Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In My Mailbox (24)

I picked up a couple of books from two of my favorite authors.

 Highland Guard Series - Book 4

Dark & Steele Series - Book 11

Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding Time To Write


Spare time is sparse for me these days and finding time to write has been a challenge.  I can't write for hours every day and achieve an amazing daily word count.  I don't have that luxury, thanks to my day job.  If you're in the same boat as me, don't despair.  You can still write - if you choose to make the time. 

I'm sure if you look really hard at where your time goes and how every thing gets done, you can find a little time to write.  If you want to badly enough. 

After trying a number of things and failing spectacularly at each attempt, I've come to a single conclusion.  You have to make time for the things that matter most and do it in a way that works for you.  It sounds obvious, I know.  But it can be tough because the things that matter most aren't always the easy ones to accomplish.  Your day job can leave you exhausted.  Trying to write and maintain a household is time consuming and hard work.  But it's not impossible.  

Are you an early riser or night owl?  Do you creative juices flow with the rays of the sun or the glow of the stars?  Find out what time of your day is the right time for you.  It doesn't matter if you write first thing in the morning or during your lunch break or after your family is in bed.  Fit it in as you can, but don't go to bed without writing. 

You don't have to write for hours and hours a day to make progress on your WIP.  Choose the number or words or pages you want to write come hell or high water during your writing session, and try to achieve your goal.  It can be one page a day.  It can be one paragraph.  It doesn't matter.  Set the number or words or pages you want to complete during your writing session, and then give it a try.

You don't have to complete your entire WIP in one sitting.  Obviously that's not realistic.  Work to your rhythm and don't stress if it doesn't happen.  There's always tomorrow.

Work towards completing that scene with a specific goal in mind, whether it's to complete a page, enter a contest, or polish off a chapter to show to your critique partner.  Deadlines can be great motivators.

Most of our lives are lived by habits.  Good or bad, they are a way of handling repetitive tasks that would otherwise require a lot of energy.  Habits allow us to focus while pushing the routine into the background.  I've heard it takes 21 times of repeating a task to make it a habit.  So just write.  Today.  Tomorrow.  And the day after that.  Write for 21 days.  Eventually, it'll become automatic.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In My Mailbox (23)


E-book version

This is the best vamp series ever.  I can't wait to read this book!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Patch It Up

X marks the spot...
And in France in the 1600s so did hearts, diamonds, circles and clubs.

Little back patches made from taffeta or thin leather were all the rage and more than mere blemish coverups.  An engaged woman wore a patch on her left cheek, switching it to her right after marriage.  A patch near a woman's lip was a "come-hither" signal.  A Whig lady wore a patch to the left, a Tory to the right.  While a gal who voted for political coalition wore patches on both cheeks.  

As a whimsical touch, noble ladies patched their noses and even their chins.  

Sexy sirens carried a small patch box with them wherever they went so they could replace any patches that fell off during a hot waltz around the palace ballroom.

 Patch Box circa 1745

By no means solely a prerogative of highbrow ladies, patches were seen on the jowls of dandies as well.  It is recorded that one amorous marquis arrived at a ball wearing 16 patches on his face - including one in the shape of a tree with two lovebirds kissing.

 Hugh Grant as seen in Restoration

Not only did they wear their hearts on their face, as it were, but ladies and gents sometimes wore family albums - profile patches of family and friends were also a popular fad.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Lessons After Dark

Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection for the week...
Author: Isabel Cooper
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Expected Pub Date: April 2012
For years, Gareth St. John put his supernatural talent for healing in service to the British Army.  Now he's the doctor at a very unusual new school that helps people with special "talents" learn how to hone their abilities.  
Olivia Brightmore became a fake medium to support herself after her husband died, but she never expected to discover real magic as the school's newest teacher.  
Olivia tries to keep the handsome doctor at arm's length, but she can't resist the urge to get under his skin.  He's no proper gentleman, but she's no honest woman.
Thursday, January 19, 2012

In The Habit

Considering the power of the Church in the Middle Ages, priestly attire gained a real cachet. Here are the basic garments no fashion-conscious ecclesiastic could ever do without:

Cassock: Everyday wear for priests - a long-sleeved, ankle-length, close-fitting garment with thirty-three buttons, one for each year of Christ's life.

Amice: A rectangular shawl that formed a snappy collar and protected the other sumptuous garments from sweat.

Alb: A linen tunic worn under the cassock.  It came in white as a sign of chastity, and was embroidered at the hem, chest and sleeves to signify Christ's wounds.

Cincture:  A belt that was another symbol of chastity.  But how come it was tied so loosely?

Chasuble: A poncho-style coverup made of silk and lavishly embroidered, worn while saying mass.

Maniple: A silk handkerchief worn draped over the left arm, just like a waiter's towel.

 circa 1848

Stole: A long scarf symbolizing ordination, worn when the priest, administered the sacraments.  A deacon of the church got an extra-special privilege - he could drape his stole over one shoulder and fasten it at his hip, like a Miss American banner.

Miter: a two-horned hat, worn by bishops, representing the twin rays of light that shone above Moses when he went to get the Ten Commandments; or, possibly, the  mouth of a fish, the symbol of Christ.

 circa 1592

Nuns got barely a glimmer of priestly glamor.  Their costumes shaped up as basically a less jazzy version of everyday medieval dress.  Still, during the Middle Ages there was a resurgence of interest in the religious life as a refuge from unchivalrous men - or simply as a source of free bed and board for those from plagued or Crusade-torn families. 

Women flocked to the convents wearing their usual huge white wimples, veils and barbes, which then became an established part of the habit.  Aprons were added as a sign of service (although fashionable women were wearing them to the nunneries as well) and girdles hung from cloaks to carry the Cross of Christ. 

The plain white band that wound around the forehead dates from the time of Henry II.  I don't know why - like it or not, there's not a reason for everything.

But I can tell you that the reason there were always nine buttons on a nun's cape - that is the exact number of letters in the word obedience, a nun's stock and trade.

Nun's wear changed little throughout the centuries, though it is reported in 1593 that one order favored rouge, powder, and other makeup.  This, of course, is an order of Parisian nuns.  Did the practice last?  No such luck.  They, like their counterparts across the world, were soon clean scrubbed again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: A Week to be Wicked

Happy Hump Day!  Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection:


Spindle Cove, Book 2
Author: Tessa Dare
Expected Pub Date: March 27, 2012

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin... Time is not on their side.

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.  

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be...anywhere but Spindle Cove.  

These unlikely partners have one week
to fake an elopment
to convince family and friends they're in "love"
to outrun armed robbers
to survive their worst nightmares
to travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.
What they don't have time for is their growing attraction.  Much less wild passion.  And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.
Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.

I ♥ Tessa Dare RegenciesI ♥ the premise of this romance.  
I ♥ this book blurb.  I ♥ the cover art.
Basically, I cannot wait to read this book!
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Dragon and the Pearl

It's Teaser Tuesday. Anyone can play!
1) Grab your current read.  

2) Open to a random page.

3) Share 2 "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.  Be careful not to include spoilers - make sure what you share doesn't give too much away.  You don't want to ruin the book for others!

4) Share the title and the author, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.



"For the first time, her feminine instincts failed her.  She should have turned this negotiation to her advantage; instead she wondered how Li Tao would feel crushed against her, skin to heated skin."

~ page 38 of The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Music Monday: The Piano

It's Music Monday!  Time to spotlight one of the CD's on my writing playlist.

The soundtrack to the movie, The Piano, is one I like to listen to when I want to get lost in the art of writing. The music is lyrical and moving.  It conjures up a lot of emotion and transports me to another time and place.  Each piano track is beautiful and rich, and as haunting and foreboding as a stormy sea.

Composer: Michael Nyman

What music inspires you?  What's on your playlist this week?
Sunday, January 15, 2012

Motor Trends

With the invention of the automobile there came a new line of clothes for the well-wheeled traveler.  Women wore huge linen coats over dresses, hates tied down with voluminous scarves, and dustproof veils - all to withstand the damage done by a trip in the newfangled Model-T, which barreled along at fifteen miles per hour.

 Motoring Duster circa 1910

Because the new automobiles were frequently unreliable, women took to wearing high-buttoned boots - just in case they got stuck in a muddy road, or ended up walking home.

Edwardian High-Buttoned Boots

The hardest concession a woman had to make for motoring, however, was the need for goggles - necessary for both comfort and preserving the eyesight. 

"Those who fear any detriment to their good looks," noted a fashion writer of the time, "must content themselves to a quiet drive in the park."

 Motoring Wrap circa 1907

Women also took to wearing a flat tweed cap, unbecoming though it was, when they weren't out for a drive - a symbol that they belonged to the new motoring class.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Avon Romance Survey

Avon Romance wants to hear from you!

Avon Books has created a quick, 10-minute survey asking readers their reading habits - how they find and buy their books, how they engage with authors, publishers, and other readers online, what they like about romance novels specifically, at what price point they will buy who and what, etc.  

Please take a moment out of your day and offer up your valuable input.

Click here to take the survey, which can be found on Avon's Facebook page.
Thursday, January 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (22)


Book 1 of the new Hellraisers series.

 Courtesy of Fresh Fiction
Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Writing Festival

Are you craving some serious writing productivity this winter?  Need to clean up the mess you left in the second half of your NaNo novel?  Want to finally fix that pesky plot hole in your WIP?  Great news - it's time for the Winter Writing Festival!

The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival 
Wednesday, January 11th

I participated in this annual writing event last year and had great success.  So I signed up again this year.  Here's how it works:  

Through the bleakest part of winter - January 11, 2012 through the end of February - the Winter Festival will keep your creative fires burning.  Unlike NaNoWriMo and other writing challenges that have a one-size-fits-all approach, the Ruby Winter Writing Festival is designed for you.   

The Sisterhood works with a point system and YOU decide the terms for earning your point each day.  Everyone gets 1 bonus point on January 11, 2012 just for stopping by the Ruby Blog or singing up and making a public commitment to take part in the Festival.  Then, for each of the 50 days of the Festival, you work to earn an additional point - and you define what it takes to earn that point. 

Examples of the sorts of things you might define as worth one point:

* writing X number of words or pages         
* deep revising Y number of pages
* polishing Z number of pages
* freewriting/brainstorming for Q number of minutes/hours
* doing R number of 20-minute writing sprints
* keeping butt in chair and hands on keyboard for S number of hours

This year I've made the commitment to earn points by either writing 500 words a day OR writing for 1 hour 5 days a week.  Any day I meet either of these goals, I get a point.

If you can't meet your goal on any particular day, you can double or triple or quadruple your goal on another day to catch up.  And if you know ahead of time that you can never work on certain days (say, Saturday) that's okay too.  You can make the commitment to "keep balance in your life by taking Saturday off".  This isn't a competition, it's a supportive process for moving forward with your writing.

Check out the Ruby blog every Wednesday during the Festival to report your progress.  If you reach the end of February with at least 50 points, YOU WIN!

Throughout the Festival, the Rubies offer lots of inspiration and support, including frequent public writing sprints in their Chat Room.  Join me January 11th and get started.  And spread the word.  The more the merrier!
Monday, January 2, 2012

January Releases

These are the books due out this month that I want to read: