Saturday, June 27, 2009


I have found inspiration in many places. I often turn to books. I am an addictive reader, although lately I prefer to write.

Sometimes inspiration comes in the form of a little gray cat. Well, a rather large gray cat who is getting old and cranky. My boyo has dementia, and aging is turning into an adventure for both of us.

My most recent inspiration came in a box from Alaska, in the form of a pair of beautiful glass roses. These roses helped me define one small segment of my system of magic.

These roses also inspired me to redesign the maze into a much more sophisticated pattern. I am delighted with the way it turned out.

Monsoon Rain is more than a third finished by word count, although I suspect that it is nearly half finished as a first draft. There are places that need a bit of filling out. Overall, I am very pleased with it.

What inspires you?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Mantua-Maker

In my other life, I am the Mantua-Maker. Or, more accurately, I am the owner of the Mantua-Maker line of historical sewing patterns.

What is a mantua maker?

The mantua was a fashionable style of gown in the late 1600's. While the mantua was popular, women gained the legal right to make this loose, flowing gown. Before this time, women could make underwear, but only male tailors were allowed to make upper class clothing and corsets - by law! Women won the right to make unboned gowns during this period, and these women were know as Mantua-makers.

These women quickly branched out to hats and accessories, then to other types of clothing. Since the unboned mantua was popular for only a couple of decades, expanding was necessary for the female dressmakers' survival, no matter how much the tailors complained.

The term mantua-maker was used for a fashionable dress designer/creator long after the mantua was forgotten, even as late as the 1890's. It was replaced by the more modern term of modiste.

In my current novel, Monsoon Rain, Rosette aspires to become a Mantua-Maker. She has studied fashion trends, present and past.

Monsoon Rain is now up to 31,175 words. I'm writing a bit slower than I'd planned, but I'm pleased with the quality.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Ah, Texas. It was 100 today and right now, at 10 pm, it is nearly 90 degrees and nearly 50% humidity. Tomorrow we expect to see 105 degrees at 40% to 50% humidity.

On days like this I sincerely miss California.

Of course, in California I enjoyed 112 degree days - but at 3% humidity. It makes a big difference. But California is more expensive in everything but property and sales taxes, where they more or less match Texas. I can't afford to live in California anymore.

Yesterday I found a California nature background for my iGoogle page, which has brought on this bout of homesickness. Everytime it brings up a new picture I say, 'I lived somewhere like that, and how I miss it.'

Now, it is very silly to miss a place I left six years ago. It was a good idea at the time even though it did not work out the way I had planned. I have a much nicer home, my family is next door and I still live out in the country.

But the landscape is flat and dull. Well, rolling and dull. Rows and rows of corn or wheat or cotton. The locals point at tall bushes and call them trees. Some even point to a stock pond and call it a lake. They look at a fifty foot slope and call it a mountain.

I miss towering pines and black walnuts, douglas firs and black oaks. I miss rushing rivers and foothills 3000 feet tall. I miss mountains that touch the clouds.

I miss California.

Monday, June 22, 2009

StoryToolz Progress Meter

I have found a new tool today. It is a progress meter by StoryToolz. I plan to use it to track my progress on Monsoon Rain, which is now at 25,752 words. More than 1/4 done!

Have a look at the StoryToolz website here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I spent part of the day with my dad, and too much of the rest gardening - which is a bit of a joke here in Central Texas. Gardening is merely a battle to keep my veggies alive in the hope that they might get big enough to offer a squash or a tomato.

One gallant little squash plant is trying to bloom. If it succeeds, the flowers will grow bigger than the whole plant. I can't decide if I should pluck off these early attempts, or let the plant do its own thing.

My dad was very quiet. I think the blossom spoke more loudly. I'm afraid this may be his last Father's Day, since he has been getting weaker and weaker, and drawing away from the world.

Because I spent too much time eating my mom's cheesecake, watching golf with my dad, and talking to my garden, I didn't get as much done as I'd planned. Well, honestly, that is my excuse. I spent too much time staring at the screen, cursing myself for writing a vague outline. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Room to grow, places for the magic to happen. But instead I'm spending too much time saying, "I can't get 2,000 words out of this! I'll be lucky to get 500."

But generally I can squeeze out 1,000 with plans to go back and flesh it out later.

Monsoon Rain is up to 23,573 words, and almost that many grumbled cuss words.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Incredibly Beautiful Roses

Today I received a package from a fellow writer who is also a glass blower, Mike Pennington. Inside the box were two of the most gorgeous glass roses I have ever seen.

One is ruby red, and when the light is right it glows like a hot ember. The other rose is as white as fine china. Their leaves are translucent green with veins radiating from the spines. They are quite incredible!

Thanks to Mike, my droopy plot coalesced into vibrant life – all because of his roses. They added the spark I needed for all of my elements to blaze.

You can see Mike’s roses on his website, - on the left hand bar, toward the bottom of the page.

Google Books

I am crushed to discover my book, Elephant's Breath & London Smoke, on Google Books. Now when I first discovered the entry I was amused and pleased. So I clicked on the link.

This wasn't a snippet entry. Not even a real limited entry. At least 20% of my dictionary is available.

Perhaps 20% of a novel could be considered "Not too bad" - though personally I disagree. Perhaps 20% of a novel would make a reader want to buy the book.

But 20% of a non-fiction work is more than I generally read at any given time. I dip in, get what I want and leave. No need to buy it.

Mind you, I do not use books still in print in this fashion. I will use books out of copyright that way. I consider it fair use. If I plan to read a large portion of a book, I buy it.

20% is a large portion of a book. That is far beyond fair use.

My book is only a few months old. It is still in print. I feel that Google Books is giving away a year of hard work for free.

I am crushed to see my work on Google Books.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Keeping Hearth & Home

Monsoon Rain now has 20,000 words. I had planned to write more today, but I had a terrible time sneaking Denton out of the temple under the noses of seven priests. I'm sure you know the best way to sneak out. Act as though you are supposed to be there. Poor Denton didn't know that, though, and together we went through a bit of heartburn.

I have a new source of inspiration for Rosette. My friend, Henry Osier, sent me a most amusing book, Keeping Hearth & Home in Old Ohio: a Practical Primer for Daily Living. I've only had a chance to read a few pages, since I didn't make my quota today, but it appears to detail a very Victorian outlook on life. Rosette comes from a rather Victorian society. I believe this primer will help me ground Rosette's viewpoint.

What sources do you use to give depth to your characters?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Searching for the magic

Having started my fourth novel, it seemed time to start a writing blog.

Sorcery's Child is in search of a snappy query letter. Writing the blurb has been harder than writing the novel.

Dragon's Child has gone to a beta reader, who is keeping me honest.

Magic's Child is chilling out. I need fresh eyes to do tougher edits.

Monsoon Rain currently has 17,562 words to its credit.

Elephant's Breath & London Smoke, a dictionary about color usage in history, is available at my website,

Should you run across my blog, I would be grateful for comments.