The Writer’s Life

roryreading

Remember on the Gilmore Girls, how Rory always carried a book wherever she went? Had to wait for the bus? Pulled out her book. Waiting for someone to get done somewhere? Got in a chapter or two. I love that. And I subscribe to that. I try to keep a book in my purse or in my car, because you never know when you’ll get the opportunity to read for a few minutes.

brainwritingThat’s the reader me. The writer me always carries a story around as well. Except that it’s in my head. And lately, my brain is flipping back and forth between three different stories. It might sound weird if you aren’t a writer. Distracting, to say the least. But it’s really not. It’s just…me.

9scyehtqxhPart of my brain is always disengaged from my current surroundings. Sometimes that’s a tiny part, or sometimes, like when I’m nearing the end of a book, it’s huge. A part of me crying out to get back to my “other” family, the world of my own creation. I see that light at the end of the tunnel, getting bigger and brighter. A little voice whispers “You’re so close – don’t stop now!”

Last night I was at the casino, celebrating a friend’s birthday. A huge group of us were sitting at a table at the buffet and I wonder how many of them realized that in my head, I was writing. Today I have so many things on my list of chores, that it would take a miracle to be able to sit down and work on my book. But I’ll be thinking about it. Part of me will be spending the day with my characters. Because I’m SO close.

thLGSPNW5VTomorrow morning, hubby will take the kids to school. I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee (and a couple of Hershey’s kisses – don’t judge!) and breath a sigh of relief. Because I’m home. I made it through our time apart and now we can continue our journey. There are people in my life that worry about me. And that’s fine for them. Writers are a different breed. I’ve accepted that. No, I’ve embraced that. It’s what I do. It’s what I am. And I love it.

Always My Hero – Release Week Fun

Now available on ereaders everywhere!

Now available on ereaders everywhere!

When I announced the cover to Always My Hero, I added a description about the characters. I’ve done excerpts on a couple of other author blogs, and will be sure to promote them as soon as they are up. So today I thought I’d do something different. Here are a few fun facts about Always My Hero, and Scallop Shores in general:

1.  My original idea for the Scallop Shores series involved three books. It wasn’t supposed to be about the town, so much as it was about three best friends. Trapped in Tourist Town was the first. Always My Hero was the second and the third was a half-formed idea that never quite took shape.

2.  To get a better feel for my characters, I posted pictures on a giant whiteboard on my desk. I’m still trying to figure out the name of the actor/model that I chose for Ryan. I’m posting the picture below, and if anyone knows, PLEASE enlighten me! Bree’s character I based on Alexis Bledel, Rory Gilmore if any of you are Gilmore Girls junkies.

Ryan33.  Always My Hero is the first book I’ve ever sold BEFORE I wrote it. It’s also the book that took the shortest amount of time to write. Amazing what a deadline will do for productivity.

4.  Wynter’s Journey is a re-write of the very first book I ever wrote, about ten years ago while we were still living in San Diego and baby #1 was napping. It was never meant to be part of the Scallop Shores series.

5.  Always My Hero was started when I was pregnant with baby #2, but when morning sickness took over, all writing fell by the wayside…for a few years.

6. Next year will mark twenty years since I have lived in Maine. Holy crap! We’re heading back for a wedding this fall and that will be the first time I’ve visited in almost seven years. So all my inspiration for Scallop Shores truly comes from memory. I imagine my hometown has grown considerably and that makes me so sad.

7.  If you’re planning on attending Emerald City Writers Conference this year, I will be donating a “Scallop Shores” themed basket that will have lots of goodies from my trip to Maine. (Sorry, no actual lobster, but maybe a stuffed animal?)

8.  I hate coming up with character names, street names, business names, etc. So if you went to York High School with me, or you are just from York, Maine, see if you recognize any of the names in my books. I never use full names of anyone I actually knew. So thank you to all those who helped me get over that pesky naming hurdle.

9.  I had originally named the series “Lobster Cove”. I LOVED that name. But then my editor discovered a real town in Maine with the same name and it caused inconsistencies with my first book, Drawn to Jonah. Apparently the real Lobster Cove was a lot farther away from New York City and could not be reached in the four hours I said it took by car. Dang. So I held a contest on Facebook and chose a new name. The winner got her name listed in the acknowledgements in Drawn to Jonah. Sigh. I still miss Lobster Cove.

10.  There are several sexy new bachelors introduced in Always My Hero, leaving an opening for more books in this series. If you read the book, I’d love to know who you’d want to see getting the next Scallop Shores book.

So did you learn anything new? Did you have a question about Scallop Shores, or about writing Always My Hero that didn’t get answered? Leave it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Learning Life Lessons From My Children

reminderSometimes we get into a funk over discouraging news or things that didn’t work out exactly how we’d expected them to. Just because we aren’t kids anymore doesn’t mean we won’t pout over times that didn’t go our way. I was having one of those pity-parties-for-one when my 10 year old helped me realize there was a different way to look at the situation.

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time. And that’s just to get the book out. Then add in the promoting and marketing of the book, of your brand. It seems petty to whine that it will likely be many years before I qualify for PAN, when some authors are still struggling to get that first book published. So today I am going to write myself a list to remind myself why I am grateful to be an author.gratitude

1.  I get to do what I have dreamed about since I was in 8th grade – tell my stories. I’m going to concentrate on continuing to tell them to the best of my ability and not worry about who is actually reading them.

2.  The excitement and joy that comes with a new story idea is a heady rush. It fades over time, so it’s important to remember the feeling — because it will come again — and it is amazing.

3.  I am meeting so many great people that I never would have met if it hadn’t been for being published with Crimson. And while I may never meet some of them in person, just talking with them on social media has made a huge impact in my life.

4.  I have an outlet for my weirdness. I get to be an introvert and not have to make excuses for it. I can embrace it. 😀 And there are others like me!

5.  My work clothes are whatever I happen to have on — which on most mornings is a bathrobe or pjs. How many people can say that?

6.  I do not have a work commute unless I CHOOSE to leave the house and head for the nearest Starbucks, Panera or Cafe Ladro. And this excursion would cost me maybe a ten minute drive at most.

7.  Release day. It’s like my birthday, Christmas and every holiday rolled into one. I have memorized all my books’ release dates – they are my book babies, after all.

8.  Covers. Whenever I get depressed about sales (or lack of sales), I go to my Amazon author page and look at all the pretty covers. Those are mine and no one can take them away from me.

9.  Swag. I get to design cool stuff to give away to readers. And readers LOVE free stuff. And giving stuff away makes me feel good. Giving it away in person forces me to interact with people — and that’s a very good thing.

10.  I can Google/Bing myself. How awesome is that? I have made some amazing discoveries doing internet searches of myself. 😉 Seriously. Someone made a video of one of my books and posted it on YouTube. I wouldn’t have had a clue if I hadn’t come across it on a search engine. Made. My. Friggin’. Month!

*** And most of all, I am grateful for the support of my family. Their love and enthusiasm keep me inspired. Their patience when I am under deadline and serving cold sandwiches or cereal for the third night in a row humbles me. I couldn’t do it without you guys. Hugs, sloppy kisses and hey, I’m gonna cook you a proper meal tonight! <3happy

Judging A Book By Its Cover

Whoever came up with the quote “Never judge a book by its cover” should have saved themselves the effort. ‘Cause, seriously, we all do it. There are SO many books on the market now. New releases and books that have been out for years. It would be great if we had the time to diligently read the backs, the book blurbs and the reviews. But we don’t have time. So the easiest way to sort through endless titles for something that looks promising to us, is covers.

I write small town contemporary romance. When I first envisioned possible covers for my Scallop Shores series, I thought I’d get something along the line of Debbie Macomber or Susan Mallery, a glimpse of the town, maybe a peek at the shoreline, that sort of thing. But unless you actually ARE Debbie Macomber or Susan Mallery, you don’t really get a say in how your covers are designed.

Crimson Romance told me they had a uniform “look” for their contemporary line. Okay. I get that. My first book, Drawn to Jonah, featured an okay looking guy with an adorable kid on the cover. He looked preppy and much older than the guy I’d written about. Not at all how I pictured Jonah, but this was my first book and I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted.

Pretend he's younger, bigger muscles and wearing a white t-shirt - 'cause he's a handyman.

Pretend he’s younger, bigger muscles and wearing a white t-shirt – ’cause he’s a handyman.

Five of Hearts came out and while again, the guy on the cover did not match MY version of Dean Patterson, this guy was pretty hot. Sales for FoH were doing much better than sales for DTJ. Was it the cover, or was it the fact that it was a new release? I needed more info.

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No doubt this guy is hot, but I was picturing longer, sun-bleached blond hair. But he’ll do. He’ll do nicely.

 

Two months later, Wynter’s Journey was released. The original cover they gave me had a couple embracing, and while that was great, the man was SO ugly I burst into tears upon seeing the mock up. They replaced it with a picture of a red head standing alone. I felt it did a much better job representing the story of a woman embracing her new independent life and all the choices that came with it. However, sales for WJ were dismal at best. Was it the story line or the cover?

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She looks confident, ready to take on the world. I had hoped that would resonate with women readers, but… not so much.

 

In the meantime, I was busy cranking out my next book, and didn’t have any more new releases in 2014. So I could sit back and study the sales without wondering if the order it came on the market had any effect. It became more than clear that FoH was the best selling of any of my books. By far. And to be honest, I think that story is the most “out there”, in terms of story lines. He used to be in a boy band, for crying out loud! I really didn’t think that would interest anyone but me. Go figure.

Then I got the cover artwork for my latest release, Trapped in Tourist Town. I cried tears of joy this time! It featured the lighthouse from the town I grew up in. This book was the nearest and dearest to my heart and the cover was the perfect representation of that. And people dig lighthouses, right? They’ll see that gorgeous cover and ‘one click’ like mad people, right? Wrong.

Maybe if I hadn't hidden his cute face behind a camera???

Maybe if I hadn’t hidden his cute face behind a camera???

January sales for Five of Hearts beat out the new release of Trapped. February sales beat it out by FAR. So now I’m convinced it is the cover of FoH that is selling the book.

And with that in mind, I will push for a hot guy on the cover of my June release, Always My Hero. Because readers do judge a cover. And in this over saturated market, I need to find a way to compete. Unfortunately, I’ve set a precedent and my sweet books just wouldn’t look right with a shirtless man (more’s the pity!) on the cover. But that doesn’t mean we can’t come up with a smokin’ hot guy to play the role of Ryan Pettridge, ex-football quarterback and single dad. Let’s see if Ryan can beat Dean for top spot in Scallop Shores’ hottest heroes.

I've had this taped above my desk as inspiration for Ryan.

I’ve had this taped above my desk as inspiration for Ryan.