General Catch Up

Sorry, but this post rambles — look away, now! ;)

The calendar in my study is scrawled with release dates and promotional plans, so obviously I’m aware what month it is. I even know what day it is *glances swiftly at the date in the corner of the computer screen* but somehow it hadn’t dawned on me that I was half-way through April! Well into the SECOND quarter of the year. Where did March go? Heck, where did February scamper off to?

I think that says something about how busy I am. The insomnia says something about that, too — but I just bought a yummy herbal tea to deal with the sleep-eating gremlins! There’s lavender in the mix, which I thought odd, but actually tastes lovely.

I have a new release out April 23. I wrote Empty a while ago, but couldn’t find a home for it — not that I really looked. A short novella about strained family ties rather than romance is a huge step into the unknown for me.

emp1

But May brings me back to familiar ground with Escape Publishing bundling my coastal romances into one book. Love, Coast To Coast has me really excited. I hope lots of readers discover that short stories have all the emotional punch of longer works.

coastal1

Meantime, I’m finishing another sweet western romance. I’ve fallen in love with writing them. My dad was a huge western movies fan when I was a kid, so I absorbed a love for Texas that has belatedly burst out! Does anyone else remember the Lucky Luke movies? It amused me no end when the star of those, Terence Hill, became the murder mystery solving priest in Don Matteo.

I’m also plotting a full length book, which is a total secret. Writing it is going to utterly absorb me. It’s such an interesting concept. So I need to clear two months to focus on it; hence the mad activity, now.

Plus, throughout the year I’ve been testing and thinking about promotional activities. So many of the things people tell you to do don’t work — or at least, not for me. Amazon’s algorithms continue to obsess me (and I’m drawing other people into that web of obsession — it’s scary! ;) ).

So, that’s me. Life blurs past and I promise myself it’ll all be worth it when THE BOOK is written. Until then, if you need my attention, it’s best to shout loudly!

How’s 2015 for you?

New Release: No Rescue

My final Coast-to-Coast romance novella is out today! No Rescue is hot and the setting is even hotter! Sydney Harbour.

sydney harbour, sydney romance,

She went to Sydney to hide, instead she was found by love.

Recovering from a tragic hostage situation, Miri Blair escapes to Sydney, and the anonymity of a friend’s apartment. She will go back into the world – just not yet.

Then, one day, she finds herself acting out a Romeo-and-Juliet balcony style scene with Sergeant Tad Robertson of the Water Police, who dares her to risk living again. With the harbour as a backdrop, Tad and Miri find romance by the sea, but Tad has a dangerous job and Miri has been through trauma. Will she have the strength to move away from her past and towards a future with Tad?

Buy links

 

Holy Basil Week

holybasil

The flowers of Holy Basil are tiny and beautiful. So is a Holy Basil Week! It is filled with tiny moments of blissful things — and some not so blissful, but never mind because things change fast this week.

This is a week with a huge potential to be stressful. Whether it is or not is your choice! You can smile at the good things or frown at the bad, and most of all, it’s up to you what you choose to hang onto.

Good memories are precious. Nostalgia can help us ward off depression. Consciously choosing to remember the good is a strategy for strengthening our resilience.

In a Holy Basil Week, the good times might be as tiny as the flowers pictured above, but they are there, they are real, and they’re for you. Find them!

How To Write A Short Story

kindle unlimited, short stories, how to write short stories,A short story is not a vignette. I’ve written plenty of vignettes, so I wanted to pass on this tip and save you the frustration. There is nothing wrong with vignettes. They give an intense snapshot of a moment in time. But if you’re aiming to write a short story, that’s not what you want. Short stories aren’t a snapshot. Far from it. They should take readers on a journey.

Either the characters or readers’ understanding of the characters must be different by the end of a story. If the story doesn’t (metaphorically) go anywhere, then it’s a vignette.

I have a suspicion that readers get so frustrated with short stories because often they’re vignettes, mislabelled.

When it comes to writing short stories, plotting matters. You can plot beforehand, or you can discover the plot in your first draft, but at the first revision stage, you have to be able to pull the plot out and see its momentum. How is it structured? Where does it take readers?

How is a short story plot structured? Tightly. I know you’re far cleverer than me, but I’d still recommend keeping things simple. Focus on no more than two characters, a single theme and takeaway message (or to put that another way: the emotional impact you want the story to have), keep scene changes to a minimum, set the scene fast, and maintain momentum by staying intensely focussed on why you’re writing that particular story. All the things you think of when you write a novel are important in short story writing–but remember! unlike with a novel, almost all readers will read your short story in one sitting, so if you introduce something in the beginning, they’ll want to know why by the end. Leave no loose threads dangling.

Your short story must have an emotional pay-off for readers. Whether it’s a happy sigh, a laugh, a cry, a touch of anger or outrage, disbelief; whatever it is, it must move them. Then they’ll read your next story!

As I’ve mentioned before, I think we’re living through an exciting time for short stories, a renaissance. Happy writing!

My latest short story is the sweet romance, First Kissfk1.

Safety Valve

kindle unlimited, self publishing,I don’t know about you, but I have vivid memories of reading a children’s story about the little train who could. “I think I can, I think I can,” was her motto as she struggled up the hill. Self-publishing is a lot like that: “I think I can, I hope I can, I know I can, um, where am I?” It’s easy to get derailed.

The publishing landscape is changing all the time. Even the biggest of the big players, like Amazon, are still working things out, and as they change, so does the landscape. Strategies that always worked before, suddenly bomb. New opportunities pop up and taunt us with the fact that we can only write 25 hours a day ;)

There are no guarantees. You can do everything exactly the same as the next author, but she’ll have a break-out success and you’ll be sobbing into your cornflakes.

I think I can, I think I can

It’s very easy to build up a head of steam that is sheer frustration. We pour so much effort into writing our books, getting them ready to go out into the world, and then, stuff happens. Stuff goes wrong.

You need a safety valve. When the pressure gets too much, you need someone or a group of someones whom it is safe to vent to. Some people vent in public. It is part of their social media persona. I have an opinion on that: it’s high risk. In the heat of the moment, it’s very easy to say more than you mean to, and then, there’s the ever-present danger of social media: people take things the wrong way or out of context.

If you’re self-publishing, you need a support network. You don’t have a publishing team from a traditional publishing house behind you. Chances are, you don’t have an agent for your self-published books. What you need are people who understand the publishing business, people who can listen, understand your frustrations, and tactfully point out that that’s life, get on with it, princess!

Network with other authors. Use your time on social media to develop friendships. Value reviewers and readers as the treasures they are. And when you find those people with whom you can swap safety valve roles, don’t ever let them go!

 

My latest release is First Kiss, a spring romance fk1

Toadstool Week

toadstool

Toadstools are fascinating. Although they’re generally the bit of the fungus that we see, they’re only its fruiting body, the last hurrah of a fungus that has been busy underground, converting rotting things into useful soil stuff.

A Toadstool Week is a tad self-centred, but you’ve earned your satisfaction, so enjoy it. Things in life are often rotten, but we keep going, keep working, keep trying, and then, one day … toadstools! Our efforts pay off. We’ve converted yucky stuff into possibilities for new growth.

This week you’ll see some of your day-in, day-out slog produce results. The results may be modest — like the toadstools in the photo — but they’re real. Let the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made something good from something neglected or broken soak in. It’s proof that you’re stronger than you know.

Be it ever so humble, it’s your achievement. Don’t ignore it.