Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hailey's Comment's Blurb Re-do

No one but her grandmother, Hailey Clements, knows that 28 year-old Emma is really the sage of the world famous advice column, Hailey’s Comments, handing out platitudes and one-liners. And that’s just the way Emma wants it. Hailey parades, Emma quips, and they share the money. It’s the perfect arrangement until handsome Ryan Everett discovers the truth. To avoid his constant teasing questions and his you-can’t-fool-me remarks, Emma and Hailey run a dessert contest. They reason that no one, not even Ryan, can kibitz a recipe contest. But the cake contest falls flat. To avoid angry readers and Ryan Everett, Emma and her ugly dog Wyeth flee to sparsely populated Lister Island in the Puget Sound where Emma intends to spend the summer working on her art.

But it’s her heart, not her art that soon worries Emma. Her flight from one world throws her into the intrigues of another. On Lister Island, Emma is introduced to a pistol packing priest, a pair of greedy organic food farmers, and an Octogenarian jail keeper. After a series of disturbing coincidences, Emma suspects that the life of Helen Dunsmuir, Lister Island’s recently deceased grande dame, is tied to her own. As she unravels the secrets of Helen’s life and untimely death, Emma learns that life’s problems can rarely be fixed with a witty quip or platitude, and that it’s better to love than to comment.

And from some secrets, just like from some men, there’s no escape.

Hailey’s Comments, a romantic suspense reminiscent of Mary Stewart, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Contest. 

Another Review

Indulge me for sharing....

Hi Sweetie 
Just finished another of your books and sent for the 3rd. I really have enjoyed the first two. I relate to so much of the wash territory. as I told you I lived as a small girl in hoquiam. At any rate love the books and waiting for the 3rd to arrive. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Blurb Help Wanted

So excited! Hailey’s Comments will go live very, very soon and I’m looking for blurb input. Please point out all my mistakes. (With the blurb…I’m not interested in personal hygiene tips or really anything other than blurb related.)

Lies are a lot like oranges.  They bleed and they can make a big mess, even when you think they’re contained. Sure, things can be mopped up, but if it isn't done right, the juiciness will stay, attracting dirt and lint. Emma Clements lives a lie and when she thinks Ryan Everett has learned her secret, she escapes to a sparsely populated Puget Sound Island.

But Emma’s flight from one world throws her into the intrigues of another. After a series of disturbing coincidences, Emma suspects that the life of Helen Dunsmuir, Lister Island’s recently deceased grande dame, is tied to her own.

 On Lister Island Emma learns that life’s problems can rarely be fixed with a witty cliché or platitude, and that it’s better to live a life with love than to comment. And from some secrets, just like from some men, there’s no escape.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reviews and Flatulence

Stephen King in his excellent book On Writing, wrote about his flatulent childhood babysitter who would sit on his face. “She would throw me on the couch, drop her wool-skirted butt on my face and let loose…I remember the dark, the sense of suffocating and laughing. Because while it was sort of horrible, it was also sort of funny. In many ways she prepared me for literary criticism. After having a 200 pound babysitter fart on your face and yell POW! The Village Voice holds few terrors.”

As I get reviews for my books, I really want to develop Mr. King’s sense of humor. Fortunately, not all of my reviews are bad, and many of my favorite reviews are never published on Amazon. They’re private. (Well, they were until now.) 

Thanks Kristie, not much for romance readers, but I have to admit to really enjoying all of the Rose Arbor (Oak Harbor) stories. Mercy is becoming my favorite of the 3 so far. Her life might have been so much easier had she swung just a little harder. lol Keep writing these stories. It's so fun to know the author

I always love it when guys like my books. Actually, I love it when anyone likes my books, but I think it's especially great when someone like my cousin, who is so far off of my target audience reads my books. I just wasn't thinking about the 65 year old outdoorsy type guy when I was writing my chick books, although, one of my heroes, Alec from The Rhyme’s Library, is fly-fisherman and all of my books have dogs.

And here are two that are more.

BTW, I just read Stealing Mercy. Super book! I loved it. Such a great time in our history and with a feisty heroine who crossed the established lines for feminine behavior to stand up for her friend and against the men who treated women with little respect. Great writing and a real page turner!

Hey Aunt Kristy, I fiiinnnnally read 'Steeling Mercy' (oops.. it took me a while to get a copy of it), and oh my goodness! I was hooked on it! I literally spent all Sunday (minus church) laying in bed reading it. When ever I was forced to put it down for one reason or another I was always so anxious to get back to reading it! Such great characters, such a great story!! I can't wait to read your other books! :)

There are more, but I’m sure by now no one is still reading, because this is boring to anyone but me. Sorry for the shameless self promo. It’s just sometimes when the world is smelling like a flatulent, 200 pound babysitter, I need to be reminded of why I’m writing.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Seven Tricks for Clearing Out Brain Fuzz

November is Nanowrimo (write a novel in a month) and I’m not doing it. I never have. But I have published three novels in the last 14 months and I have two more novels about to hit the world and yesterday a writer friend asked me HOW and it made me think—and remember.

Not too long ago I was really happy if I could write 1,000 words a day. My writing stints lasted about an hour and a half. I would spend the first half hour going over what I had written the day before then spend another hour writing. After my stint at the computer, my head would feel fuzzy, I’d leave my manuscript with a prompt for the next day and I would return to doing all the things that a mom with large family needs to do.
About two years ago, two things happened to coincide. First, and most importantly my children grew up and second a writer friend that I really admire told me that he writes for five to six hours a day. I wondered HOW? Didn’t his brain get fuzzy?

I still have three children living at home, but they are grown-up functioning adults. I adore them but I don’t need to feed, bathe or scold them. This means that if I want to, I really can write five to six hours a day. But first I had to learn to overcome brain-fuzz.

Here are my writing tricks for dealing with a fuzzy brain.

1.       Define your writing goals and style. Do you want to be a Margaret Mitchell or a Harper Lee and write one brilliant novel? Or do you see yourself as an Agatha Christie with 80 stories to tell? (There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but be warned, if you see yourself with only one story to tell, some of my advice won’t apply to you.)
2.       Have a definite goal. I’m not a math person, but I do have some numbers in my head. When those numbers are met, we will be debt (including mortgage) free, retired and living in a house on a lake. Because those numbers are concrete and very attainable, they keep me motivated and at my computer.

3.       Embrace brain fuzz. It’s your friend. It’s your body telling you that it needs something to drink and your blood needs to circulate. This is how you make the fuzz work for you. Write for one hour, then take a break, even if you don’t need or want one. Get up, sweep a floor, put in a load of laundry, jog around your house, jump rope. Your goal is simply to move your body for ten minutes. Sit back down. Write for another hour. By following this pattern, I can usually write for three hours—until lunch.

4.       Always end a writing a session with a prompt for what happens next. I end each stint with something like “the guy with the gun arrives” written down. By doing this, my mind works out the next scene so that by the time I return to the computer, I’m anxious, excited and ready to write.

5.       Have more than one project going at a time. Because I’ve been writing almost daily for about thirteen years, I have a lot of not so great novels under my bed. The Rhyme’s Library, published in August, and Hailey’s Comments (about to be published in December) are both novels that I wrote years ago. Writing a first draft, revising and editing a final draft are very different mental exercises. When the first draft hits a snag, it’s great to be able to turn to a novel that needs polishing or revising. When I got frustrated with drafting Losing Penny, the novel currently with my editor, I revised/edited Hailey’s Comments.

6.       Engage in other writing activities. Write a blog post. Look for and take advantage of marketing opportunities. Work on your character bible. Sketch outlines for future novel ideas. Take photographs of scenes you want to use in your books. Look online for book cover ideas.

7.       Most importantly, read with a pen in your hand. Underline sentences that you love, dialogue that rings true, and lines that are cornball. Read good and bad books and learn what to do and what not to do.

There really is only one bad way to write a novel, and that is to not write at all. Just like in tennis, you have to keep your eye on the ball, when writing you have to keep your mind in the story. That means that you need to learn to sweep out the fuzz.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stealing Mercy Again

For the past two weeks my novel Stealing Mercy has been ranked in the top 10 of Amazon’s free historical romance list and has had almost 50,000 downloads. You wouldn’t think that I need help but I do. I have never asked for reviews before, but I need them now because not all of the reviews have been kind. I have recently downloaded a newly edited version. So, IF you have read, or would like to read, Stealing Mercy,  I would really appreciate some kindness. Just click on the book’s link on the right. THANK YOU

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Today is election day and I’m thinking about promises, about how almost everything we do or say is a promise of something to come. On an election day eighteen years ago I learned I was going to have twins. Larry and I walked to the precinct to vote and on the way home on that dark and starry night we talked about how our lives would change. In one moment we learned that we would need a larger house, a larger car and (for me) larger clothes.

As we go through our days our decisions are promises we are keeping or breaking. People we know either trust or distrust us because of our past decisions and how well we our promises.

They say that every story is a promise and I think that’s true, but I also think that every story makes many promises and comes with a series of pay-off scenes—life is like that, too. The victory of the marathon wasn’t just crossing the finish line—it was the everyday victory of putting on my sneakers. (Actually, when I ran the marathon, I had only one goal—not to be picked up by the National Guard. In case you didn’t know, the National Guard comes after five hours and drives the route looking for exhausted bodies lying on the side of the road. I can proudly say I crossed the finish line on my own two feet.)

Novel writing is like that, too. The victory isn’t the finis on the last page, it’s the end of a great scene, the creation of a memorable line, it’s the moment when you capture what you meant but didn’t know how to say.

Here are some of the memorable I lines I recently read, seen and heard. Because some are from movies, there is paraphrasing.

“We don’t talk to each other like this. This is not how we talk to each other.” The Vow
“This was his moment, although he didn’t know it.” The Words
“It was never about fishing at all.” Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.
“Serene I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! My own shall come to me.”  John Burroughs, Waiting
“But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of days.”
 Daniel 12:13—another translation is “rise unto your destiny”, but I like the “stand in thy lot at the end of days, because really—aren’t we all standing in whatever lot we created? And don’t we have the power to change our lot? Maybe we need to change our sentences. Maybe we need erasers to wipe out a scene—and that can be a victory, too.

Sometimes our lives can change in an instant, or in a very short time, like mine did when I learned my family of six would soon be a family of eight, but usually, marathons are run by one footstep at time, novels are a matter of stringing letters and words together, and a life is created minute by minute, and promise by promise.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Skunks, Children and Stories

We have skunks terrorizing the neighborhood. They are riling up the dogs and chewing up our lawns. One neighbor called vector control and now has two metal cages in their front yard. I’m grateful they are in his yard on the street above us and not in my yard, or my neighbor’s yard, because the only thing worse than two terrorizing skunks is two terrified skunks trapped in a little metal box. According to Vector control, even if they manage to catch the skunks, it might be several days before they’re able to return and haul the skunks away…two terrified skunks trapped for days…

It’s been a remarkable ten days. We went to Disneyland with our family. My daughter’s award winning drama class went to festival and Miranda’s monologue went to finals (she really is fabulous.) Last night we went to the Clipper’s game and Natalie’s choir, which is reputedly the best in the state, sang the National Anthem.  Often when I watch any of my children, I’ll think I don’t deserve them.

And it’s just like the skunks (only much, much better.) As far as I know, no one in our neighborhood did anything to attract the skunks, they just came. That’s how I feel about my children. I’m lucky that they came and that they are who they are. I’m lucky that they love me, because I adore them.

I feel the same way about my books. Stealing Mercy has been ranked in the top five of Amazon’s (free) bestselling historical romance for more than a week now. It spent a few days as #1. Currently, it’s #4 in historical romance and number #13 overall.  I find this incredible and I find myself thinking I don’t deserve this, just like my neighborhood doesn’t deserve the skunks and I don’t deserve my children.

My novel Hailey Comments just returned from the editor and I typed the final sentence on my other novel, Losing Penny, on Friday. I sent it to my editor and she’ll return it in a month. The covers are made and both books should be published before the New Year. I feel about them the same way I feel about all of my books—a sense of wonder and appreciation.

Because of letters I’ve received about Stealing Mercy, my next book will be about the missing cousin, Rita. These titles are in my mind—Rescuing Rita, Reading Rita, Rehearsing Rita. I already know what the cover will look like. The entire story will take place in the late 1880s and it will be about Rita and the hero on the run from bad guys and hiding with a traveling vaudeville troupe. I’ll use Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn as a plot map (try to imagine Huck and Joe with sexual tension. By the time I’m finished no one will accuse me of plagiarizing Mr. Twain, I promise.)  I love the idea. Even before it’s written, the ending gives me goose-bumps. I’m dying to write it.

Already, I know I don’t deserve this story. The story, the idea, is a gift that has been handed to me. I am so grateful.