Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Period

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

So there I was on my lunch hour revising a scene in the MS when I suddenly needed to know a bit more about what women used when they had their periods. (This is for Surrender to Ruin, a historical romance, fyi). I had some ideas, but it’s always nice to do some research on such points. So off to Google I went. Fairly quickly, and not unexpectedly, I found that documentation is somewhat sparse.

This should be obvious to you-all, right? Not only is this a 100% female related event, but no one wrote much about going to the toilet etc. We know something about what people used for toilet paper in the Medieval era because there are a few places where conditions ended up preserving the material — moss, for example. But it’s not something people wrote down and then saved for posterity. I did not expect to come across copious documentation.

But I did expect to find some scholarly speculation. My quick and dirty research came to a quick halt when I came across this article about what American and European woman might have done historically. Why this would be materially different from what women all over the world have done, I’m not sure, but people specialize in all sorts of arcane areas.

The author notes that ancient Egyptians made tampons and mentions evidence in other countries that women used rags and other materials such as sheep wool wrapped in cloth. So far I was thinking, yeah. This sounds totally reasonable. Some of this evidence includes European women. And then the author says:

“Read why I have concluded, in May 2001, that most European and American women probably used nothing at all, bleeding into their clothing.”

Here is a representation of my reaction:

What do you mean my files are gone?

What????

The article gets even more ridiculous. Apparently, several woman contacted him to relate their actual personal knowledge of what their relatives did, many of said relatives having been born in the late 1800’s. Some of those people were actual historians with actual evidence. Those emails are posted, along with rebuttals.

Rebuttals. Please go on. Tell us more about your theory that defies logic and actual experience of the subject matter.

My suspicion that the author had never had a period turned out to be correct. The author is a man. And in epic fashion, he has decided that he, a person who has never menstruated, can deduce what women did and to hell with all historical evidence and the women who basically said a nice version of “You are an idiot, and here is why.”

No woman would decide she’d just bleed into her clothes, particularly when the vast majority of women would not have been able to afford to replace their clothing that often. There would be evidence of blood-stained clothing. There would be references to the epic consumption of shifts among the female population. There would be references to monthly replacements of mattresses among those who could afford them.

As a person who has personally experienced periods, I can say with 100% confidence that no woman would just bleed into her clothes as a matter of course. It’s just so ignorant and insulting. I can’t even.

I will leave you with one of my favorite videos by one of my favorite YouTubers, Sabrina, of Nerdy and Quirky, in which she addresses the subject of period euphemisms. Enjoy.

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Why I’m Running for Re-Election to the RWA Board of Directors

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Some of you may know that two years I was elected as to sit as a Director at Large on the RWA National Board. I’m running for re-election. For interested members, here’s a little more about me and my feelings about publishing and RWA.

I’ve been publishing Romance since 1987. I’ve traditionally published and now self-publish. I’m the poster child for managing a career as a mid-list author with series still tied up with traditional publishers. I’ve been a RITA finalist in historical romance and in paranormal romance. I’m a current board member. I have worked in the Tech sector in highly specialized jobs. Many of my tech skills have crossed over and become very useful and helpful to managing my self-publishing business. I’m an entrepreneur running a profitable business. I bring all that experience to my board service.

The short version is that these last two years on the board brought home to me in the very starkest of terms how unfair publishing is to diverse authors. The facts are depressing, and I am absolutely committed to seeing RWA make progress. Diverse authors do not have the same opportunities as white, straight, authors. Too many doors are shut to them and there are too many obstacles in front of that door and afterward for those who manage to get it open. RWA can and will do better and it can and will work with publishers and the industry to address and solve this issue.

I heartily recommend and endorse all the current sitting board members up for re-election: Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Farrah Rochon, and Damon Suede.

Vote. It matters.

 

 

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A little help? Romance Dog Needs Name

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

Romance Dog Needs Name

In Surrender to Ruin, there is a dog that needs a name. At the moment, I am calling her Princess, but I’m not totally happy with that name.  What should I name this dog? Or should I keep the name Princess?

About The Dog

She is obviously progeny of Roger, the Wolfhound-ish mutt from A Notorious Ruin, but it’s equally obvious she is also part Bloodhound.  She is young (less than a year) and has been rescued from the streets. She’s a big, goofy, happy dog and not very attractive. As far as she is concerned everyone loves her.

Let me know in the comments.

FYI, I am up to Chapter 29 in my revisions prior to sending to my critique partner.

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Operation New Desk: Sub-Optimal Areas of Organization

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

To Avoid Hell, Organization Requires Commitment

So, some time ago, the day job negotiated renovated office space… and a lot of office equipment was offered up to employees. I snagged an adjustable desk because I want to set up a treadmill desk. I measured etc and confirmed the desk would fit in my room. I found a college student with a truck and arranged to get the desk to my house. The desk isn’t huge but it’s not light. But also, I was in the middle of trying to finish My Demon Warlord and Seduction in Winter and so I ended up having the guy park the desk in the living room until I had time to clear out drawers etc…

And there the desk stayed. For a really really long time. Because desk drawers. Because all the stuff I had on the desk… And the closet and and…. And every spare minute needed to go into writing.  Organization requires commitment of heart and time. If you stop halfway into an organization project you might as well go live in hell.

I was starting to hate the desk, taking up space in the living room on its end… A too-inviting target for small dogs.

And I was dreading the work…

But then I finished My Demon Warlord and sent it to the copy editor and whoo-hoo! My son was still home for Winter break and I finally had time to spend with him. I had him set up Apple TV when he got here and then signed up for the free trial of Netflix. And he had been watching Netflix. With my break between books he and I watched the first episodes of Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Sense8. Then we watched several episodes of Jessica Jones and then he went back to school.

Sub-Optimal Areas of Organization

And so, there I was with a long New Year weekend and a desk taking up space and so began Operation New Desk Binge Watch. I emptied desk drawers and surfaces and other places of  . . . let’s be kind and call them “sub-optimal areas of organization” and I brought out the shredder and put all this “stuff” into boxes and watched Jessica Jones while I shredded and sorted and discarded and found new homes for things. Rinse and repeat. When I ran out of Jessica Jones, I started on Daredevil.

Then I was exhausted. But yesterday, I looked at my office with my old icky desk cleaned off but still with a broken drawer and said “I’m going in!”

Only Slightly Bruised

I got the old desk out by myself because it’s not all that heavy, just 20 years old and, well, it’s had a broken drawer for years and no holes for cables so I wasn’t even sorry to see it go out. My brother was over, and he helped me maneuver the “new” desk in. My right toenail is only slightly bruised, I swear.

Then I set up the computer and dropped the cables through the cable holes in the back and Whoo-hoo!!

Phase Two Point Five

So it turns out I need a keyboard tray for the desk, which whatever. I ordered one on Amazon last night — while I was in bed with the lights off. THIS is how technology improves our lives. Since the new desk does not have drawers, today I’m going to buy something suitable that the printer can sit on (currently it’s on the floor) with drawers so I can proceed to Phase 3.

Phase Three

Phase three is to go through all the stuff I didn’t discard and figure out where to store it. Some will go in the Phase 2.5 pedestal thingee and the rest will be relocated to …. somewhere else.

Because of the NSA case, I have a lot of documents that need to be preserved, which is an additional challenge but might as well have it all in the same box, right?

Verdict

Jessica Jones is an awesome series. I love her so hard. I didn’t love Daredevil until about 4 episodes in but then I did. I’m on Sense8 now and I’m blown away at how great this series is. Normally, when I see TV it’s something from the more traditional channels and I watch maybe 2 times a year. But these shows have women doing awesome things and people of all colors and no one is being safe about writing, especially Jessica Jones. Though, a couple of times on Daredevil I thought some of the dialogue was pretty clunky and maybe they needed to call a lawyer a couple of times to get a grounding in how the law might actually work. I’m only a few episodes into Sense8 but yay for a show that isn’t just straight white guys!

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My Demon Warlord – Status

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

I have a status! Something to tell you!  I just sent the MS for My Demon Warlord to the copy editor.

It turned out that I did not one but two significant rewrites even after my revisions were done. I wasn’t happy with certain parts of the story. My second paper read-through was a sea of pretty ink colors. Lets, see, I used sparkly green,  copper, sunrise orange, pink, purple, sparkly blue, and sparkly gray. I’d run one pen dry, and either swap out the cartridge immediately and keep going or switch pens until I ran that one dry….  Then I put in those edits and did a third paper read through and…. again massively revised (see list of ink colors above) and then I got in those edits and started reading again, and then I gave up on paper and went back to the digital version and things were finally holding together the way I wanted them to. And then I was mostly catching little stuff like typos and punctuation instead of completely rewriting and now it’s on it’s way to the copy-editor.

After that, it goes to proofreading, then to the formatter.

For everyone who’s been asking about Book 3 in the Sinclair Sister’s series (that would be Emily and Devon!) I can start the plotting/brainstorming pretty much now. I’ve already worked out the basic framework so I may start drafting sooner rather than later.

For everyone who’s been asking about stories in the “The King’s Dragon” world, I’ll be writing the first one after Emily and Devon. That’s a story idea I’ve jokingly called The Dark Elf Series. It’s got elves. It’s dark. There’s a short story set in that world over at Heroes and Heartbreakers. You can read the whole thing there for free. You have to register, but that’s free. MacMillan sells the story for $0.99 at most vendors. (The King’s Dragon, by Carolyn Jewel)

The off-site office makes a big difference in my ability to string together some hours without being interrupted.

 

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Love Letter to MikeTheBlogger

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

It turns out this love letter needs a prologue. So here it is.

I’ve known of MikeTheBlogger since he was born and certain of my siblings babysat him. I don’t think we ever spoke until a couple of years ago. To be honest, the only reason we talked was because a few years before that his mother (unbeknownst to him) gave me a copy of something he wrote. No expectations. Just, here. (But of course she was hoping for validation of her son’s talent. Which she got, only I don’t think I told her that because the words belonged to MikeTheBlogger.)

So, okay. I read his words and, unlike every other piece of writing that comes to me from people who don’t know me in my writing life, I not only got past the first page, I got to the last one.

I read them and I kept thinking, I can’t show this to my agent because it’s not ready yet, but I think she’d be interested if it were. So, not ready to show to agents or editors in that form, but in a couple of drafts it would be.

To my knowledge he didn’t do the drafts I hoped he would.

Then he started blogging and that same voice rolled out. Sharp and bitter, wrapped up in vulnerability. So I talked to him again. By then self-publishing had taken hold, so even though any of the Big 5 would probably buy a project from him, he had options.

But to my knowledge, he didn’t work up anything up that he got out there. Maybe he did, but I believe if he had, he’d have sold something.

Dude.

Do over. Allow me to speak your language.

Dude, Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell, motherfucker?

Words are a gift for the writer who can put them on the page and make people feel. That’s your gift. And the very best writers are the ones who sit there in despair saying “I suck so fucking bad at this why am I even doing this?”

Because the words are there and they won’t go away.

And that’s where gap theory comes in. (We talked about this at your birthday party. I’m not sure you were sober, but whatever.)

The very best writers transport us, and the readers who are born with writing in their souls know those words are very, very good. And they see all the ways their own words are not. They forget they’re reading the written, re-written, edited, revised, re-revised, complete redo, re-edited copy edited and proofread version.

MikeTheBlogger, your worst words are better than 99.99% of the other words out there. You only see the gap between you and authors you love for their words.

Until you take a piece of dreck first draft work and work on it until you see places where it’s really good, and where you’ve actually written a story, goddamnit-how did that happen?-you won’t learn that your very, very good words belong. In your voice that is not anyone else’s.

There’s no guarantee of outside success in writing words. But if you have words in your heart, you should be writing them.

Please do.

 

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Office Space

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Last week I had dinner with two of my writing buddies, something we do fairly often, but not often enough. Along with much great conversation and enjoyment, we talked about  how things were going for us. I mentioned my challenges and how much they’ve impacted my writing schedule— as in I’m way behind on almost everything. One of my friends asked me this: what might happen to my writing time and production if I rented office space somewhere and went there after work to write? Would not the constant interruptions at home be less disruptive since I would have already put in writing time?

My other friend said she’d been thinking the same thing about my situation, and that by the way, the town where the two of us happen to live has an office-sharing business. Right smack downtown.

Are those angels singing?

One of my dinner companions once gave me some very very good advice I did not follow. I wasn’t mentally prepared to take steps she recommended. I knew she was right at the time, and two years later I knew for a fact that every single thing she’d said I should do had been spot on and that had I taken her advice, I’d likely already be in a position to quit the day job. I’ve always felt she would probably never give me that level of deep and targeted advice again, and that I had missed a big opportunity. I promised myself that if she ever gave me advice directed exactly at me and my situation, I would take that advice no matter how scary it felt.

I sat there with my friends knowing they were exactly right and thinking to myself, it’s probably too expensive. How can I do something like that? How would that even work? I would need afternoons and weekends and they probably only offer daytime on weekdays. Which I could not do. I already have a schedule that I adhere to, and it’s—subject to constant interruptions with a dose of distraction.

I also thought, really, what would be the worst case? It’s so expensive I can’t afford it? It is only weekdays during the day? How expensive would it have to be to exceed a rational, sensible, deductible business expense? I arrived at a number that would not break the writing bank, having factored in the benefit of getting more writing done, which is something that leads to more books on sale, which leads to more writing income.

My other friend said that she heard it wasn’t expensive at all. How could that be? I thought.

When I got home I Googled the company and looked at the costs, available hours and the required commitments.

Yes, Those ARE angels singing

They offer space after hours and on weekends. More or less, their space is available 24/7. The after-hours plan is $95 a month, no ongoing commitment required.

And????

So. The day after our dinner, I went there and signed up for the plan that fits my schedule.

And????

I’ve been there every day this week and I get a lot done.

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Book Updates and News

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

I’ve been really low profile these days, but here’s some book updates and news.  I ended up working on multiple projects at the same time, which isn’t always the best thing for me. I can’t really lay things out linearly because they didn’t happen in a straight line. I have personal issues that are taking up more of my writing time, but I have managed to figure out how to adjust to that. The adjustment involves the word  “ruthless.”  Woo-hoo?

I have a historical novella A Seduction in Winter for the   upcoming Christmas anthology Christmas in Duke Street.  It was rough going. My initial idea seemed great. I really liked it. But when I sat down to  write, a different story showed up and it wasn’t the story I had prepared for. Long story short  (Hah!  That’s a writer joke!)  It took a lot longer to write and then rewrite than I anticipated. Involved at least one night of staying up until 2 AM and getting up at 6 AM to get in the final edits. However, I really like the story. It came out great.

Now I’m back to working on  My Demon Warlord which is on track and going well. I am targeting a December release date, which is well beyond what I’d originally hoped.

After that, I’ll start on Sinclair Sisters Book 3, Emily and Bracebridge.

Once all my fast writing was done for A Seduction in Winter, my hands were sore and achy so I’ve started dictating as much as I can.  It speeds things up considerably.

And now, back to the writing cave.

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The Fork is OUT!

Sunday, August 30th, 2015
Fork against a blue sky with white clouds

The Fork

My story for the Christmas Anthology Christmas in Duke Street is done. The title is currently A Seduction in Winter, but I’m not sure that will be the final one. It’s off to the copy-editor.

I’m learning to work with and around the disruptions that are happening in what is supposed to be my prime writing time. This is due to the medical condition of a family member. There is nothing I can do about that but figure out how to deal with the changes.

I’ll post the anthology cover shortly.

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RWA – Reporting In!

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

I have been crazy busy at RWA, the Romance Writers of America’s national conference being held in New York City. The Golden Heart/RITA ceremony is later tonight. I’m as gussied up as I can be and then I get to cheer on all the contestants. Yay!!!

Tomorrow I head home. Later, I’ll blog more about the conference, not of interesting to everyone, I know. I will also update you on the status of projects . . .

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