Justine: Oh, How a Story Changes Over Time

Old typewriter with laptop, concept of old and newMy first novel, His Lady to Protect, is in the hands of my copy editor and will be available on Feb. 14th. It’s a book that has been SIX YEARS in the making.

I thought it would be fun to compare the first chapter of that book, back when it was loosely titled “1812 Trilogy Book 1,” to what it has become. I’m almost embarrassed to do this, for my first effort was SO POOR in so many ways (bonus points if you list them in the comments!), but at least now I (think I) know how to write a little better. (The original, 6 year-old chapter is first, followed by Chapter 1 of HLTP.)

Now, if you’ll please pardon me, I’m going to hide under the covers while you read.

1812 Trilogy Book 1 – Chapter 1

“Do whatever you have to, Susannah, but don’t Continue reading

Michille: New Year’s Resolutions for Writers

By not known; one on left is published by "Chatauqua Press", as stated near the bottom of the card in tiny typeWelcome to the Roaring Twenties and the New Year’s Resolutions for one of them. The collective edition. I don’t have any stellar writing resolutions for the new year or the decade. Write some more. Finish current WIP. Listen to some old RWA sessions for motivation. For the decade, definitely joining the ranks of the 8LW sisterhood who are published. But I noodled around on the net to see what other writers have on their lists. Many of them are the same we all know. Butt in the chair, words on the page. Continue reading

Michaeline: Farewell to the Old, Long Live the New

Ballroom scene with many colorful lights and dancing

The Northern Santa Ana Social Club and Chocolate Kingdom held their annual election in the old Toyota showroom on Pine and Douglas. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth gave us our sixth annual Christmas Story Challenge yesterday, and what a fun set of words! Please feel free to leave your own story and comments here or there. And now, a little slice of life in a magical alternative universe.

Vanessa banged the gavel on the podium. “This Christmas meeting of the Northern Santa Ana Social Club and Chocolate Kingdom will now come to order.” She shot an evil glance at me, as if *I* was the only one responsible for the late start. Fred, Zoe and Ignatia snickered and made rude gestures at me, and I flipped them the bird behind my recording notebook, so Vanessa wouldn’t catch me. We four were the Truffle Knights – the officers of the Chocolate Kingdom – and meant to support our Queen, Vanessa, during her term, which thankfully would end tonight after the annual election of new officers.

I glanced over at Trixie, resplendent in her dark green cloak, to see if she was watching. She had been, and I could feel the red creeping in my cheeks, but she Continue reading

Elizabeth: The boredom made me do it

Periodically, I get bored.

It’s not that I run out of things to do; quite the opposite is true.  But, in the midst of mind-numbingly long to-do lists, with meetings to attend, projects to deliver, and a thousand and one other things to do, I occasionally think “I am soooo bored.”

When I was a kid, a few weeks into summer vacation, boredom would invariably kick in.  Fortunately I had the local library down the street, where I could escape into stories, and the school a little further away, where I could make pseudo stained-glass from balsa wood and tissue paper or a rudimentary camera from cardboard and tinfoil.  There was the neighbor who taught me to crochet (knitting was beyond even her teaching abilities) and my brother who taught me how to make musket balls.  And then, of course, there were always swim lessons at the high-school pool.

Back then, there were plenty of random, engaging things to keep the boredom at bay and, just when even they started to get just the tiniest bit boring, school would be back in session and the cycle would start all over again.

The adult boredom cycle (ABC) is a little different and slightly more expensive. Continue reading

Jeanne: Too Many Buts, Not Enough Therefores

I recently read a book that didn’t quite work for me.

The writing was strong and the author did a masterful job of pulling all the diverse plot threads together, but something about the story somehow missed. It took me a couple of days of analyzing it to put my finger on the problem: too many buts, not enough therefores.

If you’re not a long-time follower of this blog, that phrase may not make sense to you. (It may not make sense even if you are.)

Let me explain.

The single greatest “Aha!” moment during my time in McDaniel’s Romance Writing Program was hearing Trey Parker and Matt Stone talking about “but and therefore.” Here’s a short (2:14) video of the two men explaining this rule to a classroom of students at NYU.

Here’s an even shorter recap: When you lay out the arc of your plot, the individual events should connect to each other via “but” or “therefore.” Like this: Continue reading

Justine: The Exhilarating, Nerve-Wracking, Terrifying Moment of Publishing a Book

Last week was a monster moment for me. Late Saturday night a week ago (when I totally wasn’t expecting it), I got an email from KDP telling me that my first book, His Lady to Protect, was available for pre-order on Amazon.

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A multitude of emotions swirled through me. Happiness. Fright. Panic…lots of panic. I can’t take this book down. I really DO have to finish it now!

I cried, laughed, danced around the kitchen, shared my news with my husband (who was busy playing Fortnite with the kids, so it was a bit anti-climactic at first), and told my critique partners, who have been my day-to-day sanity over the last several years. They cheered!

When I’ve been out and about and friends ask about my book (better yet strangers that I meet when I’m in an airplane!), it’s nice to be able to tell someone that your book is up for pre-order (because all I’ve been saying for the last 6 years when asked if I’m published is “not yet”).

But now the real scary work begins. I received edits from my developmental editor (she made great suggestions) and it’s time to get my rear in gear and make changes to my manuscript. Once that’s done, I have to get my book loaded for pre-sale on the other e-retailers, plus come up with a marketing plan, get my full-wrap cover done, solidify my release schedule, and keep working on my second book.

In other words, only a few moments to…well…enjoy the moment. I’m sure more exhilaration, anxiety, and fear will abound when my book is actually out there for the world.

Have you hit “publish” yet? What emotions did you experience?