Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finishing Up

The final draft of Double Vision has been printed and is about to go through the "Dan Test." That's when I read the entire book out loud to him. Two reasons: one, because I can hear if the cadence and correct words have been used, and two, so Dan can catch timeline, direction, sun angle, and all sorts of other errors that I take for granted when I write from the movie in my head.

As you can see, I've also been working on the cover. Let me know what you think of it. There's still the back cover, the spine, the chapter graphics and part one, two and three graphics to be done, so there's still quite a bit to do.

I'm hoping to have the completed book in my hands before the middle of April. My clan has invited me to speak at the annual clan dinner on April 18th down in Massachusetts, and I'd love to be able to present them with the last book in the trilogy. The clan historian from Scotland will also be there speaking about his newest book, so we'll have an Author's Night of sorts. It's quite an honor and I'm looking forward to it. I even ordered my custom-made kilted tartan skirt from Scotland last night!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Double Vision

The third book in the Eyes of Garnet trilogy, Double Vision, is rapidly coming to its end. I should have it finished by the beginning of the new year. 'Course, finished is relative. After I complete the story, there's a period where I work on the cover art, the graphics for the chapters, cover text, etc. Then I go back and rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite some more. It'll easily be March before it's ready to go to the publisher.

But, I'm truly excited about it, and can't wait to begin another book. I guess that makes me a real writer. Or a glutton for punishment! Perhaps they're one in the same.

As small publishers gain favor for their tolerance for new writers, as does self-publishing due to the fact that the big boys are getting more and more difficult to play with, I'm pleased that I can have my work out there and actually have people enjoy it. It's not that I doubted it could happen. If I did that, there'd be no point in going forward with any of it. But I'm truly pleased with my fan-base and the fact that they help to spread the word via friends and family.

Now all I need to do is get the movie sold and made. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander is being optioned for a big screen event, and Randall Wallace of Braveheart fame has been chosen to write the script. If it can happen to her, it can happen to me, though I do so pity Mr. Wallace for the task of taking only enough from the book to make a two, to two and a half hour movie out of it. No matter what he does, there won't be anyone happy about what and who gets cut out. That's why I wrote my own screenplay. So much easier to live with myself and not have to kill another screenwriter for leaving out the true plot of the story.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pick Up Lines and Book Signings

Yes, you read the title to this post correctly.

I was at the Barnes and Noble store in Newington, NH Sunday doing a signing. Now, I really do enjoy meeting people and talking to them about my books, so what better way to do that then at a crowded bookstore. Well, crowded may be exaggerating. It was actually pretty quiet, but given the sucky economy, there were still people buying books.

There was a lull in the action so I was browsing the new David Baldacci book. My peripheral vision caught sight of an approaching person. I looked up to find an elderly (in his 80's) gentleman with a cane staring at me.

"Hi," I said.

"I know you from somewhere, don't I?" he asked, still staring.

I told him I didn't think so, as I never forget a face.

"You're very pretty," he told me.

By this time, I'm thinking he doesn't care if I'm selling my books or women's underwear. This guy's trying to pick me up using his best lines from WWII!

I try to focus his attention back to my books, rather than my looks, by asking him if he had one of my books.

He said no, but perhaps his wife did.

"See, that's probably why you think you've seen me before."

"But you're very pretty," he reiterates. "I know we've met."

My husband is behind me hiding behind a bookshelf snickering the entire time, wondering how I'm going to get out of this one. He's always amazed that this can happen to me anywhere I go, although it's usually the mentally challenged who are the ones who brazenly approach to talk. I tell him I just look friendly.

After a few more minutes of staring, he told me he was with his daughter, who was about my age and that he'd see me later. Great, now I get to meet the family.

True to his word, about a half hour later, he's introducing me to his daughter, and we go through the whole conversation again. His daughter was finally able to steer him towards the door, but I never was able to sell them a book.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Living in the Past

It's hard not to think about my next series of novels even though I'm still writing Double Vision, the last of the Eyes of Garnet trilogy. I'm really looking forward to putting Gregor Macgregor's story onto the page. He's such a character, and I'll be writing as a man and in the first person. A change that I welcome.

I wonder if I'm painting myself into a corner writing another set of historical fictions. But they're just so much more interesting than the time period we live in now. Not that there isn't much going on now, it's just so complicated. I've always been attracted to the past, not that I want to relive those terribly difficult times, but when you think of what our ancestors went through ... and still managed to survive it all. It's amazing in of itself.

Can you imagine people of today going back to the 18th century? I believe people are people, not matter what time period they've lived in, but would one have to be stronger to survive it? What would most of us do without the internet, or a washing machine, or something as simple as getting water from a faucet? I feel most would have a very difficult time of it.

There would still be the rich. There would still be the poor. But the street people of today would be the ones coming out on top in that world, having the knowledge of living by their wits and making do with what they have on their backs.

We've grown soft, fat, lazy, and all too willing to pass everything that involves work to someone else just because it inconveniences us. Sad really.

So with all that said, I guess I'll stick to historical fiction for the time being. Besides, it's so much easier to have men with magnificent physiques because they had to do so much manual work. Their hands were big and rough. Their shoulders wide and chests thick. And they probably weren't gay to have those bodies! ;o)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Dark Side

I wonder how many people have had experiences such as the night my husband and I were awoken because we couldn't breath. There seemed to be a dark presence sitting on our chests, pinning us to the bed. We could both "see" it in our mind's eyes; an angry black blob is the only way to describe it.

For hours we battled this thing, asking for the light forces to remove it from our space. It didn't belong here and the fact that it was actually interfering with us on the physical level is not allowed, in our books.

It finally did leave, but not after having to be ripped apart to make it see that what it was doing was totally wrong.

You see, the house we were renting for the winter was on a jut of land with a tidal river on the east and the open waters of Frenchman's Bay barely twenty feet to our south. And when it rained, we had a small stream run under the house, which was on pillars. This confluence of so much water created a large negative vortex on the property.

Ghosts wearing colonial dress were seen in my kitchen, and perhaps those going back before that time when the Native Americans used it for fishing grounds shadowed the spare bedroom.

When you walked past the guest house, the hair literally rose on your arms. All you felt was death, and worse. There didn't seem to be any way of clearing the house of gremlins, and in the dark, the place could hardly be spookier. It felt as though you walked through air thick and cold with crowds of those who'd passed, but hadn't left. It was a congregation of ghosts.

Some people wouldn't go near the place. Said it gave them the creeps. It certainly didn't look like a haunted house. It was the perfect summer vacation house on the coast of Maine. White clapboard two-story farmhouse with a great covered porch overlooking the ocean. The inside was all shiplap pine ceilings, dark wood paneled walls and wide pine floors. Each window had a view of the water and some amazing sunrises were seen from the bedroom.

But it wasn't lived in on a permanent basis. Many houses on the coast aren't. They remain vacant for most of the year; their owners using them for only a few weeks to a couple months during the year. This allows for displaced spirits to gather and call the place their own. They seem to know a good thing when they see it.

After doing some research, I found that the property once had a Revolutionary War era fort on it, and who knows what went on there. I had crystals everywhere to try and break up the negative energy in the house. Nothing you could do about the outside, though. Just too much area. At the end of our lease, we were happy to move on and leave the place to those who called it home.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ghosts and Other Such Unexplainables

We're getting closer to Samhain, the time where the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. Every culture has the day named. Some call it All Hallow's Eve, Day of the Dead, or Halloween. Doesn't matter, it's all the same. It does get one to pondering if it's the desire of the masses that makes this occur, or if it's really so. Can thousands of years of belief conjure (pardon the pun) those from the other side to get closer to us? Good and bad?

I believe one can speak with the dead anytime they choose. The trick is to be able to hear what the other side has to say. Most can't clear their minds enough, or get over the disbelief that it can actually happen. I believe and here are some of my experiences.

I was home sick one day and was in bed sleeping. My husband had gone to work, my faithful companion, Sam, a Lab/Chesapeake cross was outside my bedroom catching some Z's. I awoke to what sounded like keys jingling from the living room downstairs. I wondered what my husband, Dan was doing home at eleven o'clock in the morning, but waited for him to climb the stairs to our room.


What was more interesting was that Sam never stirred. If Dan were really home, she would have greeted him in typical dog fashion by running downstairs with her tail knocking over everything not bolted down.

I listened intently, suddenly wide awake. I wasn't facing the door, but had the distinct feeling someone was in my room. I rolled over, but no one was there. My ears were trained on the doorway waiting to see...someone.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I had a waterbed at the time (hey, it was the 80's). I was still watching the door when suddenly they bed sunk on Dan's side. You could actually see the indentation, but no one was there. I did smell chocolate and cigarettes, though.

The hair rose on my arms and I bolted from bed. It swayed a bit as I left it, but there was still "someone" in my bed. Without further adieu, I ran from the room past my sleeping dog and down the stairs.

To this day, I can't be certain who was there with me, but my grandmother was a closet smoker and always ate chocolates. It's what I remember most about her. Could it have been her checking on me in my sickbed? I believe so.

Another of my favorites was just after my mother had passed away. She had always considered her apple pies superior to any other mortal woman's, and she baked many in her time.

I was in my kitchen 300 miles from my childhood home and was making the apple pie recipe that I happen to consider pretty darn tasty, if I do say so myself. I was all alone in the house and the radio was blasting out some mindless rock, which I always listen to when baking and cooking. I remember it clear as the sky is blue. I said to myself, Mom always thought her apple pies were the best, well, I happen to disagree. Mine are much better.

As if she were in the room with me, I saw in my mind's eyes my mother's face glower out from behind what appeared to be a cloud, and she bellowed out, "No they're not!"

I was used to her "checking in" from time to time, but this incident actually made me laugh out loud.

"What are you going to do about it, Mom? Now, mine are the best."

I heard a bit of good-natured laughing from the other side and then she was gone. I smiled, knowing I finally got to say mine were better than hers without making her mad.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wench-wear and Shameless Marketing

The New Hampshire Highland Games are one of my favorite venues for selling books, and just pretending to be Scottish. I make no effort to hide the fact that I'm not a Scot, sad as it may be, but some people choose not to believe it, which is fine with me. Some say the red in my hair makes me look like a Scot. Ok.

I had just finished setting up my table of books, postcards, pamphlets, and other pertinent paraphernalia, when my husband rushes over with one of those looks in his eyes. "You have to come see what I found!"

Hey, I game for anything, so I follow him across the expansive parking lot of Scottish vendors. We stop in front of a gorgeous outfit befitting any Scottish wench wanna-be. A black bustier with white gauze peasant blouse over a Robertson tartan skirt. "You need to get this outfit!" he tells me.

I give him one of my own looks. The one that says, really?

"Just try it on," he says, which quickly summoned a perky salesgirl all too willing to get me into the tight-fitting top. It has the true corset styling of rigid heavy fabric and a lace-up front.

"Are you sure I can get into this thing?" I ask, eyeing the tiny-waisted vest. "My Victoria's Secret won't be a secret in this thing," I tell her.

"Oh, no, you can't wear a bra under it, they tend to fight each other."

I then begin to doubt this entire excursion. She (the salesgirl) has no idea what Victoria's Secret keeps in check. But I agree to try it on and endure the measuring before being shuffled into the make-shift dressing room.

Off comes everything (freeing, to say the least in the 35 degree morning), and I slip on the peasant top. Nice. Soft. Loose. Then I put the bustier on over the top. I begin the lacing up process when I hear the salesgirl from the other side of the curtain telling me not to fret over the laces, she'll help me with them. I'm thinking to myself, how hard could this be?

I finish tying the cord at the top, then do a bit of adjusting of the "girls" before showing the world what I would have looked like in the 18th century.

My husband smiles, impressed. We all know what that means.

The salesgirl comes over and begins the torture process of yanking the laces together so this wee bit of vest closes tightly. I find that, like my protagonist, Catrìona, that I'm not thrilled with this fashion. I can no longer breath, and when I tell my masochistic tender she says, "You need to learn to breath from your lungs, not your stomach. You'll get used to it."

Tcha! When hell freezes over, perhaps. Then she cinches the deal by bringing over the mirror. I have to admit, it really did fetching.

Then she tells me to bend over and lift and scoop.

"Honey," I say, "there's no way these babies are getting that much air time. They're just fine where they are right now. I'm working here, not vying for suitors."

She just shrugged like, your loss.

So the salesgirl rings me up and puts my comfortable, loose-fitting, warm sweater in a bag, and I go back to the clan tent. Apparently, wench-wear is very popular with most men. I was looked over a subtly as possible by the clansmen in the tent, all to approving nods.

My husband's job was done there, so he shed his heavy flannel shirt for the custom-made t-shirt he was wearing. Here's a picture of Dan working the crowd. I actually got a couple sales from that shirt! He's such a good sport. That and the fact that he likes the idea of being a kept man. Who wouldn't!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Giving Talks

I'd baked some chocolate-covered shortbead and a single malt whisky cake for a talk I gave last night at my local library. Hey, when you wish you were in Scotland, the least you can do is eat like you were!

Nearly all the faces in the group were friends supporting me and my craft. I talked for almost an hour, reading a few pages from Sightless, then taking questions. The taking questions part is the most interesting. I'm always amazed at the intelligent questions people will ask. They really want to understand the writer's mind.

Why Scotland? was the most challenging question of the evening. It should be easy to answer, and it is for me, but to say it without scaring people in the audience is tricky. I truly feel a connection deeper than just a desire to see the place. How easily I can transport myself to the windswept moors blooming with heather. The rugged mountains, perhaps snow-covered, in the distance. I can literally smell the land, hear the quiet, and feel the peace. Can I do that anywhere? No. But I know I've walked the place and have known its secrets. Its people.

How did I answer it? "I feel Scottish and it has always been a passion of mine."

When I spoke about my screenplay for Eyes of Garnet, which always gets people perked up, a woman said she was very pleased to hear it was written because she could visualized each scene in the book and could clearly see it becoming a movie. Someone else asked if I'd cast it yet, and I told them who I could "see" playing the major parts. Some were pleased, some were surprised, a few thought they'd make a fine character. One never knows.

After I explained what haggis was, and why I won't eat it, we broke for goodies and coffee. The single malt whisky cake was a raging success, as always. I signed a few books and packed it all up again.

Is there another way to get your book "out there"? Yes, and I try to do them all. But reaching out to people one-on-one spreads like wildfire. If they like what they read and hear, they tell their friends, who will hopefully buy your book and pass along that they enjoyed it as well. It's a slow process, but when you're a newbie author, it's the only way to go.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maine Writers Blog

Just a quick post for today to let you know to check out my week of blogs on the Maine Writers and Publishers website.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ahhh, the Games...

I had a great day at the Maine Highland Games on August 16th. I sold a good bunch of Eyes of Garnet and Sightless; not nearly as many as Diana Gabaldon did at the Grandfather Mountain Games in North Carolina a few weeks ago (she signed and sold 1606!! I could only dream of that notoriety), but I was pleased and that's all that matters.

As with every signing, there are bits of hilarity I need to share, and this was no different. A wonderfully enthusiastic woman who had bought Eyes of Garnet earlier in the summer was preparing to purchase Sightless. From the side of us where a short row of porta-potties was lined up (some called it the MacLoo clan's space!), emerged her husband who had just donned his kilt and he was adjusting it.

"I did just what you told me to do," he said to her. "I left my underwear off."

If you haven't already guessed my reactions to such devious behavior, I burst out laughing. I think it may have been more due to the evil twinkle he had in his eyes when he attempted to look innocent after that statement.

His wife turned various shades of pink and started fanning her face to cool down, and kept looking down in the vacinity of where his sporran should have been.

"We'll be back later", she told me, then exited at a rather quick pace. Her husband followed, but not before he turned and gave us a wink.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sightless Release Date

It's finally here! Sightless is out on and soon to be everywhere. Its timely release will be just in time for the Maine Highland Games on August 16 in Brunswick, Maine. Since Sightless is written mostly about Maine, it should be an easy sell at the Games.

I plan on getting a leather bound limited edition in a few months for those who like to collect. They really are pretty, but a little pricey to get printed.

I'll be sending around a formal email in a day or two to those who've requested a head's up on the release date. I'm waiting for it to show up on Barnes and Noble and on my publisher's website. I'll be making a link on my site foe easy ordering, as well.

Thanks for all your support through the long months.

Happy reading!


Monday, July 21, 2008

I Could Get Used to This!

For the second weekend in a row I've had a book signing with great results. I could really get used to this! This past Saturday, I was in Castine, Maine at the Compass Rose Bookstore. Sharon, the owner, has sold more books there than any other bookstore Eyes of Garnet resides in. I have now become the bestselling author in Castine! (Hey, I'm taking any award I can get at this point!)

Now, Castine is pivotal in Sightless, as this town is what was known as Pentagoët, where Cat and Greame have settled. Technically, Brooksville is where they built their settlement, but before Brooksville became a town in the early 1800's, all of the area in Sightless was know as Castine/Pentagoët. From what I've researched, a town was only considered such when a church was established in it.

Then to round out the weekend, my husband and I ventured over to Belfast, Maine for their Celtic Festival. It was a perfect Scottish/Irish day. The sky hung low to the water, releasing sprinkles for most of the afternoon. The masts of the many sailboats anchored in the harbor danced in the gloom as lobster boats came in with their hauls and caused a wake.

I'd brought an umbrella large enough for two (yes, I'm not one who enjoys getting wet. It's my husband who's the Scot, remember?), and we sat on the lawn and listened to Bohola and Prydein, the Celtic bands playing under the tent.

I'm a watcher of all that's around me. The color of the sky, the ripples the raindrops made in the otherwise calm sea, the cry of a lone gull as it swept over the land in search of a tidbit of food a youngster may have dropped on the ground. All these things I store away for scenes in my stories to help the reader feel as though they are there. Many people are oblivious to such subtleties and I always marvel at their lack of enthusiasm at everyday nature. Did they notice as they passed the beach roses that the Japanese beetles were eating them? What about the starfish that had attached itself to the oak piling just under the dock? Was I the only one who noticed it? Perhaps that's the reason a well written description goes a long way to making the heart smile. It's what someone else took the time to note and pass along so everyone else may enjoy it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm going to be a Guest Blogger

I'm a member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance in Portland, Maine. They're a wonderful writer's resource and put on several author events throughout the year. I just participated in the Books and Blooms multi-author signing in Boothbay Harbor, Maine last Saturday.

The weather was perfect and the people came to buy. Always a great combination for authors. There were about 70 of us! I had a very nice sales day and there was lots of interest in the Sightless pamphlets I was handing out to perspective customers. If that's any indication of the sales my second book will generate, I think it will be a very good seller.

To get back on track, the MWPA sent out an invitation to its members last night for weekly guest bloggers for a new addition to their website. I jumped at the chance and was chosen! My week is going to be Aug. 24 -30. They ask that I post at least 3 blogs during my week. At this time, there won't be a chance to comment directly, but inquires can be directed to my email and I can answer them in the next blog. It should be fun and I can basically talk about anything, just as long as it's PG rated and not political. No worries there. I hate politics! And I'll try my best to refrain from my vulgarities ;•) Check it out at

For the most part I will be ranting on about the publishing business, the movie business and whatever else is filling my head at the time. Perhaps not to the extent JA Konrath rants, though I visit his site everyday and always manage to get some great information from his blog. Much like Tess Gerritsen's blog. These two fine authors are making a great attempt at teaching us newbies the ropes of publishing. You'll find that even being at the top of the pile isn't always what it's cracked up to be, but I'd sure like to make it to the pinnacle and let you from there!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sightless Progress

It's so close!

I have just sent back my editorial changes to my publisher, and there was a lot of changes. This was due to a bug in their computer program which changed around apostrophes, commas and end quotes. It made for very tedious work making certain all were caught. Then there was the strange things it did to any Gàidhlig word with an accent. It "read" it as a "d", so once again I had to be sure all were corrected. Finally, any sentence that was supposed to be in italics wasn't. Yup, you got it, be sure all were changed.

Now onto the cover art. I do my own designs. Being a graphic artist by trade has given me that right, and I really like doing it. There's nothing worse than seeing a book—and yes, we all do it: judge the book by the cover—and pick it up to read only to find you were mislead by the cover. Knowing the story as well as I do, I try to convey the basis of the story to the cover.

For Sightless, since it's about a voyage (many, actually), I've used a schooner. As you may have guessed, there are Native Americans portrayed, so there is a quiver and arrows, along with the Penobscot people's double-curve design that is so often used in their artwork. Lastly, the bagpipe. Hey, it's still Scottish people I'm writing about. They just happen to be in America right now :)

But as with any graphics, colors, gradients, text and size are always a challenge when working with different platforms (Mac vs. IBM). So it was back and forth a couple times, but all in all, not too bad.

I should be getting a proof at the end of this month and I can't wait! My summer is already filling up with signings and Highland Games. This will continue well into the New Year.

As soon as the actual publication date is revealed to me, I'll post it here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For.

I always ask for people to give me reviews of Eyes of Garnet after they've read it. I've had some very interesting critiques come out of this process. Most have been great, some have been disappointing, and some have been downright scary.

Case in point. A woman I know bought a limited edition and I asked her to let me know how she liked the story when she finished reading it. About a month goes by and I've moved on, but then I get a phone call. It was her and she was all too ready to tell me what she felt about the story.

"At first," she said, "I didn't like Catrìona. I thought she knew too much for her age."

I thought to myself, well she did. But under the circumstances—being a reincarnate of her grandmother, and all—she had the advantage of being born with the innate ability to "know" how to see into the future.

She then continued on with, "But as I read on, I understood and it made more sense why she had the ability. I began to really like Catrìona. The plot became tense and it was great. Then, you had the torture scene of Willie Campbell."

I smiled, because it was one of most favorite parts of the story to write.

"Well, I just don't understand where that came from. You don’t appear to me to have those tendencies."

I thought to myself, I don't. I can't stand the sight of blood!

She continued by telling me that she told her two teenage daughters to stay clear of me because she wasn't sure about my displaced anger.

I had a difficult time trying not to burst out laughing. I do that at rather inappropriate times as a defense mechanism. You know, startle the aggressor.

Anyway, she ended her critique with, "But I can't wait to read the second book."

I think she liked it, but now I'm on the neighborhood watch's most wanted list!

I know that this line of work carries with it the ability to make people believe in your characters and stories, if you've written them well enough. I also know that a writer's skin must be armor-like in thickness, and one must let things roll off the back, but it isn't the first time I've been told that I apparently enjoy the morbid and sadistic. Huh. Maybe I'm a reincarnate of some deviant which enables me to write what I know, whether from this lifetime or another.

Something to ponder when you do or think something out of character, or what you perceive your character to be, isn't it?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sightless, coming this summer!

In this publishing time, with a bit of a recession going on, it's even tougher to get agents to take newbies on. They work with the bottom line; will it sell? It seems that unless an agent already has something in mind of what publishing houses are looking for (and they all want the next breakout book), authors are faced with getting creative.

That's why I chose to have my POD publisher print Sightless, the next book in the Eyes of Garnet series. I'm hoping for a late summer release.

Oh, I still have 30 agents perusing my queries, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I want to write, and I want to be published. With that said, now I'm excited to see Sightless in print. It's kind of like giving birth. The feel of the shiny, new cover; the soft touch of acid-free pages as they flip through your fingers. Then, there's all those wonderful words that make it your special book.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted as to the actual publishing date, and if you'd like a reminder, send me an email at so I can put you on my list. And fret not, the list stays with me and only me.

On the screenplay front, I've pitched Eyes of Garnet to Gerard Butler's agent, Tapestry Films, Focus Films and Fortress Features. My agent in Hollywood is also actively pitching, so keep those fingers crossed. And, if you have any thoughts on a young Scottish actress to play the part of Catrìona, please let me know. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Friday, April 11, 2008

How I Write

I've been asked to describe how I come up with my scenes, visions and characters. That's not an easy thing to put into words, since for the most part, Catrìona is telling me the story, and I just type it. Really. I may have a general plan, but she directs me all the way.

In fact, when I try to take control because I feel she's going in a different direction than I perceive the plot should be going, I'm literally shut down. Talk about writer's block! Nothing happens. I can sit at the keyboard for a week, and unless I relinquish control back to her, the screen will remain blank. How's that for channeling!

She takes me to places I would never have thought to go, introduce characters as she needs them (she does let ME name them, though), and come up with some obscure bit of information that I have to research to be sure it's correct. There won't be another word typed until the research is complete. I'm not one who can skip around it, because many times the direction that is taken is derived directly from what I find in the history. It's like a light bulb turning on and lighting the path to the next scene. It's pretty fun actually, not knowing what's going to happen until it's typed. The story is as new to me as it is to the readers. Kind of like watching a movie and going along for the ride, letting each scene unfold with its twists and turns.

Many, many times, Cat will throw a surprise in that sets me to talking to the screen, saying, "Are you sure? But how will this tie in with the scene we're doing now?" Much like Cat does in the stories, there will be a voice in my head telling me to not think how, just see where it takes me. Hey, if it doesn't work, the delete key is a stroke away. It seems the only time I use the delete key to destroy a scene is when I try to take over.

So after six years of writing, I've learned to listen to Catrìona and let her lead me through the story. It's a blast!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What's Underneath...

I remember the first time I went to a Highland Game. It was at Loon Mountain, NH some 20 odd years ago. I was with my husband (who is a Scot) and my sister. My husband was a photographer at the time, so my sister and I were left to our own devises. Probably not a wise move on my husband’s part! We, my sister and I, decided to see for ourselves just what was worn under the kilt. Mind you, this research project wasn't quite as easy as it sounded. One doesn't just go up to the nearest kilted man and ask, I mean what fun would that be anyway?

So, we found a set of outdoor stairs that were the open grate sort and nonchalantly stood under them. All right, maybe nonchalant is not the correct word for what we were doing, but I swear to God, it the most fun we'd had for a very long time! One by one, a kilted man would walk down the stairs and we'd look up. I can't imagine what people were saying as they heard us giggling under that stairway. We gave it a good hour in order to research the matter thoroughly!

Oh, and to answer the question on everyone's mind... shorts. Very disappointing. There wasn't a free-baller or commando on the mountain that day. Not like the gentleman in the photo above.

And just what is the appeal of a man in a kilt? My feeling is, if a man is confident enough with his masculinity to wear a skirt, he radiates a certain manliness that stirs the loins of a woman! This is seconded only by a James Bond tuxedo. Mmmm!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Screenplay Redux

I just received my critique for the screenplay I wrote for Eyes of Garnet. All in all, for my very first try, it wasn't bad. Of course there's work to do, but it's not like they said, stick to writing books. That being said, writing books and writing scripts are two very different animals. I'm reading an older Nora Roberts book right now about a writer who's just had his book made into a movie. When the protagonist asked him why he didn't write it himself, his reply was, "what do you take for me for, a masochist?" Oh, how true I'm finding that out to be. First, while Eyes isn't all that long, there are tons of things going on. Things I couldn't fit into a mandatory 120-page story. That meant I had to chop and hack my way through entire scenes, vaporizing entire chapters and characters. The funny part was my critiquer told me it didn't flow quite as well as it could. I'm thinking, no shit! You made me cut out all the connecting scenes!

Anyway, for my rewrite I have to stop thinking like the author of the book, and think about what would make a good movie. More visuals, less speech. More emotion that connects the scenes better. I need to find the one continuity and carry that through the movie. Feel it rather than read it. A new concept, but I do so love a challenge! I think by the end of this rewrite, it will definitely be more of "based on the book Eyes of Garnet".

On the writing front, I've just send a new batch of queries to 37 literary agencies. Yeah, I know it's a lot, but with the age of e-queries becoming more prevalent (saves a lot of trees!), the agents get back to you much quicker than the standard 2 month wait. I still have one agency interested from the last batch I sent out, and a few haven't gotten back to me yet. It's such a slow, agonizing process. The third book in the Garnet series is coming along very nicely, though. I'm on page 140 and beginning chapter 16. And the signing season is creeping up quickly. I always love that part of the deal - meeting the people who have read, or want to read my book.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Finding the Elusive Agent

Last week I sent out 23 queries to literary agents specializing in my genre (if it can really be described). I'm going for historical fiction for Sightless. Out of the 23, I've already had 4 returns. But wait! They weren't ALL rejections! One agency wanted to see the first three chapters and a synopsis. I promptly sent her the requested material, and now I wait.

Now, writing query letters is an artform in of itself. To me, it's much more work than writing my books! If I could pay someone to write the perfect query letter (one that agents actually makes an agent want to see my work because the hook was too terrific to pass up), the synopsis (a 1 page and a full blown, what-the-book-is-about one), the dreaded chapter-by-chapter outline, and whatever else each agency wants to see just be have them return all your hard work and effort with a form letter saying something like, it's not your writing, it's our passion that's lacking to promote your work to a publisher. And those are the elaborate ones! Sometimes it's a business card saying thanks, but not right for us at this time.

To sort of be fair about it, I know agents receive thousands of queries a week. That alone would be a daunting task to go through, never mind find the jewel in the rough and want to proceed with it further. But, it's still a hateful, dreadfully slow, agonizing process that one must go through to pay our dues. And pay and pay and pay.

So, the waiting begins. Most agents will return an answer within a month or two. Some take just days. I guess it's a good thing there are thousands of agents out there to choose from. I just hope the one who will represent me isn't the last one on the list!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Genre Wars

Another rejection. I took this one kind of hard. Since many agents I query will tell me, I have a difficult book to place into a specific genre. I think Eye of Garnet is a historical fiction with a paranormal twist. The historical fiction agents get really spooked (pardon the pun!) by this "twist", and tell me they don't represent that stuff. So I queried a more paranormal publishing company. My rejection, though pleasant enough, stated that I wasn't paranormal enough. Hard to win with a genre-bending story. And no, I refuse to write to conform to one category. Can't. Won't! I write through my character's voice. I'm not my characters, they are themselves. So, I continue to query and keep writing ... what I want.

On a bit of a brighter side, my screenplay I wrote adapting Eyes of Garnet to the silver screen, has found an agent. 'Course, that means nothing if they can't sell it to a film company, but as ever, I'm blissfully naïve and always think something good will come of it. Hell, if I didn't, how could I keep going?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ice Storms and Signings Don't Mix

I was supposed to join four other authors last night for a Valentine's Day signing. There were romance authors, murder mysteries, historical fiction and the like represented. Well, that was until we ended up having an ice storm that pretty much put the kibosh on the event.

Me and Dorothy Cannell braved the storm, but we were also the closest to the event in Belfast, Maine. Somehow, we did manage to get a store full of customers and sold some of our books, but it would have been a real treat to sit with some of my favorite authors and chat about writing.

The owners of the bookstore said it was the first time in the thirteen years they've owned the place that a weather event stopped them. At the end of the evening, though, it all seemed to work out all right, and we ate, drank and drove very, very slowly home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Highland Fling

Last night, my husband and I went to Bangor to see The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. They are Highland pipes, drums and dancers. Women in the crowd actually cried when they heard them play a few of the more traditional tunes like Amazing Grace. I'm not the weepy type, but I do love to hear the pipes.

Now, Dragoons are a calvary unit, so when the man came out to introduce the band, he was wearing spurs that clicked on the concrete floor of the auditorium. The woman in front of me said breathlessly, "Oh, I do so love a man in spurs." It was all I could do from letting one of my famous belts of laughter out. I think my husband was proud that remained restrained (he embarrasses easy). I mean, what did she love about spurs? Was it the old cowboy adage of keeping his boots on even when making love? Or was it some other fantasy she had of the silvery stars on a man's boots? Many ideas flew through my mind, all of which were a bit risqué. I think what was most amusing was that she never once mentioned their bare legs under their tartan kilts!

The rest of the program was very good and the sword dancers were terrific. Lithe and limber men in flying kilts. All too short of a performance, though.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Animal Symbology

There aren’t many places around anymore where, on the way to the post office, you can see a deer, a bald eagle and a murder of crows (actually it was more like a execution of crows, as there must have been 75 or more!), within the span of 5 minutes. ‘Course the deer was dead, hence the reason for so many scavengers, but still, I was one of just few people who saw the scene, as walkers scared all but a few of the hardy crows away from their meal. And, crows, being as territorial as they are, probably chased the eagle as he took flight from the human intruders. I have no doubt that all will be back, since it’s hard to pass up such a bounty in the middle of winter.

Imagine a superstitious person seeing such a gathering of our black-winged brethren. They would surely have turned and run the other way. After all, who would chance getting that much bad news from the messengers of the dark side! They really symbolize creation and magic, and are one of my favorite birds because of their intelligence. As for the bald eagle, it is said that they are symbols of spiritual power and illumination. We can all use a little of that in our lives, can we not? I feel it helps in my writing as a kind of go-ahead-and-do-something-different story line. So, of course I added it to a scene in the third book I'm working on. Catrìona just so happened to have see further without being seen. Thank you eagle!

I have always noticed birds and animals and tried to apply their symbolism in my life. There are those who live in Maine and have never seen a moose. I can’t fathom how that can be possible, but then I look at myself, who has seen a bear only once, even though I lived outside Yellowstone National Park for three years. Perhaps their meanings don’t pertain to us, therefore, why would we see them? Something to ponder.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Language Barrier

To me, there's no better way of sending a reader to 18th century Scotland than by the use of language. Yes, I know, some people are offended by the fact that I have my characters speak similarly to how they would have spoken back then. It does take a little getting used to, but I am rewarded by many more readers who actually appreciate the vernacular. They say it feels like they're there, and they thank me for sending them back in time more authentically.

I have had some agents tell me that to use anything but how we Americans speak is childish. Na bi gòrach! (Don't be daft!) They go on to say that the American public isn't intelligent enough to follow along, and will not read further into the story if they are made to work a little. Shame on them for not giving the public enough credit to want to learn something new. I wonder if that's why Diana Gabaldon is a world-wide best-selling author with literally millions of ardent fans. Me included! That many people can't be wrong.

I do go a step further than Diana by putting a glossary of gàidhlig terms and how to pronounce them in my books. There's no way to please everyone, so all I can hope for is that some of you appreciate the fact that I write for ALL the senses. And just for the record, the way gàidhlig (pronounced gaah-lic) is spelled here is Scottish. Gaelic is the Irish spelling. Two different languages, but with many similarities, though I'd not care to be in a pub differentiating them!

So when you pick up Sightless to read, you will notice different dialects among the Scottish vernacular. For instance, Glaswegians (those folks from Glasgow) have much more of an accent than Highlanders, whose first language was gàidhlig, and English was their second. Highlanders had a softer brogue. Anyway, I hope this helps you to understand my thought process.