Tag Archives: Jill Archer

Pat Esden interviews the hero from her new “Dark Heart” series (#gothic #PNR)

Book one of Pat Esden’s new Dark Heart gothic paranormal romance series, A Hold on Me, releases later this month from Kensington. She’s here with a teaser character interview and a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Details on her giveaway are at the end of the post. (Bonus giveaway: I’m giving away a print copy of Dark Light of Day or another fantasy book up to $10 from Book Depository, winner’s choice. The winner will be randomly picked by me from all of the people following my DLOD Pinterest book board as of midnight EST on Valentine’s Day. Click here for the board. Click here for other details.) Welcome Pat!

A Hold On Me Banner

Hi, my name is Pat Esden. I’m the author of A HOLD ON ME (book 1, Dark Heart series). Today I’m going to be interviewing Chase Savoy Abrams.

Annie, the main character in A HOLD ON ME, is very attracted to Chase. But she’s also a bit leery and certain he is hiding secrets. I’ll let you judge for yourself if he’s a mystery she should try to solve, or if she’s better off to stay as far away from him as possible.

Chase, how about you describe yourself for us?

I’m a guy—twenty-two. I keep pretty fit. All right. I’m more than a little fit. It’s a necessity. Besides, working out is relaxing.  I’m more comfortable in a sleeveless-T and jeans than anything else. For years my hair was long, but I keep it short now as a matter of principle. I’m a pretty unpretentious when it comes to what I need, and to what I want for that matter.  A few goods friends and a safe place to sleep, that’s enough.

What’s your profession?

I’m one of Moonhill’s groundskeepers. I mow lawns, tend the sheep, and basically do the outdoor work. I like that. I also protect the family, especially Selena. I don’t know how many nights I’ve watched over her when she’s snuck out to parties. But I’d do it, even if it weren’t part of my job.

Do you have a special skill?

Knife throwing. Any knife. Any target.

What is your biggest dream/wish/desire?

To protect people, especially women. I don’t want anyone to have to live through hell like I did.

What’s your darkest secret?

I’m embarrassed by my lack of education. Freemonts are giving me a chance to make up for my past, but I’m not sure I’ll ever measure up.

What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?

I knit. Keeps my finger nimble. It’s relaxing and helps me remember my mother. She used to knit all the time. Make things and give them away to charities.

Describe the craziest thing you have done.

I don’t do crazy. It’s important to keep your wits at all times.

Briefs or boxers?

Briefs.

Chunky peanut butter or smooth?

Either. It’s food. Peanut butter toast is one of my favorite things. When I first came to Moonhill I ate a whole loaf of bread that way. I puked and felt really stupid afterwards. But it tasted so good. I was hungry.

Favorite fictional character?

I was looking at Galland’s eighteenth-century translations of Voyages of Sinbad in Moonhill’s library the other day. So right now, I’d say Sinbad.

Thank you so much to Chase for joining us!

So readers, what do you think? Thumbs up or down? Should Annie try to find out more about Chase—or stay away?

A Hold on Me

More about A Hold on Me

She never wanted to return.

He wants nothing more than for her to leave.

But the fire between them is as strong as the past that haunts them.

Annie Freemont grew up on the road, immersed in the romance of rare things, cultivating an eye for artifacts and a spirit for bargaining. It’s a freewheeling life she loves and plans to continue until her dad is diagnosed with dementia. His illness forces them to return to Moonhill, their ancestral home on the coast of Maine and to the family they left behind fifteen years ago, after Annie’s mother died in a suspicious accident.

Once at Moonhill, Annie is shocked when her aunt separates her from her father. The next time Annie sees him, he’s a bizarre, violent shadow of his former self.

Confused, she turns to an unlikely ally for support — Chase, the dangerously seductive young groundskeeper. With his dark good looks and powerful presence, Chase has an air of mystery that Annie is irresistibly drawn to. But she also senses that behind his penetrating eyes are secrets she can’t even begin to imagine. Secrets that hold the key to the past, to Annie’s own longings and to all of their futures. Now, to unlock them, she’ll have to face her greatest fears and embrace her legacy…

Indiebound     Amazon    BN    Books a Million

More about Pat

Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Pat can be found online here:

More about the Giveaway

Pat is giving away one $20 Amazon gift card at the end of her tour. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form here. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you for guest blogging today, Pat. Good luck and best wishes for the Dark Heart series!


DARK LIGHT OF DAY Pinterest Book Board #Fantasy #Romance #Giveaway

I’m on Pinterest, people! :-D

I made a book board for DARK LIGHT OF DAY. Twenty quotes from the book matched with twenty pictures of items sold on Etsy. The result? A relatively quick, easy, creative project for me and a fun extra for readers and Noon fans.

I plan on creating boards for the rest of the books and will update with new pics and quotes every now and then.

In the meantime, a small giveaway to celebrate the fact that I’ve crossed one item off of my 2016 To Do List (“Check out Pinterest”)—

GIVEAWAY

Winner’s choice: one print copy of DARK LIGHT OF DAY or any other fantasy book from Book Depository up to $10. Open to international. Other details here. (Why not an Etsy gift card? Theirs start at $25. I’ll be giving away an Etsy gift card in connection with one of the giveaways I do for POCKET FULL OF TINDER though…)

I’ll draw the winner from those people who are following the Pinterest Dark Light of Day board by midnight EST on Valentine’s Day. Winner will be announced here. (I’ll also try to reach the winner via Pinterest). Since there are only a handful of people currently following the board, your chances of winning are terrific!

And quick plug for my newsletter – the first one’s coming out next month with some POCKET FULL OF TINDER sneak peeks! Sign up here.

Okay, back to work. :-)


#Fantasy #Romance Author Linda K. Hopkins on Dragons – Fable or Fact?

Today’s guest is Linda K. Hopkins, author of The Dragon Archives. Set in the medieval period, these tales tell of the dragons that roamed the earth in days gone by. At the end of her blog tour, Linda is giving away one $20 Amazon gift card. Details below. Welcome, Linda!

The Dragon Archives Banner

Folk tales and mythology are littered with stories about dragons. Fire-breathing monsters in the west, benevolent and magical creatures in the east. Some legends tell of dragons with human features, while other myths suggest human dynasties that could trace their lineage back to dragons. The blood of a dragon could be poisonous or magical, and the creatures flew at great speed. Sightings have been recorded throughout England, some as recently as the seventeenth century. So perhaps, like the legends of Arthur, the stories are rooted in truth. Maybe there is more to the tales than mere myth.

We all know that dragons are huge, that they fly and that (at least, western dragons) breathe fire. We laugh at the idea that they are real, but maybe, just maybe, there really were huge monsters flying the skies. Is it possible? If we free our minds from the idea of a flesh and bone behemoth that weighs as much as a plane, then perhaps we can peer through the mists of time and tale, and see these magnificent creatures gracefully soaring above the clouds, circling on air currents high above the earth. Like a hot air balloon, our giants of the sky were not created of flesh and bone as we know it, but were filled with gas and heat that freed their huge frames to rise above the earth and take to the skies. Like birds, their bones were hollow, creating a strong but light-weight structure. Their tough hide was made of keratin scales, beneath which was a layer of muscle and sinew which gave them their massive strength. The huge wings which sprung from their backs were framed in bone and covered in a thin, silk-like material that gave propulsion and manoeuverability. Their huge bodies were filled with hydrogen, a highly combustible gas. And when hydrogen mixes with oxygen it produces – flames!

So did dragons exist? You will need to come to your own conclusion. As for me, these magnificent creatures walk into real life each day as I relate their stories from the Archives.

More about The Dragon Archives

Bound by a Dragon

Bound by a Dragon

At twenty-two, Keira Carver needs to find a husband, but the prospects in her small medieval village are not pretty slim. So when Aaron Drake, a handsome stranger, takes up residence at Storbrook Castle, set deep in the surrounding mountains, Keira takes notice.

Just as interesting is the fact that a fire-breathing dragon has also moved into the neighborhood, and is rumored to live in caves beneath the mountain fortress.

What exactly is the connection between Aaron Drake and the dragon? And when the dragon rescues her from the unwanted attentions of some village boys, who will set out to rescue her from the huge, scaly, fire-breathing monster?

Available for Free

Amazon    Kobo    iTunes    BN

Continue reading


Science Fiction Romance: The African Queen in Outer Space?

Today’s guest blogger is former teacher, principal, and symphonic oboist Edward Hoornaert, who’s here to discuss how The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn inspired his latest science fiction romance novel. Welcome, Ed!

Set on an inhospitable moon…

My upcoming science fiction romance, Escapee, is coming out in early 2016 from MuseItUp Publishing out of Montreal. What inspired me to write the book?

The 1951 movie, The African Queen. My version is set on an inhospitable moon, rather than the African Jungle, but in both tales the hero and heroine battle nature and, ultimately, the invading enemy.

How did I transform a movie into a science fiction romance? So glad you asked.

Analyzing the movie

I rented the movie and looked for two things:

  • Stages — Charley and Rosie’s relationship go through a number of stages.
  • Turning points — The events that caused their relationship to change from one stage to another.

I then devised analogous — but subtly different — stages and turning points for Escapee. Here are a few of them, so you get the feel for how the analysis worked.

Stage 1:  Polite disconnect between hero and heroine.

  • AQ — Rosie, a missionary in German East Africa, disapproves of Charley, a crude freighter captain who brings supplies, but treats him with chilly politeness.
  • Escapee — Hector, a stuffy career army officer, disapproves of the freewheeling, lower-class airship pilot, Cattaroon who supplies his base.

Turning point:  The enemy invades. In AQ, it’s the Germans, who leave Rosie alone and stranded — until Charley comes by and saves her.

In Escapee, it’s humans from the Proxima system. While Hector’s on leave, they destroy his entire command, leaving him stranded and alone — until Catt lands, looking for survivors.

Stage 2:  Rosie devises a near-impossible goal that he doesn’t agree with.

  • AQ — Rosie wants to attack a German warship. Charley agrees, knowing she’ll give up when she learns how dangerous the river is.
  • Escapee — Hector wants to attack enemy headquarters. Catt agrees only because she’s certain he’ll give up when he realizes how dangerous a flight across the moon is.

So far the two stories are similar. Now they start to diverge, though the skeleton remains the same.

Turning point:  When mild danger fails to deter her from her purpose, his true feelings come out explosively.

  • In AQ, after shooting rapids doesn’t deter Rosie, Charley gets drunk and insults Rosie. She dumps out all his rum.
  • In Escapee, after getting caught in a volcano’s updraft doesn’t deter Hector, Catt sabotages a cannon stored in the airship’s hold.

Stage 3:  Futile attempts to rebuild a civil relationship.

  • AQ — Charley apologizes for insulting her, but she won’t accept his apology unless he agrees to take her to the Germans’ ship.
  • Escapee — With the cannon gone, Hector realizes how futile his quest is. Feeling guilty, Catt tries to be nice, but he’s too depressed to talk about it.

Turning point:  He agrees to share her goal.

In AQ, Charley’s (deeply buried!) chivalry makes him give in.

In Escapee, Catt remembers all the friends whom the enemy has killed. Hearing her cry during the night, Hector finally talks, voicing his idealistic reasons for wanting to fight. Inspired by his idealism, Catt agrees to make the dangerous voyage to the other side of the moon.

Stage 4:  Falling in love

Etc, etc.

“Inspired By”, Not a Ripoff

This post is getting long, so I won’t bore you with all six stages, but hopefully you get the general idea. Analyzing the movie turned out to be a huge help in developing my plot. You ought to try it some time.

I’d like to emphasize that Escapee ended up having a very different feel than the movie. If I didn’t tell you it was based on the African Queen, you wouldn’t notice. If addition to being science fiction rather than historical drama, here are some of the key differences:

  • Although both environments are hostile, they’re different — river rapids vs. hurricanes and volcanoes.
  • The characters’ genders are reversed. Their wounds are very different, as are the lessons they need to learn.
  • I added secondary characters. They capture an enemy who tries to sabotage the airship. Hector has an alien pet that is ugly/lovable. Finally, Catt’s android co-pilot provides comic relief as well as the book’s most poignant scene, when he dies.
  • The ending is more believable, IMHO. AQ‘s ending requires an act of God (a rainstorm that floats their grounded boat) and a wild coincidence (their sunken boat nonetheless sinks the German ship). Escapee has a logical ending.

What’s It to You?

If you have a favorite movie you love, you might want to turn it into a book of your own. If so, consider analyzing it for stages and turning points.

What movie would you like to turn into an “inspired by” novel? Tell us about it in the comments.

[Jill: Many of you know that Noon Onyx was loosely inspired by Evy Carnahan from The Mummy. None of the plot points are the same though. Want to read about my lunchtime light bulb moment when the idea of the character first came to me? See my FAQ page.]

Guardian Angel of Far Flung StationSuggested Reading

Escapee is the second book in my space opera series featuring the Dukelsky family. The first book is The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station.

Sandrina, a lonely, waif-like genius, conceals more secrets—and power—than anyone on Farflung Space Station. One secret is her hopeless crush on Duke Dukelsky, the handsome head of the station’s security.

But when invaders take over Farflung, Duke needs Sandrina’s help to repel them and rescue the reformed space pirate who cut out her tongue when she was eight. Can she earn Duke’s love even though it means stripping herself of all secrets and forgiving the man who maimed her?

Edward Hoornaert

Edward Hoornaert

About Edward Hoornaert

What kind of man writes romance? A man who married his high school sweetheart a week after graduation and is still living the HEA decades later. A man who is a certifiable Harlequin hero in his own right — Ed inspired Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Rita Award finalist Mr. Valentine, which is dedicated to him.

Ed started out writing romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he concentrates on science fiction romance. In addition to novelist, he’s been a teacher, principal, technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist. He and wife Judi live in Tucson, Arizona. They have three sons, a daughter, a mutt, and the world’s most adorable grandson. Visit him at http://eahoornaert.com.

Ed’s still waiting on the cover and buy links for Escapee. In the meantime, you can check out all of his books here. Thanks for guest blogging today, Ed!


STILL stuck inside? Sign up for my newsletter! (#read #darkfantasy)

We are slowly digging out from under snow storm Jonas, i.e. Snowzilla. Almost two and a half feet here! How about you? How much snow did you get? Are you still trapped?

If you’re still stuck inside and looking for something to do, you can sign up for my quarterly author newsletter.

What will my newsletter offer?

Newsletter

Quarterly newsletters will be sent every September, December, March, and June. Content will vary but will likely be some combination of:

  • Snippets from old or new work
  • Quizzes
  • Fun quotes and tweets
  • Recipes related to the books
  • Random Facts (background info on characters, etc.)
  • First look at Extras I’ll be adding to my website
  • Interesting stuff I’m researching
  • Meet the Team (bios of people who help me behind the scenes)
  • Be an Ambassador (ways readers can help me spread the word about my books)
  • Contests/Giveaways

Newsletters will also be sent out for each NEW RELEASE!

How will the newsletter differ from the blog?

The newsletter is mostly for readers who like my books and want to hear more about them. Some content, including occasional giveaways, will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers.

This blog will continue to be what it always has been – an inconsistently scheduled mashup of all the things I’m interested in: books, movies/TV shows, writing, day tripping, guest posts, etc.

Feel free to share my newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n

Thanks, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well!


Stuck Inside? Here’s what to do…

Read: I’m currently reading Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED.

Write: The chapter I’m currently working on is called “Domesday Weapons.” Have been researching the Domesday Book, allodial title, the ancient Egyptian god Sobek, and Multnomah Falls, among other things.

Here’s a snippet (any bit of which might change before I publish POCKET FULL OF TINDER):

It was a bit eerie staring at myself.

I squinted at the familiar figure – a 22-year old female wearing black pants and a short wool cloak. She stood beside a barghest, a tiger, and a nymph, but though her companions were unusual, my gaze was drawn to her weapon – a fiery pepperbox that flickered dangerously in the hazy greenish-gray mist. Hopefully, the woman and her companions wouldn’t flicker tellingly as well. Fara and I had argued about the weapon, but she’d insisted the gun would look the most confident – if only because it was the most unpredictable.

The spell was called Simulacrum. Fara had recently learned it and suggested we use it this afternoon for our meeting with Acheron. Considering the river demon had chosen the Memento Mori viaduct as the site of our meet, I’d readily agreed. Even if my father hadn’t warned me to use “extreme caution” when meeting him, I would have anyway. Afterall, this was the place where over a hundred people had lost their lives only three short months ago.

Have your kid talk you into using Snapchat’s filters: If you’re getting this post via email, you’re going to have to click through to see my ridiculous selfies. Stay safe & warm, East Coasters!


Anna Durand: New Year, New Risks, Plenty of Romance

My first guest blogger for 2016 is writer, librarian, and audio book addict Anna Durand. She’s here with a post about goal setting and taking risks. If you’ve somehow escaped making resolutions for 2016, NOW’S YOUR CHANCE! Use this post as your final push to write this year’s To Do List. Welcome, Anna!

Take a Risk With Your Writing This Year

At the end of every year, I start to think about what I want to accomplish the next year. I rarely make resolutions, because I prefer to set goals. Resolutions feel like something you’ve failed at if you can’t live to up to what you resolved to do for the year. Goals, on the other hand, are guideposts for your life and career. If don’t reach your goal, it somehow feels like less of a failure.

That’s why I make stepped goals — do A, if that works, do A1, and after that A2, and so on. In this way, the overarching goal becomes more attainable. If I don’t complete all of goal A or goal B this year, I know I’ve done a good job working toward my goals. This year, most of my goals revolve around my writing career. I plan on taking more risks, branching out into new subgenres of romance, both self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers.

Last year, I set a goal to write more and write faster. I accomplished that through my self-imposed challenge to write a complete 20,000-word story in five days, as well as by self-publishing two books and contracting another with The Wild Rose Press. I also finished three more books, as yet unpublished.

This year, I’ve set more writing goals:

  • Put the final polish on my three finished manuscripts and submit them to publishers.
  • Write my first historical romance, a time travel story with witches, set in 15th-century Scotland.
  • Write a fantasy romance.
  • Write the third book in the Psychic Crossroads series.
  • Write and publish the fourth and final installment in the Reborn series.
  • And oh yeah, write more erotic romances!
  • Sign up for more guest posts on other blogs.
  • Pay for targeted advertising to boost sales of my currently published books.
  • Schedule more guests on my blog, but only three days a week now. I nearly went insane scheduling them seven days a week!

That’s just what I’ve thought of so far. I will add more goals as I progress with these, and each of the above goals has sub-goals. By breaking things down into bite-size chunks, my goals become more attainable and less forbidding. When I look at my list of goals, I know I can achieve them all. My 2016 will be even better than 2015.

Happy New Year, everybody! May you achieve everything you want and have fun while doing it.

More about Anna

Anna Durand

Anna Durand

Anna Durand is an award-winning writer, a freelance librarian, and an audiobook addict. She specializes in steamy romances featuring spunky heroines and hunky heroes. As a member of Romance Writers of America, she volunteers for its chapters to give back to the romance community. In her previous life as a librarian, she haunted the stacks of public libraries but never met any hot vampires hunting for magical books.

Intuition-AnnaDurandMore about Anna’s Latest Release

Torn apart by their haunted pasts, Grace Powell and her fiancé David Ransom are struggling to reclaim their passionate bond and build a normal life — one without danger and paranormal powers. But David can’t renounce his obsession with hunting down Karl Tesler, who abducts and tortures psychics. David endured Tesler’s tactics himself, but despite what Grace believes, he’s not out for revenge.

Tesler covets her unprecedented abilities and her mysterious connection to a source of limitless psychic power. David will do anything — even abandon and lie to her — to protect Grace from Tesler.

With a psychic stalker on her trail, Grace charges into a desperate mission to uncover the truth about David’s obsession. But Tesler’s agents are closing in on her, and a terrifying new enemy is rising…

As events drive Grace and David toward a battle of epic proportions, they must risk everything — their relationship, their lives, and even their souls — to defeat an enemy who wields unspeakable psychic power.

Buy Links

Thanks, Anna, for guest blogging today!


Alan Rickman

I was going to do a Supergirl versus Shannara post this week but then I saw the news that Alan Rickman passed away. Like everyone else, I was surprised and sad about it. I didn’t know he was battling cancer and 69 is way too young.

When Leonard Nimoy died I laid on my couch and marathoned the first four Star Trek movies. I’m tempted to do the same this Sunday with Harry Potter movies but, since I watched all of them again just a few months ago, I’ll probably turn to some of his other work. Like the movie my husband and I still quote all the time – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The movie itself was disappointing (Robin and Marian’s chemistry was non-existent) but Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham was AWESOME.

Robin_hood_1991

Nottingham: “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon!”

Robin Hood: [blah blah blah]

Sir Guy of Gisbourne: “Why a spoon, cousin? Why not an ax or a—”

Nottingham: “Because it’s dull, you twit. It’ll hurt more!”

Seriously, who can deliver lines that like and not only make them entertaining, but highly memorable?

If anyone else is considering a weekend Rickman marathon, here are some other choices (besides Harry Potter):

I feel like Alan Rickman had twenty or more movies left in him. So sorry I won’t get to see them, but will gladly watch the ones he made that I love over and over again.


#Writing Resolutions: 5 Ways to Keep Them!

I’m over at RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter today with 5 Ways To Keep Your Writing Resolutions. Haven’t yet made a 2016 writing resolution? There are plenty of ideas. Made one but not sure how to keep it? That’s what the post is for. Made a resolution and already know how you’re going to keep it? Stop by and share your secrets!

New Year’s Lagniappe: Is your resolution to write a novel this year? I’m offering to coach one member of FF&P who hasn’t yet reached PRO/PAN. Details are in the post. Happy writing, all!

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.


GOODBYE 2015 — Two Things I Did Wrong and Two Things I Did Right

My first post for 2016 is a tell-all. 

Ha. Kidding, of course. I don’t have any shocking or salacious secrets to share. I do, however, love hyperbole, alliteration, and taking stock at year-end.

TWO THINGS I DID WRONG

(SORT OF) IN 2015

Nothing Published

I never promised a new novel in 2015 and for that, I’m grateful. It really bugs me to say I’ll do something and then not do it. I knew even back at the start of 2015 that getting a fourth novel out last year would be difficult. Still, I thought I would be able to publish other, smaller projects, like a Nightshade novella, a standalone of my short story “Dream, Interrupted,” or an audio version of something. But I didn’t. And that sucks. Because I wanted to.

But there were good reasons for each of those projects not happening.

(The Nightshade novella has always been ancillary to the Noon novels; it took longer than I anticipated to confirm that I have the right to do audio versions for the first three Noon books; and “Dream, Interrupted” was somewhat experimental. I’m not sure, frankly, if it’s worth it to do anything more with it. If so, it will require more thought than I want to give it right now.)

Still… not publishing anything feels very unproductive, especially in the current über-prolific publishing world where it seems that authors everywhere are being pressured (regardless of whether they are traditional or self-pub) to publish a minimum of one book a year.

I’ve said many times that if I could change one thing about me as a writer, it would be the pace at which I write. I’ve tried with zero success. When I attempt to write something at a faster pace, I produce garbage. Garbage that can probably be fixed. But fixing it takes time. And then I’m back to square one.

At least I’m in good company. George R.R. Martin recently revealed that he won’t be releasing The Winds of Winter anytime soon. Obviously, he’s GRRM and I’m Jill No Middle Initials Archer, but a lot of what he said in his post really resonated with me.

Ok, it’s true that I don’t have to worry about HBO, the Emmys, or a ginormous fan base, but his simple, truthful admissions (e.g. “sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t”) are encouraging to slow writers like me.

It’s crap that I didn’t publish anything in 2015. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a crap writer.

No Newsletter

Oh. My.

If I could go back in time à la Marty McFly or Claire Randall Fraser nèe Beauchamp I would start an author newsletter in the summer of 2012, two months before Dark Light of Day’s release.

As it is, I neither started a newsletter, nor did I save in any easy-to-locate place all of the email addresses of the various readers who have contacted me in the years since. Stupid? You bet. But live and learn, I suppose. (And, to be clear, I’m not saying I’d sign anyone up for a newsletter without their permission, but I don’t think it’s out of line to email them once to tell them I’m starting one and ask them if they’d like to subscribe.)

In October of 2015, I mentioned here that I’d be launching a newsletter “soon.” Didn’t happen. Why? Well, the biggest reasons are elsewhere in this post, but I also got lazy about learning how to use Mail Chimp and I worried that a year+ after my last release, no one would sign up. Obviously, I need to get over myself. I continue to think that newsletters can be an effective part of an author’s outreach plan. The only way I’ll ever know if it works for me is to do it. The sooner the better, but at the latest, before Pocket Full of Tinder is released.

♦♦♦

TWO THINGS I DID RIGHT

IN 2015

I continued to participate in the writing/reading/publishing community

Though 2015 was a quiet year for me, I didn’t disappear completely. About halfway through the year, I scaled back my online activity so that I could spend more time on Pocket Full of Tinder. But I still posted here occasionally. I checked in on Facebook and Twitter. I lurked on writer’s group loops. I scheduled workshops for FF&P. I read lots of books. I took classes on self-publishing. I responded to readers who reached out to me. I served as a writing accountability coach for a nonfiction writer who lives near me – and SHE published in 2015 – something I was incredibly happy about.

I kept writing and submitting

This is the key to everything, of course. If 2016 shapes up to be a good year, it will be because of the work I did in 2015. I may not have released anything in 2015 but I:

  • Wrote a 20,000 word adult fantasy proposal (I submitted it to my agent, but we both decided it wasn’t ready to be submitted to New York. I could have revised, but decided to stuff it in a drawer instead. I want to finish Pocket Full of Tinder.)

[For those of you who don’t know, once you are published, you can sell future work by submitting a proposal. Typically, a fiction proposal is the first 50-100 pages of the manuscript, a complete synopsis/summary, back cover copy, and your bio. Twenty thousand words may not sound like much, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting those first 20,000 words right. Putting a saleable proposal together is no easy task. Much of the research, worldbuilding, plotting, and characterization has to be done before that first portion of the manuscript can even be written.]

  • Submitted my YA fantasy proposal to five editors (in addition to the six editors we sent it to in 2014). Out of eleven editors, two passed it on to another editor (a great sign), one exchanged emails with my agent (another potentially good sign), but ultimately all rejected (two in one day!!). All of them gave the proposal serious consideration and nearly all of the rejections were kind and complimentary – “clever concept” “intriguing” “fresh and original” “compelling premise” “REALLY good writer” “reluctantly passing”………

But. No. Sale. Argh!!! :-(

[For the record, in case anyone beyond my readers or writer friends reads this, I’m truly grateful for the experience. I very much appreciate that nearly a dozen awesome editors took the time to review my proposal and consider buying it. I think the books would have been fantastic. But publishing is a weird beast, half-creative and half-commercial. Editors not only have to love the books they buy, they also have to believe those books will have mass market appeal. A writers’ life is challenging, but I don’t envy Big 5 editors. It’s got to be a tough gig.]

  • Wrote 50,000 words of Pocket Full of Tinder. Do I wish I was further along? Yes! But I’ll get there. The book’s halfway finished and fully plotted. I found an illustrator to do a custom cover for me and I’m on her wait list. Hopefully, we’ll start designing the cover by the end of February.

♦♦♦

Things I did in 2015 that were neither right nor wrong

Left my literary agency

This was as amicable as it could be. I’m still friends with my former agent and, if I see her at a future conference, I will give her a big hug and ask her if she wants to grab a coffee, wine, lunch, or whatever. I’m so very grateful to her for all that she did for me. She is a terrific mentor and a dedicated, loyal, committed, and tenacious agent. So why leave? After spending fourteen months trying to sell my YA proposal, I knew my next step was going to be to self-publish the next Noon book. Our paths started to diverge and it felt like the right time to clarify my relationship with the agency. I don’t regret the decision but that didn’t make it any easier. It was INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT (anyone who has ever left an agency can probably relate, although every situation is different so maybe not).

Judged myself more harshly than others

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. The fact that, when other people share their challenges with me, I’m much more forgiving with them than I am with myself.

When I talk with other writers, I’m constantly stressing that the important questions are whether they’re happy, whether they feel creatively fulfilled, whether they’re meeting THEIR GOALS, but with myself, I strive to be unflinchingly objective. This is good and bad.

Setting quantifiable goals and meeting them is a guaranteed way of achieving what you want. You know the Yoda quote, “Do or do not. There is no try.” I get that.

But writing fiction is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. It requires imagination and emotion and letting go as much as it does discipline and structure and bearing down.

♦♦♦

Goals for 2016?

Make the transition from traditional to self-pub

This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on being a hybrid author. I’d love to sell to New York again. But it will be a while. I’m going to self-publish my fourth novel and then…

And then…

We’ll see. :-)

A lot depends on how that goes. But, after a somewhat rocky 2015, I feel sanguine about 2016.

A return to my irregular, inconsistent blogging schedule

Hahaha. You all know I’m the poster child for “Do as They Say, Not as I Do.” My blog has NEVER been a contender for any “Best Websites for Writers” list. And that’s not me being too harsh on myself. That’s just me calling it like it is. But blogging isn’t meant to be perfect. So, in a way, my blog *is* perfect. :-D

Expect some of the same type of posts I wrote in the past – writing, books, movies… Noon Onyx updates, posts about my first time self-publishing… that sort of thing.

Ok, that’s it for now. If I would have put this many words into Pocket Full of Tinder I would be one very happy lady right now.

How about you? Did 2015 end the way you wanted it to? What are your goals for 2016?


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