Sunday, September 30, 2018


Fall is in the air, I can smell it. The leaves have yet to turn here in North Carolina, but the days are getting a bit cooler and we don't have as much daylight as we did even a few weeks ago. I'm finally feeling like this is home, although I don't go far still without my pocket GPS system.

I'm also anticipating getting the rights to more of my books reverted to me from Simon & Schuster. I hope to have the remainder of the Cotillion Ball series be released to me in October so I can re-publish them with new covers. It seems to have breathed new life into the first four, all of which have now been released.

And, I'm anticipating hearing from two more beta readers for book three in my new Regency series. I've limited my beta readers before to only one or two, but this time I sent it to four people. The first two had the same comments about certain sections of the book, so I'm glad to have handled it this way. I'll make final changes, read through it yet again, and then send it off to my agent while I rework book two and start book four.

It's a busy time, but as the days grow cooler, I can again take walks with my dog, Mary. The parks system in Pinehurst is amazing with its interconnected trails and I need to explore it further. I had only discovered it before it became too hot to use.

That's what my fall will be like–working in the morning on books two, three and four of the Regency series, working in the afternoon on promotion for the re-released Cotillion books, and walks with Mary in the evenings. What will you be doing?

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fast Or Slow?

Years ago, before I realized I was a better writer than a seamstress, I made quilts. And years ago, there were two schools of thought regarding quilting–you could either do it fast or you could do it slow. The fast way involved machine sewing all those little squares and triangles together and then either tying your three layers together (backing, batting and top) or doing a minimal amount of hand quilting. The Long Arm quilting machines were only then coming into existence.

The slow way involved cutting out each individual triangle or square from a template and pinning it to the next piece to make a block, which then was joined to another similar block. Borders were added and then it was all pinned together and the three layers were painstakingly quilted by hand. Believe me, punching a needle through three layers of fabric and batting was not for the faint of heart and it was a source of pride when you could get your quilting stitch fine and consistent enough to reach 10 or 12 stitches to the inch. The quilt shown here was laboriously hand sewn and hand quilted while I was racing around the country years ago. While my friend took over the driving, I stitched the little triangles together in my lap. The pattern was appropriately called the Wild Goose Chase.

I attended a quilting exhibition on Friday and was amazed and disappointed to find only two quilts that were quilted by hand. There were some exquisite tops in vivid design and detail, but to me, the effect was lost because of the long arm machine quilting. As intricate as the stitching was, the quilts didn't have the puffy consistency that you got from hand quilting. They looked flat to me.

So why am I telling you this? Because last weekend, I attended a writer's conference where one of the  speakers talked about outlining your novel before you begin writing it. Her goal is to publish six books a year, and in order to do so, she creates an extensive outline for each one before starting. Her detailed chapter outline even included snippets of dialogue that she thought would be appropriate in the chapter. It's the writer's version of the long arm quilting machine.

I'm not one to disparage a writer's methods. We each have to find our own way of being creative, and if someone like Danielle Steel or this woman from the conference thinks outlines are the way to go, who am I to argue? If it works for them, fine. But to me, it felt flat. Leaving no room for creativity to take over in the middle of a scene, to connect the dots that only your subconscious is aware of before they come together on the page, seems more like a grind than a grin. But that's me and that's why I can't produce six books a year.

What about you? If  you're a plotter, do you use an outline? Write the synopsis first? Use a beat sheet?  How detailed do you get before you begin to put words on a blank screen?

Sunday, September 16, 2018


This week, an old Girl Scout song has been humming through my mind.
“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold” 
I sang this chant, along with my other Girl Scouts, back in the 1960s, and it never had much meaning to me until this week. I came back to Ohio, back to the Northeast Ohio chapter of RWA, for probably the final time. Seeing all my old friends who came along the publication journey with me, who shared in my excitement of my first book being published, was a real treat. Those two days of the conference, the endless hugs, and the whispered conversations, are something I won't ever forget. Old friends. 
But I now live in North Carolina, and have joined a new chapter of RWA that's just a tad closer than Ohio. The Heart of the Carolinas chapter, in Raleigh, is my new home, and I'll be attending their annual conference in October. I hope to get to know these ladies a bit better at this conference and make some new friends. 
Authors may write their manuscripts in a solitary environment, but we all need networks of like-minded friends to help us on our journeys. That's why I have more than one publisher. Not only does it offer a measure of safety, should a publishing house decide on a whim to close its doors, but you gain access to a whole new tribe of authors who all will cheer your successes, and help lift your spirits if you fail. The larger the circle, the better and more successful you will become. 

So here's to my friends, both old and new. May we always share love, laughter and success. Oh, and wine.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Breaking With Tradition

Anyone who's spent any time writing romance knows one of the cardinal rules of the genre is that the initial meeting of the hero and heroine must take place no later than Chapter Two.

I never liked following the rules.

My current WIP features a couple who are operating under false pretenses, not of their own making. She had been informed of his death six years ago, on a far-away battlefield. He had been informed of her marriage to another. He's a spy now, involved in an undercover operation and has assumed a different identity. So a meeting in the first chapter or two would undermine the entire concept of the book.

But what to do? If hero and heroine don't even have a conversation until page 100, how can I get around it, do what is expected of a romance and let them interact with each other? This is where brainstorming with my writing buddies pays off. We kicked around a couple of ideas and I finally decided a few lusty dream sequences by the heroine were in order. I've been adding in little snippets of dreams here and there before page 100, and it seems to be working. Maybe add in some fog, since the setting is London, after all.

I'll let you know how it pans out in the long run.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Rounding The Corner

My struggles to get my books back up on Amazon are finally sorting themselves out. Thanks to all of you who offered advice and suggestions. Both The Reluctant Debutante and The Abolitionist's Secret are now available, with Banking on Temperance and The Tempestuous Debutante slated for September.

Then, in October, I'll get new royalty (or, in my case, lack of royalty) statements from Simon & Schuster, which will clear the way for the rights to more of those books to be reverted to me. I will then work with my new publisher, Prairie Rose, to add new covers, rejuvenate the blurbs, and re-edit the work.

It's been a good feeling to see the revised versions back up on Amazon, and I'm excited about the new Kindle Unlimited option, where people can borrow the book instead of buying it and I get a certain amount for each page read. It's a great idea for those of us with already overloaded Kindles, and I've been quite happy with the results from the two books I have already in that  program.

In a few short weeks, I'm heading to Cleveland for a conference with my old RWA chapter. I'll get a face to face with my agent, and hope we can pound out a sensible plan to move my career onto an entirely new level.

I don't play baseball, but if I did, I'd be rounding third and heading for home about now. 2019 is just around the corner and it's going to be a great year. Bring it on. In the words of the immortal Stephen King: