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.
I’ve knitted since I was a child and my mother taught me how to create fabric by making loops with sticks and yarns. As one might expect, those early efforts, executed in whatever scraps Mom was willing to sacrifice, were lumpy, off-kilter, and praised because I’d gotten through them, not because they were more than learning exercises.
Most of my adult life, I have not had the luxury of a dedicated work space at home. I’d carve out a small corner of my bedroom when I had roommates, and shared both desk and computer with the husband for quite a number of years. Even when I got a laptop, followed by an iPad, there still wasn’t anywhere I could call “mine.” I worked at my lunch place, in bookstore cafes when I had a Barnes & Noble and Borders near me. (Remember Borders?) My local Starbucks is a real favorite, even if it’s not available to me at the moment.
True confession time: my favorite dinner recipe is the menu at one of my local restaurants, where our favorite waiters bring us food which we don’t have to prepare or clean up after.
Did you know there are 548 episodes in the CW’s Arrowverse series? I didn’t — until my husband and I decided we’d watch everything in order while we’re under shelter in place orders. With five different series and multiple crossovers between them, I created a spreadsheet, so we’d know which episode to watch next. Yes, we are going a little stir crazy.
From the Archives
The question this week for the Romance Writers Weekly blog hop is if our reading habits change with the season. My answer is “yes and no.” I still read the same books I read throughout the year—romance, mystery, history, SF/Fantasy, the back of cereal boxes—but my pattern of how much I’m reading of each type and themes within those books changes with the passing season.
Look, Mom! I’m blocking something!
There was no rhyme or reason to the family reading patterns. We’d dive into whatever caught our fancy. My habits haven’t changed over the years, and since I married a man who has his own love of history, science fiction and comic books, there’s no been pressure to do otherwise.
2021 is here. Resolutions have been made, even if it’s just a resolution not to make resolutions. We’ve waved goodbye to the hell year that was 2020 and we’re moving forward.