Monday, June 27, 2005

The Naming

Usually, it doesn't take me long to come up with names for characters. A couple of days at most. But for my latest story idea, the heroine's name is still eluding me, after more than a week. I've 'narrowed' down the possibilities - now there's only 26 on my list!!

The hero's name is Ronan. There may be a French/Breton/Celtic connection in the heroine's family. So, Ronan and...

Ghislaine Ariane Brede Ceridwen Grainne Damaris Eilis Eliane Elaine Emer Ruth Isabeau Juliet Kira Lianan Liane Liliane Lise Lissa Madelaine Maidlin Mara Mariane Marielle Mari Meg


I'm leaning towards Mariane.... or Grainne (although many people won't know how to pronounce it). But none of them are saying 'yes!'

And the really stupid thing about all this agonising, is that most of the time when I read a book, I don't remember the characters' names 10 minutes after finishing it. But when I'm writing, I have to get it right.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


I haven't got my RWR yet, so haven't seen the survey included about the definition of romance that has assorted blogs afire. As I understand it, the RWA offers two alternative definitions of a romance - a romance is between a man and a woman, or between two people.

Okay, so those two options could still be construed as excluding werewolves, menage a trois etc. And you might be perfectly happy with the current definition. But they are asking the question. Of us. Members. And presumably they will be guided by what we have to say.


Sorry, yes I shouted. Complete the survey and send it in, with your comments. Email the Board members and provide them with your reasoned thoughts. Go to the AGM at Reno, or, if you can't, nominate someone as your proxy - the form was in a recent RWR.

The 2000 article about RWA that Paperback writer linked to has some figures that should make us all stop and think:

...why should anyone care? Many RWA members don't, or else they don't want to become involved in an organizational process most charitably described as embarrassing in its shortsightedness.

Less than 15 percent of the members attending the conference attended the general meeting. Less than 20 percent of RWA's national members bothered to vote, even by proxy -- a regrettable situation, since RWA could make a crucial difference in the never-ending fight for writers' and artists' rights. The sheer number of RWA members -- 8,200 total and at least 1,500 published under the most restrictive definition of the word -- and their combined economic clout make RWA a force to be reckoned with.

RWA doesn't exist seperately from its members. The Board members are volunteers, they are ordinary mortals with strengths and weaknesses, elected by the members.

Make your voice heard.

Then, accept that there is no way that in an organisation of 9,000 members covering a wide diversity of people, that everyone is going to be happy with every decision. It simply isn't possible.

Some decisions I don't agree with but I can live with. If decisions go against my conscience, however, then it's time to reconsider my membership.

But those decisions have not yet been made, and I intend to ensure that my thoughts are heard in the right places before they are.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Outgrown ourselves?

I've been musing occasionally in the past few weeks about the RWA problems, and the recent column on RTB in which Tara Gelsomino from Romantic Times sought feedback about the magazine, and it seems to me that perhaps romance as a genre is just too big and diverse to expect any one organisation - or magazine - to be able to cover it.

Given that romance books make up 55% of all mass market paperback sales in the US (and similar in other countries), and there are over 2000 new titles each year, it's way bigger than most other genres put together.

Would it be so bad if there was more than one writers' organisation, catering to different sections of the genre? The organisations would not have to be competitive with each other - RWA presumably maintains friendly relations with other writer's organisations in other genres, so why not in different branches of romance?

And, assuming there's a market for it, I think it could only be a good thing if there were more magazines catering to romance readers - one might be more fanzine, another more review focused, another could be more literary style - or whatever the readers want. Without trying to please all in one publication, which must surely be impossible. (Note: I've never read Romantic Times, because it isn't readily available here.)

Maybe one organisation can serve us all - I'm not sure. I wish I was able to go to the RWA conference in Reno to participate in the AGM, but unfortunately I can't. However, I've given a friend my proxy, so at least my vote will count if critical issues come up.

I wouldn't want to see a split of the organisation in anger - but perhaps we should be discussing and asking ourselves whether we have grown (and grown up) enough as a genre that we can establish friendly, co-operative but seperate organisations to support the members interests - and work collaboratively when appropriate to encourage growth in the broader genre.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Cold x 2

I've temporarily moved my laptop back out to the living room. It's been cold lately, and one of my offices at work has been without heating, and I'm coming down with a cold myself (courtesy of DH), and I'm tired of not being warm. So, yesterday when it was cold and grey and we lit the fire before lunch, I moved from the study (heated only by a fan heater) back into the cosy warmth.

The weather forecast for the next few days suggests we might have light snow - which is a rarity around here. We get maybe a couple of 'falls' a year but I can only remember a couple of times when enough stayed on the ground to make a (very small) snowman. Usually, it melts as soon as it falls. Snow weather however always feels cold, though, because the daily maximums are low and the sun doesn't come out. The majority of our winter days are dry and sunny, which is more pleasant.

The heating at the morning job still isn't back on. They were working on it this morning again, but without success. Even though I dressed warmly, I still had to wear my coat for the first hour of work today.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to find a name for the heroine in the story I dreamed up at the weekend, and I spent some of this evening going through my name lists without THE right name leaping out at me. Her hero is Ronan, her brother Dominic. I need something feminine, but not sweet or sissy. She's an historian, quietly confident, independent, socially capable but with layers few people see. I think her mother may have been French or Breton, so that might affect her name.... any suggestions???


Life has been waaayyy too busy lately. Two half-time jobs does not equal one full-time job - especially when one of them is actually a busy full-time job in itself. So I'm overtired and cranky and frustrated and my brain has been ready to explode for weeks - and no, I'm not getting much writing done. By the time I get home, let the dogs in, bring wood in, get the fire going (it's winter here), make dinner, eat dinner with DH (about the only time I see him), and then sit down at the computer, it's 8.30 at night and my brain goes, "Who, me??"

But the good news is... looks like I'll be able to do the PhD I want to do, which is connected with romance and internet things, so it will actually make a link between my writing and the permanent day job. Surfing the web will be a legitimate activity ;-)

And... the night before last - or rather, the 5ish in the morning yesterday - I had a dream which gave me a great idea for a story. A number of my stories have developed from strong dream scenes, so this is not unusual for me. This one will be a sequel to the ms that won the Valerie Parv Award - that first one isn't finished yet, but the ideas that I've had since yesterday for the second one are actually really helping my thoughts for the first. I can see some more possible layers and intricacies for the plot - along with perhaps a curly twist at the end. To be honest, I'd been a bit stumped on the first one; I had a plot outline, great main characters but something wasn't quite 'jelling' right, and I wasn't feeling confident that I could make it work. There's still some detail to work out, but the excitement for it is back again.

I've roughed out the first couple of pages of the second novel, which is enough for me at this stage to get some ideas churning and some shape to the characters, and now I'll leave it and get back to the others in the queue.

Less than two more weeks of the second mad job... I may get a life back after that.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A national treasure

We're into our fourth year of drought in my state - the worst in a century. This was one of this week's cartoons from my favourite cartoonist/poet Michael Leunig:

I love the way how, with a few lines and his signature 'simple' drawings, he encapsulates so much. In this case, a gentle humour - those guys could be my rural neighbours ;-)

In other cartoons, he invokes our consciences, shows us despair, compassion, guilt, hope, reality and surreality. Leunig doesn't just make people think - he makes them feel. A few years ago he was named a National Living Treasure - and he truly is. You can read more about him here, and see more of his cartoons here, here and here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Music for loving

I was thinking about writing a blog entry on music and writing last night, as I was gnashing my teeth and staring at the screen. Then the Smart Bitches talked on their blog this morning about music for sex, getting in first and much more wittily, as usual, and totally eclipsing my small, not-then-existant ramble.

I'm rewriting a love scene. For the umpteenth gazillion time, trying to get the darn thing right. This one is tough. The characters are reserved, controlled, and powerfully attracted to each other - emotionally even more than physically. They're also exhausted, and in the middle of a heart-rending case, and they both know that after the case - if they get through it - they're each going their different ways. So it's a love scene more than a sex scene - tenderness, emotional intimacy, vulnerability, poignancy. (Yes, yes, I do have characters that just get down and do it, but these two aren't them.)

The 'theme' music I've been playing while struggling with this scene includes several haunting Celtic airs: 'Mrs Mary Stitt' (played by the group Tannas); 'Seathan' (Alistair Fraser); and 'Fraoch A Ronaigh' (Mouth Music). DH burned my playlists on to a CD at the weekend, and I may well wear out the CD tonight, trying to finally nail this damn scene down.

In total contrast to these characters, I've already drafted the first and second love scenes for the hero and heroine of the loosely-linked sequel. And their music couldn't be more different, becuase the characters and the scenes are so different. Waterboys. Early Waterboys. Raw and earthy and passionate and demanding and uncompromising. Best played up LOUD. A Pagan Place. Savage Earth Heart. Don't Bang the Drum. Trumpets. The Big Music. This is the Sea.

The next book I have to finish after this one might well have some Sinead O'Connor in it's 'soundtrack'. Troy, Drink Before the War, Never Get Old, Just Like You Said it Would Be. Not so much the literal words of any of those, but the emotion of them - the passion, the darkness, the honesty, the knowing.

Of course, the problem for me with listening to music is that ideas for stories bubble away. I'm listening to Sting's Englishman in New York right now - and I'd love to come up with a hero like that ;-) Once again, not so much the literal words, but the idea and the emotion and rhythm of the music. (He would, naturally, look like Sting.) And someday I'll have to write a sex scene to Dave Brubeck's Take Five. (Ellora's Cave might have to publish that one.) June Tabor's song The Old Miner has me itching to write an historical. Dead Can Dance's The Writing on my Father's Hand - I think that will have to be a somewhat dark fantasy.

Yes, just in case you were wondering, I do have eclectic tastes in music. We've got 300+ CDs in our collection, plus a few zillion vinyls. (Yes, I'm that old. And DH is even older.)

Oh, and the next time anyway tries to tell me that writing sex scenes in romance is easy and formulaic, I may well hand in my pacifist card and get violent.