Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ebook bargoon!

THE WARLORD'S BRIDE is on sale for 50% off in ebook at eHarlequin.

They're also giving away free books to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Harlequin/Mills & Boon at a new site set up for the purpose,
Harlequin Celebrates.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge - new step record

Well, I gotta say this about winter -- it makes for some tough walking when the way isn't plowed, and that has to burn up more calories, right?

Today's weight -- 139.6 WHOOO HOOO! Now, I've made this weight before, pre-Christmas, so it's taken me a month to get back to that. I'm hoping it's onward and upward (downward?) for the next little while. I have a couple of birthdays in February, but I think two pieces of cake won't be too bad. It's not like the nearly constant offerings of sweet temptation over the holidays. I hope.

And I hit a new record in number of steps, achieved by walking for two and a half hours in -20 C. weather (that's -4 Farenheit). Bit brisk by the lake and see above re the tough going, but it was sunny and I felt I'd been cooped up too long.

Also, my friend got me one of those exercise balls for Christmas. I definitely feel I need some toning, so I started working with that in addition to walking on the treadmill. Boy, I sure felt it! So I'm not doing too much yet with that. I hope to do more every week. And this weekend, I'm increasing the slope of the treadmill. There's also more snow in the forecast, so more shoveling.

This week's step/treadmill tally:
Jan. 23 - 1 hr. on TM
Jan. 24 - I hr. on TM
Jan. 25 - 20,527 steps (!!!!)
Jan. 26 - 1 hr. on TM
Jan. 27 - 1 hr. on TM, plus exercise ball (first time I lifted the thing with my feet while lying on my back, I dropped it and smacked myself in the face)
Jan. 28 - 14,705 (in a blizzard to pick up my nephew at school) plus I shoveled 3 times
Jan. 29 - I hr. on TM, 10 leg lifts with eball, 10 leg/arm lifts with eball (to work the abs -- and boy, did it!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Harlequin Insider

eHarlequin has something new. It's like an electronic newsletter that can be delivered to your computer daily.

I was going to install this, but we've got a new computer and the hubby (aka Mr. Computer Guy) is away teaching other Computer Guys computer stuff, and my computer didn't seem to be responding as per the directions, so I thought I should wait until he's within call in case something should go awry.

If you're interested and more tech savvy than me, go here.

On another note, I was singing the praises of winter yesterday. That was before shovelling snow three times and a two hour walk to pick up my nephew. In a snowstorm. With the snow blowing into my face. After that, I was thinking a sunny day at the beach would be a lot better.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Man Winter

Before I get into what I like about winter, I've added a new post about a case that's chock-a-block full of good story ideas over at Story Seedlings.

I suppose the first thing I should say is that winter is not my favorite season. I'm not a big fan of cold. But there are things I like about the season.

I like shoveling snow at night. It's quite, it's peaceful, it's got a sort of meditative quality.

Snow shoveling is cheaper than a gym membership. All you need is a shovel.

The walking paths may be bumpy, but there aren't a lot of folks with big dogs, either. I walked for two and a half hours on Sunday and only met two groups of dog walkers with their dogs off leash. Now, as a rule, dogs don't bother me, but when the dogs are large and's a bit of a concern.

When you hear a bird sing in the dead of winter, as I did this morning, it's a thrill. When you see four cardinals in your backyard, so red against the brown branches and white snow, it's a treat.

Hot chocolate.

The beauty of undisturbed snow in a forest. Many of my walks take me through ravines and wooded areas, and it's stunning.

So while I may not like having to put on layers of clothes and the short days, there are things to love about winter in Canada.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ebooks - not so e-z

Recently I was talking to somebody in the digital production department of a major publisher who pointed out to me that making an ebook from a print book is not simply a matter of taking the same file that the production department uses and hitting "save as" in a different format.

It's true the ebook folks get the book when it's "publication ready" -- the editor's read the submission, revisions have been made, the book's been line edited and is considered "good to go" for printing.

But that's just where the ebook work starts.

The text has to be converted, and no, it's not simple. It requires coding. That takes time and money, whether it's done in-house or contracted out.

When the converted text is finished, it has to be proof-read, checked and tested by the publishing house and errors corrected. As somebody who does her own website, I can tell you this can be time-consuming. It can be difficult to find a simple error that has nevertheless totally messed up the page.

If there are extra links involved, this means finding the material to link to, including the new code in the text, and more proof-reading and testing.

In addition to these costs you have the cost of hosting, testing the site at large and updating.

There are also costs for advertising and promotion online.

In other words, it's a lot more labor-intensive and costly to produce an ebook than one might think.

That said, I don't think an ebook should be more expensive than print, but now I can understand why it would cost the same.

Monday, January 26, 2009


After writing my last Story Seedlings post, it occurred to me that it could illustrate one of the key things any author has to learn - where to focus or channel his or her story-telling efforts. When you first start writing, it can be like you've just walked into a department store. Everything looks appealing! It's all so shiny and new! And some areas are clearly shinier than others, but maybe, less obvious, are the areas where the real finds are. How's a fledgling author to know where to go?

If you've read any of the Story Seedlings blogs, you'll notice that I approach a story focusing not so much on the "what" (plot) as the "who" and "why." In the latest example, for instance, I don't first wonder about what was in the trunk that John Lee was attempting to steal, but the coachman who was a witness and how he described events. Only later do I wonder what might be in the trunk (a plot point), but even so, I'm also thinking about why John Lee would want to steal it.

This tells you I'm very much a character-oriented story teller.

If your first thoughts about a similar event are to wonder what's in the trunk and how it got in the boot of the coach in the first place, I'd suspect you're a more plot-oriented writer.

As for what might be in the trunk:

If your first notion is that it might be a body or body parts, sounds like you might be a mystery/suspense/thriller writer at heart. If it's money, I'd say suspense and mystery.

If you think it might be something like racy lingerie or erotic literature, or something that could be used to further a sexual relationship, erotica or very sexy romance might be your forte.

If it's some kind of cursed object, or a talisman that invokes a fantasy world, paranormal and/or fantasy would be what you should probably be writing.

Because I'm all about the people and I like to write romance, whatever is in the trunk would be something that would either bring a couple together, if the attempted theft is at the start of the story, or threaten to destroy the relationship, if it happens at the end. If it's in the middle, it can do both -- bring them together but also be something that could lead to trouble later on. But because I write romance, whatever is in the trunk itself isn't as important to me as how it's going to affect that primary relationship.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quite a character...

I've written a new post at my Story Seedlings blog. I thought today's case on Old Bailey Online was only giving me a good idea for a character, then discovered I was wrong.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge - Birthdays be bad

I haven't used my usual graphic for the Weight Loss Challenge post because yet again, birthday cake (and other assorted treats) have caused my weight to rise again. Last week, I hit 140.6 and this week, pre-birthday, I was excited to see 138.6 on the scale. I haven't been 138 pounds in years.

Then came the birthday, and with it, a day with no real exercise, although I did more than 5,000 steps. And back up I went, so that this morning, I tipped the scales at 141.2. Now, this will go down during the day -- I'm my daily lightest after the walk/treadmill -- but still! ARGH! And yet, seeing that 138 was a big boost. I had to weigh myself twice to make sure I was seeing correctly and then did a little happy dance.

This week's step/treadmill tally:
Jan. 16 - 1 hour on TM
Jan. 17 - 1 hour on TM, plus snow shoveling
Jan. 18 - 1/2 hour on TM, shopping (that's walking!), snow shoveling
Jan. 19 - 1 hr. on TM and I decided that, at the middle of the TM workout, I would walk as fast as I could for ten minutes, to up the intensity
Jan. 20 - 1 hour on TM
Jan. 21 - Birthday celebrations, 6,368 steps
Jan. 22 - 1 hour on TM

It's supposed to be sunny, but cold, on the weekend. As you can see, I haven't been out walking because of the weather, so I'm hoping to go for a long walk on Saturday or Sunday. And no more cola! It is the devil's brew when I'm trying to lose weight.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Heavenly Evening

Last night we were at a wonderful concert by Tafelmusik, The Galileo Project: The Music of the Spheres, celebrating the International Year of Astronomy, particularly the 400th anniversary of the development and use of Galileo's telescope. Did you know his father was a professional musician? Neither did I. It was a great show - I heartily agree with this review.

Fun highlight? The Astronomical Drinking Song, composed around 1800. Read the lyrics here.

Other fun fact? I may be the only romance writer to dedicate a book to an astronomer, Dr. Geoffrey Clayton.

And in a "hey, cool!" moment, I'm pretty sure I was sitting behind noted Canadian actor R.H. Thompson.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Writing with Joy

Like a few million other people, I watched the inauguration of President Obama yesterday and came away inspired.

But it wasn't the president's remarks, as fine and uplifting as they were, that inspired me. It was watching Yo-Yo Ma play. He looked so full of joy, and it came to me that this is a man who totally, utterly loves what he does.

Later, as I was writing, I realized that I feel that kind of joy when I'm writing. Whatever else is going on (and trust me, there have been moments when life has not been a bowl of cherries), I feel happy when I write. That's something all too easy to forget when the business throws me for a loop or I get a lousy review, or something unsettling happens in my personal life.

So I'm going to keep that image of Mr. Ma in my mind, and when something happens that upsets me, I'm going to remember that writing makes me happy, the way playing the cello delights Yo-Yo Ma.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Story-tellng Bonus

I've discovered a pleasant bonus to my Story Seedlings blog. By doing little exercises in story creation more frequently, and even if I don't actually write a story based on anything in that blog, practice, while not making the process perfect, is certainly making it easier.

So it strikes me that this sort of exercise could be beneficial to every writer. If you're not interested in historicals, what about using advice columns in your local paper as a source of story ideas? Or The Ethicist columns in the New York Times Sunday magazine. Every letter there comes with an internal conflict. And does that column "Can this marriage be saved?" still exist? Even if you only do this once a week, I think it'll help crease the wheels of the story-developing portion of your imagination.

In other exciting news, THE VISCOUNT'S KISS doesn't need any revisions. Whoo hoo! Waiting for word on a completed manuscript is always like holding your breath.

Another whoo hoo: stepped on the scale yesterday and - weeee! - 138.6! The Treadmill of Power does it again. And giving up the cola seems to have almost immediate effect.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just to show...

that you can glean a story from a relatively minor crime, today's post over at Story Seedlings is based on a case of property damage, specifically the unlawful cutting down of a tree.

In other news, I learned the hard way that it's best to keep the room with the treadmill cool. Talk about working up a sweat!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge - Oh, Noes!

So I step on the scale this morning and yikes! I have gained! 142.6. ACK!

I blame the Five C's of Catastrophe: candy (in the form of home-made fudge), cookies (I have reminded my husband to please, please, please, only get the cookies I don't like -- yes, he does the grocery shopping), cola (I don't drink diet) and the two that I really believe go together, carbs and cold.

I crave carbs when it's cold out, and here's my theory: deep in the primal region of my brain, it says that when it's cold, I need extra fat to keep warm. (What? Sounds like an excuse to you? I am shocked and appalled you would even suggest that! I mean, what other reason can there possibly be????)

Bottom line: no more fudge (it's finished anyway, so that's an easy call), finish the cookies and no more, cut back on the cola, and watch the carbs. Last night, for
instance, I had two pieces of buttered bread with the pasta. I didn't need them; I just wanted them. Ooops.

Step count/treadmill tally:
Jan. 9 - 1 hour on the treadmill (TM for short)
Jan. 10 - 1 hour on the TM
Jan. 11 - walk, 16,275 steps plus snow shoveling
Jan. 12 - 1 hour on the TM
Jan. 13 - 1 hour on the TM, plus snow shoveling
Jan. 14 - visitors arrived unexpectedly
Jan. 15 - 1 hour on the TM

This coming week, I have a birthday celebration, but otherwise? I'll be trying to do better. I missed a day of exercise, because of unexpected visitors, but after feeling like a shut-in with the cold, they were more than welcome.
funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

(I wish some of the calories had leaked out of the fudge!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Laughing keeps you warm...

Need a laugh? Check out this video on YouTube.

From the Typewriter to the Bookstore: A Publishing Story.

Hee hee hee!

New Story Seedlings Post

I just added a new post to my Story Seedlings blog.


I was sorry to learn of the death of two of the men who are partly responsible for my career choice, Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan.

I was a fan of Star Trek in my formative years, and Ricardo Montalban's Khan was one amazing character, what with being completely alpha and the ponytail and all. Sadly, he was evil -- but talk about yer proto-type villain-who-could-have-been-a-hero. And as a writer of historical romance, I love the storyline of that episode, where the ship's historian (huh???? but who cares!) falls in love with a guy from the past. I mean, it's like the football star noticing the nerdy history-lovin' girl.

In the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, which I think was one of the better Star Trek films in no small part because it was based on an actual episode, he was still a great villain -- an excellent example of the bitter villain with a grudge. And then there was that costume. Oh. My.

Patrick McGoohan also passed away yesterday. All the obits are mentioning his role in The Prisoner (that blob thing gave me the complete heebie jeebies), but it wasn't that role that influenced this writer. It was his role in a Disney film.

In The Three Lives of Thomasina, PM plays a bitter vet whose wife has died. His daughter has a cat, named Thomasina, who narrates the films. Thomasina is injured and the dad decides she must be put down. The kids stage a funeral. The cat goes to an Egyptian-themed Kitty Heaven -- then back to earth when Thomasina is found by a woman who lives in a stone cottage in the woods and who's reputed to be a witch with mad healing skillz. Because she's the local holistic animal healer, the vet takes exception and sparks fly. Later, the girl sees Thomasina (who's had kitty amnesia) and runs after her in a rain storm. She gets very sick and might die. The dad's beside himself, and either sends for or allows the Holistic Healer to help. Girl recovers, dad and HH get married.

I got the video of this just about as soon as we got a VCR. I'm going to dig it out today and watch it as I treadmill.

What was it about these actors and those roles? Well, I note that with Khan and the vet, they're playing bitter men with chips on their shoulders (one has lost his empire, the other his beloved wife -- although Khan also loses his beloved wife). Those characters aren't exactly unusual. I think what made these actors stand out was the way they showed that their characters were seething with emotion, yet keeping their emotions under control with their iron will.

I often write heroes who are like this - men who are passionate, emotional beings, but for reasons that depend on each individual character, are determined not to show it. They want the world to perceive them as tough, cold, unfeeling...and it takes a strong, interesting and somewhat stubbornly persistent heroine to break through.

So I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for both actors, who surely had no idea of the influence they were having on a little Canadian girl.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good day to work at home...

This is the kind of day that makes me glad I work at home. It's frickin' freezin' out there!

So it's the treadmill for me today -- although I suspect my body is thinking, "Wait a minute! You need that fat! Don't you know it's frickin' freezin' out there???" -- after I input my changes to the JaStoWriWee work. Surprisingly, there were no big moves of information, just some cutting, and I'm still not quite sure about some things. It's always tricky finding a balance when the story is a sequel. How much of the other story do you include?

I approach it this way: How much does the reader of the new story, who hasn't read the previous one, have to know? If it's not essential, I cut it out. I never assume a reader has read any previous books, but I also don't want to bore readers who have with a lot of repeated information, which tends to take the form of unnatural dialogue ("Say, Jim, wasn't that the time you almost drowned in Lake Heavy Symbolism and were rescued by a moose?") or "info dumps" anyway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to Boston!

I just booked a flight to Boston at the end of March, because I'm presenting a workshop at a conference put on by the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America. My workshop is entitled "What Lies Beneath: Adding Layers To Your Characters and Conflicts." You can read more about it here.

The trip from Logan International Airport to the hotel promises to be either (a) expensive and/or (b) an Amazing Race experience. I'm going a day early, so if I can't find somebody else who's going to be going to the conference on the same flight, I may very opt for the Amazing Race version. Just because, you know, why not? It'll make for some fun anecdotes, like the time I was trying to get a conference in New Jersey during a torrential downpour after the person who was supposed to go with me left without me and I wound up sharing a cab with a mother and sick child. Now that was a memorable trip!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - SEE IT

We saw an absolutely fantastic movie this weekend, Slumdog Millionaire. Set in India, it's simply...well, amazing. Great romantic story, interesting characters, well-made, wonderfully acted, funny, tender, exciting, suspenseful, and although it doesn't pull any punches about life in modern India (I had to look away at one point), uplifting and truly one of the best films I've ever seen.

I don't want to spoil anybody's enjoyment, so I'm giving no details of the plot. If you want to know more, check out the The Internet Movie Database. Then go see it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

JaStoWriWee - Final Day

Well, I made my goal -- and then some! I was hoping to get about 15,000 words done and finished with 18,602. I was aiming for seven scenes and wrote ten.

I could really get into the no-revising-till-I'm-done-the-draft concept. It was quite liberating and I have to say, I was amazed at the free time this method gave me. Yep, I wrote two full scenes a day and actually wound up spending less time working. How did that happen?

When I was finished the second scene, I stopped. I didn't go back and revise. I made a few notes, but that was it. Indeed, I didn't spend any time revising, except maybe to go back and add something in the scene I was currently working on.

I didn't stop to look anything up or find a name if I realized I needed one. I just used a place holder, like WHATEVER.

When I sat down to start writing, I read only the little "running start" I'd written the day before -- no going back and re-reading the entire previous scene.

I'm sure there will be things I want and need to cut and seriously revise in these scenes, but giving myself permission to put that off until later? Wow.

The other thing to bear in mind, though, is that this was the start of a project. Not the middle. Not the end. I think that makes a big difference, because the middle is the really tough part of writing a book. That said, I'm interested to see what kind of beginning I've got, and just how much will get cut and/or moved around. I'm fairly certain a lot of the first two scenes will bite the dust, at least. That's normal for me, though.

Do I think my JaStoWriWee experiment was a success?


Would I do it again?

Yes. Definitely, at least for a week. I'm not sure about doing it for a whole month, though. I have written at that rate (and greater) but it was under duress. At the time, I put my unhappy state of mind down to stress, but I've since decided I simply can't push my imagination at that pace and be happy. Also, I didn't have any other obligations this week. I don't have a month without any obligations.

But if I get the chance to have another week like this? I'll take it!

Weight Loss Challenge - first week of 2009

So, how did my Weight Loss Challenge go for the first week of '09? Pretty good, considering I still managed to have some cookies, cake and -- my vice -- Coke (the drink, not the drug!).

My weight on Jan. 2 was 143.0 pounds. Today, it's 141.2, so I'm on track, I think.

Here's the step/exercise tally:
Jan. 2 - 45 minutes on the treadmill
Jan. 3 - walked, 13,620 steps
Jan. 4 - 1 hour on the treadmill
Jan. 6 - walked, 15,514 steps
Jan. 7 - 1/2 hr. on the treadmill, shovelled snow three times (!!)
Jan. 8 - walked, 5,274 steps plus 1 hour on the treadmill

The treadmill is, I think, the more strenuous workout, but if it's sunny and not too windy, I'm walking. I'm really enjoying getting out-of-doors, even in the cold.

Just to reiterate my new challenge - it's 135 by the end of March. My reward? Another new outfit (although I still have yet to get one for meeting the last challenge).

Thursday, January 08, 2009

JaStoWriWee Progress Report - Day Four

Another day, another two scenes written.

Scene 7 - 9 pages, 1832 words
Scene 8 - 6 pages, 1164 words
Plus running start on Scene 9 - 3 pages, 394 words

bringing my total thus far this week to 68 pages, 14,792 words.

I figure I now have two more scenes to write, but tomorrow should see me reach where I wanted to be in the story and with this experiment. It's been interesting, to say the least!

What else have I done today? I wrote another Story Seedlings blog, did an hour on the treadmill, walked to the store, cleaned the stove (well, okay, set it to clean and opened a window!) as well as the usual tidying up. Now I've got dinner in the oven -- and oh, the irony! I'm making a chicken dish that seriously splatters, as I realized after I'd started.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

JaStoWriWee Progress Report - Day Three

I got my two scenes finished, shoveled the snow twice, did half an hour on the treadmill and am now about to go make some comfort food, mac and cheese, from scratch.

Scene Five - 11 pages, 2949 words
Scene Six - 6 pages, 1419 words
Total Page Count: 52
Total Word Count: 11,402

Pretty good for three days, I think.

I note I'm keeping to the usual, longer scene in the morning, shorter one in the afternoon. I almost forgot to get a "running start" on Scene Seven. I'd even turned off the computer. But I turned it back on and wrote 152 words, so I'm prepared for tomorrow.

I'm going to do at least eight scenes before I reach the story goal I wanted to get to with this. However, I'm sure there's some serious trimming to be done with the beginning. I tend to tell too much at the start, sort of like revving an engine before you start driving.

some cool news

And I'm not talking about the snow I've already shoveled today.

The ebook edition of THE WARLORD'S BRIDE is being featured front and center at Fictionwise and eReader. Pretty neat!

And a brief JaStoWriWee update -- this morning, I wrote Scene Five, thirteen pages, over 2,000 words, after shoveling snow. I'll have to shovel more later, so no walk today. Perhaps a half-hour walk on the treadmill, though.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

JaStoWriWee Progress Report

What did I say? There's always the unexpected to throw one's schedule off the rails. Today, it was a couple of phone calls, but fortunately, they came after I'd finished my writing for the morning.

This morning, I wrote Scene Three, 11 pages, 2704 words. Then came the calls, then I took a two hour walk because although the temperature was below freezing, the sun was shining, started the stew for dinner, then wrote Scenes Four A and Four B (because they're short) for a total of 5 pages, 1206 words. I also got started on Scene Five, for 354 words. So today's word count is 4,264; combine that with yesterday's and in two days I've written 7,236 words. Not too shabby.

I'm also noticing a pretty obvious trend: I write longer scenes in the morning, when I'm more energized.

Also, and unfortunately, my back started to hurt. After I got back from my walk. Which isn't that unusual for me, and I think it's a posture problem. However, I'm doing lots of stretching and no "extra" blogging today, so hopefully all will be well come the morning.

Dousing with cold water

I'm one of the few who has yet to see the movie Titanic from start to finish. Why not? One of the clips I saw before it opened struck me as a scene so far-fetched and implausible, I was afraid I'd sit there scowling.

Which scene? The bit of the mother reading to her two kids as the water's rising.

Now, granted I am no expert in human behavior, but I could only envision a different reality -- when the fight/flight response kicked in. And it wasn't a bittersweet vision of a mother and her two kids having any kind of peaceful death.

My dad, who rarely goes to the movies, did see Titanic. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He knows from the North Atlantic and its water.

His response: that water would be so cold, there's no way anybody would be rushing around in it. And they had leather-soled shoes, which would be so slippery, they'd be falling all over the place.

In other words, it wasn't only those who actually fell into the ocean who'd have frozen to death in that cold, cold water. Between falling and frozen feet, many wouldn't even have been able to make it to the stairs.

That would have meant a lot less drama in terms of the film, though. How many narrow escapes did Jack and Rose have as the water was pouring in? More than one. In reality? They probably wouldn't have been able to get very far at all.

This dance between reality and drama is something that historical fiction writers have to wrestle with all the time. Facts will get altered or changed for the sake of drama. How much is too much?

As long as it's clearly labeled "fiction," I think that's up to the author. But it is a decision we face, and one that isn't always easy.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Progress Report

It's now 4:15 p.m., and I've just finished writing the second scene of the day in my JaStoWriWee (January Story Writing Week). Here's my progress thus far:

Two scenes written. The first scene was nine pages, 1833 words. The second five pages, 1139 words. I'm not surprised the second one is shorter. One has a lot to do in a first scene. I suspect I've told too much. On the other hand, I have described almost nothing.

I discovered that if I don't want to go back and reread the previous scene (which with this particular challenge, I don't), I should write a bit of the new scene immediately after I've finished the previous one, before I take a break. Otherwise, I have no sense of what went before and have to regain the momentum.

It's weird not going back and editing, but very liberating, too.

I've also done an hour on the treadmill, made a couple of calls, started spaghetti sauce from scratch, and written a new blog post over at Story Seedlings. Murder by hedge clippers -- in 1717. And we think we live in violent times!

We'll see how JaStoWriWee goes tomorrow. I think it helps that I'm coming off a week where I didn't do much of anything except try to get over a cold.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Getting Ready....

Today, I'm getting ready for my Week o' Work, my own mini-NanoWriMo, wherein I'm going to see if I can get between 10,000 and 15,000 words written and in some kind of decent shape in a week. I've written under pressure before because I had to; this time, it's because I want to, so it's already feeling different -- less like a horrible chore and more like just a challenge.

Before I embark on that challenge, I'm preparing. Yesterday, I got out my handy dandy file cards and wrote brief notes for each of the scenes I hope to write. At present, I've got seven -- there may or may not be an eighth. I figured out where to start and in whose point of view. That sounds simple, but trust me, it was not.

The plan is to write two scenes on Monday, two on Tuesday, two on Wednesday, one on Thursday, print it up and revise on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, input changes on Friday afternoon and see if I've got something basically acceptable.

I'm also preparing in another way -- I'm doing laundry today and getting a few secretarial tasks out of the way. I'm reading material to remind myself of the who and where of the story. I'm preparing a blog ahead of time for Tuesday, on a subject that comes up often when you write historicals -- the difference between the way it really was and the changes writers make for dramatic effect. And I'm going to bed early. I've had a cold all week, and while it wasn't a bad one, I could use a good night's rest.

So, don't look for a blog first thing tomorrow. However, I hope to check in tomorrow night and every evening to let you know how it's going. And since exercise is part of the plan, look for my regular Weight Loss Challenge post on Friday.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New blog and new weight loss challenge goal

I decided I didn't have enough to do (snort), so I started a new blog yesterday. It's called "Story Seedlings." After nearly twenty years in the writing business, I can safely say the question I get asked the most is "Where do you get your ideas?"

Like they're just lying around someplace and I stumble upon them. Or as if I have a magic formula (take one part old TV show, one part research, mix and voila!).

But the "finding" of an idea -- the first initial spark of a story -- isn't really the tough part. Not by a long shot. Indeed, that spark can come from an old TV show. Or a bit of research. The hard part is taking that initial idea and spinning a 400 page novel out of it.

So what I decided to do was take a potential idea source -- Old Bailey Online (link in my sidebar), which provides an "on this date" feature showing the transcript of an actual case tried at the Central Criminal Court in London -- and demonstrate how I'd take the basic information and start creating a story.

As I note over at Story Seedlings, I'm not sure yet how often I'll be doing that. I'm not quite sure how my time is going to be divided this year, as there promises to be several family issues/events to deal with. But what the heck. I've been toying with this notion for a long time, so decided to go for it. I can't say I'm thrilled with the template/layout I've chosen, so I'll probably play with that a bit today.

I'm also going to continue my weight loss challenge. I expected to gain some over the holidays, and alas, I did -- I'm now at just over 143 pounds again. I didn't walk as much as before, but if I didn't walk, I tried to use the treadmill for at least half an hour. I think there were only two days I didn't do either.

And it's a testament to the Treadmill o' Power that my friend, who used to instruct aerobics, finds it "tough going."

Here's my current plan: I'm eating and drinking everything I want to -- Christmas chocolate, cookies, etc. -- until Monday. Whatever I have left on Monday goes out of the house. And my new weight loss goal? 135 by the end of March.

I haven't been writing, but plan to start on Monday, with an experiment in seeing just how much I can write if I approach the first draft like NaNoWriMo, trying to get as much done as I can in five days or, I hope, two scenes a day.

Here's the (planned) schedule:
Take this weekend and outline. Starting Monday, write one scene (7-9 pages) in the morning, break for lunch and exercise, do another scene of similar length in the afternoon. No editing, no revising, no research.

I am, however, well aware that nearly every time I make a plan something crops up to mess with it, so I won't be surprised if that happens this time, either. Still, with fingers crossed, I'm off to revise the Story Seedlings look and start outlining.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Way cool widget!

Is Harlequin on the ball or what? Check out the way cool widget for THE WARLORD'S BRIDE now in my sidebar.

I've also added a page of what I'm calling "web extras" for THE WARLORD'S BRIDE on my site, which includes links to such things as areas where the book is set, so you can see pictures, and videos of sheep gathering and shearing the old fashioned way. There's info about King John and the Plantagenet dynasty, too.