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!

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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

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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!

 

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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.

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Monday Mayhem – Millie Time!

PLAY FOR KEEPS releases tomorrow and I am super-excited!

I have to admit, I love the heroine in this book. Millie talks tough, but she has a lot of heart. She knows who she is, and accepts and loves herself, but she struggles to let others in. Ty Ransom is a steady, determined man, and it’s a darn good thing. He’s going to have to put on a full court press to convince Millie that he’s playing for keeps.

And I have some BIG NEWS regarding this release!

Amazon editors have chosen PLAY FOR KEEPS as one of the best books of  April! This is a huge honor, and I’m keeping some pret-ty swanky company on that list. Check it out here.

LOVE GAME is still available in stores, so if you haven’t started the series, grab both books and get in the game! And keep the Spotted in the Wild pictures coming! I love seeing them!

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Monday Mayhem – Maggie’s a bad girl

I’m loving all the LOVE GAME sightings you’ve been sharing to my Facebook page. Thanks so much, and keep them coming!

This week, I’m shifting gears slightly to talk about my upcoming release EASY BAKE LOVIN’.

This book is the second in the Play Dates series, featuring hot single dads. In case you missed it, book #1, PLAY DATES, is on sale right now for 99¢, so grab a copy now!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google ~ Kensington ~ Kobo

EASY BAKE LOVIN’ was one of those books that was just a joy to write. I could see each character so clearly, hear their voices in my head, and best of all…I got to indulge my adolescent love of naughty word play in making up the names of all the treats Georgie sells in her adults-only bakery.

I can’t list the menu here, because I try to keep this blog PG-13 rated, but I giggled. Jewels giggled when critiquing it. Marci giggled through each round of edits. I hope you’ll giggle too.

After all, reading is a pleasure, and not one anyone needs to feel guilty about indulging. Pre-order now, or make a date to pick up Georgie and Mike’s story on March 6, 2018!

A straight-laced single dad just may discover he has a sweet tooth…
 
Mike Simmons had it all—until his perfect wife turned his perfectly ordered life upside down by leaving him and their two children. Now Mike’s struggling with the chaos of juggling his career as a security consultant with being a divorced single dad. It’s no surprise he’s not entirely comfortable with the anatomically correct treats their new client, Getta Piece Bakery, offers. And he doesn’t mind letting the client know it.

Free-spirited and spunky, baker extraordinaire Georgie Walters is about as far from a soccer mom type as you can get. She owes a lot of her success to the bachelorettes who have a special appreciation for her creations. But as Mike stands in her tiny shop nervous, but clearly intrigued, Georgie has to admit the guy is beautiful when he’s wound up tight. In fact, she finds she can’t resist getting a rise out of him. When she hires him to take care of her security needs—she gets so much more in the bargain. Now, her challenge is to teach him to look beyond the candy coating to all the warmth she has inside . . .

Preorder at: Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google ~ Kensington ~ Kobo

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Monday Mayhem – Overwhelmed, Overjoyed, Over the Moon

Is it possible that anyone missed this?

It’s been a fairly surreal week.

LOVE GAME was my 35th release, but my first to be available in brick and mortar stores. It was also the first time I took a release day off work. I spent the morning, spamming you all online, registering to attend RWA in Denver, and generally making sure my links and such were working. Then Fodder and I went out for lunch and to hunt it down in the wild.

I admit I got a little misty when I saw it. I still get a little keyed up thinking about it. Don’t tell him I told you, but Fodder did too.

 

The release was accompanied by some of the most AMAZING reviews. I have to admit that in recent years I have become one of those authors…the ones who beg for reviews (because we need them to sell books), but try not to read them. Because while the bad ones are indubitably soul-crushing, even the best review can get into an author’s head.

 

I have to admit, I’ve been reading those I come across on LOVE GAME, and I am thrilled to know that it’s connecting with readers.

I’ll post some links here because these are a thrill for me.

Publishers Weekly (Starred)

Dear Author (Recommended Read)

Romantically Inclined (A modern read…)

Guilty Pleasures (Purest Delight!)

That’s What I’m Talking About (A – Loved it!)

So, yeah, it’s been a great week.

It’s also been an awful week.

The second week of February always is for me. Friday, February 9, 2018 was the 20th anniversary of my dad’s passing. Sunday, February 11th was the 2nd anniversary of mom’s.

So yeah, there’s been some Kleenex expenditure, but despite the racier aspects of my writing, I think my parents (inveterate bookworms themselves) would have been proud to see a book I produced on the shelf.

But THANK YOU. I hope I’ve made you proud, too. I appreciate your support, your enthusiasm, and the steadfast encouragement.

Without you, I’d just be tossing words out there into the void. With you, I am seeing my dreams come true one by one.

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Monday Mayhem – Alllllllmost….

So, tomorrow is the big day for LOVE GAME. Remember to look for it at your favorite book store or superstore. If you don’t see it on the shelf, do me a favor and ask for it, okay? Thanks!

In celebration of the big release, I wanted to share an excerpt with you and the inspiration for that particular scene. Are you ready for this?

****

Kate yanked open her front door and almost dropped her beloved Tea-Rex mug as she stared bleary-eyed at the surprise addition to her front porch. An oversized shoe box sat on her “Come back after basketball season” doormat.

She toed the mystery box, then glanced from left to right, making sure no one lurked in the shrubs waiting to snap a picture of her bending over in stretched-loose gym shorts and a faded T-shirt. The warm mug curled close to her chest, she squatted and flipped the lid off the box with one finger. Breath caught in her lungs, and she blinked in surprise.

The shoes nestled in the folds of tissue paper were a swirl of outlandishly obnoxious neon colors. So bright, mere humans would need a pinhole projector to view them properly. She fell in love on sight.

“Come to me, my pretties,” she whispered, setting her tea aside to draw the box closer. The tissue crinkled as she pushed it back. “Where did you come from, huh? Shoe fairies?” She touched one neon-orange lace and sighed. “Are you looking for a good home?” She peeked at the label on the box. “Look at that. Just my size.”

Caffeine and nowhere-to-be-seen newspaper forgotten, she lowered the lid, gathered the box in her arms, and carried the precious foundlings inside.

Perched on the edge of the sofa, she stared at the prize in her lap. Her heart thrummed against her breastbone, and a giddy, bubbly rush of anticipation simmered in her veins. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had given her a present, much less one this heart-trippingly perfect. She bit down on the tip of her tongue as she tossed the lid aside. A girly laugh of delight rushed past her lips the second she caught a glimpse of the shoes in the light.

Hooking her fingers under the laces, she plucked them from their tissue nest. The box fell to the floor unheeded as she gave the shoes an impetuous little hug. She knew it was silly but didn’t really care. Let other women swoon over toothpick-heeled Jimmy Choos. She was a pushover for leather and mesh uppers with gel-filled insoles.

Setting one shoe aside, she gathered the tips of the laces to line them up. Her greedy gaze cataloged the number of eyelets and mapped the exact route she’d take through the tongue flap. It wasn’t until she reached for the second shoe that she noticed the words inked inside the box lid. The thick, bold slashes of black magic marker seemed harsh and sharply incongruous with the colorful gift.

Dinner? D

She stared at the message, the pricey shoe dangling from her fingertips and her heart lodged in her throat.

Danny.

She shook her head hard. No. It couldn’t be.

Or could it?

****

Some women collect ceramic figurines, others handbags…Kate Snyder collects shoes. Athletic shoes, to be precise. This particular character quirk was inspired by the quirkiest character I know, Julie Doner.

In celebration of the release of LOVE GAME, Julie agreed to a photoshoot. Here’s a glimpse at this author’s inspiration:

Pick up a copy of LOVE GAME tomorrow and get the whole story on Kate’s seduction by shoe. If you want to order online, here are some handy-dandy links!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google Play ~ Kobo  ~ Powell’s ~ Books-A-Million~ The Ripped Bodice

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Monday Mayhem – The calm

It’s the calm before the storm. At least, I’m trying to remain calm. The next three months are going to be a doozy.

I’ve been so focused on LOVE GAME, it’s easy to forget that EASY BAKE LOVIN’ (March 6) and PLAY FOR KEEPS (April 3) are following close behind.

How can you help?

#1 Buy the book. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. Publishing is a business, and if these books don’t sell, my publishers have no reason to publish additional titles from me. Even if you don’t read romance, consider buying a copy for a friend, or to donate.

#2 Tell people! Talk about it. Suggest a title to your book club. No amount of paid advertising can match the power of word of mouth.  That’s a fact.

#3 Be a ripple: We are so inundated with images these days, it takes a minimum of seven visual impressions. If you see one of my books mentioned on social media or one of my posts somewhere, please share it with your friends (if you feel comfortable doing so). That’s a ripple.

#4 Review. Customer reviews on Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads are vital for an author. I’m not talking ego gratification. Many authors don’t even look at their reviews because, good or bad, they can impact writing productivity. Why do we ask for them? Because other readers look at them. So do book promotion sites. Some sites won’t allow an author to buy advertising unless they have a minimum number of positive reviews. So, even if it’s just “Hey, I really liked this book.” please  review.

#5 Tell the author. Not just me, but any author whose work you enjoy.  A letter, and email, a facebook post, a tweet – doesn’t matter if you tie note to a carrier pigeon (though I would probably make Fodder remove it from the bird’s leg). Writing is hard. This business can be brutal, and no one is immune. With each book an author places a little piece of their soul on the page. If you like something you read, tell the author. Even the biggest names have bad days. Make someone’s day.

I’m asking for your help. I need your help. Please and thank you.

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Monday Mayhem – Because you’ve gotta have friendssssss

I believe it’s important for every woman to have a close female friends. Wether it’s one, or a dozen, makes no difference. The strength and resilience of female friendships is something I try to incorporate into every story I write.

The friends you can text with random questions concerning bodily functions. Those who will hold you through the worst times and cheer you through the best. I have a few I lose contact with for months or years, but when we do get together, it’s like no time has passed at all. I have some I talk to every day.

I’m lucky enough to have two groups of friends who are integral to my life:

The first is simply known as The Cabinet.

These are my closest advisors. The ones who knew me in those halcyon days before everything we did went digital. We’ve been friends since we were teenagers and will be in each other’s pockets when we go to our graves. They pre-date the husbands and kids, and have outlasted the parents in some cases. Fodder knows better than to even think about contradicting the word of the cabinet.

Smart nieces and nephews know that inviting and/or allowing Aunt Moogie’s rowdy friends to come to the festivities results in more fun and quadruple the presents! Here we all are at my nephew’s wedding + my mother the photo bomber. <3

The other group you’ve heard me mention a number of times, because without them, I would not be a writer. Period. End of story.

They are my Super Cool Party People.

This is an ever expanding group of women drawn together by a common love, and bound together by unwavering support. We are scattered all over the globe and came to each other later in life (for some of us), but that doesn’t make our bond any weaker. My life would truly suck without them.

Love Game is the start of a new series that features three women: Kate Snyder, basketball superstar and all-around champion at life;  Millie Jenkins, the PR spin master who’s better at sorting out other people’s problems that thinking too hard about her own; and Avery Preston, Feminist Literature and Women’s Studies professor who harbors a secret desire.

I hope you’ll get a chance to meet them all. LOVE GAME goes on sale in just two weeks! And, in case you missed my gushing, you can read a couple of great pre-release reviews here and here!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google Play ~ Kobo  ~ Powell’s ~ Books-A-Million ~ The Ripped Bodice

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