Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hold down the fort!

I'm off to Seattle in the morning. I should drop in. I have part III of Eamon in Abbyland to post (probably early next week, unless I get time on the weekend). So stay tuned for that!

Keep out of trouble. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. And if you want to finish my book for me while I'm gone, be my guest.

Actually it's coming along -- about 3/4 there in excellent shape and 1/4 rough that needs to be shaped up. I'm hoping I have sufficient "shaping" time while I'm gone that I can send it off shortly thereafter. In the best of all possible worlds, it would be done now.

But we won't talk about that.


Eamon in Abbyland -- part II

Herewith Eamon in Abbyland, part II . . . in which Eamon and Abby meet and discover their passion for one another and ...

Well, read and see for yourself.

(If you're still reading Kate's The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife, you have permission to finish it before you stop back and read Eamon, part II. If you aren't reading Kate's book, you should)

Eamon In Abbyland -- part II

At Abby's house he heard a new voice. A soft voice with a gentle accent and his heart beat even faster. If you (sorry – if ewe .. ) could fall in love with a voice, then Eamon had done so. But would Abby really love him?

Hands reached into his bag – pulled him out. He was face to face with Abby at last. Well, he would be when she turned him round. At the moment, he was bum to chest with her.

But then Abby turned him round and looked into his face, into his little crossed eyes.

'Eamon!' she said. 'I've been waiting for you all my life. Well – at least since Kate told me that she was bringing you to Ireland to meet me!' And she planted the most passionate welcoming kiss on

Eamon's long brown nose.

Eamon's heart lurched, his chest heaved, his wool fluffed out wonderfully. He was in love. He had met the woman of his dreams. His brain went all woolly and he felt rampant with desire.

He couldn't wait – 'Come with me, my darling,' he whispered. 'I'm feeling a little horny – look at the way my horns are coiled! Come to bed with me and we will make sweet love into the night. You will soon find that I am not mutton dressed as lamb but just the ram for ewe.'

To his delight it seemed that Abby felt the same. She followed him into the bedroom and very soon they were locked in each others arms – er - well, he was in Abby's arms and she was held tight in his four legs. It was the start of a long passionate afternoon.

Some time later Eamon lay back against the pillows, a satisfied smile curving his generous mouth. He was in love and he had found the woman of his dreams. No longer would he have to live at home with his mother and wear the dreadful cardigans she knitted. He had met Abby who was all woman and when he was with her he felt all sheep.

Baaaaah, he sighed. Baaaah Baaah! It was all that he was capable of saying until he recovered from the storm of passion that had gripped him.

But very soon his breathing eased. Desire started to creep over him again, tingling in his veins, warming his blood. Suddenly he became aware of the fat that Abby was no longer with him. She had left his side and he missed her.

'Abby, my ewe lamb,' he called, 'Come back to me. Come and rest your head on my woolly chest. Stroke your fingers over my horns, look deep into my crossed eyes . . .'

Abby was stunned by his powers of recovery.

'What?' she cried sheepishly . 'Again? Oh Eamon, you are a passionate rogue! You have taken my innocence and used me for your pleasure and now you w

ant me again and again! I do not know if I can handle a stud ram like you. I fear you are just toying with me – that you are trying to pull the wool over my eyes and that you will break my heart.'

'But . . .' said Eamon. 'But . . .'

But it was too late, Abby had already fled into the night afraid of the passion he aroused in her.

Silly lamb, Eamon thought to himself. She didn't know a good thing when she saw it.

But she would be back, he knew that. She couldn't resist him. And so he opened a bottle of his favourite white wine – Lost Sheep chardonnay and settled back to wait for her return.

She would come back he knew. She would realise she loved him and then she would come back, bleating for forgiveness.

He just had to wait.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Eamon in Abbyland -- part I

Eamon's Adventures in Abbyland

Once upon a time there was a handsome young sheep named Eamon who lived in a shop window in Louth. He was quite happy there, if a little bored. But he had the street to watch and all the passers by who looked into the window and admired him, but no one took him home.

Then one day a lady novelist called Kate Walker came by the shop and she saw the handsome young sheep and she said –' That is Eamon!'

Eamon of course knew that he was Eamon but he wondered how the lady novelist knew his name. 'You are Eamon,' she said. 'The perfect Eamon for Abby Green. I just know she will love you.'

And the lady novelist came into the shop and asked to see Eamon. The assistant had to climb into the shop window to get him, but it was all worth the effort.

'He is perfect,' said Kate. Abby will love him, even if he is a little cross-eyed. I will take him with me.'

So the assistant put Eamon into a carrier bag and Kate took the bag, and Eamon away with her. She was only visiting Louth for the day so she took Eamon to her home and she took his photograph so that everyone could see what a handsome young sheep (if a little cross-eyed) he was.

The next day Kate said that she had to do some packing. Eamon had no idea what packing was so he was intrigued to see that Kate had put a large suitcase (well, it seemed large to him) on the bed. Suddenly he realised just why the case had to be so big – it had to be large enough to fit him!

'Don't worry, Eamon,' Kate said as she picked up Eamon and carefully placed him in a corner of the big black case. 'You'll be quite safe. You're going on a long journey to Ireland and when you get there you will meet Abby and I know she will fall in love with you.'

So Eamon settled down in his case and got ready for the journey. It was rather dark in there and a little bit bumpy at first but soon things quietened down and eventually he fell fast asleep, only waking up when the case was bumped and banged a bit more .

Suddenly there was a rush of light as the case was opened up once more and Eamon peered out into a new and different room.

'This is Ireland,' said Kate. 'And you are in a hotel in Dublin. Welcome to the Emerald Isle.'

Emerald? Eamon wondered. There was nothing green around him. The room was decorated in gold and pink, and the bed he was sitting on was white. But Kate assured him that he was in somewhere called Emerald, no matter what colour it was around him.

After a while Eamon settled in. He tested out a nice comfy chair, and then he tried the great big bed. It was so big that he felt rather lost in it.

After all the excitement of the travel and arriving in the Emerald places, he started to feel rather hungry. He decided that he was going to need all his strength to handle all this excitement and whatever was coming next so he checked out the best places to eat in Dublin.

Once he'd eaten he got into the great big bed and fell fast asleep, dreaming of suitcases and travelling and all that had happened to him.

The next day, after a hearty breakfast of oats and soda bread, Kate told Eamon that today was the day that he got to meet Abby.' We'll go to her house and you will see her there,' she said. 'And don't worry – Abby will love you. Abby loves Eamons, and she'll just adore you!'

So Eamon brushed his fleece and curled his horns. He even polished up his little black hooves so that he knew he looked his best for Abby who was going to love him.

And when Kate put him into a special travelling bag for the journey to Abby's house his heart was beating fast, his little woolly chest heaving with excitement.

He was going to meet Abby and she would love him at first sight.

* * * * *

Tune in tomorrow . . . and find out what happens when Eamon meets Abby for the first time!

While you're waiting, run out and get your very own copy of Kate's latest book, The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife. Talk about intense!

It will make your woolly chest heave with excitement.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Eamon is coming . . .

Kate Walker went to Ireland last week and she took a friend with her. His name is Eamon. She hasn't known him long, but the minute she met him she knew he and Abby Green absolutely had to meet. (Kate knows a hero when she sees one)

As you may (or may not) recall, Abby does not believe that Eamon is a hero's name. I disagree. We've had several discussions about this and an escalating 'war' of Eamons which has included several post cards, an apron and, most recently, a nightshirt.

Tomorrow, right here, you will get the next installment -- the story of Eamon and his trip with Kate and his meeting with Abby and . . . well, stay tuned.

Many thanks to Kate who told his story -- as only Kate can -- and for taking the time to do so when she was supposed to be out drinking Bewley's and enjoying herself).

I, in the meantime, will be deep in the book.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Channeling Kate Hardy

No, not really.

But as I said last week, this must be what it feels like to be Kate Hardy. Or Nora Roberts.

I suppose I should have left out the period between those last two sentences (or sentence and fragment), putting in a comma instead so Kate could be in the same sentence with Nora, which she likes.

But then she's in the last sentence with Nora, so I hope she's happy now.

Anyway, I'm writing buckets every day. I no longer stop and mull. I don't ruminate. I don't weigh. Words spill out. They may not be good words yet, or the right words, or the words I'll eventually end up with.

But they are words.

And they are getting through this story.

So, hooray for them. And hooray for these people, PJ and Ally, whose story must really want to be told.

All I can say is, Seb and Neely better be paying attention so they can see how it ought to be done. None of this shilly-shallying around. No whining. No taking their football and going home. Or their blueprints or whatever they were messing with when last I saw them.

Enough about them. They had their chance. They blew it. Or they and the editor didn't play well with each other, and so they aren't getting their chance right now. Maybe later. Well, definitely later. Probably. Er, um . . .

I don't care. Sufficient to the day is the book I'm working on. I'm just going to enjoy PJ and Ally -- and these blissful days when writing is, as they say (though I really rarely believe), "easy and fun for me."

At least it's easy and fun for PJ and Ally. And those few other authors who make it seem effortless. Which at the moment is me.

Who'd a thunk it?

I just wish I didn't have 5 days left to finish it all up. I could bask in knowing what I'm doing a bit longer if I had more time.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where Have I Been?

I wonder that, too. Mostly I've been under a deadline.

And the deadline is still looming, and the book is getting closer and closer, but it's not there yet. It is going to need another week or two. Hoping for the shorter, fearing for the latter. But considering when these characters deigned to appear in my mind, this is actually a pretty fast ride.

I've watched Blue Crush and enjoyed it. My memories of bodysurfing, which are only remotely applicable to what I witnessed in the film, are not of swirling and whirling in blue sea being crushed, but of swirling and whirling in complete blackness because why the heck would anyone open their eyes under the circumstances?

Grit? Sand? Salt water? No, thanks.

But I suppose, with cinematographic license, you have to show the blue swirly bits because when you only have visuals to work with, black doesn't get the point across. Now, if they could make the very air around us shake us and slam us while the water rushes in our ears, yeah, black might do it.

Good film. I enjoyed it. It's an interesting counterpoint to Gidget. Anyone remember that movie? The book was lots better. But James Darren is definitely worth a Male on Monday slot on the Pink Heart. Maybe I'll have to suggest writing about him.

Anyway, I've got to get back to chapter seven or nine or whichever one seems most likely to cooperate. You guys talk among yourselves. Feel free to comment. In fact I'd love it if you'd comment.

Remind me, when I have a couple of free brain cells to rub together that I want to talk about books and movies and the fickleness of memory. But not now. Now the book awaits.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Delayed Gratification

My husband, The Prof, calls writing books "the greatest example of delayed gratification" that he's ever seen.

He has had first-hand proof of this over the years. I wrote my first book the year between 1981-1982. I sent it off to Harlequin Mills & Boon in April 1982. After a long and boring saga (and a manuscript box that looked as if it should have had passport stamps from several countries) almost exactly two years later Harlequin bought it (along with the third book I wrote). The second book had been bought by the Harlequin American line three months earlier.

The advance checks arrived a few months after that. The books came out a year later. Publishing is sort of the Chinese water torture approach to making a living.

However . . .

Just last week I got one more royalty check for Starstruck, the second of those three books. Amazing. Definitely delayed gratification. I'm so pleased that Harlequin re-released it yet again (in something like its 4th incarnation) and that what amounts to a new generation can read it.

I haven't seen it in this new version, though in theory I'm supposed to get a copy. Maybe it will drift in one of these days. Hope so.

Kate Walker informed me this morning that another of my books is being re-released for Christmas in UK. She saw it in the shops yesterday. It's in a two-fer with Cathy Gillen Thacker called Their Little Miracles, and features my Silhouette Special Edition, The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle and Cathy's Their Instant Baby.

I will ask my webmistress to be sure to get the Silhouette Special Edition material up on my website, so anyone who wants can read an excerpt of The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle. At the moment it's still in her backlist of things to re-post from when we did the website revamp. We hadn't anticipated a new edition.

Who knew?

ps: The new book is whipping right along. Four days of amazingly regular production. No discernible angst. Is this what it's like to be Nora Roberts? Or Kate Hardy?

I like it. I can tell you that!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

If I can wish Hugh Jackman a happy birthday from my blog, I can wish a happy birthday to a far more important person in my life -- my mother.

It was her birthday today. She turned 88.

She's the youngest of three first cousins of her generation still alive and kicking. The other two are 91 and 99. They think of her as "the baby." She thinks of herself as "venerable" and "aged" and "stove up" and says she can barely get around.

But she got up and down my steps quite well this evening. She tolerated the dogs bumping her with their noses and Micah laying his big head in her lap while she tried to eat her birthday cake.

He loves her, but he loves cake even more. And I finally had to banish him to the kitchen.

I think she had a good day. She got to talk to her grandkids. And she got new pictures of the newest great-granddaughter.

And she got a fair number of cards even though she said to me the other day, "They're getting fewer. Who's left alive to send them?"

Well, a few people are. And they all wished her a happy birthday.

So do I.

Thank you, Mom. And happy birthday. I can't begin to tell you how much you mean to me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Downhill sort of day

There are days when I write that everything goes smoothly.

Not many. But some.

The longer I write, the more I relish those days because they are actually few and far between. I don't know if they're getting fewer and farther between, or if it just seems that way.

Many days, when the characters don't cooperate or the editor's voice in my brain is too loud to write over, getting the words down is like banging my head against the wall. It's nice when I stop, but that's about the only good thing I can say for it.

And then there are those rare days like today.

Today reminded me how much fun writing a book can actually be -- when all the words fall into place, when the characters talk and don't veer off the topic, making pronouncements about the history of cheese or the phases of the moon. It feels as if I've reached the top of the hill and am sailing down fast. The pages are piling up.

Days like this are wonderful. They are a gift. They are certainly worth celebrating.

So I'm celebrating tonight. And, of course, hoping that whatever happened today happens again tomorrow.

Greedy? No. But endlessly hopeful.

And typing with all fingers crossed.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You call that research?

I've spent a good part of the day getting the Hawaiian back story nailed down.

The story itself has existed in my brain for quite a long time. The actual tying it to specific places and getting the details is what I've been working on now.

It's so much easier to do with the internet.

Google Earth has given me bird's eye views of not only where PJ lives in New York City now, but is sharpening my Hawaiian geographical skills enormously.

Blogs have introduced me to people and places and details I would never have known of otherwise. And trawling through Amazon has netted me several films and books that will add to my knowledge.

Research is so much fun I wish I could just spend weeks on it. But time is of the essence here, so I'm trying to hold it to the bare minimum and not allow myself to get sucked into comparing every property on Oahu, trying to find the "perfect" studio apartment for Peter to have lived in as a surf bum/student.

I have enough details from my own university days. Surely I can create an apartment from my memories of that!

I'm planning on watching Blue Crush on Friday. I've got it on order. I've seen Endless Summer enough times that it has its own indelible spot in my brain. If anyone has any other good Hawaiian surf films to recommend, please do so.

Contribute your expertise to the cause. Every detail helps.

Very big thanks to Abby (and Eamon, I'm sure) and to Mads who have sent me details and suggestions. You guys are great.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Hawaiian Help?

I need help. There is a back story in my current book that is set in Hawaii.

When I first wrote about the character of Peter Antonides in The Antonides Marriage Deal, he was -- in his brother Elias's view -- a beach bum. He'd gone to Hawaii when he'd graduated from high school, ostensibly to enroll in the university.

And, let's be honest, to surf.

Why Hawaii? It was as far as he could get away from his Long Island based parents and still be in the same country.

It sounded good at the time -- and at the time I had no intention of making Peter a hero.


So, now Peter is my hero (Seb and Neely having been relegated to the back burner until I can get my head on straight about their story). And he needs to know something about Hawaii. Ergo, so do I.

So, the thing is, if you know lots about Hawaii, or even a little bit about Hawaii, drop me a comment or send me an email (contact on my website) so I can pick your brain.


In the meantime, I'm doing the internet proud, digging up everything I can. I wonder if Jane Porter will lend me her surfer boyfriend for a conversation or two.

I could certainly use some local detail.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hugh!

Lucy Gordon was the first person to call my attention to Hugh Jackman.

We were working on the Silhouette Desire, Blood Brothers, that we wrote together back in 1999 -- she doing the story of the English lord Randall Stanton while I wrote about his Montana-bred cousin, rancher Gabe McBride -- and I was trying to get a picture of Gabe in my mind.

She said, "Hugh Jackman."

I said, "Who?"

She said, "He's an Australian actor playing Curly in Oklahoma in London now."

I said, "Yeah, right." And didn't think any more about it. Somehow I couldn't imagine an Aussie making a believable Curly -- except maybe in London he could.

But she was talking to a writer whose Dad was born in Oklahoma, whose grandfather was born in Oklahoma, whose great-grandmother was born in Oklahoma.

Off the top of my head I couldn't imagine that I could manage the suspension of disbelief.

I was wrong. I saw the DVD of Oklahoma and believed. But even before that I saw Hugh in Paperback Hero (thanks to Kate Walker's son who was working in a video store at the time and got me my own used copy). I was sold.

After I watched him as Jack the truck driving romance writer, I figured he could do anything. I've been pretty much right. I've now seen him be lots of different characters. I've had him in my head for countless heroes.

And since the New Zealand and Australian Romance Writers Conferences in 2004, Kate Walker and I have a running theme of Hugh-in-a-towel that allows us to use one photo to capture thousands of words we might have to say if we didn't have that picture.

I must say, I quite like that bit of shorthand.

It's Hugh's birthday today.

So happy birthday, Hugh. And thank you for all the inspiration -- not just in a towel but in so many other respects as well.

And Lucy, I'll never doubt you again.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time Out

You may have noticed that I've been a bit laggardly about this blog posting in recent days. It isn't because I wouldn't like to be here.

It's just . . . there's this book I need to write.

It's coming along. Slow but sure. At least so far. And I'm hoping it will speed up a bit, but keep on with the "sure" part.

The dialogue chapter helped. It focused my mind on where they were going in the scene and prevented me from overloading it with narrative backstory. And now it has all the requisite parts and isn't just talking heads anymore (So stop worrying, Michelle).

And the next chapter is finished, and I'm considering a prologue, but I'll see if I really need one. It might work in better as a flashback. Or not. We shall see.

In the rare moments when I am not writing the book or ripping up what I've just written and writing something else, I have watched two television shows.

For me, this is astonishing. For years - literally from before I was married until after our youngest son grew up and went away to Wyoming -- we did not have a television in the house. When the kids were all gone, we figured, what the heck, why not? And so we have one.

But both of us tend to forget to watch it. Well, I watch the Packers, and I watch the World Cup, and occasionally I get engrossed enough in baseball to watch, though I am a Dodgers fan and there hasn't been much to watch as far as they go in recent years.

My husband occasionally gets waylaid by The History Channel. And when I was visiting my son and family I got entranced by Dirty Jobs and The Deadliest Catch. But regular series TV, no, not really.

But this year, I've found two shows I like. First is Pushing Daisies. I probably would have given it a miss because I'd have thought it was weird, but I just finished watching Wonderfalls on DVD, and I loved that.

And when I found out Daisies is by Bryan Fuller and, even better, that Lee Pace stars in it, I knew I had to give it a shot.

It's every bit as quirky as Wonderfalls. Quirkier, really. And the writing is delightful -- the characters are 'characters.' And it's a brilliant change of pace from regular TV fare.

Besides, I like watching Lee Pace. I'm waiting for him to grow up enough to envision him as a paperback hero (he's definitely on the radar. Has been since Wonderfalls. And some of his other stuff is brilliant as well).

It's the fact that he's two months younger than my youngest son that is giving me pause for thought. Still I expect I'll hang in there. Time is on his side.

The other show I'm watching is Life. That one I started to watch because of Damian Lewis, who is also on the radar and has been for several years. Missed him in Band of Brothers, though I may yet catch it on DVD.

But I loved him in Much Ado About Nothing in the BBC's Shakespeare Retold. And I thought he was brilliant in Friends and Crocodiles. I am trying to bring myself to watch Keane, which I'm sure is equally brilliant -- if depressing. It's the depressing part that I'm having trouble convincing myself about.

It's a little weird trying to think of him as an LAPD officer, but he does the accent well, and I love the character he plays. Charlie Crews is marching to his own drummer. I like that.

So my Wednesday nights are pretty much sewn up by Pushing Daisies and Life, with a dog walk in between. It's a good thing I got a lot of work done yesterday. But it does focus the mind, knowing I want my Wednesday evenings free.

Speaking of heroes and such . . . be sure to come back tomorrow.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Lives of Others

A while back I suggested to Anne Gracie that she might like the Danish film, After the Wedding -- and not just because Mads Mikkelsen starred in it.

It was a wonderful film -- moving, engrossing, well acted. And she liked it, too, and has been telling people about it as well.

And last week she told me I should see The Lives of Others or Das Leben der Anderen which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film. So I put it in my queue and it came late last week.

I had no expectations, no idea at all what it was about. So I just watched. And am I glad I did. It was a beautiful film, full of subtle nuance that existed alongside recurring leit motifs and wonderful believable characters.

I won't say it didn't have a plot, because that's not true. But the plot was so inextricably connected to who the characters were that the entire experience was seamless. The writing was tight and coherent and everything that was in the film needed to be there. Nothing was wasted, everything served more than one purpose.

It was set in 1984 in the German Democratic Republic -- not exactly the sort of venue you expect to look to for a film about humanity and hope.

And yet this film was about exactly that. It is about what happens to a man with Principles which have come at the expense of his humanity when he is forced by those very Principles to face the life and art of others living in a very different way from himself.

The character, Wiesler, a member of the East German stasi, is brought to life by the late Ulrich Muhe. (There is an umlaut over the U, but blogger -- at least mine -- objects to the umlaut and turns it into a A with 1/4 after it. So we're going without the umlaut until someone with more smarts than I have tells me how to do it right).

Assigned to oversee the spying on suspected subversive intellectuals, the detached Wiesler finds himself challenged and changed as he has to chronicle the lives of those he has under surveillance.

Muhe uses the smallest details and expressions to reveal Wiesler's growth and the gradual yet profound shift in his moral compass and to bring him from detachment to involvement without ever losing his personality along the way.

The Lives of Others offers food for thought, characters to explore and interpretations to discuss. It was the first full length feature film by German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, and I certainly hope it won't be his last.

He says it took him something like five years to write it, cast it, direct it, and get it to the screen. His meticulous attention to all those details shows in the film.

I hope getting the Oscar makes it easier to get distribution for whatever he tackles next. I'll definitely be watching.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Roller Skating, Dialogue and Inevitability

If you're a writer you know that when you write dialogue it comes with a certain inevitability. That is, one line leads to the next.

One character says flatly, "No divorce," and the other character inevitably says, "What! What do you mean, no divorce?" And the first character says, "What word don't you understand?" And the second character says . . .

You get the point, yes?

One thing leads to another, generally down the path of least resistance. And, of course, if you're lucky as a writer, this will work and you'll have a great scene.

Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes a character says, "No divorce," and the other one says, "What! What do you mean, no divorce?" and, well, you go on and on and pretty soon you're out in left field somewhere, never getting where you need to go which is to the next scene.

And then you have to rework. You have to go back and see which line, if changed, may not at first seem inevitable, but which turns out to be the line that will get you a different response that will, ultimately, get you and your characters where you need to go (that would be 'out of chapter two.')

I had a visual illustration of this fact two weekends ago when we went to our grandson's 9th birthday party. It was at a skating rink.

It's been a long time since I've roller skated. I used to be a halfway decent skater (I even got a Girl Scout badge in roller skating, but I think, in retrospect, that the fulfillment requirements were not enormously high).

But I decided not to press my luck this time. Not because I didn't think I could still skate. I figured I could. I also figured I had a reasonably good chance of falling and breaking something, probably my arm.

And I had no trouble at all playing out in my head the logical inevitability of the dialogue that would ensue between me and my editor if I did that. "Roller skating? You went roller skating? And you broke what? So . . . how long will it be until you can finish the book?"

Hence, no roller skating for me.

But my intrepid husband, aka The Prof, who graded papers in the car all the way to the party (I drove; he didn't multi-task. God forbid that he should ever multi-task) decided that he would roller skate.

And he did.

He stayed upright, too. Mostly. He only fell once. And he didn't break anything. But watching him skate, I was reminded of chapter two.

He would get going reasonably well, heading straight down the side of the rink with remarkable grace and considerable speed -- rather like chapter two.

But, like chapter two, he hadn't found the line that would allow him to turn. He hit the wall.

So did I. So did chapter two. Often. So did The Prof. Often.

But eventually, he began doing things a little differently. He began to make moves earlier on that allowed him to change his trajectory a bit. He hit the wall in a different place, not quite so head-on. And then he changed his trajectory a bit more and wobbled around the curve, teetered a bit, then kept on going.

A visual object lesson! I took it to heart. I've changed the trajectory, backed it up. And -- finally --I've negotiated the turn. It may not be as smooth as it will be eventually, but we're on a different part of the story at last.

Blessings on husbands with fortitude and determination. Blessings on grandsons with birthdays.

And people ask, Where do you get your ideas?

Now do you believe me when I say, they're all around?

* * *
I haven't forgotten the film I wanted to talk about. But it is going to take more thinking -- and writing. And I have a chapter to finish.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Dialogue, part II

Yes, I know, far less exciting than Suits, part II, but I can't spend the rest of my life trawling the internet looking for men in suits, as exhilarating as that might be.

Men in suits don't pay the bills.

Well, one does, but I'm married to him. And I pay some of them, too. So I need to write -- and the dialogue chapter one worked out fantastically well.

I felt like Twyla Tharp would have been pleased, though Michelle Styles may tell me that Donald Maass wouldn't have been. I suspect he would, but not on the grounds she has mentioned in the comments of yesterday's blog. So she could be right about that.

Anyway, the dialogue chapter was very "out of the box" but by the time I was finished, I felt like I had all the elements -- and the freedom to have done it without worrying about point of view or tags or all the fiddling bits of description that can flat-out stop me dead.

I just wrote dialogue and brief stage directions. A screenplay basically. And then I went back and layered it when I was done.

Let's have another moment of silent thanks to William Reardon for all he taught me about what dialogue can do. I don't think I forgot. I actually use dialogue a lot. I like it. But I wasn't making it work as hard as I could have.

It's a little like swimming. You know how, sometimes, when you swim you let your arms do all the work and your legs just sort of come along for the ride. Or vice-versa.

That was the dialogue here. It was acting like it was along for the ride. Or, to go on to another figure of speech, it was definitely behaving like it was on minimum wage -- and didn't like the job it had been hired for.

It does now. It's been made to feel like a real partner in the venture. I'm so pleased.

Tomorrow, if I have a minute, I want to talk about a film I just saw. And saw again. And would see again. And probably again if I had the time. I might have to make the time.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, October 04, 2007


One of the biggest stumbling blocks for me in writing -- and one of the most absolutely essential parts of every story -- is the backstory: the part that happens BEFORE the part I'm actually dealing with in real time in the book.

It's vital because it is the reason the characters are the way they are. It's a stumbling block because there is a fine line between putting in what readers need to know and telling them more than they need to know.

It's crucial, and yet it can stop a story dead if there's too much of it.

Because my two new characters have a history, they have a shared backstory. Some of it readers will need to know. A lot more of it I need to know. Just how much to share in the first stages of the book is critical.

I've recently been thinking I've got too much backstory as narrative. So today I spent cutting it all out (decreasing my word count. Argh). But also, increasing the pace of the book because now the backstory is in dialogue.

Anne Gracie and I were talking about this last night (well, it was my last night; it was her this afternoon, which is now her yesterday but is still my today, if that makes sense). She had just mentioned teaching a master class in writing and talked about dealing with dialogue.

And it made me remember a course in playwriting I took in college (for which we will have a moment of silent gratitude here for William Reardon, excellent professor of drama and playwriting) who taught me the whys behind what I was already doing in dialogue.

Thinking about what he said made me take another look at this book -- and this scene. And cut all the narrative and tell the story in dialogue. Great challenge. Picked up the pace. Hmm.

Maybe I should go write a play instead.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We Have A Winner!

Gunnar had so many treats to choose from (and he's such a picky dog) that it took him a while to decide on the winner. But now we have one -- Shirley from Virginia!

Congratulations, Shirley!

The box of Romancing the Boss goodies will be on its way to you this week.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter Spence and Sadie's contest. We are all very happy that you did so, and we hope that even if you didn't win a copy you'll look for it on the shelves this month.

I had good news from my editor today who said The Boss's Wife For A Week made the Borders' List last week and went UP on the Borders' list this week. So that's good. As I don't follow lists myself, I haven't a clue what it's doing (and sometimes it's better that way).

I have enough to deal with at the moment as this new hero and heroine are dithering. I've told them flat out they don't have time to dither and they simply need to focus, set their sights on Oct 31 and head for it, flat out. No fussing around, no quibbling, no "maybe we should do it this way; no, I think we should do it that way," business.

I don't even have a box for them, like Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit suggested. And I don't think they are going to want to borrow Sebastian and Neely's box. It's covered with San Francisco stuff, and these guys are in New York City.

No time for boxes, guys. Just chapters.

How about if I give each of you a chapter if you'll just get to work?