Category Archives: Reviews

2016: Day 259 or Taking Some Time Off…Kind Of

taking-time-off

Sometimes real life throws curve balls. As writers, we try to anticipate that SOME curve balls will come our way and get ahead enough that when one comes, we’re all good.

But that doesn’t always happen.

So, life threw a monster curve at me this week (everyone’s fine, just life stuff), and I had to, unfortunately, back out of the Christmas boxed set I was supposed to be in (it’ll be fantastic anyway, and I’ll let you know the deets when I get them).

I’m taking the rest of this month to just recuperate a bit from the stress of travel, conference late nights, multiple deadlines, etc. I’m going to read books for fun (I’m currently reading the first book anyone’s ever asked me to ENDORSE!), read craft books, work on my story world bible, etc. So I’m not taking the time completely OFF – I’m not “staycationing” but not actively writing anything new.

At least the rest of this month.

In October, I’m going to finish the Christmas story and release it. I might write on a super fun thing that’s outside my normal genre (at it’s core? a human romance – but in space/on an alien planet). Then again, I might not. I’ll keep working on craft books and fun books and the story world bible.

And then in November comes National Novel Writing Month. And then I will write Christopher Bayfield’s story. He’s Duke Alexander of Ravenzrio’s twin brother and former teen heartthrob. My goal will be to release it around the first of the year.

This need for a break has been coming for a while. In the last 22 mos, I’ve released 11 novels and 5 novellas. Of those, all 5 novellas have been written from scratch, as were 3 of the novels. Six of the novels were more or less done (the first six), while two others required extensive edits. And even when taking a break unofficially because of schedules, etc., I’d still be pushing myself to get SOMETHING accomplished.

And I need a break. So I’m taking one. Not too long. I still hope to have my next book out by January, but before then…rest and recharge.

If only I actually was on that beach up there ;).

2016: Day 219 or Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Changes 2

SO MUCH going on around here these days…If you “follow” my Facebook profile, you’ve seen at least some of this – but the biggest thing is NEWS! 😉

  • Top: my family with Aunt Dot Bottom: Four generations - Aunt Dot, her two daughters, me, my children

    Top: Four generations – Aunt Dot, her two daughters, me, my children
    Bottom: my family with Aunt Dot

    Jonathan’s story – Discovering Home – FINALLY releases September 15! It’s available for the preorder price of 2.99!

  • We went to Louisiana for a semi-impromptu family reunion (thrown together in less than a month). About 50 people showed up, including several of my cousins who are avid fans – which is SO COOL!
  • One cousin brought a family Bible (sadly, not OUR family) from the mid-1700s. Printed in England. BEFORE THE REVOLUTION. It was INCREDIBLE!
  • I got to spend about 2 hours with my great-aunt. Dot is 90, but we were able to have her identify a few older pictures – including one of her mother that looks JUST LIKE my oldest daughter.
  • One of my cousins was talking books with the receptionist and she said she’d read my books! HOW COOL IS THAT?! The ONE DAY she didn’t have her Kindle with her! But she made me sign a notebook instead ;).

But the biggest news…

I quit my job.

Me with the lovely Annette - receptionist where Aunt Dot is staying

Me with the lovely Annette – receptionist where Aunt Dot is staying

Well, kind of. Officially, I’m taking the fall off and letting my boss know if/when I want to teach again, but the reality is, once you give up a class, it’s hard to get it back because they have lots of people willing to teach them.

Why?

To write full time.

There’s more to it than that, but that’s a HUGE part of it. And the reason why I can consider it at all is that my books are bringing in enough income that I CAN take the fall off.

So yeah. That’s HUGE.

My great-grandmother

My great-grandmother

And I reworked my production schedule for the next six months. If I can stick to it, I’ll have the second two books in the Serenity Landing Second Chances series out by early January and have some novellas coming for you too – Christmas, plus some secret fun ones :D. If I can get into the groove, I hope to be able to release a book every 2.5-3 mos tops. Or four months with a novella in between. Or maybe even more often than that ;).

So those are the changes coming around here. It’ll be two weeks (at least) before it really sets in. My kids go back next Thursday, but the college doesn’t start for another week and a half. Hubs will still be teaching a couple of classes, but I won’t be. And that’ll be odd. I’m going to have to figure out how to find a schedule that works for me. I tend to write best late at night and into the wee hours of the next morning, but that doesn’t work when you have to be up by 630 or even 730 or 8 to get kids to school or assorted other things.

And there we go. The news around here. What’s going on in your life?

2016, Day 5: or Long Day

12yo sleeping after the first day back
12yo sleeping after the first day back

I got the 8yo to the dentist, but after a night of little sleep, I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. I did get a nap though. And my first reader, Emily N., (she gets a new file every night I write something new ;)), loves Jonathan’s story so far. That make me happy :D. Plus I think I’m going to bed early.

Tonight has been full of “real life” stuff so not much else accomplished. I did get some words in but I’m on my phone right now and don’t want to go check how much it was ;). I think about 500 words.

Maybe a bit more.

I don’t really remember.

So today’s other stuff:

Quote of the Day:

 

“We’re on Gallifrey. Death is Time Lord for man flu.” – The Doctor, Hell Bent, Doctor Who Series 9

Thankful: friends who let me vent and don’t judge (you know who you are ;))

Writing report:
Um…I read some pages and wrote some words. More detailed stats tomorrow ;).

Tomorrow: Oil change for the van, writing 3500 words, editing 60 pages, kids to Awana

#NaNoWriMo 2015 or Two books. Too Many?

Hey out there in reader land! I’m supposed to be working on Prince from her Past but words aren’t flowing easily tonight. :p

did write 1725 on a NEW book this morning, one I’ll likely send to my agent to pitch for traditional publication. I then spent hours staring at the file for PFHP. Sigh. Not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with both, but I don’t think it had much to do with my lack progress on PFHP…

Today

New WIP: 1725
Total: 1725

Prince from her Past: 401 (so far, still trying…)
Total: 28492

What I’m Working on Now – October 2015

Hey all! Thank you so much for popping by! It was a busy summer and it’s a busy fall, but that means a lot is getting done! (More some weeks than others… :p).

Right now (October 11), I’m working on my website, but I think I’m about done (for the moment anyway – I need to fix the sliders but that takes graphic design work I don’t have time for because…)

Kiss groom and happy bride in wedding walk

Queen Christiana and her groom

Winning the Queen’s Heart will be out in TWENTY DAYS! So, I’m working on final edits for that! YAY! What else am I working on?

First, there’s Protecting the Prince. It’s a novella centered around Tony, Queen Christiana’s head of security, as he tries to discover what really happened to her little brother and their nanny after the car accident that killed her parents. Did they really drown like everyone has always believed? Or is there more to the story? It’s written, but needs some edits done before I can give it to y’all.

Tony and...

Tony and…

That’s right! Give! It’ll be for sale on Amazon, but if you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll get a link to download it FREE! when it releases next month!

And what about Princess Yvette? Her wedding to the long-deceased Prince Nicklaus has to be planned and prepared for…I’m working on her story, Prince from her Past too!

After that? Well, November, is National Novel Writing Month. I’ve participated for the last eight years and LOVE it! It’s how I write best! This year, I’m working on a project set in the town where Tony ends up in Protecting the Prince. I’m planning to pitch it to traditional publishers, but we’ll see how all that goes when the time comes.

Jonathan

Jonathan

The first book in the next series set in my indie universe should be out early next year – probably February, but I’m not sure yet. I’m also not sure what book it’s going to be. I know who my three heroes are. I know who two of the heroine’s are. But I’m not sure yet what order their stories go in…

The good news?! JONATHAN! Jonathan Langley Cranston IV gets his story in the next series! I can’t wait!

#FirstDraft60 – Days 1&2

It needs a fun cover. Obviously.

The Master Style Sheet, Name, Calendar Binder. It needs a fun cover. Obviously.

The fabulous Kaye Dacus is hosting a #FirstDraft60 challenge over on her blog. I’m sort of shadowing, in that I’m not following the game plan she’s using because of what I need to get done in the next 60 days. But I am using it for accountability ;). (The pics are all from they day 2 thoughts.)

So…here’s the day 1 questions to think about:

  1. Why do you want to write?
    Because I have to. I can’t not tell stories – even if it’s just to myself when I’m bored. And now that I’ve gone indie I have readers waiting for the next book! How cool is that?!
  2. What will finishing this project in sixty days mean to you? Do you think that completing this challenge will change you? How?
    It will be a lot of stress off. I want to get two more novels out this year. One won’t be a problem because it needs edits, but is pretty well done. I’d like to have it out by the end of October, which means edits need to be done by the end of September.
  3. Front of the interior. Eventually, those lines will have notes about what goes where. I think.

    Front of the interior. Eventually, those lines will have notes about what goes where. I think.

    If this is your first attempt at completing a manuscript, how do you think finishing it will impact your life?
    OR, If you’ve completed multiple manuscripts, what will finishing another one mean to you?
    The full manuscript I want to work on will be my 14th (I think – plus two novellas). It will be good because I NEED it done by the end of October so I can do NaNoWriMo!

  4. What will happen if the people closest to you don’t understand, support, and encourage you during this challenge?
    Fortunately, now that I’m an indie, my family is much more understanding about my writing time (and they were pretty understanding before). But now, I’m making money with it which helps pay for things they want/need. (Mostly need…)
  5. Imagine how you will feel on October 31 knowing that you’ve completed this challenge. How can you use that to motivate you during the next sixty days?
    A yet-to-be-used name sheet - includes first book appears in and subsequent appearances.

    A yet-to-be-used name sheet – includes first book appears in and subsequent appearances.

    I think “elated” will be one way I’ll feel. This will be the first novel I’ve written start to finish while doing this indie thing. I’m still trying to work out how this is going to work with new manuscripts and not ones that were already partially or nearly complete when I put the first one out last November.

  6. What is the ONE thing you think you’re going to need the most to help you accomplish your goal for this challenge?
    Focus. I need focus. I’m perfectly CAPABLE of getting done what I need to. I just need to do it ;).

From Kaye’s blog:

FirstDraft60 Day 2 Assignment:

Overview Calendar - birthdays, anniversaries, important events - for all characters.

Overview Calendar – birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, important events – for all characters. This year Princess Jessabelle and Prince Nicklaus were born. King Antonio was crowned.

Your project for today is to figure out how you’re going to keep track of your revisions, style info, and research—and to go ahead and set them up. Then come back and let us know how you are planning to do it and how you’ve set yours up. Links to images would be great (e.g., Instagram, your blog, photos on Facebook shared publicly so we can see them even if we aren’t connected, etc.).

My answer:

I have a big binder (see pics) that I’m working on organizing all the stuff she mentions into. I have calendars for each book, which helps make sure we don’t have 52 weeks of “spring.” (Yep. Happened once.) Because everything is in the same universe, I have sheets for names (first and last) which will, eventually, let me know what names I’ve used and what books they appear in. I’m also debating a master list from each book along with brief description of who the person is (heroine’s best friend, school principal, etc). In theory, Mrs. Brown will be in the name list with 2.1 as the first book she shows up in. If I look at the master list for book 2.1 (Good Enough for a Princess), it’ll tell me she’s the principal of Lindsey’s school.

First page of the Montevaro Monarchy Calendar. You probably can't see all the eraser marks ;).

First page of the Montevaro Monarchy Calendar. You probably can’t see all the eraser marks ;).

At least that’s how I think it’ll work :p.

I’m still debating the best way to do this. I think I’ll just keep all the master-ish stuff for each series together, including the calendars. It’s going to take some doing to get it all done – the style sheets and all that stuff.

Fortunately – I have a couple of fabulous friends who are helping me as they read through the books. They rock! I just need to KEEP doing it as I go forward ;).

2015 Pre-Conference Mix and Mingle

Name: Carol Moncado

Location: Southwest Missouri

What you write/tagline/trademark: Romantic Dramedy in the Ozarks…and the Alps!

Place in the book world: Indie published with my own company, CANDID Publications. Still pursuing traditional publication with at least one manuscript and represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Hugs! Hugs! More hugs!

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Books, Dr. Who, NCIS, Big Bang Theory, my kids, indie publishing, American Government (I teach it, but let’s just not go there, m’kay? ;))

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: Husband of 18 years, 4 kids (girls: 13, 11, 10; boy: 8), 5.3lb Shorkie who is my snuggle buddy, 48 students who will probably prefer watching the movie ;).

Conference goals we can pray for? My goal is to chill this year. (This is where I get really real.) I’m not pitching, but I’m also a bit worried about not being considered/accepted as a “real author” since I “went indie” instead of waiting for a traditional publisher. Now, my bank account, while begging me not to quit the day job, tends to say “you’re making money now – that makes you a real author!” ACFW, like most writing organizations, has a procedure to qualify authors who are strictly indie so they can enter things like contests, etc. I am THIS CLOSE to reaching that mark by the end of this month. If I do, I may be able to get qualified to be a “real author” at conference (more a question of timing than whether or not I’m qualified – it takes time to get approved). Most of the time, I’m pretty secure in my indie-ness. I’m trying hard not to be worried that others (mostly people I barely know, I’m sure) will think I went indie because I couldn’t hack it and wasn’t good enough for traditional publication. That’s not it (though I won’t get into the whys here), but it still bothers me…

Anything we can celebrate with you? I have had a GREAT first indie year. I’m THIS CLOSE to qualifying as an indie publisher with ACFW. I have six novels out, one releasing this weekend, a novella out, two more novellas coming by Thanksgiving, one more novel by Thanksgiving, and possibly one more by the end of the year. I’m not making the kind of cash where I can quit my day job, but it’s very likely I’ll double my non-writing income (which, given how part time I work, isn’t insanely hard), and I can dream about the day where I can write full time.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can “follow” my Facebook profile (it’s my friend page, too, but following it means you won’t get all the local stuff like weather updates and snow days ;).) Plus you can sign up for my newsletter. I promise not to spam or give away emails, but will only send them out when there’s news – like sales, preorder special pricing, or a FREE novella coming this fall for newsletter subscribers! (And it’s a LONG novella too – nearly Heartsong length! Book 2.5 in the the Brides of Belles Montagnes series!)

So now what? Copy and paste the questions (or some subset thereof) into your own blog, paste the direct link in the comments here, then go to Laurie’s page and click the “An InLinkz Link-up” link to share it there – it’ll pop up with everyone else who’s participating!

What I’m Working on Now – Summer 2015

The Lifeguards, the Swim Team, and Frozen Custard

The Lifeguards, the Swim Team, and Frozen Custard

Wowza! The last six months have been spent finishing and editing my first six releases – the CANDID Romance Series and the Montevaro Monarchy series! It’s been a blast and gone very well (and not quite over yet – I need to get the paper copies of the last two releases done – an incredibly sick and busy month has stymied my efforts!), but I’m so very glad to be writing new material!!!!

So what am I working on? And what can you look forward to seeing release soon? Very first is The Lifeguards, the Swim Team, and Frozen Custard – the first book in the Serenity Landing Lifeguards series! Remember Alivia, the new nanny in Finally Mr. Write? This is her story! It’s available as part of the SPLASH! 9 Refreshing Romances Filled with Faith! The entire collection is only 99 cents for kindle! You can preorder here – and it releases June 23! Update: It’s out and will be out as a single by July 12!

Princess Jessabelle

Princess Jessabelle

Right now, I’m working to finish the first draft of Hand-Me-Down Princess – the story of Prince Malachi of Mevendia (the spare) and Jessabelle, who he’s never even met prior to the wedding! It’s book 1 in the Brides of Bellas Montagnes series! I’m praying it’ll be done in the next two weeks because then…Update! Released on 8/31!

I’m going on a writer’s retreat weekend with a dear friend. We’re planning to lock ourselves in our hotel room for about 72 hours and write! At the end of that I want to have a whole novella done! I know it seems crazy, but it’s theoretically possible ;). What novella? It doesn’t have a title yet (it doesn’t have a heroine’s name yet!), but will be the story of Tony, the head of security for Queen Christiana of Ravenzario, in his attempts to once and for all discover what happened to Christiana’s little brother after that car accident. It will be book 2.5 in the Brides of Bellas Montagnes series and will be offered free to newsletter subscribers! Not signed up yet? You can here! I promise not to be spammy, but there will be freebies and cover reveals (and special pre-order pricing!!!) available to subscribers! Update: retreat was a huge success! And the still-untitled novella is DONE (or the first draft anyway :)).

Queen Christiana

Queen Christiana

Queen Christiana’s story is book 2 and is mostly written but needs to be edited for continuity and to add a couple other plotlines that have since presented themselves and should work nicely in there. It will also lead into the next series that will hopefully release late this year/early next. After I get back from that writing retreat, I’ll be working on edits for all three of those to get them done and out the door! Update! Releases 10/31!

I’ll take a short break from Bellas Montagnes to write a Christmas story! This novella will go back to Serenity Landing and see what’s happening with Samantha – remember her? She’s been in love with now-Prince Consort Charlemagne since they were kids! She and Vince are going to find themselves thrown together. They might hate me for that ;). Update! It’s been released in the Snowflakes and Mistletoe collection!

Princess Yvette

Princess Yvette

Next on the list is Prince from her Past, book 3 in the Brides of Bellas Montagnes series. Princess Yvette of Mevendia has been engaged since long before her first birthday. The big day has finally arrived! But will the groom show up?! Update! It’s in progress with a release date goal of December!

My goal is to have the entire Brides of Bellas Montagnes series out by early/mid-fall, but stay tuned for updates!

So that’s what I’m up to, writing wise anyway, this summer! I’m also teaching American Government at a local community college, have 4 kids doing swim team (two a days!), one each doing: baseball, softballl, horse riding, saxophone – oy! I’ll be crazy busy but I’ve got my highly portable word processor that goes to the pool with me often. I’m also in charge of the Facebook page for the swim team and often send meet results to the local newspaper/sports website.

I’m going to pin this post to the top of the blog (at least until I write a new one this fall)! What about you? What’re you up to this summer?

To keep up with what’s going on with the books – or the random stuff I post regularly (jokes, inspirational quotes, movie gushing, etc.), “follow” my Facebook page! I’d love to get to know you!

How to Change Someone’s Mind About a Character in Eleven Words

Our choice of "Real Food" because we always forget selfies

Our choice of “Real Food” because we always forget selfies

So I have this friend. I’ve known her for like… 20 years but we lost touch when we stopped working for the same employer. Until Facebook that is. About two years ago we started getting together again. Movies, dinner, shopping (which is so not something either of us normally does). And then about a year ago, we made plans and I belatedly realized that my husband had plans so she came over and hung out at my house (with my four kids :p). We’ve been doing that about once a month most months since (on a night my hubs goes out with one of his friends).

The last time she came over for our semi-regular dinner and DVD, we watched Jurassic Park with my 13yo in preparation for the release of Jurassic World this summer. My husband had an unexpected work thing one night so she came over again sans Jurassic Park II because she’d loaned it out and didn’t remember to who.

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)

Instead, we trawled through my Amazon Fire Prime selection and she insisted we watch Veronica Mars. I’d heard of the show but had never watched it.

Warning ;). Spoilers ahead :D.

The basic premise is this:

Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni)

Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni)

Keith Mars, former sheriff recalled after trying to find proof implicating a very wealthy very powerful man of killing this man’s daughter, has become a PI. His daughter, Veronica, helps out after school and on weekends. The girl killed was her best friend (and her boyfriend’s sister). While investigating the truth about her friend’s death, she becomes a sort of Nancy Drew solving assorted crimes and helping out friends.

Anyway, the new sheriff in town is a real… not great guy. He’s a know-it-all who doesn’t want help on anything from the former sheriff, much less the former sheriff’s much-more-competent-than-he-is daughter. The great mystery about the murder is solved in the final episode of season one, but the aftershocks are felt well into season two.

Sheriff Lamb (Michael Muhney)

Sheriff Lamb (Michael Muhney)

You’re not supposed to like the new sheriff. He’s arrogant, smug, and an all around not nice guy. But in episode seven of season two, Veronica and her boyfriend are caught sneaking into a house trying to find proof of child abuse. The parents come home and catch them. They, of course, call the sheriff and he shows up to arrest Veronica and her boyfriend. They get put in the back of the squad car and the sheriff goes back inside to follow up on what Veronica told him.

Despite loathing her and believing she had no investigative chops, he opened the closet and found the hidden room where the girl had been kept. The dad, standing there with his baseball bat in hand, said something to the effect of “What makes you think you can come in my house and do this?!”

The sheriff turns around and says, “You know, I remember my father giving that exact same speech.” Then he walks off.

And suddenly, you have a whole new outlook on the man.

He likely wasn’t physically abused – or not just physically anyway. But emotional and verbal abuse can leave hidden scars just as deep. But knowing he suffered from an abusive childhood, makes you see him differently.

Now… I’m only a couple of episodes past it so we’ll have to see if it holds up, but it struck me immediately as excellent writing and a fabulous example of how to pull off making an unlikable character sympathetic.

Review: On a Ring and a Prayer by Sandra D. Bricker

ring prayerTwelve years of marriage, 4,000 square feet of dream house, and a handsome husband. Jessie Stanton has it all… until one fateful afternoon when she notices her BMW bouncing by the window behind a tow truck. Her husband has gone, and he’s taken it all.
The whirling tornado that cuts down the life she’s built drops Jessie onto the sandy beach of Malibu with a thud, penniless and alone. When all she’s left with are the designer labels in her closet and the dreamy Neil Lane rock on her finger, Jessie tries to make ends meet by pawning her prized ring to fund a new business venture: a small shop where her designer duds and shimmering accessories are temporarily leased out to Southern California women with champagne tastes but root beer realities. As Jessie tries to rebuild, she realizes she can’t move on, not without answers. Reluctantly, Jessie turns to beach bum/private investigator Danny Callahan for help. But is she staking her future success and happiness…on a ring and a prayer?

This is a new series for Sandra D. Bricker and a bit of a departure – at least from the other books I personally have read. Those were much more rom-com along the lines of Janice Thompson. While On a Ring certainly had it’s funny moments, it was much more serious in tone than a rom-com.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I ABSOLUTELY did! It just wasn’t what I expected.

I love Jessie and her resilience after her husband of more than a decade took off and took her life with him. Her car, her home, even her cell phone all suddenly disappear and she’s left with her clothes – and her stunning wedding and engagement rings. Enter BFF Piper and a private investigator she knows of – Danny Callahan.

With help from Piper, Danny, his best friend Riggs, another fried of his named Steph, a random meeting in a women’s room with Amber, and subsequent meetings that can only be God-ordained, she begins to put the broken pieces of her life back together.

I loved the snippets from her grandfather and his down-home Louisiana wisdom. I also loved the twists and turns (and am proud to have called a couple of them very early on!)

The one “down side” to this book? It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and we have to wait until the next book to find out what happens next! AH! It’s not that different from any series that follows a single couple from start to finish over several books, but many end on a satisfying note (like an engagement). This one? More like the season finale of your favorite tv show that leaves you wondering from early May to late September about the fate of that beloved character! It leaves you a bit frustrated, but you spend the next few months with it always niggling the back of your mind wondering what happens next – and frantically searching the internet once a week or so for spoilers once taping begins again ;).

I’m excited for this series and can’t wait for the sequel!

Overall Rating: a SOLID 8.5 out of 10 stars

A copy of this book was given to me in exchange for my honest opinion.
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