Sunday, March 31, 2013

What I Learned About Writing From My Dog

Anyone who has followed my blog for awhile knows I'm big on analogies, and can usually find a way to equate the writing process to taking a hike, pruning your plants, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and the like. What I didn't expect was for my dog to teach me about writing.

 I rescued my dog, Mary, two years ago. She had been a breed dog in a puppy mill for five years, and was past her prime. For five long years, she had been in a cage and was picked up only to be inseminated, or to have her babies taken from her.

I studied her behavior as she got used to the idea that she was safe and loved, I couldn’t help but compare her journey to mine as a writer. It’s a bit of a stretch, but let me try to explain.

I have a big back yard, but when Mary first arrived, she would explore it only in three-foot circles. She roamed the entire yard, three feet at a time. As beginning writers, we tend to go in circles, too, as we labor to learn our craft. As Mary became more confident, the circles got bigger. Just like a writer with a few contests under her belt. More confidence translates to trying new things, new genres, and new ideas. Our confidence grows each time a great review of our book gets posted on Amazon or Goodreads.

The big break with Mary came when she was introduced to my sister’s dog. Harry taught her typical dog behavior—how to run up and down stairs, how to roll in the grass, how to play with toys. Things Mary was not exposed to in her puppy-mill environment. As authors, our big break comes when we meet and learn from other authors who have been successful.

Today, Mary would rather hang with Harry than with me. She still gets a bit nervous when I want to pick her up, but she goes to her safe place—her bed—and she’s okay with it. She gets to hear all my stories before anyone else does. The day I saw her running around the house with a red pen in her mouth was the day I knew she was the right match for me, since she embodies Gertrude Stein. I’m a better person, and a better writer, for having Mary in my life.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Gearing Up

May is going to be a busy month. My third installment in the Cotillion Ball series, Banking on Temperance, releases on May 6. Later in the month, my baby-boomer contemporary, Blame It On The Brontes, is due to be released. And, all the advice I’ve been getting lately is to keep your head down and continue to write, so I’m working on another contemporary, which I hope to have done by June. Add to that, a new women’s fiction line just emerged from another publisher, and they’ve asked me to resubmit some of my work. Be careful what you wish for.
So, I’m using the month of April to get my review requests in and my guest blogs lined up. You’d think I’d have a handle on it now, after releasing two books, and I am in better shape than when the first one came out. But garnering press coverage for a contemporary romance, and a baby-boomer one at that, is a whole different experience from talking about an historical. There are genre-specific blog sites, and review sites, and if you don’t do your homework, you’ll end up getting a 2-star review because you sent your book to an erotica site, and your book definitely doesn’t live up to that billing. Believe me.

From May on, my life will be crazy. I’ll have to set my alarm so I remember to get up from the computer every couple hours and let the dog out. Then, there’s our chapter conference in mid-May, where, for the first time, I can sit at the published authors’ table and sign my books. How exciting.

I do my best work when I’m juggling a lot of different things, but sometimes it’s nice to stop for a few minutes and just smell my roses, too. Even though spring has been AWOL in Ohio so far, it’s coming. And I can’t wait for my roses to bloom again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Whispering Pines

Last week, I spent some time in North Carolina. A nice break from the harsh Ohio weather, true. But, I was under a deadline. My edits were due for Banking On Temperance, my third book in the Cotillion series, no later than two days after I got back. There was no way I could meet the deadline without taking my work with me on vacation.

My friend drove the leg of the trip from Virginia to North Carolina and listened to my story as I read it aloud to her. It took the entire six hours down and six back to finish the book. I was a virtual audio book. We caught a few mistakes together and separately, and my friend’s favorite line from my book was also my favorite one, so it all worked well.

Once we got to our destination, I turned off the computer, put my edits aside, and enjoyed a couple days of relaxation. The house we stayed at backed up to a peaceful lake where Canadian geese were splashing around, taking a break on their way north, and was in the town of Whispering Pines—I don’t know of any other town with such a sweet name. It makes me smile just to say it.

All that R&R revved my imagination, which is what vacations are supposed to do. I had a night when a scene from a new story was doing the continuous loop thing in my head. So, I broke my own rule of vacation and turned the computer on. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep until I got it down. It’s going to be a good story, I think.

Oh, and our favorite line from the new book? This happens when my hero, Basil, and the heroine, Temperance, are caught in a sudden snowstorm and are forced to spend the night together. In an attempt to be a gentleman, he offers her the bed and moves to the chair by the wood stove, which isn’t throwing off too much heat, so he’s not only cold as a stone, he’s hard as a rock.

The book will be out on May 6.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

TRR's Blog Hop--March 1-31, 2013

Over 400 authors are participating in The Romance Review's blog tour to celebrate their second anniversary. There will be games and prizes all month long, so click on the icon to the right, visit a couple blog sites, and be sure to come back here for my giveaway on March 15.

On March 15, for 24 hours, you will have the opportunity to answer a question about my book, The Reluctant Debutante.This is the blurb where you'll find the answer, which, when answered on TRR's site, will enter you into the contest for a copy of the print edition of the book. You need to register and be logged into The Romance Review's site in order to play, but registration is free and easy.

See if you can figure it out:

In 1855 New York, Ginger Fitzpatrick has absolutely no interest in taking part in the newest rage in America—the Cotillion Ball. Instead, 
Ginger would rather be rallying for women’s rights; at least until she 
meets her brother’s best friend from St. Louis, a dark mysterious man named Joseph Lafontaine, who ignites her passion and makes her question if love and marriage is such a ridiculous notion after all. What she and the rest of New York’s high society don’t realize is that Joseph is half Ojibwa Indian, and therefore, totally unsuitable for marriage to a fine, cultured young lady.

In this Edith Wharton meets Julia Quinn tale, a young woman rebels against high society and opts for a life in which she creates her own set of rules.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rock & Roll!

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of romances about rock and roll stars. Maybe it’s because I live near Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that I’m noticing this trend. I even wrote a time-travel about a woman who was married to a rock star, so I’ve jumped on the band wagon, too. Or in this case, the tour bus.

All of which got me to thinking of the very first concerts I ever went to. I have to admit, I cut my teeth on quality groups. My very first concert was in 1965, and it was The Rolling Stones. It took place in a relatively small auditorium in Cleveland, and the Stones were so unknown in the states that you could walk right up to the stage and take pictures. Mick even mugged for my camera.

The following year, my sister and I stayed home while our parents went on vacation. We were supposed to look for summer jobs. But instead, we got in the car they left us, and drove to Ann Arbor, MI to a small club where we saw The Who, complete with smashing guitars, flying drumsticks and pyrotechnics. We picked up some hitchhikers in Cleveland who helped us with gas money, but we barely had enough money or gas to limp home. But what a great time!

So, I guess I’ve answered my own question. The reason rock stars make such good romance heroes and heroines is because of the rich stories that evolve from their very existence. If you can provide a memory that spans decades, that’s truly something.

So, tell me. What was your first concert experience?