Saturday, September 15, 2007

Taking a Breath

Those of you who are stalwart enough to hang in waiting for me to post a blog, your time is now. I actually posted two other blogs, and thought I'd done so successfully. Such is my keen knowledge of the internet, that I evidently didn't notice for four weeks that I failed--miserably. So when I logged in tonight, imagine my surprise to find that I hadn't actually posted since June, when the Miss Fortunes came out. A lot to catch up on, for sure.

First of all, thank you to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who shared the experience of the Unfortunate Miss Fortunes with Jen Cruise, Anne Stuart and me. Because of you, Anne and I are first-time New York Times Bestsellers. We weren't WAY up there, but ya know, it all counts. As Nora Roberts said years ago when she made 17 and then failed to return for at least five more books. "I can still put it on my f&^*$# tombstone. New York Times Bestseller." I'm following Nora's advice. In fact, the granite company might be inscribing it right now, just in case my family forgets in thirty or forty years from now when I need it.

Secondly, hang on for a few days, and I'll catch you up on what's next. For my suspense readers, things are going to be slow again, I'm afraid. I'm working on a new book--and it's a doozy. I can't tell you about it, because it's something new and I"m just superstitious enough not to want to put the idea out into the ozone where somebody else can catch it(last time I did that, Ridley Pierson snatched it up and made a bestseller out of it--and no. He didn't steal anything. The ozone is where we float all our cool ideas, and suddenly they all come out in print at the same time). Anyway, the problem is that I lost my suspense house. St. Martin's finally admitted that they simply don't know how to promote me. I don't do a standard suspense. I'm different. So I'm writing half of the new book on spec(without contract), and taking my chances.

In the meantime, I'm playing over in romanceland. Not only am I finishing the trilogy for Silhouette Nocturne, featuring the horniest fairies in the Northern Hemisphere(Daughters of Myth--Dark Seduction out in Feb '08)(in case you wanted to know--and Deadly Redemption in the works now), but I just sent in an outline for a trilogy that's been in my head for the last seven years. I don't know if any of you remember Melinda Helfer, one of the original reviewers for RT, who reviewed contemporaries and regencies, but Melinda cursed me. Right before she died, the last thing she ever said to me was, "Eileen, you have to write a Regency." Well....

All I'll tell you is that it begins at Waterloo, and is as much adventure as romance. I decided to follow in the footsteps of Patricia Veryan, who did the best historical adventures I've ever read. More on her later.

But right now, I'm in Alaska. Yeah. The big A. My husband and I needed some serious time off together, so before I attend Bouchercon in Anchorage the two of us are taking the Dreyer Wilderness Tour(did I tell you I'm the queen of internet travel), the particulars of which will be up on my travel page when I get home. I tried to upload a photo from the Anchorage to Seward rail trip, but evidently I can't do that in Alaska. So I'll try again when we get back to Anchorage. And for a few days you might have to set publishing aside to hear my travel rants.

Now, it's time for some rest. I have to get up early tomorrow to walk a glacier and sail a fiord. It's a filthy job, but somebody has to do it....

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Creativity Central

I always seem to begin my blogs by apologizing for not posting. I'm afraid that I don't have that wonderful brain that can schedule stuff like that. I just suddenly look up and think, "Oops. I haven't posted in a month." Which is actually probably better, since that saves you from my rants. I have trouble editing those down to acceptable statements, so you get the full blast of my momentary indignations.

The good news is that I am rant-free at the moment. That's because I'm in one of my most creative places on earth. We got to have a second week on the beach in Michigan, and besides playing dominoes, reading, reading, reading(I FINALLY got to read all the Harry Potters. Finished Deathly Hallows yesterday. Hooray, Harry!) and having happy hour as we watch the sunset, I've been doing some prodigious writing.

It's the most amazing thing. I never write with other people around. I'm writing out on the deck as the rest of my family lobs breakfast products over my head. I never write in the morning(I rarely even see the morning), but here I am on the deck overlooking the lake pounding keys so fast I forget to space between words. I never actually write more than one book at a time. But in the last two days I've completed 20 pages on the regency historical adventure series I'm proposing(and oh, baby, is there action), and another 12 on the last of my fairy trilogy for Harlequin Nocturne. Orla is having her day in the sun, and she's about to cause a world of trouble for the Dubhlainn Sidhe, the patriarchal fairy clan. I'm having a blast. I wish I had another week or two. Unfortunately(and only in the context of what I want to get written), my husband and I go to Alaska next week. I'll try and find cyber places to post my impressions( I AM going to see the aurora borealis if I have to track it like wild ox).

In the meantime, a reflection. I've decided that what I really am is a water person. I don't have to be in it. Matter of fact, I prefer not to be in it(especially Lake Michigan. We go in once a year, just to say we did, and last a good fifteen minutes). But I need the sight of it, the smell of it, the sound of it. And it has to be water you can see across(the Mississppi doesn't count as I frequently tell my husband). Lake Michican, the Irish Sea, the Pacific. Any will do. I just need to be there. There's something about the edge of the world by the sea that unleashes my creativity.

Imagine my chagrin when I came to that realization at the age of thirty, sitting in St. Louis, where the nearest ocean is over a thousand miles away. Sigh. Well, Michigan's only 500 miles, so I do get here. But oh, boy, do I wish I could do it more. Til then, though, I'll get back to torturing fairies and imperiling Dragoons. After all, I have twelve more hours of lake time left.....

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Because I'm too stupid to post sometimes

Okay. You're wondering what the picture is. The picture is the prize I"m offering over on the Unfortunate Miss Fortunes blog. You see, we're having this contest about the book, and people are supposed to say what they'd like to do with the power my character Dee has(which is shapeshifting). We pick one answer, and they are awared the beautiful needlepoint I did of butterflies, all framed and ready for hanging. It's about 21" x 21". And it's a prize. It's not pictured on the Miss Fortunes blog yet, because I can't figure out how to load the #$%$ thing. It's a different program than the one I'm used to, and it's got me completely bamboozled. So in the meantime, I'll show it here. I can also invite you over to the Miss Fortunes Website( so you can post on the What You'd Do with Dee's Powers, if you want to. Or just laugh at me, since I'm so cyberstupid.

Back to your regular programming....

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

And now, ladies and gentlemen.....

Funny thing about a publication date. In the end, it's more frustrating than rewarding. THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES, the (funny, erotic paranormal) novel I did with Jenny Crusie and Anne Stuart premiered yesterday. I should have felt better.

Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled it's out. I'm so glad that we've reached the culmination of about three years of hard work, and as anybody who reads this kind of blog knows, only about half of that work was writing. We blogged, we websited, we contested(and still do). We cross-posted and sent books in a kind of author merry-go-round so that all three of us could sign each copy. We created needlework briiliance( I did needlepoint, Anne quilting and Jen knitting). We contacted everybody we knew and quite a few people we didn't, to let them in on the publishing news. Jenny's daughter Mollie did yeoman's duty on our website and newsletter. We've been stoking people's anticipation for at least nine months. And then on the day the book actually came out....

Well, I was sitting at home working on a new book. Publishing is kind of like that. I think it's why so many of us do needlework(one of the prizes in our contests over at or gardening or gourmet cooking(that last one would not be me). We need just a bit of immediate gratification. We work so hard on our books, from inception to publication, but by the time the book actually comes out--even by the time the reviews come out--we're at least one or two books down the line, usually stuck at the point(again) where we're questioning our wisdom in going into this business in the first place. We think we stink(we always do in the middle of the book) and carry around a sneaking suspicion that any reviewer who really liked our work was either paid by the publisher or two weeks off her meds.

So think how refreshing it is to focus on flowers(my addiction). After all, all they want is a little water and food, and they'll bloom happily for the rest of the summer. They don't want rewrites or better numbers or a new author photo from you (since the one you're now using was taken at highschool graduation). They don't care what your numbers were last year, or how much you're promoting yourself this year. They just want to make you happy, right this minute. It's refreshing.

I'm not actually at the "I stink" phase. I'm more at the "I'll never finish another project" phase, which often happens when the rest of my family interferes. But the message is always, "when they find out how bad I actually am--how I can't finish anything--they'll dump me faster than Britney Spears panties".

Add to that the fact that numbers come out so fast now, that we're all holding our breath (and praying, and lighting candles and invoking any household god of our acquaintance) that we show up ANYWHERE on a list. That's what publishing survival is all about.

So, am I excited that THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES is out? Absolutely. It's my most dominant emotion of the day. Right behind terrified and wary.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will give free books for review

I might actually be too late on this. I'm in Michigan on vacation with the family, and only able to get internet in town(which, if you're on a beach in Michigan, you tend not to frequent). But here it is. My book with Jenny Crusie and Anne Stuart, THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES, premieres very soon. In the spirit of sharing, we would like to offer a whopping 50 copies to people who have an active blog that's at least two years old. The only caveat is that we'd like you to blog a review of it on your site.

So, if you're interested in a free copy, please contact

Molly our brilliant webqueen will randomly pick fifty names, and send the books off post haste. And then we'll link with your site on the Miss Fortunes site. And if I can figure out how to do it here, I'll do that, too.

But don't think that's all. We're having ongoing contests through the end of August over at the www.unfortunatemissfortunes. com site. And I'm giving away three copies myself here. So sign up. And stop by the UMF site and see what you think. I do know that the reviews are coming in(posted on the UMF site), and with the exception of Publishers Weekly, who seem to think that it is not necessary to actually read a book to review it, have all been wonderful.

So stop by. Sign up. And let us know what you think. A good review is NOT a requirement. We just would like a review.

Now, back to the beach. I'm thinking of you all as I watch the waves and birds and sun. Really.

Eileen/Kathleen, the evil twins

Friday, June 15, 2007

What I'm Writing on my Summer Vacation

Tomorrow morning--early--well, for me early is any time before they stop serving Egg McMuffins at McDonalds, I'm heading off with my family to the vacation cabin we've gone to since I was a year old. Now when I say my family, I don't just mean immediate. I mean siblings and families. This year I think it rounds out to about 30 people. I've said before that a drunk lady once labeled us "The Last Functional Family in America." It was on the beach in Michigan we had our run-in with her.

We have a whale of a time here. The kids are kids, the adults are kids, and the entertainment is watching storms come across the lake(the rule is that we all sit on the deck with our gin and tonics until lightning hits the flagpole). There are no TVs, no radio, and only one emergency phone. Cell and wi fi can't make it around the surrounding dunes. It's....QUIET. It's away from everything. It's heaven.

So what am I going to do while I'm there? Why, write, of course. Actually, during the day I'm going to be doing research. You can't really research a fairy kingdom you've made up yourself, so that's a gimme. But I can reread Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer to get me in the mood and place for my regency adventure series. I'm also reading books on regency etiquette and battle tactics. I can't wait. I'm also going to give that collage thing a try. If this series goes the way I want it to, I'm going to have to put together about ten extended peerage families. They need faces, names, houses and animals. So I'm bringing magazines on English architecture, history, etc, and those People magazines with beautiful people in them. I guess if I have ten families, some of them are going to have to be blondes(have you ever noticed that there are more dark haired-blue-eyed English heroes than you'll find in the entire empire....including Wales?) So I'm going to be cutting pictures like a third-grader.

For my suspense I'm reading books on criminal motivation by John Douglas and psychiatric disorders. I'm going to be putting down the basic plot. I already have the okay from my most important forensic research person for the plot and characters. I really would tell you who she is and what her expertise is, but I"m just too superstitious. I don't want to ruin my mojo for the book.

Okay, I'm going to be doing that all out on the deck in the sun with my daughter, sister and sisters-in-law while my brothers play golf. I'll get the research in around long, convoluted discussions on the family(especially the ones not there) and breaks for storms and the hot event of tankers coming into the harbor(I wrote a romance called Hot Shot that I set in Grand Haven, and my favorite scene involves a tanker arrival). Not that I really need to soak up even more atmosphere, but I will. The beginning of my suspense takes place in a town called Blue Harbor, Michigan which is really Grand Haven(but which I change the name to so I don't get caught in mistakes---"No, the Prontopup hotdog stand is in the first block of Washington. Not the second.")

And then, at night, when everybody but me is in bed, I'll pull out the laptop and play in the world of faerie. Nights are the best time for faeries, after all. And there won't be anything to distract me there....except the moon on the water, the sound of the waves, the raccoons digging in the trash cans....

So, if I can stir myself to get off the deck and into town where they swear the whole town is wi-fied, I'll blog for you then. Otherwise, see you in a couple. I'll be busy working.....yeah.

eileen/kathleen, the evil twins

Monday, June 11, 2007

Old Eclectic Me

In about two weeks, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, the book I wrote with Jen Crusie and Anne Stuart will be out. It's a bit of a departure for me, so I thought this might be the time to discuss why I tend to write so many different kinds of things. It's not that I'm trying to follow the
market. I'm not that smart. Or that fast. I used to be fast, but that's a different blog. No, the truth is that I just like to write....everything. Mystery, suspense, fantasy, romance, history, blogs.... Anyway, as I thought about it, I considered what I'd been doing the last couple of weeks and thought it might shed some light on the matter.

Let's see. First, I went to see La Traviata at the St. Louis Opera Theater. Great, grand opera: lots of emotion, lots of angst and gorgeous music with a bit of consumption thrown in(when my daughter saw a production, she said, "I had a patient with tuberculosis this week. She couldn't sing like that). Then I went to New York and saw a musical, 110 in the Shade. I'd never seen the musical, but it's a version of one of my favorite movies of all times: The Rainmaker with Katherine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster. This was all that and wonderful music: lush, fun, bright, and with a great happy ending, handsome men and a manly chorus(I love manly choruses). It was the perfect romance. To balance that, I went the next night to see Kevin Spacey in Moon for the Misbegotten by O'Neill. And Jenny Crusie would be more than happy to tell you that watching O'Neill is comparable to whacking yourself in the forehead with a ballpeen hammer for three hours. Nobody gets out of that one alive. And I loved it(but I"m Irish. We have an affinity for hammer-whacking).

When I got home I went back to the Opera to see the Mikado, Gilbert and Sullivan's delicious ly satirical operetta about bureaucracy in Titipu,Japan. If you're not familiar with G&S, Stephen Sondheim is their direct musical descendent. It was brilliant. I knew the company had updated the book, with the chorus(manly) in business suits, briefcases and PDAs (and a Titipu Hard Rock sign), but you got the full message when, during the overture, a lovely geisha tiptoed out holding a paper model of a Japanese temple. She very carefully laid it on the stage and left. Music swells, we're about to get curtain up, when out from stage right, Godzilla clumps over, steps on the temple and leaves. It was that kind of night.

So then I bought Allison Kraus and Union Station tickets, got another copy of Moody Blue's Days of Future Past and cheered on Rags to Riches as she took on the boys at the Belmont Stakes. Yeah, I'm a horse racing addict. Blame it on Dick Francis. Yesterday I went to a Cardinals baseball game and cheered on my boys. Yeah. Serious and lifelong addiction. Blame that on my mother. She and her dad taught me to keep score when I was four. In fact, when my kids want to make me cry, they make me watch Field of Dreams. And it's my mom I miss.

A bit of gardening, a bit of Monty Python, a bit of Irish music, and a book on bloodspatter patterns. Oh, and registration for the 10th Masters Course in Death Investigation. I guess the point is, I can't sit in one place too long. Some would blame it on my ADD. I think it's just a broad range of interests. Three of my favorite movies? Lethal Weapon, To Kill a Mockingbird, Holiday(a great romance with Catherine Hepburn and Cary Grant). At any time you might find on my CD player Evanescence, Willie Nelson and Porgy and Bess. I think the only place you'd probably never find me is at a Toby Keith concert or playing golf. Other than that, I'm open to about anything.

It translates into my writing. I think it's because I read everything. But if I'm caught too long in one genre, I feel suffocated. There's just so much to see, to say, to create. So many different ways to do it. And I want to do them all. Which, of course, does my career no good. But the sad truth is, I can't write to order. If I'm not involved with the words, they simply don't end up on the page. So I'm researching another medico-forensic suspense, finishing the last of my fairy trilogy for Silhouette and seeing an erotic paranormal published with two other people. And I'm about to put together a proposal for something completely different(can you hear my agent groan?). It's why I'm evil twins. For now. Who know? There may be more of us? It's the only way I can do it.

eileen/kathleen, the evil twins

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Life Interferes

I love to blog. I love to read blogs. But when life happens, it's the first thing to fall by the wayside. My dad was diagnosed with cancer. He's 86, he's had a magnificent life, and we have no idea what the future holds. But for five weeks, I was the one in charge of all the details. Yeah, I'm the oldest daughter. It's always our job. I've often said that oldest Irish daughters have been classified by the AKC as a herding group. The problem is that this tends to splinter all concentration(which in me is marginal at best).

In the moments at home I'm not on the phone with doctors, therapists, the thirty thousand or so relatives I have, insurance companies, and the like, I find myself staring at the wall. Not very productive. There've been a lot of times I thought, "this would make a good blog subject". Then I got home and forgot what it was. Then, when I thought about blogging, I found myself reading somebody else's blog(I spit coffee through my nose reading Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels May 16th offering, including the warning system for hero clothing that is brilliant--and color coded). I discovered a huge controversy over a rather scathing review and an odd response by Kathryn Falk. Makes me feel as if I've been hiding in a cave.

The good news is that over on the Unfortunate Miss Fortunes website, we ran a contest for the bloggers who have been faithful til now for taglines, and the winners are posted over there. That was great fun, and we got some fabulous answers. I'll talk about them on next blog. I'm still using this one to apologize for not posting sooner. The better news is that I'm actually writing. I got a pub date on my next Silhouette Nocturne, and I'm researching the suspense. It's going to be so much fun!

And finally, I got back to my blog. I feel MUCH better now.

Eileen\Kathleen, the evil twins

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mystery Research

Hmm. That title looks as if I mean that the research itself is a mystery. Like I open a phone book, close my eyes and try and point to a forensic specialty that looks interesting. I may actually do that one day. In the meantime, let me tell you how I research my mysteries.

You'll notice that the picture accompanying this post is different than the last. That's because the research tends to be different for each genre. Romance demands more ambiance. Suspense demands calibers and dimensions. The similarity is how I research. When I began to write, I realized that research was my biggest weakness. I had lots of friends who wrote historical fiction, and spent their time in libraries(that's how old I am. They didn't even have internet then). Well, I'm a nurse. And nurses don't do libraries. We play with things. So I had to figure out how to use my strengths rather than my weaknesses. Which is why I am trained in death investigation, forensics, and tactical medicine.

I do my best research hands-on--as you can tell from the picture. That was taken at Tactical EMS School at Camp Ripley in Minnesota, where I took the training to be a medic on a SWAT team for my suspense With a Vengeance. Yeah, oh yeah, it was tough. I've been gassed, I've been flash-banged, and I've stood on the top of an 8-foot ladder and fallen backwards into a crowd of medics, assuming they'd catch me(they did. The only problem was that one guy, who really wanted to keep me safe, was 6'5". We hit heads so hard I still can't remember my social security number). But I can't begin to tell you what a difference it made for me. Because I need to use all my senses in research. I need to taste it, see it, hear it, smell it, feel it. I need to find the symbolism and ritual in what I'm researching as much as the details of the science.

A good example is the research I did for my first suspense, A Man to Die For. I have a good friend who was a St. Louis City homicide officer.
"John," I said. "Would you take me down to homicide so I can research?" I asked.
"Why?" he asked.
"So I can smell it."
As you can imagine, there was quite a silence. "So you can smell it."
"Uh huh. What does homicide smell like, John?"
Another silence. "Homicide."
Just so you know, at that time, the St. Louis city homicide bureau, which was in a building erected in the 1920s, smelled like coffee, cigarettes, floor polish, and air freshener. That kind of thing cements a place, a job, a scene for me. Not only that, but as I was sitting there, two of the detectives had to leave. They stood up and picked fedoras off of a hat rack.
"What are the hats for, John?"
"Tradition. When you get transferred to homicide, you go down to Levine's Hat Shop on Tucker Blvd and get a fedora, then have the brim trimmed to 3/4". It's called a Stingy Brim. Then you flip up the back like a duck's ass."
"But why?"
He laughed. "Do you know how messy a jumper scene can be?"
I shook my head. "Wow. By the time we get them, we worry about our shoes."

Yeah. The entire conversation went into the book. More important, the hat went in. It became the symbol for my character, who was an ex-Marine, ex-Jesuit cop(and before you ask, I met one at the homicide department). Ritual and tradition are vital to him, as they are to most cops, most Marines and most priests. I think that stingy-brim hat says it all.

That's why I do hands-on research. I'm in the process of putting an outline together right now for my next suspense. I'm afraid I'm too superstitious to tell you what it is(the big thing right now is for an author to have a fresh idea nobody's done. I think this is fresh. So I don't want anybody to see it before I sell it). And as I put the outline together, I'm lining up my forensic research. In fact, I'm going to be spending the day in Philadelphia with one of my experts I was able to train under last year. I'll also be talking to my police and ME friends, a forensic psychiatrist, a regular psychiatrist, and a stained-glass maker. For some reason, my heroine makes stained glass. So I have to learn how to make it, so I can make her behavior as real as I can. I have to see what it smells like to create stained glass(does soldering smell?).

I truly believe that there are some things about writing that are fairly universal: characters, motivation, plotting, outlining, that kind of thing. But I believe that every author has to find his or her own way to getting all that stuff done. I had to find mine. I had to adapt it to each genre I write. And I had to adapt it to my own strengths and weaknesses. But I think I'm going to talk more about that in my next blog.

So come back next week, and we'll discuss learning styles, Meyers-Brigg personality tests, brain hemisphere dominance, and research. Oh, and I may even discuss ADD. Because at 54, I was finally diagnosed---evidently I was the last one to find out. And I finally got to admit that there are very good reasons I have to do my work in a certain way.

But that's for next week. In the meantime, if you write, think about how you research. Think about how you think you might enjoy researching. I think I can explain why. Next week.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Monday, April 23, 2007

So There I Was In Ireland...

Now, take a look at the picture on the left and tell me it doesn't look like a fairy glade. In fact, it's the home of the fairies who live in my next book. Okay, I don't have the name yet. Silhouette is still holding it in some vault somewhere. When I do, I promise I'll let us know. For now, I thought I'd talk a bit about putting a book like this together. My next post will be on the research I"m doing right now for my next suspense(no, I haven't forgotten those. I'm working hard on both genres at the moment).

So here I am with the third of my Daughters of Myth books to write for Silhouette. Number two, Sorcha's book(yeah. No title yet on that one, either) is in, is being edited, and I hope published this year. I'll let you know about that, too. Anyway, as I'd planned all along, the third book will be Orla's book, she of the rather surly disposition and the overwhelming desire for the fairy throne. I admit I love doing a book in which the bad person in one book is the heroine of the next. And poor Orla was certainly a bad girl. Not only was she the leannan sidhe (lyanan shee), which is the fairy who seduces and makes sexual slaves out of mortals, she went behind the queen's back to let some bad guys into the realm in an effort to prevent her sister from ascending the fairy throne.

Well, Nuala, that sister, is off in the land of mortal having babies. Sorcha, who was the next one the queen tapped to inherit the title, refused and is being punished by her mother, who sends her to a place her mother said was so terrible it would shrivel the very soul of a fairy--Yorkshire--to recover one of the lost Filial Stones--and okay, fall in love with a very uncooperative mortal named Harry. That leaves Orla to face whatever her punishment is for not only letting the bad guys in, but inadvertently letting them get away with the other Filial Stone(which brings power to the world of fairy). So her mother the queen has decided that she's going to offer Orla up to the enemy: she's wedding Orla to the prince of the Dubhlainn Sidhe.

Well, on the good side, I love a good marriage-of-convenience book. I also plan on doing a bit of a riff on Lysistrata with Orla's story, since the very masculine Dubhlainn Sidhe need to be taught to temper their testosterone a bit. I can't wait to see what trouble we're going to stir up.

On the not so good side, I realized that for the first time I had to set an entire book completely in the world of fairy. No characters peeking in with dry observations. No human intervention. Just fairies. And this is a fairy world I've kind of completely made up. So I have to flesh it out a bit more, especially since it will be with a completely different fairy clan than the one I've already introduced. It'll be like that Star Trek where they ended up in an alternate universe. Everything looks familiar, but not the same.

So I've spent the last few days doing a family tree of the royal family of the Dubhlainn Sidhe and how it connects to the mortal line of the second book, and the family of Orla, who is a princess of the Tuatha de Dannan clan. It's amazing how internecine that all can be. Because the king, Cathal, has a relationship with the mortal in the second book, and a relationship with Orla herself. But I didn't want to make it too close. Even fairies have consanguination rules. At least in my world of fairies.I can't begin to tell you how much trouble I had with all those cousins and grandkids. I might put the whole tree up on my website, once I figure out how to do it.

Then I had to give the fairies who populate this clan names. Not easy names, like Declan and Connor. Fairies aren't named after soccer players. They have Gaelic names with lots of silent consonants. And they each have a meaning, which is important. Because the women of the Dubhlainn Sidhe have become very passive and put-upon by their men. Until Orla shows up and points out the error of their ways--and their names. "With names like 'peace' and 'soft' and 'melodic,' how can you think to stand up for yourself? Couldn't one of your sires have named you 'warrior' or invincible? Goddess, I'd even settle for 'fiery one.'"

And, of course, I've been pouring over the pictures I took on my last trip to Ireland. I knew that the Tuatha de Dannan had their seat in the fields of Sligo. I'd been there and scouted out the area. Well, the Dubhlainn Sidhe couldn't be there, too. Very territorial, those Dubhlainn Sidhe. So I thought it might be a good idea to send them farther south. And when I went to look, I found the perfect place in Killarney. The picture on the left is in a valley called Gleann Fia, or glen of the deer, or fairy. It really looks like a fairy glade. But it's very close to another place called the Gap of Dunloe, which is bare, windswept and rugged. That's the picture on the right. And that's where the Dubhlainn Sidhe rule, too, because I've decided they control the wild places. And I had to know that before I could really get a handle on Orla's story. I had to have it all to really know who the hero is, even though I'd introduced him in Dangerous Temptation. He is Liam the Avenger. And with a name like that, don't you think he belongs in those mountains?
Now that I know a little bit more about him, I can't wait to see what he does there.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Not That I Feel Strongly About That....

That's what I'm thinking of titling my blog. I told one of my friends and she almost had a hernia. "Who, you?" she demanded. "Have opinions?" Yeah, okay. You know I do. It's a fine old tradition in our house. My mother was notorious. My dad couldn't get through a meal without staring a debate on something; anything. My brother and I get into shouting matches. And if we begin to agree, we switch positions and play devil's advocate, just to keep the debate going(once one of my son's friends came in while my brother and I were leaning across my kitchen counter finger-waving and shouting at each other over...oh, I don't know. Gun control. Nuclear disarmament. Exactly what part John Wayne played in the psyches of the males in the US. "Good grief," he said to my son. "Do they always do that?" Kevin shook his head sadly and said, "You should see what happens when her sister shows up.")

I was raised in a family that's lousy with Jesuits. We were steeped in the tradition of debate and discussion. And, yeah, I hit my formative years in the 60s, when anything was fair game for a good round of argument. There's nothing I love better. It is not only a learning experience, but the best exercise I can think of for the brain--certainly better than soduko, which makes my eyes bleed. I think debates clear the air. They open the door to new ideas and demand a person defend a position with tenacity, all the while allowing her (or him) to remain open to the discovery of new ideas. They sharpen a person's verbal skills and teach her to crystallize concepts.

My last post evidently started a very active debate. Passionate in some quarters. It ended up fitting into a dandy discussion going on over at Laura Vivanco's blog, Teach Me Tonight(the post on Elizabeth Thornton's Fallen Angel). I didn't agree with everything said, and I certainly wasn't agreed with by everyone. But I couldn't be more delighted. I think the idea of violence against women in the romance genre is one that should continually be examined. And I think that the discussions I read have been passionate, thoughtful, insightful, and intelligent. Should we label romance to indicate issues that might disturb? Would limiting content be censorship, if the same book can be published elsewhere? Is the observation being made in CTC valid? I still feel strongly about my position, but I can see valid points in many of the dissenting views.

I don't like censorship any better than anybody else. But I do believe that genres, by definition, have boundaries. I'm intrigued by the labeling idea. Some think it would be demeaning. I'm not sure. Nobody considers Harlequin to be patronizing by clearly marking their lines and what the parameters are for each. It's not censorship so much as marketing. It's something to think about I wouldn't have considered if there hadn't been a debate at all.

Which is why they're so much fun. Just ask any Jesuit. Or my mother.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Eileen the Angry

No, Eileen the furious. Eileen the outraged. Eileen the greatly disappointed.

Before I tell you why, let me preface it by giving you a bit of my history. I worked in trauma nursing for sixteen years. We were the catchment hospital for familial abuse, so I took care of endless numbers of women caught in a terrifying spiral of violence, abuse and degradation because they'd been taught that they were worthless, powerless and lucky to have the man who was crippling her and her children. So I have absolutely no objectivity about the subject. I know what an abuser looks like what he(statistically) sounds like and what the cost of his abuse is.

One of the things I've been proudest of in romance is that as a genre, we have persistently communicated the message that women have power, that women deserve to be loved, to be respected, and to have their needs and wishes fulfilled in a healthy relationship. Yes, especially in the early years, the message has occasionally been much darker. And I"ll tell you something, and I'm not being flippant. I used to stand in bookstores and watch to see who bought the kind of books that taught women that all they deserved was pain and punishment. That this was the definition of love. Universally, the women who picked up these books walked across to the self-help aisle and bought books on how to deal with abusive mates.

It makes perfect sense. If they've already been taught that this is all they deserve, this is the message they're reinforce in their romance books. Thankfully, those books were mostly weeded out. And while I can intellectually appreciate the "Taming the Beast" message of the old rape fantasies, I"m afraid that the women reading them for reinforcement, told me that the message they got was that if they just hung around long enough, their abuser would be redeemed by the love of a good woman. Usually what I saw was those good women on slabs in the morgue.

And now, the spectre of the abusive hero has reared its unspeakably ugly head again. I'm not talking about the old "he forced her when he first knew her but learned his lesson through pain and work" books. I'm talking about a book that is an abuser's lexicon. And worst of all, it came out from Avon. I guess I expected better of them. The author is new. She's very talented. Which is even more unsettling, because she does provoke emotion. It's called Claiming the Courtesan. What I'd call it is "Punishing the Helpless."

I read about fifty pages, and thought, 'no, it can't really be this bad." I checked in with All About Romance, whose reviewers I respect. I found out that it was far worse than I'd thought. The hero, a duke, has the most notorious mistress in London. She leaves. He refuses to allow that, insanely furious that she has the nerve to leave him(even though she's fulfilled her contract). He stalks her(and doesn't raise really comfortable images), kidnaps her and terrorizes her. He doesn't simply continually rape her, he forces home the message that she's worthless.

"You still don't understand, do you, Verity? And I've always considered you to be a very clever little poppet. You have no power. You have no rights. You belong to me. This isn't London. This is a forgotten little corner of a feudal domain. And I am its lord. There is nowhere to run. There's no one to help you. If I want you--and we both know that I do--I take you."

In St. Louis, we have a law that allows police who respond to domestic abuse situations to judge the real abuser by language alone, because the language of an abuser is classic and universal. What you just read would have had that man arrested and indicted. There could not be more classic abuse language.

I'm afraid, as Sandy Coleman said on All About Romance, that somebody's going to call this unfortunate work as 'edgy and cutting edge'. Not at all. It yanks us right back to the years when women were powerless and only good for subservience and obedience. And if it's all the same to you, we've worked too damn hard to climb out of that pit to go back there. Especially the thousands of women who risked their lives to save themselves and their children from the kind of situation this book glorifies. On behalf of my genre, I apologize to them all.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Two Sweetest Words in the English Language

Yes, that's right. The end. I finished my book this last weekend. I would have blogged about it Monday, except that was devoted to converting all my Wordperfect 6.2 files into Word for Windows so they could be edited at Silhouette, then copying them all, then sending the snailmail and the email versions to editors and agents.

Then the last two days I wandered around the house feeling a bit disoriented and lost, which is exactly what happens after I finish a book. I don't know where I'm supposed to be, because I"m not in my office sweating blood. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing, because I don't have a book hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. Of course, I have the next book already hanging there. I need to start on that by the end of the week, because I want it finished within two months. But for now, I'm actually taking a bit of a breather.

How to describe the actual end of a book you've totally focused on for so long. First of all, I admit that I waste an inordinate amount of time cleaning it up and writing the last three or four pages. First, because I do not have an active brain cell in the linear logic division, and have to clean up my continuity errors(WHAT was that person's name again?) and make sure all my clues are in place for whatever happens later. Second, and the truest, I think, is because no matter how much I struggled over those characters, I've loved them enough to struggle over them in the first place. I've spent the last few months in intimate acquaintance with them. And, to be honest, The End also translates into Good Bye.

I simply hate to send my lovely characters away to someone who might not love them as much as I do. I hate to forfeit the feeling of delight and discovery I've enjoyed when a surprise character shows up(in this newest book, the second of the Daughters of Myth series for Silhouette Nocturne, I was surprised when exactly halfway through the book, a little four-year-old named Lilly made a dramatic entrance, and I fell instantly, madly in love with her. Lilly has Down Syndrome. And as she appeared on the set of my book, I discovered that the world of faerie calls children with Down Syndrome their "Cherished Ones", because nothing is more beautiful to the world of faerie than pure joy; and these children will never lose theirs. In fact, they are the only children who will never be too old to see the fairies). Quite simply, I hate to say goodbye.

But that's what The End is all about. And I'll be able to visit with them in about two months when I get my copy-edit back. And, hopefully, get to talk about them when people read the book. I'll let you know when it's scheduled. Oh, and what it's titled. The title committee's in charge of this one.

Eileen\Kathleen, the evil twins

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Yes, I know I'm late posting, but I"ve spent the day with my family. We consider this one of the high holy days, and spend it together--usually at a restaurant as far removed from an Irish bar as we can get. Because, you see, we're not amateurs, and we don't see a need to mix with them.

St. Louis has a monstrous celebration: fourth largest in the country. We have two parades: one downtown that is the big public one, and one in the area we call Dogtown where the original Irish immigrants settled, put on by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. Usually those parades are separate, because the downtown parade is always on a Saturday and the AOH parade is always on St. Patrick's Day. And yeah, they coincided this year. The AOH parade is completely family oriented--well, as much as it can be when bars are open. And all the bars and restaurants with an O in the title rent tents and pour green beer. My very favorite site in St. Louis, John D. McGurk's, actually puts up a wire cage, like Blues Brothers, to keep the crowd from falling over the traditional Irish music band that plays.

So I refuse to wear shamrock glasses or F#$# Me I'm Irish buttons or silly green wigs. I figure if you take one look at my face, you get the idea. But it's a very important day for my family. Mostly I guess because of my mom. She was Irish with a capitol I. Wept at sad music(is there any other kind?), celebrated any Irish triumph, railed against the British(she used to point out the fact that there were no trees in Ireland. "It's because the English tore them down to build warships in the 1800s", she'd say. "Couldn't they have planted them again any time in the last, oh, say, eighty years they've been an independent country?" I'd ask. She'd smack me. After all, what's the point of replanting the forests if that takes away the chance to blame the English for taking them down in the first place? Fortunately, Ireland is much more sensible than my mom. They've started replanting.

If you've read anything I've ever written, you'll see how important Ireland is to me. It infuses everything I write. My themes tend to be guilt and redemption. My heroines are usually named something like Maggie or Molly. My families are dysfunctional(have you read Angela's Ashes? I know those people. I'm related to them--fortunately, one ring out on the family tree, so they're interesting instead of devestating). I find the dynamic of the Irish character endlessly fascinating. A land of madmen and poets, Ireland is called. So true; so true. I can't tell you the times I've walked into a music pub and seen a pathetic, drooling, can't-clean-himself drunk passed out on the bar until somebody with the band says, "Tommy, lad, will you give us a song?" And suddenly, for the length of time it takes him to finish a song--maybe twelve verses of it--he lifts himself, opens his rheumy eyes, his mouth, and a sound of pure beauty pours out from him. Then, finished, he lowers his head again. Amazing.

Yeah, I go to Ireland frequently. (Here are a couple of my pictures.) I can't help it. I was just saying tonight that I missed it--especially in the spring. There are so many places on earth I want to see, but every other year, like a salmon hearing the call of the river where he was spawned, I have to return to the west coast of Ireland and sit out on a headland and write longhand in a notebook. I sit the whole evening in the music pubs, and if I'm lucky, sing the old songs(I actually have a collection a friend gave me entitled "It's not an Irish love song if nobody dies"). It's therapy. We figured I've been over thirteen times. I can't wait to get back. It's where God lives for me. It's where countless generations of ancestors call to me, and the cousins who are still there welcome me with family stories. It's where I tap into the core of creativity(more on that in a later post).

So if you'll excuse me, I"m going to put on the movies Into the West, then Matchmaker and Ryan's Daughter and sigh for the most beautiful spot on earth. In the meantime, Slainte! I hope your St. Patrick's Day was nice, be ye Irish or not.

Eileen and Kathleen, the evil twins

Friday, February 23, 2007

I love it when a plan comes together

I've been hanging around Anne Stuart and Jenny Crusie a lot lately, and have been reading their blogs with great interest, and I love how they do that 12 days of whatever book they're writing. I'm also amazed that they can do it. My problem is that, usually, if I'm writing about writing a book, I'm not actually writing the book. If the book is working, all I can think of is getting words down on the page before they all disappear, like soap bubbles. I think about it so much that when I'm driving I miss exits, and when I'm cooking I burn whatever's on the stove. Because I'm just not there.

Such is the case right now. I'm only taking the time to write this because my husband is working on my work computer(the computer I write on is completely separate from this one. Not only that, its working systems are completely obsolete so my kids would never play on it. Yeah, okay, they're now adults and sneer at my computer, but old habits die hard--especially the habit of creating a book in Word Perfect 6.2). So I thought this would be the perfect time to talk a bit about end stage manuscripts. At least mine.

I'm not what you'd call a scheduled writer. I'm more what we lovingly call a "binge-and-purge_ writer. I spend days wandering the house staring at nothing, and then spit out at least a chapterin about 2 hours. I just did that yesterday. I spent 60% of my time on a book in the first five chapters. It's like pulling teeth for me. I liken it to a rollercoaster, when you're heading up that long, long hill, with the tracks making that click-click noise, and you think you're never going to get there and then suddenly.....woosh!!! Well, woosh happens to me just about when it reaches critical deadline time. One of my cousins put it most beautifully. "Eileen," she said. "You're just no damn good 'til the two-minute warning." She has a point.

So here I was(right before Rick had to fix my computer), with about 3/4 of the second book in the Daughters of Myth series(I can't remember the title--because the Silhouette title committee came up with it), about Queen Mab's second daughter Sorcha who has to convince a very angry mortal that he's in possession of one of the great ruling stones of faerie, and that she needs it back before all heck breaks loose. And he's just a guy trying to escape the notoriety of a family that made its name photographing fairie--and then, allegedly, catching one. And the bad guys have found them, and since the bad guys are fairies, they can do terrible things like infect dreams with terrible violence, and I'm at the 3/4 point, and I know kinda what has to happen to get to the end of the book, but not exactly, and I'm trying to write with my eyes closed, as if, if I don't look, it'll all work out, and suddenly, why suddenly-----woooosh!

I know exactly how Sorcha proves herself, and how Harry redeems himself, and how little Lilly, his neice who has Down Syndrome, which makes her one of the world of faerie's Cherished Ones, is saved from the evil fairies. It came to me on a flaming pie, as John Lennon used to say, and that's how all the best stuff always comes to me. And, even after over thirty books, it's still a surprise.

So Rick's finished now, and I'm going to head back to my office to send Sorcha and Harry after the great Dearann Stone, with Cian on their tails, since he wants the stone to help his clan gain all the power in the world of faerie--which would also rob the earth of any more springs--and Darragh from the first book playing his part, and....

well, we'll all just have to wait to see how it turns out. The good news is that I know. Whew! What a relief. I just love it when a plan comes together.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Friday, February 16, 2007

Why dog shows are like publishing

I admit it. I'm a dog show junkie. There's just something about canines on a runway that attracts me; I can't say why. So I watched Westminster the other night--well, two nights. And I have to admit that I was pleased by the results. A beautiful springer spaniel won. I was pleased. Not thrilled. I'm waiting for more big dogs to win. I'm a big dog girl. I've had two golden retrievers, two labs, and a great dane. I have dogs that would eat the entire toy category for lunch. I want a dane to win. Even an Irish setter. Come on, you have to admit that there isn't anything quite as gorgeous as an Irish setter on the move.

But those small dogs keep winning. Okay. They jump around. Okay, they have cute little legs that work like hamsters in a wheel to get down that carpet and back in the allotted time. Okay, they've been groomed to within an inch of their lives(I still say, poor poodles. My aunt had a standard poodle. It was a magnificent dog. All I could think of watching those pouffed and moussed creatures they had prancing down the runway was, a)isn't your butt cold in this weather? and b) all the other dogs must laugh at you....when they're finished laughing at the Mexican hairless, anyway.

But I realized as I watched, that indeed, dog shows are like publishing. It doesn't matter if you have the winningest dog in the US(a long pouffy mop of a dog called the Dandy Dinmont). It doesn't matter if your dog is more popular with the crowd(the ubiquitous PBGB). What matters is the objective opinion of one man or woman on one night. Like the announcer says, they come down from 2500 entries to the 7 top dogs. And the judge said he wished he could give out seven ribbons, because the best of class were all champion dogs(I still can't warm up to the poodles) (of course, I doubt they can warm up, either)(I do love the explanation of why they have those puffballs of fur on their knees. It's to keep their knees warm in the water. Well, what about the rest of their naked back half?). But, considering that these dogs were considered the very best representation of their classes, perfect in conformation and blessed with a showring attitude(boy, could that bouvier stack). (yeah, I even have the lingo), it came down to intangibles nobody can control.

So there you are as an author. You might be the best author of your generation. You might have written a book--even a series of books--that are beautifully reviewed, that are beloved by your friends and family and even the critique partner who can never find a nice thing to say about you. You might even find an agent who loves your stuff. But if you don't get the subjective approval from an editor, it doesn't matter. And no matter how brilliant a worsdsmith you are, or how beautifully you craft characters or plots or themes, no matter how timely or topical, the sad fact is that often it ends up in the area of intangibles as to whether you're picked for the show. And then whether, once picked, you get the attention of the rest of the people in the publishing house. And the sales force. And get the idea.

On the other hand, if you're a writer, you do it because you can't not do it. So you might as well shoot for that ring in Madison Square Garden and the single spot, with that judge calling, "the winner is....." I know I do.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Monday, January 29, 2007

Finally, Kareena

So here I am back at the coffee shop, and I figure it's about time I told you about Kareena Boudreaux. Now, for anybody who hasn't read it, SINNERS AND SAINTS is where you'll find my lovely Kareena, one of my favorite second-bananas I've ever gotten to write. SINNERS takes place mostly in New Orleans. I wanted to do a fish out of water book, in which my heroine, Chastity Byrnes, has to leave one of the premiere forensic communities, here in St. Louis, to wade through the much different forensic community in New Orleans. I think if I say "Good old boy" network, you'll get it. If I mention it might be a weensy bit inefficient, you might be able to see evidence of that, too, especially since Katrina.

Anyway, to set up Chastity's foray through a completely new community, I needed a guide. I knew that the male protagonist would be an ex-firefighter-turned-cab-driver, James Guidry(I really didn't want to fall into that "her boyfriend's a cop" cliche of discovering what was going on in the case). But James didn't have the contacts Chastity needed. But then, Chastity is a forensic nurse,one of the newest breed of forensic scientists. She is an ED liaison, who collects evidence, evaluates and testifies in abuse cases, and works with the police in a myriad of ways. And the thing about forensic nurses, is that because it's still such a new profession, they tend to know each other.

Which is how I came across Kareena. I was at a forensic nurse conference(I am trained, but do not call myself a forensic nurse, because I do not practice) in 2003, when I ran across the Forensic Nurse Liaison for the Charity Hospital ER in New Orleans. Her name is Karen Chabert, and she is not just funny, beautiful, interesting and edgy, she is a brilliant forensic nurse and an even better teacher. And she had every contact I needed for research.
"Please," I begged her. "I'm coming down to New Orleans for some forensic research. Help me."
"On one condition," she said."You have to have a character named Kareena Boudreaux from Cut-Off Louisiana, and she has to be sexy."

Well, when somebody makes a suggestion like that--that is pure gold--I gave them three good chances to change their mind. I gave her those three chances. She insisted. I wrote Kareena Boudreax.

Kareena is kind of my voice of New Orleans in the book. She knows the not-so-good stuff that happens down there, but she knows the really good stuff and good people, too. She knows how hard most of them work to do the right thing. And she knows that they're all doing it in New Orleans, which has rules and traditions all its own. Okay, and she knows the ways to circumvent them all to get the information she needs.

Karen Chabert took me through Charity, even to the morgue, which was built in the 1800s, and looked like it. She introduced me to people and drove me through the city with a forensic nurse's eye(we went back again after the hurricane, and she took me through the Lower Ninth Ward, where she pointed to one destroyed house after another saying, "One of my patients lived of my patients lived there...that's where the chaplain lived. They still haven't found his sister. We sat in a warm April sun in the middle of desolation the likes of which I had only seen in photoes of Hiroshima, and prayed for all those patients she'd lost that day. I'm still not sure whether they found the chaplain's sister).

But as much a consummate professional as she is, she's also one of the funniest, most wonderful people I know. She's a member of the Zulu krew for Mardi Gras, and has taken her comments about medicine to live stand-up comedy clubs. She's taught forensic courses and raised money for the police, and made friend with every one of them. And when Charity was lost to the hurricane, she lost not only her job, but her beloved dog, and was homeless for months.

Karen is back now. Just as I considered Kareena my voice of New Orleans, I consider Karen the face of it. Because like the city, she suffered, but she's fighting back. And she's doing it in the most amazing style. If I get her permission, I'll find my picture of her on the Zulu krew and post it. Til then, when you read Kareena, think of her. And remember that although Karen was my inspiration, Kareena is only a shadow of her inspiration.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Thursday, January 25, 2007

the local coffee shop

I know, I keep saying I'm going to write about the genesis of my character Kareena Boudreaux in SINNERS AND SAINTS, and I keep meaning to, really. It's just that there are so many interesting different factors in writing, that I feel a compulsion to write about something else and then forget Kareena. And I'm about to do it again.

I'd like to pen an ode to my local cybercafe. Now, please understand that I have friends who have had their own cybercafes for years, and I have coveted their cafes. One friend, Rexanne Becnel, goes to the mother of all coffee shops in New Orleans in a historic building with true eccentrics and artists manning the tables. I have a lowly whitebread neighborhood, five tables and a fireplace(okay, there are some comfy chairs) (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition). Sorry. Couldn't help it. Anyway, it's not much as far as Hemingwayesque atmosphere. But it's mine. Well, mine and the guy who owns it and all the other people who come in through the day. But the point is that a)it's a funky little place with nice owners who treat you like friends, b) it has free wireless, and c) it isn't my house.

One thing you need to know about me is that for years my husband would regularly kick me out. Me, a pitcher of iced tea, my CD player and my laptop. I'd check into a local motel and closet myself in for four days or so in an effort to finish a deadline. And I'm here to tell you that it's amazing how much you can get written in a boring beige room with nothing but a bad print of the Grand Canyon for decoration. There must be a Chinese restaurant within a five block radius, of course. But other than that, I don't leave the room.

It's wonderful. You see, writing is a very selfish business. When the book is working, you don't want to stop for anything. Not husbands, police, children or doctors' appointments. You just want to play in the world you've created. But when you're working in your house, there's no way to avoid any of that. So I'd have trouble getting the deadlines done. Thus the motel. Well, I kept telling myself that once the kids were grown, I could skip the hotel. After all, I'd have the house to myself--with all the business work I hadn't done yet, the TV, the internet for mail and e-bay, and, of course, the evil telephone, which, as an old trauma nurse, I'm not allowed to leave unanswered. Because the one time I don't answer the phone, it will be the ER calling about a loved one in a perilous state of health, who demands my permission or referral RIGHT AWAY. Somehow that kind of thing doesn't occur to me when I'm not in the house to hear the phone ring.

So you see that the empty house thing wasn't enough. And then my cybercafe opened up. It's called Wired Coffee, and it's a cute little corner place with bright colors and soup for lunch. And nothing but my computer. I was there today because my internet went out and I had to use their wireless. And then I remembered how nice it was to write there. The music is good acoustic 60's stuff. The coffee is excellent and comes with free refills. And nobody really looks over your shoulder. I've tried writing on a plane, but nobody respects monitor privacy in a plane. And I sure don't want just anybody reading either my sex scenes or my serial killer scenes while seated next to me on a full four hour flight. In the coffee shop, nobody notices. They just know I'm working hard.

So what happens is, I get eleven pages written, just like today. I even leave in time to get dinner for my husband. I did ask the proprietor if he wouldn't mind lending me the key so I could come back about 1AM when I do my best work. I had to settle for coming back tomorrow. Which I might just do. I'll let you know. I'll drop a blog from the shop.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Sunday, January 07, 2007

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Edits

Oh, if writing were a linear life. If only I wrote a book, published a book, basked in the glory of publishing a book(or the ignominious shame of not selling a book well), and then started researching the next book. Of course, if I did it that way, it would take at least twice as long for any of my books to come out.

This is January. I have a suspense that just came out in December(SINNERS AND SAINTS), a romance that came out in October(DANGEROUS TEMPTATION). I am in the process of telling you how the suspense came to be while I'm doing final page proof edits on the collaborative novel(THE UNFORTUNATE MISS FORTUNES) I did with Jenny Cruise and Anne Stuart that's slated for June '07. I'm writing the text of the second book in the romance trilogy that came out in October as I research my next suspense by taking courses in brain physiology and arson investigation. Oh, and I'm working with Jenny and Anne on setting up the website to promote The MIss Fortunes, and outlining the regency-era action trilogy I've been wanting to do for a long time and won't leave me alone.

In my spare time I'm organizing the travel for the speaking engagements and conferences I'm signed up for this spring (it will be on the website soon. But expect me in San Antonio, Seattle, Bloomington, Illinois, Cincinnati and Indianapolis). I'm sending out PR info, speech proposals, contest winnings, blogs on friends' blogs(LIPSTICK CHRONICLES), and writing the first blog for the new UNFORTUNATEMISSFORTUNES.COM website. Oh, and doing my best to map out the geneology of the mortal family who interact with the world of faerie in my next book(they all have to descend from the same great-great granfather without having three eyes and a fin).

Which is why authors are sometimes so confused when they see you at a signing or conference and you quote their latest book. That book might have only come out four months ago, but the author is already three books--and characters and crises and conflicts---past that already. It's also why it's tough for us to really enjoy our success. By the time we have it with a book--if we do--we're already hating the next book or the one after that we're stuck in the middle of with no obvious way out.

Ah, if it only happened in a linear fashion. But, alas, it doesn't. Which is why all those years working the emergency room stood me in such good stead.

eileen\kathleen, the evil twins

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy holidays

It's been a few days since I've posted. Amazing how time flies when you have twenty people to the house for Christmas eve and then another thirty five to your dad's the next day. We had a wonderful Christmas. My whole family was here, which every year is getting to be a much more iffy proposition, considering the fact that my f-i-l is 95, and my own dad is 85. But we were blessed once again.

May I extend my most sincere and heartfelt wishes for your own holiday celebrations. I think it's a wonderful time of the year, and a wise time to place some of the most important holidays, right in the depths of winter, when the human in us simply wants to curl up and close our eyes, not really sure that spring will come again. Then there are lights everywhere, and people are actually kind in store parking lots, and okay, they play "It's a Wonderful Life" on tv ad nauseum. It really does get us through these shortest days of the year with hope.

I just read an extraordinary article in the New York Times that I'd like to include.

I'm not sure if it will come through, but it's the story of a young soldier who wrote a diary to his newborn son on how to live without him if necessary. That soldier didn't come home from Iraq. This story to me highlights the special bond of the season, and I hope you'll take a moment to think of those men and women halfway across the world, who give of themselves to protect us. No matter your politics, these are our brightest and best, and they deserve our respect and gratitude. So the next time you're in an airport and see someone in uniform, reach out and shake a hand. Say thank you. I know they appreciate it. They're usually startled. Or donate to one of the many services that send small mementos of home to that distant place. Or just pray for them. My brother came home from Vietnam and was spit on for risking his life in an alien land. We know better now. But it can't hurt to take that extra step to say thank you. Especially at this time of year.

And to you and yours, a happy and healthy holiday season, and a wonderful new year.

my very best,
eileena and kathleen, the evil twins