Monday, November 25, 2013

Back to Answering Those Questions...

I've let this thread slide far longer than I'd intended, so without any further ado, here are the answers to some more of your questions:

LOgalinOR asked, "I have thoroughly enjoyed all of your historical romance novels. Any chance of writing any more in the future?

The reason I quit writing historical romances was because I was being pushed into a direction I didn't want to go. I enjoyed setting my stories in whatever period or place best fit the romantic conflict I wanted to explore, and I happily ranged all over the place--the American Civil War, Medieval France, nineteenth-century Australia, etc. But then publishers noticed that authors who wrote linked series with 5 brothers/7 cousins/4 good friends sold best, so I was told I had to "pick a time and place and stick with it."  I knew I could never do that; it seems such an artificial way to come up with story ideas, I don't know how people do it (although some do it very well). So I decided that if I had to pick a time and place and stick with it, I'd rather write a historical mystery series in which I could explore the lives and conflicts of my main characters over the course of multiple books. Plus, I understand from authors who still write historical romance that the genre's list of do's and don't is far, far more restrictive than it ever was (they always say to me, "How did you ever get away with the things you did?). So I guess the answer is that as long as the genre is headed in its current direction, I could never write in it. That said, I really, really enjoyed writing the romance that is an important part of WHY KINGS CONFESS.

Lesley asked, Have you considered writing another Jax and Tobie book?

I found being contracted to write two books a year very difficult, and when my mother started failing and we moved her in with us, it became impossible. I didn't exactly decide not to write another Jax and Tobie book--I had lots of ideas for future stories. But I finished that contract first and decided to focus on the Sebastian series since I was still under contract for more of those books. Then the Sebastian series started doing much better, and I wasn't happy with the way the Jax and Tobie series was being published, and after my mother died my grief provoked a serious period of writers' block. The thing about the publishing industry is that you can't let a series slide; after a certain amount of time goes past, publishers think readers have forgotten and so they don't want another. At this point, probably the only way I could ever get them to consider another Jax and Tobie book would be if Hollywood made a movie out of one of the earlier books.

I doubt I'd ever want to be contracted to write two books a year again. But I do think it's important for me to occasionally write something different in between the Sebastian books because I believe an author needs the challenge of stretching and trying new things to stay fresh. So, ideally, I'd like to write other books but not under contract and--full confession here--I did just that last year. I wrote a mainstream historical set in the American Civil War about what happens to the women of a small Southern town when a thirteen-year-old girl kills the soldier raping her mother. The book has received lots of praise from most of the editors who read it, but the topic is touchy and no one seems to know how to market it, so I haven't sold it to anyone. Writing it was not a logical or wise decision--I knew the subject and setting would make it difficult to sell. But I can't regret doing it; it was a magical experience, and I think it grew me as a writer.

The above photo of is of the climbing rose that grows up in my lemon tree. My roses are covered with buds and my lemons and oranges are almost ripe, so I really, really hope this nasty weather headed our way doesn't bring us a freeze.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Girls Who Read

A lovely poem to bring a smile to the hearts of girls who read...

Of course, it also goes the other way!

Cat Update:

First, the good news: Huck is through his nasty four week course of antibiotics and is getting better (and feistier) every day. As for everyone else, Angel has decided we don't love him anymore because we only give him tasteless food to eat and shove medicine down his throat every night; we've decided to let nature take its course with Baby, whom we're hoping still has some good months ahead; Thomasina will be going back to the vet soon for more tests; and the kittens... Well, the kittens have unfortunately suffered what looks like permanent neurological damage from a bad reaction their shots and need to be hand fed and given physical therapy daily. I don't have a life, I have sick cats...

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Cat Named Angel

Angel is my mom's old cat. He was born feral under a neighbor's porch and when he was about a year old, my mother enticed him inside with freshly cooked chicken livers. He became the companion of her twilight years, "helping" her garden, and sitting on her lap while she read or worked her crossword puzzles, and stretching out on the bed beside her for a daily afternoon nap.

My mother let my girls name him, and because this was the late nineties and he had a buff colored litter mate (who was not as interested in food and therefore stayed feral), my girls named him Angel after the vampire in Buffy.

When my mom evacuated to my sister's house in California after Katrina, Angel went with her. And when my mother moved in with us six years ago, Angel came, too (much to Huckleberry's disgust). He adjusted amazingly well to becoming an indoor cat. And the night my mother went in the hospital, he crawled into bed with me and has slept with me ever since.

As he once "helped" my mother garden, Angel now "helps" me produce my books. He sleeps on my chapters. He sprawls half on my lap and half on my computer table when I'm trying to type. He lays on my right arm or bats at my hand wanting pets while I'm trying to write with a pen. He's fifteen years old, grumpy and opinionated and intensely affectionate, and I love him dearly. And yesterday I learned that he is in stage three renal failure.

Two of my other cats, seventeen-year-old Baby, who lives with my older daughter in San Antonio, and fifteen-year-old Thomasina, who now spends most of her time up in Baton Rouge with my younger daughter, are also seriously ill at the moment with unrelated problems. It is a human tendency to try to create order in a chaotic universe, to seek a reason for heartache. But there is no reason for all these sick cats; it simply is. And words fail me.