Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Chevalier is LIVE

The Wild Rose Press

The Wild Rose Press
Apple iBooks
Google Books

Outside the US:
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK
Amazon Australia
Amazon France
Amazon Germany

More links coming soon!

Emmanuel, Chevalier de Cantière, youngest son of a baron, is happiest raising horses far from his complicated family. When news comes his mother is deathly ill, he races to her side only to find she has apparently recovered and moved on, leaving behind her companion, Catherine. 

Catherine de Fouet blends into the background, saving up so she’ll never have to wait on waspish, scheming old ladies like the baronesse again. She has no interest in a resentful gentleman, estranged from his mother, no matter how broad his shoulders or intriguing the wounded soul behind his handsome face. She just needs someone to escort her back to Versailles. 

But Catherine is suspected of poisoning the baronesse. She rebuffs a pushy courtier who tries to use blackmail to make her his mistress, and her reputation hangs by a thread. 

The chevalier wants more than anything to protect this woman whose prickly exterior hides sweetness and passion. They need his family to help him through court intrigues—almost as much as they need each other. 

Want to read the first and second books in the series? Links are on the sidebar and here:
Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer

Or add to your Goodreads Want to Read list:
The Chevalier (Châteaux and Shadows, #3)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Grumpy Week

I've had an odd week. The part time job I thought I had nailed down is still in wait and see mode. My already too dark and depressing New Adult novel (the second one) became too hard to write, especially with the reaction at RWA conference from the editor and agent I met, who don't want New Adult.

I ended up not reading
1) The books for my book groups,
2) My new books from Conference.
Except: Nalini Singh's newest Psy-Changeling, Allegiance of Honor. And then I went back and read the three leading up to it. It was definitely a lie in bed with comfort reads week.

But, in the midst of talking writing with an old friend from high school, who now self-pubs erotic romance, (go check out the amazing Shay Savage!) I started wondering exactly when it was that I started writing. I looked through my archives and came across the second book I wrote (but didn't finish) in 2009 (I didn't come across the first one from 2008) and.... it has flaws, but it is really funny. I crack myself up. So now I'm trying to win Camp Nanowrimo (I only set a goal of 25K words and I'm way behind) by finishing that book. I've combed through it several times, adding descriptions and details and taking out false leads and the direction it was going when I abandoned it.

But you know what? It's good. I'm still not sure how to bring it to an end, but I'm getting there.

Maybe more importantly, the little arm of greenbelt forest that winds up across the street from our house with a creek and steep hill was visited this weekend by a flock of sheep and goats! GOATS! SHEEP! They ate a bunch of dry grass and weeds and low bushes and such for weed abatement and fire safety and to find the trail again. I missed the moments when they set up the fences for a long way back into the forest and both when they dropped the flock off and picked them up.

Just a small part of the flock.

And in other animal news, poor Arrow Turkey is still around and going strong, though he has a big lump on his neck and his head color is odd. And my elderly cat is getting matted fur, which means she's not grooming as well as she used to. Both the cats are shedding, as if we haven't already had a jillion over-100 days this year and they're not quite ready for summer. Or the slightly shorter days means they're trying to get their winter fur? Only three months until summer's over here in Inland Valley California. When I'm rich, we're going to have a house in the mountains for the summer and a second house down here in the valley in the winter. Enough of the oven.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Yes, yes, I'm home

As my friend/roommate/fellow author, Kristina Mathews said in her blog yesterday, "Is It Possible To Have Jet Lag When I Didn’t Even Change Time Zones?" (By the way, she has a new contemporary romance out today, Swept Away is the first in her new whitewater rafting series!)

I got home Sunday afternoon, unpacked (dirty laundry, books, toiletries), and lay down. I got up when my husband made dinner, then went back to bed. Monday was much the same, only I napped. Then I took a very long walk with a friend who has a new dog that has to be worn out every day. And slept like a log after that. 

And what can I say about the RWA Conference? A. Maze. Zing!

I was extremely nervous beforehand, even more than the last time I went two years ago.  I kept forgetting to breathe as I booked the conference and hotel and flights. I kept feeling the tightness in my chest that means I'm going to flip out. 

But OK. I made it. I faked it until I made it. 

Wednesday night: Massive book sale/signing with proceeds going to literacy programs. My first stop: Nalini Singh. I didn't buy Allegiance of Honor until I could get a signed copy. SQUEE! (and note the t-shirt. Hiram College represent! No, I didn't get any comments on it. OH WELL.)

Up my nose. The joy of progressive lenses when taking selfies.
And working her table as a volunteer was the lovely woman who goes by e_bookpushers on Twitter and blogs with the Bookpushers. Because it's not just about meeting the big name authors, it's about connections. Which makes me sound like I'm just trying to flatter her, maybe? I like what she has to say on Twitter and in her review blog. 
And I took a few more pictures and selfies and had others take pictures of me with people. Then I took a few pics at the Kensington and Indie Publishing signings, then of me and Grace Burrowes in the hall (she signed my notebook because she wasn't doing any signings!)....then nothing until the last night. 

Beverly Jenkins spoke during lunch on the first full day. She gave us a history of African American romance from slave narratives to when she started writing in the nineties. And spoke about how some authors literally turned their backs on her. And oh my goodness, I'm tearing up thinking about it. Amazing woman with an amazing career, advocating for diversity, studying history, writing novels. (Oh, and she was another of my first stops at the signing. I got my mom Book 7 of her Blessings series which just came out? I'm such a good daughter!)

Friday morning's big talk was by Dr. Valerie Young, who spoke about Impostor Syndrome. And so that was a bit of a catchphrase for the rest of the conference. Because seriously, it hits women more (or we admit it more?) and in something creative, everything's subjective. 

Saturday's was Sherry Thomas, who writes amazing novels in English, though her first language is Chinese. She spoke about how she was on her way to Yale (Harvard?) for grad school when she got pregnant, got married, and decided to not get that degree. Then post-partum depression hit. So lots of tears of recognition from me, including when she talked about starting to write as being her therapy and her way out of depression.

I attended a whole bunch of classes, which is where the Fear of Missing Out kicks in. 

There are so many choices and I missed some really great things because I had something else booked or because I chose wrong. Or I chose right, there were just too many really great things. BUT I got some ideas about marketing my books and on author brand. I heard some fun chats on historical romance and on sex scenes. I can't even tell you what I learned, but I took notes so maybe when my brain is ready, I can remember.

I'm sort of down right now because I pitched my New Adult (typically ages 18-25) romance to an agent and an editor, and they're both pretty leery about new adult. Not just leery: as long as it's New Adult, it's a no. So now I'm deciding if this story would swing better into Young Adult or Adult Contemporary. It's the one with ensemble cast (AKA: too many points of view) and is as much about the friendships as the romances. Or do I leave it the way it is and pitch it to small e-first publishers? Or self-publish? Do I really want to be rowing upstream due to my subgenre the way I am by writing about 17th century France?

ANYWAY, I'm trying to finish the second Greatest Hits book (or at least get most of it down) this month for Camp Nanowrimo and into August. Then I'll make the hard decisions. I still have other manuscripts to edit (and to finish) in my French series. And I got a job shelving books at the local library, which I started today. I'm going to be really busy! And this career thing is going to take off for me!

Killer shoes. Put someplace they couldn't kill me anymore.
One last note about the RWA conference: In my experience, people are nice at conference. I know it sounds cliche, but many of us put our smiling faces on. We compliment other women on their hair and clothes and books. We're (most of us) trying to look professional. Except for the Rita ceremony and my killer shoes, I was a pro in golden Birkenstocks and no-heel boots. I got compliments on my red-flowered skirt and my red-flowered Rita dress.

In a way, we're competing at trying to look good and stand out. In other  ways, though, we're holding out a hand in friendship. Authors, agents, editors, and others who know what they're talking about (and don't give me your impostor syndrome: you know what you're talking about!) are holding sessions in which they tell us (some of) what they know and take questions. I don't know what happens in private, but in public, the kindness tends to win.

It's an incredible experience. If you're a romance writer, I highly recommend it. If you want to dip your toe in, find your local RWA group or an online chapter. The support is amazing.

OH, and they've reignited the "Romantic Elements" category for the Rita awards, so if you write other books that include romance, but aren't strictly romance novels, you're back in business. I'm not sure if they're doing a Golden Heart (unpublished) for it yet. My brain is missing lots of details.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Leaving for RWA Conference tomorrow!

I'll leave my house at a reasonable time in the morning (I've done those 6 am flights before and am happy to not be doing one this time) and I think I'm mostly ready. Maybe? Almost all packed, anyway. I just realized there's a pair of shorts I washed today that I wanted to pack. And my nail polish for touch-ups.

I also realized that I have no idea what, where, and when I'm going to eat tomorrow. I guess in the airport before the flight, because it's exactly over lunchtime. Maybe I'll pack a sandwich and a banana and have a picnic. Will TSA steal my banana? (ooh-la-la!) Dinner is margaritas and nachos after the big book signing, I guess.

My shyness is flaring already. My chest gets all tight and I can't make eye contact and I have an even harder time thinking of things to talk about and remembering peoples' faces. I am already terrible at faces, but I think that might be partly because I'm bad at eye contact. So anyway, I'm going to put out a plea for people to come talk to me as if approaching  skittish feral cat. No traps, please. Actually, I could deal with being fixed and released (effing peri-menopausal hormones).

So if you're heading to San Diego this week, look me up. I look like this, though usually my hair is sticking out more all around or back in a clip. And I'm not usually this blue, but I'm bad at filters:
A bit more crazy-eyes and I could look like that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend meme.

AND: I have some copies of my first two books. French historical romance. Louis XIVth. Danger. Excitement. Blood loss. Free to a good home.

AND: I have spiral notebooks with my next book cover on them. PRETTY.

AND: As always, I urge you read my books.
Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer

OH, and I got a job shelving books part-time at my local library today. I'm gonna be gainfully employed when I get back from this trip!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Self-Editing for Anxious Writers

I've read several books (and parts of even more books) and taken online courses and read plenty of blog posts about editing my work, writing better, figuring out plot and goals and motivation, and so on.

Let me tell you, it's hard to internalize that stuff for anyone, but maybe more so when you're an anxious sort of person. Or depressive. Or diagnosed with depression because your anxiety makes it hard to bond. Or whatever weird shade of the multi-dimensional spectrum I fit into. But anyway, when everything feels like criticism because I'm doing it wrong, then trying to learn to do something right is convoluted at best.

(Alyssa Day has been bravely tackling her issues with depression in a public way over the last few years. She wrote an excellent article, with input from several other authors, in the latest Romance Writers' Report, called On Writers and Depression: You are not Alone. I think everyone can see that, even if you're not an RWA member)

But this post is not about depression. Or even anxiety.

This post is about editing while anxious.

So technically, that makes it about anxiety. OK, yes. I'm splitting hairs.

I tend to write the most when I'm feeling good. The last book I finished, I was flying through it, for the most part. I went back every now and then and added in the character and plot insights I gained as I went. I stuttered and stopped a few times near the end, because figuring out how to tie it all up is hard. But I did it. And it was glorious. I edited it through, still loved it, and entered the first part into a variety of contests.

And.... most of those contests have come back with good critiques, some of which I agree with. I am a finalist in NONE of them, though. Wait, I think there's one that hasn't been announced yet. Or two?

I did some revisions after the first batch, after spending a couple of days on Nobody likes me, everybody hates me thinking.

And right now in the run-up to RWA National Conference, I am doing another deep edit of this book I want to pitch.

I am also reconsidering my genre. It might not be romance. There are these three friends, see, two best friends who are polar opposites of each other and a third one who's just started to hang out with them. And they all attempt to find love and there's a happy ending, so it's romance-ish. So it's.... Chick Lit? Women's Fiction? They're college kids, so New Adult?

Is it due to my anxiety that I don't think I can write romance? This is where anxiety messes with me. I know I love to write. I know I can always improve. And I know that I have in the past been unable to win contests or get an agent for earlier books. So the days when I think I'm a big failure, I have to suffer and then try to figure out if it's true.

I decided the other day it's a bit like a soap opera, but I was never a soap opera watcher. Or Sex and the City, but I saw about five minutes of that show once. And my people don't have fabulous clothes--two of them are scraping by with enormous loans, scholarships, and jobs, the other has a middle class family to fall back on, at least.

And yes, I could take out just one of the love stories and make a whole book about it. I could make three books, but they all overlap. And it's at least as much about the friendships as it is about finding love.

So this deep edit is more to make the story fit into a three-act structure better, but I'm keeping my original premise and structure. It's true the first act where we get to know the characters and their goals does drag a bit. It's too long. And what are their goals? I know their goals. I don't know how clearly I have expressed those goals. Not clearly enough, apparently. Especially because the main character's goals change somewhat. Or rather, her circle of trusted friends will need to expand.

Or else.... maybe it's all pointless. Maybe this is all awful. Maybe no one will ever want to buy this or read this or anything. Maybe my particular type of anxiety means I will never be able to market anything. Maybe all my friends and family who have said they loved my books are lying. Maybe I am a terrible writer and no one wants to tell me. Maybe I should get an MFA. Maybe they'd flunk me out of a writing program. Maybe maybe maybe...



This is a great book. I hope to make it better. I hope to find an agent and a publisher for it.

I'm currently reading several self-help books about Networking for Introverts and Overcoming Shyness and Social Anxiety. So as in everything, I am a work in progress.

As Lani Diane Rich, author and teacher of one of the first writing classes I ever took makes everyone repeat at the end of each session:

I'm a great writer!

And I am.

Read my French historical novels and you'll see:
The Indispensable Wife
The Honorable Officer

Monday, July 4, 2016

Camp Nano! 'Cause MURICA!

I needed something to fill my days, apparently. So with attempts at setting up marketing for Chevalier, contest entries queries and edits for Big Chill, getting things done so I can self-publish my ghost story nearer to Christmas, worrying about RWA National Conference (and reading books with titles like "Networking for Introverts"), and, oh, thinking about looking for a part time job, I decided that I needed to keep myself writing. I only signed up to do 25,000 words, since I'll take several days off in the middle. And I started the month with almost 25,000 in the story, so I'm hoping this will be the middle third of the novel.

And otherwise.... I'm not feeling great at the moment. And I need to refill my hummingbird feeder. And buy more sunflower seed for the giant turkeys (I spotted Arrow Turkey the other day, so he's still around. He might have an infection, though, as he has a lump on his neck near the exit side. Ewwwwww.). And I'm letting the puttering around the house soothe me a little.

And Happy Fourth of July! Independence Day for us MURICUNS.

I was going to post a picture of me in my MURICA flag t-shirt, looking disheveled and puffy-eyed, but my phone has stopped uploading automagically to Dropbox, so am off on a tangent trying to figure out what's up with that. Dropbox settings? Lack of space in Dropbox? Phone settings? It's a mystery. And OH GOOD, my phone just crashed as I was downloading Dropbox updates. I've had it for about two years and it was the cheapest smartphone, so it's probably past its prime. ARG.

Anyway. The sequel to Chill is moving along. Not with the same joy as Chill, mostly because it's a hard patch in Mattie's relationship. Everyone has the Summertime Blues (maybe I should have used a cheerier album with this song on it, (isn't it in Stand By Me?) instead of Rolling Stones with their addiction and lack of satisfaction and stuff).

OK. Let's try this now:

There we go. Not quite a candidate for my official author photo. Which I still need to do.

Every time I walk past my almost-fourteen-year-old, he sings "Muricuuuuh."

Happy 'Murica Day, y'all. Yeah!

And go buy my French historical books!
Indispensable Wife
Honorable Officer