What’s Up, Doc?

Ah, my theatrical career has started back up. I played half a dozen parts in a staged reading reading of Under Milk Wood last weekend, and we’re going to be doing a full production of a brand new play written by the author of “The Elephant Man” and I’m completely chuffed. Since the directors are friends, they help me work around mobility issues and stamina issues, and it brings an incredible amount to my life. Happy, happy.

It’s fun, because stretching in a completely different art form is great for my primary task, writing. I think that would be true for any discipline – you’re still creating, and in fact it’s all about the same thing. Story. Painting, music, dance, acting, singing. All about Story.

In fact, I learned from Rosann that my favorite writing quote serves for acting as well. In fact, I think it serves for life.

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” 
― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

For some reason, over-the-top creature that I am, I’ve always been subdued in auditions and most roles. I should have just thrown it all in. The director will tell you when to pull back. In fact, I don’t worry about dignity or making a fool of myself, as anyone who knows me can attest, so I don’t know why I was so cautious. If you throw extreme stuff out there, either in writing or acting (or painting, or whatever) you can clean it up later. If you don’t throw it out there then there’s nothing to work on.

Speaking of work, I’m still writing the new historical, which is insane but who cares? I think it’s delightful – funny and hot. I’m more than a third done, and I’d love it if the draft is finished by next month but it depends on time and rehearsals and stuff.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe for Welsh Cakes that I made for my fellow cast members after Under Milk Wood was done. They’re yummy and easy (and not in metric).

This is from the joandsue.blogspot.ca


Welsh Cakes

Ingredients

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 cup flour

pinch salt

1/2 cup butter, cold

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup currants

1 egg

Directions

2 Tbsp milk

Topping

1 – 2 Tbsp sugar, for sprinkling

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Using 2 knives or a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. 

Stir in the sugar and currants.

Make a well in the center and add in egg and milk.

Using a fork, mix in the ingredients until dough comes together. 

Flour a work surface and then roll dough out to approximately the thickness of your baby finger. 

Cut out with a round cookie cutter. (Apparently, traditionally the edges should also be fluted!)

Reroll the trimmings and cut out more rounds. 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease with either cooking spray or a little butter. 

Place as many rounds as will fit on the skillet without touching.

Cook approx 3 -4 minutes on the first side. Carefully flip over.

Cook for another 3 or so minutes. (If bottoms are going too dark, too fast then turn down your heat!)

Remove from pan to a wire rack.

Sprinkle immediately with a little sugar.

Continue cooking remaining cakes.

These are amazing served warm with a little butter OR room temp with some jam.

Like scones but different. 

Little fluffy and crispy bites of heaven. 

P.S. – This recipe makes 12 cakes using a 2.5 inch cookie cutter. 

Back to work. Life is good – the pain is being dealt with, the oncoming depression has been stopped in its tracks, and it’ll be summer eventually (not for today in Vermont, though).

Emerging from the Salt Mines

. You know you’ve done your job right when you raise a son who’s comfortable dressing as a pink unicorn while he enjoys the last day of the season at Heavenly with his cousin. He’s had a hard time the last few years, and it’s great to see him enjoying himself. His 4 year old daughter will be so proud of her daddy, the Unicorn.

But I digress. I’ve been working my tail off, trying to get Heartless ready for take off. I’m thinking that May 15th will be publication date, but man, there’s so much to do for indie publishing. I’m not a control freak, so it isn’t a total thrill, but it’s interesting enough for me to enjoy. I’ve got a fabulous cover, slaved over the cover copy, I’m still dealing with challenging edits, then proof reading, formatting, and … ta da!

I’m still trying to figure out how to balance a second full-time job in my life (publishing as well as writing) but the freedom is enormous, and since I’m very much “the glass is half full” kind of gal I expect, as Crusie says, nothing but good times ahead.

And I’ll get back to my new stories! Ooops and Not Quite a Miracle and Forever Autumn and Mary-Stewart-in-Spain and eventual Ice – the Next Generation and …

Interesting. None of those are historicals. Well, I’ve just spent two years immersed in HEARTLESS (what with the shoulder replacement and family traumas it’s taken me longer to write than usual, plus it’s probably my longest book, and you should have seen how much I’ve cut!)

But for today I finish the revisions, run through every kind of checker I can get to pick up typos, and then pass it to my proof reader while I wait to hear from Mollie, my marketing and web guru. Fortunately I’m in love with the book, with Emma and Brandon, and they’re going to be so happy to see the light of day after maundering for three years.

Oh, and if anyone out there loves a book of mine (I tentatively assume there are) go post a review somewhere, like Amazon or Good Reads. I went searching for reviews last week, always a bad idea but I needed to check feedback on a certain plot point in a certain book, and I was surprised at how few there were. Only if there’s a book you love that you feel hasn’t got enough attention.

Or hell, if there’s one you hate, go ahead and trash it. I’m a firm believer in honesty.

I’ll have more deets on HEARTLESS, including the cover. In the mean time, be excellent to each other and party on, dude.

Heroes Pt. I

There’s an old song from the Shangri-la’s (a girl group from the ’60s who did Leader of the Pack) called “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” that starts out with someone saying in a heavy Long Island accent, “when I say I’m in love you’d best believe I’m in love.”
Which brings me to my little friend. (As in “say hello to my little friend.”). Gorgeous isn’t he? A company called Hot Toy makes some incredibly accurate head casts of cult characters – actually they make the whole toy and they cost about $300. I’m not going to throw that kind of money at my latest inspiration (hero of Wildfire, Heartless, and probably something else) but on ebay you can buy the heads separately for about $30 and a body for just a little bit more. So my darling, long-suffering husband attached Tom’s head for me, and I managed his feet (his hands were already attached). I stripped an old GI Joe and dressed Hiddles up like Jonathon Pine and now he sits in my window and I smile at him.
My darling husband has had to live with this all our long, married life (43rd anniversary next Thursday), and he just rolls his eyes and rolls with it. He’s not a man who’s easily threatened, God bless him, and I always put my passions into books. Starting with … oh, Jesus, starting with Troy Donahue when I was in fifth grade (I’m ooooold) through Jerry Orbach in 8th grade. I even wrote a beginning with John Lithgow as a Scottish hero (the Laird of LinLithgow), when I was a freshman in high school and he was a senior and president of the student council. Sigh.
Richie survived androgynous Japanese rock stars, Don Johnson (I’m sorry, I’m sorry but Long Hot Summer was hot!). I imagine I’ll be in my nineties, we’ll be sitting in rocking chairs and I’ll be cackling about how lustworthy Hiddleston’s son is (no, his son hasn’t been born, don’t panic). I’m irredeemable. My cousin Helen, who’s 8 years older than me, chastised me a couple of years ago (I was lusting after an Irish actor in our local theater group who would have been a perfect person to play one of my heroes but then he turned out to hate children and shag every available female in the troupe so alas, he got ditched) – anyway, Helen said I was too old for such shenanigans. Never! I cried.
Not even in my 90s.
Anyone want to admit their secret lusts? Mine tend to be elegant and British, ones who could easily play a vampire, but I have a weakness for Vin Diesel and Russell Crowe as well, two exceptionally manly men. There are just so many luscious creatures out there.
And I won’t bring you down by telling you what I really think of men in general. Just that Richie broke the mold, and the rest of them ….
No, Krissie! Behave yourself. I love people on a one to one basis. People in groups or strata, not so much. And I’ve always been a mouthy, uppity woman. It’s likely a very good thing that I wasn’t pretty – I would have destroyed the world.
If anyone’s interested in seeing Tom in action, Wildfire and the two preceding books, Consumed by Fire (fabulous) and Driven by Fire (not so much) are on sale through the end of the month, with the audio versions ridiculously cheap. At Amazon, of course, since they published them, as well as the House of Russell historicals with three sisters going undercover in service to discover their father’s killer.
Montlake thinks my heroes are too dark. I think they’re yummy.
Ok, that’s the end of the advertisement. Tell me who you think is hot. I’ve got Adam Driver for the MIP, but I have an unending need for hero fodder.

Groundhog Day

Well, I suppose I could do the same paragraph over and over again in honor of Bill Murray’s movie, but I’ll resist the temptation. But man, I love Bill Murray!

So someone came up with the idea of doing a piece of art every day in February on Instagram. Unfortunately I don’t remember who it was, but the suggestion was mostly for visual art, drawings etc. Of course I’ll take it one step further – it gives me a way to explore Instagram and connect with more people.. I’m relearning how to play the guitar, and last night I worked out “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” Key of C, which is a pain because F-chords have always been a pain, but it’s good key to sing in. I think I’m going to have to accept F chords if that’s my new key.

Upate on everything – I’ve started the process of getting HEARTLESS edited – I never need heavy editing so it shouldn’t be much, and then we go forward with covers, etc. (unless some traditional publisher swoops in with an offer I can’t refuse). So HEARTLESS, Brandon and Emma’s story, is getting closer to the light of day.

The Harlequin Reprints are momentarily on hiatus while I rework them – I have interesting ideas about things to do with them.

Ice/Heat is on hold for its turn in the line-up. I want to do Remy’s story in New Orleans, then enough time has passed for Peter and Bastien’s children to grow up. I’ve got so many books in my head that I’ve forgotten who has who, but I know Bastien has a daughter and Swede, and Peter has a daughter and Mahmoud (wasn’t that his name?) plus Dylan from On Thin Ice. Anyway, I love the idea of Mahmoud and Dylan both wanting the same young woman, who loves them both (normally I don’t like triangles but this might be a quadrangle or an incredible tangle of emotions while the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and I’m going to love playing with them.

In the meantime I’m playing with a new idea that I’ve wanted to write for probably 25 years – I remember Harlequin shied away from it and that was looooong ago.

So masses of things to do and not enough time to do it.

I do have a question, but there’s no need to answer if you don’t have an opinion. I’m wrestling with POV and tense on the new MIP (Mess In Progress). It’s almost definitely going to be alternating first person hero and heroine, but for some reason I started out in present tense. It seemed to demand it. Now I’m rethinking the whole thing.

Some people find present tense incredibly annoying. For me it’s basically invisible if the book is good.

Does anyone out there have a strong opinion for or against present tense? (You know the Dracula comes into the room instead of Dracula came into the room).