Sunday, January 29, 2017

Becoming a Big 5 Author

Okay, I am well aware I snuck in the back door of Simon & Schuster. But I can still lay claim to the fact I'm part of a Big 5 publisher.

Last week, the changeover was finally completed and the Crimson Romance line became a part of the offerings at S&S. So my Cotillion books appear on the S&S website for the first time. Please take a moment and go to my author page and become a fan. Here's the link:

I'm honored and apprehensive about being the first of the Crimson authors to be promoted by S&S in the form of a BookBub ad. On February 6, the bundle of all nine of the Cotillion books plus the novella about how the parents, Charlotte and George, met and fell in love, will be featured on BookBub. For only 99 cents, this collection can be yours. So if you've been tempted before to buy one of these books, but didn't want to commit to the entire series, here's your chance to scoop them all up for one low price. How can you beat 99 pennies?

As if that's not enough, all the Crimson titles are going on sale for the month of February, our Valentine's gift to you. For only $1.99 you can load up on all those tempting Crimson titles. All e-books are available on Amazon.

In addition to the changeover happening, I've been going through the first round of edits for my second Lobster Cove book through Wild Rose Press. This romance is called Sweet Caroline, and I'm in love with Grant, my hero. Caroline is a cousin of Abbey and Penny, who appeared in the first Lobster Cove book, "Love's In The Cards"and she returns to the Cove after sixteen years away to participate in Penny's wedding to Del.

My editor hates the word ït" and has challenged me to banish it (see what I mean?), rather, banish the word from my manuscript. I never gave much thought to how often the word shows up in my work before now. I'll add it to my naughty word list and will decide whether to put it in the "Don't Use At Any Cost" list or the "Use No More Than Five Times In A Scene" list. I climbed out of the editing cave today in order to work on my Regency, and to begin thinking about my next American historical. However, regardless of what I'm working on, there will be no "It" in the book. I'm proof you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Layering Up

Even though it's winter in Ohio, my post today is not about adding layers of clothing to keep warm during the next few months.

I'm in the midst of revisions to my WIP. Each author has to figure out what style of writing works best for them. For me, I need to write a flash first draft, to get the story line down. I don't want to spend a lot of time writing scene after scene only to decide the story's going off in the wrong direction and have to scuttle my work. So, I start with a beat sheet, a rough outline of the story. Then, I'll write the story quickly, leaving out details, descriptions and possibly even a scene or two. If I can get my story line from Start to Finish without mishap, then it's time for revisions.

Revisions, at least my version of revisions, are different from editing. I sprinkle in a lot of Margie Lawson, a little Blake Snyder, a bit of Stephen King, a healthy dose of things every editor I've worked with has cautioned me about and a little checklist of other things I've developed over the years. I add a lot more words to the story, dig deep into my descriptions, add layers and depth to the story. I hate the process while I'm going through it, but when I go back and read what I started with as opposed to what I've got now, I love the process I've developed. I just have to keep reminding myself of the end product when I want to bang my head on my desk or knock the stuffing out of my Dammit Doll.

After revisions come polishing. Does the timeline flow properly and I haven't celebrated Christmas before Halloween? Does the heroine have the same eye color/hair color from the first scene to the last? Have I grounded the reader by showing them where each scene takes place and who's in the scene?

I check the format, make certain each chapter is about the same in size, and then go through it again. Only when I can read through it and make only minor tweaky changes do I declare it ready to send out into the world. It's properly layered up and ready to go.

Obviously, I spend far more time fixing my first draft then I spend writing the first draft. My method works for me, but for others, it would drive them crazy. You have to keep working at it to figure out what works for you. But I always remember the great advice from Nora Roberts, who long ago said she can fix anything but a blank page. I'd rather work on fixing a lousy draft than have no draft at all.

And, in the immortal words of Stephen King: To Write is human, to Edit is divine.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sex and the Single Girl

I spent a day this past week at the hospital. My sister had to be knocked out for a procedure and I had the role of chauffeur. But it meant waiting for the procedure to be done, recovery, etc. So, as I said, I spent the day there. Fortunately, I remembered to pack my laptop so I could keep on track with my word count for the WIP.

As I madly typed away (I was in the zone!) one of the receptionists came by and said "Are you getting an internet connection here?" Since there is no internet connection available in the hospital, I thought it an odd question, but I politely explained I was a writer and able to do my job even without an internet connection. She then asked me what I wrote, and I told her I write romance.

We romance writers have all faced the moment when we tell someone we write romance and they raise an eyebrow at us as images of bodice rippers enter their heads.
But in this case, her reaction didn't stop at the raised brow. She gave me the once-over and asked "Are you married?"

It took me a moment to process. Was she asking because without marriage there can be no romance? Or was she asking because romance dies once one does get married? Or did she believe there really was, as Ava Miles writes, a Nora Roberts Land, created by unrealistic romance novels and their authors and was blaming me for her unhappy life? Did she think I couldn't possibly know what I was writing about if I'd never been married? I didn't know which thought process to take, so I merely answered her question to the best of my ability. No, I'm not married and what's more, I never have been. But that doesn't mean my life has been devoid of romance.

She didn't seem pleased with my answer. But as I pondered her question, I thought about my romantic life. If I'd gotten married to a high-school or college sweetheart I wouldn't have been able to travel around the country and meet all sorts of men. I wouldn't have had the experience of being intimate with more than one partner. I would not have been able to have so many memories to draw upon when I write.

To prove my point, I moved to another waiting room for a long couple of hours and opened my WIP again. Sitting there, with a TV blaring Days Of Our Lives, three couples involved in different conversations and a receptionist who never put down the phone, I wrote an intense love scene. When I finished the scene, I felt a bit naked and, as I came out of the zone, hoped I hadn't made any accompanying noises while I wrote. I glanced up from the laptop and the three couples weren't paying me any attention, so I figured I had safely navigated the scene. But I was exhausted. Having sex in front of a crowd can wear a girl out.

And I still had to drive us home.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Planning for Quarter One

I begin each year thinking I'm going to slow down a bit. After all, I'm technically 'retired.' But it's my belief that if you slow down, you begin to decline mentally as well as physically. And I can't afford to do that. Take a look at my first quarter of 2017:

Jan. 24--First edits are expected on my new Lobster Cove book, Sweet Caroline.
February 1--Manuscript due to Lori Wilde for her workshop. Miles to go yet on the manuscript.
February 13-24--Workshop with Lori Wilde. 'Intense' is the working word I've been hearing for this workshop.

And that's just the deadlines for my writing.
For the first three months of the year.
Sobering thought.
Might be time for a little of the bubbly.

What, you might ask, will I do in Q2? Here's my list, as of right now:

Solicit an agent with the Regency series idea.
Final edits on Sweet Caroline, begin a promotional campaign.
Start work on book #19

Of course, there are always extra things that come at you out of left field. I'm excited to see what those will be. I have a few clues, but don't want to jinx anything. For now, I'm keeping my head down, my butt in the chair, and getting the word count accomplished.

 You'll be the first to know of anything major. Stay tuned.

Happy 2017, everyone!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Ring In The New

I think I can safely say 2016 has been a pretty rotten year in terms of stealing away loved ones, ending with Debbie Reynolds. (At least I hope it's the end. As I write this, there are still two days left in the year.)

I think it's time for some holiday cheer. As you all know, I wrote and published two holiday novellas this year, which was a new experience for me in a lot of ways. First, I wrote about Christmas, something I rarely do. I'm much more a Thanksgiving and 4th of July kind of girl. Second, I wrote a Regency, which I loved doing and will write more of. Third, I self-published the aforementioned Regency, but the jury's still out on whether that was a good decision.

In order to get into the holiday spirit during the blazing heat of August, I decided to start the process by writing a short Christmas story about hope. I'm sharing it here today, in the hopes that 2017 is a year filled with wonder and joy. And hope. Happy New Year, everyone!

Christmas Leftovers

Leah Harrison loved the week after Christmas. It was the time for bargains, a perfect shopping climate for someone on a budget. Even though she needed to sleep, since her night had been taken up by her office cleaning job, she roamed the aisles of the big-box store, combing the remaining Christmas merchandise before it got too sparse, touching the red and green ornaments, ribbons, artificial trees and wreaths, and inhaling the fragrance of the pine-scented candles.  She picked up a canister of shortbread cookies, and some chocolate candy as she searched for a new ornament or two for her tree.
The only other person in this part of the store was a man who was in the same aisle, looking extremely uncomfortable as he picked up and discarded one ornament after the other. She followed his movements as he came closer to where she stood, mentally assessing him. Tall, good-looking, well built, dark hair. He uttered a mild expletive each time he tossed an ornament back into its bin before moving on to the next.
When he arrived at the portion of the aisle where she stood, he raised his gaze to her. “Kind of pathetic, don’t you think? All this picked-over merchandise, leftovers, things nobody wanted.”
She smiled at his take on the goodies left behind and tucked her long brunette hair behind an ear. “I prefer to think of this aisle as one of hope. People are already planning for next Christmas when they pick up merchandise here.” To prove her point, she deposited a box of Christmas cards into her basket.
“That’s one way of looking at it, I guess. Are you always such a Pollyanna?” His smile softened his words, and made Leah’s knees go soft as well.
“I’m not a Pollyanna, just optimistic. Now, what are you searching for?” She gazed into his green eyes, and momentarily forgot where she was.
“My mother has a collection of turtles.” He stopped talking and grinned at her. “Not real ones, she won’t even touch a live turtle. But any doo-dad she can put her hands on that has a turtle shape, she’s all over it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find turtle ornaments every year?”

Leah laughed at his predicament and placed a hand to her heart. Any man who would scour the aisles of Christmas merchandise in search of a special ornament for his mother spoke volumes. “I saw something that might work a few bins down.” She took a step away from him, going back the way she came. “I’m Leah, by the way.”
He hurried to catch up and strode alongside her. “I’m Cam. Thanks for helping me in my never-ending turtle quest.”
“Cam? Is that short for Cameron?” Leah wanted to keep the conversation flowing.
“No, it’s short for Campbell, my mother’s maiden name.” He grinned at her again. “I guess I was destined to be a Mama’s boy from the moment I was born.”
Leah stopped in the middle of the aisle and glanced at him. “Nothing wrong with loving your mother. I think it’s sweet.” She tore her gaze from him and peered into the bins of ornaments. “Ah, here’s the one I came across earlier.” She pulled out an ornament shaped like a wind chime, each piece of the chime fashioned into a baby turtle. Mama Turtle was in the center, surrounded by her babies. She handed it to Cam, enjoying the heat from his hand as she passed the ornament over.
Cam held it up to the rays streaming in from the skylight, twirling the ornament to take in all the baby turtles, each of which was poised differently. “This is perfect. I bet I could even make it count for several years, since there are so many turtles in one place.” He switched his gaze from the ornament to her. “Thank you for helping me find the perfect gift. Now, I must repay you somehow. Would you like to go next door and grab some coffee?”
Leah glanced at his left hand, which held the decoration. There was no ring on his finger. She sucked in a breath. Between her two jobs, she’d had little time for dating, so it had been months since she’d done something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee and conversation with a member of the opposite sex. “I’d love to. Let’s go check out and then head over.”
Perhaps the time had come to give herself a present. By agreeing to continue the small bond that had developed in the leftover Christmas aisle, Leah did just that. Her vision of hope for next Christmas grew even brighter as he took hold of her basket of goods in one hand and her hand in the other.