Sunday, September 28, 2008

Love Notes

When I write, I write with the complete and total focus of a brain surgeon. I tear myself away from the computer for dinner time, and if my muse is hot on the trail of a plot thread, I return to the computer later in the evening. During the active writing phase (as opposed to working on a second draft, or doing promotion, or tackling edits, all of which require a somewhat lesser degree of focus) I take time off for errands only when we’re out of essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper.

This degree of total concentration is -- ironically, given the nature of my writing -- less than conducive to nurturing a relationship. I may be writing scorching love scenes and tender romantic moments, but I’ve found I need to make a concerted effort to find a few minutes at the end of the day to say something to my husband other than, “Has the dog been walked yet?”

This fall, I’ve been exploring ways to bring a little more romance into my life, even as I dive into writing Pentacle of Storms. I started out simple, with love notes. I found a bunch of art I liked on the web -- an assortment of sentimental, sexy, and humorous images -- and copied and saved it all in a document for easy access. Combined with brief messages or little poems, the images make for appealing notes to leave on my husband’s pillow in the evening, sometimes along with a piece of chocolate.

Along with the love notes, I’ve added in other romantic elements -- backrubs, candlelight, French bistro music at bedtime, classical guitar on the stereo during family dinners, apple and cherry tarts for a late-night dessert for two… None of this takes much time to arrange, and we’re both enjoying the ambiance.

One benefit I hadn’t anticipated is that we’re finding more time to talk. The other night, my husband initiated a conversation about Pentacle of Storms and spent a good deal of time helping me firm up plot threads. Wow. This went so far beyond, “Have you walked the dog?” that it took me completely by surprise. He had some great ideas, too, especially in areas where my muse had been slacking.

I didn’t start out with any expectations other than adding some thoughtful, romantic elements to our daily routine. The little side benefits, like increased communication, have been a delightful and unanticipated bonus.

So what about all of you? What’s your favorite way of stirring up a little more romance in life? Ever do anything sweet and unanticipated for your longtime sweetie? Has anyone ever presented you with a memorable romantic surprise?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

13 Things I Love about Back to School Time

1. My teens are happier. I’ve come to the conclusion that teenagers need constant exposure to their own kind or they become moody and difficult.

2. More time to write!

3. My husband and I are happier because there are less sibling arguments at the dinner table. Teenage sisters get along better when they’re at different schools most of the day.

4. The bags of school supplies relocate from our living room to school lockers.

5. All those fall clothes I bought my daughters start earning their keep, thus justifying the credit card bills.

6. Hours of uninterrupted silence in my office, which is located near the kitchen, in a high family traffic area.

7. Hearing about the girls’ adventures after school--new teachers, what friends did on their summer vacations, all the latest news about clubs, and other tidbits about school life.

8. I can manage to squeeze in a bit of free time to attack my TBR pile in the evenings because I’m able to work (uninterrupted) during the day.

9. Seeing our mini poodle’s wild welcome dance when the girls and my college professor husband arrive home after school.

10. Youth Symphony Orchestra starts up again, as do all of the girls' other school-year activities, so life gets more interesting than trips to the pool, drivers’ ed, and summer jobs.

11. With family life running more smoothly, my muse returns from her summer vacation, and I experience a renewed creative itch to write.

12. The coziness of fall. Hot herb tea on a rainy day, mellow music on the stereo, warm sweaters, and my dog on my lap.

13. Little bits of free time when I can catch a movie with my sister, or go out to lunch with a friend.

What are your favorite things about fall, or kids heading back to school? Any back to school memories of your own you’d like to share?