Sunday, February 21, 2010

Every Sunday...

Every Sunday I sit down at my computer and think about what's happened in my past week...mining my memory for something interesting to blog about.

This was a weird week. In addition to having six books to read (and judge) for the Rita, a niece and a friend both asked me to critique their work. I've started the second book in a series for Harlequin. I did some revisions on next year's Christmas story. And, of course, as always I'm working on the single title I started last fall.

While others are whining about the several feet of snow under which we are currently buried, I've hardly noticed it. Oh, I know it's there. I don't like to drive in snow; so when I step outside, car keys in hand, if there's snow I pretty much turn around and go back inside.

This is the biggest reason I think I should live in a warmer climate! I become a virtual hermit in the winter. Plus, people look at me weird for wearing sunglasses. But I love sunglasses! And have you ever seen the glare that comes off snow? It's blinding.

I miss my capris. I miss wearing cute sandals. I would like to play real golf instead of Wii golf.

Hey, wait! I'm whining about the snow! See I'm normal after all.

Have a great week!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day

I've always fought the battle of the bulge. I either spent my entire life dieting or chubby. Some years chubby was preferrable! Anyway, the first year my husband and I were married, he arranged for a dozen red roses to be delivered to wish me Happy Valentine's Day. When he came home, I was sobbing on the couch.

Horrified, and probably thinking someone had died, he said, "What's wrong?"

I said, "You think I'm fat!"

Knowing that was a crime punishable by death in Susan Meier World, he gasped. "I don't think you're fat!"

I said, "If you really didn't think I was fat you would have bought me candy for Valentine's Day."

Thus began the tradition of me getting candy every year for Valentine's Day.

Until this year. January 4 I began a low cholesterol diet. I have been doing remarkably well. So well, in fact, that I knew the very thought of having chocolates in the house would kill me.

So rather than chocolates and a steak dinner, I got Happy Valentine's Day oatmeal and a really cute necklace with a cat pendant.

One would think a romance novelist would have a more spectacular Valentine's Day than that, but it actually gets worse.

My husband's wedding ring suddenly no longer fits him. He doesn't look like he's gained weight, but his fingers are now really ... well, fat. LOL So a few weeks ago I found a gorgeous (subdued and very manly) diamond ring on sale at a jewelry store in the mall. So I bought it for him. When he opened it, his face fell.

I didn't have to be a mind reader to know he hated it. Choking back tears, because I thought buying him a new wedding ring was incredibly romantic (certainly better than Valentine's Day oatmeal) I said, "Don't you like it?"

He said, ""

I said, "But it's a wedding ring. Yours no longer fits. I thought...I thought..." I thought about telling him he must think I'm fat to get the conversational guilt trip back to him, but in the end I said, "I thought you wanted a new ring."

He said, "No. I want my old ring. The one we bought when we couldn't afford rings. The one that matches yours. The one I married you with."

I stopped stuttering.

"Why don't we get that one sized so I can wear it again?"

And with one simple thought my husband changed the course of our Valentine's Day.

People wonder where romance writers get the ideas for our books. Worse, lots of critics claim real men don't act (or speak) like our heros sometimes do. Well, guess again. In my travels around the country and on the internet I've discovered that romance writers are married to some of the most romantic men around.

My husband certainly is a romantic. Not of the icky, sticky, mushy kind. But the grab your heart and squeeze it kind. What woman wouldn't be touched hearing that the man she loves doesn't want the fancy ring she bought him, but the plain silver band that reminds him of the day they got married?

He's a peach. And I'm keeping him.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Because it was there...

This morning I wrote the first several pages of a book I probably won't even consider writing until April. Why would I do such a thing when I have deadlines and taxes and lots of online work to do like write an ezine and post blogs...and teach online classes and write online classes...sheesh, I forgot how much I actually do!...LOL

Anyway, I took precious time to do that because "It was there." The whole scene in living color, complete with heart-stopping emotion.

That's the thing about writing that lots of people don't get and few writers can really explain. Yes, on a good day I can write as many as forty pages. But everything has to be aligned. The story has to be popping. The characters have to be alive and vibrant. I have to understand what they are feeling and why. I have to know that the steps I having them take on the page really do fit the story...and also really will interest readers.

So most days I don't get forty pages. Most days I don't get twenty pages. Realistically on good days I get ten. Bad days I get two! LOL

When I hear someone give an exact timeline for writing a book, I admire them. I can't say exactly how long it will take me to write a book. I can come close, but not exact. Not even in terms of weeks because I don't know how quickly I'll get a good grasp of the characters and situations. I certainly don't rely on a muse, but I do rely (heavily) on the juxtaposition of character and story. That sweet moment when you know that what your characters want to do on the page is exactly what should be happening!

How do I get to that point? Sometimes it's by writing a thing or two that doesn't work! LOL Some days I get twenty pages but ten of them won't show up in the book. What they do "show" is what does't work, or maybe some background I needed to know but which I will condense into a sentence or paragraph of transition...After she spent an hour in the tub thinking about things ...

Or...After breakfast...

Or ... She took her horse Rainbow on a tour of their new home, and by the time she returned to the Silver Saddle Ranch she was better able to deal with Brock.

Lots of things happened on those little "thinking it through" jaunts. I saw them. Then I cut and pasted them into a "maybe we'll use this later" document and reduced the episode to only what was relevant for the readers.

A lot goes into the books you know and love. Lots of thought, lots of effort, lots of experimenting and lots of time!

That's why it's so great to wake up (as I did today) not just with a full-blown scene in my head but also to a lovely email from a fan who loved my November Christmas story!

Thank you, Christine!