Collages (Anne Stuart)

I’ve been doing collages of my books-in-progress for years now, with varying degrees of success.  I first heard of it from Barbara Samuel and I loved the idea, so I immediately began to paste pretty pictures onto oaktag to inspire me.  It didn’t further the plotting process but it meant I could go buy expensive magazines and the results were very nice.

But I lost interest when things weren’t advancing plot, and I realized I was simply doing it to keep from writing.

Writers will do anything to keep from writing, even dishes and making the bed.  Cutting pretty pictures out of Veranda and Vogue definitely beats household chores, but sooner or later you gotta hit those keys.

Then I went to a seminar Jill Barnett did on collage, and discovered you could use words!  Silly me for not thinking of that.  Jill used the try-fold poster board kids use for science projects, so I went out and bought a lot of those and new magazines, cutting out words as well as pretty pictures and got this:

That one was for ON THIN ICE — the blonde guy is the villain.  Again, inspiration but not progress.  Then I went to a meeting of the local RWA chapter and someone there gave talks about doing collage via scrapbook pages.  LOVED the idea. It  meant I could go buy scrapbook stuff.  Unfortunately they don’t have many scrapbook tchotchkes for my kind of books, except maybe at Halloween, so I gave up, until Jenny Crusie, former art teacher, got me under her wing.  She and Lani Diane Rich and I are plotting a fairy tale book, so we spent an evening doing scrapbook pages and having a great time, and this time I think it will really help with the plot as well as serve as inspiration.

But with collaging it works well if you’ve got an avatar, a stand-in for your characters.  I often start that way anyway, until they become their own people as the book progresses.  I’ve got heroes for books two and three.  Book two is a bad boy former pirate ship’s captain from the slums, and I thought Ian Somerhalder had the combination of gorgeousness and sauciness to get me started.  The brooding heir and accused wife-murderer works will with Richard Armitage.

But I’m stuck on the first hero.  Sir Richard Durant is charming on the surface, devoted to the son he knows isn’t his, hates his evil wife with a fierce passion, and is trying to destroy his life with morphine and absinthe.  So I need someone gorgeous (of course, for inspiration), charming, but with a hint of desperation.  More noble than the captain, more open than the brooding heir.  Someone with brown to blond hair, not black Irish like Armitage.

Anyone got any ideas?  His heroine is tall, calm, with a strong organizing streak, very maternal and brave, with scars across one side of her face.  She’s always had a crush on Sir Richard, but because of the scars she hides away.

So … who’s a good hero?  Throw some names at me — I need help.


It’s time for a change.  I’m 63 years old and fat fat fat (I hate that word).  I feel bad.  My back hurts, my knees hurt, my stomach hurts.  I want to live forever.  I want to be as glorious as I can possibly be (though I’m not sure the world is ready for that).  So I need to get healthy.

I was driving to the grocery store (where else?) and I came up with a plan.  Came back home, emailed Crusie and she was with me, and then Lani agreed to come in and heckle us.  It’s time to reinvent our already magnificent lives. We’re drowning in clutter, in responsibilities that aren’t really responsibilities.  We’re drowning in guilt and bad food and no exercise and hating where we live.  It’s time to shed the thick skin we’ve built up around ourselves and reinvent our own fabulosity (I know that’s not a word but I like it).

And I decided journalling was the way to do it, and journalling in public would keep me honest.  And Crusie said “oh, boy, a website I can play with” and we were off.  I’m going to post daily – my weight, my progress, the things I can shed, the way I view myself, etc., and see where I am at the end of the year.

Jenny will post on a weekly basis, but we’ve declared it a guilt-free zone so she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to.  And Lani will appear every now and then to harass us, because we need harassing.

So stop on by.  Have a glass of ice cold water (I’m trying to give up on Diet Coke).  Weigh in (literally and figuratively).  And we’ll so how the year progresses.


Not a great week at Squalor Holler, though I’ve resurrected that name for the place.  Jenny Crusie came up with Squalor on the River for her magic castle, so I thought I should bring back an old favorite for my house.  The thing about Crusie’s house is that it’s full of wondrous things wherever you turn, including five dogs.  My house is full of crap, and efforts to declutter don’t seem to be getting me very far.  The more I dump, the more appears, and I’ve stopped shopping.

Technology does help.  At this point I almost never buy physical CDs –  they’ll all digital downloads.  My kindle will do the same with fiction, though research books will still need to be physical.  I need a way to download movies to keep, but that’s on its way. DVR is a beginning, though I’m concerned about backup.

My BFF helped me clean my bedroom last year, and ever since I’ve made the bed every day and kept my walk-in closet clean.  Unfortunately now the baskets of laundry have multiplied and I can’t walk around the room any more.  I need to gird my loins and clear that out, plus Lani (Lucy Rich) is coming to visit on Wednesday and we have to make space for her.  I think we need photos to do this justice.  Where’s my iPhone?

Okay, here we go.  This is what our driveway looks like.  We can slog through in the AWD truck, but Thelma, my sweet PT Cruiser, gets overwhelmed.

Then we get to the garage.  Richie has a habit of taking all the paper trash and hoarding it because he thinks he’s going to burn it.  Well, he will, but it’s going to take weeks or months or years for him to get to it.  Also strewn about the garage are bags of stuff for the Salvation Army, most of which are damp and only worth tossing, plus everything that’s ever been in my car.  Richie cleans it out anytime we go somewhere and dumps the stuff.  So far I’m missing the GPS and the Sony eReader, and probably more besides.

I’ll skip my office for now, since we had to dump everything in there while people came over for Easter dinner.  We had a lovely time, with 93 years difference between the oldest and the youngest (my mother and grandson).  But we head upstairs to the bedroom that was once so neat, and the angels wept.

Unfortunately my BFF got sick when she helped me the first time with my bedroom. Too much dust.  Maybe if I make Richie help I can do it again.  It’s a nice big room — I could promise myself a flat screen tv if I clean it and keep it clean for a month.  Except I kept it clean for half a year or more last time and I don’t have the money for a flat screen tv.

Last but not least there’s the dead bathroom, as we affectionately refer to it.  When we built the house we were supposed to have a master bath, and it’s already plumbed.  We just ran out of money (in 1986) and figured we’d get to it soon.  Ha!  We keep cleaning out all the crap we have stored then and then, when it’s time to clean the bedroom, everything goes back in.

I’ve done the flylady thing with super fling boogie.  I’ve taken van-loads of crap to the Salvation Army and our local charity.  I’ve stopped shopping, and still I’m drowning in crap.  Help!!!

Okay, first things first.  I’ll start on the bedroom, and Richie can start on the garage.  Tune in next week to see if we’ve improved.  Mind you, I’m spending Thursday through Sunday in Salem, MA at the NEC conference, so I’m not going to get much done then.  But I’ll keep Richie’s nose to the grindstone.

I overheard someone in a discount store (when I still shopped) say they didn’t believe those homes on Clean House and Mission:Organization were really that bad.  Yup, they are.  I fall short of Hoarders, but not far short.  At least I have no problem getting rid of shit.  I just need a home for it all.

Please tell me at least some of you are this bad.  Or at least you have a little corner in your garage, or at least a junk drawer.  Tell me I’m not alone in this.


I don’t actually know what redux means.  I assume it means again — lemme check friendly old google.  Aha.  It doesn’t actually mean again, it means revisiting, so I don’t mean redux, but WTF.  I like the sound of it.

I’m here at Squalor on the River, my home away from home, the place I come to when I’ve got masses of writing to do and too many distractions at home.  Nobody wants a damned thing from me here, I can just work and sleep and cuddle with the dogs and shop and pig out and damn, life is good.  In Vermont we’re expecting 9 inches of snow.  Here we’ve got daffodils.

Okay, prepare to be awed.  I want to finish the ICE book so we can move on to stage two of The Plan.  I flew out of Burlington on Tuesday, arrived in Cincinnati, visited, and still managed to write about a thousand words.  So far so good.  Wednesday I wrote 3516 (in between shopping and Olive Garden).  Thursday 3317. Friday 5492 (we didn’t go out that day).  Saturday, when we went out to Steak N Shake, Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s, Staples, Krogers, and DSW, I still managed to write 4468, half of those words after midnight, which is unheard of for me.  Then I went to bed around three and stayed up reading the divine Sherry Thomas’s book, NOT QUITE A HUSBAND and god knows when I fell asleep.

Today I got up, ate bagels, watched a terrible movie with Damien Lewis (who’s darling) and wrote 4001.  Bringing it to a grand total of … about 22,000.  That’s almost a third of a book.  And I have two more full days to go.

So no, I won’t finish this brilliant sucker, but I’ll come close enough that I can finish it be the end of the month and send it off, and with luck it’ll be in the hands of readers in no time at all.   And then something else new and completely exciting, and then Kristina Douglas just signed for two new books, so hey.  As Crusie would say, nothing but good times ahead.

COUNTDOWN Whatever (Anne Stuart)

Yeah, I know.  Couldn’t I talk about something else?  But when a book comes out, one we really love, we tend to get a little obsessive.  Multiply that by three, or four including the Rohan prequel, and it’s no wonder I’m a mess.

So here’s what’s happening.  Amazon finally has the prequel for free, but readers are being hostile because they expected a novel.  It wasn’t made clear that it was, in fact, a very short novelette, a teaser, in fact.  And I have to resist every temptation to jump in there and screech that it’s supposed to be very short, and it was amazing that I managed to cram so much good stuff into only 10k words.  But I’m resisting.  It’s hard, but I’m resisting.

And Amazon is shipping RECKLESS!  Which makes me a little crazy with anticipation.  I don’t know if it’s shown up in stores yet — presumably not.  But I’m bouncing up and town, edgy and irritable, waiting to see if publishing disaster or triumph is awaiting me.  I already know that the most important triumph is there — I love these books, and I’d rather have written them than make millions of dollars (yes, that’s really true).  But publishing success means I get to write more books I love, so I’m kinda hoping for that.

In the meantime, Jenny Crusie’s running an interview over at her Blog,, and I’ll be showing up on Susan Wiggs’s blog and Maggie Shayne’s, trying to be adorable.  I’ll go trucking off to bookstores to sign stocks, and praying nightly and yet be determined to retain my hard-earned Zen space when it comes to the casino that is publishing.

What do you guys do when something is making you so anxious you want to scream?  I’m trying to take care of the things that are in my control and let go of the rest, but it’s HARD.