Category Archives: Heroine

Just let me WIP out my Main Characters

Like many writers, the question “How’s the book going?” from kindly friends and family summons up a number of emotions in me, very few of them positive.

What I want to do in response is curl up in the fetal position and moan. “The book is a nightmare! I can’t write anything but garbage! Thank you for bringing up such a painful subject!”

What I actually do is develop a short-term facial twitch and tell them the book is fine. Then I change the subject to the fantastic meal I had last time I ate out. Even that was at McDonalds.

All of which brings me to the topic of this post. For everyone who wants to ask me about my work-in-progress (and even those who don’t), here’s a little bit about what I’m working on:


2. Setting: Victorian England, 1840

3. Hero: Morgan Tregarth
Once the disgraced second son of titled father, Morgan has returned to London because his family finally has a use for him. Now the guardian of a four-year-old viscount, Morgan has everything he needs to conquer London society: good looks, charm, and a large fortune. The only thing he lacks is a child — his child. The one he’s tried to find for 10 years, thanks to the cold-hearted nursemaid who tricked him into believing she loved him, even went through a marriage ceremony with him, and then disappeared without a word.

4. Heroine: Alix Ellsworth
Disguised as a widow, Alix has fought to raise her daughter for 10 years. Once the pampered daughter of an army officer, she chose a servant’s life over that of a prostitute. Unfortunately, she fell under the spell of the son of her employers, and ended up pregnant. The cad even convinced her to go through with a ‘marriage’ ceremony before abandoning her. Now he’s back, and Alix, threatened with debtor’s prison, is determined to get some help from the man who helped put her in this position: Morgan Tregarth.

A MOST IMPROPER CONNECTION is a second chance at love story, as two people learn to trust each other — and their own instincts — again. All while trying to cope with an adventurous four-year-old and their own daughter, who on a good day can cause a kitchen fire and a cat fight at the same time. Oh, and let’s not forget about the society miss who wants to marry Morgan, and the blackmailing uncle who threatens Alix.

Want to know more? Leave a comment below!

Till next time,




Dress Shopping, Victorian Style

january1843fashionsI do love a good makeover: That scene where the heroine discovers the perfect clothes to bring out her best features. They make me want to fist pump and say ‘Go girl! Bust out that bustle (or crinoline or redingote, depending on the era)!’

As in life, women in literature dress for other women – namely their female readers. But how did one actually go about putting together that killer outfit guaranteed to turn the hero’s head and bring him straight to one’s side? In 1840, the internet did not exist, Mr. Selfridge’s father was still a boy, and Mr. Harrod, having given up on the linen draper’s business, wouldn’t move his grocery and tea enterprise to Knightsbridge until 1849. Mr. Harvey did sell linens, but he had only hired clerk James Nichols the year before.

Until sewing machines were invented, every last hem, flounce, tuck and bead was stitched by hand. Ready to wear clothing consisted of shawls, simple hats and bonnets, smocks and the shoddiest of work clothes for the poor, referred to as ‘slop-ware’.

It amuses me when romance novels feature female characters going to the dressmaker’s or sending for one, as if buying several gowns at £200 – £300 apiece is no big deal.


Fashion Plate A

In an age where middle class income ranged from £100 – £1,000 a year, believe me, for most women this would be a big deal.


What you wore depended on what you could afford combined with what you knew how to make. The ‘slop-ware’ mentioned above was worn by the poorest working classes, for dirty jobs. As England had no compulsory education during the early Victorian era, girls in the poorest families could not count on coming into contact with textile crafts in sewing classes. They might learn to sew at home provided their mother or another female relative had picked up the skill. To avoid widespread public nudity, families depended on charity, or used clothing vendors.

Large numbers of Victorians wandered the streets in second-hand clothing. Even in the best families, new clothes were time- and money-intensive. Children customarily wore hand-me-downs. Even oldest children could find themselves in a cousin’s outgrown suit or dress. If the family had a trunk of grandma’s old dresses, that might be raided for free cloth.

A woman at the pinnacle of society, whose family income stretched into the tens of thousands of pounds or more, could afford new wardrobes of the latest fashions every year. She would customarily give her outmoded gowns to her lady’s maid to dispose of. The privilege of claiming her mistress’ cast-offs was a valuable benefit of that servant’s employment, and was often included along with her wages.

Once in possession of a second-hand garment, a lady’s maid could keep it, refurbish, or wear it. (Ideally not where her employer would catch her.) If she sold it, dealers would come to the mews or servants’ entrance and buy them for their shops or stalls. After going through multiple owners, used clothing ended up in places like Petticoat Lane, where vendors would pull goods out of enormous bags to present to working-class customers. Men and women alike found gowns, trousers, mantles, frock coats and more for a few shillings each. When a common laborer could expect to put by maybe one or two shillings a week for clothes, outfitting a family even in these dirty and worn clothes took a chunk out of his savings.

Daytime BodiceIn the middle class, women often did learn at least basic sewing, which enabled them to take advantage of new-fangled paper patterns, introduced in the 1830s. The wives and daughters of artisans and middle class perused fashion prints as enthusiastically as wealthy women did, though with the intention of using cheaper material and simpler decoration. Patterns often came with one skirt design and two bodices, one high-necked and with longer sleeves for a respectable daytime appearances, and one with a lower neckline and shorter sleeves for evening events. Thrifty women would make up both bodices to get more wear from their garment.

Once they had a design and a pattern, there were several steps between the page and the finished product. They would start at the linen draper’s (seller of general dry goods) or mercer’s (seller of textiles only). In the 1840s, the choice of dress materials ranged from wool and cotton to silk, velvet, satin, and lace. Within types of material, quality varied. ‘Wool’ encompassed everything from merino to cashmere; cotton ranged from cheap calico to fine batiste.

It was not unusual for a dress to require 20 yards or more, so once all that cloth was cut, it had to be hand-stitched.  Sewing women could be hired for this, some of whom might have workshops of their own. Some establishments could deliver a gown the day after it was ordered, for during the London Season, they would employ a workshop full of seamstresses that were required to work up to 20 hours a day.

Do you have any favorite makeover scenes in movies or books? Some of mine are Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Penelope Featherington in ROMANCING MR. BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn, and just to keep in mind men can benefit from The Makeover as well, Philip Jettan in Georgette Heyer’s POWDER AND PATCH. (It takes place in the 18th century, not the 19th, and the heroine is decidedly childish, but it’s still entertaining.)

Really Useful Super Powers

I haven’t seen ‘The Avengers‘ yet, although I hope to remedy that in the near future. While not at the level of comic book geekdom (her phrase) that my youngest is, I have thoroughly enjoyed the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Still, I have to ask: why can’t the writers come up with superheroes that have really useful skills?

In ‘The Avengers’ we have a guy who swells up and turns green when he gets mad, a Norse guy with a magic hammer, an American guy with a boomerang shield, a really good archer, an assassin chick ,  and a rich genius who likes to tinker in his upscale garage. They are led by a guy on anti-aging serum who at least has good organizational skills. I say this with love in my heart…but…really? These are supposed to be cool powers?

The best of the lot seem to be leader Nick Fury (never sneer at the ability to prioritize), Black Widow (but then every female should know how to kill people) and Captain America, with his potential Dice-o-Matic shield. Tony Stark could have used his resources to figure out how to make Cap’s shield small enough for kitchen use, or invented a self-vacuuming house or something. But noooo, he puts his mini-reactor into a flying suit armed with lasers that create huge, billowing clouds of dust and messy rubble. Pah.

The villain of ‘The Avengers’ at least has potential. In ‘Thor‘ we see that Loki has the ability to instantly clone himself!! But we know he is a Bad Guy Who Will Lose, because all he uses his power for is to taunt his adoptive brother. Slacker. If I could create instant multiples of myself, my house would be spotless 24/7, my freezer would always be full of home-cooked meals, and with one of myselves at the computer night and day, I’d pump out a new book (or at least a rough draft) every three months.

So (drumroll please) here are some super hero suggestions that Marvel might find useful:

Laundry Man: Never mind creepy stalker X-ray vision. This guy would have the ability to sort, clean and fold a pile of dirty laundry with one look. Toy — Super Stain Remover Ray Gun that works on all stains, on all materials. Seriously, this guy would have more chicks following him around than Tony Stark and the three Hemsworth brothers combined.

The Navigator: A human GPS, male or female, who can maneuver around any traffic snarl, red light or backup. Toy — the EMS Vehicle, whose horn sends out a small electro-magnetic pulse that stalls all cars in the immediate vicinity and allows the hero to get passengers to their destinations on time. Am undecided whether the EMSV is a green compact car or something more along the lines of a Sherman tank, however.

The Rash: The result of a freak accident with radioactive pollen while an infant suffering from diaper rash, this superhero has the ability to swell up and turn red on command. In this state, his or her touch on bare skin causes an allergic reaction, including uncontrollable itching and sneezing. With this particular skill set, the Rash could be an irritable loner with great potential to go rogue, upping the dramatic stakes in his or her stories. Toy — Super Antihistamine Spray to protect allies.

Bull Detector Woman: This would be quite a useful super power indeed, if more on cerebral side. BDW would appear to use feminine intuition (actually scientifically enhanced powers of observation combined with serum-enhanced neuron transmitters) to detect falsehood. Invaluable in singles bars, all forms of negotiations, watching infomercials and major election years. Toy — with super powers like this, you wouldn’t need toys.

If you could have any super power you wanted, what would it be?

What’s Your Favorite Fairy Tale?

Actually, I’m talking about what kind of romantic plots people enjoy most. One of my favorite writing books is Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s Story Structure Architect. In it, she goes over the traditional elements of Western fiction, then looks at the variations within different genres. It’s a helpful resource for novelists, playwrights and screenwriters alike. For romance, she divides stories into three general types of structure, based on fairy tales. (Cause like romance, fairy tales are universal. 🙂 ) She also goes more detailed plot structure under each category — as I said, the book is a valuable resource.

In the Cinderella structure, the heroine falls in love with the hero first. This emotional response makes her vulnerable to him, even if she’s strong and independent in all other areas of her life. Schmidt notes that one of the hallmarks of this particular plot is that much of the focus is on the hero’s emotions. To get an idea of this plot, read Nicole Jordan’s excellent and steamy To Tame a Dangerous Lord.

Schmidt lists the Beauty and the Beast structure next. It mirrors the previous type plot in that the hero falls in love first, which makes him the more vulnerable of the couple. The focus here is on the heroine’s growing emotional bond to him. There is a bit less rescuing by the hero in these stories and a bit more self-awareness (eventually, anyway) on the part of the heroine. Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas is a classic example.

The final structure is based on Sleeping Beauty. The hero and heroine fall in love at the same time, which gives them equal footing emotionally, although their feelings may see-saw a bit as they deal with the conflicts standing in the way of their Happy Ever After. The couple in these books recognize their feelings all right, but their mutual love faces a series struggles, internal and/or external, before they can get together. Many ‘second chance’ love stories are found in this category, or stories of already-married couples, as in Victoria Alexander’s My Wicked Little Lies.

So what kind of romances do you like best? She falls first, he falls first, or they both fall and have to work it out together? Which fairy tail describes your favorite romance ?

I’ve attempted a first with this post and added a poll! And now you can rate all my posts, too.

Stages of Character Love

I am shamelessly fickle. My relationships with my main characters go through several stages. The first is infatuation, when this fabulous new person presents him- or herself in my mind, and I’m thinking about all the neat things that he or she could do and be. It’s a rush of excitement and, well, not exactly lust, since we are speaking of fictional entities here — but desire and hope. As in I want to write about these characters and I hope I can sustain their development through an entire book.

The second part of the Infatuation Stage is when I pull out my character worksheet to write down concrete details.  This is one of my favorite parts of writing! Does he have blue eyes to die for or big brown bedroom eyes? Is she tall and lanky or short and curvy? I tend to develop my hero and heroine at the same time, but that’s just me. As long as the writer gets to know the characters intimately, how she does it doesn’t matter.  There are a lot of questions to answer: Who is his best friend or closest confidant? Does she get along with her family? And what do they want more than anything else in the entire universe? Why can’t they get that thing/situation/person? What choices are they willing to make to get their Heart’s Desire?

Of course, this process can lead to dimmed enthusiasm about the characters as I go off into tangents about how their traits are going to affect the choices the characters make.  Must he have his large smelly dog with him all the time? What if she’s allergic? Did they even have allergies in the Victorian era? How did they treat them? And her hobby is needlework? Really? That’s not nearly as exciting as say, sword-fighting. But where would a well-bred female learn to fence? For that matter, where would a not-s0-well bred female learn to fence?

In case you haven’t noticed, I am the kind of person who makes mountains out of molehills.  Fortunately, in the fictional world, there are these nifty things called ‘erasers’. Give me a few minutes and I can come up with a better hobby for her (probably not needlework or sword-fighting), and she won’t be allergic to his dog, either. (Although she may not particularly enjoy the dog’s trail of hair and mud.)

Suppose I get out of the Infatuation Stage and I’m still willing to make a commitment to these characters? Then I have to sit down and really think about what they’re going to do over the course of the manuscript. This is the long haul. I’m going spend hours at a time, for months, with this couple. I will lay awake nights because a scene isn’t quite right, or because their story needs more conflict, or I’ve lost sight of their goals. But I’m in the Commitment Stage, by golly! I will stick it out through multiple drafts!

Sadly, this leads to the Break-Up Stage. By the time I finish writing a book, I am fed up with both the hero and heroine. All I’ve done for weeks is deal with their problems.  (Okay, I invented their problems, but that’s beside the point!) I feel suffocated because their needs are taking up so much of my time and energy. I secretly want to see other characters. For a writer this is the dangerous time of rushed endings. I’ve learned the hard way that the characters must be allowed to finish their own stories out.

At last, at last, the final sentence is written and I can put this couple out of my thoughts for awhile. I can move on, to the next couple that has caught my mind’s eye. And the cycle begins again…

Cabined, Cribbed, Confined: Girlhood in the Gilded Age

One of the biggest challenges of placing Her Scottish Groom in the Victorian era was the development of the heroine, Diantha. I had her basic characteristics from the start.  Quiet and shy by nature, she prefers to avoid outright conflict in favor of tact.  As the book opens, her attempts to assert herself have been firmly squelched by her social-climbing parents. Like many real-life couples in the late nineteenth century, they want only to mold their child into the ideal female of the time: passive, subservient and sadly, ignorant. I’m kind of proud of her growth as she takes responsibility for her new position as an aristocrat’s wife, and for her own happiness.

Like many females of that age, Diantha learned to keep her opinions and true nature hidden as she grew up.  Ironically, wealth could limit a girl’s opportunities for education.  For females on both sides of the Atlantic, society considered good breeding and a good education antithetical to each other.  In reading modern biographies of women in the Gilded Age, along with essays and articles from that time, what struck me again and again was the emphasis on restricting women physically, mentally and even emotionally.  Writers from straight fiction to mystery to romance successfully overcome this challenge by creating heroines with unusual backgrounds or unconventional personalities.  But from reading parts of nineteenth century diaries and letters, I have learned that even women who conformed to social pressure harbored strong opinions and great passion beneath a docile surface.  That is where Diantha came from.

In both America and England, girls were raised with the ideal of a ‘perfect lady’, too fragile for any activity more strenuous that horseback riding or dancing.  The thousands of women who spent hours laboring as servants, in factories or mines and on farms and ranches were not, of course, real ladies. (Insert eyeroll here.) An upper-class girl’s education depended on the whims of her parents. Some encouraged serious study, but too many families subscribed to the belief that the rigors of a masculine education would undermine a girl’s health.  Diantha studied mathematics with her brothers, but only because it pleased her father to permit it. Some young ladies attended finishing school, which provided no more than lessons in deportment and a smattering of music and languages. Even finding reading material on one’s own could be problematic. Men could and did forbid their wives and daughters to read newspapers and some books.  Like Diantha, women read the forbidden material anyway, in secret.

One of the more tragic consequences of keeping young women in a state of almost total ignorance was their lack of knowledge about even the basic mechanics of sex.  At most, proper courtship allowed a kiss on the hand and some meaningful glances under the eye of a chaperone.   (I suspect there was a great deal of improper courting going on, however.) Some women faced a lifetime of marital rape at the hands of a thoughtless or indifferent husband. At best those restrictions led to some miserable wedding nights, and not just for the bride.  In the first chapter of Her Scottish Groom, the lack of spirit he has observed in his fiancee so far has filled the hero with misgivings.  Like many men confronted with the prospect of marriage with a poorly educated teenager, he assumes he will only find physical and emotional satisfaction with a mistress.

One of my favorite things about this book is Diantha’s learning curve.  As she gains confidence in her abilities, she becomes braver, more assertive and even sexier — until she’s faced not only with her greatest fear, but with her husband’s impenetrable heart.

A Month in the Country

The London Season might have been the pinnacle of the social year, but a family’s showplace and the source of much its prestige (and income) was the country house (and the estate it sat on).  Even in America, Astors, Vanderbilts, DuPonts and Belmonts aped the British aristocracy by building lavish homes on Long Island and in Newport, Rhode Island.  Diantha, the American heroine of my March 2011 release, Her Scottish Groom, belongs to a family who aims to belong to this social elite.  Her husband, the aristocratic Lord Kieran Rossburn, already does.  Much of the action takes place during a country house visit hosted by Diantha and Kieran at his home, an estate near Scotland’s Grampian Mountains.

As my story takes place in 1875, the Scotland portrayed in it differs sharply from the many excellent portrayals of Highland life before and immediately after the Battle of Culloden over a hundred years earlier.  The social rituals involved are decidedly Victorian.  Having sent out invitations to their guests, both the host and hostess then have to think of ways to amuse them for weeks on end.

Travel in that era involved arranging transportation not only for the invitees, but for their maid and/or valet and their wardrobe.  Even after train routes developed, carriages often had to be hired at the station for further travel.  In the early 1800s, and for isolated locations later in the century, it didn’t make sense to travel only for a week’s stay. Nevertheless, invitations to a country estate were prized for the social cachet they bestowed.

Polite guests arrived in the late afternoon so their clothing could be unpacked and that evening’s dinner ensemble pressed and laid out.  Dinner was the grand event of each day of a country house visit unless a ball was planned.  Men and women dressed as formally as they would in London at the height of the season, including jewels and accessories.  No lady wanted to appear in the same evening ensemble more once unless necessity forced her to it.

The day began with breakfast, served for the female guests around 10 a.m.  The men might or might not breakfast earlier, depending on their activities.  For shooting parties and on hunt days, they left house early in the morning.  The opposite of dinner, everyone served him- or herself and sat where they wished.

While men engaged in fishing, hunting or shooting, the women seldom had any vigorous activity to look forward to.  Their day consisted of walks in the garden, letter writing, gossip, or for the really ambitious, reading or needlework.  At five o’clock, everyone gathered in the drawing room for tea.

In Her Scottish Groom, I took the liberty of allowing Diantha to arrange such genteel events as sketching parties and lawn tennis for the ladies, as well as a picnic by the seaside for everyone.  And with a Scottish setting I could even include a golf game.  (Naturally instigated by Kieran.)

Once the gentlemen had enjoyed their port and cigars, everyone mingled over tea and coffee for light conversation, or cards.  A lady was expected to have some musical accomplishment and might that time to demonstrate her skills (or her lack thereof) on the piano.  Victorians amused themselves by singing, so she might end up providing accompaniment to others.  Games like charades or twenty questions were not unusual.

House parties often revolved around events like a shooting party or fox-hunting.  In populous neighborhoods a hostess might plan a hunt ball for her guests and nearby friends, or a smaller dance for an evening’s amusement.  For political figures, a house party could function as a strategic planning conference.

Best of all for me as a writer, house parties are rife with possibilities for meetings, flirtations, making or missing assignations, mistaken bedrooms and countless opportunities for romantic mayhem.  What kind of activity do you would have enjoyed while visiting a country house?

TBR: Life, Libertines and the Pursuit of Hotness!

It’s July, and I just celebrated the 4th.  In the spirit of independent heroines and the bad boys they love, here are some books that I hope will heat up some of my summer days. (And nights.)  Yup, time for another entirely subjective, unscientific list of recent and upcoming releases in my TBR pile:

My Reckless Surrender, by Anna Campbell: The premise of this book involves the maiden running headlong into the arms of a practiced seducer instead of away from him.  (And really, in our imaginations, wouldn’t we all rather do that?) This sounds like the hero and heroine both get caught in their own webs, a device that can make for some great reading. June 2010, Avon

Song of Seduction, by Carrie Lofty: Lofty thinks outside the box in her choice of times and places to set her historical romances.  Centered around a composer hero and a violinist heroine and placed in 1804 Vienna, I have high hopes for this one!  Her angst-filled heroes and heroines absorb me completely. June 2010, Carina

Knight of Passion, by Margaret Mallory:  The family of William and Catherine FitzAlan continues.  This time the hero is Jamie Rayburn, introduced as a small boy in the first book of her ‘All the King’s Men’ series.  If her past novels are indication, very adult sparks are going to fly when he meets his childhood sweetheart, Linnet.  Mallory’s deft use of historical events and detail hooked from the first.  June 2010, Grand Central

The Wicked Wyckerly, by Patricia Rice:  A second son with no sense of entitlement who comes into an impoverished title, his hellion of daughter and a heroine blessed with compassion and common sense — all sound like a charming trio to read about on summer’s day.  Abigail, the heroine, sounds like an especially delightful foil for a rake beset by debts, a sordid past and sudden fatherhood.  July 2010, Signet

Highland Warrior, by Hannah Howell: Howell releases another of her Highlands romances, this one featuring the laird of a rogue clan.  He faces the quandary of ransoming the heroine off to her family for the good of his people or keeping for the good of his heart.  Howell writes so many times and places well, her books are always a treat.  July 2010, Kensington Zebra

So this is my list.  What books do you look forward to reading?

The Voices in my Head

My background includes theater, and during my studies in that area, I learned that  there are no new plots.  The human condition has a large but finite combination of interactions, and writers have been stealing from each other since the Greeks invented drama.

What makes a book, play or movie stand out isn’t the pacing or how realistic a plot is.  (Seriously, even some of Shakespeare’s plots have more holes than a colander.)  It’s the characters who inhabit them.  (Again, Shakespeare is a prime example.  Even his cameo characters have goal, motivation and conflict, which is why his plays have been produced and loved for the last 400 years.)

I have no clue what the Bard’s process was, but in my case finding a character is more a matter of sifting through people who show up and want to be my imaginary friends.

I think I’ve said that I get a lot of my ideas for characters from reading history.  Bethany came from reading about the ordeals several heiresses suffered through in 17th century England.  I had to make her older, as they were in their early teens when they were married off to fortune hunters, but aging her made it possible to give her the gumption to stand up to her hero, Richard.

Sometimes a character literally pops into my head.  A friend and I were talking about names and she jokingly said, “You’ll never find a romance heroine named Theodosia.”  Next thing I knew, I had a character named Theodosia just waiting for me to write down her background.  I knew what she looked like, who her family members were and who her hero was, all from that one comment.

Another source of engaging characters is my family history.  (Let me make very clear, I don’t do genealogy even as a hobby.  My sister and two aunts do, so I know I don’t have the patience to locate and read through document after document searching for a single name.  I merely admire and praise the fruits of their labor.)  One of my great-great grandmothers managed to obtain a divorce during the 1800s, a nearly impossible feat.  And as if that didn’t scandalize her town enough, she then remarried while her former husband was still alive!  Another great-great grandmother eloped with a civil engineer and was disowned by her wealthy Victorian family.  Even after her husband died, they refused to acknowledge her.  Her sons, my ancestor and his brothers, ended up working in a rich man’s stables.  After playing ‘what if’ with these stories, I’ve created some wonderful characters I hope to use in future books.

The cast of my March 2011 release came from reading biographies of Americans during the Gilded Age.  American heiresses married into the British aristocracy on several occasions over the last quarter of the 19th century.  Again, I played ‘what if’ and came up with a story my editor described in his acceptance email as ‘exceedingly charming’.  Diantha has lived a restricted life even for the Victorian era, while Kieran, her worldly spouse, prefers women with a certain amount of polish.  Their conventional background presented a challenge when bringing in twists to the story, but one of my favorite ideas comes early in the book.  Instead of the sophisticated groom suffering from a hangover after a night of prenuptial carousing, I gave the splitting headache and dry mouth to a very confused bride.

You can read more about her on my newest page, cleverly entitled ‘Excerpts’.

Why Demons are Our Friends

Sorry, not an entry about paranormal romance!  I’d have to leave that one to my daughter.

This is about our personal demons, the things external or internal that make us break out in a cold sweat.  Not stuff like being afraid of bugs, which I consider PERFECTLY NORMAL even though my Dear Hubby laughs at me every time I make him kill a spider.  I’m talking about the fears that make us break out in a cold sweat and want to dive into the nearest dark corner to hide every time we think of them.

Deadlines are a good example for me.  Currently I am revising my next book.  I am on schedule. The writing may not go perfectly smoothly every day, but it progresses.  I enjoy the chance to make my book better.  All is well, right?  Right??

Except for the sinister little voice in my head whispering “deadline…it’s coming up…gonna be here before you know it….” and it’s making me a bit paranoid.  I’m not quite waking up in a cold sweat every night, but I tell myself before going to sleep that I better not waste any time the next day, cause I gotta turn in my work soon.  I hate that teeny weeny voice, but it’s doing me a service.  Thanks to its nagging, I’m not letting myself play in the sunshine or goof off (much) because once I turn in the revisions it will finally shut up.  At least till the next deadline.

Once the Deadline Demon is placated, others will come forward to replace him.  Some, like stage fright, I’ve become inured to over the years.  Others may always have a hold on me.  For example, it is still difficult for me to put my words out there for others to critique, even people who I know are helpful and supportive and on my side.  I’m still terrified of sounding stupid.

But fears must be conquered if any of us are to move forward.  Our personal demons befriend us when they tell us where we can be better.  Do the work to meet the deadline.  Get up in front of the crowd and speak.  Send the query letter.  Even (shudder) kill the bug.  You may fail.  You may not.  You may freak out completely.  Do it again.  No heroine ever got what she wanted by giving up.