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50 Shades of Perseverance

This is a piece that originally appeared in 2012 in the Book View Cafe blog. Sherwood Smith had a very interesting post on her Live Journal about writer-brains, persistence, and careers.  It comes down to (in my reading): most writers aren’t in it for the money or the fame, but for other, less tangible benefits.  This can seem inexplicable to the writer’s family, friends, and the genpop. In some ways I’m luckier than many of my colleagues, whose families didn’t get any of this and tried to apply the standard… Read more 50 Shades of Perseverance

My Friends at the Graveyard

When I was a kid and we went to Massachusetts every weekend, my parents would sometimes drop my brother and me off at a graveyard next door to the grocery, so we could run about while they provisioned the household.  Thus began my lifelong fondness for graveyards. Morbid?  Not really.  I’m a story junkie, and every gravestone hints at a story.  Some of them tell whole chapters, others are, um, story prompts.  My favorite tombstone ever was that of Miss Lucinda Laird, only daughter of Mr. Samuel Laird, buried in… Read more My Friends at the Graveyard

Violent Beasts

I am a mother as well as a writer, and one of the types I have encountered over my parental career is the parent (usually but not always the Mom) who is trying to raise her child without violence.  I don’t mean, No Spanking, I mean “we don’t talk about the news in front of Little Smedley.”  I mean no Warner Bros. cartoons because of “all the terrible things Wyle E. Coyote does to that poor wee bird.”  I mean the mother whose son horrified her by picking up a… Read more Violent Beasts

Yes, Things Were Different Then

A few years ago, an editor I very much admire said something that made my eyes cross.  I’m paraphrasing here, because I’m too lazy to go look the exact quote, but, in answer to a neophyte writer who wanted to know if she had to do a whole lot of research in order to write historical fiction or historical fantasy, the editor said (paraphrasing, right?): you have to do some, but people are basically people, no matter when/where you set them. Eyes crossing right now. The world has changed since… Read more Yes, Things Were Different Then

Working Together

In the early 90s I started writing the book that became The Stone War. It’s–for lack of a better term–a home-town apocalypse book about a disaster, or rather disasters, befalling New York City. The Stone War was published in 1999; after 9/11, a number of people (none of them New Yorkers) said brightly, “Oh, it’s just like your book!” No, it was not; the only similarity was in scenes, early on, of people walking away from the site of the disaster. Like you might, if something frightening and huge happened.… Read more Working Together

You Know What You Know

Everyone is an expert about something. Most people don’t even think about their areas of expertise–one guy’s an expert at making jam; another at building stone walls; the next person can drape a Victorian bodice (but doesn’t think of this as expertise because it’s just a hobby–as if people don’t lavish time, money, and intelligence on the things they do for love…I mean really).  Think about yourself: you know stuff, right?  Things that may not bring you money but fascinate you.  My husband, a recording engineer and audiophile, is a… Read more You Know What You Know

Perhaps It’s Time to Talk About Sex

(The title of this post is a direct quote from my mother, who, when I said “Sure, Ma.  What do you want to know?” sighed in relief and retired to her room with a cup of tea.) For someone who got her start writing romances, I often get uncomfortable writing about sex.  Why not?  Sex is good. But by and large I don’t find sex, when described accurately, particularly sexy.  Sex, the act, is sometimes brutal, often comical, rarely lyrical, and can reveal deep vulnerabilities in the participants thereof.  But… Read more Perhaps It’s Time to Talk About Sex

Cake is a Frosting Delivery System

This post was originally published in 2009 at Bookviewcafe.com Perhaps it’s because my mother didn’t bake, scorned baking, but allowed me to bake. Or maybe it has nothing to do with her and I just love to bake. Maybe (o, probably) it’s because I love to eatbaked goods: good bread, rolls, brioche, croissants, pie, cake. When my husband discovered that I could make apple pie from scratch, he was awed: his mother isn’t a baker either.  And last year when he asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said… Read more Cake is a Frosting Delivery System