Sunday, June 26, 2016


The Summer Olympics are just around the corner and I started watching the selection process for the women's gymnastics team this weekend. A sign in the Karolyi gym caught my eye.

The same holds true for any kind of artistic endeavor. Maybe, as authors, we don't have the rock hard bodies of those tiny jumping machines, but if you could peer inside our minds...

Like most everyone else, I have dreams and goals, updated with each milestone I hit. With books 14 and 15 coming out this year, my new goal is to reach the 25-book mark at RWA, for which I'll get a pin. The pin doesn't matter, it's the goal that counts.

When I take a moment to look back, I can't believe how far I've come in such a short time. Admittedly, it hasn't been an overnight success, since every dime I make goes back into advancing my career, but someday soon, I hope to give myself a paycheck. But where would I be if I'd let my dreams of becoming a published author scare me? Since 2012, when my first book came out, my career has been a snowball, starting off slowly and getting a little bigger each year, with each book. I've made some really good friends, I've figured out that there's no such thing as being a complete author, since there's always more to learn, but you do your best and make each new book better than the last. And I've finally found an outlet for all those voices that have been rolling around in my head for years.

Yes, my dreams back when I began this journey scared me, but I decided to face the fear and forge ahead. I'm so glad I did, since my life since has been filled with the highest of highs as well as some not so fun lows. A lot of people say they want to write a book, but few actually finish one and send it out for people to critique, or offer a contract. At least I can say I did it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Character Study

As authors, we're given a lot of advice on how to write compelling characters, even to the point where we should take hours, days and even weeks before we begin writing to determine their characteristics, traits, birth order, number of siblings, etc. All these are things that help shape that character's personality.

I prefer to draw on my family for inspiration.

For instance, my brother, John, or Buzz, as we call him, is the only boy in a family of five children. When people hear that, they ask if he was a spoiled child, with all these girls taking care of him. Not only is he the only boy, he and my sister are twins and are the babies of the family. I can hear the 'awws' even now.

To set the record straight–we did not coddle our brother, even though he had to have major surgery when he was only six months old. He was all boy, playing sports throughout school, riding his bike all over Ohio, spending time with his guy friends rather than playing dolls with his sisters. We each had our own interests when we were growing up. Some of us learned homebuilding from our father, others spent time in the garden, growing produce which helped feed our large family. What Buzz did learn from growing up with girls is that girls are every bit as strong as boys and we can be as intelligent as boys. As a result, my brother is one of the most sensitive and caring men I've ever met. If that's the result of being raised in a family of girls, all men should be so lucky.

Photo courtesy of Barb Daisher
This was proven again during our latest get-together. We manage to get all of us in one place only once every three or four years, and it happened last week. One of my sisters, my brother, and I are considering buying a condo together, and spent a day with a realtor, also a female, examining several places. This realtor directed all her remarks to my brother, as though my sister and I were not there. As we were leaving, after an unsuccessful afternoon, this unenlightened realtor asked my brother if he would let her know when we were going to list my house. I was standing right there, alongside her, and she was aware I was the one with the house to sell, yet her remarks were directed to my brother.

Buzz grinned broadly, and said, "It's entirely up to Becky, if and when she will sell her house, and who she'll list it with." He nodded in my direction and I took it from there. Just as a strong, intelligent woman would.

So, when I'm writing a strong male character, who has a tender side and is able to relate to women, I don't need to come up with a long list of character attributes. I simply draw on my brother's personality. That's all I need to know.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks

As most of you are aware, I'm branching out and beginning to work with different publishers. Each publisher I've worked with has a different way of doing things, including editing, which is where I'm at now in the process.

Over the years, I've developed my own list of words to not use ever, along with words to not overuse. I carefully go through my checklist of things to watch for as I finish up each manuscript. It's tedious work to do a "Find and Replace" for each of the "no-no" words, but no one said this was easy. I thought I had a pretty good system going, but as I was going through the editing guidelines for this new publisher, I came across more words to add to the list. This is why I prefer to work with multiple publishers. Not only do you widen your circle of author friends, you also pick up new ideas and tricks, all of which help make a difference in your work. 

The difference can be subtle. A word placed at a different point in a sentence, a weak word replaced with a stronger one, an extra word eliminated altogether to tighten the story line. Little things that make our work stronger. That's what we authors have to strive for in every sentence we write. Strong images, strong characters, strong writing.  You can teach an old dog a new trick.

And, as with everything, there are exceptions. There are some times when the "no-no" word has to stay in the finished version. But each time you make an exception, you'd better have a really good reason for it. 

I hope to finish up this round of edits later today and ship them off to the publisher. Then, I will turn my attention back to my YA historical, adding new "no-no" words to the list. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Murder In The Garden

My title this week may sound like a cozy mystery, but if only that were the case. The events I'm about to relate actually did happen.

I had hired a lawn service this summer to mow and edge the yard every two weeks. The first time they came, a few weeks ago, everything was fine, except they left the fence gate open so Mary could run out and play in the street. Fortunately, we discovered the open gate before she did.

But this past week, they came again when we weren't at home. The guy wielding the edger had obviously been told the only things to keep were the flowering plants, regardless of whether they were in a flower bed or not. So all my hostas with their big fat leaves,
so evenly spaced out at the edge of the house, and my wild ferns,
which had looked so lush just that morning, were mowed down. Even the back fern bed, which had a rock border around it, was not spared. And the rose bush, who dared to not have a bloom on it? Cut to the quick. What he did manage to leave behind were some weeds that were blooming. Thanks, guy.

I called the owner of the lawn service who came out and witnessed the carnage. All he could do was put down some fertilizer and offer his condolences. I'm now searching for a new lawn company.

This would have been devastating to me if not for two things happening in the same week. I was offered a contract from Wild Rose Press for a Christmas novella in their Sweetheart Rose line,
and another contract from Prairie Rose Publications for a full-length historical. I have just added two new roses to my repertoire. So...out of the ashes of my desecrated yard came two new flowering bushes. My garden is growing once again.

To quote Bruce Willis from the Die Hard movies--"Yippee-kai-yea." You know the rest.