Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Lurgy

I've always loved the word "lurgy" as a fun Britishism. Like "faff" and "plonker". However, I guess I had never heard it spoken, because I always pronounced it in my head as LER-gee (like allergy), but the g is hard like in guy. I can't even think of a way to write that phonetically. It doesn't rhyme with anything, except sort of like piggy?

So today, I have the Lurgy. I was cold all day yesterday, my face feels hot to the touch today (except I can't even get my temp up to normal when I take it), my stomach is roiling (though I have eaten some, so it's not that bad) and I have a headache.

Tomorrow, I'm supposed to go to a big science/children's museum that's 2 or 3 hours away (depending on traffic, which will be bad at the time of morning we need to go) (and then we either need to leave well before rush hour or hang around until 7 at night). And spend all day in a crowd. So my husband might be doing museum duty.

I was feeling so bad
I asked my family doctor just what I had
I said, "Doctor" (doctor), "Mr. MD" (doctor)
"Can you tell me what's ailing me?"

And I'm trying to write. Or at least re-reading what I have so far and adding to it, because I keep thinking of things to say. Which is good. I really need to move forward with this book, but my brain is foggy.

Like most parents, I just keep dragging along most of the time.

So what do you do when you're sick, but not really SICK?


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Honorable Excerpt 2:

“Your wife is an evil hag,” said Jean-Louis, keeping his voice quiet, “who cares nothing for anyone but herself. Ondine is injured, has been shot at several times over the last few weeks, kidnapped twice, and just spent the night alone in a dark cellar. I hold you and your wife responsible for this, as well as for Amandine’s conduct, especially her tendency to open her thighs for everyone.”

His former mother-in-law shrieked, but this time she noticed his expression—the one that had made his soldiers shake in their boots.

“I should call you out,” growled his former father-in-law.

“I would kill you. But I cannot face you in a duel. You have no honor. You lied to Mademoiselle de Bonnefoi for years and tried to cheat her out of her inheritance. And now you prefer she die. Do you realize that Ondine nearly died too?”

“And now you think you will have her share of the manufactory,” said Monsieur Ferand.

Jean-Louis thought about telling him they were already married and he already had her share, but decided against it. “I offered for her when all I knew about was her small dowry.”

Hélène’s uncle snorted.

“We only discovered the truth two days ago,” Jean-Louis said. “Now I plan to use my control of her share to get rid of you and the Ménines. We shall improve production and increase sales instead of trying to rely on a tramp of a daughter to sell chairs at court. She was probably working against you and the manufactory, just as she was a blight on my military career.”

Honorable Officer Excerpt 1

Mademoiselle Hélène’s hands gripped his arm, making him fumble his gloves. “They were shooting at you,” she said in a squeaky voice. “They couldn’t have mistaken you for Ondine.”

He froze, mind whirling. “They might have thought I was you.” His throat closed up. “Or maybe they hoped to leave Ondine defenseless.”

She whimpered and gripped his arm more tightly.

He cupped her cheek, his rough fingers sliding across her silken skin. He almost forgot the danger they were in. Her huge, blue eyes darted around his face. Her mouth was open, panting in fear. He was already starting to step toward her, to claim a kiss for his heroics, to steady his own nerves, when Fourbier cleared his throat.

Jean-Louis stepped back, shocked at what he had almost done, angry at Fourbier for witnessing it and for interrupting.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Today, two weeks, a month, and right now

Today: Last official day of Spring Break for my high school kid (the others have another week....though the middle school kid is going to have to do some stuff next week, just on a laid-back schedule). The teen boys have teen friends coming over to shoot Nerf guns at each other. And stuff.

Also, it's the day the Rita finalists are announced. For years before I ever published and entered, I've watched the announcements carefully. So much good stuff and I always need more book suggestions!

And yet I didn't get The Call this morning. I was tempted to stay in bed until the RWA Board of Directors called to tell me it's OK, it was a mistake, I really did final in Short Historical along with six of the best historical romance authors working right now.

But no go. So get up and get back to work.

And HUGE congratulations to all the Rita and Golden Heart (for unpublished manuscript) finalists! It's as exciting as ever, with that same twinge of envy.

And I get to go to the conference in San Diego!


Two weeks: The Honorable Officer (Book 2, Châteaux and Shadows) comes out April 6th! (OK, so it's 12 days, not a full 2 weeks)

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

Kidnapping, attempted murder, revenge, interfering family members, and a sarcastic aide-de-camp. And romance. What else could you ask for?

I have one blogger who gave me a good review for Indispensable Wife and has promised to review this one, too. Believe me, I'll let you know what she thought, especially if it's good! I sent advance copies to several places, but mostly haven't heard back...

So pre-order, read it, enjoy it (I hope), and review it. At least rate it on Amazon and Goodreads, and everywhere you buy books.


A month: Goddess Fish Promotions is setting up a blog tour for Honorable. It's two weeks of getting the blurb (and, I hope, some reviews) in front of more faces. It won't start until about 20 days after the book comes out, but I'm hoping to beef up the "long tail" as it's called.

Right now: Off to write some more ensemble cast, might-not-be-romance New Adult. At least I'm having fun. Except I just made myself cry yesterday and am about to do that again. But even that is fun. For an author.

Happy Easter for those who celebrate it (we're not particularly religious, but always enjoy coloring eggs and eating candy). And Blessed Purim. And Happy Nowruz. 

And Happy Spring!

And may peace reign. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I don't know

So I finished writing a blog post... And then thought, "Why am I doing this?

ISIL/Daesh/Boko Haram is blowing people up.

I've been to the Belgian airport that was bombed.

There are more dead in Ivory Coast and Nigeria since then.

People in the US with bad tempers and guns are shooting up retirement communities.

Politicians base their campaigns and laws on prejudice and hate. Inciting violence against dissenters. People vote for them because "We don't want to be politically correct!" and show their true misogynist, racist, prejudiced colors. That's what really gets me. Not that the politicians exist, but that people really agree with them and vote them into office and punch protesters for them.

What happened to live and let live? What happened to morality based on "Love thy neighbor"? And "Liberty and justice for all"? And "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"?

So, well.

I don't know.

Just that there are petty things on my mind, too. Building a career based on love stories in a (mostly) free country that allows women free expression (though we still have to push at times).

So I'll be putting up a marketing blog tomorrow. It'll be peppy. It'll have links.

But for today, I'm still thinking about the dead and the marginalized. And hoping for a better future. VOTING for a better future, once it's my turn to vote.

Get out there and make this thing right.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Slow-motion ADD

I love writing. I do! I even appreciate editing, though sometimes it is just agony. And I've had more editing than new writing lately, it seems. Still haven't achieved the Zipless Draft, in which I'll write without needing to edit.

I love writing about seventeenth century France. I do! It's a fascinating age, where rationality was grappling with religion and superstition. It's the century of Oliver Cromwell and the Glorious Revolution in England. France was still shaking from the Wars of Religion, and then Louis XIV overturned the Edict of Nantes and made Protestants illegal again. And they were hanging witches in Massachusetts and in places in England and Spain and elsewhere. And it was not only illegal (punishable by death) to be gay, but you'd get excommunicated, so you'd be in hell forever.

And French literature, especially theater, got totally entrenched in what, exactly, they meant by tragedy and comedy (spoiler alert: the Greek version, pretty much). It took 200 more years before Victor Hugo (yes, the Les Misérables and Hunchback of Notre-Dame guy) "invented" the "drama", in which the action took place over more than 24 hours and in which dialogue, though still rhythmic and rhyming, generally sounded like dialogue instead of long, flowing lines. Oh, and there were jokes in serious material! And serious things in the comedies!

Basically, it took France 200+ years to catch up with Shakespeare. And the Romantic movement took 50+ years after Byron and Wordsworth were declaiming across England. But hey, they were having a pretty crazy time of it in France from 1789 on.

Oh, and everyone in Europe in the 17th century was constantly at war. Many countries were stripped of their men, who were forcibly recruited and used as cannon fodder.  

Perpetual War, you mutter grimly. Military-industrial complex bankrupting a nation while the rich flaunt their wealth and poor people suffer and ex-soldiers beg for scraps.

And for romance: if we're going to talk about the realities of post-war societies with a glut of "spinsters" because there just aren't enough men around, we need to talk about the 17th century, not only the Regency.

But the point of this blog post is not what fascinates me, but how I've had my writing mind immersed in 17th century France for a couple of years now (and off and on before that), with very little other writing happening. 

I've been thinking for a while that I wanted to write a contemporary, maybe not even a romance. Then the other day,  was listening to a CD of oldies (songs that were hits before I was born. THAT old.) in my car and realized that the progression of songs would be a great plot device. From hooking up to the ups and downs of love and life to breaking up to getting back together.

Then, in my head, I just saw a skinny guy in a red dress doing a drag queen version of "Natural Woman" and... well, I've written most of three chapters (starting in the middle, Seven: Natural Woman and going back to One and Two).

And it's New Adult. Set in a college. Ensemble cast. Straight and gay. Only two POVs so far, but I think the third friend needs to tell her side of the story. Not really a romance, but hooking up and breaking up are a huge part.

And Motown music.

Joy. Pain. Great music. And I can use all those puns and modern phrases that pop into my head.

And go pre-order Honorable Officer. Hot, stoic officer meets wimpy chick with bad eyesight, escape assassins.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Contest entries and hurt feelings

And here we are, eleven days before the finalists for the Rita are announced.

Honestly, I love my book, The Indispensable Wife, but do I really think it will be a finalist for Short Historical (40K to 89K words) in the Ritas? No, especially considering the big names in the business who entered the same category, plus some smaller names who are more genius-y than I am and/or who have better books. But I have a vivid imagination and have tried to think what my reaction would be if I got that call on March 26th.

Buckets of happy tears. 

Heart attack.

And anyway, I now have five more readers than I had before, right? OK, so I had to pay for the contest entry, pay for the books, and ship them over. And they're supposed to keep it secret that they read my book, so even if they loved it, they can't go around trumpeting the fact. I followed one of the authors on social media and commented on how much I loved it. I try to tell all authors when I love their work, not because I'm sucking up to them, but because I know they probably don't get to hear it as often as they need.

I've also entered another contest for published romance....and I can't even remember which one. I think finalists are announced later in the summer? Ah here it is: late April.

There aren't a lot of contests for already-published romance novels, while there are a jillion for unpublished. Contests are one path on the way to publication that have been successful for many authors in getting feedback and finding an agent.

I entered some a few years ago. I even finaled in one! And then I read the feedback I had from the judges and wondered how on Earth I finaled, because they don't seem to have been reading my book and/or to have liked it AT ALL. Apparently, though, some people are going more quickly to self-publishing when all the contests and queries and such don't work out, so the contests aren't as hotly contested.

Anyway, my feelings won't be hurt if I don't final in the Ritas. But wouldn't it be a huge boost if I did? Other than that heart attack thing.

But what does hurt my feelings? I'm trying to not stew over comments from someone about how they would never buy a certain one of my books because they don't like *certain elements in it* and they suppose that readers who like historical romance and *that sort of thing* might like it (but obviously this reader is much more sophisticated. And I don't think she read the copy of the MS I gave her). Such a ringing endorsement!

And since I've trusted this person's opinion in the past, yes, it hurt my feelings. And yes, I threw away the thing she wrote, because really? Not worth keeping. I'm obsessing enough over it as it is.

I'm the newsletter editor for my local chapter of RWA and the topic I tossed out, asking for articles for next time, is BRAVERY. As usual for me, I don't have a plan to write an article myself. I'm not very brave.

But it hurts my delicate feelings to spend hours on the newsletter and then have people asking questions that are on the front page of my newsletter. But I keep doing it anyway.

And bad book reviews hurt. You pour out your deep thoughts (and less-deep ones) and spend hours and hours editing and refining and working on it, then...blah. My first bad one was on my contemporary ghost story Christmas novella and all it said was, "I don't like ghost stories." So I wonder if the reviewer even bought the story. And if so, why did s/he buy it? Was s/he reviewing based on the back cover copy? Seriously?

I don't have a lot of experience with reviews at all, never mind bad ones. I'd like it if people read my books and left reviews of all sorts, of course, and I'll try to not obsess over the bad ones. Though since I clearly remember the ghost story review from three years ago, I guess that might not be possible.

As Dumbledore said:

“Really Hagrid, if you are holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time”

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Calories: a rant

You know what bugs me?

The things people write about how you have to exercise X amount if you eat X food. Well, yeah, OK, it makes people think about what they eat and how they need to be physically active. But to shame people from eating M&Ms because you have to walk 120 yards to burn off the WHOLE THREE CALORIES from one M&M?

Why don't we admit that a bite of apple is 3 calories and shame people from eating apples?

Or let's talk about healthy lean protein: OMG! You have to walk two miles to wear off a 200 calorie serving!

Let's also admit that 3 freaking calories is NOTHING. There are 1600-ish calories in a pound of butter. Eating one M&M (or not) will NOT even be worth an ounce either way. Eating a freaking POUND of M&Ms (2000+ calories) is not important in the long run. Eating a pound of M&Ms every day would be, absolutely.

And also, living burns calories. Let's calculate how many calories you burn by lying down and reading a good book. And do you burn more by reading a thriller with heart-pounding action? Or a romance with heart-pounding, er, pounding?

The sum of ANY healthy-eating and exercise plan is to burn the calories that you eat. If you need to weigh more, then eat more than you burn. If you need to weigh less, eat less than you burn. Either way, you should be getting exercise if you can. If you can't, then yes, you might have to look into eating fewer calories.

No, it's not easy to stick to any diet. Our bodies are designed by nature to carry extra weight, just in case there's a famine. 

And then there's the problem of emotional eating. One study showed that half of all obese people were subjected to childhood trauma: physical and emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and so on. 

If you find a diet and exercise plan that can help you achieve your goals (and let's keep the goals realistic, OK?), then by all means try it. If your diet makes you miserable you are:
a) not likely to stick to it
b) you're likely to wash out if you slip sometimes and are made to feel like a failure (by someone pointing out how far you have to run for each M&M), and
c) even if you do stick to it, the rebound where you eat all the M&Ms is going to be more extreme if your diet plan has been extreme.

And then we get to the part where we admit that diets don't work in the long run. Very few people on ANY kind of restrictive eating plan actually keep the weight off (95% regain the weight within 5 years: UCLA and just about everyone else have pointed this out).

What does work? 
Healthy eating.
Regular exercise.
Not hating your body.
Not hating yourself.

As was obvious in my post about buying bras and shapewear, I have not yet mastered this last bit and am trying to figure out healthy eating and exercise. I lost quite a bit of weight a few years ago and have gained some of it back. This past year, I have packed on 20 pounds. I also think my thyroid has finally crapped out and my pre-diabetes is getting worse. But I'm back to keeping track of what I eat and pushing myself to walk more.

But PLEASE, pretty please, don't obsess about how many calories are in one M&M and how far you have to run to burn off X number of calories.

I was going to say something about eating kale, but kale makes me gag.

So... spinach and a wide variety of brightly-colored (naturally brightly-colored) fruits and vegetables are great. Eat whole grains instead of white bread, pasta, and rice. Adequate protein helps you regulate blood sugar and gives more of a slow burn.

But if sometimes you get your bright colors from M&Ms, then accept that as what you needed at that moment. 

And on an unrelated note: go forth and pre-order my second novel, The Honorable Officer. Road trip  across the breadth of 17th century France to escape kidnapping assassins.

While you're eagerly waiting for April 6th, you can read the first in the series, The Indispensable Wife, in which Dom and Aurore have to get their land and their relationship back together after all sorts of disasters. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I went into Target today to buy a black bra.

You see, I ordered a dress from eShakti a couple of weeks ago and it arrived two days ago. Oh Em Gee, but it fits well and looks great. A little on the matronly side, but I'll be 47 soon and have three kids; I'm a little on the matronly side.

Me. Husband's closet. Light saber.
What I needed, though, was a black bra, so that if/when the straps did a little peekaboo at the the front corners, they wouldn't be so noticeable. Since one of my three bras had an underwire escapage incident recently and another is losing its elasticity, it was past time for new foundation-wear.

By the way, oh you people with breasts: if your bra size is so rare no one ever stocks it (say, for example, large rib cage, not so large ta-tas), you can go a size down in the number and a size up in the cup. The cup is relative to the strap, not an absolute number. The elastic will be on the tight side at first, but seriously, it usually relaxes quickly (sometimes far too quickly). No one told me this in the first 35 years of me wearing bras, so I wanted to toss it out for those of you who are hard to fit.

So I'm trying on bras.

I don't know about you, but I'm fairly happy with my body. I walk a few miles several times a week. I try to limit my bad eating. I am trying to lose weight mostly because I've been gaining quickly lately and am now above my officially-sanctioned BMI. It took me my whole life to not criticize my body and I don't want to start again now.

But one thing I don't do is look at myself in the mirror when I'm naked, even just half-naked.

And now I'm trying on bras with slightly too-tight bra straps in front of a full-length mirror.


I finally found a black one and a grey one (the latter on clearance) that were fairly comfortable and which didn't seem to create too much of an under-arm roll. Then I went back into the lingerie department and found some shapewear shorts.

Because I might not lose much weight before RWA conference this summer (and frankly, if I lose much, my dress won't fit right!), but I'm not going to be bulgy at the Rita ceremony.

Someone come talk me down off the ledge now, please.

(And on an unrelated note: go forth and pre-order my second romance novel, The Honorable Officer. Road trip across the breadth of 17th century France to escape kidnapping assassins.

While you're eagerly waiting for April 6th, you can read the first in the series, The Indispensable Wife, in which Dom and Aurore have to get their land and their relationship back together after all sorts of disasters. )

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Edits and leftovers

Well, my good problem to have (being busy with all the stages of writing), got a little more exciting a couple of days ago when I discovered my book was up for pre-order *and* I asked for and received my ebook files so I could send the book to reviewers and get moving on promo.

(BY THE WAY: Pre-order links are HERE)

So I spent Tuesday, my half-day off from regular homeschool and other mom-ing duties, madly sending out review requests and promo things to a bunch of places I had marked as possibilities, plus setting up a blog tour. I announced to my friends on Facebook that I wanted to give away ebooks to some who might write a review. And several wanted it. A friend even said she started it last night and only put it down because the Kindle light was bugging her husband. So that's a good sign :)

Then I bought an ad on Smart Bitches, but really should have done some photoshop work so there's a little teaser and the fact that it's 17th century France. But instead, it's just the cover. So if you see it in the rotation of the sidebar ads, please ooooh and aaaaah. (and click through. And buy.)

Which brings me to leftovers:

You: Uh...Leftovers. OK?

I fall firmly into line with my mom's plan to cook enough food so that there are leftovers. PLANNED-OVERS. I used to make homemade meatballs, but a year or so ago, I stopped because.... well, they were the best, but man, the extra work for only a slight advantage over some of the frozen meatballs. The other day, I cooked spaghetti and meatballs and made plenty of extra.

Just cooking enough of some foods is hard sometimes, as I have two teen boys and an eight-year-old girl who will latch onto what she likes and eat it all. I cooked a large quantity of sausage last night and there was about one serving left after the locusts got done with it.

And half a baked potato from the locusts three nights ago.

And two bowls of Dhal soup. (Less locust-y, but I love it)

Which means tonight's dinner was brought to you by the fridge and the microwave, thankyouverymuchMama.

And now I can spend the time saved on writing a blog post about saving time.


And by the way, if you are Nan, my editor, the copy edits are proceeding apace, especially when I take my laptop someplace it can't talk to the WiFi. I'm almost all the way through the read-through in which I accept the changes my editor made and asked for (most of them). And then I have to think about it a little and decide if I need to make any big changes. My Cranky Cavalier is pretty good, but he can always be made better.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Honorable Officer is available!

Jean-Louis de Cantière is quiet, stoic, and handsome. Masterful. Brooding.

And ready to be ordered

Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
The Wild Rose Press
Google Play

Amazon UK
Amazon Germany
Amazon France
Amazon Australia

The Wild Rose Press

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 nanny and stand-in mother to her cousin’s child has saved her from the convent, especially after her cousin’s death. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her debilitating near-blindness to seek the help of the child's father, a colonel in Louis XIV’s army.

Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor, first to his family and now in the army. When his daughter’s caretaker appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalties are sorely tested.

Hélène must convince Jean-Louis 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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's a good problem to have....

Over the last week or so, I've been using my writing time to read through my WIP (Work In Progress), which I have stopped and started many times in the past several months. I got to the end yesterday and had to decide what would happen next. I mean, I had a brief discussion and outline as notes at the end, but had to decide what to do next, what scene to go to, where the story was headed, what we were ready for.

Today, I figured it out. I'm at the midpoint. We find out whose body was found in the drainage pond. It's important!

And then I came home and found my editor had sent me the edits for Book 3 and some ideas for changing the title. So that's my free time for the next month.

It's a really great problem to have! 

They're going to publish book 3 in my series! 

I need to write this other book, too. It answers some questions that were asked in the first book, so I have to really think about it.

I also want to get my novella off to the editor so it can go to contract. And I need to decide if I'm going to fix Book 4 or make what was book 5 into book 4. And then fix it and pitch that, too.

And I keep having ideas for when the cousin comes home from war missing various limbs.

I just need more time in my day.

Luckily, Nanowrimo has "Camp" in April, so I'm planning on writing like a fiend next month anyway. I was thinking of starting on the cousin home from war project, or maybe going nuts and starting a new thing that's been pinging at me, which might not even be a romance novel.

Also in April is the release of Honorable Officer. And promo for that.



So broooooding.