Sunday, February 18, 2018

I Can Relate Anything To Editing!

Right now, I'm frantically going through the mortgage process. Form letters, 1099s from years ago, bank statements, etc. If you've ever purchased a home, you know the drill. At the same time, I'm going through my manuscript a chapter at a time, trying to piece together the story line. These two simultaneous events have made me realize how similar they are. Allow me to explain.

My manuscript is a Regency, which has its own set of rules and regulations. I have to stop every time I mention a device and check (had the steam engine been invented by 1823? What style of gown was worn for everyday versus evening? Were shawls used or coats?)
Each detail needs verification. Same thing with the mortgage–every bank in which I have money has to be documented.
This particular manuscript features a Scottish hero, which presents its own set of problems–what do you call the pouch that's part of a proud Scotsman's attire? How is the Scottish accent different from the English accent and how can it be described in words? Same thing with the mortgage documentation. Some of the forms that I need to get to them are 3 feet long. How do you copy something like that? I tried several different times, copying 11 inches at a time and then piecing them all together before finding the same document on-line and could download it as a pdf file. The mortgage company wouldn't accept my copy and paste job but they gladly took the pdf.

Then there's the final checklist.
As I mailed off the package to the mortgage company, I compiled a list of everything that it contained. Only then did I realize I'd forgotten one thing or another. Same with my manuscript. I have a checklist that I use and scour each chapter with, looking for overused words, wrong words, equal representation of the senses, etc. Both of these steps are laborious, tedious, and absolutely essential to getting the proper result.

Hopefully, both the mortgage and the manuscript will be finalized within weeks of one another. Then, I'll wipe the slate clean and move on to the next project–unpacking my stuff that's been in storage for months and unpacking my ideas for the next book in my Regency series and start putting everything together again. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Time To Get Moving

It finally happened! I found a place in North Carolina to call home. It only took four trips, four different realtors, and seeing the inside of more homes than I care to enumerate. Now my days are spent compiling documents for the mortgage company instead of planning my next trip. Much more sane, but still as stressful.

If all goes well, I'll be permanently ensconced in my new dwelling by mid-March and life can return to normal. Which is excellent timing, since the release of my new western, Gambling On Forever, happens on March 1. And the next book in my Regency series, Losing Lily, is due to the publisher in mid April for a June release date. I've been working on that story here at my friend's home and at the local library, but I miss my desk, my reference books, and my own office.

But in the meantime, here's the cover of Gambling On Forever, and a little bit about the book:

When Elise Lafontaine spies her father’s missing saddlebag with its all-important papers slung over the shoulder of a man boarding a riverboat, she follows him, hoping to retrieve the contents. Her plans come to an abrupt halt when she is declined entry to the boat, since she is an unaccompanied female.

From his perch on the top deck, handsome riverboat gambler James Garnett witnesses her denied entry. When she shoots him a look of desperation, how can he resist those deep blue eyes and beautiful face? Of course, he comes to her rescue, pretending she is his fiancĂ©e—and she is allowed aboard.

Begrudgingly, Elise accepts James’s offer of help to win back the saddlebag and the papers by having him play poker on her behalf, certain the thieving Confederate brothers who stole the bag will lose everything to James. But can Elise be happy with only the saddlebag and its contents? Or has she already lost her heart to the dangerous gambler?

After a sultry kiss, Elise steals his money and the papers and jumps overboard. Then the games truly begin. Now, Elise stands at the biggest crossroads of her life—will she go her own way, fiercely independent and alone? Or will she wager everything on the man who holds her heart--GAMBLING ON FOREVER?

And an excerpt, for your reading pleasure:

“Delta Queen, here I come,” she whispered, hoping she wasn’t making the biggest mistake of her life. She could handle wide-open spaces, and campfires under the stars while rounding up wild horses, but on a big, beautiful large riverboat, a floating palace? This would definitely be a challenge for her, since she’d have to act as a refined lady. She touched her whip again and hoped she wouldn’t need to unfurl it. The nerves tightening in her stomach told her she had just entered uncharted territory and the hairs on her neck prickled again. Never a good sign.
She followed the two men up the gangplank, her fingers itching to yank her father’s saddlebag from the shoulder of the one man. She’d need to be patient and choose the best time to steal it back, and the moment of boarding would not be the best time. Better to wait until they were underway, floating down the Mississippi. Then, those two couldn’t get away. She’d nab it when they weren’t looking, just as they’d taken it from her father. Then, she’d jump overboard and be gone before morning. She took a deep breath and fisted her hands to prevent them from reaching for the bag.
The pair paid the steward for passage on the freight deck, which meant they were saving most of her father’s money for the gaming tables if they were willing to give up a bed in favor of sleeping on top of cotton and tobacco bales. She hoped she had enough money for an actual stateroom.
“Are you with the gentlemen?” The steward asked, raking his gaze over her before glancing at the men.
“Those two?” Elise pointed to the men still standing close by. “No, sir. I’m traveling alone and I’d like a stateroom, please, if the fare isn’t too much.”
The steward seemed confused. “Ma’am, I’m sorry. Our policy is to allow women aboard only if they are accompanied by a gentleman.”
“That’s preposterous!” Elise tried for a smile, hoping to charm the steward. “My money’s as good as any gentleman’s.”
“Your money is not the issue, ma’am. We don’t allow unaccompanied ladies on board. It’s company policy.” The steward clutched his papers to his chest, unaffected by her smile.
One clean-shaven, well-dressed man stood on the top deck, calmly smoking a cheroot and stroking the black string tie around his neck as he surveyed the crowd coming aboard. Elise pleaded with her eyes for the man to take action. She might be going from the frying pan into the fire but at least he’d taken a bath in the past year. She’d take her chances. She only hoped he would.

No Buy Link yet, but it should be available by the last week of February. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Anywhere I Hang My Hat...

Many years ago, when I was doing the trade show circuit, I spent possibly more time in hotels than I did in my home. One of the men I traveled with objected to my use of the word "home" to indicate my hotel room. I never could see the difference, because to me, as long as I had my privacy where I could compose my thoughts, I considered it "home." Years later, I still don't see the difference. As long as you're comfortable in your surroundings, you should feel at home.

Call it my gypsy spirit.

Right now, I'm camping out at a friend's house in Virginia–my temporary home base. When I travel to North Carolina in search of a new home of my own, I stay at the same motel, in the same room–my temporary home base there. Both of these places feel like home to me. I know where things are. I can find my clothes and cosmetics in each place, there's wifi so I can work, my little dog, trooper that she is, feels at home too, as long as I cart her bed in and out of the various places.

Right now, I'm on my way back to Virginia after what I hope has been a successful house-hunting trip. Maybe my gypsy days will soon be at an end. But now I'm thinking about gypsies and how I can weave them into a plot line. Stay tuned. On both counts.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Up Is The Only Option

I'll admit, it's been over 30 years since I've searched for a rental apartment. I should have guessed the old rules went out the window years ago. Now, in order to qualify for a place, you have to have 3x the income as what your rent payment would be. What planet are these folks living on?

I've had to do some fancy footwork
and be rejected already twice in order to put my house in order. It puzzles me that you can have hundreds of thousands in the bank (not that I do) but if you don't fit the formula for debt to income ratio, you can't play. It's been an eye-opening experience.

I'm headed back to NC next week from my base in VA, where I'll try once again to find an apartment that feels like a home and will not mind my little dog.

It's kind of like writing a synopsis before you write a story. You can have the best plot line figured out in your head, put it down on paper and it all makes sense, but when you actually start writing the story, things happen to twist your plot line around. You're left dangling until you can figure it out. Which is what I'm trying to do right now. My only option is to go up from here.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Plot Twists

Lacey London, best selling British author, recently posted this quote on her Twitter page. I think it describes my life perfectly.

So, I'm moving on. The actual move part of the equation didn't go exactly to plan, but Mary and I made it through the snow and right now are scouting out homes in North Carolina. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of upending my life, I'm calling the experience "research" and I'm sure bits and pieces of it will show up in my writing from time to time. 

On to my next adventure!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

One Last Kick In The Teeth

As a native Ohioan, I thought I knew everything about snow when I was growing up. But I was away from Lake Erie when I lived here in my youth and had not experienced lake-effect snows. Here's Wikipedia's explanation of the phenomenon: Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when a cold air mass moves across long expanses of warmer lake water, warming the lower layer of air which picks up water vapor from the lake, rises up through the colder air above, freezes and is deposited on the leeward (downwind) shores.

To say my move didn't go according to plan would be an understatement. My movers decided to delay my departure by a day, and then waited until the snow really began to come down to start packing. I had a premonition about this and booked a room at a nearby hotel for the night, but still it was a white-knuckle 4-wheel drive for ten miles.

So yesterday, I decided to take off in the morning, heading out of Ohio and barreling southeast as fast as my car could take me. But Ohio wasn't done with me yet. A band of lake-effect snow hit hard and fast on the Ohio turnpike, cutting visibility down to zero for what seemed like miles. One last kick in the teeth, slap in the face, whatever euphemism you prefer.

After way too many hours in the car, and with Mary faking sleep so she wouldn't have to get out and pee in 16 degree weather with howling winds and snow pelting her, we arrived at my friend's house in Virginia. The first leg of the trip is complete. Where the adventure will take us next is still up in the air. But the migration has begun.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Down To The Wire

How appropriate that my final full week in Ohio paraded temperatures in the single digits. As if I needed a reminder of why I'm moving. Of course, North Carolina got pelted by snow this past week, too, so it's slowed down my search for a new home.

For the moment, and probably for the next few weeks, I'll be a homeless person. Just me and Mary, hanging out in our car and on the streets. No, not really. But things haven't gone exactly as planned. My dad had a saying when faced with adversity. "Everything happens for a reason." I hear his voice every time my plans don't work out and I start to panic at my situation. Everything will work out, and I'll have a wonderful story to write when the time is right.

Which leads me to today's blog topic: Mail Order Brides. Can you imagine the strength of character each of these ladies had in order to even contemplate moving to a strange land, to marry a strange man, and live the remainder of her days carving out a life without the support system of a family and friends? How bad must their circumstances have been to even think becoming a mail order bride would be better? No wonder it's such a hot trope for romance writers.

I feel absolutely spoiled by my change of venue. I can research the part of the country where I've decided to head, visit several times beforehand and take the pulse of the town, even locate new quarters and begin to put down roots. All without the anxiety of having to marry a man I've never met.

Not that meeting a new man is off the table. I am a romance author after all.