The Year So Far

Maybe three days is a wee bit soon to be looking at a year in review, but maybe it’s also a good way to make sure things are going according to plan. Monday, I planned my day to a fare-thee-well, though I did not put “take picture of planner page” on my to-do list, and my phone is, at the moment, at the other end of the house, so you’re going to have to take my word on that one. Having all my tasks laid out in advance actually felt like a huge relief. My critique session with N, on Tuesday, was right there, so, by gum, I was going to have pages to hand in to her.

Never mind that, as soon as I opened the file, the scene told me it wanted to open differently than the way I had it, and I didn’t have the description of the room right -I’d picked the wrong details, as one often does in a first draft- and this could be so much better. Cue furious typing, followed by furious backspacing, followed by more furious typing, followed by the uttering of indelicate language when Housemate’s arrival marked the end of the session, and it was time to wrap things up so we could head to the library to print (because I have reached the end of my abilities in trying to find what the heck the printer wants before it will cough up my pages, and it is now time to call in the pros.) Which is when we remembered the library would be closed, for the holiday. No problem, off to Staples we went. Awesome worker saw they were manuscript pages and told me not to worry about the cost. I take this as a sign. (Probably that she needed to help another customer, but allow me my  moment.)

Back when I lived in the Old Country, and attended a weekly critique group, when a crit went especially well, I would spend the ride home feeling as though I were flying. The same thing would happen when a once-upon-a-time friend and I would critique through snail mail. That this is why I am alive feeling, that isn’t followed by I’ll never do this or everybody else is better than me, but by mental self-fives and victory laps and a desire to do nothing else but get right back to that story as soon as humanly possible and go, go, go. That one. I had it again. Good feedback from N, who also has the start of a most excellent romance novel her own self, and it left me with that flying feeling, a good thing to have when I walked into a small domestic tornado, but no biggie. I got story going on here. Well, stories, but that’s not the important part.

The important part happened Monday afternoon, when I realized I’d missed a big opportunity to make Hero’s first appearance show who he was when the story started, and I had a ticking clock on how much time I had in which to fix that. Which is when the whole brain outlook thing shifts and forget everything else; I am fixing this scene clicks into place. The thing where the writer growls at family members who dare to interrupt, where “yes” or “no” both get substituted with “when I’m done with this scene.” Because, at that moment, the real world is that scene. I like when that happens.

Something else happened this week. When I checked yesterday’s mail, I found this literally on my doorstep:


That sound is my heart going pitty-pat, because Beatriz Williams is one of my all-time favorite authors, and this is an ARC of her newest trip back to the 1920s (and 90s,) The Wicked City. Double pitty-pat, because, along with the gorgeous period-perfect (these books are my historical verisimilitude goals) postcards, was a personal note:


I still haven’t decided if this is going in an art journal or in a frame on my office wall, but it’s inspiration in more ways than one. My very first exposure to the historical romance genre was Bertrice Small. Before her marriage to George Small, Bertrice Small was Bertrice Williams. I know there’s no connection. (Maybe Beatriz Williams read a Bertrice Small novel at some point; I don’t know. Maybe she hasn’t.)  Beatriz is a form of the name Beatrice (I am also a name nerd in addition to being a historical romance nerd; I have been collecting name books since I was eight) and Bertrice is a created name, to honor one of that esteemed lady’s beloved relatives. There’s not a connection, but there is, for me.

Both women are authors whose storytelling and ability to make the historical eras in which they write feel as real and immediate as the modern day. They do/have done what I want to do, give readers an entire world, populated by people of its time, and make them feel the story in a real and visceral manner, rather than observe it from afar. Like I said, goals. The name nerd in me likes that the two names are similar, and having a personal note, well, that’s extra special. Pretty sure, now, that this baby is going on the wall, over my desk, so I can see it every day.

Three days into the new year, I have a system in place that lets me know what I’m doing and the time I have in which to accomplish it. I don’t have to write a whole book (and a half) at one time, only this one scene, and I have my list of things the scene has to do, right here at hand. So far, so good. Now for the next 362 days.


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