Sunday, May 22, 2016

Reboot, Relearn, Recreate

Our chapter had an all-day workshop yesterday with Bob Mayer. It was structured to have appeal to everyone regardless of the stage their career is in. We covered story structure, POV, dialogue, setting as well as the state of the industry today, and the future of publishing.

It was a good time to sit back and go over the basics as well as learn a few new things. My purpose going into each workshop is to look at my work from a different perspective at the end of the day, and to possibly learn something new.

Today was no exception. In this industry, in order to be successful, one must constantly shift with the publishing tides. To become a hybrid, either in the way you get published, or in what genre you write, or both. Regardless of the direction, there are things to be learned and in most cases, the learning curve is steep.

By day's end, I was exhausted, but energized at the same time. I am confident in the direction of my career now, and eager to finish my WIPs.

It was a very good time to reboot, relearn and recreate.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Birthdays are wondrous things. They mark the fact that you made it through another year, despite the ravages of Father Time. They allow you to reflect on life. And then, there's cake.

Yesterday was my birthday. We won't examine how many years I have under my belt now. But I will say that the past seven years, since I got serious about having a romance writing career, have been the most challenging and rewarding years of my life, so far.

And while we're on the subject of birthdays, I'll reveal that the book birthday for the print edition of The Forgotten Debutante is this week as well. This book is very special to me, because it's dedicated to Aunt Dot. She was never my aunt by blood, but definitely by spirit. I last saw Dot a couple years ago, and she raved about my books, although she thought I needed to spice up my sex scenes. She was 94 when she passed on, unfortunately too soon to see the book in print.

I still have milestones to hit and awards to shoot for. My five-year plan is now a ten-year one, since things tend to move more slowly in publishing. Sure, there are some authors who become overnight successes and are able to quit their day jobs in a matter of months, but that's the exception rather than the norm. I read somewhere recently that the average author makes about $10,000 a year from her writing.

So, I'll keep chugging along, reaching my goals and then trying to exceed them. Some things will change, some things I thought were important will fall by the wayside. But I can rest assured that other goals will take their place, other areas of writing will be explored, other voices that had formerly been merely whispers in my head will now no longer be denied center stage and will be able to take to a soapbox.

That's what keeps me excited to leap out of bed each morning. I sit with my coffee and my WIPs, caressing each file with my cursor before one of them calls to me for attention. Today, Kathleen, my child of the Revolutionary War, stomped her foot, demanding I spend time with her. Tomorrow, it may be Taffy, my adventurous contemporary woman. Or Raoul, who makes my heart race. I never know where my muse will show up until I get there.

And of course, I can't forget a bit of self-promotion. Today's the final day to vote for the RONE awards. I have three titles up for the award, and you can only vote for one, so I've been requesting votes go to A Widow's Salvation. Here's the link, and Pepper and I will appreciate your vote:

Regardless of when your birthday is, I wish you a happy one.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Writing In Multiple Sub-Genres

Yesterday, I had two conversations with fellow authors on basically the same subject. If you're a loyal follower of this blog, you know I've been taking some time this year to try on all kinds of writing styles and sub-genres, to see which ones fit me comfortably and which ones tend to pinch my toes.

Conversation #1
went something like this–I have a paranormal series going and book one will come out this summer, but I had this idea for a contemporary and I started writing it and fell in love with the story. So, I'm putting paranormal on the back burner while I finish the contemporary up and send it off.

Conversation #2
was quite different, and went this way–I see you're all over the place with your writing now, not only with various publishers but with various writing styles. Maybe you should rein it in?

Which one is right? Or is there no right or wrong? It's hard to know. All I can do is follow my heart and my muse. When I wake up each morning and turn on the computer, which file do I want to open and work on? Right now, it's the contemporary that's in my driver's seat. Maybe next month, I'll wander back to my YA historical or spruce up my novella and send it elsewhere if the current publisher who is looking at it takes a pass. I have heard many authors who are much more successful than me state that you need to write in more than one genre, so who am I to argue? I think the key to this whole crazy industry is to keep writing, regardless of what genre your muse happens to lead you to.

Happy writing, everyone!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Birds Of A Feather

Yesterday, I spent the day at a local library, where they had a guest speaker talking about the craft of writing, specifically the "W"plot technique,
followed by an author book signing. There were 38 authors signing, so it was a big event for the library. But what I liked best about the day was that I was in a space with other authors. Many of my fellow romance authors from the Northeast Ohio RWA (NEORWA) were there. Since I haven't been able to make too many meetings this year, it was wonderful to see all my old friends, and to meet a new one who has just joined the chapter.

And, since there were five of us romance writers placed in the teen section (and yes, they avoided us like the plague, except to sneak some candy), we had lots of time to talk about marketing strategy, indie vs. traditional publishing, plotter vs. pantser. Books on craft and software programs were discussed and the merits and drawbacks analyzed. We all spoke in a kind of author shorthand. It's the kind of afternoon that only another author can find appealing. As I suppose it is with any special interest.

I remember back in the days when I was an avid quilter, and spent hours in the quilt shop discussing the different types of fabric, appealing patterns, how many quilting stitches per inch qualified you as a master quilter. Same thing, just a different set of parameters.

Even though book sales left a lot to be desired, we had a good time. And, at the end of the day, isn't that what we all strive for? All that was missing was some wine.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Story Ideas Are Like Trying On New Shoes

Since my contract with Crimson has come to an end, and I'm free to try to write something else other than about the Fitzpatrick family (don't worry, though. They will reappear in some future endeavors), I've been trying out a lot of different story ideas. It seems I have a new idea for a story every couple days, and it occurred to me that trying on different ideas and different genres is not unlike going to the shoe store and trying on new styles. You pick up a pair from the shelves, try them on for size, gaze in the ground-level mirror every which way, talk to yourself and either put the shoes back on the shelf or hold them out for further consideration and maybe another round of looking in the mirror and talking to yourself.

There's my historic YA novel about the Revolutionary War. I've written a couple chapters of it, but, as we all know, writing a couple chapters is the easy part. I need to do more research on what Boston was like in those days before I can continue.

Then, there's the contemporary Christmas novella. I completed it before finding a possible publisher. They want it set up a specific way, and want it before May 31. So, that's my focus right now.

My historic adult novel is finished (but is it ever, really?) and is being shopped around.

Adding to my plate, I had a notion about another contemporary, which I'm about 7,000 words into right now.

Another contemporary is also sitting on my desktop, waiting for a revision.

Will any of these ideas make it into print? Right now, it's hard to say. But after years of wearing one type of shoe, it's nice to be able to try on all kinds of new ones. If I'm having trouble deciding between stilettos and flip-flops, it's okay, for right now. I'll settle on a style soon, and will forge ahead with whichever idea is the most comfortable, the one who gets me excited.

How about you? Are you comfortable wearing one style of shoe, or do you like to experiment?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Best Laid Plans...

At the end of last year, with the knowledge that my long commitment to the Cotillion Ball Series and Crimson Romance was at an end, I decided to come up with a list of book project ideas for this year. I listed the book and thought about everything in terms of red, yellow and green lights. Red was what roadblocks were in the way of the project, green for things that would help fast track the project and yellow for the things that needed further consideration.

My list included seven potential books. To date, three of them have been completed. I'm on track.
So now, what do I do? Start on the fourth? Oh, hell no. That would be too easy.

My restless mind came up with an idea for a YA historical novel–not on my list, not in my wheelhouse. But it's a great idea, so I'm going to run with it.

Then, today, as if that weren't enough, I had a wild idea for a contemporary story combining an event that actually happened to me along with an event that happened to a friend. All I have at this point is shoelaces and coconuts. I'll start on that one tomorrow.

Sometimes not having any deadlines to meet frees you up to explore new options in your writing career. And sometimes being so free can lead to ADHD tendencies in your writing, and you have to have three projects going at once. Even if you try to be sensible and make plans for the year and set goals for yourself, the best laid plans can be shoved aside when a great idea gets into your head.

At least I'll never be bored.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Back To The Drawing Board

Like most authors, I'm constantly searching for new ways to approach my craft. I take online and in person workshops, read articles on how to show vs. tell, enter contests for published authors showcasing their new work. Since I have been published for four years, some folks think I don't need to do this anymore since I must know it all by now.

If only it were that simple.

I had an idea for a contemporary two years ago, which was to be part of a trilogy. I wrote the manuscript, found an agent to peddle it for me, had it sent out all over the place, and got no bites. I fired the agent, took a look at the editing notes the agent only gave me after the first round of rejections, and revised the manuscript. I then sent if off myself to another publishing house with whom I've had some dealings in the past. Their acquisitions person got back to me saying she'd love to work with me, liked my work, but wanted me to change the beginning, middle and end. I told her I'd get back to her, and promptly filed the manuscript away for a rainy day.

It's not raining, but we did have a freakish snow storm here in Ohio over the weekend, so I thought it was a perfect time to pull it out and take another look at it. After reading the first twenty pages, I realized I hadn't run the document through my checklist, since some of my taboo words showed up with an uneasy frequency. Maybe the acquisitions editor wasn't so far off the mark after all.

I still think I'll send it elsewhere when I deem it ready to go again. And I'm not writing books two and three in this trilogy until the first one finds a home.