Sunday, September 25, 2016

Moving Day

For the past twelve months, my bed and my office have shared the same space. I couldn't do the steps upstairs with my bad hip. So, the best thing to do short-term was to move my bed downstairs and live on one level. But it caused a few problems, the biggest being I could never shut off my brain. When I had an idea at 2am, the computer was right there, only steps from my bed, waiting for my ideas. Since I combined my two spaces, I've written five books, reworked two more, and have two currently in progress. There's a reason I've been so productive. It's because I have a hard time sleeping with a blinking cursor three steps away.

Now the time has come to rethink our house layout. My sister needs her own space, and so do I. On Wednesday, the Two Men and a Truck company, minus the truck, are coming to play a game of musical chairs. I'm able to do steps fairly easy again, so my bedroom is moving back upstairs, to the room which sealed the deal on my decision to purchase the house in the first place, since it provided me with the biggest bedroom I've ever had. Sis is moving into the big downstairs room and the little dinky room that she'd been in for three years now becomes my office. A few pieces will re-emerge from the basement, and we'll spend the rest of the week getting settled into our new spaces.

Sometimes change is good. I'm looking forward to my new normal.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My Ghostly Encounter

No, I haven't strayed into the paranormal world. Not yet anyway.

What I have done is to hire myself out as a ghostwriter. This was a new experience for me, and I did it for a number of what I thought were good reasons:

 1) The freelance company who acted as a broker for my services was new to me and I wanted to test their practices.

2) The job was small enough (8000 words)

3) It was within my wheelhouse, being a historical romance.

I'm proud to say I turned the job in before the deadline, the client loved it, and has asked me to consider a longer work. Always, it's the mark of a job well done if the client wants to hire you again.

So, why am I hesitating? This job paid me better than some of the books I've written, so the money associated with it is not the issue.

I won't even go into the amount of my own work that needs to get done and sent off to various publishers, agents, etc. Not to mention the promotional work that comes with each new release, of which there will be three by the end of the year.

My hesitation comes from this sweet little story I wrote for the client. I can never attach my name to it, or claim it as my own. All rights have reverted to the client. It's no longer mine.

It's like sending your kid off to school for the first time and have them never return home to tell you how their day was.

Before I take on another ghostwriting job, I need to answer the question of whether I can live with the anonymity. Can I live with the fact I might write the next bestseller, but someone else will claim it as theirs? And take all the royalties? Would I be better off focusing on my own career rather than provide one for someone else?

It's the nature of a ghostwriter to remain in the background. I'm just not sure if that's where I belong.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Turkey or Ham?

For most of my life, I've preferred Thanksgiving over Christmas.
My preference began when I was a kid, one of five. Food was always scarce, except on Thanksgiving. For one day, we could eat as much turkey,  stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole as we wanted. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Christmas was a far different affair. We didn't have much extra cash for a ton of gifts like my friends were given every year, and I always felt we were the house on the block that Santa forgot.

However, this year I have managed to write two Christmas themed novellas, which will be releasing as the season nears. One is a contemporary, set in Lobster Cove, ME, as part of Wild Rose's popular lineup of stories centered around this fictional town. The other one is a historical set in Regency England. They were both extremely fun to write, they both feature romantic love stories, and have made me believe I may have been wrong all these years.

Rather than focus on the food, or on the lack of gifts, I should have been focused on the significance of the day. Thanksgiving may be in celebration of the pilgrims surviving in the new world, but Christmas is steeped in religion. Engagement rings are a staple gift at Christmas. Who ever would give an engagement ring at Thanksgiving? Mistletoe is another iconic symbol of Christmas. Thanksgiving offers a wishbone from the turkey. Not quite the same.

I have written a love story centered around Thanksgiving, don't get me wrong. I think any day when two people find each other is special, regardless of the trappings. But when it comes to writing a novella, I'll take Christmas over Thanksgiving any day of the week. I'll take ham over turkey.

I hope you'll enjoy my novellas. If your taste runs to contemporary, Love's In The Cards is for you. If you happen to love historicals, A Regency Yuletide will tempt you. I don't think you can go wrong with either story. Here's a little something about each one.

Love's In The Cards

Christmas used to be Penny Beedle’s favorite holiday. But a messy breakup with a country star on Christmas Eve years earlier, and a botched wedding last Christmas Eve have tainted Penny’s outlook about the holiday. But she has to suck it up, since she and her sister now own a greeting card store, and this is their crazy selling season.

Del Madison has loved Penny since kindergarten. Now he’s been commissioned by a big greeting card company for a line of Christmas and Valentine’s cards, as long as he comes out from behind his alter ego and unveils himself to the public. He chooses Penny Beedle’s shop for the big reveal. If he plays his cards right, he just might be able to have Penny be part of his life.

If Del plays his cards right, he just might make Christmas a holiday Penny can enjoy once again.

A Regency Yuletide

After a disappointing season in London, Sophie Davenport returns home without a marriage proposal. No sooner does she settle back into her country life than she learns her uncle has arranged for her to marry the local Vicar’s son, a respectable and utterly forgettable man. He’s returning home immediately after the Christmas holiday and they will wed. She sets about making this last Christmas with just she and her mother memorable.

Jeremy Wyatt agrees to help his friend Thomas and his love, Emma, as they chase to Scotland to marry at Gretna Green before her father comes after them. What he’s really doing is avoiding heading to his parents’ home, where he’s set to be married out of obligation, not love. They get close to the border before their carriage gets hopelessly mired in the mud from the incessant rains. Jeremy sets off to find shelter for them, and knocks at the door of the first house he comes to.

Sophie forms a bond with Jeremy right away. However they’re both spoken for, so despite the sparks they ignite in each other, they have to maintain their separate paths.

But love and mistletoe have a way of upsetting even the most well-laid plans.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Taking The Plunge

I've been so caught up in my new venture that I totally forgot what day it was. If you came here early expecting a new post, I apologize.

I'm sure you're now wondering what could occupy my time so much that I'd forget my blog post for the very first time. Well, wonder no more. I'm about to self-publish a Christmas novella, and have a steep learning curve in front of me. I'm trying to make it as simple as possible by putting it up only as an e-book, and only on Amazon, but still, there's a huge mound of information to get through. I've lined up an editor and a cover artist and think I've got most of my bases covered, but I'm sure I'm forgetting things that will come to light in the next few weeks.

But let me tell you about the book. It's my first Regency-inspired work. I had someone whose job it is to know this stuff read it through to see if I could effectively write Regency, since my historicals up to this point had all been American historicals. When I got a passing grade from her, I was left with the decision to try to find a publisher for it or do it myself. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at self-publishing and to become a true hybrid author.

It's exciting and frightening at the same time. The story line is sweet and I love the hero and heroine. Can't wait to introduce you to Jeremy and Sophie. The book will hopefully be up by November for your viewing pleasure. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

It Started In Texas

Many moons ago, I spent eight years in Austin, TX.  The city and the surrounding towns were loaded with antique shops and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Round Top, Fredericksburg, and Smithville were among my favorite places and I spent every spare moment browsing through the offerings.

One of the things I began collecting was Zane Grey books, particularly his westerns.
I made up a list after a while, in order to avoid duplication, and had it in my purse at all times, since you never knew where the next antique shop would be. My criteria was simple:
                                1) The books had to be first or second editions
                                2) I had to read each and every one

So there I was, surrounded by cowboys, reading about cowboys, learning to ride a horse, buying real boots. Is it any wonder I ended up writing about the Pony Express? And having my first hero be an Indian? I credit Mr. Grey for my fascination with this era of America.

But life goes on. I left Austin and ended up back in Ohio, where I'd grown up. The house is overflowing with books, including the 60 Zane Greys. So, we're starting to pare down, since a move to a smaller home is in our near future. The Zanes will need to find a new home. If there's a cowboy in your life, and you're looking for a unique Christmas gift, contact me. I'd love to share my collection with you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Author Vs. Athlete

As the Olympics draw to a close, I'm constantly making comparisons between my profession and that of these athletes. It's so different from the way the Olympics used to be, when there were no big contracts available, and the cost of training, equipment and travel had to come from the family. There was no question that the athlete would retire from the sport after their one big outing and begin to draw a paycheck. Some of today's athletes are career Olympians, fully funded by corporate dollars, and have been on this world stage three or four times before. Sometimes they stay too long, and their gold medals slip from their grasp the second or third time around. It has to be hard for them to accept the inevitable, since their time in the limelight fades while they're still young.

This is where being an author is different from being an athlete. Any one, at any age, can write a novel, if they're so inclined. I participated in an author panel discussion last week, and afterwards another silver-haired lady came up to me and told me I was an inspiration to her. She had just turned eighty, and thought she'd waited too long to write the book of her heart.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Uhl. Thanks, girl!

Our muscles are on the inside. Our outsides may not be the sleek, rippled machines I've been seeing on the TV screen over the past two weeks, but unlike those hard bodies, in most cases, the mind doesn't care how old you are. It's never too late to begin learning the craft of writing. Danielle Steel is still cranking out books at age 69. She's not retiring from the spotlight anytime soon. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is 67, Stephen King is 68, as is Jude Deveraux. Nora Roberts has had a schedule of publishing six books a year for quite some time. She's in her 50s, and has no plans to slow down.

So, even though I've enjoyed the Olympics, and have admired the hard bodies of these athletes, I feel a bit sorry for them, since my muscle will continue to work regardless of my age. At least that's the plan.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Interlocking Rings

Unless you're living under a rock somewhere, you already know the Olympics are in full swing. There's been a lot of discussion on TV about the symbolism behind the rings. According to Wikipedia, the five interlocking rings represent five world continents–Africa, Asia, America, Europe and Oceania. The colors of blue, yellow, black, green and red on a white background are colors that appeared on all the national flags of the participants in the 1912 games when the symbol was created.

Interlocking rings are also a metaphor for the method in which an author gains new readers. The first ring is friends and family, then a local writer's group or chapter of a larger organization. Whatever avenue you take on your road to publication, there are organizations and special interest groups to help you along the way. Another ring. You may find some duplication in members of each ring, which creates the interlocking nature of this, and any, profession. If you're a fan of Facebook, you have a ring of followers there. If you regularly post to a blog site, that's another ring. Google+  provides another ring. And the list goes on. The more rings you can develop, the greater your reach, and the better your sales.

Just like Olympians, authors spend years developing their craft, in hopes they can reach the highest pinnacle of success. Our training takes the form of workshops and conferences to exercise our brains and help us enhance our word choices. As I watched the ladies' gymnastics the other evening, what impressed me most was the artistry involved in their maneuvers. It's not enough to be a jumping bean if it's not done with grace, finesse and a touch of humor. The floor exercise is my favorite, since you get to see a bit of the gymnast's personality. A flick of the hand, a wiggle of the butt, may be slight moves, but if choreographed correctly, make for an entertaining couple of minutes.

It's the same with authors. Their choice of words and how they arrange their sentences can make the difference between creating a book that grips you by the throat, or one that leaves you feeling blah. A good author has a voice that comes roaring off the pages, that lets you think you'd love or hate to be friends with her or him. For instance, I became so terrified while reading Stephen King's books while I was in my 30s that I had to stop, and except for a few of his more mild ones, I haven't delved into them since. But I did read his book On Writing, and I love his words of wisdom. One night when I couldn't sleep, I decided to write the next scene in my current WIP. At four in the morning, I was at the computer, and reviewed the passage I'd just written. I could hear Stephen's voice in my head: "That's a passive voice. Come on, Becky, you can do better." It gave me the chills, so I shut the computer off and went to bed. He still terrifies me since now that he's critical of my writing. We'll never be friends, but I still respect his mind. Here's one of his pearls of wisdom from his book on writing:

What has been your favorite part of the Olympics? And the real question is can you write and watch the Olympics at the same time?