Can you believe I haven’t had a new book out since July? I haven’t gone that long between releases since I started publishing ebooks back in 2009.
Anyway, I’m happy to announce that Heiress of Misfortune is finally out, and better yet, it completes the Marriage by Necessity Series.
Here are the books in this series:
Here is the information for Heiress of Misfortune:
When Mr. Byron Tumilson was hired to protect Lady Eleanor from the person who is trying to kill her, the last thing he expected was to play the role of her suitor. But, as it turns out, that’s exactly what her father, the Duke of Dormondton, requires him to do. Her father wants her to have a successful first Season, and no one has shown any interest in her. He is convinced that if Byron pretends to be in love with her, then she’ll attract real suitors.
So Byron is stuck attending boring balls and lavish dinner parties under the guise of being a wealthy gentleman. As if that isn’t painful enough, he needs to find a way to make this wallflower of a lady into someone gentlemen will actually desire. At least, that’s what he most wants until Lady Eleanor pretties herself up and learns how to flirt. Then he starts to realize he’s fallen in love with her, and that’s the worst thing a nobody like him could do with a fine noble lady.
If interested, you can find the book through the links below.
I came across this video today, and while it’s not about writing, it inspired me to think of ways to apply this to us as writers. 😀
1. Own less. Fewer possessions take up less energy and less time.
My writerly approach to this tip:
The more we try to do, the more we can get ourselves into trouble. We only have 24 hours in a day, and while it’s attractive to think about doing a whole list of things, it might not be realistic. This might be a good time to prioritize the things in your life. Even writers need time off from writing, publishing, and book promotion. In order to thrive in this environment long term, you have to get a proper balance. You need time for rest. You need time to eat well and exercise. You need time with family and friends. You need time for other interests. Maybe you even need time to work.
First of all, what are your goals? Second, what things do you do as a writer that gets you closer to your goals? Is there anything that ends up being a time suck? I can’t speak for other writers, but for me, my first goal is to write the next book because it’s what I enjoy doing the most and it’s my best marketing tool. (I don’t make as much money when I don’t publish a new book.) So writing is the priority. The biggest time suck for me is social media. In this case, the “possession” in my writing life is social media. By limiting my social media usage, I greatly improve my writing output.
I don’t know if that example resonates with anyone. Maybe there’s another area in your life that distracts you from the writerly goals you have. If so, can you eliminate it or limit it so that you can see more improvement toward reading those goals?
2. Watch less TV. (This includes You Tube, etc.)
Okay, this is just good advice in general. But here’s my writerly twist on it:
TV might provide inspiration to get your creative juices going. Writes often get inspiration from other creative sources. But I bet if we watched less of these things and focused more on writing the next book or maybe do a little more marketing, we’d get closer to our goals as writers. I like his approach to removing a small amount of TV. What would happen if you removed that TV viewing for an hour a week? What else could you be doing with that time? You know, it only takes an hour to write about 1,000 words if you can pull off 250 words every 15 minutes. There are 52 weeks in a year. You could write 52,000 words in one year simply by devoting an hour every week to writing instead of watching TV. Little changes can lead to big results.
3. Eat a healthier diet.
There’s not much of a writerly twist to put on this one. The better you eat, the better you’ll feel, and the better you feel, the better you’ll be for writing the next book and promoting it. I like the idea of adding a little change to the diet at a time.
4. Spend less money on unnecessary things.
My writerly twist:
Is there anything you’re spending money on as an author that isn’t giving you the results you want? Can you do something yourself instead? Can you barter services with someone? For example, I know someone who edits books in exchange for free covers. You don’t have to pay out for services if you can find a medium of exchange. You just need to be willing to put in the time to do the work for the other person.
Regarding marketing, tally up your return on investment. What are you doing to market your books? How long have you been doing these marketing strategies? How well are they paying out for you? I wouldn’t quit a certain marketing strategy right away. I’d give it about six months to a year to see if there’s a benefit to doing it. Writing is a long-term game. But if you’ve dedicated a serious amount of time and effort into something but aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for, then it may be time to call it quits.
5. Read more books.
My writerly thoughts:
I doubt most writers have a problem with reading books, but let’s say you are writing in a genre you’re not familiar with. Read the popular books in that genre. Figure out what those readers want. You can’t successfully tell a good story in a genre you’re not familiar with because you won’t know why readers love that particular genre. I hear of a lot of authors writing stuff they never read, and I don’t understand it. It’s always best to know what the expectations of your genre are. For example, these authors writing a love story where the main character dies or ends up breaking up with the other main character are missing the point of “romance”. I don’t care how many times these authors argue they wrote a romance. They did not write a romance. They wrote a love story. In romance, there is always a happy ending for the main characters. Always. This is a hard-and-fast rule for romance. If you miss this, you will piss off a lot of romance readers.
6. Become more generous.
My writerly thoughts:
In the video, he points out that the most fulfilled lives are those lived for others. I’m not saying you need to volunteer to do something for other writers all the time. Believe me, plenty of people will take advantage of your time and energy if you’re not careful. But there’s nothing wrong with sharing your knowledge with another writer, and there’s nothing wrong with lending encouragement if you can. Maybe an author is looking for a good pre-made cover site, and you happen to know of one. Or maybe someone is looking for a good editor, and you happen to know one. Why not speak up and let that writer know? This is where I think social media shines. The writing community is full of a lot of wonderful writers who will share their experience and knowledge with others. Be a part of it. And don’t just be someone who asks for information. Be willing to share it, too. We all do better when we help each other.
7. Ask more questions.
I don’t know where to go with this one from a writer’s perspective except maybe to ask yourself what plots work best for your interests and the characters you want to write about. If you love figuring out your characters outside of the story, maybe ask your characters questions in order to get to know them better. Oh, okay. Here’s a thought. 😀 Why not participate in writing groups? If you have a social media page, why not ask your readers questions to get know them better?
8. Complain less.
Talk about a hard one. 😉
My writerly thoughts:
Maybe as an author, instead of complaining, look for solutions. Is there something you can change to make things better? Maybe you need to say no to something so you can say yes to more writing. What can you change to put you closer to your goals as a writer? Some things are out of our control. We can’t control the economy. We can’t control if readers want to read KU books or want to “wide” books. We can’t control who likes our books or the reviews that come in. We can market in ways to help boost our book’s exposure, but we can’t control who buys it. We can weigh the pros and cons of being in KU, wide, or both. We can weigh the pros and cons of writing to market or writing for passion. We can take a look at our marketing strategies and pinpoint what is working and what isn’t. Then we can take steps to go in the direction we want to end up. While I think there is a time and place to vent our frustrations, we could also focus some time and energy into what we can do to make things better.
9. Appreciate people important to you more.
My writerly twist:
Appreciate the process of writing the story more. Appreciate the journey you’re taking the characters on. Instead of thinking of the sales you hope to get, maybe spend more time simply enjoying the storytelling process. Get to know your characters. Savor each writing session you get to spend with them. When I tell non-writers that my characters feel like real people to me, they think I’m nuts, but I bet those of you who write understand exactly what I mean. It’s fun to get attached to the characters. It’s fun to learn who they are, and it’s fun to watch their story unfold. Appreciate the gift that writing is because it is a beautiful gift. Not everyone can tell a story.
10. Get more exercise.
I was wondering when he was going to bring this up. This piggybacks off of #3.
11. Pray more.
I didn’t expect this tangent from the video, but I guess the idea of taking quiet time out of the day would be the writerly aspect of this one. The creative mind flourishes on moments when we allow everything to go quiet around us. Too much going on all the time is probably bad for your health, too. It never hurts to rest.
12. Dream big.
Usually, people think of “more sales” in this area, but I’m going to go in a direction that is specific to writers who write for passion. How about this? When you write, don’t hold back. Dream big. Let the story take on whatever twist is best for it. As writers, we have a temptation to tone our books down to appease the people who might read them. That is what writing to market is all about, and it’s why I hate it. Writing to market prevents writers from being authentic because instead of being true to the vision you have for the story, you are writing a story with the reader’s vision in mind. While this might be a winning formula commercially, writing the story burning in our soul is a winning formula for our creativity.
Book sales rise and fall. Income is not consistent. This year, I made $20,000 less than I did last year. Back in 2015, this would have devastated me because I was focused on my sales. But back then, I wrote books where I was afraid to “dream big”. I didn’t follow the stories exactly the way I wanted them. I let the critic in the back of my mind tone some things down. Don’t get me wrong. I do like those stories. I even listen to some of them from time to time. But there is a huge difference in books I allowed to “go all the way” with my vision for the story and the books where I “held back” on some things. I no longer hold back. I give each and every story 100%. And I have never regretted writing those stories, nor do I ever wish I had done something in the story differently. Those books I wrote around the 2013-2017 time period when I was focus on the market aren’t making me much anymore. Each new book I have earns me the most money for the year. So the books I wrote in 2022 are earning more than the books written from 2013-2017. That’s why I’m always focused on writing the next story instead of spending a lot of time marketing. I would rather be writing the next book instead of marketing the older books anyway because writing is why I got into this gig. When you write for passion, your mindset is different from someone who write to market. I’m pretty sure someone writing to market is screaming, “Ruth, you NEED to market that backlist. Market hard.” I would rather write the next book. That’s where the fun is for me. So that’s what I do. Is there a trade-off? Yes. I am swapping marketing time and energy for writing. This is what makes me happy. And when I dream big for my stories, I am at my best as a writer. If dreaming big means more sales for you, then you should dream big in that area.
I want to get this post about before 2023 here in the US. Happy New Year’s, everyone! May we write our best books yet!
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I believe it was in 2020 when I hit a dry spell with new ideas, so a good author friend (Stephannie Beman) helped me brainstorm. This particular book stemmed from that brainstorming session. We bounced ideas around with fresh new characters I had never done before in any of my Regencies. That is how Byron was born. Sometimes having the stories in a series figured out in advance helps you to set the stage for the overall series. You get to do a better job of developing the characters’ backgrounds so that when their book comes along, you already have a foundation in place. This is why I brought Byron into the other books in this series.
I had introduced the foundation for Miss Eris Tumilson’s story with a sentence I wrote in The Marriage Contract (Marriage by Fairytale Series: Book 1). In that book, one of the characters mentioned Miss Tumilson (a notorious spinster) finally getting married. So I thought I’d write her story in A Perilous Marriage and begin a new series. Yep, sometimes one little sentence is all it takes to spawn an idea for a new book.
Byron’s character was born before I started A Perilous Marriage, but A Perilous Marriage is where I introduced him. The plot of A Perilous Marriage is that Eris’ first husband died, and the hero (Mr. Charles Duff) suspects her of murder. So I thought it would be perfect to make her brother a Runner since he would have a hand in helping solve the crime. I didn’t feel that Bryon’s story was ready for the Book 2 slot. I wanted to give him a little more lead-up time, so I inserted Algernon and Reina’s story into this slot. (I’ll speak more about this book in a moment.) I got the chance to bring Byron into this story when it became clear that someone was trying to get rid of Algernon. When writing a series, I do look for opportunities to bring in key characters of that series to give them more “screen time” so people have a chance to develop an attachment to them.
Anyone hear of the Don Knott’s movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken? Sometimes a movie will give an author an idea for a story. This particular movie made me think, “What a cute romantic comedy this would be for one of my characters.” This book was supposed to be a gothic romantic comedy where the hero is out in a secluded country estate with the heroine, and he is supposed to believe the manor was haunted. If you read The Cursed Earl, you’ll think, “The Cursed Earl is NOTHING like that.” It’s true. This one went off the rails pretty much right away, and it just kept zooming off into the abyss. Halfway into the story, I gave up and embraced the fact that I would have to give this plot idea to someone else in another story.
As a fun fact, I tried this plot in the past with Perfectly Matched, too, except in Perfectly Matched, the hero was supposed to be worried the place was haunted in a house located in Omaha.
If you read Perfectly Matched, you know that I never went into that plot idea at all, though I did try to build up to it with that house Mark Larson showed Jim when he first moved to Nebraska. I had originally planned for the original owners of that house to be pretending to be ghosts to scare him and Patricia out of the home. (The motive never came to me since I didn’t go in the direction with the story.)
BUT, I have good news. I didn’t have to throw out the idea because of this book I’m currently writing…
Midnight Wedding (Marriage by Obligation Series: Book 2)
After all this time of waiting for the right character to come along, I finally found a home for my plot, except I dropped the “ghost” idea because the hero is already superstitious and doesn’t need the “haunted” element to be paranoid that something bad is lurking around the corner. So I did adjust the plot to fit Lord Quinton (the hero). This is a book that definitely has some comedic moments, but unlike the movie that inspired it, this book has turned dark along the way.
The thing with ideas stemming from other forms of entertainment (movies and other books) is that a writer will start with the original idea presented, but as the story is being written, the execution of that idea will change as the story progresses. This is why you can give 100 writers in a room the same prompt but end up with a different story when they finish writing. Every writer will have their own interests in how to execute the tale. So when you read Midnight Wedding, you won’t recognize the movie this is inspired from. The setup is different. Instead of a town where the goal is to spend one night in a haunted house, the hero of my book has been hauled off to a remote country estate by the heroine and her two brothers, and they spend the entire book out there. The characters are all different. The hero isn’t goofy. He is serious. The brothers, while exasperated with the hero at times, aren’t trying to ruin his reputation. In fact, one of the brothers believes there might be a monster lurking around the manor, and the others are led to ask if the brother is getting drunk when he’s supposed to be sober or if his fears are based off of nightmares (rather than reality).
Idea #3: From the current work-in-progress.
Book has not been started yet so no cover or title to show.
This brings me to my last idea. While writing a scene in Midnight Wedding, I got an idea for a book that I will write in the future. Most ideas come to me while I am writing a book.
Sometimes a character or a scene will spawn a new story. For example, I fell in love with Dave Larson’s family, so I wrote about his siblings. I wasn’t planning to write other books about the Nebraska Larson family, but while writing Eye of the Beholder, Jessica talked about how clumsy Tom was and how she fell in love with him anyway, and I thought it would make for a cute story. Then I wrote about Joel in Tom’s story and loved how Tom and Joel interacted and had to write Joel’s story. It’s harder to come up with stories based off of characters because I have to wait until the right plot comes along to fit their personalities. This is why I can’t just write about a certain character, even if someone is interested in it. To this day, I still haven’t received the right plot to go with some past characters. And if I can’t get the right plot, I don’t write the book. The book will feel forced, and forced books end up boring.
To give a recent example, I wrote this paragraph in Midnight Wedding earlier this month:
Oscar blinked as if he’d forgotten he’d brought the topic up. “Oh, well, shortly before we left London, Felix got drunk and made a lot of accusations about a gentleman’s sister. While there’s nothing to prove Felix’s claims, it did tarnish her reputation, and she lost a couple of suitors. Last time Felix saw this gentleman, the gentleman tried to haul him out of London to have a duel with him. Had I not been there to stop him, I’m sure he would have succeeded, and Felix would be dead. This gentleman is going to move to another country with his sister in hopes of preventing her from having to deal with the horrors of spinsterhood. They’ll be gone by May.”
As soon as I wrote this, I knew that Felix would end up going back to London and marrying this gentleman’s sister. I don’t know if that book will be in this current series I’m writing or if it’ll be in another series, but this is something I’m exciting about writing.