Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Belfry Blog day

It's my day to post over on the Belfry Collective Blog today.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My (weird) writer's imagination

Are you ready for this train of thought?? Follow closely and hold on tight, because we're going round some bends mighty fast....

Over on the Smart Bitches the other day, there was discussion about pennames and someone also mentioned porn star names - the name of your first pet, plus the name of the street you grew up.

Sugar Tulip. That's my name according to this formula. Yep, it has a certain ring about it - although I'm definitely no porn star... (watch out - first bend coming up) ...but maybe Sugar writes spicy...

The 'Sugar' and the sort-of rhyming with 'Mint Julep'? Southern USA, and I naturally think of New Orleans, (since we've been thinking spicy) and can't you just see a large, older woman with a definite wicked glint in her eye and a whole-hearted appreciation of life? Okay, so she's probably African-American, and I'm definitely not, so the equivalent would be....

The women in Sue Janson's art work, that I saw in a gallery in Bendigo, Victoria a few weeks back, and absolutely loved. Gorgeous colours, large older women full of joie de vivre, a sense of fun and adventure, loving life and not afraid to live it on their own terms, with plenty of humour.

(Go over to her website and take a look - the images are copyright stamped, but you'll get the idea anyway - and you can order prints and cards. The original paintings are large and I'd love to buy a couple, but that will have to wait a while... in the meantime, I think I'll buy a print. Or two.)

So there you go - in just a flash of a train of thought, Sugar Tulip comes to life ;-)

I don't think I'll actually ever write as her, but I could definitely see her as a character in a book ;-)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Catching up (again)

I know, I haven't posted for a while. But I have put some photos up on the other blog - evidence that I've actually been exercising. And I've been to the gym a few times. I'm never going to become a gym freak, but I'm trying to be serious about losing the weight I need to lose. Not manic - I'm sooo not into pain or deprivation - but by upping my exercise and reducing my intake a little, I'm hoping to make a difference over the next few months.

In other news, today I had lunch with the only two other romance writers in my town. Kelly Hunter and I have had lunch a few times before, and Michelle has just moved to town, so it was great to get together and natter about writing. I don't get to talk to real, live romance writers face-to-face very often - one of the few perils of rural living - so it's always enjoyable when I can.

Kelly's first book, Wife for a Week, a Mills and Boon Modern Extra, will be published in the UK in March. I'm not sure when it comes out in Australia, but we're going to try to talk Kelly in to a local booklaunch and celebration ;-)

It's a great cover, and you should read the excerpt on Kelly's website. It's wonderful - and I'm definitely going to buy the book when it comes out here. Not to mention be first in line for an autograph at that booklaunch we're going to have ;-)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Face of a hero (or three)

One of my challenges as a writer is that I'm a kinesthetic person, rather than a visual one. So, while I have a strong sense of my characters, I find it hard to actually get a clear visual picture. But I need an image, so that I can study it and work out how I might describe the person in visual terms if required. And to pin up on my notice board as inspiration (or perspiration, in some cases ;-) )

So, since I don't get to see a heap of TV or movies these days, I gave my batty writing group some brief word pictures and asked for suggestions of faces that might work for two of my characters in books I'll be seriously working on shortly - Cole Tanner in Shadows and Light, and Morgan 'Gil' Gillespie in Dark Legacy.

For Cole, who can pass as a local in parts of Central Asia (the '-stan' countries), Kris suggested Nicholas Lea:

Hmmm.... Yum. Yep, I could drool look at that face for a while ;-)

But he's a little young for Cole, unfortunately. And, as a friend of mine once said about someone, 'This is his first time around.' Now, I'm not really into reincarnation, but there are some people who seem to have older souls than others, and Nicholas (in this photo anyway) doesn't seem to be one of them - whereas Cole knows life on a deep level. So, Nicholas is going into the resources file - and he may well appear as a hero in another book... yes, there's a definite possibility...

Angie sent me a link to a website with thousands of photos of aspiring actors and models, and I found this guy (a model called Loukas), who isn't right for Cole either, but I'll post him anyway in case it prompts someone to think of other suggestions:

(The face shape, skin, hair is right, but the mouth seems wrong to me - a bit self-indulgent, pouty, soft. Which Cole definitely isn't in the slightest. And the eyes/expression aren't quite right, either. All in all, this guy just isn't deep enough for Cole.)

Now, for 'Gil' Gillespie, last night I rummaged through a few pics I'd saved over the years, and found this one:

Give him black hair and dark eyes, and this particular photo of Clive Owen could well be Gil - tough, hard, and walking sometimes on the edge of the law. Not to mention droolable. Oh, yes....

I didn't ask the Bats about images for another hero, Ronan. Ronan appears as a colleague and friend of Cole in Shadows and Light, and will be the hero in Shadows and Dreams. Ronan gives the impression of a less complex personality than Cole - a fun guy, less serious, taking life lightly, although in reality he is a dedicated and serious professional. He just hides it well ;-). (Of course, in his story, he will be thrown into some extremely heart-wrenching situations....)

I found this image on the model/actor site, and it kinda works. There's a depth of character there, but you can see there's a grin not far below the surface:

But for Ronan, I suspect that I'll come back to Hugh:

Oh, yes, we do men well here in Australia ;-)

This 5 minutes of bliss was brought to you by Bron's usually-Boring Blog.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Your library online

Here's a free, fun and useful tool for romance readers:


You can quickly build an online catalogue of your books, tag them, rate them, share your list with others, and see what people who have the same books as you are also reading - a great way to find out about new books to read! The service draws on worldwide amazon and library databases, so cataloging books is not a laborious process - simply enter title key words and author's name, and then select the correct book from the listing that comes up.

I haven't had time to enter more than a couple of books yet - just trying out the site - but you can see my very meager listing here to see what a listing looks like.

The free service lets you catalogue up to 200 books; you can sign up for an unlimited catalogue for a small fee.

Have fun!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Everywhere but here..

It was my day to post at The Belfry Collective yesterday - so I did.

And this morning I made a walk into a photo exercise (because I hate any other sort of exercise) and the results are in my photoblog - and also up at Flickr, because I'm exploring it at the moment (as part of research for my day job - I'm supposed to know about these social software sites).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The backup fiend

Today I came across a free site for file storage that allows up to 1GB of space, and enables you to directly upload files and apply tags to them for easy finding. You can also, if you wish, share files from the site, (and there is support for developing and/or running assorted applications to automatically doing things with the files - not that I'm planning on using that, since I don't actually understand that side of it.)

The site is

What's a tag, you ask? Rather than using a folder structure, you can apply one or more tags (or keywords) to each file. Then, you can easily find it by looking under any one of those tags. You don't have to search through folders to find where the heck you put it ;-)

You can also upload zipped files to openomy, which means you can get a fair amount in that 1GB of space.

I'm a bit manic about back-ups, having seen too many writing friends and others lose significant amounts of work. One back-up isn't enough, because they can and do fail (especially if it's a flash-drive or CD). So, I'll be adding openomy to my back-up system.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Muse music

Like many writers, I often use background music to inspire the Muse. For me, it can't be just anything, and I've put together playlists to evoke the emotional ambience for the various characters and novels. For some, it's easy - Calli and Elliot in Falling into Darkness have a mix of haunting instrumental and folk pieces, and the raw earthiness of The Waterboys is perfect for Gil and Kris in Dark Legacy, especially Gil.

But I'm a bit stuck putting together a play list for Shadows and Light, even though we have over 350 CDs in our ecletic collection, including classical, gregorian chant, medieval, folk and world music, jazz and blues, rock, and alternative, and just about everything in between.

I've so far picked out Jane Sheldon's 'Silencium' (the theme for the British TV series 'Silent Witness'), and Dead Can Dance's 'The Writing on my Father's Hand'; the haunting, ethereal melodies and harmonies of these are right for the heroine, Sonia, for the different paths she's chosen, for the suffering she's seen and survived herself. There's strength and sorrow and grief and hope in those songs, just as there is in Sonia.

However, for the hero, I've so far hit a brick wall. The only thing that's come close so far is Morricone's 'Gabriel's Oboe' (from the film, The Mission.) Cole is a man who's given everything - even his own identity - to serve as only he can. He's isolated, alone, never able to be himself, no longer even sure who he is. 'Gabriel's Oboe' has the sense of isolation, of struggle and exile, that is right for Cole. However, it's only one piece, and I need some more!

I suspect have a few tracks in the LP collection that would be appropriate, but unfortunately I currently don't have a way to transfer vinyl to digital, nor much space left on my computer to download individual tracks. I might just have to clear up some space and do a bit of a hunt on the web, though - because I think that the love theme from Renaissance's 'Scheherazade' will work for them, and there's a beautiful track on Rick Wakeman's soundtrack for the 1976 Winter Olympics film that will probably fit, and I might be able to download both the from the web.

And then the Muse will have no excuse!

New Year

We made it back from our wanderings, and had a good time down south. The last few days the weather has been stinking hot, but we're looking forward to a cooler change today. or tomorrow. Or sometime soon....

So, the New Year has come, and 2006 is happening.

Looking back, 2005 wasn't the best year of my life, but we made it through. Around September, I realised how burnt out I really was; in the previous year or two, I'd had four family members battling life-threatening illnesses, a close friend nearly dying several times, my own major surgery and the consequent painful leg injury that resulted, major projects at work and constant swapping between part-time, full-time, and assorted other job contracts. Being overweight, with high blood-pressure, and suffering from some variety of sleep apnoea wasn't helping much either - although probably isn't surprising!

And in the middle of all of that, I was trying to write very emotional scenes, and feeling like shirt because it just wasn't working. I finally realised that my emotional energy was gone, drained, and that I needed to restore that before I could really, seriously, get back into writing again. I'm not the sort of person who falls apart easily - I'm a 'coper' - but I realised how little was actually holding everything emotionally together, and that underneath the surface coping cheerfulness, I just wanted to crawl into a hole. So, I stopped beating myself about the head for not achieving, and for the last few months I've tried to feed the soul a little more, recharge the creativity, and improve my physical health. I've never been one for drugs and therapy, so I'm doing this my way, with only a little help from blood-presure medication, which is also reducing the migraine frequency.

So, for 2006, I'm looking forward to a better, more productive, more enjoyable year. There's still illness in the family - my parents are ageing, and battling assorted conditions - but my sister and brother-in-law are both doing well at present, and my friend's health is slowly improving. Work will continue to be mad for a while, and I'm not sure yet whether the restructuring about to occur will see me promoted, demoted, or made redundant - but I'll worry about the later two if they happen, not before.

And as for writing, while I haven't been productive, word-count wise, this past year, I have made decisions about direction - what it is I want to write, and where I'm aimining it for - and now I can focus on getting there.