First Draft of If It Takes A Scandal is Done!

Today, I finished the first draft for If It Takes A Scandal (Marriage by Bargain Series: Book 4)!  

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In case any of you wondered where I’ve been hiding, I’ve been working on finishing this book.  This is why I haven’t gone to my inbox lately.  I am behind on emails and on Facebook.  Over the weekend, I plan to have someone help me catch up on this stuff.  It’ll still be me answering, but the person is going to take what I dictate and polish it up so it’s legible.  Otherwise, people might not know what I’m trying to say.  Sometimes the dictation comes up with the strangest things.  For example, “Lord Erandon” in dictation comes out “Lorde random”.  No matter how much I try to correct this, it doesn’t work.

My priority has always been writing and editing the books, but I’m going to slower than I was before at getting back to people, so please be patient with me. I’m in the process of training my husband on how to figure out what my job is so he can help me.  I also need to update my website, which I’m going to have to train him on as well.  I’m sure other tasks will pop up that I’ll need to work with him on.

So…What Series Will I Work On Next?

I haven’t made up my mind on this.  I typically work on three different series at a time.  Recently, I have added a fourth series.  That’s the one that is a rewrite of the series Stephennie Beman and I started together with The Stagecoach Bride.

Anyway, now that I just finished the Marriage by Bargain Series (with If It Takes A Scandal), that leaves me with an opening.

Here are the series I’m working on right now:


Misled Mail Order Brides Series.
 This is a historical western series.

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I’m on Book 1: The Bride Price.  (This is Sep’s romance.  Sep was Joel Larson’s brother-in-law in Shotgun Groom.)

Marriage by Fate Series. This is a Regency series.

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I am currently on Book 2: Married In Haste.  (This is Brad Bachman’s romance.  Brad was Loretta’s brother in The Rake’s Vow.)

Wyoming Series.  This is a historical western series.

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover

I am currently working on Book 1: The Outlaw’s Bride.  This is a rewrite of The Stagecoach Bride that Stephannie Beman and I did together.

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So, the way I see it, I have two options.

Here’s the first option:

I could start on Book 2 (The Rancher’s Wife) in the Wyoming Series so that I can get it done sooner.  My plan is to publish The Outlaw’s Bride and The Rancher’s Bride together.  Book 3 and Book 4 (if there is a Book 4) will then be out on pre-order.  The reason I’m publishing Books 1 and 2 together is because Book 1 is a rewrite of The Stagecoach Bride, and since some of you already paid for that version, I’m going to be pricing this one at free so no one has to “re-buy” it.   From a business standpoint, it makes no sense to not have Book 2 available at the same time Book 1 comes out when Book 1 is free.

Book 1, as some of you already know, is about Mic who rescues Lillian from a bad guy she’s about to marry.  Mic (and his family) have been labeled as outlaws, though they really aren’t.  Unlike the original version, in this one, they fall in love right away, and it’s going to be an easy adjustment for them to get used to each other.  The problem is going to come in with the money she brought out to Wyoming with her.  Her ex-fiance is going to want it back.  Also, they are still going to help the hero’s brother (Wade) rescue his two-year-old son from the bad guy.

Book 2 is going to pick up where Book 1 left off.  (Don’t worry.  I’m not delving out cliffhangers.) It’s just that in Book 1, they do rescue Wade’s son, but in a shootout, the son ends up with Abby (who is Mic and Wade’s sister).  She ends up on a stranger’s ranch, and in order to protect him, she disguises herself as a young man.  She pretends her nephew is her little brother.  She needs to keep up the ruse because the bad guy is coming around looking for the boy.  I haven’t thought out anything further than that at this point, so it’s all I can say about it.

Here’s my second option:

I can start a new historical western series.

This would be a series of mail order husbands/brides stories.  I know Book 1 would be a romantic comedy about a mail order hero who comes out to marry the heroine in order to protect her father’s ranch after her father dies so the bad guy can’t take it over.  The hero grew up in a wealthy family, and the family lost all their money.  He thinks that since the heroine owns a ranch, it means she’s rich and has a house full of servants.  He’s in for a rude awakening, of course, and he’ll have to do the unsavory chores of helping to run a ranch, something he won’t be the least bit prepared for.  I see this as being a comedy because there are a lot of fun things that can pop up in a setup like this.

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Does anyone have any thoughts on this?  Which option sounds the best to you?

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Updates On What I’m Doing

Thanks For Sticking With Me

First of all, it’s an honor for Forced Into Marriage (Pioneer Series: Book 4) to be featured in the Smashwords Hotlist last week on the Happy Ever After USA Today blog.  It’s only because of you that I’m able to hit this kind of list, and I don’t take that for granted.  So thank you for sticking with me through the years.  I am very blessed.

Forced Into Marriage Will Be Out July 22

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Click here to pre-order

This will complete the Pioneer Series.  (Book 1: Wagon Trail Bride, Book 2: The Marriage Agreement, Book 3: Groom For Hire, Book 4: Forced Into Marriage)

I don’t have this up on Amazon yet, but it is up on the other retailers.  I’ll say more about this when it’s released.

If It Takes A Scandal is Almost Done

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Click here to pre-order

This will complete the Marriage By Bargain Series.  (Book 1: The Viscount’s Runaway Bride, Book 2: The Rake’s Vow, Book 3: Taming The Viscountess, Book 4: If It Takes A Scandal)

I’m currently on chapter 18.  My books tend to be around 20-22 chapters long, so that gives you an idea of where I’m at right now.  I’m not sure exactly how much more I have to go, but I know what I need to do tie things up.

Originally, I had marked this book down for a December release, but since I’m so early on this, it’ll probably be out in early-to-mid September.

I’m about 15,000 words into The Bride Price

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Click here to pre-order.

This book is the first book in the Misled Mail Order Brides Series.

I had planned to give the heroine scars and a limp, but it’s become clear to me that she doesn’t want the limp.  So I’m going to have to remove that part when I go through the edits.  I think I only mentioned it once or twice, so this won’t be a problem.

The fact of the matter is, even when I carefully plan out a book, the characters still have the final say.  (This is the book I plotted in advance.)  Will other changes come as I’m going along?  Well, I already ended up having to swap a scene and modify another one.  I do think, however, the overall story is going to stay the same.

I just hit the Chapter Three mark in Married In Haste

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Click here to pre-order

This is book 2 in the Marriage by Fate Series.  (Book 1: The Reclusive Earl, Book 2: Married In Haste, other books to be announced)

While I was dictating a scene in this book the other day, I came up with the perfect way to take care of Lady Eloise.  I’m not going to say because it’ll spoil the surprise, but I plan to do it later in this series.  It won’t happen in this book, but I start the ball rolling on it.

The heroine in this book is going to try to join Lady Eloise’s group in order to please the hero.  It should be interesting to see how things go.

The Outlaw’s Bride is slow going

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover

Since I’ve been having to play around with dictation again, I’ve made little progress in this one.  My focus has been on the other three books because those are ones I plan to get out before the end of this year.

News on the Dictation Front

I don’t know how many people are all that interested in this part of things, but I’m happy to say that the dictation is finally working well for me.  My main problem has been on finding ways not to strain my eyes by going on the computer and having to polish what I just dictated.  Doing that has proved to be a problem on my eyes, especially since I still need to do things like edit.

I have printed out several chapters of If It Takes A Scandal and have it set to a size 16 font.  When I finish marking up the pages, I like to go in and make the changes on the computer in the document itself.  This is probably going to take up the bulk of my computer time from now on since I go through so many books in a year.

So I bit the bullet and started adding the punctuation and new paragraphs while I dictate.  I had to do this because my husband, who is polishing up my dictation for me, has no idea what to do when I don’t add the punctuation.  This does slow things down when I dictate, but I will admit that I end up with a cleaner copy for him to work with.  It’s worth the extra time so I don’t have to sit down with him while he reads my stuff back to me so I can tell him where to put punctuations and new paragraphs.

I usually dictate for one book right after I take a shower in the morning.  I will lie down with a warm cloth over my eyes, and this is the perfect time to dictate since I have nothing else to do.  Then, later in the day when I’m sitting on the porch or taking a walk at the park, I’ll dictate a scene one or two more books.  Sometimes I get to the fourth book.  Sometimes I don’t.

My average word count is what it used to be when I was typing.  I haven’t gained any more words by dictating, at least not at this point in time.  Who knows?  Maybe that will change as I get more used to it.  I’m just happy that I can finally get emotionally into the story when I dictate it.  Such wasn’t the case earlier this year.  Now I keep 95% of everything I dictate.  I used to only keep 30% and rewrite the rest.  I guess since I’m forced to dictate, my brain has finally jumped on board with this process. 🙂

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Went Back to Dictation

I was having a hard time getting emotionally into the stories when I was speaking them into the Dragon dictation software I have.  So I had decided to put the thing away, and I went back to typing.

But then the whole thing with my eyes happened, and I was forced to return to the dictation software.  Some authors have ghostwriters.  They give the ghostwriter what they want written, and they let the ghostwriter do that work.  That is not an option for me.  I want to be the author of my own stories.  If they suck, they suck, but they will suck on my merit.

So I had to go back to the drawing board and pick up the dictation software once more.  Fortunately, nothing is wrong with my voice.  I just returned to speaking my stories again this past week, and I guess all the practice I had up to this point paid off because I no longer have trouble emotionally connecting to my characters when I speak the stories.

I learned a couple of tips that might help others who want to experiment with dictation software or who need to use it.

1. Have a plan before speaking the story.

I’m not a plotter by nature, so this one took a little time to adjust to.  I don’t have the whole book (except for The Bride Price) mapped out.  I do, however, come to the dictation session with the scene planned out.  What I need is how the scene will begin, a goal I have for the scene, and an idea of how it will end.  Then I try to speak the entire scene in one session.

I will sit still and close my eyes for about five minutes.  During that time, I visualize the scene in my mind.  Some people might want to write notes.  I don’t.  If I can picture the scene, I’m good to go.

2. I speak in quick bursts with a few seconds of breaks between sentences.  And I don’t rush the speaking for the sake of accumulating word count.

Word count is a huge thing for me, but even with speaking, I average 2,000 to 3,000 words a day.  I don’t know how authors do it when they are used to doing 5,000+ words a day.  I aim to write 5 days a week, and I take 2 off.  Maybe the authors building up serious word count take longer breaks than I do.

Anyway, I have learned that a complete session for me ends up being a half hour.  That is how long it takes for me to get through one scene.  One scene averages 1,000-1,500 words.

I’ll start speaking 1-2 sentences.  Then I’ll pause.  Sometime I redo the sentences.  Sometimes I keep going.  But I have found when I focus on getting 1-2 sentences out at a time, I don’t feel the pressure to hurry up and get the whole scene out.  (When I rushed the scene, I was able to get 1,500 words in 15 minutes, but I ended up deleting or rewriting half of it.  So slow works better.)

3. I do edit as I go.

If I notice the software got something wrong, I will pause and correct it.   Speaking in short bursts is good for this.  I’m able to delete stuff that is repeated or change most misspellings right away.  Doing this makes my work easier when it’s time to insert the dictated segment into my story and polish it up.

4. I don’t add punctuation because my focus is on the story, but I do insert what I spoke into my work in progress right away and work on it so it’s fresh in my mind.

I know some authors who work better when they add the punctuation.  If that’s you, then do what works.  I just know that for me, getting bogged down into the technical aspects of writing will break my concentration.

To compensate for this, I will work on the scene immediately after it’s spoken.  If I do that, it’s fresh enough in my mind where I know where the punctuation goes as I’m reading through the text.  I also pick up misspellings and words that were picked up incorrectly by the software program (their vs. there, to vs. two vs. too, etc) right away.  I can polish up the scene in about 15-30 minutes.  If I wait until later in the day, it takes me about an hour.  If I wait until the next day, I’m probably going to be at it for 1.5 hours.  The sooner you can polish up the text, the better.

Results:

Basically, I’m maintaining the same speed in word counts that I do when I type.  I didn’t get faster, as I had hoped back in January and February.  But I’m okay with that because my primary concern is being emotionally engaged with my characters.

Anyone got any tips they’d like to share?

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