Sunday, January 26, 2020

The End

Or is it The Beginning?

Being able to type The End on a manuscript you've been working on for months is a great feeling for any author. You've run it through your initial editing steps, and it's ready. Your baby is now able to face the world. So, what comes next?

Perhaps you have a trusted reader or two who you can rely on to beta read the manuscript and give you solid advice on what it's lacking. Because, trust me, there will be something lacking. You go through it one more time, hoping you can keep your hands off the keyboard and just read it. (Never happens.)

Then, taking a big gulp, you either send it out to publishers or you place it in the hands of an editor and start to think about covers and blurbs. It's the end of one phase of your story, but the beginning of another. No longer is the story just between you and the pages. You're now ready to have it face the world.

And hope they approve.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Ah, Winter

All in all, it's been a very mild winter so far. The weather folks here in NC said there has only been one day in January so far that the temperature has been below normal. Well, that's about to change. Starting this weekend, Old Man Winter has decided to show up.
It's going to rain and the temperature not getting out of the 40s. But it could be worse. I just checked the weather in Ohio, where I used to live. They will not have rain this weekend. Their precipitation is in the form of snow!

What does this have to do with writing, you ask? I had been planning to take a short road trip to a historic site in NC. But it's raining. Instead of doing research, I'll spend time editing my next manuscript. And my health club is having an open house and giving free chair massages. And I can always curl up with my dog, Mary, and stay warm and toasty as I finish the book I'm reading.

Things will still get done, just differently from what I expected. But my manuscript is coming along nicely, so it's all good. Here's the scene I worked on today. Hope you enjoy.
She began her morning with what she thought of as an easy sale. Entering a clothing store for women, she stopped to touch the fine silk gown in the window. Yellow had never been a flattering color on her, but this gown was more gold than yellow, so quite possibly…
No. She had no place to wear such finery anymore, nor did she wish to spend her money on such foolishness. 
“May I help you, madam?” The seamstress of the fine gown glanced up from her work. 
“You do lovely work.” Libby wandered further into the shop. 
“And you have a fine eye.” The woman smiled as she rose from her worktable. “Are you in need of a gown?” 
“I’m Libby Wexford, from the Gazette, and I am here to drop off some information regarding advertising in the paper.” Libby’s sales pitch faltered when she spied the red shoes. She picked up one of them, caressing it as if it were alive. “Oh, how lovely!” 

“As I said, you have a fine eye, madam. These just arrived from England.” The woman drew alongside Libby. “I have a few more pairs if you’d like to see them.” 
“No, if these fit, I’ll take them. No need to tempt myself with more. I’m sure these are the finest ones of the lot, since you put them on display first.” Libby hadn’t let go of the shoe. Instead, she unbuckled the shoe she wore and slipped the right red one onto her foot. “Perfect. May I pick them up later in the day?” 
“Yes, of course.” The proprietor of the shop only gave a cursory glance at the advertising information Libby handed her, but eagerly took her money. “I am Diana Radcliffe, by the way. I hope to see more of you, Mrs. Wexford.” 
“I’ll return this afternoon to retrieve my new shoes. Thank you for holding them for me.” Libby left the store and wandered down the wooden sidewalk. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

So It Begins

Over the years since my publishing journey began, I have approached editing in an ever-evolving way. Editing will never be my favorite part of the process, but it's so essential to get it right. I begin my manuscripts writing in Scrivener, a software program that allows you to keep research, language, description, and in the case of my latest work, pictures of fashionable footwear from the late 1700s all in one place so you can quickly and easily reference it as you write. When I finish the rough first draft, I go back and use Margie Lawson's techniques making sure there's enough blue, green, pink, yellow and orange in each scene. (If you're a Margie grad, you know what I mean.)  

Libby manufactured a tear, which she made a show of brushing away. “I’m afraid Mr. Wexford recently passed.” 
He mumbled an apology, handed her a key and took her money for the first week’s rent. Libby placed her fingers on her fluttering stomach. She’d told the truth, sort of. Mr. Wexford had recently passed. 
She thought she’d have a bigger battle on her hands, but evidently, widows were aplenty in Boston. The scuffle with Britain had been simmering for some years and was about to turn into a full-blown war.

Then I run through it again with my 'words not to use' checklist. I end up with an entire sheet of paper with heavy checkmarks all over it.
Finally, when I'm done with all that, I download the work into a word document and go through it again, adding to the scenes, fleshing them out.

So yesterday, I finally was able to dump my work into a word document. This manuscript has been very difficult to write, since family obligations forced me to ignore it for a couple months. By the time I got back to it, I had to read it again from the beginning to get my mind back in the game. There's still a long way to go with it, but I thought I'd share the opening scene with you. The book is the second in my Revolutionary War series, tentatively titled "A British Courtesan in America." Hope you enjoy.

Off the coast of England, 1777

Anjanette Shelby nibbled on her lower lip as her homeland faded into oblivion. She had successfully put England behind her, literally and figuratively. She breathed a sigh of relief, inhaling the salty air as she pondered what name she should give herself now. She was about to take on a third identity, but a girl does what she must to survive. The waves, and the wind, were propelling her toward a new future and she had an entire voyage across the huge Atlantic Ocean in which to come up with a new name. The slogan of her new homeland—Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness– resonated. She was entering a new life in the pursuit of happiness, so maybe she should call herself …Liberty? The name bounced around in her head as the waves bounced the ship around in the vast ocean. Liberty. Libby. Bertie? She’d give it some thought. 
“Excuse me, miss, but you dropped your handkerchief.” A man joined her at the railing, holding a scrap of cloth between his fingers. She glanced at him, and the hankie in his hand, briefly, before searching the waves slapping against the side of the ship. His opening salvo had been a pretty uninspired way of engaging her in a discussion, he was a pretty uninspiring man, and the hankie was pretty uninspired and basic. Not at all her style. 
“You must be mistaken, sir. I did not carry a hankie on deck.” She took a step away from the railing. “I must get back to my room, if you’ll excuse me.” 
He quickly placed a hand on her arm. She peeled his fingers from her arm, one at a time. “I said, excuse me.” 
He lowered his hand but stared at her. “There’s no need to be so angry. I merely wish to become acquainted with you. After all, we’ll be aboard this vessel for six weeks or so, and may as well find some way to liven things up, don’t you agree? You’re alone, it appears, as am I.” He cocked an eyebrow. 
“I’m looking forward to being alone, sir.” Anjanette stared back at him. She’d dealt with worse in her lifetime. He was no match for her, although her stomach quivered.
“So you are headed to a new life as a single lady, eh?” He shrugged. “I’m afraid you won’t be able to shed your past as easily as you’ve shed me.” 
“You have no knowledge of my past, sir.” 
He shrugged again. “You are correct. Except we all have one. And my guess is if you’re traveling alone to America, you must be running from yours.” 
She pivoted on her heel and left the deck, striding quickly to her room in the second-class accommodations. Why wouldn’t men just leave her alone? Even if what he said was true, she didn’t need to be told it. She was taking a risk, traveling without an escort, but she no longer had anyone. She no longer needed anyone. She’d have to confine herself to her room during the day and prowl the deck at night. That man, and others of his ilk, would be in first-class, so, with any luck, she could avoid running into him again. Her blood ran cold at the thought there might be someone on board who was aware of her background and reputation. Yes, it was best to stick close to her room by day, venture forth only at night and pray for a swift passage. 
Anjanette’s body finally unclenched after six weeks aboard ship. She took a long, cleansing breath as the last of the first class passengers departed the ship. It would soon be her turn to leave. She’d kept a low profile during the entire voyage, and successfully traversed the Atlantic without being uncovered. Her dresses, though well made, were modest and serviceable. She kept her hair in a chignon with no adornments. If anything, she’d become a chameleon, imitating the other second-class passengers to better blend in. 
She gathered her possessions and placed them back into her satchel. She fingered her favorite necklace, the last piece of jewelry her final benefactor, Atticus, had given her. 
“Thank you, darling, for giving me this gift.” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and took a deep breath. Atticus had given her more than a necklace. He had given her the means to declare her freedom. She packed away the necklace and packed away her old identity. Liberty Wexford was about to disembark and live out the rest of her days in colonial America. Suddenly, the cabin was too small, the ship was too small. She needed to breathe in the free air of America. 
The ship steward stood next to the ramp, ticking the names of the passengers off the manifest. He glanced at her and smiled. “Miss Shelby, I didn’t see much of you during the voyage. Did you fare well, or were you suffering from seasickness?” 
She returned his smile, schooling her expression to one of disinterest. She had no wish to flirt with this, or any, man. “Some, at the beginning of the voyage, but I had a lot of reading to do.” 
“Well, you’re free to go. Enjoy your stay in Boston, Miss Shelby.” 
Free to go. 
She glanced at the steward. “Can you recommend some accommodations?”
“Yes, there’s a really nice hotel, The Hartford, just up the street.” He motioned to the cobblestoned street leading away from the dock. “I can arrange to have your trunks delivered there.” 
“That would be wonderful. Thank you, sir.” 
He called after her. “Goodbye, Miss Shelby.” 
She glanced back at him and waved as she whispered, “It’s no longer Miss Shelby. I’m Liberty Wexford now.” 
Liberty’s steps were light as she touched the cobblestones. Were it not for the spectacle she would create, she’d fall to her knees and kiss the stones. She straightened her hat, shifted her bag from one hand to the other, and set off for the hotel the steward had suggested. After she found lodging, she’d find a job. Boston should look out. Libby Wexford just landed. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Moving On?

It's been a bad week for romance authors. Even if you're not involved in the national organization, the scandal that took place around the holiday made the national news. I won't go into it here, but many of us are questioning if we want to continue our affiliation with the group.

I came to adulthood during the height of the Vietnam war and attended many a political protest in my youth. And more recently, I participated in one last year. I've always fought for what I believed in but now I'm questioning whether to stay with the organization and fight to make it better or to leave.

On the one hand, you can't change anything if you aren't a member. Your voice becomes mute if you leave the fold. On the other hand, maybe the organization isn't worth saving, so you're beating a dead horse.

What to do?

My membership is up for renewal the end of February. Hopefully by then, I'll have an answer.