Sunday, May 20, 2018

Words of Wisdom From Stephen King

I'm rereading Mr. King's book On Writing, which was lost during the move, and recently repurchased.  I feel a particular kinship with Stephen King. We're the same age, for a short time we had the same publisher, both of us had a unfortunate encounter with poison ivy toilet paper when we were young, we both were editors of our high school papers. Of course, his career far surpasses mine, but it's nice to know he struggled in his early years, as we all do.

Here's what he has to say about his career. "I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint, or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all." 

So Stephen had someone try to make him feel lousy about his writing, too. More that we have in common.

So what's the take-away? Don't let anyone tell you you're wasting your talent, or make you feel lousy. Keep your nose to the grindstone and keep cranking out your stories. You'll get better every time you type "The End" on your works and sooner or later, you'll be able to look upon those who made you feel lousy and wish them well.

In that vein, I'm pleased to announce that Book Baby #19 was just awarded a Crowned Heart by Ind'Tale Magazine and is featured on their YouTube feed. You can see the whole thing here:

Or, you can just take a look at the ad they created for me here:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Here Come The Brides

No, this post is not about Meghan and Harry, even though it's a fairy tale in real time, something we romance writers love to slobber over.

My bride reference refers to my WIP, which started out with a one mail order bride idea. Actually, I had thought three of them, the heroine and her two sisters. But mail order bride books are extremely popular in the western romance market, and my bride was only slightly different from all those who had traveled the route before her. 

What made my manuscript different was the fact that my bride in question was one of a group of sixteen women who were all traveling west to find their mates. Similar to Westward The Women, a movie about a wagon train full of women, filmed in 1951, I place sixteen women in the care of one brave man, Jake Shelton. If you're familiar with my Cotillion Ball series, you'll remember that Temperance Jones chose Basil Fitzpatrick over Jake in Banking On Temperance. In that book, Jake tipped his hat and rode off into the sunset. Not this time. Not if I have anything to say about it. 

I realized the hook to this book is the fact he's agreed to help his sister, who runs a matchmaking business, to shepherd these ladies west. Over the course of six months, Jake's ladies will prove to him they are strong women, just as Roy Whitman found out in the movie. Some of these ladies stand out in the book, and deserve their own stories about what happens after Jake drops them off and sees them get married. And of course, there's the one who captures his heart. 

So instead of the Bride Of Baxter Ridge, the name of the book has been changed to the working title of The Angelica Train. Is this my new, multi-volume series? Could be. I've learned a lot about the Oregon Trail while writing this book, as my sticky map of the trail attests to. And I wrote about a portion of the trail in my most recent post on History Imagined. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Still Learning

I attended an RWA chapter meeting in the Carolinas yesterday. I was drawn to it by the speaker, who was going to talk about deep POV, but I had never attended any of their meetings and didn't know anyone. I sat across from a lady and we got to talking. She's pre-published, still working on her first manuscript. She asked me the same question and when I told her how many books I'd written, she asked why I was even there. I explained that I felt I was still learning, too, and if I could walk away from the meeting with one nugget of info, I'd be happy.

So what did I learn? Glad you asked. I learned about enneagrams and that there are nine basic personality types and only three core emotions that drive a person's backstory–fear, shame and anger. I'm going to take the test later to determine what my personality type is, but I gave some thought last night to my characters in the mail-order bride story. Fear drives my heroine, shame drives the hero, so I guess I intrinsically knew this nugget before yesterday. But it was good to have it spelled out.

The icing on the cake was I got to spend time talking about writing with a group of ladies who "got" it. A new tribe? I don't know yet, but a few new friendships, yes. I'm feeling quite "cocky."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

No More Waiting!

I'm pleased to be able to announce that the demise of Crimson may turn out to be a good thing. Tara Gelsomino, the executive editor from the company, has decided to form her own business, a literary agency, and I'm pleased to be one of her first clients. We plan to continue my Regency series, which was begun by Crimson.

I'm also finishing the first draft of a mail-order bride series that takes the brides from a matchmaker's office in Boston to the mountains of Montana. If you've read the Cotillion Ball series, you may remember Jake Shelton, the wagon master who was set to take Temperance Jones and her family to Oregon, until she admitted her love was not Oregon, or Jake, but instead it was Basil. Well, Jake's back and this time, he won't be denied in love. Imagine a cowboy with a wavy shock of hair, blue eyes and a wide-brimmed hat and you have Jake.

So, a new liaison, a new couple of stories, and a new outlook. Seems only fitting, since I'm in a new house in a new state. And it's only April.

Going to be one hell of a year.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Waiting Game

Lately, it seems I've been playing the waiting game. As many of you know, Crimson Romance is no more, so I applied to get my rights back on my books. For those who are unfamiliar with traditional publishing, here's what happens: the contract stipulates the publisher retains the rights to your book for a specified period of time, usually from three to seven years.

If the publisher goes bankrupt or shuts down, rights revert back to the author automatically. In this case, even though Crimson is now defunct, the parent company, Simon & Schuster, is still in business and holds the contract. So in order to regain control of my books, I must send a request. The stipulation to getting the rights reverted to me is that the particular title has to garner royalties under a certain threshold for two consecutive six-month periods.

In my case, this is proving exceedingly hard to figure out, since the books are involved in various bundles. It didn't help my progress any to have the wrong email address for the man in charge of deciding who gets rights back, so I've been late to the game for some time. So, he's working on figuring it all out and I'm waiting.

But what happens if I have to wait until my books fall under the threshold of sales? Simon & Schuster has no interest in promoting my works and my sales have fallen off since the announcement. Do I continue to watch my declining sales and applaud the fact that I'll get the rights back sooner? What do I do with the hole in my bank account? What do I do with the books once I do get the rights back?

So many questions, and right now there are no answers. Some could view this as a setback in my career, but I choose to view it as an opportunity. In the immortal words of Ayn Rand–"The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity."

I've taken the first step by asking for my rights back, and am poised to take the next rung.

Sunday, April 15, 2018


This weekend was my first to spend dedicated time with a friend's 89-year-old mother. We decided her prize for taking all her pills would be for us to work on a jigsaw puzzle. I often compare my story line to a giant jigsaw puzzle, but today, working with Anne, made me realize something.

She kept finding pieces that looked similar, like they'd go together, but she couldn't figure out where in the puzzle they went. I had to keep reminding her to look at the picture on the box to see how it all fit together.

If you don't step back and look at the big picture, you'll never be able to piece together the puzzle–or if you do, it'll be much harder, take more time, and lead you down the wrong path more than once. The same holds true for writing a story. You need to know before you start what the total picture will look like, where all the hidden pieces are, where the minute little detail pieces need to fit in.

But, if you take your time, refer to the big picture often, and piece together the green pieces and then the blue, etc., you'll end up, sooner or later, with a complete puzzle. Or a complete manuscript. Both are well worth the effort.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Finding Inspiration

Lately, my life seems to be a series of inspirational quotes. 

In the first three months of this year, I've moved five states away from Ohio.  It did take three months to get from one house to the next. Then, no sooner did I get my furniture delivered than I was told my publisher was shutting its doors and I was losing my connection to those editors and authors. So, where does that leave me?

As Terry Goodkind, best-selling fantasy author, so eloquently said, "If the road is easy, you're likely going the wrong way." 

So my publishing road has hit a few bumps. My latest book baby, the second in a new series, has been abandoned. Until I can figure out what to do about it, I've slid it under the proverbial bed and turned my attention to my Mail Order Brides book, which is halfway done. My road so far this year hasn't been easy, but I'm now at the picture-hanging stage in my house and I'm figuring out on a publishing level where to go from here.

My second favorite quote came via my nephew. "Throw me to the wolves and I'll come back leading the pack." Although the weather is more agreeable than the North coast, I miss my fellow authors from one of the better RWA chapters in the country. And with the closing of Crimson Romance, I miss my daily interchange with my fellow authors. I feel like I've lost my pack, my tribe, on two fronts. Thanks to the internet, Facebook and email, though, my tribe is only a click away. It may not be as good as face to face, but it'll do.

I'll meet other authors–there are a lot of us in North Carolina–and life's road will smooth out a bit more. My losses will turn into blessings and I'll wonder why it took me so long to make a move–on both fronts.