Sunday, May 31, 2015

Summer & Editing

Brace off my leg completely–Check
Book signing at NEORWA conference–Check
Clean house in anticipation of family visit next week–Well, not yet

I'm taking things one cautious step at a time these days, since I have a busy June coming up, and then the RWA conference in July. And it just occurred to me how much of life is like editing a manuscript.

Come on, Becky, I hear you saying. Isn't that a bit of a stretch, even for you?

Well, I'm here to say "It makes perfect sense to me." Let me explain:

When I first started lining up events for this summer, it was overwhelming to me. I'm sure, if you've been following the blog for some time, you've picked up on my panic. But I like panic. It's my go-to response to everything. Once I get through the panic mode, I can then start to sort things out, put things into an orderly format–a check list, as it were–and begin to make sense of it all by knocking off one item at a time.

The same holds true of editing a manuscript. I look forward to getting the first round edits back from my publisher. But when I open the file, and see all the comments and things I need to think about and change, panic overwhelms me. I usually close the file quickly, wait for my racing heart to calm down, and those nagging "why did I ever think I could put two sentences together into a story someone would want to read" doubts to dissipate. When I get back to it, an hour or a day later, I take a deep breath, and go through the manuscript and suggested changes one item at a time and wonder why I ever doubted myself in the first place.

So I'm applying the same thought process to my summer. I'll knock one thing at a time off the list and realize as I do so that everything I'm doing is making my memories of friends, family and adventure that much better. After the family visit, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail beckons, followed closely by the Tennessee Whisky Trail, all in the name of research for another book, of course.

So be sure to put returning to my blog on your own check list.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Getting Ready

There's an awful lot going on in the next few weeks. First, and most important to me, the brace comes off, finally. May 27 will be six weeks living with this thing, and I'm more than ready to be done with it. I won't throw the blasted thing away until May 28, when I see the doctor, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm done with it.

Which is a good thing, since my chapter conference happens on May 29, featuring the great Carla Neggers. I'll be going to the author book signing and lunch, which is about all I'll be able to handle, knowing I need to ease back into things. June 1 starts The Romance Review's Sizzling Summer Reads month-long blog fest, at which I'll be featuring my novella, An Unconventional Courtship and the bundle of the first 3 books in the Cotillion Ball series, both of which are available for pre-order now at a discounted price, and will be available on your Kindle June 8.

Family visits will take up most of the first week of June, too, at which time I'll get to see two very special men–my uncle, the last remaining brother of my dad, will turn 80 in June, and we're invited to the party; and my nephew, who I haven't seen since my brother's wedding fifteen years ago. John is now 31, 6 feet and 7 inches tall, and loves to write sci-fi stories. We've got a lot to talk about.

More exciting things are on tap for this summer, including a trip (for research purposes only, of course), to the Kentucky Bourbon trail. And maybe the Tennessee Whisky trail, too. There's a story or two there.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Summertime in Ohio

As most of you know, I've got a couple more weeks to be housebound wearing my brace and walking around in a nightgown, since that's the only thing that fits. My inactivity was beginning to wear on me, until yesterday. That's when the outdoor furniture finally got carried up out of the basement and the screened porch was put together. I now can sit out on the porch with my computer, working while I'm watching the birds in the yard, and inhaling the scent of freshly mown grass. It certainly has done wonders for my psyche.

Which is a good thing, since I'm going through my checklist on my latest work, trying to polish it up. The checklist is the most tedious part of writing, as far as I'm concerned, since it's not creating a new story, but rather finessing and fine-tuning the work you've just put on the screen. And my checklist just got longer, thanks to some courses I've recently taken, but in the end, I'll have a contemporary work I'm proud of. 100 pages down, 135 yet to go. And at least three more read-throughs before I'm done.

I have a lot of events on the schedule for June and July, which will cut into my writing time. But I'll get to see people I haven't seen in years, I get to tour a part of the country I haven't spent much time in, which I plan to use as a backdrop for another story, and I get to end July at RWA Nationals in New York. Who knows what plot lines I'll find?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Road Not Taken

I recently took a workshop on writing. After all these years of writing and being a published author, you'd think I'd have seen and done it all, but that's not the case. Everyone needs to work every day on improving their craft, and I'm no exception. I wanted to up my game, and being forced into seclusion with my bum hip gave me a perfect opportunity to mire myself in this course.

So what was the outcome? I began to look at my work in a totally different way. My process is to write a quick first draft, then go back over it time and again, searching for overused words, jumps in the timeline, inconsistencies, equal representation of the senses, etc. Each pass brings me closer to a finished product, but it's time-consuming. Now, with this workshop, I have even more to look for. I need to find power words and try to position them appropriately. So, I'm now looking at every sentence, every paragraph, every chapter hook. It's tedious, but in the end, I think it'll be worth it.

My first project using my newly-minted technique is for the upcoming book 8 in the Cotillion Ball Series. This one's about Pepper, who is a totally different heroine from my usual young, feisty women. She's been married, has 3 children, and her husband was killed during the first battle of the Civil War, so she's learning how to live on her own. And how to find love again. I'll be the first to admit this book took a lot of work–not just the research about the Civil War battles that took place in 1862 and 1863, but what it was like to be a single parent raising three young boys. I had to interview some mothers who were in similar situations in order to understand the tremendous inner strength involved.  I'm happy to say A Widow's Salvation is now finished, except for one final read-through, and I'm on to the next.

Which is what, you might ask? I have a contemporary story finished, and am in search of a good agent to market it for me. But, since it's been over a year since I wrote and rewrote the story, I think it's a good project for me to look over with my new set of workshop eyes. Give the manuscript a new life, take it down a different path. I've always been adventurous and the road not yet taken seems like the right one for me at this stage of my career.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cover Reveal and Exclusive Excerpt!

About one year ago, Crimson Romance decided to expand into the novella category. So, of course, the competitor in me decided to give it a go and see what happened. I'd been wanting to write a story about how Charlotte & George Fitzpatrick met, and thought a novella would be the right length to tell their story.

So, on June 9 the prequel to the Cotillion Ball Series will be released along with a bundle of the first three books in the series. What better way to get to know the family than to start at the beginning?

Here's the cover for the novella. Doesn't Charlotte's expression say it all?


Long before The Reluctant Debutante, there was the story of Charlotte Ashcroft and George Fitzpatrick.

They were two young strangers in New York City until Charlotte took matters into her own hands. Confronted by a busybody who would surely inform her mother she was where she shouldn’t be, and alone, she forced the man in the jaunty blue hat who had caught her eye to act as her escort. By going along with the ruse, George Fitzpatrick sealed his fate with Charlotte. He would become her husband. Now she just had to convince him he couldn’t live without her.

No Buy Link yet, but stay tuned!

Here's a taste of what's to come:

“Charlotte? Is that you?”
Charlotte cringed inside her Sunday best, lavender dress. She knew that voice.

Accepting her fate, she turned to face the old busybody.
“Well, hello there, Mrs. Beasley. How are you this fine Sunday afternoon? Are you

also planning to attend Frances Wright’s speech?”
Mrs. Beasley’s spine straightened at the suggestion, and her gaze pierced Charlotte.

“Heavens, no. I have no wish to fill my head with such nonsense. Where is your mother? I should say hello.”
“Mother’s not with us today. We took the omnibus to get here.”
“What? Without a male escort? Is your mother aware of what you’re doing, young lady?”
Charlotte glanced around the street where they had been dropped off. Suddenly, she spied a familiar hat in the crowd. A blue hat with a feather tucked into the grosgrain ribbon. Her heart began to race as he came toward her.
“Ah, but we do have a proper male escort.” She wrapped her hand around the man’s arm, bringing him, if somewhat reluctantly, to her side. “This is our chaperone, Mrs. Beasley.” Charlotte turned her eyes toward the man and held her breath, silently pleading with him to catch on to her plight.
He executed a proper bow toward Mrs. Beasley, and Charlotte let out her breath a bit at a time. “George Fitzpatrick, at your service, Mrs. Beasley.”
Mrs. Beasley’s face was still full of disdain. “George Fitzpatrick? I’ve never heard of you. Just how do you know Charlotte Ashcroft?” 
“We’re old friends who love adventure. When I decided to escort Charlotte and her lady friends on their outing today, we thought an omnibus ride would be a delightful way to get there. And it certainly has proven to be so.”
Mrs. Beasley was somewhat mollified, if not totally convinced, sending a loud harrumph” their way before she moved on.
“Oh, Mr. Fitzpatrick, thank you ever so much. We would have been in grave trouble if not for you.” Charlotte fawned over the man.
“Well, since I’ve saved you from your current peril, and since we don’t know who else you’ll run into, perhaps I should finish the job you’ve assigned me to and escort you ladies to your final destination? May I meet the other ladies in your party?”
Charlotte quickly introduced him to Emma and Katie but did not yield her hold on his arm.
They found their way to the Hall of Science where Miss Wright was speaking, and George insisted on paying the entry fee for the four of them. They found enough open seats to sit together and moved to the chairs. Charlotte waited for Emma and Katie to claim a seat, and then she sat next to them, leaving only one remaining empty spot. Next to her alone. She smiled at her craftiness.
He took the seat beside her then leaned over to whisper in her ear. “Mrs. Beasley was right. Young ladies such as you could get into a lot of trouble without a proper escort. I’m offering my services to you, absolutely free of charge, for the remainder of the afternoon.”
Charlotte’s laugh bubbled up. “I have a feeling, sir, you’re the biggest trouble I can get into today.” 


The Reluctant Debutante

It’s 1855 in New York, and Ginger Fitzpatrick joins other women in support of Amelia Bloomer’s cause. During a rally, a stranger helps her evade police. She is introduced to him formally at her debutante ball, the latest society craze. Although Joseph is a friend of her brother’s, he is half Indian and unsuitable. Ginger must ultimately decide if Joseph is worth going against her family’s wishes.

The Abolitionist's Secret

In 1856 New York, despite their divergent views on slavery, romance ensues when David dances with Heather at the Cotillion Ball and later that night, walks her home. An engagement quickly follows. When he receives word that his father is ailing, David wants her to accompany him home to Savannah to meet his family.

But she knows the South is no place for an abolitionist.

Banking On Temperance

Basil Fitzpatrick was born into a life of privilege. In 1856, at 23 years of age, he is the owner of the St. Louis branch of the family banking business. He has his pick of the ladies and life by the horns.

Temperance Jones and her family are far from privileged. Her father is a circuit-riding preacher from Pennsylvania. But the rumblings of a war between the North and the South force the preacher to move his family to Oregon rather than to take up arms against his fellow man. However, hardship and sickness slowed their pace, and they are forced to spend the winter in St. Louis, waiting for the next wagon trains to leave in the spring.

Basil is drawn to the family the moment they roll into town, partly because they remind him of his own big family in New York. But also because of the eldest daughter, Temperance. She is a tiny, no-nonsense spitfire bent on fulfilling her father’s wish to get the family safely to Oregon. Basil knows if he allows Temperance into his heart, he is accepting the obligation of her entire family. He wants Temperance like he has wanted no other, but is the burden of her family too much?

Basil is drawn to the family the moment they roll into town, partly because they remind him of his own big family in New York. But also because of the eldest daughter, Temperance. She is a tiny, no-nonsense spitfire bent on fulfilling her father’s wish to get the family safely to Oregon. Basil knows if he allows Temperance into his heart, he is accepting the obligation of her entire family. He wants Temperance like he has wanted no other, but is the burden of her family too much?