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So, moving right along with the writing process…

I’ve got characters, a vague plot built around these “moments”, and I’ve started my research.  As part of the research, I collect pictures.  I find it helpful to imagine my settings and characters’ physical traits from the foundation of a painting or photograph of an actual place or person.  Or horse.

For example, for the book I’m working on right now (working title The Desire of a Duke, since it includes the essential Tessa Dare titling element: the word “of”, LOL), I’m loosely basing the hero’s estate on an actual estate in Cambridgeshire: Wimpole Hall.  Pretty impressive, no?

And there’s a very important racehorse in the book, who I am making the fictional “great-grandchild” of the famous stallion Eclipse.

Lastly, I also pick celebrity models for my hero and heroine.  I know different authors have mixed feelings about this – I don’t know why I find it so helpful, but I do.  It’s important that it not be just a photo of a model, but someone I can watch in action, on TV or in movies.  Somehow this helps me develop a visual image of how my character moves, reacts, stands, sits, relaxes, and so forth.  Seldom does the character in my mind match up exactly with his/her inspiration, but it’s just a helpful starting place.

If you’re one of those readers who prefers her own imagination, I’ll put the pictures of my Spencer and Amelia inspirations below the … Read More »

Holiday shopping is upon us.  Does anyone else share my sense of creeping panic?  I don’t like shopping under normal circumstances.  Factor in the holiday madness, and it’s all over.  Malls make me itchy.  Online shopping it is.

Fortunately, the darelings are easy.  They’re already conditioned by our grand consumer culture to blurt out, “I want that!  Me, me, me!” at every toy they see on TV or in the print ads.  So I figure they’ll be happy with anything.

But I never know what to do for the adults in my life. My family is very geographically dispersed, so I tend to go for the easily shippable items.  Books go without saying–I usually give books.  But then what else?  It’s barely November, and already I’m suffocating under the avalanche of mail-order catalogs: wine gift basket, cheeses and hams, baked goods, fruit, etc.

Anyone have any cute gift ideas to share?  Any new online stores to check out?  Mail-order gifts you’ve given or received lately that were a pleasant surprise?Read More »

Okay, I know the world is abuzz with exciting news, but this is my own little tiny piece of excitement.

My first book, Goddess of the Hunt, is now listed on Amazon It’s not available for pre-order quite yet, but imagine it will be soon. You can pre-order it now!  Hooray!

Actually, you can already pre-order it from the Random House site here.

It’s all starting feel so…real.… Read More »

I may be insane.  I plan to take the darelings with me today to the polls.

I don’t have a sitter, for one.  And for another, I just like taking them there, to see what this whole democracy thing is all about.  Plus, they get stickers!

My eldest and I have been having lots of adorable conversations over the past month or so about just what it is a president does (hard to explain, when she still can’t quite grasp the distinctions of city/state/country) and what voting is all about.  I can tell it distresses her shiny new sense of fairness that only one of the two candidates can win.  When I told her that the grownups will all be going to vote so they can choose the new president, she said, “I don’t want to grow up.  I don’t think I could choose.  Can’t they share?”

I’ve also been hearing from my mom–who, for the first time in my memory anyway, has been actively campaigning on behalf of her candidate, calling voters, standing out for hours in crummy weather to hear him speak.  I think it’s awesome.

I write historical romances because I find that long-ago, far-away time to be swooningly romantic.  But today, I could not be more happy to be a modern woman.  I’m so glad that this is the very first election my daughter is aware of.  I can discuss the four main candidates with her, and she can look at that group of people and … Read More »

GODDESS OF THE HUNT is now available for pre-order! The official release date is July 28, 2009.… Read More »

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I hope you all have safe and festive celebration!

So, which candy will you be stealing from your children’s haul tonight (or holding back from the neighborhood kids)?  I’m partial to the peanut butter cups and anything with coconut.  On the other hand, I’ve reached the point in my life where certain candies just aren’t worth it – like those Tootsie Roll Pops.  A ball of random-flavored hard candy surrounding a tarry little wad of goo?  Nah, the kids can have those.

Here’s a delicious treat for you, if you haven’t already seen it:  The first seven chapters of Eloisa James’ When the Duke Returns are available for your preview pleasure! (read: torture, since the book is still a month from release!)

Sooooooo good, it’s scary.

Read More »

This would be the third installment in my little “How I write a book” series; click the tag below for all of them.  It’s my continuing effort to understand myself and have a cogent answer for people when they ask me that dreaded “are you a plotter/pantser/pepper” question.

Warning:  Overextended analogies ahead.

At this point in my process, I have characters.  I have this constellation of “moments” that I believe I can string a plot around.  My next step is to take all these wild ideas I have–like, “Ooh, what if she gets on a ship for the West Indies!” or “Ooh, what if he runs for Parliament!” and let historical reality crush them.  Mua ha ha.

No, not really.

For a writer of historical romance–okay, at least for this writer of historical romance–research is a chicken-and-egg thing.  Meaning, I eat a lot while I do it.

No, okay, seriously.  It usually starts out as, “Here’s the story I want to tell.  How can I make it historically plausible?”  (Note, I am relatively unconcerned about it being historically probable. It’s more than okay with me if I have my characters doing highly unlikely things–that makes for good story, IMO.  I just try to avoid having them do chronologically impossible things.)

So I crack open that egg and start the research, and discover all the defects in that perfect, fluffy adorable little chick of a plot I’d been dreaming about.  I have the inevitable moments like these:  … Read More »

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*blinks*

Sorry to have been scarce for the past week.  I sort of went into e-hiding, to focus on writing.  The good news is, after several false starts, I finally have a beginning I like for my new book.  Which doesn’t mean it’s the beginning that will be in the final draft necessarily, but it means it’s a viable starting place and I’m making good progress.  Yay!

Basically, toward the middle of last week, things were not looking good.  I was completely frustrated with my circular “progress” and just not having fun writing the story–which is a sure sign something is wrong.  I was so distracted, I clean forgot to watch the season finale of Project Runway.  Mr. Dare got fed up with my irritable, impossible-to-live-with-ness, he threw me out of the house and forced–forced!–me to go to a nice hotel for the weekend and type my fingers off.  So that’s what I did.  And bless him, it worked.  I came back energized, optimistic, and very clean (I think I took five showers in 2 days–that’s how I do my best thinking, after all, and then all that unlimited hot water and free white-ginger soap…mmm).

How do I reward this man?  He really is a hero.… Read More »

So, last week I blogged about how my novel-writing process starts with months of thinking, and that usually the thinking starts with the main characters.

Once I have these two protagonists in my mind, even in very vague, shadowy form, what I start thinking of next are “moments”.  I’m not sure why, but this seems to be how I plot a book.  I don’t get big story trajectories coming to me in during all those long walks and hot showers, I get (what I’ve taken to calling) “moments”.  Little scenes with the potential for great humor, drama, angst, suspense….or heat. 8)  Some might call them the book’s turning points.

Anyway, these evolve in different ways.  Sometimes I just have a vague idea for a situation, and other times whole swaths of dialog just pop into my mind.  But they give me that “ooh, that would be soooo funny/sad/hot” feeling.   My gut tells me, I just HAVE to put that scene in the book.

I start to mentally refer to these “moments” by little one- or two-word tags.  For Goddess of the Hunt, for example, they might have been things like: orchard, wardrobe, letter, dinners, tears.  Right now, for this new book, I’m working with moments like: hay, party, piano, symmetry.  The moments are like a constellation of stars, and then the rest of the plot is a line connecting them.  By the time I finish the book, that line may change a dozen times–but the stars are pretty permanent.… Read More »