Monday, December 3, 2007

The Tarnished Lifestyle

In my current book, A Proper Romance, prostitutes play a major role. When my heroine first arrives in Timberton, Wyoming territory, to her horror she is mistaken as the new town prostitute. Two prostitutes also play an integral part in bringing Cal and Mattie together. I done alot of research on them and some of the stories I found were simply so entertaining, I wanted to share them with you.

My favorite story is about the infamous 'Queen of Sporting Row', or rather, the reaction to her death by both men and women. Julia Bulette arrived in Virginia City and sat it on it's heels. She used her popularity with the townsmen to have the red light district moved from the shanty filled C street to brand new cabins on D street, that the men built I am assuming. This, of course, infuriated the townswomen. Julia surrounded her cottage with roses and geraniums, much to the horror of the townswomen, because these were $10 a pot! She recieved regular deliveries from San Francisco's most exclusive furrier and diamond store. One smitten customer gifted her with a team of white horses and a brand new phaeton.

The men even made Julia a member of Virginia City Engine Company Number One, and Julia didn't care how infuriated the decent women of town got over that fact, she marched in every parade and showed up whenever the alarm sounded, much to the dismay of whatever man was currently sharing her bed.

Julia was murdered and robbed, and much to the disgust of the towns women, their men rounded up a posse and tracked down her murders. When one of them was brought back for trial, he had a really comfortable sentence, because the towns women regarded him as a hero and brought him fried chicken and homemade pies, much to the disgust of the towns men.

This story actually plays a small part in my wip. My hero, who is the town's founding father, has a finger in many of the town's businesses including, you guessed it, a saloon with 'working girls'. My heroine, who is applying for a teaching post, arrives on the same train as the new prostitute. When Mattie reaches the saloon and Cal Holton first, well, let's just say she never had a job interview quite like that one before. The saloon and the sporting girls are a big problem for them to overcome. Cal sees them as a way to make alot of money. Mattie sees it as a debasement of women.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Interesting Tidbits

I can remember reading a Sunfire romance when I was 14 years old called Caroline. Caroline was trying to get to California to find her brothers and ended up cutting her long golden hair and masquerading as a boy to get there. At that time, I thought that was one of the best stories I had ever read. As I've gotten older, I often wonder how accurate these stories are. Could a woman masquerade as a man successfully? Could she, as a man, travel clear across the country and maintain the facade?

Evidently, she could. Case in point. Charlie Parkhurst.

Charlie Parkhurst was a stagecoach driver, evidently a very successful one. He drove stage in some of the wildest towns during the Gold Rush, and after his death was eulogized in papers as, "one of the most dexterous and celebrated of California stage drivers", according to the San Francisco Morning Call. It is believed that Charlie even gut shot a bandit that was trying to rob his stage, the man eventually died from the wounds. Charlie had been kicked by a horse he was shoeing and lost his eye, thereafter wearing a black leather patch on his scarred face. Charlie lived up into his sixties smoking, chewing, swearing, drinking, and gambling. At his death, when friends came to lay him out, they were shocked to find that Cock-eyed Charlie was a woman. His business partner and long-time friend, Frank Woodward, evidently was so shocked that he went into a cussing fit over it, even going so far as to ask another friend if he was, indeed, still a man. And, it seems, that Charlie Parkhurst was also the first woman in the United States to vote in a presidental election, decades before women got the vote in Wyoming!

So here is proof that a woman can successfully maintain a disguise, and did. Oh, the possibilities this brings to my mind. The what-if's start rumbling around my brain and scenes start forming. This is why I write western romances. The story I could make from this scenario.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dealing With Life

If anyone still checks this blog, I thank you for sticking around during my absence. Right after my last post, life got in the way in triple time.

My niece was diagnosed with AML Luekemia, that was so scary, I can't even describe it to you. But after intensive chemo, which she is still undergoing, I am happy to say that she is now in remission. We just pray that she stays that way for the next five years, and then they can say she is cancer free.

My mother was diagnosed with a heart condition, the bottom half of her heart is only working at 30%. The call she got from the doctor after she had an ultra-sound on her heart scared the bejeezus out of us. They told her it didn't look good and was referring her to a cardiologist. That's it. Then we had to wait a month for the appointment. Scary time-thinking something is critically wrong your Mom. My Mom is one of the most important people in my life, the thought of something happening to her really floored me. It totally knocked me off kilter.

I said, triple time, didn't I? Yes, this whine fest is not over. The third problem was me. I had a serious case of writer's block. Even though I wanted to write, I couldn't. I would type something and then read it and hit delete. Nothing I put down sounded good to me and I seriously started to doubt myself as a writer. So I decided to step back from it, just to see if I could. And I couldn't. The stories I have started kept coming to mind and I would think of what I wanted to do with it and where I wanted the story to go, and even thought up a new story altogether. So, I am getting back in the groove, calling up my muse, and dusting off my mojo. Time to get back to what I love.

Here's to writers, doing what they love because they just can't help themselves.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another Congratulations!

One of my critique partners, Pamela Bolton-Hollifield, has won the Royal Ascot contest! She just got the news tonight, and I am breaking it here for all of those stuck at home during the conference.

I am so excited for her, because she is such a wonderful person and truly deserves this. People, I am telling you, her story is one of the best ones going (think Kathryn Caskie and Teresa Medeiros meets Jane Austen). It is a lovely story with humor and emotions. I feel privledged to have read it. Hmm, yes, I guess I am bragging, but who wouldn't?

I am new to the whole contest scenario, but I am hearing that the Royal Ascot is a biggie and I am so proud of Pam for winning it! Let's all give her a huge congrats, because she really deserves it.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Passing of a Legend

I heard today about the passing of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Another legend has passed into history. I still have my first copy of her book, The Wolf and The Dove, on my book shelf, tightly pressed between others to keep the covers in place because I've read it so much that I've worn them off.

When I first started writing it was because of Kathleen Woodiwiss and LaVyrle Spencer. I wanted to write a romance that touched people in the same way their books touched my teenage soul. I loved the eloquence that they wrote with and the emotion they managed to instill in the written word. They gave me a deep love of romance that is still with me 23 years later.

Words can never say how much I admire someone like Ms. Woodiwiss, who managed to write for all of these years, and kept her fans reading until the end.

I extend my deepest sympathy to the entire Woodiwiss family.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Well Deserved Congratulations

A quick post to let everyone know that three of my critique partners moved on to the second round of the Molly contest.

I am so proud of these ladies, they have inspired me and helped me more than words can say, and I am so tickled for them. They all deserve to win, in my book.

So a big congratulations to Gillian Layne, Pam Bolton-Hollifield, and Marianne Harden! Way to go Ladies!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Deep thoughts on Deep Thoughts

One of my critique partners asked a question yesterday that got me thinking. She wanted to know how you knew (as the author) when to put deep internal monologues into your story. I pondered, I questioned myself, and I hope I gave her a decent answer.

But then I got to wondering, How do you know when to go to deep thinking? Some of my favorite authors do this, and I wondered if any of you soon to be published authors do it. I am sure there is a different way for every writer, just as there are different writing styles.

My way: I get down the first draft and this ends up being more telling than showing. To me, the first draft is to tell me where I want the story to go. I will put a thinking segment in only if neccessary, to highlight how I want the scene to feel, and move on. When I am on the second draft, I switch my story to showing. I describe things, I put in the senses, and I go inside their heads. This was really hard for me at first. Remember, this is the first time I've stuck to one story line for longer than the next idea strikes me. I had to get to know these people I had invented. How to do it?

I love to scrapbook, and I play with my digital scrapbooking when stuck. Procrastination? Not really, it frees my mind and random thoughts come to me. As I was making a layout, I thought to myself, 'Scrapbooking would be something Mattie would have done.' Scrapbooking was really popular between 1880 to 1890, and my story is set in 1883. Mattie came from the East and I am sure she would have chronicled her trip West, and then the town she settled in. So I made a page done by Mattie. I found pictures of the models for my h/h, I made small diary entries for them, and I took quotes from my book. None of this will be in the book, of course, but it made them real to me. Two hours of playing, er I mean character development, and I KNEW these two characters.

When I went back to my WIP, their thoughts were so much clearer to me. I could see why Mattie would pick a fight with Cal for kissing her, I could see why Cal would get mad at her for doing so. I took out alot of unneccessary stuff (secondary characters that I was basically using for fillers) and started filling in the gaps with their thoughts. Mattie and Cal became real to me somehow through something I love to do. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have to do what I say.

So, what about all of you, how do you get to know your characters? Do you do character worksheets? Or do you take a more unconventional approach, like me?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

(Wo) Man Vs. Machine

I bought a new computer several months ago. I was sharing one with my three kids and my youngest had this really bad habit of deleting everything. After he had done this twice to my current WIP, I figured it would be easier to have a computer for just my writing. No games to tempt the children allowed on it. It would be my own personal computer (like the other was before the kids discovered it.) It is the greatest idea I've had in a long time. A long time, like the last time I bought a computer.

I had been typing away on Microsoft Works Word Processor. I knew how to do nothing on it but type. If I needed formatting done, I was on the phone with my sister while she talked me through it. And then I got my new computer!!! It was love. No more calling my sister to format, because Word was so easy to use. No more wondering, 'Did I save that before closing it?', because Word automatically saved it for me. I was in love. I was in heaven. I wrote the complete first draft of my current wip on Word in three months. Please, remember that three month comment, because it is important.

I started revising my wip. I wrote up my synopsis' on Word and saved them. Heck, I was so in love with Word, I transferred all of my wips to it! Halfway into my revisions, as in I was on page 216, I log on one morning, open my book and HELLO! what is this message? I am using a trial version of Word, not the full. Oh, okay. So I click the button to go to their homepage and get a product number to make it a full version. (Let me interrupt here to tell you all that I am a tightwad. There is always someone in my family (hello, Sis) making fun of me for my motto, If it ain't on sale, I don't need it.) I about died. They wanted a lot for this kit, just so I could have Word to write on. Hmm, no thank you, I say. I have yet to sale a book and this was just an expense I couldn't justify to myself. I wrote on Works for years, I could go back to it and finish there. WRONG.

So, I pop open my wip. It comes up with the link to Word, wanting me to buy it. Not happening, I say. So I decide, and even told my crit group, that I would just retype everything into Works and work on it there. Unfortunately, everything I saved, went to Word format. I could not work on anything. So, being the genius that I am not, I decide Word is the problem and need to get rid of it. I removed the program off of the computer. For all of you out there wondering, this was a BIG mistake. Because my documents were made by Word, I could no longer access them. At all.

I cried. I raged. I was deciding to give up writing altogether because if I am dumb enough to screw up typing, I don't need to be doing it. As I am sitting there staring forlornly at my document folder, planning the post to my group that the resident idiot has shot herself in the foot one too many times, my 12 year old daughter walks over, looks over my shoulder, and says, "Open it in Wordpad, Mom."

I gape at her. "What? What in the (deleted) is Wordpad?"

She rolls her eyes, tells me to move and proceeds to open all of my documents up in this mysterious Wordpad. I am happy, until I have to format. I ask daughter, she shrugs, "I don't know what format means." I pull the earbuds out of older sons ears and ask him. "God, Mom, just buy the program." And sticks the earbuds back in. Hubby arrives home, well, he is no help because he knows less about computers than me. But he catches on to my current mood and demands that I just buy the (deleted) program so the family can have some peace and quiet. Humph. I slink off to the computer and go to ebay, surely I can buy it cheaper there. Two weeks of auctions, and I am still losing every one of them. I finally broke down and go to Amazon. I ended up paying the same price as Microsoft, BUT that included shipping. So, I feel like I got a deal, even though all I done was stress everyone around me out for three weeks and ended up paying the equivalent of the full price for the download.

So, I am back to revising. I now own Word, which I am back in love with. Oh, and I discovered that I can scrapbook in PowerPoint (thanks to my kids, who totally freaked out when they discovered it was on the disk), so I am currently loving spending my evenings relaxing and making cute layouts on the computer. Not sure where they go when I save them, but I am sure I can talk one of the kids into telling me. Someday.

Do any of you miss the days of the typewriter? During this past month, I often found myself wishing that I had kept my old electric typewriter, I knew how to work it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Tribute to My Mom

This post is all about Patsy McGlothlin, my mom.

Things I associate with Mom. Jontue perfume. Whenever I smell this perfume, I think of Mom. She has worn this perfume from earliest memory and continues wearing it to this day. I recall my sister giving her a different perfume one year, and I believe it was an expensive bottle, but I know for a fact that it is still sitting, unused, on her bathroom counter alongside a nearly empty bottle of Jontue.

Reading I have always associated with Mom. She taught me to read on a book of mouse stories, which influenced one of the greatest activities I do with my own kids. The mouse lies on the ground and stares at the clouds, seeing pictures in it. I can remember reading that story and making my Mom come outside and picture clouds with me. And when my kids were little we done the same thing, with my mom right beside of us staring up at the sky.

Cooking is always something I associate with Mom, after all she had five kids and it seemed to me that she was always cooking. Imagine my surprise when just a mere few months ago, I mentioned to her how much I hate cooking and she told me that she did too! But, Mom, I sputtered, you were always cooking. Yes, and you kids were always hungry, she replied. I sat there after the phone conversation thinking, How simple. She never complained about the hours in front of the stove (people in this house would love it if I took that gene from her, but I complain long and loud over hating to cook), and I reached the ripe old age of 35 before she ever said a word about not liking it, let alone hating it as passionately as I do. Amazing.

Niceness has always been an intergral part of my mom. She raised two handicapped daughters and taught the other three of us to not only tolerate, but to accept everyone for who and what they are. She was the mom in the Ford Escort with her own five kids, and numerous additions of the neighbors, taking us to cheerleading, football, Special Olympics, and various other activities. With a smile, singing along with the music on the radio, which was loud by neccessity and settling arguments that were bound to break out in an Escort full of teenage kids. And the only kid she ever forgot to pick up was me. She had the neighbors kids all home when I called and asked her if she forgot anyone. You could hear the confusion in her voice when she asked where I was. At school, I answered. What are you doing there? she asked. Waiting to go home, I said. She laughed, even if I wasn't amused and still won't let her forget it.

Strength of character comes to mind after that post, because the good Lord knows she had every reason not to be nice. She was abused. Some of my earliest memories are of the beatings my own dad inflicted on her. Her second marriage wasn't much better, except the abuse was mental instead of physical, which in some ways I think was harder to deal with. But she didn't let that make her mean and violent, she always encouraged and loved us and I think that says more about my Mom than anything ever could. She is a survivor. She survived life and I believe she has come through with flying colors. I pray that I come through it as well as she has.

Mom, I love you. You've been the one sure thing in my life and my biggest supporter in all things and words can never tell you how much I love and respect everything about you. Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Today I feel as if I am actually making headway on becoming an author. In a weird way. I got my first rejection from an agent and although I should probably be disappointed, I'm not. I am actually pretty excited to get it. It was my first query and I know that it stunk and they probably rolled their eyes and said, "God, save us from such enthusiastic amatuers." But I thought the rejection was very polite and it made me feel goood that I had actually tried.

Also today, I mailed out my first contest submission. I should have tried entering contests before submitting, I believe, but I never really knew they were out there. No one's fault but my own as everything is on the internet and you just need to find it. I really need to thank my critique group for this one. They read, and reread, and reread again for me as I switched this and changed that. What a great bunch of Ladies to have in my corner!

While both of those things probably aren't big steps, to me they are. I am showing myself that I am dedicated to this and striving for it. So, I look forward to the next rejection letter. And the next. After that, I might start to get discouraged. Have any of you made any small steps lately that felt like giant leaps forward?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Learning to Choose My Words

I am certain that the hardest part of writing is revising your work. I have finished the first draft of my book. I am now at the hard part. Revising it into something coherent. I printed out the first draft and sat down with it. Well with parts of it because this was thick. 360+ pages thick. And I had to edit it.
That isn't the hard part. The hard part is when you start reading what you wrote and you realize that you have to delete what you've slaved over. My finger hovers nervously over the delete button while I wonder, Does this really need to go? The answer is almost always, Yes. After trying to reword numerous ways and even reading it out loud to myself, it is time to admit that it just doesn't work. It is a heart breaking experience to look at the words you put down with love going the way of the trashbin. It was hard, as hard as putting my kids on the bus the first day of school was. But I did it, even though I wanted to cry.
And you know what? Unlike the kids starting school, which didn't get easier as the next one went, this did. I learned to look at the words on the page and see them as either important to the story I want to tell, or not. I learned that the delete button can be my friend.
I am hoping that this is a good sign. If I can delete what I wrote while thinking, God, did I write that? then this has to get easier the more I do it. Doesn't it? Anyone out there going through revisions for the first time? Anyone else suffering the trauma of sending your words spinning into the great trashbin on the computer?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Diving Into the World of Writing

Like so many of you aspiring authors out there, I jumped and then looked at where I was going. I love to write. I have been writing in secret since I was a teenager and have only recently thought about writing as a career. Okay, so in my high school paper I put being a published author as my life goal, I was joking (I think). I digress, I started sharing my writings. First it was just my sister, who gave me tremendous feedback but heck, she's my sister, she has to give me terrific feedback or I'll tell everyone her secrets. Then I joined the Avon FanLit competition and was amazed at some of my feedback there. I was in a Sally Field kind of daze when I came in 9th place during the last round. I didn't win, but I persevered and accomplished something I never thought I would do. I let other people read my writing and some of them liked it. Some of them hated it, true enough, but I am an optimist and perfer to look at the glass half full, some of them liked it.

I joined a critique group. I wrote a book in two months. I am facing the scary possibity of searching out an agent. That is so scary to me, I have nightmares over the agents reading some of my work, or just my query letters and having themselves a fun filled time of laughing over it. During my reading and research on agents, they said I need to get my name out there. I needed a webpage. ACK! I can barely format my manuscript. The thought of a webpage actually causes hives to break out on me. Not a pretty sight. I am doing this in small steps. I am going to blog, see how that goes, and then leap from there.

Wish me luck in my endeavors, I have a feeling I am going to need alot of it. Any aspiring authors out there who would like to share their experiences? Any advice for a newbie romance author in mid-dive?