Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NOLA, Here I come! (Or Smelling the Blasted Roses)

I’m traveling this week, so I just wanted to put up a quick note thanking everyone for your nice comments about my resolutions post. To that end, I’m going to list a few great sites I’ve discovered to help me along that path. So if you struggle with any of the same issues I do, feel free to look around!

Healthy Writer Blog
I just discovered this site, and it’s great…other writers struggling to stay healthy in our sometimes stressful, often sedentary profession. Stop by, you’ll enjoy it!

Success stories always keep me motivated, so here are a couple of sites with real people’s weight loss success stories:
Top 50 Incredibly Inspiring Weight Loss Blogs
The Weigh We Were
WW 100 Board

And in my quest to cut down on processed foods, I’ve read a couple of really good books this past month that I recommend.
YOU on a Diet
The French Don't Diet Plan
Both books do a wonderful job explaining why processed food is so bad for us and gives pointers on why and how to remove it from your life.

To that end, here’s a nice cookbook to help with that.
Cooking the Real Age Way
Anything by Rachael Ray or Mark Bittman tends to use healthy, natural ingredients that taste great, too.

I also purchased all of the supplies I needed this week to start making my family’s bread and crackers at home. (Before you think I’m crazy, check out the two books I referenced above. Really opened my eyes to the dangers of processed foods, diet foods, high fructose corn syrup, etc. I was amazed to see several unhealthy ingredients/chemicals in my favorite commercially produced breads and crackers once I knew what to look for).

My friend and fellow writer, Laura P, posted a great recipe for homemade whole wheat crackers over at her blog.
The Land of Moo (easy whole wheat cracker recipe)
I’ll keep you posted how that goes!

If you’re looking for some wonderful ideas of how to cut back on TV time for your kids (or yourself), here’s a great resource:
Instead of TV

And last, but not least…smelling the blasted roses. I have decided that I am leaving my laptop at home this week as I travel to New Orleans for a fun few days with my husband and a few of our friends (sans kiddos…woohoo!) It was actually a tough decision—which shows you how mental we writers are! I am not going to feel guilty about not writing, I am taking a few books (Dream Man by my friend Nancy J. Parra is already loaded onto my I-Phone), and I’m going to live it up in the Big Easy.

(I won’t tell them how hard I rooted for Favre)

Next week, we’ll work on the “Writing Every Day” Resolution. I’m getting there…

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Writing was fairly non-existent this week, as I spent the time playing catch up on all of the big life issues we humans seem driven to tackle at the beginning of each year. I’m also a bit of procrastinator (which is why our Christmas cards haven’t gone out yet and are morphing into New Year’s Cards).

So it’s only natural that my New Year’s Resolutions come at the middle of the month instead of the beginning. (Keep in mind, this is better than years past, where resolutions might be made over a green beer on St. Patty’s Day! I get better with age).

I vacillated whether or not to put such a personal post out into the blogosphere, but in the end, I decided that hey—we are all human. We struggle, whether we tell each other we do, or whether we pretend to the world that we don’t. So here are some of my struggles. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to turn Heather’s Historical Hodgepodge into a journal to air my issues. But since it is still January and technically a New Year, I’m allowed. :)

This year, making resolutions was a little harder than some. You see, my birthday is in December and I am now officially closer to 40 than I am 30 and I’m starting to feel the sand slipping a bit. There’s a little more pressure to conquer the personal goals that have always seemed to conquer me. There are the memories of failures past, taunting me…you’ve failed for 35 years, what makes you think this year will be any different? You’re set in your ways…can’t teach an old dog…blah blah blah.

Therefore, instead of writing, I spent the last week making plans. Plans to succeed. What will it take to get healthier so that I can be there for my son when he’s my age and hopefully beyond? How am I going to use my time effectively so that I can be the mother I want to be AND the wife I want to be AND be a successful writer AND get in better shape AND eat/live healthier AND set the life examples I want my son to emulate? How am I going to live in the moment and enjoy life as it comes rather than feeling like I’m on the downhill slide? How am I going to live without fear and guilt, and instead with joy?

I really looked at what has caused me to fail in the past: my expectations of myself, my emotional triggers, my perspective, how I lose control of my days and my time reacting instead of being proactive, how I start so well only to revert back to form. I also had a stern talk with myself: I don’t have to be perfect to succeed, but I do have to plan to succeed. Some days, I’m not going to win them all…that’s no reason to get down or give up. I can be patient and still be persistent. I have to live one day at a time.

Now, here I am, better late than never. It's January 19 and I’m resolved:

I will eliminate most processed foods and make exercise more of a priority (and drink more water, darn it).

I will cut back on my son’s TV time. Yes, it’s just Noggin and yes, everyone’s doing it. But I feel it’s important he not get into the habit.

I will make writing a priority every day…even if only for 30 minutes. Every. Day. (and no, my blog posts do not count). I will get said writing done before checking e-mail, reading blogs, etc.

I will do better at scheduling my days and be more realistic so that at the end, I feel I’ve accomplished something, even if it was only being the best mom I could that day.

I will put more focus on my spirituality.

I will stop and smell the blasted roses.

What are YOU resolved to do in 2010?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When the Thames Frozeth Over...(the Frost Fairs of London)

When the Thames Frozeth Over… (the Frost Fairs of London)

This week temperatures have reached -11° F here in my part of the Midwest, and more snow has been dumped on our city than we’ve seen in twenty years. Snow drifts of several feet sent my poor husband out in his waders just to gather the mail (thanks dear) and the frigid temperatures kept my toddler and I in the house for the most part…much to his temper-tantrum throwing chagrin. Hey, I understand. That white fluffy stuff that tempts him through the windows is fun to play in, but his less-than-two-year-old mind can’t comprehend the concept of frostbite yet.

All of this chilliness reminded me that the period I write in (Georgian/Regency/Victorian) was considered part of the “Little Ice Age” that spanned from the 14th Century through the 19th. Winters were harsh, extreme even (making me reevaluate for a moment my dream of living in those drafty old manor houses with little more than fireplaces to keep me warm. Brrrrr…..)

Winters were so cold that at various times during those years, the Thames froze over --sometimes for days, sometimes for months.

All of this thought of frigid temperatures, ice and England also brought to mind the Frost Fairs. So I decided it would be fun to do a blog about them. Most of you might already know of what I write, but for those that don’t, it should be a fun discovery!

Frost Fairs were Carnivals on the Ice, springing up whenever conditions allowed. When the Thames froze solid, revelers would stage quite the affair: sledding, skating across the ice on skeets, all manner of races (sleds, horse and carriage, horse racing and even donkeys! Can you imagine those poor beasts slipping and sliding about? ), bull-baiting as well as your more typical carnival fare such as stilt walkers, musicians, singers, puppet plays, traveling theatres, booths galore selling anything you could imagine and of course, drinking and eating.

Frost Fairs would also see nobility and even royalty mixing with commoners (Charles II and Elizabeth I were known to practice their target shooting on the frozen Thames), much like I imagine Vauxhall must have done.

Some years, the frost would last two to three months! The Thames became a great street on which shops were built, similar to the old London Bridge. I suppose people had to make the money lost when shipping on the Thames came to a frozen halt. Entrepreneurs abounded…one industrious printer made up souvenir cards for the 1683-84 Frost Fair, printing them right there at the fair and selling them for sixpense (King Charles II reputedly even purchased one himself) and made 10 times a laborers weekly wage PER DAY.

The last Frost Fair was held during the Regency period, starting on February 1st of 1814 and lasting a mere 4 days. On February 5, a sudden shifting of the mass of ice left booths floating away and several people in need of rescue.

A sad end, I think, to the great tradition for the Thames never froze again. Warming climate, the replacement of the London Bridge with a bridge with wider arches and the embankment of the Thames (decreasing its width and therefore allowing for more rapid flow) all contributed to the end of the Frost Fairs.

How I would love to have seen it, though. What events of old do you wish you could have seen with your own eyes?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tagged by the Lovely Linda Kage

Tagged by the Lovely Linda Kage

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that I had been tagged by Linda Kage over at her blog "Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt". to answer some questions about myself and my writing. Apparently, she’d been tagged by another blogger and was told to pass it on to three other blogs.

My first instinct was to kick her, but I can’t because a) she’s very pregnant and b) she’s a lovely person whom I like a lot. So, after much grumbling to myself, I sat down to answer these questions which I will then foist...er, I mean...give three other writers the opportunity to keep the game going on.

For my victims, I shall be choosing three very interesting and varied blogs:

Gretchen Jones because she’s totally cool, very funny and she recently mentioned a trebuchet in one of her posts. How awesome is that? (hopefully she won’t aim it at me when she finds out what I’ve done).

Judy Ridgley over at her blog, Writers Riding Horses. It’s a super blog full of tidbits about writing horsemanship correctly. It particularly rocks if you write historical. Ever wanted to know what it feels like to ride side-saddle, or how to handle a coach and four? Check out Judy’s blog.

Simone Ogilvie over at The Romantic Query Letter and Happily Ever After who writes a beautiful blog chock full of history, art, music and prose who promised to share more of herself on her blog in 2010. Well, Simone, here’s a great way to start.

Hopefully these three wonderful women will still be talking to me tomorrow.

And here, for my first post of 2010...more than you've ever wanted to know about Heather Snow.

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Hey, that’s two questions in one. Not fair!

Sadly, the last thing I wrote was a blog post! I am stuck...stuck...stuck on my current WIP.

The first actual completed story I ever wrote that I still have was a novella fairy tale (written with my then best friend) as an assignment for our HS gifted class. It was a fun story, full or heroes and heroines, gods named so originally after the Seasons and dwarves named Peterbilt and Kenworth (which are actually the names of semi-truck manufacturers. What can I say? We lived in a small town off of an interstate with tons of billboards. You never know where inspiration will strike!)

2. Write poetry?

Not so much. I have written a poem or two in my life. Here’s one~once you read it you will know why I don’t write it!

The Butterfly

In this life, if truth be told
Just caterpillars are we
We’re plain, we’re small
We inch, we crawl
As we all try desperately to be...


We wrap ourselves in cocoons of silk
Or of wit or charm or flair
Or of food or drinking
Of drugs or ‘higher thinking’
We hardly even care

As long as it makes us feel...


But it never does, and in the end
All we can hope to see
Is that we were already beautiful
Just as God made us to be

But don’t forget, amongst your regrets
His love is the key
He shows us with the butterfly
One day, the caterpillar will still fly free

3. Angsty poetry?
Not really. I’m a chemistry major, remember? I don’t do angst.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Romance, primarily historical. I love the fairy-tale aspect of historicals and I’m a sucker for the happy ending. I used to read more horror than romance, and actually wrote some horror/suspense but as I got older, it got too dark for me. After spending time working in the prison system on a volunteer basis, I realized that I wanted happy endings. Lots of happy endings. So I went back to romance.

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
I wrote a character named “Maddy” in a serial killer suspense novel. She was the cutesy new wife of my kidnapped heroine’s filthy-rich father. She sort of existed as a foil for the secondary love-story between my heroine’s divorced parents who were brought back together by their daughter’s disappearance. She also was a red-herring, but in the end, she was too annoying to live! I axed her because I just couldn’t stand her anymore. And by axed, I mean cut, not killed. Although that could have been fun, too!

6. Best plot you’ve ever created?
I LOVE the plot in my current WIP, which interweaves history, lost Egyptian treasure, and science. I also love a parallel universe young adult story. Neither are published yet, so you’ll have to wait to know why I love them so much!

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
I’m with Linda Kage, here...I’m not ready to tell because I don’t want to give it away!

8. How often do you get writer’s block?
More than I’d like, for sure! I think with more discipline I could break through it faster, but I allow myself to get distracted by all of the other pressing things of life. The more days I go without writing, the harder it is to get back into the flow. I know this! So why do I still do it? A question for the ages...

9. Write fan fiction?
I’m not really a writer who writes for the fun of it. I write with the intention of getting published. I am pretty career minded, so writing fan fiction and posting it online just never really appealed to me. That being said, I did write a “Quantum Leap” novel once, with the intent to sell. I LOVED QL, and bought all of the spin-off books back in the day. I became on-line pals with one of the authors who encouraged me to write one, so I did and actually submitted it. However, by the time I did, the line was closing. I got a lovely rejection letter telling me they’d be happy to look at any future projects, but I never really got into any other world.

Oh wait, I did actually write a story with Cary Grant in it for a CG website once...I guess that’s fan fiction. Mmmm.......Cary Grant.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Type. Only. I can do plotting by hand, but when I’m actually writing, I have to have a computer in front of me.

11. Do you save everything you write?
I still have the fairy-tale, the serial-killer suspense, some other short stories, the young adult, the QL novel and two versions of my current WIP.......I’m guessing yes, then. However, I did make myself throw away all of my college papers last time we moved!

Although I must say, lugging all of those papers around for years actually did pay off for me once. When I went back to college for my chemistry degree, I noticed an ‘incomplete’ on my transcript for an undergrad creative fiction class that I knew I’d gotten an A in. Luckily, the current professor (who was a grad student when he’d taught me 8-9 years earlier) vaguely remembered me. He told me he remembered I was a good student, but I’d have to rewrite the papers for him to give me a grade. I dug through the boxes and found all of my old papers, as well as the daily journal he’d insisted we keep—which he'd graded and effusively commented in. I dropped them off at his office and had my A in a few days!

Just don’t tell the hoarders this story.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
Yes. I’m forever trying to see if I can make it work.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I still haven’t written my favorite yet.

14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story that you’ve written?
My family and friends wish I’d go back to the kidnapping/serial killer story.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Romance, yes. Angsty teen, no. Hey, maybe that’s what’s wrong with my young adult parallel universe story...not enough angst.

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
I’m an Anglophile...put me in historical England and I’m thrilled. Heck, put me in current day England and I’m still thrilled.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I’m a person who has to focus and see something through or I won’t ever reach the end (proven positive by the many unfinished projects hiding in the closet). So, I’m only working on one—unless you count the blog, which sadly I’ve been writing more on than anything else of late.

I hesitate to even let myself start plotting the next for fear that I’ll lose interest in the hard work of revising the one I’m on.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
In high school, I won a haiku contest...I wish I could find it! It was called “The Tie” and basically had a tie morphing into a noose. It was cool because Southwest Missouri State University picked it up and turned it into an interpretive dance, so somewhere I have a dusty old VHS of a lovely ballet dancer dancing around with a tie around her neck which she hangs herself with as an announcer reads my haiku. Where IS that tape????

I’ve finaled in two RWA chapter contests...I took 3rd place in the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance’s “Launching a Star” contest and I’m still waiting to find out my placement in the RWI’s “Where the Magic Begins” Contest.

19. What are your five favorite words?
I couldn’t pick 5 favorite if I thought about it for months. I love words, love language, especially the nuances. I particularly dig clever wordsmiths who can twist language, no matter the medium—like Cole Porter does with his lyrics. He rocks.

Right now, however, my 5 favorite words are in toddlerese: gall (ball), gog (dog), git (kitty), gink (binky) and Mommy. That little man melts my heart with his silver tongue.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Each of my characters has something of me in them. It’s how I connect. Maybe, as I become a more skilled writer, I’ll be able to write a heroine completely unlike me. I guess the heroine who is most like me is Liliana Claremont, from Sweet Enemy. She’s a chemist who has based her whole life on cold science rather than deal with her feelings of abandonment from her father (although he was murdered, so he didn’t abandon her by choice, but hey—feelings aren’t always rational). She keeps her emotions strictly under control, which I tend to do...and you know I love chemistry!

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

I tend to start with a plot idea, then decide what kind of character would fit well into that scenario. My current WIP’s original plot came from a traveling exhibit about Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt. I started playing “What if?” and my story came to life. From that, I had a heroine who had a specific occupation and I had to create a hero who would be a good counterpoint to her...one who would throw a lot of conflict her way, yet in the end would be the absolute perfect partner for her. That was a little harder to flesh out.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No, though sometimes if I go to bed worried about how to solve a certain situation, I’ll wake with the answer. I won’t see it in my dreams (which I rarely remember), but apparently my subconscious mind will be chewing it over while I sleep.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Yes. I see enough unhappy endings in real life.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes! Yes! Yes! (and yes, that was an over-usage of exclamation points).

25. Does music help you write?
Typically I need silence. I can put on music without lyrics to get me in a mood to write, but once I’m actually writing, the music goes off.

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

From my current WIP. This has been cut, but I’d love to find a place to add it back in.

For an instant, the pain of losing his father sliced through him like a blade, stealing his breath as memories he’d long since locked away assaulted his senses. Closing his eyes, he could see his father’s laughing face transformed into the stiff countenance of death, his normally robust coloring turned pale and cold. Geoffrey could hear his mother’s sobs echoing through the halls at night. He could smell the cloying flowers, could taste the salt from old tears and unbidden, the backs of his eyes burned with fresh moisture that he viciously blinked away.

Well, there you have it. See you next week for a MUCH shorter post!