I’m thrilled to announce that Her Magic Touch is a finalist in the I Heart Indie Contest! Thanks to Las Vegas Romance Writers and the book clubs that did the judging.
I’m thrilled to announce that Her Magic Touch is a finalist in the I Heart Indie Contest! Thanks to Las Vegas Romance Writers and the book clubs that did the judging.
Sarah Talbot is trapped in a life at odds with her free spirit. She wishes she had the guts to chuck the business world for something more creative. Until then, she’s eager to explore her newfound gift for casting spells. Too bad the hunky bartender who gets her all hot and bothered has had his fill of hocus-pocus.
Abandoned by his teenage mother, ex-Marine, personal trainer, and part-time bartender Matt Lucas grew up in the loving but chaotic home of his aunt, a quirky local witch. He longs to buy his own gym, meet a sensible businesswoman, and build a secure, conventional life. The last thing he wants is to fall in love with a witch.
Can love conjure the magic these two hearts need to thrive?
Rules were meant to be broken; condoms not so much…
Business executive Katie St. John has given up on love, which she sucks at, to focus on her red-hot career. All she wants from Steve Tyler, an ultra-sexy, surprisingly sweet, and much younger Air Force pilot, is help crossing some items off her secret to-do list of sexual fantasies. Sure, the chemistry between them is hotter than the Cayman sun, but once this vacation’s over, she’ll say good-bye and go back to plotting corporate coups.
But Steve won’t settle for being her temporary boy toy. He’s lusted after Katie, the glamorous older woman who lived next door when he was a kid, since he was old enough to know what lust was. Now that she’s finally moved from his fantasies to his bed, he’s not about to let her go without a fight– especially once he learns she’s returned home with the mother of all souvenirs!
There’s a blog tag going around the writing community where different authors explain their writing processes—showing us for the diverse creatures we are! I was tagged last week by my 2013 Golden Heart finalist sister Sharon Wray, and I’ll tag a writer friend at the end of this post.
What am I working on?
I’m feeling a little scattered at the moment, so I’m flitting around between three projects: revising a completed short contemporary manuscript; finishing the first draft of a novella; and finally plotting a humorous paranormal that’s been floating around in my head for years. I’m also exploring whether to self-publish my Golden Heart finalist manuscript, Confessions of the World’s Oldest Shotgun Bride.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I hope I’m not sabotaging my chances of ever selling any books by saying this, but I think my heroes are less alpha than those of a lot of authors. They certainly aren’t wimps—Steve in Confessions is an Air Force fighter pilot–but they’re nice guys, and they aren’t threatened by strong women.
Why do I write what I do?
To entertain people. I don’t have any literary aspirations; I just want to write stories that make people happy.
How does my writing process work?
I’m a plotter through and through. I envy writers whose characters speak to them and tell them exactly what to write; but mine don’t. I need a plan. Otherwise I end up staring blankly at my computer screen for hours. So I start with a detailed outline, often using the worksheets and techniques I learned from Laurie Schnebly Campbell in her WriterUniv.com classes, Plotting Via Motivation and From Plot to Finish. I allow myself the flexibility to make changes along the way if inspiration strikes, but I have that outline to fall back on as a safety net.
I tend to do a lot of editing as I go along. I can’t help myself. This means my first drafts are usually pretty clean, but it takes me a long time to produce those first drafts. I’m working on changing this, I really am. Don’t hold your breath, though. 😉
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing how I do whatever it is I do. To keep the fun going, I’m tagging my San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA) chapter mate Tricia James. After more than 20 years in corporate America, Tricia recently found her way back to writing—a love and dream of her earlier life.
Today I’m pleased to welcome my friend Tara Kingston to the blog. Although Tara’s also traditionally published, she’s here to talk about her indie published series, Secrets & Spies, set in the U.S. Civil War.
GH: Welcome to Writers Gone Wild, Tara! Tell us a little about yourself.
TK: Hi! I’m happy to be here. I’m a southern Navy brat transplanted to a small Northern Pennsylvania town. I’m also a Navy wife and Navy mom, so I have a soft spot for stories about military heroes and heroines and their sacrifices. I’m also a voracious reader of historical romance, which makes perfect sense since I have a passion for history. I love learning about the past and how historical figures shaped the world we now live in. Growing up in Virginia, I was surrounded by landmarks and artifacts that brought the past to life. I spent many happy hours exploring Williamsburg, Jamestown, Richmond, Charlottesville, historical museums, and the many Civil War landmarks throughout the state.
I’m also passionate about learning. I worked as a teacher and librarian for years before I began seriously writing for publication a little more than 5 years ago. I also love outdoor activities (cycling, hiking and kayaking are some of my favorites), silly movie comedies, and football. Cooking is not on the list of my passions. To be honest, one of my sons once suggested I use the smoke alarm as a kitchen timer. It’s usually because I’m trying to write just a bit more and cook at the same time.
GH: How did you come up with the idea for the Secrets & Spies series?
TK: I’ve always been a fan of the old television series The Wild, Wild West. My fondness for this series and the concept of dashing American spies came together to spark the idea for the Secrets & Spies series. The first two novels in the series revolve around a group of Union spies during the Civil War working against a ruthless gang of gun-runners and weapons thieves during the war. Later books in the series will feature plots that take place after the war, as these former spies continue to fight evil forces as government agents.
GH: How many books will there be in the series?
TK: At this time, I have three books in the series: Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies; Book 2: Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies (releasing this week…look for it on January 9); and Book 3: Daggers, Deception & Dangerous Little Lies, which will be released around Valentine’s Day.
I’m planning at least three more books in the series, including one featuring a daring Scottish immigrant whose ties to Scotland pull him into a dangerous mystery.
GH: What makes the relationship between Emma and Cole in Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies special?
TK: Emma and Cole meet under circumstances that are unconventional, to say the least. Cole is tasked with snatching runaway bride Emma off a train before she can make her rendezvous with the traitor she plans to marry. From the beginning, deception creates distrust and suspicion, but the adversaries harbor reluctant respect for one another as well as a powerful and immediate physical attraction they both battle until their hearts recognize the truth—they’re made for each other.
GH: Why did you make the decision to self-publish the Secrets & Spies series?
TK: I’ve read about so many positive aspects of indie publishing, I wanted to dive in with this series. The ability to contract my own covers through a fabulous cover artist (Kim Killion) and control my release dates to permit more releases during the year were two factors that drew me to this endeavor.
GH: Several of the Wild Writers have turned to indie publishing for the same reasons.
What’s your writing schedule like?
TK: I try to write at least 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. In addition, I devote time to critiquing works for members of my critique group, keeping up with social media, working on my craft through online professional development, and researching my plots. I also read for pleasure every chance I get.
GH: How do you reward yourself for finishing a book?
TK: I usually take a few days off and devote this time to home improvement projects I’ve dreamed up and catching up with my To-Be-Read pile.
GH: What one thing have you learned that most helped you become successful as a writer?
TK: Revision is crucial. You have to be prepared to pare out dialogue, description, and even scenes in the interest of writing tight and keeping the pace brisk and page-turning.
GH: Finally, the WGW “wild card” question – boxers or briefs?
GR: A good choice…leaves something to the imagination. 😉
TK: Here’s a little about Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies:
A heart’s destiny cannot be denied when a daring Union spy abducts a beautiful runaway bride he suspects of being a traitor.
Emma Davenport was a model senator’s daughter: prim, proper, but hell-bent on escaping the dreaded fate of spinsterhood that awaited her under wartime Washington’s all-too watchful eye. She was going to be a bride, and no one was going to stop her. Not even the daring renegade who steals her from a train transporting her to a forbidden marriage. Her heart tells her this mysterious captor is a dangerous man, but the undeniable attraction he wields is a more potent threat than any weapon.
Major Cole Travis is a highly trained secret agent, as skilled with deception as he is with a gun. Keeping a beautiful traitor from her rendezvous with a treacherous scoundrel shouldn’t be a challenge for the battle-seasoned spy—but he’s not the only one after his tempting prisoner. Emma Davenport must be kept out of enemy hands at all costs. Drawn to this woman whose innocent allure may be just another weapon in her arsenal, Major Travis risks his neck to shield her. Soon, however, protecting her from his own heart’s desire becomes another story entirely.
Here’s the link to Secrets, Spies & Sweet Little Lies on Kindle
Look for Pistols, Parasols & Passionate Little Lies to make its Amazon debut later this week. Here’s a little about the story:
Sometimes, even a spy needs a hero.
Like any good secret agent, Amanda Emerson knows how to get what she wants—in this case, a man with guts and a gun—a man heroic enough to break a notorious double agent out of a Confederate prison. But first, she’ll have to save her hero’s own neck.
Caught with Rebel plans and set for a hanging, Union spy Steve Dunham’s luck has run out—until a cunning beauty shows up at the jail and engineers his escape. Of course, she’s there for a reason besides preventing him from dangling at the end of a noose—he’s the key to her daring scheme.
Steve may be trading one execution for another, but the tempting—and off limits—operative draws him into the perilous mission. Falling for Amanda is a complication he can’t afford, but Steve’s never been one to play it safe. The spoils of victory will be Amanda’s surrender. And the terms of surrender promise to be sultry and sweet.
So, it’s November 25, which means three big events are just a few days away—U.S. Thanksgiving on Thursday; the “Black Friday” shopping orgy that kicks off the holiday shopping season in the U.S. on Friday; and the end of NaNoWriMo on Saturday.
(Pictured above—my favorite NaNo 2013 writing spot)
In case anyone here either isn’t a writer or has been living in a cave, National Novel Writing Month is an annual event where writers all over the world—305,964 of them as of right now—try to write 50,000 words during the month of November.
I love the energy that surges through the writing community during NaNoWriMo. Both i person and virtual write-ins pop up all over the place, and writerly message boards are full of authors offering each other encouragement, no matter how far ahead or behind we are in reaching the 50,000 word goal. Here in San Antonio, the “InSANoWriMos” (signifying that we are both in San Antonio and a little bit insane) have a Facebook group page, a Chatzy chat room, and a Twitter feed, as well as our regional forum on the NaNoWriMo website.
“Winning” NaNoWriMo requires a daily word count of 1,667. For many authors, this isn’t even a challenge, but for me, a notoriously slow writer, it requires herculean effort. In fact, for a long time I didn’t truly believe I was capable of doing it. I attempted NaNo five times, with varying degrees of seriousness, before finally succeeding last year. No lie, my 2012 Winners tee shirt, which I had to pay for myself, is one of my prized possessions.
I attribute my 2012 win to two main factors. Not getting behind early on was important, because it kept me from getting discouraged. More importantly for this died in the wool plotter, though, I was working from a detailed, scene by scene outline. There was no lost time figuring out what the hell should happen next. And I rolled to the finish line on November 29 not only with the win, but having completed the first draft of a category-length romance novel. It wasn’t perfect—first drafts never are—but it was respectable and gave me something I could work with during revisions.
This year, things are different. I had a general concept for my NaNo novel in mind, and planned to write a detailed outline in October, once I’d left my day job. But while I was taking care of other things I’d put off while I was employed, and enjoying a more unstructured lifestyle, I kept putting off the outline. The next thing I knew, it was Halloween and I was going to have to tackle NaNo as a pantser.
The good news is, my word count is on track and I’ll win again this year. The bad news is, I’ll probably delete my entire NaNo file on December 1 and start over. Not only has the writing process been excruciatingly painful, but barely a scene I’ve written during NaNo is salvageable. I’ve been reminded of what I already knew about myself—I simply am not a writer who can fly by the seat of her pants. I need that outline as a basic roadmap, even if I can and do deviate from it when inspiration strikes. By not respecting the writing process that I know works for me, I did myself and my muse a disservice. Never again.
I believe no words are ever wasted, and forcing myself to write much more quickly than I had been was good for me. But from now on, I’ll embrace my died-in-the-wool plotter soul. For this writer, Team Outline is hot; Team Pants is not.
On November 3, 2013, bestselling author Jane Porter treated a dozen San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA) members and guests to dinner at the Paloma Blanca restaurant. The event was part of a book club package I won in author Brenda Novak’s auction for diabetes in June. Jane flew in from her home in southern California for the dinner, also bringing swag and copies her latest women’s fiction novel, The Good Wife, released by Berkley in September.
Today is Labor Day here in the States—a holiday celebrating people who work for a living, and the unofficial end of summer (though here in south Texas the temperature will stay close to 100 Fahrenheit for several more weeks). But in 28-days-but-who’s-counting, I’m leaving the labor force. As students and teachers start a new school year, I’ll be starting something new myself—life as a Federal retiree and full-time writer.
My career with the U.S. government has spanned 33 years with six agencies in four cities. Most of that time I truly enjoyed my work—I never called it the Evil Day Job. But after doing the same thing for so long, I’m ready for a change. And coming off of my recent success as a Golden Heart ® finalist, the time seems right to get serious about trying to turn writing from a hobby into a career.
This is a step I’ve hesitated to take up to now. Even after an amazing agent agreed to represent me, I didn’t start taking my writing expenses as business deductions on my tax returns. Partly this was laziness, but on some level I think it was also fear. By admitting I was trying, I’d have opened myself up to the possibility of failing. That’s a scary step, but one it’s time to take.
I’ve consulted a financial planner. I’ve found a coffee house with free wifi, comfy seats and a great vibe within bicycling distance of my paid-off house. All that’s left is to clean out my office for my replacement, who arrives in two weeks, and figuratively ride off into the sunset.
As a young law student straight out of college, I looked at some of my classmates in their thirties and forties and felt mildly superior. They’d taken a decade or two longer than I had to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up. I smile now, wondering if some of my younger writer friends think the same thing about me. But I’ve learned it’s not that simple. Becoming a lawyer wasn’t a mistake; in fact I plan to keep my license current. But going on to a second career with different challenges isn’t a mistake either. I have this big, frightening, exhilarating new adventure ahead of me. Let the games begin!
It’s been two weeks since I got back from the Romance Writers of America national conference in Atlanta, and I’m still coming down from the high. Let me just say, being at RWA nationals as a finalist in the Golden Heart ® contest for unpublished manuscripts… doesn’t suck! 😉 Now that I’m back in the real world, I miss the little pink ribbon attached to the bottom of my name tag identifying me as a finalist. Or to be more precise, I miss the way everyone from friends to total strangers to legends of romance writing reacted to that magic pink ribbon, congratulating me and wishing me luck. That ribbon turned me into a temporary celebrity.
Our class of GH finalists adopted the nickname the Lucky 13s, and we arrived in Atlanta sporting pins designed by one of our own, historical finalist Lisa Baker (a/k/a Lisa Confetti), whose day job is making jewelry. Lisa’s design, a four leaf clover made up of four golden hearts with the points at the center, drew all kinds of raves. Meeting in person, the Lucky 13s quickly cemented the friendships we’d formed on-line since announcement day four months earlier. Then we went through a four day whirlwind of pitch sessions and receptions and dinners until the highlight of the conference, Saturday night’s awards ceremony.
As finalists, we had assigned seats, and permission to use a special entrance, bypassing the line that snaked halfway around the hotel lobby. Me and my “date” Christine Glover, whose debut romance will be published by Entangled next summer, were assigned to Table 55. After a flurry of picture taking, we made our way to the front of the room, where we discovered that Table 55 was not only in the front row, but directly in the center, closest to the stairs the winners would take to go on stage and collect their awards. Then Christine looked at the place card for the table, and I thought she was going to hyperventilate as she announced, “Eloisa James is at our table!” It was true – Eloisa, nominated for the RITA for best novella, was soon sitting right across the table from me, as were RITA nominee for best historical romance Sarah MacLean and their editor Carrie Feron. Our table also included Golden Heart ® nominees Miranda Liasson (a double nominee for contemporary series romance and romantic suspense) and AE Jones (paranormal); their Northeast Ohio RWA chaptermate Barb Heintz; and Miranda’s husband. As we talked, Christine and I were surprised to learn that despite numerous nominations starting in 1999, Eloisa had never won a RITA. She showed us the chocolate RITA she’d saved since it was given to her the first time she was nominated.
The ceremony finally started, and my category was announced first. As I expected, since she was the only person in our category to have her manuscript requested by one of the judges, Miranda won. A few categories later, in a category with no clear favorite since no one had either sold their manuscript or received a judge request, AE joined Miranda by winning the paranormal category. Cleveland really did rock that night! The most exciting win, though, came when Eloisa finally took home the statue. In her acceptance speech, she showed the audience the same chocolate RITA she’d shown our table earlier. She was obviously thrilled, and I was pretty excited myself to have had a front row seat—literally!—to her first victory. Then to add the final icing to the Table 55 cake, Sarah won as well, making the score 4 wins out of 5 nominees.
Although I didn’t win (I won’t use the L word, LOL!), I’d like to think that some of the magic of Table 55 will rub off on me. Before Christine and I left for the Samhain afterparty, I asked Sarah if I could touch her RITA, explaining, “This is as close as I’ll ever get to one.” She was kind enough to tell me that wasn’t true. We shall see. 😉