Monday, December 29, 2008

What's Next...

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas/holiday. Due to a relative's medical crisis, ours was not the best. Fortunately, the crisis has passed, with good results, so we're very thankful that things weren't much worse.

However, I'm expecting the first six months of 2009 to be a little...bumpy. Last year was one heck of a roller coaster ride of a sort I was hoping I wouldn't see again, but alas, it does not appear to be in the cards.

So what does this author do when life keeps throwing curve balls?

I can't completely compartmentalize my brain the way some folks can, so the stresses will have an effect on my work, but it does make me feel a whole lot better to be off in the world of my imagination for awhile. So yep, I'll be writing.

I make lists of things I have/want to do, because stress = distraction, and lists help me focus.

I lean on my mom, my family and my friends. My mom is a great listener; my husband can still make me laugh like nobody else; my kids are wonderful and doing very well in their chosen professions; and I'm very blessed to have some writer friends I can confide in. Nobody else "gets" the writer's life and its unique troubles and concerns like another writer.

I'm going to keep up my Weight Loss Challenge. Christmas cookies and chocolate have caused a set-back, but I'm not dismayed. I expected it. I'll be setting a new goal, and keeping up the walking/treadmill work.

Most of all, I'm look forward to the good stuff that's already been planned, like a wedding in August and a trip to Italy in the fall. And I continue to cherish the quiet times and simple pleasures, like a hot cup of tea and a good book to read.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays!

My book may be done (yeah!), but now comes the Christmas festivities, and to say I have much to do is like saying the CN Tower is tall.

So may you all have a safe, happy and healthy Christmas! I'll be back blogging after the 28th.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Treadmill of Power!

Whooo hooo! I get a new outfit because yesterday, after an hour on the former Treadmill of Terror, I stepped on the scale and...

139.2!!!!!!

I haven't seen a three on that side of the decimal point in...well, years!

And this despite falling off the cola wagon! (I blame the revisions.)

And THE VISCOUNT'S KISS will be done on time! And I really love it!

I'm doing a happy dance. With jingle bells!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deadline crunch

Yep, it's time to get my nose to the grindstone with the work-in-progress, due on Monday. Still have much to mend, plus snow to shovel, meals to make, clothes to wash, etc. etc. And oh ya, Christmas is coming, too.

So I may blog or I may not for the next few days. Unless I'm completely swamped, though, look for the weight loss challenge report on Friday (surely snow shoveling should help!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bonjour!


One of the really cool things about writing for Harlequin is the foreign sales, and not just for the $, although believe you me, that makes every book the gift that keeps on giving.

Recently, I was interviewed for a French romance web magazine, les romantiques. I've never seen a web magazine like it -- it lets you flip the pages. Cool!

My interview is on Page 17.




And the book featured and available in France? Le pacte secret is THE SAXON, which was first released in North America in 1995. See what I mean about the gift that keeps on giving?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Way cool review!

As briefly mentioned on Friday, Romantic Times gave THE WARLORD'S BRIDE a wonderful review. Here's the full quote:

"A colorfully rendered portrait of medieval Wales brimming with charming characters, an enchanting love story and the perfect balance of romance and history are what endears Moore to readers. She convincingly transports you to an era of daring heroes and the women who tame them."

And they must have liked the cover as much as I do, because it's with the review.

Whoo hoo!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge - Surprise!

I thought I was going to be up again this week, because I didn't get as much exercise, due to family circumstances and feeling really yucky one day.

But then I stepped on the scales this morning and...141.0! Whoo hoo!

I also finished the fourth draft of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS. One more to go, but I think (hope!) the heavy lifting is over! Whoo hoo!

And I got a fantastic review for THE WARLORD'S BRIDE from Romantic Times, including this: "...brimming with charming characters, an enchanting love story and the perfect balance of romance and history..." WHOOO HOOOO!

This week's exercise/step count tally:

Nov. 28 - 14,415
Nov. 29 - 3,359 (wasn't feeling grand, but got a lot of work done on the book)
Nov. 30 - 9,491 (family event)
Dec. 1 - 2707 plus 40 min. on the treadmill
Dec. 2 - 1972 plus 10 min. on the treadmill (this was the day I was really under the weather)
Dec. 3 - 15,680
Dec. 4 - 13,221 (I'd planned to go on the treadmill again, but the hubby, who likewise works at home, had an unforeseen conference call, so I went for a walk instead.)

I'm considering making a separate blog for my weight loss challenge reports. If that happens, there'll be a notice and link on my blog roll.

Now, on to Draft #5!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Waiting to Exhale

As I go write the early drafts of my books, I don't worry too much about chapter ends. I tend to look at the number of pages, and end a chapter at the end of a scene.

However, as I edit later drafts, I change that, because the end of a scene is often like a big sigh. Okay, got through that conflict/trauma/action. Now time for a little rest.

This is not what you want the reader thinking at the end of a chapter, because "time for a little rest" can mean putting the book down.

I want to end the scene with the reader thinking, "Oh, boy, what's gonna happen next????" An inhale, not an exhale, and the sort of inhale you take when the roller coaster is headed up the incline. Or, depending on your style and type of book you're writing, a sharp intake, like when you see a broken window at your house as you're pulling into the driveway.

Sometimes I do this with foreshadowing, such as "As she hurried away, she didn't see the man lurking in the shadows."

More often, though, I revise to end the chapter in the middle of a scene instead of the end.

Whatever method I use, though, I want to do all I can to make sure my reader isn't the least bit tempted to put the book down, not even to get a cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Age of Heroes

Back when my oldest sister was in high school, she had a textbook called THE AGE OF HEROES, referring to the Greek myths.

That's not the sort of age I'm talking about.

I got the Sexiest Man Alive issue of PEOPLE'S magazine recently, and one of the things that struck me immediately was the age of several of the sexiest guys.

Hugh Jackman - 40
Brad Pitt - 44
Daiel Craig - 40
Patrick Dempsey - 42
Johnny Depp - 45
Will Smith - 40
Javier Bardem - 39
George Clooney - 47
Matthew McConaughey - 39

Of course there were several guys who were younger (and I really didn't need the whole scratch-n-sniff thing), but I couldn't help thinking they wouldn't show nearly as many mature women.

And with crow's feet and wrinkles.

Now, I like mature men, so I'm not saying the older guys shouldn't be there. It's the difference between how women are perceived as washed up and over the hill in Hollywood after 30, so much so that not nearly as many get a second sexy act in their forties or later. I was totally, utterly shocked the other day when I caught part of Sunset Boulevard, a movie I've seen many times, to discover that Norma Desmond is in her fifties, not her 70's, as I'd always assumed and somehow missed all these years.

So what about my heroes and heroines? How old are they?

Whatever the age I say they are in my books, in my mind, the men are at least in their 30s, and the women approximately the same.

How come I don't say that in the book? Why make them younger?

Well, for one thing, if I'm doing a medieval, a lot of them would be dead by the time they hit 30 and 40. For another, folks matured faster back then -- they had to. There was none of this teenage coming-of-age stuff. You were considered an adult then, and expected to act like it.

What about later time periods? Again, I'm trying to stick to the societal norms, with marriages at younger ages.

So while my hero may be the same age as Robert Pattison, in my mind he'll act more like a man of 40, and look like one, too.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Filling the blanks...

I was revising away yesterday, and some of what I have to do is what I call "filling in the blanks," the parts where I've gone through the previous draft and moved or changed things and then write detailed notes, such as:

"More description"

or

"Show B. getting more upset"

or

"Get them to other location."

In other words, ACK! I need to write original material to fill the blanks between new material and old, and sadly, based on the sketchiest of outlines.

Sometimes there's more. Indeed, sometimes I've written out the new material and attached it to the page. Thank goodness. Because this is one darned fine way to drive my own self nuts!

Monday, December 01, 2008

That scene: And the decision is....

As I mentioned previously, I had a scene where the heroine of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS comes upon the hero skinny dipping. I took it out, thinking it would be too late in the year, so..brrrrr! Of course, I tend to think in terms of my local weather when I write, and skinny dipping in November in Canada? Um, not unless you're used to it. But my book isn't set in Canada, and I had my reason ready (preparation for a long, rough voyage), but...

The other thing bothering me was that this sort of thing has been done before. A lot, methinks.

Then, on the weekend, I was doing a bit of research about another facet of the story and kallooo kalay! I found something else that would have the same effect - basically, I need my heroine to realize early on that oh...my...word...that...guy...is...buff...and...seeeexxxxy (or the Regency equivalent thereof) -- but it's much more unique to the story and especially appropriate for my hero.

Yeah! And yet again, it was research to the rescue!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge and The Treadmill of Terror

Okay, "terror" might be a bit strong, but going on ye olde non-powered-save-by-my-feet treadmill is one major workout, so much so, I've decided I can't do that two days in a row. Plus, I miss getting outside now.

Of course, the key question is: Does it work?

This week, I did get down to 141.2 -- whooo hooo! -- although today I am 142.2.

This week's step/treadmill tally:

Nov. 21 - 4423 plus an hour on the treadmill
Nov. 22 - no tally, due to a family thing that came up unexpectedly
Nov. 23 - 1173 plus an hour on the treadmill
Nov. 24 - 1644 plus 40 min. on the treadmill (and this was the day I realized two days in a row on the treadmill was a bit too much)
Nov. 25 - 15,538
Nov. 26 - 4303 plus 50 min. on the treadmill
Nov. 27 - 16,362

I'm really, really hoping to get to 139.9 before Christmas.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all those south of the border, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

I'm nearing the finish line for THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, so that's what I'll be concentrating on while you all are chowing down on turkey and pie. I'll be with you in spirit, though!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some things never get old....

I just received my author copies of my January book, THE WARLORD'S BRIDE and I gotta say, it's still and always a thrill to hold a copy of my own book in my hands. I am always tempted to stroke it whispering, "My precious, my precious." Sometimes I do.

I think one reason it continues to be such a thrill (beyond the fact that I get paid to produce books) is that by the time I'm actually holding the finished book, I've forgotten why I was so traumatized by Chapter Six (for instance) and the hours I spent trying to decide the best sequence of plot events, etc. etc. All the angst has receded. I no longer have to work at the creating; it's done.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's all Welsh to me....

If you're familiar with my books, you'll know I love me some Welshmen. It's the voices and accents, frankly. Take a listen to Ioan Gruffudd on the DVD extra of King Arthur to hear what I mean. The hero of my next release, THE WARLORD'S BRIDE, is -- you got it -- another Welshman.

In Madoc's honor, I present this little gem from failblog.org:

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Here's what happened (another cautionary email tale), courtesy of the BBC:

"When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".

So that was what went up under the English version which barred lorries from a road near a supermarket."

D'oh!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ur Mornin' Smile

Check out The Devil's Writing Dictionary at Paperback Writer. I laughed and laughed (and sighed a few times, too, because some of those entries are scary true.)

I need all the laughs I can get because...you'd think I'd have a clue after forty or so books, but nooooooo. Yet again, I am revising my revisions back to the original order of events in the book.

Sheesh.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge -- off the plateau at last!

At last, at last! Let the bells ring out and the banners fly! I'm at 141.8!!! Whooo hooo. I haven't been this light in, well, a few years.

I don't think I've mentioned my new short-term weight-loss goal. Well, not so much a goal as an incentive.

When I hit 139 (even 139.9), I get a new outfit. Whoo hoo!

Unfortunately, the cold weather has arrived and so today, because of the wind chill, I'll be using the antique treadmill. I call it antique because it isn't power-assisted. The only thing that makes that sucker move is my tender tootsies, so it requires more effort. Which is good. Bad? It doesn't register steps on the pedometer. I can measure time (easy) and distance (it has that function), but not steps. But that's okay, because I figure one step on that is not the equivalent of one step on the sidewalk or path anyway.

I wore my new snow sneakers on the slushy street and sidewalks yesterday. My feet were toasty warm and dry.

This week's step count tally:
Nov. 14 - 16,734
Nov. 15 - 5025 but 40 minutes on the treadmill (didn't measure distance)
Nov. 16 - 17,864
Nov. 17 - 16,737
Nov. 18 - 16,292
Nov. 19 - 15,636 (and a little snow shoveling)
Nov. 20 - 12,772 plus snow shoveling plus 2.37 k. (1.47 miles) on the treadmill

Oh, and there were no white potatoes on my menu this week. I substituted salad with low cal dressing. I think that helped, too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feel-good Christmas Shopping

Despite having a book due December 15, I've already started the Christmas shopping, either the gifts I plan to make (hello, crochet hook!) or buying from charitable institutions on-line.

The UNICEF order arrived quickly and I'm so impressed with the mugs in particular, I'm ordering more.

In the name of a family member currently working in the mental health field, I'm providing some Gifts of Light at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

As I've done in the past, I've purchased a goat, some pigs, some chickens and (new this year) some baby chicks for those in need in developing countries via the Christian Blind Mission.

I choose goats because it's been a long-running joke in our family that goats will be the bridal or dower gift when our kids get married. Pigs are chosen because of the example question in the old home version of Jeopardy. ("What is a shoat?" is the correct response.)

And as for the chickens...apparently I fled in terror from a little black chick on my grandparents' farm when I was a wee bairn. I myself think this was a natural reaction to a Dick and Jane story featuring a particularly aggressive chicken. At least I seem to recall such a story. Just goes to show one's childhood reactions can haunt one...and also lead to some smiles when gifts are exchanged years later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Different Perspectives

No, I'm not going to be talking about point of view.

I'm going to talk about how the research I do affects me. Because it does. Sometimes there's the obvious -- learning more about a specific time period leads me to think about how what happened then is similar to what's happening now. For instance, when Gutenberg came up with the printing press, a lot of learned folks were not happy. Because producing a book became so much faster and especially so much cheaper, why, then anybody can write...anything! They can say and mass produce whatever "nonsense" they want! It'll be the downfall of civilization!

Sound familiar? It did to me, too.

The hero of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS, "Buggy" Bromwell, is a naturalist who loves spiders. Keep your horses and your hounds, and give him a spider in a web to stare at and he's a happy camper. And now guess who doesn't just glance at a spider or brush it away, but who gives them a long, lingering gaze whenever she encounters one, like the specimen rapeling down the front door the other night? Yep, c'est moi.

It also means I get to visit websites I never would have otherwise, like this one and that one. It means I find and buy obscure publications like SPIDERS, MEN AND SCORPIONS .

Recently a New York Times bestselling author of historical romances came to speak at our chapter and she mentioned her research assistant more than once. Even if I could afford it and believe me, there are times I would love somebody else to find out things like the names of the various parts of a mill for THE UNWILLING BRIDE (I spent a whole morning on that one), to do away with research would be robbing myself of one of the parts of my job I really enjoy.

After all, it's one of the main reasons I write historical romance and not...something else.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How much is too much?


I visit Romancing The Blog daily.
Yesterday's post
and specifically some of the links got me to thinking: When is a lot of information too much information? When does an author learn enough to help and when does it become overpowering? Or seem as if the only way to publish is to slavishly follow the trends?

I've also seen too many authors who have a story and who will try to twist that story depending on what's hot at the moment. Vampires are hot? I can make my hero a vampire. Romantic suspense is this year's golden goose? I can throw in some more suspense.

I just about get hives when I hear that sort of comment, because editors and agents (and yes, other writers) can practically smell that sort of thing and it ain't gonna fly.

I'm not saying ignore trends -- there are many successful authors who jump on the various bandwagons. But if you want to write with a trend in mind, don't think you just stick a glossy trendy element in your story and call it a day. If your hero is a vampire, the fact that he's a vampire has to affect his character on several levels, the action, reactions, the decisions the characters make, the dialogue, the descriptions -- in short, everything in the book. He shouldn't just seem a little moody and occasionally take a sip of blood.

Monday, November 17, 2008

To tickle your funny bone....

Courtesy of The New York Time's Book Review section comes a literary term used in reference to sea-faring type novels a la Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey books and the Horatio Hornblower saga:

waistcoat-ripper.

Heheheeee!

This was in a small paragraph about a contest at Book Ninja for repackaging books. Some of the "new" covers that don't at all reflect the book's actual contents are pretty hilarious! Take a look.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge...Day of Frustration


Okay, so not only am I still stuck at 143 pounds, this has been my morning so far: Wake up after dreaming I was on the Amazing Race and for some reason, we were going to have to do a task in a dress and high heels. I'm late and can't find either my belt or pantyhose. I wake up at 5:30 a.m., unable to get back to sleep, because I also have to take the car in to get the brake light fixed and want to get there early.

Take the car in, and it takes about 45 minutes. I sit and read (so hey, could be worse, right?); however, I suspect I may be sitting there yet if I hadn't stood up and stretched and reminded guy behind the counter I'm there. But I could be wrong, so am philosophical (and hey, did I mention it was a good excuse to sit and read?).

Then I get home and hear the garbage truck a-comin' down the street. I have the compost bin out, but no others. I rush to get the garbage, affixing the tag because the city still has not delivered the proper bin (that's a story in itself, trying to get an answer about that). Then I schlep out five bags and five other assorted containers of leaves. I have to dump some leaves from a plastic bag to the proper paper bag and spill several in the process.

The truck gets closer. I have just made it...and then the truck zooms right on by. What the...? Was it full? I peer down the street. There are other containers still unemptied. I hope I haven't missed the collection, but if I have? The man o' the house, who was home but hadn't gotten to that yet, will be schleping the leaves back to the garage.

In all fairness to Mr. Man, the pick-up schedule is beyond erratic. Sometimes they come early, more often it's later in the day, including the afternoon. There's no telling when the truck will actually show up.

This weeks' weight loss decision: I've upped my step count and there is visual confirmation that the long walks are doing me good.

I had decided to have a larger breakfast and avoid the mid-morning snack but I'm going to revert to smaller breakfasts and go with the snack, but fruit of some kind, saving the carbalicious snack for after my afternoon walk.

There was also a birthday in there, with cake.

This week's step count:
Nov. 7 - 14,226
Nov. 8 - 14,637
Nov. 9 - 15,087
Nov. 10 - 13,812 (Birthday, so out to dinner sans pedometer; did at least another 200 steps, so the total should be over 14,000)
Nov. 11 - 17,716
Nov. 12 - 15,379
Nov. 13 - 15,895

I don't think I can go for walks for much longer than these, though, because we're looking at approximately two hours. Last weekend, we got a treadmill (used, so a bargoon) to use when the snow flies. One problem: when I tested it wearing the pedometer, it recorded...no steps. I'll have to see what I can do about that!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Excerpt Posted!

If you'd like to read an excerpt from one of my Christmas novellas (and my personal favorite), "Comfort and Joy," hie yourself over to The Writer's Vineyard. Check out the great holiday contests while you're there!

Trusting Your Instincts...Or Not...

While on a long ramble yesterday, I picked up the new O magazine. There's an article there about Sissy Spacek which makes for some interesting reading - I didn't know she wanted to be a singer first.

However, it's another article that talks about following your instincts. Listening to your gut.

Here's the thing about that: We generally hear these sorts of stories from people who've succeeded.

But you know, I've listened to my gut/instincts and lemme tell ya, the G/I can be wrong. Very wrong. Because most of the time, they are telling me not necessarily what is, but what I want to hear.

Which means that I'm happier listening to my G/I, but not necessarily more successful in the way success is measured in the publishing world.

Just sayin'.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Memories

It's Remembrance Day, a day to pause and reflect on the role our military and the people who serve play in our lives, past and present.

My dad is a living reminder, having served in the Navy during WWII, as did his two brothers. I was proud and thrilled to follow in his footsteps, albeit in a much smaller, humbler and safer way by joining the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. This was in the mid-seventies, and it may be hard for younger people to realize this, but at the time, this was a pretty radical thing for a teenage girl to do.

It proved to be one of the best, most important and yes, fun times of my life. I still think of that first summer as the Golden Summer of my Youth. I made one of my best friends in the first couple of days, and we were so tight, people thought we'd known each other before. Nope. Just clicked.

What else did I get from those days, when I was both training and instructing?

Self-discipline. There's no whining when you're given an order (although there can certainly be much complaining in the barracks after). There is no negotiating. You do what you have to do when you have to do it.

There's a time to goof around (in the barracks, before lights out) and a time to get serious (on parade or a training exercise) and you better learn the difference.

Women under stress can do some pretty wacky, vindictive things. I've been criticized by some reviewers (well, okay, Mrs. Giggles) for writing about women who conspire against other women. Or as she says, "The author is very trigger-happy with the evil women gun." Write what you know, Mrs. G. Write what you know.

There are all sorts of arcane rituals/methods available for the shining of shoes. I myself prefer the spit shine, only using water instead of spit.

In a pinch (or when inspection is imminent), you can use sticky tape to hem a skirt.

They will always put the smallest, lightest person to row in the bow of a whaler (a large rowboat, like the ones that carried the harpooners out to the whales). Which makes the bow rise higher out of the water. Which makes it more difficult to row. They did that with me; they did it with my dad. Ah, tradition.

However tense and miserable some of the situations I encountered in the reserves were, I'm well aware I had the Military Lite experience. Even so, it changed and profoundly influenced me.

So on Remembrance Day, I think about the brave men and women who experienced the intensity and camaraderie of the military life which I barely tasted, and who paid for that experience with their lives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

As it is with lipstick, so will it go with paperbacks?

According to yesterday's New York Times, the Lipstick Index rose 40% in the last few months.

What is the Lipstick Index?

From investopedia.com:

An indicator based on the theory that a consumer turns to less expensive indulgences, such as lipstick, when she (or he) feels less than confident about the future. Therefore, lipstick sales tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty or a recession.

This term was coined by Leonard Lauder (chairman of Estee Lauder), who consistently found that during tough economic times, his lipstick sales went up. Believe it or not, the indicator has been quite a reliable signal of consumer attitudes over the years. For example, in the months following the September 11 terrorist attacks, lipstick sales doubled.


I'm hoping the same holds true for paperbacks. Readers might not be able to afford a trip, or a night out at the movies, but will go for a book that costs under $10 (and that they can even sell at a used bookstore afterward), especially if it promises a happy ending.

Although maybe I should buy a few shares of Cover Girl, too....

Friday, November 07, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge - Inches, if not pounds

Well, the weight seems to be stuck at 143.6 or so but I've lost an astonishing 3 inches from around my waist. Not only are my clothes looser -- I had to move to other belts -- but I'm now below the "danger zone" for weight circumference in women. So what that tells me is that I'm losing fat and gaining muscle.

When getting out the other belts, I found the Coach belt I bought way back before I was married, when I worked in a Major Canadian Department store. In those days, spending $50 for a belt seemed the height of extravagance -- and not just to me, because there were plenty on hand when the price dropped (it was store policy that items would be reduced in price after they'd been in the store a certain length of time). So I got my Coach belt for half price (and continue to regret not getting a handbag, too). I can tell from the wear pattern that the belt fit my waist of 28 inches.

Twenty-eight inches? EGAD!

I felt like Scarlett O'Hara in that corset scene, complaining that her waist was no longer 18 inches.

Unlike Scarlett, however, I think aiming for my pre-baby weight is not a worthwhile goal. I'll gladly settle for being able to wear that belt at it's loosest.

Step tally this week:
Oct. 31 - 14,250 (up and down to answer the door for tricker-treaters)
Nov. 1 - 13,919
Nov. 2 - 12,459
Nov. 3 - 12,465
Nov. 4 - 14,142*
Nov. 5 - 13,388 (I walked to pick up my nephew at school. I thought I had plenty of time, then discovered it was farther than I thought, so had to really pick up the pace.)
Nov. 6 - 14,786 (plus raking leaves)

* It's occurred to me that if I want to break what seems like the weight loss equivalent of writer's block, I should aim for a higher daily step count. Time could be an issue, though, what with a deadline looming. And we were blessed with gorgeous weather this week. But the one thing I can't do now is stop, or I can see the weight creeping back on.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

TV miscellany

Just a quickie because my shoulder doth ache. I suspect I had my desk chair at the wrong height yesterday.

Ugly Betty -- Why are they dressing her like a clown? Seriously, I get she's not supposed to be fashion savvy, but unless she's really a dim bulb (contrary to what we're led to believe) she would be picking up some kind of clue while working for a fashion magazine. I think they had it right in the first episode, where she tried to dress fashionably, using a souvenir poncho. Close, but no cigar.

Survivor -- It's never as interesting when one team keeps losing and losing and losing. It's painful. And yet, I cannot look away...

Amazing Race -- Phil's dad! How great was that??? Mom and Son are my favorite team. Two other teams cannot be gone soon enough for me.

The Tudors - already mentioned, but I have to say, it's not as interesting now that we're into such well-trodden paths of history.

Chuck - I love Chuck. And while Chuck himself is cute, it's Adam Baldwin who does it for me.

Heroes - back on track, although still not as awesome as the first season.

Project Runway - I want to go to that fabric store in NY, Mood, like you wouldn't believe. Seriously. Next time I'm in the Big Apple? I'm going. The irony? I've actually been in their neck of NY, more than once. ARGH.

Crusoe - Sam Neill and Sean Bean are the only reason to keep watching this ridiculous show. To give you an example: You lose a ring in a rock fissure. So you take a sizable quantity of your limited supply of gunpowder (although I expect to learn RC can make his own, because he's so clever, doncha know?) and blow up the fissure. Yes indeedy, that's not going to destroy your ring or send it flying way out into the forest. No, your ring is just gonna lie there. And that even wasn't the wackiest part of the episode.

And finally, the Christmas commercials are coming fast and furious. But hey! How else would I know the Swiss Chalet Festive Special is already available?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No NaNoWriMo, but....

If you're an unpublished writer, you may have heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, also known as "November."

During November, a writer tries to write a 50,000 word in one month. To write, as the site puts it, with abandon.

I've never done this, because it's never fit in my schedule. Also, 50,000 words is about half the length of a historical romance novel, so...the novel wouldn't be finished in one month even if I met the goal. That said, I think it's a fun way to get people to simply sit down and write the dang book, the book they may have been mulling over and talking about for oh, say, years. And keeping track of the word count strikes me as similar to keeping track of my steps during my Weight Loss Challenge. It's a way to measure progress.

I note that Harlequin thinks this is a swell idea. They've organized a NaNoWriMo sign-up in the community section on their site.

That doesn't mean that whatever you come up during that month will be in any way publishable; it does mean, though, you'll have something concrete to fix.

So while I'm not going to participate this month (see above re schedule), I'm seriously thinking of declaring February MaNoWriMo - Margaret's Novel Writing Month. My current plan is to take time in January to make a rough outline -- because I think for something like this to work best, you need a plan -- and then spend February churning out the pages. I'm going to set myself a slightly different sort of goal, though. I'm going to challenge myself to write two scenes a day.

I'll admit that when I came up with this goal, I thought, "Whoooooa, Nelly! That's a bit much, isn't it?" But the idea of NaNoWriMo is to challenge yourself to get words on the page. They aren't "finished" words, or polished scenes. The idea is simply to get your butt in the chair and write.

The other reason to choose February? It can be one dark, snowy, depressing month. I could probably use the kick in the pants.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

And you are there!

There used to be a show on TV, back when I was very young (although I see by the dates, I must have been watching reruns), hosted by Walter Cronkite, looking at historical events as if they were happening in the present day.

Every episode ended with Mr. Cronkite saying, "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times... and you were there."

I suspect this is one reason I write historicals.

There's a new show in a similar vein, History Bites. Although History Bites is primarily looking at history from a comic angle, it's fact-based and fascinating.

Today, wherever you live, this is a historic day because of the presidential election in the US. Like many others, I'll be watching the results roll in off and on during the day.

However, I'll also be watching The Tudors tonight.

Which brings me to something I often think about when I'm watching historical shows based on facts.

What was it like if you were the Tudor-era equivalent of, say, Joe the Plumber? How much did you know about what was going on in the corridors of power? How much did you care? Or were you just worried about what the taxes were going to be?

Monday, November 03, 2008

It was the best of time, it was the worst of time...

I believe I may have mentioned that I hate it when we return to standard time. I hate having it get dark so early in the evening.

However...I've discovered that I missed the light early in the day, too. And I've actually been sleeping in too late. That's been a problem, since I have a book to finish and the middle is, shall we say, a bit of an issue at the moment.

OTOH, yesterday I came up with a new scene that should be fun and by that I mean puts the hero of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS in even more of a pickle. Ah, these are the moments I write for!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hallowe'en Weigh In...Booooo!

Alas, I didn't make my goal weight for October 31 (140 lbs), although I'm going to weigh myself this afternoon to see if it's better than...sigh...143.2.

However, this just goes to show how things are relative, because two months ago, I would have been thrilled to see that number on the scale.

And -- shame on me! -- I did get into the candy last night. But only two pieces and I've gotta say, those little chocolate bars are shrinking so much every year, one Hallowe'en I expect to find an O'Henry consists of one chocolate-covered peanut.

As disappointed as I am, I'm going to keep up with the walking, although I get why people who are trying to lose weight give up when they hit a plateau. It's distressing to put in the effort and see so little change. But hey, it's going to be a lovely, warm day and next week looks promising, and I find I often need to stop and think about what's going on with the book after the morning's work, so...all in all, there are benefits besides weight loss to the daily walk.

This week's walk count:
Oct. 24 - 11,343 (I also raked leaves.)
Oct. 25 - 13,037
Oct. 26 - 12,529 (actually, this day I weighed in at 142.8, and after breakfast, too!)
Oct. 27 - 11,847
Oct. 28 - 12,311
Oct. 29 - 12,723
Oct. 30 - 12,724 (yes, only one step difference, although I went on two very different walks)

Alas, I also didn't make my writing goal for the month (ahem), so I may not be blogging as much in the next six weeks. I will, however, be keeping up with the monthly Weight Loss Challenge report. For one thing, it's an extra incentive, and I'm thinking you can never have too much of that!

ETA: After my walk and raking of leaves, the scale says 142.6. So yeah! Not my goal, but I haven't been this light in a couple of years, so...I'm having some Reese's Pieces. Without guilt. While revising what's now Chapter Ten.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

For my Italian readers....

Here's a new interview of me in Italian. I love the picture that goes with this blog, too!

Holiday Fun!

I whine and moan about the clocks going back every year. I hate it. I think that may be one of the legacies I leave my kids -- for the rest of their lives, when it's time to change the clocks to or from Daylight Savings Time, they will think of me either joyful or sad, depending, the same way I think of my Grandma Moore every time I see a pumpkin pie. She always made a pumpkin pie when we went to visit, whatever the time of year.

Since the clocks are due to turn back, I'm in serious need of cheering up and Kimber over at the Writer's Vineyard has come up a humdinger of a happy -- one that will last for two months, from the first of November until after Christmas, featuring excerpts and give-aways. Now that's what I call a party!

My excerpt is from what I consider the best novella I've written (so far!), "Comfort and Joy," in THE CHRISTMAS VISIT. It's delightful to think even this much of the story will be available again (on November 12).

ETA: The excerpt on my site is not the same one that will appear at The Writers Vineyard.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Points of view

I had an appointment at a financial institution yesterday.

Dear People With Offices With Doors: If the door is open, people sitting right outside can hear you complaining that you're very busy and who set up this appointment anyway???

Also, if the client has short hair, but is named Margaret? Chances are the client should not be addressed as "Mister."

I've always had short hair, so this wasn't the first time I've been mistaken for the male of the species.

I suspect that's one reason why I have no qualms writing from a male POV.

I also suspect I don't find it writing from a male POV an issue because I write historicals. All my characters have different world views and perspectives than I do, regardless of gender, so I'm making a major creative leap whatever character's POV I'm in.

Other writers, I'm curious -- do you think about gender differences a lot when you write?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Skinny dipping in November?

While revising yesterday I came upon a scene that I'd written before I was completely sure what time of year the story was taking place. Now I know, and whoops! Fox hunting season started on November 1.

Now, granted, the viscount in question doesn't live in Canada, and hardy folks wouldn't balk, and I could come up with a decent excuse for him to do that (trying to toughen himself up for the next expedition) but I thought that might give readers pause and pull them out of the story.

What do you think? Go with the skinny dipping and excuse of toughening himself up, or find another way for the heroine to see the hero in all his naked splendor later in the book?

The final decision will be mine, of course, but I'm curious to know what if others would find a character skinny dipping in November too distracting -- and not in a good way.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Excerpt Posted!

I've posted a new excerpt on my website for THE WARLORD'S BRIDE, my upcoming January release from HQN Books.

I have to say, it's one of my favorite bits in the book!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Belt tightening...in a good way

I've lost another half inch from my waistline! Whoo hooo! Soon I'll need to switch belts, to ones I haven't worn in...well, let's just say it's been awhile.

Speaking of belt tightening, I note the cost of this weight reduction program? Zero.

Except in terms of time. I walk about an hour and half every day now (even on the cold, blustery one, which made me feel very self-disciplined and virtuous). That's a lot of time - but when I was taking fitness classes, they were an hour long and it took me at least fifteen minutes travel time to get to the gym. So it's the same amount of time for good results and costing me nothing.

I should probably add some weight work into my day, though. I already have weights, purchased for the aforementioned classes. It strikes me that I could do a little heavy lifting while I'm staring at the computer screen, thinking about what to do next with the story. I'll dig the weights out today and give it a go.

This week's step count:
Oct. 17 - 11,321
Oct. 18 - workshop, so didn't go for a walk. I'm getting pretty good at guesstimating step counts, so I'd say probably about 2,000.
Oct. 19 - 13,097
Oct. 20 - 13,613 (the steepest route)
Oct. 21 - 12,142
Oct. 22 - 8,513 on pedometer, plus another 1,000 or so walking to the concert
Oct. 23 - 12,153

Weight today: 143.2

I fear I won't make my goal of 140 by next Friday, but we'll see. I'm going to reward myself with some Hallowe'en candy anyway. However, whether I meet the goal or not will determine how much.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Eleventh Hour

Still on the TV thing, but a word about the writing: one of the things I have to work on with every book is maintaining the same tone throughout. That's not easy, because my writing's affected by my moods and what's going on in my life. But for my readers, it should sound as if I sat down one afternoon, started to write and didn't stop until it was all done.

This is the single best advantage for those writers who procrastinate (or let their ideas percolate) and then write their books in a white hot, intense few weeks.

I can't do that. I would be a stressed-out mess. So that means I have to work on creating a consistent tone.

Like I said, not too easy, especially when I keep going off on tangents. Seriously, what is up with that? Well, I have a clue, but still can't quite stop myself.

Now, on to The Eleventh Hour, which I watched because it has Rufus Sewell in it. I can't say this is the best role I've ever seen him in. That would be King Mark, in Tristan and Isolde, although he plays a heck of a good villain, too, as he did in A Knight's Tale.

(Note to medieval costume folks: the costumes are in Tristan and Isolde are wonderful and prove you can have pretty medieval women's clothing without making them look like something from Project Runway, as in A Knight's Tale. I had steam coming out of my ears watching that one.)

The trouble with The Eleventh Hour is that it just doesn't seem very original. I know it's based on a British show, but that's not what I mean. It seems too much like other shows out there, about mysterious deaths in small towns, etc. etc.

I'd rate the Mentalist over this one, although I'll watch The Eleventh Hour if nothing else is on because... Rufus Sewell!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Mentalist

While I'm on the subject of TV and because -- oh, happy day! -- the next bit of the manuscript doesn't seem to need nearly as much work as the first three chapters have (please, oh, please!), I'm going to talk about this new show.

First, Simon Baker. I've liked this guy since he was in L.A. Confidential (a movie I love). He's cute in that special Aussie way and when I heard a promo for the show in his native accent? 'Twas swoon-worthy. I think they should have let him keep his accent in the show. I mean, why couldn't he be an Aussie who emigrated to LA? Seriously. I love me that accent.

I thought the premise was okay. Not super cool, but okay. I enjoyed the first episode, although the ending was grim. Reminded me of that show about the ambitious, avaricious guy who slept in a cardboard box (the actor who played Box-sleeping Weirdo is now in Heroes playing Nathan Petrelli).

I missed the second show because...I forgot. Not a good sign. But I caught the next one and it seems they're going to downplay the tragic backstory. I'm not sure that, having set up that backstory, they can really let it go. It's too bad they didn't choose something less gruesome and grim to begin with -- Simon Baker's boyish charm and winning grin might have been a sign that Dark and Heavy might not be the way to go. Also, if folks want gruesome and grim, there's already plenty of that -- CSI in all its incarnations, for instance. And is it just me, or does every cop show now have to show amputated body parts? Enough already!

My verdict so far? I'll keep watching (if I remember), but it's not "must see TV."

Tonight, I'm off to a concert of baroque music. Just so you know I do have other interests besides writing and TV. :-)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crusoe...the good, the bad and the just plain weird

Despite the lure of SEDUCE ME AT SUNRISE (and believe you me, 'twas powerful! Merripen. Oh...my...word. For Kimber's sake, I say no more.), I did watch the new show Crusoe on Friday night, in part because I feel duty-bound to support any "popular entertainment" shows that are even this loosely historical.

Okay, comes the credits and I'm thinking, "Gosh, that guy playing Crusoe is totally the poor man's Sean Bean. Wow, he looks a lot like Sean Bean...oh, my gosh, that IS Sean Bean!"

SB played C's daddy. Sam Neill played C's mentor and I do believe we're going to find out he's really teh evil. Both these guys, combined with the absolutely LUDICROUS contraptions on the island, meant I liked the flashbacks a whole lot more than the "present day" silliness.

Will somebody please explain to me why the folks who make "historical" tv shows (and yes, I'm lookin' at you, too, BBC Robin Hood) think people want to see those stupid machines that are completely WRONG? I mean, seriously. Why? I totally howled at the TV when I saw that thing for going over the river in Crusoe. Scared the cats howled. And then there was ye olde juice maker. Why? Why? Why? It makes the whole show look foolish.

Same thing with the costumes. I don't really think there was a lot of leather strip fashion goin' on, ya know? At least with Crusoe, it looks like it could be real leather. Poor Richard Armitage has been stuck in pleather for three seasons on Robin Hood. I won't even get started on Marion's costumes, lest I start frothing at the mouth.

That said, the guy playing Crusoe was okay, liked Friday (although the third person use of Friday's name is goin' to get old really fast) and enjoyed the Pirate King.

Will I watch again? Maybe, while I knit and if there's nothing else on because...Sean Bean! Sam Neill! I shall simply have to grit my teeth when it comes to Crusoe's resort accommodation. But really, I'm half expecting to see the Travelocity gnome perched somewhere.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Potpourri

The new computer is up and running. Haven't got everything figured out because I'm trying to concentrate more on the revising/rewriting/renovation of the first three chapters, though.

Alas, it's always like this for those first chapters (with rare exceptions) -- write, cut, add, cut, write more, cut, add, cut. I did a quick check because everything I cut goes into a "dump" folder, and so far, with this draft, I've lost 13 pages. I may make it sound as if this doesn't bother me. Well, it does because ARGH. What was I thinking? On the other hand, I consider it a necessary part of the process.

So much has to be done right at the start: introduce the characters in a way that makes people want to read more about them. Introduce conflict and questions, and more than one or two. I have major ones, such as who is the heroine and why is she running away and from whom? to minor (where exactly is Buggy's tattoo?). I have to create the world, so readers want to be there. The other thing I have to try to do is not drive myself nuts in the process.

I didn't get as much done on the weekend as I would have liked because I attended an all-day workshop on Saturday and got Lisa Kleypas's SEDUCE ME AT SUNRISE on Friday. I inhaled that wonderful, wonderful book and seriously thought, in regards to getting to the workshop, "Oh, goody! A nice long subway ride so I can read!

Actually, bless my hubby's heart, he picked it up for me, which is a bit like having your husband pick up feminine hygiene products, I suspect.

I didn't win any of the draw prizes at the workshop. I wasn't surprised. My ticket number ended with 666.

Now off to watch Deep Space Nine. I've given up Law & Order since they're not showing Lenny episodes. I really like the ensemble in Deep Space. Not so keen on Cisco, who seems to feel compelled to make every utterance from the diaphram. Unfortunately, it's on at noon, so it's messing with the writing schedule I've had for several years. I am trying to be like the Borg, and adapt.

Then, walkies! I totally fell off the eating well wagon this weekend, so better step lively this afternoon. While thinking about the first three chapters.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge - holding the course

I fell off the no-drinks-with-calories wagon last night and had a Coke while watching Survivor and reading the latest issue of O magazine. Sadly, this series of Survivor is not very exciting, which tends to happen when one team totally dominates the other.

Despite that and Thanksgiving, dinner out and a few cookies through the week, I'm happy to report that my weight today (pre-breakfast, pre-walk) is 143.6. That's 7.8 pounds down from my starting weight of 151.4 on August 14 -- so eight pounds in two months, or about a pound a week. Whoo hooo! I'm still not sure if I'll make 140 by Hallowe'en, but I'll keep a-walkin' and trying to keep up with my vow to "eat better".

This week's walk count:
Oct. 10 - 12,184
Oct. 11 - 13,402
Oct. 12 - 10,678 (this is the day we went out to dinner)
Oct. 13 - 13,298
Oct. 14 - 12,226
Oct. 15 - 11,053 (this was the day we were expecting the new computer to be delivered, so I didn't go as far, but took the steepest route to compensate)
Oct. 16 - 13,554

When we get the new computer up and running, I'm hoping to figure out how to upload pictures from my walks to add to my Friday blog. I've seen some interesting, beautiful things -- the fall leaves, the lake, deer, a fox, a heron (completely unexpected!), and some lovely houses.

I think I've forgotten to mention the snow sneakers I got from L.L. Bean, so I can keep up the walking in the winter. They're lighter and more flexible than boots, but warmer and with better soles than running shoes. And I knit myself a headband to wear while walking this week, too.

Yep, I'm serious about this walking/weight loss thing!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The kind of review an author lives for...

Or at least, this author! I found a wonderful review for A LOVER'S KISS last night, at a blog called Enduring Romance.

Here's a sample:

"I also love Drury. (Sigh) He is so tortured and deep. Juliette, do I really need to sell you on her? She threw potatoes at the hardened thugs attacking Drury. Potatoes! Her creative solutions are a delight to read. Drury and Juliette together? Fireworks."

It totally made my week!

Read the whole review.

And for anybody who wonders exactly what we mean when we speak of an author's "voice," you can certainly "hear" a distinct, vibrant voice in this review!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not just the blocking....

I did a lot of the cutting and pasting yesterday, but there's still more work to be done, because it's not just about moving the folks and their dialogue. Characters are thinking and feeling different things in different scenes -- or they should be. So when I move bits from scene to scene, it means I have to make sure the thoughts and emotions of the new combo scene fit the new scene. That ain't as easy as it sounds.

I've also decided that there's quite enough talking in the new scene, and it would make more tension if I stopped where I am, and saved the bit from later I was going to use here to come, well, later. Maybe not as late as it is now, but later.

And if you've been wondering why I haven't been putting up my little cartoons, it's because my old computer had so many problems, I've been using Daughter's. But hooray, the new computer has arrived! It will take awhile to get it hooked up and files shifted, etc. but I'll no longer have to worry about the program closing on me!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wish me luck!

I am about to embark on an Epic Chapter Revision, the sort where I take a bit from one scene, another bit from another, a chunk from a third and a whole lot from somewhere much later in the first draft and combine them all to make a new, longer, more vital and emotionally intense scene. Picture me flexing my fingers like a concert pianist about to play something complicated, with brow furrowed and lips pursed.

While thinking, why do I do this???? Every single book, there's at least one major revision like this. I have, in fact, literally cut and pasted pages together until I had the basic scene (that was for VOWS).

This time, I'm hoping I can do it all on the computer, although I did have to go through a printout to figure out exactly what was getting moved and the new sequence. I just didn't cut the scenes apart with scissors and glue them onto other scrap, although I may resort to that.

I'll let you know what happened tomorrow. For now, though, wish me luck! I fear I'm gonna need it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Predicting the future

Kimber asked for my opinion about publishing in a recession, referring to the previous one. Will publishers produce fewer titles? Will the trend be to "lighter" stories? Are there some genres that will do better than others?

These are, unfortunately, the sort of questions that remind me I am not a business person and I don't approach writing from a business/marketing perspective. However, since Kimber asked and I have been thinking about the current economic crisis, here are my predictions:

Will fewer titles be published? I wouldn't be surprised, although electronic publishing may see an increase in readers and need more content. Many people already own computers, so they can save $ downloading books instead of buying paperback copies. Also, people will likely be staying home more, and buying ebooks saves a trip to the store (and money for gas).

I think hardcover sales will suffer much more than mass market paperback, because mmp's are cheaper.

I think those of us who write genre fiction will do better than writers of literary fiction, and not just because our books are produced in a cheaper format. In times of stress, people want escapist entertainment -- notice that Beverley Hills Chihuahua did better than Body of Lies this weekend. However, dark paranormals are escapist, too.

Whatever is popular, publishers will have to be even more mindful of the bottom line, meaning less "wiggle room" for authors in terms of story and character (publishers will stick even more with the "tried and true") and authors will have even less time to build an audience. However, a previously unpublished author whose work they can buy at rock bottom prices may benefit.

I have no idea what sub-genres did better during the last recession. I simply wasn't paying attention. That said, this round of belt-tightening may be the last nail in the coffin for medievals and other struggling time periods, although westerns seem to be on the rebound.

I wouldn't be surprised to discover that stories that emphasize family and community working together through hard times become popular.

Authors will be expected to do even more self-promotion, because the publishers will be looking to save money in that area, too. If Author A can't because they don't have the time or resources, but Author B can, and their sales are similar? Author A could be out of luck for another contract.

Used bookstores should see an increase in business. That means some older titles might be back in circulation, increasing an author's audience. Unfortunately, neither the authors nor publishers make a cent from used books.

OTOH, people might decide to buy a new book in part because they can resell it.

I've been wondering if we'll be seeing fewer people writing because they need a job with a regular paycheck and benefits. Published authors who face shrinking sales and advances may decide to go back to a day job, too. Unpublished writers, therefore, may find they have less competition.

I would expect this past week's book sales to be way down. Having been in a similar situation, I feel for those authors.

But here's one last point to consider: ever since I began writing twenty years ago, the conventional wisdom has decreed that publishing is going down the toilet. The midlist has always been dying. Fewer people are reading. (Actually, I think this one's been around since the invention of the radio.)

Yet books are still being published and somebody's reading them. Despite the fact that the eighties were apparently the glory years of romance and it's all been downhill ever since, the genre is still alive and well.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge...on a plateau

Hmmm....I seem to have hit a plateau. Today's weight is 145.2 -- although this is post-breakfast, pre-walk. Now that the days are cooler, I've changed my schedule so that I walk in the afternoon. So let's give me the benefit of the doubt, and say I'm just below 145.

I also note that I was at a wedding last Saturday that involved the most food I've ever seen at a wedding, and no walking. I also don't dance much, so...not a lot of activity that day. However, there always seems to be something waiting to trap me -- this weekend is our Thanksgiving, meaning white potatoes and pumpkin pie. We're also going out to dinner on Sunday. I'm telling myself if I can maintain 145 and not go up by next Friday, that will be good. Also, I'm going to cut out all drinks in the evening save decaf tea and water till the end of the month and see what happens. I'm not a big water drinker, so I've substituted low-cal juice for pop. Unfortunately, low-cal does not mean no-cal. So it's the decaf tea for me.

In the good news column, though, I can now tighten by belt two notches. Wednesday's walk took me along a route with a steep incline that would have had me huffing and puffing two months ago. This time, I found it much easier. So good things are happening, whatever the scale may say.

This week's walk count:
Oct. 3 - 16,315
Oct. 4 - 0 (the wedding)
Oct. 5 - 10,595 (although along a different route with a fairly steep incline)
Oct. 6 - 13,252
Oct. 7 - 13,176
Oct. 8 - 11,101
Oct. 9 - 12,606 (walked to the mall, some major hillage along the way)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It must be fall...

because I have been overcome by the need to knit. This generally happens when the days shorten and get cooler, and usually I have a project I've been working on for years that I haul out and work on a bit more to satisfy that urge.

So yesterday, I got out my knitting basket and discovered that -- lo and behold! -- I'd finished the scarf I'd been making for a couple of years with yarn left over from an afghan I crocheted even more years ago.

So today, I walked to the mall (only about 8,500 steps -- not as far as I thought!) and got some more wool and a couple of a patterns and a new pair of knitting needles.

Here's hoping I finish the hat before the intended recipient, now a toddler, is through high school....

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pride and Prejudice: The Musical?

Daughter sent me an indignant email the other day, about a musical version of Pride and Prejudice. She thought it was all kinds of wrong.

Now, I used to do a lot of musical theater back in the day and I have to say, I have a totally different take. For one thing, I can totally see a number featuring the Bennetts, a sort of Gilbert and Sullivan-esque song-and-dance. The chorus could do the ball scenes. Lady Catherine De Burgh could do a sort of anthem, like "If I were king of the forest" in the Wizard of Oz. And I can totally see Mr. Darcy singing a song after his rejected first proposals, all haughty self-justification that becomes self-recrimination. I can also envision a fun song for Mr. Collins, and a ballad from Elizabeth and Jane when they think they've lost Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy.

So sorry, Daughter, but yes, I think Mr. Darcy could so sing. I would draw the line at having him tap dance, though.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

When contests really work....

I have mixed feelings about writing contests. I think they can be worth it if you get good feedback, but I also fear they reward the conventional and might discourage writers who haven't been in the business of writing long enough to understand that a contest judge can be wrong. I never entered any before I sold, preferring to send my work directly to folks who might, you know, buy it.

Which brings me to a contest that, if you were aiming to write for Harlequin Presents, would be worth entering, because hey! They're buying the winner's book.

And apparently, I just cannot not blog. However, the first scene of THE VISCOUNT'S KISS is now in pretty good shape. Whoo hoo!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A little inspiration...

I found this in a book I'm reading when I'm not actually working on my own book these days (WRITING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN by Henriette Anne Klauser -- more on that when I've finished it):

Biting my truant pen,
Beating myself for spite,
"Fool!" said my Muse to me,
"Look in thy heart and write."
-- Sir Philip Sydney

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge - maybe not pounds, but inches!

Today's weight, pre-breakfast and pre-walk - 145.2. However, I'm fairly certain that will drop below 145 after my walk. So...not a big loss but there was another birthday this week, with cake leftovers (forgotten by the folks who were supposed to take it and save me from temptation), a Coke and white potatoes and rice. I truly believe white potatoes are the equivalent of a big fat piece of pie for me.

But here's a great result, regardless of what the scale says -- I've lost at least an inch around my waist! Whooo hooo! (There's no point measuring anywhere else -- that's where all the excess goes on my body.)

Tomorrow, a wedding. Next weekend is our Thanksgiving, which means pumpkin pie and more white potatoes. However, between those two days, I should be able to follow my mantra -- eat better.

The walk count for this week:
Sept. 26 - 11,801
Sept. 27 - 13,017
Sept. 28 - Word on the Street, so I wasn't wearing my pedometer. Nevertheless, I'm getting pretty good at estimating steps now, so I think I did at least 3,000. Still, not a lot.
Sept. 29 - 16,607 - This walk was along a path created by the city and I went right to the end and back. There had been drainage problems, but they've taken steps to address them, to which I say, "Yeah for my tax dollars!" Since I'll be attending the wedding tomorrow, I'll be doing this walk today. I was going to take a more steep walk, but it'll be too wet.
Sept. 30 - 13,245
Oct. 1 - 13,291 (which has led me to conclude that without purposefully taking a long walk, I only do about 3-4,000 steps, even on a busy day)
Oct. 2 - 10,226 (I went out for lunch and to do a little shopping, so probably about another 500 more)

I'm encouraged that my simple plan is working, and here's hoping I can lose another pound between now and next Friday!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Blog Break

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every time you thought you'd have time to work, something would interfere? Welcome to my world! Unfortunately, I'm also starting to stress about my deadline, and since, in my case, creativity and stress are not good bedfellows, I'm taking a break from blogging (except for my Friday Weight Loss Challenge check-in) until I've got THE VISCOUNT'S KISS back on firm footing.

In the meantime, Daughter found a great site. It will make you laugh, it will make you cringe, it will make you think your own typos aren't so bad....

fail owned pwned pictures

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sincere or Scam?

Recently I received an email. It was a request for an autographed book for someone's ailing sister, supposedly one of my "biggest fans." I was very busy this month, so I didn't immediately respond.

But that wasn't the only reason for my hesitation. There were certain things about the email that made me wonder about the sincerity of the request. For one thing, there was no mention of anything in the email that made me think the person in question, or her sister, might truly be familiar with my books. No mention of titles the sister had enjoyed, or indeed, anything specific at all. It felt very generic.

In spite of my reservations, once things had calmed down around here, I responded that yes, I would send a book.

Then I mentioned this request to another writer friend of mine and learned many authors have received the same email from the same person. Today, I did a Google search and discovered that many, many authors have received this email.

However, I also discovered a comment to a blog from the person making the request, stating that she's real and her sister really is ill.

Here's the thing:

While Letter-writing Sister's heart may be in the right place, she's made this request of so many authors, she's made it feel like a scam. Whatever her motive, it sounds as if she's simply found a way to get her sister "free" gifts, exploiting the good will and pocketbooks of authors.

Will I send a book? Yes, but the next time I get such a request, I'll be asking some questions before responding.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Great Review I Almost Missed!

First, thanks to everyone who came to see me at the Harlequin booth at Word on the Street!

Also on the weekend, I discovered a fabulous review for A Lover's Kiss from In the Library Reviews. Unfortunately, it went into my spam folder -- I almost missed it, which would have been seriously too bad because it's a wonderful review.

My favorite bit: "...as with every Margaret Moore book, the journey is as exciting as the destination!"

I'm also going to add this quote on the home page of my website: "Margaret Moore continues to craft tales that cause readers to sigh in pure enjoyment."

Read the entire review.

What a great way to start the week!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Word on the Street


Gad, I've been so busy revising my blog, website and MySpace page, I completely forgot to mention that I'll be signing FREE copies of A LOVER'S KISS at Word on the Street in Toronto tomorrow, Sunday, Sept. 28. If you're in the city, come on down and say hi and grab some free books! Fellow Harlequin Historical author Kate Bridges will also be signing at the Harlequin booth. I'll be there from 12:15 to 1 p.m. and Kate starts signing at 1.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge - a little backsliding

As I suspected, I gained back a wee bit of weight from the party last Saturday. I simply cannot resist Rice Krispie Squares, and we had some left over, too, that I was forced -- forced, I tells ya! -- to consume. I also treated myself to a Coke and chips and dip last night, for the Survivor premiere (which I have to say, was not the best, I don't think). However, today the scales tipped at 145.2, so not too bad.

My walk count for last week:
Friday, Sept. 19 - 11,029 (prepping for the party, no other walk)
Sept. 20 - didn't record, but was on my feet most of the day
Sept. 21 - ditto, except was on my butt most of the day, recovering. I did go for a short walk in the evening, though.
Sept. 22 - 13,057
Sept. 23 - 14,092
Sept. 25 - 13,018

In addition to the usual birds, squirrels and chipmunks, this week I found myself within about 15 feet of two beautiful deer. I was just walking along and there they were, behind the fence on somebody's front yard.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The redesign continues...

After spending a couple of hours yesterday on the redesign of my blog and having to redo it after I hit the wrong key and lost it all and then not getting everything back or completed before going out to a concert, while also realizing I wasn't ready to get back to the manuscript because I was still fatigued from the exertions of the last two weeks during which I didn't write, I decided to take the rest of this week to complete my redesign of my blog and also my website.

And apparently compose a very long sentence.

While part of me is guilty that I'm not working on the manuscript, the other, wiser part of me knows that sometimes, forcing the creative part of my brain is not the way to go, not when I have other things that are also weighing on my mind, and that are less dependent on my imagination. So this week, I'm letting my left brain do the heavy lifting.

Here's a fun test to see if your left brain or right brain is more dominant. Interestingly, when I went here after starting this post, the right brain was dominant. After I did some more searches on the subject and went back, my left brain was. I took another test and it determined I use both sides almost equally, the right brain being slightly more predominant. So I suspect that immediately after writing, my right brain is more dominant. After doing something more logical and detail-oriented, my left brain is.

I'm a switch-hitter!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Cover, New Design

ETA: I'm back, I've revised, and yes, it took me longer than I thought, in part because I lost all my changes at one point. Oh, the frustration!

But on to THE WARLORD'S BRIDE. From the back of the cover:

The beauty...and the beast

Lady Roslynn knows not what to expect of her future husband, the infamous "Bear of Brecon." Offered in marriage to the powerful Welsh lord by the king, Roslynn fears the worst. She has no right to hope for a love match, but in her heart the lady dreams of a home and family of her very own....

One look at Lord Madoc of Llanpowell makes her blood run hot. The rugged warrior proves a passionate lover and attentive husband -- but too soon turns cold and aloof. And when secrets from Madoc's past threaten to take him away from his bride, Roslynn knows their future together is at stake. Can she uncover the truth beneath her warlord's armor and lay siege to his heart?

Coming from HQN Books, January, 2009

ISBN #978-0373-77348-0

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Books!

Harlequin is having a buy two-get one free sale, so if you missed the start of my King John series, or any of the subsequent books, now's your chance to get them all, and one for free. And that's not all -- you can get A LOVER'S KISS, too!

Go HERE.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge...oopsy

Now that I've survived hosting the Annual Euchre Championship of the Entire World...

I should have worn my pedometer, because I don't think I sat down more than 45 minutes all Saturday.

As for the step count the other days, beginning with
Friday, Sept 12 - 13,274 (I also washed windows, so had a "reward" coke)
Sept. 13 - 5, 526 (this was the day I co-hosted a shower, so didn't wear the pedometer once I got ready for that.)
Sept. 14 - 15,768
Sept. 15 - 18,844 (did my daily walk, then also lots of shopping for the party)
Sept. 16 - 8,868 BUT I realized late in the afternoon that because of the slacks I was wearing (I think) the pedometer was only recording about 2/3rds of the actual steps, so I think I was probably over 10,000
Sept. 17 - 7,597 (I didn't go on my long walk, because I had too much to do.)
Sept. 18 - 8,339 (ditto the no long walk)
Sept. 19 - 11,029 (again without the long walk, which tells you how much running around I was doing getting the house ready and cooking)

Today, I weighed in at 146.0 after my walk. Ugh. But I let myself eat and drink whatever I wanted on the weekend. Today, it's back to the better eating.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weight Loss Challenge - new goal

My short-term goal is not to gain more than a pound over the weekend, during which there will be much feasting, talking and playing of cards.

My next longer-term goal is:

140 by Hallowe'en.

If I make it, then I can have some candy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Which brings us to...the end.

Of my plotting blogs for this week.

Best advice I've ever gotten about endings? From Gayle Wilson (I'm paraphrasing here):

What is the one thing your character would never do at the beginning of your novel? That is what he or she should do, or have to do, at the end. For instance, if your character would absolutely never forgive the person who done him wrong at the beginning? Guess what he should do at the end. If she would never get in a boat because of a fear of water because she almost drowned as a child? Guess what she should have to do at the end to save the hero.

I consider this one of the best pieces of writing advice I've ever received.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Middle

(This is an abridged version of a plotting handout.)

A common problem for many writers is the "sagging" middle. You have a great set-up and a great ending, but getting from A to Z turns into a muddy morass. The pace slows, the characters seem to be wandering around doing a lot of navel gazing or rehashing issues... What's an author to do?

* Add complications and conflict. Don't settle for one internal conflict, or one issue. Ditto the external conflict. Let your characters solve some problems, then add new ones.

* Make your characters active --
There are two kinds of action your characters can engage in: physical and mental. Physical action is, of course, things your characters do with their bodies, such as running, walking, eating, making love.

Mental action is just as important, and the most important mental action your characters can take is to make decisions.

decision = action = reaction = decision

With every decision, the stakes should get higher, the decisions more difficult.

* Make sure things don't happen just TO your characters, but BECAUSE OF them.

* Reveal motivation and back story gradually, at different times and places. This is why you don't put it all in the beginning -- these revelations can keep your story going in the middle.

* Your characters should be reaching new levels of intimacy, physical and emotional.

* The consequences of the conflicts become more serious, whether physical (risk of bodily harm) or emotional (a broken heart).

* Be careful with flashbacks, because they disrupt the flow of the narrative and can really mess with your pacing. Note I'm not saying never use them. Sometimes they're great and necessary. Just be aware that they can cause pacing issues.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In the beginning....

(This is an abridged version of a plotting handout.)

The beginning of your novel should:

* Engage the reader: You want your reader interested from the first line. I prefer to use "engage" rather than the more commonly used "hook" because I think it can lead to a problem -- see my next two points.

* Bear in mind the tone and pace of your story. Don't think you have to grab your readers by the throat and drag them into your story; a gentle invitation can work, too.

* Don't start off one way thinking you will grab your readers' interest, then switch the tone of the story. In other words, if you start off with a gun fight or other action-packed opening, your reader's going to expect a really fast-paced, action-packed book. Don't then switch to a character-driven, emotionally intense story with a lot of introspection. Otherwise, you'll wind up with a lot of unhappy readers.

* What do you do well? Description of setting? Dialogue? Lead with your strong suit.

* Introduce the main characters: who are they and why should I care? What makes then interesting and unique?

* Create the world: time, place, special qualities, details, dialogue, dialect (use sparingly so as not to distance the reader)

* Identify the enemy: internal (characters' inner conflicts that work against the relationship) and external (the external reasons the relationship seems doomed)

Just a few little things, eh? :-)