My Tele is British but this Author is American…

As a writer, I love books, movies, TV shows—anything else that tells a story. Also being a writer, I cannot always watch the TV shows at the moment they premiere so I binge, stuffing myself with entertainment and fun.And they are so many great shows that have me bingeing like a 21-years-old’s first time at the bar.

These are the ones that I am loving… 

The Crown:

This award-winning Netflix’s series is set during Elizabeth’s first years after having the British crown placed on her head. The man who wrote The Queen, which starred Helen Mirren,  also wrote this series. The Crown is the most expensive series produced, costing $130 million (that’s 100 million pounds). Understandably since this show is rich in every way.

Birds of Feather:

This British comedy series centers around two sisters, Sharon and Tracey, and their friend Dorien or Foxy Cohen (her pen name for her novel Sixty Shades of Green). This series first aired in 1989 and returned in 2016 (and feature the original cast.) This series is a great way for me to unwind. They are three friends that take jabs at each other, laugh when they fall but when it truly counts, these three women stand by each other.

Good Girls Revolt  

This Amazon series is the fictional account of the female researchers of Newsweek (the lowest-level positions) who sue for gender discrimination and changed America’s workplace. Sadly, this show has been canceled. But if you can see the first and only check it out. The details and setting are rich and transport you to 60s NYC and it sparked the go-get’em feel in me.

Agatha Raisin

Another British series (I watched a lot of Brit TV) set in the Cotswolds. It’s a cozy mystery series about a London PR agent who sells everything, purchases her dream cottage in the Cotswolds and finds herself accused of a poisoning someone. Agatha finds she has a talent for solving murders. I just lose myself in the story, characters and oh the scenery–Agatha’s home is my dream cottage.

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath

We all must have heard the stories about Scientology. This series speaks to the previous members of this group who share their horror stories of abuse at the hands of this organization. Whatever your personal beliefs toward Scientology, this series is gripping, heart-wrenched and at times, leaves me wondering how people find themselves part of groups like this. Though, non-fiction it is a great way for you to learn more about character and motivation because you see it in weekly episodes. 

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

An Aussie show set in 1920s Sydney. Miss Fisher is a private detective who has a great eye for fashion, a smart, quick mind, a heart for adventure and a steady hand to shot her gun but most importantly, the soul of a crusader. When I go back in time I want to be Miss Fisher.

Happy Valley

This Netflix series is about a female Police Sergeant named in Catherine who is raising her grandson after her daughter’s suicide with the help of her recovering addicted sister. Catherine is a strong woman who is dealing with life and doing her job. I can’t tell you much without them you all. But I love a strong woman living her life.

Outlander

If you are reading this blog, you most likely read romance novels and probably have heard of the Outlander books and series so I do not have to blurt out the same description you already know.  I enjoy the tale of Claire and Jaimie. Yes, Sam Heughan is damn hot. In the first season, I felt Claire’s struggle between staying with Jaimie and returning to Frank. I love both those men. And I hate Black Jack— oh the emotions, I stir me with the both the show and books.

Besides, being entertained by a wonderful story with talented actors and the beauty of Scotland, I see how the novel’s story is translated to TV.

Versailles

French Royal soap opera with the Sun King–Louis XIV. It’s about lust, power, and the fate of a royal family. Watching this series, you see the grandness of the French court as Louis moves the royal court from Paris to Versailles. The royal hunting lodge located in swamp land that becomes the grand house that still awes the world. Louis and Philippe (the king’s brother) deal with the intrigue of the French nobles and led to the French nation through history. As a viewer, you know how the House of Bourbon ends.

 

 

 

 

 

A Royal Love Affair

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria is remembered as the stern-faced queen dressed in her widow weeds. But beneath her frown and black satins was a woman of passion. In 1836, Victoria was a seventeen-year-old girl who would one day sit upon the British throne. She had a sad, lonely childhood and her world consisted of the walls of Kensington Palace. Many crowns of Europe desired her little hand (she was five feet) but one man, her cousin Albert, captured her heart.

Albert Saxe-Coburg

Albert was the second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Princess Louise Saxe-Gotha-Attenburg. His parents divorced when he was young and from all accounts he never saw his mother again after her banishment from court. Much like his cousin, his childhood was a sad one as well.

The two great loves first met when Albert traveled to England with his father and his brother (both named Ernest) in 1836. Of her two cousins, Albert captured her attention. “Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression; which is most delightful c’est a la fois full of goodness and sweetness and very clever and intelligent.”

During his visit, details about Albert received more attention from her pen than his brother. She calls him dearest Albert and writes paragraphs about their time together. Victoria’s heart soared. As they were to depart, Victoria wrote,  “…I love Ernest and Albert more than them, oh yes, much more.” 

So much more that when she wrote her uncle she said, “I must thank you, my beloved Uncle, for the prospect of great happiness, you have contributed to give me, in the person of dear Albert. Allow me, then, my dearest Uncle, to tell you how delighted I am with him, and how much I like him in every way. He possesses every quality, that could be desired to render me perfectly happy. He is so sensible, so kind, and so good, and so amiable too. He has besides, the most pleasing and delightful exterior and appearance, you can possibly see.”

Victoria’s life returned to one of isolation under her mother’s rule. On June 20, 1837, the King, William IV died. The crown now sat upon her head. But their uncle, the King of the Belgians desired this political match. But for Albert and Victoria, it was a love match first and foremost. But Albert had to wait for Victoria to make the move.

While Albert waited in his home country, Victoria enjoyed her independence and would not rush into marriage.  It took two years before Victoria sent for Albert. But upon being in his presence, the queen knew that Albert was the man for her. Five days after his arrival, Victoria proposed to Albert. Being Queen, she had to pop the question. She wrote “that it would make me too happy if he would consent to what I wanted (that he should marry me). We embraced each other over and over again, and he was so kind and so affectionate.”

Albert returned to his home country to deal with his affairs. “I need not tell you that since we left, all my thoughts have been with you at Windsor, and that your image fills my whole soul. Even in my dreams I never imagined that I should find so much love on earth. How that moment shines for me when I was close to you, but with your hand in mine! Those days flew by so quickly, but our separation will fly equally so. Ernest wishes me to say a thousand nice things to you. With promises of unchanging love and devotion, your ever true Albert.”

On February 10, 1840, Albert and Victoria married at St.James’ Palace. “Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felt so happy when he placed the ring on my finger. As soon as the Service was over, the Procession returned as it came, with the exception that dearest Albert led me out!…”  It was a grand affair with people crowding the streets and cheering the couple with the greatest of joy.  “Oh! this was the happiest day of my life!”

They were a passionate couple whose fights rang out and whose sexual passion resulted in nine children. Victoria hated being pregnant but she wouldn’t banish Albert from her bed. She loved her husband and the passion they shared. Albert became a great consort to the queen and added to the greatness of the Victorian Era.

On December 14, 1861, the two lovers were parted when Albert died. Victoria turned into the widow-weed wearing monarch we remember. The second longest reigning monarch of Great Britain passed on January 22, 1901, and was buried in her white dress and her wedding veil.

 

How Does She Do it All…Writing Style? A MFRWAuthor Tells You How She Deals.

Since I started pursuing my writing as a career, I’ve heard many authors talk about the challenges of writing and family. See, I don’t have that problem. I have no husband or children. I have a lovebird. My time to write is all my own. 

My family has always supported my desire to be an author. My mother brought me books, notebooks and never bothered me when I was writing. In fact, she encouraged me, telling me to go and write when I complained that I was bored.

But wait a minute–Don’t think that I am sitting at my computer all day long, pounding out stories and doing whatever I want whenever I want. That isn’t my life. You see I deal with chronic illness–Lupus and Fibromyalgia, to be exact. My body rebels against what I want it  to do. Either I’m too tired or stiff or I just feel beat up, tossed about and thrown to the wolves to be gnawed on. A thought pops into my head then explodes into nothing before I can capture it. My hands and fingers feel like they are wrapped in tape and can’t bend.

So, what does this have to do with family surviving your writing? I’m sure you heard that term life-work balance. I learned that that concept is utter crap. Life is about priorities. Maybe your child is ill with a raging a fever. You focus on that. Perhaps, your husband has vacation time. You focus on that. Maybe your elderly parent is ill. You focus on that. Having your family survive your writing is about priorities. You do what you can when you can.

Having your family survive your writing is about priorities. You do what you can when you can. If you make your writing one of your priorities, respect your writing time (even if it’s for 15 minutes) then your family will too.

But that isn’t the only thing you can do to have your family survive your writing–the next thing is to ask for help. Share what you wish to accomplish with your loved ones, let them know you need help. Remember that isn’t a weakness.

My advice–make a list of all your responsibilities and another list of what you wish to accomplish. For a week, jot down how long each task takes you. At the end of the week, determine where your time went, what was a waste and what could others do to help. Then use that time for writing.

Because you are not a writer if you don’t write. And I want you to write.

 

A First Timer, no more

I registered for my first RWA National conference back in March or April and this past week, I attended it and am no longer a first timer.  The orange ribbon won’t hang from my nametag again though I’m hoping that Golden Heart Finalist or Rita Finalist will soon.

Victoria Alexander and Me

Anyway on Tuesday, the Literacy signing, a crush of romance readers and fans filled a large ballroom where tables lined the room, authors sitting behind their pile of books.  The blend of heat, human flesh, and paper and the almost non-existent air conditioned air filled the room.  Luckily, Victoria Alexander gave out fans to cool the excitement of being surrounded by books and an authors.  So, I walked around seeing my favorite authors, Christina Dodd who remembered me from Twitter.  I was so very thrilled that I nearly floated away like a helium balloon escaping its grounding weight to float into the upper sphere.  Susan Elizabeth Philips who signed my Call Me Irresistible. I asked for a picture and she gladly stood from her seat.  Of course, my phone froze, (I hate that stupid thing) and her daughter saved the day and took the picture. I went home ready for Wednesday.

Susan Elizabeth Philips and me

Wednesday, off to the conference.  I attended workshops and took notes until my hand cramped.  I also ordered the recording because there so many great workshops but only one of me who lacks that ability to be in one place at one time.  Then the free books, sat down to lunch a couple of book by Madeline Hunter (love her), someplace else a free book. At the end of the day, my mind had so much to absorb.   A half a day that wet my toes because on Thursday, I would be drenched.

Thursday, workshops from 8:30 to 5:30.  I moved from workshop to workshop. Taking notes and asking questions and getting answers to that helped me in my revisions of my category romance for the Harlequin Desire line.
 
Then came the publishers signing which is a room filled with their authors signing free books. I was in heaven.  An romance addict surrounded by her drug.  I snatched up every book and tried authors I’ve seen yet never risked.  But I was always asked the two same questions:  How do you say you name and Are you have fun? 

The first question is one I’ve dealt with all my life so it’s expected after I introduce myself.  And the second one received the same answer, “Oh Yeah!”  I imagine my eyes were bulging, not wanting to miss seeing everything and the brackets wrinkles cracking through my face deepened from my smile.   I didn’t care.

I had some many books that I had to have my mother come with the shopping cart to pick them up to bring home.  My scrawny arms and Fibromyalgia and Lupus affected body couldn’t do and made me struggle through this days.  I swore that I would be found under a towering pile of books, suffocated by the written word.

Lisa Kleypas and me.
Sherrilyn Kenyon white dot in foreground.      .

Friday, the last day.  So my feet were swollen and achy from the walking and sitting, and the walking and the sitting and the walking.  My left arm couldn’t straightened from carrying books. My energy level nearing E and needed fuel which wasn’t food but rest.  I promised that I would do nothing until Tuesday and I keep that promise.  I attended my workshops, learning about police officers, emotions and others topics.  I spotted friends I had seen in a while.  I liked that part too.  I met new people and then came the luncheon.

I sat down at a table with Karen Hawkins!!! Then Sherrilyn Kenyon spoke.  She spoke of her life, her older brother who taught her to read with a wrinkled Spiderman comic, the same brother who believed that her books would be published and the brother who died before he could see her success.  I wept, having similar hurting experiences in my life, I felt the pain for her too.  Though some people might take away to never give up no matter the hardships, me, I learned one lesson– Everyone needs a champion!  The one person who believes in us, that cheers us on when we feel we’re in the dirt, the one that we sometimes get up for when we want to stay down.  I’m gladly to say I have a few champions.

So, I’m no longer a first timer. I learned craft skills, which is helpful but I learned a very important lesson I didn’t even know would be taught.  I’m a writer and would not give up writing for any reason or hardship.  This is what I want and one day, others will be entertained by the books I write.  

Why Women Have More Than One Pair of Shoes?

Two days ago in the bookstore, I spotted that same question on a book and I already knew that answer. The answer is something that in embedded in the nature of women.

Men are hunters. In centuries ago, men headed out and bagged whatever animal. An animal to feed and cloth their tribe until the next time. Whereas women, we went out and gathered. One piece of fruit wouldn’t do nay, our ancestors filled their baskets.

Nowadays, men head out to hunt. They hunt for resources some money, ladies, cars and anything else. They play sports and all that other manly stuff that shows off their masculine wonderfulness.

As for us ladies, we gather, bags, lipstick, shoes. Gathering shoes or anything else answers to our primal need and desires. Us female species look for resources, the necessaries in life. In these times, resources are different.

And though, I love strawberries and spaghetti and I love shoes that make my legs look good, the perfect red lipstick and every other item in between. So Jimmy Choo and Blahnik and Louboutain, keep flowering for the seasons.

Female Friday

I first saw Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story decades ago when TV had few channels and aired old black and white movie to fill up the channels. I watched her, in awe of her spunk, her confidence in herself and in the world around her. I thought wow I want to be a woman like that. I watched her movies, Bringing up Baby, African Queen, Lion in the Winter and On Golden Pond. I think I was the only 7 year old who watched that movie.

As I grew up and started figuring out how the world worked, my respect and awe of her grew. She donned pants when women were being escorted off the street even arrested. She had strong beliefs and spoken them never apologizing for her intelligence. And when her career tanked and she was considered box office poison, she turned her career around with the Philadelphia Story. I too wanted to have that strength and needed in my life when the life I knew and loved was shredded with my parents’ divorce.

I needed Katherine more than ever. I watched her lined face hanging and liver-spotted, her hair tucked up, heard her scratchy, posh voice and watched her hands shake. She hadn’t lost any of her spunk or intelligence. I never met her but she helped me decide on the woman I wanted to be. Katherine didn’t follow the beat of her own drum, she created the music. My music sometimes skips or hits a horrid note but Katherine taught me to Write a new song.

Ready, Set, Dress

RWA Nationals starts next Tuesday and I’m prepared. I have business cards and most importantly, my outfits are planned out and just waiting to be donned. I’ll be posting my daily dress so check back for that. I’m only missing a pair of comfortable shoes. I have a few ideas but will have to wait for weekend to check out my choices.

As a writer, I generally spend my day in comfortable clothing, old t-shirts, shorts, pj bottoms, sweats basically college gear, which really helps with my body pains. Anyway, I’m ready to dress and waiting to go to my first Nationals. Too attend the workshops, meet Rachel Gibson, the author who inspired me to write romance, meet friends from Twitter and Facebook. I will be weak, tired, overwhelmed, excited, happy, inspired and I think two weeks will be needed to recover but that’s fine.

This is a chance, an opportunity to mingle with a large crowd of romance writer, editors and agents. And I plan to dress for it in my personal style. And I’m hoping that it jolts up my confidence, has me feeling comfortable, stylish, professional, and ready to take on the world.

When was your chance to get closer to your dreams? Do you remember what you wore? How it made you feel?

Wednesday Review

Amanda Foreman with her daughter

Inside the June 2011 issue of Vogue with cover girl, Oscar winner Penelope Cruz looking her  usual gorgeous self, is a great article entitled Foreman on Fire.  The profile is on Amanda Foreman, writer of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.  

Writer Eve MacSweeney writes a great article about Amanda.  Eve peels back her layers to reveal the writer however preserving some of her privacy.  The voice of the article is easy as if she wrote about a respectable and loved friend.  Vogue has excellent writers to match their excellent content. 

Besides being entertained as a Vogue reader, I learned a few things that tilted my outlook so my viewpoint on life is fresher and brighter and most certainly, less worried.  How did all that happen in two and half pages? 

The first lesson taught me more about character.  Eve shows Amanda’s life that balances work and family.  Through this I see what is important to Amanda and can relate that to my characters.  You can read what drives Amanda to write and her love of history and how she relates it to today’s world.  And why her childhood and life led her to having five children and what she pushed aside to do what is important to her. 

Another lesson learned is the life of a writer.  Sure she might be an award-winning writer whose biography turned into a movie.  But one can relate to her.  She wrote Georgiana for years, which was also her doctorate at Oxford.  But you discover her passion.  The passion needed to work on a book with no promise of success after all that’s what all unpublished writers and some published writers face each time we sit down before our computers.  She reinforced my belief to follow your heart’s desires and not just with writing but with all that you desire, which for her was having a family. 

Those are the lessons that fueled me. I’m revving to go.  Good thing since I already started to follow them.  I hope you do too.  What are your passions?  Please share with me.

There’s No Crying in Baseball…

Tom Hanks’s famous line from A League of Their Own may be true but emotions rear up at any time or place. And maybe tears aren’t needed in baseball but emotions are required in stories especially romance novels. After all, love is the one emotion everyone chases after.

Thanks to another blog, I learned about the book, Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot: A Guide for Screenwriters written by Peter Dunne. Don’t let screenwriter turn you novelist away. It works whatever your genre.

The books offers a great many lessons but the first one is about knowing your story.
He separates this lesson into two parts:
1. Plot
2. Story

Plot is what happens and not just what happens but what happens to the protagonist.
Go ahead and read that sentence again.

Plot is what happens and not just what happens but what happens to the protagonist.

So you have the witness to a murder or a business collapse, a divorce or anything else that is outside the Protagonist. Some call it the External Conflict. This is what propels the pro tag to act.

Onto number 2– Story:
Story is what it does to the who it’s happening to.
Read it again and let it sink in.

Story is what it (the plot) does to the who (protag) it’s happening to.
So your witness now has to decide whether to go to the police or stay quiet. This plot is affecting him and his life.

These two parts are the units of a novel or script. And you can’t have one without the other.
So, you merge these two parts.

Let’s say our no-doubt-dashing hero and homicide detective, must find the murderer of the local football hero. The town where the murder occurred is hometown and as part of his job, he must notify the boy’s mother and his high-school girlfriend who broke his heart when she married his best friend. He plans to act professional and friendly without the warmth or how he always behaves with her. That’s his emotional defenses. He hides behind the badge and uses the distance to hide how much she hurt him.

When he arrives at her home, she throws herself into his arms and weeps. She tells him that she needs him. He promises to give his attention to finding her son’s murder. But his ex won’t give up, pulling at the emotion in him and so he tries a different way until he can get back to normal. Those skills he developed before have failed him.

Then something else happens. Let’s say, the victim is his son. So he has to use another tactic, use another skill to get back to his normal. Then something else happens and the protag must react and this repeats to the end of story and each time, he learns a new tool by reacting in a new way until his weakness is exposed. He might be unaware of the exposed weakness but he must change or fail.

This leads to our story’s climax when the character learns something. Here the emotion has to change because the hero has broken down his walls. Now he’s a better healed person for it.