Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wouldn't You Prefer A Maiden Fair? Part 2

So, I'm back. As promised, I have dug up a picture of myself and am now going to attempt to write my own description as I would for a romance novel- trying to make me appear as lovely as possible. I won't lie, I tried to find a picture that made me look as attractive as possible- as though that will make a difference....

So- here we go. (Can I confess to being nervous?)

The sun shone relentlessly- infusing even the tangled vines of the underpass with a golden tint that lit them from behind and nearly set them ablaze. She stood there, looking at him intently, questioningly, as he approached her. Try as she might, she could not school her features into impassivity. A glimmer of uncertainty shone through her steel grey eyes as she watched him. Be calm, she thought. This is nothing to be nervous about. Even with the thought still echoing in her head she struggled to keep her brows from arching. She steeled herself and forced them into a thin line that would imply a calm demeanor. In spite of her efforts her eyes still glittered with the look of something soft and sweet caught in the sights of a predator at night.

Through the sheen of light reflected on his glasses he was unsure if the soft pink flush over her warm ivory skin was from the heat or from the anticipation that she must feel at him examining her so closely. Would she pass muster? Of course she would. Hidden in her lithe frame was a sureness that she could have what she wanted. She was what he wanted- and she knew it. Her lips were pursed- a perfect red Cupid's bow that was both a warning and an invitation to any man who would take what they could offer. For a moment they quirked at the edges- something had amused her. He could see it in the way she glanced at him- regal, untouchable and slightly snobbish- over the bridge of her nose.

There was a look about her as though she might turn away at any moment. Her thin frame was poised for flight. Still, there was a lushness...something inviting and warm in the way she was looking at him. There was an unspoken challenge in the set of her shoulders. From the way she held herself you could sense there was something inside- something trapped and waiting to break free. The wind caught her hair and tossed the long oak and cinnamon locks over her shoulder. It added to the wild and haunting look she wore. He found it irresistible. He could almost see the breeze pricking little bumps on her skin, dancing across the gentle swell of her breasts. Wrapped in silk, encased in luxury, she was impossibly out of place and somehow completely at home as the wind had it's way with her before leaving her to rest in the oppressive heat.


So? Accurate? I don't know. I feel awkward looking at myself this way. It might be easier with others. Still, I think I managed to sound reasonably attractive without me having to resort to outright lies on lengthy descriptions of my clothing. What do you think? How would you have described this photo? I'm all ears.

Wouldn't You Prefer A Maiden Fair?

With my book out on submission there's very little I can do with it at this point until I start getting feedback from the editor I submitted it to, and from my betas, some of whom still have the first draft in their hands. Like most writers, this means I can do one of two things- I can sit on my hands and pace the floor while I wait for feedback (I've been doing a little of that, I'll confess) or I can get to writing another book.

Of course, the book I have out is being pitched as part of a series. Honestly, I think its a great idea and I do need to get to work on book two. Some of that I have done already. I began plotting the outline of the second book and the scratch plots of the five that follow it. I've also began work on a massive family tree for the saga- a daunting task that I've stopped halfway through because I truly need to get a hold of several history books if I want to make the time frames as accurate as possible. And I do. But that means I need to be able to accurately place my characters in Prohibition, the Alaskan Gold Rush and some other really fun places. See, the idea I have is to cross several historical genres with this family saga. I think it would be fun.

I love historical fiction and while I do have a hard preference for Regency fiction (its the dresses, I think, and the Dukes) I am not opposed to other time periods. I've noticed that writer Eloisa James is really good about capturing other time periods. Her Desperate Duchesses series is set in Georgian England. Anyway, I like the idea of doing some of the time-honored  tropes, like Regency and maybe a good pirate novel. However, I started my series with an Elizabethan time travel novel, which is different from most historicals being published now. However, I think there are a lot of wonderful time periods that are completely untapped, and I want to see how they would work within the framework of a romance novel.

Anyway, before I get off on a completely different tangent than the one I set out on, I am, as sated, waiting on word back from said publisher and at a stand-still with editing until I hear more back from my betas. As such, I must find something else to do. For the last two weeks or so that has involved me doing research on the Regency period, which I know a little of- but not nearly enough, and spending the rest of my time watching movies (I've seen Pitch Perfect twice and watched nearly every video on YouTube related to the movie) and surfing the internet in hopes of finding something that will inspire me. In some small part it has worked. I have got a working outline. I have found music videos and clips that entertain me and make me feel like there is some hope for me as an artist of the written word. (I confess, I've found a couple of song lyrics by new artists that I like that I simply must find a way to reference in a book- this will of course involve me writing a contemporary novel- no worries, I have a series idea there too.)

In my quest for inspiration and distraction from my never ending list of things to research I have began to feel a little excited about this new book. One of the first things I do when I start writing a new novel is to start working with the characters in my head. I like to get a full visual of them before I start writing them, and by that time I've usually "introduced" myself to them and begun to get a feel for their personalities. This all goes into a notebook where I dutifully record anything that might have any sort of relevance to the book I am currently writing. Its here that I found something that gave me pause and nudged me into writing this post- however long winded and rambling it may seem at this point.

You see, I love to have visuals of my characters. This, to me, is extremely important in the writing of a book. When I read a romance novel one of the things I do is to actually take time to visualize what each person looks like to the best of my ability. Once I have the character cemented in my head I am able to let the action unfold in my mind without me needing to think overlong about the details. The details, you see, start to come naturally. This is the essence of good writing. When the author can carry a reader through the action without having to pause to remind them of the little things. This is especially important, in my mind, in the love scenes. Say what you will about them, but love scenes in a romance novel are necessary and when not properly written can ruin the mood of a book. I've read some that ruined the book for me entirely. My point is, if I have to go back and think of what the heroine and hero look like, or contemplate if "honey-wheat tresses" are blonde or a light brunette, it distracts me. If I already know, then I can move on and enjoy the scene itself.

Here's the thing- I've heard a lot about how romance novel characters are all the same. I hear some say that the women are impossibly perfect and that the men are completely unattainable. There's a lot of jokes, even within the writing community, about man-titty and bosoms and all of that. Granted, its tongue in cheek, and most of us use this is a reminder of how not to write a character- but we are aware of it. I've even seen a growing trend in the books being published (especially the ones I've read of late) where the author takes great pains to make the characters both beautiful and believable. I was thinking of this earlier last month when I was reading through the descriptions of my own characters and noticed that my male main character bore a striking resemblance, in description, to Robert Downey Jr. I did not do that on purpose. I promise. However, having noticed it, I discovered my re-read was much easier for me, because I could see him quite clearly. He was not Mr. Downey Jr. but I could see the resemblance and I think, for me (and hopefully my reader) it was easier to draw his portrait in my head knowing what I was looking at. I'm digressing, again. The point is, there's a lot of really great characters that I've been loving who are described in a way that makes them beautiful, but it is clear they are less than perfect. I really like that. And so to romance descriptions in general, where the thought occurred to me that I can write anyone as beautiful if I want to. Anyone at all. So I was thinking about trying it.

Of course, being vain, I thought about myself first. Now, despite what all of you very generous people tend to say about me, I know I am not a knockout. I am not what most people would call conventionally beautiful. I'm not ugly- don't think I'm saying that- but I do think I am about average. But if I actually took the time to write myself as a romance heroine, I think I could do an admirable job of making myself sound beautiful. In fact, I think I could do it with just about anyone I know. I could probably do it with people I don't know, just based on pictures. Now I have this theory, and I am dying to test it out. Can I really write myself- or anyone else for that matter- in a romance style and make them beautiful with words? I'm thinking I can.

So I am leaving it to you. I'm going to do a few posts, some with pictures included, and I will describe the person in the picture with the language and style I would use in writing one of my own novels. It will be a fun exercise for me and it will eventually, I think, prove my theory. If you would like me to write you up as well, let me know. I don't need a picture, I can do without, but if you want to include one I would be delighted. Most of you know my email, so you can send it to me there. Otherwise, I'll just wait for the fun to start. I'm off to hunt up a picture of myself to start the proceedings. Fun times.

Volunteers in the comments, please.

Your Description Loving Pal-

Monday, December 17, 2012

Through The Years We All Will Be Together

Yesterday I woke up with a raging headache. I cannot tell you how much of an inconvenience it was. Normally I would have done what I did first off, and that was call Sakura to see if he could come and sit with me, because I hate being alone when I am throwing up and so dizzy I am terrified I might pass out at any given moment. Normally, I would have done that and rested with him, knowing I was safe, until the headache passed. Normally.

But yesterday was my family Christmas party. That may not seem like a huge deal, but I had decided to go for the first time since Kitten and I got together. We went that first Christmas and then never again. It wasn't that I don't like Christmas with my family. I mean, okay, its always a little...different, with my family- but I always went before now. And Kitten wasn't the reason I wasn't going. It was personal, and I felt like it would be better for me not to be there. This year is different. Circumstances in my life have changes and made it to where I wanted to go, at least in some small measure. I'm on much better terms with my family than I was before, and there are a lot of other things going on in my families lives that make me want to be there.

I'm unsure if I've mentioned it here already, but last week my grandmother was in the hospital. They thought she was having a heart attack. She wasn't, thank god, and she was up and moving around much faster than I would have expected. This, however, put me in the mind of two things yesterday morning. The first was that I need to appreciate every moment I have with my family, because I am not guaranteed anything. The other was that if my grandmother had been in the hospital and was still going to family Christmas, then by god,- so was I.

So I spent a few hours struggling with nausea and my pain, patiently laying on the couch with Sakura, letting him feed me spoonfuls of anti-nausea liquid and sipping at tepid water. He helped me to struggle into a skirt and a long sleeved shirt and we headed off to the party. When we got there my family had already arrived, for the most part. My mom was at the store picking up last minute provisions and my brother came in shortly behind me. It was...overwhelming. At first because I always forget how huge my family is. I mean, we rent a community room because there is no house big enough to hold all of us. There were about 40 there, and I know we were missing a few people. The other thing was...well, my brother.

It was the first time I had seen him since the winter Kitten and I got together. Three years. He's changed. A lot. Appearance wise, he's taller if that's possible, or I forgot how tall he really is. He also wears much nicer clothing than he used to. His extremely long hair is gone (really long, like longer than mine) and he doesn't wear a beard anymore. And he was sober. Sober and clean. I haven't seen him that way since the both of us were in high school. Like a girl, I cried. It was embarrassing. He looked at me, hugged me, and then asked me why I was crying. I told him I wasn't, and he laughed at me and hugged me again. Then he told me he loved me. For the first time in a very long time, I believed him.

Of course, the happy reunion was cut short by me dashing down the hall. First, I needed to throw up. Too much emotion plus a migraine equals sickness. Then I wanted a moment to pull myself together. No such luck. My cousins and my grandmother and Sakura were all hot on my heels. Ah, the joy of family. Once I convinced them that yes, I was fine, they let me have a moment.

I spent most of the first hour sitting along the wall watching my family eat. Honestly, I wasn't very hungry because I was still feeling a little woozy, so I was happy just watching. Sakura and I chatted. I got a huge kick out of him telling me he was surprised that my family was so southern. Like, bless your heart, deep-south southern. Its true. I had never really thought about it before. But seeing my family, all of whom came by to encourage me to eat (because obviously Sakura wasn't going to eat if I didn't and we can't have a guest unfed!) bustling around the room and spending time together, it became very apparent that yes, my family might as well be somewhere in Georgia for how southern we are. And it was funny, too, to watch them try and get me to eat because they were worried about poor Sakura wasting away. It made me giggle, too, because I don't look too much like the rest of my family and my personality is very different from theirs. Sakura says he assumed my family would be more like a group of people from the eastern seaboard. That made me smile.

I was glad to see my cousins, whom I never see enough of. Lovey and her little sister Spurs were up from Oklahoma. I love seeing them. I got a kick out of Spurs, because she is such a little cowgirl, and I would never have guessed her for one when she was little. Now she's all grown up and sometimes I get a little misty eyes thinking of the two of them when they weren't so big. Now instead of talking about our favorite Disney movies or where we want to go on spring break we're talking about our significant others and our first experiences at strip clubs. Ah, growing up. I'm going to do my best to have them up to see me sometime this spring. I'm definitely going to visit them. I love Oklahoma. Plus any chance I get to see them is a holiday.

My younger cousins were there too, and by younger I mean, you know, in high school. (when did I get so old???) It was kind of funny to see them sitting at the table playing some sort of racing game on their smart phones. I remember when I was a kid we would sneak into the back room and play Nintendo when no one was watching. It brought back memories. All of my older relatives don't seem so old now. In fact, I was remarking it to Sakura, some of them are closer to me in age than my cousins. Its strange.

I was really happy when Kitten and Oscelot got there. They got off of work early so they could make it. I was able to introduce them to my whole family for the first time. I was thrilled. Everyone was so kind to them, and so loving. My great-aunt pulled me aside to tell me how wonderful she thought they were, and how she was glad to see I had found people who really, truly loved me. She said I had picked two women with very tender hearts and she was proud of me. It made me want to run out of the room crying again. I got a kick out of Oscelot telling me how huge my brother was. She's super short, so he looks like a giant next to her. It was hilarious. We got to take some pictures with the family, and that was nice. I can't wait for everyone to upload all of their pics so I can save them on my computer. I need a family album.

Anyway, it was a really nice time. I managed to sit down and eat some potatoes. My mom called me this morning and was horrified that's all I had eaten. She's bringing me over leftovers today I think. I got to watch my family interact with my chosen family. It was really, really nice. I feel better about this holiday than I have about any holiday I've had with my family since I was a child.

I hope that all of you are able to find something special this holiday.


PS- I'm adding some photos below, because I can. Ignore the fact that I look awful- I was sick, after all.

Here's me and Kitten and Oscelot. Nothing like a smiling family to make the holidays brighter, right? In the background you'll notice my two gargantuan cousins messing around.

Here's me and my mom and Punk. First picture like this in years. I'd like to add that last night my mom texted me to tell me thank you for coming. She said having me, Punk, the girls and Sakura there made it feel like Christmas for her, because she was with her family. 

This is my three female cousins. From left to right: Spurs, Colorgirl and Lovey. They are just the darn cutest things. I'd like to mention, Lovey and Spurs are my height. Colorgirl is just super tall. Super, super tall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Faithful Friends Who Are Dear To Us Gather Near To Us Once More

Its December and time to look back on the year and see how I've done and what's happened to me. I'll confess, I hadn't even thought about it until I signed on to Facebook this morning and it was offering me the album of my Top 20 Moments of 2012. Most of them weren't really top moments. So I thought I would tote up all the things that happened to me and go through them. It was an interesting job down recent memory lane.

In January I started working on a lesbian romance novel. It ended up crashing and burning later, but it was a good start to me writing more than I had before. It was also a decent idea, which I will probably use some time in the near future. For the first time in years I got seriously ill with some sort of virus, an indicator that my body has finally stopped holding up on its contract to not get sick and just punish me with migraines. Kitten and I had our birthdays and nothing too epic happened when I turned a year older. I finally blocked my ex BBD on Facebook because he started up with his stalker like tirades again. I also threatened him with an Ex Parte, he hasn't shown his face since.

In February I saw the Memphis ballet, and was moved to tears. Kitten began contemplating the out of town internship over the summer, which she thankfully ended up not taking. We had Thanksgiving in February with our friends, the first in a long line of weird themed dinner parties over the year. I discovered the Warriors series by Erin Hunter and found out there's nothing like a book about feral cats to make you cry.

In March I started gardening for the season, most notably planting more roses and plotting out a garden for veggies and herbs in the back. I reorganized the books in my library, sort of. We went to Kansas City, MO to see Katie Herzig live and despite the fact that I had a headache, had a great time. I actually met her after the show and we got pics. Sakura and I began contemplating a formal coven structure as a result of friction within the coven. Kitten was hired to work temp at Casa Bueno and Oscelot was rehired.  Oscelot celebrated her birthday.

In April I had a period so bad I was hospitalized. Turns out I had a torn cyst. Shorty had her 21st and we had a great time out with her. Not much else happened.

In May I attended my first family gathering in years because my cousin Mustang had graduated high school. I began to feel really old about it. Beltane we washed in the may dew and had a good time. The coven began changes that would eventually become a more formal structure. Ties of friendship were renewed among some of my closer friends. I learned I am a planning sort of person. I also had the first of two fights this year that resulted in me losing a friend and me discovering that I can take the higher ground when I want to. Even if I don't want to.

In June I had my wisdom teeth out. I discovered the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube and became obsessed. We got a new car, and by new I mean a 1982 Honda we call Vannessa. We wrote the coven bylaws, I met Felix, started seeing Auras on purpose and not accident. I memorized the Charge of the Goddess. I also met Sakura's mom after we sort-of formalized that agreement we'd made to move to the Rose City together soon. It became unbearably hot. We started conserving water for the gardens.

July saw us all over town. Flyguy and I had a fun time trashing a dress. We went to see James Taylor in concert and it was awesome. We went with Kitten's mom to Tulsa for a couple of days to explore art museums and learn about George Washington. I saw his teeth. No, they weren't made of wood. I had the second of my fights that lost me a friend. This particular one really hurt, but then, that sort of thing does. It got even more hot than it had been. Temps in the 100+ all the time.

August I bought a bicycle but didn't ride it much because of the heat. We threw a huge pirate themed party for Spice's birthday and had Christmas in August as well. I really, truly went to town on the bookshelves but only made it to M because I ran out of shelf space. It finally rained, finally. I went to the fair with my friends and had a blast. I hadn't been in a few years, and it was a wonderful time. I discovered we had skunk kittens hiding under our shed and that they were making friends with the cats on our porch. I put down Starkit, bless his soul, after he got hit by a car. I cried over him. He was adorable.

In September I quit my job and became a housewife. Best decision I ever made. I started working on my first romance piece for publication. I started working on costumes for our trip to the KC Renaissance Fair. I bonded with a couple of my cousins over hard times. I realized not all the crap I've been through has been for naught.

In October we went to the Ren Fair and had a great time. I came up with a brilliant novel idea. I made my first made from scratch cake and discovered I can bake so long as its complicated. We had a wonderful Samhain ritual at Kitten's moms and I felt really connected to my family. I discovered, at the same time, that I am allergic to pumpkins. I began quilting.

Last month I lost myself in the elections and in NaNoWriMo. I bonded with my wonderful beta reader KittyMammas and realized I am lucky to have access to so  many wonderful writers and a great community. I spent my first election night up all night since I turned 18 and discovered I have an awesome family who's willing to drag the couch into the library and watch live election streaming with me until 1am. I have spent a lot of time bonding with Kitten's mom, which has been great. I also spent Thanksgiving with my mom and grandma for the first time in years.

That brings us to now. Last week I got back on the submissions train and am beginning new work as a writer. I also went to see White Christmas on the big screen with friends and felt completely unashamed at my tears for the first time ever. It was awesome. Who knows how the rest of this month will turn out.

I'll say this- it has been both an awesome and really difficult year. I want to thank all the people who have supported me through all of this crazy. You've helped me grow in ways you'll never imagine. A special thanks to Sakura, Aravis, Swiss, Shorty and Felix for making this year unforgettable and bearable. You are wonderful people.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Take a Chance on Me

Hi everyone.

I wanted to give you a quick update about my life and the blog. No- I'm not going anywhere, you won't get off the hook that easily.

First, you'll notice I updated my blogroll. I've added some sites that I frequent and deleted some that I don't go to very often or that have become inactive. There's a lot there for writers if you're looking for some good industry information. I have to admit, this is as much for me as for you. I'm here often enough its nice to be able to click my own links to navigate myself around the web. I might point out in particular Big Pink Crayon, which is an awesome charity fundraising blog. I love what she's doing and I think its wonderful. Go donate if you have some spare change.

Also, I've started a new blog. This one is called Beguiled by Books and is a place where I'm going to review what I've been reading. A lot of it will be romance novels, which I know isn't entirely everyone's speed, but I've really gotten to where I read them most of the time. I love the genre and I think that there's a lot more that goes into it than a lot of people realize. That said, if you like romance, or books, you should come by and check it out.

I submitted my latest work to a publisher this week. I will hopefully be hearing back from them in the next couple of months. Unlike my last go, I feel like I have a really good shot at this one. I think its a well written book and it fits well with the publisher's style. We're going to see. This is the first time I've submitted to a publisher in response to a call for books rather than an agent. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. This is a huge step for me. I'll soon be starting the second book in the series and the research is going to keep me really, really busy. Fortunately, I love research. I just wonder where I'm going to put it all, because the piles next to my desk are already looking pretty scary.

In personal news, I've had a terrifying week with regards to one of my friends. My dear friend Sakura had some really scary nosebleeds. After he took three consecutive trips to the ER, he finally hit paydirt on trip four and they figured out what was wrong with him. He had a posterior nose bleed and they had to cauterize one of the arteries in his nose. I spent a lot of this week worrying about him. He's so special to me, and I hate seeing him in pain. It was a relief when they finally got him taken care of.

In good news, my dear friend Bobcat got her tests back and she is now cancer free. I am so happy about this I could cry. She's such a wonderful, brave, amazing soul and I have felt for her through all of this. It was the highlight of my week to hear the good news and know that she is well.

I'm pretty sure that's all the interesting stuff so far. I hope you're having an exciting start to your week too.