Friday, June 29, 2007

Crossing the finish line...

I've finished going through KNAVE'S HONOR and making the revisions that my Esteemed Editor wanted, and others I thought were necessary. So, I'm done now, right?


Now I start all over again, at Chapter One, Page One. Reading the whole thing from beginning to end. Because (in no particular order):

1. I want to make sure all the changes are "seamless," that it seems as if everything that happens in the story was always intended to happen just that way, in that particular order.

2. I've added 50 pages to the manuscript. That's a tad much. I'll be looking for places to trim.

3. As always, I'll be seeing if I've used the best words for what I'm trying to say.

4. Also as always, I'll be looking for typos, although these will be difficult for me to spot. I know the manuscript too well; I know what it's supposed to say, so that's what I tend to see.

Which is why I can get later proofs and discover things like my hero wandering through a dessert.

5. I'll be looking for continuity problems. Especially after making revisions, errors in things like the time line can creep in.

I'll be doing this on hard copy. I have to have paper in front of me at this stage, when I've got the whole book sitting in my head.

So that means I'll be inputting any new changes onto the computer later. That will be the seventh draft of my entire manuscript. Of course, there have been many more drafts of the individual scenes or chapters. This is just the way I work.

Then the revised manuscript will be ready to go back to NY.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Are you ever going to write a....?

I often get asked if I ever plan to write a contemporary romance. Or a paranormal romance. Or some other kind of romance.

The short answer is "no."

The longer answer is "I don't wanna."

Here's the thing: what I don't know about the contemporary dating/relationships would fill volumes. I'm way, way out of touch there. I'm way out of touch about contemporary office life, too. For instance, the last time I worked in an office, nobody had a computer.

Which is why I sometimes chuckle to myself when people tell me they hesitate to write a historical because they don't want to tackle a lot of research. Should my contemporary heroine have any career other than a writer, I would have to do a whole lot of research to sound like I knew what I was talking about. Heck, if she were to have a life, unless she was a happily married writer who liked to watch TV. Ooops -- happily married. That lets her out right there.

As for paranormals, that sort of story just doesn't float my boat. Yes, I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I thought Spike was great. But I have absolutely no desire to write about vampires, sprites, elves, or other supernatural creatures. And since I have to spend many hours, days and months with my characters, I'd better be enthused or that's an invitation to a nightmare.

Hmmm.... Writer trying to write about supernatural creatures...entering a different sort of hellish nightmare world...

Nope, not happening. I'm not getting that surge of excitement I should be feeling. So that's as far as that idea will go.

At least for now, because one thing I've learned in this business? Never say never.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Revising Roslynn

As my Esteemed and long-suffering Editor will attest, I never do only the revisions she suggests. Give me another at bat, and I'm taking a few swings.

Case in point in the current manuscript: Lady Roslynn.

It occurred to me as I was writing this book that she had heroine potential, and lo, she would work in the next book (tentatively titled THE WARLORD'S BRIDE). Whoo hooo!

There's a key Roslynn scene in KNAVE'S HONOR, however, which involved a confrontation with the villain in that book. As I was rereading KH and making my revision notes, I felt that while I don't want her to be a weepy pushover, I had made her too confident there. If she starts from this place in the next book, she's got less of a chance to grow and develop in her own story.

Also, having her be less sure of herself would work better in this key scene, too, considering the end of it.

And thus, revisions have been made. She still does the same things, she still plays the same role, but she herself is less resolute, and more tentative. I hope that the readers see that she has the potential to be a strong, interesting heroine, as I do, but in KNAVE'S HONOR, she hasn't quite got there yet.

In other news: THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT has its first review on Amazon and it's lovely. This is just the kind of thing that helps when you're doing revisions and working on the sixth complete draft of a manuscript.

In local news: dang head cold!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Revisions: the saga continues

So far, in adding to the subplots and also the romantic plot to try to keep the plots balanced, I've added about 40 pages to the manuscript. And I'm not done yet. I still have to add a lot more to one subplot scene. I was thinking of having two separate scenes, but have decided to add the new elements to an existing scene.

That still means more new pages.

Ay yi yi.

Fortunately, this is a single title book, so length is not such an issue. Otherwise I would be in a huge panic and wondering what I'd have to cut. Depending on the final length, I may do some serious trimming anyway. It's kind of amazing what can go sometimes, and I consider myself a fairly lean writer to begin with.

Bonus due to the non-drowsy medication: normally, I don't work much beyond 10 p.m. Not last night. I wrote a new scene between 10 and 11. =8-0

Official Release Date!

From the back cover:

She would have no man....

Far from the intrigues of the king's court, all Lady Gillian desired was to keep her family's estate safe -- and to honor her vow never to marry. Then Sir Bayard de Boisbaston arrived at D'Averette castle to warn of possible danger and protect all within. Who was this man, to take over her castle? No matter that he was surely the handomest knight in the realm, and made her rethink her steadfast vows.

He would have no other...

Chivalry demanded Sir Bayard protect Lady Gillian. Though he never expected to do battle with the lady herself. Gillian was a woman of fire and spirit who soon had Bayard plotting a conspiracy. One to convince the Lady Gillian that a knight of her own was useful, not only on the battlefield -- but in the bedroom, as well.

Just in case you're wondering: I don't write the back cover copy. Indeed, I rarely have any say in it. And bcc seems to have its own rules -- sentence fragments, for one. Not that I mind.

I really like this bcc. It gives a bit of the set-up (why Bayard's come to Averette), the external conflict between the hero and heroine, and something of Gillian's internal conflict -- I don't need or want that guy around, but dang, he's attractive! And tempting. And why did I make that vow again? Oh, ya...but....dang, he's attractive!

Not that Gillian ever says "dang!"

Inside scoop: Gillian's the middle sister of three. Guess where I fall in the birth order of my siblings? :-)

Later today, more in the on-going revision saga.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Revision Update

No, despite the picture, I'm not done. I do feel like surrendering though, because oh, sweet fancy Moses! It's getting complicated.

I zipped along through Chapter 1 - 10. Things got a little complicated around Chapter 10 -- this is where I needed to start adding new material. Still not too bad, and I was doing three-four chapters a day.

And then, oh, and then....I got to Chapters 19 and 20. This is where I'm adding and deleting, and I gotta tell ya, I'm confusing myself royally. Is this the best place for this? Should I take that out? Add this bit? Add it here, or later? What did I just do?

It doesn't help that I've got a cold -- the kind where your eyes water and your nose runs. Constantly.

These are the days when I wish I weren't self-employed, so somebody else could pick up the slack. But alas, it's just me, so I'm trying to think, keep track of my changes and type despite the sneezing and sniffling.

Where's my white flag?

Blog Giveaway!

Since my newest book, THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT is officially released this week and it's a sequel to MY LORD'S DESIRE, I'm having a draw for five autographed copies of MY LORD'S DESIRE, one to each winner.

To qualify, just send an email to with "draw" in the subject line, and you'll be entered. Winners will be notified at the end of the week.

If you've already read MY LORD'S DESIRE, I hope you enjoy Bayard's story. If you haven't, I always write each book to "stand alone," so that nobody feels lost if they haven't read the previous book in a series. Instead, I think of the few references or characters from a previous book who might appear in a later book as bonuses -- a little extra, like nuts on a sundae -- for those who have.

Friday, June 22, 2007

And finally: Revisions, Part 4

If you've been following my Tale o' the Revisions, I've been talking a lot about subplots. And yes, they are what needed the most work in KNAVE'S HONOR. But alas, my main characters did not escape my Esteemed Editor's keen eye.

Well, the hero did, for the most part. There were one or two small points to be fixed, mainly by the simple remedy of removing a sentence or two here or there. No big whoop. I attribute this to my own familiarity with the character, who first appeared as a secondary character in MY LORD'S DESIRE. He and his motives were very clear in my mind right from the start. If you've read the book, I hope you remember the Irishman.

I first introduced the heroine of KNAVE'S HONOR, Lizette, in that book, too. Not in the flesh, so to speak -- by name and a key point that influences a major decision by the heroine of MY LORD'S DESIRE. Lizette's mentioned again in THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT, and once more something she's said in the past plays a key part in one of Gillian's decisions.

We finally get to meet this influential young lady in KNAVE'S HONOR.

Since I've known her for awhile, and based on that influential statement both past heroines refer to, I had a pretty good idea of this character and her motives. I've done a few heroines somewhat like her before, most notably in TEMPT ME WITH KISSES, and THE OVERLORD'S BRIDE. One of the important points about those heroines was that they liked making love and had no big hang-ups about it. In my mind, Lizette was the same. She's curious and she's interested, although she has good reasons for not giving into temptation -- and the hero's some tempting. However, she's definitely not about to head off to a convent any time soon.

Now, this is not always the easiest heroine to tackle. I did have concerns that she might come across as too outrageously bold, so when EE suggested back in the proposal stage that perhaps she be more tentative in certain situations, I agreed. And I gave it a go.

Here's what happened: Lizette started out being more shy and tentative, but when I got to the middle of the story, and because it was necessary for the story, she became a lot less tentative. When EE read the finished book, she wondered, basically, what happened there. When did Lizette get such an attitude?

Here's the thing: in my mind, she'd always had that attitude. That's why she said what she said that came into play in the previous books. By trying to change her at EE's suggestion, I was going against her character as I'd already set it up. More importantly, in the middle of KNAVE'S HONOR, the plot required her original character, not the "new" Lizette; she reverted to my original concept for the character and voila! Character conflict created -- and not the kind you want.

Given that Lizette's statements were already in evidence, as it were, and that certain elements of the plot had to remain as they were or I'd be writing a completely different book, "new" Lizette was more problematic to me than the concerns that Lizette might seem overly bold. It would be easier for me to explain in greater detail why she was bold and fairly independent than to keep her consistently "new."

I explained this to EE who, in her profound wisdom, agreed with me. This meant I had some changes to make at the beginning of the story, but I certainly had no regret or problem doing that.

Why didn't I stand up for my original version of Lizette when EE first suggested I change her? Well, that sort of heroine really can get off on the wrong foot with readers, especially in a historical, so I thought EE's concerns were warranted and so her suggestions worthy of heeding. It was only after the book was finished that it became apparent that EE's vision of the character and mine weren't meshing.

This is when it pays to be able to articulate why you're doing what you're doing with your story or characters. It's not enough to say I don't like a suggestion, or it's wrong. If I can say, clearly and with examples, why it won't work, my editor is much more likely to agree.

And thus all my years on the debating team pay off. :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Subplots a-go-go: Revisions, Part 3

Yesterday I mentioned having to add four new secondary characters to KNAVE'S HONOR (sequel to MY LORD'S DESIRE and THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT -- officially out next week!), and that my Esteemed Editor wanted to see more of two of them (Garreth and Keldra).

There were also two more subplot characters she wanted to see a bit more of, in part, I suspect, because while Garreth and Keldra aren't with the hero and heroine for the middle of the book, they are with these two characters, Lord Gilbert and Lady Helewyse. Easy enough to do, because as I said, it's not too difficult to write and insert new scenes that are independent of the main romance plot.

In fact, this morning I wrote two scenes and a scenette, including a long one with Garreth, Keldra, Gilbert and Helewyse.

However, those weren't the only subplot points that Esteemed Editor had suggestions/questions about, so one scene written this morning concerns the villain, to deal with another of EE's quibbles, and the other scenette comes after a revised scene, to deal with another quibble.

Also today, I temporarily excised a scene between two "old" secondary characters, one who's in MY LORD'S DESIRE and another from THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT. It seems this particular subplot didn't tickle my EE's fancy quite so much. But I like 'em, and they have an important part to play at the end, so I wasn't willing to delete their subplot entirely. What I am willing to do is combine two of their scenes, which were somewhat similar in terms of setting, into one, and move it farther into the book. This is what you call coming up with a compromise.

Another problem EE had was that for a book involving a rescue, there wasn't a whole lot of talk/discussion/planning before the actual rescue.

Oops, my bad -- and frankly, I was thinking this myself, but again, I was concerned about a secondary plot impinging on the romance. I should have listened to my inner editor! So I'll be adding to existing scenes and changing the setting of one to address that. That should also help with another problem, which was a certain repetitive feeling about some of the settings/endings of scenes. I can see that now, so of course I'll fix it.

The other problem with the subplots that EE had came at the end, where they all seemed to collide and wrap up very quickly.

So one of my other jobs with the subplots is to look at where I had them come back into play and find new places for that. I've gotten it figured out, and agree it's a much better way to end the book.

In case you're thinking I had all these realizations and came up with my solutions in an hour or two, it took me three days of rereading and going through the manuscript and making lots of notes, both in the margins and on lined paper. It will take me many more days to actually write the news scenes, revise old ones and ensure that everything looks "seamless" -- like I just sat down one day, decided to write a book and finished it that day.

Oh, and in case you think my main characters escaped the note-taking? I'll be talking about Lizette tomorrow.

Longest Day of the Year!

Raising my head from the revisions trenches to note that yep, it's the longest day of the year today! As my family can tell you, I have a thing about short winter days. I don't like 'em. I love the long days of spring and summer, and I mourn when we have to turn the clocks back in the fall. But that's in the future. Today's the longest day of the year! Whooo hoooo!

I'll be blogging again later today about more serious matters, i.e. other subplot revisons. First I have to make a few.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Aging Gracefully: Revisions, Part II

Yesterday I mentioned "aging" a character. How exactly do I do that?

By a lot of little adjustments. For instance, to give you a few examples in the case of Garreth:

- sheepish" became "roguish"
- "grumbled" became "muttered"
- a blush became a frown
- bouncing up and down with excitement became plucking his bowstring
- "the boy" or "the lad" became "the youth," "the young man" or his name
- Overall, he calmed down a lot, became a lot less "eager" and "excited."

Now (hopefully) Garreth seems more mature, and thus less likely to be mistaken for a boy of ten, which is important considering one of his jobs in the book.

And he does have an important job to do, something that I hadn't anticipated when I was first coming up with the story.

KNAVE'S HONOR involves an attempted abduction, a ruse and a rescue. These things have been part of the story from the get-go. However, my editor suggested a change to the set-up of the ruse, one that I agreed with in part because it went with something I'd used in the story of the first book of the series, MY LORD'S DESIRE, which introduced the hero of KNAVE'S HONOR.

Unfortunately, that involved making the set-up more complicated, and necessitated introducing Garreth, and three more secondary characters. Which was fine -- I like secondary characters.

However, I worried that these secondary characters and their activities could overshadow the main romantic plot, so after the set-up, I kept those characters "off stage" for most of the rest of the story.

Turns out my editor really liked Garreth and the heroine's maid, Keldra (another of the four new characters) and wondered what happened to them during the middle of the book. She wanted to see more of them, and she didn't think that would be a problem in terms of the overall story.

Keeping a balance between plot and subplot can be a tricky thing, and clearly, this time I'd erred on the side of caution.

So how to fix?

I'm going to be adding at least two new scenes of Garreth and Keldra. They'll be appearing more in two other scenes where they were either mentioned, or appeared briefly.

Adding scenes that are taking place between secondary characters and in a different location are, mercifully, much easier to insert into a manuscript than scenes involving the hero and heroine. Any time I add material about them, it's going to impact everything that comes after, so the revisions become much more extensive and complex.

However, those aren't the only subplot changes I have to make. More on them tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What The Editor Saw: Revisions, Part 1

One of the things that confused my editor about my latest manuscript (KNAVE'S HONOR, the sequel to THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT, out any day now!) was the age of one of my secondary characters, named Garreth.

I confess I was initially confused by her confusion, because I was pretty sure I'd specified how old he was. And sure enough, on Page 32 of the manuscript, he's described as "a youth of about sixteen."

Now, I could have gone all Huffy Indignant about this. Because hey, I told her right there how old he was.

But...but, but, but: I always think that if an editor's confused, chances are a reader will be, too. So the fault does not lie with my Esteemed Editor; it lies with me. And it's up to me to fix it.

As I went back through the manuscript, I realized that while I'd told the reader how old Garreth was, I'd shown him younger. I often referred to him as "the boy" or "the lad." His dialogue sometimes had a real "golly gee!" quality that likewise made him seem younger than I'd intended.

So now I have to go through the manuscript and look at every scene Garreth's in, to revise the way I refer to him and to "age" his dialogue, to make sure he sounds more like a young man and not a little boy.

I'll also be writing more scenes featuring Garreth. But I'll talk about my subplot revisions tomorrow.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hell hath no fury...

Like Sir Guy scorned, or at least that's what I'm expecting in Season Two after watching the final episodes of Robin Hood.
Oh, baby, man's gonna be smoldering! I can't wait!

My other thoughts about the series:

I confess I was kinda concerned about Robin Hood. I'd never heard of Jonas Armstrong and thought he was too young. I liked what I read about the backstory they were giving Robin, though, and have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised by both the actor and the depth of character the writers have given Robin. He's a bit of a lad, but there's a really serious side, too. Well cast and well done!

All the "merry men" are excellent. I'm even buying the Saracen woman pretending to be a boy, and believe me, that is a tough sell for me. I've never written a romance where the heroine spends a long time pretending to be a boy. Yes, I know there have been women who passed as men -- in the Civil War, for instance -- but I still have a problem believing that any romance hero worth his salt would be fooled, or that any romance heroine with half a brain would believe she could pull it off for any length of time. A day, maybe. Possibly two. But more than that? You've lost me.

Gordon Kennedy, who plays Little John, gets special mention for his hilarious comments on the DVD. If I could spend a day on the set, besides hanging out with Richard Armitage just to hear his voice (because I wouldn't want to freak him out by staring at his intense eyes), I'd love to spend a few hours with Mr. Kennedy, former gym teacher. Oh, to have been in that class! The irony is, Little John is a very quiet fellow.

Speaking of Richard Armitage, it only took to the last episode, but we finally got a kiss. Bit of a disappointing kiss, as in too short, but I can understand why there wasn't a long, passionate kiss, what with aiming for a family audience, especially if it wasn't crystal clear that Marian was willing.

Marian's good (actress and character), and Marian's father (dead in the "real" Robin Hood stories) makes an interesting addition.

I was worried we'd get the cartwheels-instead-of-just-running action, and we did, but by the time that happened, I was sold on the show, so I just rolled my eyes and grinned. Same with some of the costumes.

But there are some things that are more difficult for me to overlook.

As already mentioned in previous posts, I really do not like the sheriff's character and what they're doing with him. According to the commentary, he's supposed to be ambitious and Machiavellian. Maybe, if Machiavelli wrote THE CLOWN PRINCE instead of THE PRINCE. Because really, the way the sheriff is presented, attired in sandals and very modern pajamas much of the time, practically frothing out the mouth, is just too over the top for me. I can appreciate they want something quite different from the brooding Sir Guy, but I still think the sheriff is completely unrealistic. So if the rejected and publicly humiliated Sir Guy decides there's no point trying to be redeemed and goes really evil and kills the sheriff? That'd work for me.

Also, in this age of the DVD when you can watch episodes close together, you can be left wondering whatever happened to a particular plot point presented in one episode, only to disappear entirely from the show, as if the characters got amnesia from all the blows to the head.

For instance, in one episode, both Will and Alan express an interest in Djaq. However, in the final episodes, they decide to leave the rest of the band and head elsewhere with nary a mention of Djaq. Similarly, Much has a thing with a young woman named Eve when he's made lord of Bonchurch, yet later, when he thinks about returning there, he never even mentions her name. I didn't think Much got that much action that he'd forget Eve.

These points aside, the pluses outweigh the minuses, and we really enjoyed the series. I only wish I didn't have to wait for the DVDs!

Tomorrow: What The Editor Saw -- Revisions, Part 1

(This picture is courtesy of the Armitage Army website. There was a shout-out to them on the DVD. Cool!)

Father's Day

While all my charming, merry heroes are inspired by Errol Flynn, the inspiration for my strong and silent heroes was much closer to home.

Heck, it was in my home -- my dad.

As I said at my wedding, when I made a speech (which was pretty radical at the time), my dad doesn't say very much, because my dad doesn't have to.

Or in writer's parlance, he doesn't tell, he shows.

So here's to my dad and all the wonderful lessons he's taught me over the years -- silently, by example. Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Plotting the romance

I've added a new page to my website, Plotting the Romance. I talk about what things you need to think about when you're planning a romance, because the focus of a romance, and therefore the main plot, should always be the development of the relationship between the hero and heroine.

On a related note, we watched another couple of episodes of Robin Hood last night (because I can only revise for so long), and I've noticed a bit of a problem, from this romance writer's perspective, anyway.

After Marian reluctantly accepts Sir Guy's marriage proposal, he goes to kiss her and she turns her head away. Nevertheless, later Guy tells Robin he "stirs" Marian.

This could be wishful thinking on the part of Guy. I get that the writers could want to show that he really doesn't have a clue about Marian's feelings because he's too selfish and self-centered. He wants her; ergo, she must want him.

And yet I think they could be making more out of this triangle, and deepening Marian's conflict and character, by having Marian really attracted to Guy. They've shown us Guy isn't completely evil (he doesn't agree with everything the Crazy Sheriff does -- there is hope he could be a better man), he's sexy (what with him being played by the intense Richard Armitage in black), and he listens to her advice (in other words, he doesn't dismiss her as "only" a woman). He's also talked about protecting her, although that's a bit of a two-edged sword, since Marian wants to be independent. Still, it's better than Robin heading off on Crusade, which is obviously a sore point with Marian.

So I would have let Guy kiss Marian, and Marian's not bad. In fact, there's something to be said for Guy in that department. Maybe marriage to him would have some unexpected pluses...except that he also has serious flaws that he may or may not be willing or able to overcome. But then -- and this is something I'm finding they're doing very well in this show, and more than I expected -- Robin's got some serious flaws, too, at least from Marian's perspective. She believes he wants and needs glory and adoration; that's why he left her for the Crusades and why he's being so blatant in his help for the poor now. And he does enjoy the attention of women. He's selfish and self-centered, too, although in a different way.

However, this also shows that the menfolk aren't the only self-centered characters. Marian seems to constantly judge Robin's actions by how they affect her. Robin left her for the Crusades (he also left his estate and his friends, but she doesn't seem to mention that); Robin's not behaving as she thinks he should; therefore, he's being vain. I was thinking last night that somebody needs to point that out to her -- maybe Guy? Wouldn't that throw a spanner in the works, especially if she realizes he's got a point, as disturbing as that is?

There's more to come, of course, so I live in hope that this triangle will get more complicated. Either way, I'm still loving it! And certain that all over the world, little girls are thinking about how they'd like the story to go and someday, we'll have a whole new gang of romance authors inspired by this show.

Two other things of a romantic note that might prove inspirational: when Alan and Will both revealed their feelings for Djaq. It wasn't a complete surprise, but I thought it was great and can hardly wait to see how that develops.

Also Much and Eve -- loved it!

Now back to deepening the characters in my own story....

Friday, June 15, 2007

From Trauma to Triumph...

Romantic Times has given my next release, THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT four stars!

And here's what they have to say about it:

"Moore's book deals with not only the violence of medieval times but also the taboos of that era. The hero and heroine appear to be star-crossed lovers because the heroine's sister is married to the hero's brother, which by cantor (sic!*) law means the heroine and hero are family.** The emotions are right on key and the intrigue compelling."

Whoo hooo! However:

*That should be "canon" law, not cantor. As in, forbidden by the church, not a choir director.

** And not just are they family, because in-laws are, after all, that. They were considered brothers and sisters the same way as if they were born of the same parents. As I explained in the Author's Note to THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT, this law was changed in 1215 (and I say why).

Harriet Klausner, bless her heart, also gave THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT five stars and had this to say:
"THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT is a fabulous medieval romance starring two obstinate lead characters that in some ways are like the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Bayard knows he wants Gillian as his wife while Gillian knows she wants no one especially an arrogant knight who reminds her of her father to be her husband. The sub-genre audience will enjoy their gender war compounded by law that disallows family members from marrying since their siblings are wedded they are by law family."

I've heard Harriet may have health issues, which might explain why the last line in particular is hard to follow.

But here's the thing: both reviewers mentioned the restrictions of canon law and apparently thought that made the story more interesting.

This just blows me away, because what I didn't say in the Author's Note was that I didn't discover this restriction until I writing the second book of a series about three brothers who, in my original plan, married three sisters. I'd read plenty of stories where brothers married their sisters-in-law -- the Knightley brothers in Jane Austen's EMMA come to mind -- so I didn't even think to check that. I stumbled upon it while researching something else.

Unfortunately, the first book was done, set in 1204, edited, and in production. Nothing could be changed. Fortunately, as far as the marriage went in that book, the canon law wasn't a problem -- but it meant I had a big problem with the next two books. The heroes and heroines could not legally wed.

What's an author to do? Well, more than one person suggested I just not worry about it. Who would know it was wrong?

I would know it was wrong, so that wasn't an option for me.

I wandered around in a stunned, upset daze until I came up with a viable solution. It meant a lot of work, and a lot of revising, and a whole lot of angst.

But lo! It seems that my mistake has turned out to be a Very Good Thing. It's made the story more interesting by creating an unusual, historically accurate conflict.

I wish I'd known that last September. I sure would have slept better.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Authors and Editors

Because I'm still working my way through my manuscript and making revisions notes that will likely be illegible later on, my time is limited today. So, and considering what part of the writing process I'm currently in, and with apologies to my Esteemed Editor whose opinion I really do value and rely on, I offer the following:

Erle Stanley Gardner, writing to an editor:
"It's a damn good story. If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check."

Henry James, after being asked to cut three lines from a 5,000 word article:
"I have performed the necessary butchery. Here is the bleeding corpse."

I laughed out loud at this, but really, three lines? Geez, just think what he would have said if somebody'd asked him to cut 5,000 words from a novel!

Now off to do a little necessary butchery myself....

ETA: Diane Peterfreund has written a really funny blog post over at Romancing the Blog. I had to skim it (revisions - but I needed a break!), and heheheee! I'll have to be sure and get back to it later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Revisions and Richard

My Esteemed Editor has gotten back to me with her revisions notes. It's always interesting to get EE's reaction, since she's the first (and only) person who reads my work in its entirety after I've finished a manuscript. Naturally I live in hope that she'll rave and say it's perfect; unfortunately, I know this is but a dream, and thus KNAVE'S HONOR has a few kinks to be worked out.

Also as usual, there are some changes that EE's noted that point to a problem, but on further examination, the problem's not necessarily quite what EE thinks it is. Confused? I'll explain in more detail later this week, after I've had a chance to talk with EE about the changes I'm going to make to address her concerns.

Speaking of dreams, last night, Daughter and I watched another episode of Robin Hood (#4). Fortunately, it seems that Sir Guy (played by our mutual heart-throb, Richard Armitage) has gotten back on track with this episode, as in being bad but with a conscience. He veered into really evil territory in the episode about his baby that he apparently abandoned in the wood -- which I refuse to accept. His henchmen did it! He's secretly appalled! (That was also the episode that had me thinking about Shaken Baby Syndrome. A lot.) Also, the sheriff has calmed down somewhat. He's still far too "cartoony" for me.

Then it turns out both Daughter and I had dreams about Richard and/or Robin Hood.

Daughter dreamt Richard was hanging out at our house. And I, apparently, was watching TV in the basement.

Yep, Richard Armitage is in my house and I'm ignoring him.

And what was he doing? Getting something to eat, going on the computer, just hanging out...

My dream was about the show. I don't remember much, but I do remember waking up and realizing it'd basically been just about the episode. What a waste of a dream! Because ya know, if I'm gonna be dreaming about Sir Guy, I want something a little more Sir Guy-centric.

Still, it sure beats dreaming about revisions, which I have done.

(The picture of Richard Armitage as Sir Guy comes from The Armitage Army fan site and you can see it larger there. There are also many other pictures of RA, articles, etc, including a message from RA that makes me think he's probably a swell fella in real life.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When it's been a while...(Answer to Kimber's question, Part 2)

So how do you get back "into" your story when you've taken a long break?

Well, first let me say, that it can be a challenge -- and this is the single best reason I know for writing every day if you can. It keeps the story and characters immediate and "up front" in your mind.

However, that's not always possible, so...what do you do?

I think it's key not to consider it a fault or sin or problem if you have to take a break (or just want to). Life can't be commanded, and sometimes, if you've been really busy, your brain needs a little R and R. Nothing wrong with that, and having pushed myself excessively at one point, I can tell you that for me, that was totally counter-productive. I need my breaks.

So how do I get back into my story? I read what I've written. Today, since it's been a month since I read the finished book, I started with Chapter One. If I'm in the process of writing a book, and depending how long the break was, I may start at the beginning, or I may go back a few chapters, or perhaps just a few scenes. But I read what I've written to see where I was going.

Yes, this can take some time, and yes, I will make changes to what I'm rereading -- but I don't think that's a problem, either. I think it's better to take the time and make the changes; my story will be the stronger for it.

But let's say you've only got an hour to work on your book and if you go back and read, there goes that hour, and you haven't got anything new written.

Yep, that's a problem. And that's why I think it is beneficial to either write at least a bit every day, or reread and revise at least a little every day, if you can. Or at least think about your story and maybe make some notes. I've gotten some great ideas about my books while washing dishes or folding laundry. Writing time does not automatically mean computer time. Thinking counts, too.

If you find that difficult (the brain can only deal with so much!), you might need to take the time before you start writing the book to make a really detailed outline -- and stick to it, or make notes on your outline as you change things.

I think it's important to realize that taking breaks isn't a big problem. That's life. Stopping and never coming back to your writing is a big problem.

In fact, taking breaks can be beneficial for a book. After a break, problems or inconsistencies you might have missed before can become apparent to you. Trust me, that's good.

Answer to Kimber's question, Part 1

In her comments to my blog post yesterday, Kimber mentioned wanting to know about how to edit manuscripts after a time lag.

Talk about yer timely question, as I am about to do just that.

Rumor has it that my Esteemed Editor should be getting back to me with comments/revisions suggestions about my last manuscript this week. I haven't looked at that manuscript since I submitted it just over four weeks ago. In that time, I have written the synopsis for another book, revised and submitted it, as well as participating in various and sundry social activities and assorted household chores (scraping paint, weeding...yuck) and done Far Too Much Shopping. There's been a lot of water going under the ol' bridge since I last looked at KNAVE'S HONOR.

Since I don't want to respond to my Esteemed Editor's comments or questions with "The who in the what now?" I'm going to be re-reading KNAVE'S HONOR today, and will no doubt be doing some editing along the way because...I simply cannot help myself. I'll also be trying to second guess what comments/problems Esteemed Editor might be seeing, now that I'm not so close to the work.

So how do I start?

First, I've printed up a fresh hard copy. Tough on the trees, but necessary for me. I can't really edit on the computer; I need to see the words on a page.

I will be sharpening my red pencil. Sometimes I use ink, sometimes red, sometimes purple, sometimes green. Today, because I found a red pencil in a desk drawer the other day, I'm feeling red pencil is the way to go. Which means I must have a pencil sharpener close by.

Then I will get my clipboard with lined paper (in case I have a lot of notes on any part). I will have half-pages for shorter notes. This is what happens to all the old hard copies of my intermediate revisions, save for the love scenes. I live in fear that I'll drop a grocery list in the store, some unsuspecting child will pick it up, turn it over and be forever traumatized by reading part of a love scene not intended for such young eyes. I also have post-it notes for really small notes, and I write in the margins, too.

What Kimber really wants to know, though, is how do I get back into the story? Right now, my answer would be, I just do. I can't really explain it.

However, I'm going to post Part 2 to Kimber's question later today, when I've actually gone back to edit, to see if I can be a little more specific. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hit or Miss?

Apparently some readers consider my work "hit or miss." That is, they like some of my books, but others...not so much.

I understand that this could make a reader wary to buy one of my books. After all, they aren't sure if it'll be a "hit" (something they'll like), or a "miss" (something they won't).

Why is that? After all, it's the same imagination behind every book and my writing voice is, I think, fairly consistent. Variables no doubt creep in, as I'm not exactly the same person I was yesterday as I am today. Nobody is. Life happens and influences our thoughts and feelings and such things are going to influence my writing.

However, I don't use vastly different language for my medievals than I do for, say, my Victorians. That's quite deliberate, as I find "medievally" language ('twas, 'twere, etc) distracting. I know some people love it, that it helps set the stage and enhances the story. For me, however, it gets in the way of the characters and story; it doesn't enhance, it distracts, so I choose not to use it.

That said, I do like to use different settings. I most often write medievals, but I've also written Dark Ages, Restoration, Regency and Victorian.

The characters are, I hope, different with each book in more than name. I enjoy writing about people with different personal histories, different likes and dislikes, different issues.

That means that the relationships between the hero and heroine are going to be different, too, including the amount of sex. For me, the level of sexuality in a story depends on those specific characters and their relationship. A marriage of convenience story, where the characters are married close to the beginning, is, in my hands, going to be a sexier story than if they're not married, because I believe the stakes were too high for women to simply blithely part with their virginity prior to the development of the Pill. They do in my books, but not without a conscious decision and an awareness that it's a Very Big Deal, which means it (probably) won't happen near the beginning of the story.

Will I ever try to be more, well, consistent?


And here's why:

I have to keep the writing interesting to me, or it will suffer. This I know from bitter experience.

I have to live with the story and the characters for a lot longer than my readers, so I really have to be interested in them, and for me, that means trying new things. Even if "same old, same old" meant I might get more readers, I don't think I could stand to write the same thing over and over again. I'd be bored out of my mind.

So while it might frustrate some readers that, like Forrest Gump and his chocolates, you might never know exactly what you're gonna get before you open one of my books, I hope other readers enjoy my books for that very same reason.

Because for me, there's just no other way.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It was ever thus...

It's a busy weekend here, so in haste, I shall leave you with the following:

"An incurable itch for scribbling takes possession of many and grows inveterate in their insane hearts." - Juvenal

Ha! Ain't it the truth?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Robin Hood - First Reactions

We finally got to see Robin Hood! The first two episodes anyway -- and I loved them! I didn't have great expectations (beyond Richard Armitage, who didn't disappoint) and was most pleasantly surprised.

I had a few quibbles, of course. The costumes were interesting in an often inaccurate historical way and the fight scenes could be eye-roll-inducing. Anytime anybody shoots two arrows from the same bow and they both hit the target? Oh, please. Heck, anytime anybody draws two arrows at the same time gets an eye roll from me. I shall pass over some of the other stunts. At least nobody did a cartwheel instead of just running.

And there was one of my main pet peeves. At one point, Robin said, "Hold them at the gate for five minutes."

Um, they don't have watches there, Robin. Or any way to tell time. And in fact, "five minutes" wouldn't mean much to the average medieval person. They had no access to time pieces and certainly nothing that could be accurate to within minutes, so unless they were near a church with a bell to toll the liturgical hours, they wouldn't have any idea exactly what time of day it was, let alone when five minutes had gone by.

That's something I really strive to avoid in my medievals. People will say "later" or maybe "at the noon", but I don't think I've ever had anybody refer to minutes, or a time like "nine o'clock."

In terms of character, they were generally much better than I'd anticipated. Robin was more serious, Much was a hoot in a good way (I love a funny secondary character) but he also had some depth (obviously troubled by what he witnessed in the Holy Land), and Marian wasn't swooningly delighted to see Robin again (and wasn't toothpick thin, either -- yeah!).

And then there were the villains. I knew Richard Armitage would be good as Sir Guy, and I really liked how they developed his character. He's not just evil -- he had some qualms about the sheriff's orders, and when Robin and Much showed up after being away for five years, he turned over Robin's estate to him, even though he had many more men. The sheriff jeered at him for that, but it shows that Guy's not all bad. And then he told Marian how he was scorned and disrespected for not having any land -- good way to get my sympathy.

Unfortunately, we also had the sheriff. Whether it's the director or the actor or the writing, I don't know, but this is one character who's way, way over the top, into cartoon territory. He's apparently just evil for the heck of it -- or nuts, which to me is the weakest form of villain there is. Guy has a motive for his bad acts, a motive we can understand and appreciate; the sheriff apparently has none. I hope that changes as the show progresses because when I'm expecting the sheriff to start doing moves a la The Three Stooges? That's not good.

All in all, though, two thumbs up from me!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Let the celebration begin!

He's here! Sir Guy of Gisborne is here! And by that, I mean the DVD of the new BBC Robin Hood series, starring the wonderfully intense Richard Armitage. Actually, at the moment, the DVD is hanging (via string and masking tape) from the front hall light, so that Daughter will see it the moment she opens the door. Now you know one reason I adore my husband.

And as if that wasn't enough excitement, later my author copies of THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT arrived! Even after 15 years, it's still a thrill to hold that first copy of a new book in my hands. Some things just never get old.

I haven't seen the artwork on the inside cover before, and it's pretty yummy, too, so I'll be posting that on my site ASAP.

Whoo hooo!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Seed" Scenes

People often ask me where I get my ideas, as if I suddenly come up with the entire plot of a book, fully formed, and just have to write it down.

I wish.

For me, developing a story happens in stages, like planting seeds before I can reap the crop.

First, I think of a setting. This is the ground in which I plant.

Then I think of a guy. Since I write romance, a good-looking guy, or a scarred good-looking guy. A well-built good-looking guy. Not muscle-bound, like a body builder. Lean and tough, like an Olympic rower. First seed.

Then I give him a basic personality: charming and gregarious, or strong and silent. Second seed.

Then I think of the sort of woman who's going to mess with his life, his head and his heart. She may be beautiful; she may not. But she's going to appeal to that man right from the get-go for reasons that have very little to do with her looks. Third seed.

I knew the hero of my book coming out this month, THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT, from MY LORD'S DESIRE. At the end of that book, Bayard de Boisbaston is sent to Averette (the heroine's castle) to protect Gillian, the sister of the heroine of MY LORD'S DESIRE. I also knew that Gillian's going to be upset with anybody who seems to question or challenge her authority.

And then came what I call the "seed scene," although it's not a whole scene. It's more like a snap shot from a scene, and it's the first bit between the couple that I imagine.

This was the seed scene for THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT:

It's a hall moot, or court, and Gillian is sitting on the dais, prepared to dispense justice. Then Bayard arrives, fully armed and armored, and without a word or her permission, comes to stand behind her. He doesn't say a word in explanation; he just stands there.

You can read how this seed grew here.

You'll notice that, for one thing, there are a lot more people. I had no idea about any of these secondary characters when I first imagined this bit. In fact, I think Teddy's appearance didn't happen until about the third or fourth draft.

But some things stayed the same. For instance, it's clear that Gillian's miffed. She doesn't think he should be there. That's a pretty basic conflict.

As the story grew, however, I realized Gillian not only perceives Bayard as a threat to her authority, this goes right to her need to feel secure. If he won't let her rule, if he takes over, she can't feel secure, and this is a Very Big Deal to Gillian.

Meanwhile Bayard is, apparently, simply standing there, protecting her. Doing his duty as a knight.

But there's more than that at stake for him, because it was his brother, who's suffered terribly and made many sacrifices for him, who requested that he protect Gillian. He's not just doing his duty as a knight. He's fulfilling a familial obligation and assuaging some personal guilt.

Which brings us to the external conflicts here -- Gillian needs protecting because her life may be in danger. And it's obvious Gillian's not the only one who wishes Bayard wasn't there -- more external conflict.

That's a lot for 232 words to do, but that's the nature of the seed scene -- it gives a vivid snapshot of the relationship and conflicts at that particular point in the story.

Often these scenes are at the beginning of a book, but not always. In THE NOTORIOUS KNIGHT, the seed scene doesn't show up until Chapter Five.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

He will be mine. Oh, yes, he will be mine....

Whoo hooo! Today's the day I get to order the new BBC series about Robin Hood, starring the intensely seductive Richard Armitage. Oh, baby, the excitement! And yes, I've already ordered it, cost and wacky costumes be damned!

Because I know that part of me is going to be cringing at the anachronisms. Pleather? Oh, please!

On the other hand, Richard Armitage! As Sir Guy! Who sees Marian as his redemption! I've said it before, I'll say it again: Marian, you lucky girl! Forget that callow youth Robin. Take the man! The intensely passionate man!!

Okay, must calm down. Must calm down... (Although when the DVD arrives? I shall be beyond calming.)

I also ordered A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. If you haven't seen this and want a laugh? Rent this. It's hilarious -- I remember laughing and laughing the first time I saw this. I happened upon it on TV the other day and was grinning and singing along and knew I had to have it. The character names alone are a hoot: Senex is the old guy, Miles Gloriosus the military captain, the hero is...Hero. Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford (as the slave Hysterium)...truly a wonderful, funny film -- and a bargoon at $12.98.

And as the Long Wait continues: I've figured out something I can do that's not exactly writing, but keeping the wheels greased, so to speak. I'm creating more webpages about writing based on my workshops. This week, I added A Few Words About Pacing.

I just realized I've now got something else to wait for -- my Amazon order!


Monday, June 04, 2007

Waiting is never easy

It's been about three weeks since I sent in my manuscript to Esteemed Editor.

It's been about a week since I sent in the proposal for the option book for approval by Big Kahuna.

Now, as much as I'd like to believe Esteemed Editor and Big Kahuna drop everything to deal with my work the minute I send anything in, I know this is not the case. They have Other Things To Do. Which means I must wait.

I could start on the next project but...Big Kahuna may have things she'd like changed. I was once three weeks and about 100 pages into a first draft when my Then Editor phoned with suggested changes -- suggestions that would mean fundamental changes to the story and characters. I tossed everything I'd written and started again.

Perhaps needless to say, this is something I'd prefer to avoid.

I also fear that if I get too far into the next story, I'll forget what I was thinking while writing the manuscript I just sent in. If questions are asked, the answers might take a while to come.

I don't particularly enjoy looking like I didn't know what I was doing.

Unfortunately, I have pulled all the weeds I care to pull, although more remain. Weeding is boring. I'd rather be writing.

I finished my outfit for the wedding and found the shoes. I've also bought more clothes. I have shopped until I've dropped several times. Enough already. I'd rather be writing.

I've been stripping the trim in the room to be redecorated, only to discover I can only do that for about half an hour before my wrist starts to hurt. I can type for hours without a problem, so this surprised me. But so it is. Also, it's boring. The room's got to be done, but I'd rather be writing.

The stress dreams have begun. Last night I dreamt I was at the RWA conference, getting all set to go to the RITA awards, when I realized I had not yet registered for the conference, and so had no ticket. I decided to give a pass to the RITA ceremony and left the conference -- without checking out and leaving my RITA outfit and various other sundries in the hotel.

Ay yi yi.

So what's an author to do? I can:

1. Ask my editor when she might get to my book and if she's heard from Big Kahuna. Tempting -- have done it once already, in fact -- but annoying one's editor is counter-productive, so I should really refrain.

2. Ask my agent to ask my editor when she might get to my book and if she's heard anything from Big Kahuna. Maybe later. Not now. Still too soon. (See above re counter-productive.)

3. Try to put all writing-related issues out of my mind and work on redecorating the bedroom. Boring, hard on the wrist, but necessary. Will do some later today.

4. Start new book while hoping Big Kahuna doesn't hate the story entirely. This is a definite possibility, because I'm starting to feel my writing muscles atrophy.

And I'd really rather be writing than doing almost anything else.

Including -- believe you me -- waiting.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Medieval Motivation

According to reports here and here, Harlequin will be publishing books about health, diet, fitness, self-help, motivation and relationships, as well as memoirs and biographies, beginning next year.

Apparently "Offerings will include companion pieces to successful fictional series by the company's many bestselling authors."

And thus my imagination begins to percolate. What "companion pieces" could I write? Any self-help or motivational books based on my research? Let me see...

Killing the Competition: Business Lessons from the Tournament Field.

Lose Weight the Medieval Way: A Hundred Fast and Easy Recipes for Gruel

Kingmaker: How To Be the Power Behind the Throne. Let William Marshall teach you how to increase your wealth and influence without actually having the responsibility of ruling a country -- and marry well, too!

The Knight's Total Body Workout: Lose weight and get toned doing these easy exercises...while wearing sixty pounds of armor.

The Home Remedies They Don't Want You To Know About -- simple home remedies easily concocted from roots, berries and other easy-to-find ingredients. Why pay a barber for leeching when you can do it yourself? Fully illustrated for those unable to read.

Richard the Lion-Heart and John: How to Prevent Sibling Rivalry From Ruining your Family.

Victoria's Secret: How to Have a Happy Marriage, Raise Nine Children and Rule An Empire

Below Stairs: Cleaning tips and tricks to keep your manor house sparkling!

Since I'm still waiting to hear if my manuscript needs revisions, and if I'm good to go on the next book, I could spend all day on this sort of thing. Beats the heck out of weeding!