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 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. 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