Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday! It's Friday! Gotta take a nap on Friday!

Tomorrow, I'm heading down to the Bay Area for a day-long class romance writing class (Sponsored by Sacramento, San Francisco, and Bay Area RWA chapters) with an editor from Harlequin. She's talking about the publishing environment, tropes, voice, and a few other things. So, this should be good and it's like a mini-conference.

I even won the chance to pitch to her and will pitch my contemporary romance. Wish me luck! I've been working on a logline and a blurb and stuff for it, trying to think of what I'll say. I should print that stuff out. I still need to write a synopsis, too. And go through and layer some more pieces in it and clean it up.

Right now, all my kids are sitting on the couch, watching Jurassic Park (the first one) though one of the kids (the first one) is also playing something on a laptop. The other two (kids, not movies) are eating popcorn. So the weekend has started.

I attempted to take a nap before I even had to go pick my youngest up from school, but ended up reading for a bit and not falling asleep. I think I could sleep now, though. *yawn* Maybe I will. After all, tomorrow's going to be tiring.

Happy weekend everyone!

Oh, and if you want something to read, I've got some fantastic historicals out:
Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer

Friday, September 23, 2016

Puns and Names and other low forms of humor

I enjoy puns. Not too many of them at a time, because it gets tedious, but those little, sly puns that are accidents or semi-intentional or little sideways throw-away jokes.

I also like giving my characters names that mean something. Sometimes with these French books, I give them names that mean something when pronounced in English, or sound like something else.

Most of the time, though, I go through lists of French names until I find something I like. Last names are from 17th century censuses or from place names. I need something a two- or three-day ride from Paris. How about... Bures!

In the Châteaux and Shadows series so far, all the stories have had one of the de Cantière siblings as a protagonist. That one, I chose on purpose: de Cantière leads to the same root as canticle or chant or chanson. After all, the first scene that popped into my head of Indispensable was of the comtesse Aurore singing in a village square. (And Aurore is, of course, the aurora, the light before dawn, the northern lights. She's very light.) Dominique is more for this guy I had a mild crush on in high school, Dominic. And another male friend named Dominique. Dominion. Dominant. (But not, you know, Doms and Subs. It's not that kind of book.)

Her brother Henri (who gets a novella with the love of his life, Marcel, due out early copy PDF available now that the galleys are signed off on. So hit me up. Anyway. Ahem.) I chose "Henri" because it's a nice French name, cribbed from kings. I originally called the older brother Hervé, but having two names that start in He was confusing. I had to pick one of them to change, at which point I noticed that Henri, when pronounced in French, sounds quite a bit like "ornery" when said in certain American dialects. "awn-ree." Henri is pretty ornery. (And Hervé is now Cé favorite Hufflepuff. RIP.)

Emmanuel in The Chevalier is named for this guy I once knew and for one of my husband's nephews. I always liked the nickname Manu. Man. Manufacture. He's with Catherine the Great. And she's catty.

And now I'm on Melisande. (I should have named her Mariane for the girl in Le Tartuffe, since that's the Moliere play I'm winking at this time. I can still rename her...) I've named her sperm-donor father d'Yquelon. Yquelon is a city in the north of France. I bet there was even a noble with that as his name. But doesn't it sounds like "dick"? Not really? Sorry, it sounds like my French husband getting mad and calling someone a "deeck."

But I still don't know why I keep naming bad guys Bertrand and Bernard and Albert. They're bears? I can't bear them? I know a French Bertrand and he's a pretty nice guy. So this is some subconscious thing.

So what do you think of names? How do you choose them?

Read my fabulous name choices here:
Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lots of little things

Re-reading my galleys ONE LAST TIME for my novella (3.5 in Chateaux and Shadows). The sooner I get it back to my editor, the sooner she can schedule it. Then the promo starts all over again. Whee!

Still in the middle of a big edit/rewrite of the book after that.

I'm also spending too much time messing around on the Internet. Editing and rewriting are not my favorite things. I mean, I love layering in the new things that pop in my mind, I even like cutting parts and adding new parts to make the story work better. It's just that I love writing new stuff *more*. I keep saying I'm someday going to write the Editless Draft, which will be perfect from the first moment.

My sons are both doing well in high school, though the older one is stressed and neither boy apparently realized that one of the most important parts of writing is editing and rewriting. (As I sit here editing and rewriting).

My daughter doesn't talk about what she's doing in school very much. She has days where she gets all her jobs done and days where....uh, no. I went to Target after dropping her off this morning because she declared she needed more clothes (Because all laundry duties belong to Mom, so even when the clothes are clean and just not sorted, she has nothing to wear. She's 8 and could probably root through the basket....) There were a lot of cute graphic t-shirts, but I have recently become more nervous about what to choose for her, since she won't wear just anything.

I'm still looking for a part time job, but haven't applied anywhere else for a few weeks. I might end up doing seasonal work at Target or B&N or something. Retail. And around minimum wage. But it's work and it pays actual money...

So anyway. Back to reading for me (also just baked banana bread and have yeast bread dough rising. It must be carb day).

Go forth! And buy my books! 17th century France!
The Indispensable Wife
The Honorable Officer
The Chevalier

Thursday, September 15, 2016 I keeping up?

So in among the excitement of a blurb and excerpt tour on several blogs, I'm busy busy.

Am I reaching my goals?

I'm still editing Melisande and need to get that to my editor so she can read it and get it in the queue for a contract.

I've done exactly nothing with Christmas Spirit, my previously-published Christmas ghost novella. I have edits from an editor and have barely glanced at them. I still need a cover and to set up a time to work with a fabulous author friend to learn how to format it for self-publishing.

I haven't been submitting my new adult novel, Chill, and just sent it to a small press today. I still need to get it out to more small presses. If the big presses aren't going to do New Adult anymore, I'll still find a way to get this out.

So I have the rest of this month and all of October to do all that stuff.

Then NaNoWriMo and I'm thinking of doing something *not* romance for it. Crazy talk. I don't even know where to start. I mean, I don't plot my books out anyway, but I usually know the main focus and a few characters, maybe even some scenes. On the other hand, the sequel to Chill keeps knocking at my head, so I need to get at least the scenes I have in my head for that typed up.

And that's my writing life.

What are you up to these days?

Monday, September 12, 2016

There must be some mistake!

Surely I've posted something new recently! Though I guess with doing promo for The Chevalier and also for a 99 cent sale on Indispensable Wife (which is now over, sorry) (and I should mention the middle child, Honorable Officer), I have not generated new blog content (as they say in this business) since September 1st! Since I need to work on edits of Melisande (Book 4) before sending it to my editor, who will give me more edits, I'll need to be brief.

In other feelings that there's a mistake: Dyslexic Formerly Home-schooled Boy is attempting to settle in at high school. It's only been a month and I'm cautiously optimistic/verging on panic. Most of his classes are going really well. He didn't turn in something for science, but should get that added onto his score. Math is great. Life Management is fine, whatever that is. He had several zeroes for things for English class, which typically would mean he didn't turn them in, right? But they are keeping everything in a notebook and the THINGS WERE IN IT. They weren't labelled. And they were really short and had bad scores, but they existed. But even with that corrected, he's got a D and I'm flipping out.

He needs more help than he's getting in English and the special ed department, while lovely, offers only vague assistance. We had his IEP meeting and because I don't know what to ask for, I think she was glad she didn't have to offer anything else but vagueness. If the grade isn't better soon, we've got big trouble, because they're on the block system and the first 9 weeks *is* the first semester and we're almost 4 weeks in.

Deep breath. Back to editing my illiterate heroine.

Also this week and next: A promo tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter to win a gift card!

Thursday, September 1, 2016


As I'm re-reading and editing my next Chateaux and Shadows book (#4, working title: Melisande because I'm bad at titles, that's why), I'm remembering how when I was first writing it a couple of years ago, I kept going over to Google to find Catholic saints. And once I found the Saint of XYZ, I had to double check he/she was already a saint in 1680-something.

Melisande is learning Catholicism from her extremely pious birth father (a comte who was wild as a young man, fathered her by sleeping with a palm-reading witch, and is now angry and bitter and not a nice guy....but he's religious, so he's sure he's awesome) and part of this book is her acceptance of religion. The hero is Lucas, who is extremely pious, but starting to think that the comte's angry, judgmental version of religion, which he uses to gain influence at court and to feel superior, has some serious flaws.

As I'm not Catholic and have attended masses maybe three times ever (and a couple of weddings), it's not a natural fit for me. But hey, I am intrigued by France, especially Old School (Sorry: Ancien Régime) France, which means learning more about the religions of the time.

Which brings me to my novella, "Henri et Marcel", which is currently being line-edited and should soon get a release date.

Henri is the third son of a baron and was destined for the church. He might even have been a priest if he hadn't hated the monastery where he was dropped off as a teenager. He begged his father to bring him home and his dad, a softy, did. He was always rather caustic and used to fight with his little sister (Aurore from the Indispensable Wife), but has only become more ornery over time.

(Get it? The French pronunciation of Henri sounds a lot like certain accents' pronunciation of ornery? Get it? Yeah, whatever, Philippa.)

I always pictured Henri as having a sort of awful, sarcastic, sneering shell reminiscent of Severus Snape. He's taller than the book Snape and not greasy, but he wears dark colors and is often downright cruel. Well, he was cruel as a defense mechanism. He pushed people away, because it would not be good for everyone to know he's gay. Back then, not only was it a sin, it was illegal. The church/government would excommunicate you (with no chance of atoning for your sins), condemn you to hell, and execute you.

Unless, of course, you were royalty, I guess. Louis XIV's brother was notorious for his parties and for his lover. He nonetheless fathered children with two wives and I won't now go off on a sidetrack about bisexuality or how Louis was thought to have fathered at least one of those kids. Whoops, too late. Sidetrack.

Side note: I CANNOT WAIT for the Versailles miniseries to be available on DVD here. 

So anyway, I deliberately used "religions" way up there (then I bolded it, so maybe you would notice). Because not everyone was Catholic. I mean, they still aren't all Catholic in France. The French government is officially neutral, but funny how there are laws about keeping businesses closed on Sundays and how they get random religious holidays off of school.

Late 16th/early 17th century: Henri IV (the other reason I called my character Henri) became king after years and years of bloody, brutal religious wars, massacres, and war crimes from both the Protestant (Huguenot) and Catholic sides. Henri IV went back and forth from Huguenot to Catholic more than once, as his parents were split on the issue. He ended up becoming Catholic in order to consolidate his power when he was the last heir standing. "Paris vaut bien une messe" which means "Paris is well worth a Mass." He signed the Edict of Nantes to give some freedoms to Protestants, then was assassinated by a Catholic fanatic.

Marcel first appeared in Book 2, Honorable Officer, as Jean-Louis' right hand man. He's living under a false name (Fourbier, which comes from fourberies, which means deceits or slyness and which is from the title of a play by Molière, Les Fourberies de Scapin). He ran away and joined the army when his brother-in-law threatened to out him. He's a tailor by birth and by trade, with a love of beautiful, sensual things (and not dark, formless, utilitarian clothes made from cheap, scratchy fabrics).

He's one of those people who brightens a room by entering it. He's the guy who gets things done. He's fairly caustic, too, but in a subversive way. And yes, in Honorable, I sort of tossed him and Henri together and didn't give their relationship much depth before they announced they were together. I made it fairly easy for them because other than the tacit approval of Henri's family (who are trying to not think about it too much), they've got a long, long row to hoe in their society. Henri has a long row to hoe, too, to become more mellow and it's Marcel who is helping make him softer and less angry.

I picture Marcel as short and dark and vibrant. Once Lin-Manuel Miranda was suddenly on everyone's radar a few months ago, I thought yes, Marcel is a bit like him. He's just so alive, so charismatic, so compelling. A genius, but Marcel designs furniture and decorates. I'm sorry I'm describing him that way because yeesh, what a gay stereotype. I'm sorry. I didn't start out with him that way. He started as the guy who held together Jean-Louis' "household" in the army camp and kept Jean-Louis looking properly officerly and noble.

Anyway, no matter how much the Catholics and Protestants were willing to shed blood about You're Doing Christianity All Wrong, they agreed that homosexual was about the worst thing you could be. The Huguenots were Calvinists (and the reasons why they were called Huguenots seem to have been lost in the mists of time) and had more in common with the witch-hunters of the English colonies at the time. And this is just around the same time as the Salem Witch Trials, which did not happen ina  vacuum.

One of the components of Calvinism is that you are predestined to either Heaven or Hell and you can't escape it by asking forgiveness. You then spend your life either living right, which means you are probably going to Heaven, or sinning, which proves you're probably going to Hell.

And.... I'm not really sure why this works. If you mess up even once, are you going to Hell? Because everyone messes up.

The idea is that there is no redemption. I guess if you pray hard enough and do good deeds, then maybe you can outweigh your sins and show you were predestined for Heaven all along? Though, uh, isn't getting into Heaven the point of Catholic confession and all those novenas? Personally, I would think that as soon as you had committed a few sins, you might as well give in and be sinful, since you're going to Hell anyway. So this is what Marcel is struggling against. He's managed to put it out of his mind mostly for a long time, but seeing his birth family again and experiencing their condemnation is messing with his peace.

I was raised in a fairly liberal, welcoming protestant church in a mainstream denomination. We prayed to God directly instead of talking to priests and saints. We had potlucks, not praise hands or speaking in tongues. And we weren't predestined. So my religious education was never Catholic OR Calvinist.

It is all very odd for me to be writing these books with all the discussion of religion, as my own religious leanings these days are.... let's just say I'm more spiritual than religious. Let's also say that I'm curious and fascinated with religion.

I am SO NOT a candidate for writing an Inspirational Novel.

And yet here I have a novella that's partly about religious doctrine and a novel which is mostly about it.

But I'm pretty sure I'm a heretic according to any and all religions, except the UUs and the Quakers.

And.... TL/DR: Catholics vs everybody else.

AND... Go pre-order The Chevalier. It'll be out in SIX DAYS.

AND...The first in the series, Indispensable Wife is only 99 cents until Friday!