Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why do YOU read historical romance? Join us tomorrow, 5/29.

I'm honored to be a Historical Romance Network author along with some of my favorite historical authors, including Madeline Hunter and Jo Beverley.

We hope you'll join HRN authors and historical romance readers across the world tomorrow, May 29, on FacebookTwitter or Tumblr  for  #WhyIReadHistoricals day. Authors will share why they wrote or read certain historical romances, or why we write/read them in general. 

And we want to know why you read historical romance. What draws you to books set in other time periods? Which do you prefer, and why? Which historicals are on your keeper shelf? Are you drawn to alpha heroes and kilts? Pirates? Dukes, rakes and women on the shelf? Knights with swords and castles? Settings in countries other than England and Scotland? 

Who are your favorite authors, and why?
What prompts you to try a new-to-you author: covers, blurbs, reviews, time period, or something else? 

My favorite historicals are medievals, which is why I write them. Some of my favorite keeper shelf books are by Kathleen Woodiwiss (The Wolf and the Dove), Roberta Gellis (Alinor: Roselynde Chronicles Book 2), Madeline Hunter (By Design), Julie Garwood (Honor's Splendour) and Judith McNaught (Kingdom of Dreams).

Thanks to HRN member Kris Kennedy, who was instrumental in putting this together.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Waiting Game

Both as an actor and an author, moving forward often depends on others getting back to me. Or not.

For example, I had an audition yesterday for a TV commercial. The callback isn't until June 1st. I'll only hear something if I get a callback, but I have no idea when that information might arrive. So how long do I hold the day and the day for the shoot open, just in case?

Often when I have a shoot, the call time doesn't come until late the day before. or even that evening. If it's super early, say 6am, I might prefer not to have plans the night before. And sometimes I end up having more time than planned: I was waiting for a call time for something yesterday, but learned late in the afternoon the shoot had been postponed....but they won't know when until next week.

When I send projects to my copy editor, obviously I can't make changes and release the next book until she finishes making her comments.  Clients who want to book me for a voiceover job but don't have a final script have to wait until they do before I can get it and record.

Though I can move on to something else, it's a challenge to budget time when I don't know what may be incoming on a given day. One solution is to cross as many items off my list as possible each day, such as completing VO jobs as soon as they come in. That way I don't have huge obligations stagnating on my plate as the due date approaches and can make room for things that pop up on short notice. Plus, clients often praise my speedy turnaround.

Waiting used to be frustrating. Instead, I'm making an effort to live more in the moment by focusing on what I'm doing and not where I'll be or what I need to do later. By taking walks when the weather is nice and taking pictures like these.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Series and/or standalone books?

Series seem to be especially popular these days. Most involve connected characters, where, for example, book 2 is book 1's heroine's sister's story. Or all books may be set in a fictitious small town, with each book focusing on different residents while incorporating the same cast of secondary characters and what become familiar locations. Another theme is small groups, in which each member of a book club, firefighters working at the same firehouse (Kate Meader's Hot in Chicago series), or a large family getting his/her own story. 

Authors often say that so-and-so character cried out for his/her own story, or that readers requested it. Some series involve three books while others span many more (Julie Ann Walker's Black Knights is coming up on far). Some authors become known for their series. When you search popular bestselling author Debbie Macomber on Google, the first thing that comes up is her Cedar Cove series, then her Blossom Street and Heart of Texas series. 

I decided to try something a little different with my first series. Wars of the Roses Brides is time-based rather than character-based, and set during what we now call the Wars of the Roses. The first, my January release AT HIS COMMAND, takes place in 1453 England, FOLLOW YOUR HEART, the second, released in April, is in 1460, and the next (releasing this summer, working title: THE BETTER BRIDE...cover coming soon!) is in 1462. Each one is a standalone, meaning you don't have to read #1 to understand #2 or #3. My heroes and heroines are different in each book and unrelated. 

If you choose to read the books in order, you'd gain an overview of late medieval England life and historical events as seen through the eyes and experiences of the couples, their families and friends. The connected characters appearing in some or all of the books are actual historical figures, including kings, queens and dukes. The volatile disputes between the House of York and House of Lancaster over who should rule, politics and actual battles feature prominently.

Significant research was required to ensure (as much as possible given that these are novels) that the king and other nobles were in the right place at the actual times depicted, just as a small town series author needs to make sure that the town map remains consistent. 

Do you seek out series? If so, what elements do you look for? Can there be too many books in a series...or do you still enjoy each new story? I ask because I'm pondering a series that could have as many as a dozen books....

Thursday, May 07, 2015

So you want to write a book? Start today!

I often meet people who say they want to write a book or have been working on one for a long time. I say, "What are you waiting for? Why don't you start (or finish)?" They hem and haw, "Well, blah blah blah, this or that excuse."

What's stopping you from moving forward with your dreams? Fear of failure, or success? Laziness? Not sure where to start? Why repeatedly say you want to do something, yet remain mired in inaction? Consider getting to the bottom of your reasons so you can stop them from hindering you.

If you want to write a book or pursue another passion (or eat better, exercise more), don't wait another day. Take one step forward. Even if it's a small one. Change for the better isn't easy, and requires some discipline. Can you push yourself, or find an accountability partner?

If you're not sure where to begin, write down your ideas. What genre do you want to write--mystery, romance, thriller, or __________? Familiarize yourself with the bestsellers in your market. Consider taking an online workshop, class, or reading a book or two about writing books. I recommend Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer and Debra Dixon's GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

Is there any research you need to do before writing--is your protagonist a cop, lawyer, wizard, knight, but you lack knowledge of job specifics? If so, make sure you don't dwell too long on learning about writing and research and call that "writing." That was a mistake I made when I first started...since I write medievals, I'd spend hours perusing books on the 15th century. It took hearing Catherine Coulter say in a speech at an RWA Conference that only new pages counted as writing to spark me to set weekly page/word count goals.

Make a list of next steps. Create a writing schedule and make appointments with yourself so you don't keep putting it off.

I bet you'll feel good about making progress, and might even be motivated to do more. Wanting something that's in your control but not taking action can weigh on you.

Writers write. BICHOK: butt in chair, hands on keyboard. As the incomparable Nora Roberts says, "You can't edit a blank page." If you write just one page a day, approximately 250 words, you'll have a book or a couple of novellas in a year. And maybe you'll want to write a sequel or another book.

Happy writing!