Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bickering Blogfest

I just found out about this Bickering Blogfest, hosted by Kristen, today. And I've got plenty of bickering scenes. It was actually hard to pick because I have this one character who is just always sooooo nasty (But I love him -- or love writing him).

This excerpt is from my wip, Courtly Christmas. Mary and Nicholas met last night and had an instant connection. This is the second night of Christmas festivities at the palace.
Rate R for adult content and strong language.

The next stanza of the dance brought the dancers within inches of each other. “I’m glad you wore your hair down. You look like a pagan goddess.” His words were husky and Mary couldn’t help but watch his lips as she spoke. His merry blue eyes seemed to always be smiling, laughing at some secret joke. Something about his eyes made her want to smile with him.

“In that case, you had best worship me.” Mary’s words were no more than a whisper.

Nicholas stepped close in time with song. “I plan to.”

“Is that my dear wife’s little plaything?” A rude voice interrupted Mary’s focus on her increasingly aroused state. “I must say, Mistress, you look much more amenable with lust in your eyes. I suppose I have Sir Nicholas to thank for that.” The Earl of Oxford must have joined in the promenade. He reeked of ale.

“Step away, Ned.” Nicholas voice was thick with warning.

There was no pause in the dance, but Mary could feel the eyes of all the other dancers upon them. Oxford’s partner was a young, very young, lady. Wasn’t she one of the Queen’s Maids of Honor? She watched her fumble through the next few steps. Mary barely managed to make it through the passage herself. The last thing she wanted to do was show any lack of sophistication in front of the court now that Oxford had made sure everyone was watching. Oxford finished the stanza with an unchoreographed capriole before continuing. “Oh, so you want her for yourself? I thought you were above ravishing maidens – too self-righteous to risk getting a bastard on the chit. Well then, have at her. She’ll be well and truly primed by the time she returns to my chambers tonight.”

The musicians continued to play, but Nicholas stopped dancing as Mary turned to face the Earl of Oxford directly. “So you will make yourself a rapist as well as a murderer?”

“Rapist? My dear girl, no Earl could ever be a rapist. What maiden could resist him? And what court would hold him accountable?” Oxford looked suddenly confused then ran a well manicured hand over his face and blinked a few times before settling his gaze assessingly upon Mary. His leering alone made her feel violated. He ignored his partner completely but continued the dance. “Murderer? Do you speak of that underling that threw himself on my sword?”

“Thomas. He did not kill himself – you killed him.”

“I remember you now. You were at Burghley house then, yes? Was he your lover? So you are not a maid, then. Good – I’ve no taste for virgins. Boring.” Oxford seemed to find himself amusing. “I’m certain now more than ever that he did end his own life. Death was a better alternative than being married to you.”
Nicholas stepped closer to Oxford, his expression fierce. “Ned, this will stop now. You are drunk and making an arse of yourself…”
“Am I? No matter. I am the Earl of Oxford, I can do as I like.” Oxford swayed a little as he shifted his gaze between Nicholas and Mary. “She looks very fuckable with the anger in her eyes, does she not? Yes, a lively swive, but not someone you would want to talk with after. Too much a harpy for that. No, Thomas is better off dead.” Oxford added an extra capriole to the choreography just for flourish. “I shall see you in your chambers later, my dear.”

“I would sooner die than let you touch me.” Mary hissed. “No, I am mistaken; I would rather see you dead. If you try to touch me, my aim will be true. I vow it.”

Oxford’s ignored young partner gasped at Mary’s threat and, with a hint of a reverance, ran away from the growing scene. Goodness – Mary had been so shocked and disgusted that she had forgotten they were surrounded by the court. She just hoped driving beat of the music was enough to cover most of what she said. It simply wasn’t done to call an Earl a murderer, even when it was true.

“Tsk-tsk. You frightened my partner away. And she was such a nice piece.” Oxford’s voice was thick with sarcastic disdain. “Mistress, I find the idea of the fight makes me want you even more. Nicholas, I fear I may just have to take her now…” Oxford reached out clumsily to grab at Mary.

Nicholas was faster. One strong hand held Oxford’s forearm in a vice-grip. “You will not touch her.” He met Oxford’s eyes. Mary had never seen anyone cow the Earl of Oxford, but here, before her eyes, she saw the man shrink away in genuine fear. Nicholas released his grip.

Oxford immediately pulled his arm away. “How dare you lay your hands on me? I am an earl…”

“Still hiding behind your title, my lord?” Nicholas’ voice was thick with disgust. “Still not man enough to fight your own battles?”

“I could see you hang, Sir.” Oxford’s voice tapered off into a hiss.

Nicholas merely raised an eyebrow. No clever words. No threats of violence. No fear. Mary could tell that Nicholas honestly was not afraid of whatever Oxford might threaten.

Oxford knew it, too. “Have the wench then.” With that, he spun on his heel and strode from the room.

The noise in the room seemed to increase tenfold. The driving drumbeat pounding against her ears. Shoes tapping in unison. Voices raised in laughter. It was too much. But there was Nicholas, strong and certain, standing in front of her holding both her hands in his. She met his eyes, but could not force a smile for his sake. What had just happened? Had that horror been real? Surely not – and not in front of the court. Mary could not afford to make herself conspicuous.

Nicholas, reading her pain, tucked on hand under his arm and simply said, “Come,” and led her from the room, oblivious to the dancers remaining.

Secret Blogfest

This selection from Courtly Christmas is for the Secret Blogfest hosted by Tara at Midnight Ink. My protagonist's secret is not anything big. In fact, she makes it seem more illicit than it was by not sharing. I will not share a bigger secret in the "I Can't Say It" Blogfest on July 7th.

This is a section from chapter 3 of Courtly Christmas. Mary is waking up in her room after the first night of Christmas revelry. Eleven more nights to go!

“It is not like you to laze about in bed.” Girard entered Mary’s room without any concern for his welcome. It might not be appropriate for a maiden to be alone in her bedchamber with a man, but then again, no one blinked an eye when Girard was the man in question.
He threw open the window, letting the gray winter light into the sleepy room. One look at Mary had him perched on the corner of the bed. “Oh, you have something to tell me.” With a wicked glimmer in his eyes, he leaned forward conspiratorially. “Surely you will not force me to glean the facts from servant’s gossip?”
“I am too low to be worthy of gossip.”
“So there is something to tell?”
Mary propped herself up on her pillow with only a cursory glance at her nightshift to make sure she was covered. “There is not much to tell…” Wasn’t there? Mary could not think how to begin as she locked her sleepy gaze with Girard’s mischievous one. No, Girard would surely find the story too boring to be titillating, but somehow she couldn’t bring herself to put it to words. Words would only cheapen it, make it less somehow.
“Since you are making me guess,” Girard tapped his finger against his lips, “I would say that you met a handsome young man and behaved badly. How close am I to the truth?”
Mary let out a low sigh. “Very close. I did meet a man, but I did not behave badly. Not really.”
“Well, that is a shame. Why ever not?”
Mary had to wonder at that. Why hadn’t she? The opportunity was certainly there. Then again, last night’s interlude had not been exactly a seduction; it had been more innocent. Sweet.
Girard sat silent a moment longer, watching Mary muddle through her thoughts. “Mary, you are a beautiful woman. Your eyes sparkle, your smile is contagious, your dark hair is silky and thick…”
“Girard, it almost sounds like you are describing yourself.” Mary interrupted with a playful laugh. “Not counting the ‘woman’ bit.”
“True, in which case I should add stylish and charming, Oh ,yes – talented.” Mary nodded her agreement, not sure whether or not Girard had included her in that description. “But my point is that you are a very eligible young lady, fortune withstanding. Why do you never engage in potential courtships? Or even flirtations?”
“If you think I do not flirt, you must be duller than I thought – I flirt with you all the time.” Mary jested in response, but she knew what he meant. More to the point, he knew she understood his tack.
“You hide your light under a bushel, staying in your mistress’ shadow. You cannot live your life content with simply being a noblewoman’s companion. Surely you should do something for yourself. Why not behave badly with a young man?” He sat beside her on the bed, all semblance of joking put aside. “You are twenty-six? Practically an old maid. What have you got to lose?”
With an exaggerated sigh and a determination to bring the conversation back into the realm of playful jests, Mary began, “Very well. For you, I will behave badly tonight…”
“No! That is just my point. Behave badly or don’t. Either way, do it for yourself – not for someone else’s sake.” Girard took her hands in his as his eyes met Mary’s; she could see his genuine concern. Though the conversation was uncomfortable, it was nice to have someone caring for her needs. “Just remember, it is Christmastide and an excellent excuse to do whatever you wish, be it to eat an excess of marchepane, dress up as the ambassador from Sweden, or steal a kiss in the dark with a stranger. Now is the time when no one will notice because they will be doing the exact same thing.” Girard squeezed gently and then let go over Mary’s hands as the serious moment had passed and he returned to his playful self. “So, who was the gentleman from last night? And what exactly do you mean when you say did not ‘really’ behave badly. Details, if you please."
“Very well.” In the time Mary took to consider what she would and would not discuss, Girard had risen and crossed the room. “Since you do not wish to share your story with your dearest friend,” with one long fingered hand, he gestured grandly to himself, “You leave me no alternative but to be on my way to a more welcoming lady.”
With that, Girard left the room with a swooping bow.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I recently started reading a book written by a high school friend of my sister's. Mara Altman's Thanks for Coming, is thoroughly entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud enough times that my husband would step outside and insist I explain what I'm laughing at. Of course, he did not think a description of a vagina as an inside out, upside down bat was humorous. Oh well. He doesn't have to read it.

The sexual theme, though obvious, is not as dominant as the theme of human connection and trust. This was unexpectedly helpful to me in regards to writing passionate scenes. Lately, when I read romance novels, I seem to read them more for research than for enjoyment. I'm analyzing the industry, not really reading. Thanks for Coming broke me out of that rut.

It also got me thinking about the actual passionate scenes in romance novels. Everything is so perfect. Flawless. All the heroine has to do to achieve the climax that her perfect partner is skillfully giving her, is:
  • throw herself of a precipice
  • dive into an ocean of sensation
  • dissolve into the stars
  • become one with the powers pulsing through the earth

Lovely and poetic. The actual orgasm is equally beautiful and abstract. I believe that my one of my heroines "fractured into millions of points of light."

Passionate scenes in romance novels are idealized and romanticized. Now, I'm not saying the scene should be described with more biological and anatomical terms. That's not pretty. And it's not fantasy.

Romance novels are not self help manuals. If a person has a sexual dysfunction or terrible body image, they will not find a cure by reading about a heroine who doesn't drool while she sleeps, has no sweat glands, and whose private parts smell like apples. That said, the reader may find escape. It would be boring to read about muscle contractions and goo --that's real life. Most of us have plenty of real life -- that's why we read romance.

Of course, I read my first romance novel while I was still virginal. Super virginal. I mean I didn't know that the process was anything more than insert A into B and make a baby. That romance novel, and the ones following, really raised my expectations. Was I let down? TOTALLY! Maybe it would have been better if I'd read Mara's book before reading Fabio's.

At this point, I don't remember where I was going with the blog. Maybe I'll remember and edit before the publication date/time comes along. If not, that means I was actually writing my WIP, like I'm supposed to be doing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

English and English

I am an American. More specifically, I am a Californian. Apparently, the Californian accent is considered the non-accent of all the states. Most words are pronounced here as they would be phonetically described in the dictionary.

The only negative with writing in my California voice is that we Californian's tend to be very casual in our speech (and everything else – I’m not wearing pants, by which I mean trousers, right now). This is something I really pay attention to when it comes to my character's thought process and dialogue. They are, after all, English and living their stories over 400 years ago. So I am careful.

Now, my own personal quirk when it comes to speech and spelling is that I did live in Ireland between the ages of nine and thirteen. This left me with some, by Californian standards, screwy spelling and language. I still call big trucks 'lorries' (it's always the first word I think of to describe them. This is what my kids now call them, too). I write 7 and z funky. I tend to add an unneccessary 'u' to words like 'color.' I pronounce either as 'eye-ther' instead of the US 'ee-ther.'

Okay, so where is this going?

I recently had a critique where I mentioned an armoire (ar-mwah), which is that big piece of furniture you buy that (in California, people usually keep a TV in it) can be a stand alone closet. I know that in England, they call it a wardrobe. I also referred to the season of 'fall' (US version) instead of ‘autumn’ (UK). It was recommended that I change the Americanisms in order to serve a broader world market.

So, here is the question: I am an American, writing about British people. Chances are that if I ever when I get published, it will be in the US. If I stick to US norms, am I limiting my reading audience? Should I be thinking about this as I edit?

By the way, I’m thinking the lead characters of my next book will be Fanny and Willy. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Astrology in Character Development

I was speaking with a friend the other day and she mentioned an author that used tarot cards as a way to help develop his plot. I shared that I had used an astrological chart for the leads of my first book.

I am currently reaching a stopping point with my WIP, partly because I've focused so much on the love story that I let the subplots stagnate. I realize I have to go back and layer the mystery element in order to have a more complete novel. But I was listing in regards to keeping Mary true to her character. Then again, with the focus on the love story, her character if fairly 2-D.

So, I ran her chart. Of course, she would have been born in 1546, but the online sources do not go back that far. And it doesn't matter anyway because she is fictional and the astrological chart is a tool for me.

Now I am not a believer in these things, nor do I belittle them. It is convenient that many of the character traits I've already created her with are mentioned in this. It also helps me determine some of her motivation and keep her consistent.

So, there we have it, courtesy of Astrolabe. I actually don't expect anyone to read on because, if you think this might be a useful tool, you will be looking up your own characters charts. BTW, how many people actually decide upon birth dates when designing a character?

Name: Mary Montgomery
January 12 1946
4:00 AM Time Zone is UT
Leicester, UK

Rising Sign is in 25 Degrees Scorpio
You tend to be quiet, reserved, secretive and, at times, quite difficult to understand. Others notice your deep emotions and feelings and wonder how to draw you out. Stubborn and tough, you fight for any position you believe in. You are very resourceful and formidable when you become angered or upset about something. You enjoy living life at the cutting edge -- for you life must be experienced intensely and totally. Quite courageous, you are willing to take calculated risks. Easily hurt by others, you often strike back with bitter sarcasm. Sensitive and curious, you are concerned with the deeper mysteries of human psychology. Once you have become interested in any subject, you pursue it with total fanaticism.

Sun is in 21 Degrees Capricorn.
Extremely serious and mature, you are capable of accepting responsibilities and do so willingly. Others expect you to be dutiful as a matter of course. You tend to get angry when people get rewards after not having worked anywhere near as hard as you. You are goal-oriented and an achiever by nature -- you're a hard worker and are justifiably proud of the tangible results of your efforts. You tend to have "tunnel-vision" -- this allows you to block out extraneous matters that might distract others and to concentrate totally on the matter at hand. As such, you are the ideal one to manage or administrate any ongoing project and to be practical and efficient at it. You are not a fast worker, but you are quite thorough. You are known for being totally persistent, tenacious and tireless in reaching your goals.

Moon is in 08 Degrees Taurus.
Warmth, comfort, security and familiar surroundings are necessary for you to feel at ease. Very loving and affectionate, you prefer a steady, patterned way of life. Patient, calm and steadfast, you are not easily upset. Others look to you for support. You tend to be a slow starter and a slow mover -- others may try to rush you, but they will never succeed. Emotionally, you are quite stubborn -- your attitudes about people and things were firmly set in your youth and will change very little as an adult. You are also very cautious and conservative about spending money. It is not that you are selfish, you just need to feel secure. Beware of a tendency to become overly complacent and too self-satisfied.

Mercury is in 03 Degrees Capricorn.
You are a careful thinker, very cautious and conservative. You are quite skillful at organizing, directing and planning activities. Practical and useful things interest you -- you are not attracted to abstract thoughts or ideas. With your tendency to be highly focused and very goal-oriented, you have a good head for business. But beware of a tendency to be narrow-minded and dogmatic. Your sense of humor tends toward being earthy and slapstick crude.

Venus is in 16 Degrees Capricorn.
You tend to keep your feelings under control -- emotions are only released in serious or important situations. You are distrustful of others whose behavior could be judged excessive or immoderate. As such, you prefer to relate only to those who are older than you or to those whose position is such that respect and duty are more important for both of you than passion or emotional response. Be careful, however, of relationships that are merely based on practicality or utility or you will ultimately be lonely.

Mars is in 24 Degrees Cancer.
Your moods are very important to your overall well-being. You are confident and self-assertive when you are feeling upbeat, and you are retiring, irritable and grumpy when you get depressed about anything. Very sensitive, you wear your heart on your sleeve. You are easily angered whenever you think someone has slighted you. It is best for you to show your anger immediately and let it all out, rather than to try to hold it in or to hold grudges for a long time. You're extremely loyal and defensive of your family, neighborhood, community and culture.

Jupiter is in 25 Degrees Libra.
You are generally good at balancing opinions and judging issues, but you tend to be indecisive when it comes to making up your own mind. You are objective and quite concerned with fair play and justice. But, when it comes to yourself, you are so aware that whatever you do might upset the apple cart that you often choose to compromise rather than do anything that might make you lonely or vulnerable. Relationships are very important to you -- you learn about yourself and grow through observing yourself interacting with others. Your aesthetic tastes are refined, but expansive and expensive.

Saturn is in 21 Degrees Cancer.
The most important issue for you is emotional security. You have a deep and gnawing fear that those on whom you depend for emotional support will prove to be unreliable in the long run. When you are unloved and insecure, you distrust others and tend to feel isolated and lonely. Very cool, detached and objective, you can be counted on -- in situations that are inherently stressful or full of tension -- not to lose your self- control. That is a great and welcome gift at such times.

Uranus is in 14 Degrees Gemini.
You, and your peer group as well, are attracted to new, unusual and revolutionary thoughts, ideas and lifestyles. You prefer abstract, idealistic solutions to practical, immediately useful answers. You delight in communications, the mass media, electronics, computers and all sorts of gadgetry.

Neptune is in 08 Degrees Libra.
You, and your entire generation, idealize all of the various experimental approaches to relationships -- including "living together", the formation of communes and collectives and the whole concept of "open" marriages. There is a stress on weakened commitments on an emotional and contractual level, but there are heightened expectations of the level of commitment and mutual support on the spiritual and metaphysical level.

Pluto is in 11 Degrees Leo.
For your entire generation, this is a time when the relationship of the individual to society as a whole is being thoroughly re-examined. Major attempts will be made to find a balance between the need to be self-sufficient and the need to honor debts of social commitment.

N. Node is in 29 Degrees Gemini.
You will consciously seek out many different contacts with others throughout your life. Many of these will be of very short duration, not necessarily because you're fickle, but just because you always seem to be more excited by the prospect of meeting someone new rather than prolonging your present relationships. At any rate, you will learn something new from almost everyone you come across -- intellectual stimulation is what you crave from others. You will be well known to neighbors and relatives, partly due to your curiosity about what they're doing -- you delight in keeping up-to-date about the latest news (and gossip).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


“’Nelly,’ he said, ‘we’s hae a Crahnr’s ‘quest enah, at ahr folks. One on ‘ems a’most gotten his finger cut off wi’ haudin’ t’ other froo’ sticking hisseln loike a cawlf. That’s maister, yah knaw, ut’s soa up uh going tuh t’ grand ‘sizes. He’s noan feared uh t’ Bench uh judges, norther Paul, nur Peter, nur John, nur Mathew, nur noaon ‘em, nut he! He fair likes he langs tuh set his brazened face agean ‘em! And yon bonny lad Heathcliff, yah mind, he’s a rare un! He can girn a laugh, as weel’s onybody at a raight divil’s jest."


This is a quote from Wuthering Heights, a book I should probably read again since my high school experience with is was just that, a high school experience. I remember skipping over the dialect because I had no hope or interest in decoding.

When I started writing Elizabethan dialogue, I tried to make it understandable but still an honest representation. I focused on the thee/thou/thy versus you in regards to informal versus formal address. The pressences of thee/thou/thy also affected the pronunciation of the verbs. Word order was a factor. Use of abbreviations, but not modern abbreviations. I showed class differentiation in patterns of speech and accent. I even looked up some of the regional dialects.

I sent my query, then my first three chapters to an assistant editor at Avon. She wanted to read the rest of the ms, but WITHOUT the dialect. After some low grade cursing about the lost work, I quickly translated all the Elizabethan speak into BBC English. Fair enough. I left in the occasional 'anon' and 'in sooth' for flavor.

I am a fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. They are rife with dialect. It never distracted from the read and helped to add depth to her environment. Then again, many commercial highland romance novels don't go indepth into the brogue and just throw 'Och, lassie' in a few times for flare. Gabaldon's books are more fiction than romance, so maybe that is a factor -- I don't know. I have also read all of Phillipa Gregory's Tudor era books. No dialect. In fact, the editor from Avon cited Gregory's work in her explanation of why I should cut mine out.

So where does that leave me?

The history teacher and the entertainer in me are constantly engaged in battle. The compromise is to make history entertaining, of course. But in order to do that, I feel like I have to sacrifice some of my credibility. If you read historical romance, don't you want to escape into that era? Wouldn't the language used lend realism? Then again I have read historical fiction set in France and enjoyed them, and they were not written in French.

What are your thoughts on dialect? Does it detract or add to the story?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bad Boy Blogfest

This blogfest, courtesy of Tina Lynn, was difficult for me. My hero's are Elizabethan Gentlemen. They are polite, even when they argue. So what to do? I chose an excerpt from Courtly Love. Henry is not a bad-boy in the standard sense. He's more of an ass, oblivious and negligent. I really wanted to reader to be cheering his wife on when she considers having an affair, but then end up falling in love with him. I include a pic Hugh Jackman because he was the unwitting male model for Henry.

This scene is the first time Henry has caught a glimpse of his wife at court. He thought she was still in the country.

Henry Pierrepont was supping amicably with Lord Howard of Effingham and the Earl of Sussex’s retainers when Lord Howard drew his attention over to the new Lady Howard. Glad to distract himself from the feeling of unease that had consumed him since his arrival at the palace, Henry began making the appropriate congratulatory comments. There was no real reason for Henry to worry – none outside of Walsingham’s inner circle knew of his role in uncovering Norfolk and Lumley’s treason. Discounting his sense of foreboding as pure paranoia, he joined in the manly banter with the gentlemen as they speculated about the three country gentlewomen sharing Lady Howard’s table. Sure enough, there were three handsome women laughing over some shared jest: two blondes and brunette – all obviously fresh from the country. Nothing about their appearances garnered Henry’s interest except for him to acknowledge their existence. The other gentlemen at Henry’s table were not quite so nonchalant about the prospect of new quarry among the stale ladies of the court. Henry, shaking away the last vestiges of apprehension, allowed himself to find their licentiousness amusing more so than offensive; he could not fault them – they made no pretense at being anything better than randy young bucks. With this condescending thought, Henry caught a glimpse of the fair haired bumpkin’s profile; it was all he could do to keep his stomach from lurching out of his throat in surprise.

It was as if Henry were seeing his wife for the first time. Although on an academic level he knew she must be twenty-four or twenty-five by now, in his mind she was still a pretty fourteen year old. Yet there she was, her eyes sparkling with laughter and her hair glowing in a halo with nothing childish about her. In stunned silence, he took in her smile, the rosy glow of her cheeks. What was she doing here? Was she here to see him? He should stand up and go take his place at her side…

“Henry?” Lord Howard broke through his reverie insistently. “Henry! Is all well?”

“Oh aye, forgive me. I was lost in my thoughts.” Perhaps Frances was the reason he felt that sense of foreboding. She shouldn’t be here. Court was not a safe place for someone as sheltered as she.

Lord Howard, obviously misinterpreting Henry’s distraction, clapped him on the back soundly. “About time you took interest in something other than your estate and parliament. You’re far too serious. There’s nothing better than having a woman warming your bed to help put perspective on things. She is obviously from the country – a soft word or two from you and she’ll be on her back in a nonce!”

Ha! The man thought Henry wanted to pursue his own wife. The potential humor of the thought was muted by the worry that perhaps Frances would be an easy target for a well-practiced seducer. Again he was hit by the sudden urge to go to her and publically claim her as his wife. It was clear no one present knew she was anything other than a tasty bit of fresh country meat. Henry started to rise… then sat down abruptly.

What if she wasn’t here to see him? Wouldn’t she have written if she had planned to visit? Maybe she didn’t want him to know she was here. But then why come to court? She must have realized that their paths may cross. Perhaps she didn’t care if she saw him or not. What an insulting thought. Then again, why should she care to see him?

Lord Howard was looking at him inquiringly. “Well man? Are you going to do it? Better be quick before these other young bucks take up the chase.”

Henry was beginning to find the ridiculousness of the situation funny. “But what of my wife, my Lord? “

“You have a wife?” Lord Howard raised his eyebrows incredulously. “Poor woman. What, do you keep her locked away in the country? Is she slow-witted or homely that you would hide her? I take back my suggestion – you do not deserve that delightful creature over there.” He gestured to Frances. “You need to high tail home and do you duty. In the meantime,” Lord Howard rose and reveranced his farewell to the gentlemen at the table, “I will happily see to it that I do not shirk my own.”

Henry laughed lightly at the conversation. And then grimaced, then laughed, sighed and took a bite of his pudding. Lord Howard’s assumptions had been wrong: Henry had never done anything but his duty. He had married the girl he was told to and got a child on her in spite of how awkward the experience had been. He had arranged for the Pierrepont estate to be comfortable. He had joined parliament… he was so dutiful it made him sick. But in respect to Frances, that’s all he had ever been. Honestly, he wouldn’t know how to have an open conversation with her. She intimidated the hell out of him.

Lord Howard had been right on one point thought – he had kept her holed up in the country. He had never offered her the option to do anything else. Of course, doing so would have involved talking to her about more than household accounts and tenant farmers… the thought alone made him feel like he was still the ungainly fifteen year old boy who had been confronted with a pair of breasts attached to a wife.

He tried to shake off his discomfort and remind himself that he was an accomplished grown man now. There was no reason to fear his wife. He should go over to her and introduce himself to her friends. He should make her feel welcome at court. There was no reason for him to be nervous – Frances was just another woman after all.

His appetite gone, Henry pushed his trencher away and rose. He crossed the hall, his sights set on his wife. Should he be charming? Witty? Should he even bother with a façade? What was the point? They were already married – it was not as if he had to win her favors…

Henry’s thoughts were interrupted by the sensation that he was being watched. That he was in danger. Scanning the hall he could see no obvious threats – still, he was uneasy. More than that, he felt almost sick. He took a step forward and the feeling intensified. Something was very wrong – something more than his wife’s unexplained presence: that explanation appeased his prickling intuition, but he knew better than to try to rationalize an otherwise irrational sense of imminent disaster. While not a superstitious man, Henry had survived in the Walsingham’s service by trusting his instincts, and, at that moment, his instincts told him that he should leave the palace at Hampton Court for now. Frances would have to wait. He prayed she would be able to take care of herself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's Gonna Happen.

Oooh! Sir Charles is about to propose. How will it go? Will he be charming and seductive, urging her to say yes in spite of her better judgment because she just can't help herself?

Or will it be awkward, with Mary immediately shutting him down because she does not want to be an obligation? Both work towards the same goal.

I haven't had a passionate scene in a while, so maybe one is due. Then again, these things can't be forced. Who knows what direction the conversation will take. Either way, after all is said and done, she'll still feel like she can't marry him because he deserves someone better.

Mary, get over yourself.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Title Blogfest

Did you know that Return of the Jedi was originally set to be marketed as Revenge of the Jedi, but revenge is something a Jedi would not seek, so it was changed back to what Lucas originally wanted. There's a little title trivia.

In regards to my own title, I am sort of stuck with Courtly Love. I know the title does not jump out and get you, but it's basis is in the story. The rules of courtly love are a running theme throughout the book. Plus, the spin-off books will all have 'Courtly' in the title for continuity.

But, just for fun and because I'm procrastinating on actually writing in my current WIP, here are some alternative titles:

How Mistress Pierrepont Got Her Groove Back

Doest Thou Liketh Pina Coladas?

An Affair With Her Husband

How to Seduce Your Wife

A Study of Postpartum Depression In Tudor England

What do you think?

Now I will finish chapter 10 in Courtly Christmas. I will. Mary will find out Charles wants to marry her and assume it's out of obligation. She will squelch the glimmer of hope for a future with him, and wallow in her perceived unworthiness. Then Chapter 11 will start on the next day of Christmas.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Care Bears

I am a fairly active player in World of Warcraft. Hard core gamers would call me 'casual,' with a sneer, but my non-gaming friends think I'm obsessed. I am a druid healer and my husband is a rogue dps -- together we keep Azeroth safe from demons and such. WoW is probably one of my biggest obstacles to meeting my self-imposed writing deadlines. Sigh.

Early on in my WoW history, I overdosed on the game and started dreaming in WoW graphics, and imagining that I could do a backflip as a ran jauntily along (the same thing happened years ago with Tetris, but I digress). I also pictured health bars over peoples heads. This idea stuck with me then and has recently been unearthed, unintentionally, by Roland.

In a recent blog, he focused on how everyone should care about making the world we live in a better place. Reach out and make a difference. Empathy versus Apathy.

I play on PvE server (player versus the environment - where the focus is questing and bettering your character, often working in teams). Many players prefer PvP (player versus player, where no one is safe and an enemy player may just hang out next to your character's corpse all day, killing you every time your resurrect). PvP players call PvE players 'care bears.' For me, it's true. As I take flight form and head to the next dungeon, I will stop if I see a player in distress. As a healer, I will bring his health up to max and give him a buff that increases his armor. I'm a care bear. It helps that players have a little icon above their heads that show their health level.

You following me? Good. Because here is where it becomes relevant.

In today's culture, when someone asks you how you are, the trained response is 'fine.' Unless it's your closest friend, you would not tell them you are stressed because you don't know if you can pay the mortgage or grieving because your friend just died. And, just as it would seem inappropriate to share the negative, you also wouldn't tell them that you're great because you just lost five pounds or that your relieved because you just found out you still have a job for the next school year. People, generally, don't care. It's not because they're all jerks, but our culture is so anonymous that people don't understand how to react when someone allows it to be personal.

Wouldn't it be amazing if we all had health bars above our heads, then the people who actually care and want to help would see our distress. I would be able to tell that my colleague's health is low even though she's putting on a strong front, and give her the help she needs. But why stop at health? As a druid, I have a bar for mana (which is my magical powers, but it comes from spirit). If my mana is low, maybe a well-meaning friend could give me a hug. My husband's warrior has a rage bar -- and, while good for fighting in game, if someone's rage is that high, they need time to calm down. I know, it's all silly, but the sentiment is there. If our fellow humans knew how each action of theirs added to the suffering or well-being of their peers, the world would be a better place.

Now the question: What does any of this have to do with the profession of writing?
Well, why are we writing? Fame and fortune? Yeah, I'm not holding my breath. Because we have a story to tell? Maybe. But then why do we care to share that story and why would anyone care to read it? I think every writer hopes our stories will reach someone. Make a difference. I focus so much on making my main characters relatable and real -- not because I am an artist but because I'm a human. As a writer of romance, I promise a happily-ever-after. Isn't that what everyone wants? Maybe reading my story will add to the reader's sense of optimism. Maybe they'll relate to my heroine and gain hope. Who knows? Either way, I look on writing as a way of reaching out to humanity. And, altruism aside, I love to write so it increases my health and spirit. :)

Why do you write?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hold on to your bloomers!

Well, I changed my blog tag again. I never really loved 'Bursting Your Corset' because I couldn't help but picture a gory explosion. I'll probably go back to 'Doing It Elizabethan Style' eventually -- but that made me think of poor hygiene and syphilis, even if it did get attention.
So, for now, this is 'Hold On To Your Bloomers!" complete with exclamation mark to let you know I'm serious.

Side note: Elizabethan ladies did not wear bloomers or drawers. It made sense, really. Anyone who has tried to use a porta-potty while wearing fifty pounds of velvet overskirts, embroidered and beaded silk foreparts, bumroll, and farthingale knows that adding one more step to the process may be one step too many. Of course, I do actually wear bloomers when I am in costume. While not quite as bad as that scene from The King and I, it would be awkward if I were to take a tumble in my hoops.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Try a Little Tenderness

My 4 year old had a pretty high fever on and off all weekend. This involved lots of snuggle time, ice-packs, cool baths, jello, and ibuprofen. It was hard to see her so lethargic and listless, knowing we just had to wait it out (her tonsils were inflamed). Yesterday my five year old woke up from an impromptu nap (first sign something was wrong) with a fever. Then she started puking. This experience, while I was Mommy-on-the-spot and doing everything I could for her, was not so sweet and poignant. At that point, I was more irritated. Hadn't we just gone through this? And what's with the vomit? Sigh.

While laying on the couch with my sweaty, half-naked 5 year old, I picked up a book I had read years ago. It was about a husband and wife who had become estranged after the death of their infant son. Of course, it tugged my heart strings. How could it not? Was that why I had kept it over the years instead of lending it out indefinitely?

The romance genre has to touch our more tender sentiments, perhaps even make us verklempt. The reader has already been promised a happy ending (take that how you will), so if it was all about conflict resolution, there would be no point. Moving scenes of tenderness add a depth to the read. If a book makes me cry, it's usually a keeper.

That said, if a book is full of sap and makes me immune to the intended heart string tug, it becomes cheesy on a chick-flick level. And then there is the scene that could be moving, but is way too graphic in effort to be realistic and becomes gross. I become distracted by the, in my case, purple children's Motrin vomit, and not able to focus on what could be heart wrenching.

In summary, A little tenderness = good. Too much tenderness = overkill. Tender + Gross = Gross.

Are there scenes from books or films that you remember as particularly poignant? Does that affect how you qualify the movie/book as quality?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Terror Tuesday Blogfest

I'm excited to have something to contribute to another blogfest, this one, hosted by Mary McDonald.
This is from my WIP, Courtly Christmas. It is an Elizabethan era historical romance. There was a frost fair upon the Thames during the twelve days of Christmas. That was a fairly common occurrence. I used historical accounts and studies of thaw to try to lend realism. It is longer than 1000 words, and for that I apologize. I didn't think I could cut more and still have the scene intact. When I pasted it into my blog, it did lose formatting. Such is life.

Brief back story -- Mary miscarried years ago after falling in a river. She has some issues.

Mary clutched her cloak tightly around her body as she consciously put one foot ahead of the other, following the parade of gentlewomen. The ice seemed stable enough, but she could see that the bank was beginning to move ever so slightly – or rather, the ice was giving up its hold on the bank and starting the inevitable journey downriver. Speeding up her steps, Mary looked back toward the frost fair and saw the similar parades of people being herded off the ice on the southern bank of the river. A few of the merchants had to be forced from the ice, leaving their tents and wares behind. It was sad to think of the vendors – of the fact that they had come with hopes of selling their wares to the noble courtiers and, instead, were losing their livelihood. At least they were not losing their lives. Perhaps Queen Elizabeth would reimburse them for their lost goods. With a shake of her head, Mary dismissed the thought. Queen Elizabeth was not known for Her generosity.

Turning back toward her destination on the north bank, she was almost there, she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. Turning her head fully, she noticed movement in one of the pavilions. The leather merchant’s tent. The little boy. Dear Lord, please let her get to him soon enough. Why hadn’t his family seen him to safety? He was no more than a baby.

Mary did not spare a moment for thought as she turned on her heel and moved quickly over the slick ice, keeping to the plank when she could. The tent was just shy of mid-river and very close to a break in the ice. Both sections were moving together downriver, but the ice on the south half was jutting slightly above its counterpart. She had to get off the ice right away – the southern half was larger and, as the river narrowed heading downstream, it was being forced against the portion on which she stood. She was no genius, but she could tell that the next step was for the ice to either splinter into smaller pieces or for the larger half to force itself on top and submerge the section upon which she stood. Either way, it looked bad for her. She must hurry.

Where was the child?

Over the roar of the river and grinding ice, Mary heard his plaintive wail. There he was – laying face down in the freezing wetness, gripping one of the ropes securing the tent. He looked up in surprise and fear as Mary bent over and scooped him off the ice. The boy clung to her like a lifeline, shivering and wet, his lips frighteningly blue.

“All is well, sweeting. Let us find your mother.” Mary crooned softly as she undid the ties on her cloak and swaddled the boy. He felt so small, fragile. He was probably not much past his first birthday – two at the most. Mary held him tightly against her shoulder, feeling him shiver through her thick cloak, and started back the way she had come.

With a piercing grind, the two halves of the thick ice pressed against each other. The current forced the ice downstream, compressing the thick slabs. Could they handle the strain? Mary took purposeful steps, struggling to keep to her feet on the unstable surface, to make her way to the north bank. No longer was she near the water-steps at Baynard Castle – the floe had moved downstream. If she ran, she might be able to jump over the crumbling ice at the embankment and reach the steps at the Queenhythe dock.

Clutching the boy tighter with one arm, she hefted her sodden skirts and tried to run. She had to make it. There was no other option. This little boy needed her. Step after step and she was closer. So close.

One more groan and then a shocking crack and her world jolted. The ice from the south had pressed on top and her half was tilting. Digging her toes into the sleet, she tried to press on, to scale the slope.

And then she was down, slipping – sliding toward the churning Thames that gushed up onto the ice as it was forced under.

Mary clawed at the ice with her free hand, desperate to find a hold. Something to save her. She could not die; she had to help the poor child. He deserved a chance at life. The ice was slick and, though the slope was not extreme, Mary found herself and the boy sliding inexorably toward the jagged ice and churning water at the gap. She had to find a handhold. Scrambling wildly, Mary gripped the first solid thing she encountered – a rope for a tent. Thank God the vendor had hammered a spike into the ice to keep his tent secure. She tightened her hold on the rope and offered a silent prayer of thanks as the ice crashed one more, this time buckling as it came to a jarring stop. She had to be strong – she had to hold tightly. The freezing water lapped around her skirts, trying to suck her down, but Mary held strong. She had to.

“Hand the babe to me.” Sir Charles’ voice cut through Mary’s fog of panic. Was he really here? Looking up, she saw him, his red uniform a blaze against the ice.

“How…” Mary tightened her grip on the rope. She could barely feel her fingers.

“The ice has stopped against the pylons of London Bridge.” Charles reached for her cloak wrapped bundle and Mary instinctively tightened her grip. “Let go of the child and I will see him to safety.”

Mary knew that he would, still it took every ounce of willpower she had to loosen her hold and let him take the boy out of her grip. The child let out a slight wail at the loss of her heat, but quieted quickly. Mary imagined that the boy knew he was safe – that he had been rescued by one of the Queen’s knights. Thank God. Mary again prayed, this time with joy. She had done it – she had saved the baby. All would be well; he would have a good life, cared for in every way. He would never doubt that he was wanted. Loved.

“Mary! Mary – open your eyes.” Mary could hear Charles’ voice. She was so glad he was here. He had helped her save the baby.

“Mary, I can’t carry you without your help.” Why was Charles so upset? The boy was fine. “My love, you must open your eyes. I need your help. Do you think you can walk?”

Mary opened her eyes to find Charles clutching her. They were still on the ice – how odd. She felt so warm.

“God’s teeth, Mary, stay with me. I cannot lift you alone. I need you to hold on to me.”
Wasn’t she holding on to him already? No – that was the rope. She could feel it biting into her palm, her fingers. If it wasn’t for the pain, she wouldn’t have felt her hand at all. In a rush it all came back. She was on the ice. Charles was trying to save her. She had to help him.

“What… what can I do?”

“There’s my strong girl.” Charles smiled as he leaned in to kiss her forehead. She could see the worry in his eyes as he lowered himself beside her so they both lay on the ice. He had a rope around his waist and, she could see, there were a number of guardsmen on the other end of the rope, standing on the ice wedged against the bridge. “Just hold on to me.” Charles’ hand was over her hand clutching the rope as he helped her to release her grip. “There we are. Now hold on tightly around my neck. I have you.”

Mary wrapped her arms around his neck as firmly as she could and held on for dear life. Inch by inch she felt them slide up the slope of the ice – the slope she had been unable to climb. It was painstaking. She could hear the guardsmen grunt as they tugged, then counted to three and tugged again. It was slow work – they must be heavy.

Mary almost laughed to think she was such a burden for three guardsmen, but then she looked down. Her skirts were soaked. Her legs must have been in the water – why hadn’t she noticed?
Again, she heard the count and felt the tug. She still could not feel her feet, but she could feel the ice shifting. They were running out of time.

“Faster!” Sir Charles gave a clear command and she felt the tugging again. How could she help? If only she was not weighed down…
Before the thought was fully formed, Mary was acting. She let go of her grip around Sir Charles and lowered just a bit to reach into his boot for his dagger.

“Mary, hang on!” She could hear the panic in his voice and gripped him around the waste with one arm as she quickly sliced through the waistband of her skirts with his dagger. With the next count and tug, she shimmied free of the burdensome sodden wool and felt the strength of the tug slide them further up the ice.

Charles laughed as he loosened his hold on her. “You are quite a woman.”

Two more pulls had them at the peak and able to stand up for themselves on the compacted ice against the bridge. Well, almost able to stand. Charles scooped Mary into his arms before her numb legs had a chance to give way.

Mary felt strangely warm again as Charles picked her up, clad only in her bodice, chemise, stockings, and boots. Charles had saved her. She had saved the baby. Mary felt like laughing. Like crying. Actually, more than anything else, Mary felt like sleeping.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


One year we had a Fabio Christmas. He was at the height of his fame and we bought my mother the calendar, the short video of love scenes, a CD of songs specifically chosen by Fabio to inflame desire, and three books citing him as the author. Mom, while pleased on some level, was a little embarrassed. My brother, sister, and I enjoyed a lot of giggling at her expense.

Afterward I, surreptitiously, read my first three romance novels. I was both embarrassed and intrigued – after all, there was sex in them and I was a teenager. I never listened to the CD, but my brother and I, in a silly moment, did call the Fabio hotline listed on the calendar. It was a toll-free number where you could get a personal message from Fabio himself. The message was that in order to be loved, we had to first love ourselves. You can imagine the fun we had with that.

Years passed and Fabio marketed fake butter and had a run-in with a goose. The world forgot about him – he had become no more than a caricature of himself.

Ten-ish years after our Fabio Christmas, I was shopping with some friends in the garment district of down-town Los Angeles. I was frustrated about having to change my design because I couldn’t find the perfect shad of red in a cotton velvet. I was tired and I felt grungy.

And then, there he was. Fabio.

I pointed him out to my friend who, having not had the entire Fabio experience, asked “Isn’t that the butter guy?” Yes, yes it was.

The oddest thing was that he saw me see him. He was carrying a bolt of fabric for a very beautiful young woman and about to enter a storefront but, instead, stood there waiting for me and my friend make our way though the pushy vendors and sidewalk sales cluttering the path between us.

The man was a giant. All of the artfully gaping, billowing linen shirts I had seen over the yeas had not done him justice. He towered over me and I felt so delicate my bosom almost heaved. I fought the urge to rip my shirt and plaster myself against his thigh and simply asked if he was really Fabio.

Stupid question. Of course he was.

He signed my costume design paper and I excused myself from his aura of unbridled masculinity and went about my day, feeling decidedly awkward.

Fabio probably meets fans who are excited to meet a celebrity wherever he goes. He had no way of knowing, when he signed my paperwork, that I had had a Fabio Christmas and called his hotline. I was/am a real fan of sorts. It was very cool to meet him -- seriously, it made my day/week in a way meeting Ike Turner did not.

Okay, so what's my point? Fabio's message about loving yourself before others can love you is one of those universal truths that women, in an era of self-deprecating jokes and size two models, forget. My stories have running theme of self-love -- not that type that makes you blind, but the type that offers healing and and optimistic future view. So, on that note, thank you Fabio.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Famous Rejections

A friend sent me the link to Famous Rejections today. I laughed out loud at some of them. One thing these rejections have that mine do not is an implication that the agent/publisher has read the book. I think I would much rather be told "… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years" as in the case of Lolita, than receive a two-inch strip of paper with a generic message.

Or, maybe I wouldn't.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dream Sequence Blogfest

Amalia T is hosting a Dream Sequence Blogfest today. Lots of fun. So far, the only one I have read is from Creepy Query Girl (in the same blog that includes my 2nd place submission in the Query Spoof Contest). It is excellently creepy.
So, this has a tiny bit of a dream sequence in it. My memory said it was longer, but then when I pulled up the chapter, it was more a sad little nod to a dream sequence. BUT the rest had me laughing out loud and proud of my self, so I thought I'd post part of this scene from my WIP, Courtly Christmas.

The shutters rattled violently as the winter wind did its best to rip them from their rusted hinges. Sir Charles could hear the howling gusts as they buffeted the guard house. The tall, half-timbered structure sat a courtyard away from the palace proper, flanked on one side by stables and the other by a tilt yard. The wind’s attack was futile against the solid stone of the palace, but that seemed only to fuel its fury upon the poor guard house. So far this morning gave every promise of a miserable day. And he had to get up and venture outside for Mass – no one skipped mass on Christmas day.
Charles fought against waking up fully. He didn’t want to think about his duties for the day just yet. There were just too many things to do in the short hours of winter daylight before the nightly revelries began. Smiling to himself he remembered last night – Mary. He could still remember the taste of spiced wine on her tongue, the scent of lavender in her hair. The soft sighs of pleasure as she responded and returned his kisses. Who knew that kissing alone could be so wonderful? Charles had only even really considered kissing as a precursor to the main event… but kissing Mary had been so sweet.
(here is the dream sequence, such as it is) Charles drifted back into sleep as his memory led into a dream. It was so real: her back turned to him, her skin soft as he caressed her side. He could feel her heat as his fingers trailed up along her ribs toward her breast…
Crash! The next thing he knew, he was sprawled on his back on the rough planks of the barracks.
“You lay a hand on me again and you’ll pull back a bloody stump!”
Charles blinked to clear his vision. Sir Christopher Hatton, the captain of Her Majesties Guard, his boss, stood over him in a rage. Charles’ cheek throbbed, but his head was clearing. What had happened?
He tried to rise, only to have Hatton place one booted foot on his chest, pinning him to the ground. “You hear me?”
Charles groaned and replied, “Yes, sir.” His eyes still shooting daggers, Hatton removed his foot from his chest and extended a hand to help him stand. “What did I do?”
Hatton ran a hand over the stubble of his growing beard and barked a laugh of surprise. “I woke up with you in my bed – and you were trying to fondle me!” Charles’ jaw dropped in disbelief, causing Kit Hatton to laugh harder.
“God’s teeth…” Charles muttered the curse beneath his breath, remembering the dream about Mary. “God’s teeth…”
By that point, Hatton was laughing so hard he had to sit down. “Oh, my head is throbbing. This is not the way I would have liked to wake up. In fact, I would rather not wake up.” Hatton pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes with a groan. “Now get out of my room.” With that, Hatton flopped backward onto the pallet with a thud. “God, my bed’s uncomfortable.”
Charles had recovered himself sufficiently enough to recognize his surrounds. “That is because,” though his face throbbed, he could not help cracking a broad grin, “that is not your bed.”
Hatton opened one eye and squinted at Charles, then sat up and looked around in a daze. “This is not my room.”
.... to be continued

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Horny Teenagers

A while back, I was a judge for my school's district level History Day competition. During a break, I excused myself to use the restroom and stumbled upon some tongue locked, groping teenagers (who I had just interviewed about Japanese Internment camps). These kids were in the hallway outside a bathroom, not terribly romantic. He was just happy she was letting him touch her. She was ignoring his BO and imagining what it would be like if they were on a bear skin rug in front of a hearth in Aspen and (subconsciously) basking in her power over males. But on top of it all was almost palpable desire. They were horribly embarrassed (so don't make out next to the teacher's bathroom, idiots!). I wasn't embarrassed so much as giggly and silly. They were so awkward and spastic and desperate. I remember public make out sessions when I was 16. And the thing about it wasn't that it was necessarily a sensual smorgasbord, but it was exciting and new. Each little step along the path toward the inevitable losing of virginity was part of discovering the unknown. Add that to out of control hormones and those teenage years become just a crazy randy blur.

Now I'm all grown up, if you use years as a guide. The hormones are much more stable and I've been there/done that when it comes to the spectrum of more traditional sex. So, the anticipation of wondering if he'll try x, y, or z and/or if I'll let him, or of trying to make time for trying anything during the 20 minutes between getting off the bus and parents coming home -- that's all gone. And it's not coming back.

It's sort of depressing. And it's funny to remember how serious everything was back then. How it all meant the world when, really, all it was was a couple of horny teenagers seeing what they could get away with.

I look back on this because I think this is part of the escape of romance novels. Whether the heroines are innocent virgins or courtesans discovering love for the first time, it always has that passion and anticipation that is part of a new relationship. That is not saying that I want a new relationship, but escaping into someone else's psyche, even for a few pages of a book, helps me relive the days when I shaved my legs regularly, just in case. The protagonists in the romance genre have such a strong chemical attraction that they can't keep their hands off each other. His burning gaze ignites a fire in her belly. Her every intake of breath makes his self control quaver. That is Romance novel passion: it's also teenage passion, and, as I sit here in her sweat pants and bleach stained maternity tank top (my last pregnancy was over 4 years ago), I remember. The leading lady is not wondering whether she's ovulating or embarrassed about her cesarean scar -- she just aches to have him touch her breast. He's not worried about the mortgage or the fact that he just had his burger animal style, he wants to taste the rose-petal and honeyed softness of her skin -- and she's so consumed by passion that she's not self conscious or wishing she had bathed first. Romance is an amazing escape from the mundane. It helps us remember the idealism of passion from when it was new.

Perhaps the passionate scenes in Romance novels should be written by horny teenagers who are so starry eyed in love and in lust that their inexperience has them convinced of the magic of passion. Or course, it would only be a paragraph long.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Desperatetly Seeking a Hook

I'm having problems coming up with a hook.

My current query opening line is, "
Frances Pierrepont is a real woman that women can relate to and gain hope from." Not exactly a big attention getter -- but it is honest. My query in progress opening is, "In an era where duty was everything, Frances Pierrepont, always an obedient daughter, wife, and mother, joins the glittering court of Queen Elizabeth and learns what it means to be a woman." This new attempt is thanks, in large part, to Alana Johnson.

I open up, for general discussion, a query hook brainstorms session. All of these are silly, but hey, silly might work.

Frances is a frumpy woman who gets a makeover and entrances half the court -- including her husband.

Frances doesn't like sex until she does.

Frances and Henry are examples of why teenagers shouldn't have sex.

Frances' depression turns into angry desperation, so she abandons her family, gets sexy-fied and ends up making out with her husband by accident.

Frances is the embodiment of a lot of my issues.

Frances' life is in danger because a psycho wants to hurt Henry by killing everything he loves.

An alternative title to C
ourtly Love is Doest Thou Liketh Pina Colada's?

Frances and her two friends go to Queen Elizabeth's court and wear great dresses. Of course, Frances will find love with her husband (because adultery books are against Romance genre rules) and her two friends will have spin offs. Woo-hoo!

Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets How Stella Got Her Grove Back meets the more optimistic, recently bathed, cheer-leader cousin of Elizabethan era Phillipa Gregory.

Do you have a hook that you love that has worked for you? Do you have a suggestion for me? I'm all ears.

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