Sunday, February 19, 2017

How Selling A House Is Like Revising A Manuscript

Most everyone who reads this blog is aware I've been trying to sell my house for some time now. Lately, it's been off the market, but the idea remained in the far recesses of my mind. Kind of like an idea for a story. You know how it is. Your idea begins with a lightbulb moment,
a big what if? Same with putting a house up for sale. The house is too big, too many stairs, so why not sell it? What if I could move to a warmer climate? And so it begins. You toy with the idea for a while, weigh the pros and cons, come up with plot points, action to be taken, create one list after another and finally, decide to put pen to paper.

And just like with writing a manuscript, sometimes you need to step back and revise your work. Often times, in my case. I'm taking a workshop right now that's making me look at my writing in a completely different way, try out new approaches to the work. It's making me a better writer, one scene at a time. As for the house, I did a thorough edit of each room, removing clutter, making it as clean and polished as I could before I let anyone see the place. And it worked! I thought I had a completed transaction, or nearly so. The couple had visited multiple times, they mentally placed their furniture in the various rooms, they were ready to go. We were at lift-off. But then, it all fell apart.

So what do you do? As I see it, there are two options in both writing and selling a house. You can give up, shove the manuscript under the bed, take the house off the market and continue on, unfulfilled on both counts. Or, you can hire a professional who can ease the way for you, show you where you're having trouble, guide you to a finished, polished manuscript which will garner you an agent who will obtain a nice contract with maybe an advance. Same with the house, hire a professional who will obtain a solid contract on your house that will result in enough of a profit to buy something smaller and more suitable.

I choose to go full speed ahead on both counts. I've got one week down on the two-week workshop which is making my manuscript sellable. And I've hired a realtor to help me sell the house. I have high hopes for both projects and hopefully, by summer time, I'll be writing a killer sequel to this manuscript from a warm and sunny locale. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Making A List and Checking It Twice

I am a consummate list maker. I have a grocery list, a general to-do list for household chores and another list for book deadlines. And don't get me started on my list of words not to use in my writing. But I've recently had to add another list to the mix–associated with a possible move.

My best friend told me the other day that if she had as much on her plate as I do, she wouldn't be able to sleep at night. So she's assuming I can sleep. I'm glad she got that impression, but the reality is I wake up every morning long before I want to with nightmares of empty moving boxes interrupting my sleep.

Of course, I'm compiling a list of things to take into account when I'm searching for a new residence. Things like climate, proximity to family, moving expenses, do I want the hassle of home maintenance or is it time for a condo? Then, there's another list for closing down this home's operation. Closing out accounts at the bank, cable company, phone, gas, utilities, etc. Switching over my social security money, turning in the keys to my safe deposit box, etc. The lists are piling up and nothing is getting done. Because until I have a signed contract in my hands, I can't go forward. Even if my new buyers have given me a target date to move.

So right now I'm in limbo, with lists piling up on every side. I will finish out February taking a two-week-long workshop with Lori Wilde, after which my second round edits should be back from my publisher. I'll try to get that signed contract into my hot little hands, and plan my next steps. And I'll keep making lists. It's the only way I'll ever get any sleep between now and May.

How about you? Do you live by your lists, or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Super Monday!

I know it's only Sunday, and there's some big game scheduled for this evening, but I've got Monday on my mind.

My Super bundle of all the Cotillion books plus the novella about Charlotte and George, is on sale until February 12 for only 99 cents. BUT, on Monday, Feb. 6, it's going to be a BookBub ad!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with BookBub, it's a daily email for books that are on sale or free and is sent out to hundreds of thousands of readers. The number of books selected each day are limited, and are highly sought after. The selections are based on whether the author is a known entity, if the book has a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews, or if the sale is really MEGA! I think my bundle qualifies for reasons 2 and 3, and I'm working hard on reason 1. I'll be posting the link to my Facebook page tomorrow, but you can grab your copy today for the 99 cents price. Here's the link, for your convenience:

My advice to get us all through the rest of February in Ohio is to curl up in front of a roaring fire with a good book. Or maybe nine of them, plus a novella. 💋💋

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Becoming a Big 5 Author

Okay, I am well aware I snuck in the back door of Simon & Schuster. But I can still lay claim to the fact I'm part of a Big 5 publisher.

Last week, the changeover was finally completed and the Crimson Romance line became a part of the offerings at S&S. So my Cotillion books appear on the S&S website for the first time. Please take a moment and go to my author page and become a fan. Here's the link:

I'm honored and apprehensive about being the first of the Crimson authors to be promoted by S&S in the form of a BookBub ad. On February 6, the bundle of all nine of the Cotillion books plus the novella about how the parents, Charlotte and George, met and fell in love, will be featured on BookBub. For only 99 cents, this collection can be yours. So if you've been tempted before to buy one of these books, but didn't want to commit to the entire series, here's your chance to scoop them all up for one low price. How can you beat 99 pennies?

As if that's not enough, all the Crimson titles are going on sale for the month of February, our Valentine's gift to you. For only $1.99 you can load up on all those tempting Crimson titles. All e-books are available on Amazon.

In addition to the changeover happening, I've been going through the first round of edits for my second Lobster Cove book through Wild Rose Press. This romance is called Sweet Caroline, and I'm in love with Grant, my hero. Caroline is a cousin of Abbey and Penny, who appeared in the first Lobster Cove book, "Love's In The Cards"and she returns to the Cove after sixteen years away to participate in Penny's wedding to Del.

My editor hates the word ït" and has challenged me to banish it (see what I mean?), rather, banish the word from my manuscript. I never gave much thought to how often the word shows up in my work before now. I'll add it to my naughty word list and will decide whether to put it in the "Don't Use At Any Cost" list or the "Use No More Than Five Times In A Scene" list. I climbed out of the editing cave today in order to work on my Regency, and to begin thinking about my next American historical. However, regardless of what I'm working on, there will be no "It" in the book. I'm proof you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Layering Up

Even though it's winter in Ohio, my post today is not about adding layers of clothing to keep warm during the next few months.

I'm in the midst of revisions to my WIP. Each author has to figure out what style of writing works best for them. For me, I need to write a flash first draft, to get the story line down. I don't want to spend a lot of time writing scene after scene only to decide the story's going off in the wrong direction and have to scuttle my work. So, I start with a beat sheet, a rough outline of the story. Then, I'll write the story quickly, leaving out details, descriptions and possibly even a scene or two. If I can get my story line from Start to Finish without mishap, then it's time for revisions.

Revisions, at least my version of revisions, are different from editing. I sprinkle in a lot of Margie Lawson, a little Blake Snyder, a bit of Stephen King, a healthy dose of things every editor I've worked with has cautioned me about and a little checklist of other things I've developed over the years. I add a lot more words to the story, dig deep into my descriptions, add layers and depth to the story. I hate the process while I'm going through it, but when I go back and read what I started with as opposed to what I've got now, I love the process I've developed. I just have to keep reminding myself of the end product when I want to bang my head on my desk or knock the stuffing out of my Dammit Doll.

After revisions come polishing. Does the timeline flow properly and I haven't celebrated Christmas before Halloween? Does the heroine have the same eye color/hair color from the first scene to the last? Have I grounded the reader by showing them where each scene takes place and who's in the scene?

I check the format, make certain each chapter is about the same in size, and then go through it again. Only when I can read through it and make only minor tweaky changes do I declare it ready to send out into the world. It's properly layered up and ready to go.

Obviously, I spend far more time fixing my first draft then I spend writing the first draft. My method works for me, but for others, it would drive them crazy. You have to keep working at it to figure out what works for you. But I always remember the great advice from Nora Roberts, who long ago said she can fix anything but a blank page. I'd rather work on fixing a lousy draft than have no draft at all.

And, in the immortal words of Stephen King: To Write is human, to Edit is divine.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sex and the Single Girl

I spent a day this past week at the hospital. My sister had to be knocked out for a procedure and I had the role of chauffeur. But it meant waiting for the procedure to be done, recovery, etc. So, as I said, I spent the day there. Fortunately, I remembered to pack my laptop so I could keep on track with my word count for the WIP.

As I madly typed away (I was in the zone!) one of the receptionists came by and said "Are you getting an internet connection here?" Since there is no internet connection available in the hospital, I thought it an odd question, but I politely explained I was a writer and able to do my job even without an internet connection. She then asked me what I wrote, and I told her I write romance.

We romance writers have all faced the moment when we tell someone we write romance and they raise an eyebrow at us as images of bodice rippers enter their heads.
But in this case, her reaction didn't stop at the raised brow. She gave me the once-over and asked "Are you married?"

It took me a moment to process. Was she asking because without marriage there can be no romance? Or was she asking because romance dies once one does get married? Or did she believe there really was, as Ava Miles writes, a Nora Roberts Land, created by unrealistic romance novels and their authors and was blaming me for her unhappy life? Did she think I couldn't possibly know what I was writing about if I'd never been married? I didn't know which thought process to take, so I merely answered her question to the best of my ability. No, I'm not married and what's more, I never have been. But that doesn't mean my life has been devoid of romance.

She didn't seem pleased with my answer. But as I pondered her question, I thought about my romantic life. If I'd gotten married to a high-school or college sweetheart I wouldn't have been able to travel around the country and meet all sorts of men. I wouldn't have had the experience of being intimate with more than one partner. I would not have been able to have so many memories to draw upon when I write.

To prove my point, I moved to another waiting room for a long couple of hours and opened my WIP again. Sitting there, with a TV blaring Days Of Our Lives, three couples involved in different conversations and a receptionist who never put down the phone, I wrote an intense love scene. When I finished the scene, I felt a bit naked and, as I came out of the zone, hoped I hadn't made any accompanying noises while I wrote. I glanced up from the laptop and the three couples weren't paying me any attention, so I figured I had safely navigated the scene. But I was exhausted. Having sex in front of a crowd can wear a girl out.

And I still had to drive us home.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Planning for Quarter One

I begin each year thinking I'm going to slow down a bit. After all, I'm technically 'retired.' But it's my belief that if you slow down, you begin to decline mentally as well as physically. And I can't afford to do that. Take a look at my first quarter of 2017:

Jan. 24--First edits are expected on my new Lobster Cove book, Sweet Caroline.
February 1--Manuscript due to Lori Wilde for her workshop. Miles to go yet on the manuscript.
February 13-24--Workshop with Lori Wilde. 'Intense' is the working word I've been hearing for this workshop.

And that's just the deadlines for my writing.
For the first three months of the year.
Sobering thought.
Might be time for a little of the bubbly.

What, you might ask, will I do in Q2? Here's my list, as of right now:

Solicit an agent with the Regency series idea.
Final edits on Sweet Caroline, begin a promotional campaign.
Start work on book #19

Of course, there are always extra things that come at you out of left field. I'm excited to see what those will be. I have a few clues, but don't want to jinx anything. For now, I'm keeping my head down, my butt in the chair, and getting the word count accomplished.

 You'll be the first to know of anything major. Stay tuned.

Happy 2017, everyone!