To perfume or not to perfume

Let's talk fragrance! I had occasion to think about perfume the other day. I was in a store, shopping with the hubby, when we turned down an aisle and got blasted by the heavy odor of a woman's cologne. We weren't in a department store, so it wasn't like we were walking past the fragrance department. We were in Costco.

I had to turn around. I couldn't stomach it. There was a time when an overly perfumed person simply was annoying. Now, the danger is a migraine. I can't handle it and I go elsewhere. It makes me sympathetic for people with allergies. I had no idea perfume could be so offensive until it started giving me migraines.

And then I got to thinking about my own perfume preferences. Ten years ago, I had a selection. Obsession, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Opium, Sunflowers, Shalimar, Passion, J'Adore — I had mood perfume, and I often had the lotions and gels that went with each fragrance.

The only fragrance I wear now is the Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush body mist. It's not really perfume, and it isn't offensive to my senses. It occurred to me as I flipped through one of my favorite fashion magazines recently that I was saving a lot of money by not buying perfume anymore. I remember Opium costing around $70 for a small bottle; I have no idea what it costs now.

What's your favorite perfume? Has your ability to tolerate perfume changed over the years? Do overly perfumed people annoy you? What was your favorite perfume when you were a teen? In your twenties? Older? Do you still wear perfume?


Do you get a lot of it? Because I don't seem to lately. I go to bed at a reasonable hour (sort of) and then I lay awake thinking about what I need to do, what I want to do, and what is going to happen. Not a lot of fun to be tired and have your mind race.

When morning rolls around, the hubby gets up for work. And I can't help but get up with him. Right now, his parents are visiting. And there's a whole relationship with coffee that I thought I understood but apparently don't. I love my coffee in the morning, don't get me wrong.

But my FIL is SO worried about it, like I'm going to oversleep and he will have to sit there without it for hours on end, that I make sure I get up and put a pot on. I just can't listen to the endless questions every night — “Will you make coffee in the morning?” or “Is there going to be coffee in the morning?” or “Are you making coffee?”

As IF.

So, even if I haven't slept well, I have to get up and make the coffee. Add in the stress of revisions, submissions, and waiting for news and you have an insomniac writer. Guess I could work on the next book idea…..

Do you have trouble sleeping? What do you do for it? Do you have a crazy FIL who obsesses about coffee? Let's talk. Just wake me up if I'm dozing….


It's that time again, contest season (is there a season, or is this just when I'm judging a lot?), and I'm noticing something.

Good openings are hard to do. It's tricky to get a character on the page, let the reader know what she needs to know, and get the ball rolling. There's a balance to be found, isn't there?

My favorite openings begin with a character in crisis. And I don't mean running from a killer either (though that can work too!). I mean someone encountering something they usually don't. Being forced to make choices and act.

I hate set up. I hate a character angsting about a situation and telling me all the bad things that have recently happened in order to get me up to speed. Just dump me in the thick of it and let me figure it out!

Long passages of our emotionally torn heroine thinking about what went wrong when her sister ran away with the circus clown, and how that meant she had to go tell the hunky hero what her sister had done — and, oh yeah, turns out he now owns or controls something very important to her — while checking her hair and eyes in the mirror and talking about how she doesn't feel sexy these days…..

Um, no. Don't like. Not enough to make me want to keep reading.

But openings with immediate drama and tension, I'm there. And yet I think writers sometimes get confused about what constitutes immediate drama and tension. A person on the run from something in and of itself isn't enough. There must be some kind of sense for the reader of the stakes. What will be lost if a character I don't even know gets caught?

Which, I suppose, comes down to this: Make me care about your character. I'm not sure this can be taught in 3 easy lessons. It must be learned over time and with much practice, I think.

I have often rewritten my first chapters until they were right. I've rewritten first scenes a dozen times, until it clicked. I don't always get it right, but I'm not simply satisfied with an evocative first line and then a bunch of backstory.

Get the ball rolling. It doesn't matter what Famous Alice Author does. It matters what YOU do.

What are your favorite types of openings? Least favorite?

Friday Thoughts

more cat pictures

Random thoughts inspired by picture (and a few that aren't):

1. Oh if only. I am not as organized as I'd like. I haven't started my conference packing list. I haven't even considered all the clothes I will need for the various events. Editor meetings, agent meetings, a champagne reception, a retreat featuring agents and editors, etc. Yikes!

2. I bought a beautiful filing cabinet recently that I intended to organize with all my important papers, both writing and household. Uh, no, haven't done it yet. It's a purty thing, but it's disorganized as h*ll.

3. What the heck is that cat wearing?

4. How is it my husband can play World of Warcraft for three hours straight, but not be able to think of a single thing to talk to me about when he gets home from work?

5. Alabama is HOT. My yard needs rain. My sprinkler system costs too much to run on a regular basis.

6. I successfully talked the hubby out of declawing the cat at the last minute. She went for a spay only. I don't like declawing cats. I don't think it's natural and I didn't want to put her through the pain even though my vet does laser surgery. Regular trimming of nails, training to use a scratching post, and we're good to go. Besides, the cat who *really* could use his claws out is too heavy to get it done.

7. Waiting for news on submissions is HARD. Checking the mail is cringe-worthy. The relief one feels not to see a white self-addressed envelope is ridiculous.

8. I think all those people who for the last several years have been tolling the death knell of paranormal romance because it was over-saturated are WRONG. Wish I'd realized it 3 years ago. Vampires, while a bit overdone, are still appearing at an alarmingly regular rate.

9. Wish I knew what the next big trend was. Not just writing, but in general. It'd be nice to be on the leading edge of something for a change instead of running flat out crazy in an effort to catch the train.

10. What's on your mind?

Shopper’s Anxiety

What is it? It's that feeling you get when you go shopping and you suddenly feel, somewhere during the process, like you want to run home, close all the curtains, and cower in the dark. I don't know why this happens to me, but it does. I think I get wigged out by all the choice, and the necessity to make a decision. That and not having a perfectly rail thin size zero body. *sigh*

Not that I'd want to be a zero for real, but the way those clothes drape on the kind of women who have nothing to poke out or bulge anywhere — it just makes me wish I could wear anything I want. Oh, I'm plenty happy when I discover something that looks great on me. But the crap I have to slog through first. Oy.

These days, I know the kinds of things to go for in a way I didn't when I was twenty-something. Must have fitted busts and waists — long flowing things only make me look fat or pregnant. Ruffles are never, ever a good idea for a D cup.

And, holy hell, WHO invented the bubble dress and WHY? I saw bubble dress after bubble dress on my shopping trip yesterday. Nothing but a sheath with a huge bell at the bottom and then it fits against your thighs. Why oh why?

If I wore one of those things, you could get me size 50 shoes and send me to the circus. Not pretty, not at all.

Yes, I shopped yesterday. I tried stuff on, which I hate to do, and I discarded far more than I bought. One pair of pants, one markdown microfiber skirt, and one shirt. This is not a portentous start to my conference shopping….

Do you get shopping anxiety? Do you like to shop? Hate it? Find it easier with friends than alone? If you're going to San Francisco, have you finished the conference wardrobe shopping? What's your favorite bargain find?

Talk Back Tuesday

It was so successful last week that we need another Talk Back Tuesday today! (Well, okay, it made *me* feel better….)

Today, I'm complaining about my bug service. The technician drives up and sits in his car, then puts an invoice on my door. He did not spray anything. I am ticked. Still, not wanting to get him in trouble (I'm too nice), I call and explain that I'm pretty sure he didn't do what he was supposed to do (I *know* he didn't do it). The supervisor informs me he has never, ever had a call about this guy in the past. I said, “Well I'm sure he's a nice person, but he's also human. It's hot, and he did not get out of his truck. I can promise you that.” I felt like it was my word against the tech's, and of course it is, but still — why would I make this up? Who wants MORE chemicals sprayed around their house?

Anyway, the supervisor is sending him back out today to spray around my house. But how will I know he did it? I'm sure he will do it this time, having been caught red-handed, but how will I know that he'll do it in the future? Every time I see that invoice on my door, I'm going to wonder.

Would you change services? Or would you give them another chance? This is a known chain, not just a local company. What is your tolerance limit for stuff like this? Hubby thinks I'm too nice, but I think everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. Still, as we continue forward from this point, I'm not sure I trust this guy. *sigh*