Friday, June 23, 2017

Stop Talking. Start Writing.

There seems to be a recurring theme in my world these days.
I'm currently on vacation with my best friend and guess what was one of the first things we did? We talked about writing. 

Did we talk about what we're writing?

Did we talk about how much we've written?

Did we discuss our upcoming projects or how excited we are about them?

We talked about how we should be writing, how much time we wish we had spent writing, and all the other things we've been doing instead.

Sound familiar?

While growing my Twitter following, I've encountered some newbie writers who are in the same boat. (Names have been omitted in order to protect the dear, sweet, writers. If by some strange twist of fate they are actually reading this, bless their dear, sweet souls, because I've got a truth bomb or two to drop.) 

Here are their the account descriptions:

I'm an aspiring author with a bad case of lazy. Currently writing a couple of novel series and a few screenplays.

I want to reply, Kudos on not calling yourself an aspiring writer! And for actually getting the job (or several jobs) started! Keep it up, Sunshine!

Here's another:

Hey guys! I'm a fiction writer who dreams of getting published; feel free to throw some inspiration my way!

I want to ask what's standing in her way. Is she waiting for the right time to publish? Is she waiting for a big, shiny contract? Those are pretty tough to score. And there are always strings attached. So if writers want to publish their stories, they need to get smarter and find the path that's right for them. 

Boom. Inspiration.

Here's my favorite account description:

Follow me as a I try to complete a novel I've been working on for the last seven years.

I want to comment on that, but I can't decide just how brutally honest I want to be. Which of the following would you suggest?

a) What's your timeline for completing this novel? Another seven years? Because YIKES.

b) Do you expect to see a return on your investment? Because you'll need to sell a ton of those puppies to break even after you've committed a decade to the project. Again, YIKES.

c) Obviously this project is going nowhere. Set it aside and find something you are truly passionate about finishing. And guess what? You'll have published that novel before you could have ever finished this one. 

I've known writers who couldn't give up on that first novel and/or publishing contract and insisted on pursuing it instead of moving on. The truth is we are better writers today than ever before and the stories and characters we develop will be more complex than they would have been several years ago.

On the other end of the spectrum is my amazing friend Jo Ann Schneider. Jo and I published our first novels the same year. However, in the time that I've published two Young Adult fairy tales, Jo has published seven novels, two novellas, as well as collaborating on a couple of short story anthologies. Did I mention that they're all in different genres?
Now that's smart. Jo not only talks about writing, she gets the job done. Her Facebook feed shows some awesome stuff these days. Here's what she shared last week:

Hey Jagged Scars fans. I'm on a mission to write a rough draft of book 5 between now and July 6th. It's only going to be about 80,000 words. That shouldn't be a problem, right? I started yesterday. 

Here is my progress report for today. Time for a snack.
Beginning word count: 5,015
Ending word count: 12,023

(Sarah's math says: 7,008 words on day one!)

Hey Jagged Scars fans, here's my daily report:
Beginning word count: 12,023
Ending word count: 21,576
21,500 words down, only 60,000 to go!

(Sarah's math says: 9,553 words on day two!)

My goal was 25,000 words this week. Got a little more in. One week down, two and a half to go.

Beginning word count: 21,576
Ending word count: 26,610

(Sarah's math says: 5,034 words on day three! 21,595 words written in one week!)

She's amazing. If I wrote like that, my 50,000-60,000 novel would already be written. But I've let life get in the way. I've let distractions (like those blasted idiots who are supposed to be fixing my AC but still haven't done so) get in the way of my summer writing goals. 

So here I am, pulling up my big girl panties and saying it loud and proud:

I'm finishing another novel this summer. 

I'm already a third of the way done at over 20,000 words. Another 10,000 words (which I knocked out in one day last summer) and I'll be halfway done. I can do that, right? 

A life lesson that both Jo and I have learned is that as soon as you publish a novel the first thing your readers will ask is:

When will the next one be out?

Every author wants to say, Holy Heck, Greedy Gus! I just got this one out and it nearly killed me! Can you give me a second?

What we should do is express our gratitude for their support. We want them to be invested in us and all we do, right?

These are the people who will pay our bills. Or at least pay for the occasional pedicure.

As I continue down the road to fame and riches (or just regularly pampered feet), I welcome you to come along on the journey. Here's to finishing my first draft instead of just talking about it!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Midnight Sisters: Meet the Gentlemen

Twelve noblewomen, two smitten gardeners, and one angry father.
In the Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies series, we learned about each of the twelve noblewomen featured in Midnight Sisters. But what about the men? They're just as important as the women they love and fiercely protect. Today Jonas, Braden, and Lord Bromhurst take the spotlight to reveal their secrets. Who's in love, who's a horrible poet, and who is still mourning love lost? Read to find out!
* * *
Philip growled at the plant before him.

“Is there something particularly irritating about that rose bush, sir?” I asked.

He let out a hmph, shoved his bangs out of his eyes, and turned his glare on me. “Women.”

I squinted at him. “Women, sir?”

“Yes,” he growled out, stabbing violently at the rose bush with a trowel.

“Anything specific you’d like to impart on the subject?” When I’d first come to his estate, I wouldn’t have dreamed of baiting my master in this way. But I knew the plants would take the brunt of his ill humor.

“A good woman is worth her weight in gold, Jonas.” He pushed his bangs out of his eyes again. “But she will probably never let you forget it.” He jabbed at the plant again. “And neither will her sister.”

I nodded slowly and turned my attention back to weeding. “Enlightening, sir.”

“Two weeks and you’ll be off on a new adventure, Jonas.” He didn’t look up from his work. “Mind you keep your head down and don’t flirt.”

I thought of the new position he’d procured for me in a household so much more grand than his own. “The Earl of Bromhurst’s daughters are said to be very beautiful.”

“Each more beautiful than the last. More reason to keep your nose clean,” he grumbled. “Who needs a hoity toity noblewoman in his life?”

A grin tugged at my lips. “Even if she’s very, very beautiful?”

He scoffed. “Find yourself a willing milkmaid, Jonas.” A sardonic gleam burned in his eye. “And watch out for bossy kitchen wenches.”
* * *
I wadded up another sheet of paper and tossed it on the growing pile. It just wasn’t right. She was the most perfect woman I’d ever laid eyes on. I couldn’t offer her something less than perfect. 

I began again:

Fairest Lady,
With skin is of purest snow,
Hair of burnished gold,
Whose eyes the brighter glow,
Within such mysteries hold.
If I could let you know
Your hand in mine enfold . . .

Told? Bold? Show? Flow? Blech. I tore the paper down the middle and crumbled it like all the rest.

“Braden!” the voice boomed behind me. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Gregor glared at me from the doorway. I found few things intimidating, but that eyebrow inching upward was certainly one of them.

“Um . . .” I fished for a plausible lie. Another plausible lie. “Just writing my mother, sir.”

He growled. “You should know better than to waste paper, boy. We’re given a strict allowance.” He motioned to the pile of discarded sheets. “That is coming out of your wages.”

I nodded in agreement. “Yes, sir.”

“Clean up this mess and report to your post.”

“Of course, sir.” I offered up what I hoped was an innocent smile. His footsteps retreated and I turned my attention back to penning the perfect love note.

Hours later, I signed my name at the bottom. If she didn’t favor me, I was signing my own dismissal letter. What else could I do? I folded up the single sheet and scrawled her name on the front.

* * *
Lord Bromhurst
Twelve empty beds. At midnight. 

I ran a hand through my hair, wishing I could rip it out by the roots. Katherine’s patient face flitted through my mind. My heart panged, at war with the anger coursing through my veins. She would have had the answer. Katherine would have known what to do with twelve unruly daughters.

“Why did you have to leave me?” I whispered. It was the question that had plagued me for over a decade. I would never know the answer. And day by day, our daughters were becoming more and more willful. The empty beds, all perfectly made with crisp corners and plump pillows, mocked me. Innocent, proper, and completely disconcerting at the same time.

“Your Lordship?” one of the menservants called tentatively from the doorway.

I cocked an eyebrow. “Yes?”

I could tell he wanted to shuffle his feet under my glare but he held himself erect all the same. “What would you like us to do?” 

What would you have done, Katherine? I sent the silent plea heavenward. As usual, the heavens remained silent. I would have to manage on my own. A sigh gushed out of me. “Alert the staff. My daughters are missing. They must be found at once.”

“At once, My Lord.” He offered a small bow before turning to leave.

“And when I find them . . .” My hands clenched at my side. Anger solidified in the pit of my stomach like a rock.

The servant turned back. “Pardon me, My Lord? What was that?”

“Nothing,” I grumbled.
* * *
Author's Secrets: Jonas's scene occurs during the finals scenes of Becoming Beauty. As I prepared Becoming Beauty for publishing, I was already chapters into the first draft of Midnight Sisters. Since Jonas was a gardener, it seemed fitting that he should have a place in Becoming Beauty's rose garden. So yes, you can find a teenage Jonas Selkirk in Becoming Beauty's finale.

Read more about the twelve sisters in the Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies series:

Meet the Sisters I (Ariela, Brisella, Canela)
Meet the Sisters II (Daniela, Estella and Frizella)
Meet the Sisters III (Gisella, Hayla, Isella, and Janela)
Meet the Sisters IV (Krisela and Larela)

For the full story, order your own copy of Midnight Sisters or Becoming Beauty on Amazon. Contact me directly if you'd like a signed novel. (FYI a special discount will be offered for anyone ordering both novels through me.)

Happy summer reading! Thanks for dropping by! 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies IV

Twelve sisters. Twelve personalities. Twelve times the trouble. 
We've met ten of Lord Bromhurst's daughter in Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies I, Meet the Ladies II, and Meet the Ladies III. Today sweet Krisela--whose affection for animals exceeds her love for human company--reveals a secret of her own. And Lady Larela, possibly the most mischievous of the bunch, may be falling in love. On with the story! 

* * *
Lady Krisela
“You like that, don’t you boy?” Brutus lapped up the water like he’d run all over creation. Would my father never learn to care for his hunting dogs? Caesar nudged Brutus out of the way. They reminded me of the triplets, always vying for a place.

“Now, now,” I said, patting Caesar’s black head. “There’s plenty for everyone, boy.”

“You have a way with them,” a deep voice said.

My nerves zinged. I hazarded a glance behind me. It was enough to confirm my worst fears. But why would Lord Whatsits spare any time for me? I was only fourteen.

“I’ve fine hunters of my own, My Lady. Have you any tips on managing them?”

I kept my eyes glued on the dogs who were still pushing one another to get to the water. I knelt to dump the rest of the bucket full of water into their dish. I stayed on my knees with one hand on each animal.

“You’re a shy one aren’t you, My Lady?” The low voice hummed with innuendo. “I’ve always liked a challenge.”

I closed my eyes tightly. Please don’t do it. Please don’t do it. Please don’t do it.

He shuffled nearer. I could feel him behind me. There was only one thing to do. I leaned forward so only the dogs could hear me. “Get him, boys!”

They tore off, nearly toppling me in the process. Wild yelps sounded followed by a not-so-manly shriek. I turned to watch the nobleman lolloping across the grounds like an ungainly giraffe. The dogs were nearly at his heels. 

“Do it! Come on, boys!” I whispered. With a leap, Brutus sank his teeth into Lord Whatsits’s derriere. A chortle of laughter broke free. I laughed until my sides hurt. 

* * *
Lady Larela
He brushed his moist lips over the back of my hand and cultivated the same sultry smolder he’d poured on everyone between my father and me. 


It didn’t matter that he was attractive, wealthy, and well-dressed. Leftovers and hand-me-downs weren’t my style. With eleven sisters it was practically impossible to stand out. All the same I refused to be just another pretty face.

The nobleman turned back to the more eligible females in my family without giving me another second of his attention. I cast a wistful glance toward the gardeners. Green eyes caught mine and held. I glanced away but I couldn’t stop my lips from twitching upward.

“Lari?” Krisela whispered. Everyone else had headed back inside. Hopefully they wouldn’t miss me.
“I’ll be right there, Kris. I’m just taking a turn around the flower garden to clear my head.”

“All right,” she said with the knowing smile. She’d cover for me if it was necessary.

I headed down the path. Out of habit, I felt for the note tucked in my sash. It crinkled comfortingly beneath my touch. By now the staff should be headed back to their posts. I opened the single sheet and scanned the familiar lines. 

Fairest Lady . . . I closed my eyes, pressed the note to my heart and recited the words from memory. A rush of pleasure danced in my stomach. I didn’t care that the poetry was atrocious.  I pressed my lips to the name scrawled at the bottom and grinned.

A girl never forgets her first love letter. 

* * *
We've reached the final installment of the Midnight Sisters: Meet the Sisters series. Revisit the other posts to learn more about Kris and Lari's elder sisters.

Meet the Sisters I (Ari, Bree, and Cinnamon)
Meet the Sisters II (Daniela and the twins, Estella and Frizella)
Meet the Sisters III (Janela and the triplets, Gisella, Hayla, and Isella)

And coming soon: The Gentlemen of Midnight Sisters. Learn about the men featured in Midnight Sisters and discover what they've been hiding. 

Midnight Sisters is available on Amazon. Contact me directly if you'd like a signed copy. I'm running a bargain bundle price for Midnight Sisters and Becoming Beauty! 

Thanks for reading!