Reading & Listening

I just listened to a woman read the opening from A Paris Notebook, my first novel from The Wild Rose Press. She’s fabulous. She’s hired! When my publisher hooked up with Amazon to offer TWRP authors a shot at Audible, I was right on it. 30% of people now listen to their books as much as read them.

Not many people read novels. It’s a tiny percentage of the reading public, most prefer non-fiction. It used to be the only people who read poetry were poets (and me). Let’s hope that’s never true for novelists. I know there are a zillion of us out there. And then some of them, like prolific Nora Roberts, write hundreds of (really good) books spanning their careers. I just finished Year One by The Nora and loved it. She’s written 200 books which just plugging in a few numbers I figure must be something like 5 books a year. So a book in 2.5 months. How does she do it?

This is a bit of a shaggy post. Lots of people are talking about the book by Michael Wolff that claims our current president acts like a child, doesn’t read and doesn’t listen. I feel bad for Trump. It’s so clear that he needs approval so he puff himself up with praise (mostly inaccurate) at every opportunity. I wince when I read things like “I’m a genius, and, like, mentally healthy, too.” That was a paraphrase, not a quote. But he did use the word genius to describe himself on Twitter.

I bet Nora Roberts wouldn’t do that. Neither would Oprah, who I hear may be mulling a White House race in 2020. If Trump runs again, we could call it the Celebrity Election. I really hope it doesn’t come to that. I like Oprah but I also like my Presidents to know how government works. I want them to know foreign policy. I bet she would do some homework before taking office. Because at least Oprah reads. She’s a really good listener, too.

Sex (or not)

IMG_3788I love my publisher. I really do. They are lovely people and they’ve just partnered with Amazon to bring their authors out in audio. I’m not a fan of audio books, but apparently there’s a huge market. We don’t HAVE to get our books onto audio, but why wouldn’t you? It costs the writer nothing, it’s no work for the writer, the writer collects royalties. All we need to do is sign a contract for each book we want to go audio. It’s for 7 years, but I wasn’t planning on taking those books anywhere else. Seemed like a clear win to me.

Then I remembered the other contracts I signed. There was a clause I wish had not been there. I didn’t remember agreeing to it. My eyes must have gazed over the words about my being required to write a “consummation scene.” Or maybe I didn’t exactly know what it entailed–maybe I just thought, okay, sex scene. Check. So I wrote my first book and sent it in and my editor wrote back to say “you know, you need to write the consummation scene.”

Me: “How is that different from the scene I wrote the first time they had sex?”

Editor: “You don’t describe the moment of consummation.”

Me: “Like, graphically?”

Editor: “You can be euphemistic. But readers need to see it.”

Me: “That was in my contract?”

Editor: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay.”

I checked. It was. Listen, I’m no prude. I have nothing against sex scenes, although I usually skip them. Because nobody knows how to write a good one. Or it’s rare. So why not just shut the bedroom door and leave it at that? But I’d signed the contract so I researched how to write a good sex scene. I learned that romance authors call these scenes “love scenes” ~ there’s got to be a romantic build up to the scene. The characters must be in love. Consummation is about emotional surrender. Sex is about allowing your character to be vulnerable, to trust, to hope, to need. And you don’t want it all to sound like stereo instructions, but neither do you want the metaphors to obscure the reality of the physical thing happening.

That sounds difficult. And it is. That’s why almost nobody does it well. So how will the consummation scenes I wrote (one for each book)  play on audio? I don’t know. A contract extension is a simple document. However, it assumes all language of the original contract. So what I do know is that the bedroom door will be wide open.

The Character Who Never Leaves

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I should have known from the minute she elbowed her way into Blue Heaven, acting like she owned the joint, that Lily would be trouble. She was 17 and secretive, a minor character who thought she should have a bigger part. I gave her a love interest, but it turned out she had issues with boys.

I thought I ended Lily’s story at the end of that first book in my Blue Lake series. She was safely away at college in book two, but came barreling back with vengeance on her mind in book three. I had a hard time deciding which of my two female characters would take the lead. I hadn’t meant it to be Lily, but damn that messed up woman was fun to write.

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By the fourth book, even though she left town, her name and her story stole a few scenes. I’d promised her her own book–I even tried to write it–but it was so dark I had to take a mental health break and write a light fun Christmas story. I thought about dumping the Lily chapters I’d started before my most recent release, but my critique group, who have more influence on me than I’d like to admit, would not hear of it.

I’d set myself a challenge with Lily’s story and I needed to see it through. It’s about done now, well at least a workable draft is almost there. But I keep thinking about where and how I want Lily to end up. I want to do right by her. I want to give her the peace she’s been seeking for so long. So I’m taking my time with the denouement. Not that it will be a lot of pages, but it will be the right way to leave this woman, now in  her mid-30s, who I’ve been following for most of her adult life.

It might seem strange to say I’m following a character I created. But that’s what I do. I know some writers would roll their eyes at that. Who’s writing the story, anyway? Well, here’s the truth: it’s me and then it’s not me. It’s a part of myself I only access when I’m writing. It’s where my imagination goes when I get quiet inside and try to keep up with characters like Lily.

Cover Art

Just got my cover art (love it!) for the upcoming novel coming out this holiday season. Blue Lake Christmas Mystery is my first Christmas novel. I love reading Christmas novels and always wanted to write one, so feeling very pleased with myself for finally doing it.

Another first, my publisher is bringing out as a mystery, not women’s fiction. I’m excited about that as I’m working on another mystery and have a third planned for Winter 2017.

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Blue Lake Christmas Mystery is a cozy read, although there is a murder at a holiday dinner party, perhaps resulting in a slight mix-up with the title, which was quickly fixed.

 

Romancing the Romany

First, my novella Sweet Melissa is free for five days here. Melissa’s is the story closest to “true” of all my novels. I did hitchhike across the country when I was about Melissa’s age, ran into some shady characters, was almost raped, and that ghost of my grandma saved me on a concrete set of church steps about a million miles from home.

Oh and just like Melissa I lost my virginity to the man I loved. Okay, maybe not just like her. I had to add that in because it seems to me people pretend teens don’t have sex anymore at least in the YA I read (I love YA except come on you know they are doing it!)

Some other things are true–like my Romany heritage,which I didn’t know much about beyond my great-grandmother got her family through the Depression by reading tea leaves. And there were, like, rumors. My own mom claims to be psychic. I read tarot cards but I am not particularly intuitive. The cards are symbols and you read them in patterns. That’s not magick to me. Interesting, but not strongly influenced by my Rom descendants.

I’ve always been interested in Gypsies, though, so I did my homework and that part of the ritual and lore of my people in this book is correct as I could make it with the help of many experts. That said, the time/space travel is not for real. Even though in his song “Sweet Melissa” Greg Almond does claim “the gypsy flies from coast to coast.”

I love Almond’s song and having a free book for you this week. Hey and it has zoomed up to #40 on the New Adult charts in just a day. Lucky Gypsy lady.