Notes from a Drama Queen

Endings and Beginnings

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's a time for a lot of things to end. Summer, for one thing. It's getting cool here in Northern Vermont, and there are splashes of color all around. There wasn't much of a summer at all -- nothing but rain -- but the clear cool days of fall remind us all why we live here.

It was also the end for a dear friend of mine, Lewis Hill, a writer and a mentor. He was one of the loveliest people I've ever known -- he wrote gardening books and memoirs and still lived on the homestead his family had built in 1840. He'd lived a long life, but in the end the darkness was too much, and he took his own life. I'll miss him terribly. But his wife Nancy has always been his equal as a good friend, a talented editor and a wonderful person, and we're so blessed we still have her.

It's the end for my daughter's sojourn in Philadelphia, where she's lived for the past couple of years with her best friends. Richie's gone down to pack her up and bring her home for a month, and I know she'll be sad and weepy. But next month she gets to start a new part of her life, moving to San Francisco to finish college and learn how to create video games.

It's coming to the end of my book. I've been working like a madwoman to make my deadline -- 20 and more pages a day. But when I'm done, I get to begin the first of three rich, yummy, dark, sexy historicals, and I can't wait. My favorite way to write is to alternate historicals with contemporaries -- the grand adventure of the historicals lighten some of the darkness that lingers in my soul from the contemporaries. I'm really pumped.

It's the end of the Olympics, which kept me mesmerized for two weeks. I never thought I'd love the Summer Olympics -- I'm much more interested in winter sports -- but I ended up loving all of it. (Well, maybe not the water polo -- it was hard to tell what was going on). And best of all was the closing ceremony with Jackie Chan and the incomparably hot Andy Lau singing on the tower. As for what comes next? The Winter Olympics in two years!

My mother's coming down the home stretch, but I'm not ready to see her ending. Today is her 94th birthday, and she may be the happiest I've ever seen her. She has an apartment with a view of the mountains as the leaves change, all her favorite things around her, she's working on her young adult book, and more like a woman in her sixties. At 94 it simply makes sense that she's not got forever, but knowing my indomitable mother, she may very well outlast us all, faculties intact.

Life seems to be a series of endings and beginnings. You can mourn the losses, great and small, but welcome the new possibilities. It takes a long time to learn how to do that, but I think I'm starting to get there. I've never read Judith Viorst's book, Necessary Losses (it's on my TBR pile) but the title itself says it all. There are losses that you have to accept to move on with life.

My, I'm being philosophical this morning. Time to lighten up.

What I'm listening to on the iPod -- Kelly Howell's High Focus and Increase Creativity. I've used High Focus for years whenever I'm on a writing blitz, alternating it with my soundtrack. I swear it makes me more productive. In between it's my triad of tough love songs -- Tougher than the Rest by Springsteen, Fearless Heart by Steve Earle, and I Don't Scare Easy by Mudcrutch. They pretty much sum up my love stories.

Your trivia question for the day: Andy Lau starred in the Hong Kong action thriller, Infernal Affairs, a brilliant movie that was remade into a major Oscar winner. What was the name of the remake, and, for extra credit, who played the Andy Lau character?

And that's all, my darlings. I wanted to upload lovely pictures (particularly of Andy Lau) but the internet is being slothful. Have a splendid week and enjoy your Labor Day weekend, resting from your labors, and know that I'll still be chained to this laptop, writing like crazy.

More Good Times

Monday, August 11, 2008

My darlings -- I'm back from San Francisco, crippled to the max (someone remind me when I have a bad knee, not to bound onstage dancing with joy). I'm hot on the trail of SILVER FALLS, which is due in a horrifying short time, but thanks to the help of Jenny Crusie and Lani Diane Rich I'm very clear on what I'll be doing and I should be able to just charge right ahead.

And here's the delicious news! I'm writing new historicals! I just agreed to a generous two book contract with Mira, writing three (I still had one contracted) delicious historicals with jaded, wicked rakes and stubborn, brave heroines. It's going to be a blast, and I can't wait.

We're living in a rain forest in Northern Vermont this summer, so there's nothing else to do but sit and write (when I'm not watching the Olympics) and I'm feeling like the goddess I am. Psyched about the new books, pleased to death with the RITA, smart and sassy and full of life. My spidey-senses tell me that life is going to be very nice for quite a while, and my spidey-senses are usually right (they knew I'd win the RITA this time around).

I'm almost looking forward to Fall -- it's my favorite time of year, the summer people disappear in droves, the air smells crisp and clean and the leaves turn the most amazing colors (it is Vermont, after all). I'm in a small on-line group where we like to list our appreciation and gratitude for the good things (since it's so easy to get hung up on the bad, the worries, the rain, etc). Right now I'm feeling very grateful indeed, to the universe, to my friends, and to the Girls in the Basement, my muses, who keep delivering me great ideas.

I hope the rest of you are in a similar state of bliss. Here's a suggestion -- at the end of the day, think of three things you're grateful for. Without caveats or limits. Just enjoy.

You can start here. Here are my three:

1. I'm grateful my mother adores her new apartment and her lovely view of the mountains.
2. I'm grateful my visit to the dentist was relatively un-traumatic
3. I'm grateful my niece and her husband came over from England for the weekend and we got to spend time with them sitting by the lake and eating blueberry muffins made with our own blueberries.

So list some of yours. I want to rejoice with your small graces as well as mine.


Monday, August 04, 2008

I won!!! I got the RITA from the Romance Writers of America for Best Ro mantic Suspense (think Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) for ICE BLUE. Japanese-American assassin hero, Japanese setting, sex and violence and rock and roll. Hey, life is good!

So let me tell you how ICE BLUE got to win a RITA. I entered three books -- THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES with Eileen Dreyer and Jennifer Crusie, ICE STORM, the book of my heart, and ICE BLUE. When it came time to send my five copies in and I could find everything but ICE BLUE. So I went on-line with my friends and said I was just going to forget about ICE BLUE and eat the entry fee, and Pam Menz Baker, fabulous human being and dear friend, said "Hell, no," tossed her grandchildren (she'd been watching them) into her car and drove around Dayton, Ohio for two hours to find the five copies needed to send to RWA.
That's the kind of friend you make in RWA and in the romance writing business. Sisters.
So here's to you, Pam!
I was dressed elegantly in a black slinky knit with faux yakuza tattoos on my arms (I went to Nora Roberts's pre-awards reception and did my best to horrify everyone with my tats. Fortunately they all knew me too well).

And now I'm back, with RITA sitting beside me, crippled from bounding up onto the stage like a very happy person (what was I supposed to do, walk in a stately manner?). Richie, the magnificent DH is waiting on me hand and foot, I'm catching up with 5oo emails, and ready to go party again.

So here's a little poll -- which book did you prefer: ICE BLUE or ICE STORM. I loved them both, but ICE STORM maybe have had an edge since everyone was in it and they all worked so well.

Which one did you think should have won?