Okay, Mother Nature. Enough is enough. Yesterday we got another foot of snow dumped on us. I’d like to say this picture is what I’m looking at out my window, but I have to thank Google for providing this image. But it’s so close to my back yard I couldn’t resist posting it here.

Beautiful? Yeah.

Annoying? You betcha!

The snowbanks are so tall (6-10 feet depending on how it’s piled) no one can see around them. Pulling out of a road is like a house of horror… you never know what’s coming at you. The towns are essentially running out of money, sand, and salt… so plowing isn’t done until the last flake falls. The roads have become a permanant white ribbon of hard packed ice, perfect for a horse drawn sleigh ride, not so hospitable for my little Honda.

Poor DH worked his usual 12 hours yesterday, schlepped home and spent about 3 hours snowblowing the drive. And of course, I can’t do anything more than stand in the window and cheer him on.

We have 4-5 feet of snow on the ground. More snow than we’ve had in the last 3 years combined. And… oh, fun! more snow is coming in all weekend (as in 3 days worth). I’m going to be buried until June!

Snow, snow disappear
Don’t come back for another year!
You’re cold and wet and not much fun,
I’d rather be basking in the sun!

But enough about the weather. This whole thing has made me wonder about the location of my stories. 5 novels into my career I realize I’ve set all but one of my stories in Maine. Why wouldn’t I? It’s what I know.

I did have one editor reject my novella saying that the story was good but the location didn’t pull her in. Huh. Got me to thinking. Do I read a book and pay attention to where I am or do I get so wrapped up in the characters that the location doesn’t matter? I didn’t used to read that way… now I do.

Now I understand that some stories like Sandra Brown’s Fat Tuesday (which is the first story that turned me on to her writing) need to be set in a specific locale. Her novel takes place in New Orleans and the location becomes another character. The heat and party atomosphere of Mardi Gras affect the story. It matters where they are. The plot is driven by the characters including the location.

But take Nicholas Spark’s The Notebook. Another winner. Love the book, love the movie… but I couldn’t tell you exactly where it all took place other than somewhere in the south.

So, do you care where the story is? Reading (especially romance) is a fantasy… I get that. It’s an opportunity to be drawn away from your world into some place new, exciting, perhaps a little scary. When you pick up a book do you want to be carried away to exotic places or is it the people that draw you in? Perhaps a balance of the two?

Because now, I’m curious.

To the Emergency Room we go! Sing with me! Oh yeah!

So, the story starts (as it has for the last three weeks)… The weather was beautiful; a balmy 20 degrees F with the sun hanging in a cloudless cerulean sky, fresh snow powdering the evergreens and DH says “how about a snowmobile ride?” How could I refuse with those baby blues batting at me?

Several minutes of negotiations later we’re heading out on the marked trail to a destination even I know and oh what fun!

30 minutes in we slam through a foot and a half deep ditch someone has snowblown in a field on private property. (It’s private… they can do whatever they want.) Somehow (and neither of this can figure out how or why) my body compresses really weird and my knee turns into a flaming ball of pain. 2 seconds. The whole thing was over in two seconds! Of course DH is unscathed and for one stupid moment, as I’m standing on the side of the trail… I think, I’m  fine, let’s keep going. But as the knee gave way when I put more pressure on it we both think… nah. Home it is.

And you guessed it. Home means back on the sled and through the woods (now a 45 minute drive because he can’t go fast).

Can’t go to the ER and have someone looking at the backwoods winter wool of hair on my legs so I hobble into the shower and do a quick shave. Shampoo my hair (and yes, at this stage in the game forego the usual styling and makeup routine) and head off to the hospital.

3 1/2 hours at the ER, x-rays and lots of waiting, we find out there are no broken bones, but a severe sprain that requires a knee immobilizer for at least the next week. Which also means hobbling around the house with a walker. (Now standard equipment in my injury arsenal.)

I know. I’m sitting here thinking the same thing.

Next time… just say NO!

Many people have already assessed their lives, looked back over the past year and set about making goals for the coming year. And though I am not usually a procrastinator it usually takes me a full month after the holidays to process where I’ve been and where I’m going.

So here it is February 1st and I’ve decided it’s time to mull over what I’ve accomplished and set goals to fulfill in the months ahead. Being raised Catholic, I don’t usually write these down as it means there’s lots of guilt associated with not completing a task and I carry enough of that for everything from eating fish on Fridays during lent to sleeping in on Sunday mornings. So in that vain, you won’t be privy to them.

Well, what did I accomplish in 2007? There are many things, not the least of which was seeing one of my books published. I’d share the rest of them with you, but they make a pitiful list of accomplishments. Not that I’m not proud of what I did, but it just didn’t seem like much in view of the fact that I had 365 days at my disposal and though I felt busy through nearly everyone of them it appears I treaded water most of the time! 

So what do I hope to accomplish in 2008? There are many goals, not the least of which is finding the balance between my writing schedule and the rest of my life. Laundry, dishes, dusting, and grocery shopping seem to be taking a distant back seat to my time at the computer. My husband has taken to working long hours and my children have learned to entertain themselves and forage for their own food. This is sooo not good!

There are several writing goals I have in mind, but I’m sticking to my guns and won’t be writing them down. Suffice it to say, you’ll know through my celebrations when I can mentally check one off or through my lamentations when I need to step back, reaccess or step up and accomplish what I set out to do.

So turning that first page on 2008 has made me finally pony up to bar and take a long hard look at the coming months. But let’s be honest here… mostly turning the page means I’m one month closer to summer and that is even more satisfying than goal setting any day!

Okay, I can’t post today without first making note of what a tragic ending Heath Ledger had to his life. The man was only 28 with a young child. News reports state that he is best known for his role in “Broke Back Mountain”, but I fell in love with him in “10 Things I Hate About You” and “A Knight’s Tale”. Both are wonderful, fun, family movies. Though I’m not a star-watcher, I do find it sad and a little disconcerting that young people in Hollywood seem to be imploding at an alarming rate. How and Why he died will be the fodder for entertainment programs for years to come. Somehow I think they’ll miss the fact that this man grew up with a family in Australia and there are parents and siblings mourning his passing. It’s just such a tragedy. I’m just saying…

Okay, shake that off.

So, I’m working on Meghan’s story and delving into new territory that has me scratching my head. I dont mind this. It means a little diversion from writing to plunge into research. Yay!

Did I mention I was a geek in school? I love learning. (I have a head full of useless information that isn’t quite broad enough for Jeopardy! but certainly can raise eyebrows at a dinner party.) So doing research is right up my alley. I’m not very efficient at maneuvering the internet so I often take wrong turns and end up spending time reading material meant for doctoral thesis research… no seriously. I’ve done that before.

My CP and I argue… I mean have lively debates… on whether research for crimes or historical facts is more time consuming. But a reader can get pulled from your story just as quickly whether you’ve put your heroine in the wrong undergarments in medival times or your cop hero does something at a crime scene that just wouldn’t happen. 

Now history was never a subject that tripped my trigger, but I loooove reading historicals. I take for granted that the information the author is feeding me is accurate.

But throw me into a science fiction story where the science is wrong and I’m like… unh unh… don’t even go there with me dear author. I’ll give them one pass, but if it persists, the book goes back to the library unread. (I refuse to watch “Little Nemo” because it is filled with inaccurate information… and I’m not talking about fantasy stuff… I love Disney’s talking animals… actual stuff that just doesn’t happen in nature. But I digress…)

Which then made me wonder. How many times are you willing to suspend belief of fact in a book, before you throw in the towel? (And I’m not talking about two strangers falling in love in 20 pages… I write romance people… allow me to keep that fantasy.) I just wondered how important is it that the author has done her research? or is it something you simply take for granted?

What follows is a frank discussion on writing erotica. If you are easily offended or not over 18, you should stop now and find another blog. Otherwise, onward… 

Okay, it’s on my mind. I’ve been trying to avoid this blog. But I can’t. I just have to know what people think. You see, I’m into research. I love learning… about anything. And as a former biology teacher, and now a published erotic author, as you can imagine… nothing is off-limits.

My latest research is taking me into the realms of male/male sex and BDSM. Okay, I know some of you are blushing, but hey, as an erotic author I’ve learned to type these words without hesitation or embarassment. (I can even talk about my books to acquaintances without my cheeks turning to red orbs of fire. As I blush at the drop of a hat, this both surprised and intrigued me.) 

The fact is, good writing in the erotic realm requires not only great characters, emotion, and a story line that carries you through the entire novel, but the ability to strike a cord in the hearts of your readers during the love scenes. Hence my foray into some interesting research.

Fortunately, I belong to an online group of erotic writers. Nothing is off limits. We have frank discussions about all aspects of sexuality (as well as writing and the publishing market). It’s wonderful. I’ve asked some interesting questions about pushing limits and actual experiences of other writers. What I’ve learned has amazed me.

Mostly, I was surprised by the fascination of female readers to pick up books involving what I would have previously considered stories for gay men. The m/m storyline. Hmmm… it made me wonder why women would find this such a turn-on. So I asked.

Mostly I got embarrassed giggles and lots of “I have no idea why it trips my trigger”. But then one reader was able to explain the role-playing aspect. Putting oneself in place of one of the the heros. And it was this total, slap on the forehead, “aha” moment. Because isn’t reading romance all about getting caught up in the fantasy… being taken away to another place… another moment in time… another relationship? Allowing yourself to believe that all is right with the world and in the end, love will prevail, and the lovers will overcome all and get their happy ending?

So, now my research is stretching my writing; making me look at relationships differently; taking me in new and very interesting places. I’m not sure where exactly the next “what if” will take me, but I’m thinking Kara’s writing will be taking a backseat for awhile, at least until Nina has had an opportunity to explore more indepth these new dircections. 

So let me know, what do you like to read? And in this case… I’m not just talking erotica!

Umm… no.

Because no matter how much I wanted to hear what other people thought *gulp* I didn’t want them to think my little baby was ugly or stupid or dorky. I want everyone to love my brainchild as much as I do, snuggle up with it, and get warm and fuzzy all over.

Is this what I expect? Unh-unh. But a gal can dream.

My first review is interesting. Sort of all over the place. Mrs. Giggles had the honor of being the first. Let’s see if I can give you the gyst:

“fortunately Ms Pierce’s treatment of a potentially controversial storyline is, in my opinion, a very reasonable one as she stresses that it’s not straight or gay that is right, it’s how we all need to live peacefully with each other.”

So far, so good. But then she goes on to say that Brenimyn is a Fabio-like character without sustenance and isn’t quite convinced how Jahara could fall in love with him. Poor Bren, if I were single, I’d fall in love with him. 🙁

She did continue with:

“The story is actually interesting to me”

and

“still, at the end of the day I find this an interesting and entertaining well-written story”

But then I have to give myself a shake. Does this all really matter to anyone but my ego? Do I need to keep scouring the net to find reviews for my book? Because really, in the end how much do readers depend on reviews to find their next book? Quite frankly, up until four months ago, I’d never read a review. So, thank you Mrs. Giggles (click for full review), you will always be my first… and with an 85/100 for a score, it was actually quite painless!

I’m not very shy about voicing my displeasure with Maine winters. They’re cold, messy, and loooong. But I gotta tell you. There are some days, like last Saturday that even a cynic can enjoy.

The sun was out, casting blue shadows on the pristine snow. It was practically balmy at a very comfortable 25 degrees farenheit. So daughter, hubby, and I donned our very warm winter gear and climbed on the snowmobiles (called sleds here in northern Maine) and headed out into the woods.

Now, let me explain. Where I live, winter begins somewhere around the end of September and ends about a week before Memorial Day. Winter sports are a religion here (that and basketball… but that’s a blog for another day). Snowmobile trails are highways often times maintained better than some roads. They come complete with stop signs, curve ahead markers, route numbers, and signs pointing the way to local eateries. People can go most anywhere on a sled in northern Maine. One is just as likely to pull up behind a sled at the gas pump as a vehicle.

Needless to say, the ride was fabulous. Green firs weighed down with snow and deciduous trees with the last remnants of copper leaves hanging on their branches surrounded us. I was enjoying the solitude and the beauty… until of course we got lost. Lost men on sleds aren’t any better at asking for directions than men in cars. Now, in fairness to DH, the number of gas stations with bathroom facilities and friendly service attendants (both of which I could have used) are few and far between, but still… when you know you’re lost… stop, turn around, and go back to where you lost your way. Don’t keep driving into the depths of the northern woods hoping you’ll recognize some landmark. (That’s the stuff of news headlines!) Thankfully, we happened upon a lovely woman on snowshoes walking her dog, who smiled kindly and directed us off her property and back onto the trails.

So the answer is no, I didn’t pack up Santa and my Christmas tree, but I did manage to plot Meghan’s story. You see, it’s not exactly quiet on a sled, but there’s really nothing to clutter your mind, no television, no music, no voices calling my name (not real ones anyway), just me and my characters working to tell a story. So, like the nice lady on the snowshoes, Meghan showed me where I’d taken a wrong turn, pointed out some plot holes and now I’m working to find my way back and finish up her story.

Sometimes I actually enjoy winter!

Are the holidays really over? The drooping branches and growing pile of pine needles beneath my poor Christmas tree claim that its glory has come and gone. Of course the lights, still on a timer, happily twinkle on beginning at 3:37 pm and click off promptly at 10:12 pm. 

The stockings that hung with care are now strewn hap-hazardly about the couch, their contents half in and half out. *sigh* So today I will be pulling out the whip and megaphone and putting those slaves children of mine to work. Despite their vehement protestations and complaints we will pack up those ceramic angels and stuffed Santas, beg them not to multiply over the dull months ahead (as they always seem to do) and tuck them neatly back into the dark corner of my basement. Be gone you harbingers of time-sucking activities!

You see, the holiday season ate chunks of my writing time, nibbling away bit by bit until my productivity dipped lower than the Maine temps. But no more. I’m putting my foot down!

As 2008 rears its head and proclaims that another blank page of a year lies before me, available to fill as I choose, I have decided it’s time to take back my house–from the forlorn Christmas ornaments and the bored college students still on holiday. I will boldly forge ahead and stake my claim on the family room which is also my writing sanctuary and declare that it is once again off-limits during writing hours!

Yes, today I will pack up Christmas, dust off the keyboard and jump back into my writing schedule that has been tilted off its axis.

Oh, that feels better already! I am so happy the holidays are over and I can get back on track. I am ready to reclaim my home and my writing time… right after I put another load of laundry in the washer, do up the sink full of dishes, cheer at a swim meet, join dear hubby on a snowmobile ride, restock teenager devasted cupboards, and…

Okay, now I’m snoopy-dancing all over the house. I’ve been sitting on the edge of my computer chair anxiously awaiting the release of The Healer’s Garden! It had an original release date of December 30 and then got pushed back and now it’s here! How appropriate my first baby is making it’s debut today! Happy New Years Everyone!

Just click here and it will take you to the Liquid Silver link! Ain’t it beautiful sitting there?

My first book… happy tears are falling on the keyboard!

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