I have been a bad girl. I have not blogged in a week. I promised you sailing pictures, and I did not deliver. Bad, bad Tessa.

Okay, here is one of our ship firing on the brig Lady Washington. That’s our captain, giving the order.

I’ll post more another day, promise!

Then, Alice Audrey tagged me last week, and I have not yet responded. I was supposed to tell you seven interesting things about myself. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for the past year or so, you know just about everything interesting there is to know about me. The rest of it is quite boring, indeed.

One other thing I’ve done in the last few weeks is acquired a spiffy new Zen MP3 player, which Mr. Dare has been industriously filling up with songs. I’ve discovered that I have rather embarrassing tastes in music.

And somehow it has rolled around to Tuesday again, and time for TMI. So I’m trying to kill a few goats with one stone here. (And no, Lindsey, I have not forgotten all your marvelous topic suggestions. I’m hoarding them. *g*)

I often listen to music to pump myself up to write a scene. Now, I’d love to say that I’m listening to Mahler and Barber and Puccini and the like, but I’m not. I’m mostly listening to a rather embarrassing mix of alt/pop/rock/emo music that completely shows my age. And the more emotionally manipulative the song, the better.

For example, when Fanlit was … Read More »

I’ve been busy. Over the weekend, I:
*Went to my chapter meeting, where our speaker, Carly Phillips, confessed to having a writing process almost as messy as mine. I love her for it.
*Went sailing. And I promise, I will post more about it and some pictures later this week.
*Finished the draft of SOAS. Yay!!!

I actually have a lot to blog about, and I am just now getting the time to do it. But today is Tuesday, so all that other stuff will just have to wait.

Before my friend contacted me last week with her hair-removal emergency, I got to thinking about sleeping arrangements.

In old movies and TV shows, you see the couples sleeping in twin beds. Supposedly, Mike and Carol Brady were the first couple allowed to share a bed on-screen. (I meant to find some pictures, but I couldn’t! Let me know if you do.)

Those who read historicals know that, among the aristocracy, the husband and wife would have separate bedrooms. Separate suites of rooms, even. And this is often a point of romance and intimacy in a historical – when they have that, “I know most couples sleep in separate rooms, but we’re going to share” discussion. The idea of separate chambers just being the antithesis of romance.

But as I’ve … ahem… matured, I’ve come to know a lot of very loving couples who sleep in separate beds, or even separate rooms, for a variety of reasons. Maybe one snores. Maybe … Read More »

Still breathing, still writing… I’ve given up on updating that page meter, because I passed the 400 page/100K word mark long ago, and now my heart sinks with every page I write, knowing that it means I’ll need to cut a page somewhere else. But the end is in sight.

And this weekend, I’m going for a cruise on this ship so I can hopefully go through and fix all the highlighted lines that read, “Do something something with the sail!”

It’s a battle cruise with four ships and cannons and everything. And we’re allowed to bring booze. How cool is that?… Read More »

Okay, so I’m the last person in America to see this movie. But I’m so glad I finally did – and NOT because I look anything like Amy Adams, as Sara Lindsey seems to think (although perhaps I share her character’s goofiness), but because it was the cinematic equivalent of what I’m trying to do when I write romance.

My books are silly. They’re filled with cliche’d phrases and plot elements, and (in)conveniently timed interruptions. It’s a self-conscious silliness. As a genre, romance asks the reader to accept a lot of improbable situations. It makes me think of the White Queen telling Alice that she too could believe six impossible things before breakfast, if only she practiced. Some writers are able to sketch such vivid pictures of their world and characters, that I can believe those six impossible things. With other books, I simply skim past my disbelief and try to enjoy the story for what it is: a modern fairy tale.

I’m not such an accomplished historian or student of human nature that I could fall into the first category. So my goal is never to ask the reader to suspend disbelief. You’re encouraged to disbelieve the absurdity of the situations in my books – my characters can hardly believe it themselves. Laugh with my books, laugh at my books – I don’t really care. But while you’re laughing, I’m going to sneak some real emotion in there.

This is why Enchanted makes even the most jaded hearts melt … Read More »

You know that feeling you get when you’re **thiisss** close to winning at chess, or to untangling a very large, very uncooperative knot? Sort of itchy and excited and tense all at once – you can see the nine or ten moves it will take to get there, but in order to complete them you’ve got to concentrate and shush those around you and frown really hard, or else you’ll lose the sequence and that way lies much weeping and gnashing of teeth?

This is pretty much where I’m at with Surrender of a Siren. **Thiiisss** close to finishing the draft and terrified to break my concentration. What little of it I can gather, at any rate.

To that end, I’m going to be a bad blogger and commenter over the next few weeks. Uh, just like I have been for the past few weeks. Sorry!

Goals for the new year?
*Maintain tenuous hold on sanity.
*Walk more to prevent brain atrophy (I read this in an in-flight magazine). And my brain is atrophying at an alarming rate. I shake my head and things rattle in there.
*Go to England.

That’s all I can muster the concentration for right now.… Read More »

The Dare family is off for our Christmas holiday in sunny Florida, by way of a Caribbean cruise. Wheee! Now there’s just the matter of that frantic last-second packing…

This blog will be on vacay until New Year-ish. Hope you all have fun with your loved ones, dishing TMI the old fashioned way… over eggnog and Yahtzee.… Read More »

First, winners!
Congrats, Sara Lindsey! Randomizer chose you – and boy, did you ever work for that prize. So many great suggestions.
Everyone made great suggestions, and it was really hard to choose. But for the meantime (and it’s always subject to change again), I think I’m going to go with Lindsey’s suggestion of “Stubb(s)” (I’m thus far ambivalent about that S at the end) – mostly for the simple reason that it rhymes with his old name. And because Stubb is a name crying out for a peg-leg, and that would be cool. So congratulations, Lindsey! Email me with your favorite dot-com book outlet, and I’ll set you up.

On to TMI…
Okay, so a long, long time ago (so long ago I’m not even up for searching the archives – but yes, I’m basically recycling that post), I blogged about how I wanted to write books where the reader fell in love with not just the hero, but the couple.

My example went something like this. There are some books where I am so in love with the hero, I would like to go through the book, page by page, and cross out the heroine’s name and write “Tessa” instead. If I could borrow the Jasper-Ffordemobile and travel into that fictional world… that man is mine.

By contrast, when I’m in love with the couple, I couldn’t imagine ever doing such a thing. Never ever in a million years would I part Darcy from Lizzy, … Read More »

My brilliant CP, Ms. Courtney Milan, has won first place in the Golden Pen with her manuscript, Abducting Oliver! Congratulations, CM! I’m so proud.

Not that this comes as any surprise.

Add your “I knew it” or “Of course she did” or “I told you so” here.

And by all means, keep adding to the contest entries in the post below!… Read More »

And left a check, from Random House. Just in time for Christmas. I’m a paid author now. Wow.

So, I’m in the mood to celebrate. And speaking of grizzled, bearded old guys, I’m also in the mood to rename one of my characters. So, contest time!

I have a character in Goats on a Boat Surrender of a Siren (as it says in my shiny new contract) in dire need of a new name. He’s the steward of the ship, which means he’s the captain’s manservant. His working name has been “Grub” – because I wanted something one-syllable with an evocative sound, like “Smee” from Peter Pan. I chose “Grub” after picking out random syllables from Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky. For some reason, I kept gravitating toward G – “gyre”, “gimble” (that was his name at one point), “grabe”. But alas, I already have two other characters whose names start with “G” – not least of all, the hero, Gray. So I need a name with a different evocative sound. His primary characteristics are a flair for theatrics and a lot of hair:

Surely there was a man in there somewhere, Sophia thought. Somewhere under all that hair.

The hunched, ancient steward shuffled down the narrow staircase, whistling a jaunty tune as he went. She followed, treading gingerly on the bowed boards. As her eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, she took in the greasy, gray tangle of hair that hung midway down the man’s back, the grizzled

Read More »

Well, my contest career is officially over. All my scoresheets and rankings and whatnot have at long last returned, almost eight months after I sent my first entry off. In total I entered five contests. In two I did not final, in three I did. I placed everywhere from (the bottom of) the bottom third to first place.

So, what lessons did I glean from this short foray into the craziness of romance contests?

I would say I learned something about hooks. The two contests I won were the two I entered with my first 50 pages. The two contests in which I did not final were ones that asked for 25-30 pages. (the fifth contest, for those doing math, was for sexy scenes) In my manuscript, 50 pages ended with the heroine nearly drowning, then calling the hero a cold, heartless man who hadn’t the courage to love. By contrast, 25-30 pages got me somewhere into the middle of breakfast.

Lesson 1: Breakfast is not a good hook. Not even a breakfast with chocolate.

Some judges adored my heroine. Others called her TSTL. Some judges thought my hero was “perfect”. Others said he was boring and blank. Some judges thought my sense of period was smooth and believable; others found errors in every garment, furnishing, and plant I described. And in every contest, one judge – the same judge? – would complain that I did not include enough smells.

Lesson 2: I’m never, ever going to please everyone. And
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