Monday Musings, Why I Love Romance

Historical RomanceYeah, the picture is in no way representative of the someday book cover for this book. I created it just for a photo for this blog post. Here are the few paragraphs of my currently untitled historical romance, which is a good year and a half away from being finished.

Cathy Clifford could shoot a gun.

She’d learned three years previously, shortly after her dead fiancé’s brother tried to kill her. It only seemed prudent.

Unfortunately, she thought as she turned from the target, most men found her masculine talents intimidating, if not repulsive. She need look no further for an example than to Rupert Marston, who, for the last four days, had vied with blond-haired Scott Douglass for her attention, employing too-flattering remarks about her red curls and green eyes. She’d encouraged his attentions, hoping jealousy would compel Scott to act. Now, as smoke rose from the end of her gun, he backed away from her, his face creased in disgust. Obviously that little flirtation was over. No real loss there. Her stomach dropped, however, when she shifted her gaze to Scott.  He stared at her in astonished dismay. Would he withdraw his suit as well?

An unseasonably warm ocean breeze ruffled Cathy’s hair as she swept her eyes over the remainder of the assembled company—two servants, four women and four men, the last of whom Cole Chandler had invited to the back of his Newport estate for this little game of target practice. The women stood behind the men, all expertly dressed and coiffed, with parasols spread wide against the sun: silk and satin lawn ornaments on the expanse of lush green grass. They’d joined the shooting party to cheer the men on and exclaim over their questionable expertise.  Cathy had happily been one of them until she’d made the mistake of advising Cole on his aim. The next thing she knew, she’d left six bull eyes in the target and cradled a smoking rifle in her arms, while the collective group stared at her with varying degrees of alarm and censure. All but raven-haired Gabriel Keller who’d arrived just that morning and watched her speculatively.

After a second, his mouth curved into a tiny smile of admiration and he gave her an all-but-imperceptible nod of approval.

 

I started reading a new series, recommended by a friend of mine, the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. It’s interesting in that its premise is that the world uses magic. I know I’m going to like it, but I have one major problem–the main character, first person, is a man.

This is my epiphany–I’ve always read romance because the main character is a woman. I loved, loved, loved The Hunger Games for the same reason. It’s not a feminist thing (although I am a feminist). It’s that I identify stronger with a woman. Now mind you, most romances these days have both male and female points of view, but for all that the woman gets do “do stuff.” And I like that. When I read, I want to go on adventures. When I write, I want to go on adventures. And I want to do it, at least part of the time, as a woman. Most of the time, to do that, I choose historical romances.

I did not know I was doing this a a kid. I went from reading books about animals–Call of the Wild, The Black Stallion–to books about people when my mother handed me one. Victoria Holt, On The Night of the Seventh Moon, one of my all-time favorites. I loved it. I read it fast and later I read it slowly, just to sink into the story. I thought it was because of the romantic elements; I was all of 13 and entering the period of my life in which boys were all important and yet pretty foreign.

Now, decades later, I’m not so sure.

Definitely romance was a big thing in that book, and in all of Holt’s books and Mary Stewarts and Phyllis Whitney, which I went on to. But also a murder mystery. I came to believe that the mystery was also what I loved. When I started writing, it was with a mystery in every story. To this day, I cannot write a book without a dead body. I’ve tried, but I’m bored in 10 pages.

But that’s not the only reason I loved those books, either.

It’s the adventure. In On The Night Of the Seventh Moon, the heroine is almost seduced by the hero. I don’t remember it well now, but she ends up in the middle of castle intrigue in Bavaria. I think it’s Bavaria. What I remember now, many years later, is how exciting that was, to “be” the heroine in the middle of castle intrigue. Nothing I’d read had ever put women in that role.

I saw that very rarely as a child of the 60’s and 70’s. Consider that this was a time when having Lieutenant Uhura on the bridge in Star Trek was radical. Not just a woman, but a black woman, with a large, active role in a sci-fi story about exploring “strange new worlds.” But, in order to do that, she had to wear short skirts and be a communications’ officer. Heaven forbid we let a woman be science-y. The pilot of the show had a female doctor wearing pants like everybody else. To televise a series, that had to go.

So I read Holt’s books and got to be a woman adventurer. In the first Mary Stewart book I read–still one of my favorite all-time books–Nine Coaches Waiting, I got to save an awkward and lovable kid from his evil uncle. I did it (as the reader) with a great deal of courage and thought. Yes, in most of these books and in the books I wrote, the hero often “saved the day” but he never did it without the heroine being a big, big part of the adventure.

I read those books and went on to romances with sex which was even more fun. Wow, women could have sex in books and have adventures? Sign me up! Sweet Savage Love, the heroine travels through the Wild West and becomes part of Mexican War (and is also, I realized when I tried to read it a few years back, one of the most selfish heroines in the history of the genre). The Flame and The Flower, the heroine travels on ship and ends up on an early American plantation. Woodiwiss’s heroines aren’t always particularly active, but as a reader, I did get to go on adventures. In pretty much all of Laurie McBain’s books  the heroine engages in some pretty adventurous stuff. Highway men and stuff. Lots of fun!

And now, it’s many years later. The first “modern” kickass woman, Princess Leia, is now decades old. So is Agent Scully from the X-files. Kickass women in movies happens far more regularly. We have series with women detectives who shoot guns (Castle) and movies with women fighting back against men who abuse them. We have Rogue One, and a female heroine in the last three of The Star Wars series, and we have The Hunger Games and Divergent. I love it all. We are still a long way from equal in heroic roles, but women now have many different genres to enjoy strong, adventurous roles in. We’ve come a long way.

For me, I will finish with my Post Plague Series, and I’ll write historicals, because that’s where I’m comfortable. I love history. But for everybody who denigrates romance as keeping women in sterotypical roles–the history of the genre is the opposite. It gave women like me, and continues to give women a place to go where we can be heroes in fantasy world to prepare us to be heroes in the real world.

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Monday Musings, the terror of publishing

I started this on a closed facebook page for writers. This is the post.

I have almost as much a fear of success as I do of failure, and it often keeps me from moving in any direction. I think it’s because for writers success means people reading your work, which can be very personal.

I’ll be honest–this is as much a reason for my lack of blog posting as anything else. It’s terror of people reading my thoughts and that terror is there even though I have maybe one person visiting my two blog sites a week, and, lately, very few sales. I rarely hold back in my writing and when I do I get angry with myself. But putting myself into my work is exposure. Anna Nalick explains this best in Breathe (2 am)

Two AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer
Inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to.
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
‘Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.

Mind you, by putting this here I am, literally, using her words however I want to.

The thing is, I don’t know how to not write. It feels to me like communication through the written word is part of my DNA and as the world moves on and methods of communication through the internet becomes wider, it becomes almost compulsive. I am on facebook multiple times every day. And fiction, for me, is a great way to “illustrate” my thoughts and emotions. Some of that is subconscious, and it takes a book or two before I realize that I’ve been working out some things.

And that makes it even scarier.

I also tend to write my books in a bubble. I write what I think and feel, and I try to understand others’ thoughts and feelings by delving into the heads of other characters. It is so much a thinking process for me and I love it. I really do. There is nothing in the world like it. But then I have to come out and I have to share it and suddenly I realize that I had written no-holds-barred and what I put out there is me. I am partly afraid of rejection, but I am also just afraid of people knowing me. It’s an introvert thing, which I have yet to be able to explain fully.

Obviously I have found the courage to publish the work, both through a brick and mortar house and through the indie world. That much I can find the courage to do. What I have a difficult time doing is promoting it. Promoting for me is not just standing in front of a crowd naked, it’s yelling, “Hey look at me! I’m naked! You know you gotta see this. You’ll love it.” Totally terrifying.

But. . .I am determined to do it. This week, even. I’m moving forward on newsletter writing, and giving away a free book (details later) and finding newsletter subscribers, and maybe posting some excerpts here. Just know, anybody who reads this, it is terrifying for me and for many writers. Writing and publishing are acts of courage.

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Monday Musings

So I already broke my promise and didn’t “muse” last week like I was going to. I didn’t lost-in-thought-1220447-639x833post about that giveaway either. See, I’m just not very good at all of this. I love my books and I adore my characters who are, to me, people. Friends. But introverty-introvert that I am actually promoting or marketing them. . .well I avoid it. A lot. All the time. I want people to read my books, because I want to share my books and my friends. But I don’t want people to read my books because so, so much of me is in them. It’s a privacy thing.

But. . .I guess I just have to believe that, while there are people who will hate those aspects of me, there are people who will love them, will love my books, will love more. Those are the people I want to reach but I guess I won’t get there without some promotion. Without having the courage to show people my bared soul. Blech.

Let me see, what other musings have I got? Not much. I guess I am not really deep and meaningful on Mondays. Oh, here’s a thing. I’ve decided that I’m going to, for the PostPlague series under D.L., start working on some short stories about the secondary characters to fill in for newsletter subscribers while I work on the third book. Okay, scratch the “decided” because I have commitment issues, and say “thinking about.”

It occurred to me that I could probably do that for historical romance readers as well. I’m just not sure what yet. I’m thinking about the books out there and pretty much everything you need to know about the characters are in the books. The PP series is first person, so writing about other characters gives you their perspective. But my romances are 3rd person, so we see everybody’s perspective. I mean, I guess I could tell readers about Rick Winchester’s story before he arrives at the Bar M (The Wild Half) but I’m not sure that’s really all that interesting and the purpose of romance writing is romance. If that’s not in the short stories, do readers want to read it? I don’t know.

For other characters, I have the whole book written or am writing it. For example, in Running Wild, at the end of the book we have this little part about the private investigator that Nick hires: (Could be some spoilers here–fair warning–oh there, I xxxxx out a name to save a little something)

 

“That might explain why he’s so dead set again the movement,” Nick said. “You think his father’s connections could have gotten him access to the baggage car and Star’s trunk?”

“Easily,” Gabe answered.

“What trunk?” Lee asked.

Gabe stayed focused on Nick. “We’ve no direct proof, not yet, but as possibilities accrue. . .”

“And then there’s the picture frame,” Del said slowly. “Doubtless xxxxx used xxxxxx to enter the house.”

“I expect so,” Gabe said, as if he understood perfectly well the information about a picture frame that Nick had never heard of. “Nick, I’m in complete earnest when I say there’s no time to lose in this.”

 

and then there’s this a little later:

 

Gabe hesitated. “From Boston, is he? I should be honored to make his acquaintance. First, though, Nick, if you would be so obliging, I would like a moment’s privacy with you.”

Nick frowned as he pulled his six-shooters from the bedside table to lay on the bed. He couldn’t see what Gabe could have to say that the others couldn’t know, but arguing would take precious time. “O.K.” They stepped into the hall. “What is it?”

Gabe took a breath and put a hand on his shoulder. Something crossed his face briefly before he said in a low voice, “Miss Montgomery shall be fine, as long as you leave tomorrow and take Huntington. You’ll want the assistance. But don’t—and I mean this in all earnestness—don’t allow him near Mrs. Huntington. Understand?”

Nick frowned. That marriage had always made him uneasy and Del’s notorious reputation for an explosive temper only crowded the mourners. “You’ve heard of them in Philadelphia?”

Gabe smiled wryly, a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “One can hardly avoid it. Keep him as far away from her as possible.”

Nick sighed. “I’ll try, but I can’t keep a man from his wife if he wants to see her.”

Gabe held his gaze a moment before dropping his arm with a sigh. He shook his head. “You’re right,” he said looking away. “It’ll be for Viv to manage then,” he added under his breath.

“Viv?”

Gabe looked back at him. “My sister-in-law. She’s quite, uh, talented at cleaning up messes after the fact.” He took a breath and then offered Nick one of his rare, real smiles. “You’ve got your guns. A rifle cane too, I believe?”

“Yes,” Nick said. Had he told Gabe about that? “Star gave it to me.”

“Good. Keep it with you at all times. You’ll need it.”

 

In these paragraphs I’ve set up 3 stories–Gabe’s, Viv’s and Del’s. Okay, Del’s has already been set up to some extent in 2 books, but I’ve given hints of Gabe, whose romance with Catherine Clifford is entwined with Vivian Taft’s. So I can’t really give anybody a short story on that. Those are two books, which were half written before The Post Plague Trilogy screamed “write me, write me.” But. . .hmmmm. There are parts of Catherine’s story that I could write, I suppose. I should consider that.

Okay, so those are my musings for the week. Now I actually get some writing done! Oh wow, look, I figured out what block quoting is and how to use it. Cool! I’m kinda psyched about that.

 

 

 

 

 

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Been away. . .

So, I’ve “been away” for a while, ie: haven’t posted to this blog since 2015. I’ve been busily working away on my dystopian trilogy. But then I come here and see, wow, I’ve been hacked! Somebody came on and put in their contact information. Not sure exactly why they came to this blog, which has almost no activity, but, well, I guess all hackers can’t be brilliant, right?

Anyway, I’ve got some little bits of news: I am working on getting my rights back on Wicked Woman and The Wild One. Also, the second book in the dystopian trilogy is out. I’ve decided, too, that I should come and post here more often. So come Monday, I’m starting with Monday Musings. Just my thoughts for the week. Next Monday–4/3/17–it’ll be about a facebook hop that I’m in, which will giveaway some books on various facebook pages (including my D. L. Eagan page) and at least one amazon card worth $200. You might want to come back and check on that!

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The Liars, not really victorian. At all.

I’m tired. But I finished my dystopian book that I started in March in a fit of insanity. It is now up on Amazon. I’ll put it up on other platforms within the next couple of weeks.

Did I mention I’m tired?

First thing, probably should post the blurb.  And mention that even though it’s not Victorian, or a romance, it does have romantic elements. And I do believe that my years creating the Victorian world for readers has helped me enormously creating this dystopian world.

Freedom is the first lie.

274 years have passed since hatred, greed and corruption created the plagues that took down civilization.  Out of the chaos comes a new religion, Reyism, and an ideal government, the Temple.  The Temple generously provides all citizens with daily injections of life-saving serum, and an ideal test to assign them to their ideal jobs. They have achieved utopia, or so the Prophet preaches.

It’s a lie.

Neri Symmes’ survival depends upon lies. She must lie to stay alive. She must lie to keep her sanity, because anyone who challenges the benevolence of the Temple, or her husband, the Prophet, risks savage punishment and execution. Then Neri discovers that two friends, one of them an old flame, are embroiled in a desperate scheme against the Temple. Joining them might mean true freedom, but it also means deceiving her sadistic husband, who has all the power–and all the serum–on his side.

And pretty pretty cover.wtf liars

here’s the link

So basically what happened was I got very caught up in reading Hunger Games. If you’ve looked at the rest of my blog at all, you will see that. And then I got caught up in wanting to read more books like that, but I couldn’t find any that really hit me hard. So the part of my imagination that I seem to have no control over started posing that What If question that starts pretty much every story.

What if the protagonist of the Evil Authoritarian Dystopian Government is part of that government?

Or, what if she was the sister, daughter, wife of the leader of that Evil Authoritarian Dystopian government? Basically, what if the protagonist is Eva Braun (Hitler’s mistress)?

Well. . . kind of couldn’t see Braun taking down Hitler, especially since she was at his side when he died.  And no matter how I worked it in my mind, I couldn’t see how she could be sympathetic, so I had to work around that.

Also, didn’t really want to do Hitler. Lots of reasons, but mostly because I think he was nuts. And he had reasons, horrible and terrible though they were, for what he did. I wanted a straight-up sociopath. So, that’s what I did.

Then I had to create a government. An evil government. And what hit me first and hardest was an evil religious government, but not a religion that currently exists. This idea scared me, and that’s when I went for a long drive. And sent many WTF? emails to my critique partners.

And then, even though I thought I lost my mind, I wrote the book, because what else could I really do? And since I’d already gone down the rabbit hole, I took pretty much everything that fascinates me and put it in the book. There’s a Meyers-briggs type test. There’s the sociopath. There are plagues. There’s a love triangle, pretty clothes and the heroine, Neri, looks like she’s living the high life to everybody else, but she is so not.

So. There’s the story behind the story.

Give it a try. I love the story and heartily recommend it. Or I would heartily recommend it, if I weren’t so tired. I mostly just recommend it.

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The Suprising Science of Happiness

Love this:

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Another Day in the Twilight Zone

images[6]Two weeks ago, I decided I would do weekly updates on my writing. I figured that’s what a good writer does on her blog. I also decided that I would do weekly posts on my Hunger Games obsession, because for me, writing is a release of energy, and that was where a lot of my energy was focused.  I figured between those posts I would be better able to direct other energy into Spirited.

And then. . .the energy shifted.

This is what happens with me and obsessions: they create a need to write. Emotions create a need to write as well. It’s too much to keep inside, and for whatever reason I best express everything through fiction. And so I started to think maybe I could write, for myself, a more satisfying end to The Mockingjay and that would help me get back on track with what I really wanted to do.  The end of that series really left me sad, depressed, and yearning for just one more conversation between Katniss and Peeta, Gale, and Haymitch. I wanted the closure that I felt was missing from those books. Those are not my characters, however, and I don’t really know what they’d say. No matter how many times I read the books or watch the films, I can’t write the ending I want, because it just won’t ring true. Fan Fiction just doesn’t work for me.

So I started, instead, to fiddle with the idea of, hey, maybe I could write something similar–again, for myself–that would give me that satisfaction. I even sat down and started a little file with a little list of the things I needed closure on.

I got 4 things on that list before I realized I needed a dystopian world for my “closure” and I needed a triangle, and while I was at it, my characters needed to be older. I liked the main characters in The Hunger Games, because they felt older most of the time; they had to grow up fast. But I am not a teenager, and I wanted to write it in 1st person (present tense) like the series. I needed my protagonist to be older. And so I sat with my husband, who is a sci fi fan, one weekend morning and we spent a happy couple of hours or so talking about a dystopian world and characters. It was fun. Until the following week, when the thing took off in my imagination. I started writing a little–Closure!–and then more and then more, and suddenly this female character took over. And two male characters. And then the world.

It’s not what I wanted. I wanted closure so I could get back to Spirited and The Seventh Son. Instead I wrote 27k words in 3 days, and felt–still feel–like I was going nuts. I have a story where there was none before, and it’s in a totally unfamiliar genre. Well maybe not totally unfamiliar. I grew up on sci-fi, and I’ve lived with a sci-fi fan for most of my life. My son is as well and I’ve watched more Dr. Who than I ever wanted to (which isn’t so bad, because there’s humor in it). I’ve read some as well, but it’s not a go-to thing for me. So how on earth am I writing this?

I don’t know. I have no clue as to what I’m doing and this protagonist is definitely not Katniss, so there will be no closure. All I can really say is that the plot, the characters, the dialogue and the words just keep coming. I can’t tell you if it’s good. I can’t tell you if I’m following any kind of sci-fi formula. All I know is that it’s there and if I don’t get it out, my brain will get stuck and I won’t be able to write anything at all.

So. . .that’s where I am. I’m not working on Spirited. It’s what I want to work on, but it’s not really a choice right now. All I can say to anybody who is hoping for that next Victorian romance, is that I’m sorry.  I want to write it, but my muse has been kidnapped by a 26 year old woman living in the 23 or 24th century (not quite sure yet on that). Why she chose me–and that’s how insane this feels right now!–I don’t know; there are plenty of wonderful sci-fi dystopian fiction geniuses out there who could do a better job. All I can promise you is that at some point, this will be finished and I will once again be a Victorian romance writer. Until then, I’m living in the Twilight Zone.

 

 

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