Beautiful Mess

Before heading off to jury duty on Monday morning, I wanted to make a copy on my printer, but A) the printer jammed, and B) my bulletin board fell on my head. Literally.

Imagine this dropping on your cranium.

Imagine this dropping on your cranium.

For that one endless “what just happened here?” split second, I stood, bent over, stock still. Um, whut? Oh. Right. There is a big, heavy, flat object with pointy things sticking out of it on my head. I should probably move it. Which I did, and set it back atop my secretary desk, to lean it against the wall. The judicial system needed me (until it didn’t) and I had to be off, because Real Life Romance Hero and I had a bus to catch. Which we also did, and, to be honest, I hadn’t given the bulletin board that much thought since then, because jury duty and dead phone and errands and writing and critting and such. Today, though, I was determined not to whinge about my phone for two days in a row.

This board is vintage, and has been in place since the day we moved in, and I asked Real Life Romance Hero to remove the mirror that was already there, because I didn’t want to look at my own face all day while I wrote. (We will not mention my current penchant for my laptop’s camera; I had neither penchant nor laptop at the time.) So, up went the bulletin board, and, for the longest time, it had nothing on it, or precious little. I’d wanted the board to be packed full of inspiration, but, at that time, I was deep in my slump. Inspiration was basically nil. I put up some random crud. Wrappers from tea bags, the front of a tea box (hey, I like tea.) Greeting cards from friends? Sure. (Note: I love getting snail mail and cherish such, from friends old or new.) Pretty pins that aren’t even holding anything? Eh, why not?  My printer at the time was down, so no way to print new things that reflected what was really going on inside my skull, even if a lot (okay, most) of it was an incomprehensible jumble that wasn’t producing much.

The only intentional item on the board from its original incarnation is this:

I *will* write Angus and Summer's story at some point. Still in the resting phase at the moment.

I *will* write Angus and Summer’s story at some point. Still in the resting phase at the moment.

The central image of this partially-printed printout of a collaged folder is most of the inspiration image for the original form of the time travel romance that has been, at various points, Endless Summer, Wild Highland Waltz, and a couple of other things. It was originally-originally The Boys of Summer, after the Don Henley song and video that was part of the impetus for the original idea. A more marketable title would probably be something along the lines of MacLaren’s Lady, but Summer would hate that, and she is a strongly opinionated character. She’d probably kick butt in a postapocalyptic story, but Angus is definitely a man of his time (16th century Scotland) so I have no idea what the final form of their true story will end up being, but I do know that they will get their HEA, once they’re done simmering. Trying to write too soon, before I know my story people and their world as fully as I need is a bad habit I a currently learning how to break. Angus and Summer are only resting, probably burning off some bad juju, or letting some voices that didn’t need to be in my head, evaporate.

Inspiration and reminders...

Inspiration and reminders…

Current bunch of stuff in the middle of the board is two of those random things, and a printout of a calendar page by my all time favorite romance illustrator, Elaine Duillo. Illustration is also the cover of one of those amazing lush historicals that fuel my fire, but author and title are escaping me at present. The figures remind me so much of my own current hero and heroine, though, that it had to go up, and counts as the first intentional addition to the board since its inception. Go, me.

Two smaller piece of paper are quotes. Purple paper’s quote says “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” and is by Voltaire. Cream paper’s quote says, “You’re in the factory. Make the product,” and is more of a nomad, coming from (please correct me if I’m wrong) Chuck Wendig, filtered through K.A. Mitchell, filtered through me.  I won’t go into the minutiae of who, exactly, said what, exactly, but what stuck with me enough to write it down and put it on my board is,  “You’re in the factory. Make the product.” The product here, in my case, is historical romance novels.

Mission statement-ish.

Mission statement-ish.

Page from my much-loved paper mousepad bears two descriptions of the way I want to be viewed as a writer. Top entry came out of Barbara Samuel’s class on writer’s voice, and the other came from my own head some time later, because having only those three lines on that big paper bothered me. To save any squinting:

Complex, intelligent, lushly detailed historical romance that packs an emotional punch
(the “intelligent” being the instructor’s addition, and was not in my original answer to the prompt)


“Strong heroes, strong heroines, and a romance worthy of history.”

Either one of those would be amazing review. To get one, however, I need to A) promote my current backlist, and 2) keep writing new books and getting them out there.

Some days, the work comes easy. Some days, the work comes hard. Some days, we literally get hit over the head with reminders of why we’re in this writing business in the first place.


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