Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Just some news...

Deciding not to do NaNoWriMo this year turned out to be a good decision. Life has a way of taking unexpected turns, doesn't it? And sometimes decisions you make for one reason end up being the right one for very different ones.

WINTER BREAK was in edits at the beginning of the month and my second Sweet Spot book was half-written. The initial reasoning for not participating had to do with those two stories. A few days in, it had become obvious that the editing time and the writing time would conflict, so I bowed out of the annual, wonderful write-in that is NaNoWriMo.

And then an aneurysm burst in my brother's head and everything else took a backseat.

Editing is easier to do than writing when a crisis occurs. So WINTER BREAK will release before the end of the month, as promised. But the Sweet Spot story? I haven't written a word on it since November 9th, when the world turned sideways.

Mike's not doing as well as we'd hoped. The initial surgery to repair the aneurysm went well - he woke afterward and spoke with the nurses and the doctor in ICU. But a short time later, his brain swelled and they had to take him back into surgery. He hasn't been awake since.

Modern medicine is a true marvel. What they were able to do (and are doing) is nothing short of amazing. But hard decisions are coming on us and it's very difficult to be creative when they loom in one's thoughts.

The upshot? WINTER BREAK will be released in less than a week (Yay! A bright spot!!!), but the still-unnamed Sweet Spot story will be delayed until after the New Year. You'll like it, though. Remember Emily, Wiste's best friend who is her safety when Wiste does her self-bondage? She got short shrift in TIED TO HOME, so I decided she needed her own story. Good thing she meets a hunky psychiatrist who has only recently hung up his shingle in Port Clef...:)

Keep my brother in your thoughts and prayers, if'n you would. Thank you.

Play safe,

PS. A special treat for those of you who read this far. Click on any of the links above for a sneak peek at WINTER BREAK. :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Okay, so maybe not so much NaNoWriMo...

November starts with such good intentions. Write a novel, start to finish, in thirty days. It can be done. Did it last year. Can do it again this year, right?

Yeah. About that.

Last year's NaNoWriMo novel was an historical romance set in 1777 British-occupied New York City, entitled THE REVOLUTION OF CLARA SIMPSON*. I'd spent several weeks in October doing the research and, at the start of the month, already had the first chapter (more or less) written. While more research was necessary during November, the bulk of the time was devoted to writing.

Eliza Floyd is the best friend of Clara Simpson in last year's novel. I've wanted to tell her story, too, and thought this year's NaNoWriMo would be the perfect time to sit down and do it.

So, starting on November 1st, I pulled out the two paragraphs I'd written last year and set aside and let my fingers start creating, drawing a clear picture of Miss Floyd and her mother in a carriage as they left the city for safer environs.

Fifteen minutes later (after writing one hundred and fifty words), I needed to look up a detail about the family. Which, of course, led to delving deeper into the New York City culture of the time. And where, exactly, was their destination? I know I bookmarked a map that was very helpful last year...

Two hours passed and the story wasn't any further, the questions in my head that needed further research had quadrupled and it became quite clear that, if I wanted to complete a novel for NaNoWriMo, Eliza's story wasn't the one to tell.

I have another novel I'd been working on that I set aside when WINTER BREAK (a novella that will be released at the end of this month) came along. It's already 22,000 words long. Another 30K should finish it off. But then I couldn't count it as a NaNoWriMo novel. The goal is one novel, one month, 50,000 words.

What to do? What to do?

It's already the third day in and so far, I have nothing to show for it. With edits soon to be returned for WINTER BREAK, and a half-written novel started, it really makes more sense to abandon the noble NaNo goals and concentrate on those works-in-progress. This way, I'll have one new piece released just after Thanksgiving and another new novel ready for release just after Christmas.

All that means, no NaNoWriMo for me this year. The timing just doesn't work out.

Play safe!

*THE REVOLUTION OF CLARA SIMPSON is currently "in the queue" at two publishers. Thought going the traditional route might bring in a wider audience for my other books. Am losing patience, however. One company has had it since April and the other hasn't returned/acknowledged my query. If I hear nothing from either by Christmas, I'm going to self-publish it and not keep readers waiting any longer.

Hmmm...three books released in three months? I'd better get writing!

Friday, October 30, 2015

NaNoWriMo is coming!

So here I am, on the cusp of NaNoWriMo, trying to finish WINTER BREAK before November 1st so I can start fresh with something else on Sunday.

Why isn't WINTER BREAK finished yet, Hunter? You've had two full weeks to write one more scene. What's up?

The biggest reason is my daughter. I have two children; my son moved out over a year ago and married last May. My daughter, having graduated with a degree in theatre and loving Stage Management, hasn't been able to get anything full time and so has been living at home to save money. That's changed. She's now the full time Business Manager for two businesses - Water Gallery and Cafe and the West Main Kitchen in Waterloo, NY. The first is an art gallery, the second is a recently-renovated diner that will be opening VERY soon (menu tasting is tomorrow by invitation only and my husband and I snagged invites. Can't wait!).

The upshot of all this is that she's taken the apartment over the diner (and two doors down from the gallery) and has been moving out. We've painted her new kitchen, her new living room and her new bedroom (the bathroom was still in good shape), moved furniture - I have a garage back! (she's been collecting for quite some time) - and bought groceries. There is still a closet full of clothes to go through and a lot of childhood "stuff" to sort out, but we're almost done.

And that's what I've been doing instead of writing. It's both a fun and exciting time for her (and us) and a scary one as well. She's been on her own before, but I think this is it. Her last move out of our house, starting her own life. She's launched and I'm thrilled and saddened at the same time.

But NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. So today, I'm going to finish WINTER BREAK so I can send it out for another round of edits. Remember the no-conflict problem? Fixed!

I know, I know. Stop writing this post and get back to that story, Hunter!

Play safe!

edited to correct the name of the new restaurant and to add in the link

Sunday, October 11, 2015

No conflict? What???

What do you do when your story has no conflict?

This happened to me lately. I started the story WINTER BREAK as a Christmas Quickie for Ellora’s Cave. But I’m a pantser and the story, while set at Christmas, doesn’t contain the holiday as an integral part of the story (EC’s requirement). It also doesn’t have a lot of sex in it, which makes it more a traditional romance than an erotic one.

Finished, I sent the manuscript off to several of my Sizzling Scribes sisters for proofing/editing. I always ask them to be brutal, because I want the best story I can put out there. Many thanks to both TaraNina and Lynn LaFleur for their comments (and expertise at finding my typos!).

It was Tielle St. Clare, however, who pointed out (rightfully) that I had no real conflict in the story. It was a slice of life piece – which is fine if that’s what I meant, but she rather thought it wasn’t. You see, as a pantser, I discover the characters like to drop little clues, hints about their problems that they divulge rather early in the story. As the plot progresses, I take these clues and follow them, determining as I go which are important and which are not. In the re-write, I take out the false clues (unless I’m writing a mystery like SHOOTING STAR – those red herrings are there specifically to mislead you!).

Except in WINTER BREAK, I hadn’t done anything with the hints at something in the female protagonist’s past that might hinder a current relationship.

Now mind you, I knew what it was in my head. I knew the hero and heroine would have trouble because of it. It was all right there – the characters had told me fairly early on and then trusted me to deal with it later.

Except I hadn’t. And Tielle called me on it. This is why writers need editors!

So I’ve been rewriting the story. It’s gone from just over 10K to 14K in the past week as the conflict has come home to roost. Tara and Lynn think it needs another sex scene (grin) and it might get that as well. Haven’t decided yet. Will let the characters make their choices (although I have a sneaking suspicion what they’ll want!). If they do, it will probably end up closer to 18K by the time I’m done.

Writers need editors. Writers know the story too well to have an objective eye—we miss the obvious. Thank you to Tara, Lynn and Tielle for their editing help. I couldn’t do this without you sisters!

Play safe,


Sunday, October 04, 2015

NaNoWriMo in less than a month -- already?

Hard to believe NaNoWriMo will so soon be upon us. Seems like just yesterday we were furiously writing novels, grabbing every spare minute to write another section, another paragraph, another sentence. Anything to advance our word counts and get to the finish line: 50,000 words in a month.

NaNoWriMo is good because it forces one to take time and do what writer's do: write. As a retiree, it's all too easy to slip into lazy practices - I'll do one more load of laundry...dust the dining room...read this book - any excuse to avoid the BIC step (Butt In Chair). An event such as NaNoWriMo reminds us, if you want to write a book? You have to sit down and write a book.

Last year I worked on THE REVOLUTION OF CLARA SIMPSON, an historical romance. I'd started the research earlier and had some of it written before November. During NaNoWriMo, however, I added 52K to the story. When I finished it a few weeks later, the story ended up around 75K total. But for the November push, it would've taken a whole lot longer for me to get that puppy finished.

What happened to that manuscript, you ask? Let me tell you...

The book sprang from a conversation I'd had with C. J. Hollenbach, one of EC's original cover models. He's a sweetheart and, at the Romanticon convention, I remarked that he'd never graced the cover of any of my books. I told him I'd write one specifically for him, a book that would cry out for him as the cover model.

At one point, he was the model for Karen Hawkins' Her Master and Commander and I loved that picture of him. Dashing, handsome, romantic...yeah. I wanted to write that C.J., so I did. The Revolution of Clara Simpson.

But it didn't turn out to be an erotic romance. Historical romance, yes. Sweet romance, yes. Erotic romance? No so much.

That meant Ellora's Cave wasn't the right place for it. I could self-pub it (and still might!), but thought this might be the book to bring in a wider audience. So I sent it off to Carina Press.

Who promptly rejected it.

I sent it to Harlequin next. But, three months later, I contacted them again (since I hadn't heard from them aside from the initial auto-response) and asked if they were still interested. I got a very nice note in reply from Dieidra McCluskey, an Editorial Assistant, stating that their response time of 12 weeks is approximate and that my manuscript was being reviewed by their Historical Romance response team.

I haven't heard from them since. I suppose I'll send another email at the six-month period to see if I can goose it along, one way or the other. It's hard, having written a book that I know is good, to wait on others for a yay or nay, especially in this time of self-publishing when I could've had it out there already (let's face it, Mystic Shade wrote, edited and published two more books and I've written a Christmas story that's currently in edits in the time Harlequin has taken to decide!).

So I'll give them a courtesy email in another week, upon the six-month anniversary of my submitting it. I would very much like them to publish it, even though it means a smaller royalty for me (compared to self-publishing) because it means a wider distribution. More eyes on the book - and that's worth the trade-off. Why? Because that book will lead new readers to say, "I liked this. What else has she written?" And my entire backlist will get a boost.

So what's up for this year's NaNoWriMo? What book will I work on? Not sure yet. I have that fantasy I keep talking about and would love to get a chunk more written. But there is also a follow-up story to Clara Simpson's and I'm thinking I might like to give that a run. I have a few weeks yet to make my decision, thank goodness!

NaNoWriMo in less than a month - already. Have any ideas about what project you're going to work on?

Play safe,

Friday, September 18, 2015

Website updates and additions -- and a re-release!

Sometimes tweaks are needed to keep a website looking good. To that end, several changes have been made to the website.

First of all, you'll note the sidebar now contains only one book cover. The newest release will always be the "Featured Book" so you can find it easily. While it made sense to list the other covers when there were only a few, the longer the list became, the more ungainly it looked, making the front page way longer than people wanted to scroll through (but isn't that a wonderful problem to have? Too many books for a scroll list?!?).

The second change is to the "Published Works" page. You'll note the covers are there but (mostly) only the covers. Each picture links to a dedicated book page with purchasing info, an excerpt and reviews of the book. This allowed me to put up ALL my books, both those I've self-published and those published by Ellora's Cave, in a layout that is clean and easy to use.

There is also a complete list of books, as well as a downloadable PDF of the list.

The third change? The addition of an "About Me" page. This was fun to write! Spread out over many posts over many years, it seemed time to pull everything together in one spot. Be forewarned: it's long!

And finally - the newest re-release is Diamonds in the Snow. Originally written for the Diamond Studs anthology (containing stories by Ruby Storm and Ruth Kerce), this novella now stands on its own. It's available in all formats from Smashwords and in the Kindle-only format from Amazon. Click the link for an excerpt of this winter story!

Off to write a new story...

Play safe!

PS. If you find any missing links, please let me know. Amazon JUST went live, so those links on the Diamonds in the Snow page now work.