Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lash Back

False eyelashes came on the American scene in 1932, and by 1964 they were big business.

Lucille Ball.
Image: weheartvintage.co

For eighty dollars a pair a woman could have her false eyelashes custom-made in mink, sable, or human hair. Or she could go to her local salon and have her lashes put on one by one for a look that lasted several weeks.

By 1968 a false-eyelashed cutie could pick up a pair for a mere $4.98 in a multitude of styles like "standard spiky" or "medium shaggy". She could even have lashes affixed with glitter or wear them three layers deep.

Jessica Pare as Megan Draper, Mad Men (2007-)

And in 1970 she could even put them on in a flash when she overslept with Helena Rubenstein's "Minute Lash", boxed with its very own plastic applicator and glue.

1970's Disco Diva
Image: beautyboxuk.blogspot.com

By the mid-seventies, as the vogue for the "natural look" intensified, the sale of false lashes declined. By the late '80's, women were dying their natural lashes or using no-color mascara--to separate and lengthen their natural lashes, albeit discreetly.

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --

Monday, July 14, 2014

Seven Habits of Effective Writers

I want to write effectively. Don't you? But how? 


What are the best ways for writers to work smarter, not harder? Barbara Wallace knows. She wrote an article on it, which appeared in the June issue of Romance Writers Report (RWR). She lists seven habits of effective writers. Here's the short version:


Habit #1 - Write First
Make sure writing remains the number one priority. Get new words on paper.

Habit #2 - Establish Structure

Put writing first. Set daily word counts and/or hours. Maintain strict structure.

Habit #3 - Know Yourself
Understand how you work. Set realistic long- and short-term goals.

Habit #4 - Be Judicious

Do what you can when you can to promote your work. Create authentic relationships with readers.

Habit #5 - Strike a Strong Balance

Don't be a workaholic. Make a concentrated effort to build downtime into your schedule.

Habit #6 - Cultivate Strong Support Systems
Surround yourself with people who support you and your goals. You need friends who understand the struggles and isolation you face as a writer.

Habit #7 - Treat Writing as a Small Business
Treat writing as a job rather than a hobby. Plan and study the market.


I wholeheartedly agree with these habits. I've noticed a marked difference in my production and attitude ever since I:

1) set weekly goals.
2) made the effort to write (or do something writerly) every day.
3) viewed my writing as a job.
4) found a CP who I adore and trust.

Chances are you've heard it the wisdom that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Give it a try. What are you waiting for? You can do it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: Celtic Wedding Traditions

I love writing historical romance for lots of reasons, one of which is the research I get to do. The history nerd in me gets all warm and tingly inside when I uncover interesting facts.

CELTIC WEDDING TRADITIONS


Image: thecelticweddingship.co.uk


Celtic weddings were simple and meaningful. Their weddings often took place outside with nature to bless the union. Nature was very important to the Celts. They believed the soul existed within within and outside of an individual. The soul would manifest in the trees, in the rocks, the waters and the sun. Humans and the world around them were intertwined, the soul tied to the spirit of the earth. Their belief in marriage was that two souls would join together so their strengths would be twice as great and hardships only half as hard. Marriage was an institution not to be entered into lightly. It was the union of two souls, two hearts and two minds.

Bravehart (1995)

The Feast was one of the most important aspects of a Celtic wedding. Unlike today where the ceremony and reception are viewed separately, traditional Celtic weddings incorporated everything into one big ceremony. The family and friends of both the bride and groom where there along with members of the community. The Celtic bride was very important. The term bride is Celtic in origin and refers to Bridgid, an exalted goddess of Celtic lore.

The Veil is a very old tradition. Before the bride is veiled she is a maiden. When she wears her veils he becomes a goddess in her own right, she takes on her mystery and feminine powers. When she is unveiled by her groom, she returns to this world changed as her old life has ended and a new one begins.

Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clone (2002)

The ceremony itself was a very simple ritual called Handfasting. The bride and groom would stand facing each other holding hands and they were bound by a ceremonial rope, cord, or wrap. This is where the term "tying the knot" comes from.

Image: ansgeulaiche.co.uk

This symbolically signified the unity of the couple. There are many variations on how handfastings were performed. They seem to vary throughout the times and regions. Some involved only one cord or rope, others involved up to six. Scottish weddings used a piece of the family tartan to tie the wedded couple.

Many customs specific to Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany survived and are still used today.

The Claddagh Ring is from Ireland. It was named for one of Ireland's oldest fishing villages.

Image: theirishjewelrycompany.com

The Ring Symbolisms
The two hands clutching a heart = friendship
The crown = loyalty or fidelity
Heart = love.

If you're single, custom says you should wear the ring on the right hand facing out. You wear it facing in if you're spoken for. You wear the ring on your left hand if you're engaged. During the wedding ceremony the ring is turned in then turned inward to signify the final devotion of the heart in marriage.

It was customary in Scottish weddings for the groom to pin a piece of his family tartan on the bride after the exchange of rings.

The Love Spoon is a decorated, hand carved wooden spoon that dates from 17th century Wales. A young man would present the spoon to his sweetheart as a token of affection and/or betrothal. It is thought the love spoon represented an early form of an engagement ring, or the acceptance of a serious courtship. The spoon was carved from a single piece of wood.

Image: barringtonlovespoons.co.uk

Hearts symbolized how the couple felt about each other. A horseshoe was for good luck and happiness. The knot symbolized everlasting love. Leaves and vines symbolized growing love. Double spoons indicated the couple would be together forever, while a triple spoon symbolized family. 
 
  -- Courtesy of The Celtic Highlander --

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: I Want it That Way

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...

  NEW ADULT
 
I WANT IT THAT WAY
By Ann Aguirre
Harlequin HQN
August 26, 2014
 
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local daycare to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question.  The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

I'm super excited about this book. I loved Ann Aguirre's romantic sci-fi Jax series. I bet this New Adult series is just as good.


~ Book blurb courtesy of author's website ~

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday

July, you sneaked up on me. Where did you come from? Just last May, I was so proud of myself for making writing my top priority. And then...I got a puppy.


These days, life has been fun but hectic. When I should be writing, I'm power napping. Or cleaning. Or ambling around like the Walking Dead.


I'm determined to create a new writing schedule (and start exercising regularly again) this month--or else. I have a story to finish! ASAP!!


As I dive back into my revisions, there's one thing I need to watch out for: Buried Dialogue.

Wait. What?


In my last chapter I buried some dialogue between narrative. If my CP hadn't pointed it out, I probably wouldn't have noticed that a few of my paragraphs looked like this: narrative, dialogue, narrative. See why it's vital to find yourself a good CP? She'll notice things you miss.

It's always best to eliminate Buried Dialogue because:

1) Buried dialogue slows the pace.
2) Dialogue can lose its oomph when squished between two narratives.

Here's an example of Buried Dialogue (courtesy of Lynettelabelle.com):

She lifted a tissue to her nose and blew. "He's gone." Her voice quivered almost as much as her hand.

This line is stronger when you remove the buried dialogue:
She lifted a tissue to her nose and blew.
"He's gone." Her voice quivered almost as much as her hand.


So how do you eliminate buried dialogue? By moving things around so the dilogue is at the front or end of the narration. Easy peasy, huh.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Releases

This summer I'm on a mission. I will read more books. I will, I will, I will. I wouldn't mind reading any one of these new releases.


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE
 
 
The Gentleman Jewel Thief
by Jessica Peterson 
July 1

Bride of a Scottish Warrior
by Adrienne Basso 
July 1
 
This first book in The Hope Diamond Trilogy is one debut I'm anxious to read.

I've never read a Highlander romance by this author. Methinks I need to read this one.


  NEW ADULT
 


Swimming to Tokyo
by Brenda St. John Brown 
July 28

The best trip I ever took was to Japan. During my 2-week stay, I spent several days in Tokyo. I had a fantastic time. So I can't wait to read this book and take a trip down memory lane. 


  YOUNG ADULT
 


Demon Derby
by Carrie Harris 
July 8

I adore Carrie Harris's books. Just the thought of them make me squee. Seriously. Ms. Harris's snappy pacing and witty dialogue are totes amazeballs.

What's on your must-read list this month?

Monday, June 30, 2014

June Wrap-Up


Tomorrow is July. Wait. What?


Where the heck did June go?! I sound old for saying that, but...Geez! I can't believe it's July. Tomorrow!


But there was so much I wanted to accomplish in June! Like read several books. Revise a bunch of chapters. Write more loglines and blurbs. Start thinking about my query letter.


Honestly, not much.



I wish! Actually, my mouth did hook up with a cake pop (or two) at my nephew's graduation party. And this happened...

Writing

1) Storyboard. I created a Pinterest storyboard for my novella, Wild Highland Hero. To view it, click here.

2) Story Idea. Inspiration struck while I was doing research. So I decided to write a third novella for my Wild Highlands series. 

 
3) Critiqued. I critiqued my CP's revised chapter. And it was...



4) Edits. My CP critiqued my latest chapter. I edited it. Twice.


  Personal

1) Puppy Love. I got a pup-eeeee! Every time I look at her, I squee.

Milla


 How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week... 

Sunshine. Summer arrived. I basked in the sunshine. So did my Doxies. =)
 
My sweet Milla
Sawyer and Milla love sunbathing together.
 
Poison Study. My nephew's girlfriend recently loaned me some YA books to read. I started Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder this week. I was hooked after the first chapter. I hope to read many more chapters this weekend.
 
Photo source: Tumblr
 
Mistresses. The soapy ABC drama Mistresses is my guilty summer pleasure. It has sizzle and substance. Plus, the cast is terrific. I especially love Alyssa Milano (Savi) and Jes Macallan (Joss).


What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I should be writing. But I'm not.


Hey now...


I've been busy. I got a new puppy, remember? Her name is Milla. She's a Mini Dachshund.


She's adorable and fluffy and fun.
 

Milla wakes me up during the night, sometimes two and three times. She howls and snorts like a pig at the crack of dawn when she wants her food. She also demands I stay on high alert during playtime, because she likes to run wild and bite all the wrong things. Like my other Doxie, Sawyer. Somehow Milla senses when I sit down at the computer, even though she's inside her kennel and can't see me. She makes a lot of noise, which is super distracing.

So you see, I've had a good reason for not being on top of my writing game.


Okay. I need to figure out a new writing schedule and stick with it.


Don't worry. I haven't been completely unproductive since getting my new puppy. I revised one chapter after I got it back from my CP. She loved it, thank God. But she pointed out something I need to watch for in my writing. I'll talk more about that later in my next writing update.
 
For now, rest assured I'm as determined as ever to finish my story.

 

Honestly, I feel more frazzled than freaked out. Not to mention exhausted from the nighttime breaks with puppy. Regardless, I mean to decide on a new writing schedule ASAP and complete my story very soon, even if I have to pull a few all-nighters to do so.

If I don't, my CP may just kick my arse. *hides*

How's your writing coming along. Do share!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Word Count

Months ago, I fretted over my story length. I worried my WIP was too long for a novella. So I went online to research story length guidelines. I came across an informative post on The Editor's Blog that I thought was worth sharing.

Photo source: Allisonbetancourt.com
   ________________________________

Turns out, the answer is that every story should be as long as it needs to be. It should satisfy the story setup and problem without overwhelming the reader with more words than are necessary.

Right. But what does that mean?

That means that you don't drag out your resolution. You give each story an ending that balances the length and depth of the narrative that has come before. You don't drag it out.

But you also don't drag out chapters. Or scenes. Or dialogue. Or even sentences. Get the point across in the fewest words possible. Tell the reader what she needs to know and then move on.

Don't belabor any point. Cut off scenes while they're still strong rather than leaching out all their power with too much detail and unnecessary explanation. Make readers want more, in a good way, rather than have them wishing you'd shut up already. If you've made your point, get to the next one.

Cut out repetition. Cut out fluff. Cut out the zillions of unimportant actions between one scene and the next. Cut clichés. Cut out any word, phrase, character, or scene that doesn't contribute to the current story you're writing. That is, write one story without trying to force a half-dozen into the same manuscript.

On the other hand, put in words that flavor your passages. Give readers enough detail that your characters seem real. Their plights believable. Their goals meaningful.

Write scenes, not only summaries. Write dialogue that serves to increase conflict and move the story forward.Write fresh phrases. Write events. Create an interesting story. Give readers no more and no less than is necessary to complete the story. And write with story standards in mind.

There are common word counts for not only different genres, but for different categories of fiction. If you're looking to go the traditional publication route, writing to industry standards is a wise choice. No, not every piece of fiction fits neatly into a typical word count, but most do. And if you're a new author, you'll want to use every advantage to get your fiction accepted. You wouldn't want a story to be rejected solely based on word count, would you?

Guidelines for Story Length


Single Title Full-Length Novel..........over 50,000
Category Romance...............................55, 000
Novella....................................................20,00 - 50,000 (some say 40,000)
Novelette.................................................7,500 - 20,000
Shorty Story...........................................up to 7, 500

Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not absolutes. There are exceptions and allowances at both ends of these ranges. There are also sub-categories that could further refine these counts. Also keep in mind audience and publisher needs. Novels that are too short might not appeal or might not fit a publisher's needs, and novels that are too long may be rejected simply for length.

Publishers typically won't consider a writer's first novel if it's too long. The maximum standard word count for a romance novel is about 110,000 words. Anything from 80,000 to 110,000 is common, with many novels falling in the 90,000 to 100,000 count range.

The reality is that new writers have to prove themselves before publishers can take a chance on a long novel from them. So prove you can write a killer novel -- or two or three -- that comes in at 95,000 words. Then when you make millions for the publisher, offer them that 180,000 word masterpiece.

And yes, before you say it, there are exceptions. But one exception out of thousands and thousands of manuscripts isn't great odds. Don't handicap your chances at being published for the sake of word count.

Pick up any novel, especially those written in a different era, and you may well find a wildly different word count. Yet you are writing today, so your options depend on today's gatekeepers and marketplace.

Note: There are different rules for self-publishing. If someone else isn't layout out the money and their reputation for your work, you can write longer stories. Keep in mind, however, that you still have to please readers. No matter what the length, make it a great story.

Both stories that are too short and too long are hard to sell. Try to keep yours within the standard ranges. Give yourself an edge by fitting in. Yes, you do want your writing to stand out, but there are some ares where standards rule. Let your characters and plot be wild and adventurous. Let your writing be bold. But let industry rules give boundaries to your creativity. Think of industry standards as the frame for your writing.

Write creatively. But do so in a way that will give others the opportunity to read your work. Know when to following rules and standards is to your benefit.

 ________________________________

As for me, I realized once I started revising my WIP that my story length was right on track. =)

~ Courtesy of Beth Hill, The Editor's Blog ~

Friday, June 6, 2014

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week... 

Library Books. That perfect moment when you're deciding what to read next and your library hold becomes available. 


So now I'm reading The Traitor's Wife by Allison Pataki. =)

TURN. I'm a wee bit obsessed with TURN, the Revolutionary War drama on AMC. The show is chock-full of action, romance, spies, puffy shirts, and powdered wigs. Oh, and Jamie Bell -- with a frock coat, cravat, and queue, no less. *swoon*  




Road Trip. Yep, I'm going on a road trip. Today, as a matter of fact.

 

My trip to the Oregon coast will be short. Nevertheless, I'm excited. Not only will I be attending my nephew's high school graduation, I'll also be picking up my new puppy while I'm in Oregon. I can't wait!!


What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Swimming To Tokyo

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...

  NEW ADULT
 
SWIMMING TO TOKYO
Brenda St. John Brown
July 28, 2014

The rules for swimming are simple:
Rule #1: There is no lifeguard on duty.


Since her mom died three years ago, nineteen-year-old Zosia Easton’s been treading water. Living at home. Community college. Same old Saturday nights. So when her father breaks the news he’s taken a job transfer—and by the way, it means renting out the house that’s been her refuge—a summer in Tokyo feels like it just might be a chance to start swimming again.

Rule #2: Beware of unexpected currents.


Finn O’Leary has spent God knows how many years trying to drown out his past. Juvenile detention. Bad decisions. Worse choices. He’s managed to turn it around – MIT, Dean’s List, a sexier-than-thou body with a smile to match – at least on the surface. When his mom asks him to spend the summer with her, Tokyo seems as good a place as any to float through the summer.


Rule #3: Swim at your own risk.

I'm marking my calendar for this one. I love Tokyo!

~ Book blurb courtesy of author's website ~

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Releases

Surprisingly there aren't many books on my June must-read list. Just one. Yes, you read that right. One book. How sad. I'm fine with that, though, considering my NTR pile is plenty big. I need to read faster, apparently. #toomanybooks #solittletime
 

  NEW ADULT 
 

No Apologies
by Sybil Bartel 
June 23
 
I love a good New Adult novel. This e-book debut about a hard-edged rocker who falls for a sweet girl with a crushing secret sounds like a nice summer read.

What's on your must-read list this month?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Wrap-Up

Okay, so what happened to May? Anyone? Anyone? It was there and then suddenly it wasn't.


I've been quite the blog slacker lately, eh? I have no excuse except that I was busy writing. It's an excuse I can live with, since I was being all productive and writerly.




Writing


1) Critiquing. My CP and I are still critiquing each other's chapters on a weekly basis. We took a short break during the winter months. I don't know about Natalie, but I think my writing momentum suffered because of it. Now that we're critiquing regularly, we're on a roll. 


This week was a bust, though. I had a cold. So I didn't open my WIP once. 

 
   

Never fear. I'll get back on track by Monday.

2) Loglines. I wrote loglines for a few of my future projects. I like to write them before I start my books, because it jump starts my creative process. A good logline is gold. If you think it's easy to write one, it's not. At least, it isn't for me. It's difficult to boil a book down into one clear sentence. Alas, it's a necessary evil.

After several drafts, Natalie gave my loglines her seal of approval. Frankly, I couldn't have done it without her help. Thanks, Nat!


3) Blog updates. I've updated my WIP page. I now have one for my books and another for my novellas. Check 'em out to read my new loglines.

4) Adjusted my writing schedule. After the holidays, I started writing first thing in the morning before I tackled my day. It was the only way for me to stop procrastinating when the winter blahs threatened my writing mojo. I immediately saw a marked improvement in the amount of writing I accomplished in the wee hours of the morning. With the winter gloom gone, I'm back to writing in the afternoons. The sunshine makes me more productive and happier. 


  Personal


 1) Bored senseless. In terms of life things May has been rather uneventful.


Okay, so maybe that's a bit dramatic but I do love this GIF. I have a huge crush on Michael Cera. He's so awkwardly cute in an adorable, nerdy way. Plus, Scott Pilgrim vs the World is one of my favorite movies. Anyhoo, this month hasn't really sucked but just been awfully boring. Thankfully, some fun times are ahead. Read on.

2) Good Times Ahead. A few fun things are going to happen in June. First, I'm taking a short trip to the Oregon coast to attend my nephew's high school graduation. Second, I'm getting a new puppy.


 How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!