Judgment Call

Rice_TheoryofMagic800My romances often reflect issues I grapple with personally. But because the books are upbeat and often humorous, the issues aren’t immediately obvious. Sure, my blind marquess in THEORY OF MAGIC has anger issues. He’s disabled in a society that considers disability a matter of shame. His heroine (and quite frequently, his family) point out that as a marquess, he’s fortunate in a society that walks over the poor and helpless, but in 1830, wealthy white privilege is a matter of fact, not social commentary.

Still, I tried to show the very human tendency to judge others on the basis of appearances or hearsay, without any evidence to prove that opinion right or wrong. I’m as guilty as anyone. I scorn books with poorly written blurbs or bad covers, assuming the writing will be equally unprofessional. I am a literary snot. I know this, but it’s an easy way of dismissing the barrage of information crossing my computer screen. Continue reading

Diversity

Rice_TheoryofMagic800An old argument, currently revived and raging around the internet, is the one where some people insist authors cannot write about any ethnicity/race/religion/sex but their own—which pretty much leaves the entire library to white male writers since there are far more of them than anyone else.

Yes, I agree that a strong female/African/Muslim point-of-view character would probably be stronger were the author of the same persuasion. But to tell me I can only write from the heroine’s POV because I’m female… Uh uh, I don’t think so. If all my heroines were of the same ethnicity/race/religion/sex as me, my only titles would be the Misadventures of a Spotted White Non-Affiliated Lady of Uncertain Genetics. There’s a big yawn for you.

Let’s face it, folks: Fiction is making stuff up. That’s what authors are paid to do—to pull ideas, characters, stories, times, and places out of their heads and put them on paper for others to enjoy or talk about. If I write about a Martian hermaphrodite, and you happen to be a Martian hermaphrodite and disagree with how I’ve written my character, that’s your choice. I’m good with that. Go ahead and disagree. Write your own story. But understand you’re not the only Martian hermaphrodite on the planet. I stand behind my character because s/he came out of my head, s/he’s mine. S/he is Not You.

My imagination comes in all colors, sizes, shapes, and levels of historical authenticity. I research my characters to the extent necessary for the type of book I write, which is usually directly related to the type of book I read. So, yes, it might be nice if writers write what they know—as long as readers accept that what we know is often in the  books we read.

And do these cultural control-enthusiasts expect us to only read what we are? Can I not read, appreciate, and understand the Martian experience because I’m from Earth? I’m not looking for rants, but any and all thoughtful perspectives.

And while I’m here, THEORY OF MAGIC comes out July 26. It’s about two very large, quite white, English people of Anglican orientation, and I’m pretty sure I’m not any of those unless spotted counts as white.

Family, Friends, and Duty, oh my!

I think everyone understands the delicate line we all walk between looking after our own

Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney

Anne Gracie, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney

interests and looking after friends and family. So I hope you’ll understand that I’ve been treading that line a lot lately. It’s really hard to keep our balance when the unexpected occurs, even harder when tragedy strikes. We’re pulled toward those who need us most and forget the mundane. If you want to see what has me spinning, please read the post in the Word Wench blog about losing Jo Beverley.

My book characters probably reflect some of my own dilemma on how to handle this tight rope, because they’re human, and I want them to take familiar human paths, but I’ve never really considered this a theme until this week. As WHISPER OF MAGIC gets ready for release and I struggle through the current manuscript, I have become aware from my own struggle for balance that family, friends, duty, and my characters’ own selfish desires all provide conflict in my books. Awareness apparently comes through living and losing.

Whisper of Magic by Patricia RiceI don’t know how much of “me” can be found in WHISPER’s Lord Erran Ives, a brilliant barrister with a dangerous gift of persuasion. But his struggles to find the dividing line between his own needs and his family’s should be familiar to most of us. And of course, because he’s young and this is romance, when a lovely woman with a celestial voice is thrown in his path, his struggles are completely derailed. And now that I think about it, the ending might be symbolic for all of us trying to keep our heads above water!

Do you have any secrets for balancing “me” needs and “family/friends” needs?

 

Writing Acrobatics

I know readers seldom think about a writer’s thought process when creating a book, but since that’s what I do all day, that’s what is on my mind most of the time. So pardon me for occasionally wandering off on mental writer acrobatics.   typing in water
I am currently drafting the latest genius mystery. These are told in first person from my main protagonist, and third person from whichever of her family has a point of view in the story.

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Mea Culpa!

The first of my excerpts for Magic in the Stars have been going out, and I’m receiving a puppy_in_a_tam-o-shanterdeluge of lovely mail pointing out that my hero doesn’t know the name of his own dog. Well, people have been a little politer than that.

What can I say? When I write, names change. It just happens. It’s part of the process, and at some point, I hope I catch all the  changes and settle on a final name. (Although the heroine of current WIP has probably gone through a hundred name changes by now!)

But my real fault was in letting the excerpt go up before it was proofed. We organize so much of this in advance that sometimes it’s impossible to remember what I did when, and this is one of those cases. I apologize.

And in case you’re wondering, his dog’s name is Hog. And that’s not him in the picture. <G>

 

Unexpected Magic Series Begins!

Rice_MagicintheStars800After a year in the making and months of consulting over covers and release dates, I can finally show you the cover for Magic in the Stars, Book #1 in my new Malcolm/Ives historical romance series! The pre-order links aren’t up yet, but I can give you a sneak peek at an excerpt.

The original Magical Malcolms series was set in the Georgian era around 1750. I brought the Ives family of scientific, logical men together with a group of exceptionally independent Malcolm women with “gifts” that ranged from magical healing to seeing ghosts.

When that series ended, readers kept asking for books about their descendants.  At the time, my editors weren’t interested, so I sold a contemporary romance with a trio of brothers who may have descended from my Ives family. That became the California Malcolm trilogy.

Now, I’m finally in a position to follow the descendants of my Georgian couples into 1830 because I wanted to see how the scientific Ives men and the woo-woo Malcolms navigate the Industrial Revolution.

So far, I’m playing with astrology and astronomy (Magic in the Stars), a barrister and a Jamaican heiress who instigate riots (Whisper of Magic), and a blind political marquess captivated and appalled by a woman who hears voices in her head (Theory of Magic).

As you can imagine, the stories involve a healthy dose of humor and skepticism as the couples learn to deal with the unbelievable—including an Ives with a “gift” of his own.

I’m really excited about this series and hope you will be too!

Music Soothes the Soul

BBconcertWhen I was too young to know better, I fell in love with the Beach Boys and their California rock music. I swear, my daughter was born singing “Fun, Fun, Fun.” Maybe all that surf music was the reason we gravitated to the west coast. So when what is left of the group played in the Arts Center at Costa Mesa, it only seemed fitting to see the band that started it all. 

A blast from the past is just what is needed to make us feel young again. We rocked with an segerstrom concert hallaudience of all ages, talked to people who’d known the original group when they were growing up, and thoroughly enjoyed the talented musicians who have taken up the music with as much verve and expertise as I remembered from my first concert in another millennium.

And we learned more about this fabulous concert venue. I love the snail shell architecture and the wonderfully cozy balcony seating where there’s room to dance! The concert hall is part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, an amazing complex for celebrating dance, theater, and music.

Do you have the opportunity to enjoy the arts? How often do you take it?

Find Your Dream

Edownton abbeyver since I was a little kid in snowy Kentucky, I watched the Rose Parade on TV and vowed one day I would live in sunny California and see the parade.

Two and a half years ago, I made part of that dream happen when we moved to southern California. Two years ago, we saw the Rose Parade from the bleachers. That wasn’t enough. It’s hard to really see the floats from the side of the road.dragon

Today, we got to walk right up to the floats and admire the amazingly creative artistry involved in building them. What is even more astonishing is that California has been in a drought for four years, and flowers are in short supply. The designers had to use dry grasses, leaves, bark, and any other natural substance at hand to create the floats.

dragons neckWe took a million pictures, minimum! Here’s a detail of the dragon float. I know the bands and the costumed characters are a wonderful, exciting part of the parade–but it’s the flowers and sunshine that lit my dark childhood days. I wish I lived closer so I could be part of the wonder of creating these marvelous floats!

me

Are you creating dreams to work toward? Tell me!