• Category Archives Writing
  • Bittersweet

    released today at Loose Id.

    I’m thrilled to see one of my babies finally return to the ebook shelves.

    Like anything else, a writer’s ability improves with time and practice. About a year or so ago, I felt a compelling need to withdraw my backlist from circulation and polish the books to my current writing maturity. Knowing I would need to pull back from producing new books during this period, I held off–until I just couldn’t hold off any longer. The status quo bothered me. So, over the course of a weekend, I decided to yank the list and get down to work.

    I bumped into a review at Amazon, written by a reader long after BITTERSWEET was no longer for sale there. The review was one of the reasons I decided my old books deserved my investment of time and effort. I’m pasting the review here–somebody please yell at me if I’m not supposed to do this.

    not just erotica, June 11, 2005
    Reviewer: misty9 “misty99” (Italy) – See all my reviews
    I was just going to give this book a peep – I don’t really like erotica that much – but I was immediately hooked.

    There really is a storyline, and often it’s funny and touching. The sex takes second place to the love that starts to evolve between 2 very different people, he’s a cynical cop, she’s a small-town teacher. There’s a lot of sex of course, but for once he’s the one who would like more and she wants to keep it purely physical. All considered, it’s a good read..

    I don’t write straight erotica, nor do I write straight romance–this reader recognized and enjoyed the hybrid sort of book I write.

    Thanks Misty! Thanks to all my readers who, with their letters and comments, make me want to improve my writing skills.

    BITTERSWEET is the same story–only smoother.


  • Progress Report

    This schedule is primarily for me, so I can keep track of the mess, but feel free to peek.

    The state of my backlist:

    (1) BITTERSWEET –releases with Loose Id on February 28th.
    (2) TOUCH ME –releases with Loose Id on April 4th.
    (3) SCREWING WITH PERFECT–releases with Samhain on July 18th.
    (4) CAPTIVE –edits complete.
    (5) THE ACQUISITION–edits complete.
    (6) SOME ROUGH EDGE SMOOTHIN’–edits done to page 193.
    (7) LOST ANGEL–edits done to page 84.
    (8) TAINTED LOVE–edits done to page 28.
    (9) PICK UP LINE–edits not started

    The state of WIP:

    (1) ON MOORSTEAD –finished. Needs one more fast edit swipe.

    There! I feel better.


  • Sex and the Erotic Romance Writer

    Catch your attention, did I?

    I certainly hope so. If that title didn’t lure you in for a quick peek at this blog, I should consider a change of sub-genre. Maybe try my hand at writing sweet romances—

    Yawn.

    Upon telling my husband I intended to write erotica, he asked if he could look at the pictures.

    –No pictures– I smirked.

    “Oh.” He gave a knowing nod. “Women’s erotica.”

    –Yep. Exactly. No visual aids necessary.–

    I write with a female audience uppermost in my mind. I speak specifically to OUR fantasies, not to male fantasies, and I refuse to censure my thoughts when relating certain universal themes of the female sexual experience. However, my “voice” is fairly gritty and realistic, and I do, at times, create unpretty visual images.

    No apology. As I see it, gritty realism in no way detracts from the romance; in fact, a little reality testing can enhance the romance. If any of you have visited my website you will already know I am an avid gardener. I do not wear white gloves while working in the perennial bed.

    Or, while writing a sex scene.

    In order to get the job done, I dig my hands in, get my nails dirty, and celebrate the sight and texture and scent of earthy life slipping between my fingers. Just as a heaping shovel of manure produces a better flower blossom, a heaping dose of truth will produce a better lovemaking scene.

    Truthful does not mean raunchy. Well, not all the time anyway. I will use raunch if my plot requires raunch.

    “But raunchy is a good thing,” my husband said when we recently discussed this subject. “Gross is bad, but everything else is good. Huh? Why are you looking at me like that?”

    Men. They’re wonderful, but they just don’t get erotic romance.

    My historical romances usually contain dark thematic elements, while my contemporaries tend toward the comedic but, because I write for women, both . . . ahem . . . cum with an erotic edge.

    And emotion.

    Lots of emotion. When I write my stories, I feel what my characters feel; when you read my stories, my heartfelt goal is for you to feel something too. I love to hear when one of my books has elicited an emotional response from a reader. Any emotional response. Anger, frustration, joy . . . all delight me. I want the reader wrung out. Tears are very much appreciated.

    I try very hard not to write flat stories. I try to create a scenario with characters who seem real because of their flaws and who become heroic when they rise above those human failings and frailties. I try . . . well, I try in many different areas, but what I need is the assurance of a happy ending. Life is sad enough without paying for tears. Which is why I write explicit, happliy-ever-after love stories.


  • If this is Thursday…

    Then I must be working on LOST ANGEL.

    Friends, don’t try this at home. Don’t, for the sake of your precious sanity, put yourself on a grueling schedule of re-editing your 9 book backlist while finishing up a new manuscript and then actually try to adhere to that schedule.

    I am not the most organized of people. The perfectionistic gene passed me right by. Obsessive? Not particularly. Forced to pinpoint my most dominant personality trait, I would categorize myself as inattentive to detail. This is not to be confused with ADD, as my attention deficit is entirely intentional.

    In other words, I’m a proud and happy slob.

    Since this is an author’s blog, let’s talk about how this personality trait impacts my writing. Not the process of writing, that’s a subject for another blog, but the nitty-gritty logistics.

    Let’s start in my kitchen.

    No, I don’t write in my kitchen, but my MO in my kitchen and my MO as a writer are remarkably similar. (When I painted, my MO was also eerily similar. As an aside within an aside, I used to compare my brush strokes to frosting a cake) I can only conclude from this that a person’s manner of working is a person’s manner of working. That personal style carries through no matter what one does.

    Back to my kitchen–

    Open up the cabinet housing my eclectic pot and pan collection and, on any given day, you might see the smallest and weakest amongst them situated on the bottom, middle, or even, accidentally, on top. The larger and heavier pots–particularly, the huge cast iron skillet I use for baking Irish Soda Bread–usually gravitate to the uppermost position, where they balance precariously in a sort of, oh, I dunno, an inverted pyramid formation, I guess. Since I tend to fling the lids like Frisbees, all sizes of pot toppers lie scattered about inside the same cabinet.

    The same lack of functionality shows in my kitchen drawers. Occasionally, you might bump into a spoon in the correct compartment–believe me, pure happenstance.

    On the counter top, I used to keep a spice and herb rack. A wedding gift from someone who doesn’t know me very well, the rack came alphabetically arranged. You can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes. I got rid of the rack first, then chucked the individual glass bottles in favor of those little tin containers. They stand up better to non-alphabetical tossing.

    Those plastic containers that store neatly inside one another like Russian nesting dolls? I don’t do that. Oh, I own plenty, I just don’t nest them. They’re everywhere, all as topless as sun bathers on the French Riviera.

    Under the assumption that if I don’t notice the clutter, I won’t notice the orderliness, from time to time, my poor, long-suffering DH, who also cooks, tries to make sense out of the kitchen chaos by neatly organizing things. While I appreciate his helpfulness, the disorder soon returns. I like my slobby habits.

    How does this translate into the logistics of writing . . .?

    Well, overwhelmed by all the edits on my backlist and research work on the WIP, I finally asked DH for some PC help.

    Last week, he cleaned up my desk top, which looked remarkably like my kitchen cabinets–clutter everywhere–by creating individual folders. He did the same for my mile-long list of “Favorite Places”. Everything is now alphabetized.

    So far, so good. I’m not tossing stuff hither and yon on the desk top. I’m keeping similar files together. I’m stacking things in folders according to weight of importance. I’m maintaining alpha order.

    Most importantly, I’m trying to like the orderliness.


  • Why pretend

    I did nothing last week but sit at the PC and write–thus explains the lack of a blog. No complaints–I’m absolutely thrilled. I woke up on Monday, and had the remainder of ON MOORSTEAD all neatly plotted. That happens a lot, I realize I’m truly blessed, and I’m grateful. Since my unconscious neatly resolved all the outstanding issues on the book while I slept, all I had to do was apply my fingers to the keys, which I did–to the exclusion of having a life.

    To reward myself for almost finishing the book, I parked my fanny in a theatre again this weekend.

    Underworld:Evolution. Bored beyond belief, I started checking my watch 10 minutes into the film. And there’s another sequel in the works! Count me out, please! I’d rather scrub the floor in my sons’ bathroom, with a toothbrush, on my hands and knees,(And believe me, these young males have appallingly lousy aims) than waste two more hours of my life watching another one these bloodfests. Even the ambiance–nice dark palette of blacks and blues and blood-crimson–couldn’t save this film for me. I kept hoping all the vamps would suck one another dry and all the weres would eviscerate themselves and have done with it once and for all. No such luck. Found the love scene stilted, overly choreographed and, in a bloody film, bloodless. No eroticism, whatsoever.

    I did, however, enjoy Transamerica. The film had a lot of heart and humanity. Could’ve used less of a kitchen-sink approach to plotting, maybe ease up on certain clichés and caricatures, but Felicity Huffman did a fine job of making me care about the character, and no, I don’t follow Desperate Housewives. Kevin Zegers’ portrayal of Bree’s troubled son was also outstanding.


  • Your assignment: write a short essay on what you did this weekend

    On Saturday, drove into the city to meet the oldest son for an ice cream lunch at my fave, made-on-the-premises, ice cream shoppe, which a high-tech drop-out owns and operates. Gotta love a guy who gave up IT for hot fudge sundaes! And yes, my bad, all we ordered was the ice cream. Afterwards, onto my fave artsy-fartsy theatre.

    On Sunday, after another movie, went out to eat at a warm and inviting, and crowded restaurant. Though a chilly and breezy 30 degrees, cocktail-carrying diners left their linen-covered tables inside to venture outside, where they gathered in the courtyard ’round the huge stone hearth to warm their hands on the blazing flames. Nothing like a fire and Crown Royal for beating the winter blahs.

    The movies: WHITE COUNTESS and THE NEW WORLD.

    Both films were historicals, early 1940’s and 1600’s respectively. Both were long on ambiance and short on action and dialogue. Because of the slow pace, both had an almost hypnotic quality to them. Lots of pregnant pauses. Lots of beautiful cinematography. Lots of vintage costumes–loved the soft hats on the males in WHITE COUNTESS. While both were romances, with implied sexuality, there were no overt scenes. Both movies took place at a time when the world hovered on the cusp of change, WWII and America’s colonization. In both movies, the heroine seemed to symbolize, idealize, a dying way of life.

    Liked, but didn’t love, both films, and wouldn’t opt to see either again. And that’s the sticking point, I suppose, because I do want to see several other films again, namely: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, CAPOTE, and WALK THE LINE.

    In books and in film, for me, it’s all about intensity.


  • Historical Research

    My gratitude goes to Ellen Michetti at All About Romance for reviewing INSIDE THE VICTORIAN HOME by Judith Flanders. (For the reviewer’s astute commentary, please see: http://www.likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookReview.pl?BookReviewId=5477)

    I rarely buy non-fiction hardcovers, but just couldn’t pass on this one. Had my nose buried in its pages last night, and so far it’s excellent. So nice to know my money was well spent.

    I do lots of research for my historicals–reading, museums, movies . . . travel. Walking tours, to soak up the atmosphere of a place, help enormously, as does visiting historical houses. I highly recommend the tours given by the National Park Service.

    To get a feel for the seaport town I wrote about in THE ACQUISITION, I spent an entire day in New Bedford, Massachusetts, learning about whaling in 1844 New England.

    In writing TAINTED LOVE, I visited the Morse-Libby brownstone mansion (circa 1860)in Portland Maine, and asked the very patient tour guide multitudinous questions about Victorian plumbing. If she thought I had some weird WC fetish, she’d be spot-on! In writing historicals, the small everyday details, like toileting, are what lend a story authenticity.


  • Scissoring along, dispite the mistakes

    The writing news:

    I signed and returned a contract to Samhain for the re-publication of SCREWING WITH PERFECT. I love the Samhain site, the cover art is outstanding, and the writers signing on are exemplary. The publisher and former CEO at Ellora’s Cave, Crissy Brashear, was my first editor at EC; she bought my first published book–CAPTIVE. All those reasons and more warrant adding my name to the Samhain roster, but truthfully, the publisher had me at the word ‘Print’.

    It’s been a long haul with SCREWING WITH PERFECT, from writing the manuscript during a stressful time and having the story literally pull me through, to having the book then go on and final in Dorchester’s American Title contest, to this new opportunity to see the book in print. The Samhain homepage is at – http://samhainpublishing.com/

    After finishing my revisions on TOUCH ME, I submitted the book for editorial consideration. Will advise when I hear anything.

    My remaining revisions–SOME ROUGH EDGE SMOOTHIN’, THE PICKUP LINE, LOST ANGEL, and TAINTED LOVE–are temporarily on hold, in favor of completing ON MOORSTEAD. I can’t stand not finishing a book. The paranormal-medieval witch tale is at 62,000 words and climbing.

    Personal stuff:

    Today is my sister’s birthday. To celebrate, we all piled into the van yesterday and headed up to furniture country in the Gardner MA area, a 2 and a half hour trip. Loads of warehouses to browse. We all liked the La Chance outlet the best–they carry heirloom pieces, the unique and quality type of furniture your kids would actually LIKE to inherit. Afterward, naturally, we went out to eat, this year at a lovely restaurant at the site of an old historical mill, complete with rushing waterfalls. Outside, white and black geese and wood ducks kept us entertained; while inside, a welcoming fire burning in the hearth kept us warm and cheery in the large common room.

    Today I cut the DH’s hair. I know, I know, just too, toooo cute. I’m not a hairdresser, have no training, but I’ve always cut his hair (My sons’ too when they were young) Part Yankee frugality, part DH would wear it down to his shoulders otherwise, as he used to. His hair is wavy and very forgiving of mistakes, which I continue to make, even after all these years.


  • Starting over . . . again

    Thus far, after 3 months of nose-to-the-grindstone revisions ( with a week off for good behavior for Christmas) I have finished polishing these 5 books.

    1.CAPTIVE
    2.THE ACQUISITION
    3.TOUCH ME
    4.BITTERSWEET
    5.SCREWING WITH PERFECT

    I’ve happily accepted a contract with Loose Id for BITTERSWEET. The cover is in the works. The rough draft is terrific.

    I’ve accepted a contract with Samhain for another, but have yet to get to the Post Office and return mail the contract. Hopefully, on the morrow, I’ll make the trip. Details to follow.

    The remaining three books are uncommitted. Will keep you posted, as to my plans.

    Folks, revising 9 books–and doing the best job possible–is a massive project, but I’m satisfied that I did the (w)rite thing. For me. I want my best work possible out there or what’s the point?

    That said, my fingers–and brain–are itching to return to ON MOORSTEAD. I hate leaving characters up in the air, uncompleted. Writing might be a creative process, a destination without any pre-determined conclusion, but books require “THE END”.


  • Seriously conflicted

    Can you tell my vacation is over?

    I haven’t blogged all week! When the nose is pressed to the PC screen and the fingers are poised on the keys nine hours a day there’s not much time left over to blog . . . or to have a life to blog about.

    And that’s the problem with a writer having a blog and why I’ve never bothered having one before–writers write, to the exclusion of everything else, especially if that writer is lucky enough to be on a creative roll. Inside my head is a veritable cauldron of brewing ideas. The scenarios, plots, characters etc are exciting and frustrating and maddening–to me. To anyone else, I’m just a woman sitting at the PC gazing out a window onto a gray wintry day.

    The creative process is essentially boring to write about and writing about the actual story tends to suck the juices right out of the drama. So that leaves writing about me, the writer.

    I’m relatively sane, well-adjusted, and doing what I want to do. Show me a basically happy person, and I’ll show you one helluva boring story . . .

    Here’s my boring story for last week in summary:

    The revisions on CAPTIVE are done. One more read-through, and I’m calling it a wrap. No idea where the book will end up. Thus far, CAPTIVE remains my all-around bestseller and generates the most reader email. Years after writing certain scenes, the eroticism still turns me on. The characters defy cookie-cutter description. No IMHO here, plain and simple, the book deserves a print format. Small presses are fine, though I wouldn’t turn my nose up at NYC. Any publishers out there reading this? Make me a decent offer. I can be bought . . .

    I’m halfway through TOUCH ME. I’m dumping some wordiness, refining the logic and prose, keeping the edginess. I like edgy stories.

    I bake a lot when I write–Not pies; those I reserve for special occasions. Last week, I made brownies (twice), chocolate chip cookies, date coconut balls, and oatmeal bread. I like baking bread. Since I now have the new Kitchen-Aid mixer with the bread hook attachment (Yes, another Christmas appliance gift from the sons) I no longer have to knead the dough. This, I miss. The Kitchen-Aid is a stand up machine, but there’s nothing like pummeling lumpy dough for working out life’s frustrations.

    Because I bake a lot . . . and writing is a sedentary occupation . . . I also exercise a lot. I have to, and not only for weight control. Come spring, I’ll pick my posterior off the chair and go play in the dirt. As I’m not a white glove, Garden Club gardener, I need to keep up my stamina and muscular strength during the winter months so I can jump back into my second occupational passion.

    Remember that seriously silly impulse to send off two partials to NYC? The post office is returning the priority mail to me. Evidently, I cut-and-pasted the incorrect street addy on the label. If you believe there are no genuine mistakes in life, only unconscious motivations, what does this say about my underlying feelings vis-a-vis NYC publishing?

    Hmmm . . .