You know, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders quite frequently, “Tell me again – why exactly am I doing this?”

And I don’t mean that in a self-defeatist, ‘writing is sooo danged HARD’ way, although I certainly have those moments occasionally. What I mean is, I like to step back and imagine the end result of all this work I’m doing. Not daydreaming about seeing my book in print and climbing the bestseller list – although that’s plenty fun, too – I mean, thinking about the people who will eventually buy it and read it and what it will mean to them.

In the grand scheme of things, it might not mean much to them at all – and I’m okay with that.

I don’t know, sometimes I feel there’s an assumption that a writer must want to impart some Grand Message to the world. What if I don’t? What if I just want to tell a good story and entertain? Make a reader laugh, sigh, and occasionally blush? If my book entertains someone through a transoceanic plane flight, or keeps her mind pleasantly occupied while she’s in a hospital waiting room, or just makes her feel like cuddling up to her significant other – I’ll feel like all my work was worthwhile.

That doesn’t mean I’m out to write pure fluff. (Or impure fluff, for that matter. *g*) A compelling story has to have real drama and go for the gut. As I keep writing and … Read More »

So first, today I’m guestblogging over at Romance Vagabonds, so puh-leeze come stop by! My post over there is all about my continuing quest to craft the perfect one-sentence hook – and I need some help. Writing the blog made me realize that the GOTH blurb on my website was long overdue for a change.

The blurb I used to have up there was my first attempt at writing a hook. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. It went like this:

As a girl, Lucy Waltham wanted to be ‘one of the boys.’ Now Lucy’s grown into a woman, and she wants … one of the boys.

Orphaned at the age of eleven and left in her brother Henry’s care, Lucy refused to languish in the schoolroom while the men had their fun. She’s spent eight autumns in their company, hunting, fishing, and worshipping Sir Toby, her brother’s rakishly charming friend.

Now Toby’s about to become engaged to the angelic Sophia Hathaway, and Lucy is desperate. Seduction is her weapon; Toby, her target. All she needs is practice. She turns to another of her brother’s friends – Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall. Jeremy taught her to angle for trout and snare a grouse. Who better to give her lessons on trapping a man?

Against his better judgment, Jeremy agrees to her scheme. He reasons he can distract Lucy long enough to save Toby’s engagement and Lucy’s reputation. But what starts with a kiss (Or two. All right, three.)

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Okay, another topic brought to you by special request of Mr. Dare.

Inquiring men want to know – what is it about bad boys? Why are women attracted to those dangerous, hell-raiser types, even though we know we’d be better off with someone respectful and principled and caring? Why do we cheer for the girl to pick Sawyer over Jack, Wolverine over Cyclops, Rhett over Ashley, Han Solo over Luke Skywalker? And why-oh-why didn’t Andie go to her prom with Duckie?

My initial idea, although I’m open to argument, is that it’s not too different from why we love the tortured heroes. There’s just something about that fantasy that a woman’s love can tame/reform/save/otherwise bring low the most jaded, arrogant cad – it’s irresistible. Then there’s the element of danger – so sexy and thrilling.

My current hero is a bad boy who’s like Sawyer and Wolverine and Rhett and Han Solo all rolled into one. I love, love, love the bad-boy hero. Perhaps it’s because I never got my bad-boy fix in real life. Seriously, I’ve searched my memory and come up blank. To my shame, I’ve actually never dated a single bad boy, although I’ve attracted some very strange ones. The closest I can think of is the gothed-out headbanger guy in high school who wrote me a 9-page letter in scripty handwriting to declare his undying love for me. I turned him down. I already had a date for the prom with the senior class valedictorian. How … Read More »

So Lacey had this fun blog on the results she got googling “Lacey needs.” I decided to take that idea and change it up a bit. Here’s what happens when you google “Tessa believes.”

Tessa believes that “writing is a process, a craft that can be learned.”
Tessa believes the mansion holds the secret of her birth.
Tessa believes that as a child she was attacked by an owl and flew like a witch.
Tessa believes everyone can learn to use Divine Energy to enhance their lives and understanding of themselves and their world.
Tessa believes she is superman.
TESSA believes that communication is essential to its mission.
Tessa believes no visit to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the red light district.
Tessa believes her life is charmed.
Tessa believes none of it.

Quite the credo, isn’t it?
Go forth and waste time.
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Okay, so here’s a comment I’ve had, in various permutations, from some of the contest judges who’ve read my first 25-30 pages and synopsis. It goes like this:

The conflict in GOTH is too weak to sustain a full-length book because there’s a Big Mis.


In a way, they are right. Yes, there is a Big Mis. And if it were the sole source of conflict, it would indeed be insufficient to sustain a whole book. In actuality, this particular misunderstanding only persists for less than 1/3 the book, and there’s plenty of other stuff going on meanwhile.

So first – I realize my synopsis is failing to adequately communicate the nature of the Big Mis, and the fact that their misunderstanding is a symptom of their conflict, rather than the cause. Yes, in the end, it’s a conversation and “I love you’s” that make for an HEA – but they can’t have that conversation until they each work through their own internal conflict. They’re misunderstanding each other because they’re misunderstanding themselves – their strengths and worth as individuals, their capacity to love and be loved. I have to work on revising my synopsis to reflect this, which shouldn’t be too hard.

Second – The synopsis could evidently do a better job of reflecting the tone of my book. The Big Mis is but one of many absurd plot devices in GOTH. The entire plot depends on a series of misunderstandings, ill-timed interruptions, and strange coincidences. My intention was … Read More »

Okay, we’re going to dial it down a bit this TMI Tuesday – I mean, after last week, any sex topic would be a bit anticlimactic. (Groan, I know. Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

My WIP, Goddess of Beauty, takes place mainly during a month-long ocean voyage in the early 1800s. I find myself wondering how much of my heroine’s daily activities I should sketch for the reader, and what I should leave to the imagination. Do I go into the details of bathing (what little she would have done)? The privy? And it’s a month-long voyage, which means a certain monthly event must take place – do I mention that?

Time-travel books often handle this well – because you have a modern character, viewing the historical world through our eyes. So of course, issues of hygiene and comfort are of increased importance. But would a character in a straight historical consciously think about those things?

What’s your threshold, in historicals, for TMI? Do you like the “authenticity” when the author includes early-morning visits to the chamber pot? Or do you prefer a hero with perfect pecs and no discernible bladder? Any bodily functions you have absolutely NO desire to see described in print?

And I apologize in advance, but I’m uber-busy today with meetings and work – so I’ll be a bit of an absentee blogger.
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Big day yesterday for the FanLit team, in case you haven’t heard.

Ericka Scott (Pamsko) has a new release from Cobblestone, Crystal Clear. I’m running (um, make that clicking) over to buy it right now!

And Pamela Bolton-Holifield (aka Doglady) is a finalist in the Royal Ascot! Yay!

I am not a finalist in the Royal Ascot, alas. But I did get good scores and great feedback from the judges, so I’m pretty pleased with how I did. Just didn’t quite make the cut. Can’t complain.… Read More »

So, the lovely gypsy girls over at Romance Vagabonds threw down the gauntlet and challenged one another to complete their WIPs by RWA National Conference in Dallas (starts July 11).

Since that’s my goal, too, they’ve generously allowed me to join them! In my case, it’s like an eight-week NaNoWriMo. I’m counting by pages this time, so I need to write about 40 pages a week, or 5-6 per day, to finish. I think I can! I think I can! I’ve got the little pagemeter over there to the right. Keep me honest, please!

You know, there’s a part of me that wonders if cranking out pages like this is the best way to write a book – that maybe I should be working more slowly and thoughtfully.

But then, this is what I did with GOTH, for the most part – except that was more like 4 pages/day. And it worked. I finished – where I’d tried and failed so many times before. Plus, if the ultimate goal is to become a successful romance author, ideally I’ll have to be writing a book every 6 months or so, anyway. Right? Might as well get used to working that way now.

(That’s me thinking like Lionel Shriver … see post a few screens down.)

Anyone else setting big, bold goals they want to share?Read More »

There’s a pernicious rumor in Blogdom that I’ve heard a few times now. It goes something like this: The words “I’m sorry” are an anachronism, if you’re writing a Regency.

To which I say, “I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong.”

Some quotes from Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth, from The Proposal at Hunsford:

In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot — I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one.

From Darcy’s letter (THE Letter):

But from the severity of that blame which was last night so liberally bestowed, respecting each circumstance, I shall hope to be in future secured, when the following account of my actions and their motives has been read. — If, in the explanation of them which is due to myself, I am under the necessity of relating feelings which may be offensive to your’s, I can only say that I am sorry. — The necessity must be obeyed — and farther apology would be absurd.

Darcy, during the Second Proposal:

I am sorry, exceedingly sorry,” replied Darcy, in a tone of surprise and emotion, “that you have ever been informed of what may, in

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Of all the jobs I’ve ever had – and this includes that miserable stint in my college cafeteria – being a mother is both the hardest and the best. I doubt my qualifications and my sanity daily, but the dozens of kisses and hugs I receive pretty much even the score.

Sometimes people wonder aloud how I get any writing done with two young kids. But oddly enough, I think being a mother gives me lots of inspiration for writing romance. When FanLit happened, my baby was just a newborn. I wrote several of my FanLit chapters by typing with one hand while I nursed/rocked/held him in the other arm. I wrote the whole time I was pregnant with him, too – I call him my muse.

Although I’ve been happily married for several years, both of my babies have served as wonderful reminders of how it feels to be in the first blush of love. I have every little detail of my kids memorized. I never get tired of looking at their cute little dimples, or kissing their fat little cheeks, or running my fingers through their curly hair. I’m completely infatuated with them. And while I still love my husband quite ardently, of course, that bloom of infatuation is a bit harder to sustain with an adult. Somehow, it’s just not cute when his nose is snotty.

How about you? How do you remember that feeling of infatuation? Are there relationships in your life that may not be … Read More »