Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where for art thou Becky?

Hellllloooooo!!! Here I am! Missed MacLaoch Wednesday's yesterday?? It'll be back next week and will be getting a new look, stay tuned for those changes next week.

Just wanted to put in a little blurb on what we're doing over here at Becky Banks Writing Headquarters. We're busy prepping The Legend of Lady MacLaoch for it's surprise giveaway on July 4th. We had loads of fun giving it away for its 1 year birthday back in May and decided to do it again for Independence Day on appropriately, MacLaoch Wednesday. :0)

Also in the news, the first round of edits on Forged are due back shortly meaning that by early next week we'll have a date for when you can get it in your hot little hands. It also means that I'll be receiving MASSIVE edits and will be drinking excessively to cope with all the red marks on its pages.

While the Forged manuscript is off being edited for your reading pleasure I've been writing like mad on the next book. Its been an interesting experience because unlike my other two novels this one isn't a pantser. I'm not - for some odd reason - writing it by the seat of my pants, I've outlined and created character profiles ... Which obviously means I'm deathly ill and need to have my head examined. Or it means that this planned spy-romance series will have more complexity than anything else I've written? Or, I've put my grown-up pants on and am finally writing a real book. ;0)

That's it for now, and those following the tomato plant saga we have just a few more blossoms but no actual fruit . . . I blame the weather. Not the fact that I've stuffed a tomato plant into a sack and hung it upside down. No, definitely couldn't be that.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Poetry Monday - Eye Candy Edition


Candy for the eyes as we explore our feelings. No, JUST our feelings.

Today we have the second of the two poems we unearthed from my parents move (read last week's post here).


1971
I could write
Or talk of how I feel,
But is it real?

Can you tell
Or do you know
What I can't say
And may never show?

You can talk
Or write of how you feel,
But do you?

Say it!
Scream it!
Rhyme it!
Dream it!

Love me!
Then it's real.

Ahhhh to be loved and to be told we are loved - this is one of the biggest reason why romance novels are so fabulous. The leading male characters are quite verbose on their love for the heroine and rather explicit in the details of what he's gonna do to her to show her that love. Usually she squeals and runs away or grins devilishly and agrees to play hide the sausage - much to his astonishment since he thought she was a virgin.

I was just reading through the last bit of Legend (in the infamous cabin scene) and realized that Rowan isn't as verbose as I thought he was in that scene for example here's one of my favorite blurbs. It's right after Rowan realizes that Cole is the only one who can break the curse and to do that they must hand-tie: 
 “Handfasting is ancient, Cole—it’s no doubt what Lady MacLaoch and her Minory would have done if they’d lived,” he said, and stood.
My heart tripped over itself as he slowly walked around the coffee table, coming for me,  as he spoke. “It’ll bind ye to me, and me to ye. We must be sure tha’ is what Lady MacLaoch wants. Are ye sure this is it what she wants?” he asked; then, as he got closer,  “Is it what ye want?”
Would I want to bind myself to him forever?
“How do I answer that?” I asked, feeling as though a freight train would be easier to face down than the laird of the MacLaochs and the heavy discussion between us.
Rowan out for a swim in the loch... :0)
Rowan came to stand in front of me. “If I know ye, Cole, as I feel I do, ye need to answer it with this”—he gently laid his fingertips just above my left breast, covering my heart—“then with this.” His fingers trailed up to and along the side of my neck, caressed  my ear before cupping the side of my head. His thumb brushed my temple. “Because this one is crying out for ye to be rational, yet love is anything but.”
My heart caught in my throat as his eyes looked directly into me and saw everything. “They are in direct opposition in their opinions,” I admitted.
Lightning flashed outside as the pitter-patter of fat water droplets pelted the side of the
lodge.
“But what does your heart say?”
“That I would be a fool to walk away from you,” I said. My insides went into pleasant knots and my breath became erratic. “God, what are you doing to me?”
“Nothing that ye aren’t doing to me,” he said, sliding his fingers into my hair . . .

And in real life it seems things up end up more like this:




By the way, if you like all these images, check out my pin board called "Um, Yes Please" and "Funny" on my Pintrest page. Click here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

MacLaoch Wednesday

Rowan on a leisurely stroll through Castle Laoch. . . 

Two weeks ago I recieved a lovely email from a woman who was doing 16th century Scottish reenactments here in the US. She was thoroughly enjoying The Legend of Lady MacLaoch but had one thing she wanted to point out regarding chiefs and chieftains, something she felt was incorrectly represented in the book. I.e. - Rowan is the MacLaoch Clan's chief, not necessarily it's chieftain.

The chief of a clan as you would assume is the overarching leader of the clan, or as wikipedia (aka - the all knowing master of the universe) says:

"The clan chief is the representative of [the clan's] founder, and represents the clan as well. In the Scottish clan system, the term chief denotes a greater chief than that of a chieftain. In consequence, branch chiefs (heads of branches of a clan) are designated chieftains.[2]"

Modern chief? Check his feathers, if he has 3 he's a chief.
So with the clan chief being the head honcho and the chieftain being his sidekick (or as some websites refer, he can also be the son of the chief) it's assumed that one cannot be both. After logging it in the edits and revisions document I have going for The Legend of Lady MacLaoch it occurred to me that while this discovery still denotes some edits to be made within the book it does not affect who Rowan is. 

Gerard looking chieftain-like. Or chief?
The MacLaoch clan while they have members across the world and have a clan gathering every few years the official personnel who are elected to this intimate clan are few. For instance while a large functioning clan of the 1700's (prior to them being disbanded) would have had a clan chief they would also have had chieftains to oversee large sections of the clan lands and its people. Like the woman who contacted me said, it is much like a president/CEO of a company and his vice president. The president oversees the entire company's functions while the VP focuses on their designated division. However, in small companies - especially startups - it is common to have the president be the head of the company as well as acting vice president and even project manager and sometimes receptionist. The fictional MacLaoch clan, having suffered badly through the disbanding of the clans and the land clearings of the 1800's were reduced to their present day situation of one chief, one chieftain, and one laird, all one Rowan MacLaoch. Rowan wears many hats and while the book is written with no difference called out between chief and chieftain for the reader, it is safe to assume he is one and both. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Poetry Monday!

Mom circa 1970's
 Today we have a special guest poet: my Mom.

Recently, after 26 years of living in our childhood home, my parents moved and unearthed some really great stuff. Anyone who has moved knows that the longer you are in one place the more moving becomes an archaeological dig. Like discovering love poems from the '60's and '70s. The great (read: scandalous!) part about it? They are NOT all about my dad. :0)

Here's the first of the unearthed (and sharable [ha-ha]) poems that my mom wrote - this would be late '60s.

Brown Eyes
Brown dancing eyes
Moving, thinking
Maybe he's here somewhere?

Hope not, hope so
Changing we are changing.
Mine are visible and known
His are hidden unknown.

Moving thinking
Brown familiar eyes
Glancing my way
Set my heart and soul dancing.

Moving forward
He's moving forward
I am moving east
He is moving west

My God stop this moment
Stop my feet from moving
Keep the light from changing.

Brown smiling eyes
Throbbing pulse
Did he even know it was me?
Did those brown dancing eyes even care?


It reminds me of the first time you have a crush on someone - does he like you? Do you like him more than he likes you? The hoping that he shows up to that party you're invited to, and the excitement associated with it all.

Do you remember all of your old flames? Or just ONE in particular?

Suprisingly this actually reminds me of the brown eyed poem I wrote about our childhood dog Mocha. Startlingly familiar actually, except for the throbbing pulse part. ;0)

Check in next week for the second poem!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MacLaoch Wednesday HIJACKED!

Fun image no? :0) This is work by Kassandra


Today we're hijacking MacLaoch Wednesdays to butt in with the new book, Forged. I'm going through withdrawls right now as I gave it to the editing team last week Friday. I find myself listless and rummaging around the house and the neighborhoods looking for trouble - which come to find out the latter is full of kids off from school doing exactly what I'm doing - so what am I going to do about it? WRITE.

Before I jump into writing the next book - yes the NEXT, and it's called Regan Manning who is a kick ass spy who comes from a troubled past and falls in love with an unsuspecting FBI agent - I need to write about the fits I've been having over the current cover for Forged. Forged is a spunky, dark, humorous, high octane thriller and the current cover is too ... too ... I don't know what - literary?? It currently exudes a very deep assistance but very PLAIN.

See?


It's cool in it's own reflected light sort of way, and will pack a wallop to the unsuspecting reader - because they think "Oh, what a lovely plain book." *she reads the first chapter* "Oh my goodness what strong language!" 

So with a bee in my bonnet I whipped up this DRAFT cover. Ideally I would love to do a big cover reveal but the last cover was like: here ya go, here's a plain white peice of paper with the word forged on it then I folded it in half when the ink was still wet for a cool affect. Cool huh?     No.

Ready? You sure? Ready? Okay, here's the super duper crazy rough draft, as in that photo probably won't be the real photo used. (Oh and do you like that photo? Go check out the artist's website - Kassandra creates pure eccentric awesome: click here) While the photo probably won't be used it does gives you the general idea of where we're going with it. Lead Peer Reviewer Annie of The Small Book Blog loves it - right Annie?? *nervously bites fingernails that are too short from all the biting to really bite at*


DRAFT cover for Forged... this version is growing on me. :0)

Thoughts?




Monday, June 11, 2012

Poetry Monday: Love as Old as Time

4,000 year old love poem. Photo credit: via


Literally.

A love that is as old as time, the above tablet is a 4,000 year old love poem. Some may remember a while back in 2006 this poem got unearthed from the bowels of the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient and went on display as a centerpiece for their Valentine's Day celebration. And what a centerpiece.

The above tablet translates to:

Poem recited by the annual brides of King Shu-Sin 
Translated by Samuel Noah Kramer (via)

    Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
    Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
    Lion, dear to my heart,
    Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

    You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
    Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber,
    You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
    Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber.

    Bridegroom, let me caress you,
    My precious caress is more savory than honey,
    In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
    Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
    Lion, let me caress you,
    My precious caress is more savory than honey.

    Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
    Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
    My father, he will give you gifts.

    Your spirit, I know where to cheer your spirit,
    Bridegroom, sleep in our house until dawn,
    Your heart, I know where to gladden your heart,
    Lion, sleep in our house until dawn.

    You, because you love me,
    Give me pray of your caresses,
    My lord god, my lord protector,
    My Shu-Sin, who gladdens Enlil’s heart,
    Give my pray of your caresses.

    Your place goodly as honey, pray lay (your) hand on it,
    Bring (your) hand over like a gishban-garment,
    Cup (your) hand over it like a gishban-sikin-garment.


Supposedly every year the King would ensure his region's fertility by making love to the Goddess Inanna's (the goddess of fertility and sexual love) priestesses. There was as one article I read put it, "a Mardi Gras sort of festival" would take place a week before to celebrate this goddess. At the culmination of the ceremonies the King would make love the priestess after plying her with gifts and affection and she, reading him the poem.

As one article I read said:
"The passion, scholars say, was ritual--part of a Mesopotamian festival of fertility and power called Sacred Marriage. Every new year (for the Sumerians, around the spring equinox), the Sumerian king "married" the Sumerian goddess of love and war, Inanna (Babylonian Ishtar), to renew the land's fertility and affirm his own potency. In Summer, or several days, the king's people got the Sumerian equivalent of Mardi Gras. At the festival's peak, the king got Inanna's high priestess, playing the part of Inanna. Woed by his offerings, the priestess would accept the king into her bed, with a poem addressed to him. This one, addressed to the Sumerian king Shu-Sin, is the oldest love poem we know..." via

I think the beauty of this poem is that it shows as humans, love and passion span centuries and millenia. It is the one beautiful constant in our nature.  :0)

Thoughts?





Wednesday, June 6, 2012

MacLaoch Wednesday: Nicole Baker

Nudes picking peaches. Image via
Today let's dive into the Baker family. The Legend of Lady MacLaoch's theme of surprise family bloodlines is based, in part, on my own experience with it. Similar to Nicole's (Cole) experience, my own grandfather one afternoon while we were all gathered around, was telling us about our great aunt so-and-so and mentioned casually that by blood we are not Banks'. Like the Bakers (close in name too...) that announcement came as a shock. We are an obnoxious, opinionated and charming bunch that take being Banks' seriously. It's a trait and such a strong one that my husband can go through all my relatives that he knows and figure out which side of the family tree they're on by their behavior. :0) And we like it like that. Unlike the Bakers the majority of the younger Banks' have found that being from another bloodline is intriguing and are researching our genealogy. Since I'm not one for research I chose make-believe and wrote a book about it. :0)

Cole Baker is from South Carolina  (I actually slip up a lot and say Georgia, which makes me wonder if I judged her character wrong, then I remember I'm the writer and she must do as I say, and I say she's from South Carolina, dammit. But I digress...) and based loosely on a very good friend of mine who was raised in the South. Other aspects of her character are derived from my upbringing. My grandmother's family are from Louisiana and as a proper lady tasked with my upbringing those roots (blended with Hawaiiana) are deeply ingrained in me. Such as the phrase, "Becky? Act like a lady, get your elbows off the table and for Christ sakes sit up straight!" For those of you who've read the book you know right where that went in. :0)

Cole's family owns and operates a peach orchard in South Carolina, of which I took creative liberties and made the peach trees taller than the average variety so that she can have a very erotic moment with a clan chieftain in those fields. What was printed has an extended version. Earlier this year my good friend over at Lady Reader's Bookstuff posted one of the scenes that had gotten deleted when it went to editing, and I leave you now with thoughts of luscious summer warmed peaches and hot naked men. Ha-ha!!

*caution explicit material*



Monday, June 4, 2012

Poetry Monday: Tomato!

La Tomatina in Spain - an epic tomato food fight!


Happy Monday!!

Today we have an update on my upside down tomato, how is it doing, I know you've all been wondering. :0)

But first a tomato poem by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (NeftalĂ­ Ricardo Reyes Basoalto):


Ode to Tomatoes
(translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)

The street

filled with tomatoes

midday,

summer,

light is

halved

like

a

tomato,

its juice

runs

through the streets.

In December,

unabated,

the tomato

invades

the kitchen,

it enters at lunchtime,

takes

its ease

on countertops,

among glasses,

butter dishes,

blue saltcellars.

It sheds

its own light,

benign majesty.

Unfortunately, we must

murder it:

the knife

sinks

into living flesh,

red

viscera,

a cool

sun,

profound,

inexhaustible,

populates the salads

of Chile,

happily, it is wed

to the clear onion,

and to celebrate the union

we

pour

oil,

essential

child of the olive,

on to its halved hemispheres,

pepper

adds

its fragrance,

salt, its magnetism;

it is the wedding

of the day,

parsley

hoists

its flag,

potatoes

bubble vigorously,

the aroma

of the roast

knocks
at the door,

it’s time!

come on!

and, on

the table, at the midpoint

of summer,

the tomato,

star of earth,

recurrent

and fertile

star,

displays

its convolutions,

its canals,

its remarkable amplitude

and abundance,

no pit,

no husk,

no leaves or thorns,

the tomato offers

its gift

of fiery color

and cool completeness.


Mmm-mm tomatoes! I can almost taste 'em. 

For those who remember the upside down tomato saga we have an update! 

After planting the upside down tomato and questioning my scientific intelligence I called my father to get the reality check on the type of fertilizer I'd put in the potting soil. My father you see is a commercial vegetable grower . . . after I first described what I'd actually done with the plant, "You planted it upside down?" he asked. 
"Yes."
"Oh."
I said that I put manure in the soil I got this, "Steer manure? Oh, that's good stuff."
"Yay! So my tomato will give me loads of fruit?"
"No."
"What?"

Remember the N-P-K on fertilizers? It stands for Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potassium. Each of those aids in part of the plant growth and can be remembered like this: Up - Down - All around. N is for leaves (up), P is for roots (down), and K is for all around plant health, like fruiting. 

Basically I just dumped a bunch of leaf incentive on my tomato, which if it were in the ground would be no big deal because soil has much more micronutrients in it than potting soil. *sigh* Though while I did just give it loads of poop, the tomato is doing excellent. As you can see from the photos below we have flowers (that have yet to open in most cases) and the plant has doubled in size! 

Since it is June now and it'll take anywhere from 60 to a million days to get mature fruit we're looking a a tomato filled August, or September, or October . . . I think I'll start researching green tomato recipes. 

May 6th - look at that sun! It, like the organization of the hose behind it, has disappeared. 


Today - look at it go!



First of the blooms. Aaaaaalmost there.


Most blossoms have yet to open like this.

The other blossoms look like this. Just kidding, it is its neighbor Mr.Foxglove. :0)