Throwback Thursday: Daddy’s Girl?

I don’t have a date for this book cover, Dad is no longer with us, so I can’t ask, but Amazon says the book was published in 1962. That’s definitely in the pre-Anna days, when I was not yet a glint in my biological father’s eye.

Since I’m adopted, I don’t share any DNA with my father,  Rudolph J. Carrasco, but one place where we always had a shared interest was art. Dad was always a working artist through my entire life, both in the commercial field (family friends say he did several book covers around the same time he did Party of Dreamers) and his own original art.  As a very small child, I remember seeing him paint over a family portrait of our neighbors (the parents had emigrated from Scotland, which may have been an early contributor to my love of the UK) and not understanding what he was doing, but fast forward a few decades, and we call that mixed media art now. I’ve slapped paint over more than a few pictures myself in my day.

Since the statute of limitations is likely over by now, I can freely confess to sneaking into his studio as a wee sprog and making off with his supplies, always careful to put them back exactly where I found them (paper excepted, and I always remembered where the good stuff was.) I asked him for art instruction. He declined. That may have been for the best, as my taste and his didn’t have a lot of common ground, but, in his later years, he loved when I brought him art magazines while he had hid dialysis treatments, and asked to keep a special issue of Somerset Studio devoted to color theory.  Though we had our differences, some of them large, I’m glad we had art in common.



Throwback Thursday: Duluth, Part One

I sometimes forget the lessons of my past. We all have them. But don’t worry they come back to remind you that your journey isn’t over.
-Adrian Paul

I normally don’t do Throwback Thursday, but blogging three times per week is one of my goals, and since I am not going to show up at my next CR-RWA meeting (especially because I will be the speaker) on February 14th and say I did not meet my goals (if I make a goal public, I will meet that or die trying; it’s something I do) and because Sue Ann Porter has a way of encouraging me, today, you get to hop in my wayback machine.

The year was 2013, our family newly arrived in Albany, my writer brain in a constant state of shock and caught between projects. I had only recently discovered the joys of Hudson River Coffee House, where I am writing this entry. On this particular day, date lost to the wilds of time, Housemate banished me there after one of my mild freakouts (“What on earth am I doing, thinking I can write anymore?” variety) and said I had to write something. So, there was this:

2012 was one of those years. Family health issues. Planning and carrying out an interstate move when one family member was not physically able to make any of the apartment hunting trips. Carrying out said move in stages, one of them involving sending one family member into a hurricane to carry out said stage solo because another did not want a third anxiety attack that week. A first trip to the hospital from our new home. Changes in important relationships. Buying a second snow shovel because we live in Albany and it’s winter and one shovel is not going to dig us out properly.

2013 is an unknown quantity. I’m letting one ms settle and diving into another. It scares me. What on earth am I getting myself into? Fear. The bad kind. Fear. The good kind.

What’s the difference between the two? Good question. When I find out, I will let you know, but I’ll give it a stab (and stabbing does seem like a good option at times, the object of which can vary.)

Bad fear = what if every bad thing anybody ever said about my writing is true? What if it’s true and I have no other marketable skills? What if I really do suck? What if I suck and there was something I could have done to not suck but I didn’t do it and now it’s too late to fix it because I really do suck and it’s all my fault? What if I have to live with the wanting to write and the needing to write and never being able to write for the rest of my life ? DOOM! DOOM!DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!

Good fear = I have never done X before, but it could be fun. Am I really doing it right?

:pokes X with a stick, then scuttles back a safe distance to observe:

:comes back, presuming the poking of X did not result in personal death or obliteration of all humankind; pokes X again. Repeat until done, then poke something else.:

Do I have all the answers? No. Do I have  my answers? Maybe. Let me look around the bottom of my purse a while longer. Or fumble my way through manuscript B and occasionally poke A with a stick. There is fear, both kinds. There are times I feel like I can’t find my way back to my normal writing self any more than I can find my way to Apartment Four, 738 North Anything Street in Duluth, Minnesota. At night. In a snowstorm. On foot. Wearing earplugs. During a blackout. In the zombie apocalypse. One thing is sure, though; if I never take one step, I’ll never get there.

So. This is a step. Today, I wrote. Is it a completed work of fiction between eighty and one hundred thousand words in my chosen genre? No. Is it real? Yes. Is it true? Yes. Is it finished? Yes. Did it bring me one step closer to that mythical apartment in Duluth? Yes. Are the residents expecting me? Maybe. I’ll find out when I get there. So will you. We all have a Duluth. I firmly believe that, and I firmly beleive that putting one foot in front of the other will eventually get you there. Maybe you’re on the right track now, and maybe you’ll need to circle the world a time or two, but the surest way to make sure you never get there is to not try. Right foot, left foot. Right foot, left foot. Right foot, left foot. Dress in layers. Stay hydrated. Rest, and then continue. Fill the well. Write something. Ask for directions. Right foot, left foot. Right foot, left foot. See you there.

Throwback Thursday, Historical Romance Division: November of the Heart by LaVyrle Spencer

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Out of all of LaVyrle Spencer’s books, and I have loved all of them that I’ve read, all of the historicals, and even dipped my toes into one contemporary, Separate Beds, November of the Heart is the one that sticks with me the most. That’s saying a lot. I have to confess, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have had more than one friend (two, at my best recollection) yell at me via email, because they didn’t know this book was going to have so many feelings. That’s why I love it.

One friend even said the title was “too sad” for her, but again, the title sold me right away. I love November, the month of coziness and deliciousness and giving thanks and  world full of color and scent and the holidays only a glimmer away. Turn of the century Minnesota is not an overplowed field in the historical romance world, and the all important annual regatta means everything to both the wealthy father of heroine Lorna and Jens, a boatbuilder pressed into service as a waiter. Slipping plans for a prize winning boat into one’s employer’s dessert is a recipie for disaster, but it also opens the door for a grand and glorious love that defies class barriers.

Lorna and Jens are star crossed lovers, Lorna drawn to Jens and his boat, their connection -it goes beyond attraction- gets tried by class, by time, by life, but when Jens and Lorna finally say the hell with everything that keeps them apart, I want to take a victory lap and toss confetti.  If LaVyrle Spencer ever wants to come out of retirement, I am leaving the porch light on for  her. If not, what she’s left us with is still magnificient.

Throwback Thursday, Historical Romance Division

Wild Bells to the Wild Sky by Laurie McBain

Wild Bells to the Wild Sky by Laurie McBain

It’s that time again.  Wild Bells to the Wild Sky, by Laurie McBain, is one of those books. The all time favorites, the ones where I have only to hear the names of the hero and heroine -in this case, Lily Christian and Valentine Whitelaw, how perfect are those?- to immediately reimmerse myself in their romance and adventure. 

This book has huge servings of both. Set in the Elizabethan era, largely on a deserted island, Lily and her brother grow up wild and in seclusion. Lily, her mother, and a family friend are the sole survivors of a shipwreck, the sole inhabitants of the island…until mother and friend produce Lily’s brother, that is. Ahem. Then fever takes the parents, and Queen Elizabeth sends courtier Valentine Whitelaw in search of the missing party, and then things really get interesting. 

History, intrigue, romance, fabulous locations, a clever heroine and dashing hero, gorgeous descriptions, and one of my top five historical romance endings of all time make this book one I go back to time and again. 

Since we’re waxing nostalgic on Thursdays, here are a few recent things I’ve been up to: 

Guest Post at Savvy Authors: From a Certain Perspective, It’s All Fan Fiction: From Fan Fiction to Fantastic Fiction begins on September 1st, so I’m delighted to get to blabber about the useful tools we can find in the books, movies, tv and music we already love. Drop by and try a fun exercise to combine old favorites in new ways. 

Outlander “Sassenach” recap at Heroes and Heartbreakers: Cue incomprehensible squeeing, Jamie and Claire are now on the small screen, and I’ll be recapping each new episode as it airs. How cool is that, I get to watch Outlander and say I’m working. 

 1 Line Wednesday on Twitter, always a highlight of my week. 


What are you reading? 

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

Inspired by Zeee at Buried Under Romance, my historical romance offering for Throwback Thursday: Lovesong by Valerie Sherwood

The year was 1985. The place was Montpelier, Vermont. The book was Lovesong by Valerie Sherwood, and my friend, Karen, had chased me across campus to physically put the book in my hand. When I asked her why she’d gone to all that trouble when we lived in the same dorm and she could have waited for me to come down the hall, she replied she wanted to be the one to give it to me, as it was going to be my new favorite book.

She was right. After many years and many books, the story of Carolina Lightfoot, the Tidewater planter’s daughter who became the fabled Silver Wench of the seas, and the dashing privateer, Kells, aka Rye Evistock, still remains a strong favorite. There were two more books, Windsong and Nightsong, about Carolina and Kells, and through this book, I found one of my all time favorite authors in Valerie Sherwood, aka Jeanne Hines, aka Rosamund Royal, and fell head over heels in love with the seventeenth century as well as the illustrations of cover artist Elaine Duillo. 

So, Karen, wherever you are, thanks. It was worth the chase. Seriously.