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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Recalcitrant Creatures

I always think I have a good idea of who my characters are when I start writing a book. However, invariably the characters start to assert themselves as the writing progresses. Often, they change the entire plot with their shenanigans. Right now, I think I have a handle on my latest hero and heroine--Tadeusz and Victoria, but one never knows.

I was reminded of this when hubby and I went to eat at Charlie Brown's tonight. We were seated in a booth surrounded by books--lots of books. The temptation to pull one off the shelf was irresistible--and then I saw Andrew M. Greeley's Ascent Into Hell right within easy reach. Of course, the book was red, so it was hard to miss. Even hubby--who never reads fiction--was interested because Greeley is a priest. I read The Cardinal Sins years ago, but I haven't read any of Greeley's books since then.

I opened up the cover and found Greeley's disclaimer in the "Note." In it he said, "...like God, I refuse to assume responsibility for the moral behavior of my creatures."

Yes. Sometimes those characters misbehave--and there really isn't much an author can do about it. But that's part of the fun of being a writer--breathing life into creatures made of words.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Young Accordionist

Daughter #3 informed us of an accordion player who would be appearing at a coffee house nearby. Hubby and I never go to that particular coffee house because it is usually packed with teenagers. However, despite a $10 cover charge, hubby wanted to go to see the show.

We entered the coffee house and felt conspicuous amid the usual horde of teenagers. Sipping our vanilla chai (yummy), we suffered through the first band. Then, finally, that band packed up and a young man wearing a fedora stepped up on stage and pulled out his accordion.

Jason Webley is a terrific entertainer with lots of energy. He plays a smaller accordion than my hubby, but Jason needs to have something light weight because he jumps around a lot. Climbing on chairs, he exhorted the audience to join in as he sang. Obviously, he has a following because many of the young people in the audience did sing along and had specific requests.

The highlight of his show came at the end where he sang a drinking song. Since nobody was drunk, he suggested we all hold our index finger above our heads and then look at the tip of our finger as we turned around twelve times. This made everyone rather dizzy. :^)

Then Jason asked everyone to put their arms on each other's shoulders. Pretty soon we were all swaying to the drinking song and having a wonderful time.

Hubby was so happy to know that there is at least one young man still playing the accordion.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Reading Excerpts

On Saturday, I will be at the Old Bridge Library talking about e-publishing and reading excerpts from some of my books. I spent last night searching for the proper excerpts. I've found it's easier for me to read excerpts of the character's internal thoughts. Reading dialogue is tougher for me. I think that's because I am used to reading children's stories and acting out the parts of the characters--I have a very good witch voice, and I can do a nasty wolf voice, too. :^)

I liked this excerpt from The Company You Keep. It is a bit tiltilating.

Abruptly, he ended his nervous pacing. Tonight he had stumbled upon Jennifer in the woods and had seen a look of total panic on her face that had nearly made his own heart stop. She seemed a completely different woman, which made the entire episode eerie, like a vague but haunting dream. It was as though she had shed her shield and for the first time he had touched flesh instead of hardened steel. The Iron Lady had turned into a winter sprite. He had felt the tender curves lurking beneath her sweater. Lust fired through him at the thought of her full lips, rosy, quivering, and so close to his own as he carried her over the snow.


Nevertheless, he knew that at the next planning meeting, Ms. Brant would again be suited up in her gray, tailored armor. Her heavy braid would be tucked into a spinster-ish knot, and her eyes, so desolate in the woods, would be as unyielding as gunmetal.


Try reading it aloud--with expression and slowly. What do you think?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fresh Scallops

Daughter #1 came home from the second leg of her research cruise with a few pounds of fresh ocean scallops. That is one of the perks of being a marine researcher. I cooked the scallops tonight for supper using my favorite recipe. Here it is:

Put 1/2 cup flour in a plastic bag, add 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I use no-salt crumbs), and a 1/2 teaspoon of hot Hungarian paprika. Shake this mixture well, then toss the scallops into the plastic bag, a few at a time, and give them a shake. Arrange the scallops in a single layer in a pan. Melt 1/4 cup of butter (I also use unsalted butter) and pour over the scallops. Pour the juice of one lemon over the scallops.

Place the scallops in the broiler and broil until they are turn lightly brown. Then turn them over and broil them on the other side. Be careful not to overcook them or they will get tough.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I Sang With the Band

Last night I belted out "God Bless America" with a thirty piece band backing me up. This surprised most of the band members because they did not know that I can sing. I'm not Kate Smith, but I can carry a tune.

Hubby belongs to the Happy Days String Band. He plays the accordion. However, he and I used to be music ministers at church. He played the organ and I was a cantor. The Happy Days String Band lured him away. He always felt that being in the string band was like running away to join the circus.

The band plays gigs all over the county and sometimes I go along to take photographs. Most of the time, it is a bit boring being the wife of a band member. I feel like a groupie. Last night, the band had a short gig nearby and the band member who usually sings "God Bless America" wasn't going to be at the gig. At the previous gig, there had been no one to sing that song either. This bothered hubby. He asked if I would sing that song.

I know it. In fact, I had just sung it at the parish picnic on Sunday. So I figured...why not?

When I sat on the side, I got a few stares. One band member asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was going to sing. From her expression, I could tell she didn't believe me.

The house was packed. "God Bless America" was the last song. Even the director of the band looked a bit fearful as he handed me the mike.

According to hubby, I got a standing ovation. However, since everyone usually stands for "God Bless America," that isn't exactly correct, but it was fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just for fun...

After a week long hiatus from writing, I decided to get back to work and start something new. I had finished Kiss of Blarney and sent it in, but there's no word from my editor yet. I had plans to write a sequel to A Rush Of Light and I had another book outlined as well. However, my fingers were itchy to try something...different. Sort of.

I decided to try to write an old-fashioned Gothic. I grew up reading Mary Steward, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels, Phyllis Whitney, Velda Johnston, and Dorothy Eden--her Ravenscroft is one of my favorites. Jane Eyre is my top favorite.

So I sat down and had fun.

Daughter #1 came home on a 24 hour layover and rolled her eyes when I told her about my latest project. She is currently a Diana Gabaldon fan and thinks she knows all there is to know about history because she has read the Outlander series--more than once. She thinks I know very little about history, despite the fact that when she was young I dragged her and her sisters to every historical sight within driving distance.

No matter. I'm still having fun writing my Gothic. I've always loved old houses. :^)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Box

Last week, I decided that I could not stand the way the back porch looked for another day. Hubby thought it looked fine. Somehow, he just did not see how a rusty log hoop packed with logs, a wheelbarrow with a broken wheel, a blue tarp, two buckets, and the watering can could annoy me. I told him I was going to buy a big plastic box to store some of the items, but some of them had to go.

Hubby decided to go to Home Depot with me where I choose a large Rubbermaid "deck box." Hubby informed me that we don't have a deck. I told him that it doesn't matter. The box was lifted up to our roof rack with a forklift and we took it home. It was very easy to put together, the only necessary tool needed was a rubber mallet which we already own and which I usually use to flatten chicken breasts.

The box is taupe and dark green--about the most natural colors available in plastic, I suppose. In no time, I filled up the box with the firewood, the tarp, the buckets and the watering can. Hubby dragged the wheelbarrow out to the street for the garbage pickup. However, our neighbor saw the wheelbarrow and decided he could use it.

Our back porch now looks nice and neat. The firewood is dry and the other items that hubby cannot live without are out of sight. I really felt as if I accomplished something.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I've Been Tagged!

Actually, I was tagged a while ago, but I just did not have time to figure this stuff out--especially when I should be working on my current book. Here are my answers--finally.

10 years ago today: I was writing Irons In The Fire when I wasn’t hacking at the bushes in the yard (it seems that in the summertime, I become the groundskeeper around here--hubby mows, I hack). Then our television died. I took it to a repairman and borrowed a small black and white set from my parents. When I turned it on, my daughters wondered what was wrong with it. They did not understand that it was supposed to be simply black and white.

5 years ago today: I was writing Heaven’s Blue. I had to help move daughter #2 into her dorm in New Brunswick, while hubby and daughter #3 moved daughter #1 into her dorm in Stony Brook. It was hot and daughter #2’s room was on the third floor. (No elevators.) Daughter #1 was on the second floor. I got the more difficult job.

1 year ago today: I was writing A Rush Of Light. Found out I wasn’t in menopause--yet. The day before I helped daughter #3 move into her dorm. The day after, I was out there clipping those hedges again. But I also made Kuchen (had to have that sugar). :^)

Tomorrow: Enjoy a visit from daughter #1 and daughter #3.

5 snacks I enjoy: All the things I shouldn’t eat--potato chips, Cheez-Its, sesame sticks, cheez-doodles, and Craisins (one healthy thing).

5 things I would do with $100,000,000: Hire a maid for my mother and myself. Put an ad in the NY Times Book Review for my books. Buy a new hybrid car. Get the living room completely redone. Add on a sunroom. Have a new driveway put in.

5 Locations I Would Like To Run Away To: Ireland, Hawaii, Florence (been there and loved it), San Francisco, and England (been there, too, but did not get to see everything).

5 Bad Habits I Have: Falling asleep when I’m watching the news, covering my eyes when there’s a scary part in the movie and asking hubby what’s happening, chewing my fingernails, leaving the clothes in the dryer when they’re done, and zoning out when someone is talking to me (when I zone out, you can be sure I'm thinking about whatever the hero and heroine are doing in my current work-in-progress).

Things I Like Doing: Writing, reading, singing, painting, playing the piano, playing the guitar.

5 Things I Would Never Wear: parachute pants, sweat pants, painful pointy shoes, very high heels, and tight stretch pants.

5 TV Shows I Like: I don’t watch much television but I have enjoyed episodes of Crossing Jordan, Numbers, and The Medium. Mostly I watch the news and 20/20.

5 Movies I Like: Jane Eyre (also my favorite book), Sense and Sensibility, Gone With the Wind--you get the idea.

5 Famous People I'd Like To Meet: Bruce Springsteen. I've already met quite a number of authors. I like meeting ordinary people and learning about their entire life history. I consider it research. :^)

5 People to Tag: momnancy, robyn bayne, Ellen Fisher, k, and carina--if you have the chance. :^)