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December 29, 2004: The Lull

November 2004
I started my consulting job on November 15. This is the first time I've worked in an office since my lay-off in May of 2002. It was exhausting. My first week at work, I staggered home at 6:00 P.M. and collapsed onto my sofa. Sometimes I'd work up the energy to have dinner and then I'd fall asleep again. I asked a friend if she could remember how I had managed to write while I was working before. Fortunately, the system adjusts. After a month, I was able to come home from work and actually be productive for an hour or two. I'm hoping that as things progress, so will my stamina.

What productive things was I doing, you might ask. Well, I haven't been writing. I updated my website and finished up another writer's site that I'd been working on. I did some work to get the Pemberley.com website ready for the holidays. I worked with my critique partner on her new manuscript. I cleaned the house (well. I cleaned parts of the house). I did my Christmas shopping (all of it on-line as I've been doing since the mid-nineties. Thank God for the Internet). All in all, I was feeling fairly virtuous.

 

On November 20, I received the cover art for my second book, Just Say Yes. I love it. Okay, it’s not exactly period correct, but it’s cute as anything, and the colors are really eye-catching. One of the other Zebra Regency writers suggested that Zebra seems to branding their new authors with different types of covers, and I get to be the “cute, cartoon-y one.” I’m happy with that. Just Say Yes will be released in August.

December 2004
December has been spent on the periphery of the writing life, as I continued to get used to working full time again. I did some of those things that other writers must do when they're not writing. I worked with my critique partner on her manuscript. I talked writing. I read.

I know that some writers cannot read in their genre when they're working. I don't seem to have that problem and continue to gobble up Traditional Regencies and Regency set Historicals at an alarming rate. I find that, although I love the Regency, I am also happy to read on both sides of it. So, my reading extends to Georgian and Victorian as well as the occasional dip into the Medieval and - *gasp* - even a few contemporaries. My writing remains firmly rooted in the early 19th Century, however. Interestingly, the only author I can't read when I'm writing is Carla Kelly. I love, love, love her work. But her voice is so distinctive, that I find it creeping into my own work. So, I only read Carla when I'm not writing.

So, what have I read while I was not writing? Some very good books, indeed. I have become a big Laura Lee Guhrke fan. And, while I did not like His Every Kiss quite as well as Guilty Pleasures(one of my top 2004 reads), I still really enjoyed it. I read and liked Melody Thomas's Must Have Been The Moonlight. But, my particular favorite was Madeline Hunter's The Romantic, a story whose hero is the quintessential romantic and who put this book on my top 2004 list as well.

Oh! And I got the galleys for Once Upon a Sofa. I cannot begin to tell you what a kick it is to see the pages as they will be printed, including the copyright and title page. The purpose of my receiving these is to give me one last chance to check for typos and other small errors. Once we've gotten this far with the book, there can be no major changes. I started to read the galleys and, two chapters in, realized that I was absolutely the wrong person to do this. If I ever offer to proofread anything for you, Just Say No. I took the galleys to Kinko's, made two copies and sent them off to my first readers, both much better at catching the little errors than I will ever be. Thank heavens for good friends with sharp eyes. Between them, my readers found eleven or twelve minor corrections. I think it was a really clean galley. I sent back the corrected pages . and now all I can do is wait for May.

But, lest you think that I am not working on my next book, there is a kernel of a plot that has been simmering in the back of my mind since before I finished Just Say Yes. I have been making notes and playing around with my heroine's back story for a couple of months. In December I finally got down to putting a short synopsis on paper. And I started reading for background on my characters. My heroine grew up in India where her father served with Wellesley. I read The Nabobs; a Study of the Social Life of the English in Eighteenth Century India and Wellington in India just to give me a feel for her experience, although I have no intention of writing about that part of her life. The story will revolve around hunting, so I have Raymond Carr's English Fox Hunting lined up to read. For a while, I thought my heroine was going to become a governess when she returned to England and the story began, so I read Agnes Porter's A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen. This is an interesting and personal view into one woman's experience. My heroine is probably not going to be a governess after all, but no good research is wasted. My hero is still a little vague, but I feel certain he will take shape soon. I have also been searching for locations and think that the bulk of my story will take place in Rutlandshire. More on this as it develops

Let me say a few words here about my critique partner. Sandy is not yet published, but I feel sure she will be. She is a wonderful writer. Over the years we have been working together, I've found that our strengths complement each other. And I hope she feels that way, as well. When I start to think about a new book, I think about the characters. I know my hero and heroine, have thought about their back story and how they'll react to their environment and each other. I like to think I know why they do what they do (I sometimes don't). Frequently, I'll have only the barest framework of a story in which to place my characters. But Sandy is a plotter without peer. She listens to my ideas and asks questions that send me into new and interesting directions. My partnership with Sandy makes the process of writing smoother and a lot more fun.

Sandy and I have been kicking around my new plot for several weeks and I think I'm ready to sit down at the keyboard during the Christmas holidays and see what I'm able to produce. I'm looking forward to getting started. I miss having a hero and heroine in my life.

-- Myretta

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