New Beginnings and Bloopers

Not every beginning begins auspiciously. Take this hilarious blooper making the YouTube rounds. http://www.flixxy.com/wedding-ceremony.htm

Personally, I love it that neither the bride nor groom takes themselves too seriously. Even the judge is able to adlib. To me, that speaks well for the couple’s chances in the long run because being able to think on your feet and laugh at yourself are two qualities that come in handy in marriage…and in life.

That’s especially true in a writer’s life. Take my current WIP (work-in-progress) tentitively titled RIGHT COWBOY, WRONG TWIN. I was a hundred pages into it when I got my revisions for the preceding book. As you may remember if you’ve been following this blog, that book required some very intense remodeling. The process brought to light some problems—landminds, if you will–waiting to blow up in my current book. Instead of getting too freaked out, like the bride in the video I laughed.  With not quite as much hilarity, though. This, after all, is work, not matrimony. 😉

Hope any new beginnings you undertake today are filled with creative thoughts and a waffle or two.

Deb

Love springs eternal

I’ve heard that expression forever but really never thought about it until I caught this post on a popular online site that I accidentally joined. (That happens a lot since I’m still wandering around the Net blind, most of the time.) http://huff.to/c4aLX2

Here’s the headline that caught my eye: Elizabeth Taylor, 78, Engaged for the Ninth Time.

Ms. Taylor has since recinded that announcement via Twitter–good heavens, Liz Tweets? Another amazing thing!–but, for a moment, I was heartened by the thought that no matter your age or infirmity, as long as the heart is beating, that need for love, companionship and hope, well…springs eternal.

Sure, the cynics among you might have a problem with this given her marital record alone–who can forget Larry Whatshisname, right?–but I say, “If not now, when?”

Of course, that could be the romantic in me talking. I am a romance novelist, after all. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t be as suspect of a 49-year-old man’s intentions as we would be of a young female gold-digger tying the knot with a man thirty years her senior. My point is simply that a heart that beats still craves love,  and while fame and wealth might bring you more offers–realistic or not–who can blame someone for wanting love–at any age?

The world is full of critics who snub romance novels as being too unreal. But as Mark Twain pointed out, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” – Following the Equator, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar

I don’t have a former screen goddess in a wheelchair poised–or not–to marry for the nineth time in one of my books, but I love the possibility. The heart, like Truth, makes its own possibilities.

Tell me a “real life,” unlikely love story and your name will be entered into a drawing for the first copy of my new release, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL (got the title right this time, I think), as soon as my review copies arrive.

Happy Tuesday to all my fellow Glee fans!

Deb

Social networking vs time

I didn’t have access to my computer for a couple of hours yesterday and I felt as though I was going through withdrawals. I was on edge and distracted. An underlying question running through my head was: What am I missing?

This is not good for a writer who spends most of her waking hours in other people’s worlds. My characters are the ones I should be worrying about not connecting with, not keeping up with the lives of friends, strangers and the world at large.  After my last revisions, I would hope that lesson was deeply ingrained in my psyche.

But there’s so much interesting stuff out there. Take my friend and fellow Superromance author Kathleen O’Brien’s recent blog about magical thinking and the writing process. http://kobrienromance.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/147/, which was conveniently posted on our Superromance FaceBook page http://www.facebook.com/HarlequinSuperromance, which also provided a link to the April releases at eHarlequin.com http://www.eharlequin.com/store.html?cid=229 .

See what I mean?

But Kathleen’s blog proved invaluable because it reminded me of the joy and “magic” that is central to writing fiction. If you don’t love these imaginary people whose story you’re attempting to tell, who will? I went back to my book with a new appreciation for Cade and Jessie and a true warmness in my heart that was missing when I first sat down that morning to write.

But there’s the rub. If I hadn’t delved into the social networking world, I wouldn’t have brought a renewed zest to my writing. So, I guess this all comes down to balance.  If you find yourself spending too, too much time online, I suggest you find the nearest patch of green grass to hunt for fairies or a four-leaf clover.

That’s what I plan to do today–between my stops at FaceBook, eHarlequin and Twitter. Oh, and work on my new book, of course.

Have a lovely Tuesday.

Deb

Signposts of Spring

Look!

Look upon this sumptuous feast for the eyes and help me give a nod of gratitude to Kori Smith–friend, Wine, Women and Words book club member, and mother of Allex. Last fall at Jan’s memorial, she told me she’d just finished planting seventy-two tulips in honor of Jan. All red–Jan’s favorite color.

When I heard the flowers were up and blooming, I thought, “Gulp. This will be hard.” It wasn’t. It was glorious, joyous and breathtaking. It made me happy because I know it would have made Jan very, very happy.

I have one–count it–one–tulip bravely struggling to unfurl its tiny blossom in my flower bed. Apparently, I’m not a great planter. But I choose to picture UNTIL HE MET RACHEL as my tulip. It went into production about the same time Kori was planting her bulbs and it is poised to blossom onto book shelves in just a few weeks.

LOL. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s the best I can do–this spring. Maybe next year…maybe.

If anyone would like to boast about their own green thumb, I’d happily reward that effort with a package of California wild flower seeds. May the greenest thumb win.

Deb

Step away from the manuscript…

I completed the revisions on my 27th book at midnight Sunday. The manuscript was due on my editor’s desk the next morning. Thank heavens for e-mail, right? But, I am not a last-minute, thrill-of-the-crunch-time, adrenalin junkie. Not even close. So what went wrong this time, with this book?

The book’s title is THE GOOD PROVIDER and will be out this fall. But I’m calling it my P.T.S.D. book. (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). I wrote it immediately after my sister’s death. Immediately after my grueling summer of watching her die. Not only was on contract with a committed deadline, I told myself work was my escape. I liked thinking I was finally in a place where I had some say in the outcome of someone’s life. In this case, my hero and heroine. That well-promised HEA called to me.

BUT, what I didn’t fully take into account was where my head and heart was in the grieving process. I’ve worked through sad times before. I figured this would be no different. But it was.

My wonderful editor didn’t come right out and say, “What the hell were you thinking?” She’s far too kind, but I could hear her exasperation in the imbedded comments of her revision notes. The problem stemmed from the obvious disconnect I’d created between the story and the characters. They were/are interesting, complex people with great heart and intensity; yet, I’d reduced them to actors on stage, sleepwalking through their roles.

In hindsight, I’m not surprised. I’d created that same disconnect across the board in my life–family, friends, online communites. I think that’s not untypical of PTSD. In hindsight, I probably should have “stepped away from my manuscript” until the fog lifted.

Well, guess what? The fog’s gone, now, let me tell you. Nothing like a few 14-hr days chained to your chair to whip you into shape. LOL.

The good news is: I, now, like this book again. I feel as though I finally know Daria and William. I picture them shaking their heads at me. Working with a sleepwalking writer  must have been frustrating for them, too. 😉

So…the book is done. It’s soooo much better. And I’m headed to town for a massage. Yippee!!!  I really, really need one.

Now, to offset this dry, reflective, totally writer-stuff topic, here’s a picture of  my father-in-law, Milt, who is visiting from South Dakota. He’s 86. I told him he’s famous, now. (Just play along, okay?)

Milt and friend

Have a great week, everyone.

Deb

Garbonzos by the dozen

The Wine, Women and Words Book Club met on Sunday to discuss A Short History of Women. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but we’ve been known to spend most of the time talking about everything EXCEPT the book. But this time, we retired to the living room after our meal to actually discuss the book. A testiment, I think, to the author and the story. We mostly agreed that the book’s set-up (hop-skip-and-jumping between decades) was “challenging”, but the quality of the writing and meat of the story really drew us in once we got into it.

As I mentioned in my reply to Barbs’ post last week, I found myself thinking about my grandmother and my mother a lot as I was reading this book. They were shaped by the society they lived in but they also helped to shape changes that still effect my life today. WW&W-member Carol, felt the same way. Although none of us could claim a sufferagette grandmother who starved herself to death for her cause (or was that her real motivation? I’m on the fence.), we had lots to say about the strength of our female ancestors and their lasting legacy.

Any standout female figures in your family history you’d like to brag about? I’m all ears.

Our next month’s read is Carol’s choice and she decided on COMMITTED by Elizabeth Gilbert.

May is my choice, and we will be reading THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson

AND, of course, MY May book, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL.

Two wounded heroes. Vastly different stories. <VBG>

Now, about the title of this blog: turns out we unintentionally wound up with a food theme that had nothing to do with the book. Several of us contributed dishes that included garbonzo beans. I made falafel patties ala Jon Paul (my son). He did the smushing, mixing and seasoning, bless his heart, so all I had to do was shape and fry–like hamburgers, only meatless. DE-LISH. (Recipe below.) Heather brought a power soup that she insisted on calling “Gruel”. It, too, contained the bean of choice. Martha’s salad may have had a bean or two in it. But the culinary surprise of the evening was…wait for it…Flourless Chocolate Garbonzo Bean Cake.

For real. And it was a hit. (Thank you, Ruth.) See recipe below.

Happy reading, all. See you next week. I am bogged down in revisions–send me your good writing vibes. I need them.

Deb

RECIPES:

FALAFEL PATTIES ala Jon Paul

2-3 cans garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup minced parsley

1/4 cup finely minced green onion with tops

1/4 cup Blue Oak Ayurveda “Shake It Up” seasoning mix

Directions: smash beans, add other ingredients, form into patties and fry in HOT pan using a fair amount of canola oil. Serve with fresh salsa for a fun twist.

GARBONZO BEAN CAKE ala Ruth

9″ round cake pan              40 minutes @ 350-degrees

1 1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can garbonzos, drain and rinse

4 eggs

3/4 C. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 T. confectioners sugar (optional)

Directions: grease and flour pan. Melt chocolate chips. Combine beans and eggs in food processor, add sugar and baking powder. Add chocolate. Pulse to blend. Transfer to pan. Cool in pan on dry rack for 10-15 minutes, then insert on serving plate and top with powdered sugar.

National Women’s Day

Stumbled across this thought-provoking blog on FaceBook and thought I’d share. http://harlequinblog.com/2010/03/the-harlequin-blog-celebrates-national-womens-month/

I particularly like what the author of the blog says about strong heroines. The book I’m currently revising features a woman coming out of an abusive relationship. What drew me to Daria was the strength it took to stand up to the many people in her life who felt that what she had (a lovely home, two beautiful kids in private school, a nice car, etc.) more than made up for the fact her husband regarded her as a possession. My heroine is strong, but there will be those, I’m sure, who wonder why she didn’t leave sooner. Why did she stay with him and have two kids? Valid questions, but, as in life, there are no simple, pat answers. She struggled with and continues to struggle with her sense of identity and establishing her independence and her right to live a happy, fulfilled and engaged life, rather than standing in the shadow of her husband’s success.

Interestingly, this topic also dovertails nicely with the book the Wine, Women and Words Book Club is discussing on Sunday. A SHORT HISTORY OF WOMEN by Kate Walbert  is not a placid,  easy read. I found it challenging but worth the effort. A word of advice if you pick this up: keep one finger on the family tree index. (I was very confused by all the Dorothy characters.) What I found most interesting was how the advances in women rights, beginning with suffrage, affected the generations of women in this one family.

Also, I’m in the mood to give away prizes today–in celebration of National Women’s Day. Post-it notes–who can live without Post-its?!?–will go out to the first three posters.

Have a great week, everyone.

Deb

Welcome to the Man Cave

manly decor, no?

My father-in-law and brother-in-law are coming tomorrow for a month’s stay. They’re fed up with winter in South Dakota and need an escape. I remember those long, white winters and don’t blame them, but introducing two guests into a household for four weeks could be a challenge, unless you happen to have a Man Cave handy.

Our guest house didn’t start out as a Man Cave. It morphed from a shop, to an art studio, to a bachelor pad for our son, to a studio apartment, to a cottage, and, now, it’s changed again.

You gotta love a space that is that flexible. You could learn from a space like that. You could take to heart that nothing is written in stone and every change leads to new possibilities.

The reason this lesson is important to me is that I’m currently working on my revisions for my December book. This is my 27th book, so I’m pretty familiar with revisions, but each book is different. And each time I get the “fix this” call from my editor, I have to remind myself of one simple thing: revising will make it better; over-revising will make you crazy and it won’t help the story.

Kinda like the man cave. No new walls, windows or rooms; instead, we went for the nuances that give it personality and theme. A few fishing poles, lures (or instruments of death, as my hubby calls them), lots of remote controls and a couple of leather recliners.

So, I’m off to “revisionland” – an island of small, significant change in the heart of Debland. But I’m looking forward to hangin’ with the boys at the Man Cave once my revisions are done.

Have a great week!
Deb

Tuesdays in DebLand

A happy smile to start your day!

I realize I’m a bit late in starting a New Year’s Resolution, but it’s still February. Right? Well, this is me playing catch-up with my life. Nothing new, I assure you. But routine is a good thing, I’m told, so I’m embarking on a new one–a weekly blog. (Hence the “Tuesdays in DebLand” title.) I thought I’d start you out with a happy smile. My youngest granddaughter never fails to make me smile.

As some of you know, I lost my mom and my sister in quick succession (May ’08 and Aug ’09, respectively). This double whammy has made the process of grieving doubly intense and really cut into my normal online socialization. But I’m feeling more positive and focused every day and I hope to make these blogs positive, too. The focus will tend toward writing, since that’s what I do.

So, here’s your first piece of insider news: my next book is titled THE GOOD PROVIDER (Nov OR Dec 2010). This is William’s story. He’s the agent who shows up in a couple of stories, including “Finding Their Son.” Here’s a scene from that book that made me certain I needed to write his story.

“Hi, Char, it’s me, Eli. I miss you. I’m pretty sure my life is never gonig to be right without you. Marry me?”

He stuffed the phone back into his pocket. What kind of jerk proposed on the phone–while he still legally married?

He let out a loud sound of disgust and fell backward in the sand. He kept his eye closed for two reasons: the sun and his eyes were starting to water. From some previously undiagnosed allergy. Or a sudden onset cold. Not tears. God, no. He refused to cry in public.

He was so wrapped up in fighting off his impending embarrassment he almost missed the conversation coming from a few feet behind him–until he realized he was the focus of it.

“Wow, Shane. How’d you do that? Point your finger, pull the trigger and he topples over. That was awesome.”

“Why are you looking at me? It could have been William. He was using an imaginary bow and arrow.”

“That’s what you use on dragons.”

The last speaker had an English accent.

“It couldn’t have been us. Any projectile–even an imaginary one–would have made him fall forward because we were shooting from behind.”

Eli opened his eyes. They really were talking about him.

“Then why’d he fall over? Maybe he’s on drugs again.”

Again?

“He’s pissed.”

“How could he be pissed? We haven’t even told him who we are or why we’re here.”

“Pissed is Brit for drunk.”

“Why can’t they talk right?”

“They? You mean me, and I’m standing right here. With an imaginary bow and arrow that I’m going to shove u–“

A bit naughty, but I loved his droll, dry humor. Can’t wait for you to meet him in his own book.

Okay. Enough for today. I’m working on a new story–the first book of twins, which is also the second to last book in this series. (Confused, yet?)

Oh, and my bookclub is reading a very unusual book that has me both intrigued and annoyed. The title is: A Short History of Women. More of that when the Wine, Women and Words bookclub meets. Soon. I promise. Another resolution pending implementation…but it’s still February, right?

Have a great rest of the week! See you next Tuesday.

Deb