And This is Why Writing is Fun

This morning, I’m going through and editing what I have so far in The Outlaw’s Bride to get ready for when I start writing later this month. I have half of this book already rewritten. (This was originally The Stagecoach Bride, and I had written it with Stephannie Beman.)

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover2

Anyway, in the new version, Mic and Lillian marry right away, and as they are heading for his remote cabin, they’re having this conversation about how some things in life are unfair, and this makes Lillian think that there are some things outside of a person’s control (such as when they are born and when they die), but then she starts thinking that the one thing a person does control is the choice he/she makes. For example, she made the choice to go to Wyoming when she could have stayed in Virginia and married the man her brother wanted her to be with, but she made the choice to escape because the man wasn’t going to be good to her.

While reading over this scene, I had an “ah-ha” moment because it suddenly occurred to me what the theme of this series is going to be. The overall theme of this series is the power of choice. Every choice we make in our lives, even ones that seem insignificant, stack on top of the choices we made in the past. We’re unable to go back in time and change anything. All we can do is move forward and hope the choices we’re making are going to improve our lives. Also, our choices aren’t independent of those around us. Our choices impact someone in some way. Other people, in turn, make their choices, and those choices end up impacting us. Hence, the chess game analogy.

The characters built within the world Stephannie and I created years ago are in a chess game. The choices all of these characters have made, are making, and will make will change the course of their lives. The only character who is aware of this (at least at the moment) is Lillian. I had written this scene two years ago, and it only dawned on me this morning what was really going on in the scene.

The writing process is done at a subconscious level. The heart of the creative spirit is outside of a writer’s immediate awareness. It’s why a lot of the time, it’s hard to know what a character will say or do until the scene is being written. Sometimes a writer will have an idea of what will happen, but the details don’t come into focus until the writer is immersed in the story. Sometimes a writer can’t see the full ramifications of a character’s choice until they are writing the consequences of that choice. In this way, writing mirrors real life. Just as real life isn’t predictable, a story isn’t predictable either. Look, I write romance. Yes, I know there’s a happy ending. In that way, you could argue my stories are predictable. But the thing is this: how do the characters get to that happy ending. That’s where the appeal in romance comes in. That’s what makes writing fun. The roadmap to the end is unclear when the journey starts. There are often surprises that emerge along the way.

I don’t always find a main theme that emerges in every story or series I write, even though I’m sure they do exist. When those themes occur to me, I remember why writing for the pure joy of writing is the life blood of a writer. These are stories that, I feel, can be read more than once. There will be something new to pick out with each new read-through. I’ve watched movies like this. It seems that no matter how often I’ve watched them, I pick out something new I didn’t notice before.

The best stories are those that are layered. These layers are little nuggets that enrich the story, and I love it when I find stuff like this in my own work because that’s what I aim for when I set out to write something. I like to layer both my individual stories and my series. I view all of my books as a quilt. Each story builds on another in some way. This is why I like crossing over series and inserting small details from series into another.

To me, all of my books are connected. They all take place within the same world. They’re just set in different locations and different time periods. I did put one nugget in with Nelly’s Mail Order Husband which spans time periods, but I don’t know how many people will pick up on it when that book comes out in September. If you have only read my Regencies or if you’ve only read my historical westerns, you’re not going to pick out this particular nugget. (I don’t want to give away the surprise because I think some of you will be delighted when you find it.)

Anyway, that’s what was on my mind this morning while editing The Outlaw’s Bride I had done so far, and I was so excited I came over here to ramble on about it. 🙂 Thanks for bearing with me.

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I Will be Homeschooling One of my Kids This Year But I Will Also Keep Writing

back to school concept

ID 26125891 © Dimjul | Dreamstime.com

Yesterday, I submitted the paperwork with the county superintendent and the school my kid attends letting them know I’m going to homeschool my youngest this year. It wasn’t an easy decision to come to. I’d been bouncing back and forth on the issue since November when it became clear he might not be a good fit for a formal school setting. I think he’ll thrive better in a one-to-one learning environment. My other three will still be going to school. This was their choice, and they benefit from being there, especially my deaf kid who is at a school that helps with transitioning deaf and blind people to the work place.

I don’t know if anyone’s heard of Abecka, but that’s the one I picked because it has an accredited homeschool program. I picked the accredited program option for two reasons. One, if he ends up going to school next year, the transition will be smoother since the core subjects he took was from an accredited program. Two, if we’ll continue homeschooling through high school, the program comes with a diploma that will be recognized by the military. My kid is considering going into the the military after he graduates.

The program has video streaming where the teachers give the lessons, and it comes with all the course work already created for me. This will cut down on the amount of time I have to spend on planning out the homeschool activities. That’s how I’m going to be able to keep writing. I did take some education courses in college after getting my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, so I’m familiar with creating lesson plans and such, but I’d rather use that time writing. The way I see it, this program is designed to take half the burden off the shoulder of the homeschooling parent, and I see no reason not to take the help.

I told the other kids they’re stuck taking the bus to school and taking the bus home to free up more of my time during the day. I want to do everything I can to max out the writing time I’ll have available. I don’t know yet what the schedule will look like, but my plan is to write from 7:30-11am with 15 minute breaks along the way. (When you live out of town, the kids are gone longer than the kids who can walk home. In my case, the kids get picked up by the bus at 7:10 and don’t get back until 4.) I don’t know if I’ll be able to cram four books into this like I was planning, but I know I can do three comfortably because that’s what I’m used to doing in that time frame during the school year.

Thankfully, my kid is going into the 8th grade, so he doesn’t need me to watch him all the time like he did when he was a little guy. He can do more independent work in the mornings if he wants, but it sounds like we can get the lessons he needs done from 11:30-4. If not, I’ll adjust accordingly, and though he might not like the idea, we do have weekends and holidays.

I’m actually looking forward to this. When I first looked into homeschooling back in November, I was in a panic because it seemed so overwhelming. But the more I got adjusted the idea and started telling myself that I could do it, I found myself pressing through the fear. Now I’m excited about it. I’ve already planned out the Art and Music main lesson that will last for an entire semester to complete. I just need to break these down into weekly plans.

One of the things Montana requires for homeschool education is Career Education, and since he wants to write a story, I figured we’d go through the process of publishing a book. We’ll go through doing a first draft, second draft, and (since he’s new to writing) a third draft. He’ll learn the basics of editing. Then we’ll go over the proofing process. After that, we’ll look at making a cover, picking out stock images, fonts for the name and title, coming up with the description, formatting the book in Word, converting to pdf, and then creating the paperback. Don’t worry. This won’t be put up for sale. It’s only for personal use.

There’s a site called The Book Patch that lets people publish books for commercial and personal use. I know Lulu does, too, but I find The Book Patch more user friendly. I’ve used The Book Patch a couple of times, and the quality of their books is excellent. I like them better than what Amazon produces, to be honest. Though, because I have someone out there who is copycatting my paperbacks, I have to have my books published directly through them. Amazon listens better if they can see the book in your dashboard. I use The Book Patch copies for my bookshelf and keep it unlisted to the public.

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I Resume Writing in the Middle of Next Month!

Before I get into what I’m writing this Fall, I want to let everyone know that Fairest of Them All is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple.

fairest of them all ebook cover

I put it on Google Play for pre-order, but it “needs action” for some reason. I’ll check back on that in a week or two. There’s just too much going on at the moment for me to worry about that.

A quick heads up about Payhip: I will be putting the book up there on August 31, and I’ll offer 50% off over there again. (Payhip doesn’t allow for pre-orders at this time.)

This book is one of my top favorites. I was only able to gloss over key elements in the Snow White fairy tale. The apple, the mirror, the emphasis on beauty, and a villain’s selfishness all play a role in this book. It just doesn’t play it out like it did in Snow White. My characters had their own ideas on how the story should play out, so I wasn’t able to make it line up like the Snow White fairy tale that we’re all familiar with. But Snow White was the original source of inspiration that launched this book.

There is a definite villain, but it’s not obvious who that villain is. It was fun to write this book and wonder up until halfway into it WHO the villain was. Once I found out who it was, I had to go back and revise portions of the story to line up with the final reveal. Honestly, I loved that the person I originally pegged as the villain didn’t turn out to be the bad guy because it kept me on my toes while I continued to write the story. I had to trust my subconscious mind to piece things together at the right time. As always, it did.

If you’d like to pre-order this book, here are the links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

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I’m still working through edits for Nelly’s Mail Order Husband and Forever Yours, so I’ll gloss over those books at this time. 🙂

Now for the books I’m going to start in mid-August!

I got the cover for The Duke’s Secluded Bride yesterday!

The Duke's Secluded Bride ebook cover

Here are the books in the Marriage by Fairytale Series:

The Marriage Contract new ebook cover One Enchanted Evening ebook cover The Wedding Pact ebook cover fairest of them all ebook cover The Duke's Secluded Bride ebook cover

Remember Marcy’s cousin in One Enchanted Evening? He was the Duke of Edmondstone. I introduced him at the very end of that book. I also bring him in during the course of Fairest of Them All. I really liked him, and I wanted to give him his own book. Fortunately, the perfect plot idea came to me last month, so I can now write it.

I love this Marriage by Fairytale Series. The whole series was designed to be an experiment in gothic romance. I wanted to explore some darker elements in fiction, but I didn’t want to give up the happy ending or a strong love story while doing that.

What I love so much about writing for passion is how flexible it is. I can go in any direction I want to. I’m not boxed in by what’s popular in the romance genre. I don’t have to worry about how well the book fits with the market’s expectations. I can start the story and let the characters have full control over everything. (When you’re writing to market, you have to put boundaries that characters can’t cross.)

Anyway, this series has been a real joy to write, and I was thrilled to come up with another book I can fit into this series so that I can keep on writing it. The Duke’s Secluded Bride has its inspiration from Rapunzel. The heroine has spent her life in one wing of the manor at the country estate where her family keeps a close and watchful eye on her. Because of that, she doesn’t know how to react to the hero when she first meets him. I’m going with an arranged marriage scenario for this one so the two will meet on their wedding day. It’s important to the plot that the hero marries her before he comes to realize how strange everything around him is. I don’t know exactly what elements are going to be strange in this book, but I’m going to have a lot of fun finding out. The only way I’ll know is by writing it. I can plot all day long, but until I start writing, I really don’t know what is going to happen because the subconscious mind (or characters) will take over.

I finished reading The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife to get ready for writing Breaking the Rules.

Breaking the Rules ebook cover

I will probably need to give The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife another skim through during the course of writing this one, but going over it now does help to get reacquainted with Lilly and Mr. Morris, so I’m familiar with their personalities. I still need to match up timelines with this book and A Most Unsuitable Earl.

I also want to use the fact that Mr. Christopher Robinson had a role in helping Lilly and her sister, Claire (who was the heroine in The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife), sneak into a townhouse as chambermaids to my advantage in this book. I think I can use it as a way to get Christopher to help Lilly get into White’s once she disguises herself as a gentleman. She’s going to need to get to Mr. Morris without him knowing it’s her. Mr. Morris is going to be pretty upset with her for ditching him time after time in the past, and he’ll have written her off by the time this story begins. My plan is to for her to force him into a marriage through some kind of scandal, and then she’ll realize just how upset he is with her. As a result, she’ll need to come up with some ways to get through to him. Going to White’s as a gentleman will be one of them. I suspect this book with have some great comedic moments in it based on Lilly’s personality in The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife and the fact that her “partners in crime” are going to be Christopher and Lord Edon.

I don’t know if this is going to start a series, if I’ll merge it into the Marriage by Scandal Series, or if it’ll be a standalone. We’ll see as time progresses.

Regarding the Wyoming Series…

This is Book 1:

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover2

I need to read through the 32,000 words I have done in this so far. I don’t know if I’ll start that process on August 1 or wait until I start writing to do this. This is the rewrite of The Stagecoach Bride I wrote with Stephannie Beman. The characters have changed a lot, but the main plot is the same.

I need to work on a description for this book. I’ve been putting that off because so much other stuff has been going on. If anyone wants me to remind them of what the book’s about, let me know. I assume everyone reading this blog has already read it, which is why I’m not rehashing it in this post.

This is Book 2:

The Rancher's Bride ebook cover 2

Stephannie and I had started this book, but I’ve wiped the entire slate clean for this one because I’m not really sure how things will develop. I only know that the heroine is going to be injured and will show up in the hero’s barn with her young nephew. Beyond that, I have no idea how things will play out.

Her main goal will be to keep her nephew safe, but she also needs to get her nephew to her brother (who is the boy’s father). The problem is she doesn’t want to get the hero involved because the stuff her family is dealing with involves the most dangerous man in town, and she doesn’t want the hero or the hero’s niece to suffer because he happened to find her and her nephew on his property before she could get out of there. (Her injuries will be the reason she was unable to escape before he caught them, and he’s not going to be willing to let her leave when she needs to recover from those injuries.)

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So those are the four books I have on my To Write List for the rest of this year. 🙂

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