THere Are Some Days When It is Just Too Hard to be Funny  

Posted by Heidi in

I write a humor blog. At least, I like to think it is a humor blog. The trouble is, I am not always funny, in fact, I am often not funny at all and trying to come up with a funny post every day is hard. (sniff, whine) Thank goodness I have had some pretty hysterical things happen in my life or I would not be writing a humor blog. Or, at least, attempting one.

However, I digress. Writing in a vacuum is hard. No, I don’t mean literally in a vacuum, as in, cleaner. I mean, a void, as in nothingness. When I wrote Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind, I was in a wanna-be-author writer’s group. Once a week we would get together and read out loud what we had written since the last time we got together. We were moderated by Louise, a tall, red-haired, bright-blue-eyed 82-year-old doyen of young adult fiction who wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade. She wasn’t afraid to call your work bad or yucky or awful, either. Things could get ugly but at least it was feedback so I kept coming back for more.

My weeks went like this. (Here follows another paragraph leading up to the actual point.) For six days of the week I would completely forget all about my book. Then on Tuesday morning, I would get the Big Guy dressed (who was four at the time but still big), his grandmother would come and pick him up and off he would go. Then I would get a bowl and fill it with all kinds of chocolate; mini candy bars, chocolate chips, whatever I had on hand. Next, I would turn on my computer and pretty much write for the next eight hours. And eat chocolate. And more chocolate. (Very conducive to creativity, I highly recommend it.)

Sometimes I would take a few breaks. When I was done, I would have a chapter. Then, the Big Guy would ring the doorbell, I would make some dinner for our little family of three, eat, get dressed, and go off to my writing group where I would read the day’s work. People would make comments, ask questions, and most importantly of all, Respond and React, including Laugh at the funny parts. Out loud. So I could hear.

Now, that is some kind of wonderful because then I knew I had hit the mark. Or not, whatever the case might be, in which case I would fix it. Mission accomplished.

Finally, the point at which I am trying to reach! Eventually, (in this very post), I am going to include an excerpt from the book I am currently writing. I would include an excerpt of Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind instead, but since it is coming out in less than four months, in book form, and since my publisher has paid me, I am pretty sure they want you to pay them by buying a book in exchange for the pleasure of reading it (pleasure being a relative term). So, it has to be the new book and since I no longer have a writer’s group to give me feedback, I am counting on all of you lovely regency-era fans (and those of you who aren’t) to give me some feedback on this excerpt.

But, first, the usual disclaimer. Miss Delacourt is a fast-paced fun and funny book (kind of like Princess Bride in tone—if you have only seen the movie, the book is better—there is a 12 page prologue that is so fall-down-and-cry hysterical that you might want to be sure there are no sharp objects nearby) but, of course, in the Jane Austen time period. HOWEVER, and here is the important part, the new book I am working on is a bit more like Rebecca or even Northanger Abbey in that it is a bit mysterious and dark and sorta gothic. Ooooh, eehhhh, whHEEEEeeeeee ooooooooooooooooooo. Spooky. But not terribly.

Warning: If anyone should find the following worth stealing and using in any form of publication whatsoever, I will not be happy. I will take Steps. This is copyrighted material, everything on anyone’s blog is, and should it be a matter that comes to court (who am I kidding! Still . . .) I could easily prove the words were mine, what with computer date stamping and all.

Okay, sorry for the unpleasantness. Here it is, my so-far-favorite section of what I am currently calling "Ancilla’s Ring".

"Carlyle was lying under the tree with his feet propped up on a bench, the very one I had intended to occupy. As I approached, his eyes were closed and I could not help but reflect on how appealing he looked; those deep-set eyes fringed by black lashes, thick brows on a high forehead, a perfectly symmetrical nose, that little indentation above the lip which everyone possesses but which somehow looked especially attractive above this particular set of lips which, at the moment, were looking every bit as finely chiseled as Michelangelo’s David.

I wondered how I could have ever thought him ordinary. Then he opened his eyes and looked straight up into mine and I felt a bit giddy and weak in the knees. It was clear I had no choice but to sink to the ground beside him before my knees gave way and I landed on him in an unladylike heap. At least, that is what I planned to tell Mama if the subject were to ever come up.

He turned to look at me so that his cheek was almost grazed by the blades of the grass and said “I thought I might find you here.”

If he had said, “I thought I’d die today,” I could not have been more surprised.

“Sir?”

“Yes,” he mused, looking as if he would like nothing better than to return to his nap, “you always take a turn about the garden around midday.”

I paused to think before I spoke, something I didn’t often do, to my sorrow. For someone who seemed to sleep away the better part of the day, I thought it unlikely that he simply happened to notice my daily routine. At the same time, I could think of no reason whatsoever for him to leave off his napping to take particular notice of my movements. Alternatively, the thought that he had lain in wait for me amongst the fruit trees was simply unthinkable. Yet, I thought it, just the same.

He threw an arm out onto the grass and slowly uncurled his hand in a way that beckoned me to place my own within. Uncomprehending, I sat and stared at the long fingers with their well-tended nails and finely proportioned palm as if it were a cobra that had me in its spell.

“Come, he said, his fingers waggling, “help me up so we can sit on the bench like civilized people.”

“Surely, you don’t mean that I should assist you!” I demanded, but took him by the hand, anyway. Once I had managed to get to my feet, gracefully or no, I could not say, it required little or no effort on my part to pull him up. Before I knew it, his hand tightened around mine and he had drawn me down beside him on the little bench beneath the apple tree.

He said nothing for a moment, only stared closely at me as if he were trying to find someone’s face in mine. Then he gave his head that now-familiar shake and passed a hand over his eyes. “I seem to be a trifle hazy this afternoon,” he said, “In fact I can’t remember when I have ever felt this tired.”

“Yes, Mr. Carlyle, we have heard much on the subject of your fatigue. If only we could learn the cause, that would be a topic worth discussion.” I was thoroughly bored with the whole somnolent subject and I attempted to extricate my hand to depart. He only grasped it tighter and began to rub the poor little ring on my finger with his thumb.

Just as I began to suspect Hester was quite correct in her assessment of him and that he had some plan to rub the ring right off my finger, he snapped to, looked at me as if seeing me for the first time, and let go my hand as if it were a viper.

“I beg pardon, Miss Trent! I had no notion you were . . .”

His voice trailed off in a most disagreeable way and I had the liveliest notion he was going to say he hadn’t realized I was there.

Suddenly, he looked as awake and alert as any man in good health and habits. Giving me an almost wolfish grin, he possessed himself once more of my hand, brushed it with his lips, cocked an eyebrow at me and said, “Good day.” Then he jumped up from the bench and ran around the corner of the house as if he had just remembered something very important he forgot to do, such as, put out a fire.

I went at once to my room and laid myself upon my bed, full of more questions than ever."

All right, there it is, my little excerpt. I hope you all realize that I am really putting myself out there, out on a limb, just, really really out there. Wayyyyy out there . . .

Say something. Please. You don't have to know me and I don't have to know you. Honest.

If you don’t want your comment to be public (hey, I’ll take the bad with the good), email me at write2me@heidiashworth.com (unless you have my actual email address, in which case you can use that one).

The End.

This entry was posted on Saturday, September 6, 2008 at Saturday, September 06, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

10 wise, witty and wonderful comments

I love the excerpt! I want your book! I want to know how you learned to write like that! I want to join your Aspiring Writers Club! I want, I want, I want!

Seriously, I'm very excited for you...and I'm excited to read the whole book! December, you say? Can I wait that long?

September 7, 2008 at 11:38 PM

soyandrue--just to clarify, the excerpt is from a book that isn't finished yet. The book that is coming out in December is. Finished, that is. In fact, I think it is pretty much printed up. Both are light, clean romances set in the regency time period. I like the idea of having an Aspiring Writers Club. We could do it online--ain't the internet grand!

September 8, 2008 at 8:08 AM

I just came across your blog and have to say congrats on your book! I've had the dream for years now to write one and have no idea how to go about it. Any advice would be so appreciated. Thanks!
asklaura06@gmail.com
I also have started a blog for myself called www.halfsasshalfclass.blogspot.com.I too am an LDS mom and thought it would be fun to try my hand at writing my own blog. :)

September 8, 2008 at 10:10 AM

Laura, just the name of your blog cracks me up!

September 8, 2008 at 10:39 AM

I love this excerpt and it left me wanting more! The coy humor is fabulous and it left me wanting more.......like why is Mr. Carlyle acting so odd. I started thinking of possible illnesses or traumatic brain injuries.

September 8, 2008 at 3:54 PM

Jen--you have no idea how encouraging your comment was! You gave me details--yay! The poor heroine doesn't get to know the answers to these questions til near the end of the book (it is basically written but needs to be fleshed out) but she's a rock, a real heroine.

September 8, 2008 at 4:56 PM

Well, I'm no book critic but I enjoyed what I read and want to read more...I think that means something good...don't you !! Will your publisher pick up this book if your first does well?

September 10, 2008 at 6:29 AM

Yes, Debbie, I agree-it means something good. :) If my second book is the same quality as the first and it follows their guidelines, I would say that yes, pretty much for sure, they will buy it. There aren't too many people writing clean regency romance out there. Thanks for your comments!

September 10, 2008 at 9:07 AM

Pretty compelling. I want to know more--is the ring magic? I guess I'll go make a milkshake and wait for you to finish.

September 10, 2008 at 10:39 PM

Kacy, no, the ring is not magic. Sorry! That's a fun idea, though. And kind of weird that you should say that because this book started out as a collaboration with my friend Shirley Marks (she has three books out so far)--I wrote half of the story and she wrote half (tho, they are two separate stories--letters back and forth between sisters) all of which was inspired by a book that used the same technique--and it WAS about a magic ring. That book never did get off the ground--I am hoping my new edit of my part will. We'll see. :)

September 11, 2008 at 8:39 AM

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