Tag Archives: Maine

Maine in My Mind

Thea today, with apologies again for being unable posting last week, and thinking how I’ve written a fair amount about how Maine has changed for me with the loss of family, neighbors and friends.

Curiously, I’ve only written one book set wholly in Maine, a Harlequin Blaze: Night Moves, even though we’ve been summering there for as long as we’ve been married, and John since he was a teenager.

In fact, one of the first things John asked me shortly after we met was, do you want to go to Maine with me?

I was a city girl, born in Brooklyn, living in Newark at the time. What did I know about Maine?

I came to Maine shortly after sunrise on a cool August morning where, on the Kittery Bridge, the temperature dropped another ten degrees as we crossed the state line. We’d driven all night and we had another two hours to go to get to the family camp on a lake in southwestern Maine. I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a cabin with a full living room and wood stove, a bedroom, a bunk room, bathroom, kitchen, electric and running water, and a screened porch that overlooked a lake.

All these years we’ve gone there, weeks and months at a time, with kids, family, friends, dogs, cats, alone. We’ve picnicked, antiqued, swam and canoed in the local lakes, gone to every local fair — imagine my youngest son, city-born and street-wise, chosen to compete in a pig scramble at one of those country fairs — and I’ve written good portions of several books up there at the little desk overlooking the lake that my husband rigged up for me on the porch.

I’ve loved it there in years past. What I especially loved was how time stretched. That everything had a pace and an hour, and that anything that needed to be done got done by four p.m., so we could sit on the porch and inhale the peace, the quiet, the calm, and just talk. Or not.

You might ask why we never moved there. I have no answer — we thought about it for years, we think about it still. I corresponded for many years with Mabel, our neighbor up the road before she died. She wrote wonderful stream-of-conscious letters about life in Maine during the winter. They kept Maine my mind and heart when I couldn’t be there.

I imagined living there. I thought about my characters living there, I dreamt up mysteries that haunted the woods behind our house, monsters that lived in the lake, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dotted the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who were local, hard-bitten and wise.

And sweet sultry romance in a place where time moved slower, the air was clear, the water sparkled, where neighbors were always ready to help, and where, forty-seven years after the fact, people still know your name.

And maybe, after all these years, just maybe that’s enough.

What about you? Do you have a place out of mind where you love to go and might want to live? Have you ever acted on that desire?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romances. She’s the author of twenty-seven erotic historical and contemporary romances, and a dozen novellas. Her sequel to The Darkest Heart (June 2011), Beyond the Night, will be a Pocket Star release February 2014. She is a Romantic Times Romance Pioneer honoree.

The Presence Unseen

Thea Devine today ruminating on fiction and life. I’ve been watching Under the Dome, which has become of particular interest because in some of the promo Stephen King has done for the series, he’s been pictured in the small Maine he says was the model for the small town in under the Dome.

Bridgton, Maine. It’s a really pretty town, with antique homes, antique shops, a book store, a find-everything-here department store. There’s a lake and a movie theater, and what more do you need in summer?

It’s about ten miles down the road from where we’ve summered for an untold number of years.

John just came back from opening up the house. He said it was good to be back in Maine, to see and catch up with our neighbors and friends. And yet — and yet … there is a presence — of friends who’ve left, friends who have died.

And, as John said , the presence not there is still a presence.

I feel it myself. I’m sure I’ve written before that Maine, for me now, is full of ghosts. I love being there, but I resist going because I know I’ll feel the presence of those I love and miss.

I am, as it were, under the dome. There are monsters in the lake, ghosts hovering in the branches. I shudder to go out at night in the deep darkness where there are no lights, where nothing can be seen, only felt and heard.

I imagine a lurking presence — familiar and unknown.

I’m in Stephen King territory now — in real time, in real life — and thus influenced, I dream up mysteries that haunt the woods behind our house, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dot the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who are local, hard-bitten and wise.

The question is, do I write those stories in Maine– or as far away as I can get from the presence of the ghosts?

Or will I still be haunted by the presence unseen?

What would you do? How would you feel?

Thea Devine is currently working on her next erotic contemporary romance. She will be attending RWA and speaking at the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book Conference in October.

Distractable Me…

I spent this past week in Maine with my family. A whole week. With my family. In a two bedroom cottage. With no AC. No cable. And no wi-fi. I survived. Barely. (Do you have any idea how insufferable soon to be 18-year-old boys are?)

Old Orchard Beach

But despite the sibling squawking Old Orchard Beach was kind of nice. I had originally planned to use my first week off the get a lot of writing done. I was 19, 464 words short in an 80,000 word WIP that is due in this week. Normally even with work and a busy schedule I can write about 10,000 words a week. So I figured without work or any pressing engagements I could meet that nearly 20,000 word goal with no problem.  I was wrong.

It turns out I’m one of those people who need absolute silence to write. My family tried to be somewhat understanding. The deal was I would spend the days with them doing whatever family fun thing they wanted, but the evenings after dinner were mine alone. Which meant I needed them NOT to bother me.

My father was the best about it. He would park himself in front of the TV and not say a word to me the whole time. BUT the TV was on and I couldn’t seem to tune out the noise. And for the record I find THE BIG BANG THEORY very funny. Even with that distraction I managed to get in my share of words. But when the TV got to be too much I ventured outside.

Ah… sea air and a nice quiet backyard.

Yeah right. The dog followed me outside every time I went, always bringing with her a toy or a rope and those damn cute puppy dog eyes that always seem to say, “Play with me. Play with me. I’m so cute you have to play with me.” So I played with her. And after she finally tired out I would sit down to write with her laying on top of my feet. But apparently I’m quite tasty because I ended up with seventeen (17!) very itchy mosquitos bites.

Stupid cute puppy dog.

After that I ventured to the bedroom I shared with my baby brother. There was no TV in there, only a love-sick teenager who spends more time on the phone with his girlfriend than is normal or acceptable. They don’t even talk about anything. She’s usually whining  about her mom. He’s usually whining about how everybody picks on him and I’m usually gagging.

“So what did you do today?”

“Nothing. What did you do today?”

“Nothing.”

Silence.

“What did you eat for dinner?”

“Lobster roll. What did you eat for dinner?”

“Pizza.”

Silence.

And it goes on and on for hours like that. I COULDN’T listen to that. It was torture. But it was nothing compared to sitting next to my mom while I worked. I never considered my mother a chatter box but give her a margarita and no cable and the woman could talk your ear off.

“Ma, I need a little bit of quiet. Okay.”

“Yes.” She nodded emphatically. “I won’t bother you.”

Silence.

A minute later.”I’m not sure why your Aunt Nikki keeps texting me. I never answer her back.”

“Ma. Quiet. Remember?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I’m sorry. You’re working.”

Silence.

Thirty seconds later. “Whatcha writing?”

“A book.”

Type. Type. Type.

“About what?”

“Matricide.”

My mother, who I get my nasty sense of humor from, doesn’t even bat a lash. “You never tell me what you’re working on. It’s probably dirty.”

“You’re right. It’s so dirty I’m going to get arrested for writing it . Then they are going to throw me in jail. Then I’m gonna to have to pick a fight with another prisoner so I get thrown in the hole. I might be able to  actually get some writing done there.”

She looks at me, mutters something under her breath and then proceeds to tell me about how my grandmother’s cat has worms. I shut my laptop and listen. I really have no other choice. It’s not like we talk on the phone almost every single day or anything.

Needless to say 10,000 words turned in to 5,000 poorly written ones. It appears that I am too distractable to write when others are around. But that’s okay. We only get to spend one week a year together as a family so I guess a few distractions are okay.

Your turn! Can you write with your family around? Are you distractable? Need absolute silence? Music? Like to write in public? Know a lovesick teenager? Any and all comments are welcome?

What Are Your Goals?

Short post this week. I’m back in Maine, this time on vacation with the fam. Pray for me.
This week I want to talk a little about goals.
What are your goals? I think it’s important for everybody to define their goals. Especially those related to writing. A lot of people get dreams and goals confused. Goals are definable. Measurable. With a goal there is an end in sight.
I want to be a New York Times best selling author is not a goal. It’s a dream. The steps you take to get there can be goals.
Write them down. Having something visible always helps. Start small. That way you can always feel like you accomplished something. When I started writing my goal was to write two pages a day. Then my goal was to write a thousand words a day. Then it was to finish a book. Then it was to learn how write a query letter.
Each time I met a goal I crossed it off my list with a red pen and with each red stroke I felt a little better about myself.
I met all the goals on my list. Which meant I needed to challenge myself.
It’s important to never be at a stand still in life. I need to be always reaching for something.
So today I am going share with you my new list of goals.
1. Become a NYT best selling author. (Just kidding)
2. Write 1200 words a day until I finish my WIP.
3. Shine up that old manuscript in that different genre and get it ready for the submission process by the end of August.
4. Read more. I read surprisingly little these days. And that’s not good for my writing.
Your turn! Tell me one of your goals.

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Those are my parents and the dog enjoying the beach.

Taking A Vacation From Writing

I spent the weekend in Maine with some friends. The trip had been planned since February and I had been excited to go all along but as the weekend neared I began to grow panicky. Why you ask? Was I afraid of bad weather? Not getting along with my friends? Spending hours in a car with little to do to occupy myself?

No to all of those things. I was panicky because I knew I wasn’t going to bring my laptop. Since I decided I wanted to be a writer I have written every single day without fail. And now that I have deadlines looming and characters begging for their stories to be told I really feel the pull to get the words out of me. But I was going away and while I can have hours of fun writing I know that my friend and her sister wouldn’t get as big of a kick out of it as I would. I told myself I could write anytime. That writing would always be there for me. Time with my friends might be limited. So I left it home.

The world wasn’t going to end without it. And even though when I woke up early some mornings with my fingers itching to add to my WIP I was okay without it, because I ended up needing to take a step back. I always think of myself as a panster, but in reality I’m not. Before I start writing I know how every book I write is going to end, the major turning points and the black moment. And each day I sit down to write I always have a plan for what I going to put down on the page. But lately in a rush to get my word count up I was writing things that had no purpose, scenes that didn’t move the story forward. I’m not a girl who spends a lot of time editing after the book is done, so it’s important for me to get it right the first time. (I know some people say it’s okay for your first draft to suck and it is okay for some people, but I’m not that kind of writer and if you aren’t then that’s okay too.)

My favorite store in Kennebunkport.

It was good for me to take a step back because it allowed me to think of my book as a whole instead of just scenes slapped together. Instead of reaching for my laptop I lay in bed and thought about all the little things that make a book good. I want my book to be good. So I knew I had to dig deeper and find what it was missing.

On the second morning of the trip after a very fun day of shopping and a night of watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies my mind was clear enough to actually plot the second half of my book scene by scene.

I grabbed my phone and typed myself the world’s longest memo. I knew that I wasn’t going to add any new words to my WIP but I knew that when I did I wouldn’t have to rack my brain for words to put on the page. In the end even though I didn’t spend anytime actually writing I managed to get a lot of work done.

Now I’m back home enjoying my last free bit of weekend before I have to return to work. My trusty laptop is with me but I have decided that I’m not going to write a single word until tomorrow. My vacation from writing hasn’t ended yet.

So what about you? Do you ever allow yourself to take a step back? Are you really a panster? Like Maine? Ever see that giant liquor store on the highway in New Hampshire? Any and all comments are welcome.

Oh and I am heading back to Maine next week (a different part) with my family and I am lugging this bad boy with me. I missed it!