Monday, April 30, 2007

The unconscious mind is an amazing thing. I've been sweating through a tough scene where I had a logistical problem--I had to allow the heroine to slip away to meet with someone without the hero knowing about it, but separating them without it looking contrived was getting difficult. Then today I was writing a scene, and all of a sudden a character says to the hero "I will meet with you at four p.m. tomorrow in my office."

Suddenly I had my opportunity for the heroine to slip away without the hero knowing it. Now, did I plan that? Did I sit down and say, "I know! I'll set up a meeting between the alcalde and Jack and Sophia can slip away."

No. The alcalde of St. Augustine was speaking, and originally he was going to ask for a flat out bribe for himself 'cause he covered Jack's butt in a sticky situation. But then, he suddenly says he expects Jack to pay to re-roof the schoolhouse. And Jack can come by the office to discuss the details. Now the entire scene has changed, the character of the alcalde shifts, and Sophia can get out and about to be up to no good.

Amazing. It must have been lurking in my brain all along. And the real lesson here, boys and girls, is sit down and write even when you don't think you can work out what you need to do. Sometimes the answer is waiting for you, but if you aren't writing, you won't get it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Darlene On the Air

I was on the air from 6-9 a.m. today at WUFT FM/WJUF FM, Classic 89 and Nature Coast 90, doing the last Morning Edition pledge drive. I figured we'd set a modest $3,500 goal--that's what we did the last time I was on. My co-host, Corporate Development Director Harvey Ward suggested $6,500.

"Go for it," I chuckled.

We finished three hours later at over $16,000. This, incidentally, is a new station record.

So why did we do so well? The stars were in alignment. It was the last pledge break during Morning Edition on NPR, and we always get some folks who wait until the last day. We had two experienced and lively co-hosts. The Gainesville Sun had a front page of Lifestyle article this morning on our HD radios, a special thank-you gift we're offering this drive. The HD radio is a gift at the $365 (Dollar a Day) level. During the first half hour we had a local business offer to match the first 10 pledges at $365 and we had phone volunteers who could handle the volume of calls with aplomb.

Finally, we offered two signed sets of Darlene Marshall novels at $125. We ended up getting calls for four sets, and I stepped up and said I'd be happy to bring them more books.

Harvey and I, experienced as we are, saw this wave building and focused on high end giving, hammering home the dollar a day message. It worked. We've found that excitement builds on excitement. People are more likely to phone in when they hear the phones ringing in the studio, 'cause they want to be part of something special. During our last break we had the General Manager running back and forth with new totals for us to read on the air.

Finally, we did it because our public radio stations have some of the most loyal and ardent members in the country. I'm not just saying that, the statistics bear it out.

So, well done, North Central Florida! From Suwannee down to Wildwood, you can be proud of yourselves for keeping a great public radio station able to program the music and news you want.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I was interviewed last night by a student working on her doctoral dissertation. We talked about romance writing and communities of romance readers and writers. It was interesting, and it made me think about how dependent I am as a writer on communication like this--reaching a world-wide audience I'd never have access to otherwise.

I also believe I never would have gotten serious about my writing if I hadn't been in online communities of writers, people who could give me quick responses and information from their vast pool of experience and knowledge.

And we agreed during the interview that "teh" is a silly word.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I read a lovely YA romance this weekend, Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. It's a fantasy about a heroine who in the manner of Scheherazade staves off death by telling a tale of a young woman who gets lost in the woods and meets Lord Death. Death will spare her life if she finds her one true love within the span of a day. It's sweet and sad and romantic and very well written.

Some of the most enjoyable romance novels I've read this year have been YA books: The novels of Sharon Shinn; Twilight by Stephanie Meyer; and now, Keturah. I think too often books like this are shoved into the teen interest section of the bookstore or library, and a lot of adults don't realize how well written and entertaining these novels are.

Signing at Borders

I’m sitting in Borders, pushing Darlene Marshall novels, and so far, it’s going well. We’re one hour into my three hour gig. I’m pitching my books as great Mother’s Day gifts and super beach reading for the summer. Seems to be helping, since I just sold one copy of Captain Sinister's Lady personalized for the recipient mom, and another book to a lady who lives at the beach.

You can write books if you’re shy, but it’s a lot harder to sell books if you’re shy. I have no shame at all. I make eye contact and talk to people as they enter the store. It helps that Borders put me right up front at the front door. I get to see them as they come in, and I’ve spotted a few number of acquaintances. It’s harder to say no to someone you know, especially when she’s sitting right there in front of you.

At the same time, some people are really put off by eye contact. It’s like they go out of their way to make sure you don’t connect with them. I understand that, but I figure I wasn’t likely to make the sale with them anyway so I don’t worry about it.

(Later) OK, we're done now, and I sold through over half the stock. All things considered, it was time well spent and I signed the remaining books so the staff can sticker them "signed by author". Even better, my books now show up as "available and in stock" at my local Borders. People could order at Borders.com, through its Amazon affiliation, but it's nice to be in the bricks & mortar location.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"Roman Holiday" was on the tube tonight. Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck. *Sigh* They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Does anyone know why my phone rang at 6:13 this a.m. with a pre-recorded message from Fabio about "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter"?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A plot against chocolate!


There is apparently a move afoot to pressure the FDA to change the standard for "pure chocolate" to allow all kinds of crap substituting for real milk and real cocoa butter. This is an issue at many levels, not just for chocolate lovers, but for people concerned about food allergies and religious dietary laws.

There's a petition, sponsored by a chocolate company, you can email to the FDA opposing these changes. Go here for information.

Is nothing sacred?! They'll get my dark bittersweet when they pry it from my cold, dead, sticky fingers.



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Book Signing Sunday


Still looking for that perfect Mother's Day gift? Come by Borders Books at 6837 Newberry Road (SR 26) in Gainesville, Florida on Sunday, April 22. I'll be signing my books there from 1-4 p.m.
Surprise mom with something she never expected, a hot pirate romance! And they're the perfect beach reading for all your summer get-aways.

Borders is located just off I-75 at Newberry Road. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Greetings from St. Augustine
I'm sitting outside at Cafe Cordova, having just finished a day of research and sightseeing in St. Augustine. Let's hear it for free wi-fi!

The morning started with one of my favorite perks of being a writer, putting the top down on the convertible to travel to exotic locales. I drove the winding two lane (most of the way) route from Gainesville to St. Augustine, passing through fields of phlox and towns long gone, and a few like Melrose in the midst of revitalization. Spuds (Yes, they grow potatoes there), Hastings, Florahome and Putnam Hall. I saw Cracker homesteads where Julia and Rand from Smuggler's Bride would have felt right at home. There were pecan groves and roadside stands selling fresh produce and flats of luscious strawberries. I drove beneath live oaks dripping Spanish moss as they arched over the old route to the Ancient City, and enjoyed every minute of it.

When I got to St. Augustine I parked near the old city and stopped for lunch at a Cuban cafe where I had black beans and rice and for dessert, tres leches and black as Hades Cuban coffee. Well fortified, I went to the Historical Society and did some research on old Minorcan costumes and maps from 1817. Then I toured Father O'Reilly House, part of the Convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph and one of the older homes in St. Augustine. This was a new tour for me, and while I knew some of the history of the nuns and their work teaching black children during Reconstruction and after, I learned more about the history of the order, about Father O'Reilly and Father Varela, two early priests in the diocese in the 18th and 19th C. I passed on the opportunity to buy holy cards, but did leave a small donation.

I spent my honeymoon in St. Augustine over 30 years ago and I have to say it's improved in the interim. More history, less emphasis on tacky tourist sites. I walked the old streets, Aviles, St. George, Marine and took time to read all the plaques on the walls. I confirmed that the Plaza was the site of the slave market, and important point in my WIP. Sure, I could have called the historical society to find out, but what's the fun in that?

So now I'm winding up and driving the 70 miles home, having spent a productive work day that nonetheless felt like a mini-vacation. I hope your workday has been equally productive, even if it's likely it wasn't as much fun.



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What is it about re-reading Georgette Heyer that is so very satisfying? At least 3-4 times a year I'll pull one of her classics off my keeper shelf and fall back into the dialogue, the description, the characterization that she did so well.

This week it was Regency Buck. One might almost call this the ur-Regency. Even more than Jane Austen, much of what we as modern romance readers and writers consider the quintessential elements of a good Regency are found in this novel. There's the worldly hero who's a top-of-the-trees Corinthian whom all the young bucks aspire to be like. There's the heroine who while lacking in actual experience of the world isn't lacking in sense and can go toe to toe with the hero. There's references to Prinny, the war, fashion, curricles, Wellington,Almacks, the Season, The Beau, patronesses and all the usual trappings of the Regency world. There's even a good mystery.

*Sigh* I almost envy those people who haven't yet read Georgette Heyer for the first time. You could do a lot worse than to start with this novel.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Just a quick note to say I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Both boys are home for the holidays, and between what seems like non-stop cooking I am getting some work done on the book. More on this later.