Wednesday, March 4

It's Good To Be Home

Hi, everyone! I feel like I haven't seen you in a while! I know I posted last week, but I was really on vacation - living it up in the Caribbean for a while. It was lovely there - mid-seventies, light breezes and plenty of ocean and beach to look know when I wasn't chasing RadioMan and bebe around. :)

One of the things I love about vacationing in the winter is that I get a complete change of scenery - we went from negative temperatures and a foot of snow on the ground to mid-upper 70s and sand and ocean...that doesn't happen in the summertime because you're coming from warm into more warm. That change is always invigorating, at least to me.

Another invigorating thing? Reading! I took the time this vacation to really unplug. I had my iPad/keyboard with me because I have to, even if I'm not planning to write I can't not bring them. They sat in the cabinet all week, and I'm completely okay with that. I read - 4 books! - and I played in the sand and the three of us snorkled for the first time. We had way too much food and the Coca-Cola flowed at all hours of the day. There was sunshine to enjoy and there were a few shops to investigate and it really went way too quickly.

But it was also long enough. It was long enough to reconnect with Reader Kristi, who has been a little neglected for the past 18 months or so. It was long enough for my fingers to really get itchy to tell new stories.

This week I'm settling into life at home with loads and loads of laundry, figuring out a new writing schedule and (I'll admit it) sneaking away to my Kindle every chance I get. It feels good to be back home!

Tuesday, March 3

We're Still Sexy...Redux

Okay, I confess that I ran short of time this week--between an editing gig that I need to get done for a client, doing the edits on my own soon-to-be-released novel, going to chemo with pal, Dee, and just life stuff in general, my writing time got squeezed. So I'm recycling a blog from own website. I'm not apologizing for the recycled material because it's still very timely, particularly in the light of my own book coming out. So...yay for Baby Boomer romance and hey, weigh in. I'd love to hear what you think, okay? 

I’m bugged, so get ready. There’s a chance, if you know me, that this may be a familiar rant. It seems that most romance novels are the bailiwick of characters who are younger than 50. If 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, then how come romance after 50 isn’t sexy?

Well, folks, I’ve got big news–sexy is timeless. Excuse me, but two words, Jeff Bridges. Or how about Sean Connery? Pierce Brosnan? Denzel Washington, anyone? Richard Gere? And as far as sexy women are concerned–want to talk about Susan Sarandon? Sophia Loren? Goldie Hawn? Helen Mirren? Tina Turner? Me? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

Hollywood is beginning to get it. I thoroughly enjoyed the film Something’s Gotta Give—a love story between two people well over age 50. Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson totally rocked that delightful movie. It’s Complicated showed us Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin as grown-ups in a love story that was fun and sexy. Streep and Stanley Tucci recreated the romance between Julia and Paul Child—an older couple madly in love—in Julie and Julia. And hey, how about Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia? And even Downton Abbey is showing us love between more mature couples--if you didn't see the Season 5 finale, I won't spoil it here, but wowzers!

So what’s up with the world of romance novels? Why is it that if you’re a woman of a certain age, then nobody wants to read about your love life? All of us more mature folks are still falling in love, rediscovering love, renewing love, and by God, we’re still having sex and probably doing it with way more panache. So why are most romance novels about girls in their twenties and early thirties?

A few years ago, Harlequin nailed it with their NEXT imprint, but it didn’t make it, and I’m not sure why. These books are just being released as e-books so try to find them! Maybe we weren’t ready then, but I believe we’re ready now. That’s why I’m writing more mature heroines, like Carrie in ONCE MORE FROM THE TOP and Julie in SEX AND THE WIDOW MILES, and Sophie in THE SUMMER OF SECOND CHANCES (coming in March!). I’m ready for romance with a dash of maturity, two people involved in a relationship without all the nonsense of youth. I want conversations between grown-ups who are over the drama of coming-of-age and meet on the level playing field of self-knowledge. I’m looking for sensual sexy love scenes written with that irresistible combination of humor, passion, and life experience.

Baby Boomers, as writers and readers, let’s put the romance world on notice—we’re here, we’re in love, we’re making love, and our stories are worth telling. Who’s in?

Monday, March 2

Whatcha workin' on?

It's Sunday afternoon. We are covered in lots of fluffy new snow that makes the first of March look like December 25 should. I've been writing today, though I'm about to give it up because my mind seems to be of the marshmallow-type consistency that snow looks like. 

          Since I seen to have nothing to say, I thought I'd share a couple of paragraphs from my work in progress. A little lead-in: I've discovered in my own writing and the favorite stuff that I read, a woman is often finding a piece of herself, maybe for the 10th time, whether it's because of an empty nest, a divorce, or just a rotten-to-the-very-last-minute day. In this part of a favorite scene, Molly Linden is finding one of those pieces.

Sometimes, she hadn’t liked Julian very much.
          The thought made her smile as she dug into a drawer for her aunt’s rulers. Even though Sadie hadn’t quilted since arthritis swelled and stiffened her knuckles, the house was ample evidence that she never threw anything away. And there they were, under a Simplicity pattern that had cost seventy-five cents new and a paper-clipped-together collection of recipes cut from magazines. There were scissors of all sizes, but no rotary cutters. No cutting mats.

          A few minutes later, with the work table cleared and her glasses balanced halfway down her nose, Molly was stacking and cutting. The black-handled shears were so dull, she could only cut two pieces at a time, and she scowled as her thumb began to ache. But she kept cutting. Kept stacking. Shards of light sprinkled the room.

Thursday, February 26

Friday Funk

 Friday was not a good day for me. 

My dog was deathly ill and I was thinking we were going to have to put her down. Even though my head was in a bad place, I still had to go on with my day, which included
 a writing workshop led by Chuck Sambuchino.

Note:I highly recommend any workshop led by Chuck. He is an awesome presenter--which was good because he did every presentation for the day.

One of the presentations included the reading of a page aloud as five agents and editors listened and raised their hand when they would quit reading if the page came across their desk in a query.

I had reworked the first page of my WIP and sent it past my wrangler buds and felt pretty confident. And then, Chuck started reading it aloud. And I was really glad it was anonymous, because I actually winced when he got to the third paragraph. Winced! And I was the author. And  I got five rejections. Quick rejections. Fourth paragraph--and my paragraphs are tiny--rejections.

So, when I went into my consult, I pitched a different WIP and totally tanked it. The agent intern asked questions I wasn't prepared to answer and suggested that I might want to make it middle grade instead of YA.

I spent the rest of the weekend reevaluating my writing plan--what I wanted to write. Because honestly, I wasn't feeling it on anything. I've been in a writing funk for a while, not totally committing to anything which means not making a lot a progress on anything either.

Then on Tuesday, I was scrolling through the comments on Nan's post and came across Claudia's recommendation of The Snowflake Method. And since I'm a pantser who doesn't think that much ahead--which I think is why I'm struggling of late--I decided to buy it. Thank you, Kindle, for immediate access. 

And I decided to use the method on a new WIP, an idea I've had for the last five years but haven't done anything with as of yet. But, it's an idea close to my heart and every time I hear "Hey, there Delilah" by Plain White T's, I want to write this book.

So--I've started the new WIP via the Snowflake method and I've actually thought further ahead in the book and into the characters than I've ever done before.

 I like the book so much that I ordered a print copy from B&N--because they didn't have one in stock at the store--so I can make notes and highlight things. Kindle works great for reading books, but not as good for instructional reading/learning. 

So, thank you, Claudia Pfeiffer for the awesome recommendation. 

And if anyone is wondering, our dog turned the corner Friday night and came back to us. I think the meds finally kicked in after three days and she's on the mend. I'm taking her back in this afternoon to have her blood tested, but I feel optimistic. 

And I feel optimistic about my new WIP...I'm directing my sails...

Wednesday, February 25

And Now for Something You'll Really Like

When I was a kid, I always got excited at the point in the Rocky & Bullwinkle show when Rocky said something new was coming up. I always knew it would be fun. I always knew it would be different. I always knew it would make me laugh. I always knew I'd be surprised.

Now that I'm grown up, I find myself looking for those Rocky & Bullwinkle moments in the books I read, the movies I watch...and in my own writing. Which is why, I think, I choose some of the same authors. As an adult, I'd like to be completely surprised with some really new and different. But, as an adult with job responsibilities, home responsibilities, as a mom, a wife, cook...the list goes on, I know I don't have time to waste with things that I won't really enjoy. So I find myself going to the same shelves, the same authors time after time after time.

This sameness makes it all the more fun when I find a new author to add to my Buy-the-Backlist list. I recently found one of these authors, someone knew to me but who had been writing for a long time. I've seen Jude Deveraux's name on bookshelves for a long time and always passed her by in favor of authors I already knew and loved. Then a friend recommended a book to me and after about the 100th time she told me to read it, I did.

I loved it. Jude has a way of describing a scene and makes it appear on the page, wiping out the words. She made me look at the romance formula (I know, a bad word) in a different way. A way that I'm trying to work into my own writing, not to copy her voice or style but to emulate her ability to surprise the reader at least once each page.

That element of surprise keeps me turning pages as a reader and, even though I'm finding it a little clunky right now, I think that element will take my writing to the next level.

What makes you happy as a reader? Surprise? Familiar territory? A little of both?