Updates on What I’m Doing

I finally got Nelly’s Mail Order Husband up for pre-order.

Nelly is Tom and Jessica Larson’s oldest daughter.

Nelly's Mail Order Husband for website

At the moment, it’s on these retailers:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Apple

Smashwords

(It will be on Google Play and Payhip later, and I’ll offer a discount on Payhip.)

During the edits, Lauralynn Elliot (my editor) made a comment that gave me the idea for Book 2 in the series. Inspiration can come in the most unexpected ways. 😀 Since I’m already writing three books, Book 2 in this series will have to wait.

Fairest of Them All comes out on the 31st.

fairest of them all ebook cover

Click the cover for pre-order links!

I can’t believe how quickly next Saturday is coming! It’s unreal. Next week I start homeschooling my kid while the others return to school. It’ll be interesting to see how my writing will fit into the new schedule. I looked through the Abeka materials, and I already know I’m going to have to buckle down and focus in order to do both. I can tell the courses are going to be intense.

I started writing this week!

I experienced a couple of hours where my mind was blank. After getting up from the computer and roaming around the house several times, I made myself sit down and type. It was rocky at first. I did a lot of deleting. But I’m in Day 3 now, and the stories are finally coming along. I’m relieved. Even better, the creative mind is exploding all over the place.

I think this is the benefit to taking a vacation and letting the creative mind relax. The subconscious mind had all summer to work on the storylines for the books I had selected. I didn’t appreciate the value of that vacation until today when things just quickly fell into place for all three books. All summer, I had no idea how I was going to pull certain stuff off, and today while I was writing, the characters all led me in the right direction. If I don’t take breaks, this stuff is like pulling teeth. The dots do connect, but it’s harder to see how they do that. I haven’t taken a break from writing since 2015, so I had forgotten the value of letting the creative mind rest.

Okay, I’m stepping off the soapbox.

I’m at Chapter 12 (33,000 words) in The Outlaw’s Bride

This is Book 1 in the Wyoming Series.

The Outlaw's Bride ebook cover2

I had started this one back in 2017 and then dropped it when I didn’t feel like writing it anymore. I knew I would feel like writing it at a later date, and this summer, I realized it was the right time to finish it. I’m glad I waited.

This is a rewrite of The Stagecoach Bride (that I had done with Stephannie Beman), and I have changed who the characters are to fit how I plan to take the series. I had been concerned over how I’m going to toughen up the heroine in this book to do what she’s going to need to do when the villain comes along. In this version, the hero is your typical beta hero. That’s the kind of hero I often write. I don’t do many alpha heroes because they don’t come naturally to me. I have done a couple in the past, but if you’re familiar with my work, you know I gravitate to the beta hero. The hero in this  version wanted to be beta. I think that’s because my heroine is softer than most heroines.

Anyway, I was fretting over who was going to take her to task and give her the mindset she’ll need, and today the hero’s sister came to the rescue. The sister did teach the heroine in the original version of this story, but in this version, her role is more prominent. Once the sister does her job, the characters will be ready to move toward the next stage in the book, which is leading to the confrontation with the villain.

This book will be the first in a new series.

Breaking the Rules ebook cover

I’m almost finished with Chapter 1 in this, and I already realized this will be Book 1 in a new series. The heroine was having a conversation with a gentleman at a ball, and she said something that led the gentleman to believe her friend is interested in him. The friend is NOT interested in him. But the heroine inadvertently made him think she was. The truth is, the friend thinks this gentleman is dorky, in looks and in personality.

As soon as those dots connected in my mind, I knew I would have to pair the two up. It sounds like it could be a really fun book to write. So that will be #2 in this series. I haven’t given this series an official name yet, but I’m thinking Marriage by Design. We’ll see how things play out. I’m going to give it a little longer before I settle on the series name.

I know the motivation behind the family’s strange behavior in this book.

This is Book 5 in the Marriage by Fairytale Series.

The Duke's Secluded Bride ebook cover

I’m also at the end of Chapter 1 in this book. The setup for this book is that the hero is going to marry the heroine through an arranged marriage. The hero and her brother will agree to the marriage. The brother tells the hero that she’s extremely shy and that she’s afraid to go to London to find a husband. The hero is eager to get married, and since he likes the brother, he agrees to go to the country estate to marry her.

This book is loosely based on the Rapunzel fairy tale. The key to that one is the woman lives in seclusion. In this book, she keeps to one wing of the manor. She doesn’t venture beyond that point, and she rarely has anything to do with anyone. She rarely even sees the brother, her mother, her aunt, and her uncle.

I knew there was a reason behind her behavior, and I knew something else was going on behind the scenes that the hero isn’t told. But during this whole summer, I couldn’t figure out what that something was. Then while the brother was talking to the hero about Socrates and Plato, everything fell into place, and I understood exactly what was going on. I can’t say what that is because it would spoil the book. It’s a shame because I LOVE the path this book is doing to take. The stuff coming up is the perfect setup for a gothic romance. I can’t wait for the hero to get to the country estate! That’s when the fun will really begin! *rubs hands together in anticipation*

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My Old Fantasy Series gets a Facelift

This summer while I was on vacation from writing, I managed to get the “spring cleaning” done on my old books that I’ve been wanting to tackle for a couple of years.

Just this week, I finally updated the book covers for my fantasy series.

Here are the original covers:

a royal engagement ebook cover  royal hearts ebook cover  the royal pursuit ebook cover  royal heiress ebook cover

Here are the new covers:

A Royal Engagement new ebook cover  Royal Hearts new cover  The Royal Pursuit new cover  Royal Heiress new cover

I was never all that crazy about the original covers, but at the time I made them, I was in the middle of moving and had so many other things going on that I could not devote my full attention to the project. I loved the stories. (Still do.) I originally wrote these in the 1998-2004 time frame. I rewrote them in 2015 because the stories wouldn’t leave me alone. This was a 100% passion project. This series was never published with the mindset of making money. It was just about having them published because I loved them and wanted to see them out in the world (and especially on my Kindle).

But I was never thrilled with the covers. When the books came out, I figured I’d go back and give them better covers at some point. But then I got so caught up in writing romances. Yes, this fantasy series was my passion project, but my first love is romance. So I kept putting this series on the back burner. I did go back and add some spicy content last year (I think) to Royal Hearts and The Royal Pursuit because no matter how hard I tried to ignore it, the storytelling part of my brain kept telling me the stories weren’t complete until I added them. As soon as I added them, the stories finally felt done.

Now, I had no such compulsion to do that to The Royal Heiress, so I left that one alone. If I don’t think a story needs sex to make it complete, I don’t write it. I know that surprises a lot of people since I have sex in 95% of the stories I write, but once in a while, a storyline will come up that doesn’t need one.

I go with what is best for the story. I also vary how much spice to add to a book depending on what makes the story strongest. I never put anything into a story that’s filler. I only put in what makes it work. This doesn’t just go for sex. This goes for everything that makes its way into my books. Humor, drama, violence, action, any historical facts I learned while researching a topic to put in the book, etc.  I write whatever is needed for each and every scene. I hate sagging middles. I like to get to the point. So only what enhances the story to some degree will make it into my books. I’ve tossed out quite a few scenes along the way because when I finished the first draft, I realized they weren’t necessary.

Anyway, while I was searching pre-made covers on The Book Cover Designer, I realized that the “writing to market” voice started to rear its ugly head. (Old habits are hard to break.) Instead of looking at covers that appealed to me (the person who wrote the books), I was thinking, “What will so-and-so think?” “Am I branding these books correctly?” “What about consistency?” I had to stop myself in my tracks and remind myself of two very important facts. 1. This series doesn’t sell at all so it really doesn’t matter what others think of the covers. 2. Who cares what others think? These are my books. I can use whatever covers I want to.

As a side note: I have always used covers I wanted for my romances. This is why I don’t have scantly clad women or men on my covers, even though most of my romances have sex in them. I don’t like the covers that look as if the characters are ready to hop into bed. Sure, they might be ready to hop into bed during the course of the story, but that doesn’t mean that’s their goal. Their goal is to have a happy marriage. Their goal is the happily ever after ending. And I find that is best portrayed by the kinds of covers I do. I love the tenderness of an embrace or smile. I love pretty flowers and brides. Sure, marriage involves sexual activity, but it’s foundation is in the emotional connection between the characters. That’s why I choose the covers I do.

Anyway, now I’m 100% satisfied with this fantasy series and can move on to other things.

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My Editing Process

strive for progress not perfection

I don’t know if anyone is interested in this topic, but it keeps poking at me to write about, so I figure I might as well get it down. 🙂

Once in a while, someone will ask me, “Do you edit your books?” They also ask, “Are you the only person who edits your book?”

Yes, I edit my books. I edit them myself and I have a professional editor.

Without further ado, here is my process…

1. Initial edits. This is done by myself.

After I finish the first draft, I wait for a short time before I go in to do my initial edits. This stage is mostly about smoothing out the flow of the story. I reword awkwardly worded sentences. I look for typos. I look for consistency and timeline errors. I read through the whole book in the course of two weeks. I will set aside a certain number of chapters to go through each day. I usually do two chapters. Any more than that, and I tend to gloss over things. Needless to say, I don’t catch everything, so this is why I send the second draft off for other people to look at.

2. I send the book out to beta readers and my editor.

I give everyone one month to go through the book. I don’t believe in rushing through the editing process, so I give them plenty of time. That way they can go at their own pace.

Beta readers are not expected to edit. It’s nice when they pick out a typo if they find it, but the main reason I have them go over the book is to find out how the story “felt” to them. Do they like it? Why or why not? Are there any weak areas that can be tightened up? I know some authors send their betas a list of questions to go through, but I don’t do that. They can give me a sentence or two to let me know what they think. I have four beta readers. These are people I consider friends because I’ve known them for so long. I trust them and respect their opinion, and what’s best is that they love romance so they have their pulse on the genre I write. In return for their help, I give them a signed paperback copy or a free ebook copy when the book comes out as a way to thank them for their help.

My editor is the one who edits. I use Lauralynn Elliott, and she’s awesome. She does more than a simple proofread. She goes through the book with a fine-tooth comb. She’s extremely thorough, which is something I appreciate. I pay Lauralynn for what she does.

3. I go through final edits myself.

After I polish up the book from the feedback I get in step 2, I put the book into a mobi file and email it to my Kindle. I listen to the book using the text-to-speech feature on my Kindle. This stage is faster than stage 1 because I’m listening to the book. When I’m done, I fix anything else that needs to be fixed, and then I upload the final book for pre-order.

***

Does this mean all of us catch everything? Nope. A couple of errors still fall through. When I started self-publishing, I fretted over every single typo that made it into the final version of the book. There was a 70,000 word book I had out that I got a 2-star review on because it was “riddled with errors”. It turned out, I had one typo. Just one typo, and the reader (who was actually another author) felt it necessary to ding me in a review and claim the whole book was that way. It took years to overcome the need to make my book perfect. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist.

So if someone out there is struggling with the same issue I was, I urge you to let go of the need for perfection. It’s impossible. Someone out there will find fault with your book for one reason or another. Life is too short to dwell on the negative. It’s best to focus on the positive. Some authors get so scared of publishing a book with a typo that they never publish a book. It’s just sad to see stories that are loved collecting dust. I’m not going to spend my life afraid of what the critic will say.

If someone can’t read a book without getting their red pen out, that’s their problem. It’s not yours. I’ve read plenty of books that had a typo or consistency error pop up, and I’m able to move past it because I’d rather focus on the story. I’ve also seen plenty of movies and TV shows where errors have cropped up. Does it mean I can’t bring myself to watch those TV shows or movies anymore? Nope. It just means that people aren’t perfect.

I hope whoever needs to hear this will take comfort in it.

Alright, I’m getting off my soapbox. 🙂

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