Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Like most folks at this time of year, I've been busy with preparations for the holidays. And like every year, I seem to think I'm going to find time to write, only to discover that between the shopping, wrapping, baking and many phone calls, my writing time dribbles into nothing. I'm also trying to walk to keep off the holiday pounds. I haven't been completely successful at that, either, but I did get out yesterday and took these pictures.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Victorian Farmhouse Christmas!

I'm very excited today because TVO (TV Ontario) is showing a wonderful BBC program, Victorian Farmhouse Christmas, tonight at 7 p.m, and at the same time for the next two Mondays. It's not just that the show is interesting and informative. The three people who lived for a year as Victorian farmers and farmer's wife are fantastic. Ruth Goodman is so enthusiastic, it's catching. The two men, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn, are equally good. And it doesn't hurt that Peter has more than a bit of Oliver-Reed-in-his-prime thing going on. (I write romance - I notice these things.)

If you ever get a chance to see the whole series, by all means, do. It's fun, informative and makes you appreciate how good we have it in modern times. I enjoy history, but I wouldn't want to live it - although this series makes me think it would be fun to try, if only for a week or two!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Planning Ahead

Although I'm not currently blogging, I am collecting articles and thinking about topics to blog about in the new year. If there's a topic/question you think would make an interesting blog post from me, let me know!

In the meantime, here's another sunset picture from our most recent visit to The Land That Time Forgot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Next Few Weeks

I'm going to be devoting myself to my writing and Christmas preparations for the next few weeks. Blog posts will be sporadic. I'll probably be tweeting more frequently, so feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I'm WriterMargMoore.

In the meantime, here's a picture of our cat, The Count, I call Waiting for Santa:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My Writing Challenge - the conclusion

So this turned out to be the last day of what was originally a twenty-day writing challenge, to end on Thursday, the 18th. My goal was to write ten pages a day for twenty days, for a total of 200 pages. Alas, events conspired against me, so I missed some goals. However, a couple of other things have cropped up that make this a good time to stop. What did I end up with?

I wrote five pages this afternoon, and 929 words, so my final totals for the challenge are:

173 pages, 36,601 words.

If I'd done ten pages today, and ten the next two days, I would have made my goal. But I'm not disappointed. I'm delighted with 173 pages. That's more than enough to give me a good start. And it turns out I should stop here for two other reasons:

1. I need to do more research before I can continue. I need some practical terms and especially more information for the setting.

2. I got grabbed by another idea last night, and when I say grabbed, that's pretty much exactly what I mean. This idea came to me so strongly, I had to write notes. Of course, that happened just when I should have been going to bed. I made notes, then went to bed. Then turned on the light to make more notes. Shut off the light. Turned on the light to make more notes. Turned off the light. And again. And again. Heaven only knows what the neighbors might be thinking. But I honestly could not sleep for the scenes popping into my mind. I tell you, there is nothing more exciting about being a writer for me than this.

I think this experience is directly tied to the challenge. It got my imagination pumping and the ideas flowing. And that's a wonderful thing.

Here I am in Sirmione. I gather this is quite the tourist mecca in summer, but it wasn't very crowded when we were there, on a beautiful, sunny day in October.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing challenge - Days Fifteen and Sixteen

When I originally began this writing challenge, I wasn't going to write on the weekends. Those would be chore-and-rest days. However, given that my 20 Day Challenge is going to end early (either tomorrow or Wednesday), I wrote 7 pages, 1555 words, on Saturday.

I had a great writing day today, but alas, my aching shoulder is reminding me that I shouldn't push it.

Today's totals:

A.M. - wrote 9 pages, 1,804 words
P.M. - 4 pages, 961 words, for a daily total of 13 pages, 2765 words.

Total so far:
168 pages, 35,672 words

I don't think I need to say where I am in this picture. :-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - Days Thirteen and Fourteen

Yesterday was one of those "what happens when you're self-employed" kinda days. I had a commitment in the afternoon. After I'd started writing in the morning, I got a call to say, nope, don't need your help after all. So I slowed the pace a bit and took a break, only to get another saying, "Oops! Need you after all." So I did a bit more writing in the evening, but didn't quite make my goal. I had better luck today, in part because I always write faster when it's not a love scene.

Thursday's totals:
9 pages, 1966 words

Today's tally:
A.M. - 7 pages, 1685 words
P.M. - 6 pages, 1028 words for a daily total of 2,713 words

Totals so far:
155 pages, 32,907 words

Here I am in Siena. Must remember this fella if I ever write a boar hunting scene again....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why I won't forget

This is my dad, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He did his basic training at CFB Cornwallis.

This is a photo of me at CFB Cornwallis about thirty years later.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Formerly 20 Day challenge - Day Twelve

Having another commitment this afternoon clearly spurred me to have a productive morning - 10 pages, 2101 words, which means I made my daily goal between 9:34 and ll:45. I took a couple of short breaks in there, too.

So yes, I can write more than 10 pages a day if I have to. If I'm under the gun (and I have been), I can do 20. However, I pay a price for that kind of writing, in stress and in physical pain (shoulders and back). I've resolved to never again get to the point where I have to write that much in a day to meet deadlines.

I know there are some writers who write at least eight hours a day and think anybody who works less isn't as dedicated to their craft. I'm dedicated to my craft, all right, but I'm more dedicated to achieving a life/work balance that works for me.

It absolutely poured when we got off the boat in Capri. It stopped raining as we made our way to the spectacular Natural Arch (that's where I'm headed here). Then the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day - one of the best days on our trip, in fact. Here are pictures of the Arch, one approaching and the other looking through to the ocean below.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - changing the ultimate goal

Once again I am reminded that self-employed people have to learn to go with the flow. Due to circumstances beyond my control, involving a family obligation and a work obligation I wasn't expecting, I'm going to have to change my ultimate goal for the 20 Day Writing Challenge. Instead of writing two scenes a day for 20 days, I'm going to have to simply try to complete the next group of five chapters (2 scenes each) before November 19.

That said, because I'm already over my projected page and word counts so far, I may make the original goal of 200 pages and/or 40,000 words. Or I may not.

The thing is, even if I have to alter my plans and change my goal, I'll still have a really good foundation to build on, and that's the major reason I set myself this challenge. So despite the picture, I'm not really "malcontenti."

Here are the details from today:

A.M. - wrote from 9:33 - 10:24, 7 pages, 1338 words

P.M. - wrote from 7:35 - 8:04, 3 pages, 838 words (which I wouldn't have done if not for the challenge)

Totals so far:
122 pages, 26,127 words

Friday, November 05, 2010

20 Day Writng Challenge - Day 10, Writus Interruptus

I had a great writing today - 15 pages, 3,318 words. However, this was another day when I was reminded that freelance writers are not in complete control of their schedules and the best-laid plans should have some built-in wiggle room.

I just got some proofreading to do. Right in the middle of my 20 Day Challenge. Now, some people might do both, writing new material and proofreading old, but that's not the way I roll. It gets too confusing and since this is my last chance to go through HIGHLAND HEIRESS, I don't want to miss anything.

However, I had planned to take weekends off and I'm ahead of my goal, so I may not have to veer too much from my Challenge plan. Hopefully I can get the proofreading done by Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest, and then carry on, although that means I won't be able to take next weekend off, either.

Nevertheless, it's not such a terrible problem that my whole Challenge is thrown out of whack. It's just...a bit of a bend in the road. Fortunately, I do have that wiggle room.

Today's details:

A.M. - wrote from 9:49 to (egad! forgot to make a note - I think about 10:50), 9 pages, 2015 words

P.M. - wrote 2 pages and 426 words from 4:44 to 5:06 and 4 pages, 877 words from 7:21 to 7:55.

Total so far:

112 pages, 23,951
Where I wanted to be at the end of Day 10: 100 pages, 20,000 words, so yep, I have some wiggle room. Thank goodness!

I'm standing in what was a wine shop in Pompeii.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Writing Challenge Day Nine - Revision Decision

Although I lost lots of time attending a Twitter webinar and then organizing my followers into lists, I made my writing goal for the day and a little bit more.

See, this is why I set myself these challenges, or why I'd do NaNo if it was convenient. It makes me get my butt in the chair even on days I have a good excuse not to. It also makes me turn off my inner editor and keep forging ahead, if at all possible. Today, for instance, I made a major decision about the sequence of events in this project. However, instead of going back and reworking it now, I'm making a note of what needs to be done and carrying on as if I'd made the changes. I'm comfortable with that because experience has taught me that, as I found yesterday, what may seem like a good decision today may not tomorrow.


A.M. - wrote from 11:35 - 12:28 (late start due to webinar), 6 pages, 1486 words
Didn't exercise, but did do lots of housework and some yard work, too.
P.M. - wrote from 7:45 - 8:36, 5 pages, 889 words

Totals so far:

97 pages, 20,633 words (so I made my weekly word count goal already! Whoo hoo!)

Here I am in Monte Cassino. You know, I paid about $5 for that scarf (on sale) that also doubled as a shawl. One of my better buys, I must say!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Writing Challenge Day 8 - a squeaker

I didn't quiiiite make my page count goal today - but I did make my word count goal.


A.M. - wrote from 9:32 - 10:39, 6 pages, 1190 words
P.M. - wrote from 4:20 - 4:54, 3 pages, 840 words, for a daily total of 2030 words

Totals to date:
86 pages, 18,285 words

As I was finishing this afternoon, I thought about changing the next scene, then realized, nope, the first idea was the better idea. Sometimes, it goes like that.

Also, company's coming for dinner, so if I weren't challenging myself this week, I probably would have written this morning and called it a day. That's one reason to engage in a challenge, even if I set the parameters and the only prize is a sense of accomplishment.

Here I am near Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - I can't count!

Well, duh. Yesterday was Day Six of the 20 Day Challenge, not Day Five. So today would be Day Seven. Now that I've got that squared away....

My dishwashing experiment seems to be panning out (ha!). I had two good ideas while washing the dinner dishes last night.

Which meant another good writing day today. I also went for a walk to deposit a royalty check. Writers of single titles and "literary" fiction can turn up their noses all they want at category romance, but I'm still getting royalties for my first book. A WARRIOR'S HEART was first published eighteen years ago.

Details of today's work:

A.M. - wrote from 9:15 - 10:31, 7 pages, 1665 (including a few added to a scene from yesterday)
P.M. - wrote from 2:50 to 3:27, 4 pages (for a daily total of 11), 889 words, for a daily total of 2,554.

Totals to date: 77 pages, 16,255 words

Here I am at the Pantheon. And now you know why I called these my "goofy pictures" in Italy.

Monday, November 01, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - off to another good start!

Week Two and Day Six of my 20 Day Writing Challenge started off well, even though I was puzzling and puzzling over how to start the first scene of the day. Once again, I simply had to plunge in and write something to get it going. That meant I went back a bit to tinker before I even finished the first page, but not enough that I would call it revising. Then it was full steam ahead. I finished with 12 pages, which is actually one scene, not two short ones. I took a long break for lunch, exercise and to watch a great old movie (some of it while on the treadmill) called They Live By Night. That is an absolutely terrible title for what turned out to be a poignant, suspenseful film about a guy trying to go straight and the girl who loves him. There was also a secondary character with a great internal conflict, and it was this character's predicament that was partly why it was so affecting.

Here are the details of today's writing:

A.M. - wrote from 9:08 to 10:17, 8 pages, 1628 words
P.M. - wrote from 2:30 - 3:21, for 4 pages (I went back to the end of what I'd written previously and did some necessary clarification before continuing)

Totals since the start of my Challenge: 66 pages, 13,701 words.

Obviously, I'm not waving here. I'm tossing a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en!

This is our goodie basket, all ready for the little ghosts and goblins and pirates and Mantrackers (saw a kid going to school dressed as him, I'm sure). This year, we're trying something different - lots of what used to be "penny candy" instead of the usual getting-smaller-every-year chocolate bars, although we have some of those, too. How long has it been since I've had SweetTarts? Too long!

I also did something a little different for decor, inspired by fabric I found at Fabricland for less than $5 a meter. I made a Hallowe'en door curtain.

We'll be carving a pumpkin, of course. That isn't nearly as fun when you don't have little kiddies to "help," though.

And may I just add that I find pumpkin-carving templates an abomination? I'd much rather see a poorly-carved but hand-done pumpkin any day. Or the obviously-done-by-young-children headstones made out of plain cardboard that are decorating a neighbor's yard, bearing names like "R.U. Scared." That gave me one of the biggest smiles of the week.


Friday, October 29, 2010

20 Day Writing challenge - end of Week One

I made my goal - and a little bit more! Yeah!

Today's details:

A.M. - wrote form 9:42 - 10:37, 9 pages, 1331 words. I also went back a page and did some minor revisions, because I realized there should be more conflict at the end of the previous scene. I deleted 113 words and added 107.

Broke for lunch, treadmill, making chili for the weekend and some craft work

P.M. - wrote from 3:06 - 3:30, 2 pages, 530 words. Why so little? Maybe it was getting up so early yesterday, or two days on the treadmill, but this afternoon, I was bushed! Nevertheless, I did write and here are the week's totals:

54 pages (goal was 50), 11,259 words.

I didn't start with a word count goal this week. However, I believe I'll add that to the rest of the 20 Day Challenge, so it will be 10 pages a day, for a total of 50/week, and a weekly word goal of over 10,000 words.

If you've been noting how much time I've spent at the computer this week, I imagine a lot of you are thinking, "Huh? Is that all?"

Yep. Because here's the thing: I've learned the hard way that if I push it, especially with a first draft, my brain eventually freezes. Or my imagination just kinda goes on strike. However I describe it, it means writing becomes a real chore, and that's not good.

Also, a first draft can be more mentally draining than any subsequent draft. Even with an outline, I'm making constant decisions and I'm also feeling my way along in terms of the characters, who I don't know really, really well yet. Also, while I may not be sitting at the computer for a long time, I'm doing a lot of thinking about the story at other times.

Oh, and bonus - doing the dishes by hand isn't onerous at all. I point out again I'm just talking dishes for two here, but I'm actually enjoying not having to empty the dishwasher.

So, that's one week down, three to go!

Here I am outside our hotel in a suburb of Rome.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge: Day Four

It's amazing what one can accomplish if one's day begins at 5 a.m. That was the case for me today. Not that I planned to wake up that early. One of the cats woke me up by leaping from the tall dresser onto the bed. Then deciding I would make a nice soft place to sleep.

However, it meant I did get a lot accomplished, although I also took time to watch most of Tremors - while on the treadmill, though!

The details:

A.M. - wrote from 9:05 - 10:01, 6 pages, 1394 words. I don't start work before 9 because of newspaper reading with hubby and Breakfast Television. What can I say? I like the early morning City TV crew.

P.M. (after lunch, Tremors and treadmill) - wrote from 2:20 - 3:05, 6 more pages, 1145 words, for a daily total of 2,539 words.

Total page count so far: 47
Total word count to date: 9,398

I also started my third craft project. The first is nearing completion, the second is going faster than I thought, so I took the time to start a third.

It's Margaret in Assissi!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - good day to have some wiggle room

As I expected, getting ahead of my goal paid off. I didn't get as much time on the computer today as I have the past two days. I did make my ten pages, but barely, and eight of those were in the morning.

Here are the details:

A.M. - wrote from 9:30 to 10:09, did four pages and took a break to make notes for next bit and get a coffee, wrote again from 10:30 to 10:54, for another four pages that included a surprise plot development. I mean it was a surprise to me, too, as I hadn't planned it. Love it when that happens!

In the afternoon, I walked up to the local thrift store and scored a vintage Pyrex bowl of a design I've never seen before (I'll post a picture another time), another interesting glass bowl and a big basket for the Hallowe'en candy. Then I raked leaves and did some work on a craft project. I certainly made my 10,000 step goal and then some.

Then it was early dinner, as my husband is off to a basketball game with our son, so I didn't get to the computer until 6:14. However, as I'd been raking and making dinner and working on a craft project, I realized I'd made things much too easy for my characters, so my work was in the form of minor revising to add more conflict, which came out to two more pages or 403 words. I stopped at 6:36 because I still have dishes to do (still doing them by hand) and company's coming, but then I made more notes, because I've realized I have to make some significant changes to the plot for the next three chapters. Specifically, I'm ditching something that was kind of cliched anyway, and going for more emotional conflict instead.

Total page count for the first three days of my 20-Day Writing Challenge: 35
Word Count: 6,859

Here I am waving in Urbino.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - still going strong!

Another good day for my Writing Challenge! Best of all, I made it through the wedding night scene. I freely admit those sorts of scenes are the most difficult for me to write, because they require a delicate balance between the characters' physical and emotional activity.

I also made my walking goal today of over 10,000 steps. I did that yesterday, too, so whoo hoo. Although I did cave and buy some mini-Tootsies, which are now way back in an upper cupboard.

Here are the details:

A.M. - wrote from 9:42 to 10:43, 8 pages, 1647 words (also took a short coffee break in there, to get a coffee and think about the story for a bit)

P.M. - wrote from 2:51 to 3:34, 4 pages, for a total of 12 for the day and 2535 words. That makes my total page count 25 to date, and word count 5,236. So I'm five pages ahead of my goal. Yeah!

Toughest part of the challenge so far? Not checking the Television Without Pity Hoarders forums before starting to write. A main reason I watch the show is for the TWoP forums afterward.

ETA: I forgot to mention that instead of writing two scenes today, all twelve pages were one scene. I may have to forget the idea of doing two five-page scenes a day and just see what happens.

Here I am on the battlements of San Marino.

Monday, October 25, 2010

20 Day Writing Challenge - off to a good start!

I made my goal and then some today, which feels great. It's always nice to have a little "wiggle room" in case there are days something comes up and I don't meet my goal.

Here are the details.

A.M. - started at 9:30, wrote until 10:10, 8 pages, 1646 words

P.M. - started at 1:53, wrote until 2:33, 5 pages (for a daily total of 13)

Total word count for the day: 2701

I also made notes, did the dishes twice, voted in the municipal election and went for a walk.

So, I'm off to a great start! And I'm pleased with what I've written so far.

Here I am in Venice.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prepping for OctNoWriMo, aka the 20-Day Writing Challenge

Another look at my calendar has made me alter my plans for OctNoWriMo a little (already!). I now realize I won't be home on Nov. 19, which was to be the final day of my OctNoWriMo challenge. So, because being a writer often means you have to roll with the punches or otherwise adapt, I'm changing the nature of my writing challenge a bit. Instead of thinking in terms of weeks (writing two scenes a day, or ten pages, for five days a week for four weeks), I'm calling it a 20-Day Writing Challenge - same number of days, but with the acknowledgment that I won't be able to take three entire weekends off. No matter. I'm good with twenty days.

That's the thing about a self-imposed writing challenge - you can alter it. And you can make it comfortably doable, as I have, or you can make it a little more challenging by upping the ante. If you're comfortable writing ten pages a day, aim for twelve or fifteen. However, this depends on your reaction to failure. If it's really going to bother you if you don't make a goal on a particular day, even if it's a self-imposed goal, maybe you should go with the comfortable challenge. I do because I get my butt in the chair and the thrill of accomplishment without making myself feel bad if I fail (even if failure in this case is only in my own mind).

Regardless of how one divides the time, to accept a writing challenge, even or perhaps particularly, one that is self-imposed, requires some preparation. How much depends on your own life and comfort level. Here is mine:

I'm getting my house in order this weekend - cleaning, tidying, doing the laundry, so I can get by with minimal chores during the week. I'm clearing off my desk, so that all that will be on it is the basics: file with notes, laptop, pens, paper, lamp.

I've written scene outlines for the first five days, and have more basic outlines for where I'll be going for the next three. I've decided that when I take a major break (either on weekends or other days off) I'll print and reread what I've written up to that point from either the start of the challenge or the last break. I will make notes, but I will NOT go back and revise, because this is the heart of NaNoWriMo and my own challenge for me - not to see how much I can produce, but to turn off my inner editor. Nevertheless, I may realize I've headed down the wrong path, or have otherwise made an error, and I should make notes on how to fix that before proceeding. If I can't figure out immediately how to fix it, I'll just note that I've got a problem and carry on with the next part of the challenge as if the problem has indeed been fixed.

OR I may decide I do need to do some rewriting before I carry on. No matter. If I must rewrite a scene, I'll consider it part of my page count for that day. After all, I'm making up my own rules here, and sometimes you really can't proceed until you've taken care of an issue in the story, or you wind up even farther off course later.

I've selected character names. This may sound simple, but it may not necessarily be so. I have to feel good about a name, that it's adequate and sounds right. It's especially important for the main characters, but I feel the same way about secondary characters, too.

Today I'll be opening up files and setting up chapters. No big deal, but should save a bit of time every day.

One thing I should add: As always, I will be making short notes after I finish each scene before proceeding to the next one. They may be about minor changes/revisions to make later, or about the next scene.

I see the weather may curtail my walking goal. If the weather's inclement, I'll use the treadmill instead.

And I'm going to try a couple of new things. I'm going to try reading through my notes for the next day's scenes before falling asleep. I know some authors do this when they have a problem to work out with their story or characters. I want to see if it helps me with the next day's work.

And I'm going to go back to washing dishes by hand for the duration of the challenge. Why? Because I used to get some good ideas doing that sort of menial task. (I point out that's dishes for two - not nearly the same work as dishes for a family of three, four or more.)

So, there it is. My goal is to write two five-page scenes for twenty days without major revising, ending on Nov. 18. By the end of the challenge, I should have 200 pages, more than enough to have a good start on my writing project.

Of course, as is usually the way, having set out a plan and as noted above, life has already conspired against me. I feel a cold coming on. But hey, if I have to spend a day doing nothing more than sitting on a couch wrapped in an afghan, sipping tea and wiping my nose, well, I've planned for that, too, with the breaks.

Oh, and as a bit of fun, I'll also be posting pictures from our trip to Italy last year. Every place we went, I had my husband take a picture of me waving, so when I blog about the daily goal (met or missed), I'll include one of my waving pictures. The first is from the Coliseum in Rome.

See you tomorrow for the first report of my 20-Day Writing Challenge.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

OctNoWriMo, or Adapting When Necessary

I've blogged about participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. National Novel Writing Month is, basically, a way to make a writer get his or her butt in the chair and write a novel in a month. I consider it a great way to jump-start a project, and since I'm at a good place to do that, I decided to participate in an unofficial way.

However...life being what it is, November is starting to get booked up already. (And I must say, I suspect November was chosen as National Novel Writing Month by a man. Or somebody who isn't American. Because while I'm not an American, I'm sure for many American women, November is the Month of Preparation for Thanksgiving, so not a lot of spare time. But I digress.)

Since November is getting busy, I've decided to start NaNoWriMo early, making my own OctNoWriMo. My goal is to write 2 five-page scenes a day for four weeks. Unlike official NaNoWriMo calculations, I am not going by word count. I'd rather think in terms of scenes. If a scene is over five pages, then I'll go with ten pages for the day.

A couple of things to note:

I'm not including weekends. I may choose to write on a weekend, or I may do laundry, etc. Or I may find I need to rethink my outline, or do some research. And a break day may turn out to be Wed. instead of Sat. Basically, I'm allowing myself a two-day break. Again, this isn't the way official NaNo works, but if there's one thing I've learned in my career, it's that I don't have to do things the way everybody else does.

I have a cleaning lady who comes every two weeks. That means I have tidying up to do before she comes, but not the heavy lifting. Believe me, I appreciate this.

I don't have school-age kids at home. (Sigh.)

I'm including time to exercise and cook dinner in my schedule, which will hopefully look something like this:

read the papers (I read two a day)
check (brief) outline, write one scene
check email, tweet progress
go for walk (or go for walk, then lunch, depending on when I finish the scene)
write second scene
check email, tweet, blog progress
make dinner
the rest of the evening is mine to enjoy

We'll see how this goes, but if all goes well, I should be well on my way with a project by the middle of November. Of course there will have to be revisions, but I think most writers will agree the real grunt work is the first draft.

Stay tuned for daily progress reports, starting Monday.

ETA: I'll be blogging about my preparations for OctNoWriMo tomorrow.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Reticence in the digital age

I hear a lot in the media about the lack and/or loss of privacy in this age of social networking. To be sure, more and more people seem unable to do anything without telling everybody they know and complete strangers about it. I was occasionally distracted at the So You Think You Can Dance show by the woman texting beside me.

However, I suspect there may be more than a few people who have had a reaction I've had to all this information overload, at least in terms of what I share about my career and what I'm working on. I'm much more reticent now about that sort of thing now than in the past because you just never know where that information might wind up.

Of course, there's always been a certain amount of risk if you shared information with others, but whereas before it might get passed from one person to another over a long period of time, now it can be emailed, posted and tweeted.

Frankly, that kinda gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not that I think folks are that terribly interested in what I'm up to, but still, better safe than sorry.

So while social networking has made me more accessible and approachable on a personal level, on a professional one, it's made me play my cards much closer to my vest.

What I learned from Alex Wong

I was at the live So You Think You Can Dance touring show the other night. Aside from enjoying the dancing, which was great, one thing really struck me.

If you're not a fan of the show, you may not know who Alex Wong is. He's a ballet dancer who was doing really well, clearly a favorite, who unfortunately suffered a major injury and was forced to leave the show. He was such a fan fav, however, that they (rightly) included a tape of one of his most popular dances from the show, a hip-hop number featuring Alex and another primarily hip-hop dancer who goes by the name of Twitch.

So here was this classically trained dancer doing something really foreign, and yet...he was absolutely fantastic.

And as I sat in the audience and watched the tape on the big screen, I realized why.

The man absolutely throws himself, body and soul, into what he's doing.

Alex Wong gets out of his own way.

There is no sense that he is thinking about anything other than the dance - not himself, not the audience, just the character and the dance.

As a writer, this is something I need to do, too. Silence the inner editor and especially the inner critic. Just throw myself into the writing and let myself go.

Or, to put it another way...get outta my mind!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's wrong with being alone?

Yet again, I read another article about boomers and retirement that said, basically, you ought to have lots of friends as you age. I get the basis for this, but what if you're used to spending chunks of time alone? What if you like it that way?

I am not exactly an introvert, or the shy, retiring type. However, I also like spending time alone. I've been this way since childhood, when I could happily spend hours reading.

And I don't think I'm the only person who finds the company of some people much more stressful than being by myself. There have been times when I thought living in a cave somewhere would be bliss.

Some people thought I was going to totally freak out when my kids moved out. I can't say I like the empty nest; I do miss them, particularly in the evening. But it's not as if I wasn't used to the silence and solitude of an empty house. I've been working in an otherwise empty house, in silence, for many years now.

In a nutshell, I like silence and solitude.

I like seeing my friends and family, too, and as I said, I do get what all this talk of a social network when you're aging is about and why it's good. But I'm happy spending time with just me, myself and I, and I don't think that's going to change.

Nor, do I think, should it.

Speaking of being alone, here's a video of the waves on the beach I took the last time I was there. All by myself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back from the beach

We were very fortunate to have wonderfully warm weather for our long weekend. I was back at the cottage, enjoying the weather, working on the garden (the crab grass has taken serious hold, so I'll be doing more crab grass eradication in the spring) and cooking a turkey. Mmmm...turkey....

Now it's time to get back to work. I have some tentative projects I need to think about, and I'm planning on participating in National Novel-Writing Month. Not officially, though. That's a little too much pressure. I do need some (a deadline), but I'd rather just be my own task-master. Before I get started, I want an outline, or two, if I decide to go with a couple of shorter projects instead of the first, very rough draft of a novel.

But before I get into the work, here's a picture I took early last Sunday morning. I saw the beautiful clouds and hurried to the beach to get a better look.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where have I been?

Actually, I've been at home. So why haven't I been blogging?

Well, for one thing, it's harvest time, so I've been making scads of tomato sauce and applesause and am still freezing vegetables.

I've been doing some research reading and trying to get back to walking, which is pretty time-consuming, actually.

I've also been watching the new TV shows and deciding which, if any, I'll continue to watch. So far:

Lone Star: The producers are apparently trying to blame the fact that this show is up against Dancing With The Stars to explain its dismal showing. I have another reason, after watching the premiere episode. You can try all you want to make me sympathize with a character, but as long as he's deceiving two women, I'm not gonna. Simple as that, end of the show for me.

Blue Bloods: Dear Tom Selleck: You are not 25 anymore. Please stop dying your hair. You'll look fine gray. Despite that distraction, I was enjoying this until the end with the whole Blue Templar thing. If my brother was killed by some secret conspiracy, I don't think I'd be too anxious to get myself killed, too, by going undercover. And how's he supposed to keep that under his hat when his whole family is in law enforcement? I can't suspend my disbelief quite that much. And if it's this or the new Sherlock Holmes? No contest.

Law and Order LA. Okay, here's the thing. I get that the whole notion of the show is "ripped from the headlines," but when the story is THAT similar to what's on the entertainment news I flip past? I'm not impressed. If you want to go with "true stories", why not dig into old Hollywood for inspiration, something that we don't hear/see every week whether we want to or not? How about something similar to the Fatty Arbuckle story? Or Lana Turner's daughter's trial? Still, I'll watch this again, just to see if they stop trying appeal to the youngsters with the stories. If not, though, I will mourn the loss of Lenny even more.

Hawaii 5-0. Just not my cuppa. Despite the attempt at a serious undertone, it's still too light for me to take it seriously, or make me want to watch it.

The Whole Truth: Way too "jumpy choppy" for me.

The Event: I'll say this for them, they didn't keep us dangling with who/what the 97are. Unlike Lost, which I gave up on, I feel there's a hand at the helm that actually has a plan. I'll watch again.

While I'm on the subject:

Survivor - Whoo, way to talk yourself off the island (or land mass, as the case may be), Shannon! I think Jimmy J. was actually relieved to be gone and didn't try too hard to stay.

The Amazing Race - Somebody who has never even heard of Stonehenge? I just...I can't...I have no words. On a sympathy note, those roundabouts are tough to figure out. When we went to England, our daughter was dubed Roundabout Girl, because it was her task to figure out which exit we should take as we were going around (first, second, third, etc). Without her able assistance, we might still be there, going 'round and 'round.

Now it's back to blanching/freezing/reading/walking with me! Just FYI, it's Canadian Thanksgiving on October 11, so I probably won't be blogging until after that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Love sunsets? Me, too!

I went for a walk last night and remembered to bring my camera. Here's the sunset from the beach.

Earlier in the day, I read a synopsis that I wrote about 18 years ago. And you know what? It's still got potential. Well, I guess I've always thought so, or I wouldn't have kept it. But I think the time has finally come to see if it's got "legs."

Which just goes to show, if you come up with a story you like but don't have immediate plans for it, keep it! I have another idea that's been kicking around for about 10 years and...it's staying on the computer, too.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When you least expect it....

So I go to the cottage, hoping to have some quiet time to start some new projects, only to discover that the water heater is leaking. On a Friday night. Fortunately, the folks had a couple of plumbing contacts in the area, so I was able to get someone out that evening. Turns out the water heater needed to be replaced. That meant disconnecting and removing the old water heater, so I had no hot water all weekend, leading to an unforeseen journey to the Olden Days, heating water on the stove to wash dishes. And the neighbors were treated to the unexpected object d'art on the deck.

The sunny side? Couldn't do any laundry.

Fortunately, the plumber was here at 9 a.m. Monday morning with the new water heater.

I haven't enjoyed a shower so much in a long, long time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is it too late to become a dentist?

I was at the dentist's yesterday for my regular check-up. My dentist and some of his dentist pals travel once a year to a place lacking dental care and tend to patients for free. Last winter, they went to Mongolia, where I gather the poor guy just about froze to death. This year? It's Fiji - or, more precisely, the second-largest island in the chain including Fiji.

Because, out of 130,000 people who live there, not one of them is a dentist. Yep, not a single dentist on the island.

So, if you know anybody who wants to (a) be a dentist and (b) live in the South Seas, you might want to give them the heads-up.

It's almost enough to make me want to be a dentist....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reimagining a Classic

I often bemoan the fact that Hollywood seems to be relying on sequels or remakes or re-working of classic stories. Can we have something original, please?

But then, along comes something that blows my theory out of the water, and it sounds like there's going to be a theory-destroyer on TV this week - a reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, set in the 21st century. I learned about it through the local TV critic's column. (Read it here.) You can bet I'm going to be watching tonight.

And while I'm mentioning the critic, whose name is John Doyle, let me just add that his columns are wonderful - entertaining, informative, often tons of fun, but also serious when the occasion requires. I've often thought that if I had a child who was just starting to have to write essays, I'd suggest they read his columns, because often, that's what they are.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What do you give a 90 year old?

We have a birthday in the family this week. My mother-in-law is turning ninety. To say the world has changed during her lifetime is no small understatement.

What does one give a person who's reached that milestone and who, truth be told, doesn't need much? This was a puzzlement, until I hit upon an afghan pattern that requires 90 squares, one for every year of her life.

Although she'll be getting it later today, since she doesn't have a computer, I think I'm safe to display it now. It's made of wool intended for baby clothes, so it's very light and soft. It's also machine washable.

How long did it take me? I can't really say, because it was the sort of project I could work on while watching TV. I can say I started it last fall, worked on it off and on during the winter, and finished it on Sunday to give to her tonight.

Here's hoping she likes it!

ETA: She did! :-)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Ready to get m' clean on....

New season of Hoarders starts tomorrow on A&E, and as a warm-up, there's a marathon. Tonight, it's TLC's Hoarders: Buried Alive. I'll be watching (as I work on finishing an afghan).

What's with my fascination with the hoarding shows?

Like watching Intervention, it's the how and why that makes these shows so interesting for me. How and why does somebody get into that situation?

There's another reason I watch - inspiration. Nothing like seeing horrendous squalor to make me want to clean my house. And judging by the posts on the boards at Television Without Pity, I'm certainly not alone.

Friday, September 03, 2010

This 'n' that

Thank heavens the hot, muggy weather is leaving...although not so enamored of the downpour.

The free replacement glasses are much better. Not as attractive, perhaps, but comfort wins out.

Trying to use up the meat in the freezer means stew for dinner tonight.

Tomorrow, gardening, so I'd better finish my revision notes on the ms. tonight. I think there may actually be a few pages without changes. Whoo hoo!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

How's a gal supposed to work?

So I clear off my desk ready to work on revisions to HIGHLAND HEIRESS, go to make a tea, come back and this is what I find. Clearly, our cat, The Count (as in, of Monte Cristo) doesn't want me to work. Since I'm bigger than The Count, I moved him off the desk.

Only to come back later and find....

The look says it all, doesn't it?

Alas, he must move again, because the work must be done. Of course, it would easier for us all if I simply went to the pages listed by my editor and addressed her note about something on that page.

But no. I start from the beginning, because some changes that sound simple aren't, and there are always typos to be found and prose to be rendered more smooth or precise.

Which is why it took me over two hours to go through 14 pages yesterday, cats on manuscript notwithstanding.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Still something about a library book...

I went to the library yesterday. I picked up one non-fiction book I had on hold and another two "random" works of fiction I just plucked from the shelves. As I was walking home, I realized my heart was beating a little faster - and not from the exercise.

From the excitement of having library books.

Yep, despite it being a few decades since I got my first library card, I am still delighted and excited bringing home new books from the library. I suspect I always will be - and that's a wonderful thing.

Speaking of books, I got my revision notes from my editor. Nothing to make me moan with despair, I'm happy to say. Although they look like relatively quick fixes, I've learned that may or may not be the case, so if you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I'm working on HIGHLAND HEIRESS. (And celebrating a couple of birthdays, too!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

When your glasses ain't right...

There's another reason I haven't been spending as much time at the computer these days. I got a new prescription for glasses back in June, and so new glasses. They haven't fit right since Day One.

First they were too loose - something I didn't realize until after I left town shortly after picking them up. When I was back in town, I got them adjusted and then discovered they were too tight, when I was out of town again and had two charming red pressure marks on my nose. Back in town, I got them adjusted again - and they were too loose again.

Today, I went back to the glasses place and explained my troubles. I took my old frames, thinking maybe the lenses could be switched. No, but they are replacing the glasses. New frames, new lenses - and no hassle! The manager didn't give me a hard time, or try to make it my fault. He did explain that the titanium frames I had were too light for the lenses, which are progressive, so the weight of the lenses kept pulling the glasses down on my nose. I did note that perhaps somebody should have suggested that those frames might not be the best for that type of lens when I was selecting them, but that was after he'd already offered to give me new glasses.

So color me both impressed and happy - for now. The new frames aren't as "snazzy" but they felt really comfortable and look as if they'll keep the lenses where they ought to be. Here's hoping they fit better and make it easier for me to read and see the computer screen without tilting my head, which is a pain in the neck, literally.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hodge-podge and potpourri

Wondering where I've been? I've been back in the Land o' Pie and Sloth, also Dial-up. That means I do have an internet connection, but it's sloooooow.

What have I been up to down here?

Making curtains. Many, many curtains. It would have helped if the fabric I liked for a set had been available in ample quantities. As it was, I bought what they had, then had to figure out how to make them work with trim to add length. Also, lining. I never want to make lined curtains again. EVER. I've also made a new seat cushion for a wicker love seat and have three more cushions to cover. I bought some fabric to makes some clothes, too.

Ever seen a wisteria growing out of control? If I had my camera, I'd take a picture - except that I've already taken my pruning shears to it. Still needs more cutting, though.

I've been swimming every day with my 85-year-old dad. My mom won't let him go swimming alone, so he's been waiting anxiously for a "swim buddy." I sure hope I'm up for swimming in a choppy lake when I'm 85! Mind you, I do not remember Lake Erie ever being this warm.

Our neighbor's dachsund had puppies - Elvis and Presley. They are the cutest things.

Since the Land o' Pie and Sloth is in the Heart of the Golden Acres, I've been freezing blueberries, raspberries and strawberries for future yummy goodness.

Have I been writing? Nope. I'm expecting a revision letter soon for HIGHLAND HEIRESS, the sequel to HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS, so I don't want to start another project only to be yanked back to HIGHLAND HEIRESS. Besides, I've got sewing to do, berries to freeze, a lake to swim.....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


It's been an interesting summer holiday season for us and our cats. On our last visit to the cottage, Luis got himself trapped between the water heater and the corner of the linen closet wall, where the water heater resides. Fearing he was going to suffocate, we frantically tore through the adjoining bedroom wall.

What we did not know was that said wall is comprised of five layers of various materials, as this picture shows.

First was the thin, not-very-attractive dark panelling. Behind that was drywall. Behind that was - and oh, how we hated ripping this out! - the horizontal wooden siding of the original cabin. This part of the cottage is, we've been told, about a hundred years old. Beneath that is what we believe was an original interior wall made of knotty pine panelling that's about half an inch thick, running vertically. Behind that was the plywood we could see in the closet with the water heater. We thought there was only one thin layer of panelling and one of plywood until we started the destruction.

Fortunately, Luis was unscathed, if traumatized - as were we. However, there was one major bonus: that knotty pine panelling. We're hoping we can refinish it, as it's much nicer that what was over it. Now we're also very curious about what might be behind the other walls, but will proceed with caution.

The other catastrophe involves Luis's brother, The Count, pictured here in his I'm-just-hanging-around-the-cottage mode (although the first time I saw him up on that railing? I just about swooned, as it's open to the floor below).

We took him for his annual check-up and shots, and this time, he had an allergic reaction. So it was three more trips back and forth to the vets until he was feeling better. Poor boy!

Seriously, I don't know who these things are harder on - us or the animals! And as for costs...we shall not discuss, although I suspect that's the kind of added expense that makes non-pet-owners wonder why anyone would bother.

(Pet owners know why: we love them, destruction, expense, traumas and all.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

On the shelves

I'm going on holiday for several days, but before I go, just a reminder that my latest release, HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS, is on bookshelves or in ebook form now (see sidebar for links to order).

From the back cover:
Lord of Vice

Quintus MacLachlann is arrogant - unapologetically so. When he's asked to impersonate one half of a married couple to infiltrate Edinburgh society, he relishes the challenge of being "married" to the frustratingly willful yet beautiful Esme.

Lady of Virtue

Esme makes no bones about her fervent dislike of the dishonored rake. He's the last person on earth she can conceive of marrying, sham or otherwise. But being forced to play wife to the handsome-as-sin wastrel brings up very real feelings of desire....

"The talented Moore has penned another exciting Regency. The narrative is rich, the dialogue authentic and the characters entertaining. This is a tale of how opposites attract and passions are stirred." - Romantic Times

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Retro Cushions, Part II

I finished all my cushion covers last night. I'm really pleased with them, and especially pleased with the one I made using some of the smaller panels.

Next up: more curtains.

And soon revisions for HIGHLAND HEIRESS, the sequel to HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS, which is out now. (And okay, I'm using any excuse to show that gorgeous cover again.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Latest Craft Project

I finally took my good ol' Singer "Genie" sewing machine in to be repaired. It's done yeoman's service since I received it as a wedding present from my parents lo, these thirty-plus years ago. However, the bobbin winder broke, so I was hand-winding the bobbins which, believe me, is no treat. I did investigate getting a new machine. The only stitches I use, however, are a straight stitch, zig-zag and the stitch for knits and stretch fabrics, so I didn't need most of the bells and whistles that come with new machines. And the simpler, cheaper versions didn't seem heavy-duty enough to last very long. So I looked, and found, a place that would repair my Genie. It cost about as much as a cheaper new machine, but I'm very happy I did that. I now have a very good, lightweight but substantial, sewing machine that works like buttah. And it's even got a new bulb. (True story: the young lady at the shop said, "And we'll give you a new light bulb." Me: "There's a light?" Yep, it's been burned out so long, I forgot it existed.)

The store that did the repairs also sews quilting fabric. On my first visit, to drop off my machine, I noticed this panel of fabric:

It's by Michael Miller Fabrics, and the pattern is called Transportation. I didn't buy it then, but I kept thinking how neat and retro it was, and I thought it might make cute cushions for the cottage. So when I went back to pick up my machine, I bought the panel.

Then, score! I found cushions for less than $2 each at Ikea and my local fabric store was having a sale and I got wide red twill for about $4 a meter. I thought of going with the blue, but it's not exactly a navy, so went with the red instead.

And voila! I've got cushions! Here is the first one:

Won't this look swell on the child's rocker I found at the antique store?
I'm using the small blocks of vehicles in groups of four, banded by red twill, for one cushion, too.

I just love it when I take a gamble on a project and it turns out great! Mind you, like my writing, I had to make a few revisions before I figured out exactly what to do and what measurements to use. But that's the way I roll.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Library Love!

Like many a writer, I love the library! And so I have to share these videos with you.

First, the Old Spice Guy.

Next, New Spice: Study like a Scholar.

Funny videos about the goodness of libraries make me happy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Double Standard Much?

The British Open is on, and once again I'm reminded of something that burns my bacon: romance writers are often accused of writing "purple prose," that is, extravagant, overly ornate, over-the-top descriptions. It's not a compliment, and it's one criticism men in particular seem to throw at the genre, especially in reference to the descriptions in love scenes.

Well, let me ask you this, fellas. Why is that sort of language worthy of such eye-rolling condescension when it comes to women's fiction (and romance still is, by and large, written by women for women), but apparently quite okay when it comes to the preamble to major sporting events? You'd think the announcers were about to describe a clash of the gods in the Elysian Fields, not grown men playing a game.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pictures I should probably send to LOL Cats

The Count at leisure at the cottage in the Land o' Pie and Sloth (and just about giving his owners heart failure).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So what's with all the lawyers?

I'm probably one of the few historical romance authors who has a lot of lawyers for heroes and secondary characters in her books. I had a Restoration solicitor in HIS FORBIDDEN KISS, a barrister (Sir Douglas Drury) in my previous Regency series, a solicitor's sister is the heroine of HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS, (although Esme knows as much about the law as her brother and would gladly have been an attorney if she could) and the hero of the sequel, HIGHLAND HEIRESS (out next year) is also a solicitor.

Blame Perry Mason. I used to love that show when I was a kid. And I considered being a lawyer, to the extent that I took the LSAT and applied to one law school (the top one in Ontario). I didn't get in, and really, it was for the best, because I was not terribly disappointed. In fact, I remember watching the other people waiting to take the LSAT and realizing how stressed and tense they were, as if their very lives depended on it. I suppose for some of them, they felt it did - but not for me. I did quite well on the LSAT but alas, although I graduated with distinction, my average wasn't enough. And maybe if I'd participated in debating, as I did in high school, instead of musical theater, it would have a made a difference.

Still and all, when I hear about the loooong hours attorneys put in, and consider what it might have meant in terms of family life, I'm not a whit sorry I didn't get into law school. I suspect it's much more fun to write about lawyers than to be one.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Romantic Times Review - good news and bad news

When it comes to reading reviews of my work, picture me holding the magazine or looking at the computer screen with my hands over my face, fingers slightly open, ready to cringe. Because believe you me, nothing can wreck your day like a bad review.

Fortunately, the Romantic Times reviewer liked HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS:

"The talented* Moore has penned another exciting Regency. The narrative is rich, the dialogue authentic and the characters entertaining.**"

* Being called "talented" is a thrill.
** This is just about exactly what I hope a reader feels about my books, so yeah!!!

But then, oh woe! I have taken my hands away from my face only to discover that instead of referring to my hero by his nickname "Quinn," the reviewer has called him "Quint." In her defense, his full name is "Quintus." However, after having given one hero an unfortunate moniker when he was an evil secondary character that we were then both stuck with when I decided he had hero potential (alas, poor Urien, forgive me!) I would never call a hero something that sounds like "Squint."

Nevertheless, four stars is good and the quote is great. AND they included a picture of the beautiful cover, so all in all, I'm far more pleased by the review than upset by the mistake.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Holiday News

Working with dial-up is proving to be an interesting experience. I've learned that the best time to get on the internet is early in the morning, when traffic is lighter. Or I should have my book at hand, so I can read while a site loads.

It's hotter 'n Hades. And muggy. Fortunately, we have air conditioning here, although I try not to use it and keep the thermostat high. But when it's humid, air conditioning is a relief.

We brought the cats with us, and they seem to be adapting. No wars, at least, as the picture below demonstrates.

What is it with some guys and the loudness of their vehicle engines?

And just a reminder that I have a book (with one of my favorite covers ever!) out soon!