Thursday, December 29, 2005

It all started with a new monitor.....

Why, I am asking myself, did I ask for a new monitor? Well, okay, I know why. It's because flat screens take up a lot less space, and the monitor for the email/internet computer was starting to go. So -- hooray! -- I got a new flat screen monitor.

But then things began to go awry. The mouse went erratic. The mouse would be of the same vintage as the old humungous monitor, so it could have been age and much use that explained that. So off we went for a new mouse.

After my unsuccessful attempt, we got a wireless mouse that should have worked with the old computer, and when my husband first set it up, it did. Then came the morning, and the computer refused to recognize the upstart. Since the husband was out, I called upon my equally computer savvy son to attempt to fix it. No luck. So then, while watching Stargate and mulling over the fact that the only thing that mucks up their computers are aliens or other evil forces, I had the idea to switch mice from the Frankenputer upstairs that I use for work (composed of vintage mouse, newer computer, the keyboard that came with the mouse and monitor so recently retired, and a new flat screen) with the new wireless one not working downstairs.

Voila! We have lift-off! All is well with the world...until I try to use my scanner because I want to change the background of the index page on my website.

Woe is me! What's amiss? It's not scanning the whole picture. And sometimes it's all green! Could it be aliens??? Or has something else messed up? After many frustrating attempts at scanning, I finally try rebooting and JOY! Rapture! It works.

For now, anyway. At this point, I'm almost afraid to turn anything off in case it doesn't work when I turn it on again.

Computers are great things when they work, but there are times a quill and a bottle of ink look mighty fine....

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mouse Rage!

I had big plans this week to revise my website, especially the front page, for the new year. But alas, as so often happens when I have big plans, unseen forces conspired to thwart them. In this case, the mouse (as in computer, not real) went wonky. It's like the thing's been on a bender or something -- eratic doesn't begin to describe its actions. I try to move it one way, it sticks or goes careening off the side of the screen. Another way, it balks. Or jerks an inch or two and considers its job done.

Frustrating? Oh. My. Word.

I went to the mall yesterday to get a new mouse. The dh (who has been working with computers since the 70's, so he knows all the techie stuff) had written down the specifications for me. I zipped into the store, took out the note and found "like the old one." Oh. Gosh, that's helpful. There was a little more -- "not USB." This totally baffled the young clerk. He also couldn't seem to fathom that all I wanted was a very basic mouse -- nothing fancy. No glow-in-the-dark. Not wireless. Just, you know...well, I should have said "antique." He pointed to one and said, "That one's cool."

Ay yi yi. I felt like I had encountered somebody who knew nothing of computers and parts manufactured prior to oh, say, last week.

Worst of all, I couldn't see the part that plugs into the computer, because of the way the mice were packaged. I deemed myself in the wrong store and fled.

That means I am still suffering with Demento Mouse, so I don't think I'll be revising the ol' website today, unless I really want a challenge. Somehow, I think not....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ye Olde Sudoku

Yep, I have really got to the call my next book Ye Olde Sudoku, especially if it comes out any time near Christmas. Of the 150 books listed on the USA Today bestseller list for last week, ten were sudoku puzzle books. I know gift books are big this time of year, but ten? What's ironic (to me, anyway) is that this sort of puzzle has been in puzzle books/magazines put out by companies like Dell for years. I know because such puzzles are my husband's idea of a good time. He tried to explain sudoku to me, and I ran away screaming. Well, not literally -- but I did cover my ears. Doing arithmetic is not my idea of fun.

I was thrilled to see THE HORSE AND HIS BOY by C.S. Lewis on the list. That's my favorite Narnia story, probably because it was the first one I ever read, and also because it's a YA romance. And here, among other reasons, is why I think it's a romance: "Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I'm afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarrelling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently." Heheheheeee! (I suppose, at this time of year, it should be ho, ho, ho!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Writing about body parts (and yes, those parts)

I was meandering aroung the internet the other day and read a blog entry about love scenes in romances, and the words used to describe various body parts. The blogger was quoting another writer, and the part that got my attention was this: "The bottom line: a writer who can only be comfortable writing about sex by resorting to these kinds of suspect terms and images shouldn’t be writing about sex at all."

The "suspect terms" were things like "throbbing manhood" and others of that ilk. Now, I've certainly used "manhood", but I don't think I've ever described one as "throbbing," although who knows? Maybe I did. I try to stay away from anything "over the top" and silly, but I sure don't use clinical terms.

Therefore, this writer implies, I have no business writing consumation scenes.

First, I don't think it's anybody's job to tell me what I should and should not write, or how to write it. In a romance, physical intimacy is a part of the developing romance, so I'm going to have those scenes and I'm going to write them my way -- the same way I write the rest of the book. Using the specific, clinical names for body parts is not my style. Never has been. Never will be. I did try once, and the clinical terms stuck out like, well, fill in your own favorite euphemism here . It just didn't sound like my writing.

One reason they don't "sound right" to me is because I write historicals, and most often medievals. Did a medieval woman ever really think of her clitoris? Did she know it had a name (or, I suppose, if it even existed)? To be sure, my heroes, being warrior types, surely had all kinds of slang terms, but if I'm writing a tender love scene (and I tend to make the macho guys gentle in the bedchamber, to show that they're not completely self-centered), I don't want them using those terms, or even, frankly, thinking them. Unrealistic? Guilty as charged, m'lud.

However, I think the level of realism in a historical is very much part of a writer's voice. I do try to make my characters as three-dimensional and realistic as I can, but as for the rest, I'm writing a romance, not a historical novel, or a textbook. I want my tender love scenes, so I'll stick with what works for me, and what my readers have come to expect.

If that makes me "wrong," so be it. But in my mind, I'm doing what's right for me in terms of my stories, my characters and my "voice," and that's my bottom line.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The muse -- she speaks!

I decided to get a start on the next project today. Specifically, I planned to start writing out my recipe cards with names and characteristics and scene ideas, based on notes I've been making for the last few weeks.

Then I thought, use the computer to compile the notes. That's where it'll all end up anyway. I had one file I called "the general gist," wherein I intended to write the basic premise of the next few books, which are going to be linked.

Well, dang if I didn't just start writing synopses. Oh, the joy! I love writing synopses, especially for stories that have been percolating in the back of my head for a while. Because I haven't written a word of the book, it's no-holds-barred storytelling. At this point, nobody knows the characters or the stories but me, so I'm free to do anything I want, and to use any language I want. Although my stories will be medieval, I use terms like "the big Bad" to describe the villain. That may change as I revise, but sometimes, I leave those things in. They bring a certain joie de vivre and energy to the synopsis, a thing that can all too often turn into a dry recitation of facts.

I was so unprepared for this to happen, I started "the general gist" document single spaced, with an extra line between paragraphs. I began writing at about 10:30 this morning. It's now nearly 2:30. I've taken breaks for lunch and laundry, and am now almost finished. It's eight pages long single-spaced. I'm not sure how long that'll be double-spaced, but whew, baby, I was on a roll! There's still a lot of editing to do, and I found out I need some more names for sidekicks, etc.

But the bottom line: I love writing days like this!

Friday, December 16, 2005

And then came the snow....

So I do my Big Shop. I'm in the mall from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., with one half-hour sit-down to have lunch with my daughter who works in said mall. The last trip to the car, with the big square box and nine three-inch thick candles, one five-inch thick candle and two pillar candles, just about does me in. Meanwhile, as I'm shopping away, the snow begins. It's lookin' bad as I head out of the mall, only to discover that the street lights aren't working on my exit street.


I navaigate the two left turns onto another street and discover that there's road work being done. In a blizzard. Obviously, this is a serious problem, but it also means that the six lane road is down to one lane each way. I could have walked faster along that stretch.

By the time I get home, I'm pooped. My feet hurt, my elbows are killing me. As far as I'm concerned, I'm done. The hubby (aka He Who Falls Into A Coma Three Feet Into A Mall) can do the rest. It's mostly gift cards and stocking stuffers from here on in.

This morning, I wake up dreading a lot more snow because the news guys were all freaking out and forecasting disaster and instead I found...not much more than when I got home yesterday. I went out to shovel, as I actually don't mind shoveling snow, and discovered it was the heavy stuff (aka "packing snow"). Great for snowmen, but for shoveling? Not so much. By nine a.m. I'd had quite the workout.

I've still got my office to clean and some writing to do. What? You think just because I sent a book in this week, I'm on vacation? Not if I want to keep writing, I'm not. What this point in the schedule does mean, though, is that I can work at a more leisurely pace and not feel guilty when we go out to a movie later. It'll probably be King Kong -- which is good, because otherwise, I might fall asleep.

Now off to clean the office! And later, no rowing for this cookie. Like I said, I've had my workout for the day.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Shoppin' till I'm droppin'.....

Today is the Big Shop, when I head to the mall and try to get as much of my Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop as I can. I don't particularly enjoy shopping. Buying gifts when you know exactly what and where? That's fun. Wandering around a mall like an amnesiac (Have I got something for everybody? What would they like? What color?) Not so fun.

This year, having been to the One of a Kind Craft Show, I was under the impression that I had most of my shopping done. Then I started going through my list. Nothing for him, need something more for her...and on it went. We're expecting a Big Dump O' Snow in my neck of the woods later today, so I'm heading out early and hope to be finished shortly after lunch.

Then I have to finish cleaning up my office. I started off that task in the storage room, actually. We're throwing out the 25 year old artificial tree, so that freed up some space for some boxes of old manuscripts that were in the rec room closet. That led to cleaning out the big rec room closet where the old manuscripts had been. Which meant cleaning out some of the shelves in another closet in the rec room. But all this means I have more room in my office cupboards, so today, I tackle the office itself.

The glamor of the writer's life, eh? :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Done! Done, done, done, done!!!!

Ding dong, my book is done! Which ol' book? The current book!

Yep, HERS TO DESIRE is printed up and ready to go. Well, almost. I have to put it in a box and get it ready for my bestest buddy, The FedEx Man. And then tomorrow, buh-bye!

An hour after the farewell, dread will set in. I will worry about this part, or that scene. Will the pacing be all right? Have I explained everything that needs explaining? Will my editor like it? Or will I have to do some major revisions?

But that's in the future. For now, I'm enjoying the feeling of accomplishment from finishing my fortieth historical romance.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Giddy Stage

I'm at the giddy stage of writing a book (as my family can attest). For me, that's the point where the book is very nearly done, but still in my possession. Nobody else has seen it (and I do mean nobody -- I'm not good with the group work, so critique groups aren't my thing). I've climbed the mountain and I'm dancing a jig on the top.

This stage comes before the "heading down the mountain" phase, which starts about an hour after the FedEx man takes my manuscript away. That's when I start second-guessing myself even more than I do while writing the book. Does this part work as I meant it to? Does this action on the part of my characters make sense? How's that pacing? I love this part -- will anybody else? Ah, the insecurity knows no bounds!

This stage also means, however, that I'm still working, and working hard. Witness the author writing her blog while eating her oatmeal. Multitasking is me. I've been out of the house precisely once this week -- had to make a run to the post office (likewise work related). I turned a corner and found myself squinting in the sun like a mole person, which is pretty much how I feel sometimes. On the other hand, today it's snowing, so I'm quite content to stay inside, with my tea and manuscript that's still all mine. And dance a little jig.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Will I ever learn?

It happens every freakin' time! You'd think I'd get a clue, since I'm working on my 40th historical, but nooooo. Every time I think I'm at the "minor changes" only stage, I find...not exactly huge changes, but enough to make me revise/reprint/revise/reprint some parts of the manuscript. This time, I hit this situation at the end of Chapter One. Sheesh. It's not as if I haven't already revised Chapter One about fifty times, either. Sigh. Sighsighsighsigh. It's times like this that are really tough to explain to a non-writer, too. Why didn't I see the problems earlier?

Sometimes, it's a case of needing to read the manuscript in "bigger pieces," as a reader would. Then pacing problems become more apparent. Sometimes, I've changed something and realize I was right the first time. Sometimes I've forgotten something, or that a change I made in an earlier incarnation should have influenced something that came later, and hasn't.

The bottom line is, though, I have to work on the manuscript until I'm down to changing a word here or there on a page. That's as close to "done" as I get.

Sadly, I ain't there yet with HERS TO DESIRE, and I thought I was.

Ah well, I've still got just over a week. No need to panic yet. But it does mean I worked after my husband's concert on Friday (he sings in a choir), and after going to a craft show with my mom and sisters on Sat. It means working literally morning, noon, and night until the book is down to the small changes. And then I have to prepare the computer disk the way production wants it, which is not the way I write it. But that's small spuds compared to getting to the end of Chapter One and feeling the pace slow to a dead crawl. Now that's disturbing.