Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Waiting Game

I've been busy the last few weeks trying to line up guest appearances on other's blogs and get reviews for my latest book, which releases finally, on April 4. It's been a long time since I began the series, and I appreciate all my loyal readers who have stuck with it until this one, the final book in the Cotillion Ball Series.

Or is it? Even as I write these words, I'm hard at work on a companion book to the series. A few of my friends from the Pioneer Hearts were discussing what you call a book that's an offshoot from another series. Several names were bandied about, and I like the term 'companion.' It's done, for the most part, and I've begun shopping it around to various publishers. So, I'm
waiting to hear back from them.

Most every author who goes the traditional route to publishing waits to hear back from the publisher on whether they want to take a roll of the dice with our works. Then, our faithful readers must wait until the book can be fit into a publishing schedule, and when it can be available in print. We're always waiting. And the bigger the publishing house, the longer the wait.

The finalists for RWA's biggest awards of the year were announced last week, and everyone who entered, whether they thought they had a chance of finaling or not, waited on Friday to see the list of names, which kept growing throughout the morning. Finally, at 3pm, the last of the finalists were announced and added to the list and we all stopped waiting and went back to whatever we'd been doing.

Even if I am about to jump ship and self-publish a novella just to get the experience behind me, it's still a waiting game. First, I must wait until the publisher I sent it to gets back to me. I'd rather not spend my own money getting it edited if it's ultimately to be picked up by a publisher. Then, after the 12 weeks the publisher has requested to review and make a decision, if I decide to self-publish, I need to be fit into an editor's busy schedule, find a cover artist, formatter, etc, etc. I'm sure there are a million other little things I'll need to take care of, and wait on, once I get into it.

And while I'm at it, royalty checks for the last half of 2015 are due by the end of March. It's nearly time for that to show up, but as yet, I've not received word about what to expect, and nothing's shown up in my bank account.

The Waiting Game. That's what being an author is all about.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bones & Joints

Most of you who follow along with this blog are aware I've had some health issues of late. Mostly dealing with my joints. I seem to have great bones, but lousy joints. It's always been an issue, but as I get older, it seems to come into play more and more. So far, the count is 2 elbows, 3 hips and a shoulder.

A writing buddy of mine commented recently that she had to go back and redo the opening scene of her WIP, since it was disjointed. Which led me to an analogy. Your work can have great bones, but without being able to join all those scenes together into a cohesive unit, you just have a pile of bones. And a lot of pain.

I've been working lately on a little Christmas novella. One would think it'd be easy to write, since it's only going to be about 20,000 words and it is about Christmas. Easy-peasy, right? Never have I been so wrong.

I started out writing this two years ago. I had the bones of a good story, since it was about an actual event from my childhood and I folded in my time working retail in a Hallmark store, following the advice given to all authors–write what you know. But for some reason, I couldn't connect the scenes into something that made sense. I had way too many holes in my plot. I put it on the back burner, thought about how to fix the holes, and have recently devoted time to it again. I was able to take about 8,000 words from my first attempt and transfer them into the new, improved story. Those are the bones. But what I have this time are the joints, making it a story that can stand on its own with nary a crutch in sight.

I'm at the point where it's ready to send off into the big world of publishing, and hope to find a home with a traditional publisher. But, if not, I may bite the bullet and enter the unknown world of self-publishing later on this year. Either way, it's an exciting time in my professional life. Can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cover Reveal Time!

I know the cover's been all over Facebook and twitter for days now, but I'm so excited about this book, for a number of reasons.

First, it's the final book in the Cotillion series, but that doesn't mean you've seen the last of the Fitzpatricks. As Julia Quinn has done with her Bridgeton series, I'm taking secondary characters from the original series and writing about them. I may even jump forward and write about the children. So many ideas, so little time.

Second, this has been the only book in my career where I've had to ask for a deadline extension, so I'm doubly glad to see it up on Amazon.

Third, I think the cover is gorgeous. As my adult nephew said, "That's not the kind of woman that would be forgotten!"

So, here's a bit more about this book:

Don’t miss the touching conclusion to the Cotillion Ball Saga!

In 1863, America is war-weary. Fifteen-year-old Saffron Fitzpatrick, whose teenage years have been spent mourning the dead rather than dancing at her debutante ball, just wants to visit her beloved horse after being housebound due to the draft riots. A chance meeting with soldier Ezekiel Boone changes everything.

Three years ago, Ezekiel ran away with his older brothers to join the war effort, welcoming the chance for adventure. But when all four of his brothers die at Chancellorsville, he retreats home, despondent and depending on the kindness of strangers, like Saffron, who help him on the journey. They share a wild ride and a breathless kiss, parting with fond memories.

Fate reunites the couple three years later, and their former attraction rekindles as they discover unexpected common ground and begin to build a relationship. But though the war is over, a future together may still elude them … especially if Saffron’s older, protective brother and the U.S. Army have anything to say about it.

And an excerpt:
New York City
July 15, 1863
Releasing a shallow breath, Saffron Fitzpatrick glided down the stairs on slippered feet, avoiding the creaky spots with unerring accuracy from years of practice. She surveyed the hallway and let out the rest of the air from her lungs. All the servants were still in the basement, preparing the noonday meal. If she hurried, she could escape the house undetected. She ran to the back door, her curls bouncing around her head, and let herself out into the yard.
Heart pounding, she stood, back up against the door, and listened. No frantic footsteps from inside the house meant her break to freedom had gone unnoticed so far.
After two days of being housebound due to the draft riots, Saffron had tired of heeding her father’s warnings to stay indoors. Even though his motives were sound and he was only trying to protect her from the roaming mobs, she would surely perish from boredom if she spent one more moment inside. Although her intent to breathe some fresh air was dashed because the city was foul with smoke from the fires being set around town, she still cherished the freedom of being outdoors. Her skin erupted in goose bumps at her boldness. She cringed back against the door as the distant shouts came closer.
But she had a mission: She needed to see Biscuit. She could certainly get from the family brownstone to the carriage house in their backyard without running into any of the rioters, couldn’t she? Talking to a horse beat staring at her bedroom ceiling. Or reading another boring book. Her intent clear, she pushed herself away from the door and ran to the small building.
            She opened the door to the carriage house. Diffused lighting came through the windows near the roofline, and the cool air was filled with a familiar, comfortable combination of hay, horse dung, and leather. Saffron inhaled the scents as she waited for her eyes to become accustomed to the subdued light. Biscuit nickered a nervous greeting. She tiptoed across the brick floor toward the mare’s stall.
And came to an abrupt halt.
The apples, which Saffron kept in a bucket to dole out to the horse, were all gone. As were the carrots. Someone had been in the carriage house, and possibly still was. She backed toward the door, hoping if she were quiet, whoever was or had been in the carriage house would not notice her. She’d go back to the house and sound an alarm. Then, armed with the servants, she could return and confront whomever was here.
But Biscuit nickered again. If someone was intent on setting fire to the carriage house, Saffron needed to take her horse into the yard first, then call for the servants. She picked up a hayfork and made her way forward, her slippers not making a sound as they moved over the floor. She opened the door to the stall and found what was upsetting her horse, and the answer to why all the good treats were gone. A Union soldier was asleep in the hay next to Biscuit.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

One Last Time

Final galleys were delivered this week. If you're a published author, you know what that means. This is the final check to go over your manuscript. Yeah, that one. The manuscript you've labored over for months, the one where you've got parts of it memorized, your baby. Surely since you've gone over it with a fine-tooth comb for months now, run it through your multiple check lists, there can't be anything wrong with it at this late stage. Right?


At the galley stage, you can't alter the timeline or make excessive changes. According to the instructions from my publisher, we can only make changes to typos or very glaring punctuation errors.

Right now, with five chapters left to read, I've found six errors that fit the parameters given by the publisher. Of course, if I could make more severe changes, I would, since we all know a work is never finished.

"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile."--Robert Cormier

Food for thought.

What stories can you give about proofing your work?