Notes from a Drama Queen

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 19, 2011

I just read two absolutely fabulous historical romances. They made me laugh, made me cry, turned me on. They were glorious.

And I happened to write them. So long ago that reading them felt like reading someone else's books, but someone I really really liked. No, it's not that I'm totally infatuated with my own work (though I confess I tend to be). It's just that the Anne Stuart who wrote these books knew exactly what kind of hero I adore, what kind of heroine I identify with, the level of hot sex (I was gonna be polite and say sensuality but you know what I mean) that I like. These are the kind of books that seem as if they were written just for me, and, in fact, they were.

Thanks to my glorious agent and the fabulous they've been digitized, and are now available at all the various ebook outlets, not just for the Amazon Kindle.

First, there's one of my all-time favorite novellas. Think what a lovely job I have. I drag myself to see Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, and suffer through Kevin Costner's strange interpretation of a British accent just to fall in love with the baddest, most delightful villain ever to show up in the movies. I was already in love with Alan Rickman, but his Sheriff of Nottingham put it over the top (in more ways than one). So I got to write out my romantic fantasies and enjoy myself prodigiously in the novella THE HIGH SHERIFF OF HUNTINGDON, with a very wicked sheriff who meets his match with a nun, of all things!

Next, we have TO LOVE A DARK LORD, the first of my really dark heroes. So dark, in fact, that my editor made me tone it down twice before I finally dug in my heels and said "take it or leave it." She took it, thank God, though I've always wondered what the book would be like if she'd let me go for broke.

Nevertheless, despite the darkness it's laugh out loud funny, and I think I need to re-find my sense of humor. It's amazing the lessons you can learn by revisiting your old work, and enjoy yourself at the same time. TO LOVE A DARK LORD is the story of another very bad man, this one truly bad, with some really wonderful supporting characters and a heroine who opens the book killing her uncle. What more can you ask?

So they're new and cheap and just right for your brand new Nook or Kindle or whatever. Trust me, you've love them.

And while you're doing it, spend some time being a little easier on yourself. Here's a newsflash -- life is hard. I'm grieving the suicide of an old friend while I'm rejoicing in the presence of my children and grandchild. Life is like that, and you have to take joy in what you can, take comfort in what you can.

So I'm wishing you guys the very best of the holiday season. The good stuff, not the bad. The family, with all the attendant traumas that come with them. Don't sweat the small stuff. If you didn't get around to Christmas cards, don't worry. If the turkey's too dry, just slather it with gravy (there could be worse culinary fixes). If you don't get around to making the cookies just buy them. On-line gift certificates are a great invention. Most of all, don't fuss. The holiday season is about light coming back to a dark, dark world, whether it's the miracle of the oil, the miracle of the baby who brought hope to the world, whether it's the miracle of the sun returning and the days finally growing longer. It's about hope, and your assignment is to go out and find the hope in your life and in the world.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah (I can't spell Hannukah) and Blessed Solstice and Happy Kwanzaa. And most of all, believe in a happy new year. Things get better. Always. I promise you.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

I need one. An ivory tower, that is. I'll need an elevator if I plan to leave, since I don't do massive flights of stairs that well. Then again, if I'm up there long enough and grow my hair down to the ground then maybe a very smart prince will climb up and then ... hmmm, I don't remember how Rapunzel ever got down. Maybe I'll just stay up there.

Not with the prince, though. He can come up and visit every now and then, just so I get some aerobic exercise. But the rest of the time I can write.

This way I wouldn't have to worry about not letting my children down this Christmas. Hell, I don't have any money because I give it all to them (and the IRS). If I keep helping out with electric bills and rent and food and cable tv and cell phones then I don't have the money to make their eyes sparkle on Christmas morning. And why the hell am I worried about making their eyes sparkle when they're 27 and 24?

I can't find anything for my husband either, again, from lack of money. There are all sorts of expensive things I could get him, treats like a new computer or a fancy tool or a trip to Hawaii. At this point he's got socks from Costco and a knife, and I want to cry.

As for me, I can't think of a thing I want, which is pretty ridiculous since I love to shop. I think part of it is I'm focused on everyone else right now. Everything I want to buy is for someone else. I have more clothes than I need, more fabric, more tchotchkes (yeah, I know that's not how you spell it). My kitchen doesn't have room for any more inspirational tools. I don't need socks or gloves or cds or movies.

If I had an ivory tower I wouldn't have to worry about food, about shopping, about the mess the house is in. I wouldn't need to make space for the Christmas tree amidst all the clutter. I wouldn't need to deal with my husband's holiday blues as well as my own. I could sit in my comfy chair with my laptop and write and write and write. Maybe do a little sewing just for variety. And I'd need the cat who sleeps on my stomach half the night, the fabulous Phantom.

I was really into Christmas this year, after a couple of years of being grinchy. Part of it is having a four year old grandson. He's become mine in increments -- he's the son of my son's fiancee, and while Tim's been part of Alex's life since Alex was 6 months old I've only been allowed grandma privileges recently. We adore each other, which is great, and children make Christmas much brighter.

But reality is sinking in. I had a rough childhood (yeah, I know, you've heard it time and time again) and I always thought of Christmas as a kind of redemption for all the unhappy days (even though Christmas had its rages and drunkenness etc). I held onto it anyway, decorating myself and everything I could catch with Christmas-y stuff.

Now I guess I've just got to let go. Accept that I will disappoint everyone (except my grandson, who's never disappointed in anyone, the darling). Accept that the house will be a disaster, that I'll rush rush rush and yet somehow never get anything done. Accept that my brother and sister are gone, my niece wants a gift certificate, and the only other member of my family is my 97 year old mother and I have some lingering issues from the afore-mentioned childhood. And right now I hate my in-laws. That will pass, I'm sure, but for now, I don't even want to hear their names.

I wish I could go away for Christmas (with the family). So that someone else was responsible for the dinner and the clean house and the tree. For some reason the Ivory Tower seems about as likely as getting away, and at least with the ivory tower I could write.

And now I feel like I've failed the blogosphere. I should be cheery and bouncy and sing Christmas carols. I should talk about Christmas paper towels and Bela Fleck's ridiculously wonderful holiday cd. Instead I'm whining. More guilt.

Then again, isn't that the American holiday tradition? Guilt? Guess I've got it right this year. And even an ivory tower wouldn't help that.

But at least I'd get to write.