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!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thought for the Day 5/24/07

It's not particularly "romantic," but I think it's important nonetheless.

Ben Jonson wrote of Shakespeare in his "To the Memory of my Beloved Master William Shakespeare":

"Who casts to write a living line, must sweat..."

When someone dares to say, "Oh, you're just writing?" or disparages your efforts, or seeks to minimize your goals, realize that those in the field understand what you do when you write is WORK. Hard, often times exhausting work.

So keep writing--keep sweating over those lines--they'll be beautiful because of your effort.

Take care,
PS--Got word yesterday that my mother has less than one month to live. I'll again be out of touch for a while as I travel down to her and help chronicle her life before so much about her culture and family is lost to us.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Romantic Thoughts Few and Far Between

I'll readily admit that I AM "the thing the cat dragged in" recently. Bedraggled, exhausted and struggling to make sure the right money's squirreled away for summer... I'm doing a lot more tutoring recently, and as a result--reading a lot more horrendous examples of standard "5 paragraph essays." I'll probably start to have nightmares where I try desperately to confine my "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills" novel into 5 concise paragraphs. Yech!

I'll admit to not having even contemplated a "Romantic Thought for the Day" or a "Romance Writer's Word of the Day" recently.

Frankly, the most excited I've been in a while was when I found my license in my pants' pocket. It wasn't lost after all--woo-hoo!

Tomorrow morning I pack my son and travel south to see my mother again. She has two precious weeks before radiation treatments resume. She can't make the trip here as she's suffering pain in her hip (they will scan it for new cancer as a result). Even if she could get here, we have too many steps for an amputee in her current condition to come up. So she won't get to see the apple trees in blossom. She may never get to see the flock of sheep arriving next week, or the chicks we'll raise for a few weeks in a trailer in the apple orchard so the fluff doesn't ruin my "studio."

This is one of the reasons we all need to be close (emotionally, and sometimes physically) to our roots. My mom and I didn't always get along. I was a good kid, but we didn't always agree on certain things. She was raised Southern Baptist and I... Well, I was not. I got grounded for strange things like not wearing skirts often enough and befriending kids of different religions and races one particular summer.

It probably sounds crazy by today's standards, but my mother always did her best to protect me. However she knew how. She was no ogre, no zealot. Just a mom struggling to raise her only daughter as best she could. I rebelled (of course) and did a few things she still knows nothing about. Some of the things I never told her about because I was protecting her (funny how life circles on us and pins us down). I haven't always been proud of my choices. Perhaps no one is.

Maybe those times, when I drifted from her and opposed her, are why my mother's cancer is wounding me so deeply. She probably won't have the lifespan she should. She may not see my son enter kindergarten or graduate from elementary school. So I feel bitter. How selfish of me, right? How dare I feel cheated when I squandered time before and when I'm not the one truly suffering? Well, I DO feel cheated because cancer may well chaet my son out of his Mom-Mom, and THAT... Well, that breaks my heart.

But writing for me is catharsis, and though it doesn't really fit here, the above certainly doesn't fit on my other blog. So please excuse my venting. I promise, I will return to the more pleasant pursuits of writing romance and having Words and Thoughts here.

I'm just not dealing with this as gracefully as I would have hoped.

I truly hope your lives are calmer and more pleasant...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spring Fever and Scrapping Books

I was recently talking to a pal of mine who is finishing the edits requested on her second book (I adore her, so there's no room for jealousy). We commiserated on the fact that although we WANT to be writing, there are other things that must also be done.

We both make much of our money in another way, and business is relatively seasonal. We both have gardens and are trying to be aware of what we plant and consume. Spring requires a lot of work in the garden and in our businesses, too. Lots of time outdoors means less time writing. She's stressing because the date edits are due is June 1st and her editor has been MIA for 2 weeks. She needs more info and is getting no answers.

Her first book lulled her into a false sense of security, she chuckled over the phone this morning. All they changed in it were a few capitalizations. This one they decided they'd prefer if she took another approach. Entirely. She didn't have to scrap the book, but it looked like a mess when I saw it a week ago. So, she's struggling to make time to keep her garden going and finish the edits.

Sure, our skin tones are actually starting to look healthier than our normal milky undead color, but we'd probably trade in the Vitamin D we're getting for more quiet time tucked away with our respective computers. When the winds and coyotes were howling in winter, I dreamt (occasionally) of Spring. Now I miss my "weather's horrible outside" excuses to just sit, drink coffee and type my fingers off.

Any other people "suffering" from the many diversions and obligations of Spring?

Romance Writer's Word for the Day 5/14/07

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

Surmount [sir-mount]

Surmount is a verb meaning: to overcome or surpass; prevailing against an obstacle or problem; to cross over; to be on top.

Here's a sample sentence:

Despite the stress and strain of her current situation, she determined to surmount her worries and again move forward towards achieving her lofty goals.

How might one of your characters surmount a crisis and move forward in your tale?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Telling You Where to Go...

Anyone who knows me would eventually expect me to "tell you where to go"--But in this case it's a good thing. A necessary thing.

I'm going to post a picture and a link here I want you to visit. Read the original post at Wandering Author's site, then read the Update. Get involved. Do something to help somebody, even if this isn't your mission of choice.

Now (because I'm no genius when it comes to computers...) here's the link to go to...

A Child Without a Voice.

Good. Thanks. Now do something else nice today, too. This next one's up to you.

Be nice. It matters.

Romance Writer's Thought for the Day

"Live every day like it's your last."

I'm honestly not sure who first said this, but it's a good way to live your life (though I think too often it doesn't work in the real world--we all have too many mundane things that simply MUST be done).

The words speak (to me at least) of the concept of living a life brimming with passion. I think that's something that must be integrated into any good writer's characters. Passion. Most readers want characters that seem alive with their desires and fears--and that comes from being passionate about things. Even with the "controlled" male stereotypes we encounter in romances, once they get past the reasons for their stoic stiffness (a broken heart, rejection, etc.) good heroes are passionate heroes. I don't think there can be any other type.

The man who rushes into a burning building has an obvious passion for life--even if it's saving another's. People around him might think he has an utter disregard for his own life--but look closer.

I think writing passionate heroes and heroines (and it's okay to have their passions emerge at different rates--it's better that way, I think) is necessary and speaks to how much you truly know your characters.

Read a play by Sam Shepherd or Henrik Ibsen. Shake up your "knowledge base."

Write from the heart and try and live that way, too.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Few Explanations...

Some of you have probably noticed I've been gone a while. My family came for a visit (Mom and Dad, specifically). They left and my mother was admitted directly into the hospital. Her cancer had begun to choke off her air supply.

For those of you not "in the loop," my mother developed a rare form of cancer very suddenly in summer, 2005. It spread so rapidly that she was encouraged to seek the amputation of her leg. Losing her leg didn't cost her her fiery spirit, though. We still did the family beach trips, my son (a toddler then) learning to say "Charge" as he sat on her lap in her scooter. She stayed active, continued seeing doctors and getting checked on and in October 2006 she had an x-ray or scan of some sort of her lungs (her father died of stomach cancer at about her age). "Nothing to worry about," they said. Around February 2007 they suddenly looked around and went: "Whoops, so sorry about that--it seems we missed a couple lesions that showed up on that October scan--you have lung cancer and it's pretty advanced now."

Mom wasn't done fighting. She started treatment and went to look at another cancer center, this one in Philly. One or two meetings and doctors there felt they could help, but nobody could guarantee that her insurance would handle the new treatment facility. They'd need to front the cash first. Here again is the reason few good people stay as educators--as a teacher (and with my father as a retired teacher) it seemed clear to my parents there was no money to do the better treatments. They'd have to settle for what her insurance would cover. They didn't tell myself or my brother this was the case until much later. My family has a hang-up with pride.

She came and saw us in NY, had more and more trouble breathing (over a course of 4 days) so Dad drove her straight to the emergency room (in PA--okay, we have geographical hang-ups, too).

A day later I got the call that she was in the CCU and no one was sure how long she'd be there. I made the appropriate phone calls. I sounded strong, sure and in control on the phone (until my biggest and toughest male cousin started to cry--I cut that call short because I couldn't maintain the facade any longer). Then I packed up my son, my husband took his scant few personal days and we made the journey south.

I stayed about two weeks in the house I grew up in, swapping visit times between my brother, my father and my godmother. My father and I discussed cremation and non-resucitation(sp.). Grim and seemingly necessary discussions. My mother was forced into early retirement (she had gone back to the classroom for a while) and the paperwork stalled. She was moved from the CCU into the upgraded room and we watched some movies together in the moments between visitors and the end of visiting hours.

The doctor confessed that they didn't really know all the ins and outs of this form of cancer. They would do the best they could, but one lung was basically useless already and the other was showing lesions, too. They focused on opening the airway (trying too much radiation could be disastrous, they explained) and they seemed to succeed--sending her home on oxygen. Part of the "Southern Branch" of the family came north. A big deal in itself, only adding to the stress due to certain familial expectations.

"Is this the sending you home to die thing?" my brother and I wondered. We swore then we'd be 100% open about all we knew with each other and that if we ever faced a similar fight we'd do everything as aggressively as possible. I stayed a little longer--long enough for my mother to regain some of her strength and attitude. Then I headed north again..."home."

Things were crazy. I had dropped one set of obligations to help with Mom, but had to rush to prepare for an important upcoming event I had already paid for. I needed something to look forward to, after all. My days and nights were work, work, work. I called Mom often (I called her often before, but now even moreso). One day I couldn't catch her. My heart sank. I didn't dare think it, but I knew something was wrong.

I finally reached my father that evening (or was it the next morning? it all blurs now). "Don't rush down here. It's really nothing," he said. "She's in the hospital for treatment, but everyone has this sort of brain tumor. It's nothing to worry about."

I was reeling. I COULDN'T race down there because of my schedule. But I was P.O.ed at my father like few times before. I called my brother immediately. My father was angry about that later, too. "It's nothing to worry about," Dad insisted. It just so happened that the tumor was detected because it was causing her gag reflex to malfunction and she had a hell of a time taking her meds. "Nothing to worry about."

My mind kept flicking back to a conversation in a local pizzeria in early summer 2005 when I had said to my mother that I'd support her if she left my dad. There had always been problems in their relationship. Some we joked about--but we've always had a dark sense of humor and a strange love of sarcasm. But even when we joked about the issues they struggled as a couple to surmount, still my brother and I found ourselves often wishing they'd just get divorced. The "staying together for the kids" thing sucked most of the time. Of course, there was also the "staying together for the sake of appearances." That wasn't any better. But then, we weren't a family experienced with divorce.

Mom's cancer had brought them closer, it's true, but they still seem worlds apart at moments.

I saw her Wednesday night and Thursday morning. She was weak, pasty, exhausted. My once proud mother wasn't even using her walker and had conceded to using a potty chair. She was refusing the oxygen. I went to my event. I had to. I understand that I engage in escapism. It's not brave of me, but I accept it as an uneasy norm. I made some money and came back to see her again. She was weaker still, not able to open the Tylenol bottle herself, not able to hold my son on her lap (one of her favorite pasttimes).

I had to leave. Obligations up north required my presence. I called her last night, but she kept the call short. She's having difficulty even with that. And there's nothing I can do about it. I'm too much of a control freak for this sort of thing.

I apologize for not posting and not participating recently. I'll be trying to get back into "the swing of things" as soon as I can. I have an event in October I'll be working on getting ready for, but I need to get back into something that seems "normal" before I let this all take me too far down.

I hope you all are well.

Much love,

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
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


Julius Caesar


Henry V (England)






Napoleon Bonaparte


Alexander the Great


Pride and Prejudice

Which Pride and Prejudice Girl Are You?
created with 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.







Mrs. Bennet








Super Me!

Which Superheroine are you?
created with
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.



Black Canary