Write Faster, They Said… It Will Be Easy, They Said…

panicYou know that scene in movies where someone is staring down a long hallway and they need to get to the end of it quickly, but the faster they run, the longer it gets and the slower their steps seem to be? They might as well be walking in place. That’s how I feel, writing this current book. And the kicker is, I’m writing faster than I’ve ever written before. So why do I feel like I have nearly nothing to show for it?

blurWriters are told that if they want to stay “in the game”, they need to produce new material every few months. A new book, a novella, something to retain the interest of their readers. There are SO many authors out there and SO many books, that if you can’t keep producing something new, your readers are going to look elsewhere.

My last book came out in November. I had gotten used to deadlines, working with Crimson Romance. So this is the first time in a long time that I was on my own schedule. I started my current WIP for NaNoWriMo, in November. Sure, I got almost 35k words in, but this thing had so many problems that I threw it aside and refused to even look at it until January. Then it took me weeks to figure out what the heck was bothering me so much about it. I’m back on track, but I lost months of work time on this project.

Writer panic.

haNow I’m writing almost every day. Trying for a scene a day. Not quite NaNoWriMo word count, but productive. And then I start paying attention to all the new releases. Wait, didn’t that author have something out last month? A whole trilogy in a few months’ time? How the hell do they do that? I can’t compete with this! What’s the point? Why am I even trying?

Breathe.

Readers might not even realize the pressure that authors face to write fast, faster, fastest. Some authors rise to the challenge, stretching their writing muscles and going for it. Some go at their own pace and are happy to make any sales because they’re doing what they love. I’m that little hamster in the wheel, trying like hell to get at least three books out per year, like a good little writer hamster. I want to be noticed. I have big dreams that start with best sellers’ lists and conclude with my books being made into Hallmark TV movies. I don’t have the luxury of writing a book or two over my lifetime if I want these dreams to come true. I need to write, and I need to write often.

So what do I do? How do I take pride in accomplishment at having put in a hard days’ work? I’m currently on chapter seven, out of probably twenty. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in the book, that there is so much to go. Yet I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing this thing since November. I know I’m good for a scene, maybe a part of another, in one good work day. I can’t squeeze out any more than that.

I’ve read the advice out there: “If you want it badly enough, you’ll make time for it.” Um… making time. But my creative brain doesn’t work like most people’s. I have peak hours of operation. My muse takes off after seven PM or so. She might come back by five AM, but she refuses to sit up all night, drinking coffee and pounding out words while the rest of the family sleeps.

cartoonwriterSo yeah, I’m panicking. I am trying to finish this book, and as much of the next in the trilogy for Nationals this July. I set a goal to sign with an agent this year. But they don’t want to read my published books. They want to know what I have for them to sell. What am I working on next. How long does it take me to produce a new book? Am I worth their time and effort? Am I? I’m trying like heck to be.

Anyone have any coping strategies? (Besides alcohol?) How do I maintain a steady pace and still produce enough books to make an agent, readers and potential editors happy? How do I do this and keep myself happy? Because what is the point of writing books for a living if you aren’t happy while doing it? Yoga? Meditation? Cute baby animal videos? How do you keep from cracking under the pressure to be more than you are?

 

We Still Love Our Fairy Tales

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Fairy tales have been around for centuries. We grow up on stories of princesses and heroes, dragons and witches. They are full of adventure, danger, laughter and, yes, love They are beautiful classics that stand the test of time. So why should we stop enjoying them just because we are no longer children? Who says we have to?

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Sure, the animated princess movies are great, but the live-action ones that have come out over the years? Happy sigh! Even before Disney started remaking Malificent and Cinderella, there have been plenty of retellings. One of my favorites is Ever After. Drew Barrymore did an incredible job as Cinderella. Ella Enchanted is another version of the classic that I love.

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And let’s not forget one of the biggest hits in the last few years. Once Upon A Time has found a way to take nearly every fairy tale ever told and fit it into one (fairly cohesive) plot. Couldn’t manage to fit a character into Storybrooke, Maine? No problem – Once Upon A Time In Wonderland. Yeah, gotta say I never got into that one, overkill effect and all. But you have to give them points for trying.

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Teens are getting their own dose of happily ever after with new renditions like the summer hit, Descendants. Just think, Malificent’s daughter finds true love with Belle’s son. Pretty freakin’ cool concept, if you ask me. I think that movie was playing on our television set at least five out of seven days each week, the first few weeks it was out. I’ve certainly memorized all the songs (not by choice).

Descendants

So is it any wonder that those very same classics are finding a whole new life in the book world, as well? Modern retellings. Sexy, sweet, in between. We readers love our happily ever afters.

How amazing would it be then, to buy ONE collection and get FOUR brand new versions of stories we have loved for years. Beauty and the Beast. Goldilocks. Cinderella. Aladdin. All told from an adult perspective, just not exactly as you remember them. Fairy tales set in modern times, but with a twist that makes this telling completely unique. Intrigued?

Here it is, Modern Magic: A Quartet of Fractured Fairytales. With stories by Nancy C. Weeks, Stephanie Cage and Andrea R. Cooper. Available for ereaders everywhere. http://bit.ly/1MxXDO6

Release date November 9, 2015

Release date November 9, 2015

What is your favorite fairy tale? Who did it best? Was it a movie or a book? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Cover Reveal – Modern Magic

Fairy tales aren’t just for children, any more. One month from today, folks! A bit of a departure for me, as I am used to writing small town contemporaries. But Crimson Romance put out a call for this collection of twisted fairy tales and my muse refused to let me pass this one up.

Modern Magic: A Quartet of Fractured Fairy Tales takes the classic stories of Cinderella, Aladdin, Goldilocks and Beauty and the Beast that you know and love, and gives them a bit of a shake up. Here’s a sneak peek:

What if Cinderella ditched the prince’s ball and sent her fairy godmother to find love in her place? 

Suppose a streetwise hero hired to steal an all-powerful Genie (stuck in a flash drive rather than a brass lamp) for a tech company ended up running for his life with the CEO’s gorgeous, intelligent daughter? 

Or what if the bed that a certain golden-tressed girl accidentally napped in belonged to the hot and famous middle brother of a notorious boy band? 

Can you envision the sparks that might fly if a bitter and downright beastly wheelchair-bound woman propositioned a handsome bookseller to stay with her in exchange for her rare book collection?

Intrigued? Ready to see the cover? Are you sure? Want to holler “shut up already and show me the picture!”? Here you go:

Release date November 9, 2015

Release date November 9, 2015

Here’s an excerpt from A Late-Blooming Rose, my own version of Beauty and the Beast:

His pork chop was cold. Of course that was to be expected when one wasn’t allowed to sit down to eat his own dinner until he’d done fifty thousand things for his new “employer.” Four days into his thirty-day ‘sentence’ and he swore she got more and more creative with her unrealistic commands. Beau shook his napkin out, giving it a little snap before smoothing it over his lap.

The clatter of silverware bouncing off of marble tile roused Beau from his own thoughts. “Oh dear, how clumsy of me! I’m afraid I’ll need a new fork.” Eva flashed him an insincere smile.

“They’re in the drawer in the kitchen.” Beau continued to chew his food.

“I think I know where my own forks are. This is my house, after all. What I don’t understand is why you aren’t moving. I asked you to get me a fork.”

“And I told you to get it yourself.”

“But you work for me! You are my caregiver.” Her chest heaved as her breathing sped up.

“I am doing this for you without pay, without benefits, and without any sort of thank yous. It’s not hard to see why you can’t hold on to staff. You are rude. You are demanding. And you deliberately bait people just to see how miserable you can make them.”

“Congratulations. It took you a fraction of the time it took all the others to figure that out. Must be all those books you’re so fond of.” She sneered. “As you didn’t bring anything with you, it won’t take you long to pack up your things. So sorry it didn’t work out.”

“Oh, I have no intention of leaving.” Beau cut into his pork chop and popped the juicy bite into his mouth.

“You aren’t getting me a new fork like I asked. I’ve fired people for far less.”

“Eva, did I leave after you insisted I replace the sheets I’d just put on your bed because you thought they were too colorful? Did I leave after I spent an hour on the roof adjusting the satellite dish, only to learn that you’d just unplugged the TV? Or when I had to scrub out all the cupboards when you claimed to have seen a cockroach in the kitchen? I still don’t believe you, by the way. But I’m still here. A shame that you can’t fire me, hmm? Give it your best shot, sweetheart. I’m a lot tougher than you give me credit for.”

Beau nearly laughed at the murderous look in her eyes. Eva Mitchum was a woman used to getting her own way. She glared at him as though she could bend him to her will using only her mind. The spacious dining room echoed with the clink of Beau’s knife and fork as he continued to eat his dinner, the dinner he’d spent the afternoon cooking. He wouldn’t have been surprised to see the top of Eva’s head fly off as she gave vent to the anger seething in her gaze.

“I can’t eat my pork chop without the proper utensils,” she ground out, after several long minutes of pouty silence.

“Sure you can. Just pick it up with your fingers. Those still work, don’t they?” Yeah, that was probably crossing the line. But after the hell she’d put him through over the last few days, Beau couldn’t help it. The woman would try the patience of a saint!

He sighed, intending to apologize, but when he looked up, he was shocked to find her doing just what he’d suggested Eva sat across from him, holding the pork chop between her dainty fingers and nibbling at it carefully. She studiously avoided his eyes now, which was good. He didn’t want her to realize just how much she’d shocked him. He’d won this match, and he intended to savor the victory for as long as it lasted.

The rest of the meal passed without incident. Eva was through with her childish attempts at goading him into losing his temper, or walking out on her, or both. She was silent, reflective. Beau didn’t get the feeling that she was plotting her next scheme. Instead, she seemed almost confused. Had no one ever stood up to her before? No wonder the woman was on a major power trip. Eva was used to being spoiled, whether it was because she was confined to her wheelchair or because she bullied everyone into doing her bidding. Learning to become more independent would do her a world of good, though Beau highly doubted she’d agree. Lesson one had gone surprisingly well. At least she hadn’t thrown her steak knife at him.

Modern Magic is up on Goodreads if you’d like to drop by and add it to your “want to read”list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26842591-modern-magic

What is your favorite fairy tale? If Crimson were to do another collection of twisted fairy tales, what would you love to see added? When you think of classic fairy tales, do you envision the original (usually darker) version, or the ‘Disneyfied” versions? Leave your comments below and let’s see who shares your favorites.

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.

 

 

I Birthed A New Baby…A Book Baby

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So I told you about my children, the under 4 ft, go-to-elementary-school type, the furry type that take less picking up after than the previous type and the 6 ft tall “Honey, where’s my (fill in the blank)” type. But I haven’t told you about any of my book babies yet. And one of them is a precious little newborn.

Trapped in Tourist Town is the fourth book in my Scallop Shores series. For those of you that have read my other books, Cady finally gets her own book. For those of you who have never read my books, Cady runs the town bakery, making all her goodies from scratch and bemoaning the fact that no one ever wants to try her ‘fancy’ drinks from the espresso machine she bought with her own money because Mr. Logan was too cheap to fork out for one.

Cady is convinced that there is nothing for her in Scallop Shores. Adventure and excitement await her in New York City. She’s been saving up almost her whole life and this coming Labor Day, when the tourists all head home at the end of summer, she plans to take off with them. Just a few more months. She can handle that.

Burke is a world-weary travel reporter who has been sent to Scallop Shores as a favor to his editor. ‘Do a series of articles on this quaint town’, she says. ‘It’ll be fun,’ she says. All he knows is that there is no Starbucks and no five star hotel. But there is a perky townie that convinces him to let her show him the sights from a local’s perspective. The town is looking up already.

Though theirs is supposed to be a working relationship, Cady and Burke can’t deny the chemistry that sends sparks flying and tongues wagging. As things heat up between them, they both start to picture a future together. Unfortunately, Cady is picturing a life in the city and Burke is starting to warm to the idea of small town living.

Cady has spent so much of her life trying to get out of town, that she never stopped to appreciate just what she has. In the short time he has lived in town, Burke has learned the importance of family and a strong sense of community, something sorely lacking in his life up until now.

They each have their own dreams, and if they are going to be together, someone has to give. Or do they? Read Trapped in Tourist Town to see how Cady and Burke get their happy-ever-after.

Buy links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/13pQifR

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1tBhwY1

Crimson Romance: http://bit.ly/tittadamsmedia

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1ydytxk