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Living in a Regency Corset July 19, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Writing, Writing Life.
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Yup, I’ve spent time in a Regency Corset.  Days, in fact.   It is true; we writers will do the craziest of things to empathize with the characters living in our heads.  And since I can’t locate a time-traveler willing to drop me off in 1815 England,  where I’ve relocated my 21st century heroine, I made a corset. 

Well, actually my mom made it for me.  There it is on the left, with me in it.  That little stripped beauty is more comfortable than it looks, if you don’t mind not being able to bend at the waist, are willing to give up the right to raise your shoulders and (in my case) see your feet when you look down.

Without doubt, wearing a Regency corset proved to me that the world has changed.  First off, dressing in private, as we do now, was definitely not a luxury enjoyed by women during the Regency.  It really does require a lady’s maid (or a sister, aunt, or willing friend) to work those laces up your back.   But, freeing one’s self from its boned confines is entirely possible without the help of a sexy hero, much to his chagrin.   Though it is always advisable to play nice because you will need him come morning, if you plan to get dressed. 

So, what does if feel like to be laced up in a Regency corset? 

I think I’ll let my poor, unfortunate, relocated (or would that be dislocated) 21st century heroine, Sara Kensington, field that one.

From Loves Freedom

     “M’lady, please” Peg murmured, “be still.”  The corset strings pulled tighter.  Sara turned back to the mirror before her, the boned garment claiming her attention as it slimmed her hips.

     “You must lift your arms, now,  if I’m to complete the lacing.”

     Sara mutely obeyed, watching her tummy flatten, her hourglass waist grow narrower, and her DD’s globe out from the shallow cups like two ripe honeydews destined to be plucked from the grocer’s self.  “Peg.  This can’t be —“

     “I’m sorry, m’lady.”  Peg went to her knees and began tugging the undergarment’s knee-length hem.  “The chemise has risen out of place.  I’ve not worked with one quite so fine as this.”  She continued tugging.  “I’ll have the right of it in a moment.”  And the garment’s wide neckline kept slipping, to just above her areoles. 

     Peg popped up in front of her and grinned, brightly.  “There now.  His lordship should be rightly pleased by that.” 

     Sara nearly flushed to her toes. 

     Peg kept going; flipping the corset’s offset straps forward, threading the ribbons at the ends through small holes near the shallow cups.  Then she tugged, sending Sara’s shoulders straight back, intensifying his lordship’s preferred globing affect.  Sara rapped the ruler thick piece of wood, now pressed between her breasts and running to just below her navel.  “Do you wish your ivory busk?” Peg asked, tying the restraining straps off in two neat bows

    “Nope.”  Ivory or wood, there’d be no bending at the waist, today.  Hopefully, when she tried to sit down at breakfast, she didn’t go flat on her back with legs flying up in the air. 

Tune in next time for Sitting in a Regency Corset.

Until then, what crazy thing have you done for your art just so you could get it right?  Do tell.  This inquiring mind wants to know.


Chewing on a Fortune July 13, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing Life.
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My fortune, compliments of my most recent fortune cookie. How, in the entire universe, did the churning Chinese-Fortune-Cookie-Stuffing-Machine know I was a writer in need of such a vague encouraging fortune? 

Hard to say. 

But that’s what attracts us to those oddly bent and brittle cookies, isn’t it?  Even though we know that tawny exterior is tasteless and the words have no meaning, we eagerly break them open and mindlessly munch away anyway while absorbing our Chinese Fortune.  After all, everyone knows the wondrously mythical Chinese possess an unexplainable connection to the fortune whispering universe.  Three billion of their fortune-delivering-devices are consumed by the Western World every year.

But, did you know that the fortune cookie is not the least bit Chinese? 

We, the Americans, were the inventors.  Yup.  It’s true.  We invented the Fortune Cookie and all the little prophesies stuffed there in.  

Now, if we can do that, surely we can invent something that will keep our economy from repeating well-known history.  Because, if there is one thing that casts doubt upon the magical power of our tasteless fortune cookie, it’s when the same fortune is repeated at the same table.

Unless, of course, you wrote the 200th episode of JAG where fortune cookie fortunes do repeat.  Successfully.

See, we Americans can do anything if we’d just put our minds to it.

Do you know what the repeating fortune said? Its advice is worth considering.

2am w/Alan Alda July 2, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing Life.

I have been living in a brain fog for the last ten days or so, fighting tooth and nail to escape. 

You see, surrender (however sweet) is so rarely an option for me.  

Yesterday, I took Anna to the library where she volunteers, and I spotted Alan Alda (well, one of his books) sitting on the Book Sale table.  Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.   The title was so apropos to my aimless grey mental state — rolling along, my own creative voice echoing, fading in and out — that I bought the book.  Maybe, I too could make something out of my own disjointed murmurings just by listening.

At 2am this morning, rudely awakened by throbbing legs that just wouldn’t quit, I cracked open Alda’s book.  And, was amazed.   All my life, Alan Alda has been the funny yet serious, Hollywood-overdone yet undeniably authentic Hawkeye Pierce of M.A.S.H., and a few other characters in movies I can’t remember at the moment. 

But, in reality, Alan Alda is a man of all-encompassing, oceanic-like depths.

His book cradled in my hands picked up where he ended his bestselling memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a Chilean mountaintop.   From that mountain top experience, which according to Alda marks his new birthday, he plummets deep into the black abyss of suicide.  The stories told were not his own, but of others, people, mostly young, who wrote to him just as M.A.S.H was on the upswing, begging him for advice on how to keep living. 

As a member of this human race, I’ve walked those black endless nights that grow only blacker, trudging slippery mental roads that seem to plunge ever deeper while climbing impossibly upward, sapping every ounce reasoning and faith while proving fatalistic in the process.  As a writer, I commend Alda for bravely juxtaposing his mountaintop experience with the truth of life. 

But, I was not altogether thankful for what his brave choice brought to the fore of my mind.  A story I’ve never found courage to write. Why?  Because, quite simply, I fear mining those suffocating depths to flesh out an authentic main character, never mind what the writing community would think of me if penned such a thing.

See, we, in all our selfish optimism, which we defensively wear, ignore suicide for the same reason we’ve relegated vampires to the world of fantasy.  We prefer that such things don’t exist.

So, I kept reading, flowing along with Alan Alda’s chatty, easygoing humor and listening  

“Be brave enough to live life creatively,” Alda said.  “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been.  It is not the previously known.  You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover will be yourself.”

And then, I overheard myself talking.

Good News & Bad News June 23, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing Life.

First the Good News.   Last weekend’s Yard Sale was a smashing success!  The total take just over $600, Anna and her friend Rachel have the funding for their trip to California.  It will be an experience from which YA novels are born.  Anna and Rachel did a stellar job at the sale, too.  More than once, buyers commented on the sale’s organization, item cleanliness and the quality of the signs that led them there.  I am very proud of the girls.

Now for the Bad News.  Taking on the Yard Sale in conjunction with returning to household duties has set my ankle and my lower back, back several paces.  On Percocet, again, my creative brain is solidly fogged in.   When the weather lifts, I’ll return.

Until then… how’s your summer shaping up?

When Writing is Not Like Life June 9, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing Life.

Good thing my blog is titled Raw & Dangerous, because that is how I feel. Raw in spirit, and a dangerous person to talk with. Continue reading at your own risk.

If you read Sweet Lover Mine (posted last week), you met a mini form of “me,” a woman out of control of her life, seeking a single place to be queen, or at least someplace where she can know what’s coming next. So, she sits down to write.

When I write, I always know what’s coming next. Even if that Next Thing is not good, I know when That Good Thing my characters so desperately need, is coming. And it always comes. This is what puts my butt in the writing chair; my driving need to love and rescue my heroes and heroines.

But in life, knowing what’s coming next is not part of the equation. Of course, I used to think otherwise, until Life felled me like the hollow tree I was. Twice.

Now, I know I don’t know. I wish I could claim comfort in knowing at least that much. But, truth is, I would find more comfort in a bi-weekly paycheck that could disappear at any second (which has happened to me three times in the last seven years) than knowing I am not in control.

People of my Faith are quick to quote, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Today, I boldly (and unapologetically) hand back this thought; nowhere does the Bible say those plans of hope and prosperity, which I do believe in, are for this life. In the grand scheme of eternity, that’s okay. But today…

This is why I write. I know the ending, and I know it will be good, and my characters will have what they need and be healed, and live happily ever after. Because I wrote it that way.

There is comfort in that.

I thank God I can write.

What’s on your heart, today?

Sweet Lover Mine June 2, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Writing Life.

A writer must often prove brave.  I’m not there, yet.  But, as proof of effort, I submit to you this “short”.  It’s from my scrap pile.  When I feel more confident, I promise something that means more to me. 

Until then, read at your own risk.  (And remember, I’m a romance writer.)

Here goes…


Five grueling hours I’ve spent playing political touch-tag with twice as many sour-faced suits whose pay-grades rival mine by a factor of 10.  And all to no avail.  I need a vacation.  I need a break.  I need a drink.

I pull in the driveway.  The plumber’s truck is parked in my space.  Damn, the AC must be fritzed.  Again.  It’s gonna cost.  Big time.

Yanking the hairpins from my hair, I limp in the front door.  It’s hotter than Hades Hell.   My bulging brief case hits the floor.  My constricting blazer follows the same path.  I need to free my mind.  Find a place where I am in control. 

I need to write.

Falling into the desk chair, I flip open the notebook in front of me, the icy hard lemon-aid I took two seconds to retrieve from the frig, pressed cool against my neck.  A fantasy.  What I need is a fantasy.

My eyes fall closed.

The air turns cool.  The sky night black.  My bare legs grip the lithe barrel of a huge white horse, its hooves pounding the hardened earth beneath me.  A silvery world slips past.  

He is waiting for me.  I can feel him.  His hopes, his dreams, his desires reaching out, pouring over my soul.  I urge, my heart racing with the wind tugging at my gown, ephemeral hands unfurling my hair, cool lips trailing my neck.  But these are not the kisses I seek or the hands I crave to know. 

Lover mine.   

I see him, the one who waits for me.  Standing at the wide stream, the engorged moon above plays with his shadow stretched long upon the grasses.  Strong and broad is he, the sheathed dragon-headed blade at his hip stained with the blood of my enemies. 

Protector mine. 

With strong hands and gentle lips, he greets me.  “My beloved,” he breaths, “I have prepared for you.” 

His arms lift me, his assured footfalls lightly caressing the soft grasses.  I know his path.  The path to the Willow.  He has spoken longingly of it to me.  Of this night.  Of our moment. 

The ancient Willow’s swaying tresses part with a wave of his broad hand, the place of which he spoke, waiting.  He presses me deep within the blankets, downy soft, sweetened with jasmine, his light hands caressing slowly, worshipfully, stirring my– 
My eyes open at an intrusive thud.

“AC’s fixed,” he declares triumphant, his grimy tool bag sitting on the corner of my desk.  “It will cool down soon.”  He reaches for my forgotten drink, ice clinking against the glass as he drains it.  “Whatcha working on?”  

I tell him.  Read a line or two.  It’s private, really.

He shakes his head.  “Fantasy.  Sweet fantasy.”  His light, inviting kiss finds my lips, my laptop snapping closed under his broad hand.  “But the real thing?  Now that’s another story.” 

 Sweet Lover mine.


Now, dear gentle reader, you must prove brave and play critic.  Rate Sweet Lover Mine (anonymously, of course) 

Comments are also welcome.  Constructive criticism is preferred.  The other kind stings, alot.

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Starting Raw May 26, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Conflict, Writing Life.

This site is finished.  Finally.  (well, finished enough.  sort of.) 

Anyway, what to blog about?  When I signed up with WordPress, I had so many good ideas.  Really I did.  And now…

Hmmm.  Nothing.

Well, whatever my first post, it has to be interesting.  Something that will draw the reader in.  Live up to my blog’s name: Raw & Dangerous. 

I’m thinking, again.

I’ve got raw.  Would you settle for raw?

You would?!

Bless you!

Ok, here’ goes.

I am new to this blogging gig.  That is the raw truth of it.  I know just enough to keep it short, simple, and to a single topic.  Or maybe two. 

Two topics close to my heart: writing lies and exploring life. I do both every day.  Repeatedly.  But, in truth, writing lies and exploring life are the same.  

Here, let me explain.

For a book to be “a really good, all-night page turner,” conflict must reign supreme.  Internal conflict, external conflict, interpersonal conflict between hero and heroine, conflicting goals, conflicting missions, conflicting choices.  Bottom line: You gotta have lots and lots and lots of conflict.  Oh, and lest I forget, we want our heroes and/or heroines miserable, too.  With nasty backstories full of betrayal and wrong choices and miserable childhoods endcapped by abusive or negligent or meddling (and often dead) parents.   Don’t believe me?  Check out some of the latest best sellers.  Or some of the older ones.  From Harry Potter to Macbeth – we crave gut-wrenching conflict.

Or do we?

I can’t speak for you, of course, but not one person has ever jumped up in front of me and said. “Yeah!  I just had a fight with my spouse [daughter, son, boss, you pick].  Wow!  What a conflict.  Love it!”   Yet, we absorb conflict at fascinating rates.  Romance novels alone, a genre where conflict peaks at excruciating levels, accounted for 60% of all fiction sold last year. 

So, what gives?  We want our heroes and/or heroines down for the count, struggling without paddle or canoe while bravely facing Niagara and bleeding from every pore, yet, if the same happened to us, we’d gone screaming for the hills two chapters in?

Well… like, I said, writing lies and exploring life, they are the same.  The lies I write are what readers say they love.  And my conflict… it comes from exploring life.

No wonder I find so much life in books.

How about you?  Do you find life in books?  How about the books you put down, (or threw against the wall) never to pick up again, because they were ____________?  Fill in the blank.  This inquiring mind wants to know.

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