Sunday, December 16, 2018

Putting The Pieces Together

Like a lot of writers, I'm absolutely addicted to jigsaw puzzles. In fact, my day doesn't start until I finish the free daily Magic Jigsaw puzzle. There's always a point during the solving of the puzzle where there are more pieces scattered about than are locked into place and you begin to lose hope that it will come together. But then, as you keep moving like colored pieces together, a few more lock in and before you know it, you've figured it out and the final pieces come together quickly.

This is a lot like the process of writing a story. You start out with the borders in place and locked down. You know how the story starts, what the conflicts are, and how it will end. But the middle pieces can get confusing regardless of whether you plot or not, and you'll soon end up with more pieces scattered about with no solution in mind. Then, the eureka moment happens and you can see what the big picture is supposed to look like.

That happened this past week with my current WIP. I'd written two versions of the story prior to this one, and am picking up pieces from each of the first two to use in the third version. I had bits and pieces scattered all over the place with no big picture idea of how to put it all together. Then, like magic, a piece fit nicely to what I had already locked in place, and then another. I think I can put the remaining pieces together without too much of a hitch. It's a good feeling, and I race through the Magic Jigsaw Puzzle in order to get to the puzzle that is my story.

There are days when I struggle to write, and then there are days like what happened last week, when I remember the reason I show up for work every day. Because it's fun to spin out a story and see if, in the end, it makes sense and makes someone else as happy as it made me when I wrote it.

Today's the last day to take advantage of the big Christmas sale over at Prairie Rose Publications. The revised The Reluctant Debutante is only 99 cents, but there are many more at that price or even Free! Take a look here:

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Resetting The Needle

My nephew recently made the big decision to move from one coast to the other in an attempt to get a better-paying job. As with any major move, be it across the country or from one profession to another, there will be bumps along the way. In his case, he's had to fly back to the west coast to drive his car here by himself, since the car transport company was a bust.

His dilemma got me to thinking about my own moves this past year. Yes, there were some snags with the physical move from Ohio to North Carolina, but the bigger move was the closing of Crimson Romance, who held eleven of my titles. While I waited for the rights to those titles to be reverted back to me, it's given me time to reflect on my career and which direction to take it–to reset the needle, as it were.

I've got plans for 2019 that will reveal what I've been working on while I have settled into my new home. While you're waiting, I'll share with you a scene from my WIP. This young lady came out of the shadows of my mind and wandered into the scene with our brooding hero. She's not his lady love, but she reminds him of her. Let me know what you think of Lady Philippa.

“What is wrong with the gent yer father chose?” If she had a good reason for wanting to head to another country, Angus could offer his help. 
She held up her hand and began ticking off the reasons there. “First, he’s ancient. More than twice my age. Second, he’s quite ugly and wrinkled. Third, he’s already had three wives, all of whom died suspiciously. I have no wish to be Number Four.” 
“How did his wives perish?” 
“Word is, he beat them every time they produced a child who was not a son. He now has eight daughters, who all need dowries to marry, and he’s gambled his fortune away.” Philippa shuddered. “He needs the money my father will bestow on him for taking me off his hands.” 
Angus rolled his shoulders. And made his decision. “What kin I do to help ye?” 
Even in the dark, he could see the sparkle in her eyes. “My plan is to dress as a boy and stow away on one of the ships. I can cut my hair and bind my breasts, but I need some clothes, befitting my new role. And then, I’ll need some help getting on board.” 
In a flash, he saw Lily, dressed as a boy with her hair cut short. But Lily didn’t want to masquerade as a boy and Philippa did. “I’ll git ye some clothes and help you git on board. Jest tell me where to meet ya.” 
She laid her hand on his arm. “Midnight, at Billingsgate Dock, on Lower Thames Street. Do you know where it is?” 
“I’ll find me way.” 
Philippa stretched up on her toes and grazed his cheek with a kiss. “And you can call me Pip. That’s going to be my new name.”
He grinned. “Alright, Pip me lad. Midnight, it is. We both have things to do.” 
She glanced at the entrance to the ballroom. “We’ve been out here far too long and my father will be wondering where I’ve gone to. I’ll head back inside first.” She shifted her gaze to him. “Please don’t let me down.” 
“I canna. I gave me word. Go on with ya, Pip.” 

She strode to the doorway with a strong stride, never glancing back. Angus followed her movement. She could probably pass as a boy for a while. Long enough, anyway, to be off on her new adventure. He ran a hand over his cheek, where she had kissed him. What the hell had he gotten himself into? Could he serve jail time for his actions as an accomplice? What would his uncle say if he found out? His thoughts flicked back to Lily. Here he was, helping one woman get into boy’s clothing. And every thought he had of Lily was how to get her out of hers. 

Remember, this is a work in progress. I may cut her out completely from the story before I'm done. It all depends on your comments. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

What To Wear?

Tonight I'm heading to my first-ever function at the country club in my community. I've never thought of myself as a part of the country club set, so I've been puzzling for days over what to wear this evening. Fashion etiquette has evolved, or in some cases, disappeared, making it impossible to know what is appropriate attire for a country club Christmas party.

When I was young, fashion was simple. You wore dresses to church and school. When you came home from either, you immediately had to change out of them and into play clothes. Often on Sundays, we'd go from church to my mom's sister's house, so Mom packed play clothes for us to wear during these visits. How times have changed.

I'm writing books set in the Regency era right now, and the fashion dictates are strictly adhered to, if you are lucky enough to be a member of the Ton. Often, a great portion of your day was spent changing from one appropriate gown to another, with help from a full staff who took care of your clothing. Thank goodness, how times have changed.

My brother was in town recently and we stopped into a men's clothing store in Pinehurst. While he was trying on very expensive jackets, I chatted with the salesman, who told me that even though I work from home, I still needed to dress as if I were at an office. I countered his argument by saying I write romance so it's only appropriate that I show up for work in my pajamas. He got a sly grin on his face, and said no, I should show up for work in the finest lingerie. The man did have a point.

So, while I ponder what to wear this evening, I ask you: What are you wearing?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Dangers of Tryptophan

Most of America celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday. As I had done Thanksgiving early, I had the pleasure of eating some really great turkey soup instead of the traditional full-blown meal. However, the outcome was the same. I watched the Macy's parade, snoozed through a couple football games, and had another bowl of soup. The lack of energy was palpable. Even Mary, my little dog, only wanted to snuggle and sleep.

My list of things to accomplish during the week stayed static for a day. I had managed to get some writing done before I hit the soup, but not much got marked off after noon. Rather than beat myself up for not getting enough done, I decided to give myself a break. After all, some of my best ideas come when I'm not expecting them. A little down time may be just what my story needs.

Next week, I'll begin again with a new list of items to take care of during the week. Things I didn't think I'd ever do, like get a passport, buy a new suitcase and get my nephew moved from one coast to the other. But the unexpected is what makes life exciting. I hope the remainder of your year is filled with all the excitement and joy of the season. We're in the home stretch.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

What To Do?

Most of us who write walk around holding imaginary conversations in our heads with our characters. Sometimes these one-sided talks are lively and productive, but sometimes, our characters have minds of their own.

Such is the case with my latest couple–Lily and Angus. I've tried to write their story three different ways now, and just when I think I've got the right formula, one of them does something to totally overturn my plans. Their mutual attraction, upon which neither can act, is about to kill me.

I do some of my best plotting while floating in the pool at my nearby health club.

I haven't been able to get there for the past week, due to family being in town and other obligations. But I plan to go this afternoon, to ponder which road to take Lily down while I float in an Olympic-sized salt-water pool. If I don't drown, I just might have another chapter to write upon my return. Or maybe Angus (or Lily) will hold my head under the water.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Turkey Day

My family celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, a whole two weeks ahead of the actual holiday. Because we're scattered from coast to coast, we've made it our mission to celebrate our favorite holiday of the year whenever we can manage to get three or more of us in the same place at the same time. This has become increasingly important since the deaths of our parents and the fact the five of us kids aren't getting any younger. My brother and his wife flew in from California for a few days, so my sister and her husband came over from their home in North Carolina, as did my niece, her husband and their two children. It was a packed house. I borrowed chairs from the neighbors and bought paper plates. We spent the day in the kitchen making our favorite dishes and sharing stories about growing up together in Ohio.

After all, it's not so much about the day as it is the people you share it with. Happy early Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Relaxed and Reinvigorated

I indulged last week and took four days off to go see a friend in the mountains. It was a good time for a break, since I'd just sent my current manuscript off to my agent. I took my laptop, but only so I could keep on top of my overflowing email inbox. I didn't do a lick of writing, either for my next manuscript or my side hustle job. Instead, I took a hike in the beautiful Asheville Arboretum and marveled at the red and orange colors of the trees.

Those who know me and my schedule know this behavior was very unlike me. But as it turns out, it was the best thing I could do. I was stuck, for the first time in my writing career, on where to take my next story. I told my friend of my dilemma and even though she wasn't a writer, she is an artistic person and gave me some really good ideas on how to approach my story line. I came back to the computer raring to go.

So, one chapter into my newest manuscript and three articles written for the side hustle, I'm back in the groove. And if I take a break, I can look at my pictures and I'm immediately back in the mountains. It was fun and I can't wait to do it again.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away for a bit.

Oh, and if you haven't already done so, please vote on Tuesday. Americans are blessed to have the right for each person over the age of 18 to cast a vote, so please exercise your civic duty.