I’m setting things up at my actual domain name, annmariegamble.com. One the one hand, the process has been incredibly straightforward, but on the other, there are more possibilities available, so more arranging that has to be done, choices to be made, tweaking to be fiddled with. I’ll be leaving files here at least until I’m sure I’ve got everything squared away over there, but new blog posts will go on the new site. See you at the shorter address!
I am revising, really I am, but I’m also taking a little writing break and doing some extra reading. I got more Georgette Heyer Regencies out of the library and broke down and bought one that came highly recommended. I’ve also succumbed to Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses. More accurately, to the Duke of Villiers, a chess-playing rake who’s got enough money and rank to be casual about the rules of society.
There are six duchess books. It turns out I started with book 2. Villiers spends most of that novel on what’s possibly his deathbed, having gotten himself wounded in a duel and then into the hands of the sort of doctor that is one of the main reasons I’m not nostalgic about this time period. When he’s between fevers, he spars with a visitor who hopes his soul might at least be saved, but then that he might live.*
The fever breaks in the closing pages, but we don’t hear otherwise what becomes of Villiers. Someone on Twitter told me that he was in all the Desperate Duchesses books, so off to the library I went. I ended up with another middle volume and the last one, in which Villiers is finally the hero and finds his true love. It was entirely sigh-worthy, and I thought maybe I won’t read any of the others: I’ll quit on this high note. But then I found out that Villiers is a major player in book 1, so back to the library. I’m up to the point where one can see a duel in his future.
Heyer’s The Black Sheep deals heavily with family duty, which I’m wrestling with in “Rite of Return” (thus making it research, right?), and conventional behavior, which . . . okay, I’m never wrestling with. Heyer doesn’t do simpering misses (nor does James): these heroines are smart, sometimes moody, frequently surprising. Considering that romance novels are considered formulaic—and we do know the hero and heroine will fall in love by the end—there are plenty of twists in these two writers’ books.
The current reading list has really got me thinking about and hoping for my own writing, different though it is. These characters! Man, I want to create people who live large in readers’ minds! This stack of books reminds me that it isn’t done with particular personality traits but rather (additionally?) by being able to see process. We see the character react and evolve and thus become engaged; we see them with a genuine problem that will be a struggle to solve. That is a meta-statement about what I value in books; now comes figuring out how to actually do it, word after word on the page.
* She feels guilty that she now hopes he might live, which I why I don’t feel nostalgic about that.
It’s a shambling bramble patch of a draft, but the novel formerly known as “Irish Roots” has now been written through to the end. It’s about 100,000 words, prints out as 350 pages. I’ve been working on it since February 2008. I was boosted in my efforts by two workshops and a local gang of scribblers we call the Brain Trust. They helped me jettison “Irish Roots” for “Rite of Return” as a title.
Specifically, I have no idea what I’m going to do now beyond setting it aside for a while. I’ve been slingshotting between elation (I iz Novelist!!) and despair (the hero and heroine don’t explicitly declare their love for each other, I have yet to name several secondary characters . . .).Continue reading “The First Irish Draft Is Finished”
It’s a detective show that was on the air from 1982 to 1987. For a variety of reasons, my access to TV as a kid was spotty, and in spite of the crush-worthy Pierce Brosnan, I’d only seen a couple of episodes.
As an adult, it turns out a big part of its appeal for me was seeing office supplies from the 1980s. The clocks! The computers! The big chunky phones with cords! A VW Rabbit as a glam car,’80s clothes, ’80s hair (and, oh, okay, ’80s Pierce Brosnan).Continue reading “In Which Georgette Heyer and Remington Steele Are Juxtaposed”
To round out our week, one last book:
The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie NeubauerContinue reading “A Week of Prompts: Saturday”
Setting the Scene
We start with “Where does the scene take place?” (and that’s the prompt for today). But we can add depth for the reader: time of day, sensory experiences, attitudes of the characters to this place and time, how it compares to other settings . . .Continue reading “A Week of Prompts: Friday”
A book! An honest-to-gosh book!
The Pocket Muse, Monica Wood
Photos, essays about the writing life and getting it done, quotes, random thoughts, and prompts. This kind of thing could be a sappy soup, but I’ve found it to be a great testament to noticing: what you have available to you is enough, so do the work.Continue reading “A Week of Prompts: Thursday”
This is a blog put together by some grads of Emerson University to keep their writing going. The challenge is simple: “I will write every day.” They put up a blog post every day with anything from a few words to a writing exercise to get you moving.Continue reading “A Week of Prompts: Wednesday”
What’s the horoscope? How do the I Ching sticks throw down? If you had a fortune cookie right now, what would it tell you?