Over on Salon.com, Cary Tennis writes this magnificent “advice” column called Since You Asked. The “advice” he gives is seldom really advice, and it seldom has much to do with whatever superficial concern the original letter addressed. He’s the kind of hero I blogged about yesterday – someone who sees the divine in the mundane. He takes a question about laundry as an invitation to discuss the soul.

So earlier this week, he answered a letter from a woman who couldn’t understand why men weren’t falling all over themselves to marry her gorgeous, successful, perfect self. Now Dr. Phil or that “He’s Just Not Into You” guy would probably give her some pointers about how to dress, where to meet men, or just tell her to get over herself. You can read the letter and Mr. Tennis’ whole answer here, but my favorite bit was this:

We men are filled with longing and things that don’t fit — guilt about
blunders and lies we have told and failures we have brought about. Most of us
are a mess is what I’m saying. And we’re looking for a home for our messed-up
selves.

Everybody is happy to house our goodness. That’s no problem. … But
who will house our darkness? Some homes are too shiny and they scare us; we
don’t know where to put our feet.

…It is our dark selves for which we seek a home in a relationship.

And thank you, thank you Cary Tennis … Read More »

I sent in my registration for the RWA Conference in Dallas! I can’t wait to meet up with all of you there. We should schedule a FanLit Fiesta.… Read More »

I consider the novel I’m writing to be a comedy of manners. The reason I love comedies of manners (the novels of Jane Austen being a perfect case in point) is that they do not neglect or gloss over the big, dramatic concepts of Life and Love and Heroism and Truth, etc. Quite the opposite. A comedy of manners takes those big, capital-letter issues and forces them into small, everyday gestures. The result is that seemingly innocuous acts are imbued with profound meaning – and I can relate to that so much more than sweeping gallantry or fights to the death.

Take my own personal hero, Mr. Dare.

(Let me say first that I require a large amount of caffeine to continue existing in this world. And my beverage of choice after 11AM is diet Pepsi. Mr. Dare, of course, does not drink diet anything. Ugh. How unmanly that would be.)

So last night, I took the last diet Pepsi out of the fridge to drink with dinner. I didn’t put more cans in. Yes, yes. I am one of those people. You can all feel free to hate me now. So lunchtime rolls around today, and I’m jonesing for a diet Pepsi fix. And as I swing open the door of the fridge, I remember that there will be no chilled diet Pepsi awaiting my lazy-girl self, who did not put more cans in last night. But lo and behold – there they were. Six perfectly lined-up cans of … Read More »

So I’ve been thinking about age.
Lately, I’ve read a number of excellent historicals with heroines that are near my own age
(28-30ish). Okay, I’m 31, but you know. Close enough. Be they spinsters or widows, they’re old enough to have a better-developed sense of themselves and their own sensuality, which adds to the complexity of the romance. I love reading about “older” (that being a very relative term, of course) heroines.

But I don’t know that I could write one yet.

My own heroine (Lucy, as you know) turns 20 during the course of the novel. Her hero is 29. So are all the other men in the novel . In fact, there’s only one character in the book over 30, and she’s the senile great-aunt. It’s like an episode of Friends set in the Regency – everyone’s 20-something, witty, and good-looking.

I guess I just feel like, being 31, I can write about what it’s like to be a woman under the age of … 25 or so. Beyond that, I feel less confident. I’m still processing what it’s like to be a woman in my late 20s or early 30s. With the men, all bets are off anyways – I’ve never been a man of any age.

How about you? What age of characters do you prefer to read about? Are there certain ages you feel more or less comfortable writing? Would you put my book back on the rack because all the characters are so young?… Read More »

“Murder Your Darlings.”

I’ve seen this quote attributed to Eliot, Fitzgerald, and a host of other writers but most often to Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who (supposedly) wrote:

“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings.”

The idea being, oftentimes that brilliant little metaphor or clever bit of dialogue that you love so dearly – it just needs to go, to make the story work. It’s a darling in need of an ax.

This is the hardest part of revision, for me. I’m currently trying to rework Chapter 5 of my manuscript. The motivations of the characters needed to change. When I wrote that part of the book, I was still getting a feel for my characters. Now that I’m up to chapter 20 or so, they are telling me that Chapter 5 has got to be significantly revised. I’m okay with that, in principle. The problem is that the old Chapter 5 is littered with darlings. Lines I love that just don’t work anymore with the scene’s new slant. I have to be ruthless and murder them, I know. But it’s hard. Violence just isn’t in my nature.

Do you have this problem? I feel like I need a mourning rite to help me let go of my darlings. Perhaps I should write them on scraps of paper and burn them. Or feed them to my dog. … Read More »

Yep, I’m still alive. We all got the flu in my house. And now we’re all recovered in time to go away on a skiing mini-break, as Bridget Jones would say. V. V. G.

Actually, yours truly will be staying far from any ski slopes, to avoid what would certainly be a Bridget Jones-y sort of scene. Hubby will be snowboarding, and I’ll be doing what I’m usually doing – watching the kids and writing – only at a higher altitude. I’m dizzy with excitement already!

And next week I promise to get back into the blogosphere and come round with scads of salient, witty comments.

Cheers!… Read More »

FanLit FOX deal winner Sara Dennis is guestblogging today on Romance By the Blog! Be sure to stop by!… Read More »

So, I’m having a little problem in Regency land. The problem being that it preceded the Industrial Revolution. There are a whole host of metaphors I routinely use in writing and speech that just don’t fly in 1815.

For example, a sentence like:
“Somewhere deep inside him, a switch flipped.”

Well, they didn’t really have switches, did they? Shoot.

And there are so many other “mechanical” turns of phrase that sneak into my writing. Buttons being pressed, levers being pulled, gears turning (although I kept that – I mean, they did have gears in clocks and such). Even the phrase “train of thought” – can you use that before they had trains?

So what’s another, non-mechanical way to refer to abrupt changes within someone’s psyche? If it ain’t a switch, button, or lever, what is it? Help!… Read More »

First off, thank you so much to everyone who stopped by Romance by the Blog yesterday! It was so great to “see” so many Fanlitters together in one place. Big thanks to Michelle and her bellas for hosting the reunion.

So this morning, I’m thinking about heroes. Craveable, lovable, to-die-for heroes. It occurs to me that, when I read, I have two levels of hero-worship.

1) Heroes I want for myself. I want to go through the book and cross out the heroine’s name and pencil in “Tessa” instead. I’m in love with him.
2) Heroes I wouldn’t steal for the world. I couldn’t bear to take the heroine’s place, because it just wouldn’t be right. I’m in love with them.

Personally, the books that really stick with me are the ones with heroes that fall into category 2. And – very predictably – a perfect example of this would be Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. He’s the man. He’s principled, honorable, handsome, wealthy, and appreciates an intelligent woman who challenges him. And he’s hot. But even if I could jump into the pages of the book in Jasper Fforde fashion — never, ever in a million years would I usurp the place of Elizabeth Bennet. Because I don’t just love him. I love him in love with her.

I prefer heroes in category 2. That’s the kind of hero I want to write.

Does that make sense? What do you think? Can you … Read More »

For FanLit folk and blog regulars:

I am guest-blogging today on Romance by the Blog! PUH-leeeeze come over and chat about FanLit. I’m giving away chocolate…!

There are several very cool people linked to the right. If you are a cool person I haven’t yet linked, sing out!

For Romance by the Blog bellas:

Ciao, Bellas! Thanks for dropping by!

These are my rambles about writing and romance and my novel-in-progress, Goddess of the Hunt. If you click here, you can see the mystical apparition of Eloisa James and Julia Quinn on my own humble blog. Much like the Virgin Mary appearing on a grilled-cheese sandwich.

For everyone:

Please come check out my brand new website at tessadare.com !
You can read an excerpt of my WIP, Goddess of the Hunt.… Read More »