Sunday, May 27, 2018

Stormy Weather

June 1st is the official start of hurricane season, a fact I didn't really care about while in Ohio. It's a different story now that I'm in North Carolina.

The past few nights have been filled with the weather folks urging all in the viewing area to get their hurricane preparedness kits in order. I had to do a Google search to find out what is considered essential in such a kit. The list is this: Food bars, water, AM/FM radio with batteries, candle, emergency bright stick, whistle and waterproof matches, in addition to emergency medical supplies. Whew! I'm going to have to stock up slowly. It may take all summer to compile my kit.

Which makes me realize this latest necessity in my life isn't that much different from my writing kit. I started out slowly, becoming a PRO member of RWA, joining the local chapter, taking classes, attending workshops, all in an effort to compile my writing toolbox, a term used by Stephen King. Along the way I added to the toolbox, turning PRO status into PAN when my first book got published, continuing to enter contests and attend workshops, working with an agent. I added in an editing software program to the mix. I slowly compiled things into my writing toolbox, and six years after my first book was published, I have come to the realization the toolbox will never be completely filled. There's always something new going on in the publishing industry, which is changing at such a rapid pace, it's hard to keep up.

What's next on the horizon? As I gear up for hurricane season, I'm also gearing up for big things to come in the second half of the year, writing-wise. I'll be re-releasing the first four books in the Cotillion Ball series, and am hard at work on the Regency series and my brides book. Lily, Iris and Poppy are eager to show off their men to you, and Jake is ready to tell us who has won his heart. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Words of Wisdom From Stephen King

I'm rereading Mr. King's book On Writing, which was lost during the move, and recently repurchased.  I feel a particular kinship with Stephen King. We're the same age, for a short time we had the same publisher, both of us had a unfortunate encounter with poison ivy toilet paper when we were young, we both were editors of our high school papers. Of course, his career far surpasses mine, but it's nice to know he struggled in his early years, as we all do.

Here's what he has to say about his career. "I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint, or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all." 

So Stephen had someone try to make him feel lousy about his writing, too. More that we have in common.

So what's the take-away? Don't let anyone tell you you're wasting your talent, or make you feel lousy. Keep your nose to the grindstone and keep cranking out your stories. You'll get better every time you type "The End" on your works and sooner or later, you'll be able to look upon those who made you feel lousy and wish them well.

In that vein, I'm pleased to announce that Book Baby #19 was just awarded a Crowned Heart by Ind'Tale Magazine and is featured on their YouTube feed. You can see the whole thing here:

Or, you can just take a look at the ad they created for me here:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Here Come The Brides

No, this post is not about Meghan and Harry, even though it's a fairy tale in real time, something we romance writers love to slobber over.

My bride reference refers to my WIP, which started out with a one mail order bride idea. Actually, I had thought three of them, the heroine and her two sisters. But mail order bride books are extremely popular in the western romance market, and my bride was only slightly different from all those who had traveled the route before her. 

What made my manuscript different was the fact that my bride in question was one of a group of sixteen women who were all traveling west to find their mates. Similar to Westward The Women, a movie about a wagon train full of women, filmed in 1951, I place sixteen women in the care of one brave man, Jake Shelton. If you're familiar with my Cotillion Ball series, you'll remember that Temperance Jones chose Basil Fitzpatrick over Jake in Banking On Temperance. In that book, Jake tipped his hat and rode off into the sunset. Not this time. Not if I have anything to say about it. 

I realized the hook to this book is the fact he's agreed to help his sister, who runs a matchmaking business, to shepherd these ladies west. Over the course of six months, Jake's ladies will prove to him they are strong women, just as Roy Whitman found out in the movie. Some of these ladies stand out in the book, and deserve their own stories about what happens after Jake drops them off and sees them get married. And of course, there's the one who captures his heart. 

So instead of the Bride Of Baxter Ridge, the name of the book has been changed to the working title of The Angelica Train. Is this my new, multi-volume series? Could be. I've learned a lot about the Oregon Trail while writing this book, as my sticky map of the trail attests to. And I wrote about a portion of the trail in my most recent post on History Imagined. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Still Learning

I attended an RWA chapter meeting in the Carolinas yesterday. I was drawn to it by the speaker, who was going to talk about deep POV, but I had never attended any of their meetings and didn't know anyone. I sat across from a lady and we got to talking. She's pre-published, still working on her first manuscript. She asked me the same question and when I told her how many books I'd written, she asked why I was even there. I explained that I felt I was still learning, too, and if I could walk away from the meeting with one nugget of info, I'd be happy.

So what did I learn? Glad you asked. I learned about enneagrams and that there are nine basic personality types and only three core emotions that drive a person's backstory–fear, shame and anger. I'm going to take the test later to determine what my personality type is, but I gave some thought last night to my characters in the mail-order bride story. Fear drives my heroine, shame drives the hero, so I guess I intrinsically knew this nugget before yesterday. But it was good to have it spelled out.

The icing on the cake was I got to spend time talking about writing with a group of ladies who "got" it. A new tribe? I don't know yet, but a few new friendships, yes. I'm feeling quite "cocky."