Jennifer's Journal


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

June Newsletter


Today as I write, I have fresh green beans, yellow squash with onion, new potatoes, and pork loin chops simmering on the stove. Yes, indeed, summer with its veggies is upon us here in Louisiana. On Saturday, I visited the Farmer’s Market in the town for these goodies. I love being able to buy produce that was raised in the area so free of the preserves used when it’s shipped long distances. Fresh always tastes better, too. How do you cook new potatoes? I simmer mine until fork-tender then blend 2 tablespoons flour with ¼ cup milk or Half & Half. Add to the potatoes still in the pot, stir to dissolve any lumps and continue cooking until this sauce thickens. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste. A friend of mine makes white gravy with flour, butter and milk and pours it over the cooked potatoes, then garnishes with fresh dill. Yummy, either way.

Not a lot has changed on the writing front since last month; I’m still revising the manuscript for the first book of my medieval trilogy about the accursed Three Graces of Graydon. This is after stopping for a week or so to answer questions from my editor about the story line of my 2010 release, TRIUMPH IN ARMS, last book of the Masters at Arms series. Here’s a truism of the writing life for you: The deeper you are into your work in progress, the more likely it is that you’ll have to stop and work on your last book submitted months ago. Switching sets of characters, story moods and plot complications isn’t always easy, either.

Some writers love revision, can’t wait to dig into the meat of a story, to flesh out characters, improve story pace, sentence flow and all the other things that need to be addressed in a manuscript. Not me! It isn’t that I object to the labor or dislike my story once it’s done. It’s just that I see so much that can be made better, and get annoyed with myself that I didn’t do it right the first time around. And no matter how hard I try, the story seems to fall short of capturing the vivid scenes and character interactions that I see in my mind. That can be downright depressing.

One bit of good news: my editor loves the working title for the first medieval book, BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE, so it’s likely this will be the final. I can’t take credit, however. It was provided by my agent, Richard Curtis, who is very good at this sort of thing. Now I just need to come up with two more titles using the word “Grace.” Ideas, anyone?

Even as I revise these days, I’m turning over in my mind plot lines and characters for book #2 of the medieval trilogy. The proposal is due on my editor’s desk a month after the September 1 deadline for book #1. The development of a story is often a long process for me, with lots of ideas tried out in imagination. Things don’t usually begin to jell, however, until I start putting all the bits on paper. I’ll be doing that soon.

GALLANT MATCH, my February title, was published in England in May. I like to think of it sitting in London bookshops, train station kiosks or shops located on the high streets of villages. Makes me wonder how my story about a sword master in old New Orleans goes with tea and crumpets.

I told you last month, I think, about the proposed reissue of some of my older historical titles by Sourcebooks, Inc. The first of these has been tentatively scheduled for release in August 2010, with the remainder to be brought out one-per-season through fall, 2011. By no coincidence, that fall is when the three books of my medieval series will be published in sequence, in October, November and December, 2011. This is, of course, if all goes according to plan.

What else have I done this month? Well, I made four pillowcase dresses for my needlework group’s fundraising effort, and wrote a pattern for these dresses based on a new design created by a fellow member. I also made a travel tote for my daughter for her birthday. I wanted something a bit larger than most of the tote bags available, so created my own version which can double as a laptop tote. The bag was made in black linen lined with red, with red quilting lines and an antique red button. For the final touch, I machine embroidered its flap in red with a fragment of the Walt Whitman poem made famous by an old Bette Davis movie: “Now voyager, said thou forth, seek and find.”

May you all sail forth this summer, and find whatever fulfills your dreams.

Warmest wishes,

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