Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back To Normal

One of the best things about being an author (at least in my opinion) is the multitude of types of work involved. Right now, I'm involved in the following:

1)  final edits for A Widow's Salvation–lots of tedious reading of line by line to catch typos, lost quote marks, and the like. It's scheduled for release on September 7.

2) I try to add 1,000 words a day to my WIP, the last book in the Cotillion Ball Series–the creative part of my day. The Forgotten Debutante, about Saffron Fitzpatrick, will be released in the Spring of 2016.

3) I check emails and collect my number of visitors to my website and blog–the strategic part of the day.

4) And I am lining up guest blog appearances, finding reviewers for my book, and deciding on which ad campaign, if any, will work best–the marketing part. I really love to answer the questions other bloggers pose to me. I never thought I'd enjoy that part of the business as much as I do. A pleasant surprise.

In my spare time, I am searching for a new house to live in, ands we go out two or three times a week on a scouting mission.

And, there's always the other WIP, which I desperately want to finish by the end of the year. I found a model last year who is my inspiration for Raoul, or Lone Wolf. Maybe I don't want to finish the book because I'd have to remove the image?

If I run out of things to do, I have another workshop queued up and ready to go so I can become a better writer.

It's always something.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

What are you doing this week?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Is It Better In Person?

Those of you who follow this blog know how disappointed I was when I had to cancel my plans to attend the RWA conference. I was set to meet up with my fellow Crimson authors at a dinner. I was going to pitch to Courtney Miller. I was going to make new friends and learn new things. I was going to wear new clothes in honor of the event.

None of that happened.

I could be bitter and sad. I was, for a time. Envious? Most definitely. But then, I realized I could pitch to any agent I wanted to via email, not just the one who had a time slot open. And the beauty of it is I can rework the email query as much as is needed. You don't get a second chance to impress during an 8-minute pitch. I could touch base with the Crimson authors via our special loop, any time I wanted. As a result of making new friends this past year, I'm going to take part in a Facebook party this coming week with my new friend, E. E. Burke. I've learned new things about craft by taking a Margie Lawson online workshop a few months ago. As for the new clothes–it's time to start purging my closet anyway, so the new duds will come in handy.

So, now I bet you're asking, if I can do all the above from the comfort of my computer, why would I even bother to attend the RWA Conference?

For the buzz. For the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Nora Roberts, Jayne Anne Krentz, Christie Craig, Lisa Klepas, and Jill Shalvis. For the opportunity to meet a publisher, not at a pitch session, but over a glass of wine. For the chance to network with other authors, who are also avid readers. For the workshops, where I can learn how this industry is changing and how to be flexible enough to keep up.

For the camaraderie of being in a place with 2,000 other like-minded souls who don't mind if your head's in the clouds, and the floor isn't swept.

Yes, I got a lot of work done last week. And I got to sleep in my own bed. I didn't have to be shoehorned into an airline seat for hours, or sit on a tarmac waiting for a gate to open at LaGuardia. I got to watch the awards ceremony in my nightgown instead of a fancy dress.

But I would have traded it all for a chance to be at Nationals. Next year.

Look out, San Diego.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Getting Ready For Nationals

There's been a lot of chatter on various blog sites and loops about getting ready for Nationals–what to pack, what swag to take, how to pace yourself, what workshops to attend, what events to not miss. It's all very exciting and overwhelming, even if it's not your first rodeo.

But what about those of us who can't attend? Up until a month ago, I was an attendee. I had put together my wardrobe, ordered my swag, confirmed my airline reservations. Then, an ambulance ride and emergency surgery made all those plans evaporate, like morning dew. Now, as I watch the excitement build for those who will attend, I'm trying to temper my envy with a game plan of my own.

I think I'll call it Becky's Version Of Nationals. It goes something like this:

Tuesday–Instead of spending the day in transit, I'll write 1,000 words in my final book in the Cotillion Ball Series, which currently stands at 3700 words. It's going to feature the youngest girl in the family, Saffron, who was seven when the series started. This book begins during the height of the Civil War conflict and Saffron is fifteen, missing out on her Cotillion ball and resenting how the war has impacted her life. She's still young, and spunky, and she'll be fun to write. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday–Add another 1,000 words to the manuscript. Review my notes from the Margie Lawson workshop I recently took.

Thursday–Keeping my head down, I'll add another 1,000 words, and will begin to solicit for reviews for Book 8, A Widow's Salvation. I saw a sneak peek of the cover last week, and think it's my best yet. Can't wait to show everyone. And the book is a departure of sorts for me, since Pepper Brown is a thirty-one year-old war widow with three sons to contend with. Instead of showing her strength by being a vocal advocate of social causes, she has an inner strength that equals or exceeds that of her sisters. The book will be out in September.

Friday–It's my day on the History Imagined blog, and I'm talking about an often overlooked museum in Ohio–The National First Ladies' Library in Canton, OH, and their featured exhibit on Forgotten First Ladies. I'll drum up some traffic for this great blog site, and respond to comments throughout the day. Oh, and I'll add another 1,000 words to the WIP.

Saturday–Okay, I'll give in to the jitters today. Two of my chapter mates–AE Jones and Jane Lynne Daniels–are up for RITA awards, both in the Paranormal category. Who knew Cleveland could be so scary? And, AE's also up for Best First Book. My sister and I will settle in at the computer at 8 with a big bowl of popcorn, and watch the proceedings with our fingers crossed. No writing today, but hopefully, rejoicing, before it's all over.

Sunday–I'll finish out the Nationals experience by adding another 1,000 words to the manuscript, which will get me close to 10,000 words by the end of the week. Instead of spending my days in workshops and networking with fellow authors, I've kept my nose to the grindstone and my WIP on track, making my deadline a workable one.

But I'm still envious. And counting the days till the San Diego conference.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Paring Down

Every author has his or her own writing habits that they fall into. Repetition, overuse of the same body language, tired, worn out cliches, that type of thing. These habits are okay for a first draft, but when you're in editing mode, as I've been these last few weeks, it's time to take the scissors to the manuscript, and cut all these bad habits from your work. Word count goes out the window in favor of producing an end product that's lean, where every scene advances the story line, where every word and every paragraph is essential to the story.

The same scenario is playing out in my life as well as in my manuscripts. My home was placed on the market last week, with the end goal of downsizing to a single story home that's more easily navigable for those of us with joint problems, and easier to take care of. So, I've started paring down my possessions and decluttering the house. I've almost got a handle on the clutter, but the paring down of what's accumulated over the years will take awhile. My rule of thumb is if I haven't looked at the box or item, or worn the article of clothing in the six years I've lived here, it's time to toss it. I'm cutting out all the repetition, all the worn out cliches, all the paperwork from years ago, etc. It's time to get mean and lean, since I'm hoping to decrease my floor space by about half. I will brutally edit all extraneous material from my life, just as I do with my manuscripts.

Big changes are coming in my life. My edits went back yesterday to the publisher. Book 8 in my series–A Widow's Salvation–was the most difficult book for me to write in the series, but I think the end product is one of my best.

Now I can only hope the move to a smaller house, which will be the most difficult move of my life,
will end up being one of my best decisions ever.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Big Jigsaw Puzzle

I'm eyebrow-deep in editing the eighth book in my Cotillion Ball Series. You'd think, with each successive book I write, that the edits would become fewer, and, to some degree, that is true. Punctuation, typos, proper use of words has become easier, and this manuscript is relatively clean from that standpoint. But content? That's a different kettle of fish.

My editor suggested that I take a pivotal scene from the back of the book and move it forward. Easy-peasy, I thought to begin with. Then I read what happened before and after the scene as it's currently written, and it's not easy at all to move it. Every scene in a novel is part of a big jigsaw puzzle, with each piece fitting seamlessly, if you're lucky, into the next so the story will flow. By pulling a piece out of the middle and repositioning it, you must also reposition all the surrounding pieces so they still fit together.

I've been thinking about how to accomplish this for several days now, since I think the editor is right, and the scene would be better if it were moved forward. I've been looking at the picture on the outside of the puzzle box for awhile, and think I've got it figured out. Now I just need to implement it.  I'll go back to the beginning of the manuscript starting on Monday, add in a few paragraphs to set up the pivotal scene, move it up, shore up my timeline and make sure Charlotte and George's opinions on the matter remain consistent, since they are Pepper's sounding boards during her process from war widow to satisfied bride.

After I finish tinkering, I'll go back and read the manuscript through one more time–the ad nauseum phase of any edit–and, once I'm sure it's polished to a spit shine, I'll send it back to the publisher. And I must accomplish this by July 13.

No pressure.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lots Of Firsts This Week

Yes, dear friends, it's been one week of triumphs. First steps on my new hip, first BookBub ad for the Cotillion Ball Saga bundle of three books which vaulted sales into the top 100, first novella trending well on Amazon. All good things.
Your Deals  
The Cotillion Ball Saga by Becky LowerThe Cotillion Ball Saga By Becky Lower
Ginger, Heather, and Basil Fitzpatrick were raised to follow their hearts — even if it means defying all of society’s conventions. Passion, suspense, and adventure combine in these captivating novels set in the tumultuous years before the Civil War. 
$0.99 Originally: $2.99 
Amazon   Barnes & Noble 
Category: Historical Romance

I live in a Cape Cod house in a quaint college town, which has two bedrooms upstairs and two down. There were several reasons why I bought it, not the least of which was for the wide-board pine floors in the two massive upstairs bedrooms. Having lived in small spaces for so many years, I reveled in the largesse of the master bedroom upstairs. Sadly, those days are gone. The house no longer works for me, since it's best that I avoid stairs now. Thankfully, my great neighbor gathered the troops and got the bed moved down. So, now I am living all on the first floor.

My first novella, An Unconventional Courtship, is selling well this week, too. It was such a fun story to write, since I am already very aware of the personalities of Charlotte and George, the heads of the Fitzpatrick family. Now I got to explore exactly how they got that way. One of the reviewers said the book was quirky and fun, which pleased me immensely, since that's exactly who they are.

While I was laying around with my bum hip, I took a workshop from one of the masters in the industry. I applied her principles to the next book in the series, number 8. The edits are due back to me on Monday, and my editor told me her suggestions are very light, which was a first. So that worked, too.

Like I said, a week of firsts. What will next week be like?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

One Step Forward, Fourteen Back

I know you're all tired of hearing about my hip dilemma, and I wish, believe me, to have better news. But the sad truth is I'm starting over again. My hip dislocated a second time and this time I went down hard. Now it's not just my hip but my shoulder. Surgery for the hip is scheduled for Monday, and a cortisone shot helped the shoulder. One thing at a time.

Anyway, I'll be in the hospital until at least Wednesday, and then on heavy drugs, so I'm counting on you, loyal followers, to help me announce my 99 cent deal of the bundle of the first 3 books. Here are some sample Facebook posting and tweets you can use, but by all means, create your own if you feel so inclined. And email all your friends, since this is such a deal–3 complete novels, 660 pages total, for only 99 cents. The sale is from June 24-July 1 only.


Start at the Beginning. The Cotillion Ball Series features the nine siblings in the Fitzpatrick family who each find their true love. If you’re new to this terrific series, here’s a great way to start. The first three books are being offered for 99 pennies from June 24-July 1.

If you’re a fan of Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, you’ll enjoy the Cotillion Ball Series, about the nine Fitzpatrick children who come of age in New York in the years leading up to the Civil War. The first 3 books in the series are being offered at $.99 from June 24-July 1.


Start at the beginning. A bundle of the 1st 3 books in the Cotillion Ball Series. #BookBoost Only $.99 from 6//24-31.

Will Ginger and Joseph overcome the odds? That book, and 2 others, in this bundle for only $.99. #history

Wagons West as Temperance tries to get her family to Oregon and Basil does everything he can to keep her in St. Louis.

Can an abolitionist and a slave owner ever find true love? This book and 2 others in this bundle. #BookBoost

I will repay your generosity any way I can upon my return to health. Thank you for being so supportive, energetic and helpful in my time of need.