Friday, June 23, 2017

Getting Stuff Done and Not Done

Most of staying sane in the freelance writing world is doing what you can
get done, rejoicing in that, and jettisoning the rest with a minimum of regret.

So I'm sitting here in my comfy chair at 5 in the morning,

hair washed,
wearing soft, loose, comfortable clothes,
exercised up as of yesterday,
with a pair of lidded pots drying on the shelf at my potmaking class at the community college,
my herbs getting watered by a sporadic, sweet rain,
me watching the dawn,
with a working computer,
wild birds fed,
the dog and cat sleeping in their chosen perches,
all of us listening to French torch songs of the 20s,
and me formatting this Indie novella for publication.

I am fortunate beyond my deserts.
I don't get everything done, but I get the big things right.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More on the writing life ... and dogs

I want to let Mandy-the-Dog free to run about the woodland a-chasing of the deer
(hums, “My heart’s in the Highlands. My heart isn’t here.” )
and otherwise amusing herself when I go down into the valley to the coffeeshop where there is air conditioning and, well, coffee.

But if I leave the door open so she can get in and out, Mandy hears me start the car and takes off, even if she has been given a big plate of chopped chicken breast and should be wholly immersed in that. Mandy comes bounding after me with admirable speed and follows me all the way down hill, about a quarter mile and a bit, to the mailbox.

Bound, bound, bound goes Mandy, chasing after me.

I stop at the mailbox and put my head on the steering wheel and am pretty sure Jane Austen never had this problem.

Mandy will not get into the car with me. She has been there and done that and knows I am going
to drive her back and lock her up in the house. No fool, Mandy.

So I turn around at the mailbox and drive back to the cabin.

Bound, bound, bound goes Mandy, but this time uphill.

I lure her inside with tiny bitty dog treats which I hide among the sofa cushions and under the edge of the rug. She will find them, or I will, eventually. Thus I demonstrate the triumph of human cunning that has kept us one jump ahead of the canine community all these years.

I close the door behind me and drive off in the direction of coffee.

I need hardly say that the cat takes no part in this drama, demonstrating the feline cunning that has kept cats one jump ahead of both the human and the canine community all these years.

Monday, June 19, 2017

I’m making an honest effort to promo more.

A friend has helped me learn to make memes.
I put one on my author page in Facebook and I feel very proud of myself.
This is obviously the slippery slope.
Now you will see many awkward memes in my postings.
Lucky you.

Resolving to promo and meme is the equivalent of promising myself I’ll go to the gym to push around weights and move levers, which is to say it is something I know is good for me but which fills me with deep reluctance.
Why is promo necessarily connected to writing?
I rather like writing.

In other philosophical questions, why don’t they hook up all those gym machines to generate electricity and run the lights? Those bike machines could be powering the air conditioning or something.

We’re a practical people, we Americans. Surely we’d be more enthusiastic about exercise if it did something useful.
Surely I’d be more enthusiastic about making memes if they performed some useful social duty.

So. Promo.
“Go buy my books. Pre-order the next one.”
Here ...

(You have been promo-Monday-ed.
I won't bother you again for a while.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

The HEA and Dire Poverty


I was on twitter last night, late in my time zone, chatting about whether one could write a Romance where the protagonists were no-kidding-around dirt poor. Is there an HEA for folks scraping by in the dangerous underbelly of existence?

HEA, in case you have wandered in looking for information on the UN’s policy on Education, is “Happily Ever After”. That, or HFN Happy For Now is required if a book is to be genre Romance. No happy ending and you may be writing a love story or Woman’s Fiction or Literary Fiction or Fairy Tales for Rabbits or perfectly lovely General Fiction, but it’s not a work of genre Romance and should not be advertised as such.
This isn’t talking about the poverty of a pioneer cabin, or a Western dirt-scrabble ranch, or a small farm in Wales, or about the working-class life of most people everywhere and everywhen. This is poverty with a capital P. The pure quill, the desperate grinding-poverty poor.

So I thought about poverty and genre Romance while I was reading tweets and writing tweets and I came to a couple conclusions.

A San -- or Bushman -- person. They have the oldest DNA.
They're probably like our distant ancestors.
They are quite beautiful folk, btw.
First off, one may love deeply when the next meal is problematic and the chickens have come down with mad hen disease. Happiness isn’t conditional on tea and cakes, such as those in front of me. Young San heroes and heroines in the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa may snuggle together on the rocks, cheerful and content, filled with gratitude for the day’s berries and nuts, hoping for an unwary antelope tomorrow. The bitter and lonely trolls I meet on the net are not an advertisement for a safe, rich, comfortable life.
I poked around in the attic of my mind which is furnished with much oddly shaped furniture when you come right down to it and considered love and happiness and poverty and suffering and genre Romance.

Genre fiction is market defined, which is neither good nor bad. It just is. Folks don’t come to my genre looking for bleak reality. Most of them have a plentitude of conflict, worry, and sorrow stocked up. They come to Romance for the feelgoods. To get away from all that durned Reality. And if I’m taking their money I’m going to give ‘em what they’ve paid for because that’s my contract with the reader.

Which brings us round to the original question can one write a satisfying genre Romance with grindingly poor protagonists?
I considered Maslow. Maslow, for those of you who slept through Freshman Econ and Philosophy, spoke of a “hierarchy of needs”. What is important to humans? He made a pyramid that stacks the last two thousand years of thought on this into a single graphic, the better to jog folks awake in Econ 101 and give them something to doodle in their notebooks. I have no idea who Maslow was, btw. He may have lived on a mountain top, cowering before black bears, instead of teaching at some uni.

Anyway, see the pyramid above. Every layer rests on satisfying the substrate below. The general idea is you don’t go so much looking for love when you’re starving to death or exiting stage left, pursued by bear. Like all simplicities, Maslow’s hierarchy doesn’t quite cover reality so I will quote Edna St. Vincent Millay who probably never heard of Maslow but argues on the other side anyway.

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;

Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;

(I’ll interrupt here to point out she’s about defining the two lowest levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and goes on to deny their primacy.)

Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

Millay’s poem speaks of the triumph of the third level of Maslow’s hierarchy.

When I’m putting together the outcome of a story, I want to check off all jo stops to count five Maslow levels. I want the HEA to plausibly suggest a safe and comfortable future. Love itself gives the male and female protagonist those upper three levels.
Yeah love!

So what about poverty and genre Romance?

Not exactly what I'm having now, but close
I decided the genre requires some absolute floor of pain and desperation for an HEA. Not tea and cakes necessarily. Okay. But not a life of starvation either. Not assured safety, but danger and damage faced by the protagonists and survived and overcome. (I’m thinking Outlander here.)
I think poverty also works if the protagonists are sustained by what makes poverty secondary. Medical missionaries; scientists living in an Amazonian jungle to collect disappearing languages; a free-love, Vegan, farming commune, living in yurts; (I know somebody who does this;) clear-eyed radicals living in the bowels of a dystopian future city, fighting the dystopes.

I know these books must be out there, the HEAs where the protagonists are poorer than church mice, but it’s still an upbeat, hopeful ending.

So I ask you ... I come to lay it at your feet for judgment. Can dire, grinding poverty with no prospect for better be part of a satisfying escapist genre romance?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Coffee is good. Coffee gives me something to do with my eyes and hands and mouth when my brain runs out of writing.
Coffee has caffeine. Whee!
(jo perks up)

I get lattes, which are thick enough and foamy enough that it's like eating something almost. When it comes to coffee, this is how I roll.

Tea passes through my heart and mind like a cool wind, leaving nothing behind but cleanliness and quiet. I like tea and the dawn.

Coffee, on the other hand, is the mudwrestling of beverages. I come away happy and exhausted and satisfied and covered with a thick crust of the experience.

Tea is aged cognac in a thin, round glass. Coffee is Oktoberfest.

Sometimes the barista puts a wonderful design on top of my drink. Last time it was a koi fish in celebration of my screen saver which is the nifty "Koi" program available in the Apple store.
Sometimes it's a bird or a tree.

I like eating things shaped like people and animals. Gingerbread men. Those chocolate rabbits that I eat, ears first.
Lattes with a tree or a bird drawn in the foam on top.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My herbage

My Herbage

Herbs 10
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
tra la
Also a tomato plant
 Replotting  plant 2 June 2017
I will admit to being lazy about gardening, which in my case means herbs. I try to winter a few over, but even lavender and rosemary generally don’t make it through the cold on my mountaintop. And then, what with one thing and another, I’m never out with my hands in the dirt early enough to grow from seeds.

You know those folks you see out in the garden shops in May, (and June,) furtively buying pot herb plants? And overgrown miserable pot-bound tomatoes. That’s me.

So I’m transplanting my little herbs into larger pots in an apologetic way. Also the tomato plant.

 I’m saying, “Look. I know your toes are cramped. I’ve been busy. Okay? Let’s just start over again, shall we?”

Their names are mint, sage, flat parsley, rosemary, lavender, oregano.

Find the rest of this post over on Word Wenches ... here.

Friday, June 09, 2017

A Tale of Two Cups

The cup that underwent various adventures
It’s cool enough I’m wearing my sweatshirt when I go out. It’s athletic gray and says, “University of Gallifrey.” One of my geekdoms. I am nothing if not a loyal fan of Time Trvellers.

I was out yesterday taking the dog to the professional dogwash, which is extravagant of me but I do it every six weeks or so because they cut her nails so I don’t have to. Both Mandy and I are happy about this. There’s also something called anal glands of which we will not speak.


When I drove back home and I was turning into my gravel road I hit the breaks because there was a small pottery tea cup on the ground in the middle of the swale that cuts across my path home. It was sitting there ready to be a little bump in my path and get crushed.

I will tell you about the cup.

The cup is one of a pair.

Several years ago I was looking at cups on Etsy since I have a continuing interest in handmade pottery. This cup
This is the sister cup that got broken in transit, long ago
was so beautiful I immediately bought it and another cup and a little bowl all from the same artist. I was filled with
quiet joy at the prospect of holding them in my hands and owning them for a while, as much as one can own art.

When they arrived, one cup was broken. There’s a picture of it below. The broken one. It was even lovely in destruction. The other was fine and the bowl also. I’ve used them and loved them for several years now.
I had been drinking tea out of that cup in the cool morning. I carried it out to the car with me, thinking I’d finish the tea and set the cup on the stone walkway till I got beck -- something I do from time to time when I’m walking in the woods.

I set it on the hood of the car while I bundled the dog into the backseat and put my knapsack into the front seat and walked around the car.

Then I drove off.

I didn’t notice the cup on the hood of the car all the long way down the gravel road. When I turned to go down the hill it evidently gave up clinging to the car hood and tipped down onto the ground.

And landed unhurt.
And waited for me to return.
I do not deserve the good luck that befalls me, but I’m grateful for it.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The dooryard in the Mountains

Not my cat, Not my butterfly, alas

I look out over the dooryard, which is an exercise in ragged untidiness.

The more or less trimmed off area runs downhill steeply away from the cabin maybe fifty or sixty feet. It’s full of rocks sticking up out of the ground because that’s how we roll here on top of my little mountain. It’s a mix of ground mint and mosses and herbs. Some grass. There are usually flowers in there if you look close enough. Today it's violets and horehound and some blue stuff. The daisies are opening.

We have butterflies, beautiful in colors and in the lightness of flight. Some of them don’t seem to care where they’re going. Some are making straight progress to one special tree or clump of borage. Who knows what motivates a butterfly?

Butterflies are an example of things best not examined too closely.

Here is a generic butterfly and cat. All my own pictures of butterflies have people in them.

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Little Things in Life Like Lightbulbs

I am not unlike the cat in this photo
My mind is filled with tasks this morning.

The ceiling fan in my bedroom turns on and off with a hanging chain. Generally, this is a fine thing, but the chain has broken off way up inside the housing, up where the motor lives in a den heavy with the threat of electricity.

Also, one of the lights in the kitchen has burned itself out and I must replace it. Again, this involves standing on ladders and hoping I’ve been thorough in turning the electricity off. It needs only a snapping pack of hyenas around my feet to complete my felicity.

I seek simplicity as a general thing. I divest myself of objects. I clear the decks, as it were. This is supposed to leave me mind space for doing important stuff like writing and agonizing over whether I can eat a chocolate bar.

But now, instead of thinking ...
“How do you feel after you’ve done a vigorous kata?”
“Can you hurt yourself doing one of these?”
“What do you think while you’re kata-ing?”
... I'm wondering if the chain for the fan is going to fit and is this light bulb with the fussy two-prong fitting the right fussy light bulb.

The world reaches out and fills our lives with little annoyances to keep us from taking ourselves too seriously.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Philosophical Friday

It’s Friday. Not uniquely Friday for only me, I realize, but nonetheless full-frontal Friday. Sort of the Janus of the week,

I am no longer entangled in the five-day workweek, but I am not loosed from “about to fall into the weekend” Friday. 

It’s “my mountain roads are about to be full of cyclists and speeding tourists” day.
It’s “get it done now because tomorrow the bank and post office have weird hours and might even be closed” day.
It’s “there’s open mike tonight at the cafe. I should go and support them” day.

The coffeeshops will be full tomorrow and Sunday.  There’ll be lines at the grocery. Dogs will show up at the dog park, which is gratifying for Mandy.

The weekend’s not good to pick strawberries unless you are quite fond of small children running up and down the rows, at war. For some reason small children seem to be continually fighting in agricultural spaces. It occurs to me they may not be turned loose into the wild sufficiently.

Fewer people show up on Twitter on the weekend. It’s a bad time to do promo, they tell me,. That is not a major consideration with me, since I’m kinda stupid in such endeavors and promote when the random mood strikes me. I find the down-times of Twitter to be more interesting, actually.

Now, here, in this space, I got other forces moving across my sky and my grass that don’t follow the work week. Coldish night where I go round shutting all the windows and screen doors. Dawn, when I open them up again. The height of day when I make that careful judgement of when the inside is cooler than the breeze coming in and shut everything up again.

And there’s rain coming on Sunday, most likely. Nothing pleases me more than sticking my hands in the dirt, transplanting this and that, knowing I’m not watering them much because the sky’s going to take care of them for me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Bright Lights of Charlottesville

Only sorta like my current venue
I've gone to Wegman's -- the supermarket -- to have a bite to eat in the middle of this rather beautiful afternoon. This is the big grocery store in the smallish city that is a long drive away.

I ate from the lunch bar to be wiild and free. A small celebration, but mine own. I settled on Red Thai Curry and a spinach quinoa mini souffle. And a raisin oatmeal cookie. If you are what you eat, I am obviously a woman of subtlety.

I also bought fresh orange juice, which is one of my (many) self-indulgences. And I bought cherries since they are in season somewhere and look rather pretty and I will take them with me tonight to share.

In two hours I will nip across town to person a phone bank supporting Tom Perriello for governor. Except the phone bank is a bring-your-own-phone phone bank and I am woefully undersupplied when it comes to cell phones. I hope mine works at all.

Most of the time I can't get cell phone service where I live, so it seems low return to invest in an excellent cell phone. Also, if you have a zippy personal phone, people keep calling you.
I'm more a "the butler brings you e-mail on a silver salver" sort of person.

The word "salver", by the way, means "a tray, esp one of silver, on which food, letters, visiting cards, etc, are presented."
From French "salve" -- a tray for presenting food to the king.
From Spanish "salva" -- tray from which the king's taster sampled food,
From Latin salvāre -- to save.
Life is just full of excitement, isn't it?

This place has ESPN playing on a big screen at one end. What I mostly come away with is, "Why are all the announcers yelling at each other?"

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Bear and I

Friday, about midday, I was sitting in my big comfy chair, writing. Pretty much immersed in Paris in 1730. I looked up and saw a big black bear leaned up against the sliding glass door.

I thought “ACCCK”

In case you were wondering what people think when something unexpected and not noticeably benign happens to them, that is what comes to their mind. You have my permission to quote this in your own writing as it is a useful thing to know.

After I thought “ACCK!” I thought “I should take a picture of this.”
Really. That’s what I thought.

While I thought all this the bear continued to peer into the house and rattle the sliding door in a semithreatening sorta way.

I will mention that the sliding glass door is usually pushed back to just the screen at this time of year.  This screen does not form much of a barrier. In fact, there’s a huge hole in it where Mandy-the-dog charged through to get at a possum. If it had not been a little chilly and the glass door closed I would have been confronting a bear more intimately at that moment so let us all take a moment to thank  the weather.

Anyhow, the sequence of events so far was a mental “ACCCK!” and a mental “I should take a picture of this.” Then I thought, “The camera is on the other side of the room and I will have to walk directly past the bear to get to the camera.”

I dismissed the thought of taking a picture which is why I am not a photojournalist. I have never before asked myself why I am not a photojournalist but now I know.

I have spent many a night sleeping soundly, secure in the knowledge that my trusty hound Mandy will let me know if anyone invades the house.  After all, she barks at every squirrel jumping from tree to tree and announced the arrival of the UPS man with hysterical abandon. 

About a half minute into what I will call ‘The Bear Incident’, my faithful dog was still sleeping,
curled up on the rug, three feet from where a moderately large, (OK, pretty damn big) bear that was thumping on the glass.

Snore, snore goes Mandy.

Obviously I have been living in a fool’s paradise when it comes to dog-protected sleep.

So I now worried that the dog would get eaten when the bear breaks into the cabin. I might, you will argue,  have been better worried about getting mauled by the bear myself and there is much to be said for this point of view. Nonetheless, I am reporting events and I will admit I did not think about that. I just worried about the dog.

Basically I am low-hanging fruit for bears.

“Urlp,” I said, not being eloquent.

Mandy woke up, took one look at the bear, and ran for the front door,  
which I had left open
to let the breeze in.
I had forgotten about that.
In my defense, I couldn’t have made it to the door before the dog got there anyway. She’s fast.

The bear took off.
Mandy took off.
I ran for the back porch to see what was going on which I could see anyhow, only the thrashing of undergrowth as they passed.

Round about a quarter of a mile downhill where the edge drops off sharply
 the dog started baking.

So I leaned over the railing, yelling, “Mandy! Come!” over and over again.   
Which she, naturally did not.

Bark bark bark etc.
But no screams of mortally injured dog.

I did not go down and try to chase the bear off  because they were moving really fast and it is all overgrown and difficult terrain and I am not a total idiot.

Ten minutes of barking.
Eventually Mandy returned, unhurt, prancing, looking very proud of herself.

I gave her the leftover from my Mexican takeout as a reward.

If I were writing this, Mandy would be the pro-active female protagonist and I would be ineffectual sidekick.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Checking in

We're coming to the end of summer here. Lots of birdcall in the woods and the cicadas are making a racket all night long.
Not so much in my garden. A few baby lettuces. The rest is flowers. I took very poor care of my growing things so they look scraggly and neglected.

I'm drinking coffee and watching my hummingbirds. There are three of them at least. Maybe more. I have no idea why they live up here in the woods.

Soon I'll get to work.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What's Underfoot

Wench bond-street-gillray-elaine-golden
Bond Street and a passel of gentlemen
Joanna here, back with another exciting dispatch from the universe of the past. Talking about roads, in fact.

I was going to wax eloquent on road building in general, starting with the madly competent engineering Romans and going right on till I got to ugly but practical tar-bound macadam in 1902, pioneered by a Swiss doctor in Monaco.

Have you ever noticed how very many Victorian doctors invented things? I worry a bit about their patients, what with the physicians studying refrigeration, road surfaces, and coca cola instead of, for instance, gall bladders.

Back to roads.

I quickly discovered the history of road construction and law is mind-numblingly dull, so I decided to throw myself directly into what roads and pavements would have looked like in Regency London. This is not precisely enthralling, but better than Turnpike Trusts, believe me.

We're going straight to the hard, permanent, waterproof stuff laid down on city walkways and roadways to distinguish them from the endless tracks of dirt and muddy ruts with which the countryside was plentifully supplied.
Were there dirt roadways in the city of London?
Some, probably.

Wench a_view_on_the_thames_with_numerous_ships_and_figures_on_the_wharf-rowlandson 1818 crop
Probably some wheeled and foot traffic on Thames side
Wench dirt street
Here's a dirt road arriving at the edge of town
Dirt roadways approached the edges of the city, of course.

I imagine one of the welcome signs of arriving in London was the rumble and clack of London roads under wheel or hoof. The banks of the
Thames were unpaved and frankly mucky I should think and travelled by foot and the odd wagon. It's likely that some of the smallest alleys in the rookeries were essentially drainage swales washed out by the downpours and unpaved.

But on the whole, London was paved.

The rest of this little screed can be found at Word Wenches. Here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Interview with Jeannie Lin

Interview with Jeannie Lin

Joanna here. GambledAway-hires
I’m interviewing Jeannie Lin, writer of most excellent
Historical Romances set in Tang Dynasty China and Steampunk set in an alternate but formidably realistic historical China. She writes love, adventure, complicated family relationship, and high stakes in a world that sets all our assumptions wobbling. These are not your everyday Romances, folks.

This week Jeannie and I celebrate the release of our new novellas — hers and mine — in the e-anthology Gambled Away.

Joanna:  Howdy Jeannie. Glad to see you.

Jeannie: Hello! So glad to be back here with the Wenches. Can you believe Gambled Away is finally here?

Joanna:  I'm so happy to share an anthology with you. Oddly enough, I think both our stories are, at the core, about women escaping the constraints that narrow and bind their choices. 'Taking their lives into their own hands' as you put it.

My Aimée, in Gideon and the Den of Thieves, was sold into the service of Lazarus, the King Thief of Regency-era London. One does not just walk away from that service. One runs. We see Aimée trying to free herself from Lazarus.

Jeannie: I must admit after reading Lazarus, I had big baddie envy. I want to go back and rewrite the entire last half of my story. *smacks hand* Lazarus is so dark and twisted and complicated! Completely unpredictable.
My crime lords are much more straightforward — they're businessmen. They don't make emotional decisions, which makes them neither evil nor good. Unlike everyone else in the story, they have  nothing to hide and their goals are quite clear. It's all the other characters who sneak and lie and betray one another, often times believing they are doing the right thing. 

New york bowry street gangJoanna: I’ll just reassure you that there is no lack of menace in your crime lords. Pretty chilling customers.
While my Aimée faces the obvious practical problem associated with dwelling among the brutal and larcenous, Wei-wei’s life is more comfortable -- on the surface. But it is not, perhaps, more free.

Jeannie:  There's two sides of that coin for me. Chinese women in imperial times are known for being subservient — it's a stereotype often perpetuated in the West. But for me what's interesting is the ways that women have empowered themselves while keeping the illusion that they were not wresting power. When Chinese women were forbidden to write, they came up with their own written language, for instance.

In the case of Wei-wei, she's shown herself in past books to have quite a bit of agency behind the scenes. So much so that her brother at one point complains that she gets to do whatever she wants. The servants are at a loss at how to control her, and all the while her parents believe she's the model of an obedient daughter.

From personal experience *ahem*, I can tell you that game takes a bit of wrangling! And it's much more interesting to me than a feisty heroine who's completely willing to spit in the face of society or a meek and subservient mouse who is crushed under the weight of the patriarchy.

That's what I love about your heroines. They all come alive on the page with so many layers. And they don't fall back on using sex to navigate their worlds. Aimee is a wonderful heroine to add to the team -- she knows what
Tang Dynasty woman playing polo
she's worth and made herself valuable to those around her.

Joanna: Your Wei-wei is another complex, layered heroine who deals with men on many levels, not just the sexual. Though the building tension between Wei-wei and Gao is both tender and sensual.

One element that interested me particularly in Liar’s Dice was your heroine Wei-wei taking on the disguise of a man. At first, to experience life outside the confines of a ‘woman’s role’ in a traditional society. Later, to track down a killer. 

Follow the rest of this post over to the Word Wenches site

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Posting to My Other Blog and Similar Disasters

I wrote my long and complicate post and was ready to put it up on the Word Wenches' website.

It would NOT post.

Me and technology, we are not friends.

For about an hour I tried this trick and that to get my post out of Typepad limbo and onto the website.
No luck.

I decided to refresh the page.
I was reluctant to do this because I might lose the posting altogether and that meant restarting from a file saved to my computer as an .rtf file and I'd have to redo all the niggle work of adding links and replacing paragraph spacing, which get lost in an .rtf file.
But ...

I had no choice.
Three of Eight Wenches and a building

Trembling, I reached my feminine but competent hand toward the computer. I bit my full lower lip, dreading the moment I'd destroy my document with . . . yes . . . my own index finger!

I pushed the refresh button.

Even now it wasn't too late to turn back. The system tried to warn me. "You may lose unsaved data," it whispered.

I'd heard those warnings since I was a freckle-face young girl in pigtails. My family and friends had tried to protect me. But I was a plucky, impetuous heroine and I WOULD NOT LISTEN!

I gave a whimper, husky and sensual, like one of the more appealing marmosets.

I pushed the 'Leave Page' button.

Plucky girl heroines
We all know what happened next . . .

. . . which was that the page reloaded and then everything worked fine and I hadn't lost my data so I published my posting to the website.

Sometimes good things happen to heroines, because the Black Moment time hasn't come 
and won't while I'm at the keyboard
 because readers don't give a damn what happens on a computer so writers plot their deep emotional turmoil elsewhere.

Excuse me. I have to go pick up a candle and head down to the darkened basement -- alone -- to investigate the creepy noises I hear down there.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Excerpt -- The Last Chance Christmas Ball

I'm so excited that the Last Chance Christmas Ball is up for pre-order.

In case you've missed the news, this is the Word Wenches Christmas anthology. 
Going blurbish ...

Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Hall is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…

A chance meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There’s the headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays. 

Jo Beverley, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott/Andrea Penrose, Anne Gracie, Susan King, Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice, (and I) have each contributed a wonderful story.

See the prologue here.  Or drop by and see it on sale here
And at the Word Wench's blog, here, you can listen to us talking about how we wrote an intersecting group story.

My story is titled My True Love Hath My Heart. It's a second chance at love story ... with intrigue ... and disguise ... and fabulous jewels ... and Christmas sexiness. Also, plum pudding as a minor character.


“I always wondered what housemaids got up to in their leisure time.” The voice came from the door. “Theft, apparently.”
There was an instant like lightning--filled with a flash of recognition in the midst of blank surprise. She recognized him at once. How could she not? Nobody else spoke like silk over steel. Like honey and granite rock. Rough with laughter, sarcastic over the card table, whispered across a pillow--that was not a voice one forgot. She turned slowly to face him.
Nick Lafford closed the door behind him and strolled into the room. Time flowed sluggishly around him, giving her a long opportunity to feel five or six emotions in a row, all of them complicated and contradictory.
“Picture of a maid dusting the jewelry,” he said. “How thorough of you.”
“Searching it, actually.”
“We rise above the banal, then. I always enjoy rising about the banal with you.” He came to look past her into the box on the wardrobe shelf. “We have the very likeness of plunder. I feel quite piratical. Is it immensely valuable?”
“Not so far.” She closed the leather case with the rubies and put it firmly back in the tray. “If they were vegetables, this would largely be a pile of potatoes. What in the name of sanity are you doing here?”
“I appear to have joined you in ransacking with intent. Embarrassing if I’m caught at it.” He leaned to look into the jewel box and they touched, just a little. A brush of his jacket on her shoulder. A feeling of warmth at her side. Nothing really.
He said, “I’ll bet these dainty little boxes contain the good stuff.”
“Almost certainly. Go away, Nick.”
“I don’t think so. You may, eventually, be glad I’m here.” He stirred a finger into the jewels, inquisitive. “Or, of course, you may not. But I’m here anyway.”
This was so typical of him. Ready to filch jewels at her side or lead her onto the dance floor in Vienna in front of the assembled nobility of Europe. Once, he’d helped her relocate an inconvenient body. Once--
Blast him for being Nicholas. For being sneaky and single-minded and never giving up. For being clever enough to move her like a chess piece to this time and this place. For saying he loved her.
Blast her for being happy to see him again.