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!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Power of Great References... Antiquarian Book Fair in Cooperstown

There are plenty of stories and books that can be written without using any reference books.

The adage "Write what you know," may help remind you of how this can be done. If you follow that advice strictly you'll wind up writing something only about your own life and direct experiences, quite possibly never needing a reference book (unless you spend time examining the eras in which you lived and some of the people and motivations around you ;-). But there are books that you can write requiring no references.

I just don't have much of an interest in writing books of that sort. So my library of reference books is building. Yesterday two references were added. One was free (a catalog of medieval and Renaissance style clothing and accouterments by Museum Replicas) and will be nice as a visual touchstone with Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills.

The other was a book (that will help me with Dreams in Red) from 1926 that I found in the 14th annual Antiquarian Book Fair in Cooperstown, NY. My father actually bought it for me, talking the price down from $225 to $200 (waaay out of my price range). The reference book was one I'd seen listed on many bibliographies (but few writers seem to have access to one), but couldn't find. Mine is not a first edition, but it's amazing! Even in the first paragraph (of one of four lengthy chapters that relate directly to my book) I found 3 specific facts I hadn't found anywhere else. And that is just the beginning :-).

This reference will change many aspects of my writing--and deepen the authenticity of it in amazing ways. I challenge you to think about the way great books can make your writing even greater--Is there a particular reference book or antique book you'd want to add to your reference library?

Excited by a new (hmm---old?) book to use as a resource,

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Organizing...And Blogging...And So...


I was thinking about my blog here and realizing it's grown into a bit of a monstrosity. I've fallen into the trap of having too many things here that sort of relate, but could be more effective in different, more focused areas. So I'm thinking I need to split stuff up a bit. I'll focus on the aspects of writing romances, developing writing vocabulary and skills here while focusing on the research and specific stories elsewhere. I don't know--sometimes it makes more sense than others. At the moment it makes a bunch of sense, though.

So here I'll do the Romance Writer's Word of the Day (except weekends), I'll start Manic Mondays again, comment on the life of a would-be-writer, discuss stuff related to publishing and the business of writing, post my own occasional reviews and and link to polls, contests, publishers, agents and prompts I like.

The specifics of my growing "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills" novel will wind up elsewhere (there will be links here to it, of course). And the growing "Dreams in Red" novel (earlier called "Barrister's Bastard") will have a place all its own. It seems it wants to grow pretty badly (or perhaps pretty well ;-) right now.

I hope that all makes sense... Maybe after I sleep it will to me again, too. ;-)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sunday Scribblings Prompt: Vision

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "vision." Hmm. So many different types of vision, really. Let's see what I can make clear in a story form (anything for me to gain further insight into the books and characters I'm working on, right? ;-).

"James--" she paused, squinting.

He stood before her, fists balled at his side, jaw jutting forward--ready for a full blown confrontation.

Today, Anne decided she would not give him the satisfaction. She brushed her gloves together, crumbs of rich soil clinging stubbornly to the leather.

"What?" he challenged, his eyes seeming to shrink as they became a very distinct and unattractive likeness to a pig.

Anne sighed and swatted the remaining dirt off her gloves and onto her skirt. She knew the servants would shake their heads at such a thing, but she needed a moment to think. Reaching up, she tilted her hat very subtly and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

"James," she began again, more softly, "I know what made my father so ill."

James' eyes narrowed further--Anne wondered how they could, they were so like the tiny French knots her mother had used to create doll eyes.

"I know it was oleander in father's cake. And I know you were the one who did it." She held up a hand to signal he should keep his mouth shut.

It still gaped open in surprise.

"It occurs to me that having the two of you living under the same roof may not be a wise idea. You are far too eager for my inheritance, and my father is far too eager for me to be free of--well, of you." She tugged off one glove, finger by finger. "It all seems quite inevitable, really. Had you not tried to kill him first, surely he would have tried to murder you--accidents are far too common on plantations." Her gaze flickered to him, a silent, yet pointed threat.

Her brows drew together for a moment as she peered at the base of his throat. The spot his charm used to hang. Odd. Hadn't he said he had lost the thing in a tousle with a slave? She shaded her eyes and glanced towards the sunlight filtering through the trees. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but from her spot under the myrtles she could have sworn his charm was still there, glowing eerily on a ghostly chain around his neck. She swallowed. Odd. She tore her gaze away again, busying herself with the other glove.

He grated the words out from between his teeth: "So what do we do now, Annie?"

"Well, as I am your wife and ill-suited to plantation living and the normal standards of local society, I think--" she paused. "Do you smell smoke?"

He pulled back, looking at her as if she'd finally gone utterly insane.

But even as he was reacting, she knew there was nothing for him to react to but her. Behind him she saw strange shadows, like dark tongues of flame. They licked around him, snapping and popping as she watched, and then--they were gone like the very shadows they had been. She wobbled and he grabbed her by the arm to steady her.

"Annie?" he asked. "Are you ill?"

"No," she replied, straightening. She felt cold. She licked her lips. She would need to get the visions under control if she was going to make this work. "James?"

"Yes, Annie?"

"Take me away from here. Take me on a grand adventure--like the stories you told by the dockside." She fixed him with her most alluring gaze. "Let's not fight anymore. Let my father have the plantation--he's an old man. How much longer will he live without your interference?"

He moved towards her, the heat of his body so close made a fine sweat bead around her temples. "Where shall I take you, Annie?" he asked, eyes sparkling.

Anne found herself thanking God that James' ego was so predictable. So where could they go that he'd be no more threat to her father? Where could she clean up the mess of this marriage she'd been so eager to create? She smiled up into his eyes, curling into his arms and whispered the answer. "Take me pirating."

Okay, so it doesn't spend as much time as I wanted to on the snippets of visions that have been causing Anne to falter, but it's something. And it feels good to try a SS prompt again, too. :-)

For more great answers to Sunday Scribblings prompts or to participate yourself, go here!

Keep writing!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blogging E-Award for Excellence

I'd like to thank Sara for passing this award along to me (although it was months ago and I somehow overlooked it).

Now I need to re-download the award as it's gone forever in the depths of my other archives--and choose 10 awesome bloggers to pass it along to...

Ah, here:

Nuts. I'll need to save it and tweak it--sadly, my computer is not wanting to accept excellence today, so I'll try and convince it to be comfortable with the mediocrity we seem able to maintain. ;-)


So here are my ten bloggers I'd award this to (must grab links):

1.) The Novel Racers (because they're still plugging along)

2.) Bone's Blog (he hosts 3 Word Wednesday, too, btw)

3.) Unusual Historicals (VERY informative)

4.) The Word Wenches (also quite smart)

5.) more to follow, must get the sheep... 2 new lambs






Keep writing!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

3WW: Spontaneous, Shook, Rumor

3 Word Wednesday--Trying to get this out between blackouts... Blue skies are pretty, here, though... Hmm... Used to only get blackouts when it stormed...

Janet was the last one the servants would call "spontaneous."

She fastidiously laid her clothing out three days in advance. She would have gladly prepared better, but three day's clothes was all she owned. She liked to think it simplified her choices. She couldn't fathom dealing with the vast array of clothing the triplets, Mary, Kate, and Ashley had amassed... How did one ever decide what to wear each day when faced with so many options?

Janet's east-facing bedroom chamber was a study in organization with each item carefully tucked in its special place. Everything was neat and well-maintained, and Janet preferred it that way. In a household where so much was always in a state of frantic anticipation (but what could be expected in a home with three girls, all of marrying age?), it was important to Janet to maintain some sort of eye in the perpetual storm.

Her life was as well-ordered as it could be--it was a necessity when someone ran a household, Janet believed. Everything had a time and a place. All meetings and arrangements had specific dates. The grain was delivered

So it shook her to the core of her being when she sat up in bed suddenly that morning with the overwhelming desire to ride, alone, into the heart of Carterhaugh. She tried to ignore the impulse, going about her normal routine as best possible. She shrugged into a shift and tugged on her mantle--blue, because it was the second day of the new month.

"What?" Janet leaped out of the skirt in dismay. "Oh, no, this won't do," she muttered, looking at the wet cloth. "Where did--" But she remembered the rain on the rooftop last night, and saw where a drop of water hung, threateningly, over her clothing's normal place. "Oh!"

She reached into her wardrobe and pulled out the green mantle, tugging it up over her slim form and smoothing it out. "Green. Hmm."

The single window in her room opened, pulled free by a sudden gust of wind. The scent of spring and running water reminded her of dense forests and--she swallowed--the Ettrick Forest and the rivers that burbled along the borders or Carterhaugh.

She brushed her hair, trying to slow the strange racing of her heart. Why did she want to ride into that area? Ever? Certainly it was a beautiful place, and she was doomed with it as her dowry, and if the rumors were to be believed--

She gasped, looking down at the green mantle again. "No--that is certainly not in my plans--" She recalled the song the bard had sung last night so merrily:

"There's none that goes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a gift,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead."

With a groan she reached for the red mantle and set her jaw, determined to ignore the strange pull she felt from the east. Fiercely she prayed it wasn't destiny calling, because--Dammit, she thought, getting the red mantle settled--I don't recall making a date with destiny at all.

That's it for me,

*See other 3WW posts linked here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Why I Won't Be Joining

*Authors' rights have improved vastly since this was first posted! I invite readers and writers to look at the revised contract and read through founder, Stan Soper's, correspondence here, too. (Note added 7/26/08, my original post and comments follow immediately, as they first appeared.)

And I quote:

* By submitting your content to Textnovel, you grant Textnovel (and any Textnovel successors-in-interest, subsidiaries, or parent companies), a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, non-exclusive, sub-licensable right and license to, in whole or in part, with or without attribution to you, use, copy, modify, edit, adapt, publish, publicly display/perform, translate, display, create derivative works from and/or license (or sell with your authorization) and/or distribute content posted to the Site. Textnovel's rights to content you submit includes the right to make editorial revisions to your content; to use in any way the materials you submit on the Textnovel website or in other Textnovel media, whether now or hereafter created; to use for our own internal business purposes; and/or to reproduce and distribute the materials for Textnovel's marketing and publicity purposes.

Ah, well.

So a cellphone novel isn't immediately in my future after all... Although my novels haven't yet been fished out to traditional publishers, I don't think it's fair for me (or any writer) to hand over all rights (and essentially make your work cannon fodder for a publisher).

I'll admit, it's an inventive idea that may allow lots of people to read new works by new novelists, but man... The whole rights issue is a major sticking point with me. This is a "turnip clause"--a clause only someone who "just fell off the turnip truck" would agree to.

I hope TextNovel makes the adjustments to their contract that'll allow them to get better talent to sign on (without fear for their intellectual property), but, for now I'll wait for someone else with a more balanced contract to come along.

*Please note: TextNovel DID make great adjustments to their contract as I hoped--very few publishers are that open to suggestions from would-be writers. Yes, yes, this is like a total "about-face" of my opinion on this, but if you read Stan's comments--which follow this original post--and then check out their new contract language (also covered in my updated post) you'll understand why I've changed my tune.
(Note added 7/26/08)

*Please note: The importance of reading and fully understanding the implications of a contract (ANY contract--with a publisher or an agent or a whatnot) cannot be stressed enough. If you do not understand the full potential scope of a contract, get it in front of a publishing lawyer--trust me, it'll save you lots of headaches in the future! (Note added 8/4/10 by a far wiser author)

Keep writing!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cellphone Novels

Perhaps you're familiar with the new publishing rage sweeping Asia. Maybe you saw the news spots. It's fascinating really--one more way to read a book--and a way to save paper, too!

I'm talking about the cellphone novel. Yes. Read a novel on your phone.

There's a cellphone novel "publisher" (I think we need to call them that when you consider the things that currently make work "published") that recently posted on Elance. And they invited me to bid. Ah--temptation!

They can be found at and are currently in a beta state (hey, we've all been there--I think it's called adolescence in humans ;-). Anyway, it seems like an interesting way to get your writing "out there." And, as the site's only been up for about a week, all genres are pretty well open.

And-- did I mention there's popular voting and a prize involved? Yes, I'm a bit of a sucker for additional perks, it seems.

If you've stalled in your writing, maybe this is the royal kick in the rump you need to keep going. I mean, after all, you should start to build a fan base as you write (it appears you retain your rights--READ THE FAQS AND CONTRACT/TERMS OF USE, of course) and hopefully, those fans will depend on YOU to entertain and enlighten them. How dare you refuse? ;-)

So, will I or won't I?

Time, and a couple answers to posted questions will tell...

Keep reading (and writing)!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

3WW: Frequent, Someday, Open

It's Three Word Wednesday! The words this time were: frequent, someday and open. Here's what I've got...

Frequently she caught herself pausing on the windswept knoll and staring out to sea, an undeniable hunger growing within her. She would rub the hollow where her belly had so recently bloomed, shake her head and begin the long and slippery walk back down to the beach and its shamble of buildings. And she promised herself each time: "Someday."

"Someday he'll come for me." But she wondered if absence made the heart grow fonder or if it simply let chasms between lovers grow.

"Someday he'll forgive me." And she knew he would--he'd never said he'd wanted children, after all. And with their babe lying freshly dead in the sandy soil, he'd have nothing to tie him down. Nothing to tie him to her, either, she remembered, swallowing the thought like a bitter pill.

But the words that always caught in her throat were, "Someday I'll forgive myself." That she had the least faith of all in, probably because she always had the least faith in herself.

Everyone in the spot of a village knew she was losing her mind.

So when the storms rushed in one morning, it didn't surprise them to see her standing where she always did--perched atop the knoll, hair rushing behind her in the coming gale like a long red flag of warning. But this time--

"Gods," Katrina whispered, pointing to the woman suddenly silhouetted in a lightning flash, "Jack's gonna' kill us!" Grabbing Kristen and shouting to Karen, the trio began the dangerous race up the slope, kicking rocks back with each step, scattering sand into the air to swirl and batter. Hand over hand they climbed, glad to have forsaken the long garish skirts many of their type favored.

Above them, Anne's arms were spread wide open, welcoming the coming winds that would toss her onto the rocks below. She took a step forward. "Someday," she whispered as the wind tore the words from her lips, "Someday I'll be free--"

"Not today, you dumb whore!" Katrina's hand snaked up over the ridge and grabbed Anne's ankle. "Get her, girls!"

Kristen sprang up and knocked Anne to the ground, arms wrapping around her waist. Karen sat on Anne, weighing her down like an anchor.

As Katrina managed to get up the last bit of the slope, she released Anne and signaled her comrades to roll Anne over to face them.

"You will not kill yourself on our watch!"

Anne simply stared up at the roiling clouds that blackened the skies like great bruises on the sky above. Her chin quivered and then the clouds burst open and mercifully poured rain down on the four women.

Her victors never saw the tears that slipped silently down her cheeks they were so washed with rain. For that, at least, Anne was grateful. Limp, she let the women lift and half-carry, half-drag her down to the shoreline. She would not resist. If life wanted her more than death, she'd continue to struggle along.

There's mine. Here's a link to where you can find a bunch more and join in yourself!

Have fun!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Brief Rant : The Other Boleyn Girl

Ok, I'm sorry, but I finally got to see The Other Boleyn Girl, and instead of enjoying Hollywood's rendition of a book I REALLY loved, I spent most of the movie with part of my fist shoved into my mouth (the part when I wasn't telling my father and my husband just how Hollywood had botched this scene or that character)...

I don't think Dad'll rent any more movies when he comes to my place and my hubby--Well luckily having a son has stopped most of our efforts at getting to the movie theaters, so he'll just adjust (out of sheer desperation) and probably not allow me to read a book again before seeing a movie.

In the end I felt bad for Philippa Gregory (the author) the most, but I felt bad for almost everyone involved in this severely truncated and malformed beast of a movie. Thank God the costumes were marvelous and the acting was sound (not great, but--yep, "sound" is the best I can truly give them). But there were so many scenes Hollywood could have used from the book that would have created a far more powerful piece of cinema--They missed so many blatant opportunities I wanted to see the screenwriter's head on the block, not Anne's.

Anyhow, so that I don't spoil the multitude of surprises you'll encounter in the movie (because, if you did read the book, you WILL be surprised--maybe even a bit horrified), I'll end this post here and simply suggest that you see the movie, then do your best to forget it and READ THE BOOK. But for Heaven's sake, do it in that order (the forgetting will come naturally as a defense mechanism for some, luckily). Man, they could have done SO much better... VERY disappointing as movies go.

Hope you're reading...

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