Busy woman (Krissie)

. 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.

All About You (Krissie)

I’m finally ready to move ahead on the book after absolutely months of rewriting. It would have been faster to write a whole new book, but I’ve loved this unusual (for me) process. I was so excited I almost forgot refab.

I’m excited about Working Wednesdays, but I’m doing so many interesting things I’m probably going to throw them up (not literally) at other times as well. I just passed day 201 of studying Danish (I’m using Duolingo as well as a number of other programs and Duolingo keeps track). Been working on my sewing room, attempting some order in the bedroom (you can barely walk through it) plus writing. I’m getting a little discouraged about the weather here – I’d just like it to reach 80, fer gawd’s sake! I want to float in my pool but it’s too effing cold! My floatie died and I got a new one from Amazon. Looks great, doesn’t it? And I’ve got one of those blow up pools, about 4 feet deep, with a ladder. Now I knew getting on that sucker was going to be difficult, so I climbed two steps up the ladder and tried to fling my leg over. Next thing I knew I was under water with the floatie on top of me. Mama don’t like going under water. I had my iPhone in a water-proof bag that wasn’t completely waterproof (I was listening to an old Georgette Heyer). Undaunted (though with water up my nose), I climbed up on the ladder again, flung my leg over and … you guessed it. I’m looking forward to watching Richie try to get on it but it was too cold for him yesterday. I think we’ll break 80 today.

Anyone who’s got extra energy could send out some healing light or prayer or whatever you do for my cousin Helen who’s going under the knife at 1 today. It’s not looking so good but I’m optimistic, or at least trying to be.

And I’ve been writing the loveliest book in my head about Tom Hiddleston. That man is just adorable, as far removed from my heroes as a human could be (though I use the actor part of him as hero material). The real man seems to be the kindest, sweetest man, and I’m doing this book in my head that would never work because all the tension is in the heroine, but damn, it’s fun! Also, a great way to fall asleep.

What’s on your agenda? I get to write!!!! I’m going to meditate for an hour at one (for my cousin) and float in the pool in the afternoon, and then write like mad the rest of the time. And that’s my plan for the week. At night I do a little work on my revamped sewing room, then I play the guitar and sing, study my Danish, listen to an audiobook, and then move on to ¬†Hiddleston. My, it’s a good life (both kids are stable and content – no crises).

So what’s on your agenda? Who would you most like to f .. er, who would you be most likely to have sexual fantasies about if you didn’t have to be embarrassed or married or old or fat or skinny or whatever? If you could be anyone you want, and the love of your life wasn’t around, who would you choose?

I want answers! Surely I can’t be the only one who does this. Come on, don’t be shy. (And the person doesn’t have to be alive or old in your fantasies. I’d take James Dean in a flash). Or hey, if you’re feeling shy – who would you model your perfect hero on?

And now, for your delectation:

Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays – Comfort Zones

big cog


It’s been a long while since I’ve posted. I’ve been unable to really blog about forward progress with the building, mostly because there hasn’t been much. We’re still waiting on the committee to approve the new colors, and until that time, a lot of stuff is on hold. That hasn’t been a hardship–which, I know, is odd–but simultaneous to all of this, we ended up with work spread out from New Orleans to Texas, which means Carl is running like a crazy person, making sure we’re doing okay. He needs to be here for the building stuff, so the committee taking forever ironically worked for us instead of against. I think all of that is going to get resolved in this next month, though. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, last spring, I applied to The Arcanum, an online photography school that used the mentor/apprentice construct to teach. The idea being that each photographer would naturally have their own path and things they were passionate about. Instead of creating a “one-size-fits-all” type of curriculum, the guys starting the school opted for a flexible program where each master/mentor/instructor can help each student hone their skills and then aim at their specific goal.

One of the school’s initial leaders is Trey Ratcliff, the first photographer to have an HDR (high dynamic range) photo hanging in the Smithsonian. If you follow that link and see his stuff, you’ll be gobsmacked by how amazing it is. Really, he’s just mind-blowingly good.

Our teacher is A. D. Wheeler, in our particular group, and he’s pretty damned phenomenal as well. We have a great group of photographers, all with varying skill sets, which makes for a terrific learning experience. I love that the Arcanum is set up so that you get a lot of feedback at every step from fellow photographers. It sets us up to learn from each other, and then, in improving in an area, we have to figure out how to be more articulate about that skill when critiquing someone else… and having to be articulate helps us refine our knowledge, which improves the skill… and so on.

Last year, for example, I went to a party at a friend’s house where she has an old car just going to seed in her back yard. I tried to get some shots of it, but there’s a lot of shade there, no matter what time of day, and I could never get anything that I felt happy with. This was about the best I could get, then:

Old car



After a couple of months in the Arcanum, I was able to go back and, even though I was rushed, get this:

Barbara's old car

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Krissie: NJ Tuesday

Photo on 2-25-14 at 11.05 AM I look strange. Here’s the question. I clearly need my hair trimmed. I think I need bangs. I have a long face with a high forehead (all those brain’s, y’know) and I think I need wispy bangs. Opinions?
And aiyeee!!!!! (in more ways than one) for blood sugar. When I had my last physical it was 105 (pre-diabetic) so I decided to check it down here. I made Jenny stick me and it was 110. And then 83. And then 118. (We did two sticks and three tests). It was fasting, of course. Hmmmmmmm.
Which means I need to go back to my doctor to see what’s going on, because I’m trying, I really am. And I’m doing pretty well, so why is my blood sugar nutzoid? We don’t have blood sugar issues in the family, even in the chubs ones.
Anyway, that’s for dealing with when I get home.
I got down here on Thursday and we went out for dinner at Kathy’s Diner, our favorite place. Friday we went to Walmart and Staples while I looked for a lap desk — I’d left mine at home but Jenny finally jerry-rigged one out of a dog gate so I could write. Wrote tons and we ate our meals at home. Saturday we stayed at home. Sunday we went out for breakfast (Kathy’s) and then I went out and bought a few things (a little fruit instead of crumb cake — I have resisted that wicked temptation) and a couple of other things. During all this I dealt with the trauma of finding my latest proposal was turned down, but fortunately I was already 25 pages into a new sort of book that I really really liked, and my agent had wanted 50 pages before she sent it out, so I finished up the pages and revised and revised so I could send it out Monday (yesterday). We’ve been watching episodes of Arrow and Leverage and White Collar and we saw Despicable Me 2 (which was wonderful!) and so far no crocheting! But lots of talk about writing and story and what works and doesn’t work. It’s been glorious.
Today we go to Jenny’s eye doctor, then treat ourselves with our ceremonial visit to ihop where we have healthy pancakes (ha!). When we get home I’ll pack and get ready to leave tomorrow, weather willing, and I’ll probably cry for the first half hour.
But things are good at home. I’m not sure when I’ll get down again, because the baby’s due at the end of March and I expect I’ll be glued to things for a while. But I also think getting away will be a healthy thing, and Erin’s got a fairly decent maternity leave so I won’t be needed that much, so I’ll wean myself away by the end of April and come down and enjoy spring and Jenny.
Tonight we’re going to watch Blacklist and Thor, if it arrives. Heaven! It’s a drag to be torn between two places, but then again, it’s wonderful to have a bolt hole. Now all I have to do is find where I put my iPod classic. I dropped it underneath my car, rescued it and brought it in triumphantly and then set it down and Jenny’s House ate it. My house does the same thing. So I’ll need to make it regurgitate it before i leave tomorrow — it has all my music on it (I have books on the iPhones.)
I don’t know if I mentioned it by my beloved iPod Nano died on the way down (and the classic is on borrowed time – can’t use earphones with it so I can’t listen to it when I go to sleep). Nothing I’d like more than to buy a new classic and a new Nano, but that’s not in the cards financially, so instead I ordered a tiny Sansa clip with a micro SD card. It’s an excellent alternative to my beloved iPods, and I just have to bite the bullet right now. Publishing is insane, and it only seems to get crazier. I need to come up with a plan, though that requires much discussion with La Crusie. Good thing I’m here.
May you live in interesting times. There is always something glorious about disaster if you look hard enough. It’s not like publishing is ever a secure profession, and all this chaos means that following the rules and being a good girl doesn’t do squat. It frees you to follow your bliss, because if you aren’t going to get the contracts (or sizable ones) or the publisher support then you may as well write what you really really want and hope you’ve got enough people who’ll buy it.
I bought a sappy card at the health food store in Burlington that I loved. It said “Life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain.”
So today I’m dancing.

Krissie: Friday, Bloody Friday

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I go for days being upbeat and cheery, and then suddenly I crash and become leaden and morose. That happened last night — At five-thirty I just lost all energy and interest and went up to bed. I woke up for a couple of hours at ten and then went back to bed, sleeping relatively well the entire night.
But waking up in a major funk.
But does our doughty heroine simply submit to the forces of depression? Never! I called and made and appointment to get my hair cut, I called to find out when I see my shrink (Monday, thank God), I called and got Tim’s phone working. And then I decided, rather than sit in my chair unable to move, to get up, put on my bathing suit and drive to the pool (25 miles away), because supposedly exercise is as good as anti-depressants. And so I did. I did water walking, and dreaming about the book, and a few stretching exercises, and by god I felt better. So here I am, late in the day, telling you about it.
I get to go see Crusie next week, which is glorious. I just realized I have to put my writing into high gear, though, and that makes me edgy, but I was always able to work in Ohio and I don’t see why I can’t work in NJ. All I need is a recliner and Jenny’s got one.
So I’m at page 130 — I want to be at page 300 by the time I leave NJ (on the 31st). Lemme see — that’s 12 working days if I don’t take any of them off. Twelve goes into 170 …. ugh. 14 pages a day. In the old days that would have been easy. Nowadays I’m not so sure.
I guess I just have to be disciplined. Allow myself fun with Crusie but get that work done. Good thing is I love this book, and know where it’s going, so that helps.
I also did an experiment. Problem is, when I write I get sleepy. It only makes sense — I used to tell myself stories when I went to bed, from the time I was very small, so it’s an automatic trigger. If I don’t sleep the night before I get sleepy and nap instead of writing. If I take the meds that are supposed to help me sleep then I’m sleepy the next day and nap instead of writing. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
So I figure if it’s late at night and I’ve been lying in bed unable to sleep I should simply go downstairs and write.
Which I did.
I tend to sleep well at Crusie’s, so that’s not a problem, and she needs her alone time too, so I won’t have trouble writing. It’s a good plan, and it’ll work. It has to.
I think it’s my sense of impermanence that’s causing the edginess and anxiety. We don’t know where we’re going but we can’t afford to stay here (VT is very enlightened but the taxes and utilities are mind-boggling). And I’m screwing up my courage to get my knees replaced next year. Ugh.
But meanwhile, I’ve got to write. And there are good things waiting to happen.
Most of us have such a love/hate relationship with work. We’re the ones who are responsible — there’s no boss, no co-worker, only your own ambition or imagination or even guilt if that works. I use whatever I can to whip myself into my office.
Fortunately right now the imagination is working overtime, and I bet there’s hot sex by Monday. That always cheers me up.
But I guess that’s the price we pay for doing what we love. There’s never any boredom here — more likely high drama. I just have to remind myself that it’s going to be all right. Everything is in the end.
I hope.

Krissie: Wednesday, Bloody Wednesday

Well, I’m trying to upload a photo and it’s not working, so screw it. Got up and worked on taxes for three hours and am now in a foul mood, so I’ll think about something pleasant. Like the hero of the utterly ridiculous Sleepy Hollow. Doesn’t he ever change his clothes? Doesn’t matter — when he stands in a graveyard with the wind blowing through his hair (which has to be a wig since it was short at ComicCon) I’d follow him anywhere. Perfect avatar for my current hero. The show is ridiculous but pretty funny if you can wade through it. And, oh, my, the hero.
The avatar for my heroine, and always has been, is the character Maxie on General Hospital. I don’t know why, but when I pictured Sophie, pretty, selfish, wounded Maxie was the one I envisioned. You know, Jenny usually knows who her avatars are, and she makes the most astonishing collages. For me, I sometimes start with someone, sometimes not. And of course, they soon become their own characters.
So, tv.
I’m loving The Blacklist, of course, not won over by S.H.I.E.L.D. yet, and thrilled by my old friends, like Person of Interest and NCIS (damn you, Ziva!) and the Mentalist. Too much good stuff nowadays, and I’ve got taxes to get done. Aaargh!

I’m wondering if Barbara and Toni are locked out of Refab. With the constant troubles they may have gotten lost in the shuffle, but we’ll see what we can do to get them back. Crusie’s overwhelmed, and I moan too much. Trying not to, but life certainly can be a challenge. We need Barbara’s good advice on moving our butts, and Toni’s rehab inspiration.

I keep looking for the Meaning of Life. I don’t know if life has any meaning — I wrote a series of books where God gave freewill and then took a powder, leaving someone bad in charge. I think that tends to be my general belief — so many wretched things happen that a loving god would interfere. Therefore he’s sunning himself on some beach on the Caribbean with no cell service while an evil archangel is in charge, dispensing plagues and war.

NOT that we should talk about theology or politics or we’ll all start fighting. (Krissie immediately zips her lips about congress but you know what I think).

I wish everything didn’t feel so out of control. I think I need to get someone in to help me on the house — someone who can stand for a long time and carry things, etc. No one can do the taxes but me, no one can write the books but me, but damn it, I can get help with the other stuff, can’t I?

OK, that’s my goal. To call the woman who was going to help me work on this place and see what I can do about it. That, and maybe drag my husband out to work on the storage areas.

But first, I gotta write. Because if I write, the rest of the world is manageable.

But man, do I hate taxes.

Krissie: This is Why I Write

Photo on 8-14-13 at 9.06 AM So Crusie sent Lani and me an email yesterday which set off a whole bunch of thinking. If I could choose what I’d do for the rest of my life (or even for a couple of years) and have no repercussions, financially or in terms of future career options, what would I do? I’m having a little trouble getting started on the new book, I’m feeling like I’m juggling too many things, and I’m basically not accomplishing anything and feeling guilty about it. So if I didn’t have to feel guilty, what would I choose to do? Would I turn my back on writing, just for a year, or a few months, or the rest of my life? I’ve been writing my entire life, professionally since 1971, and god knows I’m so disgusted with publishing and editors I once trusted that I’d be justified in blowing everything off.
But … I suddenly remembered why I began writing professionally (and really, why I wrote fan fiction in my teen years before fan fiction was invented).
Recently (as in the last few years) I was thinking it was because there were stories I wanted to tell. That I had these stories inside me that I needed to write down, and money and success had nothing to do with it. The stories just kept coming and I needed to write them down.
Well, that’s part of it.
But I suddenly remembered why I made the decision to write my first book that I wanted published. It’s because other writers weren’t keeping up with my need for story. There weren’t enough writers writing the books I wanted to read. If I wanted to read the story that spoke to my fantasies then I had to write it.
Which is why I made my first mistake, and wrote a first-person Gothic in the early 1970s. There weren’t enough being published, so I had to fill the gap. But the reason there weren’t enough being published is that the market in them had crashed (too many weak books, too fast) and editors weren’t buying them.
I still managed to sell my first five books before the market tanked completely, but by then I’d moved on to Regencies because Georgette Heyer was dead and I needed more regencies (that heyday lasted a second and a half) and I’ve been able to write what I love since then. What I loved most seldom happened to be the flavor of the month, though there were occasional times when they coincided, but at least I wrote and sold.
If I stopped writing now I don’t think there’d be enough books to transport me. I’m fairly picky — there are a great many massively beloved writers who leave me cold. Now maybe if Laura Kinsale, Loretta Chase, Sherry Thomas, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Hoyt, Mary Stewart, Georgette Heyer, Eloisa James, Linda Howard, et al were all writing enough to keep me happy (and all of them are of course not equal in my esteem, but I devour all of them) then maybe that would be enough.
But I don’t think that would be true either. Because when I read a really good book it fills me with a kind of restless, creative energy that I need to expend. A great story just makes me want to tell my own great story, with the hero doing and saying exactly what i want him to do or say. With the sex and redemption and despair and love and all that good stuff going on.
My mother wrote until her mid-nineties, and she wasn’t even a story-teller. Her stuff was more character-driven, and she loved playing with words. And yet she kept working.
I need stories, my own and others, to survive. So when I’m sitting there in my recliner (or whatever they’ll have in 30 or so years) I’ll be making up stories because I have to. Without them something inside of me dries up and twists and dies.
So I guess there’s no way I’ll ever be free from the compulsion to write. And because writing is communication (I passed the fan fiction around to my friends in high school) I suppose I’m always going to want to see things published. Basically there’s no way off this fucking merry-go-round.
Which is all right. I just to work on my Zen a bit. Life is a journey, not a destination. Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can. Enjoy the ride.
Stop bitching (or silently mourning) the things I cannot have, or haven’t had. Grab what I’ve got, the amazing gift I was given. Okay, it’s not Mary Stewart, but hey, it’s Anne Stuart and there’s only one of her, and er … she’s really my favorite writer because she speaks to me directly.
And I can have as many Anne Stuart novels as I want. Laura Kinsale and Sharon and Tom Curtis and Judith Ivory may have stopped writing, and I can’t be Kathy Bates in Misery and go after them with a sledgehammer. But I can make Anne Stuart write, and do it with joy.
Which is exactly what I’m going to do. ¬†Starting today.