New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

a high country vacation

For the last week, we've been on the road, with our truck and trailer, which means using a hotspot (they work quite well if you have cell coverage) for Internet. We've been enjoying the beauty of the high desert-- even with less than perfect weather, which went from hot to cold

In a campground, at Lava Beds NM, we met friends. This is in Northern California where there is history, mysticism, and natural beauty. For me, it's always been great to meet someone I've known only online. In this case, even online, I only knew one of the women, who has a future as a writer, I think. I didn't know her friend or husband. The men got along very well, and we three women enjoyed each other. We had some great conversations and shared bits of our lives. My friend and her husband have had catastrophic health problems, which are not resolved at this point, but their attitude toward what they face is courageous. They are living their lives as fully as they can, which is inspiring. I hope she writes some of her stories as they should be out there.

I think I will set a future contemporary paranormal in the Tule Lake and Lava Beds area-- lots of inspiration with its history and current conflicts over land use.  I will post more photos next week.

Being somewhere like that is how ideas for books come about. I don't use people I know or their stories. My characters come from my imagination, but the settings, which very much become characters in my books, they are real even if I have to change a name to avoid someone thinking I am using real people. Sometimes a setting calls out for a book as happened with me in December at Barrio Viejo or again in Northern California.

I like writing historical and contemporary books. Some writers feel they should use different names when they move into a different sub-genre, but I feel the heart of my books stays the same-- and people aren't as different as some might think even if cultural norms do change-- and have even in my lifetime.

With my new series, The Hemstreet Witches, it's been fun to work out a supernatural set of parameters and set the story in a place I love spending time-- Arizona. The stories won't all be in Tucson area although the first one will. The Enchantress' Secret is due out the end of May or first of June-- depending on when we get back to the farm as not easy to publish from the road.

 Images were all purchased from CanStock Photos. This will be in the eBook trailer

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May roses

There is no doubt in my mind that writing seriously, as opposed to writing for fun, is darned hard work. The work doesn't stop when the writer goes to bed or watches something on television. It is there all the time and requires many hours at a keyboard whether writing sitting on a sofa, standing up to a platform, or most commonly-- at a desk.

Those hours at a keyboard are bad for weight gain and not particularly healthy for the back, feet or legs. Some writers get around that by writing on a laptop on the sofa or getting a standing desk. But one way or the other, you're not moving around enough for health.

There are certain stages in writing a book that are easier for me than others.  There is always a satisfaction when I reach the end-- especially after the first major edit is over, and the book is off to beta readers, but..

But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.
Read more at:
But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.
Read more at:
 But he that dares not grasp the thorn 
Should never crave the rose. Anne Bronte
But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.
Read more at:

In honor of that happening for my recent book on May 13th, yes, Friday the 13th, the following are photos of our rose garden this May. This has been a fantastic spring for the roses, helped along by Ranch Boss using chitosan and copper sulfphate a few weeks back as a protection from fungii, like black spot. Most of these are tea roses and their leaves look so healthy that it's unbelievable. It doesn't protect from insect problems, which is good since the bees need all the help they can get. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Western Oregon in May

It's May-- It's May, the lusty month of May. 

And it does feel that way with flowers in bloom, birds on their nests, bird calls in the air, and beauty everywhere I look.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

the guys on the covers

In romance novels, the heroes face challenges, often dangerous quests, and in the most inconvenient of times, they fall in love. These guys are generally stronger, luckier, and more handsome than the average man. For critics, that is their complaint with romance novels-- those guys aren't real. It's interesting that they can watch a movie starring Brad Pitt, Clark Gable, James Garner, George Clooney etc. and that's okay. But in a romance book, they sneer at these bigger than life guys, the kind if you saw them in a store, you'd have a hard time not turning and looking (but you wouldn't because you are polite-- uh huh).

I was thinking about this because of recently needing to go through images needed for putting together covers and trailers. Some, that I have bought,
never make it to covers or trailers. They still serve an important function in helping me keep my characters feeling real to me. I often buy images for secondary characters because they are also important in a story. I especially like my heroes to have another man they can look to for support or to tell them when they are off base.

In finding images for these heroes, I've gotten to know more about some of the models who have this as a business-- providing royalty free photos that work on a cover, that bring the hero to life

The guys in the business of cover images have to strike poses where they show emotions. They wear costuming to fit various time periods and actions. Many of them work at other jobs, because like writers, there isn't always a lot of money in what they do. Some have acting jobs as they are actors.

Having some of them as 'friends' on Facebook, I've gotten to know more about their work ethic, what they bring to the shoots, their kids and partners. There, I see them in casual settings as well in images I can use for my next covers. Personally, I like using models who are also nice people. I think a lot of that shows through photos. Some might say that working out to look as they do is about ego, but it's really about a business-- their body is their business.  

I am just glad they are out there doing it for writers like me who don't always make a lot of money and yet want their covers looking as professional as those from the top publishing houses. These guys (and their female counterparts) help that happen. The following are the ones, who will be in the trailers and on the covers for my next series.

Jimmy Thomas at Romance Novel Covers where he also posts other models. He also puts together a yearly convention, which brings together readers, writers, and models.

Vikkas Bhadwaj has his images at Vikkas Zone where he works to find costuming and emotional responses that writers need. He has some interesting videos also that show how these shoots are done.

The next three models are all on Period Images where they pose for assorted periods in history, romances, and battle sequences. They can do it all and Period Images is good at the costuming.

Brad and Foster

Grigoris Drakakis at his own site: My Photos

You will notice there are six of them. How can that be since these 5 books will all be romances-- which means one hero and one heroine? Simple-- one is a ghost.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Creating a world for a series

Sometimes when finishing a rough draft or even final edit of a book, there is a mix of satisfaction along with sadness. It's leaving behind these people you've gotten to know really well. A series changes that.

 Image purchased from CanStock to become one of the hero's paintings

Often my series have evolved as I don't know there will be more books. I just come to see over a period of months that hey I'd like to follow up another character and see where it goes. 

The Hemstreet Witches weren't like that. I planned this from the beginning to have five shorter books (under 60,000 but over 50,000 words) involving one family with five separate romances. 

This will be the main room in Gallery 11, where the hero had an art show. 
I bought the image of a gallery from CanStock and then created the show as I imagined it to look like.
The image will be in the trailer for Book 1 with the heroine in front of it. 

As soon as I finished the first rough draft for The Enchantress' Secret, I was beginning to think of the next book. My original plan for which sister would find her challenge and love didn't feel right; so I readjusted the order and began writing the key points needed for Book 2.

Other authors probably have different approaches to this but basically I take the original character-plot sheet, and remove all the characters or elements that I won't need in the second book. I save it with a different name; so the original one remains. I also list the animals that will be involved which means horses, cats, dogs, birds, etc.

With Book 2, I now have a list of secondary characters, which can grow as the story does. There are basic character notes for the heroine, hero and whichever sisters or other heroes will show up now as secondary characters. The work was most extensive for the new hero as I already knew quite a lot about the second oldest sister.  

Since I found the titles and created the covers already, that also helps me stay on track for the series and each book. I won't be able to do more than the opening chapter before I get back to the editing for the first book. Series writing is definitely different than anything else I do-- at least, when I know it's going to be a series.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Best laid plans

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans. John Lennon

One benefit of old age is being more tolerant of changes... I know, that's not how people think about the old. They think we are stuck in ruts, have made up our minds and not open to changing. I find in my life, it's not true. I make plans with the clear understanding they may well be changed by unplanned events. The last two weeks are good examples.

Plan: When we left our trailer in Redding, we believed we would bring it back to Medford and store it there for the two weeks before we'd be back. In calling various storage sites, we discovered that their fees would run us half the cost of being in the trailer on a pad with full utilities. Obviously that wasn't going to work. We pulled it home.

Plan: The first of May, we'd take the cats, hook up the trailer and head south to watch our granddaughter in a play. Then we had a storm which put a large branch through the plastic cover over our wood storage porch. With more potential storms, that wasn't possible to ignore or fix in time to take much time away from here. We ordered metal for the roof. Cancelled RV park reservation.

Plan: We drive the four hours down, see the play and stay in a motel room for one night before heading home. Roof would be repaired the next day with the help of a neighbor who does a lot of jobs in the community. Coming home from town the day before we were supposed to drive south, we went through a lot of smoke-- slash burning. One of those seasonal things in logging country, where the air is filled with smoke as was our home when we got there. I am very sensitive to wood smoke but hoped for the best. The next morning, I woke coughing, sneezing, with a sore throat. There was no way I could go to a play without hacking my way through it.

Plan: Call daughter and cancel but hope to get to see them as we eventually do head south to Lava Beds NM where we plan to meet a couple where I've gotten to know her on Facebook. It will be fun and interesting as she knows that area quite well having a family history there. Future of this plan-- as yet unknown.

Plan: Beginning April 9th, I wanted the work in progress to be written by pantsing. That means no outline and feeling my way through what happens to what happens next. I had done prep work by laying out a timeline for the family connections, character notes, basic plot ideas, and began writing. I've done this with other contemporaries, and it's worked fine. 

This time, I got to last Sunday, coincidentally May 1st, the opening event in the book, and realized, at 38,000 words, my murders were stumbling over each other. Dates were confusing. Some things had happened twice. When writing 2000 to 5000 words a day, that sort of thing happens. So much for pantsing. Off to town to get groceries we needed and to also buy a white board, more post-its, and some dry pens for the magnetic board. 

Then I had to skim the beginning and write a few short notes on the post-its to determine what happened when. I think this will work better next time I do it. I still believe that some things are more clear as I write than I could ever plot out ahead of time. Maybe I'll be a combination of both types in the future, a hybrid plotter/pantser.

Printing off a May 2015 calendar, I could keep track of days of the week and dates for the full and new moon. About then I realized 2015 was too close to where I am right now. With four books to follow, I needed more room. So printed off new calendar for May 2014.

The first book in a series can be any length. My plan has been that they all end up over 50,000 words-- but not 60,000I finished the rough draft of this one and it's 57,460. With many edits to come, plus beta readers, it could end up more or less.

My plan is to start the next one within a couple of days while I'm still in the flow of the family's energy. Each story will have a complete romance but the underlying problem, theme, energy will not be concluded until the fifth book-- as plans go.

Assuming my plans for the general outline for each book work out, I have created five covers. I have no idea when any will come out. We have that trip planned for in there where more ideas for another series may get some energy. So time will tell on how this goes. If you are a writer, you know a person gets eager to see the whole project finished. With one like that, it's not possible for me to do it fast. If I was a formula writer, it'd be easier...  

And about plans not working out. The photo above has a story connected. It began with a loud bang on the window alongside my desk. Birds fly into it regularly, but this time there were feathers flying everywhere. I looked and saw the tail end of a hawk flying off. Ranch Boss went out to see a stunned grosbeak on the ground. The hawk had gotten it, then dropped it as both hit the window. He thought the grosbeak would survive as it seemed otherwise uninjured. End of story.

Or not. A few minutes later, I looked over to see Raven, our black cat watching out the window with her ears back. I looked to see the hawk calmly eating its lunch. Evidently, it hadn't gone far and had returned for its meal, the grosbeak too stunned to get away

It might seem sad when a predator kills, but if it cannot kill, it cannot survive. We think it ate part of the bird and took the rest to its mate. A friend identified it as a cooper's hawk. The bird it killed was a younger grosbeak, not mature like the two below. We love watching them as they are so beautiful, but you can't really interfere with the predator, much as we might sympathize with the birds that are its prey.