November 18, 2018 • No Comments
I was recently listening to a podcast by the fabulous Joanna Penn, who mentioned that authors should embrace their idiosyncratic pleasures. That is, those elements one loves and uses in art or writing again and again. These might be story elements such as secret babies or serial killers (hopefully not at the same time). They might also just be images or ideas that make us happy. I love her recommendation to use these gems as one pleases, and to be unapologetic while doing so!
What’s my list? It will probably take me a while to collect everything, but here’s a start:
- Seaside towns/cities – I believe the sea adds untold romance and mystery, not to mention delicious fogs
- Funky older neighborhoods
- Cathedrals & bell towers
- Catacombs and ossuaries
- Tea and all the rituals that go with it
- Graveyards, the older the better (that’s Highgate in the picture above)
- Trees, especially twisty ones
- Magic of all sorts
- Strong-willed grandmothers
- Baroque and early music. The Brandenburg Concerti are my go-to mood tonic
- Walled gardens and glass houses
- Exotic strangers
- Underground spaces, with or without dragons
- Castles and ancient manors, complete with appropriate drafts
- Moors and heaths
- Fancy ankle boots
- Standing stones
- Talking animals
- Swirling cloaks
- Carnelian jewelry
- Mad scientists
- Possession by spirits
- Snow, mostly in theory and not waiting to be shoveled
I don’t think you need to be a writer to have a list like this–and when to dip into it on a day when you need to lift your spirits! Yes, sometimes I do take a walk in the cemetery to cheer myself up. It’s the nicest green space imaginable on a bright fall day.
November 5, 2018 • No Comments
This rather cool. I’ve been wikified here:
I think I’ll have to check out some of the other series!
November 4, 2018 • No Comments
So I’ve promised to do something new in the Dark Forgotten world for a long time, and here we go–an all-new Christmas novella featuring many of the characters from the novels. I hope you enjoy it! It’s available right now on Amazon and in KU, and I hope to get a print available very shortly.
Who says the holiday season is just for humans?
For all the holly-jolly times, family gatherings are complex no matter who—or what—you are. When you’re hunting for the latest “it” toy to stuff a stocking, it doesn’t matter if you’re alive or Undead, fanged or furry—you’re just as desperate to be the cool dad. And then there are the family grumps who never send cards, the ones who eat all the good candy, and those who drool and dig up the neighbor’s yard.
No, the Yuletide Season isn’t for the faint of heart—and sometimes it’s downright demonic—but holiday miracles make it all worthwhile. Chance encounters and unexpected forgiveness remind us that joy doesn’t come in a gift-wrapped box.
This novella from the Dark Forgotten world catches up with favorite characters for a fresh take on the holidays. Those visiting the world for the first time will understand why Chicago Tribune called it “simply superb.”
Grab this book and return to the world of the Dark Forgotten. Santa Claws is waiting!
October 22, 2018 • No Comments
Three wishes, two warriors, one chance at redemption
Fae martial artist Alana Beech makes a decent living until a rigged fight ends her career. When her best friend and teammate is killed during the same bad match, Alana’s demands for an investigation fall on deaf ears. Then a last-chance job offer lands her at Comfy Chair Books and Collectibles, where she finds a magic lamp in a box of junk. Inside is a smolderingly handsome genie who can help her get justice—as long as the bad guys hunting for the lamp don’t catch them first.
Ronan, Prince of Bright Wing, is the dragon general imprisoned during an invasion of the fae homeland. He’s the genie bound to the lamp and forced to grant three wishes to every comer. But then Alana finds the lamp, and she’s unlike any master he’s had before. She wants nothing from him he doesn’t want to give.
Alana’s search for answers stirs up powerful enemies, both in her world and in Ronan’s. She’s a brave warrior, but these are major players. And when her unusual partnership with Ronan turns passionate, they have even more to lose. The only weapons they can count on are their love and trust in one another—and there’s not much a girl can’t do when a dragon has her back.
Curious as to where and when this book is happening? It’s releasing tomorrow in the Once Upon a Rebel Fairytale collection! Get it here: https://www.books2read.com/rebelfairytale. Otherwise, it will be out on its on in 2019! (Isn’t the cover completely amazing?)
September 24, 2018 • No Comments
So I had this notion of making character cards for the Orchard series release. In typical fashion, the idea got lost among the daily maelstrom of tasks and duties. However, Rachel Goldsworthy ran with the idea and did such a fabulous job that I had to buckle down and get busy, so here we go. I give you Haley and Sam from Secret Seed. The fact that they’re looking away from the camera suits them–they’re both excellent at hiding until they’re forced to deal with each other (and themselves) thanks to a haunted car and a long road trip around Corsair’s Cove …
September 12, 2018 • No Comments
This week sees the release of Secret Vintage by the esteemed Rachel Goldsworthy, which is the first novella of the Corsair’s Cove Orchard Series (yay!).
Releasing a book is a funny thing – the act itself is brief, and it’s easy to forget the months of work that went into writing it. With the Cove stories, there’s also the planning sessions (in this case, a super-intense session last spring) and follow up group calls (still ongoing).
On top of all that are the research moments. This summer I visited the Merridale Cidery, which has not only a very nice restaurant but a delightful orchard that invited wandering. Here is some of what I found …
Percy the Peacock is a terrible flirt – and his livelier cousins play a part in the story!
July 9, 2018 • No Comments
Do you love starting a project, with all the fresh, hopeful energy that entails? Or are you one of those who enjoys putting a bow on your efforts and sitting back in satisfaction?
There are different stages to any project, and books are no exception. And, while it’s true that most writers seem to have several things on the go at the same time, starts and finishes are still red-letter occasions.
This weekend, the Corsair’s Cove Orchard Series is reaching an important milestone—the editing phase is nearing completion. The vague “what ifs” we tossed around in the spring are finished stories now, with a new cast of characters (plus some favorites), new predicaments, and brand new romances.
While I enjoy the buoyant energy of beginning (and wow do we brainstorm!), right now I’m doing a happy dance and savoring the finished product like a fine vintage. And that, readers, is a very appropriate metaphor that will linger sweetly—until next time.
June 25, 2018 • No Comments
Some people track the epochs of their lives by the cars they owned at the time. I appear to be doing that with my computer programs. I hesitate to look back at my very early days (the Jurassic of pen and paper, the Selectric, and Wordperfect) and focus mostly on this century, but even that is revealing in ways I don’t expect.
Years ago I started using yWriter. It’s really good free writing software that does everything but make toast. It was excellent for my needs at the time because it had great outlining ability. I could give my stories something approaching a plot arc. I was a joyful creator in those days, tossing ideas at the page with the glee of Jackson Pollock discovering jet propulsion. yWriter saved my sanity, and probably my editor’s, too.
Then I went to a Mac and started using Scrivener, which I love but for different reasons. Now I’m all about the editing flexibility and don’t start using the program until my outline is already in place. Things are just simpler that way, even though Scrivener probably can make toast, along with waffles, homemade jam, and a variety of cocktails. It’s a super-powerful, clever, fabulous program, and I use about 10% of it.
The truth of the matter is, I outline using sticky notes on the wall. Or a notebook. Or a napkin. Unless you’ve got the goods, no amount of computing power will save a book. For this reason, I find my methodology getting simpler all the time. Stories are about the wrench and recovery of the human heart, no more and no less.
May 22, 2018 • No Comments
We all know the past has a pull on us. We write about literal ghosts, but there are plenty of metaphorical ones as well. Some are even more powerful and/or frightening than a chain-rattling specter. These haunts are the echoes of past selves that—for good or ill—we’ve somehow left behind. Memories, emotions, past selves we’ve given up for a higher good or a harder road—nothing is ever truly gone when it’s a part of our soul. Sometimes that’s a relief, or an ache, or both.
Dreams delayed are the strangest of these shades. This weekend was full of open-air concerts and sunshine and the first flush of the festival season. I took time away from my desk to bask in the warmth and watch one of my favorite bands. As a creative, I had two loves—writing and music, and I had to make a choice between the two. I could only nurture one properly and still hold down a full-time job. I chose storytelling, in part because it was an easier fit with a workaday schedule, and I still believe it was the sensible choice. I can’t say that music is a road not taken, because I took that path as far as I could go at the time. I think of it as a road with a bridge temporary closed for maintenance. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel the ache every time the ghost of my musical soul stirs.
I’m not alone, of course. The demands we face as creative entrepreneurs aren’t easy, especially when responsibilities tie us to corporate jobs and all that reality entails. Creativity in that context is an extraordinary quest—one that takes us through feats of time-bending, identity-shifting, and fiscal sleight-of-hand. We transform in metaphorical phone booths, unleashing our true selves in the privacy of hidden spaces. We might not conquer literal armies, but we defend our kingdoms all the same. There are precious things inside us, and creatives fight to keep them alive.
We live in hope for eventual freedom, of a victory before it’s too late. Only then can we be whole again, returning all those lost ghosts to the hearth of our souls.
It’s a dream, but we have to believe it.
April 9, 2018 • No Comments
I confess to being something of a time management junkie. If someone has a system, I want to know about it because I cling to belief in a magic bullet. You know, the secret journal/app/diary that will magically enable me to do everything at once without once mussing my hair. Dream on!
It’s hardly news that most adults are too busy. Authors, while arguably worthy of being committed, are more overcommitted than most. Not only do most of us have day jobs and families, we have a creative life. On top of that, we have all the duties associated with being entrepreneurs. That fills up a timetable pretty fast—hence my interest in scheduling miracles.
I haven’t found one yet. What I have found is that trying too hard can cause paralysis. The longer the list, the less gets done because of overwhelm.
I came nose-to-nose with this phenomenon a few years ago when I was changing jobs, taking classes, and meeting writing deadlines. I froze up, unable to do much more than stare like a deer in the headlights. Needless to say, the longer I dithered, the worse I fell behind.
Out of self-defense, I created my one task system. Beyond going through the basic motions of the day, I had to accomplish one thing. Read one chapter of the text. Complete one exercise. Finish editing a certain number of pages. If I had just one job to focus on, there was a goal post I could realistically reach. If I made it, I could let myself off the hook and sleep well that night.
It was a simple but lifesaving discovery. Did that one thing accomplish enough? No, because my to-do list was endless. Yet it moved me forward and, as long as I inched along, I was no longer stuck. Somehow, that small amount of momentum got me through that rough patch with all deadlines met and assignments complete.
Why? The truth is, things happen one at a time. Workaholics like me don’t want to hear that, but it’s true.
So here’s the miracle cure: Focus on one thing. Just one. And then the next. And then the one after that. Quality of energy, rather than quantity of action, frequently wins the day.
NB: there is no app for that.