Monday, April 26, 2010

Lo, the deadline approacheth...

Just FYI, my deadline is looming, so my blog posts will be infrequent until the book is done.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

It's Earth Day, so I thought I'd talk about some of the things we do at our house to keep our use of resources/pollutants low.

I have a clothesline. I lurve my clothesline. I'd use it even if it wasn't eco-friendly. I also wash with cold water a lot.

My husband uses a push mower for the lawn. And it's not a small lawn. Not only that, the man actually jogs as he does it. Win-win!

Speaking of exercise and eco-goodness, now that I'm walking, I do a lot of my errands on foot.

We have a second fridge downstairs. We use it for pop and juice, and we use the freezer. We've contemplated getting rid of it, but there are times we need more fridge room, like when we're hosting Christmas or Thanksgiving. The hubby came up with a good plan - once the freezer is empty, we're going to unplug it and only plug it in when we really need it.

I make a lot of hard copies of my manuscripts. I know this isn't good and I'm trying to cut down. However, when I'm done with the drafts, I cut the paper in half and use the backs for lists and notes. I make a lot of lists and notes. I admit, though, that I don't use the more, ahem, intimate scene pages, because sometimes I drop or lose my lists in the store and I have this vision of somebody picking it up, turning it over and what the -!!

I'm really trying to base my use of electricity on off-peak times. For instance, I wash and dry the towels on the weekend (I don't put those on the line - too stiff when dry). I confess this isn't completely altruistic. Our rates are now time-based (cheaper during off-peak times). And we're very fortunate that I work at home, so I can postpone doing chores, or do them at the best time, rate-wise. Folks who work 9 - 5? Pretty much doomed to pay more.

I've got a lot of plastic containers. Not the best, of course, but it saves using plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

There are many more things we can do, though. I'm trying to use more natural products for cleaning (vinegar and baking soda, for instance). We could be more diligent turning off lights, etc. And as I said, I'm trying not to make so many hard copies. It'd be even better if I could write without having to revise so much, but that ain't gonna happen any time soon!

So, happy earth day, everybody! If we all do a little bit, it will make a difference!

(The picture was taken from the battlements of San Marino, Italy.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Truce achieved!

At last! We have peace between the cats!

They still chase each other and wrestle some, but there's no more growling, huffing, hissing and/or full-on attacks. These behaviors were brought on by the sight of another cat outside and is called re-directed aggression.

It took six weeks to get back to normal. During that time we had to keep the cats physically separated, which meant keeping doors closed that are normally opened. That wasn't just inconvenient. It impeded the flow of air through the house, which affected the temperatures of various rooms.

To get them used to each other again, we had to open the door a little so they could see each other, and eventually referee by standing in between them with a spray bottle of water at the ready.

However, all is well now, and we're really, really hoping there isn't another sighting of the neighbor's cat any time soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Big News!

Harlequin is reissuing some of my older Harlequin Historicals that haven't been in print in years in ebook format! Four are part of my Warrior Series (don't worry if you haven't read any others - I write all my books to "stand alone") and one is my first Regency. I must also confess that one of these books is one of my personal favorites.

Click on the title for a link to their individual web pages on my site with more details and information, including links for purchase.

THE DUKE'S DESIRE was published in 2000. It's my first Regency and, if memory serves (after 40+ books it can get a little fuzzy!) my only "secret baby" story.

A WARRIOR'S KISS was first published in 2000, and has one of my more unusual heroines - she's an alewife. Obviously, it's part of my Warrior Series.

Although it isn't as obvious, THE OVERLORD'S BRIDE is also one of my Warrior books. It's also one of my personal favorites, because of the hero in particular. In my mind, he was, and is, The Voice. But I love the heroine, too. In fact, I'd have to say these two are one of my all-time fav couples.

A WARRIOR'S LADY is - no surprise - another Warrior book. It was first published in 2002.

IN THE KING'S SERVICE is the last of the Warrior books. It was published in 2003.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Something you don't see every day...

I took a break from revisions (oh, geez, pick a point of view, will ya???) and met a friend for lunch. On the way I saw a shuttlebus with a big sign announcing itself as
"King Tut's Chariot", probably because there's a King Tut exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Best thing of all though? The driver had on a Pharoah headdress.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


There I was, working away, and all of a sudden, my work starts scrolling at a furious pace and disappearing. You know that face the kid makes when he splashes on the aftershave in Home Alone? That was my expression exactly as I desperately tried to make it stop. I couldn't.

I don't know what I did to cause that. I probably hit the wrong key, but darned if I know which one or what sequence caused that to happen. Fortunately, I was able to just go to "undo" and undo.

Also fortunately, what I lost was the unrevised portion of the chapter. Still, it was traumatic watching my words disappear with such speed and not knowing how to make it stop.

This would be why I always make a separate directory for each draft and save my work each night, or whenever I stop for the day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Writer's Mind vs. Reader's Mind

I've been at this writing gig for several years now (like, over 20), so you might think I'd be able to make story decisions easily by now. I'm talking about things like in whose point of view a scene should be, or the order of scenes in a chapter.

Alas, no.

Last week I started reading through the beginning of the book in progress, making notes and deciding to rearrange things until I reached the end of the beginning, after I've introduced the major players and some of the problems (and hinted at others). Because I felt the need to have a firmer foundation before carrying on, I've departed from my usual routine of reading and making notes through to the end and started revising/rewriting on the computer, planning to continue until I'm ready to start the revising/rewriting of the middle.

So yesterday, I get to the third scene, finish it, see where I thought I'd go for the next scene, and realized, "Nah." This time, my instincts told me to follow the heroine, even though when I did my read-through, I thought I had good reasons for staying with the hero.

My instincts won out, because I do write a lot by "feel." I suppose I could come up with an analytical reason for that, but here's what I really think "feel" or "instinct" is about when it comes to writing: it's my reader's brain talking. It's the sort of story instinct you get not by writing a lot, or reading about writing, but from reading for pleasure. You absorb what works, and what doesn't. What "feels" right, and what doesn't, at least to you.

It's still a little disconcerting to think I've made a decision only to have my instincts say no. And sometimes, it isn't easy to decide what to do, because there are merits to either choice you can make. But when it comes right down to it, I give my instincts priority, because it is my reader's mind talking. Since I'm writing for readers, who better to listen to?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Amazon Boo-boo no more

How's this for quick? I got an email from Harlequin this morning to say they saw my blog post about the Amazon mix-up, explained there was a glitch and all is fixed and lo! It is. Color me pleasantly surprised at the swiftness of the fixin'.

If only my revisions could be handled with such ease and speed! Right now, I feel like I want to make a quilt in a very nice pattern and while I've got the materials and border assembled, it's more of a crazy quilt than double ring.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Amazon Boo-boo

Just when I think I've experienced most writerly frustrustations, along comes a new one. The Amazon page for my next book, HIGHLAND ROGUE, LONDON MISS, contains editorial reviews for a totally different book, and not just that, but a totally different type of book.

My book is a Regency-set historical romance. The "editorial reviews" on Amazon belong to THE PROGRAM: THE BRAIN-SMART APPROACH TO THE HEALTHIEST YOU: THE LIFE-CHANGING 12-WEEK METHOD.

I did check the Amazon page for THE PROGRAM to see if my book description was there, which would have been...interesting. It's not - the right comments are there - so somehow the editorial reviews for THE PROGRAM got added to my page by mistake. I've emailed Amazon and alerted the powers-that-be at my publisher. But really, what next? The wrong cover?

(Egad, I hope I didn't just jinx myself! These are the sorts of thoughts that can give a writer nightmares!)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Recipes - the verdict

Despite the addage that one should never try a new recipe when having guests, I tried a variety of new recipes for Easter dinner this weekend. Some were much more successful than others.

The definitely good:

A new dessert from the cookbook put out by the ladies of my mother-in-law's church. It's called simply Berry Dessert. It's got a cakey base, then berries (can be blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and even rhubarb), then a streusel topping. I used blueberries and it was hands-down the hit of the new recipes. So much so, it was decided that it deserved a more interesting name. After much hilarity, it was christened Berry Manilow.

Buttermilk biscuits, from Jean Pare's Breads cookbook. Easy and turned out great. I used regular milk + white vinegar for the buttermilk. Unfortunately, I don't really have the best surface for rolling dough. I never should have gotten rid of the old cutting board when we renovated the kitchen. I could pull it right out and set it on the counter, and it was perfect for that sort of thing.

The scalloped potatoes. The recipe came from The Joy of Cooking, and included parboiling the potatoe slices. That added a level of complexity and a big pot to the preparation. And have you ever tried to handle hot potatoe slices? Even though I ran cold water over them (although the recipe didn't say to do this, it seemed a good idea), they were still unpleasantly hard to handle. This recipe also said to heat the milk before adding. All these extra prep steps equalled a shorter time in the oven, but I'm not sure it was worth it, although the final product was very good. Next time, I'll try it without parboiling the slices and heating the milk and cooking longer, just to see if I can save some handling issues and having more pots to wash.

The pretty good:

Blueberry and Peach Buckle, from The Joy of Cooking: Why it's called "buckle," I don't know, because it was basically a coffee cake with blueberries and peaches. It was okay, but not outstanding.

Sweet Potato Casserole, from The Toronto Star newspaper: This was a "make ahead" recipe, so I thought it was worth a shot, especially since I could cook the potatoes in the microwave. It included cream and another streusel topping, so was very sweet and rich, and I'm not sure it was any better than standard mashed sweet potatoes would have been. Best thing about this, really, was the make-ahead factor.

Pumpkin squares - I did two batches, one from Paula Deen's dessert cookbook, one using the pumpkin bread recipe from The Joy of Cooking, except I baked it in a pan. Both had cream cheese icing. I find Paula Deen's desserts long on fat and sugar, and rather short on taste, which is why I made the second batch (more spices). I have to admit, the Paula Deen one seemed to be preferred by most.

The never-again:

Whole wheat biscuits from The Joy of Cooking. I had to add a little more flour to get it to roll away from the bowl, and perhaps as a result, these were tasteless and heavy. I threw the whole batch out.

Rombauer jam cake from The Joy of Cooking. This has raspberry jam in it, so I was hoping for a nice raspberry taste. Unfortunately, the recipe also called for cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, so at the end of the day, that's what I taste, not raspberry. It's okay as a coffee cake and I'll freeze slices for snacks, but this was a one-time event. Next time I want a raspberry recipe, I'm going with raspberry Berry Manilow.

Now it's a beautiful, warm, sunny day and since I spent most of the weekend in the kitchen and ate far too many sweet things, I'm off for a walk.