Sunday, June 9, 2019

Emancipation Day

Since February, when a character from a manuscript I was working on, appeared on the scene and wouldn't leave me alone, I've been working on her story. The aforementioned manuscript, from whence she emerged, has been pushed under the bed. At least something good came out of that whole experience.

The story takes place during the Revolutionary War in America. I wasn't that well versed in Revolutionary history before, other than knowing the basics, so I had a huge learning curve. And the story begins in England, where my character sails from, so I had to familiarize myself with sailing vessels used in the late 1700s. And then, there was Boston. Other than the Tea Party and the Common, I didn't know much about that place, either. But I love historicals where I take two normal people who happen to be living through perilous times and sink them into the history. Think Rose and Jack on the Titanic and you'll understand.

Boston Tea Party

Anyway, in the course of my research I learned Bostonians celebrate something called "Evacuation Day" every March, even to this day. That's the day the British ships left the harbor for good, having been intimidated by the large number of cannons pointed at the harbor from Dorchester Heights. The Brits didn't know there was no ammunition to back up the bold presence. They also didn't know some of the cannons were simply painted logs, made to resemble a cannon. The Brits couldn't take the chance, so they ended their blockade and evacuated the area.
Cannons being moved to Boston from upstate New York. 

My main character has been fighting her own battle. She's desperate to escape the rule of her father, who wants to marry her off to a man with great wealth. She'd rather marry for love. As she stands in the harbor watching the ships leave and hearing it referred to as Evacuation Day, she thinks instead it should be called Emancipation Day. Because she's found love and her father can no longer run her life.

The manuscript is now finished, except for writing a synopsis. So in a way, this is my Emancipation Day. These characters, and this story line, have been a daily part of my life since February, and I'm ready to move on. My next idea also sprang from one of those manuscripts taking up residence under the bed. A high-priced English courtesan decides to migrate to America. What could go wrong?

Stick a pin in that for a couple months.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

On To The Next

I am pleased to say I finished the second read-through of my current WIP. This "fingers off the keyboard" reading went fairly well, and the book that has consumed my days and my time in the pool where I like to think about the next scene, is done. At least this phase of it is done. It's now in the hands of my beta readers. I'll wait for their comments, make their suggested changes, and send it off to my publishers of choice to see what they have to say about it. Fingers crossed!










Besides meeting that milestone, I worked with Prairie Rose on the new cover for the next book in the Cotillion Ball series to be released--A Widow's Salvation. What do you think of it?






And the last major event of the week happened by accident. I noticed one of my books was missing on my Amazon page and queried the publisher. They told me they had reverted rights to the book two weeks ago, but sent the reversion letter to an old email address that I have requested be changed three times. How hard can it be? Anyway, I have the rights back to Blame It On The Brontes, and can republish it, which I will probably do on my own. I need a new cover, and am looking forward to it. I'm thinking a beach, flip flops and sea glass jewelry.



June is upon us, and in the south that means hot, sweltering weather. I'll leave the golf to others and spend my days in my Carolina Room, taking care of business. And when I do manage to get to the pool, I'll dream up the next book to fill my creative space for the next four months.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Contest Season

A lot of people ask me why I still enter writing contests. After all, I've published 19 books, and written plenty more that will never come out from under the bed. Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

It takes a great amount of courage to enter a contest.After all, you're asking for people to tear into the story you've poured yourself into for months and find things wrong with it.  I'm not a trophy collector and don't really care if I win. But I would like to be a finalist, since that means my work gets read by someone in the industry. However, even if I don't make it into the top three, I can count on getting some really helpful feedback about my entry. That's the real reason I enter contests. Since I moved to North Carolina, I lost my critique group. And it doesn't matter how many books you've written, another set of eyes on your work is always a good idea. Often the author is too close to the work, knows exactly what the story is about, even though it hasn't translated entirely to the page.


Such is the case with my current WIP. The idea sprouted from a scene in another book I was working on and I decided to run with it. But, while I was running, I kept one of the characters from the original manuscript and he kind of was like the headless horseman in this instance. I didn't really think about him in this manuscript, since it worked in the other book, but the contest judges were left scratching their heads. Needless to say, the man is gone now. He hit the cutting room floor with a resounding thud.

I've taken the comments from the first contest and improved the opening scenes of the book. And I have even more ideas on how to improve it further. Since a book is never done, even after it's published, I'll keep working on this one.

Watch this space.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

It's Re-Release Time!

As most of you know, I have decided to re-release all nine books in the Cotillion Ball Series, plus the novella prequel, as I regained the rights to this landmark series. Book 7 in the series, Expressly Yours, Samantha, is available for pre-orders now and will be released on May 30. It contains one of my favorite tropes–a girl who disguises herself as a boy or man. In this case, Samantha, or Sam, decides to sign on with the Pony Express until she can reach her 18th birthday and legally be free of her uncle. Here's the cover of this tale that has fast horses, duplicity and intrigue. There's even a reference to my favorite explorer, Jedediah Smith.



The novella prequel, An Unconventional Courtship, is still available at no charge. If you'd like to read about how George and Charlotte met and fell in love, this sweet little tale will help you understand how they raised such unique children. Here's the link for the free download: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/wPvUwkuJ


Happy Reading! Load up your Kindle and get ready for the beach.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is Mother's Day, the time when we all pause for a moment and think about the woman who gave us birth. My own mother has been gone for more than twenty years, but my best friend has willingly allowed me to share her mother, and two of my sisters, and my nieces are mothers, so I do have cause to celebrate. In fact, if you count a four-legged offspring, I guess I'm a mother, too.


I certainly write enough about women who, if they aren't mothers already, they will be by the time the book is finished. In fact, Charlotte and George Fitzpatrick had nine children before they stopped reproducing. Nine children wasn't as unusual 150 years ago as it is now, but George wanted to stop at three or four. Charlotte's wish was for a large family. And we see who won that battle.

I can think of no better way to celebrate the day than to offer up Charlotte and George's story to everyone, free of charge. Here's the link to download your copy: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/wPvUwkuJ


And to all the selfless mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day! I hope you get to prop your feet up for a little while, anyway, and read about Charlotte and George.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

It's Giveaway Time!

It's my birthday month, and I'm celebrating. I think birthdays shouldn't be limited to a specific day, but rather should encompass the entire month. So, you might ask, what am I doing to celebrate?

Glad you asked.

I recently got the rights back to the final two books I had with Crimson Romance/Simon & Schuster. One of these was the sweet romance novella that encapsulated the meeting and romance of Charlotte and George Fitzpatrick, the heads of the Fitzpatrick household, and parents to the nine children who have their own individual stories in the Cotillion Ball books. Charlotte and George most certainly did have An Unconventional Courtship. 


So, to celebrate the re-release of this sweet book, I'm offering it up for free, all this month. Here's the link to download your free copy :https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/wPvUwkuJ

Your free copy will be available from now until the end of May. Thanks for sharing my birthday month with me. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Roses

Anyone who has spent any time around me knows I love roses. I've had them as an integral part of my landscape and in my writing, for years. When I was in Austin, I found the Antique Rose Emporium, who specializes in (you'll never guess) antique roses. Their website even breaks down the various varieties into the type of fragrance they offer. When I moved to North Carolina, my little patch of yard had two rose bushes, leggy, spindly things. I pruned them back, fed them with my favorite rose food, and was rewarded with only one rose. One bloom for the entire season.

Sadly, it didn't even have much of a scent.

A few days ago, I was at a major home improvement store, in their outdoor section, which was bustling with folks. The woman behind me in line had a rose bush in her basket and I asked if she'd ever heard of the Antique Rose Emporium. She said she only grew Knockout roses, which have heavy blooms, but alas, no heavy scent. No scent at all.


So which way do you lean? Do you want show or do you want substance? Because roses are as much a part of me as my writing is, I favor substance. I want heavy fragrance, and continual blooms all season. I even wrote about roses in the first of the Flower Girl series. My heroine spent her days in the greenhouse, talking to her roses. I admit to doing the same.


My rose from the Antique Rose Emporium arrived yesterday. I passed on the one that smelled like pineapples in favor of an old-time musky scent. My new rose is called The Beverly. I just planted Bev in the back yard along with a huge gulp of water and some of my famous rose food. All she needs is some sunlight and she'll hopefully spread her toes in the sandy soil of North Carolina and take off.
Here's Beverly!
My conversation with the stranger with the Knockout did yield something good, though. She told me of a place in Vancouver, Canada, where they have acre after acre of roses that perfume the air. I'm going to have to check it out.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Mueller Time

Like most Americans, I've been riveted to the news this week. The long-anticipated report from Bob Mueller was finally ready for viewing. The news reporters reminded me of gleeful children at Halloween with too much candy from which to choose.

Although I was pleased that I was able to understand the Cliff Notes versions of the report the news folk divulged, I was tantalized by the fact I could download and read the entire 400 pages. I googled how to do it, hit the button, and had this strange screen appear on my computer. I couldn't get rid of it and get back to the normal screen of favorites that I see whenever I open Safari. So I decided to shut down and restart my computer to try to get rid of it. By the way, I didn't get the report. One more thing to blame Trump for.

When I started the computer back up again, I was instructed to enter my password, which I did. However, Apple didn't recognize that password and asked if I wanted to reset. I went along with them, tried a new password, and got the message that this computer wasn't eligible for a new Apple ID. I was effectively locked out of my computer.

Since the nearest Genius Bar is two hours away, I called the Apple help line. It took hours to figure out what had happened. My frustration level hit an all-time high, since I'm not the most tech savvy person on the planet. But in the end, they figured out what had happened and how to get rid of the annoying screen. And they cleaned up a lot of space on my computer, helping me eliminate old programs that were occupying way too many gigabytes, or whatever.

I still have no copy of the report, but have decided that's okay. I'd rather have a functioning computer so I can make a living. Maybe I should stay away from politics.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Advertising Hype

I attended a writer's conference this weekend. It had been billed as an A to Z of self-publishing, and since I'd just regained the rights to two of my books, I thought it a timely discussion. So, despite the prediction of rain all day, off I went, on a 3-hour round trip in the pouring rain to have the speaker impart her words of wisdom. Come hell or high water, I wasn't about to miss this talk.

When I arrived at my location, it wasn't just raining–it was pouring. Sheets of rain slammed down on the hood of my car.

My in-car umbrella decided to play hide and seek with me, so I sat for a few minutes in the downpour, hoping for a break–which didn't happen. I wasn't about to sit in the parking lot and miss the meeting, so I took off at a brisk walk toward the door.

Brisk pace or not, by the time I got inside the building I was drenched. My t-shirt clung to my back in a cold, icy grip and I could feel my muscles begin to seize up. My shoes made little squishy noises as I walked across the marble floor. My hair, never known for putting on a good show, gave up completely and dribbled onto my cheeks. A quick check in the ladies' room proved what I'd already guessed. I looked like something the cat had drug in, after she tossed me in a few puddles.



I wiped the mascara off my face, propped my wet locks behind my ears, and proceeded to the meeting. I am nothing if not motivated and persistent. But, alas, here's where the problem began. (I  know what you're thinking...)

Either I'd read the wrong meeting blurb or the speaker had, but the talk wasn't about self-publishing at all. Rather, it was how to write and market a book. The speaker had come prepared with a slide show and handouts. Which she then proceeded to read.

This type of speaker has always bothered me. I'm a writer, as is everyone else in this meeting. Which means we know how to read. Words are our business. I don't need someone to read for me what I can read on the screen myself. I want embellishment on the points being flashed on the screen. So I got grumpy. Not only was I not getting the talk I'd driven here for, it was being read from a screen to me, as if I couldn't make out the words on my own.

Or maybe I was just cold and damp. The puddle under my seat kept growing.

After spending most of my professional life in the advertising business, you'd think I'd have learned not to trust the advertising hype. I sat quietly, damp and cold, and kicked myself for not double checking the agenda. Then, the speaker told me something new. Something I'd never thought of before. Eureka!

As I drove home, I realized hell hadn't come to North Carolina, but some of the rivers were running out of their banks. And while I didn't learn anything about self-publishing, I learned something. Time well spent.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Fast Or Slow?

Early on in my writing career, I attended a lecture held by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Anne Krentz. Their wit, and their obvious friendship with each other was inspiring. But what struck me most was the different approach they each took to their writing. One wrote very fast, the other took a more slow approach. The takeaway from this meeting was I needed to figure out which approach worked best for me and not be swayed or intimidated by another author's output. What was important was to keep the storyline moving toward "the end" every day.

I took their advice to heart and now, with 19 books under my belt and more than that under the bed, I've found an agreeable pace for myself. I know the first 500 words are the hardest for me each day. It's like I'm slogging through mud as each word is slow to develop, elusive and just out of my grasp. But I also know that at some point during those 500 words the scene takes over and the remaining 500 words of my daily output are quick to follow. I can sometimes get to 2,000 words a day, but that's a rarity. But looking at the big picture helps. If I write 1000 words a day, in two months' time, I will have a flash first draft of a book. Usually it works.

But my current WIP has altered my formula. I began the book in early February, so according to my timeline, I should have the first draft completed by now. Not happening. There's something about these characters–Pippa and Daniel–and something about the time period –the American Revolutionary War–that keeps me adding to the story line.


I'm only about halfway to the end of the story and all they've managed to do is share some cheroots and a couple of kisses. Yes, Pippa likes the occasional cigar and blows some impressive smoke rings. By the time I crawl to "the end" I figure I'll have a first draft of about 80,000 words. Usually I need to go back through my flash draft and add in description and emotion, fleshing out the structure. In this case, I may have to cut words from it

Life could be worse.

How about you? Do you write fast, like Jayne Anne, or slow, like Susan Elizabeth?


Sunday, March 31, 2019

There's Still Time!

I know April Fool's Day is tomorrow, but I am not pulling your leg.

I'm giving away my books.

Yep, that's right. For the first time ever,  I am offering up a free copy of my novella. A Regency Yuletide is a Christmas novel which is short, sweet, and tied up with a red ribbon. Any month of the year is a good month to read about the magic of Christmas. There are a few copies remaining, so head on over to the link and add this to your Kindle TBR pile:




Book Six in the Cotillion Ball series released last week, too. The Duplicitous Debutante features Rosemary Fitzpatrick, who has created a business for herself as the author of dime novels in 1850s New York. However, no one is aware that the author of this wildly successful series is a woman. Dime novels were the precursor to the paperback book of today. They opened the door for millions of Americans to read for pleasure for the first time. Thanks to a combination of better education, revolutions in printing, and a less demanding work schedule, people now had time to read, and the dime novel was what they were reading. Here's a cover example of the dime novel.

Most of these tales were over-the-top stories about America's wild west. Here's a bit of Rosemary's offerings about her hero, Harry Hawk: 

Harry Hawk and the Tycoon’s Daughter—Book Six in the Harry Hawk Series

Harry Hawk stared down the barrel of his Colt .45. A huge Sioux Indian was in his sights, but was holding the girl in front of him as a shield. Her eyes were as big as saucers as she struggled against the man, and she trembled as she kept her eyes on the end of Harry’s gun.

“What are you doing, Screaming Eagle?” Harry tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice.

“Her father is running the railroad through Sioux land.”

“And by kidnapping his daughter, you think he’ll sit down and smoke a peace pipe with you?”

The Indian tossed back his long, straight, black hair and tightened his hold on the woman. Harry’s grip on his gun tightened as well when her whimper reached his ears.

“Come on, you’re doing the wrong thing and you know it.”

“White man does us wrong, we do same.”

“And two wrongs don’t make a right.” Harry glanced from the sniveling woman to the Indian. “Your father would not be pleased with this behavior, Screaming Eagle. Hiding behind a woman’s skirts.”

The Indian hesitated, then shoved the girl at Harry. “Take her, then. But keep everyone off our land.”

“I can’t promise that, Screaming Eagle. You’re raising a stink with the railroad, when it should be with the government. Not these honest, hard-working men who are just trying to build a railroad.”

“So bring me your chief, and we’ll talk.”

Harry smiled wryly as he thought of President Buchanan sitting down with Screaming Eagle and negotiating a land treaty. The man couldn’t maintain order in the civilized part of the United States. He couldn’t possibly interact with Indians.

“I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, you lie low, and I’ll try to smooth things over with the rail boss.”

The woman Screaming Eagle had thrust into his arms fainted. Great, Harry thought as he slung her over his shoulder.

If you'd like to read the rest of Harry's adventures, you'll have to buy The Duplicitous Debutante.

Here's the link:

Sunday, March 24, 2019

On Being a Hybrid Author

By the end of this month, I will be able to retrieve the rights to the last remaining books held by Simon & Schuster. It has taken over a year to dissolve my relationship with them, and right now, I'm still represented by three different publishers. I'm considering what to do with these last two books. Should I try self-publishing again? My first trip down that road was a failure, but I learned a lot.

A hybrid author, for those reading this blog who are readers rather than authors, is one who has a toe in both traditional publishing and self publishing. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of publishing, and it is refreshing for an author to finally have a choice in the matter, rather than to wait anxiously for word from a traditional house that they want, or reject, your work.

But as much as the freedom to be your own boss is with self publishing, there's something to be said for belonging to a traditional house as well. In addition to the marketing support you get, which in most cases is marginal, you become part of a sisterhood that can extend far past your contract with the publisher. Your universe of like-minded people grows with each publishing house and the benefits are great. Fellow authors are a great support system, and the more ways you can grow that list, the better.

I recently finished a manuscript and sent it off to a new-to-me publisher in hopes they'll consider it. Why would I consider adding a fourth house? To meet new people, to expand my reader base, to not place all my eggs in one basket. Take your pick of reasons. As for the two books reverting back to me? They may become my next attempts at self-publishing. Time will tell.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Creating Your Team

Since moving to North Carolina a year ago, I've tried out five different hair studios in an attempt to find someone who understands my vision and can offer advice and counsel. My hair is thin and fine, so it needs a special kind of cut by someone who understands that not every head of hair is the same. So far, no luck, but there are many hair salons yet to go.

But it got me to thinking about how similar building a support team for your personal life is to building a support team for a writing career. Regardless of which route you take in publishing, you still need an editor, or an agent, or an author coach, a critique partner, or just a like-minded individual to bounce ideas off. You want to listen to their concerns, consider their reasons for why to do or not do something in your manuscript or to your characters or your career, yet you don't want to ever lose your original vision, your original voice. It's a fine line to walk and sometimes you have to put your foot down, even when it makes you uncomfortable to do so.

Which is what I'm doing with my quest for a decent hair salon. I live in an area with a healthy dose of senior citizens and, since I have white hair, when a hairdresser sees me coming in, they automatically think "little old lady haircut coming up." But although I might fit into that category chronologically, I am far from a "little old lady" and refuse to be categorized as such. I explain in no uncertain terms what type of cut I want, I show them a picture of my vision, and if they insist on giving me the little old lady cut, I'll put my foot down and move on to the next, even though the place has been highly recommended by friends.

Fortunately, my hair grows fast, so next month I may find a hairdresser that I like. And I may find a new publisher for my latest endeavor. Someone who loves my voice and vision. Fingers crossed, on both counts.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Wanting More

If you're an author, you can be inundated with people who will tell you the best way to spend your marketing budget to guarantee you'll make boatloads of money in royalties.

The problem is, everyone offers different advice, and, if you send them money and buy their how-to books or videos, chances are the only ones who will see those boatloads of money are the ones giving the advice. The rest of us will continue to throw darts and hope for the best.

Most every author, after the initial euphoria of seeing their name in print, wants to make enough money to be able to quit the day job and spend their days in their heads, creating new, awesome stories for their readers' voracious appetites. But the hard truth of being a writer is this is a very hard business to figure out. And the odds of making the big time are long. A Huffington Post article stated recently that barely 2 percent of the total books published sold more than 5,000 copies. The average is less than 500 copies.

So why do we do it? Continue to bang our foreheads on the wall, trying to figure out how to get folks to find your precious book and read it? And after they read it, leave a positive review of it in the hopes it may catch the attention of another reader?

The reason is very simple. The voices in our heads need to have a mouthpiece. If we didn't have the creative outlet that publishing a book provides, we'd probably all end up in the loony bin with multiple personality disorder. Marketing of those precious books will continue to be a mystery, a moving target. Some of us will figure it out, but most of us will be in that less than 500 copies area.

We may want more, but we'll continue to do what we do best. Write the next story. Maybe it will be the one that has the magic juice and makes it to the big time.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

March Comes In Like A Lion

It's finally March!

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it seems to take its sweet old time getting done. Bad weather, clogged highways, missed deadlines–all happen in February.

But it's March!

Time for new beginnings. I'm pleased to announce that two of my Cotillion books will be re-released in March. Blinded By Grace is one of my favorites, since it deals with the eldest son of the family, Halwyn, and how he only needed a pair of eyeglasses to see what had been in front of him all along. Here's the new, snazzy cover, and the blurb:

In 1858 New York City, Halwyn Fitzpatrick thinks he's off the hook for attendance at the annual Cotillion Ball. He has no sister to shepherd down the grand staircase this year and no real desire to go through the rituals of courtship and betrothal himself. Besides, he'll know the right girl when he sees her, especially now that he has new spectacles. But his mother has other plans for him. At twenty-seven years of age, her son is in dire need of a wife.
Grace Wagner needs a husband by July in order to inherit the trust her father has left for her. Her stepfather, though, has plans for the money that don't include Grace, and the last thing he wants is for her to find a husband before she turns twenty-one, thereby fulfilling the terms of the trust. She's been in love with Halwyn since she was thirteen, but he hasn't noticed her at any of the balls they've been at over the years. With the aid of his new glasses, he spies Grace from across the room and they share a dance. Grace decides to present him with a business proposition that will satisfy them both. But can a clueless knight in shining armor and a desperate damsel in distress find a way to turn this marriage of convenience into something more?








The Duplicitous Debutante is another favorite, since Rosemary Fitzpatrick is an author who writes Penny Dreadfuls, but under an assumed name–a name everyone believes to belong to a man. 

In 1859, ladies of New York society are expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a household, and have children. But despite her mother's best intentions, making her debut is the last thing on Rosemary Fitzpatrick's mind. Writing the popular Harry Hawk dime novels as F.P. Elliott, she's too busy hiding her female identity from her new publisher, Henry Cooper. To protect her clandestine career, she ends up posing as the enigmatic author's secretary.
Henry is not the typical Boston Brahmin, nor the typical publisher, and Rosemary entrances him from the moment they meet. As they work together and grow closer, he wonders how his traditional-minded father will react when he brings her into the family, because Henry firmly intends to marry the working-class woman.
But when her deception begins to unravel at the cotillion ball, will Henry be able to forgive her or has deceit cost her the man she loves?









This entire series is set during one of the most tumultuous times in American history–westward expansion, the suffragette movement, the abolitionist movement, the Civil War and Reconstruction. I've loved taking this ordinary, well-bred family and tossing each member into the midst of history. Sometimes their choices surprised even me, the author. Each book in this series features a different sibling, all of them named after an herb or spice. And although each book can be read as a stand alone, it's fun to see how the siblings and their parents, Charlotte and George, pop in and out of each story. If you've been with me since this journey began, let me know which book was your favorite. If you're new to the series, they're now available on Kindle Unlimited for the first time.

Hope you enjoy the break in the weather and the Cotillion Ball series. 









Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thinking About Words

I just finished reading Julia Quinn's latest endeavor, The Other Miss Bridgerton. Her heroine, Poppy Bridgerton, had a thing for words. Specifically words that sounded like their meaning. One of her examples in the book was the word devoid. 

Which got me to thinking about other words that sound like their meaning. Here's my short list:

Ooze
Fizz
Swish
Shaggy
Wisp
Raindrop
Freeze
Kill
Phlegm



I'll add another to the list. The other day, I was wearing my slippers when I slipped on my wet floor and took a tumble. Does that count?

How about you? Do you have any favorite words that sound like their meaning? Or are Julia Quinn and I the only ones who ponder things like this? And is this type of word called onomatopoeia or ideophone?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Creating Your Tribe

Every writer working today has heard you need a tribe to get a book from concept to reality. A tribe is a support system in this lonely world of fiction writing. You need critique partners to let you know when you've run your book's story line off into a ditch. You need a coach, mentor, agent, whatever your want to call the person or persons you lean on for advice. Throw in editors, web designers, proofreaders, reviewers who write glowing reviews of your books, publishers, all the people who operate blogs where you can introduce your book to a new audience, and, of course, your family.

Never has this concept of tribalism come into play than this past week. My website is one of the most consistent of the elements of my social media, and I keep track of the daily hits. The consistency tapered off around Valentine's Day, and had trickled to one or two visitors a day instead of the usual 100 or so. I watched it for a couple days, but didn't think to check the link. One of my favorite fellow authors with whom I share the History Imagined blog brought it to my attention. What to do? Since I know next to nothing about how to fashion a website, I emailed my tribe member who takes care of that. It only took her a few minutes on the phone with the company who hosts my site to determine they had tried to send an authentication notice to me at my Ohio email address and when I didn't respond, they shut the site down. It has since been fixed and updated. Problem solved, but not without help.

On a more personal note, I now have my grown nephew living with me. Since I've never married, it's been nice to be able to share my home with my siblings and/or their children over the years. He's working at a grocery chain and has to be there by 6 am. Normally, I never hear him, but last night was different. I got sick at about 3 am, and was awake when he left the house. I texted him to please pick up some Pepto for me before he came home. Not only did he bring the medicine, he brought hot soup and yogurt for my delicate stomach. Then, he walked my dog!
Mary

So this week has taught me that, while some parts of my tribe need to be shored up and expanded, the core group is to be trusted. Not only with my writing process but also with my health. I'm eternally grateful to each of you.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sailing Away

My River Cruise got cancelled. It was probably the only time I'd ever get to use my passport. I've always wanted to explore other countries, but it never quite materialized for me. I have been to 46 of the 50 states and have lived in 7 of them, but I've never 'crossed the pond.'


I would probably be more disappointed had I not just begun working on a new story line. I sorted out the details last week and put together a beat sheet. My heroine is 'crossing the pond,' in reverse of what I would have done. She's sailing from England to America at the height of the Revolutionary War. Not on a luxury liner, but on a small clipper ship loaded with supplies for the British troops in America.


Once I figured out the hook of the story, I got really excited about writing it. The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite time periods. Even though I spent much of my adult life in Virginia and toured numerous Civil War battlefields, the Civil War never held the same appeal as the Revolutionary period does. I can't wait to have my heroine land in unruly America and try to make her way.

Right now, she's masquerading as a boy, stowed away on the ship bound for Boston. So, in my own way, I'm sailing along even without my River Cruise. I may throw in a storm at sea just to keep things lively during their trip, especially since my heroine has never learned to swim. We'll see. I'm sailing away with my idea.

So, what story line are you working on, either in your WIP or in your life? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Electricity

I've been thinking a lot about electricity lately. Maybe it's because my furnace has been blasting 24/7 for days now. Or maybe it's because most of the midwest had to experience record cold temps this past week. Fortunately, things are about to heat up for all of us, as the polar vortex recedes. My latest History Imagined blog tells of a big freeze that took place in Europe in 1709. Just think how much harder our polar vortex would have been without electricity and you can understand how so many lost their lives during the freeze, either from hypothermia or starvation. Here's a link to the whole story: https://historyimagined.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/the-big-chill/

I've been working on the next book in my Regency series, too, while I wait for spring to come. There's electricity there, too, between my hero and heroine. A different kind of electricity, to be sure, but the current is there, even though both of them try to fight it. All it takes is a glance, a touch, and the spark is ignited.

While I wait, somewhat impatiently, for my hands to thaw so I can type better, I can get lost in my story and feel the electricity as my couple falls in love.


Stay warm, everyone!


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Telling A Story

Last week, I took a break from my writing and did the more mundane things in life, like housework. A couple loads of laundry later and I was wrestling with my mattress, trying to put the fitted sheet back on the bed. I was at an awkward angle, and my shoulder let me know I'd tried to turn it in a way it was never meant to go. I relayed what had happened to one of my writing buddies and there was dead silence on the phone. Then she said, "That's it? You're a writer, Becky, and that's the best you could come up with? How about you were practicing your trapeze act and Hans didn't catch you properly?"

We shared a laugh about it, I put a heating pad on my shoulder, and took a couple days off from the gym. A few days later, I was back at the gym, going through the Easy Line weight circuit. When I got to the Fly machine, I couldn't go through the whole 90 seconds. My arm, not my shoulder, but the inside of my arm, began to hurt. The next day, I noticed a bit of a bruise on my arm, and I was experiencing pain. So, when the bruising got worse I went to the walk-in clinic. The nurse who took my vitals asked me what happened, so I told her the truth. When she didn't react, I told her the embellished version my friend had come up with and the nurse began laughing. When she finished her note taking, she stood and said "We'll get you back on that trapeze in no time!"

The diagnosis was a slightly torn bicep and the recommendation was to skip the weight circuit for a few days and then ease back into things. But the moral of the story is: When life throws you a setback, rewrite the script and find a way to laugh about it. You'll get back on your own trapeze faster.

So, what have you laughed about lately?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Buying Daydreams


People sometimes ask me why I write. My usual response is to quiet the voices in my head, but I like this quote from John Dos Passos better.

"A novel is a commodity that fulfills a certain need; people need to buy daydreams like they need to buy ice cream or aspirin or gin. They even need to buy a pinch of intellectual catnip now and then to liven up their thoughts, a few drops of poetry to stimulate their feelings."

The thought of providing daydreams for people appeals to me.
It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to write a novel. In fact, studies have shown that 97% of those who start a novel never finish. Some of the best authors I've bumped up against are still working on their first book, which will probably never see the light of day. Such a shame that those daydreams will only ever exist in the minds of the writers.

If writing a novel is a daunting challenge, knowing how to market it, how to reach new readers, is a slippery slope and the ground keeps shifting. So, next time you're at the grocery and are reaching for the aspirin or gin, stroll by the paperback book section and pick up a novel by a new-to-you author instead. As for ice cream? Well, everyone needs that in their cart.

My new-to-me author is Callie Hutton. I've known of her for quite some time, since she's another historical author, but have never taken the time to read her work. I'm now into her mail-order bride series and wonder why I waited so long to get acquainted with Ms. Hutton.

Who is your next new-to-me author?


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Growth

With each new year, one of the ideas that gets tossed around is, instead of making resolutions, to pick a word the embodies what you want to accomplish in the coming twelve months and figure out how to accomplish it. So, in the spirit of things, I've selected my word–GROWTH–and have begun to set things in motion.

The first item to take care of was to take inventory of what I want to apply the word to. Certainly not to my body. We don't need any more growth there. I'm continuing my three-times-a-week workouts at the health club to keep growth from happening. No, what I want to apply the word to is my writing career. I took a workshop last week that helps in that regard and am wrapping up the filling in the blanks and gaining perspective on where the career has been. Now, I need to implement a plan for where the career is headed.

To help with my forward progress, I hired an author coach to help me strategize. Already, I can see a way forward. When I regain the rights to Winning Violet, the first book in my Regency Flower Girl series, I will have books two and three finished and be able to present them as a package to a publisher. And, as a kind of offshoot on these stories, I am working on another story that takes place in the same time period, but in America. I'd like to work in some of the culture of my new home state, North Carolina. If for no other reason than an excuse to take some road trips.


And speaking of road trips–providing things move forward during the year, I am poised to take my first-ever European vacation late in the year. Can't believe it's taken me this long to cross the pond, but fingers crossed, this will be just the beginning of my growth there. You can do all the research you want, but nothing will add spice to your story line more than actually walking the streets you are describing, visiting the battlefields, or, for that matter, being on a ship in the middle of a vast ocean.

Stay tuned!



Sunday, January 6, 2019

Friends Keep You Grounded

I complained last week to a friend about having to manually clean my oven and how much bother it was. She asked if I didn't have a self-cleaning feature on the oven, and I said the oven was older than I am. She pointed out that it would have to have been a pot bellied stove in that case! Leave it to a friend to tell it like it is.

But sometimes friends aren't the only ones to keep you grounded. I got a review from a stranger to me of Dance With Destiny, one of my books that was released a couple years ago. Here's a bit of the review:  "My advice: Ignore the cheesy stock-picture cover (the same that appears on half the Native American romance books out there!) and make the plunge. You won't regret it." I appreciate every review I get, but this one made me laugh, and I love it. 


https://www.amazon.com/Dance-Destiny-Becky-Lower-ebook/dp/B01MQQGGFJ/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1546621754&sr=8-11&keywords=becky+lower

It's a new year with new opportunities, and I'm eager to get started with everything. And I'm counting on my friends (and acquaintances who have taken the time to read one of my books) to keep me grounded.