• Tag Archives urban fantasy
  • A New Page

    In case you didn’t notice, I added a new page to the blog today under the header of Books. See above by the Home/About/Books tabs.

    Check it out if you are interested in reading the book blurbs and see what’s in the works.

  • Reposting from August 2011: The Beginning of The Reaper Series

    This post was my first post after beginning Reap ‘Em & Weep, July 15, 2011.

    Most of you know this story because you’ve been following me.

    If not, here it is…

    Oh, the places we will go!

    August 13, 2011: My friend Jeff has left his job, his home and his wife (only by proximity) to pursue his dream of acting in L.A. He has been living with a friend’s parents in a spare bedroom in Los Angeles for 172 days now. He’s a funny guy. Seriously, he does comedy improv, writes and is a genuinely entertaining human being. He blogs every day and many of his posts have been hilarious accounts of the day-to-day minutia of trying to become a big star. Or in his case, just be gainfully employed in a profession that is notoriously difficult to break into let alone be successful at.

    These are obstacles that would perhaps drive a lesser spirit to drink. Of course, he can’t afford that; he has no job. His wife is still here, employed and keeping the home fires burning while he spends (a year maybe?) making this attempt to follow his dreams.

    His wife supports him.

    His wife is a saint.

    While many of his posts are funny, others are heart breaking and seemingly soul crushing in the slowness that things seem to be developing. Here he had become a big fish in a small pond. There he’s a guppy in the sea just hoping to get caught in the gill net of stardom and pulled to the surface. He’s a hero.

    He doesn’t have a cape or tights (dear God, I hope not anyway) but would be willing to don one if the occasion should arise. He is putting his money where his mouth is, his words into action and every day taking steps in a positive direction towards an end goal. A passion. A dream.

    Wouldn’t we all be better served by life to take just an iota of the chance he’s taking to pursue a dream? Remember when you were small or in junior high and you really thought you could pursue anything as a career if you wanted to? Maybe some people didn’t feel that way. I’m guessing for most of us our spirits and dreams didn’t get crushed, pushed aside or covered up until we started working “real” jobs. Jobs which eventually turned into careers, that no matter how interesting or fulfilling, locked us into the golden handcuffs of needing, buying and acquiring more which in turn forced us to work more pushing those dreams farther and farther away.

    Sometimes we might have even given up on those dreams as the folly of childhood. Or sometimes, maybe something can provide us with the tiniest spark reigniting that lost or deferred dream. As adults we can control our action, time and other resources to a much higher degree. We can pursue our dreams now in a way that will serve us better than they ever would have then.

    I don’t remember at what point I became interested in reading and writing but it was probably around sixth grade that my interest started to be more than passing. At some point, I remember my parents bought me an electric typewriter and that was about the coolest piece of equipment I had ever owned. I typed many, many sad junior high girl poems on that typewriter.

    I typed lots of other things on it too. Eventually I typed articles for the local newspaper about my family and funny aspects of my life. They got published. I got a monthly column complete with a headshot photo. Very professional.

    I also really liked to read. I read all sorts of books from our school library and whenever a subject interested me, I checked out everything they had, pouring over the pages. I ordered catalogs and consumer information government brochures on all sorts of subjects. The only bad thing about this passion is that I have a horrible memory. I wish I could retain much more of what I read. Instead I have become a hoarder of information, paper and books for reference which of course in my complete lack of a logical filing system are rarely ever referenced again.

    Thank God for the internet,  DSL and the grid because now if I want to know something or look something up I have long ago forgotten, it’s at my fingertips in that giant filing cabinet in the sky somewhere.

    I came across an awesome note-taking site called Evernote thanks to Rachel’s blog which I read regularly at Small Notebook . You can even take pics of pages of books, magazines, anything with your iPhone and file them into different notebooks within the site then reference them on your phone or computer (it syncs up).

    So all of this to say, that last summer I got the writing bug again after reading more than a hundred paranormal romances and decided to try my hand at it. Every time I read one of those books, I would think “I can do that”. Last July, I started a vampire paranormal romance that went along pretty well for a first real attempt for about 113 pages then stalled. I got sort of stuck and it seemed too difficult to try to fit writing into my list of things to do.

    Last week I got an idea for a different paranormal romance and started working on it in a notebook. A real paper notebook. It’s very portable and doesn’t have to be plugged in. This new novel attempt is not about vampires which is probably good because by the time I get that vampire book written the craze will have passed. I’ll have to wait another decade for them to be hot again.  These new characters just haven’t shut up yet, and I see lots of potential for not just one book but a series. I’ve been stealing time and staying up late to work on it this week.

    I already have 45 pages. Three hundred pages or around 80,000 words is a typical paperback novel size.

    I think it’s probably every English degree holder’s eventual and perhaps latent dream to write a novel. Is this paranormal romance going to be the Great American Novel? Not likely. But it is sure to make some monster romance lovers happy. And me happy.

    Even if it never get’s finished or dies on the vine, it has been nice to revisit a dream deferred and to feel the excitement I remembered from all those hours locked in my room in my childhood home tapping away on the keyboard of that old electric typewriter. The toys and tools are much cooler now and hopefully my writing is better too. No more depressing poetry anyway.

    My pursuit of a dream is much less dramatic and not nearly as dangerous or courageous as Jeff’s. The worst thing that’s probably going to happen while following my dream is that my family will have to eat more Ramen noodles because I want to write instead of cook supper. I’m no superhero.

    Stay tuned for the next chapter.

    UPDATE February 3, 2013

    We’ll, you know now what that next chapter is. It begins with Harlequin.

    If you’d like to read about Jeff Houghton’s Mystery Year, you can see it start to finish here http://themysteryyear.wordpress.com/ SPOILER ALERT: he has a three month old baby boy and a local talk show airing Saturday nights at 11 p.m. but it’s still not the end of his story.

    Life is a mystery. For us all.

    Be brave.

  • My Harlequin CALL Story


    Yesterday was a good day.

    I spent most of the day going about the business of my day job as a Donor Recruiter for the Community Blood Center. My job is to work with volunteers at churches, businesses and schools to organize blood drives. Basically, my living consists of talking people into bleeding and making sure they have a convenient opportunity to do so.

    Yesterday I had a meeting with a volunteer at Lake of the Ozarks for my last stop of the day. I left my phone in the car. When I got back out there, I had a voicemail from Ontario, Canada.

    I don’t know anyone in Ontario, Canada.

    I thought it was a telemarketer and almost didn’t listen to the message. Luckily, curiosity got the best of me and I did listen. It wasn’t a telemarketer.

    It was Harlequin.

    I’m pretty sure I checked out for a few seconds then listened to it three more times before calling back.

    The amazing Mary-Theresa Hussey of Harlequin had forwarded my Reap ‘Em & Weep manuscript from the So You Think You Can Write Contest to their Harlequin Digital First division.

    They read it. They liked it. They offered me a contract.

    I’m about to be published my friends 🙂

    I had no idea this was all going on. In fact, I’ve been editing away on RE&W and Reap & Redeem trying to get a series bible together so I can keep my ducks in a row.

    I’m so glad I didn’t know this was in the works because I would have stewed and stewed over it. This whole experience with Harlequin has been a tremendous blessing. I can’t think of a better organization to partner with  at the beginning of my writing career.

    I know I’ll have a ton of revisions to make but I welcome them. I want to get better. I can get better. Book two is already stronger than the first.

    I have no idea how I made it back from the lake because my brain was scattered. I think I slept three hours last night because it would not turn off. I felt like a superhero with a secret identity all day today.

    It’s amazing how things work out sometimes. Like when you have angels looking out for you behind the scenes as well as between the pages.

    Stay tuned.

  • Reap & Redeem: Book Two of The Reaper Series


    It’s official! Book two in The Reaper Series is complete. At 78,000 words, it’s still 2K shorter than I’d like, but it’s out to the beta readers, and I am hopeful that in the second round of edits it will grow a bit.

    I seem to be on a July/January writing schedule. I began Reap & Redeem on July 15, 2012 and finished it yesterday. JANO2013 has helped inspire me to complete both novels in January.

    I used to get really frustrated with my favorite authors for only putting out one book a year. Now I know why. Writing is hard. Especially when you are trying to hold down a day job and keep the family happy. Luckily for me, my family has been very supportive. I’ve also spent many weeknights up past midnight working what amounts to a second job for free.

    But you know what? It’s worth it. I used to wonder if I could ever write a novel. Now I know. And the answer is, YES.

    I have enough characters for at least ten novels in this series. Maybe more. Book three, Nate’s story, is already beating at the door of my mind, but he’s just going to have to be content to wait. I have a plan. And a mission. Until his time comes, I’m filing away his wild ramblings and crazy ideas in his own little folder on my hard drive under Reap & Reveal.

    He’ll get his day.

    Just not this day.

    On another note, I was excited to get my Romance Writers of America PRO membership pin in the mail this week. It makes me feel…professional. Ish.

    My brain is mush right now. I’m going back to book one and beginning work on a series bible so I can keep all my ducks in a row. It’s amazing how unwieldy two books can be. I can’t imagine what the inside of Laurell K. Hamilton’s head feels like. She’s on book twenty-three in the Anita Blake series {bows down in awe}.

    I have to tame this beast now. They only grow more fierce with neglect.

    Trust me.

  • Novel Tracking: The Road So Far

    The road so far

    For someone who absolutely hates numbers, I’ve become fairly obsessed with tracking words lately. As for resolutions, one of the resolutions I made for 2013 was to buy NO NEW BOOKS because my to-be-read book shelf and ereaders runneth over.


    I’ve already made plans to fail at that resolution. My favorite Indie book store, Larry Bowen’s Readers Corner is calling to me, and I’ll be visiting him next week.#plannedfail

    As for my writing resolutions, things have been going along pretty smoothly until last night when I realized my novel actually ended 2k ago. Despite the fact I was trying to beat the future 5-10k into submission, book two just wasn’t having any of it. Instead I was inadvertently creeping up on book three.

    So what I think needs to happen at this point is to go back and begin the bedazzling and embellishing of the rest of the book. I’m fairly confident that will 1) improve the overall content and atmosphere of the story and 2) successfully propel me past the 80K mark.

    I’m not the best at description. I think my mind just automatically fills in for me. This doesn’t bother me at all in other people’s work. In fact, I’m bored and bogged down in most fiction when authors try to go all Van Gogh and paint a picture for me. Just give me enough to get the feel of things, and I’ll take it from there. I don’t even really need to know what the characters look like because I’ve already dressed them up and colored their hair in my head.

    A few times I’ve actually been surprised when movies come out based on books I’ve read because the characters/actors look NOTHING like what I had in my head. Later when I go back and check their descriptions, I realize they were a lot closer than I’d thought. I’d just missed the details because I was already lost in the story.

    I guess the trick is to find a happy medium. That’s what I’m going to attempt to do.  Even though I’ve been working on book two all week, I took a month long break from it in December so it still feels pretty fresh.

    Of course, this new plan of action is likely going to kill my daily word count. Last week was one of my biggest weeks ever for writing, and I ended up with 12,529 new words. Rereading and embellishing is going to be much more painful and slow than running ahead full speed like Phoebe from Friends towards a conclusion I had all along.

    I’m thinking an epilogue might be in order to tie up some of the loose ends, but sometimes you just can’t solve all of your characters’ problems in a neat little package.

    Thank God.

    That’s what a series is for.