Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First Draft Finished!

I made it! I finished my first draft by the end of March. Barely and it needs a lot of work, but done!

Here's what I already know needs to fix/revised in a major way:

1. The timeline. Sweet fancy Moses, it's a mess. I think everything happens in about two days right now. NG (no good)

2. The description. As in, there isn't much. You know those stage productions where the set is basically a chair, a table and a glass of water? That's the way this book feels - but this is normal for me, so I'm not worried.

3. The heroine's dad. At this point, I'm thinking he's Daddy Jekyll/Papa Hyde. I need to decide just what is up with him.

4. It's too short. However, see above re description. This is also the normal state of a first draft of mine.

So I have a lot of work to do yet before this book is anywhere near ready to submit. But for today, I'm happy and off to take a long walk on a beautiful spring day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Projects

In addition to trying to finish the first draft of my next book (nearly there!), I've been doing some Easter sewing for my two...well, I hate the term "great-nieces," so I'm going with grand-nieces.

I'm finding it a bit tricky to locate what I consider suitable "little girl" fabrics, so for C.T., who's almost three, I went with the classic pink gingham. C.T. is also into handbags, so I made her a little drawstring purse, too, using the template taught to me in Grade Seven Home-Ec (back in the days when they had home economics). I used Simplicity pattern #5226. Since the gingham is fairly light, I decided to line it. I don't even know if you can buy slips for little girls anymore, but decided to err on the side of caution.

For Second Grand-niece, I went with a pattern I've used many, many times and have had for many, many years, Butterick 6903. How many years? I made a few dresses for Daughter with this pattern. Daughter just turned 25. I found this ladybug fabric by chance, and bought it with no specific project in mind. The skirt of the dress is rather full, so it was a tight fit on one meter, but I managed.

In other sewing-related news, we found this sewing machine in my mother-in-law's basement. Isn't it a beauty? It has all the original attachments, and the instruction booklet dated 1926. So this was made when my dad was a one year old.

And just look at the detail on the side plate. It also had a light attached, so I suspect it was a top-of-the-line model.

It's now on display in the living room.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I see it's time once again for the finalists for the Romance Writers of America awards to be announced. Congratulations to all the finalists and good luck!

I was never going to be one of them, because - not for the first time - I didn't enter my book.

Wondering why?

Have you ever heard the Jesuit saying "Give me a boy until he is seven and I will give you the man?" Here's what happened when I was seven:

It was "field day" at school, what goes by the name of "play day" now, I gather. My friend and I were in the three-legged race. I was not the most athletic child, preferring to bury my nose in a Trixie Belden book rather than run around chasing things. But lo! A miracle! My friend and I won the race. Such excitement!

However, it was a tie finish, so rather than give ribbons to both teams (as I'm fairly certain would be the case now), the Powers-That-Be decided the race should be run again.

My friend and I lost. No ribbon for us.

So what did that seven-year-old girl learn?

You can be a winner one moment, a loser half an hour later. Winning a contest doesn't mean a darn thing.

This is (obviously) a very personal take on contests, based on my own backstory. Nor am I against contests - for other people. But they lost any real value for me over forty years ago.

I wonder if the teacher(s) who made the decision to re-run the race had any idea of the effect that was going to have on one seven-year-old girl?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mental Whiplash

Sometimes it happens this way - I finally get to the last third of the first draft of a book, where I'm back on firmer ground - because I always have a solid plan for the opening of a story and the ending, but the middle can be something of a mystery - and I get proofreading to do for the previous book. It's like hitting a speedbump. Even if you can see it lying in the road (because I know it's going to happen), it's still a bump. So that's what I've been up to lately.

Fortunately, in this instance, the first draft is for a sequel, so it's not quite the mental whiplash I experience when the books are set in very different time periods with very different characters.

Now back to work with me, because I haven't finished either.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of the day, I'm making Irish Soda Bread - not an "official" recipe, which is pretty plain, but one with a few additions, although not raisins. I don't like raisins in my bread.

In other news, I've realized the time line of the story I'm working on is...messed up. I've been pretty much writing as if everything is happening over a couple of days, which isn't going to work. Ah well, that's what revisions are for!

Unfortunately, the cats continue to be mortal enemies. I thought we were making progress but no. This is pretty frustrating, but we'll keep trying to reintroduce them to each other gradually. However, a miracle did happen - Luis actually got into his carrier on his own. Normally, that's a battle, too.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Next book available for pre-order at Amazon!

Whoo hoo! My next book, HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Here's my blurb from my site:

Set in Regency London and Scotland, HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS features a disgraced nobleman who works as the Regency equivalent of a private investigator and a woman who helps her brother with his legal work. In fact, Esme McCallan would have been a darn good lawyer if she'd had the chance. And she has little use for a rogue who's thrown away all the opportunities afforded him by his rank and education. However, when her brother asks for her help, and even though it requires working with Quintus MacLachlann, Esme can't say no.

ISBN # 978-0-373-29606-4


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Bonus of the Slow Jog

Lately I've discovered there are two really good things about the slow jog approach to the first draft.

1. The slow jog is much less stressful - provided, of course, one doesn't have a really looming deadline. I can work and still have time for other things, which makes me a much happier author.

2. The slow jog lets my imagination roam more, leading to new ideas/developments that I might not have discovered otherwise. This is especially good when I'm in the middle of the work, which tends to get shorter shift in the synopsis/outline phase.

As noted here in other blog posts, I used the first draft sprint approach for my last two projects, which has its benefits: the thrill of accomplishment when what can be the toughest part of writing a book is finished swiftly, and a unity of voice.

However, I'm realizing that the sprint approach isn't the best for me. I really need the breathing space not just between books, but daily. It's better for me, it's better for the book.