Keep your eye on the ball....

 

My niece has now decided I should write about soccer (her second week at soccer camp this week inspired this request!).

 

My experience with soccer pretty much extends to watching from the sidelines and cheering her on. So I had to think about how it connects to this site.

 

One thing I did realize from those games is that the best players automatically turn their bodies and attention to the ball at all times. They don’t look to the sidelines, obsess over the miss they just made, check the time, or stop to chat. The focus is on the ball, teammates, opponents, goal, rules, coach and muscle memory. When on the field, their attention is absolute—and even off the field they have an awareness of what’s going on.

 

It’s a lot of work! And these girls practice hard for those games. It’s amazing to see the levels of improvement from year to year.

 

In some ways writing/publishing is like that. At first you just like the game/watch it. Then you participate and work at it. Learning to write, the commitment of time, getting critiques, practicing, and letting the myriad details become muscle memory.

 

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Filter or no?

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I love taking photos—particularly of flowers—and took a few the other day. And my phone just got some filters added to the pictures, so I played with them a little.

Although I did like some (vivid cool is appealing), in the end, I think I liked the “real” unfiltered flowers best. They seem truer to me, and the memory is “real” when I see those colors (except for one pink one which is a blue. I don’t know why (well, scientifically it’s to do with wave lengths and such), but that shade of blue is so hard to capture!

I did find I liked the filtered building, though—it gave the shadows more definition I think.

So how does this tie into writing? I think it’s the difference between when an author follows her own voice and when she puts on another. Not when she’s voicing different characters with different attitudes—that is necessary and should be true to the character. But when the overall writing is forced as if she’s trying to follow a pattern put down by someone else rather than making her own path.

Voice is something authors debate intensively. I’ve been in those discussions! Still, when it’s right, there is a sense of effortlessness to the flow. It’s natural, realistic, vivid, crafted, but real. And when there’s too much tweaking—too much filtering—that’s when I can potentially admire the writing without experiencing it.

But enjoy Georgia O’Keefe, waterlilies, and early autumn at the Bronx Botanical Gardens if you get the chance!

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A dog's life...

I was having dinner with my niece this evening, and she’d overheard a discussion about my lack of blogging/updating the site.

After showing her the site she was delighted to see her old calendar had appeared on it. She also wanted to see something new—and about dogs. 😊

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She has a gorgeous (cute, handsome, smart and many other adjectives) silver lab named Beau and wanted a picture of him here.  So meet Beau! (as a puppy)

But it did remind me that I’ve had to research something about dogs a couple of times this year. When do you capitalize the breed name or not?

For some it’s easy—if it has a place name (German shepherd, Yorkshire terrier, Afghan hound) the location is capitalized, the generic (beagle, poodle, spaniel) is lowercased.

Mostly it’s simple, but funnily enough, I get stuck on Labrador retriever a lot! In the full name it is capitalized, but what to do about Lab? I’ve looked this up multiple times on multiple sites giving multiple explanations before finally printing myself a note. 😊  

It’s a Lab!

 

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Some favorite OldSchool Romances...

While at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat this past week I was on a panel with Sarah MacLean, Monique Patterson and Patience Bloom about why those old, crazy, awesome titles were unforgettable and how it's hard to get them now.

I don't think we quite resolved why it isn't as common now (though some argued it was, just not as always discoverable or done as well!). Still, the words that came out were Primal, Intense, Cohesive, Alpha, and we want more. 

Anyway, my list isn't really comprehensive--it's just some of my favorites that I read in the 1970s and 1980s.  If you know of any others, do feel free to add them!  And I'm not swearing they'd all hold up. But still, I think I'm going to have to re-read The Tiger's Woman again at least... :) 

Old school Romance Authors

Celeste DeBlasis – Tiger’s Woman, Proud Breed, Wild Swans

Mary Stewart – This Rough Magic, Airs Above the Ground, My Brother Michael,

Madeline Brent – Tregaron’s Daughter, Moonraker’s Bride, Merlin’s Keep (and Modesty Blaise!)

Georgette Heyer – Fredericka, The Grand Sophy, The Masqueraders, The Devil’s Cub

Sergeanne Golon – Angelique

Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels – Amelia Peabody, Jacqueline Kirby, Vicky Bliss & more!

Taylor Caldwell – The Romance of Atlantis, Melissa,

                                    Grandmother & the Priests, The Listener, Dear & Glorious Physician

M.M. Kaye – Far Pavilions & the Death in series

Victoria Holt - Shivering Sands, The Night of the Seventh Moon, The Pride of the Peacock

Laura Kinsale – Flowers from the Storm, Prince of Midnight, 

Eva Ibbotson – A Countess Below Stairs, Magic Flutes, A Company of Swans

Jayne Aiken Hodge – Marry in Haste, Savannah Purchase, Red Sky at Night,

Anya Seton – My Theodosia, Dragonwyck, Green Fires

LaVyrle Spencer – Hummingbird, Twice Loved

Elizabeth Pope - Perilous Gard, Sherwood Ring (a touchYA)

Eleanor Farjeon – Silver Slippers, The Curlew, Martin Pippin

 

Just re-reading this means I might have to be searching my shelves again for these and others....

 

Happy reading to you all!

 

The WRW Retreat was loads of fun!

I always come back from a conference both exhausted in mind and energized in spirit. Being around women (and those few men!) who love books, writing, creative outbursts, laughter, and interactions just makes me smile. Even just writing about it was fun!

Some favorite things from this Washington Romance Writers Retreat weekend...

Mindy Klasky wasn't there for the weekend but did come to the lunch. And it was wonderful to see her recognized with an award, and also get to spend time just talking about careers, new house, books, and opportunities. I loved working with her, and am delighted to see her enthusiasm and career doing so well!

Mary Blayney and I (and a group of others!) got to geek out about our love for Lois McMaster Bujold and argue over where to start others on reading them! :) 

I got to eat two meals with Sarah Morgan and listen to her heartfelt and emotional speech about "making the moments count" in your books and in your lives. She was inspiring and wonderful and loads of fun!

I don't believe I had ever said more than "hi!" to Laura Reeth before, but now I do feel as though I know her a bit! She taught me some more about Instagram (so beware world!) and now I have to find the time to take some more photography courses. Maybe that one in Ireland.... :) 

I also did a wonderful panel with Sarah MacLean (my second panel with her I think!), Monique Patterson  and Patience Bloom (and a train ride with her!) on Old School Romances (i.e crazyawesome titles from the 70s and 80s and more). I came down with my list of favorites and added a few more to it. I think I'll post the list another day!

There were great workshops --even if Sarah MacLean's were standing room only!--and I liked Maria Geraci's talk on characterization. 

It was fun to meet up with authors I knew before like Geri Krotow and Heidi Hormel as well as new ones!

The Romance Jeopardy was great! I got co-opted on to the Miss Fisher's Flappers (a 20s theme carried out very creatively by all the groups), and wore my short black wig with pizazz I think! :) Our team didn't win (it was unfair! and Sarah MacLean got bruised!) but The Legend and the others who ran the parade were lots of fun. And superorganizer Diane Kowalyshyn made the whole retreat feel smooth and organized! 

I had a great conversation with agents Danielle Barthel, and Shira Hoffman heading to the conference (thanks Lisa Fontaine for driving us!).

And loads of fun passing by NSA and going in to Fort Meade and eating pie with Kim Lowe when heading back to the train on Sunday! 

And thanks for all those members who were welcoming, friendly, good conversationalists at meals and volunteered their work! Stephanie, Lauralynn (sp?), Sharon, Gabriel, Diane, Barb, Merry, Taylor, Tanya, Angele, Tara, Mary and everyone else whose name I've forgotten! 

I'm feeling energized and exhausted still, but eager to see what's next!

Thanks, Washington Romance Writers, and now I know why everyone wants to keep coming back! :)