Saturday, March 31, 2007

Contest for Sold and Seduced

As promised, I am doing a contest to celebrate the official publication of Sold and Seduced.
I am giving away three signed copies of S&S as well as three signed copies of The Antonakos Marriage by Kate Walker. This is the book Kate was talking to me about when I got the seed for S&S.

To enter the contest, you need to answer the following question:
Which song is playing on my myspace page?

Please email me with the answer.

If you are not on my newsletter list and enter, I will send you an invitation to join my newsletter.

The closing date for entries is 14 April 2007

My next newsletter goes out tomorrow -- 1 April.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cataromance review for Sold and Seduced

Once again Julie Bunello has penned an intelligent and thoughtful review. It is always a joy to read Julie's reviews. Julie takes a lot of trouble with her reviews. She loves series romance, but is also unafraid to express her opinion. It is all a writer can ask for -- an honest reviewer. Reader feedback in whatever form is such a gift.

My favourite bit of the review was:
With Sold and Seduced, Michelle Styles transports her readers back to Ancient Rome with her assured storytelling prowess, her astounding historical knowledge and her wonderful ability to make her readers feel as if they are living the story rather than just reading it. Atmospheric, evocative and entrancing, Sold and Seduced is a compelling romantic novel which captivated me from the very first page!

You can read the whole review here.

Hooks and writing

Yesterday was a better day. I finally figured out a hook I can work with for my next book.

To do this, I had to find my copy of Leslie Wainger's Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies. I had been looking for it for days, ever since I knew I was slightly stuck on the exact hooky premise. Could I find it? No. Not until, I looked under the sofa in my cave. There long with half the known pens in the universe, a pair of scissors, my very handy device for cutting articles out of the newspaper that my sister gave me two Christmas's, a book on Victorian etiquette and assorted items, it rested gathering dust.

I find Leslie's book useful for a number of reasons. Like a good editor, she does list the tried and tested premises for romance. These include: reunion, secret baby, marriage of convienence, runaway bride, kidnapped bride, pregnant bride, office romance, mistaken identity, woman in jeopardy, dad next door, back from the dead, stranded with a stranger, on the run, cowboy v city girl, amnesia,bluestocking v bad boy etc etc. You can also reverse the hooks. Cowgirl v city slicker for example, or woman returns from the dead. They are tried and tested places to hang hats, and the most important thing to remember is the WHY and WHAT are the CONSEQUENCES. When one uses a hook, the characters and their motivations become the most important part of story. In other words, to use one of Leslie Wainger's catch phrases -- It's All In the Execution. Of course, these things are much easier to execute, if you have an idea of your hook in the first place. An idea of why your two main characters are going to be forced to be together if you will.

Personally I find it easier to write without reinventing the wheel, I do like to think of my hooks and how I can use them. They have to fit with the characters and the basic situation. I know my heroine as she was a secondary in A Christmas Wedding Wager. My hero has been dictating his terms. I know where and when it took place. I knew what I thought the hook was, and then I read the list and both characters said -- not that one, but this one. So Kidnapped bride it is. Now all I have to do is figure out the exact whys and wherefores. In other words, really and truly make it my own. Why is this story going to be different from any other kidnapped bride stories? Why should the reader care? The answer is going to lie in the characters' motivation.

For anyone wondering I saw Sold and Seduced as a marriage of convienence story with a little twist of woman in jeopardy. The working title was The Pirate's Bargained Bride. I had filled out the Art Fact sheet with the wedding etc. My lovely editor had other ideas and indeed saw other hooks. She wanted to go with the mood of the book. It is she who came up with the gorgeous title -- Sold and Seduced and then found the artwork which matched the mood. If you want to learn more about tiles, Buzz, Balls and Hype has had several interesting articles about the science of choosing titles.

It was at this point I realised that I write my books with certain ideas, but my editor when she is writing the blurb might or might not see them as important.
BTW if anyone is wondering how office romance fits in with historicals -- Iwould ask them to think of it as employer v employee. The governess story or the knight hired story.

My newsletter is coming on, and I hope it will prove interesting reading. If you have not signed up for it, please do. The contest prize is a signed copy of S&S's seed book --The Antonakos Marriage as well as a copy of S&S.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Grim reality v Romance in historicals

Carrie Lofty who organises the Unusual Historicals has a very interesting post about literary v romance interpretation of history. Basically, she was pointing out that literary historical novels tend to emphaise the grim realities and while romance tend to paint a roiser picutre.

I can not disagree with this assement. The late great Elizabeth Goudge also pointed out how romantic novelist tended to see the rainbows in the pools of mud. She saw nothing wrong with this and neither do I.

Will Self is on record as saying that he likes to write about images that shock. But why are gruesome images more potent or striking than other images? Why are they more worthy?

With historicals, there is also the point of historical perception. If you do not know any different, will you necessarily perceive yourself as dirty or unclean? And there is an argument that actually things were far cleaner than one might think. (see for example Behind the Scenes --Domestic Arrangements in Historic Houses by Christina Hardyment) and that evangelic Christian movement of the mid-nineteenth century sought to portray things differently to prove a point.

And of course, the going on about lice always amuses me. Obviously those writers have never experienced the Lice War of primary school. As a battle hardened veteran, let me assure you that lice are with us today. The only thing that gets rid of them is the old fashioned combing combined with conditioner. Been there, done it. Tried everything. My scalp still crawls when anyone mentions them.
I won't mention rats but been there and done that as well. Rats scurrying over your feet is not fun. It is hubris to think that these things only existed back then.

If someone has never experience electricity, will they not think candlelight bright? It is all in the perception of the thing. What would the historical perception of an incident be?

When a spectator went to see a gladiatorial match, did he or she really give much thought or notice the blood? A long time ago when I went to the Spanish bullfight in Arles (in the Carmague -- traditional bullfighting does not include the killing of the bull), I noticed that the ritual killing was very different. The thought is absolutely horrific -- seeing a man gored by a bull, only to return leg bandaged and kill the next bull. The dead carcass of the bull was dragged around the area to the sound of loud cheers. Gruesome and shocking, yes, but on that sunny afternoon, somehow thrilling.
When I was writing the scene in Gladiator's Honour , I thought about that bullfight and how one can capture the whole thing. What would the reaction of the spectators been? Why was it so popular?

I also remember my high school English teacher who said that sometimes, things are more horrific for being offstage and simply alluded to -- for example the putting out of eyes in King Lear. It would not have been as powerful if it happened on stage.

For me as a writer , I have to weigh up my general audience and would certain images add or detract in the story. In other words, I know the dirt is there, but I may chose to take my camera shots from other angles. I only have a limited number of words to tell my story, and I like to look at a glass being half-full.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Monday morning

The full list for the Ritas and the Golden Heart is up. I was very pleasead that my friend Fiona Harper made the list twice -- for best first book and for best traditional romance. Her book Blind Date Marriage is a lovely traditional read, and throughly engrossing and engaging. It has already won the RNA's NewWriter Award, so I am hoping for a treble for Fiona.

With a little bit of help from my eldest, I have managed to make a myspace page. All friends readily welcomed. For my music, I chose the bit from Defying Gravity that has been going through my brain lately. I bought the cd for Wicked the Musical on the strength of it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lady Day

Today is Lady Day. Or the day Mary supposidly became pregnant. (ie nine months before Christmas). Until the calender changed and eleven days were lost, it was the start of the New Year in Britain. It was the day that all the rents and contracts came due. However, a variety of people objected to being elven days short one year, and so when the change over was made, they simply moved the day along until 6 April. This is why the British tax year begins on 6 April. The Roman New Year was also around this time. This is probably why Lady Day was adopted as the change over for rents and such.

Today is also my dh's birthday. I have made him a carrot cake or as Anna Lucia calls it -- The God of Carrot Cakes. it is a recipe from The Village Baker's Wife with one or two adaptations by me. We are going out to lunch later. Nothing major but then we have recently had a lot of work done on the house...

I have discovered where the duck is nesting. Quite close to the house and more than likely on the cat route through the garden. As Penny and Tuppence tend stay in the house these days unless the weather is exceptionally warm, our garden is used by several cats -- generally at night after the hens and ducks are away. Our cats have not liked going out very often ever since a series of unfortunate incidents involving the hens and ducks. Large bird can defend themselves. None of the participents were worse for wear but both Penny and Tuppence decided -- indoors was better.

Having delivered, my Viking, I have started thinking about my next one. I was going to take time off, but my muse started whispering. And I saw a hugely inspiring photo of James Purefoy in the Times yesterday. He just does work for this book...despite being the model for Fabius Aro in Sold and Seduced. A doppleganger effect I suspect. Because the deep characters will have certain differences. James Purefoy is promoting the Macmillan Cancer Support's Pin Up campaign. He made an interesting comment about Marc Antony -- he had to make sure that he had the body they had back then. He also hates his toes and loves his son.

And my good friend Nell Dixon has put up an interview with me on her myspace page. Nell is a wonderful writer and my fingers are firmly crossed for medical full that is current with HM&B. Her book Marrying Max is a finalist along with Gladiator's Honour for the RNA's Romance Prize.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Book delivered

I pressedthe send button this morning and my latest Viking has gone off to my editor. I will be much happier once I hear her thoughts on the book. there is always wild exhileration once I send it, quickly followed by the Crows of Doubt attack. But I do think it is agood story and has the potential to be a great one.

My next book is going to be a linked book to A Christmas Wedding Wager. My daughter is desperate for a secondary character to have her own story. The wonderful part for me is that it gets to take place in the North East. My lovely editor says that the character may prove a bit of a challenge for me but I am looking forward to it. Every woman is the heroine of her own story.

My next newsletter will go out on 1 April. It will have tips on using personality characteristics to fashion characters, a recipe, a bit on the background to Sold and Seduced and contests. There is a sign up form for it at the side of the blog.

My house is a tip, and one of the ducks has started nesting. SIGH I do not want more ducklings. I was out last night in my dressing gown, and hiking boots, trying to capture the duck who had decidedto hide under the car. Our best guess is that she was distrubed by a cat as my dh saw one strolling up the garden path as the duck quacked her head off. At least it was not at 3 am...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On editing

At the moment, my brain is a bit fried. I am in the final stages of editing VC. I do love editing as you can suddenly without warning see a way to make the book better and stronger. I am currently doing my Donald Maass tension exercise. This involves going through the manuscript at random and tightening one sentence. In theory at fer you have done this for each page, you will have a far tighter more pacy novel. I suspect I am now very superstitous about this approach as I do it every time snd have done since I first sold.

It can be a pain to do as you really do have to justify sentences. Sometimes whole paragraphs. It is a mirco rather than macro way of looking at a novel.

I have gone about Donald Maass before, but I do find his workbook --Writing the Break Out Novel to be very useful. However, there are other writer friends who have made bonfires with his and other writing books and scattered them to the four winds. It alll depends on your comfort level.

I suspect one of the reasons I want this particular book to be excellent is that it will be my seventh for HM&B. I am mindful of the maxim Maass said -- it takes seven books to become an overnight success, but you have to push the snowball from the first book. Janet Evanovich is on record as saying that it took at least six books to gain a following. I have no idea about the truth of that or not. I simply know that I want my books to get better.

Sometimes, I feel that I should know what I am doing, but each book throws up new challenges. Perhaps it is one of the reasons why I love writing so much. You can never fully master it.

One of my c.p.s says that I am too close and that VC is really strong. Personally I shall feel much happier when my editor has seen it and given her thoughts.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More on Mother's Day

My sister emailed to say -- that it wasn't quite true about the US Mother's Day being started by card companies, and she gave me a wikipedia article which claimed that Mother's Day was started after a campaign by Julia Ward Howe in her magazine.

Now after the kerfuffle at Wikipedia about their entries, including one of their major contributors resigning, I did some more checking, particularily as I didn't like the Roman and Greek explanation. I am not going into the whole celbrations of Cybele -- except to say they were sometimes not very pleasant. Andtherefore article did not ring true for me. And there was no explantion as to why the 2nd Sunday in May was chosen. I couldn't be bothered to check my Roman calender of festivals but somehow, I am pretty sure a day honouring mothers was not around that day.

Anyway, it was fairly easy to discover and wikipedia did not tell the full story.

Julia Ward Howe who also wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic did advocate a Mother's Day, BUT it did not really get started until 1914 in West Virginia when Anna Jarvis organised a day of remembrance. The second Sunday in May was chosen as it was the second anniversary of her own mother's death. A white carnation signified a deceased mother and a red one, a living one. The idea was enthusiastically adopted by the West Virginia legislature and from there spread to other states. In later years, Anna Jarvis denounced the whole enterprise for becoming far too commercial. You can read the story here. West Virginia is very proud to be the founding state of Mother's day.

It is an interesting problem in this day and age -- how do you stop things from becoming commercialized, particularly when they have proved as popular as Mother's day. But at least I now know why it is the second Sunday in May... and it does have a very different meaning than the British one.

Are all mothers inherently peaceful? Or are they more willing to protect their children at all costs? I am not sure of the answer. But the US Mother's Day was started because Anna Jarvis and many others believed in peace and of course their mother.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mothering Sunday

Today in Britain is Mothering Sunday. The date varies with Easter -- which varies with Passover. It is when people were supposed to return to their Mother church -- IE the one where they were baptised. As this generally meant going back home, mothers were honoured as well.

I find Mothering Sunday easier than Mother's day in the US, simply because there is a historic reason for it. Mother's day in the US I think was started by a greeting card company.

My children were most insistent that I sleep in. I did. I have received two DVDs -- Elizabeth I and The Queen. My dh thought it most appropriate. He also got me a Quentin Blake card of a woman reclining on a chaise lounge with a glass of wine. He thought it most romantic writer...

In the Telegraph, there was a piece about how people chose books -- 49% from friend's (word of mouth) 45% from Author's reputation, 32% from from the back cover and 22% from reviewers. I forget the other percentages. I think 12% for the front cover. Obviously respondents could pick more than one choice. The telegraph journalist was most upset about reviews appearing so far below back cover copy. Personally I gave thanks that my books have such EXPERT back cover copy -- editors write it (and rewrite it many times). From my pov though, writing a book that has people telling their friends to buy it is the best way to sell a book...

The editing continues...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Is Jane Austen a women only writer?

Give the nice comments in the previous post, I am going to keep on writing my blog as I see fit -- typos et al.

I ask the above question because I had interesting conversation with my eldest's English teacher.She showed me a list of the books that they could choose from to study in depth at AS level. On the list were Waterland by G Swift (the teacher admitted it was *challenging* -- code for boring? non linear? confused plot line?), The Colour Purple (these are the two texts that the school uses), Tess' D'ubervilles, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice. As P&P is one of my favourite novels, I said -- oh why not-- P&P, the teacher looked vaguely uncomfortable and said she disliked like doing it if there were a lot of boys in the class. I stared at her in astonishment. When did JA become for women only? She is a classical writer who helped make the modern novel what it is today. P&P is far more than simply a good romance to curl up with. It is just as worthy as Waterland to be studied. Has its success as a romance blinded people to its other qualities? When I did Emma at school, the emphasis was on the characterization and social satire, rather than on the story. I don't think the boys complained. Why should a novel with a good and easily accessible plot be ignored in favoured of something that may or may not stand the test of time.

Unfortunately, I did not get to say any of this, because a would be A level student came in and loudly announced she hoped there was no poetry on the course, she couldn't see the point. I resisted the temptation to make a snide remark to the girl, and felt sorry for the teacher. It must be hard.

I am currently reading Waterland. It was with no small irony that I saw the opening quote was from Great Expectations... Swift is a lyrical writer whose prose is replete with symbolism. I am hopeful of finding the plot soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bees and editting

Yesterday's Telegraph had a very tiny article, so small I nearly missed it. Complete Colony Collapse has hit Europe. Spain, Poland, Greece and Croatia have been hit. This syndrome/disease has already wiped out 50% of bee colonies in the US. It has the potential to cause an enormous impact and only rates half an inch.
Right now, there is nothing I can do. My colonies appear to be healthy and I shall be giving them a Spring tonic when the weather next turns warm. But as far as I know -- no one knows what is causing this disease or how to prevent it. Or indeed what the long term consequences of it will be. The wild bee colonies have already suffered because of the varroa mite. Much of agriculture depends on bees as the chief pollinating insect. If this population suddenly decreases by 50% or more, what does that mean for the food supply?
It is not good. And perhaps I should be pleased there are not the panicked articles such as one might find for avian flu, but it is another worry. I don't want anything to happen to my colonies and I really don't want to think about the long term consequences. Hopefully they will figure out what to do BEFORE this syndrome reaches Northumberland.

Another worry is : are the ducks going to have ducklings this year? I don't want any more ducklings. They are cute but a pain. And ducklings grow into ducks. We already have more duck eggs than I know what to do with. Duck eggs are great for cooking btw. I am just hoping that we discover all nests and the ducks don't decide to build their nests in the neighbour's garden...

My wip is coming on. This is my favourite phase of novel writing.It is taking and shaping. It is in the shading that you can really start to do something. I am a great believer in bad pages can be fixed easier than blank ones. You have clay to work with. You start seeing connections.

I have discovered another how to promote your book blog -- Pump Up Your Online Book Promotion. It is worthy of looking at and does give some pointers about Technorati. However, the best reason I know to use Technorati was Isabel Swift's post from about a year ago. If you have not read the Long Tail article -- it is worth reading. I am well aware there is more I could do with my blog and that I basically use it to write whatever I am thinking about. Hence it tends to jump around -- possibly not ideal for promoting my books, but it makes more interesting for me! SO I am afraid you will have to suffer through it.

Sold and Seduced will be on sale in the UK in April. The cover is yummy, and well, I like the story.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Using astrology in tweaking

As my earlier post about astrology led me to remember Love Signs, I thought I would have a reread. It is every bit as good as I remembered it. I was doing some research on the Cancer/Scorpio relationship for my next wip and happened to glance at the Leo/Leo relationship. It gave me a light bulb moment for my current hero and heroine. They are both Leos. Have to be because of their behaviour. It explains much about their relationship -- why it failed the first time, and what has to happen to make it succeed this time. There are certain conflicts that are inherent in the Leo/Leo relationship -- not the least being both wanting to be the one in charge. There is also a hint of how the conflict needs to be resolved -- involving sacrifice and sharing the limelight.
It is part of what makes it such a wonderful resource for writers -- Linda Goodman examines the internal conflicts inherent in relationships. It is 1200 pages long but thoroughly useful. One forgets exactly how useful.
Goodman examines the relationship not only from a non gender basis, but also specifically with the male/female.Why would a Cancer Male,Scorpio Female relationship be different from a Scorpio Male/cancer Female relationship. What are the conflicts and how can some of them be resolved in general rather than specific terms.

This is one of the reasons why I love doing research by the book, rather than on the Internet. You have to flip through pages and other things catch your eye. Luddite maybe, but it is the way I like to do things.

The wip needs a few tweaks but I have promised my editor the full for 23 March. This will keep me on track for writing four mss this year.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Haunted places

Over at Unusual Historicals, there is a discussion about haunted places. Do battlefields and thelike leave imprints? Do they feel different? I will put my hand up and say yes.

I can remember when a few years ago we were visitng my mother in Va, and drove out to Sharpsburg.We stopped to look at the sunken road where so many died. A creepy feeling came over both my dh and I, we huried the children back into the car -- only to have it not start the first try!

Culloden postively reeks of atmosphere. Bosworth Field as well. Flodden. I tend to think battlefields when no one else is there have a quiet hush of their own.

The place on Hadrian's wall that bothers me the most is the museum at Chesters. It always feels close for some reason. I don't mind the actual site but the museum has an odd atmosphere. It is stuffed full of statues, grave stones and the like...v 19th century. It has been preserved as the man who basically saved Hadrian's Wall left it.

Is it ghosts? Impressions of past time? Or simply me trying to put myself into the ambience of the place? Does anyone have any thoughts?

I see that my vistors have gone up and suspect it might be from Sela's post about me knowing about personalities traits. I will admit to being interested in them and how one uses that raw material to fashion believable characters. If anyone has any questions using astrology or ennegrams or Myers Briggs, do ask. I am not so keen on birth order because I think it is less useful as a tool for creating characters. It is highly interesting to read about though.

And in case anyone is intersted Sela was listed as a warrior women in a very early history of the Danish people.

VC is coming near to its conclusion. I wonder sometimes if I just want my writing to be so much better than it is. I know what needs to happen here. I know why it needs to happen, and I just want the words on the page but they are not flowing as well as they should be. I have made several mistakes. But it is all about fixxing bad pages. I hope. My v lovely dh keeps saying -- but you are on track to get this finished...Yes, but I know the editting I am going have to do. I know what I want to accomplish with this book. AndI know the time I am sometimes wasting, when the words are not flowing. I want it to have a really satisfying ending. And at the moment, it is getting there. There are reasons why I love revisions. Anyway I wrote about 3k today and will prbably write the same tomorrow. And I have known probably the last line of this one for almost since I began thinking about it...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Books and compliments

Yesterday, I had alovely package -- the hardback for The Roman's Virgin Mistress arrived. I lvoe the cover. And when it is up on Amazon, I will post it here. It is another one of my editor's specials. We had a conversation last summer where she informed that she had already done the commisioning. She had great fun looking at Baiae on the web... It really does have a glorious Italian feel to it.

I also got the large print of ANC and discovered that Sold and Seduced will be going into large print as well at some point. Hooray.

My friend Kate Hardy made my day and posted lovely things about A Noble Captive on her blog. I am not sorry at all that she didn't get anything done this morning. It is revenge for me burning supper last year when I read Seb's story -- Her Honourable Playboy.

Rioght now I have to get to work and finish writing some more of VC...Sometimes it can be difficult to work out exactly why things are happening, but I think I have done so...I think it is going to be fine when it is finished but I shall be much happier with it once I have my editor's thoughts back.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

PHS and more astrology

First my blog about how I use a synopsis to get me through to the end of the book is up at the Pink Heart Society. At the moment, I am laughing at my current synopsis as the ending has totally changed. It just worked out that way. But I think the ending will be stronger.

After my post last week about astrology, I went and ordered my own copies of Sun Signs and Love Signs. It is amazing even after more than 25 years, I could remember some of the words and knew what was coming next. The books are as thorough as ever. And perhaps because tey were written in the 60s/70s, the males they do protray tend to be more on the alpha side. But even with that, you can quickly pick up the traits. And even after al this time, the Arian male is still my favourite. Which is just as well considering my dh's birhtday is coming up at the end of the month...
But as I am nearing the end of my current wip, I need to start thinking about my next one, and I am considering -- just because it terrifies me -- writing a scorpio male.I think he would fit for the story I want and if I make the heroine who did appear A Christmas Wedding Wager a late Cancer, it could work every well indeed. It is the challenge of the thing. Can I write a truly dangerous male? One who has a sting in his tale? It is an interesting exercise.

A side note, my middle who has read an early version of A Christmas Wedding Wager thought this character worthy of her own story. She has been on and on at me...My editor has not said no...

Now all I have to do is finish VC. And I have promised my cps that I will. It is matter of figuring out how to do it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Italian editions, Mix ups and hair cuts

First and foremost, I received my copies of The Gladiator's Honour in Italian. It is very cool to see my words translated. Rossana Landfredi did the translating. There are a few words that I recognise. Now I know that a lot of people speak Italian, and some Italians even read this blog. Some people find HM&B wonderful for improving their grasp of the language or brushing up on it as they are page turning reads. I have an extra copy. If you belong to the newsletter, and would like a signed Italian edition, can you please email me by 14 March 2007, saying why you would find an Italian edition useful. Please put ITALIAN BOOK in the heading. If more than one person emails then I shall pull names of the hat. But you must be on my newsletter list to win.

The mix up with Sold and Seduced has finally been solved. The Mills and Boon site now has the correct author and blurb listed. There was a slight glitch in the system and somehow a medical blurb was listed. No longer, Sold and Seduced's rightful blurb is there. This reminds me I shall be doing a contest in April for copies of Sold and Seduced combined with The Antonakos Marriage by Kate Walker, the book which gave me the seed for the story. The newsletter describing the contest goes out on 1 April.

Oh and I got my haircut yesterday. Same style. And I have booked a trim for 26 April -- the day before the Savoy lunch. My middle keeps saying that I will have to wear clips etc until just before I get to the lunch or I will do my usual and wreck it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Portents of change

Last night, in case you missed it in the UK was a total lunar ecillipse.

The moon slow went a blood red/orangy colour except for the white bit at the top. My friend Kate Hardy assures me that the white bit is called the diamond ring and that is exactly what it looked like.
Looking through a telescope, you still got the orange effect but the white bit was more a light grey shadow. Kate was one of the few people I could guarantee who would be as excited as I and my dh about this. Like us, she kept going to the window every five minutes to look. However, she obviously have has better vido equipment and did video bits of it. I knew ours wouldn't work...

Normally the moon looks very flat and 2-d in the sky, but last night during ecillipse, it was a definate sphere.

There was a strange light, and it is easy to see why the anceints considered a total lunar ecillipse to be a portent of change. Imagine if you saw such a thing right before battle!

But as I wactch the moon change and saw the cars swishing by on the A69, and the lights on in other houses, I realised how out of tune and out of touch the human race was. Where once this would invoked great panic, or ceremony by all, it was mostly forgotten.

SOmetimes, it is worth taking the time to experiences the wonders of the world.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Astrology and character development.

Kate Walker recently did a blog about March and the Alpha hero. In she said mention that many people consider the sign Leo to be associated with an Alpha. Now, for me, Aries has always been the archetypical alpha male hero. And it has been ever since I first read Linda Goodman's Sun Signs -- lo those many years again. And here I will confess to a teenage obessession with astrology. It was perhaps aided and abetted by my aunt who was also into it. It was not so much the prediciton of the future, but the personality traits that interested me. I am going to keep it simple bcause --even though I know about moon signs, and the necessity of knowing the exact position of the planets at the excat time of a person's birth to be able to determine a person's true character. If you want to look at it as an ancient form pyschology, rather than something mystic, it is probably of more use to the writer.

Now Kate Walker came back in her comments and said that you could use any astrolgoical sign to create an alpha male hero, and here i must slightly go -- yes in theory BUT if you are using astrology for personality disliation, some signs are going to make your job much harder than others. Just as certain Myers-Briggs types, or certain ennegram types makes one's job harder. There are certain signs that more consistently exhibit overt leadership traits than others. And I am all for making my job easier.

Although most perple know the 12 signs of the zodiac. Fewer people are aware that the 12 signs can be divided up into the four elements -- fire, earth, air and water. This goes back to Aristole's theory that everything can be divided up into four different types (something that astrology has in common with. If you read Linda Goodman's Sun Signs, the signs most overtly displaying the traditional characteristics of an alpha male are the fire signs -- or Aries, Leo and Saggitarius. The signs least likely to display the characteristics are the air signs -- or Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. With earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) and water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pieces), it is more mixed and depends on where in the sign they born. Basically it gets complicated really fast.
But if you are having trouble creating your hero, or making him alpha enough, looking at the characteristics for one of the fire signs might help you to give him that little bit extra.
And just as you would never give an overt clue to the Myers-Brigg personality or the ennegram type, you do not need to mention that your hero is a Leo or an Aries or whatever.
Astrological signs are merely one way of getting to deep personality, and if it helps to think in those terms, it is worthwhile exercise. If your mind doesn't work that way, then you find some other way. There is no one right way to devise a character.

If you are interested in using astrology as a way to develop personality, I would suggest reading Linda Goodman's Love Signs as she does explain the possible conflicts between each of the signs, and what they might have to overcome to reach their happily ever after.
Above all, the most important characteristic for your hero is that your heroine (and therefore you) are able to fall in love with him. If you can't love your hero, how can you expect anyone else to? And thus for me, my archetypical alpha male will always be an Aries male.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Morning

It is a lovely sunny day and there was a frost this morning. Firends of mine in Minnesota have emailed to say that thiswinter has been the coldest since 1979 and they were expecting more snow.
In other words, a direct contrast to the UK's weather...

My dh showed me a somewhat frightening article from The Independent --Honey ,Who Shrunk the Bee Population. It is all about how in North America, bee colonies are suddenly suffering from colony collapse disorder. Over the space of a few days, bees are abandoning hives and going away to die. The remaining bees are found to be riddle with all sorts of diseases. And no one knows why. Thus far, it has been mainly limited to the mobile apiaries. These are colonies that are hauled around the US to do the necessary pollination of crops. Because the US has been flooded with cheap honey imports in recent years, pollination has become the biggest money earner for many large beekeeping concerns. First to Florida for the citrus crop, then up to Pennsylvania for the apples and on to Maine for the blueberries. Some speculate that it is the stress of travel combined with the high protein and syrup supplements and differing pesticides that is making the colonies toxic. BUT they just don't know. It has the potential to severely impact the bee industry in the US, and with it agriculture over all. The true extent will not be known for at least a month because winter hibernation is not at an end. All I know is that I hope they find the cause and cure soon, and that it does not spread across the Atlantic.

One more worry but at least I know my colonies have not collapsed this year. Knock on wood.

And I need to get back to my wip as I can see the deadline looming, but also light at the end of the tunnel...