The Artist’s Way – Week Two

I’m late with this post this weekend, but I have an excuse. (Ha!) Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. Like so many other Canucks, we celebrated early, then had leftovers for the rest of the weekend. That’s one difference I’ve noticed between US and Cdn Thanksgivings, other than the different dates – Americans are more intent on celebrating on the exact day, while we gather sometime on that particular weekend. Many of us save the actual holiday (Monday) for travelling.

So, are you doing TAW with me? Getting those morning pages done? I find the morning pages quite easy to do and to remember to do. I also find them very effective. They’re a great way to get the clutter out of my mind. I never think there’s that much of it in there until I do pages – and discover just how much more prolific and effective I can be in my day once that clutter is gone.

The weekly artist dates are tougher for me. I wriggle out of that commitment in all of the ways documented in the book as excuses – I say I don’t have time, or I nest the artist’s date together with something else (even call the other errand an artist’s date), or I take someone else along. Meeting a friend for lunch is good, but not an artist’s date! I know all that, and I know how effective the artist date can be, but still I wriggle. My goal this week is to have a real artist date.

How about you? Any challenges, realizations or breakthroughs?

A Shawlette

This is a small shawl that I just finished. It was all together in a kit that I bought from one of the vendors at the Knitters’ Fair in September, and so pretty that I had to cast on right away (even though I had lots of things on the needles to finish). The pattern is French Cancan, and the yarn is Zen Yarn Garden‘s Serenity DK. Wow, what a scrumptuous, squishy yarn! It’s a merino and cashmere blend, and the colour is simply gorgeous.

Here’s the finished shawl, although I haven’t blocked it.

French Cancan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

I don’t really like blocking garter stitch, but prefer to let it do its own thing. The braid doesn’t really need blocking as the points already sit out nicely, so I’ll probably leave it be.

French cancan shawl, detail, knit by Deborah Cooke

It has a lovely crescent shape and drapes nicely over the shoulders. It takes 2 skeins – one for the garter stitch body and one for the border. I was (of course) worried about running out for the border, but I had some of the second skein left over. The finished shawl is smaller than I’d hoped, more of a scarf than a shawlette. This is funny because I saw a sample when I bought the kit, so my expectations should have been in line with reality. OTOH I’ll probably wear it more than I would have worn a shawl, because it’s just the right size for wrapping around my neck under a winter coat. I suspect I’ll be making another of these – I quite liked the pattern, and the edging pattern was easy to memorize – and maybe I’ll make a larger one.

What do you think?

A New Scottish Medieval Romance Boxed Set

Highland Heroes, a digital boxed set of Scottish medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Given the success of our multi-author boxed set, Border Brotherhood, I thought I’d pull together another boxed set of my own Scottish medieval romances.

Be swept away by the romance and enchantment of the Scottish Highlands!

Three complete medieval Scottish romances from New York Times’ Bestselling Author Claire Delacroix. In The Beauty, part of Claire’s Bride Quest II trilogy, a maiden pledged to the convent heals the heart of a crusading knight returned home to find his legacy stolen. In The Rose Red Bride, part of Claire’s Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy, a damsel seeking adventure and romance is abducted, but only she can see the valor her captor would hide from the world. In The Warrior, part of Claire’s Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy, a daughter considered undesirable is chosen by a dangerous knight of dark repute to be his bride, only to be haunted by dreams of their shared past.

Three wounded champions, each more honorable than he believes, each destined to be healed by a lady who steals his shielded heart.

Highland Heroes will go on sale November 24, and is available for pre-order at Amazon and KOBO. It will be available at Apple for pre-order soon, too. The pre-order is discounted for this one, so don’t miss the special price!

Audio Review for The Rogue

Here’s a wonderful audio review for The Rogue. Not only did Eileen love the book and the audio production, but she wrote a thorough review AND pulled together some details about the narrator, Ashley Klanac, and yours truly, too.

You can read it right here.

The Artist’s Way

The Artist’s Way is a workbook and program, developed by Julia Cameron and designed to help artists of all kinds (including writers) to be more creative. It’s structured as twelve weeks of exercises. Each week, there’s a chapter to read on a specific topic, and a number of exercises to be done to help you work through the issue of the week. You also take yourself on an “artist date” once a week and write “morning pages” daily – those are three pages of stream-of-consciousness written long hand, as close to the time you awaken as possible.

The first time I did the program was in November 1995. I know this because I wrote the date in my print copy of the book. I’d just survived a challenging situation with my publisher at the time, which had upset me enough that I wasn’t writing. I tried the program, figuring I had nothing to lose, and it worked. That challenging situation was a first, but not by any means the last such incident with a publisher. Over the years, I have repeated the course a number of times, discovering something new each time I work through the exercises. It’s made me much more robust creatively, and repeating the exercises takes me to new strengths each time. The morning pages are extraordinarily effective in clearing my mind of junk, so much so that I always wonder when I start to do them again why I ever stopped doing them.

Over the past few years, I’ve become my own publisher. This has its pros and cons, and although I love being responsible for all facets of taking my work to market, it’s not without its stresses and concerns. I find it too easy to take care of just one more thing each day, instead of getting to my writing, probably because administrivia demands time and a little attention, but not so much creative energy. I also dislike having long To Do lists and am inclined to want to strike off the easy items. Once again, I find myself not writing as much or as readily as I’d like: nineteen years after my first experience of the program, it’s clearly time to revisit the exercises in The Artist’s Way again.

This is my week #1. NaNoWriMo will be smack in the middle of this pass through the book, which is a very good thing. I also like that my week #12, the last week of the program, will be the week that ends with Christmas. I think this is a good way to end the year, and hope to write not only The Warrior’s Prize (which will be published December 29, right after my course is completed), but also Firestorm Forever. I’d also like to get some new projects rolling which are planned for 2015 publication. If you’d like to join me, I welcome your company and comments. I’ll post each Monday about my progress.

Away we go!

About the Excerpt

The Warrior's Prize, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix and book #4 in the True Love Brides SeriesOn completion of probably 40 books in a row, I’ve written a teaser or an excerpt for the next book in the series or under that author brand. The excerpt always goes at the end of the book, to tempt the reader to order or buy my next release. It’s pretty standard marketing for books, especially for books in linked series (which is what I tend to write). Since I always know where the book will begin, this has never been a big deal for me. The opening is the part that’s obvious – it’s in the middle that things get interesting.

Well, lo and behold, something has changed. I wrote the excerpt for The Warrior’s Prize when I was finished The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, just as I have done forty or so times already. Something is different, though, because I realized when writing the book that this scene isn’t at the beginning of Rafael and Elizabeth’s story. Rafael pointed out to me that he would not wait six whole months to speak to Elizabeth, not with Kinfairlie so close to Ravensmuir, which I had to admit was reasonable.

Elizabeth and Rafael’s story begins when they meet, which occurs at the end of The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, because Elizabeth’s impact upon Rafael is immediate. What Rafael chooses after Alexander tells his story in the excerpt is the result of their exchanges over the intervening period. The excerpt is in the book, so I will leave it here and in the edition of The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, but it’s actually about halfway through the story.

This is interesting change structurally, because it means that The Warrior’s Prize actually begins before the end of The Frost Maiden’s Kiss in chronological terms. At the beginning of Elizabeth and Rafael’s book, you’ll relive the Big Finish of Malcolm and Catriona’s book, but through Rafael’s eyes instead of Catriona’s. I now remember that I suspected this would be the case, and this was why I chose to publish the two books back-to-back, but now you know my reasoning as well.

This also has helped me to straighten out something for my upcoming 2015 medieval series, in which the heroes of all four linked titles participate in the same first inciting incident. Hmm. I really looking forward to digging into that project now, because I can see the structure more clearly.

So, don’t be surprised when you begin to read The Warrior’s Prize and find that it doesn’t begin with the excerpt posted on my site or included in The Frost Maiden’s Kiss!