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!

School of Dreams

Many writing workshops take place on line, and that’s amazing and fun, but wouldn’t it be awesome to go away somewhere and be able to focus on what you were taught?

Imagine a creativity workshop in Dubai. Surrounded by wealth and grandeur, where could your mind go? http://www.creativityworkshop.com/dubai.html

This creative training isn’t just in novel writing, but in memoirs and photography, story telling and map making. In Crete! http://www.creativityworkshop.com/crete.html

Writers without Borders has workshops coming up in Lake Como, Italy, and Lismore Castle, Ireland. Writing in an Irish castle? Take me away! http://writing.shawguides.com/AbroadWritersConferencesandWorkshops?fSearch=Italy&fSiteID=6&fSearchPointer=1&fSearchOrdinal=1

In case you can’t decide where you want to go to be inspired and taught, why not hop on a cruise ship? This incredible offer includes a reasonable monthly payment option and a Baen editor on board! Trapped with a few hundred writers! http://www.phoenixpick.com/cruise13/cruise.htm All this and the Bahamas, too.

Of course, I’ve always wanted to go up north, see whales and bears and moose, oh my! An Alaska cruise where the whole family is welcome would suit me perfectly. http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/im-teaching-a-writing-workshop?xg_source=activity

Dreams are what writers are made of, and while none of these workshops are in my budget this year, I will tuck the knowledge away that they exist. Have a great week!

Practice Makes Published

I’ve taught a few workshops on writing from prompts, and participated in a few challenges using both verbal and visual prompts on Scribophile. While I sometimes hate the fact that the story takes time away from my real goal of finishing a novel, in truth all such exercises are good. It’s like stretching after hours of working on the computer, or going out for a walk to clear the brain. So here’s my most recent product. The prompt was visual, based on an indoor picnic with lots of tiny candles. Hope you like it.

Everything on Earth To Me

The front door opened inward just a crack, then the security chain stopped it. Brendan pulled his key out of the lock, while his heart began to hammer in fear. She’d been so depressed and angry this morning. “Stella? Sweetheart, let me in, please.”
“Hang on, Bren! I lost track of the time.”
He heard her moving around, and could smell – candles? Had he forgotten a birthday? She smiled up at him through the crack, and his heart settled to normal.
Wait. Stella, smiling? The door shut so she could undo the safety chain, then her wheelchair tires squeaked on the tile entry. “You can come in now.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. Brendan’s throat burned with hope and wonder. And still, some fear. He went in.
Their sparsly-furnished living room, empty mostly to accommodate Stella’s chair, glowed in the evening setting of the sun, and sparkled with a few dozen candles in tall glass jars. A plaid blanket covered the floor, and a basket, a huge thing with a lid, occupied the middle.
Brendan retreated into routine, setting his briefcase on the chair, the keys in the bowl on the desk, his coat on top of the case. He couldn’t think of what to say. When he looked at her, Stella’s smile had slipped a little.
“Do you like it, love?”
“I do. I just don’t know what ‘it’ is. Is this an anniversary?” He bent to kiss her.
She captured his hand and held it to her cheek. Her blue eyes sparkled in the flames, tears kept at bay through her determination, he thought. “No special occasion. Not really.” She pulled a remot control from her lap and clicked a button.
The stereo played “Dance with Me.”
Brendan closed his eyes, the tears winning this time. “Stella. Don’t.”
She let go of his hand, and he opened his eyes. Stella moved her chair back, and locked the wheels. Holding his gaze, she said, “Brendan, look. I can stand now.”
He ground down the urge to shout No, to spare her from any more pain. But he couldn’t move. She leaned forward and flipped up the one foot rest in use. The other, not being needed, already rested out of the way. She scooted forward and placed her right food on the floor. She pushed herself into a standing position, allowing her long skirt to cover the missing left foot.
“My God. My love.” He crossed the room and hugged her. He had missed being able to hold her tiny form against his chest, to rest his chin on her head and feel the tickle of her blond curls. “You did it.”
She leaned back so he could see her proud and happy expression. “I made dinner, too. Only sandwiches, this time. But I did it myself.”
Reluctantly he allowed her to pull away and, using her chair for a brace, slide down to sit on the blanket. Brendan pulled off his shoes, his suit jacket, and his tie. As he sat across from her, questions boiled up from his brain, but his mouth declined to form whole sentences. He settled for, “How?”
Laughter! He hadn’t realized how much he missed her laughter. “I really have astounded you, haven’t I?” At his nod, she went on. “Do you know that I thought I hated you this morning?”
Brendan blinked. Oh yes, he knew, but he’d tried not to think about it.
“You would never let me do anything for myself. You dressed me, you fed me, you brushed my hair. Why the hell did losing a foot mean I couldn’t brush my own hair anymore?”
“Mostly I wanted to be touching you,” he told her. “You stopped letting me do much else.”
Stella looked down, and seemed to notice the basket. She opened it up, pulling out plates, napkins, and sandwiches. Turkey and avocado on wonderful whole wheat, with lots of veggies. The way they both loved their sandwiches. He took the one she handed him, willing her to meet his eyes again.
She did, a half-smile crinkling her blue ones. “I know. I thought you deserved better. But today I realized, as I screamed at you, long after you had gone to work, that you only stepped in to do what I refused to do for myself.”
“Stella–”
She reached across to him and placed her fingers on his mouth. “Wait, please listen.”
He sat back. If he ate his sandwich, maybe he could stay quiet. He took a bite but didn’t think he could swallow.
Stella removed a bottle from the basket, encased in a thermal wrapper. She poured the sparkling golden liquid –apple cider if he knew her– into two tumblers.
I spent the morning making a list of what I want to do. I want to be your wife again and make love with you. I want to have a aby. I want to go shopping and clean the house when I wish to. I want to get the prosthetic, and learn to walk. And maybe, in time, I can dance again.”
As if perfectly timed, the stereo played “I Could Have Danced All Night.” My Fair Lady.
“I love you so much, Brendan. When we met, I adored the way you would pick me up, your body still thrills me. Your skin is so fair, your black hair such a contrast, all over your body. Did I ever tell you how much that excites me?”
Brendan gulped some apple cider to wash down the sandwich. “No, you never did.”
“I should have. I love your brown eyes, your crooked nose, the dimple in your chin. I love your smile, your humor. And I can’t believe I almost threw it all away. I felt so sorry for myself. Why did I have to get that infection? Why didn’t the doctors try harder to save my foot? Maybe I should have died.”
“No,” Brendan set down his plate and glass, and moved closer. He scooped her up into his lap. “I don’t care how many bits you might lose, I want you, love. I want you to be my wife, please. Stay with me.”
His tears dropped on her head, and hers soaked his shirt. Brendan hadn’t felt this happy since their honeymoon. Maybe since the day the beautiful dancer noticed him, agreed to go out with him, said yes to marrying him.
“Brendan,” she sighed into his mouth, and kissed him.
Desire rushed through him, and for once he didn’t need to cool off, think of something else. He stood up, holding her, and set her left leg around his hips. She dropped her foot to the floor.
Brendan nodded, smiling, as the stereo crooned, “Stella by Starlight.”
They danced around the candle-lit, blanket-draped living room. He let his joy wash over him, over her, and pictured a brighter future than ever.