Sunday, November 29, 2015

Limitless Possibilities

The final book in my long Cotillion Ball series, The Forgotten Debutante, is at the publisher for edits, finally. While I love my Fitzpatrick family immensely, I'm ready to move on. But move on where?

And by moving on, I don't mean to a different publisher, necessarily. I mean moving on with my writing. Inventing new families for my readers to fall in love with, developing plot lines that are different from the Cotillion series. It's an exciting time for me, with my imagination being the only limitation placed on me.

So where do I move on? I could finish the time travel book, which has been languishing under the bed for years. Hmm, maybe. I could put a spin on a family tale and figure out why my grandmother and her siblings were ridiculed their entire lives for having Indian blood when a DNA test has proved that notion to be false. Hmmm. This tale has been discussed in depth for a number of years with my uncle, my dad's last remaining brother. He has his own version of what happened. And, after finding my great-grandmother's gravesite and realizing that all this time we referred to her as Missouri Belle when she was actually Missouria Belle, the speculation grew to the point where we did some hasty research on the subject. There was a tribe in the Great Lakes back in the early years called the Missouria, which merged with another tribe along the way. Could there have been a morsel of truth to the tale? And if so, how, since my DNA doesn't have a drop of Indian blood?

My mind began to spin in all kinds of directions. Yes, the latter idea proved to be the one with the most potential. I'm going to put an ending on the tale which makes sense. I just hope the Myers and Huffman branches of the family are not upset that I've stolen a leaf from our family tree to craft a story about.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Professional Jealousy

Romance authors are a tightly-knit group. At chapter meetings, we cheer each other's accomplishments, commiserate with each other if the news isn't so good, and pass out a lot of chocolate. On the national level, we get to know other authors who are enjoying the benefits of their hard work, and realize folks like Nora, Julia and Jayne Anne are really normal, down-to-earth types who have labored for years to get to the heights they're now at.

While I'm on the same page as my chapter mates with my pleasure in other people's success, I find myself occasionally wondering why one person is successful and another can't get any traction. I hold myself and my books up for comparison with others and find myself wishing that, for one moment, I could be in their shoes.

Most of you know by now that The Voice is one of my favorite shows. Not so much for the talent,  but because I love the interaction between the coaches. I always find some kernel of wisdom to take home.

This week, Pharell Williams told one of his team that if you wish to be like someone else who has made it in the industry, you'll always be second best. He said the only person you should compete with is yourself, and try to do better every week, every month, than you did before. Once again, Pharell's words resonated with me.

So, from here out, I will compete only with myself, and will continue to applaud the accomplishments and success of others. Thank you, Pharell, for once again reminding me of what is important.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

More Time In The Editing Cave

As most of you know, I've been editing and re-editing my manuscript The Forgotten Debutante. It's been going fairly well, but one scene, the Thanksgiving dinner, wasn't coming together as it should have. I had my two females, Saffron and Grace, discuss the menu, make certain the silver was polished and the tablecloth was clean. But then I glossed over the meal altogether. Left it on the proverbial table, as it were.

After thinking about it for a few days, I went back and added in one paragraph about the dinner, and thought I had it fixed. I just reread the section again and I realized my hero, Zeke, was jumping up and down trying to get my attention.

"I want to taste the pie, not just see it, Becky," Zeke yelled at me from across the table. "And what about the mashed potatoes and gravy? Did they just eat themselves?" When he picked up a dinner roll and lobbed it in my direction, I flung my hands in the air.

Okay, okay, Zeke, calm down. I went back to my paragraph about the dinner and added in some actual conversation, referred to the two available pies, and how Zeke could have a slice of both, etc, etc, etc. Finally, Zeke had a full belly and he quit yelling at me.

My dog, Mary, has lately been reacting the same as Zeke. She's decided she likes to cuddle, either with my sister on the couch, or with me in my chair. Since she's a puppy mill rescue dog, she never learned how to jump up on the furniture, so we need to pick her up each time. Picking her up is still a challenge, though, since she needs to be herded into her little bed (not the big one, mind you). But once she's in her safe place, she'll allow us to pick her up, and she'll loll for hours in one place or the other.

A few days ago, she sat quietly with Pat in the morning when I was working. Then, she got up for a potty break, came back in the house, and went to her little bed. I headed for my chair to check my emails. She got out of her bed, stared a hole through me until I looked up from the screen. When she had my full attention she gave a full body sigh, nodded her head in the direction of the bed and walked back to it, ready to be picked up. Thank goodness, there were no dinner rolls in the house.

So I missed Mary's cues, just as I had Zeke's. Time to pull my head away from the computer and pay attention to the folks that matter.

Hopefully, both Zeke and Mary have now been taken care of. I haven't heard either of them yelling at me today.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Editing Cave

For about the past month, I've been in editing mode. The ninth and final book in my Cotillion Ball series is due to the publisher in a matter of weeks, and i'm tediously going through my checklist as I hone my rough first draft into a final version.

I took a workshop last month through RWA and the instructor made a comment that a first draft can be so rough it can sand wood. But, with the proper editing, no one will know what the first version looked like. As the child of a homebuilder, I love the analogy.

Stephen King once said, “To write is human, to edit is divine.” I knew we were kindred spirits. 

For me, the first draft is merely the first step. Each time I go back through my manuscript, from start to finish on each occasion, I have a set order to my process. Six, seven, eight times through. It doesn't matter how many times I comb through it. Each time, I'm looking at some different aspect of my work. Finally, when I can read through it with my hands off the keyboard, I can send it off. 

As I write this, I'm about 2/3 of the way through the fifth draft of the story, making what I hope will be my final edits–adding in the missing words, tying up the loose story threads, adding description and texture to the story. I should be able to finish it up by next week, and then read through it once or twice more before I send it off. But if it takes more read-throughs before I can keep my hands off the keyboard, so be it. Some books are harder to write than others. 

Every author has a different approach to the creation of a story. Some write out of order, laying down scenes as they appear in the author's imagination and then piecing them together like a big jigsaw puzzle. I admire these writers, since I can't do it. Some use an outline and synopsis to make it clear to themselves which way the story should go. I use this linear approach, but don't make it so detailed the story and characters can't surprise me as I write. 

Whatever process one goes through to get to the final, shiny, polished story, it shouldn't be rushed. There are too many books out there with typos and poor grammar, in both the traditional press and self-published works. I want my manuscript to be as clean as it can be when I let it go. If all the niggling little things are done when it goes to my editor, she can concentrate on the story line and strengthen that, instead of worrying over too many commas and the difference between heard and herd. 

For everyone participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope you take the month of December to turn your piece of sandpaper into a shiny, polished pearl before you send it off to an agent or publisher. Don't rush the process. The end result will be worth it. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Welcome Historical Author Marin McGinnis

I'm so pleased to be able to host today's guest, Marin McGinnis. Marin and I are chapter mates at NEORWA and we both write historical romances, so we always have a lot to say to one another, and there's never enough time at our meetings. So here's a chance for us all to get to know her a bit better. Marin writes for Wild Rose Press, and has just released her second book. Take it away, Marin!

Thank you for having me here today, Becky!

Tell me about your new release.
My second novel, Secret Promise, tells the story of Edward Mason (long lost brother of the heroine in my first book), and the sweetheart he left behind. It is reminiscent of the Odyssey, although it takes Edward a lot less time and fewer adventures to get back home to his lady love.

How does the release fit into your series, if it is a series?
Secret Promise is a sequel to Stirring Up the Viscount, and answers a few questions left open in that book.

What one thing do you hope readers enjoy in the particular offering?
I loved writing this book (except when I didn’t, somewhere in the middle!), and fell a little in love with my characters. Anna and Edward were childhood sweethearts, separated by circumstance (and perhaps just a wee bit of villainy), and through it all remained true to each other. I hope that readers will enjoy their story.

What do you have planned next?

I am currently working on a longer novel set exclusively in England in 1851, completely unrelated to the first two books. I do, however, have two more stories in the hopper featuring the Tenwick family from Stirring Up the Viscount, so we’ll see more from them eventually!


Falsely imprisoned as a blockade-runner during the American Civil War, Edward Mason yearns to go home. But when after seven years he finally returns to England, the life he expected is gone. His parents are dead, his home destroyed, his father’s legacy stolen, and his girl—his girl is now the single mother of a child Edward never knew.

Abandoned by the man she loved and disowned by her family, Anna Templeton has learned to stand on her own two feet and make a home for her son. Now the successful owner of The Silver Gull tavern, she's not about to put their happiness in the hands of the one man who let her down so badly.

Edward is determined to regain Anna’s love and be a father to his son. But when a series of suspicious accidents threaten him and those he loves, he must stop the man responsible, or lose everything.

Buy links:    The Wild Rose Press




“Good day, sir. What can I get you? We have a very good cottage pie today.”

Edward frowned. “Aren’t you a bit young to be working in a public house?”

“Oh, I don’t work here,” the boy said. “Me mam’s the owner, and Molly didn’t come to work today.”


“The barmaid, of course.” His tone held a hint of derision, as if he thought Edward an idiot for failing to know who Molly was.

“Of course.” Edward was amused. “Well, then, I suppose I shall have the cottage pie, and an ale. And perhaps I could have a word with your mother, when she has a moment?”

“What do you want her for?” The boy’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“I used to live here, many years ago, and would like to speak to someone about…” Edward broke off as a woman emerged from the kitchen, carrying two plates piled with food. She had fiery red hair and a lithe figure, and moved easily through the tables. After setting one of the plates before a man sitting near the bar, she turned and scanned the room. Her gaze alit on the boy first, and she smiled. Then she spotted Edward. All color drained from her face, and the remaining plate slid from her hand, shattering on the stone floor.

“Mam!” The boy raced to the woman and clutched at her skirts, but Edward was unable to move.

“Anna,” he whispered.

About Marin:
Clevelanders are tough, a bit cynical, and just a little crazy, and Marin McGinnis is no exception. When she's not chasing after big dogs or watching tweens skate around hockey rinks, she is immersing herself in romantic tales of years gone by. She lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband, son, and two standard poodles.