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Monthly Archives: August 2009

A writing post today and just my opinion, as well.

I do not pretend to be an expert on True Blood, the hit HBO Series based on the books by Charlaine Harris, but I have become a fan of the TV series. A romance with a vampire hero is not exactly my cup of tea, and I rarely read a paranormal (but I love that friends like Carolyn write them!), so why am I tuning in every week?

I think it has to do with the characters. I love complex characters, those who are not wholly good or wholly bad but a mixture of the two. They experience pain, make mistakes, have flaws, but also are courageous, heroic, loving, loyal. Almost every character in True Blood is complex (except maybe Sookie, the primary heroine, although she is brave, loyal, and interesting in her own right).

The male characters are especially compelling.

Bill, of course, has all kinds of dark secrets. He is a vampire, after all. What I find most compelling of him is his single-minded love of Sookie. Even though external events and their differences (one being human, the other vampire) drive them apart, he is always there for her when she needs him. If he cannot reach her, you see his pain for not being able to save her. The hero who is unwavering in his love for the heroine is one readers can love.

Sam seems to be the Beta hero of the series. He is the perennial good-guy, but also has the dark secret of being a shape-shifter. In season two he is battling the mysterious Maryann, with whom he has a “past.” As a hero, a Beta with secrets and private suffering is also a great addition to any story. We want him to find love, because he so clearly deserves a good woman to love.

Eric is the darkest, most Alpha of the True Blood heroes. A vampire leader, he is dark and dangerous and powerful, but he also leaves the impression (to me, at least) that he has a secret good side. It keeps us guessing on whether he will be proved good or bad in the end.

We know Bill will protect Sookie at all costs; we know Sam will behave with decency; we don’t know about Eric. In the right story any one of these heroes would make the reader fall in love with him.

One more thing I want to say about True Blood. Each episode ends with a strong hook, one that makes you want to tune in to the next episode. This is the way to end a chapter! Keep them turning the pages.

What do you think of the heroes and characters of True Blood? If you don’t watch the series, what do you think makes for complex characters. Who is your favorite complex character (in the series or not) and why?

(Note: Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie, and Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill, just got engaged in real life!) Photos by Creative Commons

I’m almost done with my second “soldiers” book! Stay tuned to my website for the latest news about my books.

Hello from the midwest! My son and I are on our annual two-week visit to Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, to be exact, so he can attend sailing school.

(Whenever I say that, I am hit by liberal PC guilt, as though it’s entitled and all for me to talk about sailing school. Which is run by the Minnetonka Yacht Club, fer chrissakes. And it is all entitled and stuff, but it’s a great opportunity for him, so I gotta just feel guilty and move on).

So I’ve been without son for at least seven hours every day, sometimes longer, depending. Bliss!

But, as I know better than anyone, I can procrastinate like nobody’s business. So today, my friend Liz Maverick and I had a virtual writing date: We got onto IM, I set a timer for 20 minutes, IMed “20 minutes–GO!” and we both wrote, not letting distractions like email or random cups of tea get in the way. It was an amazing way to work, and we were both stunned by our productivity. I wrote 1800 words, good words, too, which is almost twice what a ‘good’ writing day is for me.

When we are in the same state, Liz and I do the same thing at one of our houses; we set our laptops opposite each other, set a timer in-between (mine is painted like a ladybug, and I try not to set the ladybug butt opposite Liz, ’cause that bothers her), and we write for designated periods.

I think this method works for us because we are both competitive (as in, “I don’t want that bitch to have written more than me/I can sit in this chair pounding at the keyboard for longer than her”), both like companionship and if one of us is stuck on a plot point or something, we can just wave a hand and take a time-out. It’s really great, especially if you work alone most of the time, wich most writers do.

Today, actually, Liz and I brainstormed on IM about my hero’s backstory, and just a few minutes of back and forth conversation really helped me understand him. And hey, surprise, he looks like a cross between Clive Owen and Richard Armitage. Seriously, if I were any more predictable I’d be a Barbara Cartland novel.

I am back to writing a Regency-set historical, and I am loving it. It’s got the most “me” voice I’ve ever tried, besides my first book, which took three tries to get the voice right. Here’s a peek, as it stands now:

This was quite possibly the most boring evening he’d spent since he’d had his first drink, James thought as he walked into the room. The same dull people gossiping about other dull people, the same petty intrigues and scandals only obfuscating the inevitable ennui that enveloped every member of Society within a few years.

No wonder he’d bought a commission so many years ago. Yes, there was the threat of dying, but at least he wasn’t bored.

My hero, in case you couldn’t tell, has a dark soul. My favorite kind.

So how do you combat procrastination? If you’re a writer, do you have a writing buddy? And where are you going/did you go on vacation?


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When I was watching Senator Ted Kennedy‘s funeral procession proceed across Memorial Bridge, I was reminded of another funeral procession, one I first learned of when visiting the coach house at Stratfield Saye where the funeral car of the Duke of Wellington is displayed and a recording is played of the titles and honors of this man, the same words recited during his funeral march. The recording goes on and on, complete with the sound of horses’ hooves, a sound that echoes in my mind from President Kennedy’s funeral procession and the ones I’ve attended at Arlington Cemetery.

Do you realize there were similarities between the Duke of Wellington and Ted Kennedy?

1. Both were Irish. Wellington was descended from an Anglo-Irish family going back to 1180s; Kennedy’s ancesors were Irish American, his great grandparents came over during the Irish Famine.
2. Both were fourth sons.
3. Both came from wealthy families, although Wellington’s family fortunes waned a bit after his father died.
4. Neither were stellar students.
5. Both loved music. Wellington once played the violin; Kennedy loved to sing.
5. Both served in the Army (although Wellington’s career was a bit longer and much more distinguished!!)
6. Both had unhappy marriages (although Kennedy’s second marriage was very happy).
7. And, of course, both had long political careers. Wellington was Prime Minister for 2 years but active in politics both before and after. Kennedy’s bid for the presidency failed but he was a powerful member of the Senate for 46 years. And, a huge difference–Kennedy was perhaps our most famous liberal senator and the Duke of Wellington was always a conservative Tory.

Wellington died at Walmer Castle. His body was taken by train to London and he was given a state funeral, an honor he shared with Admiral Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill. His funeral was packed and a grateful citizenry lined the streets of London as his funeral procession passed. To honor him Tennyson wrote “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington

And 250 years later, as I stood in the Duke’s coach house, I felt that same need to honor him, a great man.

Are any of you Wellington Groupies, like me? What do you think of the Iron Duke?

There will be new stuff on my website tomorrow. Take a peek now at my new bookcover.

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Are you obsessed by anything that is just totally bizarre?

Yeah, me too.

Last night, one of my best friends from forever was visiting, and after her girls and my boy went to bed, the Mixologist Spouse shook some margaritas together and we settled down in front of the TV to watch Scopitones. What are Scopitones, you might ask? They were film jukeboxes invented in France in the early 1960s and also refer to the films that were played on it.

Dear lord, they are hysterical. First of all, and here is a truth almost Universally Acknowledged, is that the French Cannot Rock. When they try? The results are snort-worthy (me and my friend were both snorting. The husband does not snort, thank you very much). Second, of course, is that the clothing and the dance styles are dated.

One of my favorite artists from the series is Vince Taylor Twenty Flight Rock, a British guy who translated Elvis Presley’s panache for the French. And who can forget Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis Presley (although I think Taylor does a better job with the EP)? One group with whom I am fascinated is Les Surfs, six very short siblings from Madagascar, who had several Scopitones.

What does this have to do with the Regency? And writing? Hm. Not much. Except, if I might extrapolate, my early-on obsession with romances set me on this path I am on now. My obsession with music sent me on my previous career path, while for the future? Who could say? Meanwhile, I howl with laughter and drink margaritas. Not bad for a Thursday night.

What bizarre thing obsesses you?

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