Monday, December 5, 2016

Writing with distractions

This weekend, I did no writing at all. 

I had a three-day long migraine with other health things, so I managed to read books without it hurting too much, but I took naps and stayed in bed or on the couch most of the time. We went to my friend's son's boy scout pasta dinner on Saturday night, me doped up on ibuprofen (so my head didn't hurt, but I was sort of zoned out). It was nice, but it's always loud and I don't know many people. My youngest was cranky and coming down with a cold, so at the second meltdown, we had to leave.

Today, I am trying to catch up and finish a scene I was in the middle of (with the beginnings of the headache) when I left to set up the Scholastic book fair at my daughter's school on Friday. Then she wanted to run the make up day with running club. Then we went by the library. Then we came home and I had to go lie down.

And now my husband is working from home and has some guy here to get help with his website. A guy with a loud voice.

So anyway, I'm taking a break. 

I mean, it was a sex scene and the mood is ruined....

It's kind of hard anyway, each December when Nanowrimo is over and I still need to finish whatever book I'm working on (because I never finish in November, even when I win - which is most years.) (*Pats self on back*), and all of a sudden, my brain has to be on Christmas presents and mailing things and decorations and OH OOPS I have not yet signed up to bring anything to my daughter's Holiday Feast at school and so on....


So anyway, now that November is over and this headache has cleared out, I'm ready to move on with work and with family and with writing.

On to December!

(One month and one day to Henri et Marcel!)

Monday, November 28, 2016

PG or maybe PG-13?

I like to say that the reason my books only have a little sex is because my mom reads them. She probably skips what little sex there is, anyway. Or so I'd like to think. I mean, she's my mom, right?

The first three books in Châteaux and Shadows each have one sex scene. In the Honorable Officer, it starts out OK, then goes all bad for the poor heroine. The sex after that is much better for her, because the hero's not a cruel person, but it's hinted at and mostly happens behind closed doors.

The Chevalier doesn't go into too much detail, either. He's recovering from an injury, she's nursing him back to health. His fever breaks. She helps him take a sponge bath. And... yeah.

Henri et Marcel, the upcoming novella, (HERE ARE ALL THE LINKS) has some kissing, some thinking about sex, some cuddling, some arousal, then no sex scenes at all. It's not just because it's a book about two gay men, but also because it's about a couple that's been together for ten years already and one is in constant pain from back problems, then the other gets beat up. But even then, I didn't include the sex scene near the end when the problems are all resolved (I mean, Henri's still in pain, but it's better and relief is in sight), and I just had them sitting around languorously the next morning when the nephew showed up.


I mean, sorry to everyone who wants blistering hot sex. Sorry for the reviewers who have said about my books that the romance was OK, though when it got to the sex, there wasn't enough.

Also sorry to those who want their books completely "clean". I mean, besides that I have some anger directed at that word, since many people seem to think all sex (and kissing and anything more than hand-holding) is "dirty". Because a normal part of the majority of romantic relationships is dirty. Besides all that, I have no problem at all with romance novels with no sex, as long as there is attraction and love. But don't tell me I'm dirty, OK?

Maybe I'm not the right person to write M/M romance.

Especially the sex.

I kind of struggle with this thing of straight women writing and reading male/male erotic romance. I haven't even read many M/M novels. I have nothing against the tories and do read them and even find some of them hot, but I mostly read them for the emotional satisfaction. I know for dang sure that I'm not the expert on how gay men get jiggy with it, so I don't actually know how to write it. Do not even try to call me a homophobe, OK? Because I'm not. I'm just not all that excited by watching men have sex with each other.

Heck, I struggle with staring at the hot, waxed chests on the covers of romance novels because I realize these guys are almost young enough to be my children. Dude, I'm old. And I like hair on a guy's chest and think massive muscles are intimidating.

I don't even read for the sex scenes in romance most of the time. I don't necessarily skim it all and I really enjoy it, but sometimes, it feels like the author got to a point in the story and decided it was time for Tab A and Slot B. There's one author in particular whom I do enjoy, but whose long-running series has plot and attraction for about 100 pages, then there are 300 pages of sex scenes, interspersed with some halfhearted continuation and conclusion of the plot. I'd rather go back and read the earliest books in the series, which spend a lot more time getting on with it than getting it on.

I'm not even an expert on hetero sex. I can imagine a lot of things and have read a lot of things. I won't discuss my own sex life, though.

I've been mulling over the reviews I've had on review blogs, some of which say the books are not romance-y enough. And yet the books are centered on the love stories and have positive endings, which is your basic definition of a romance novel. I guess someday, I'll do an experiment and publish them all as historical fiction with romantic elements and see if I get a different response?

On the other hand, the Contemporary New Adult stuff I'm writing now is much, much sexier. There's even a gay couple and yes, I've written a couple gay sex scenes now, though the books are still in early stages and need to be edited, so I'm probably going to back off on the detail. And yet, they're focused on a group of friends, those each of these first two books has a central character(s).

My mom's going to have to cover her eyes. 

Or not, as long as she doesn't tell me what she thought about it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


This year, I'm packing up my contributions (pie, ham, salad, rolls) and going to Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It's about a mile away and we have had Thanksgiving with them for a few years running. We often have Christmas dinner with them, too. It's what comes from living 2000 miles from family and not being rich enough to fly "home" all the time. We haven't had Christmas with my parents in a really really long time. Maybe next year...

This year, though, my boys (two teens and husband) and my friend's boys (a teen, a 20-something, and a husband) and some other boys are going to spend the day playing Dungeons and Dragons.

My friend's calling it Thanksgeeking.

So now I'm thinking about all the geeky things that I am thankful for.

Maybe you do and maybe you don't think of romance novels as geekery, but some of us readers are pretty intense about our favorite authors and favorite books. Just recently, I got into a big discussion of some small aspect of Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series with some other people (all authors) on Twitter. It was divine.

And authors are pretty intense about the hard work that goes into crafting a plot and characters and being entertaining. And developing the character's goals and motivations. And making sure there's enough believable conflict to keep the reader reading. And getting attached emotionally. Feeling all the feels. Yes, including sex. *gasp*

I went to see Fantastic Beasts with my three kids yesterday, because I am a huge Harry Potter geek and have been reading the books to and watching the movies with my kids since before they were completely ready to sit still and listen. My introduction to them was when my husband brought home a box set of the first four in paperback and gave them to me for Christmas. He pretty much lucked out with those, because I didn't know I was going to read them all in about two days (while nursing the baby) and then read them again. Then surface and think that maybe I should get a wand. I mean, we lived in London at the time, so obviously Diagon Alley wasn't all that far away.

So Fantastic Beasts was good. Not as good as the HP books, but better than most of the HP movies. Newt was really cute and socially awkward and a genius. Talk about geeks!

My middle son went to see Dr. Strange the other day with a friend and I still want to take my oldest. We're not really comic book and superhero geeks, but have an appreciation for them.

I'm hesitating about taking my eight year old because it might be more than I want her to watch. Already Fantastic Beasts was a bit more intense than I think she should be watching, but of all my kids, she's actually the least sensitive about scary stuff in movies.

I'm much more excited about the next Star Wars movie. I've been a Star Wars geek since I was seven, after all. I definitely cheered for #7, too. (I hated #1 so much I never saw more than snippets of #2 and #3 while my kids watched them on DVD).

My oldest son is working his way through the entire oeuvre of Orson Scott Card. He hit Asimov for a while a few months ago. He gets the love of SciFi from my husband, because I've never been into it very much. Star Wars and Hitchhiker's Guide are enough for me.

If we ever can't think of Christmas presents for my husband, we fall back on Lord of the Rings or Star Trek.

My kids are into computer games, especially Minecraft and, right now, Terraria. This is two teen boys and an eight year-old girl. My poor daughter never had a chance, really. I assume she'll go through a girlie phase at some point, but other than wanting to wear dresses for a brief time in Kindergarten, she's always preferred her Creeper shirt. Oh, and horses, because somehow, that passed from me to her. I was crazy about horses at her age.

In other words, we cover most of the main targets for geeking, with the exception of any current TV geekery.

And I'm thankful for it all.

I'm thankful for readers, too...

Pre-order Henri et Marcel now! Beat the holiday rush! Just $3.99 for almost 40,000 words! One tenth of a cent per word!


Also, if you're an historical fiction geek, or a France geek, or a historical romance geek and would like a preview copy, let me know! I have my ebook files and would love to send them out, especially if you would like to leave reviews.

While you're waiting for that one, please read the other three!

Henri de Cantière has been surly since he returned from visiting his family at Versailles, but he doesn’t want to burden Marcel Fourbier, his longtime lover, with his problems. He can’t sleep and hurts all over at exactly the time when everything else seems to be falling apart.

Marcel can barely keep up with his usual duties of running their household and creating beautiful furniture in the de Cantière factory when more burdens fall on his shoulders. His estranged Huguenot family condemns him to hell but wants his help, a stranger attacks him in a dark street, an arsonist tries to destroy the factory, and Henri’s beloved sister-in-law, who has been like a sister to Marcel, is weakening after being in labor for several days.

Most of all, Marcel wants to find a cure for Henri, the man who holds his heart.