This blog follows how a romance novel set in the Borders of medieval Scotland is researched, written and hopefully *hopefully* published.

Join me on the writing journey and get inspired to try writing a little romance into your own life!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Girly" Romance Novels

Thought for the Day...

I just noticed in another blogger's profile her obvious aversion to what she calls "girly" romance novels, saying she doesn't "read that crap."

So I was wondering, what makes a romance "girly?" Is it mentions of lace or the heroine twisting her ankle at a key moment? Is it her inability to function without love? I'm a woman (used to be a girl ;-) funny how that often is the way of it) but I'm stumped at the moment.

Where do you draw the line at reading romances (or other things)?

Just wondering...
~Saoirse

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sunday Scribblings Prompt...

Ok, I did a quick scene from my novel in answer to a Sunday Scribblings prompt here. It was a spur-of-the-moment type thing and is rough (maybe not to be included at all).

But, eh,
~Saoirse

Thought for the Day 3/15/07

Today's "Thought for the Day" is...

"There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it - and to get sensible men to read it."
~Charles Caleb Cotton

I saw that quote and thought that perhaps most of us (authors and editors alike) can relate to it...

~Saoirse

And Now for Something Completely Different....

Ok, I have some research I need to do as I'm preparing to write my next scene in my novel "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills"...

My Tam Lin is going to guide my heroine through the woods, showing her the beauty and power of the surroundings that she has overlooked in her frustration over her current situation. I dealt with my dear little Stonechat in a way Eduard Morike (where's that darned umlaut?) would approve of (I think), so I'm moving on...

So I've dragged out a few herb and plant books (and a text on cures and traditional spells using some of the plants I found are in the region I'm writing about), dug up my earlier research and am trying to get over the fact that if I write today, it'll probably be a brief amount :-(

Last night (this is what the post title refers to, if you wondered) I burnt up some valuable time messing around with a potential banner design for my book.

This is A.Writer's (a Novel Racer, too) fault ;-) . I noticed she has a mock-up for her novel's cover on her site and a neat "countdown" thing on her blog's bottom... Technology being a temptation for me (I love what I can't understand--many single women might equate such a description to men, too ;-) I clicked to see where she got her neat-o countdown. For about a day I had one, too.

But it had a typo I couldn't correct. Suddenly NOT loving it as much, I browsed the site for other fun toys.

Low and behold, they have a banner-maker (ok, so I have to do the art, but it LOOKS simple after that...). So off I ran (virtually) and got started throwing together something I can eventually make look better.

My hubby got involved (he often saves me when technology stumps me) and we played with an idea last night. Don't be scared by what you see next--we're just messing around :-) Here's what we did so far...



Things I KNOW I want to change--I want my rose blossom to be more obvious (maybe I'll fill it); I want to add another rose I also found (public domain, baby!) and elongate the stems to create a better "line"; I think I want a bit of blue for the moat; change MY name's color; get the title to "pop" more; add a bit of Celtic-inspired border that fades in and out; and add a brief summary/teaser. I may even change my entire set of colors to match the "traditional" tartan from the Ettrick Forest (although tartans are of a much later time period, the colors should be good as a reflection of the landscape).

So anyhow, it's like a totally new wip... And yes, I know what I'd like on the cover (like that matters in the real world), but it requires a photo-collage of sorts...

Anyhow, what things OTHER than writing do you do to keep you envisioning your own success?
~Saoirse

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Novel Progress

Ugh. Ok, only 605 words today so far on my novel "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills." I've closed the scene I was enjoying so much--well, not really closed it, but I'm transitioning to a new scene (requiring more research).

I did allow my characters to paint us all into a corner yesterday and today we wriggled out. I like the results, but, like everything else, they will need polishing.

But now I need to do more "obligatory" things...

Hope you all are writing!
~Saoirse

Thought for the Day 3/14/07

I'm being bad tonight (yep, I'm posting tomorrow's "thought" the night before--nope, it's not 7:30 AM). More importantly though, I'm watching "Sex and the City" (the final episodes...but not the very last one--dammit). I'm staying up late and indulging in the problems of other people's fictional characters.

My own fictional characters have a bunch of issues they are deep in the midst of realizing (not nearly ready for the "sorting through" phase).

Carrie's just gotten into the limo with Big. I won't segue this appropriately (maybe there is no appropriate way), but there was a point in "The Last Unicorn" where Molly confronts the unicorn and screams, "How dare you come to me now--When I am this!"

Oh--Carrie's out of the car, yelling at him--accusing Big of having some sort of radar that lets him swoop in and ruin her every happiness. Isn't that just like a male romantic lead?

At first the two scenes seem so utterly different, and yet the emotional chord it strikes (for me at least) is the same. Molly wasn't truly happy (or fulfilled) when the unicorn she always dreamed of finally showed up and so she felt cheated by time and circumstance. Carrie feels (or will feel) similarly--She thinks she's moving on with her life (but it seems she's really "settling" for her second or perhaps third choice of a man) and when the thing (Big) she always wanted is finally ready for her, she's betrayed--outraged. She simply can't handle it and so she retreats.

So here's a "Thought for the Day" in there somewhere... Ah--What examples of literature or film seem outwardly vastly different to you (initially) but then share some extremely similar characteristics after all?
~Saoirse

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Characters Tell the Story...

Ok, I added 1,504 words today to "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills"(between making breakfast, lunch, working on potty training with my boy, handling Board business and getting the dog out). It's not a ton of words (certainly won't win the "Novel Race" at this rate), but it's something and (frankly) I like the scene I'm working in/on right now.

It is utterly NOT how I intended it to be, but I sort of let the characters do what they'd "naturally" do and it feels right (I love letting them tell the story while I jot down what they say ;-).

It feels like I'm getting back to the hearts of Tam Lin and Jennet (and this is (technically) where they first meet).

Anyhow, must put away the remnants of lunch, put J down for a nap and deal with some other responsibilities around here, too.

Have a great day, one and all!
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/13/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

*Ardor [pronounced "ahr-der"] is a noun meaning "a heat, a burning feeling, fervor or passion."

Here's a quick sentence:
"Loretta," he purred her name, rolling the sound across his tongue and pulling her to him with a near-desperate ardor.

*Please note... This is one of those words (like "color") which we in America have changed from its British spelling of a-r-d-o-u-r. They've had it spelled that way since before we really had colonies over here, so spell it to suit your book's audience, of course ;-)

Have a great day--Fill it with ardor!
~Saoirse

Thought for the Day 3/13/07

Today's "Thought for the Day" is more like an "assignment" for you to consider. Sip some coffee (or something stronger, depending) and try this...

Take 5-10 minutes and read "The Legacy" by Virginia Woolf.

Woolf uses diaries as key props and the main vehicle by which Gilbert learns an unsavory truth or two (about himself and his suddenly dead wife). Without the wife, Angela, ever engaging in direct dialogue with Gilbert in the story's course, the diaries speak for her.

Do you ever use a prop in your writing to express a pivotal point or give a character insight that yields an epiphany? What other way might Woolf have accomplished the same goal in her tale?

Just wondering,
~Saoirse

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Quick Diversion...

I just saw this cute posting on Zinnia's site (she's another Novel Racer) that I want to direct you to... Recipe for a Novel.

This is a neat way to reconsider all those things we each put into our writing--How might you create your own novel's "recipe?" I know in the "romance" genre we often hear about "formulas" which I've always thought are tremendously similar to recipes.

I'd try and make this a "challenge" and entice people to try their own version, except that I don't want the additional headache that sort of thing generally appears to entail (thank goodness for those of you who do organize such things!).

So, just think about it... The writing you're currently doing--Can you break it apart into specific ingredients and amounts? If there was a recipe for novel-writing success would you use it?

Honestly, I always stray from recipes and (literally) sniff out what seems to work best ;-) But a reference point (like a recipe should be in my opinion) can be handy... ;-)
~Saoirse

Thought for the Day 3/12/07

Today's "Thought for the Day" comes from "Wicked" (the musical).

Elphaba (the "wicked witch") sings (in a dramatic epiphany for her character) "To those who'd ground me--Take a message back from me...Tell them how I'm defying gravity..."

How do you keep writing when life tries to pull you down? Have you ever faced down friends or family who criticized your efforts as a writer because they wanted something more "stable" for you?

I often think of that threat of the "starving artist..." What phrase do we as writers have instead?
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/12/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Ensorcell [pronounced "en-sor-suhl"] is a verb, meaning "to enchant, enspell, charm or bewitch."

Here's a quick sentence:
He knew he was doomed; her easy laughter and smiling eyes ensorcelled him immediately.

What might one of your characters do to enchant or ensorcell another (consciously or otherwise)?
~Saoirse

Novel Writing--and Racing

Well, I need to update my counter, but this morning's writing is nothing "to write home about" so far. But I'm plugging away at "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills" anyway.

I am moving ahead in a part of the novel that doesn't totally excite me, a little character development and minor action so we make it from point A to point B. It will be edited (again and again) and I'll beat it into shape eventually. But, for now, I just want to get the words down. Edit later.

Anyway, too much caffeine on the way home yesterday (it's a pesky notion, staying awake when driving ;-) too little sleep and a son that woke extra-early have combined to make me pause at only 840 words this morning. Yuck. Oh well--"These things are sent to try us..."

Unfortunately I need to do a few Board-related things (and bake a lasgna) before returning to the writing. Oh--need to post my word and thought for today, too.

I think I can. I think I can, I think I can... ;-)

I'm listening to "Wicked" right now, so things WILL improve :o) I still want a t-shirt that says "Defying Gravity" right across the bust. Wouldn't that be fun with a push-up bra? ;-)

~Saoirse

PS--If you haven't seen "Wicked"--read the book (Greg Maguire, I think), then buy the soundtrack (I like to imagine how the words and music will be used to express a full book) then see the musical. "Wicked" got mixed reviews here, but I'd see it again in a heartbeat...

What Have You Read?

I saw this on A. Writer's blog (another Novel Racer) and thought I'd join in.

What have you read? My answers are below the "key."

*Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read.
*Leave same the ones that you aren’t interested in.
*If you are reading this, tag you’re reading it.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) (read it and saw the movie)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell) (saw the movie)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) (saw the movie)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling) (think I saw this one...)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) (saw the movie and related documentary)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling) (read a chunk of the book, saw movie)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King) (saw tv adaptation)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) (saw the movie)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien) (read it, saw multiple movie versions)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) (read the Sparknotes ;-)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) (saw a movie version, read bulk of it years ago)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert) (saw movie)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) (saw movie)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (twice--King James version)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) (seen movie)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) (If you haven't read it, do so. I love Orson :-)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) (saw movie)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling) (saw movie, I think)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough) (saw tv adaptation several times)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice) (saw movie--hated it)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) (read the Sparknotes)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo) (read the book, own the soundtrack London and US casts--desperate to see it)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding) (saw movie--cute!)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell) (saw tv adaptation several times)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje) (saw movie)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) (saw tv adaptation)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) (read it, saw 1st [animated] movie numerous times)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck) (did it at school-hated it)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier) (seen tv Adaptation)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen) (seen tv Adaptation)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams) (read it and saw the animated movie multiple times)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) (saw movie)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) (saw movie)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Now, what might you add to the list which you feel is necessary reading?
~Saoirse

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thought for the Day 3/11/07

A quick "Thought for the Day" today (no "Romance Writer's Word of the Day," sorry)...

"The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it."
~Benjamin Disraeli

It sort of flies in the face of that old maxim--"Write what you know" (depending on your interpretation of "what you know"). But, in many circles it is understood that doing things like teaching a certain topic often makes you a better student of it, too. Perhaps it's the deep-rooted paranoia good teachers have that you want to understand things as completely as possible so you can guide even the most curious (or hesitant) student more appropriately.

I guess it doesn't matter why it happens, as long as good teachers and good writers continue to make their subject matter as known to them as possible... Isn't that the only way to truly build a "believable" world for your characters and story?

Have a great day!
~Saoirse

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Gettin' There...

Whew!

My links to all the "Novel Racers" are up. Yay! NowI still need to get my word counter and "get in the game."

Next week'll be a tough one, though... Coming down to visit my mom our minivan (Hey--it was a gift! And yes, I'm grateful :-) started to do this crazy shimmy up front each time we accelerated. It increasingly grew worse and finally (as we approached the end of the 5 hour ride) I said to my husband that surely it wouldn't be safe to continue that way. So today, after two trips to the auto-repair shop (and $475 later) the vehicle was "fixed." Thank goodness I was in a Board meeting (yes, that's a phrase I never thought I'd say either).

So, I adjusted my work schedule tonight (dropping some hours) and it just means I'm working waaAay longer hours next week to make up for it.

Tremendous.

Ah, well--I'm still psyched about being a "Novel Racer." Check out the other writers participating, too, please (links to the left). Maybe you'd like to join... ;-)

Have a great night, folks!
~Saoirse

Friday, March 09, 2007

Still More to Do...

1.) Still need a word counter-thingee for "Novel Racing."

2.) Still need to add other "Novel Racer" links... Getting there...

3.) Still need to sleep.

Ah, my true priority has shown itself! Goodnight all! Have a great weekend and stop back by when you get a chance! :-)

~Saoirse

Thought for the Day 3/10/07

I'll keep this one short, sweet and oh-so-accurate ;-)

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thank you, Nate. Agreed :-)

~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/10/07

Yup, posting early. Meeting tomorrow. Must take pizza and lengthy agenda...

Today's (ahem) "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Bereave [pronounced "buh-reev"] is a verb (with an accompanying object) that means "to deprive cruelly or by force; to forcefully remove."

*I especially like the past tense...bereft.

Here's a sentence:
His reluctant interest in her life bereft her of any possible love for him.

What might be torn from one of your character(s), leaving one bereaved?
~Saoirse

Too Much To Do!

Board meeting tomorrow...Need to add more "Novel Racers" in my links (they're all going to beat me at THIS rate, I fear)... Need to get my word counter going... Need to finish the dishes and the packing before the hubby gets home (Board meeting being a state away tomorrow).

Aaaarrgh!

Keeping busy, everybody? ;-) Much LOVE!
~Saoirse

Six Sentences

Ok, now get yourself over to Sara's site (if you haven't already been there today) and check out Thursday March 8th's post about "An Economy of Words."

I thought about doing a six sentence story (I'm incredibly verbose when blogging and being "chatty" but I strive for an economy of language--stressing it when I'm editing) and finally got something together. I'm not necessarily proud of it... It doesn't feel "complete" and doesn't seem "finished," although it ends. I don't know, I used to write short fiction all the time, but not "flash" and not "short, short" (well, not often).

So this six sentence thing was a fun (yet nagging) "assignment." Ah well. Since being "here" I've (inadvertantly) created a blog for my random poetry (if you can call it that), started a Word Count Journal (which I'm thinking I'll change a setting or two on to make it "public"), and seriously been considering joining an online writer's group. So (I feel) I'm being incredibly brave while I pursue personal escapism ;-).

Ok, so now I'll send my "Six Sentences" to Robert...

Have fun--try something different and stretch yourself!
~Saoirse

Weekend Story Starter--Brainstorm!

I gather random snippets of information nearly obsessively (you know, on the backs of envelopes, etc.), knowing I'll surely use them in my writing...Someday. Yeah, right!

So I thought I'd share a few here occasionally as "Weekend Story Starters." Try taking the information and brainstorming a story from it over the weekend. If you like the fact or wind up using it somewhere, just let me know so I can smile at the thought of somehow helping someone. I could even link to you :-)

So, here we go...

Soldier of Love...

Did you know that many Russian newlyweds get married and then go (almost immediately) to deliver flowers to the grave of the Unknown Soldier at Alexander Garden in Moscow?

Here's where I might take this thought--

My Brainstorm--Er--Drizzle:
I might play with the "death do us part" vows,
the concept that marriage too easily dissolves into war,
that when we're in love we feel immortal and invincible, like--
how did the Unknown Soldier feel just before the end--
Might he have been remembering a lover's kiss, a "dear John letter"--
What emotion may have caused him to lose focus, becoming his "fatal mistake?"

How might you turn that little fact into something useful?
~Saoirse

Thought for the Day 3/9/07

I'm making my coffee right now and thinking about what "Thought for the Day" I might subject you to now...

I found some more neat quotes--go figure--writers, quotable? ;-) But I also gathered some facts I think are pretty intriguing (and might be appreciated by romance writers specifically). Hmm. I guess I could tweak those into story starters...

Ok, so here we go--

Today's "Thought for the Day" is...

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
~Ray Bradbury

With a mother starting chemotherapy a second time, and other unsavory examples of reality (and mortality) rearing their ugly heads, I can relate to this quote on a very personal level right now.

I do find writing somewhat intoxicating (and since I've never been drunk on anything else--well, maybe love). Where else can you give birth to entire worlds or characters with passion most never show or share? Writing makes gods of the least of us.


Just thinking...
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/9/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Diaphanous [pronounced "dahy-af-uh-nuhs"] is an adjective meaning "delicate, sheer, filmy, nearly transparent."

*Often in reading/writing I've found this one used in relationship to fabric.

Here's a sentence:
Standing before him, the Fairy Queen was wrapped in a pale and gauzy gown so diaphanous it seemed to tease existance itself.

What could be diaphanous in your setting?
~Saoirse

Thursday, March 08, 2007

About Researching a Distant Setting

One of the issues I've had with writing my novel, "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills" is the fact I have not yet visited the Border region of Scotland. I've read about it (the history, the people, the blending of cultures, the physical geography). I've seen tons of pictures. But the closest I've ever come to it (geographically) is London. Pitiful, huh?

I'm a strong believer in experiencing as much of the setting you write about as you can by whatever means possible. I cook and bake the region's food--scent being an important touchstone for many. I meditate on pictures and descriptions of the land.

So when I was recently writing a scene in which Tam Lin rescues a bird from a cage in the Fairy Queen's bedchamber, I realized I needed to not only know what the bird looked like, but also what its song sounded like. Honestly, I wasn't sure how to start except by throwing random words into Google. So, tossing in "birds + Scotland" I got the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. They have a lovely site including an alphabetical listing of all the birds in the UK.

Now, I was initially overwhelmed by such a selection, so I returned to my manuscript. I examined the words around the point where it seemed natural to identify the bird. I noticed that a bird's name starting with a "b" or an "s" would sound nice (I'm a sucker for alliteration and the like).

Before I continue, here's the site I used...RSPB.org . I started skimming the Bs. I knew what sort of song I was hoping the bird would sing (and an idea about the plummage) so I started looking at pictures and reading descriptions of calls (sometimes the site also offered a video clip or an audio clip--awesome!). I made a list of birds that intrigued me: the Brambling, Bluethroat, Blackcap, Bullfinch. On to the letter S! Scarlet Rosefinch, Siskin, Starling, Stonechat and Swallow.

Then I discarded any that we find either commonly in the US or ones that seem too similar to our own (like the Blackcap, Bullfinch, Starling and Swallow) because I want my setting to feel familiar and yet significantly foreign and alien. I found it hardest to part with the Swallow because of its agility in flight (and I want something about that to contrast with my bird's imprisonment--yes, I'm building a birdy foil for Tam Lin ;-) .

The Bluethroat was quickly tossed out because its migration pattern would just miss the timeline I've established to complement the original ballad. The Brambling has a "wheezy" call--not what I was going for (but I like the name). So I was left with the Scarlet Rosefinch (quite lovely, but two words), the Siskin (it just sounds unreal--cool!) and the Stonechat. The Scarlet Rosefinch also doesn't show up in the "right" area at the right time, so it was out (pretty or not).

The Siskin is adorable. Right time, right region, nice plummage and decent song. But I finally chose the Stonechat. It's on the "Amber List" (not doing so well as a species--although "not faring too badly in the UK") whereas the Siskin's "Green." Plus, I loved the little video clip they had of a male, and the variety in its call. They mention its habitual "flicking" of its wings. Imagine an ADHD bird in a cage... Beyond that, "Stonechat" just sounds "earthy" and "mortal." I liked that aspect of it, too. So, without being able to see one or hear one in person, the RSPB still provided enough valuable online information to help me make what I feel is a decently-informed decision. Yay!

So my point is this: Although I want very badly to visit the Borders, I can still add believable depth through creative research. Ain't technology grand? ;-)

How do you research your settings?
~Saoirse
PS--Here's another pretty photo of our handsome winner...

Thought for the Day 3/8/07

Here's one...

"Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."
~E.L. Doctorow

I'm sorry--I just love this one, perhaps because I relate to it. What do you think? Does society sort of excuse writers as "quirky?" Do we all inadvertently separate ourselves in order to write?

Always curious about other opinions...
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/8/07

Today's "RomanceWriter's Word of the Day" is...

Irascible [pronounced "i-ras-uh-buhl"] is an adjective meaning "to spark quickly to anger, irritable, angry."

Here's a sentence...
His normally irascible attitude was softened by one tender kiss from her trembling lips.

Even if you don't usually write angry characters, what situation might make a person irascible?

Just tappin' and typin' along,
~Saoirse

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bad Writing, Rough Editing

I should really be in bed right now, or contemplating the next scene in my novel, or doing something else useful, but I had an utterly blah time at work this evening.

One student's essay needed editing in every single sentence. Disagreeing subjects and verbs. Possessives that should have been plurals (and not possessive at all). A disastrous disinterest in knowing when to use "their" versus "there" or "they're." Sentence fragments like a grenade had gone off mid-essay. And in 12th grade! A senior in high school! Frankly, I was disgusted. 52 minutes later I had the whole mess appropriately formatted (they aligned left with a four inch column of text) and it looked like I vomited a rainbow across it (different colors of highlighting for minor grammar issues, tense issues, style issues, etc.).

But the student was excited by my willingness to help, and I do my best by everyone I edit for. I once edited an in-law's would-be novel... Got to page 72 before I wanted to gouge out my eyes and his. Rookie mistakes. The characters hadn't been fully realized and kept doing utterly irrational things. He had a decent idea, too little research and too little understanding of his own creations. I whipped up two worksheets for him and spent a couple hours going through specifics with him. I tried to be encouraging (not easy in this case) but forthright won out a few times.

He took the worksheets home and did them. Complemented me on the worksheets and told me how much new insight he gained into his characters as a result. Really, rave reviews for my help. But where is his manuscript now? Sitting on a shelf collecting dust. I've heard that most writers never complete their first novel, or they never get it published. I understand those statistics, but hope to battle them by helping others (as I, too, write and rewrite). I still wonder if I was overzealous with his novel...

Anyhow...
~Saoirse
PS--Yes, I know this entry is not grammatically sound. Bwah-ha-ha!

Thought for the Day 3/7/07

"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."

~Elizabeth Drew (poet, critic and author)

What have you read that caused you to change your life in some way--To live more intensely? Now, what is it about your writing (if you write) that you hope will encourage your eventual readers to also re-examine their lives? Or does their personal introspection not matter to you as an author? If so, why?

Just think about it,
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/7/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Florid [pronounced "flor-id"]. Florid is an adjective meaning "flushed, red," and sometimes "flowery."

Here's a sentence:
His salacious grin caused her face to grow florid and hot.

What might you write?

Give it a try! ;-)
~Saoirse

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thought for the Day

I stumbled across this quote from John Gardner's novel, On Becoming a Novelist:

"For better or worse, the practice of fiction changes a person."

Hmm, I thought. I get that. I not only understand it, but I believe it, too. As I mentioned in response to Sara's March 3 posting here, writers write. That's both good and bad. I sometimes spend late LATE nights writing. My husband complains in the morning. I sometimes have to jot things down in the midst of doing other things. My son grimaces or pouts.

Writing will take some of your time--it must. Writing fiction...Well, what does it say about us if we indulge in made up romances and worlds we ourselves create out of ink and air?

Some may consider us selfish or indulgent. Perhaps unrealistic. I like to think of fiction (and science fiction and fantasy) writers as creative, intelligent builders of worlds. We are creators of fantasy.

I think the changes we make in ourselves in order to write can make us better because we must strive to see multiple angles in each situation, and we must be observant--often listening and watching before speaking, writing or (perhaps most importantly) judging. We regularly imagine what might happen in the future based on the current situation, so I like to think we sometimes tap into extraordinary vision in our lives (as we try when plotting stories and their subplots).

Escapism seems almost necessary in today's world, so I think fiction writers make a positive difference in the world by providing an alternative to reality.

What changes do you think writing fiction makes in your life?
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/6/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Ephemeral [pronounced "eh-fem-ir-uhl"] is an adjective or noun meaning "short-lived, lasting only briefly."

Here's a sample sentence:
As great as their passion seemed, still their love was destined to only be ephemeral.

Have a great day and cherish the ephemeral things in life!
~Saoirse

Back in the Saddle

I think I'm finally over this illness and I'm getting all of my obligations taken care of. I've let myself get overrun with too many things stretching me too many ways and now I need to refocus a little bit. I'm determined that my writing won't suffer, but I do need to make other sacrifices.

Our outside temperature and wind chill means that I won't spend much time out today (frostbite starts in just under 30 minutes around here now), but the swirling snow (from drifting) looks beautiful as it glitters by anyhow.

I plan on getting more writing done today...

Hope you all are also getting refocused and writing!
~Saoirse

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dreams, Disappointments and Disease

Unfortunately some people don't get second chances. The girl I mentioned in Saturday's blog didn't make it. I can't imagine how her parents feel, losing someone so young.

Anyhow, I'm back home and trying to figure out how soon I can get my son and myself back down to see my mom again. Making phonecalls and rearranging appointments.

I wrote a little bit last night. It was completely compulsive. I felt better after getting some words out, but it didn't help me sleep (which it usually does). I was plagued by strange dreams. People I haven't seen in years suddenly showed up at a location that was similar to one we all attended--similar but so different, too. Some people I know are much older were there, too, only young and vital again, on beautiful horses inside a large jousting arena. I was nervous at seeing them all again, but comforted because most of them remembered me and were welcoming. Even I was younger (and thinner ;-) again, shy and insecure, but thrilling at the magic that seemed to fill the air.

Now I'm going to prep my son for naptime and go lie down myself. My illness seems to be morphing and providing chills and fever but I think if I sleep most of my day away (not easy with the nearly 3 year old jumping on me) I'll be able to rally by midweek. I'll see how I feel tomorrow--I'm thinking my mood is also keeping me down at this point, too, so I'll need to kick my own butt into action if I'm not getting more together by tomorrow.

Hope the rest of you are doing well!
~Saoirse

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Tangent: Second Chances

Technically this is a real departure from what my intentions with this blog were, but there are moments when you're moved to say something. Apologies in advance for those who only breeze in here for romance and writing topics...

This weekend we were in my old "stomping grounds" trying to make the most of a weekend spent with my parents and brother. My son's 3rd birthday's coming up and with Mom's new cancer treatment looming large on the horizon, we decided now was the time to all get to that commercialized rat-trap--Chuck E. Cheeses. Not knowing what Mom's future may bring, I want her bolstered for whatever.

On the spur of the moment, my brother suggested we invite his godson and parents. They're nice folks, real salt-of-the-earth types. I like that. There's never any hidden agenda with them, just blatant honesty. We had last seen each other at the local "fair" last autumn so "catching up" with them was awkward at first. We made some small talk. The kids played some games and ate some pizza.

The mom started talking about the fact that this was her second marriage--she had married at 17 after 2 months of dating and stayed with the guy 10 years. She's made huge changes in her life since then. Married a second time (this time to a pal of my brother's), adopted a boy with him (right before he shipped out to serve in Afghanistan), gotten in shape and started making real friends in the area (she moved from the midwest almost a decade ago now). So she has made the most of her "second chance."

My mother survived a frightening problem with cancer in 2005. She lost a leg to a rapidly growing sarcoma--the same sort of thing that we believe killed her father when Mom was about my age and I was about the age my son is now--talk about a scary glimpse of mortality. We thought--no--we prayed that the loss of the leg was the end of it. Mom's a fiery redhead from down South and had always been very active. Hiking, canoeing-- a go-getter. My father and she were on the cusp of separation before this thing hit, but although it took her leg, it brought them much closer together. See, Dad's always needed to be somebody's hero and I think Mom was always just a little too strong for that before the cancer. So, their relationship solidified again, the focus turned back to family and she even returned to teaching. She was also granted a second chance and was making the most of it (of course now we need a third because there are tumors in her lungs).

So today, as I'm telling my husband we need to start to circle the wagons and leave Chuck E. Cheeses (I'm suddenly suffering stomach cramps and it's well past the kid's nap time anyway), our friend's cell phone rings. Frantically she starts pulling her son's coat on, getting her husband to gather their belongings and looking at us with utterly apologetic (and frightened) eyes. She closes the phone and quickly explains that her husband's stepsister has been in a car accident and they don't know if she's alive or dead. The husband's stunned, but he's a real trooper and he's been a soldier, so he's holding everybody together and heading towards the door. There are hugs and well-wishes and then they rush away.

My brother fills us in a little as we all wedge into a minivan that was dented up and nearly pushed off the road in Philly on Friday as my parents were returning from meeting new doctors. His friend's father remarried a woman who had a daughter from a previous relationship. She seems like a sweet kid, only 17, and my brother's only met her a few times at "family" events for his godson. She's one of his MySpace friends, but they aren't really close.

Back home he gets a phone call to update him. They stopped at the scene of the accident and the paramedic let it slip that the girl's dead and her friend was "life-lined" away from the scene. The girl was driving and a trash truck was speeding, or ran a stop sign (at this point things get foggy for me because my dad's quick to jump to the story of his wealthy boss, a trash truck and a Rolls Royce with a flattened front) and plowed into them, forcing them head-on into a telephone pole. We're all stunned. My brother hops onto MySpace. Tells me that her last post was regarding her New Year's resolutions. She was going to spend more time with family. Get closer to God. Forgive her biological father. We're even more stunned. She was going to try and turn her life around and now...

An closeted-optimist (because pessimism seems to go more suitably with single males of high intellect, I guess), my brother says, "Maybe we'll hear something different. Maybe the paramedic named the wrong one. Maybe the reason they haven't called again is because they're at the hospital and it's the other girl that's dead..." He certainly doesn't wish the other girl ill, of course, he's just hoping that if someone had to die it isn't his good friend's younger stepsister. So tonight we're hoping that somehow she, too, gets a second chance, and if hers is not meant to be, we're hoping that the other girl makes the most of the life that may yet remain for her...

So here's to making the most out of whatever life gives you and never squandering a second chance you may be granted by chance or circumstance.

Take care everyone!

Much love,
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/3/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Entreat [en-treet] is a verb meaning "to beg or plead, make an earnest request."

An example sentence could be:
Although her lips stubbornly pouted her frustration, her eyes, wide with worship, entreated him for just one more gentle kiss.

What might one of your characters entreat another for?

Always curious,
~Saoirse

Friday, March 02, 2007

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/2/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is...

Tantalize [pronounced "tan-tl-ize"] is a verb meaning "to torture, tease or torment with desires that go unfulfilled."

Here's a sample sentence:
The body she always feared was too soft or too short and even droll, seemed to now be capable of tantalizing her handsome husband.

Now you try one... :-)

Have a great day and write something that will tantalize your readers (and fulfill their desires)!
~Saoirse

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sick and Tired, but Working...

I'm sick today, and my son's definitely got it, too. He's an absolute mess. Grumpy, stuffy-nose that also runs (just to keep one guessing), coughing and sneezing, just wants to curl up and sleep, obsessed by cartoons and angry at the world...

Oh, wait. That's ME!

So basically I'm moping around the kitchen, typing, cleaning, puttering. And in case you were wondering, no, I don't feel inspired in the least to write a new section of my novel when I feel like this. I'm not truly a "method writer," and I don't think it'd help to make Jennet (my heroine) suffer a sickness or be mopey, but I think a sense of my current attitude could ooze into any writing I do today. So, better not spread the mood the contagion puts me in... ;-)

Anyhow, I've got long hours working tonight and if the weather clears for tomorrow evening we'll be on our way to visit my family. If the weather doesn't clear I think I will become even more bitter about current circumstances.

I do feel like I got a few things accomplished--my blog's looking more homey (well, at least in my opinion), although I still have some severe funkiness happening along the page's bottom. It's ok, you can look ;-) Hopefully I'll continue making things more useful and viable around here... And writing, of course.

Hope all of you are well... And writing (of course)!
~Saoirse

The Ugliest Fish Around...Flounder!

So I was thinking about the greatest danger to wouldbe writers--floundering. Please note the very ugly fish to the right. Nothing pretty about it, is there?

I've been victim to floundering a time or two (well, more like dozens of times over the course of my life). My focus shifts and I dig into new ideas that attract my attention and new tools that beg me to try them to improve my writing life. Sometimes I try to hide from my writing--a bad page or two can make me want to disappear. And what does that make my writing? Relatively flat when compared to my moments of great passion, commitment and obsessive writing.

So how might one defeat floundering?

I think recognizing you do it is a good first step.

Realizing how it impacts your writing (or lack of it) should help bolster you against its fishy attacks.

Perhaps remembering what first "hooked" you with the idea for your current story will help reel you back in to continuing your work on it.

If none of that seems to work--find a buddy who's in the same boat and see if you can both work through it together.

Set deadlines with each other.

Exchange manuscripts and set firm goals--who will you submit your story to? Post those goals where you see them daily and remember--you are a writer as long as you are writing.

So get to it!

Nobody likes cold-fish handshakes or the smell of old fish... Be free of floundering!

I, as author of this brief mess, do hereby apologize for all the fish references ;-) But, for Heaven's sake--write--express yourself, your characters and the worlds which live inside you! :-)

Much LOVE!
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 3/1/07

Today's "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" is..

Zeal [zeel] is a noun meaning "passion or a powerful feeling for someone or something."

Here's a sentence:
He kissed her with such zeal he seemed like an impassioned worshipper just discovering a long-lost temple.

Eh, I need coffee ;-)

Have a great day and try putting some zeal into your life!
~Saoirse

What is the most interesting city or setting to you?

Woo-hoo! Didn't You Know It!


Which ancient leader are you most akin to?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Ghengis Khan

you scored ghengis khan! He was a Mongol political and military leader or Khan (posthumously Khagan) who united the Mongol tribes and founded the Mongol Empire (�� �онгол Ул�), (1206�1368), the largest contiguous empire in world history.

Ghengis Khan

86%

Julius Caesar

80%

Henry V (England)

72%

Cleopatra

70%

Darius

70%

Napoleon Bonaparte

67%

Alexander the Great

64%

Pride and Prejudice

Which Pride and Prejudice Girl Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com You scored as Elizabeth

I am Elizabeth. I am headstrong and intelligent. I love to be myself, and am very loyal to my family. I can sometimes be prideful and "prejudiced," but I try to remain open minded and I usually regret past mistakes.

Elizabeth

95%

Charlotte

75%

Jane

65%

Mrs. Bennet

55%

Mary

50%

Kitty

35%

Lydia

15%

Super Me!


Which Superheroine are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Huntress

You are the Huntress... No matter how many times you try and prove yourself to be good, you always seem to be stuck in the same rut, with the reputation as a "bad girl". Guys love to hang around you because you're easy to talk too.

Huntress

80%

Black Canary

75%

Supergirl

65%

Spiderwoman

60%

Batgirl

55%

Catwoman

40%

Spoiler

40%

Spidergirl

35%