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Showing posts from July, 2010

My Muse

Is 6’2”, slightly shaggy hair the color of fresh roasted coffee suntipped with gold, puppy dog brown eyes, surfer tan, and a body Jillian Michaels would approve. He makes sure my coffee cup is filled, that I have anything I need, that my favorite DVDs are within reach, and my iPod is always fully charged. He’s within reach if I need a little … inspiration, and always ready to run to See’s if I require my favorite chocolates.

And sadly, he only exists in my imagination. Sigh!

My muse has been talking away a lot while I’ve been buried deep with new work. And if I hit a snag he would even direct me to my witchy Barbies, my dragon and Fae figurines, and the best, Ganesha, the Hindu god of good fortune and Patron of the Arts, especially writing. All little things that would give me that much needed spark.

Writing a book is a lot of ‘what ifs’ and a muse is terrific at whispering that all important what in my ear or suggestions. Why can’t that new cat hanging around the house be a fun familiar…

Music Amuses My Muse

By Greek definition, music is any art presided over by one of the nine Muses. It’s fitting that my muse is amused by music. Specifically, hard, fast, loud, electric-guitar-enriched, drum-thumping, bass-groovin’, singer-screaming music. Rock music throws my muse all in a tizzy and she gets a little wild and crazy on the page. (You can thank me later.) If you take her to a concert, she has weeks of inspiration to fuel her insatiable need to create. I guess that’s not too surprising. I do write rock star erotic romances, after all.

A lot of authors need total silence when they write. Sometimes I do, too. Especially when I need to concentrate on something that just isn’t clicking right. But if I want to channel the story, the chaotic sound of rock music in the background puts me in my zone and the words come pouring out. I’m not exactly listening to the music. I couldn't tell you what song was filtering through my head at any given moment. It’s mostly there to block out other things th…

Pursuing Happiness Cross Country to the RWA Conference

by Amanda Forester

Here I am at the Dolphin Hotel, Orlando Florida… finally. If you follow this blog you may be aware that I do not care to fly (translation – it terrifies me). So when the annual conference for the Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced it was going to be in Nashville, I looked up the train schedule and decided to give it a try. When the conference location was changed to Orlando, Florida, I took a big breath, made more train reservations and went for it. Since I live in Washington State, that meant a huge cross country trip with my family, including my two young children (no possible way when they found out I was going to Disney World that they were going to be left behind!).
First, let me say that traveling in small confined spaces with two young kids is about what you may expect, only more so. Overall, though, we are having a fabulous time.
We began our journey in Seattle and boarded the Empire Builder train. The views along the coast and through the Cascade Mount…

The Amused Muse visited the Museum of Music

"They are all of one mind, their hearts are set upon song, and their spirit is free from care.
He (she) is happy whom the Muses love. For though man (woman) has sorrow and 
grief in his soul, when the Muses sing, at once he forgets his dark thoughts 
and remembers not his troubles. Such is the holy gift of the Muses." Hesiod
Once upon a time it was a universal belief that creativity in the areas of art, poetry, philosophy, music, dancing, writing, science, and history was inspired by the goddesses known as the Muses. Greek mythology originally referred to three goddesses born to Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, but very early on the number was increased to nine. Legends vary, as legends always do, but the existence of the Muses was part of oral history for centuries before the Greeks indelibly immortalized them in poetry and written myths. According to the prevailing legends, the muses were brought to life to make the world disremember the evil, relieve the sorrows…

I don't wanna think about it!

In Greek mythology, the muses were nine sisters, daughters of Zeus, who presided over the arts, whispering in artists’ ears, inspiring them to create great works of art.

I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about muses. Oh, I believe I have a muse. I’m certain of it, in fact. Well, probably not a daughter of Zeus, but you know what I mean. I have this idea, however, that if I spend time thinking about my muse or trying to figure out where it comes from, that I’ll lose it.

Go ahead and laugh.

I know it sounds silly, and yet I believe it whole-heartedly.

How do I know my muse exists? I know this because I am a “pantser”. Half the people reading this just went, “Ah. Yep, you have a muse.”For the rest of you, and for those who don’t know what I mean by “pantser”, the short version is I don’t know what will happen in my story until it happens. Often I’m just as surprised as any reader would be. Probably the most tangible way to explain this to someone else would be explaining the d…

Muse Interrupted

Almost two weeks ago, I had to have my 10-year-old dog, Sambuca put down. When I thought about my muse, I realized my best ideas always occurred when I was out with him for his last pee break of the night. Since Sambuca went to the great doggy park in the sky, I had yet to have a decent idea about my current work in progress. I’ve spent day after day in front of my computer writing complete drivel. Nothing came to me. No divine inspiration, no great idea about how to get past the roadblock I’d successfully built to keep my characters apart. I’ve been stressing, thinking that I had lost my muse.

Yesterday I drove from Maryland to Florida with my two critique partners, Laura and Deborah. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it, our muses decided to come with us for the 19-hour drive from Maryland to Tampa. The trip usually takes 16 hours, but thanks to Laura’s trouble making muse, Trixie, we hit nothing but traffic and accidents until we reached South Carolina. I…

Is it a muse, or is it a memory?

If a muse is a guiding spirit or a source of inspiration, as Dictionary.com tells us, then my muse must be a nerdy guy who wants to be a hunk. "I can be him," my muse will tell me. "I just need a great body, longer hair, and cat eyes."

My heroes, for the most part, are accounted for: I know exactly who and why they inspired me, but that usually only concerns their physical appearance. The hero of Virgin (June 2011) is based on two different people. He has the face, coloring, and physique of the fellow to your left, and the name and height of another. His personality, however, comes from my muse.

My heroines have often been based on ladies I know personally--never a model or an actress. Sometimes it's planned and sometimes it comes as a surprise, but they are all based in reality in one way or another, though it may be my muse who suggests them to me.

You often hear that muses are fickle creatures; bailing out on you in your time of need, or sending you off on a ta…

What if You Don’t Have a Muse?

I’d heard about muses. In my mind, they were little feminine creatures who sat on a writer’s shoulder and whispered ideas and dialogue in her ear. When I started writing ten years ago, I didn’t have a muse. But I figured she would show up eventually. When she didn’t, I thought maybe only published authors had muses. But after I published and my muse still didn’t make an appearance, I finally had to admit that maybe I didn’t have a muse.

Maybe writing was always going to be hard work. Maybe it would always be me and the keyboard. Maybe I was just going to have to rely on myself.

It’s not that I don’t want a muse. I do. I wish she would come, sit on my shoulder, and inspire me. And it’s not that I don’t have muse-like moments. I write something and look at it later and think, did I write that? I don’t remember writing that. Did my muse show up in that moment or do I just have a short memory?

Not having a muse doesn’t play very well, I can tell you that. Do you know what questions an author…

How Your Muse Can Kill Your Book

I've never been much of a believer in muses or inspiration. I'd like it if lightning flickered down from the heavens and zapped me with genius, but the books don't get written if I wait around for creative magic to whack me upside the head. It tends to come on slowly, after I've knuckled down to work on a manuscript.

In fact, sometimes the notion of having a muse can be downright destructive for me.
After all, if I have a muse, I need to nurture her, right? Something as delicate as a muse must be pretty high maintenance.
It seems like a muse would need a comfortable home, spacious and airy, where she could fly free. She would require elaborate little rituals that would lure her out to play. She might be easily frightened, and easily sidetracked; if she doesn't run away altogether, chances are she might dash off to do something else--watch TV, maybe, or play with the dog.
In her book The Creative Urge, choreographer Twyla Tharp covers all those issues. "When you h…

PITCH SECRETS OF THE STARS!

By Deb Werksman

Since we're all gearing up for RWA in Orlando next week, I thought today's blog could give you an editor's perspective on what makes a great in-person pitch.

Here are the qualities of the very best pitches I've ever heard:

CLARITY
The author knows what the book is and tells me right away so I can listen for what I know is important in that subgenre.

BREVITY
The pitch is about as long as it might take to read the book's back cover copy out loud. It's not a long plot summary, but it does give away the ending so I come away with a complete sense of the book.

HOOK
I can hear 2-3 sentences to sell the project with. I come away knowing exactly how I'm going to position the book for my sales/marketing/PR/design departments.

ORIGINALITY
Grab me with something I haven't heard before and you'll have me eating out of your hand!

PERSONALITY
Let your voice shine through! If I can get a sense of the writing from the pitch, that's fantastic!

KNOWLEDGE
The au…

Happiness is love. Love is...?

A friend of mine asked people on a yahoo loop to define what love meant to them. This was a while ago, and with my selective memory I'm afraid I've forgotten most of the answers. I do remember mine though.

I saw a one frame comic in the funny pages years ago that said, "Love is letting him have the last cold tablet." Yup, that about sums it up.

Like in the classic story, "Gift of the Magi" Della and Jim are more concerned about each other's happiness than their own, thus one Christmas Della sells her gorgeous long hair to buy Jim a chain for his pocket watch, not realizing that Jim sold his watch to buy Della tortoise shell combs for her long hair. No, they didn't bicker about it afterward. They realized their real gifts were the love they shared.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by the late M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled. That talk had a profound impact on my psyche. His assertion was that mature love me…

The Pursuit and My Muse

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Way back in May, 2008 when the Casa blog was first started, I introduced myself by saying that I'd been writing for just about as long as I could remember. I wrote in a lot of different venues with varying degrees of success, but one thing was certain, if I wasn't writing I always felt like something was missing. But thanx to my muse Ms. Crankypants (to learn more about her, see my guest post tomorrow on Sia's Thoughts Over Coffee : http://siamckye.blogspot.com/), I usually found something to write about.

My muse always threw interesting characters, situations, and settings my way. When I sat down to write, if the words were flowing, it was thanks to Ms. Crankypants. If not... well, she does tend to be a bit temperamental sometimes.

Over the years and the different writing projects, I've learned to trust my muse and my process. And mostly that process is to just keep showing up! I know, I know, that sounds terribly boring, and not…

Muse on Vacation

I'm posting this before we go on vacation because we're heading west, young man. (I know, corny, but I swear, that's what I hear every time I think that we're going "out west" - I'm a north-easterner; that's how we talk.) Since it's the 19th, we should be in the Grand Tetons and heading back to Denver to catch our flight home on the 20th. Kind of funny to be writing about the end of the vacation before it's even started, but I'm told cell service is nil in Yellowstone, and pretty sad for this part of the country for AT&T (gee, thanks, guys...). We're doing Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Crazy Horse, the Black Hills of SD, Devil's Tower, Cheyenne and all points in between, and Yellowstone. All places I've been to before, but it's been (ahem) thirty-one years. I can't wait to see how much more of Crazy Horse is completed; I want to see if the acres of prairie dog ditches are still near the base of Devil's Tower (and if there a…

My Closet Muse

I have a closet muse. Really. She doesn't come out to help me when I most need it. Nope. She waits until I'm half asleep and prods my tired brain to think. Think! When I want to sleep. And here is the villain plotting all kinds of evil deeds in my current work-in-progress, Dreaming of the Wolf, and a police officer bringing up all kinds of uncomfortable questions for the heroine to answer and why is all of this playing in my head when it's time to sleep?



If I ignore my Muse, she will force more ideas into my tired brain until I either wear out and truly fall asleep, believing I will remember the scene for the morning, or, I give in and turn on the light, hastily write the scene, and go back to sleep, with her blessing. But woe to me who fails to listen to her musings, because in the morning if I haven't written them down, can I remember a one of them? Rarely. And that's her way of getting back at me!

Night time Muse disturbances aren't the only times she decides …

Bring On The Happy

If you think July is hot, just wait until October…

This fall, Sourcebooks cranks up the heat. On October 1st, Sourcebooks will release its first erotic romance title and I’m so happy I could play air guitar! In public. I know, I know, you can’t take me anywhere.

The first in a series of five, my debut novel, Backstage Pass, features the lead guitarist of the rock band, Sinners. Romantic, sensual, and talented in many, many ways (sigh…. I envy his lucky heroine, Myrna), Brian Sinclair is hot enough to cause soaring temperatures all by himself, but he’s currently on tour with his four yummilicious band mates who add a sweltering mix of personalities and, erm, talents. *cough

Publication is obviously a huge milestone in any author's pursuit of happiness, but I find if I base my happiness on the big things, the huge accomplishments, I’m not happy very often. A new love, a graduation, a birth, a job promotion, selling a five book series (still squeeee-ing over that one!), winning the lott…

My Summer Passion

by Amanda Forester

Many things go through my head when I consider the pursuit of happiness, but one of the things I enjoy the most are the quiet moments I get to read a book. Honestly, in my busy life I’m happy just to have a few quiet moments to myself, and if I can share them with a book it’s all the better. I love escaping into a different world and living, if only for a while, the life of a swashbuckling hero or a daring lady (with beautiful long hair, a size 2 body, and the generous bosoms nature did not see fit to give me in real life - hey, it's my fantasy!)

Summer is a particularly great time to read a book. My favorite place to read is at the beach, with the warm sand in my toes. When I was a kid I read books in a tree – not at all sure how I managed that one. These days I bring my own beach chair – the one with the arm rests and the cup holder. Oh yeah, that’s the life…

Currently one of my passions has been reading the Georgette Heyer books. I’m not sure how I missed them f…

Happiness is Like a Butterfly

I’m not that happy. There. I said it. I have been happier in my life. The last few years have been filled with changes and sorrow, and I’ve struggled to find my balance and my joy. I love my little girl, but I loved my life before her. I love writing and the publishing industry, but I also love reading, watching TV, and spending time with friends—all things I have to give up or cut back to find time to write.

But we aren’t guaranteed happiness in life. Even the Constitution only gives us “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So we’re free to pursue happiness. But what does this mean? How do you go after happiness? Is it a tangible thing you can grasp? Is it something to be achieved?



For me, happiness is an ebb and flow. I try to find joy in the moment. Honestly, I can’t do it for every moment. But I won’t do it for any if I don’t make an effort.

And I find that some things make me happier than others. Routine and schedules make me happy. I do not like surprises and chaos. If I k…

A look inside Lydia Dare's thought processes

Since there are two of us, whenever something comes up that we need to write -- be it a book, or even a blog, we usually chat with one another on the ‘net until we solidify our idea. We started chatting last night about an upcoming blog (this one) for the Casablanca Author’s blog, and we thought we’d show you what it’s like to be Lydia Dare. Here’s how it went:

[9:54:23 PM] Tammy Falkner: So, Jodie, what's your take on happiness? Do we have to agree on this thing? If so, that's about as likely to happen as moss growing on the wrong side of the tree.
[9:54:55 PM] Jodie Pearson: You don’t know which side is the wrong side of the tree, do you?
[9:55:09 PM] Tammy Falkner: Not a clue. But there's a right side and a wrong side.
[9:55:20 PM] Jodie Pearson: Well, the theme is the "pursuit of happiness". So that's kind of different than my TAKE on happiness.
[9:55:27 PM] Tammy Falkner: Told you we wouldn't agree.
[9:55:34 PM] Jodie Pearson: When do we?
[9:56:08 PM]…

The Pursuit of Happiness (earplugs required)

By Robin Kaye


Lately, it seems as if the only thing I’ve pursued is an hour of peace and quiet. My life has been a little out of control—especially on the weekends. My daughter, Twinkle Toes, is in Central Pennsylvania at dance camp for five weeks and needs to be picked up every Saturday morning. My son, a Boy Scout Camp Counselor for seven weeks, needs to be picked up every Saturday afternoon on the Eastern boarder of Pennsylvania and Maryland, making it a four and a half hour loop from start to finish.

We then feed the Boy Scout the equivalent of a week’s worth of food, help him do his laundry, and return him to work no later than noon on Sunday—only a three hour drive round trip. For Twinkle Toes, it’s an early Monday morning run to Central PA. My husband and I do ten and a half hours of driving in three days. It is no wonder I’m having such a difficult time getting anything done.

If the driving wasn’t enough to get to me, the state of my household would. A few weeks ago, my Domestic…

Blow ye winds, ye fans, and ye air conditioners

by Mary Margret Daughtridge


As I write this, my mind stumbles and lurches, bashing its toes against bumpy thoughts.After days of heat so intense you feel your skin sizzle as soon as you step outside, and day after day the sky looks like hammered steel, last night it finally rained. Today we are restored. The sky this evening is china blue. Long gold stripes of sunlight alternate with deep blue-green shadows across the lawns in nostalgic evocation of the perfect long summer evening.The huge pots of salmon and blood red impatiens have recovered from the pale cringing of heat exhaustion. They sing out scintillating color in the deepening twilight.I’m tempted to eat supper out on the patio. Mistake. Not-horribly-hot does not mean cool or even pleasantly warm. In less than forty-five seconds I have picked up my plate from the black wrought iron table and returned to the shelter of air-conditioning.When I was a kid, the only places that had central air conditioning were department stores and…

The elusive butterfly of happiness

Can you spot it hiding there among the flowers? And if you do, could you capture it with your bare hands?

Probably not.

We probably all think we pursue happiness on a daily basis, but for the most part, what we're actually doing is just getting through the day. I used to believe that if I reached a point where all of my work was done and my obligations fulfilled, I could then do only the things that I wanted to do, and my happiness would be complete. However, I've been there (briefly) a time or two in my life, only to discover that I'd forgotten what it was I wanted to do that would make me so happy.

I learned a long time ago that acquiring material things won't bring lasting happiness. It seems fabulous for a while, but then the feeling wears off and you have to find something else to wish for. Eventually, you run out of wishes and have nowhere to turn for happiness, which is a very sad place to be.

There are many activities that I enjoy, but finding the time to do them …

The Pursuit of Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.Every American school child is required to memorize these lines penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. I remember agonizing over them, practicing endlessly so that I could stand before the class and say them aloud. We had to get every syllable correct or we would fail our government class and then – gasp – not graduate! Oh the pressure!

Shaking in a cold-sweat terror of nervousness I remember, but I don’t remember the nitty-gritty analysis of what these words actually mean. Do you? I am sure we did study the history but over time we develop our own concepts of “liberty” and “life” and that tricky one: “the pursuit of happiness.”

As I thought about what brings me happiness for this month’s blog theme, it was easy to make a list. Yet I found myself wondering what …

Learning Makes Me Happy

by Danielle JacksonI've always loved to learn—I was that overachiever that wrote 20 page papers when the requirement was only 10, because I found out so much great information that I believed was entirely necessary to make my point. As I’ve grown, though, learning has always been a part of my life. Whether it’s researching new publications to pitch books to, or finding out interesting facts from the information in your romance novels, I’m lucky to be in position to literally learn something new everyday.At the end of the month, many of us will be at the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference in Orlando, FL (at Disney World!), and I get to do a whole lot of learning! Meeting new authors and their visions for their careers, attending a couple of workshops on promoting romance novels, and of course, hopefully learning how NOT to get burnt out too early. It’s a wonderful way to become acclimated with the world of romance novels, and I think a lot of people are surprised…