Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Three New R's--Road trip for Research in Rochester!

Thanks to a fabulous writing/blog buddy (thanks Miss Recently Repped!), I have a place to stay as I ramp up my research for my next book. Who would have guessed that historical fiction would be my bag? Somehow, falling into the 1850s was just as natural as falling off my horse (well, easier--I've got a pretty good seat!)

While I hold my breath a little longer, waiting for word on my first historical fantasy, now in the most capable of editorial hands, I am finally kicking up the energy to explore my next tale of historical spooks. Maggie Fox made a brief appearance in that worthy tome, so now I'm considering giving her the spotlight for a bit, and it's down to digging up details. I've read a lot about the Fox sisters and looked up maps and information about Rochester and spent a lot of time on WorldCat trying to locate some primary and secondary sources, but I really need to go spend some time there, soak in the city.

Another big thanks to Nancy Rubin Stuart whose fabulous book and generous guidance gave me a little more insight into where to take my next step. I'm still floundering a bit as to exactly where the plot will go and from whence it will begin, but it will come. All it takes is a word or a phrase or some whisper of an idea. Who knows, maybe the ghosts of Kate and Maggie Fox will pay me a visit while I'm there!

The best news is, I'll be writing again!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Joyce Moyer Hostetter's Healing Water

All right, everyone! You have to check this out. Head on over to
  • Joyce's Blog
  • and take a look at her contest for her latest, fabulous book! She is an amazing writer and a lovely person. Her historical fiction is rich with authentic detail and genuine emotion. If you haven't read her wonderful
  • BLUE
  • yet, check that one out as soon as possible.

    Seed Catalogues--Hurray!

    Yes, they have started coming. Those lovely seed catalogues full of luscious photographs and wistful desires. I love this time of year when the flower catalogues start jamming my mailbox. Hey, it's better than a boatload of rejection letters! It always makes me a bit wistful for spring and for simple country life--the house full of savory aromas and rich colors. I used to have a large garden in my back yard, back when I still had a little farm. I loved to plant veggies and tend to them through the steamy months of summer. Funny, when these little tomes of graphic beauty arrive, I always start cooking more, too. Those beautiful catalogues just inspire me to cook from scratch and bask in the aroma of comfort food as I anticipate the return of long, light days filled with warmth and birdsong.

    I can't help but imagine placing a huge order for all kinds of exotic flowers, things I could never in a million years actually grow because I just don't have that kind of green thumb. So I try to find some lovely phlox or some geraniums and petunias, vinkas, begonias, all the more pedestrian blossoms that make our house look welcoming.

    Interestingly, reading through theses catalogues often educates my writing as well. My settings are suddenly populated with the vibrant little heads of native flowers and foliage that build the character of the book. When I started working on my most recent novel, I stopped to research the flora and fauna of the Gennessee River valley. It had to be right.

    What simple bits of mail inspire you?

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Valentines--oooh, Baby!

    My man has always been a sentimental kind of guy, though not always a detail oriented guy. Sure, it took almost 10 years before he actually brought me flowers...well, maybe only 8. But he is that poetic soul who is nothing but committed. His gifts are always thoughtful and usually spot-on in some degree. But he really blew me away last night. Things have been exceptionally tight financially, and emotionally we've each been through a lot with our jobs in the last few months. But we have never been closer (cue the "awwww!") It's true!

    In April, we'll celebrate 15 years of marriage, and he's been wanting to do a little something extra. So when he brings me a box of my favorite chocolates--Gertrude Hawk Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordials--and a stunningly romantic card, complete with a Shakespearean sonnet that is so perfect considering our lives right now, I was already snuggled in the warm fuzzies. He's hit a home run, full of love and sentimental stuff that I adore. But it gets better... whoa, does it get better! As luck would have it, a tiny windfall blew his way, and he chose to blow it all on me. (Good husband!). I can't get a decent picture, yet, and jewelry is difficult to photograph anyway, but looky, looky! I know it's hard to see just how stunning this ring is, and I hope to get a better picture of it eventually, but you get the idea.

    Now, I'd love describe the rest of the evening, but my YA rating prohibits it!

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Love what you hate about your Main Character…

    ...and we will love him even more. As a writer, I think I would love to create that character who is so much better than I ever was as a kid. You know, the kid who always knows the right thing to do—and does it. He’s confident and clever, never says the wrong thing or hurts anyone’s feelings. Free from prejudice or self-righteous indignation. Never afraid, never stupid...

    BORING!!!! No kid can relate to that…or live up to that. The thing that really makes a character work is more than just some quirk, like plucking his eyebrows bald in a nervous fit every time he has an algebra exam, or, to quote a recent top 25 list, chews his lip until he tastes blood. No, let him be FLAWED in some real way. I have to remind myself of that, even now as I think of the characters I’ve already written and already love. It doesn’t have to be a flaw of Shakespearean magnitude, (You can go to bed now, MacBeth…) but somewhere in your book, he should make the reader just a little uncomfortable, squirm in his seat just a bit while trying to defend your dear MC. Of course, this is where you can draw on personal experience, right? The list of bonehead moves in my childhood could just about match the collected works of our dear old master of tragedy, Mr. Bill. But what inside me led to those actions? What in my character made me say such a stupid remark or do such an asinine thing?

    Think about the characters you really love—even Harry Potter has his faults. A deeply good heart, noble even, but there’s plenty of self-doubt which is sometimes costly; a nice helping of rashness, though understandably so; even some serious prejudice of his own, though not completely unfounded or even deep-seated.

    So what “issues” does your MC have? What are those little things that make you want to kick his butt and send him to his room without supper? If you don’t have any, maybe you should.

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    Ruthie--Muse, Critter, Companion

    Before you think I've really gone round the bend, consider it. A fabulous, affectionate friend who never scolds or annihilates your MC with a dismissive remark, or shatters your plot line with one swift blow of logic. Nope. Ruthie is inspired! Originally a class pet (well we know what happened to that plan!), now she is simply my buddy. Before I got this quaint little rodent, I had no idea how remarkably affectionate and quick-witted rats are. She's smart and sweet and already bonded to to me--and I to her. She loves to play around my feet or explore my desk when I'm working. Although the desk-top expeditions can be a bit dangerous to my files as her dainty little toes can wreak havoc on my keyboard, sending my document into the strangest of convulsions. "Save." Hit "Save" often!

    Call her a mascot or a curiosity, I'll always call her my buddy. As odd as it may sound, Ruthie seems to make my little space, surrounded by the playroom mess and loads of youthful distraction, truly my space. She anchors me and encourages me as I plow through the pile of ideas scattered among the flotsam on my desk. Her little nose poking at my sock, her tiny toenails gently tugging at my pants leg, her feathery whiskers tickling my skin as she climbs into my lap and nudges my chin.

    I know--it sounds a bit sappy. But it feels so nice to have a little buddy who is just interested in a little cuddle and some good writing! I think everyone should have a personal mascot! A critique critter!