Tuesday, January 27

Writers Paying Attention

I'm a romance junkie. I confess--I love romance. I write romance, I read romance novels, I want my movies to be romantic, and I avoid films that don't have a love story. I want all the stories I read or see to have that happily-ever-after ending. I'm not even too picky about the vehicle for those love stories either--go ahead and plop that romance down in the middle of an alien invasion (Independence Day) or the Civil War (Gone With the Wind) or 18th-century Scotland (ah...Outlander!) or even  Paris in the 1920s (Midnight in Paris).

I also love watching people around me falling in love, being in love--how sweet to see young people gaze into each other's eyes over coffee at Starbucks. My heart sings when I'm in the grocery store and I see a gray-haired, stooped man reach for his wife's hand, and she gives him that smile, the one that says yes, I'm here. I'll always be here. I soak up romance everywhere I go.

Part of being a romance writer, or any kind of writer really, is paying attention, watching, examining every situation you see. And it’s not because your friends and their pain and joy may end up in your novel. Writers aren’t taking notes during their friends’ and family members’ crises—well, at least this writer’s not. But most writers I know have amazing memories and imaginations. We use our memories to bring life and realism to the gritty situations in our stories and our imaginations help us when we can’t quite find the level of emotionality we need to convey.

But we take a chance when we write about situations we’ve never experienced. There will always be someone who’s actually experienced or is experiencing the same exact things our characters are going through. I once got a great review for Sex and the Widow Miles that included a personal story about how the reviewer related to the heroine, Julie Miles, because she too lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. I couldn’t help getting a little bit choked up when she wrote that I’d gotten the emotions of the situation right on. She should know—and I confess, I don’t. But I’ve seen friends lose their spouses and I’ve witnessed the paralyzing grief, the unbearable sadness. I tried to portray that emotion in Julie’s struggle to get her life back after Charlie’s death. It warms my heart to know that for one dear widowed reader, it worked.

Romance is fantasy, our heroes are often bigger than life, our heroines are often the women we wish we could be. But for me, real life is what's romantic. I love stories that try to bring the real world in just enough for me to feel a connection. I like aging characters--men who are sexy, but maybe a tiny bit paunchy and gray around the edges; women who are beautiful because time is showing in the fine lines around their eyes and in bellies that are no longer tight and flat.

Talk to me about how you find the inspiration for the romance in your stories. Do you ever see a couple in the airport or in a restaurant or on the street and think, "I want to write their story"?

Monday, January 26

About revisions...

          Oh, my gosh, I love revisions.

          Last week and the week before, when I talked to my editor—a couple of times; he had a lot of things to tell me—I kept saying Really? in a squealy, whiney, don’t wanna do it voice. I know I did. Not that I’m proud of that particular voice, but since I’ve been hauling it around my whole life, I may as well own it. And I said, at the ends of these conversations, “Okay, I can do this. Thanks for the help.” And then I hung up and looked at my laptop and said Really? in a squealy, whiney, thankfully silent voice.         
          Then I went to work. And I have had, it must be said, some of those stone days we talked about last week. I have stared at the screen of my laptop until dust motes danced merrily before my eyes before settling into the bunnies under the desk. I have chewed my thumbnail down to an uncomfortable nub. I have done laundry before I had a load, washed dishes by hand, and cooked meals when there were leftovers to be had. I have thought, I can’t do this. I may as well call and renege. Because I...just...can’t.
          I also had some days that were diamonds. I had lunch with friends, dinner with friends, saw some of my kids, went places with my husband, sewed on my youngest grandchild’s quilt, and laughed every day. More than once. And I wrote some, revised some, thought Maybe this will work. Didn’t call and renege or even want to.
          And then there was this morning. It is Sunday, when I never work on the manuscript, when I look at Facebook and email and maybe work on the Word Wranglers post and then go to Sunday school.
          Except today I didn’t go to Sunday school, because all of wonderful sudden, it worked. No maybe about it. Nope, it really worked. This does not mean my editor will be as thrilled as I am. He may say No or Try again or What were you thinking? I can’t control that. But for now, it is fist-pumping time, because of course I can do it—I just did!
          I love revisions.
          Have a great week!

Liz Flaherty

Friday, January 23

Louise Lyndon and Of Love and Vengeance

Join the Wranglers in welcoming Louise Lyndon to the round corral!

Details of any writing history;
I've been writing for as long as I've been able to pick up a pen! However, I didn't know that I wanted to be a novelist until I picked up a copy of Diana Gabaldon's first novel, Outlander. That's when the novelist writing bug really bit me! I've played around with many genres but have found my voice in historical romance set in Medieval England. My first release is Of Love and Vengeance, published by The Wild Rose Press. Of Love and Vengeance was previously called, The Promise, which won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest 2013.

EMAIL:  louise_lyndon@yahoo.com
: www.LouiseLyndon.com/blog
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/LouiseLyndo

Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her young nephew’s survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves. But can Laila let Aymon die at the hands of the king once she learns the truth?

A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret?

Aymon caught a flicker of movement from a window on the second story. “I think we’re about to meet the welcome party.”
An arrow zoomed toward him and landed on the pommel of his saddle. A half an inch closer and he would no longer be able to sire children. As if in demonstration of his ability with the bow and arrow, the shooter fired again. This time directed toward Hugh. The second arrow too came within a half an inch of his friend’s manhood.

“You missed!” Aymon called toward the shooter.  He questioned his stupidity for mocking someone with such a good aim.

“You want me to show you how good an aim I really am?” a woman’s voice echoed out across the yard. 

“Bloody hell,” Hugh half cursed, half laughed. “Where does a woman learn to shoot like that?” 

Aymon was shocked and admittedly a little impressed a woman had such remarkable shooting skills. He could use such a sharp shooter on his side in battle. After all, it was better to have someone so skilled firing for you than at you. 

Aymon raised his black leather gloved hand in surrender. “No. I’m firmly attached to my balls, thank you very much.” 

“Who are you?” the shooter demanded. “And what do you want? There is nothing of value here for you to steal. Be on your way, man, and leave me in peace.” 

“Some would say a female is of value,” Aymon drawled sardonically. 

A second arrow lodged firmly on the pommel between his legs. 

“I do not give third chances. I’ll give you to the count of three to leave. Or else you will find an arrow straight through your heart.” 

Aymon’s warhorse whinnied, and he fought to control the beast whose temperament was as black as his coat. “Put down your weapon!” 


“We mean you no harm!” 


“I am Lord Aymon, and this is Lord Hugh. I’ve come to claim what is rightfully mine.” 


The two men looked at one another unsure what to “Should we storm the building and lay claim to what is yours?” 

Aymon shook his head. He dismounted but never took his eyes from the door to the manor. “She will soon make her appearance.”
Hugh, too, dismounted. “How can you be so sure?” 

Aymon looked at his friend. “We do not have arrows through our hearts.”
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Thursday, January 22

Diamond Days

 Liz mentioned Diamond Days on Monday and I've been thinking about it ever since. Maybe because I had a Diamond Day on Monday.

I had the day off as did my sister. We had talked about going to Astoria for the day but it was supposed to rain for part of the day. Which is okay, if you're staying at the beach, but not if you're just going for the day.

So, she called and said she had a dream that we'd gone to Multnomah Falls for lunch and taken the scenic route home. So, we made her dream come true.

Mom came with as well and we had a great lunch at the Multnomah Falls Lodge. We walked up to the first viewing area and took some pictures of the fall--the second highest year-around fall in the United States--learned that on the paper placemat at lunch. It was a little overcast and chilly, but all-in-all, a great day in the Pacific Northwest.

Then we took the old Pacific highway home--which I don't remember ever doing before--and saw some smaller waterfalls. And then we stopped at Vista House and looked over the Columbia River basin. And saw a peek of a rainbow promising us sunny skies.

On the way home, we stopped in at the Troutdale outlet mall and did a small dose of shopping which is about all Deb and I will tolerate. This is probably about the time Mom was wishing our other sister had been able to join us. They are the shoppers.

But it was a great day--a Diamond Day.

Thank you, Liz, for that expression. I'm striving for more diamonds than stones. Sometimes you have to mine through the rocks to find them and they might just be a partial carrot--but it's worth the hunt.

Tell me, what makes a diamond day for you?

Wednesday, January 21

Football and Squirrels and Flying Pigs?

For those of you living in cellars with no radio or television, it may have slipped past your notice that the Super Bowl is nearly upon us. Football with an oblong ball, muscly men wearing shoulder pads and helmets. A fair amount of swearing and Gatorade drenching. I love football, have for as long as I can remember.

Football plays double-duty in our house – we’re fans, but DH is also a broadcaster so in the fall on Friday nights he can be found broadcasting high school football games, talking to coaches and players and generally re-living his youth. Yeah, football plays a big part in our home in the fall.

I'll never forget taking bebe to her first professional game. RadioMan has been a Bengals fan (don’t laugh, he’s serious about his love of the Orange and Black…just ask any of the stress animals he’s destroyed over the years) forever,

As we were driving downtown Cincinnati we noticed a curious thing: pigs. Not your normal, small, pink, cute piglets. Ginormous, statuary painted in a way that might make some psychedelic 1960s refugees throw up in their coffees. And some of them had wings. I can only assume that those pigs, so horrified at their paint jobs, decided it was time to fly the coop. Unfortunately wings don’t react well to cement.  They’re still stuck there.

In all seriousness, the pigs are kind of cute. Except the one that reminded me of Darth Vader. That one I’m still trying to forget. So we asked a few people about the pigs. Why were they made? What is the connection between Cincinnati and pigs? What gives? Most people shrugged and went on their way. We gave up.

Then, after leaving the game we decided to go for ice cream. Graeter’s is a Cincinnati thing. It’s the
most awesomest ice cream. Ever. You will not convince me otherwise. The nearest Graeter’s to our hotel was in one of the suburbs…in which we were shocked to find strangely painted (and some with wings), ginormous squirrels. Pigs. Squirrels. We asked around again. No one knew.

I know cities commission these types of statues for various events. I get that. Our town, on Lake Erie, as lighthouses all over the place. That fits – city on the lake, lighthouses. I want to know the connection between these cities and squirrels and pigs, though…I mean, is Cincinnati know for its pigs?!?

So, readers, my question – what is the strangest city-statuary you’ve seen?