Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

It's August already?!


How is it possible that summer is almost over?


Oh well. At least it's awhile before I have to pack up my flip flops and pull out my boots. So what have I been up to lately? Not a whole heck of a lot, frankly, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Still, it feels like I haven't accomplished anything this past month.


Writing

1) Edits. That's right, I'm still editing WHB. It may seem like it's taking forevah, and it certainly feels like it at times. BUT I am making progress. Seriously.


2) Critiquing and Brainstorming. I critiqued several of my CP's chapters. We then brainstormed ways to make some story elements less cliché and more unique.

3) Logline. I wrote a logline for WHB. 

4) Blog Revamp. I updated my blog design, if you hadn't noticed. ;) I loved the old look, but wanted a design that better reflects my passions. Hence, the fleur de lis.


5) Pen Name. I came up with an alternate pen name, just in case I need it someday.

6) Story Ideas. I plotted story ideas for the novellas I plan to write. I jotted them all down in my writer's notebook.

Personal

1) Life with Puppy. My puppy, Milla, is growing up fast. She's finally sleeping through the night.


Unfortunately the girl likes to wake up at the crack of dawn and is currently in her stubborn stage. It makes for some interesting and frustrating moments. But every second with Milla is a joy. How could it not be? Just look at that face...

Ain't I cute? ;)
2) Scottish Highland Games. My BFF and I attended the Skagit Valley Highland Games the second weekend in July. It's become an annual tradition -- one we had to skip the past two years. Even though it was hotter than hell during the event, we had a blast listening to the pipes, watching the dancers, roaming the grounds, browsing the booths, eating Scottish meat pies, drinking root beer floats, and ogling the kilted competitors.

  Men in kilts!!!

3) Books. I managed to read a couple of books this month. I want to read more in August *crosses fingers*

4) Kitty Meow Meow
. Last weekend my 3-year-old goddaughter threw a birthday party for her grandmother, my BFF. The theme was Kitty Meow Meow. That's my goddaughter's name for Hello Kitty. That's our name for a stripper. ;)

 
How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lash Back

False eyelashes came on the American scene in 1932, and by 1964 they were big business.

Lucille Ball.
Image: weheartvintage.co

For eighty dollars a pair a woman could have her false eyelashes custom-made in mink, sable, or human hair. Or she could go to her local salon and have her lashes put on one by one for a look that lasted several weeks.

By 1968 a false-eyelashed cutie could pick up a pair for a mere $4.98 in a multitude of styles like "standard spiky" or "medium shaggy". She could even have lashes affixed with glitter or wear them three layers deep.

Jessica Pare as Megan Draper, Mad Men (2007-)

And in 1970 she could even put them on in a flash when she overslept with Helena Rubenstein's "Minute Lash", boxed with its very own plastic applicator and glue.

1970's Disco Diva
Image: beautyboxuk.blogspot.com

By the mid-seventies, as the vogue for the "natural look" intensified, the sale of false lashes declined. By the late '80's, women were dying their natural lashes or using no-color mascara--to separate and lengthen their natural lashes, albeit discreetly.

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Monday, July 14, 2014

Seven Habits of Effective Writers

I want to write effectively. Don't you? But how? 


What are the best ways for writers to work smarter, not harder? Barbara Wallace knows. She wrote an article on it, which appeared in the June issue of Romance Writers Report (RWR). She lists seven habits of effective writers. Here's the short version:


Habit #1 - Write First
Make sure writing remains the number one priority. Get new words on paper.

Habit #2 - Establish Structure

Put writing first. Set daily word counts and/or hours. Maintain strict structure.

Habit #3 - Know Yourself
Understand how you work. Set realistic long- and short-term goals.

Habit #4 - Be Judicious

Do what you can when you can to promote your work. Create authentic relationships with readers.

Habit #5 - Strike a Strong Balance

Don't be a workaholic. Make a concentrated effort to build downtime into your schedule.

Habit #6 - Cultivate Strong Support Systems
Surround yourself with people who support you and your goals. You need friends who understand the struggles and isolation you face as a writer.

Habit #7 - Treat Writing as a Small Business
Treat writing as a job rather than a hobby. Plan and study the market.


I wholeheartedly agree with these habits. I've noticed a marked difference in my production and attitude ever since I:

1) set weekly goals.
2) made the effort to write (or do something writerly) every day.
3) viewed my writing as a job.
4) found a CP who I adore and trust.

Chances are you've heard it the wisdom that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Give it a try. What are you waiting for? You can do it!
Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: Celtic Wedding Traditions

I love writing historical romance for lots of reasons, one of which is the research I get to do. The history nerd in me gets all warm and tingly inside when I uncover interesting facts.

CELTIC WEDDING TRADITIONS


Image: thecelticweddingship.co.uk


Celtic weddings were simple and meaningful. Their weddings often took place outside with nature to bless the union. Nature was very important to the Celts. They believed the soul existed within within and outside of an individual. The soul would manifest in the trees, in the rocks, the waters and the sun. Humans and the world around them were intertwined, the soul tied to the spirit of the earth. Their belief in marriage was that two souls would join together so their strengths would be twice as great and hardships only half as hard. Marriage was an institution not to be entered into lightly. It was the union of two souls, two hearts and two minds.

Bravehart (1995)

The Feast was one of the most important aspects of a Celtic wedding. Unlike today where the ceremony and reception are viewed separately, traditional Celtic weddings incorporated everything into one big ceremony. The family and friends of both the bride and groom where there along with members of the community. The Celtic bride was very important. The term bride is Celtic in origin and refers to Bridgid, an exalted goddess of Celtic lore.

The Veil is a very old tradition. Before the bride is veiled she is a maiden. When she wears her veils he becomes a goddess in her own right, she takes on her mystery and feminine powers. When she is unveiled by her groom, she returns to this world changed as her old life has ended and a new one begins.

Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clone (2002)

The ceremony itself was a very simple ritual called Handfasting. The bride and groom would stand facing each other holding hands and they were bound by a ceremonial rope, cord, or wrap. This is where the term "tying the knot" comes from.

Image: ansgeulaiche.co.uk

This symbolically signified the unity of the couple. There are many variations on how handfastings were performed. They seem to vary throughout the times and regions. Some involved only one cord or rope, others involved up to six. Scottish weddings used a piece of the family tartan to tie the wedded couple.

Many customs specific to Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany survived and are still used today.

The Claddagh Ring is from Ireland. It was named for one of Ireland's oldest fishing villages.

Image: theirishjewelrycompany.com

The Ring Symbolisms
The two hands clutching a heart = friendship
The crown = loyalty or fidelity
Heart = love.

If you're single, custom says you should wear the ring on the right hand facing out. You wear it facing in if you're spoken for. You wear the ring on your left hand if you're engaged. During the wedding ceremony the ring is turned in then turned inward to signify the final devotion of the heart in marriage.

It was customary in Scottish weddings for the groom to pin a piece of his family tartan on the bride after the exchange of rings.

The Love Spoon is a decorated, hand carved wooden spoon that dates from 17th century Wales. A young man would present the spoon to his sweetheart as a token of affection and/or betrothal. It is thought the love spoon represented an early form of an engagement ring, or the acceptance of a serious courtship. The spoon was carved from a single piece of wood.

Image: barringtonlovespoons.co.uk

Hearts symbolized how the couple felt about each other. A horseshoe was for good luck and happiness. The knot symbolized everlasting love. Leaves and vines symbolized growing love. Double spoons indicated the couple would be together forever, while a triple spoon symbolized family. 
 
  -- Courtesy of The Celtic Highlander --
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: I Want it That Way

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...

  NEW ADULT
 
I WANT IT THAT WAY
By Ann Aguirre
Harlequin HQN
August 26, 2014
 
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local daycare to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question.  The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

I'm super excited about this book. I loved Ann Aguirre's romantic sci-fi Jax series. I bet this New Adult series is just as good.


~ Book blurb courtesy of author's website ~
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday

July, you sneaked up on me. Where did you come from? Just last May, I was so proud of myself for making writing my top priority. And then...I got a puppy.


These days, life has been fun but hectic. When I should be writing, I'm power napping. Or cleaning. Or ambling around like the Walking Dead.


I'm determined to create a new writing schedule (and start exercising regularly again) this month--or else. I have a story to finish! ASAP!!


As I dive back into my revisions, there's one thing I need to watch out for: Buried Dialogue.

Wait. What?


In my last chapter I buried some dialogue between narrative. If my CP hadn't pointed it out, I probably wouldn't have noticed that a few of my paragraphs looked like this: narrative, dialogue, narrative. See why it's vital to find yourself a good CP? She'll notice things you miss.

It's always best to eliminate Buried Dialogue because:

1) Buried dialogue slows the pace.
2) Dialogue can lose its oomph when squished between two narratives.

Here's an example of Buried Dialogue (courtesy of Lynettelabelle.com):

She lifted a tissue to her nose and blew. "He's gone." Her voice quivered almost as much as her hand.

This line is stronger when you remove the buried dialogue:
She lifted a tissue to her nose and blew.
"He's gone." Her voice quivered almost as much as her hand.


So how do you eliminate buried dialogue? By moving things around so the dilogue is at the front or end of the narration. Easy peasy, huh.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Releases

This summer I'm on a mission. I will read more books. I will, I will, I will. I wouldn't mind reading any one of these new releases.


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE
 
 
The Gentleman Jewel Thief
by Jessica Peterson 
July 1

Bride of a Scottish Warrior
by Adrienne Basso 
July 1
 
This first book in The Hope Diamond Trilogy is one debut I'm anxious to read.

I've never read a Highlander romance by this author. Methinks I need to read this one.


  NEW ADULT
 


Swimming to Tokyo
by Brenda St. John Brown 
July 28

The best trip I ever took was to Japan. During my 2-week stay, I spent several days in Tokyo. I had a fantastic time. So I can't wait to read this book and take a trip down memory lane. 


  YOUNG ADULT
 


Demon Derby
by Carrie Harris 
July 8

I adore Carrie Harris's books. Just the thought of them make me squee. Seriously. Ms. Harris's snappy pacing and witty dialogue are totes amazeballs.

What's on your must-read list this month?