Change Your Life For Only $2.99!

I have in hand a copy of OK! Magazine. Now I could lie and tell you I bought it for my daughter, because I’m going to give it to her this weekend when we visit her in Boston…but you know that’s a lie, ’cause I just told you.

I confess. I read People. I read Us. And Vanity Fair and InStyle. And Time and Newsweek, too, but their gossip section is not their strong suit. Because I am someone who rarely watches TV, I must stay au courant somehow. Without watching one step, I know Emmitt Smith won “Dancing with the Stars.” And that Evangeline Lilly (what a gorgeous name) is now homeless because her house burned down in Hawaii. Have I ever seen “Lost?” Sadly, no

So I’ve indulged in a guilty reading pleasure, but there was a nugget of nutrition in this issue that I want to share with you. There are ten remarkably remarkable and easy steps to transform your life. Never let it be said that my shelling out $2.99 was in vain. Red is OK!’s wisdom, black is mine.

1. Team up. Friends, just say no to chocolate, yes to expanding your word count together.
2. Take a breather. That’s right. Just stop and breathe deeply and chant whatever you wish. You know what I’m chanting. 😉 Maggie Robinson Means Romance. I am a legend in my own mind. I am a legend in your own mind.
3. Drink up. That’s water, silly, and lots of it.
4. Add fruit. An apple a day, a pomegranate a day, whatever.
5.Be grateful. For big or small things. We’ve all got more positives than negatives.
6.Leave room. My grandmother always said a lady never finishes all that’s on her plate. My mother said children in China are starving, so eat up. Listen to Granny. Sorry, Mom.
7.Start with one. Each journey begins with a single step…a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter. Set bite-size goals and pretty soon you’ll have a book.
8. Get some rest. Did you know when you’re tired you “snack recklessly?” Now you do.
9. Think positive. Be the little engine that could.
10. Love yourself. And we’re not talking vibrator. Take care of yourself so you’ll be ready to take care of everybody else.

There. Now all our lives will be perfect in 2007. Can you think of a good #11?

Virgin or Vixen?

“Damnation! You’re a little witch. You know how much I want you, have wanted you since I first saw you at the Chapel Royal all those years ago.”
Eleanor wrinkled her faintly freckled nose. “I’m not sure that’s acceptable. She might have to rethink that. There’s a taint of obsession to it, and it’s not entirely natural. You’re a good twelve years older than I am.”
“So, I was twenty and you were eight. What does it signify? I knew from the first we were fated to be together.” Lionel ran his fingers through his hair in exasperation. If an ordinary man did such a thing, it would stick up every which way, but he only succeeded in making himself look even more handsome, if that were possible.

The above scene is from my WIP, Third-Rate Romance. As you can probably tell, it’s a spoof of some of our favorite romance clichés. The Regency protagonists, Lady Eleanor and Lionel, the Duke of Cleves (who doubles as the spy The Bluejay—and isn’t he beyond irritated that The Hawk and The Falcon are already taken) are conversing as they wait to be written into another ridiculous or anatomically incorrect position.

Their poor aspiring middle-aged author (Huh? What’s that you say about a roman a clef?) is in the middle of three different books. Her characters can’t wait for her to leave her computer so they can behave, or misbehave, as they wish. Just as she has influence over them, they decide to get her out of their hair and get themselves published.

The young virgin-older rake scenario remains ever popular, despite what happened to Diana and Charles. Much was made recently over the age difference between Josie and the Earl of Mayne in Eloisa James’ perfect, pleasure-inducing Pleasure for Pleasure. Ms. James made a convincing case that fresh, tart-tongued Josie cleansed Mayne’s jaded palate. But the innocent heroine-worldly hero trope of historical romance has driven some authors to write contemporaries. The lady can have a “past” and not suffer for it.

Are you tired of that feisty-yet-untouched girl who somehow manages to disarm Satan’s disciple? What’s your favorite pairing? I still love Avon and Leonie in Heyer’s These Old Shades.

I’m a Wenchling

When I first started to write romance, I had stopped reading romance. Something had to be done. So I visited online romance sites, discovered Jenna Petersen’s Passionate Pen, and got myself back to the bookstore. Things sure had changed since Georgette Heyer! And not always for the good.

But I devoured every book of Jo Beverley’s and Loretta Chase’s, and it is their blog, Word Wenches, that I visit without fail. They share it with several other excellent historical writers. Often there are fascinating history “lessonettes” that I read in my pajamas and feel instantly erudite.

And they take questions. I was lucky enough to win the first book of Patricia Rice’s Magic series. Here’s how you do it:

As we said in our previous newsletter, we love to give away free books! Last month, we put out a call for suggestions for future blog topics, and you responded with some great ideas. Please continue doing so. If we use your suggestion, we’ll send you an autographed book. Thanks for your suggestions, and keep them coming! If there’s a topic you’d like to see discussed, e-mail our Whipster, Sherrie, at

Plus, they have a wonderful blogroll of other insightful sites (I’m still trying to figure out how to do that here so I can link to the people who have linked to me!). So go on over there and win something.

I just looked at my bookmarks. There are almost a dozen blogs to visit, so I’m outta here!

Dear Diary

In sixth grade, I kept a diary. All the boys in the class were listed in kissability preference. #1, Michael Somebody (okay, Michael Cummings) actually kissed me. French kisses. Six times. And after he had his wicked way with me, we broke up. I must have whined about that, but the diary is long-gone.

Diaries are fascinating to me. For several years I worked in a historical society museum, where I did everything from design displays to transfer 100-year-old newspaper clippings onto acid-free paper, sneezing all the way. I came across an anonymous journal of a housewife circa 1902. Every entry started with a weather report, a real concern on the isolated island where she lived. The minister visited. She took a trip down island in her buggy to see a friend who had new kitchen wallpaper. Several weeks and several pages later, she was hanging her own new wallpaper. Homely information, but history nonetheless.

Blogs are twenty-first century diaries. No kissing and wallpaper here. But reading blogs is a great way to avoid my WIP but learn something about writing and writers without feeling too guilty.

How many blogs do you look at regularly? Any favorites? I’ll post mine tomorrow.


I spent much of my time at Washington Elementary School and Hempstead High School outlining things. Roman numerals, capital letters, numbers, lower case letters—everything orderly and organized (and let’s not even think about the sentence diagramming).

When it comes time to plot my writing, I wish I could travel back in time when everything had its place and space. There’s always a vague idea of how to get to the HEA, but few specifics. When all the pistons are firing and the fingers are flying, it’s great. It’s not so hot when they’re not.

So, I’m a pantser with a desperate need of an outline. I’m short about 25,000 words, unevenly distributed in the middle of my masterpiece. I invested in a cute red Notetote for my handbag so I can scribble down scenarios as they may come. It’s still in pristine condition.

Are you a planner or waiting for the muse? If it’s the latter, send her to my house when you’re done.