Sunday, December 25, 2005

I was going to say that Walk the Line is the most romantic movie I've seen this season, but King Kong could give it a run for the money in the romance department. And I don't mean Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts. No, it's the girl and the big monkey. What chemistry! What pathos!

OK, all kidding aside, Walk the Line is clearly the most romantic movie with two humans in it, but King Kong is also well worth seeing for the way it deals with difficult relationships.

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's been a while since I posted 'cause life has interfered with writing, as it so often does. My younger son is home from college and got his wisdom teeth extracted, which has put me back into "mommy mode". To be honest, I hadn't missed preparing meals for large young men who consume massive amounts of food and still manage to look like they ought to be on the cover of one of my novels. There most definitely is a jealousy factor at work here. When you're scrambling eight eggs with heavy cream and a side of mashed potatoes while listening to an 18-year-old whine about how he's losing weight, it takes a lot of effort not to lose it and bash him upside the head with the frying pan.

But I'm sympathetic over the teeth. I don't have wisdom teeth, nor does my older son. My husband, who still remembers getting his out, and the kid sitting with hot compresses on his face don't appreciate my reminding them that it's a good example of evolution in action, not developing teeth you don't need.

And speaking of teeth, that may be one of the last "taboos" in historical romance writing. We've got heroes who are amputees, eyeless, scarred, deaf and suffering from amnesia, but we don't have any historical heroes missing significant teeth. And with one or two exceptions--Barbara Metzger springs to mind--we don't have heroes losing their hair either.

Don't look at me. I'm not planning on penning the first bald, toothless historical romance hero! I'll let braver souls pick up that challenge.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Book Reviews--Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter
Jeff Lindsay
2005, Doubleday

Dexter Morgan, the serial killer who only takes out the trash, is back in a novel that picks up where Darkly Dreaming Dexter ended. In that first novel we learned how Dexter’s foster father saw early what the boy was and channeled his social quirks into a more acceptable outlet. Oh, Dexter still likes to torture people to death–that will never change–but thanks to his cop dad Dexter has a mission–to only use his talents on really, really bad people. Specifically, other serial killers.

Dexter works for the Miami PD as a blood spatter specialist and he cheerfully goes through his life, as he puts it, pretending to be human and letting his dark friend come out to play every now and then. Dexter’s sister is a Miami cop and while she has a pretty good idea what he’s up to, she leaves him alone to do his thing.

The problem is, Dexter’s doing a little too good a job of passing for human. So much so that the woman who provides him with some protective coloration while they’re dating begins to think there’s more to Dexter than he lets on–like a conscience, feelings and social skills–and somehow he finds himself getting more and more involved with people, which cramps his style when dealing with the monsters.

But he persists, and in Dearly Devoted, Dexter has a new challenge, a South American death squad specialist hunting down his former compadres, the ones who turned him over to the enemy. Not surprisingly, many of these former colleagues are US government operatives, and some have even joined the Miami PD. So Dexter becomes involved with the hunt for “The Doctor”, whom Dexter admires for his splendid work, while at the same time Dexter tries to throw off a suspicious cop who’s following him everywhere, severely cramping Dexter’s style and keeping his dark friend from coming out to play. And if Dexter’s dark longings aren’t let out every now and then, bad things can happen.

Dearly Devoted Dexter is a quirky novel about a charming serial killer, and clearly isn’t for everyone. I’d read a novel with a similar premise recently, and I realized part of what I liked better about the Dexter novels was how hard Dexter works to live up to the twisted mission passed on to him by his dad. In the other “funny serial killer” book the killings were much more random. Dexter has style. He wears cool Hawaiian shirts. He knows what he is and tries to work with the material he’s given. After all, if he’s born to greatness, he’s going to make the most of it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Why do I love this job? Partly because the job description includes being able to sit and read books I enjoy, like C.S. Forester's Age of Fighting Sail, a classic history of the war of 1812. There are all these little moments when your eye scans something that at first glance appears perfectly pedestrian, then you have this "Whoa! I can really use that!" moment and suddenly you're rushing back to the computer to tweak your text.

Which leads into my real rant for the day, "Why Books Are Better Than The Internet". I hang out in a writers' group where we're often asked to recommend this website or that for information. Primary information. I'm old fashioned enough to wave my cane in the direction of the person posting the query and say "You young whippersnappers! The best information still comes from books! You should make books your primary source and the 'net your secondary source!"

Why? Because if you're reading a book you can pick up all kinds of ancillary information you didn't know you needed until you read it. Sure, a website can help you nail down a date when something happened, or show you a picture of Revenue Marine uniforms, but if you're reading a book about the history of the Revenue Marine you're likely to pick up little anecdotes and snippets you might not get off a website. Plus, there's always the danger of lack of editorial control at websites. At least you can presume with books from respected publishers like the Naval Institute Press that there's been some editorial oversight of the material being published.

So there's a place for research on the web, no doubt about it. But for serious research for writing, I still have to recommend books, or interviews with real people and visits to real places.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tonight was the last class of the first part of tai chi. We've learned the first third of the simple form, and my instructor says it takes about 30 years to be proficient at it.

I always wanted a goal for when I'm 80--beyond surviving--now I have one.

Anyway, I am going to continue. As difficult as it is, and it is difficult, I can see improvement in myself. Some of us talked about repeating the first session again, but our instructor recommended we move on. Now my hard task will be continuing to practice each day, even though I know half the time I'm still not doing it correctly. Our instructor, who's 57, showed us the full tai chi form, which takes about 8 minutes to run through. That's all. 30 years of study for an 8 minute exercise. But to see it done correctly, that was a treat. His movements were fluid, his form supple, his posture perfect.

Man, when I'm 80, people are going to be stunned by my agility!

Bound By Destiny by Rayka Mennen

Rayka Mennen -
When Katherine Ricetti brushes against civil engineer, Jacob Taggert, and sees a vision of the accident about to befall him, she saves him from certain death. But the Ricetti women are witches and have their first vision about the men they are destined to marry. Try explaining that to a die-hard skeptic like Jake. When he isn’t running scared, he’s looking for the loop hole in this witch theory. Too bad, because her pretty face and long legs had captured his attention before the accident. Besides, he can’t allow a witch to raise his son! But the signs are clear and he is unable to deny Kat has powerful talents that can’t be explained in earthly scientific terms. Kat, a reluctant witch to begin with, may have to renounce her heritage to be with the man she loves. Which will she chose, when both seem to be her destiny? ISBN: 1-897261-00-4
5 Cups from Coffee Time Romance; 5 Hearts from The Romance Studio

Monday, November 28, 2005

Today's a perfect writing day in normally sunny Florida. Too often I'll be sitting on the back porch and get distracted by flowers that need trimming, compost that needs turning, anything to get me away from what I should be doing, making up people in my head.

Today though is dank and rainy as a cold front comes through, so short of crawling back into bed with a good book and pulling the covers up (my second--no, third-- favorite rainy day activity), it's a good writing day. I'm sitting under a darkened skylight as the drops ping off the roof and the occasional bit of thunder rolls through. The stereo still has my Thanksgiving line-up on the CD changer, a mixture of Ralph Vaughn Williams, Bach, Yo-Yo Ma and Mark Conner, and I'm making progress on the next book, working title of The Privateer. That's not going to be its final title. I think I'll work treasure in there somehow, but for now, it's good enough for saving files.

In a little bit though it will be mid-afternoon, which is when my brain goes all fuzzy and it becomes a good time to do mindless activity like the laundry. So I'll continue writing for as long as the synapses are firing, and then take a break from creating hot heroes and snappy heroines and slip into some other rainy day activity.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

My Thanksgiving was hectic, but delightful. The boys are home from college, so there's a lot of arm-punching and name calling going on, but that's normal. It warms the cockles of my heart to hear the philosophy major tell the politics/economics major he's a butthead who smells bad. Yes, this is why we scrimp and save to send them off to be educated and sophisticated men of the world.

The food was a quite tasty, if I do say so myself, and my recipes both old and new all worked out well. My best friend is in town and it was wonderful going to see "Pride and Prejudice" with someone who's not only a fellow Austen fan, but could snark and chuckle with me through all the tidbits most people (like my dear husband) just wouldn't get--questions about why so many of the men are running around without gloves, why Lady Catherine shows up in the middle of the night, and why the screenwriter seemed to be channeling Charlotte Bronte rather than Jane Austen?

So I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful too and you have lots of splendid leftovers!

Monday, November 21, 2005

When my dear husband says "I don't know what to buy you!" I always try to keep it easy for him. I tell him he can buy me expensive jewelry or book gift certificates. And can there be anything more tempting than a book sale for a good cause? Where you're spending money on something you want anyway, probably more money than you should, because you know a percentage goes to charity? It almost takes the guilt out of guilty pleasures.

Goerings Books in Gainesville, Florida, is an independent bookstore that not only has the good taste to carry signed copies of Darlene Marshall's books, but also donates a percentage of proceeds to charity through most of November and December. You buy during certain weeks depending on who you wish to be the recipient--Women's Studies at UF, various children's programs, etc.

So when Goerings was hosting one of these events yesterday, with wine to help lubricate sales, I ended up walking out with a slew of books. Two of them are new research volumes: Frolicking Bears, Wet Vultures, and Other Oddities--A New York City Journalist in Nineteenth-Century Florida by Jerald T. Milanich. The second book is Trade and Privateering in Spanish Florida, 1732-1763 by Joyce Elizabeth Harman.

I can hardly wait to dig into these. And I feel no guilt at all. And barely any for also putting Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss in the shopping cart.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Like most of you, I have a slew of books on my TBR shelves. Some of them are library books, and the library gets snippy about them not being returned on time.

So why did I spend the day rereading THE GRAND SOPHY?

Maybe because when I read Georgette Heyer I can study her craft, to try and learn how she makes secondary characters leap off the page with every bit as much life as primary characters. Maybe it's because I love how she milks the English language for all it's worth, expecting the reader to rise to her level, and not dumbing down.

Maybe because it's just a damned entertaining read that still makes me grin at key passages.

Whatever the reason, I'm glad Heyer's books are being reissued, and I hope a new generation comes to love her writing as much as my generation of romance readers and writers did.

Oh, and if you haven't read it, THE GRAND SOPHY was written in 1950 and is the story of a strong willed young woman in Regency England who sets out to make sure people around her end up with the right mates, not neglecting her own needs in the process. And she does it with style, flair, ducklings and the occasional pistol. Read THE GRAND SOPHY. You'll smile, and you'll thank me for it later.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The tai chi classes are progressing, though at this point I feel like a centipede--I can walk just fine until I stop to think about what all those feet are doing. Our instructor tries to soothe our frazzled spirits by assuring us that it takes at least three classes along with daily repetition to learn the most basic of moves, but I still feel like an idiot each time I look up and everyone else has their hand in a perfect bird's beak, while my hand is somewhere off in the ozone.

*sigh* But I'm not giving up! It's good for me, I do feel better afterwards, and it's improving my balance already. I can feel myself shifting positions when I'm just standing around, straightening my back, relaxing my spine, centering my feet. And it is good for research. When I'm blocking out a fight scene, I'll be better able to describe how someone wards off a blow or shifts away from attack.

Oddly enough, I joked about "wax on, wax off", but there's a lot of truth to that scene from Karate Kid. You repeat basic motions over and over until your body has them memorized and your responses become automatic. That's my goal with these classes--to become so comfortable with it that just like that centipede, I'm not thinking about what my feet are doing and I'm moving all 100 of them in perfect rhythm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I got involved in a discussion at another site today where a reader wanted the author of a bestselling novel to go back and write a scene that took place off-stage, because the reader thought this would enhance her enjoyment of the novel.

It's an issue that's been bothering me more and more lately--readers who want all the blanks filled in. I don't want to see drawings of Jamie and Claire or have missing scenes drawn out for me. The author didn't write a graphic novel, and I prefer the pictures in my head based on her character descriptions.

The best compliment I ever got on my own writing was from a friend who read Smuggler's Bride and told me I'd described his grandma's farmhouse out in the piney woods, all the way down to the detached kitchen. His vision of my cabin was to see his grandma's house, and that was fine with me. It meant I'd given him enough detail that he could use his imagination to fill in the blanks, even if the house he saw wasn't the same as the house I saw in my mind.

For the same reason, I've always resisted character covers on my books because I don't want a cover artist to show his/her version of my characters. I want the readers to have their own vision of what my characters look like based on my descriptive powers.

Although when I saw Nathan Fillion as Captain Mal in Firefly, after I finished writing Smuggler's Bride, there was a "Hmmmm...." moment, but even he doesn't look quite how I envision Rand Washburn. Which is not to say if I sold the movie rights and he was cast in the role I'd bitch about it. Might even try to get myself invited onto the set.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Publisher slashes prices! Hot pirate romance makes great holiday gift!

Those fine folks at LTDBooks are having a huge sale and all Darlene Marshall books are 40 per cent off, which gets you trade paperbacks at mass market prices.

And anyone wanting an autographed bookplate has only to write me and it will be done.

Friday, November 11, 2005

One of the things I do in the real world is serve on the board of our public library foundation. The Foundation gathers supplemental funding for our library, primarily through bequests and large gifts. One of my proudest moments was helping some 20 years back to promote a referendum that created a separate taxing district for the public library. This meant that library funding was no longer at the whim of elected officials who saw a library as nice, but not as important as roads.

It worked, and our library system has been steadily growing and expanding ever since.

Anyway, I've been put in charge of a project to turn one of the plain vanilla meeting rooms in our headquarters library into more of an executive board room, which will serve as a meeting room for the foundation and trustees, but also be used as a high tech training site for the library staff. The architect is showing me Arts and Crafts style chandeliers to drool over, beautiful wood cabinetry, plush carpet, and I get to oversee all of this wonderful spending.

*Sigh* Now I want to remodel my own house. Unfortunately, I don't have a foundation willing to underwrite it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

So today was an interesting research day. I was typing away at my Regency era WIP when suddenly the heroine refers to herself as being like Robin Hood. That set off the anachronism alarm bells in my head, but a quick side trip to the Beaumonde, the Regency chapter of RWA, confirmed that the Robin Hood legend was alive, and best of all, well known in Regency England.

Now I just need to get the damn song from the Richard Greene TV show out of my head. If you'd like to hear the theme song for your ownself, and I swear, Mel Brooks did not write these lyrics, go to this site and listen to it yourself.

And if you're old enough to remember watching this on TV, you're really getting on up there.
Time to put in another plug for the Smart Bitches.

Go view today's post, "The Man Titty Hall of Fame, Vol. 1", but do not read these at work, with coffee in your mouth, or in any location where your laughing will scare the dog.

You've been warned.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Loving Miranda

Loving Miranda Cover

Author: Teresa Bodwell
Title: Loving Miranda
ISBN: 0-8217-7816-1
Publisher: Kensington, Zebra Historical Romance
Release: October 2005

Teresa Bodwell announces the release of her second western historical novel, a sequel to her debut, Loving Mercy.

Benjamin Lansing is on his way to paradise with a short detour to nowhere. His brother left some unfinished business when he died. Ben aims to set things right and get out. He has no intention of allowing a pretty little distraction like Miranda to keep him from his goal. Even if that spark of life in her eyes threatens to melt the layers of reserve he’s taken a lifetime to build . . .

Miranda Chase knows exactly what she wants–a settled life with a steady man who will treat her right. She has no time for a smooth talkin’ city slicker who makes her heart race like a wild stallion when he touches her. Only a fool would try to lasso and break a man like Ben. Or a woman reckless enough to follow her heart . . .

Reviews“LOVING MIRANDA will bring a lump to your throat and tears to your eyes.”
Betty Cox, NovelTalk Reviews

“Sweet and touching, yet as rugged as the wild west . . .”
Kathe Robin, Romantic Times BookClub.

“Ms. Bodwell has created a riveting story in this sequel to Loving Mercy.” LA (Leanne Davis), Rendezvous

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Gators are playing tonight, and even though my eldest has a sticker on his computer that says "A quality university needs a football team like a fish needs a bicycle", we love our Gators in Gainesville! Heck, when the Gators lose I'm tempted to sue the coach for loss of consortium, 'cause my poor dear husband is so despondent.

But this cooler fall weather reminds me too that it's time to get on the road and do some research. This time, I think it will be a day trip to St. Marys, Fernandina and St. Augustine. One of the best parts of setting stories in 19th C. Florida is having a good excuse to put the top down on the Sebring and hit those back roads, looking for local color. After all, the trip to the Cracker Museum in St. Augustine helped with Smuggler's Bride, so I'm hopeful that visiting the haunts of privateers on both sides of the war will be a plus for my WIP.

And besides, any excuse to hit some of the fine eateries in St. Augustine is a good thing.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

In other news, I've sent off my edits of Captain Sinister's Lady to Amber Quill Press and the release date is now March, 2006. I'm excited to find a home for this novel, which for a long time was feeling neglected while I worked on other projects. CSL is a bit different, with a hero who's not your usual pirate or privateer. Other men dream of ditching their humdrum lives and running off to sea. Morgan Roberts wants to leave the sea and be a farmer. But when you're very good at what you do, and you have a moniker like "Captain Sinister", it's hard to quit the day job.

So look for Captain Sinister's Lady this spring, a bit delayed but worth the wait!
There's a new group in town, Your Virtual Book Bag, featuring some of today's top Romance writers. Including your ever humble servant. We discuss each other's books at the site and it's a great place to pick up the latest buzz on what's hot across all Romance genres and publishers. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I took my first tai chi class last night, and I think I've found the right martial art for someone like me--no blurring fists of fury, but rather a discipline that's supposed to help keep you from falling on your ass as you age. I enjoyed it and while I've got a long way to go, it looks like a good investment of my time.

Now I want to get a cool outfit to go with the program, and I was disappointed when the instructor said "Naw, all you need are loose clothes and cloth shoes."

Me, I still want the silk pj's.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My SB title! Posted by Picasa
I've been spending the morning on a total revamping of my WIP. For a while there I felt like I had two different novels going--and that may very well have been the case--as I bounced back and forth between alternate versions of the same chapter. But I think I've finally nailed where I want to go with this. The original file title was "Gambler", now it's "Privateer". The gambling story will come later.

And maybe I'll run out to Vegas and do some research and see if I can claim it as a legitimate tax deduction since I'll be working, I swear!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Wow, there's so much empty space here! I can hear my voice echoing...

This is my first entry in my shameless self promotion blog, the one where I flog my own writing. That's "flog" as in "to push towards unsuspecting buyers" as opposed to the type of flogging you read about at either naval historical sites or sites you have to be over 21 to enter.

So feel free to ask about my historical romances set in Territorial Florida, or if you're one of the discerning romance readers who have already read my books, please let me know if you liked 'em!