Sunday, September 30, 2007

My son said to me, "Why are you on Facebook?"

"Because all the other writers are on Facebook."

"If all the other writers jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge?"

"If it would get me on the NYT Bestseller list? Sure!"

I'm also at MySpace, but that one's a mirror of this blog. So you might as well stay put.








Darlene Marshall
"Everyone is entitled to go to Hell in their own way. You gotta have a plan!"
'What is your personal life motto?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Joys of Research


I love those "Aha!" moments when you're doing research and you find exactly what you needed to know. The only thing better is when you're doing research and you find information you didn't know you needed!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Words you can use


Today's vocab word: afflatus

I've been waiting all my life for this word, defined as "a strong creative impulse, divine inspiration".

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get some more coffee and hope afflatus will carry me away. I am feeling somewhat afflated today! Must have been the lentil pilaf I ate last night.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Joys of Inter-Library Loan
If you've never used ILL at your public library, you're missing a treat. ILL will get you almost any book in print that's in circulation at any public library in the US. You might have to wait a while, but eventually it shows up. This week's offering on my hit list was Tobias Smollett's The Adventures of Roderick Random.

So if y'all will excuse me, I'm off to do some research reading.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I was at Goerings Book Store last night for a talk by James G. Cusick, author of one of my favorite history books: The Other War of 1812--The Patriot War and the American Invasion of Spanish East Florida.

Dr. Cusick made a point of saying that even the best of the histories of the War of 1812 focus on four things, almost exclusively: War with Canada, The burning of Washington, the naval battles, and the Battle of New Orleans. None of them talk about the war on the Southern frontier, as Georgia invaded Florida and tried to overthrow the Spanish government and make East Florida part of the United States.

His book is well written and fascinating, and best of all, is finally out in paper. The original copies cost $50, so I just kept checking it out from the library. Now I've got my own signed edition. Dr. Cusick is also curator of the Library of Florida History at the University of Florida, and was a huge help to me, answering my emails to the UF Library when I was writing The Bride and the Buccaneer. Oddly enough, he did not ask to be credited in my spicy pirate romance novel.

The 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 is approaching. It's an excellent time to bone up on what was truly the war that established us as a sovereign nation as we took on and held off the military leader of the 19th C.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Have you kissed your pirate today?

Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, a good day to hoist a mug of rum and toast the freebooters and buccaneers of old, who gave us so many wonderful stories. Celebrate with a film festival of Captain Blood, The Buccaneer, and of course, Pirates of the Caribbean.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

September 19 is International "Talk Like A Pirate" Day. Will you be ready? Go here for a helpful instructional video that will have you talking like the saltiest of seadogs in no time.

And remember, this is a great time to read a pirate romance, and there are three good ones in the sidebar to your left.

Monday, September 17, 2007




I blog over at the HEA cafe on the 4th of each month. But even when I'm not around, there are a host of other interesting published authors from the RWA Online chapter writing about Life, The Universe and Everything.

Stop by and check them out!
My new WIP is coming along. I'm still in the research stage, but that means that as the research twigs something in my mind I turn to my computer and write a scene, or a snip of dialog, or an explanation of why something is happening. So I'm writing as I go.

I'm feeling quite sanguine about this new book, whose working title is A Sea Change. For the first time I've got a grasp on the beginning, the middle and the end of the novel before I write it, and that's encouraging for an "organic" writer who doesn't usually outline.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My fourth historical romance now has a working title of The Bride and The Buccaneer and is in the capable hands of my agent. I liked The Babe with the Booty, but he didn't seem keen on that title for some reason.

This book was twisty to write, with a pirate treasure hunt and people keeping secrets from each other, but I feel that at the end it all fell into place.

I will, of course, post more information as this story develops.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I was at the Alachua County Library District Foundation annual meeting tonight, and got our "State of the Foundation" and library report. Despite the revenue slashing at the state level, our library has not had to cut back on any services. Good management and prudent handling of money keeps us going.

However, we are having to delay some building projects, though the ones in the works sound very exciting. My local branch will be vastly expanded and have new features, like a children's playground outside and nature trails through the bordering woods.

I also brought two copies of Samt und Säbel to donate to the library. When I asked the library director if he would like my translated novel to add to his foreign language collection, he did some research and discovered they had no German novels in their collection. So I get to inaugurate the new German section with my hot pirate romances!

I was also approached about donating some of my books to our silent auction at the upcoming Foundation Author Gala, and I'm more than happy to do that. I try to help the public library in any way I can. Without services like Inter-Library Loan and the well trained reference librarians, my books wouldn't get written.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Remodeling--Done!!!
Yes, the bathroom is finally finished. Bob the Contractor put the last touches on it Friday, and I wanted to take pictures while it's still pristine.

I don't know that the pictures will show the true colors well, but the walls are a pale celadon green with white trim. I believe we got the simple Asian/spa look I was going for. I'm quite pleased about the mirrors and the vanity table. Bob built those himself using recycled wood from some shelves we had to tear out for the remodeling. And if any of you are thinking of putting in vessel sinks, be aware there's a bit of a learning curve on them. You have to learn not to run the water so hard that it splashes out of the bowl and onto the counter and walls.

The shower door is etched with a bamboo design, and the door to the toilet has a rice paper film over the panels. I have much more usable storage space in the bathroom than I had before, and better lighting. These pictures were taken mid-morning to get the full effect of the light coming in from the skylight and the window over the tub.


with lights on

sinks and mirrors, plant hanging down

The shower Door

Shower interior

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm the first person to say research is best done in books or at a library, not via the internet, but I have to admit I'm enjoying the luxury of reading The Adventures of Roderick Random via Project Gutenberg while I wait to see if I can get it on interlibrary loan.

This novel was written by Tobias Smollett, a physician, and first published in 1737. It's a vastly entertaining look at life aboard ship in the age of sail. There's nothing like contemporary writing, whether it's Austen or Defoe or Smollett, to give you a true feel for the time and place you're researching.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

“Write what you know” is one of the most fossilized commandments of How To Write. Sometimes writers take it too literally. They think they have to be “method actors”, immersing themselves in roles before they can sit down at the keyboard and make their characters come alive. It doesn’t have to be that intense. I didn’t have to be a soapmaker to write about a character who’s a soapmaker (Amanda in Captain Sinister’s Lady), but I did have to do research on how soap was manufactured in the early 19th century.

Yet there is something to be said for “write what you know”, and we should always keep this in mind. For one thing, you know more than you think and you should use it. I may not have known at the outset how to make soap, but I knew what it smelled like to unwrap a fresh bar. I also knew the gliding feeling of working up a lovely lather and what happens when you have soap that smells like almonds, or sandalwood, or roses, spreading its fragrance through a room. That too is writing what you know–incorporating all the sensual details of your life into your writing.

And this is leading me back to my original thought behind this blog entry. When I started writing my first novel, Pirate’s Price, it was set in England because, well, gosh, every historical is set in England unless it’s a US civil war story, right?

So I’d be sitting out there on my back porch, thinking about writing Regency London, when what I really wanted to do was describe how a clear February day in Florida gives you a sky so blue it makes your eyes hurt, how the red hawk in the tree bordering our yard was calling out its kee-yar cry, and how my neighbor’s orange trees were perfuming the entire block.

I wanted to write about what I knew–the North Florida landscape I’d lived in for over 30 years. So I did. I took trips to St. Augustine and walked the streets of the Ancient City, toured the Castillo de San Marcos, went to Fernandina to research its pirate history, and visited the various springs, rivers and geological sites that figure in my work.

It was fun, and it helped me give my writing an air of authenticity that I believe does spring from writing what you know–how something smells, how it feels, how it grows, how it sounds, what’s in bloom at certain times of the year, and when you would have a character attend a cane grinding.

When I had my heroine make a persimmon cake in Smuggler’s Bride, it was because I’d purchased some ripe persimmons at the farmers’ market and ended up using them in a spice cake (recipe upon request [g]), so I was “writing what I knew”.

Even if your story is set in a solar system far, far away, you can write with this kind of authenticity. You can describe the foods your characters are eating, the fabric of their clothing, the sights they encounter based on your own experiences. Each writer must in her own way incorporate her life experiences into her writing, because when it comes down to it, we’re all “writing what we know.”



I sent A Pirate's Treasure off. Gosh, it really is like shoving your baby in the mailbox!

And I started doing more in-depth research for the babes-in-breeches nautical novel. I've got to come up with a working title. I might even try to write a synopsis before the book is finished. It reminds me of the days when I had to write outlines of school papers. I'd write the paper, and then write the outline based on the finished work. Maybe I can overcome that and write a real, working synopsis before the first draft.