I am so happy to welcome Alice Gaines to my blog today. As it happens, I have two amazing Alices in my life, and they are both on the same discussion loop. To differentiate her from the other Alice (Alice Duncan), I’m accustomed to calling her “Dr. A”.
Alice has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley (hence the moniker). She is also a fantastic writer of sensual historical romance, romantic fantasy and contemporary romance. I fell in love with her writing when I picked up a Red Sage “Secrets” anthology volume some years ago that contained one of her stories, and have been a fan ever since. I am also a big personal fan of Alice, who is a truly passionate, interesting, non-cookie-cutter person.
With that introduction, I’ll turn you over to Alice.
ALICE GAINES: Two bedroom/one bath. Yard.
That’s pretty much what the ad said when my husband and I were looking for a house to rent. The rental market in Oakland was highly competitive, so we campaigned hard to get the house even though we’d hardly looked at it. Once the old tenants were gone and I could check the place out, I discovered a huge, old rose in the back yard and told Hal we’d done a Good Thing deciding to move into this relatively bad neighborhood in what’s known as a dangerous city.
A few years later, the landlords sold us the house. A few years after that, Hal died, and the yard became totally mine (at least when I finish paying off the bank). The yard became my writing place during good weather.
You have to realize that in California it doesn’t rain a drop from June pretty much through October. In fact, as I write this it’ll likely get to 86 today, and this weather is forecast to go through the whole week into next weekend.
I come from a family of gardeners and horticulturalists. My mother wrote books on gardening and for a while was the New England editor of Flower and Garden. When we moved in, I had a yard, and I could get my hands dirty. I planted a lemon tree. I put two avocado pits into the ground, and the trees are now taller than the house. I bought lots of Earthboxes so I could put vegetables in containers. During the summer, I now have an endless supply of the most delicious food on Earth — homegrown tomatoes.
I used to take long walks in the Oakland hills for exercise. I discovered wildflowers that you’d never notice driving by. I found two kinds of clarkias, and then one day, I came across a real treasure — a third species. One little plant of clarkia unguiculata, or elegant clarkia, was a scrawny thing hiding out in the underbrush. I took one seedpod off it, leaving the others for the next generation in the wild. When I put those seeds into nice potting soil and gave it water, I got this. I grew another species along the side of the house, and they soared to waist high.
Every writing day, when I don’t have to go to my J-0-B, I take my AlphaSmart outside and listen to the sounds of birdcalls mingling with the occasional screech of tires. I am in a city, after all. The cat that moved into the yard when I had the bad sense to feed her sits under my chair and generally gets underfoot. She’s very pretty but has a howl that can carry to the next zip code (which actually is just across the street in San Leandro), and she has a nasty disposition. She bit me once, so I call her Cat-Hole.
Cat-Hole and I sit outside for hours while I pound away on the AlphaSmart. If I finish my pages on time, I get to spend the late afternoon drinking a microbrew while I work on the hymn I’m writing for my church.
Whoa? Church? A lady who writes super-hot, even erotic, romance sits drinking a beer while writing a hymn? I’m Episcopalian. We’re a non-judgmental bunch. My rector’s wife reads my books. I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t share them with him.
Thank you, Alice! That was so much fun! You are so lucky to be able to write outside so much of the year! And have I stumbled onto the secret of your amazing productivity – using the Alphasmart to keep your forward momentum. Smart!
On to our giveaway, and it’s a nice one! Alice is giving away a print set of her Cabin Fever series from Avon Impulse (erotic novellas). The set includes Heat Rises, Storm Bound and Mating Season.
Okay, readers, you know the drill – comment for a chance to win the prize. Do you have a back yard oasis to escape to? If you’re a writer, do you write there? And if you’re not a writer, do you still take your laptop or Kindle or iPad out there to work or read in the midst of it?