• Tag Archives novel writing
  • The Long Year and a Look Ahead in an Indie Writer’s Life #amwriting

    Not going to sugar coat it, 2016 was a hard year.


    Despite the struggles, I somehow managed to publish two new books: The Astronaut’s Princess in February and Shifted in Seattle in October. And I haven’t written a word since.

    My mother (70) was diagnosed with non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis two years ago. She steadily declined this year but the img_5824past six months proved very challenging. She spent August in a nursing home near my home and then lived with us in our home September, October, and November…when she wasn’t hospitalized, which was frequently. I spent the last week of her life with her (she in a coma) in yet another nursing home. She passed Nov. 10.

    I’m so glad we got to spend that time close to her.

    As you can imagine, there wasn’t much time or energy for creating.

    But, a new year is on the horizon, and I’m getting back into the writing cave and looking ahead.

    It’s exciting.

    I already have about 10k on book four (Reap & Reckon) of the Reaper Series so that’s encouraging, and as I read through those pages, I’m reenergized with passion for that project.


    ReapandReckon (427x640)I had a brief stint (two months) with all of my books on Smashwords and distributed through all retailers, thinking this would find new readers. With little to no promotion, however, and out of KDP Select, all those book rankings slowly sank. They currently sit like the Titanic on the bottom of the Amazon Sea.
    I’m fixin’ to go on an expedition to try to raise them.

    They’ll all be back in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited by the end of the weekend. Amazon is Queen, and I am her minion.


    I was looking over my 2016 Writing Business Plan. All in all, I accomplished most of what I set out to do. Except finish Reckon and have audio books made for my non-reaper books. I just don’t think audio books are worth it. The narrator and I are making about $10 a month on those two audio books. I just can’t ask someone else to invest that much time for such a minimal payout.

    Wonder what my plan looked like? Take a gander if you want. The barely legible red writings are the results. Check marks mean it happened, baby.

    A few more good accomplishments in there: a box set put together, audio books released, an AWESOME endorsement blurb from Darynda Jones…seriously, go check out her reaper books.


    So what’s in store for 2017? Kid, if I knew that, I’d play the lottery and own a mountain somewhere. That said, I’m working on THE PLAN now. I hope it will include Reap & Reckon published, work on the third Cosmic Cowboys episode, The Magnate’s Moon, attending Visioncon in Branson in February and Ozarks Indie Book Fest in Springfield in October.

    Right now the rest is TBD. I want to stay open to the possibilities. But like I always tell my husband, if we don’t make a plan…nothing happens.

    Here’s to some good happenings in 2017.


    What does your 2017 Plan look like?

  • Reaping The Benefits: Tracking Book 3 and Book 2 Edits

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    I received my next two contracts from Harlequin in the mail last week and diligently filed them away. I can’t believe this is becoming routine.

    Monday, August 12, I’ll get my structural edits for Reap & Redeem, book two of my Reaper Series.

    My goal (admittedly impossible) was to finish writing book three before the book two edits arrived. That did not happen. Life happened.

    What did happen is that I wrote 24,646 words in fifteen days, and now I’m sitting at 61K on book three. I still have to write the ending and the entire first draft feels thin to me. After my book two edits are finished, I’ll be ready to tackle it again. I need to be over 80K at completion. And I have to turn it in by October 31.

    Now THAT is scary.

    I have a problem with all of my books actually ending around 70K then I tack stuff onto the end. Apparently, I should be writing 70K length books. But the contract says 80k and that’s what I’ll do. Originally I thought I would write maybe ten books in this series but it’s feeling more like a trilogy.

    I have plenty of characters I can spin off into a new direction however, so we’ll see.

    After I finish with book three, Reap & Reveal, I plan to take a break and wait for at least one of them to publish. It looks like Jan-March will be the likely time frame for Reap & Repent. Reap & Redeem should come out three months later. I can’t wait to have a book out so I can start sharing and promoting it!

    Although, I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away from the keyboard for long.

    I have two other book ideas eating a hole in my NOVEL IDEAS folder. One is a ghost romance and the other is an erotic vacation romance. I also plan to write a Reaper short story to post on my site or sub to an anthology once the books start publishing.

    Once the writing Kraken is released, it won’t go easily back into the dark night.

  • Anything I Can Do You Can Do Better!

    Gosh. Today another email from Harlequin magically appeared in my inbox–for the next two Reaper Series books. One, Reap & Reveal, I’m working on right now.

    Okay, so right now, I’m screwing off on the internet and writing a post…you know what I mean.

    My friend Beth Carter, author and marketing guru for our group, says that marketing is not bragging. Sometimes, posting about these amazing successes does feel like bragging, but I sincerely hope no one else sees it that way.

    My intent is to journal the process and the progress–good and bad. Because if I can do this, you can too. If you’ve ever had a germ of an idea float through your head that you just couldn’t shake or even a passing desire to write, what are you waiting for?

    Granted, publishing a book is not like winning the lottery. Most books don’t make 50 Shades of the Harry Potter Games money. There are many other rewards, however.

    Who knows were the path might lead you.

    Join us in Springfield, Sept. 21 at the fabulous University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center for ORACON (Ozarks Romance Authors Conference).  Let us motivate you and help you along your path to publication.

    Register now, right here and start writing TODAY.

    A year from now, you’ll be so glad you did.




  • Write. Edit. Write. Edit. Repeat.

    First off, I’d like to give huge thanks to my editor, Angela Polidoro, for her saint-like patience in editing my first novel, Reap & Repent. The woman is the Word Whisperer. For reals.

    Angela sent me three pages of structural edits to help me get my sometimes random and errant plot in line. I’m a pantser. Or at least I was on the first book. A pantser just starts writing with a vague idea of where the story may or may not go then continues forward until the end.

    Yeah. That was book one.

    Angela labored meticulously over my book, pulling the gems forward and giving me gentle suggestions of ways to solve my plot problems.

    I did everything she said and basically rewrote/restructured the second half of the book. It’s much better.

    Then came the line edits. Holy. Cow. She would give Job a run for his money in patience. I happily accepted all of her suggestions and tried to find some rhyme to reason or common denominator in her edits so I could do better next time. I don’t know if she laughed more or cried more during what had to be painfully tedious revisions.

    I emailed her and asked for any common things I could try to avoid next time to save her sanity. She just said,” Everyone needs a good polish!”

    Bless her heart.

    She’s the best and most positive cheerleader. She’s obviously worked with dozens of emotionally needy authors and knows how to soothe our savage insecurities.

    I promised her I could do better.

    She already has book two. I think my plot/story is better in book two. It’s a darker book, which I totally dig. More of a J.R. Ward vibe (I hope) as opposed to the little quirkier vibe of book one. I suppose I’ll know soon since she’s reading it now.

    I only have 800 words written on book three so far, but I do have five pages of notes.

    Slowly but surely, I’m upgrading to a plotter. See…I can learn.

    God help me.

    God help us all.


  • Writing Resolutions

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    It’s time for some resolutions.  It’s time to make promises and hold ourselves accountable so we can all experience a great writing year.  What do you want to accomplish this year? Start a blog? Write your first short story? Write your first novel? Finish some of your unpolished gems lingering in the dusty corners of your hard drive?

    What’s holding you back?

    Make this the year of Git-R-Done! We can do this my friends. All we need is a plan and the stick-to-it-ness to make it happen. You make your plan, and Ozarks Romance Authors will help you with the motivation to see it through.

    We’ll begin with JANO (along with our Sleuths’ Ink friends) January 1 and kick things up a notch on January 5 at the Write-In over at The Creamery in Springfield, MO. Go here to signup now for JANO and here to signup for the Write-In! They are both FREE! You can follow JANOers on Twitter too at #JANO2013.

    If you haven’t seen the February and March speaker line-up for Ozarks Romance Authors, check out our ORA Facebook Page or the ORA website because you are not going to want to miss either meeting! Hot, hot, hot!

    My personal writing goals this year include:

    • Finish the last 25K of book two in my Reaper Series by Jan. 31 (my JANO project).
    • Edit, Polish, Edit, Polish both books until May 1
    • Attend the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City May 1-5
    • Network, query, pitch and submit until Agents/Editors/Publishers bend to my will

    See…it’s just that easy.

    Make your goals. Post them. Live them.

    I want to see all your names (or pen names) in print somewhere this year!

    Submit! Submit! Submit!

  • Word Up

    Wow, nothing stops the inertia of writing like a day job.

    I was really plugging along with my second paranormal romance novel Reap & Redeem when out of nowhere…September hit me. I actually had high hopes of getting some serious word counts in while I spent four days in Rolla for a university blood drive, but by the time I got back to the hotel room each night, I was wiped out. The good news is we made our blood collection goals…lives will be saved. The bad news is…Alivia is in serious trouble, and Kylen needs to save her. I totally left them hanging.

    If you read blogs and articles on writing, nearly everyone will agree that you should write every day. And if you do–write every day–you can officially consider yourself a writer. Seems logical. The problem is real life has a way of creeping in and body slamming you.

    The reason I need to write every day is a matter of inertia. If I lose traction, I have to go back and reread to get back into the flow of things. I don’t have to reread the entire thing, but keeping the story in my head is vital to continuing the story. Otherwise, it’s like reinventing the wheel everytime I go back to it.

    It’s been seven days since my last fix.

    I’m getting the jitters.

    I have a deadline in mind but it’s completely self-imposed. That deadline is April 30. Since I plan to attend the RT Booklovers Convention in KC in May, I want book two, at least a first draft, completed and ready to hawk.

    The good news is I’m a little over halfway through at 44,442 words, and I have a plot and plan to finish it. What I don’t have this month is time or ambition. I have an exceptionally busy work month that has me up and across the countryside in the wee morning hours. By the time I get home, I don’t feel much like staying up until midnight writing.

    So for the next couple of weeks, I’m giving myself a break. I have a few books (insert maniacal laughing here because I have a TON of books) that have risen to the surface to coast along the surf enticingly towards my nightstand.

    I can’t even tell you how long it’s been, without consulting Good Reads, that I read a book this year. Maybe since I’m not trying, I’ll find some more time to write. It seems like stolen time is my best bet anyway.

  • Plotting & Motivation For Reap & Redeem

    Awesome day at Ozarks Romance Authors meeting today. Those girls sure keep me motivated. I took the first ten pages of Reap & Redeem for critique and got some great responses and advice. Allison Merritt I liked your comment best 🙂

    “Wow! Gruesome with just the right amount of humor. More! More now! Quit your job & write this!”

    Could you ask for a better endorsement? I think not 😉

    People keep asking me if I plotted it out, or if I’m a pantser. I tried to plot. I really did. I failed miserably. I was just too itchy to jump in, so I did. If I have a plot at all it’s coming from The Black Keys and as of Friday The Wanted. I have a playlist I’ve been pounding over and over on my long drives for my job. I’ll be sick of them by the time I’m done with 80,000 words. For now my main character and hero, Kylen, is speaking through me via The Black Keys, and my heroine (who’s name I just discovered today), Alivia, started channeling through The Wanted Thursday afternoon on my way back from the lake.

    So, you ask, “What is the plot!” Well, let me tell you. If you want to know the story line so far here is my Black Keys playlist for the first half of the book. I’m still working on The Wanted playlist but this will get you in the mood.

    Check them out on iTunes or Rhapsody. They are AWESOME!
    The Black Keys:

    Little Black Submarines

    Sinister Kid

    Hell of a Season

    Tighten Up

    These Days

    She’s Long Gone

    Lonely Boy

    I’m Not The One

    Black Mud

    The Go Getter

    Stop Stop

    Too Afraid To Love You

    Next Girl

    Mind Eraser

    The Only One

    Dead and Gone

    Howlin’ For You

    Everlasting Light

    Listen to them in that order and you’ll be in the mind of my hero Kylen. It’s dark in there. You might want to take a flashlight.

    They’ve had a lot to say lately. This book just seems to be pouring out (knocking on wood now so as to prevent undue cursing and retribution).

    Man, are they pushy. I stayed up until 12:30 Tuesday night working up the pages I’d written in my notebook at lunch and embellishing along the way. I managed to add 4,025 words! It was epic. I think that’s the highest word count I’ve accomplished in one sitting.

    Today after the ORA meeting, I got to spend a couple of hours at Barnes & Nobel while my super, awesome husband took Grace to Firehouse Pottery to paint a cool piece of ceramic art before we were off again to the Springfield Cardinals baseball game. I got another whopping eleven handwritten pages scratched out so I’m hopeful for even better results tomorrow afternoon when I can spend several hours working on it.

    Nana picked up Grace for one more week of Camp Grandma before school starts again on the 16th. Then it will be back to the grind and routine.

    You just never know where inspiration is gonna strike. I guess you just have to be open to the possibilities.

  • Anticipation

    Last week I enjoyed a nice long “staycation” at home while Bryon was in Wyoming fishing and Grace was at her Nana’s. I had intentions of writing on my next novel with obsession.

    I found several other obsessions to occupy my time instead. I did manage to write sixteen pages, nearly 4,000 words, and I’m happy with the start of Reap & Redeem. Much happier actually than the first three chapters of my first book, Reap ‘Em & Weep. Those still need some work.

    It’s been three weeks since I sent my partial manuscript and synopsis to the two agents, and I continue to anxiously await rejection. Or not.

    I actually tried to do some plotting on book two before I began, but as usual I was impatient and just jumped into it headlong. I was excited to get things going. Two books under my belt is much more impressive than only one.

    I’ve learned so much during the process of book one, yet there is still much more to do on it. It is a long way from publishing ready. As I begin book two, I have already found some things I’ve had to go back and change or tweak in book one, so that book two will make sense. I’m glad it’s not already published or that would have been impossible.

    As excited as I am to plow forward with book two, I’m also a little hesitant. Book one took a LOT of time. A lot of late nights. A lot of effort. It’s a long term commitment. Like a marriage but with one year options to renew. On the one hand, it’s difficult to maintain enthusiasm over the long haul. On the other hand, I’ll never reach my goals if I don’t keep writing and learning and increasing that word count. Books don’t write themselves.

    I thought having all of that free time would actually be a blessing, but I squandered most of it. It reminds me of the movie Funny Farm when Andy Farmer moves to Redbud with his wife so he can write his great novel only to be constantly distracted by the various craziness of small town life. Meanwhile, his wife secretly writes and sells a children’s book while he struggles with his own writing. See, maybe we need the pressure after all

    I’ve been letting my first manuscript sit and stew. I made the few small adjustments so my next plot would fit, otherwise I haven’t even opened up the file. If and when, I get a request for the remaining manuscript, I’ll dive back into it and finish cleaning up my beta reader edits.  Until then, I’m content to let it lie for a while.

    I’m hoping it will be like a pot of chili and get better and better the longer it sits and simmers.

    Mmmmm, who’s hungry?