The Beautiful Woman Has Come

The Beautiful Woman Has Come
A Historical Novel by Debra Giuffrida

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Return From The Dead

OK, I really wasn't dead, but for all intents and purposes I felt dead. I pinched a nerve (or something like that, I'm poor, have no insurance and didn't see a doctor; just Googled my symptoms) and lost a lot (OK all!) movement in my arms! It was awful! At the same time I tore cartilage and my menecus in my right knee. It seemed to me that my body decided that just cause the knee was bum that the rest should join in so it wouldn't feel lonely! Geesh, I was a mess!

The worst thing of all this was I couldn't sit in a regular chair without someone near by to help me out of it, nor could I use a keyboard as my fingers didn't want to obey my brain. Thus I was limited to my communication online. Limited to zero. I became a TV junkie because all I could do was lay around and stare at the tube. I felt a million years old.

But now I am back and my fingers once again are tripping all over themselves on the keyboard. My pain is very minimal and I owe it all to my physical therapists! They were great. They even gave me exercises for my arms and shoulders though those parts of my body weren't covered by the Workman's Comp claim that my knee was. Marvelous people.

So I am back from the dead, just in time for Halloween!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

He Loves Me He Loves Me Not

He loves me he loves me not. Since we were little girls we all have pulled petals from flowers and asked the universe the question that is closest to our hearts. He loves me he loves me not, funny but we never truly know the answer to that question. Why is this, why does the eternal question remain unanswered? Doubt. He loves me. Today you are in his arms and everything is roses, the next day you don’t hear from him and you feel that doubt creeping in and the next petal falls. He loves me not.

I believe that there should be a mandatory class for all boys and girls. This class would teach our children the art of romance. Today we see an increase in writing and reading that is unprecedented. Text messages, instant messages, emails, everybody is writing again. But they are writing quickly, without thought and they are writing poorly, LOL, ROFLMAO, BFF, and all the new abbreviations that take the place of common phrases. But where is the romance? In the last century a man would take days to pick the right stationary, the right ink and the right words to woo his lady love. Remember the flower petals? There was also a way to woo your love with flowers. Each flower meant something to the recipient. The nuances of the language are now mostly forgotten, but red roses still imply passionate, romantic love and pink roses a lesser affection; white roses suggest virtue and chastity and yellow roses still stand for friendship or devotion. Also commonly known meanings are sunflowers, which can indicate either haughtiness or respect. Gerbera (daisy) means innocence or purity. The iris, being named for the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology, still represents the sending of a message. A pansy signifies thought, a daffodil regard, and a strand of ivy; fidelity. What girl or lady would not want a bouquet of red roses sent to her on Valentines Day?

On my 24th birthday I received 25 beautiful red roses from a man I truly loved. He was not free to give me his love but he gave me the flowers all the same. He loves me he loves me not. I have been pulling petals ever since.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Angst You Say?

The emotional angst of relationships, the real thing not the cardboard cutout version, that is what I want to put into my writing, the real feel of longing for your beloved, the real pain of uncertainty. But is romantic angst just a female emotion or do men also experience the pang of separation? I believe a well rounded story is told with several voices and the hero's voice, of course, is part of the story. Is it the same as the heroines or is it colder, more removed? So I guess I have to figure out how male angst feels in his heart, how it sounds in his head and how it shows on his face.

In my search I watched a PBS special which aired during a pledge drive. It was hosted by this man, whose name escapes me at the moment, who tried to show his audience the differences between the male and female brain. I say show because he used those silly Styrofoam wig stands, you know the ones, they're shaped like human heads and are totally featureless and stark white. Well, his description of the female brain was that of a monster super highway interchange, where everything interconnects with everything else. But the male brain on the other hand was composed of neat boxes that did not touch nor connect in anyway. He said that each box has it own unique function; there is the car box, the sports box, the work box and the mans most favorite box of all... the nothing box. Oh and did I tell you that a man's thoughts are in only one box at a time? Yeah... OK, I hear you, let's back up. The nothing box; that's right, there is nothing in it. Which explains the answer to the age old question: "Honey, what are you thinking about?" and his age old answer: "Nothing!"

So now I get back to my original question about male angst and is it the same as a woman's. How the heck do I know? Every time I ask my current he just looks at me with a blank expression on his face. Yeah, he's in his nothing box again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

No More Boring Inner Voices

We are surrounded by sound--traffic, music, TV, computer websites, and electronic hums be they refrigerator motors or light bulbs. And that causes me to wonder does it block out our inner voice? Do some of us use these noises so we don't have to listen to the everyday hum drum of our minds?

I for one can not stand extra noise. When I am alone the only noises that invade my brain are the electronic hums and the sounds of my animals breathing, or in the case of the collie, her snoring. So that means I hear ever single word that my mind makes and that means I listen to a lot of boring stuff about housework and bills and dust and the list goes on. But when I write I have to remember that my characters don't have to have boring inner voices. They can muse about interesting things like war and the state of the union and helping the homeless and any manner of earth shattering things. Why? Because I can control their minds. Inner musings is what gives our written characters their dimension, their depth, their soul. That is also why I write in first person. I want to hear the inner voice, I want to hear the gut wrenching arguments that they have with themselves. Or I should say I want you to read the gut wrenching arguments. OK, I have to hear them first before you can read them.

Reading the newest installment in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series has given me the push to really mold my characters, to give them a soul. Diana writes in the first person just like I do. She let's us see into the heart of her characters and that is exactly what I want to emulate. In fact I also believe Mary Renault wrote in the first person too. (Don't quote me yet, I am going to have to go check this out but it feels right.) Mary Renault is my hero when it comes to ancient historical fiction. She wrote about Alexander and she nailed it. She is truly one of the greats.

So I have decided to give my characters their own individual inner voice which will give them their own individual soul. Besides it just might help me learn to edit my inner voice, I'm tired of listening to myself think about laundry and vacuuming, I want to ponder world peace and grapple with the angst of love and life and death. Which brings me to my question today, do you have an interesting inner voice or do hide yours because it's dull and boring and if so how?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sappy Movies That I Love

I just finished watching Sabrina, the new version with Harrison Ford not the original with Humphrey Bogart. Both versions are wonderful but the one with Harrison Fords hits closer to home (because I have the hots for him!). Older man falls for younger woman is an age old love story. There are other equally popular old love stories but this one is my favorite.
I don't watch many romance based movies, maybe because my romantic life has been less than perfect so watching someone else (albeit fantasy) find true love and eternal happiness is difficult to take. But, every once in a while I just have to have a good cry so I rent a DVD or find it on the TV and sit down with a box of Kleenex and sob my heart out over lost love and love never realized.
So, are you curious about the other movies I love? OK, they are Casablanca (Bogart & Bergman at her teary best!), Dirty Dancing (I like this one better than Ghost!), The Philadelphia Story (Love Hepburn and Grant!), Moonstruck (Cher and Cage!), Working Girl, Somewhere In Time (Christopher Reeve tear jerker!), Bull Durham (oh boy Costner is just dreamy in this one! Slow wet kisses that last all day, yum.), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (the ending is a real tear jerker, she dies and is united with her love! Ah.). That's the list. Of course there are a few marginal ones I like but these are the ones I would fight for the remote to watch.
That brings me to written romances, especially since I'm writing one of my own. I think just about every one will put Gone With the Wind on top of their list, not me. I am more apt to read romances like Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series or maybe something from Barbara Erskine who wrote The Lady of Hay and Joyce Verrette's Egyptian romances.
So it comes back to my writing, always does you know, will my book live up to what has come before it? I hope so, I intend for it to, OK, I know it will. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Dollar A Page

When you are broke and a "real" job is out of the question what do writers do to pay the bills? Anaïs Nin wrote pornography for a "patron" and he paid her $1 per page.

"Faced with a desperate need for money, Nin and [Henry] Miller began in the 1940s to write erotic and pornographic narratives for an anonymous "collector" for a dollar a page, somewhat as a joke. Nin considered the characters in her erotica to be extreme caricatures and never intended the work to be published, but changed her mind in the early 1970s and allowed them to be published as Delta of Venus and Little Birds." Wikipedia

So I am faced with just such a dilemma, bills and no cash. I enjoy writing erotica, almost as much as I enjoy reading it. It's exciting, come on admit it, it's exciting to you too. Forbidden fruit is always exciting.

I googled erotic anthologies and wow, what a list! On Amazon alone I didn't go past the first page of 15 books and it went on and on. So, this tells me that readers of erotica are as voracious as readers of romance novels. I am writing a romance novel but it's far easier to write erotica. Faster too! So, do I drag on and finish the romance novel or do I whip up an anthology of erotica? The mind boggles. Unlike Nin, I do not have a "collector" who is willing to pay me for the writing.

In fact, if I remember correctly, the "collector" would tell Nin and her partner Arthur Miller "less prose more sex!" So remember, if you are called to write for your daily bread get to the juicy parts fast!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Smell of Memories

The smell of roasting garlic is heavy in the air. I love roasted garlic. I squish it on fresh sourdough bread with lots of goat cheese. I make a meal of it, OK, I add a glass of wine. One glass is good for the digestion.
Smells are the memories that we keep with us forever. They are strong memories. The smell of a Christmas tree, the smell of a babies neck, a puppies breath, and of course food aromas. These create those little synapsis that fire each time we come across something that matches what we have already experienced.
I am firing those synapsis today. Memories of touch and taste and scent keep jumping in to my fore brain. I'm tingling with past experiences. These are good things to use when I write. I conjure up those strong memories and focus on them real hard, remembering every detail so that I can write about them with accuracy. I want my writing to be believable so by using the past I can create the future in my stories.
The timer is clicking down the last few seconds. When it goes off I can have my roasted garlic, and crusty sourdough bread and creamy goat cheese... oh yes, and my cool glass of Chardonnay. Hmmm, sounds good doesn't it?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Willows Have Buds

I live in the desert. Well, technically it is the desert but if you look out my front window you will see palm trees, green grass, fountains shooting water into the air and rosemary bushes lining the pathways. I live in Las Vegas where fantasy is king and we spend all our water on keeping the nasty dry desert at bay.
So yesterday as I walked my collie around a closed golf course I passed a naked willow tree. I paused and looked closer. Yep, little green buds of what will be graceful long willow leaves! Yippee! Spring is just around the corner and it is only the middle of February. This made me feel really good. I love spring. It is my favorite time of year. Still cool in the morning and evening yet the sun heats up just enough during the day to wake up all the living and growing things, like willow trees!
Now I have to wake up my writing. I did write a few small pieces, just as exercises, nothing on my novels. Which is what I am going to focus on today. My romance is in need of more action so I am going to add a sword fight scene between my hero and a baddie yet to be identified.
Writing a fight scene will be new for me so I have asked for help. A wonderful person on my Panhistoria writing site has given me marvelous pointers on how to accomplish this daunting feat. She has provided me with cause and effect, telling me what to look for and how to discribe it with believability. So armed with her information I am going to sit down and write.
Along with writing scenes for my novel I am also trying to keep up correspondence with my extended friends and family. This is another daunting task as I now have quite a few and most of them are Facebook members so I can't hide from them. They know I am on Facebook because they see all of the silly games I play to pass the time when I can't think of what to write.
So if you have a chance to get outside today, look for the willow buds.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rainy Day Romance

I am writing a romance and I am in love with my hero but not my heroine. I want to empathize with my heroine but I am having a difficult time with it. You see, she is too much like me. I want her to be more like my female heros, good and kind and smart and witty and full of energy. She is to a point, like me, but not enough. She is too shallow, like me I guess. So I am in for a healthy rewrite.

It's raining today and I am in a melancholy mood. Rain does that to me so I am glad that I live where it seldom rains. One of the blogs I follow posted a short little piece on romance which got me thinking about my novel and my characters. They need more depth, more oomph to them. They seem to be too one dimensional, too cartoon cut-out for my taste. Stephanie mentions the Disney Cinderella movie and how her daughter just loves the ball where the hero and the heroine come together and fall in love. Sigh, how sweet, but Stephanie's daughter is a toddler and my audience is a tad bit older and a tad bit more jaded. My novel is at the "at-the-costume-ball-where-the-protagonists-fall-in-love-but-have-to-part" part and I don't know which branch of the road to go down: the gutsy realistic sexually hot! hot! hot! road or the gauzy romantic just barely see the love scene, you know, the PG version. I guess it all depends on my audience, doesn't it? I love both versions so this is a hard choice. Wait a minute! I just had an epiphany! Why not give my readers and me both versions? My heroine can fantasize about the gauzy romantic PG love scene and then I can give my readers the hot hot hot sexually explicit version when it actually happens! Wow, yeah... I guess I will just have to write it and present it to my writers group and see what they think.

Inspiration on a rainy day; just the ticket!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Where Does He Find The Time?

I just finished reading a thriller. I don't always read thrillers, but since I need a little bit of a thrill in my novel I thought what better source could I drink from than a thriller novel! I chose James Rollins and his story The Last Oracle. I must say that I found it very interesting and finished it rather rapidly. In fact, since I did finish reading it that has to say it was pretty good. You see, I don't waste my time on bad books. If it is boring to me (now, don't get me wrong, if a book is boring to me that doesn't make it a bad book, take the book the Shell Seekers. I absolutely hated that book. Why? Cause it was so slow and boring,: to me! Of course I have heard all kinds of good reviews of that book, so, see, just cause I don't like it doesn't make it bad.) I won't finish it. Sometimes I don't even get past the first chapter.

But that is not the point I am trying to make. Here is a man who has a veterinarian practice in the Sacramento area of California; that takes time out of his day; and he has published a book a year since 1999; that has to take some time too; and he is on Facebook, and he blogs. Are you getting the picture here? How does he do it? There are only 24 hours in a day and you have to sleep some of those hours, right? I do, don't you? So where does he find the time to write these books? These aren't just little thin one plot wonders. They are weighty tomes filled with a ton of research! Take the one I am going to read now (yes I'm going to read another one!) Map of Bones, it consists of 521 pages. It's a thriller based on religious relics, you know, bones of saints.

Anyway, I am very impressed with his time management skills and take my hat off to him. And since this is still January and I have not made any New Years Resolutions I am going to say it here and now: I will learn how to have excellent time management skills and finish one of my novels this year! Is that 2 resolutions? Oh well, what the hell, I'll probably break those too!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Back of the Wardobe

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of "East, Love, Pray," gives a wonderful talk on the creative process and how modern society is injuring our writers by putting the burden of genius in them as opposed to having genius reside within a temple and only occasionally visiting the artist. She goes on to point out how the ancients were right in their belief system and modern man by putting godhead within us is killing off all of our talented people.

I, on the other hand, have finally realized that they are both wrong.

C.S. Lewis created a marvelous series of books entitled The Narnia Chronicles of which The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe is the first entry. To say that the four protagonists walk through a wardrobe into a world of fantasy is to make light of the story. It's not so much that they conquer evil and right a wrong and save this fantasy world. It's that they are safe and at peace and happy and free. Everything that we are not.

So, at the end of the story they have stayed in Narnia and grown up in the bosom of this fantasy world until one day they come across the grove that contains the back of the wardrobe. It's at this point in the story I realized that C.S. Lewis understood, that we artists (here I include myself) have all stepped through the back of the wardrobe and entered this life we are now living, away from what you normals call "fantasy." Each of us yearns for the return, stepping back through the front of the wardrobe and out the back, to return to what we have lost. And this other world, this fantasy, as we live here in the glare of reality, we can just see it out of the corner of our eye. We feel it in our heart, we see it in the beauty of nature, we hear it in the sigh of the breeze in the trees or the call of the birds or the low of the cattle. But it is just out of our reach and it drives us mad with desire. Desire to step through that wardrobe and go home.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The World is Our Stage ~ Teaching Blogs

I am amazed at all of the wonderful blogs that are out there for aspiring authors. In fact they are inspiring aspiring authors to create their own blogs. This is OK in itself, but, and that is a very big but, it seems that these aspiring authors have taken it upon themselves to become our teachers. OK, that's fine too, but when they have originally started their blogs to record the progress of their novel and the trials and the tribulations that come with publishing, well, I want to read about that. So since my blog is titled the Reluctant Author, I feel it is my duty to keep that title in focus when I write my entries.

I am trying to not avoid my novel today. While out walking the dog I ran some of the changes I made through my mind and think that I have decided on a flow. So today my focus is to rearrange what I have written and tightening up the prose. I have joined a writers group and the members have made some marvelous suggestions and pointed out glaring errors that I need to fix. Mainly I have to focus on my prose. It's choppy at best. I tend to separate clauses with periods instead of commas and semicolons and the like, so I must read through and combine the clauses to make complete thoughts and sentences. I also need, since I am writing in first person, to limit the phases: 'I saw...," "I noticed...," and the like. My reader(s) knows that my main characters are seeing whatever they are seeing. Duh. I also need to add some action. My story is getting a mite boring, at least that is my opinion. Something has to happen to my hero and to my heroine otherwise my reader(s) will put the book down and it will sit collecting dust on the nightstand. My grammer is a tad bit bad too. Frags and passive voice are my biggest boo boos.

So, what is the general consensus on my story? They like it! They want to read more! Yippee!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Avoidance By Canine

Returning from a jaunt on the neighborhood golf course with my dog I realized that I am using her as a way to avoid my novel. Just maybe I acquired her so that I could waste time walking her everyday, thus having a perfectly good excuse to avoid sitting down and writing.

In fact, I have been avoiding everything in my life. The official cause of this: Holiday Depression. At least that is my excuse and I'm sticking to it! I am far from family and friends and the Internet is not as warm and fuzzy as I would hope it to be.

So I immerse myself in trivialities. My current time waster, while I'm not walking the dog, is Bejeweled Blitz. One minute of sheer avoidance, it's marvelous! And I'm good at it to boot! In fact I have sucked a few of my author friends into competing with me for some silly weekly prize, group avoidance.

Just recently joined an online writers group and it has been a big boost to my fragile writers ego. My writing does not suck and I am not the worst writer ever. But I do have issues, we all have issues. But they are fixable! In fact one of my issues is not feeling worthy of the title "author;" how can I call myself an author when I have never published anything? And High School publications don't count! Artists have been known to have fragile ego's. In fact there is a wonderful talk given by a the wonderful author Elizabeth Gilbert all about our creative geniuses and how we as a society put too much pressure on them. My writers group guru posted the link and while I was listening to the talk (here is the url: I wept. It was marvelous! I have subsequently passed on the link to other author friends of mine. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Anyway, I would love to know if anyone is out there reading my words. How do you avoid writing? I know you do, so let's have it, confess your demons!