What I’ve been working on is not exactly a new activity for me. I’ve played with Photoshop a fair amount of the years — but the operative word here is “play.” The last few months, I’ve been doing some serious study to learn how to manipulate the program. How does it help my writing? Well, it doesn’t. At least not directly. It does give me a chance to do something creative that isn’t my book, which means it helps me refill the well somewhat.
Let’s face it. 2020 has not been the easiest of years. And even if we’re in a place where we’re secure in the roof over our heads and our loved ones are well, it’s hard not to have moments when everything feels as if it’s closing in and we just want to curl into a ball. That’s when I turn to my comfort reading and viewing.
My weather app claims the predicted temperature today is in the mid-80's. It's lying. By mid-afternoon, we'll be seeing 90+ on the thermometers. Yes, summertime in La-La-Land, which means perfect weather to swim, but lousy weather to cook in, unless you crank the air conditioner up. Since we still have to eat, even with the weather, we've turned to our Instant Pot and our air fryer/toaster oven because those don't warm the place up as much. Plus, much less oil used to fry things.
As you might guess, this week for Romance Writers Weekly, I'm talking about how I choose my character names. Since I write Regency Historicals, name picking is not quite so easy as dropping by a baby name page or search what were the most common names 20-25 years ago. Add to that the fact the three most common names in England from the Middle Ages up to some point in the 19th Century were Catherine, Anne, Jane, and Mary. This means I have to digging.
Tropes so often get a bad rap, dismissed by some as "formulaic" or a thing writers should avoid. And if you write to a trope, it's very easy to fall into the trap of giving the reader something they've read time and again. This can be good, but doesn't help if that reader is looking for a fresh take.
It’s been hard not to feel down these last few months. A lot of us are going through stress and uncertainty for a wide variety of reasons that are both personal and have a connection to the events of the wider world. We feel tired, put upon, and ready to just crawl back under the blanket fort, not emerging until next January. We also don’t have that luxury because there are things to do and bills to be paid. Yes, the fun part of adulting.
The topic this week for Romance Writers Weekly is, "Who or what inspires you?" That's an easy question for me to answer: My mom. The title of this post comes from Mom herself. We'd have some adventure or another, and she'd comment I had another "weird mom story" for my friends. Over the years, I've learned she definitely wasn't what one would expect for the time and place I grew up in, but when I think back to who inspired me to become a writer and tell the stories in my head no matter what, everything points back to her.
It's been years -- literally years -- since I attempted to bake bread. (Banana bread does not count, as that's really more cake in loaf form.) Growing up, there were days when I'd come home from school and as I headed up the driveway to the back door, there would come the delicious smell of fresh baked bread, with two loves cooling on the back porch, covered with a dish towel. Mom always cooled them on the back porch because we had a marauding Siamese who a) loved bread and b) was clever enough to get at cooling loaves if she left them on the stove or counter. This was the same Siamese cat who would lick the honey off toast, and then start nibbling on the slice.
The topic this week for Romance Writers Weekly is, "What do you find most difficult about writing what you write? It could have to do with certain scenes, plotting, dialogue, whatever trips you up." At the moment, my answer is "All of it." Let me clarify that I just finished the read-through of my first draft of To Lure a Lord, which I'm planning to publish at the end of the summer. During this process, I realized my hero and his best friend have confusingly similar names, I have the same scene in at least two places, and there are several places where I need to write connecting tissue between scenese (the joys of writing out of order). The real fun was finding the holes. In at least one case, I'm not talking a plot hole. Oh, no. This is a plot sinkhole ready to eat SUVs in a single gulp.
One tradition I have for myself on Memorial Day is returning to the letter written by Major Sullivan Ballou of the Union Army, dated July 14, 1861. If you've seen Ken Burn's superb documentary sereies, The Civil War, you've heard the letter read at the end of the first episode. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who put duty above life and personal happiness, who sacrificed themselves for the sake of others.