Monday Mayhem – Pantser life

Yo-ho! Yo-ho! The pantser life for me!

Hey, gang! I’m back again this week, with a new/old trick. I’m reverting to my old pantser ways.

Reader say, “Wha?”

You see, the writing world is generally comprised of two types – plotters and pantsers. Plotters work out every detail of the book before they even open page one. Pantsers have an idea and run with it.

In other words, a pantser writes a story by the seat of their pants.

Most writers naturally gravitate to one style or the other. I started out as a pantser and continued that way for a number of books. But as my career progressed, I started selling books to publishers on proposal. Therefore, I needed to submit a detailed synopsis of each book I intended to write.

This is how I evolved into sort of a plantser – someone with a pretty sketched out outline of the book, but still winging it on a chapter by chapter basis.

But I am not currently under contract. I have no series to complete. I am, at the moment, free as a bird.

So what did I do?

I started writing a book I hadn’t even thought about until I opened my mouth Tuesday morning and a story started coming out.

One that hadn’t been hopping around in the plot bunny file. One I haven’t plotted, or even barely thought about. An idea popped into my head Monday night, and Tuesday, I started writing it.

This should be fun, huh?

In other news

Double Play is coming in October! Digital pre-order is available at all e-book retailers. The audio production is in progress, and should be ready for October 25, 2018 release.

Paperbacks will be available, They look fabulous, but I have to tell you, they are a little pricier than the usual mass market paperback. I wanted to produce them in the 4×7″ size to match the other two books, but there’s limited production availability for that trim size in print on demand.

ANNNND – I have declared 2019 the year of the backlist. As part of the celebration, I’ll be resurrecting some out of print friends – like Tracy & Sean from Contentment, Maggie & Tom from Commitment, and Lynne & Bram from Spring Chickens!

Whew! That’s what I have going on. What’s new with you?

 

 

Share

Monday Mayhem – Back to Reality

Summer fun vintage car

Back to life, back to reality

As of last week, I am back to reality-working full time.

Some writers would shudder as they read this sentence, but I am more than a little relieved. Turns out, I’m one of those people who needs stability and structure in her life in order to be creative.

It seems counterintuitive, I’m sure. Most writers dream of being unfettered. I know I did. But having unlimited time to write does not mean you’ll have unlimited creativity to back it up.

The truth about writers

Being a writer is not at ALL like you see on TV. Sorry to bust that myth, but that’s the truth of it.

Authors do not sell a book and become automatically rich. Some never make much money at all.

The reality is, few authors can survive solely on the income from advances and royalties. Most have other streams of income-teaching, content creation, graphic art creation, or another side hustles.

We also don’t hear about the people who may be underpinning this marker of perceived career success. Behind many a good author is a partner with a steady income and employer-based health insurance. But their names are not on the cover so…

The misconception that being able to ditch the 9 to 5 grind is a sign of authorial success endures.

This wasn’t my situation. My unemployment was never meant to be long-term. I didn’t toss a match as I walked away from the corporate world and expect to become the next Nora Roberts. I was downsized, and because I carried our employer-based health insurance, I needed another job as soon as possible.

Still, I thought I might be able to take better advantage of the situation. I was wrong. These months of uncertainty have been hard. I’ve written 40 books whilst employed full-time. I wrote exactly 3 chapters while unemployed.

Lessons learned:

  • I need structure and time constraints. I work well under pressure. Left to my own devices, I spend too much time communing with Netflix.
  • It’s difficult to write happy ever afters when worried about bills and health insurance.
  • I can make enough money to pay the bills, but not to pay my bills and maintain our coverage long-term. Having two self-employed persons in the household can get pretty spendy. Welcome to America 2018, where too much entrepreneurship is highly discouraged.

Summer fun vintage car

I don’t regret my summer of fun.

I relaxed as much as I could. Sally and I suntanned and napped.

Fodder got used to having lunch, because I am accustomed to eating on schedule.

But the reality is, I was ready to get back to work. Happy for life to settle into a pattern again. I like a good rut.

Soon, I’ll be ramping up for my 10th NaNoWriMo, and psyching myself up for crunch time.

How about you? Are you a creature of habit, or a go with the flow kind of person?

Share

Monday Mayhem – So, this happened…

So, this happened this week: 15 Best Romance Novels of 2018 (So far)

No, seriously. Click on the link. That really happened. Look at me…right smack dab between Ms. Beverly Jenkins and the fabulous Alyssa Cole! Okay, LOVE GAME is, but I wrote it and it was named one of the 15 best of the year so far by BookPage!

THRILLED!

And this is happening this coming week:

Yep. I’m hanging out with the cool kids these days. The best part is, I’ll get to hang out with this cool kid for most of the week:

So, yeah, things are happening. I’ll report back when something else happens. In the meantime…go read a book!

Oh! And only 3 weeks until A RING FOR ROSIE (Play Dates #3) releases!

Share

Monday Mayhem – Too much time on my hands

Okay, I admit it, I am not good at living a life without structure. Given too much time on my hands, I tend to do…nothing.

Shocking, I know.

It seems counter-intuitive. I always thought that if only I didn’t have to work that full-time job, I could crank out a book a week. Okay, maybe not a book a week, but you know what I mean. I thought I didn’t have enough time to work on my writing because that pesky job kept getting in the way.

Turns out, I had all time I needed.

I’ve had exactly the right amount of time (for me) all along. I have a limit to how much creativity my brain can export in a day. It’s about a 2-3 hours. Huh. Who knew? Yes, I can spend additional hours doing writing-related tasks such as editing, creating promo materials, etc., but actual words on the page? Yeah, I’ve only got a couple hours in me.

I know I can (and have done) more than that on occasion, but I’m talking about writing as a daily habit.  Lesson learned.

I started a part-time consulting gig this week. Not only am I making a little money, but it turns out, it’s been a boon to my productivity as a writer. I’ve produced more words this week than in the previous five weeks. It also allows me flexible scheduling, and a late start, so I can maintain my morning workout/wellness program. Bonus!

With this new focus in place, I’ve managed to complete the first round of revisions (with the help of my fab crit partner, Julie Evelyn Joyce) on DOUBLE PLAY (Love Games #3), and have submitted the complete manuscript to my editor, Gilly, for review. I’ve also have some preliminary cover art. Want a peek?

Double Play Cover

LOVE GAME is still on sale at Amazon, so be sure to tell all of your friends!

I’m off to work now…after Sally and I have a little snuggle, that is. Happy Monday, my friends!

Share

Monday Mayhem – Family

My family

I spent a bit of time with the family this weekend, which means 9 hours up on Friday, and 9 hours back home on Sunday.

Time spent getting to spend family time?

Je ne regrette rien.

 

We’ve added two more generations to this brood. The excuse reason for the trip was a celebration of my nephew’s recent marriage. Therefore, we spent the weekend eating, drinking, and dancing like and with toddlers.

My great nieces and nephews are super impressed with Aunt Moogie’s moves.  I even got to meet a great-nephew and great-niece I had not seen yet. 🙂

In addition to busting a move on the dance floor, the first round of revisions on DOUBLE PLAY is nearly complete.  Next, it will be on to my editor for a rigorous scouring. We’re aiming for an October release date on Avery’s story.

Did you know LOVE GAME is on sale? Have you told your friends? The eBook is only two bucks and paperback copies are available for nearly 1/2 price!

And did you see the trailer for the new A STAR IS BORN movie? I squeed when I watched it because I like to say the book I’m revising now (SUPERSTAR) is a sort of Nashville meets A Star is Born family saga. I have high hopes for it!

Also, I am getting very excited for the Romance Writers of America annual conference in Denver next month. I’ll be participating in a romance panel and signing at Boulder Books on July 18th, and the RWA Literacy Signing on Saturday, July 21st. If you live in the Denver area, be sure to mark your calendar!

Whew! Busy week/weekend. Hence, I have to go appease a needy Labrador now.  Anyone have any extra Milk Bones?

Sally stare

Share

Monday Mayhem – Audiobook binge

I’ve been on an audiobook binge this summer – thank you Central Arkansas Library System and Overdrive.

Margaret’s Summer Reading (Listening) List

1) Britt-Marie Was Here – Another delightful character study by Fredrik Backman. The humor is off-kilter, but the heart is spot-on.

Britt-Marie was Here

2) The Room on the Rue Amelie – Kristin Harmel’s story of the ordinary people who did extraordinary work in French resistance during WWII.

Rue Amelie

3) Far From the Tree – Robin Benway wove a wonderful tale of three teenagers with nothing more in common than a mother who gave them for for adoption.

Far from the Tree

4) Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan’s over-the-top Southeast Asian soap opera had me riveted. Reminded me of those fabulous Jackie Collins books of the 1980s-90s. I picked this up because I was enthralled by the trailer for the movie coming this August.

Crazy Rich Asians

5) China Rich Girlfriend – The follow up to Crazy Rich Asians. Listening now and just as enthralled.

China Rich Girlfriend

I’ve become a big fan of audiobooks. I started out just listening to them in the car. Now, I listen all over the place. I particularly like them for re-reads. I thoroughly enjoyed all of Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter series. Davinia Porter not only rocks all the Outlander books, but she reads Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. I’ve listened to all of Susan Elizabeth’s Phillips backlist as well as Herman Wouk’s timeless Winds of War and War and Remembrance.

How about you? Do you listen to audiobooks? Hear anything good lately? Don’t forget that the entire Love Games series will be available in audiobook. LOVE GAME and PLAY FOR KEEPS are available now, and DOUBLE PLAY will be coming this fall!

 

Share

Monday Mayhem – Goals! Almost…Maybe… Okay, not even close.

I didn’t make my goals for the week. Not almost. Not maybe. I didn’t even come close.

The sad part is, I have no excuses. I had the time, just not the motivation. But I resolve to keep trying to pull my feet from the muck. So, here is my update.

Last Week’s Goals:

1)  First of all, I will finish first pass edits on chapters 7-18 of DOUBLE PLAY so they are ready for Jewels. This also includes actually writing scenes for the spots where I wrote {Big fight scene here} because I was feeling non-confrontational that day.

2) Add at least 7500 more words to THE FIX UP (current WIP). This is going to be a fun series. Sort of a Fixer Upper meets It’s Complicated thing. I hope it plays out well.

3) Read through and take notes on major revision points on SUPERSTAR. This one is more of a Nashville meets A Star is Born thing with a juicy family dynamic and intergenerational storylines.

Results:

1)  I edited chapters 7 – 12. Like most writers, I tend to seriously underestimate the time it takes to edit and polish words already written. But still, this goal was doable. The remaining chapters (with additions) will go on this week. I swear! *Shakes fist at Amazon Prime Video*

2) Fell short here, too. But as I am typing this, I realize I didn’t count any net words added to the Double Play chapters edited. Who knew there’d be so much math involved in being a novelist?

3) Yeah, this is the not even close one.

Fail Stamp

What did I do, you ask? Well, with the help of my ever-diligent critter, I did pull the proposal for the Love Renovation series (Fixer Upper meets It’s Complicated) and send it off to my agent. So check that off the list…for now.

I also watched about 3 seasons of Sex And the City. I’m finally up to the Baryshnikov episodes.

This week’s Goals:

1) Finish editing Double Play chapters so they are ready for critique. Priority one.

2) Superstar read-through. I have ideas for revision, and notes must be inserted before I lose the thread.

3) Create new words. I won’t even put a number on them because the math is so intimidating.

In other news:

Tonight, I’m recording my first podcast guest spot tonight for Write With Love with Sarah Williams, and I found out the Skype chat will also be video recorded for YouTube. Hence, I’ll have to dig out some makeup. Eep!

I’m getting psyched to attend RWA national conference in Denver this July. Jewels convinced me to sign up to a murder mystery thing. Rumor has it there’s a dessert bar. If you’re in the Denver area, I’m signing LOVE GAME and PLAY FOR KEEPS at the big Literacy Signing on July 21st!

So, yeah…I’m trying again this week. Because writers are nothing if not resilient. Therefore, I’m shaking off this week’s fail and starting fresh.

Share

Monday Mayhem – Stuck in the muck

I’m stuck. Ish. Not really stuck, but in a weird headspace these days. Too much time on my hands. And crap…Now I have Styx stuck in there too.

I’m not used to this much freedom, and frankly, my procrastination skills have reached almost Aussie proportions. I am trying to keep to a schedule in my day-to-day routines, but sit seems like somewhere around noon I get distract….

Hey, did you meet my new T-Rex, Rover?

Rover
Rover

Yep. Too much time on my hands. And a bit of a pity party going on. But the problem with pity parties is that only one guest ever sticks around. The pitiful one.

But this week will be different. This week, I’m getting un-stuck!

This week, I am buckling down. I’m going to spew ALL THE WORDS, edit ALL THE WORDS, make ALL THE WORDS flee in terror when they see this Writersaurus Wrecks coming!

How am I going to get unstuck? I’m going to plow through procrastination!

Therefore, I need goals. I need goals, and I need you to hold me accountable. So here they are. Ready?

1)  First of all, I will finish first pass edits on chapters 7-18 of DOUBLE PLAY so they are ready for Jewels. This also includes actually writing scenes for the spots where I wrote {Big fight scene here} because I was feeling non-confrontational that day.

2) Add at least 7500 more words to THE FIX UP (current WIP). This is going to be a fun series. Sort of a Fixer Upper meets It’s Complicated thing. I hope it plays out well.

3) Read through and take notes on major revision points on SUPERSTAR. This one is more of a Nashville meets A Star is Born thing with a juicy family dynamic and intergenerational storylines.

So, I’m counting on you guys to hold my feet to the fire next week. I’m going to meet these goals. I’m not even going to give an ‘If I don’t…’ scenario.

While I’m working on that, what do you hope to achieve this week? Ready? Set? Goal!

Share

Monday Mayhem – It’s May! The month of yes you may!

We are finally hitting our stride with Spring. It seems like it took a long time coming – even here in the Natural State. Late freezes and a shocking April sleet storm stunted some of the spring growth, but we have finally leafed out here and it is stunning.

I always marvel at the wide array of Pantone greens Mother Nature provides each spring.

Last weekend, Fodder and I spent a gorgeous cloudless Sunday on the Buffalo National River. Never visited this beautifully preserved national park set in the heart of the Ozark Mountains? Here’s a taste:

Sadly, it’s one of those things that is so close to home for us that we rarely do it. Last weekend, we vowed to change that.

Like many authors, I used to think being a writer meant having my butt in the chair writing every possible moment I had. I’ve let that fallacy go. Now, I know that letting my mind wander as Fodder paddles me along in a canoe is just as important as putting words on a page.

I came home exhausted, wind swept, gritty eyed, and sun toasted.

I also came home relaxed and ready to dive into a new series.

So, spend a day in the hammock with a good book, or go for a walk along a river trail. We bought a new frisbee to toss in the back yard. Doesn’t matter what you do, just go out and play a little bit each day.

And stop and smell the roses. Admire the fifty-billion shades of green. Pet a puppy or kitty cat. You’ll feel better for it. I promise.

Share

Monday Mayhem – That whirring noise you hear…

Is me winding down from a fabulous weekend in the Chicago area.

I attended the 2018 Chicago North RWA Spring Fling. I am home now. Exhausted and exhilarated. There’s nothing like spending time with other writers to recharge the creative juices.

The big advantage to attending a conference in Chicago is the fact that I can combine it with family and friends time.

I got to visit with my niece and her boys, where I met my new (ish) great-nephew, I had time to hang out with my sister one-on-one, and had pizza with my brother and his family (where I had my butt kicked playing Sequence for Kids).

I also got to spend an evening with some of my sorority sisters – some of whom I hadn’t seen in mumblemumblemumble years. 

The best part, as always, was having the chance to catch up with my life-long besties. From cooing over prom dresses and repeatedly apologizing to Jen’s daughter for being…us…to sweet, gorgeous young Mike, who had no idea what he was getting served when the hostess seated this party of four.

I’m home now. The laundry had to be piled up whilst Sally and I got reacquainted with an epic nap, but there’s always tomorrow.

Oh! And I finished the first draft on my latest work in progress before I left, so if you are looking for me, I’ll be in the revision cave for the next couple of months.

Thanks to all of my hardworking members of the CNRWA chapter for putting on such a great conference. See you in 2020!

And go, Cubs, go!

Share