Friday, November 27, 2015

Cover reveal: Honorable Officer

He’ll do anything to save his daughter, even fall in love.

France, 1668
Hélène de Bonnefoi’s spirit has been squashed by the ever-critical aunt and uncle who raised her. Serving as her niece's nanny and stand-in mother saved her from the convent and gave her purpose even after the girl’s mother died. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her debilitating shyness to seek the help of the one man who should put the child's safety ahead of all other concerns, her father, the colonel.

Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor within his family when he was a child and in Louis XIV’s army as an adult. When his daughter’s aunt appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalty to king, regiment, and family are sorely tested.

Hélène must convince Jean-Louis that the threat is real. But the true danger is to the heart of a shy young woman who has always loved her cousin’s husband from afar and to the colonel’s desire to resist complicated emotions.

Available soon for pre-order.
I'm not sure.
We're doing galleys now.
I'm guessing that if everything goes smoothly with galleys, it will be scheduled for February.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Because everybody's doing it, right?

And because I am grateful for a lot of things in my life and don't express it enough.

Where do I start? With my view.

I'm thankful for my view.

It means I have a house in the suburbs (rented). Which means that we have money to pay for a house.

I also live in a place that is sunny most of the time. And our winters are mild here. Right now it's SOOOOO cold! 43 degrees! (That's, uh, 5 or 6 to those who count in Celsius). As you can see, I have green leaves on my lantana bush. The bush dies back due to frost, but we haven't had that yet. It went below freezing last night, but didn't seem to kill off any of my plants, even the arugula in the flower pot out back. It was a salad mix seed pack and all I got was arugula. BLEAH. I'm thankful that I am rich enough to both garden and reject the food from my garden. Well, I do eat it--I mix a little arugula in with the more normal salad. I moved the butter-something lettuce flower pot indoors. It should only be a few days before we eat it all, because I don't have a sunny spot for it except my work table and neither I nor the cats want to give up that spot to lettuce.
Well, who would give up this spot?

We live close to the greenbelt and get turkeys in our yard every day, along with a variety of smaller birds. And sometimes coyotes and big, huge deer. I don't know the variety. What kind of deer lives wild around here?  Something mule deer? Columbian Black-tailed Deer, according to Google. Or maybe Mule Deer, though it sounds like those are up in the foothills. One site mentioned they interbreed. So, you know--deer.

In the first picture is my old blue car. We have a newer one in the garage, too!

The blue car is parked on my driveway instead of the street because the electric company has been digging trenches and replacing cables. I live in a peaceful society with adequate, modern utilities. The garbage can, mailbox, and paved street also attest to this.

Inside my house, I have three kids who are mostly happy and mostly healthy. I also have a husband, who is likewise. They are playing on computers--except the husband, who is asleep because he stayed up late working on his computer. Thankful for computers. Thankful for enough computers for each child, which reduces but doesn't eliminate arguments.

And thankful for education, mine and my kids'. And even when the school-based education system hasn't worked for my middle child, our classes and supplies are funded through the state anyway. And we have enough money for me to stay home and teach him and to drive him to classes.

I have a fluffy old lady cat half asleep on my table in the sun. I have an adolescent cat looking out the window and occasionally batting at the old one because he can't resist pestering her. He's growing up and learning that he'd better not wake her up when she's all the way asleep. That's no fun.

I'm drinking coffee. I ate breakfast, as I do every morning. I'll have lunch later, no question. I'm not the type who forgets to eat. This afternoon/evening, I'll have a huge dinner.

I'll have a huge dinner with friends. I have friends. It's great. I have close friends and a larger circle of friends whom I don't see often and an even larger circle of acquaintances with whom I can talk and laugh at writer's group or while we wait for our kids at various school/sports/social events. I'm an introvert and have a hard time trusting, but I do like most people.

I wish I were closer to my family, but I'm even thankful for that, since I have family and I like them. I'm going to visit my parents in my hometown this summer. My mom is my biggest fan. My brothers and sisters are interesting people, even the ones I haven't seen in years. My dad is pretty much silent, but always provided for us.

I'm thankful for the time and energy to write books. I'm extra thankful for the publisher who is publishing my books. I still have to learn how to do marketing and I still have to figure out how to make people notice my books and buy them and love them and get their friends to buy them. But my editor gives good advice for making my books better, there are a copy editor and line editor who fix the typos (and the non-standard commas), there's a book cover designer who does nice work, there are formatting people who get the book out in all formats, there are publicity people who trumpet our books all around.

By the way, there's a 40% off sale on ebooks from the Wild Rose Press website. Buy mine, of course, if you haven't already.

And I'm thankful for life and safety.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Moving again (the story, that is)

I spent a few days flailing around, figuring out what should happen in the book I'm working on (which I started over the summer and got stuck, so it's just been sitting for months). So I went back and edited, which is not supposed to be done during Nano, but well, I wasn't going anywhere until I did. I added some scenes and added some dogs and a dead body. I'm also considering adding a panic disorder. I'm still on track to finish 50K words in the next few days. Almost 3K words just yesterday!

So anyway, Nanowrimo is going well.

In other news, the kids are off school ALL WEEK. So far so good. I try to keep them a little busy, but not too much.

Yesterday DS2, the thirteen year-old, went on a hike with his best buddy and the buddy's mom. They meant to take a short hike, but ended up on the five mile trail with significant hills. I took the seven year-old DD to see "Inside Out" in the super cheap theater. I cried significantly. The fifteen year-old DS1 did, uh...I think he read a book?

Today, DS2 slept late. The boys got haircuts and I took all three to get a snack.

Tomorrow.... I think DD has a playdate. I still don't like calling them that, even after three kids.

Thursday is turkey.

Friday is recovery. Maybe another hike.

Saturday is start doing all that homework they were supposed to do over break. Sunday is finish it.

And then it feels like we never had a break at all.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A breather, I guess?

I finished the Henri/Fourbier novella. And yes, it is M/M, but they don't do more than kiss and cuddle, which is a bit less than my characters in my other books do. It's also ten years into their relationship. There might not be enough trouble between them yet, but they are facing a lot of crises together, without much backing from their families, which are also facing crises. It takes place immediately after Book 3.

The title of Book 3 in Chateaux and Shadows is probably going to be "The Contrary Cavalier" or maybe just "Cavalier" or the French "Chevalier". I also have some more edits on it from a critique partner, so will be fitting that into my schedule before my editor gets around to editing it.

I started writing Book 6 from the beginning again, but my mind held too much information from the first version so I was trying to not repeat myself. And yet not enough info, so I couldn't figure out what to write. Yesterday, I read the 16,000-ish words I wrote before and made notes on what I wanted to change. I'm also going to throw in a dead body. That'll keep them busy! I think the next thing to do is brainstorm (right in the document, typing quickly) what needs to happen to make this into a novel and have it make sense. It started as an idea for a novella, but expanded in my mind, even before the dead body showed up.

And 11 days (including today) left in NaNoWriMo! I pre-ordered my Winner t-shirt, thinking they'd come after the end of the month and if I didn't win, I would cancel before they sent it.
A few days ago, I got an email saying it had shipped. Today, it arrived. MOTIVATION!

Right, off to write.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I love France. The pain au chocolat, the baguettes, the wine. People living lives a lot like Americans, but not quite. A slightly different perspective on the world that radically altered my brain when I was first immersed in it. The French are hard people to get to know, but once you're in, you're IN.

And to hear of them being gunned down because of where they happened to be, in a terror attack because of some idiots' misguided approach to their religion makes me insane and sad and a hundred other things. I'm not as shocked and stunned as I was on 9/11, but it's close. To think of this vibrant, crazy city brought to a halt because of a few radicals makes me want to cry.

And please, don't start with anti-Muslim rhetoric or say Syrian refugees are responsible. It's crazy people with guns that the Syrians are escaping.

Je suis Parisienne.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Construction vehicles, chores, and the Internet: a Nanowrimo love story

I'm going to put it out there that I have some form of ADHD. Not so much the H part, because I am sluggish at best. But if I'm not really into something, if there are distractions, or if I am over- or under-caffeinated, I am unable to pay attention.

About a week ago, the electric company put up signs and stuck hangers on our front doorknobs saying they were going to be doing electrical work until Dec 4th. It means trenching, wiring, filling in trenches, and I don't know. It means not parking on the street for a month and dealing with NOISE.

It's a pity all my kids are too big and/or too cool to want to hang around outside watching the diggers and fork lifts and backhoes at work.

It's a bigger pity that my desk is right by the front window and they are working RIGHT OUTSIDE and the constant rumble, intermittent beeping, weird screeching scrapes, clangs, and all the rest ARE MAKING ME CRAZY. Seriously, I've been clenching my teeth all day. My head is vibrating.

It's even making the cats anxious. The younger one has been following me around all day and the older startling at every crash and clang. Of course now their anxiety seems to have worn them out, since I am sitting down and there's sunshine here...
Today is Tuesday, which means my Homeschool Boy has classes and his friend's mom drove him there. I was trying to write at home, but couldn't and kept refreshing Twitter and Facebook. I went to Starbucks (I had to take the old car and drive over a corner of grass to get out) for about an hour and a half and got a good scene written. I have more to say, but needed a break to let my head fill with the next scene and for some of that caffeine to drain out. So I came home and got more chores done, tried to watch a movie and just couldn't get into it, came back to my computer with an idea for what would happen next and....


Dang it.

But this morning's bonus?

Purple Dump Truck.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Some of the worst weeks of my life: a school story

You know how Facebook kicks up memories in "On This Day" last year, two years ago, etc.? Well, in case you don't know, they do. I know they don't bring up everything. They don't even seem to bring up the things that got the most Likes and Comments. I don't know how the metric works. My favorite dog in the world died a year ago and it didn't mention it, though I know I posted about it and got a lot of condolences (and it wasn't even my dog).

So anyway, this morning, it decided that I really wanted to remember how three years ago, my middle child, then in fifth grade, refused to go to school.

He's never liked going to school, but he had become more and more difficult about it. We went through a period of him locking himself in his room or the bathroom, us dragging him out. Finally, in November 2012, he completely freaked out. It was like wrestling a wild animal, including incoherent howling and him escaping from the car.

"Epically shitty morning here today. It's 11 am and unless I physically hold him in the car and hold his seat belt on him, DS2 isn't going to make it to school."

Within a week or so, I realized we were never going to get him back to school. I never EVER wanted to homeschool ANYONE. And to end up homeschooling the one who was the biggest behavior problem? Oh joy.

He also refused to go to soccer practice or games unless he felt like it. We dragged him to the doctor, who suggested we check him into a psych ward. Boy, that was helpful. We tried counseling; I had to hold him still so he would stay in the car on the way there, but he wouldn't get out to meet with the the woman. So we only tried a few times, because $100 an hour for her to talk to a completely non-responsive child in our car? Uh, no thanks.

And since the school would do exactly nothing to help talk him into class, or find out what was wrong (I'd been pushing for dyslexia testing for YEARS), or send home work so we could do it until the situation cooled...Well, that was the end of that.

It was one of the worst periods of my life.

I registered him with a homeschool charter, but it didn't officially start until January semester. Half the time, he would freak out and lie on the couch with his back to the room. I read to him a lot that year. We were mostly feeling our way around the curriculum. Some was totally stupid (for anyone, in my opinion, but especially for someone with trouble memorizing), some was just not interesting, and some he just didn't like. Other stuff went OK.

Do you have any idea how hard it is as an author, as someone who has always loved writing down stories, to have a kid who hates hate hates writing anything

I eventually had to quit the part time proofreading work I was doing because I couldn't keep up. I didn't get any writing done for months.

And that was the first year I lost at NaNoWriMo, after winning for several years in a row. I still haven't finished that book. I'm not sure I want to. It's a gloomy YA with a weather mage who's a maladjusted juvenile delinquent who deliberately causes a storm at his high school and some people are injured, including the girl he has a crush on. I'm not sure I even want to read it, even though my goal was to make him try to redeem himself.


I finally got him this year in for an assessment and yes: dyslexia, ADD, auditory processing issues. And he's smart. I knew all that, but it's nice to have someone present it in language that maybe schools will pay attention to.

These days, we're looking at high schools. Like regular, mainstream high schools. In a way, I'm really worried about it. MY BABY. He had so much failure, even in the alternative-ish school he went to through half of fifth grade. I don't think he could cope with failing again now. We have to work up all the plans and accommodations and even then, I'm going to worry about him so much.

But he has gone from hitting and keening to a shy but mostly cheerful guy. He's gone from a stack of trouble to the kid I'm closest to because I spend the most time with him.

(He's not my favorite, because I don't play favorites. I would love to have the opportunity to spend as much time with my other kids one on one. There just aren't enough hours in a day and my oldest has gone all sphinx-like teenager. He'll talk to me if I press him, but what's really in his head? It's a secret.)

He's gone from being stuck in math and slipping lower because they wouldn't let him move on until he memorized his times tables to a guy who can keep up (with tutoring from his mom and using a calculator) in Algebra class. Memorizing something as intangible as a times table is really hard and even useless for some people. Heck, it was useless for me. It was through using the numbers to solve actual math problems that I learned them.

He's gone from having to do a spelling book with really stupid exercises as homework every week and still failing the tests to doing a thing called Sequential Spelling, which is more about learning the patterns for spelling and phonics by doing a list of closely related word for several days in a row. Unscrambling the spelling words in the stupid spelling book was just about the worst possible way to teach a dyslexic how to spell.

Now I look at him and instead of seeing fear of failure, I see hope.

That sounds cheesy.

But damn, I'm a great teacher.

Lately, my third child, who's only in second grade, has been begging to be homeschooled. I keep saying that NO, I don't want to have to try to juggle the two of them. The way they interact with each other, too, either silly together or making each other mad, would be 100% not conducive to learning anything at all. I know that after a period of time, they would settle in. Maybe. But JUST NO. She has a really good teacher and is learning so much stuff that there is no way I would pull her out.

It's not completely off the table of course, but it is way down my list of things I want to do, especially as I'm trying to write and develop a career, no matter how small.

So that's my long, rambling thing about November. I've already done my fictional words for the day, so decided to blog. I didn't realize I had this much to say.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

And now it's NaNoWriMo time for real

This year, I am writing the rest of a book I started a few months ago and got stuck on. Not totally stuck, just ran out of time once the summer Camp Nanowrimo ended. I've been editing and getting grumpier since then, but had a basic outline and some things written up about the characters and where they're going.

This is far more than I usually have when writing a story. We'll see how it goes. In my head, the book's almost done, after all, so I don't know if I have the creative drive to write it.

It's also planned to be a novella, which won't be enough words for all of Nano, anyway. But I have another book, probably a novella, that I started a few months ago, too.

Oh heavens, it sounds like I haven't been able to finish anything ALL YEAR. That's not true. For Camp Nano, I finished a book that I started a couple of years ago before starting a novella that I didn't finish.


Sometimes, I just can't get the continuity going. My son has recently been diagnosed with a bit of ADD. I swear as I've gotten older, I'm unable to concentrate unless something really interests me. There have been an awful lot of book club books that I've just...not...finished. Or even started, for that matter.

And here I am, writing a blog instead of writing about Henri and Fourbier.

My motto when writing Henri: WWSD? (What Would Snape Do?) 

He's not that bad, especially by this point in the series. Mild spoiler: he mellows with age. A little. I think we got a good look at his soft insides in Indispensable Wife, right? (Buy Indispensable. Links to the right of this blog post. It's good, I promise.). His heartbreak at losing his lover, his fears for the future, and his unswerving loyalty for his brothers and sister.

And Fourbier, whom you will meet in the second book of Châteaux and Shadows, The Honorable Officer, is a bit of slyness and a bit of razzle-dazzle and a bit of a lost soul. Having more recently edited Honorable, I'm feeling closer to Fourbier right now, since he has a point of view in that book. But then, Henri rises to the occasion in Book 3 (still untitled), about his youngest brother, Emmanuel. Henri and Emmanuel both got their bitterness from their darling Maman.

Maman the Baronesse is a piece of work. I think I wrote her more two-dimensional than I feel. Or else I didn't really explore her much until Book 3.

Anyway, back to throwing down some more words on Les Fourberies d'Henri. Or The Pain in Henri's Neck. Or Les Courberies d'Henri, though the first and last of those make exactly no sense unless you've heard of the farce by Moliere, Les Fourberies de Scapin. And you have to know that Courberies is almost the word for Curvature in French (though it's really Courbure).

And... nope.

I already confuse people enough with the French names and words and stuff. Sorry about that.