Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update: The Road to a Writer’s/Artist’s Oasis.

Last month ago I wrote about my “too much stuff” and how I want to make my office/studio into a Writer’s/Artist’s Oasis. I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve filled the shed and a quarter of the garage with boxes and bags of my stuff. I gave a bunch away, threw a bunch away, and set aside a bunch for a yard sale. I dismantled my drawing table after years and years. It was the first piece of new furniture I ever bought myself, back when I got my first “professional” job, moved into my first apartment, and got my first paycheck. I haven’t decided yet if it will come back into the room. I have a maple dining room table that my mother’s mother bought her when my parent bought their first house before I was born. It has seniority. I think it will be my main art and craft table, instead of having a table for each.

A modular bookshelf my dad made
for me many years ago.
I have a few more pieces of furniture to move out. The last bits are too heavy and will be moved or rearranged by the contractor. Poor guy. The last two bookcases have to be dismantled.

Last week the contractor came by to look at the job and I gave him my wish list. He was supposed to get back to me in a week to give me the quote, but no show so far, 9 days later. He comes highly recommended by a friend who had her small kitchen remodeled. If I accept his quote, or agree to hire him with some things cut back, he can't start until mid October! Argh!

I should get another quote. I’m so bad at that. Someone gives me a quote, I want to get the job done, I accept it.

To give myself motive to get this job done I have purchased some things for the new room. It will be peacock themed. I got these items from

Peacock themed items from Touch of Class

I bought the 2’6”x8 runner size rug. The vase will hold my 25-year collection of peacock feathers that the semi-wild peacocks- that roam my neighborhood –have dropped over the years. They- the birds and their feathers -are directly responsible for my fixation with peacocks. The paintings will go on each side of the large feather painting below, which I bought at Pier 1 (50% off!). I'm going to touch it up with more turquoise and maybe some of the iridescent paint I bought for the pendent.

40" x 40" statement piece from Pier 1.

I found a pendent light at a rummage sale for $5 and decided to peacockify it. I dare not confess how much I spent on the do-dads to decorate it. I call it Flights of Fancy. It’s fun to be purely whimsical when making something. 
Too over the top?

Do you always get more than one quote or estimate when you hire someone? I'm very inexperienced with it. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Five Things Harlequin Romances Aren’t ~repost~

I read this blog in June by author Barbara Wallace and liked it so much I asked if I could reblog it. Originally posted on the  Chocolate Box Writers blog and Donna Alward’s Goodreads~ blog The Chocolate Box
June 26, 2014

Five Things Harlequin Romances Aren’t (& One Thing They Are) by Barb Wallace

Barbara Wallace

1.  They aren’t formulaic

. Unless you count the fact all the books involve a happy ending. Otherwise, you will find that Harlequin Romances often push the envelope in terms of themes and content. 
2.  They aren’t poorly written. Harlequin’s editorial staff is among the best in the business. What’s more, you’ll find Harlequin romances among the finalists in most romance competitions. Hardly a surprise since the writers work extremely hard to create strong, emotional reads.
3.  They aren’t full of simpering, weak heroines. In fact, Harlequin’s heroines are often the epitome of female strength. Harlequin heroines have jobs, they raise children, and most importantly, they seek to control their own futures. What’s more empowering than women controlling their destinies? 
4.  They aren’t all the same.

 I’m not just talking about the various lines.  I’m talking about Harlequin novels themselves. Every Harlequin author has her own unique voice – and she creates novels that reflect that voice. 
5.  They aren’t bodice rippers.

 I won’t even dignify that particular charge. 
So what ARE Harlequins?
Harlequins ARE well, written, satisfying, fun, classic romance novels.
About now, my fellow Chocolate Box members are chuckling and saying to themselves “Barb’s on her soapbox again.”  Damn right.  I can’t help myself — Harlequin Series books are such wonderfully written stories, and yet they go ignored. Not just ignored – disparaged. Put down  by other writers and readers who have never picked up a Harlequin in their lives. It ticks me off to see the word Harlequin being used as a synonym for cheesy.  Harlequin writers work their butts off to create these stories.  We agonize over goal, motivation and conflict as much as any romance author.
And for what? So the major reviewers can pass on us in favor of independent, sexy reads? So readers who would never dream of picking up a Harlequin can turn around and buy a similar book simply because it doesn’t bear the Harlequin logo?
Adding insult to injury, our lines are losing shelf space in our best retail outlets. Those readers who might read us can’t because they can’t find Harlequin books anywhere but online. Even Walmart has reduced shelf space to only one or two lines. 
Let’s face it, Harlequin Series is like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Romance world. We never get any respect.
At first blush, this rant might seem a little like preaching to the choir.  After all, Chocolate Box readers already appreciate series romance. But that’s exactly why I’m ranting. I’m hoping you’ll help us remind people that there is more to Harlequin than people think. Recommend your favorite books to friend, complain to your local stores if you can’t find your favorite series, and encourage people to #ReadHarlequinRomance.  It’s time we start re-educating readers.
Thanks!  We appreciate the help.  (I’ll step off the soapbox now.)
~ Barb Wallace

I would like to add some facts from Harlequin:
If you haven't read a Harlequin Romance, will you try one? If you have, what is your favorite line and who is/are your favorite author(s)?