I have had the amazing opportunity to not only visit but also have a condo on the fabulous Eastern Shore of Virginia, now the setting of my upcoming release and beginning of the new Baytown Bay Series. Coming Home will star Mitch, one of the FBI agents that my readers have become introduced to through the Saints Protection & Investigation Series.
This picture is a Bed & Breakfast on the Eastern Shore and became the inspiration for my character, Tori Bradford’s, home. Many of the real-life town scenes will appear in my fictionalized town of Baytown.
The new series, Baytown Boys, will follow a group of men who once formed childhood friendships that have lasted well into adulthood. The group of young men all joined the military after high school and have now found their way back to the small town.
The inspiration for this story is also from a group of young men I worked with as a high school counselor about 12 years ago (more on that in another blog post). But it is very true…my art does often imitate life.
I hope you will follow me on my Baytown Boys saga…lots of stories to tell!
I saw this meme on Facebook the other day and loved it. It spoke to my heart and actually described me perfectly. I sometimes wonder what readers think about how a book gets written. Not the final product you see pimped on social media or newsletters, but what it takes to get a book actually from inside an author’s head to down on paper. And while there are always a few scammers who will vomit words onto a page and call it a book, for the vast majority, whether traditionally published or indie published, the process is all consuming.
This is actually my third career. My first was as a special education teacher (speech therapist) and then I spent 21 years as an adolescent counselor after obtaining a Master’s degree in counseling. Becoming a full time author is now career #3! “Oh, you work at home,” you say. “How easy for you.”
Well, I work longer hours and harder on this job than my others…by far. I used to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Yes, sometimes I took work home or stayed late to get projects accomplished. But nothing prepared me for what I am doing now.
I usually work anywhere from 8-14 hours a day…7 days a week. That is in research, writing, revising, correcting, editing, reviewing beta reader notes, making the corrections based on my editor, proofing, reading again…you get the picture. And yes, throw in the time it takes to market my books,
I love what I do. I love to get positive responses from readers who have fallen in love with my characters and the stories that were in my head and brought to life so others could enjoy them. I am able to make some money at this career but it is month to month–and that can vary greatly!
So for anyone thinking that authors sit around in their PJs all day fiddling at the computer, I will say that you could not be more wrong. If you think that you would like to try this profession, please do! I would encourage you…but make sure you understand what it takes. Your characters will take your blood, sweat, and tears…sometimes leaving you in a pile of self-doubt and other times on top of the world!
So, if you are a reader, remember that before you judge a book too harshly, just because it did not speak to you, remember that a lot of work went into the story what was someone else’s to tell. And maybe, just maybe, appreciate the hours spent to offer you enjoyment.
Release day jitters!
Today is release day for my 16th book and you’d think that there would no longer be any anxiety or jitters! But alas, each book represents a part of myself, my creativity, my being…that is released into the world. Like a child that makes its way, you hope that the world will be kind. That you will have done a good enough job that others will see the effort. But not every reader will enjoy the story, like the characters, understand the plot, or even appreciate the long hours and hard work that went into the book.
So, today I release Honor Love and will sit back, waiting to see what the reviews say and how the sales progress. And perhaps…have a glass of wine!
When I sit down and my fingers began to fly over the keyboard, what am I thinking? Plot? Characters? Action? or Readers? To be honest, it is a combination of all of those. I write the story the way I see it. My characters speak the way I hear them in my head and the action flows as I see it in my mind. But what about my readers? About 90% of my reviews on Amazon are glowing – the readers love my stories and tell me they can’t wait until the next one. But what about the others? Some say my alpha heroes curse too much. My reply would be, have you ever been around young men in the military? I have. Believe me…cursing is second nature to them. While I don’t want my stories to be offensive, my alpha heroes will curse. Some say there is too much sex. In a typical novel of mine that is about 350 pages long, there are probably 15 pages of sex scenes (average – some more, some less). So 5% or less of the book is a sex scene. I hardly call that excessive. I have read many novels where the sex scenes go on for MUCH longer! But in my books, the sex is descriptive…but in a way that allows the reader to image the intense emotions and feelings that are occurring. They are not just a random biological rendition of the sex act! A few readers will bemoan that the story isn’t realistic. I write fiction. They hero always gives his all for the heroine. My heroine is smart and works to help others. They are people we would like to meet, but perhaps their flaws are played down more so than in real life. When I am writing, I do sometimes wonder if readers will think the pace is too slow or too fast.
And sometimes all of these thoughts crowd into my consciousness and bring the writing process to a halt. So here is what I have learned to do. I write my stories. My way. I have them professionally edited (both content, line by line, and proofread). I want to deliver a quality product to my readers. Will they all like my work? No. And some quickly get on Amazon leaving scathing reviews about what they did not like. But again, most of my readers love the stories so I have to push the doubts away.
If you are a loyal reader…there’s so much more to come!
I just had a fan send me an email asking about my favorite alpha. Here is my response!!!!
It’s hard to choose a favorite…each one means something to me and I’ll give you a little insight into my writing.
When I first started this journey, I had a vision of a scene in my head where a couple was going to be set up by their friends and meet in a bar. The man doesn’t want to do it, thinking mistakenly, that the woman was much older. It turns out to be a rotten first date and then they have to learn about each other to move forward. This was my first book Emma’s Home. I wanted to write a “small town romance, where the lives and loves of friends along with delightful secondary characters fill out the steamy romance”. Thus, Emma’s Home was born. Some readers feel like I wrote my first series out of order and in a sense they are right. When I wrote EH, I had no idea if I would write another book, if anyone wanted to buy it. I was pleasantly surprised at the response. There were 2 other couples in EH (friends of hers and the heroes) and I decided to “go back a year in time” and write their love stories. So, Laurie’s Time and Carol’s Image do take place a year before EH.
I never intended to write a suspense, but in writing EH I created a small town mystery and discovered I loved that aspect of writing. So all of my books contain some suspense.
By the time I finished Carol’s Image, I wanted to write a “darker romantic suspense that takes place in a big city” and Love’s Taming was born. Love’s Tempting and Love’s Trusting rounded out that series.
There are pieces of me in all my stories. Emma was a high school counselor (I was for 24 years). Laurie was an elem. school teacher (I worked in elem schools before that) and has a health issue that my daughter has. Carol had an issue that many of my high school students dealt with.
The heroine in Love’s Taming is a veterinarian (my oldest daughter is a vet); Love’s Tempting has a software engineer (my youngest daughter is a soft. engineer). In Love’s Trusting, I brought back a couple from Emma’s Home and had them a few years older now.
In the Love’s Series, I wanted the next series to be former military who now had a security agency. They were introduced in the Love’s Series and so there was crossover. Each of those stories begin with a life-changing incident in the military. Their women have careers that I am familiar with (social workers, musicians, CASA workers)
And now the Saints series, is a spin-off from the Alvarez Series. Bethany’s Mountville cabins came from where my daughter got married this past fall. (name change but a similar layout).
Here are my thoughts on my alphas:
Jake – loved his loyalty to his ailing mother and fitting that in with falling for Emma
Rob – loved the idea of a reformed playboy (who actually regrets his years as a player) and his desire to care for Laurie
Tom – strong and steady; completely supportive of Carol
Shane – willlingness to give it all up for the Annie
Matt- sees beyond Lily’s scars
BJ (Brad) – learned from his past mistakes and is not willing to let go of Suzanne
Gabe – his love for not only Jennifer, but her brother as well
Tony – sense of duty; learning to move past grief opening his heart up to Sherri
Vinny – his fun-loving personality, but how swept away he is for the quiet musician (Annalissa)
Jobe – the idea of second love with Mackenna and learning to give up control
Jack – learning that he had room for love and fitting Bethany into his world
Cam – his unwavering desire to rescue and protect Miriam
So now you know all about my characters!
My thoughts are rather jumbled today, but I hope my readers can make sense of it all. It may be surprising to some that authors are real people with real problems. For instance, I may write alpha heroes who rush to the rescue, but in real life right now I am dealing with my parents moving into an assisted living facility due to my mother’s Alzheimers. So the past month has been full of trips, moving, taking things to them, donating other items to Goodwill, sorting, plotting, planning…you name it, I have done it. On top of that, my youngest daughter is getting married in a month, so my life has been full of wedding planning and the excitement that goes with that special day. My grandson just turned 1 yr old. My husband and I just celebrated 34 years of marriage.
You get the picture…
But through it all, I have been busy writing, editing, marketing, and promoting. And loving every minute of this part of my life! I have new fans that are starting to contact me through emails, Facebook, and twitter to let me know that they are reading and loving my books!
Life changes and we have to change with it. That’s what I’m trying to do right now. Lots more great stories to come in the midst of my life changes. But that’s okay. It’s just the life of an author.
After having a career as an adolescent counselor for about 25 years and now able to write full time, I am lucky! I have been involved in 2 very different jobs that I absolutely love! Writing has become for me, not just what I want to try, or what I do…but who I am. I express myself through my characters. I write the stories that I love to read. I create relationships (not only the alpha male and his independent woman, but their families, co-workers, friends, neighbors). If you read my stories you will become immersed, for a little while, in my creation. And I love what I do! So know that I do not do this for the money, or trying to hit a list, or any other reason other than…I love doin’ what I do!
It is always so exciting when a new book goes live! Very much like giving birth and hoping that all goes well. I have worked so hard for the past two years making sure that I was working to bring my readers the books that they have fallen in love with. Vinny is the latest in the Alvarez Security Series and I loved writing it. He was the happy-go-lucky one. He lived the same way he loved his music – hard, fast, and loud! But surprises can come at the most unexpected times! He has to escort a young woman who is used to following everyone’s orders. But Annalissa has a backbone and as she and Vinny embark on a fast cross-country escape, she comes into her own. And he falls hard for the beautiful harpist!
I hope you take a chance on my books – they are truly the stories that I love to read! And then let me hear from you!
I am in a large group of established indie and traditional published authors and yesterday one of them wrote a detailed post about how many indie authors shouldn’t publish the first thing that comes to them because they haven’t honed their craft yet. About 100 comments followed and it was an interesting thread (not nasty, but some very well thought out comments on both sides of the issue). At first, yes, I felt rather insulted. And then I read one authors comments and it made me pause.
She said that she had been writing, studying her craft, and revising for 14 years before finally getting a publisher to take her on. Now she has been published for about 12 years. She agreed that those years of forcing herself to become a better writer served her now, but also said that she admired indie authors who have been able to find their own voice instead of having it edited out of them by the publishing houses.
All in all, an interested comment/thread to read.
When I got over my initial blush of “trad pub authors dissing our work”, I did think about it some. I love being indie, but I do need to continue to grow as an author. I need to work on revising a little more (or a lot more). Many of those authors who are traditional published (and making 25%) will never make the kind of money that some indie authors make who throw out poorly written books. Another trad pub author said that she loves how indie authors have opened the door for the trads to be able to push for more than 25%! Another comment that kept cropping up was that all authors can look back at their earlier work and see how it needs to be better but at least indies can go back, make corrections and re-release whereas trad pub are stuck with published “not so good work! It was an interesting lesson for me to (1) not be insulted when an established trad pub author expresses some concern over indies and (2) I really do want to work on my craft, (3) I am definitely going back to the Fairfield Series and re-edit then re-release. I’m better now and would like to make sure my first work out there is better also.
Thoughts for a Monday!
Have you ever posted about restaurant that you ate at that gave slow service or had poor food? Or the cable company? Or the hair stylist that you went to and vow to never go back to them? Or your child’s school/teacher? Have you sat with co-workers or friends and discussed a business that you used and decided that you did not want to use them again? Did you go to each plumber, stylist, or restaurant manager and complain? Did that person or business come up to you at a later time and accuse you of talking trash about them? Probably not.
If your business is a restaurant, then you are subject to patrons publicly liking or disliking your business (whether the food or the service). In fact, the internet is full of places for you to leave your public ratings on your business. If you are a plumber, carpenter, hair stylist, store owner…you too will have customers talk about your business (in print, on the internet, or in person, etc.) In fact, Angie’s List is a way that many of us publicly find out what others like or dislike about someone’s work.
If you are an author, your work is also out there for public review and we authors know that there are those who will throw down a 1* review on amazon that can trash your work publicly and there is nothing you can do about it. We’re told to suck it up, get a thick skin, etc.
BUT, if your business is in the publishing field (editing, proofing, designs, formatting, narrators, etc) – I don’t find that there is a way for customers to “rate” the service given. And God forbid, that if you do talk about the service to others, you are accused of “talking trash about someone behind their back”. Something to consider. If you provide a service for hire, perhaps a rating system would be helpful.