What to Write

Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Advice to new novelists: Write what you Love

I have loved Jane Austen since my aunt introduced me to the sweet Regency novel almost fifty years ago. Of course, then, my first attempt at publishing a novel was a sweet Regency, when they still published them. I remember my storyline had to do with a charming uncle who looked like Lord Byron…publishers didn’t buy it. I never attempted to write another Regency, but I kept on reading them, reading particularly Jane Austen over and over through the years. Covid saw me deep dive into my old favorite sweet (means no sex, not even close) Regencies, now back in swing via Kindle and authors self-publishing their backlists. I remember all my favorite authors and that Signet published the best ones. My Kindle and I still have not come up for air.

I have published women’s fiction, romance and mystery novels, also a nonfiction writer’s guide, then there’s the poetry chapbook and the pair of fantasy novels. But until now I have not had the courage to try another Regency. And I’m trying to pack a world of writing into my life, not to mention every other one of my heart’s desires. So when I came across a call for Christmas Regencies at my own publisher’s website, I immediately contacted my editor about temporarily putting Jane 3 on hold and taking a chance on another Regency. She said it was up to me and gave me some advice to ponder, also she loves Regencies and usually edits historicals except for mine and a few others!

Be still my heart. Hang on Jane, I’ll get back to you, but just now I’m building a new world for Helena in the aftermath of her first disastrous London season. And it is so much fun. ❤

Advice to seasoned novelists: Write what you love

Everything Imperfect All the Time

Yes, it was thrilling for my story to be chosen by my new writer’s group in Florida for their first anthology. But not perfectly thrilling. So far I have been told several times by people I trust that the story is triggering. One of my Michigan critique group members quit the group and couldn’t finish my story it triggered her so bad. Also found out that according to Sisters in Crime national, it will need a content warning if I don’t change those triggering bits. That’s not such a bad idea, really. I want to entertain people, make them happy, with my writing. I had actually pulled the story from Jane 3 because it wasn’t cozy. And it was another teenage girl trying to take over Jane’s trilogy. I pulled it and thought maybe I’ll use it in future. Which I did. I spoke to my editor for anthology and she agrees it should be edited if I don’t want a content warning. Example of how it would read:

Some content, such as kidnapping and rape, may be triggering. Read at your own peril.

Ok, second sentence I made up. Anyway that is Imperfect thing #1. Also I can’t get the indent off now.

Imperfect thing #2

My website is out of control and the people I rely on the work on it were not able to help. One of them is seriously ill and the other just could not figure this site the fuck out. I have a lot of content. This is true. 20 years worth of blogs and hundreds of photos and all kinds of banners and book covers and whatnot. I was just going to migrate to something easier but it cost $600 because I have so much content. And the media person at my publisher showed me how to do some cool things on Instagram with my content. My husband said “Just stay at WordPress and hire someone there to help you.” Which is a good idea but then I saw some of my plug-ins would disappear until I switched to jetpack. So I did, because the comments say it’s so much easier. Well, I beg to differ. It’s a teeny tiny bit easier but I still am not happy with the appearance of my website and I need help. Know anybody?

imperfect thing #3

My Mac, which I was trying to keep chugging until I finished editing Jane 2, crapped out before revisions even started. My editor is understanding but it is embarrassing when I do something she asked me to do, something simple if a little bit time consuming, and then I send the manuscript to her and she says “I don’t see any changes after page 100” and asks nicely again for those changes. I look for and find them and am able to insert them into master document but it is so unprofessional to not know how to use your tools. People warned me not to switch from Mac to Windows. But I love WORD in Windows. Not so much WORD for MAC. Except WORD now is like, a whole new universe from when I first used it.

and another imperfect thing

Life. Life is imperfect. I have not seen my grandkids (and of course my kids. and their wives.) in over a year, but we are going to see them all finally this summer on a long trip. I moved into an older house (2006) formerly owned by a master gardener who had lovely plants and blooms everywhere. Which I have mostly killed or if I didn’t the hurricane did. We did not lose any palm trees (or our lives) so that’s good. I worked in the yard for twenty minutes today and my legs were shaking from exhaustion. It used to take four or five hours before that happened. Hmph. On the plus side, I have a book out this summer on top of the anthology story and as every writer knows, that makes up for everything else.

Cindy x

The Hines Shakes

Photo by Sunsetoned on Pexels.com

It has been a while. Only a few months until my 20th website anniversary, which is when I’m leaving the weekly blogging commitment…so I’m tapering. The earliest iteration of this website was mostly just a blog. I wrote every day for many years and yes you can read it all here. I’m not disappearing…but I didn’t have any books out yet in 2002. Blogging was my bliss. Now I’m a multi-published novelist with e-publisher The Wild Rose Press. I’ve just turned in the second book in my second series for them. I’ve written a few stand-alones too. I even have a couple of free books and stories here on the website. My earliest novels were Kindle novels and I think they’re all 99 cents.

It’s difficult to dedicate yourself to too many things, and so not a lot of blog posts while I moved from Michigan to Florida and finished my 12th book. I’m about 75 pages into the third book in Jane in St Pete series–and wondering if it will be a trilogy. It feels like something new is hovering. Hoping to get Jane 3 out closer to Jane 2–Covid kind of upended life for me (and the rest of the world).

The most difficult thing moving has been finding new doctors and explaining things to them like the Hines Shakes. I was born Cynthia (Cindy) Hines. Sorry, the Hines Shakes are not milkshakes, but a condition medically referred to as “essential tremors.” It can interfere with writing. In our family some folk can’t write their name without meds.

I use medication, but I don’t want to become a prescription medication addict, so I check in with the doctors. I think I have finally got a plan with a good doctor and a therapist as well as a neurologist and other specialists for other conditions besides these shakes. One priority besides being able to type my novels is having the energy to run a household again. We have been in condos for almost a decade. Now we have a big yard, several garden areas, a lanai (that’s what they call a screened in porch in Michigan) with a built-in hot tub. The house is our largest, too. Not by much, but at 67, it’s a bold move. My husband has more energy than me. As our financial manager, he’s been riding this crazy stock market wave with a cool head and well as fixing up this place, which was a bit more of a mess than we thought.

He does all the difficult jobs like landscaping and keeping the hot tub spotless, plus he’s been working on the master bath walk in shower. He had to pull up tiles, clean up rot and re-whatever it is you do to make them new. We have chosen a painter, who starts on the inside end of June. After rainy/hurricane season he’ll do the outside. The hurricane shutter guy is coming in a few days. We do have hurricane shutters but after having to buy a water system, replace a dishwasher plus those floor tiles and more, we don’t quite trust them.

I’m doing my same old cooking and cleaning and laundry and shopping. Al finally got a grill so I try to have him cook dinner on that a few times a week. I still make the salad. And I’m writing!! Just not blogging so much.

Summer School

Look what popped up as we got our gardens ready to grow! We had no idea what most of the gardens would look like aside from the palms. Ed, who takes care of our lawn, also trims the palms. We have seven of them. They’re beautiful. It’s starting to rain a bit here in SWF (Southwest Florida) and rainy season soon will be about an hour shower or storm daily. That’s beautiful too. With wind, the palms stream water through the rain. So otherworldly. Well, if your world for 66 years was Michigan.

A snag occurred in Jane Book 3 last week when our calendar overflowed with invitations from friends. The Michigan people are going home, so we had get togethers to say a final goodbye (until next year) and the new neighbors are inviting us for get to know you cocktails. Someone had a party every day last week. At first I thought, oh that’s fine, I’m done writing by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Well, ha, writers need to be in shape to write. Maybe just older writers? Party drinks and fancy snacks will sneak up on you. Over the week, instead of writing, I filling the gas tank with naps and reading to get myself ready to be social. The just-started story was reduced to scribbled plot notes.

Today I was determined to get back to work but it took me an hour just to turn on my new computer and find the Word program. I tried to do a blog post first but Windows didn’t recognize my Word Press sign in. So here I am on the Mac. But I have to stay with the story on Office/Word. I HAVE TO. I would like to maybe take an online class. Or two. http://www.wethegeek.com had some good info. I’d like a personal class like I got with my genius at the Apple Store. Not sure Miscrosoft has that. In an ideal world I’d like one tutorial for switching from MAC to WINDOWS when blogging and one for writing novels. Also email would be good too. Had no luck finding my email on Windows.

A thing about getting older is learning new stuff takes longer. Also Al is only willing to help me with this up to a point. He got my garden growing, moved furniture, painted living room, keeps the spa ready, and so much else. Even some golf. 🙂 My plan for now is to just use Word and get on with my story. And blog on the Mac. For now. Until school starts.

Story Hunting

We’ve been house hunting since we came to Florida. Wow, prices have sky-rocketed. But you probably knew that. It didn’t help us out as St Pete seems to be a new favorite of millionaires. So we ventured south even though my dad says “the further south you go, the more the prices rise.” I don’t know. Sarasota was a little less pricey and the homes were a bit newer. Not new enough. Al wants something built in this century. We’d been looking a couple months when we hit the jackpot. Everything (almost) on our long wish list. Right price. Ditto square footage.

Also, the neighborhood comes with a story. I just finished Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and when I looked up the area online I found that the first rich Vanderbilt, first American millionaire in fact, had left a vast fortune to his heirs. His two sons bought a piece of land in Florida and fixed it up as a cattle ranch. They were the last Vanderbilts to add to the fortune of their father without squandering it all. I’m not sure what happened to the cattle ranch but it’s now a lovely little town laid out like Detroit (a wheel) and when someone digs for a new home, you can still smell the cow dung.

I’ve been worrying about Jane. When I move from St Pete, what does Jane do? I have sprung a wealth of ideas from that one question and none of them have to do with changing my website or Jane’s address. This is the first time in a long time my mind is forming book 3 before book 2 is done. This is a good sign. I’m relieved. It’s good to see the shadows of new work down the road. I may even have found a new writing room in which to get it done.

I’ll keep you posted!