse’s name, where they came from and what product they sold. I think in the original version, you had to recite all the stuff before your turn to get to add to it. We played a simpler version.

Today, being Day Two of NaNoWriMo, I zipped along in my story, trying not to look at my word count too often, and bam! I needed a name for a manor house. I fired up Google, and searched. Somewhere I had encountered a Manor House Generator, much like the Regency Name Generator I often use, but I failed to bookmark it, or if I did bookmark it, I failed to remember where I saved the bookmark.

Interestingly enough, Wikipedia has a list of manor homes and some names are links to pages about that house. Better I found a Project Britain page that explained, sort of, why the British name their houses and domiciles. ( There’s even a list of the most popular names for houses, and the most common themes. A sign company provided a guide to naming your house ( which will help immensely.

But the real gold mine is a Lost Heritage page listing lost English country homes. ( The names are alpha by county, and as I am thinking of Yorkshire for my current story, I looked there for possible useable names. Then I went to Google Maps and tried to coordinate old York with satellite images. I thought Risby Hall in East Riding might do as it was near the coast and the River Humber. There is little or nothing in existence about the place, as it was demolished in the 1820s for reasons unknown. A warning about this page, if you love historic buildings, you will need a strong stomach here. Some of the sites listed have photos available, and when you look at the beautiful buildings and realize they no longer exist, you may need a moment to compose yourself. Excuse me.

Next, I Googled the name of the hall, and found nothing, but I did discover a great web page called Go Historic ( which is in beta and appears to be a wiki for historic travel destinations. If you visit a place listed in their data base, they would love for you to write a description or give some facts about your visit. When you register with them to start doing this, you don’t get a stupid visual captcha, you are asked a captcha questions like, What color is a strawberry? If you can’t answer that, you might be a spambot.

Go Historic is handmade with love in Portland, Oregon. I wonder if they are hiring? The page includes a time line on any historic places with enough facts to list. There are aerial photos, lists of hotels nearby, and lists of pages that might interest you, such as Jane Austen Places, or Winston Churchill Places. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get a group of historical romance writers together for a tour? Well, I am sure it’s been done before, but this site makes it possible for just about anyone to make the plans.

Side Note: Perusing the list of houses at threat of being demolished, I came across Cambusnethan Priory in the Scottish town of Gowkethrapple. No, really! There is a link to some photos of the place, apparently used in filming “28 Days Later.” ( The Priory is beautiful if neglected and not inhabitable, but I would not say no if someone gave it to me. Not that I could do anything to restore its beauty, but I know here some Society for Creative Anachronism members who would be honored just to camp around it and have it in the background of battles scenarios and court photos.

Lost Heritage includes, when available, the reason or way the homes were demolished. Fire, abandonment, urban development, and insufficient funds to maintain the home all bring pangs at the course of history. But the one that makes me saddest is Surplus to requirements. In other words, the owners had so many other homes, they could spare this one. And as no one particularly wanted to buy it, they had it demolished.

In finishing this up, because time is running on and I only have 2709 words on my novel so far, I want to point you to a Jeeves and Wooster book, one of P.G.Wodehouse’s treasures bestowed upon all Anglophiles. While it doesn’t take place in the Regency period, many things hadn’t changed all that much in the ton. In the story, “Thank You, Jeeves,” Bertie rusticates with a good friend to prove he doesn’t really need Jeeves at his side, and also to reduce the complaints about his playing of a banjolele. (Yes, it is an unholy union between a banjo and a ukelele: The friend, Lord “Chuffy” Chuffnell, needs to sell the manor house in Somersetshire. The property includes the main hall, a dower house, cottages, and a boat dock. As always, hilarity ensues and Jeeves gets Bertie Wooster into and out of numerous scrapes. Remember this book was published in 1934, and try to ignore the use of the N word. The use horrified me until I remembered that the word was more commonly used in the time the book appeared. That does not make it right, but in similar fashion to the list of houses about to be lost to us, there is little I can do to change it now.

Have fun if you are NaNoing, and don’t forget to set your clock back an hour on Sunday if you are a crazy American.

NaNo What, Now?

One benefit of writing I found is that in researching characters and their motivations, you learn a lot about yourself along the way. For instance, I’m the sort of person who puts things off, and who would like things to happen with a wave of a magic wand or the swallowing of a pill.

My weight issues started when I was two year old, and that influences how I see my heroines. I waited as long as I could for a magic weight loss pill, but had to find the next best thing. I’m halfway to my goal, and making adjustments almost every step of the way.

In the same way, I want to wave a magic wand and hold my finished manuscript on my computer. In an effort to make the magic happen sooner, I’ve taken writing classes, on-line seminars, and read every book that I can get ahold of to improve my writing and my speed.

I’ve learned how to get my book e-pulished, how to use the 12 stages of intimacy to increase sexual tension. I learned how to create unforgettable characters and how to be a plot whisperer. None of which gave a clue as to whipping out a book any sooner than when it’s ready.

For a few years, I’ve been hearing about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The focus and challenge is to write a novel in 30 days, November 1 through 30.

The good thing about doing this in November, for me, is that I have 3 extra days off, Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving Day plus the Friday after. With weekends, that’s a total of 12 days for writing! And of course, I can find some time in the evenings during the week.

The bad thing is the same in November and just about every month. The first Saturday I attend a bird club meeting. The second Saturday, I sometimes go with my husband to a fountain pen collectors’ meeting. As it’s a pretty long drive south, we often head farther south afterward to visit my dad. If we don’t go south, well, we go north to Corona and buy bird seed at Magnolia Bird Farm. Veterans’ Day should be a free and clear writing day, with some breaks for cleaning and gardening. The third Saturday, Romance Writers of America meets somewhat south of here. The fourth Saturday is our monthly gathering of friends to play games at our house. Thanksgiving, of course, will be a day of traveling and not eating anything not lean or green. That Friday should be a day of writing, and the rare fifth Saturday is completely open.

Did I mention evenings? Well, Monday nights I walk dogs at the local humane society. Tuesday I attend a weight loss support group and type up a report of what happened. But Wednesday through Friday should be open. And people wonder why I have trouble returning phone calls or going to visit people. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Last year for the first time, I registered for NaNoWriMo. I made a few friends and hooked up with people I knew from Facebook. At this point, I don’t even remember which book or story I had picked to work on.

Obviously, I failed at NaNo. I rarely made time to log in, completely forgot about it some days, and before I knew it, November was done. Faded away.

I think, however, this missed opportunity triggered my drive to rejoin RWA. I am so glad I did, I draw inspiration, support, and motivation from this wonderful organization. I’ve finished writing one novel, started two more, taken classes as stated above, and submitted a manuscript to a publisher. I’ve also joined Scribophile, and received excellent feedback and critiques on what I posted there. I even became the group leader for a group called Writers Who Love Romance.

I started this blog about my writing evolution and progress. I am honed, excited, and ready to push my next Regency Romance into focus. NaNo, here I come! Starting November 1st, I will write daily and post a word count for the day. I will include my total word count in this blog each week. And at the end of November, I will have at least a rough draft of that novel.

In my weight loss support group. We are told repeatedly that a key to lasting success is having oversight by some other party. As long as you are honest and track what you eat, and share that food diary with someone, you are likely to meet your goals.

NaNoWriMo may be a writer’s key to success. No other source of oversight is available unless you are in a critique group or RWA. NaNo is a way to connect with other writers as well. Hope you’ll join me there if you have the spark!

I only hope I can remember my password.