Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Introducing Edward Da Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford

 Genius, spoiled brat, lecher, drunkard, abuser, lawyer, dancer, wit, lover, husband, father, courtier, poet, play-write, murderer, politician... he was all these things.

Edward Da Vere inherited the earldom at the age of twelve upon the death of his father. His father had been royally screwed by the Dudleys into signing over ownership to many properties.  When Earl #16 died, Earl #17 was too young to inherit, so his remaining property rights went into wardship.

He was raised by William Cecil, who later became Baron Burghley. Cecil was not a loving man, but did value academics. Young Oxford was schooled extensively and became highly skilled in law (possibly so he could get his properties back).

At 21 he married Cecil's daughter, Anne. Anne, for whatever reason, wanted to marry Oxford. It didn't go well.

Oxford is quite a character. I use him in Courtly Scandals as my villain and in Courtly Abandon as my unwitting hero. He was many, many things, but I chose to show him as the brilliant brat prince. Entitled and bored. I grew fond of him while I was compiling a list of courtiers who would have been active at Queen Elizabeth's court between 1571 and 1574. He was there and within age range. I cast him as a minor but comedic character in Courtly Pleasures and it grew from there.

In the years I have been working on my Elizabethan books, Oxford has garnered more media attention. One of the current thoughts is that he might have been Shakespeare.  Yes, I have used that to my advantage.

I write this today because of a new movie coming out this year. Yes, Elizabethan period pieces come out from time to time, but this one is about (wait for it) Oxford!  This could be good and bad for me.  Good because I have a prominent historical character and a current person of interest as an almost primary character in my story and it might reach a larger market. Bad because tons of people may find him interesting and saturate the industry.  And my books are light romance,not heavy drama, so might not appeal to the same audience. Who knows? Either way, it's interesting and I can't wait to see it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mojo Tagged Me

Thank you Mojo for your tag.

1. What's the first thing you do in the morning? I hit snooze, sometimes more than once.  Then the usual ablutions followed by waking my kids up with snuggles.  They prefer my way - Daddy wakes them up by clapping.

2. How old do you feel? Most of the time I feel fairly young, as in the ingenue with wide eyes and trust. Then I remember I'm not young and have to be the one making tough decisions. Or I'll be made aware of how uncool I am. Things that I think of as happening a couple years ago actually happened fifteen years ago. Then there are times my body reminds me I am not young. When I try to demonstrate a cartwheel or help my daughter practice her jigs. Yes, I still have a strong point, but I cannot do a full extension any longer.

3. What's your sign and does the description match your personality? I am a Leo, with a rising sign in Virgo. People tell me I read Virgo, but that's because I'm too insecure to let my Leo-ness shine.
Do I believe in it? I believe that there are social, economic, etc... factors that effect your development that can be attributed to the time of year you were born.  As to the stars themselves I remain skeptical but not belittling.

4) How do you like your caffeine? Coffee with my flavored creamer. I do not respond to caffeine like normal people. I find coffee soothing, relaxing, but that may be more the act of sipping a hot beverage than the chemical itself.

5) Favorite cartoon character? This is difficult. I used to have a crush on the blond archer from Dungeons and Dragons. I enjoyed Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon. I quote Doug the Dog from Up frequently.  As a child I wanted to be Peter Pan, then as I got older I switched to Wendy.

Watch out bloggers-whom-I-follow, you might get tagged.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Your Look

A good friend told me her agent had once confided that he was not extroverted and found the conference scene intimidating. In order to cope, he developed a persona that went along with his image. It had smatterings of him so included honesty, but was a little bit more exaggerated. It makes sense. People who are skilled in the written word are often a little awkward on the spot.

On this, we discussed the image we would want to project. I had no clue.

My friend had recently had head shots done. Since she was "edgy" for her genre, the colors were dark, minimal. There was no fluff, just an intense gaze and awesome hair. Also, given the genre, there were no visible tattoos.

But how would I project myself? The pic I use most frequently is from my sister's wedding seven years ago. I was pregnant and wearing lavender satin in a cathedral. I look classy, but is that what I want to say about myself?

Not really. Yes, I appreciate simple elegance -- but I think one of my strong points is my sense of humor. I describe my stories as a romp. Yes, there is deep subject matter, but a lot of laughter is involved. I write Elizabethan historical romance - complete with ridiculous humor that came with Shakespeare. I have role reversal, mistaken identity, bawdy humor, and fantasy. Short of picturing me in my Elizabethan court costume (which might seem a bit freakish), I don't know what to go with.

Maybe not this sexy... or ridiculous.
 I had pictured something akin to the character of Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds (to whom I have always related), but that would be an actual costume. I'm just not that cool. My friend, the edgy, dark, non-tattooed one, suggested I assume a sexy-librarian.

Hmmmm... The costume designer inside of me pictures a fitted suite with a leather bustier. Tweed with silk. A contrast in textures and attitudes. It's an interesting idea, but not important until I'm someone other than the pre-published writer of historical romance.

Do you have an image that you purposefully portray? Or what would your image be once you're published?

Off topic -- while searching for pics for this post, I found tons of Tina Fey (who I have frequently been likened too). It's the glasses. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I am a Collector

I collect people.

Sound's creepy, doesn't it? But no, I don't have people gagged and bound in the closet under the stairs. I do, however, have mental snapshots of facial expressions, mannerisms, excuses, rationalizations, etc... If you write I'm sure you understand what I mean.

My characters are not based on real people, but the way my main character in my current work has to learn to walk correctly in courtly attire comes from my own experience. Her joie de vivre is based on my daughter's unadulterated joy at simple things like the wind in her hair or lady bugs.  One potential suitor's fickle interest is based on how my father jumps from obsession to obsession, always completely engrossed until he finds something else that perks his fancy. 

I find myself watching couples on first dates, noting how they touch each other subtly, or how they pointedly DO NOT touch. The way attractive women acknowledge flirting or don't. The way older gentlemen ogle, they believe surreptitiously, the younger women. How every eye, even mine, is drawn to excessive cleavage. How I feel when I notice eyes on my cleavage... little details.  When I'm watching a film or TV show, I take mental notes on how the characters interact. How they devaite from their archetypes or don't. Their quirks, the way they stand, fidget, what-have-you... I pay attention to these things.

Then I start to analyze why. Is the couple on their date touching each other because it's expected or because they can't help themselves. Perhaps the ones not touching are more attracted but feel awkward, inexperienced, insecure. Who knows. Maybe the old man ogling the young woman is remembering how his wife used to flip her hair like that when they first met, or perhaps he's a dirty old lech with a bottle of chloroform in his briefcase.

How do you build characters?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Editing = Done! I think...

Editing/Revision Criteria from potentially interested publisher:
Courtly Scandals needs to be tightened. Watch out for repetition. The reader doesn't need to be told the same information over and over. Once is enough. Look for any extraneous information. Go through your chapters, point by point, and make sure whats in there is necessary to keep the plot moving. If not, delete it. Set a goal for yourself, for example, try to get your novel down to 350 pages. In order to do that you'll have to cut out quite a bit.
Look for back story, often you can cut out quite a bit of it. Make sure your story starts in the right place with action, not back story.
Use the Self-editing Guidelines I've included to make your writing more active. Getting rid of passive words such as had, could, would, etc.
Watch out for the overuse of had. I noticed it quite a bit.

What I have done:
Exactly what they told me to do, more or less.
The publisher suggested I start my story where the story happens. Duh! I knew that... I guess I thought I had, but then reading from a different perspective let me know I really hadn't. The story now starts in chapter 2. I did have to write a new intro.  Below is the first two paragraphs. Let me know if it the 'hook' is there.
On the first night of Christmas, Mary had no idea what to expect. She had heard rumors, but then you could never trust gossip. Especially when you knew from experience how the stories changed with each telling. For all she knew tonight could be a elegant feast and dance or an orgy that would make Caligula blush. Or both.
This would her first Christmas at Queen Elizabeth’s court. All she really knew was that, while the liveried servants had been busy transforming the palace, the courtiers had been fortifying themselves for twelve straight nights of revelry. The only true damper on her excitement was the guilt over leaving Anne. Then again, Anne was a grown woman now, wasn’t she? Besides, she’d told Mary to have a wonderful time and come back with scandalous stories, so she may as well follow orders. With one last glance in the mirror to ensure that her thick hair was still securely coiled inside her net caul, she gave herself a saucy wink and smiled. Tonight was going to be an adventure.

Courtly Scandals was originally written to be book two. Since book one will never see the light of day, any tie-ins were irrelevant, so many of the flashback bits which included 'had had' could die peacefully.

The hardest part was actual length. I think in terms of word count, but my instructions came in terms of page number based on Courier New font (which is really hard on my eyes, so I write in Times New Roman).  I was all jazzed when I was able to cut 4k words, but that still, in the Courier New world, had me at 401 pages. When I decided to start the story in chapter 2 (where she meets her love interest - makes sense), off went another 3k words and I'm now down to 386 pages. I honestly don't know what else to cut and still have fleshed out characters, setting, and story. I pray that the publisher will see that I did my due diligence, appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears that went into being easy to work with and good at taking direction. I mean I even deleted my chapter titles and I loved my chapter titles. *sob*  Okay, moment has passed. Chapter titles are not a priority in the big picture. And I'd rather see this published as a good story than a story lacking something but with cute chapter titles.

It feels so good to be done.

The big excitement about this is that I can take it off my plate for now (until I hear back, that is) and work on Courtly Abandon. I am happy when I'm creating a story. Revisions are soul sucking, but writing new material gives me something to really look forward to every day. The writing process is energizing. Non-writers may think of it as spending hours in front of a computer, but I'm interacting with my characters, talking to them -- sometimes yelling at them. I always feel this pride of accomplishment at the end of every session, even when I'm frustrated and didn't reach my goal. When I'm writing, I'm more alive.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Irresistbily Sweet Blog Award

The rules of this award are as follows:
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the Award on to deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies and let them know.

Thank you to Stacy McKitrick for thinking about me. This award came at the end of my school year and I was juggling rabid, oiled, cats. It was wonderful to have the affirmation. It was even better to be able to take a breath and calm down before I responded.

As for my 7 random facts, I am really taking 'random' to heart.

1.I'm twitchy. I don't sit still well. Sometimes I concentrate so much on trying to be still and graceful that my friends notice and think something is wrong. Luckily most of my friends are not bothered by my constant movement.

2. If you measure my foot, you would think I wear a 6 1/2.  However, my instep is very high and the only shoe in 6 1/2 that works is a flip flop. Most of my shoes are 7, sometimes even 7 1/2. I'm 5' 7", so my feet look disproportionatly small for my body.

3. I worked out on Tuesday and my friend/trainer concentrated on tricepts. My arms are so sore I can't even brush my hair. On Thursday she concentrated on legs/butt. I don't want to know what will hurt tomorrow.

4. My kids had their first real sleepover last night. They stayed up very late and are currently asleep on the floor of the living room. I am going to have to wake them up soon or they won't be able to fall asleep at bedtime.
5. I just finished the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Totally not my usual book choice, but I really enjoyed it.
6. I like to turn on karaoke and sing while I'm doing housework. I think this pampers my inner Leo.

7. I'm considering getting my nose pierced. Just a small little dot of bling on the side. I probably won't do it, but I'm thinking about it. Seriously.
As for my nominee's:
Lindz at Rapturous Randomocity. I find you to be a kindred spirit and always find something of use or entertaining in your blog. 
Michael at In Time...  Your blog and message uplift me and help me remember my blessings.
Stephanie at The Writer's Cocoon and Raquel at Edge of Your Seat Romance, I do NOT nominate you because really you are both way to busy right now. Kudos on the new publications. Good look on the the self marketing circuit.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Editing May Kill Me Yet

I was told by a publisher to apply edits and resubmit.  I was told to tighten up the story, remove redundancies, and shorten the word count.  I've been working on this for over a month (bad timing since the school year was coming to a close) But finally I was ready to resubmit. Phew.

A few days ago I got critiques returned from the Magic Moments Contest through the Heart and Scroll chapter of RWA. No, I did not win any prize. I did, however, get some very detailed critiques. 

Since then I have done an

For each one I read through the sentence and judged whether or not the word was necessary. If there was a way to make the sentence less: wordy, passive, redundant

I have also done an

I found I used 'majesties' when I meant to use the singular possessive form. The critique caught it once. Find/Replace caught it five times.  How embarrassing.

For not winning anything, it was totally worth the $25. Yes, they only looked over ten pages but the advice worked throughout the manuscript.  Even if they had not returned their edited copies of my ms, the judging page had oodles of information.  It was a rubric for my ms broken into Mechanics, Characters, Scene and Setting, and Plot. It helped me know what my reading demographic thought was done right and done wrong.  It was very useful information  (might I add, this is the sort of thing that is missing from Golden Heart - random score numbers don't help much).

I look forward to being finished with this round of edits. Yes, I know -- there is no true point where a work is really finished.  I have to chose to be done, and that will be any day now. Then I will send off this current draft and pray that the publisher is still interested. If all goes well there, then a whole new editing process will begin when they let me know specific changes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blog Tour: Raquel Byrnes

Welcome to Raquel Byrnes, my first guest blogger! Raquel asked what subject I would like her to write about. Since she's always telling me how I need to go to conferences, I chose this one.


Get Thee To A Conference!
Book proposals clutched in their hands, appointment slip at the ready, writers everywhere are taking one step closer to their dream of publication with a trip to a writer’s conference. From horror writers to inspirational romance authors, they gather at conferences every year with their name tags and pitch sheets.  And I have three reasons why you should join them.
·         Most agents meet their clients at a writer’s conference.  Snail mail or email queries can be effective, but the best way to get the attention of a prospective agent is by meeting them. Nothing can replace the passion and excitement you have for your book as you talk about it face-to-face. It’s also a great way to size up what you want in an agent. During your meeting you can ask what their level of involvement is, in what genre they feel they have the best contacts, and how they communicate with their clients.

·         You connect with other writers. As an author, you cannot get better unless you get feedback. Plain and simple, you have to show people your stuff. If you’re not ready to meet with an agent, then sign up for a critique. Most conferences offer them. It will give you an opportunity to find out where in the publication process you really are. Are you polishing up a ready to submit manuscript or just starting out and finding your voice? Meeting with authors both published and unpublished is invaluable in growing as a writer.

·         You have access to the experts. The best things about writer’s conferences are the workshops. Classes to learn pacing, character development, and crafting a page turner are all available. And the best part? They are usually taught by authors you know and read.  How about learning about character arc from your favorite romance writer? The art of the red-herring from a mystery writer? You can learn so much not only from the class, but from the question and answer period afterward.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, be it novice or seeking representation, a writer’s conference is a wonderful place to network, connect, and learn. If you’re serious about writing you need to go to a writer’s conference.

Read an excerpt of Raquel's book here!

To visit her other blog tour stops, visit the following:


Monday, June 6, 2011

Dear Cary Elwes,

Cary Elwes

I have to say that I am disappointed that time has affected you the way it does the rest of us mere mortals.

My teenage infatuation was first peaked with your young Dudley followed by your spectacular Wesley.  Who knew the simple phrase, "As you wish" could hold so much promise?  No one else could have played it like you.  No one.

Time passed but the twinkle in your eye, your constant knowing smirk, and your smooth BBC cultured voice remained constant.  Whether your were dancing in tights, chasing a storm, or wooing uber-sexual Lucy, you were suave. In character yet always Cary Elwes.

The passage of time slapped me in the face while watching Psych. What happened?  You are not allowed to be almost fifty. You are required by the law of romantic daydreams to remain forever between 28 and 38.  It was almost difficult to enjoy your Despereaux.  Perhaps it was the reminder of my own aging that bothered me more than the fact that you no longer have a 30" waist.

Josh Dallas
I write this today because last night I actually went to the movies (gasp) and saw Thor. It was not the cheesy action movie with eye candy I expected but a well balanced hero's journey full of humor, angst, and sexual tension (thank you Kenneth Branagh).  It also included 29 year old Josh Dallas with a little baby handle-bar mustache in the role of Fandral.  Cultured British accent - check. Quirky smile - check. Twinkle in the eye - check. He did not ask the ice giant whether or not he had six fingers on his left hand, but I could tell he wanted to.

Josh Dallas
Although infatuation worthy in his own right, his similarity to young you bothers me.  Maybe if I was a teenager now I would latch on to his twinkle, smirk, and (fake) British-ness, but the grown up me sees him as a cheap (but attractive) imitation.

I may not know how to pronounce your name, I remain faithful to the crush of my youth. I will still use you as a basis for character development, but I will probably stick with the earlier version of you instead of the current. In case you are curious, you have been cast as the recurring character of Kit Hatton.
Cary Elwes

Friday, June 3, 2011

Congratulations Raquel Byrnes!!!!

Today Raquel Byrnes had the first of her three book series, Purple Knot, released by White Rose Press.


This book is available both electronically and in paperback.  Support a fellow blogger and enjoy a great story.  Buy the book!

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