Posts in Category: I’m writing

It takes a village…

Well, Katie Freeman #5 is in the hands of my beta-readers! Yay! I spent the weekend taking a break and having a little fun. While they were doing the hard work, I was splashing in the pool with my nieces and nephews – they had the tough job of reading about Katie Freeman’s latest case and giving feedback.

Beta readers are an important part of my process. It’s through them that I know whether or not my book hits all the buttons that I intended. They tell me if something is off, or doesn’t flow, or just doesn’t fit. Sometimes, they say, “Are you sure you want to say that, it doesn’t make sense?”

Basically, they keep me in touch with reality. It’s thanks to them that I have a story without major holes. They have a very different job than an editor, but one that is just as important. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, my beta readers are my village – they raise my “children” to higher standards and help make them the books they become. So, here’s a huge THANK YOU to Michelle, Sarah, Nancy, Laura, and Dana – I couldn’t do this without you!

Self-care

I’ve had a rough two weeks. I’m sure all of you all can relate – more to be done than there are hours in the day? My pay-the-bills job has been over-the-top for the past few weeks – I hired two new employees who report directly to me, so I have to train them. We had a board meeting and then I had to prepare for facilitating a two-day seminar. All of that while still staying on top of Katie Freeman #5.

Good news: the book is written!

Slightly less good news: It’s in the editing stages. Whoa can editing be a chore. I’m not one to edit as I go. Some authors do, but I get so bogged down and change the story line too many times. So I do a full version and then go back and attack. Sometimes that’s good – I have a whole manuscript to look at. Other times, that’s bad – I have a major mistake that will require rewriting major portions of the plot…but that’s how I do things.

What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that self-care is very important. I didn’t do a good job of it and as a result was completely exhausted this weekend. So, I decided to treat myself. I took a float out to the pool on Sunday and the most strenuous thing I did all day was roll over. I’m slightly burned…but much more relaxed. Now I can finish Katie Freeman and get her newest escapade out to you!

*Happy Dance*

Productivity…why have you abandoned me?

Ever have small stuff interfere with getting things done? It seems every time I boot up my computer I have seventeen different updates that need to be done. In the past month, I’ve also had a few electronic malfunctions. First, the batteries in my mouse exploded, leaking battery acid everywhere. You’d think that would have been an indication that I should check all the batteries – especially given that I purchased the computer with the mouse and keyboard at the same time. But, alas, I did not. I sat down a few weeks ago to finally get Katie Freeman wrapped up only to find that the batteries in the keyboard had also exploded… I had battery acid slowly expanding out of the battery cover and power button slots. Definitely not a good sign.

It’s funny, really. Neither the mouse nor the keyboard were even slowing down. They worked one day and the next day…nothing. Just acid, slowly eating away at my productivity…

Today, I finally replaced the keyboard (the mouse was replaced instantly) with a brand new Mac Magic Keyboard. And to my utter delight, the new keyboard is even better than the last. My first keyboard was just a simple, small Mac keyboard. Now, at my “pay-the-bills” job, I am forced to use a PC. But what I love about it is that there are “Delete” and “End” keys on the keyboard – one of very few advantages the PC had over my Mac.

I never really noticed how much I used them until they weren’t there. It was the biggest downside to using a Mac…those two simple buttons. I know there are keyboard short cuts for those two functions. And I am a HUGE keyboard shortcut person. But for some reason those shortcuts just wouldn’t stick in my brain and I found myself reaching for the mouse.

But now…I have my keys back. And productivity is back underway! Let’s work some Magic!

Can you ever just be whelmed?

10 Things I Hate About You is probably one of my favorite movies – it’s based on a Shakespeare play, why wouldn’t it be?!?! One of the most famous lines from the movie is when Bianca is talking to her best friend and says “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed. But can you ever just be whelmed?” It cracks me up every time. But the question can actually be applied to a broader number of situations. Such as: why are there no “normal” women in romance? You have thin/beautiful and you have BBW. Why is there rarely a middle ground?

The average woman is a size 14. If you shop in any clothing store, a 14 can be found in the Misses section, and the Women’s section – that is NORMAL! Yet, if you write a sexy romance about a woman who is a size 14, you have to put the disclaimer of BBW on it. Why is that?

Is this something you notice when you read? It’s something I’ve become more aware of as I write – and also when I read other authors’ work. Perhaps the world be would a better place if we only saw people.

I Dream of Weenie

photo of I Dream of Weenie food truck in East NashvilleThe most difficult thing in the world for me is naming things. I blame this on my father – after all, he was going to name me Walter if I’d been a boy. Now, that’s not a bad name, per se, until you combine it with my last name. Walter Mellon – I’d have been the laughing stock of the playground! So, you see, I think I inherited the inability to be creative with naming things – people, places, pets – basically anything that needs a title.

As a reader, I always notice naming trends in books. You know what I mean – matching characters “Adam and Amanda” or “Chris and Christa” – even when siblings have the same letter to start their names (19 Kids and Counting, anyone?). I have to admit that I’m guilty of this as a writer. Sadly, I know real families who have done this to their kids. I guess that means that even if it sounds corny, people do this in real life.

My new series has a family of eight – yes, eight! – siblings, and they are all named for nature. It makes sense when you know more about the history of the story, so just hang tight and you’ll be able to read about it soon!

 In the mean time, have a laugh at one of the most creative names I’ve run across in a while. This is a hotdog stand in East Nashville – I Dream of Weenie…a romance author’s sense of humor can be a little warped.

Don’t Stifle the Creative Genius!

There are a lot of debates about writing styles. Are you a plotter or a pantser? This is one of those I hear most often. I think I’m a combination, depending on the book I’m writing. I come up with ideas from several places and my creative mind takes over. I can’t fully be a pantser, or my books would have no purpose or cohesiveness. They would wander from scene to scene without ever accomplishing a plot.

As I found out this week, I can’t fully be a plotter either. I generally start off by outlining a book – especially my mysteries. I need to have an idea of where the story is going. The evidence and innuendo needs to be set up so that it comes together at the end. I generally have an idea of who committed the crime before I start writing, though sometimes the characters talk back and let me know it wasn’t them.

Well, I’ve been writing book 4 in the Tip of the Spear series and I started with an idea for the occupation of one of the characters. I was determined that this character had to have this occupation. I researched what that would entail, how much money he would make, the restrictions he would face, etc. I’ve been working on this book for a few weeks, but over the last week, I’ve been stuck. No matter how I tried to tie the events together, it just didn’t work. I rewrote sections, I tried to mentally rearrange events to make them fit. I wore myself out trying to defend my decision that this character had to have this occupation. Finally, I put the book aside for a few days and let the ideas swirl – and came to the decision that he just couldn’t be what I wanted him to be. And you know what? The story started flowing furiously!

My conclusion: don’t stifle the Creative Genius!

Three Years and Counting…

My friend, Michelle, and I sat down three years ago and had a conversation about where we wanted to go with our careers. Both of us were in jobs that didn’t really call to us. They paid the bills and paid the bills and provided health benefits – you know, the things people want and need to feel secure. But the long-term prospects for those jobs just weren’t satisfying. Instead of letting this conversation become a ‘woe is me’ pity party, we decided to set goals – with time limits and action steps. My goal for that first year was to write and publish one book. Looking back, that was a very naïve and uninformed decision – good thing I’m adaptable.

During the first year, I went to two conferences, signed up for many courses on self-publishing, and started researching the success of some of my favorite authors. Not only did I learn how much more was involved in being a self-published author, I finished not one, but four books. I had headshots taken, got a website up and running, joined several social media platforms, and, yes, published my first book.

Year two brought some major changes to my personal life. I spent several months in transition between day jobs and finally ended up with a job that is perfect for accommodating my second career. I can now leave work at work and go home to spend my evenings and weekends writing.

The third year is coming to a close with my 40th birthday in June. My original goal wasn’t to become a successful, self-supporting author. It was to see if my books had gained traction and, more importantly, if I still enjoyed the process. I’ve worked in the professional world for over 20 years, and the last thing I want is to be pursuing something that doesn’t bring me joy. So, what have I decided, you ask? I love writing! It still fulfills me every time I sit down at a computer. I love dreaming up new stories. I’ve discovered that even something that I do for fun can strike a chord with a reader. Putting in humor has become easier. And, I’m almost over the embarrassment when my parents read an intimate scene that I’ve written…not sure that will ever go away completely!

Blue TempestWhat about my friend Michelle? Well, she too has made adjustments to her day job. She’s expanded her art to several retail spaces around town, started her own social media campaign (in addition to running mine…), and sold several paintings/mixed media art pieces. If you’d like to see her talent, take a look at the photo attached to this blog – it’s one of many of her pieces I’ve purchased.

We might not be successful by society’s definition, but we made it! We’ve set out to do what we outlined. And we’re going to continue to grow and expand and adapt and learn. Most importantly, we’re going to keep creating. Because that’s what brings joy.

Travelled vs traveled

sign-429419_1920I had an interesting conversation with one of my closest friends today. We were discussing the nuances in the English language. She texted me to ask how to spell “travelled or traveled”. My automatic reply was “traveled”. Her follow up was to ask about “cancelled vs. canceled”, to which I replied “cancelled”. Of course, I started second guessing myself at that point and decided to let Word tell me which was right. I typed both into a blank Word document expecting the little red squiggly lines to appear under the incorrect one and TADAH! I would see who was correct. But guess what? They’re both right!

The English language can be so tricky! It turns out the double Ls are British English and the single L is American English. That’s a little more subtle than “color vs. colour”. For now, I think I am sticking with being bilingual in this aspect. I will just hope for no cancellations during my traveling!

Colder weather…hotter scenes…

treesWell, it’s that time of year again – the time when it gets dark outside earlier; the sweatshirts come out of the closet; fragrant stews are on the stove; fireplaces are lit. Most important of all? There’s more time to snuggle with a good book! I’ve had a lot of time to write lately and have big plans for 2016.

DMS websiteBut first, I need to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the readers who have read the new Devil Mountain Shifters series. October was a really busy month for me with the release of the trilogy and the results were better than I could have predicted. It was such a fun series to write and I am ecstatic to see it so well received.

Next up is Katie Freeman, coming December 2015. For all of you who have been following Katie, Free to Live will finally answer the questions from book one. Is Charlene Katie’s mother? Did Charlene kill Hank? I have been enjoying writing this book and winding together the story from 26 years ago and the investigation of the current cold case. It’s so much fun to see how this affects the relationship between Katie and Michael. Ryan Brewer also makes an appearance – and his relationship with Katie could be growing.

I’m not a fan of cold weather – never have been. Anything under 70* is entirely too cold. In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time reading, but this year I’m putting those multiple hours to work getting my own words on paper. I hope to share those words with you in the future. Until then, stay warm.