A month into unemployment and I no longer feel like I’m simply on vacation. The transition wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be – though saying goodbye to the best boss I ever had and my other colleagues was difficult. The extra month of working did a lot for my self-esteem, that’s for sure. It was a reminder that I was a vital part of a successful business group who did things others couldn’t – and we were one of the leanest-staffed groups and operated in a super cost-effective manner. Sigh. All good things do come to an end.
In any case, I’ve spent the last month catching up on household chores that had long fallen by the wayside (cleaning and organizing closets, cabinets, etc.), being a SAHM and all the tasks and errands that go along with that.
And writing. I’m back in medieval England again. The intentions were to get started on my planned Viking books, but the third Warrior book, Warrior’s Possession, took over instead. My long-time critique partners know this book under a different title, and I never thought I’d ever attempt to get it out there again. But with the last two Warrior books, it made sense to go back and see how it all began.  And that’s when all the changes started. I knew I’d have to make some drastic revisions, but it seems I’d forgotten more about this book than I remembered. Not to mention finding a plot point that affected the other two books.
Gillian Marlowe is given in marriage by King Edward to one of his favorite earls. Royce Langley, known as The Panther, wants no part of marriage – he doesn’t trust women in general, but in order to subdue the Welsh rebellion for good, he has no choice. And the only way he can gain the estate is by marrying its daughter. Of course, discovering his bride is half-Welsh and is apparently keeping secrets, won’t make gaining these lands very easy on him.
In the book’s original incarnation, Royce was a much kinder hero. I’ve toughened him a bit, and given him some very naughty ideas on how to deal with his rebellious wife. Gillian, adept at using a longbow and an accomplished falconer, does not like having her freedom curtailed. Both find themselves attracted to the other, but neither wants to give in. Of course. 😉
Most women in the medieval era were, unfortunately, objects to be used by the men in their lives. But in actuality, there were some very powerful women who made their own choices and gained their own power. Eleanor of Aquitane, queen to two kings and the mother of two more, had political clout of her own and wielded it wisely.  Queen Margaret of Norway was not a woman to be dismissed, either – she united three Scandinavian kingdoms. There was Isabella, the wife of Edward II – she used her position to usurp her husband’s power and eventually have him murdered. And there were several other unmarried noblewomen who held land and could wield as much power as their male counterparts – depending, of course, on the benefits their holdings provided the king. Power was one thing, respect another, and the two didn’t always come together in a neatly wrapped package.
Gillian is cut from the same mold as some of those women – she will defend her home and her people, to the death if necessary, and fight for her own freedom. Of course, her husband doesn’t think she has the right to do so, so this naturally leads to some very interesting confrontations. And if you’re familiar with my other books, whether they be the Warrior books or others, you know how my heroes handle their women!
The difference in this book is, I think, that while Gillian was married off without her having any say in the matter, technically, she isn’t being held captive, at least in the typical sense. So even though she’s strong and capable, in a way, she is still trapped. Often, marriage or the convent were the only choices for many noblewomen, and once there, no way out. So amid the clutter of the contrived and drawn-out plot devices I’ve been deleting, a stronger Gillian has emerged, and in challenging her husband, she has created a fiery situation that neither may survive. Of course they will, if nothing else, all of my books have an HEA. They’re romances! It’s getting to that happy ending that’s the fun part!

In any case, some very powerful historical women  have helped me shape Gillian into the character she has now become. Even some more modern than just those from her time. Which women inspire you?

Counting Down

At the end of this month, I officially become unemployed. I’ve talked about it before, and while there are still some lingering mixed emotions, for the most part, I’m ready to be done and out of here. My employer extended my position for one more month before it transitions to California, so I could finish up fiscal year end programs and tasks. Unfortunately, IT never got the word, and they shut off my network account. I still can’t get back into many of the systems I need to complete the tasks I stayed on for. It’s been frustrating, but on the plus side, it’s given me a few weeks where I was able to work on and wrap up two of my manuscripts.
I got good news about one this morning- the third book in my Marchand BDSM romance series has been accepted by Sizzler Editions. Sadly, I still don’t have a title, but I have a few ideas (and if anyone has any suggestions, I’ll take them! lol) It’s an equestrian eventing set tale, which is why coming up with a title has been a bit tricky – horses, BDSM – wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea! 😀  I don’t have any further information yet, but will be sharing as I get it.
I also wrapped up Warrior’s Wrath and sent that off to Pink Flamingo, though now I’m in a bit of a panic because I think I left something out of a scene, but I’m not looking. I figure my editor will point it out if I did and since there’s nothing I can do about it at the moment, no use making myself sick over it unless I really have to.
I’ve also been spending the last several days revising The Night Club – my next vampire romance. This book has been in the works for a very long time. I first wrote it shortly after I finished The Taste of Magic, in 2003! Various events conspired to knock me out of the writing game for a bit – the unexpected pregnancy with my son and his infant and toddler years, specifically. Babies take a brutal toll on the creative juices. Thankfully, we’re done with those days.
In any case, when I got back to writing, I took a huge detour from that book and tried something new. Some of you know I tested myself by writing a very popular Harry Potter fan fiction (Dramione, anyone?). It got such a good response that the darn thing took on a life of its own and really helped my confidence (I will advise you don’t go looking for it, it’s been removed from all the sites where it once appeared).  From there, the Marchand series was born. One thing led to another, and I wrote Warrior’s Vengeance, which was another book I started back in my early days. Since my goals and genres changed drastically, I didn’t give the vampire book a second thought.
Until I re-released The Taste of Magic. It did very well, so I dusted off The Night Club and decided to revise it. Turns out, this baby needs a whole lot of re-writing. Not only was it written back when my voice was significantly different, there are a lot of issues with the writing in general. Too much passive voice, more telling than I’d prefer, and plotlines that go off in all sorts of directions. I’ve been deleting a lot of things, streamlining the plot and cutting down on the word count. It’s still over 90K at this point, but I suspect it’ll wrap up around 80-85K when all is said and done.
Once that’s complete, I’ll be starting my next series, which I talked about before – Vikings! I have plots for two books. The History Channel show has inspired me so much, and last week’s episode was particularly awesome! Hail Earl Ragnar!  lol  I’m inspired, motivated and excited to get started. And with the next several months of actually having time to write, I’m salivating waiting for May to come!

A (Tarnished) Silver Lining?

This week, a lot of whispers, rumors and suspicion were finally put to rest.  After months and months of speculation and gossip going around the building at my day job, we learned that my particular department is splitting. More specifically, some of our product lines are going to be handled under another division, in California. Which means the remaining product line will roll up to another division as well. Which means just about all of us are out of jobs.
I have to say, until now, I’ve been lucky. I’ve always worked in a profitable group, or been in a position where I was truly needed to be able for my group to operate at a profit. For several years, this particular group was an amazing performer – we were one of the smallest staffed groups around, and we blew our numbers away and put profit on the bottom line year after year, usually in larger numbers than a lot of groups with bigger budgets and staffs did. We won all sorts of awards for our profitability, innovative ways to run the business and the way we closed big deals. It’s nice to be part of a group in that position.
Things have turned a bit in last couple of years – for lots of factors that everyone has faced in some respect. The economy brought a general slowdown in business. Since we’re a Japanese company, the natural disasters in 2011 in Japan and Thailand affected us adversely in several huge ways. There were other factors as well. But we were turning it around. Slowly, perhaps, but we definitely showed signs of improvement. And now they’re giving it all to another part of the company.
I’ll admit to being unhappy about this – after all, I’ve spent 24 years with this company, the last 16 with this particular group, so it is like my home and family in a lot of ways. I have the best boss ever, she, like me, is a working mom with kids of similar ages, and we get along in so many ways. The funny thing is her husband’s family has a lot of connections to mine as well, so she almost really is like family. But I’ve built up a lot with this company besides that. Benefits, vacation time, and flexibility help me balance and take care of my family as I need to. I live close enough to go home for lunch! Not to mention, the feeling of belonging in the group and the company are a big part of this job too. Liking what I do and liking the people I do it with is another plus. So the idea of giving all that up and starting from scratch at this stage in my life is more than just a little unnerving. But hey, I’ll deal. It’s not like I have a choice. Besides, that 24 years definitely works in my favor for a lot of other things, like severance.
Then there’s another side to this – the silver lining maybe I’m digging really deep for. I’ll be home during the day – at least, most likely, for a while. A lot of things I’ve never been able to do because I work outside the home will now be do-able – participating and volunteering at school for my kids, working out in the mornings and finally getting back into the routine that I let fall by the wayside, grocery shopping when the stores are quieter than the times I normally have to go, cooking dinner fresh almost every day. And I can write!
The dream/goal has always been that one day I would be able to write full time. My best time to write is always mid-morning to early afternoon anyway, as I’ve proven to myself many many times over the years, so to be able to devote that time on a daily basis to writing is literally my dream come true. And now it looks like I might get the chance to actually do it, or at least see if I can make it work. So in that respect, I’m sort of looking forward to the end of my time here.
Then again, nothing is certain yet. While it’s more likely than not I’ll be unemployed come the spring, this is a big company and there are always opportunities. So with all the reorganizing going on, there’s the chance I could find a landing spot. And everything will go on as usual. And the dream gets put on hold for a little bit longer. I have mixed emotions about that scenario as well. But it does take care of things like medical benefits, vacation time and the fact I have a daughter going to college in a couple of years. And now I’m super glad I spaced my kids 8 years apart, as unintentional as it may have been.
I suppose what’s annoying me most about the whole thing is that the two hours I get to myself each evening before I pass out have been totally unproductive. The distraction is killing my motivation and focus. My two WIPs were going along gangbusters until the last two weeks. Now, I stare at the screen and my notes and still can’t make it work. And I’m so damn close to wrapping one up for good! Figures. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are a million things going on in our world too, so the idea of having 8 extra hours a day to manage it sure is appealing while I juggle everything and try to stay coherent and somewhat sane.
I feel like I’m standing at a fork in the road – except the choice isn’t mine, I have to wait for someone to make it for me. I don’t like not being the one in the driver’s seat, though I’ll admit, the unknown, as frightening as it can be, is also exciting. This could turn out to be a very defining moment.