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Tag Archives: romance novels

No, You Shut Up!

Every week I say to myself, “This is the week! This is the week I start to get my act together! I will write more. I will work a little every day to get my house cleaned and organized. I will run. I will do those exercises for my back…” The list goes on. Oh, I do not expect to magically be the neat, organized, healthy, non-back-hurting, writing five pages a day paragon of my dreams (why five pages? why not ten? Oh yes, I am setting realistic goals). I expect myself to do a little every day. Ten minutes, just ten minutes. You can do a lot of cleaning in ten minutes. IT! COULD! WORK! (That is from Young Frankenstein, by the way.)

And then I don’t do much. Ten minutes of cleaning is apparently too much to ask. I hold tight to what little I manage to do: a few loads of laundry, at least three days of running (including Saturday and Sunday), a few blog posts (why is it so hard to be a daily blogger? I used to post every day! What the hell, me?). I put together a murder mystery, with lots of help from my friends. Doesn’t that count for something? I think it does.

One other thing: I was keeping this on the down low, because I was afraid it would not work out, and in fact it hasn’t. But week before last I wrote several pages of notes on a Victoria Holt-type romance novel, influenced also by Jane Eyre, with a little Georgette Heyer thrown in. It was a lot of fun writing the notes. I had a little trouble with character names. Unfortunately, I was unable to begin actually writing said novel. Still, I wrote a LOT of notes. Ideas just poured out of me! Surely that counts for something (and I will call you Shirley if I want to).

All this by way of trying not to beat myself up for not posting either Saturday or Sunday. Here I sit Monday morning, ten finger typing on the laptop (dining-room-tabletop, really) (I must buy myself a new laptop), and viewing the upcoming week with trepidation. Will this be the week I finally do it? That I finally do something?

At least I have written a blog post of over 400 words. I think some bloggers like to read that others have trouble writing. I personally do not find tough love helpful. You know, when they say, “There is no such thing as Writer’s Block! Just shut up and write!” But perhaps this week I will try to do just that. Only without the shut up part, because, you know, I like to make a blog post.

Writing About Writing for a Change

Looking through my notebook for something else, I came across the following I had written on an unknown date, and I do not believe I have used it.  Since the only thing I can come up with now is more writing about not writing, I thought this would be a nice change of pace.

Having decided to concentrate on my writing once again, I further decided to start a new novel and finish it quickly. This is hazardous, given my long history of starting novels and NOT finishing them, but I am always one to take a chance.  In my further defense, I did write the closing scenes of the last novel I vowed I would finish, so one could argue that I finished the first draft.  However, I am no hand at argument.

So I was wondering what kind of a novel to write, and I had this idea to write a tale of romantic suspense.  I enjoy some of those Gothics, you know, the ones that show a castle under a full moon with a woman in a long dress running away.  Victoria Holt is the mistress of that genre. I love her.  I do not feel equipped to write a real period piece, but romance and suspense, I can do, or so I think (perhaps I flatter myself, but let’s not disillusion me at this point).

I know romance publishers often have strict guidelines, so I did a Google search of romantic suspense publishers.  I have been having better luck with Google lately, and I did find something.

One publisher said they wanted strong, smart heroines.  I can do that.  I hate having a weak, wimpy lead character (NEVER MIND how I may act in real life; I am not writing an autobiography).  They want her to have clearly defined goals and meet with real obstacles. Hell, that’s just good fiction.  What does your character want?  What keeps her from getting it?  Another thing they like is snappy banter, like from 1930’s screwball comedies.  I love those old movies!  And I am good at writing dialogue, even if I do say so myself.

Things they don’t want:  when the only obstacle to love is fear from previous bad relationships.  OK.  Men who condescend or are meant to woman.  Well, that’s good.  I hate it when women fall for those creeps!

That was when I got tired of writing about writing and started taking notes on the novel I wanted to start.  Full disclosure:  it petered out before I got very far.  However, now that I have typed all that in, I am anxious to try again.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted as to how it goes.


Shoveling Something

I keep telling myself that you don’t have to shovel humidity.  That is really a good thing, because it would be damn uncomfortable to be outside hefting a shovel in this heat.  Yes, I know,  who could complain about the hot weather after the long, cold winter we just endured?  A lot of people apparently.

I did experience some relief from the heat last night.  My lovely niece and nephew-in-law (silly word, nephew-in-law, but I don’t want to make it sound like she married her brother) got central air and gave us their window unit.  It’s not your usual kind of window unit; it sits on the floor and has an exhaust tube that goes out the window. Very handy if you prefer a fan in the window when possible, which we do.

That is a good point about the weather, by the way.  I don’t mind it so much being hot during the day as long as it cools off at night.  I can even live with it being swelteringly hot at night if I don’t have to work the next day.  I get dreadful insomnia in the heat.  And that reminds me that I pretty much do have to work every day.

Ah, from there I could segue over into a lament that I was not born wealthy, like the heroines in those Regency Romances I dote on.  Of course, they are not always fabulously wealthy.  Sometimes they have a “respectable competence.”  Sometimes it’s straightened circumstances or even genteel poverty.  Sometimes they are constantly being dunned by creditors or (horrors!) have to take a position as a governess or companion.  From these situations, of course, they are usually rescued by some rich, titled hottie.

Isn’t that nice?  I have led myself from bitching about the weather to daydreaming about romance novels.  I’ve tried to write a romance novel.  Perhaps I should try again.  As soon as I have finished the one I am working on, which I VOWED I would finish.  In fact, why am I not working on it right now instead of messing with foolish blog posts?  Ooh, that makes a good exit line.  I hope you’ll tune in tomorrow,when Mohawk Valley Girl explains once again why she cannot write a decent blog post.


Isn’t It Romantic?

Oh dear! It is happening again! I want to make my blog post NOW and I haven’t written anything yet, and I want to write it quickly.

How annoying. I had even thought of a good Friday Lame Post, complete with headline. But I didn’t write it while at work, because I was reading a romance novel.

I really want to clarify the term “romance novel.” Steven (my delightful husband) refers to them as romance novels, and I suppose at heart they are. However, they are not the soulless, stupid generic romance novels. I don’t want to mention specifics of authors or publishers, because I just don’t want the hate, but you must know what I mean. I shan’t even elaborate. But I will mention what I like: Regency Romances by Georgette Heyer, and Gothic Romances by Victoria Holt or Phyllis Whitney (and gothic has nothing to do with young people wearing all black and heavy eye-liner. Just saying).

Today was Victoria Holt. I would just like to mention that I often say I don’t read these books, I eat them. To me they are like potato chips. You start and you just can’t stop. You know they are not good FOR you, but they are JUST SO GOOD. You can’t stop. And sometimes you hate yourself in the morning.

In fact, I hate myself less for novels than I do for potato chips. Let’s face it: any reading probably does your brain some good. Junk food, not so much.

So now I am over 200 words. That makes a post, by my own self-imposed rules. I’m going to go ahead and enjoy my Friday. Hope you all have a happy weekend.

Oh No! It’s a Love Story!

I have not done anything really blogworthy so far today (although I may mock something up about my earlier gyrations), so I thought I could watch a cheesy horror movie to write about. I love to write about cheesy horror movies, and it’s Saturday afternoon. What better time for a monster movie? (Actually, in my estimation, any time is a good time.)

So after my usual Spoiler Alert, let’s get on with it.

I DVR’d I Walked With a Zombie (1943) from TCM sometime in October. Only an hour and fifteen minutes long. Perfect!

Of course I knew zombies in older movies are not usually the disgusting flesh-eating zombies we know and love from more recent fare (full disclosure: I haven’t seen a more recent zombie movie than the 1968 Night of the Living Dead; I just thought the expression “we know and love” would sound cool). Still, I thought catatonic undead, mindlessly obeying the nefarious behest of some villainous sort, what’s not to like?

Once again, I was in for disappointment. Oh, it was a perfectly good movie. I watched with interest. But it wasn’t a monster movie, it was a love story! It was based on a novel, and I know just the sort, because it is the kind I used to read all the time, in the tradition of Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and whichever Bronte sister wrote Jane Eyre.

In fact, when I looked it up in Leonard Maltin’s 2011 Movie Guide (Signet, 2010), I read that it was loosely based on Jane Eyre. Maltin says it with an exclamation point, like he just can’t believe it. I can believe it. Brooding romantic guy in an exotic setting with a crazy wife, wholesome young thing to fall in love with him. That’s Jane Eyre. The charming younger half-brother and the wise (or IS she?) mother are more from the Holt and Whitney canon.

The atmosphere is pretty well done, and the voodoo scenes are creepy. There is one voodoo’d guy who is my idea of a 1940s zombie: bug-eyed, shuffling, doing what the voodoo guy orders him to do, pretty scary, although you could probably outrun him.

Perhaps I didn’t need the spoiler alert, since I haven’t said too much about the plot. I won’t, either, because I think the movie is worth a watch, as long as you don’t have your heart set on a monster. For a romance novel, it makes a fairly decent horror flick.

No, I Don’t Have a Plan

I must check to be certain, but I believe last week I eschewed Non Sequitur Thursday, Lame Post Friday (cue jokes about all my posts being somewhat lame) and Wrist to Forehead Sunday. So today is Middle-aged Musings Monday, and anybody who doesn’t like it should stop reading now.

I’m not sure I like it much myself, now that I’m writing it, but I shall persevere. And I shall continue to refer to myself as middle-aged, because there is no reason to think that I will not live to be 98 years old (I can see some of you doing the math now; I had to). After all, I quit smoking, I exercise regularly and I only occasionally eat deep fried foods (at first I made a typo and said occaSINally. A Freudian slip? You be the judge).

Be that as it may, I have been musing over my life lately. I thought perhaps to use this post to outline a grand plan for at last getting organized and accomplishing my life’s goals, after first setting a few. Mind you, I do not actually have such a plan. I had hoped that if I started writing about it, one would magically appear, much the same way characters and plot points magically appear when I write fiction.

Then I remembered what a truly terrible idea it is to share plans of any kind with anybody. I have been more likely to meet with discouragement than otherwise. Career plans get, “Those jobs are hard to get” or “You need a lot of education for that.” Novel ideas get, “That’s been done,” often with an eye roll. General life organization plans get, “Will you actually do that?”

Does this happen to anybody else or is it just me? I suppose it is possible that all my plans happen to be stupid. Well, one can’t be good at everything. Maybe I’m just not good at having a plan.

I do seem to recall once meeting with a not discouraging response to a plan. I said I was going to write a romance novel, and the fellow I was talking with said, “Oh, are you thinking of writing?” in a casually interested tone of voice, as if it were not a completely ridiculous ambition.

“I’m always thinking of writing,” I said. “I’m just never writing.”

I never did write the romance novel, by the way, although I worked on one for a while. I would dress in a fancy nightgown with high heels and sip water from a champagne flute while I wrote. I later learned that many romance novelists work in sweats, drinking coffee out of a ceramic mug like a normal person. I think my way is more fun.

I’m still always thinking about writing. But now, thanks to the internet, I actually write every day (as you see). I think for a writer, a blog is a beautiful thing. I’m sure there are people out there ready to say things like, “You need to write more than just a blog to be a writer” or “There are so many people writing blogs, you’ll never amount to anything” or even “You blog isn’t really very good, you know.”

OK, nobody has been rude enough to say the last thing to me, and I think I said the first one to myself. And the person that said the middle one didn’t EXACTLY say I’d never amount to anything.

But let us not give ear to discouraging sayings. Let us make our plans, write our novels and our blogs, and feel good about it. It’s Monday. We have a whole week ahead of us. Let’s enjoy it (Oh, I can just hear somebody saying, “It’s not a WHOLE week; we’ve already had Sunday and Monday, you know.” Some people just have to be that way).