Monday, September 15, 2008

30k in 30 Days Challenge--Update

Maven Jackie BarbosaI planned to check in a little more often than this, but actually doing the writing seemed to eat up most of my time. (Wonder how that could have happened?) I have been managing to update my daily word count on my blog, but that's about it for updates so far.

So, yesterday marked Day 15 of the challenge. I'm a little shy of 15k at this point, but that's primarily because yesterday was Sunday, and Sundays are always iffy for writing (this funny little thing called "family time" seems to get in the way, lol).

The good news, however, is that this method seems to be working. Making sure I sit down and write every single day with a specific goal in mind has made a huge difference in my productivity. When I do get a good, solid block of time, I am writing faster and more efficiently, and finding it not that hard to meet or even exceed the 1,000 word goal.

Which is a good thing, because I've now completed two of the three novellas that are due on October 1, and it's going to take me more than 1,000 words per day to finish the one I'm writing now. My math tells me I now have to average 1,400 words to write THE END on that one by September 29, the last day of the challenge, giving me a whopping ONE DAY to polish it up before sending it in. Am I worried? Nah! I'm freaking terrified. LOL.

YOUR TURN: Update us on your writing progress for the last fifteen days. If you're in on the challenge, how's it going? If you're not, what are your current goals and how are things coming along? Remember, we love to hear from you, even if we are pretty quiet ourselves!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That Crazy Internet

Maven Darcy BurkeHowdy Mavenland! I had to share something I learned this evening from my brother...he found our cousins. Were they lost? Not really, just lost to us. Long story short: Our father had one sister and she moved to Denmark in 1951. I only met her once in the early 80s. We lost touch with her (and consequently our cousins) after our grandmother died in 1987 (my father died the previous year). I'd always wondered what was going on with them, but it never, ever occurred to me to Google them.

And how stupid was that.

See, my aunt was an actress, and a rather famous one in Denmark. She has a page in Danish Wikipedia! And my eldest cousin, Kim Sagild, was in a successful latin/jazz/funk band (Buki-Yamaz - they have a myspace page with super groovy music!) and went on to do something in music (he came to visit once also - I remember him as being so, so, so cool - I think I was maybe 9?). My other two cousins, Paprika (if you go to her page here at Internet Movie Database, click on the first trailer for The Substitute and watch what happens to her at the end!) and Nikolaj Steen were also artists, but I'd no idea Paprika won the equivalent of the Danish Oscar - for both best actress and supporting the same year! Wild.

My brother gets credit for finding them and is trying to make contact. I hope he's successful and that we'll be able to swap photos and stories. I'm certain we have much to share about our families and I'm really excited about the possibilities.

Ah, Internet, sometimes your powers are far more good than evil.

So what's the Internet done for you lately?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guest Maven Delilah Marvelle - Go Buy Her Debut Book!

We're thrilled to welcome Delilah back to the Mavendom to celebrate the release of her debut novel, Mistress of Pleasure. You might recall Delilah sharing her call story with us last year. Her years of dedication and persistence have finally paid off, culminating in this fabulous day! Congrats Delilah!

Mistress of Pleasure is finally here. Purchase a lesson...if you dare!

Today is a very exciting day for me!!! Why? Because my first book, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, officially hits stores. (Gleefully clapping hands here.) Instead of the usual throwing of pitches and excerpts and whatnot, I decided to keep it simple.

Behind every book, there is a story. And needless to say, behind my upcoming debut, MISTRESS OF PLEASURE, which centers around a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction, there are several. Because I don’t want to write a book about THE book, I’ve decided to elaborate as simply as I can about the inspiration behind the creation of MISTRESS OF PLEASURE. That inspiration first coming from my research, when I stumbled upon Ninon de L’Enclos, a French 17th century courtesan.

Truth be told, I find it rather astounding that this fascinating woman somehow disappeared into the shadows of history. She is but a ghost whenever the topic of courtesans arise. For we usually hear of the same old, same old courtesans like Kitty Fisher, Cora Pearl or Harriette Wilson. Let me be the first to tell you, however, that none of these women could possibly rival Ninon de L’Enclos or her life. But don’t take my word for it. Research her on your own and come to your conclusion. Bottom line, Ninon’s thoughts, philosophies, and her approach toward men and sex went beyond anything I have ever seen in a woman of her day.

Much like other courtesans, she kept her bedroom door open to aristocratic men, yes. But unlike other courtesans, she kept that bedroom door open for more than just sex. This woman actually held meetings and classes in the confines of her bedchamber where men of all ages would come to visit in order to discuss topics of sex, philosphy and love. These so-called meetings fascinated me and in turn, began to create the growing threads of what is now Mistress of Pleasure. The more I researched, the more excited I became. For there was almost too much to work with. For instance, Ninon had various lovers, as you might imagine. But to one lover in particular, she birthed a son. A son who was raised apart from her to never know who she was due to her being a courtesan. Then one day, when her son was a grown man, he happened to one day meet Ninon. And fell madly in love with her. (And no, I’m not bloody making this up…). Though she had sworn to never reveal her identity to her son, because his advances were growing more and more passionate and he altogether outright refused to leave her be, she finally told him the truth. That she was in fact his mother and that was why there would never be a sexual relationship between them. Her son was so overwhelmed and distraught by the confession, that he left her house and committed suicide by falling onto the blade of his own sword. Another story, somewhat less morbid, was about one man who begged and begged Ninon to admit him into her bed. She refused him time and time again and finally told him, “Return when I am eighty. Then I shall bed you.” The besotted fool took her words quite literally and arrived on her doorstep many, many years late, when she turned eighty. Ninon was so amused, she ended up bedding him, after all.

As you can tell by the stories I am selecting, it is the older Ninon that ultimately fascinated me. Which created a dilemma for my writing. Because my heroine couldn’t possibly be an elderly lady. It would never sell. But then I got to thinking. What if she were a grandmother of the heroine? Now THAT had possibilities. At about the same time I started writing AN IMPROPER EDUCATION (which is what I called it before the publisher changed it), MY grandmother re-appeared in my life. After 20 years of complete and utter silence. Which is a whole other story I don’t have time to go into… Soon, I discovered that the grandmother I never knew was actually an opera singer who had married into American Aristocracy and was living the life of a queen. My grandmother had an air of royalty to her and was quite beautiful for a woman her age. She had a heavy accent, walked with a sashay and always used amusing little words that I’d never heard before. For instance, she referred to sex as “Poom-poom.” She amused me so much so, that I could not help but morph her and Ninon together to create the fictional character that ultimately became Madame de Maitenon, who is both the creator of the School of Gallantry and the grandmother of my heroine, Maybelle de Maitenon. And so, I ended up with a story about a retired French courtesan who opens up a school that educates men on the topic of love and seduction, and the granddaughter who is unexpectedly forced to take over the operation of the school and educate all the men. Even though she has very little personal experience. Life certainly makes for some interesting fiction. And I have to say, I’m glad for it. At least in the case of this book. For an excerpt, more information or to sign up for my newsletter, please head over to my website.

Delilah Marvelle

What a fabulous story, Delilah! Anyone else use true stories or characters for their books? Dish!

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens