Sunday, April 26, 2020

Trying New Things

If living through a pandemic has taught me anything, it's that I can't wait to do things. The timer is ticking. American historical romances will always be my first love, but maybe it's time to stretch my scope a bit.

I recently participated in an anthology about finding love in the midst of a pandemic. My short story is a 'seasoned romance,' which means, in the romance vernacular, that the heroine is above the age of thirty, and has a bit of seasoning in the romance market. In the case of my story, the heroine is well beyond thirty. She's a senior citizen. I think it provides a nice counter balance to the other heroines in the stories, and shows that love can be found at any age.

I had so much fun writing something in this century that I want to do it again. Historical writing involves a ton of research, and there is always the fear that the language will sound too modern. But, when I write in a contemporary setting, my heroine can swear like a sailor, can live alone with no one casting aspersions about her being a crazy cat lady, and can have had a life filled with cast-aside lovers.

I still have one more manuscript to finish in my Revolutionary War series, but thoughts are zooming around in my head about writing a seasoned romance series. Right now, I'm going to put a pin in it, but watch this space. More to come...

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Seven Stories From Seven Authors

Every writer who congregates with other like-minded individuals has, at one time or another, taken part in a writing prompt exercise. Each person is given the same scenario or the same words to use, and asked to make up a story about it. It constantly amazes me that no two stories resemble each other, since they started at the same spot.

We are living in uncertain times these days, and, as authors, we tend to migrate to what makes us most comfortable. We write about what we are all experiencing. Seven of us romance authors have come together to write short stories about finding love in the midst of an pandemic. Love In The Time of Corona, Vol. 2, is now available for pre-order here: 

Love In the Time of Corona Vol 2

Here's a taste of what you'll get: 
Defending the Tycoon’s Daughter by Kristi Avalon
Escaping a threat against her wealthy family and the pandemic sweeping the country, Talia Hudson finds herself in an isolated mountain retreat with her handsome, aloof bodyguard. A scandal in Brett's past gives him good reason to avoid Talia yet he can't deny the attraction sparking between them. Will one night of passion lead to regret - or is he ready to risk it all for love?
Shipmates by Chloe Flowers
After a house fire destroys everything she owns, Tara needs a temporary place to live. In a weak moment, Officer Scott Merrick offers an unorthodox solution: sharing a cabin on his boat. Since he works the graveyard shift at night, and she runs the kitchen in her restaurant during the day, they’ll be like ships passing in the night, which is fine by both of them. 
They begin communicating by writing notes to each other. 
In the time of corona, it’s probably a bad idea to fall in love, but what if they are soul mates as well as shipmates?

Viral Dance by Sheridan Jeane

Free spirit Lily Lennon and CEO Josh Graves are opposites, or are they? When they’re thrown together in a cabin on Mt. Rainier following the coronavirus outbreak, she’s determined to have him to teach her to waltz. Can these two dance their way into one another’s hearts?

Choosing My Own Bananas by Becky Lower

Single senior Claire ignores her sister’s advice and decides to take advantage of her grocery’s early Senior Hour to do her own shopping. Widower Bert can’t believe his luck. The mysterious woman from the health club pool is right behind him in line. He and his friend refer to her as Esther Williams, but now he might get to know her real name.  And hopefully a whole lot more. 

Can social distancing actually bring people closer together?

The Royal Muse by Judy McDonough

New Orleans artist, Melody Landry, has had it with relationships and cheating men. She would much rather paint her frustration into money-making masterpieces. 

Reece Thomas has had enough heartache for two lifetimes. He would rather drown his sorrows with his trumpet and whisky than give anyone else a chance to rip his heart out. 
Love was the last thing on their minds—until they found each other.

Can the healing powers of music and art bring two bitter souls together in the midst of a pandemic?

Espresso, Paper, Love by L. A. McGinnis
A stir crazy actress charms her way into a young doctor's life from the neighboring apartment building. It's one thing to exchange notes and coffee in a crisis. It's another to deny their growing attraction. 
Tipsy by Jen Sako

Furloughed from their upscale restaurant positions, server Barbera and Cavan, the restaurant’s sommelier, discover a virtual connection. But can their wine-fueled, digital bond survive in real life? 
 _Instagram Post 7 fun reads
So, when you run out of those chores you've been putting off since forever, you now have seven delicious short stories to give you an ounce of comfort in this time of uncertainty. Here's the link again: 

And, of course, every author needs reviews. If you have a moment, please write a review and tell other potential readers which of these stories you liked the best. These are short stories, so your reviews can be the same! 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Toss a Lime in that Corona

This virus has us all going a bit bonkers these days. Staying at home. Only venturing out for food and medicine. Some romance author friends of mine decided to put their own spin on things and write some short stories about how you can still find love even if you are cloistered. Maybe especially if you're cloistered. I'll be anxious to see if there will be a rise in the birth rate in December or January. My friends had so much fun, they decided to publish a second volume of short stories and asked me to participate.

I hesitated, since I don't normally write contemporary, but then I saw a photo in the local paper of senior citizens lined up in front of the local grocery waiting in the dark for the store to open at 6AM. And it got me to thinking that love can happen at any age. You can find a way to have a good time, put a lime in your Corona. Even while waiting in a grocery line.

Once I got the inspiration and the idea, I couldn't wait to write the story. The anthology will be available to the public on April 22, but you can have a sample of my story today. I hope you like the excerpt from Choosing My Own Bananas. Since most people are spending more time at home now, why not curl up with a new collection of stories that give us all hope of coming out on the other side in a better place? This book is now available for preorder here:


This was a mistake. She should have listened to her sister, who implored her to figure out how to use the on-line ordering system for her groceries. Then, all she would have had to do was drive up, pay an extra fee to have her groceries already bagged up and waiting to be loaded into her car. But other than having to pay someone to shop for her, an indulgence she could ill afford, she just couldn’t wrap her head around someone else picking out her bananas. Instead, she got out of bed before the sun broke over the golf course, and drove herself to the store, where she waited in the dark with all the other old folks in town. At least it seemed like every other senior citizen was queued up and waiting.
“Good morning, Sunshine!” The man in front of her in line turned and saluted her with his coffee in its sparkling white container, wrapped with a slice of cardboard to keep his fingers safe. Maybe, if she’d thought to grab a cup of coffee before she left home, she’d feel a bit more sunny. As it was, she merely nodded to him and stared at her empty cart. 
“You’re Esther Williams, aren’t you?” The man attempted another tack of conversation. She should just ignore him, but Esther Williams? She glanced up at him. 
She checked behind her, but she was last in line, so he couldn’t be speaking to anyone else. “Are you talking to me?” 
“Yeah. You’re always in the pool at the health club, down at the shallow end. You wear that black suit with the see-through bits at the hip.” 
Holy crap! Seriously, she should have taken the time to get some coffee. Her brain was working at only a snail’s pace, but he had described her bathing suit in perfect detail. Who was this guy? And where was the snappy retort she should have had at the ready?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sticks In The Air

There's a new home being built in my neighborhood, and my dog, Mary, and I have been walking by it for several weeks now. My dad was a builder and taught me everything I know about the building process. There's a lot that takes place before you get to this point in the process, when you actually can see 'sticks in the air.' For weeks, all we've been seeing is a hole in the ground, and then, suddenly, we're at the stage. 

Writing a novel is a lot like building a house. There's a lot of work that has to be done before you can begin to build the story. You have to create a solid foundation, plan where the high points will be and lay the groundwork. Only after you carefully lay out your plan can you start putting your sticks in the air without fear of having them collapse and fail. Consider them the plot points of your story. Once your plot is all good and solid, you can start adding things to make the work unique and the story line different from every other book out there. And only once the story line is running smoothly can you embellish the work with the elements that make it special. It all comes down to having a good plan before you turn over that first shovel of dirt. Or, in the case of a manuscript, before you write that first line.

I'm working right now on the final book in my Revolutionary War series. One of the things I especially love about writing historical novels is having the ability to plop my characters into the middle of chaos to see how they rise above it. For me, in order for a book to be considered a historical novel, especially in romance, is to use actual events as an integral part of the story. But that means I spend a lot of time building my foundation. I need to make certain I have the correct dates, the correct location, and in the case of the Revolutionary War, the right generals in charge. If I don't have a proper foundation for my story, I should not be surprised when the sticks begin to fall over. 
Mary and I will keep track of this house, now that the sticks are in the air. We'll watch as all the walls get framed out. Maybe we'll even sneak inside and try to determine the layout. Then, we'll watch as the pretty elements start to come in and the home gets a personality. Hopefully, my manuscript will proceed at the same rate, and develops a personality as well. 

Stay safe and write, everyone. You don't need to write a novel, but in these troubling times, a journal or a letter to a loved one will keep at least some of the panic you're feeling at bay. Stay strong.