Saturday, July 30, 2011


I am unabashedly thrilled because a show I like, Downton Abbey, had their press day yesterday and all kinds of goodies are coming out about the upcoming second season.

The writing on this show is so incredible and I've been reading fanfiction and re-watching episodes and reading speculation on what might happen to whom next season....

Season 1 opened in 1912, with the sinking of the Titanic affecting an English earl and his family--and their small army of servants. It ended, many romantic entanglements, plots, disagreements, and intriguing characters, 7 episodes later, just as Britain entered WWI in 1914.

Full cast

ITV, the network Downton is shown on in the UK, also released a press pack, with little paragraph-long, minorly spoilery bios for every character. So, squee!! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Intro To Creative Writing notes from Spring '05

I was cleaning my desk up the other day and came across a sheaf of looseleaf. They are the notes I cared to keep after Intro to Creative Writing in Spring 2005.

Now, of course, I wish we'd had more intensive writing classes. Intro to Novels. Why Your Character Won't Do As You Say 101. I wish Research Writing was about researching for novels.

But, anyway, because it's always good to remember the basics:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Before AC

An interesting post at another blog:

I've been thinking about weather lately, in terms of my book. We New Yorkers might be in the middle of a heat wave right now, but in the summer of 1800 in England, the problem seemed to be wetness.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ten dukes-a-dining

I've mentioned the dearth of dukes in Regency romance novels, haven't I? Dukes are the highest level of nobility in England, just under royalty, so for most of the time, they were often the richest aristocrats with many houses, horses, coaches, and lots of land. They also had incredible influence, politically and socially. In a time when voting was limited to men who owned land and the House of Lords actually did something, being a duke was quite a deal.

Because of that, many historical romance heroes are dukes rather than, say, viscounts or barons. There have only been 500 dukes in Britain since the Conquest, so not every romance hero can be a duke. In fact, it's extremely unrealistic.

I was browsing around and came across this: Ten modern day dukes dining together. In total, there are currently 24 dukes in Great Britain, according to the article, so these ten were a small sampling. The range is interesting. The Duke of Leinster (which is ridiculous; Leinster is in Ireland and Ireland doesn't have peerage anymore) works as a landscape gardener, while others own thousands of acres of land.

Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington
The odd thing for me is that in researching background for stories, I've come across these men's ancestors and titles. For the Regency era, the big name is the Duke of Wellington, who was given that title in 1814 after defeating Napoleon during the Peninsular Wars. Because the Peninsular Wars were fought in Spain and Portugal, the family still owns huge tracts of land in those countries, which had been gifted to the Duke after the wars were finished.

And here's a Tudor connection as well. If you've ever watched The Tudors or read anything about Henry VIII, then you've likely come across these titles: Somerset. Norfolk. Northumberland. To those who have watched The Tudors, that's Edward Seymour (Henry's third wife's brother, who made himself a duke when he became Lord Protector of his nephew Edward); Norfolk, Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard's uncle; and Northumberland, who didn't figure at all in the show. He figured quite a bit in Iggy's tale (and may still, should I ever be in the mood to go back to it), because Northumberland owned a great deal of the northern England and fought a lot against the Scots. Plus, there was a son of the Earl of the Northumberland (they weren't dukes yet) who fell in love with Anne Boleyn, but couldn't marry her.

So much for the young, fit, rich, handsome duke. I guess a bit chubby and red-faced is more realistic?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Loud Morning

David Cook's second major label album was released two weeks ago. It's called This Loud Morning (RCA). 

I have written about my exploits (and posted pictures via Facebook) while in thrall with David. I don't, however, consider myself a super fan. As in, I only stalked him in legal ways and I don't think he's God's Gift to the Music Industry. 

 I loved several songs on the first release in 2008 ("Lie" in particular, but also "A Daily Anthem," "Declaration," "Bar-ba-Sol."). 

He took three years to release this record and so far, it's struggling a bit. Early days yet, I realize, but I bought the album and I'm kind of ambivalent about it. This isn't a music review at all, by the way. I'm just ranting. 

Unlike a great many Internet-blog-forum-posting Cooktards, I actually liked the first single. It's called "The Last Goodbye"--it's poppy and hooky and damn catchy. Good for summer, you know? Plus, the music video is just this side of morbid  and I quite like that. 

I've only listened to This Loud Morning through twice. That in itself is pretty unusual for me, because I am not an album listener.

I liked the opening track "Circadian." It's unusual, has good lyrics, innovative. And I liked "Fade Into Me" and "Goodbye to the Girl." There's been a lot of defensiveness in the official forum (which I just peeked in to see) about how the album has a loose concept and it takes you on a "journey" and it is showing "progression." It's a "seminal album," one that "deserves to be heard."

Here's what I heard: a lot of songs in the middle that sounded the same. I suppose for some, that means the album blends sonically. For me, that means that while I was lying on my parents' bed with the songs playing from my laptop at four o'clock on a July afternoon, I couldn't distinguish between songs. 

I was discussing this briefly with a friend and we agreed that the song structure is what is contributing to our sense of "it all kind of sounds the same." There's a verse-impassioned chorus-verse-impassioned chorus-bridge (with the same lyrics as the chorus)-then ramp up into the big chorus once again feel to many of the songs that I think my friend noted on the last album. Listening to essentially the same structure for forty minutes gets tedious. 

I didn't hear too much that grabbed me. In fact, it was kind of depressing in a way. Granted, this album was written after winning American Idol and more importantly, after David's brother died, so I didn't expect it to be happy, per se. He's developing his style still and it's a style that isn't full-on rock and isn't full-on pop. Kind of falls in the middle of alternative land somewhere. 

It got me thinking about my latest, heavy-in-rotation songs:

"For the First Time" by The Script. But really, anything by them is listened to a lot. At a lyrics level, The Script often focuses on relationships ending, but the lyrics are clever, the tempos are varied. It's got a rhythmic and pop feel that sounds cheerful on the surface. They're damn catchy. There isn't a heavy feel to the production. 

"If I Die Young" by The Band Perry. Gorgeous song. Relatable lyrics. 

"Rolling in the Deep" by Adele. Well, duh. 

What is everybody listening to in heavy rotation these days? Have you ever listened to a song or an album by an artist you like and sort of scratch your head in response? I suppose it'll grow on me. 

If you happen to listen to some of the iTunes clips for This Loud Morning, what do you think? 

Monday, July 11, 2011

I wrote 1,386 words in one hour of Airport-turned-off-therefore-no-Internet-writing session today. Woohoo!

It's not quite the 1,667 words a day for NaNoWriMo, but still...for moi, that's quite a big deal. I tend to write like 50 words here, 50 words there, let's go read a story on the Yahoo homepage here, let's read a blog there, ooh! YouTube video....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Before I run off to work, I just wanted to note that I'm having a good writing day. Buzzy and I are getting along. I'm nearly done with the first 50 pages of this rewrite (that is, in the first draft, I'm on page 36, but in the rewrite document, I'm up to page 49).

Soon, I can move on. I only have vague ideas for these--a merry widow, a respectable widow, a pony riding accident, the village racist gets her comeuppance and something to do with the French...

Friday, July 1, 2011

An adventure, part 1

I have a friend who is allergic to gluten (wheat, basically) and dairy products. This makes eating complicated. I found a recipe that we might be able to hash out, which was vegan, gluten- and dairy-free. We had half the ingredients.

So another friend and I marched off to Trader Joe's to procure the rest of the ingredients. We needed 5 things.

They only had 1. So a trip to Stop & Shop became necessary. We learned that it was across a bridge. Turns out, said bridge is near a major road overpass or something, by the railroad tracks and there are no people in sight.

If anybody needs a place to dump a body, this might be the best location. Even in a pair, even in broad effin' daylight, just...don't do this. As we were saying as we crossed this bridge, there's a thin line between fearless and reckless. Also, we realized that even in our home borough, there are just places we don't go.


We found it!!!

You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see if we bought the necessary items. What were we making? What did the finished product look like? Why didn't we take the bus? 

Stay tuned.