Well, it’s been a long while … but I’m finally back—and trying something new.
While I work on the first novel in a new five-book series, I put a story up on Kindle Vella, just to see what happens.
This is the very first story I finished when I decided I wanted to write romance, the first of my Women of Willow’s Grove books: Operation Snag
Mike Brad. It stars small-town education reporter Erin Mannering, her hottie coworker Mike James, and adorable social studies teacher Brad Kingston.
Life is what happens while education reporter Erin Mannering is making other plans. While she plans to snag smokin’-hot sportswriter Mike James, using the tips in a man-hunting book she got for her birthday, she ends up snagging sexy social studies teacher Brad Kingston instead … which would be fine with her except for one tiny problem: Brad may be involved in a grade scandal she and Mike are investigating in his school. Will she stifle the story of her career?
I broke the story up into 50-plus episodes, most of them containing one or two scenes, and plan to release one every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through mid-April.
Don’t worry. This version of Operation Snag
Mike Brad is much revised and extensively edited. I like to say it wouldn’t recognize itself if it ran into the original draft on a crowded sidewalk.
One of my favorite parts is the fact that I have scenes from both Mike’s and Brad’s POV … getting a glimpse into what makes them both tick is super-interesting. (Plus, it makes you want to know why Mike thinks he doesn’t deserve happiness with a “good girl.” That isn’t revealed until he gets his own book, Book 3 in the Women of Willow’s Grove series.)
It also gives a look into what it was like to be a journalist in a small-town newsroom in the 1990s, when I was an education reporter in Logansport, Indiana. Journalists are not an “enemy of the people.” They’re just people, who live, work and try to find love in their communities. But that’s probably a topic for a different blog post.
Best of all: No COVID-19. The story was written in—and will remain in—a world without masks and constant fear of large crowds. Erin and her friends go to football games and concerts without worrying they’ll catch a deadly respiratory disease.
Hell—cellphones barely existed when I wrote this story. I had to revise in a “new” cellphone in one of the later drafts, to make it make sense. The phone belonged to Erin’s friend and roommate Cassie, and Erin borrowed it when she drove into Chicago late in the story.
Okay, I’ve been sadly neglecting this little author blog … and I made the big announcement of my newest project on my author Facebook page. Guess that means you heard it here second, not first.
Oops. My author blog is sadly under-utilized.
April is Camp NaNoWriMo month, and I’m using it as the push I need to FINALLY finish editing Beth & Cody’s story, Trouble in Paradise.
Trouble in Paradise is the second of my Reality (TV) Bites books, detailing what happens to the best friends of Kari and Damien, the reluctant heroine and hero of Blind Date Bride. You might remember them as the couple who got more wedding-night action than the actual bride and groom—and the reason poor Kari and Damien were chosen as grand prize winners of Romance TV’s “Get a Love Life” contest.
Beth, convinced that Cody is losing interest in their relationship, coaxes him to apply for the network’s latest reality show, Invitation to Sin. Cody agrees—only because he’s sure they don’t have a chance in hell of getting chosen. But they do get the nod…and Bethany soon wishes she’d never considered putting their relationship through Romance TV’s crazy tests.
I finished the first draft several years ago but am only now diving deep into edits. The goal is to have it ready to go by the time I appear at the Payson Book Festival in mid-July.
I was flattered at the Poisoned Pen this week.
Kristan Higgins is one of my favorite romantic comedy writers, so when I heard she’d be at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale on a tour for her latest book, On Second Thought, I requested a day off from work so I could go down and see her.
I live in Prescott now, but I used to live 90-plus minutes farther north, in Flagstaff. Consequently, I never quite remember how long it’ll take me to get down to the Valley. I arrived quite early for Kristan’s 2 p.m. talk, so I settled into a comfy chair at the bookstore and dove into my book club’s next read (The Woman in Cabin 10). It’s a page-turner, for sure.
Of course, there were other people around, and I couldn’t completely lose myself in the book. Instead, I struck up a conversation with one woman who brought her dog and granddaughter to the store, not knowing there was an author coming, and decided to stay for Kristan’s presentation. Another woman pulled a copy of Gone with the Wind off the shelf, which was right by my head, and said something that started a conversation about the book vs. the movie.
As we chatted about the characters on film in no way matching up with the visions in our heads, she suddenly burst out: “I know why you look familiar. You’re Kristan Higgins!”
“No, but I’m here to see her,” I replied with a friendly/nervous laugh. I’d never been mistaken for one of my favorite authors before, and I didn’t know quite what to say.
The poor woman was embarrassed and tried to explain. “With your short hair and those glasses, you look just like her.”
By then, Kristan had walked in and was standing at the counter, near the front of the shop. I pointed in her direction and said, “That’s Kristan. But I’m flattered. Thank you.”
“Well, I’d better get out of here before she finds out what I’ve done,” the still-embarrassed woman said.
Despite my protests that I didn’t think anyone would mind and she ought to stay for Kristan’s talk, the woman left. And I was left with a warm, fuzzy feeling that someone—for a brief moment—thought I was famous.
Frankly, I don’t see much of a resemblance.
Well, maybe the hair and the glasses are similar … and we both laugh a lot.
Plus, we’re both a rare breed — extrovert authors. As she said during her talk, “unlike a lot of authors, I actually love meeting people.” (It was something to that effect, anyway. I wasn’t taking notes for an exact quote.)
She’s right. So many writers are introverts who’d rather be alone with their laptops, but I thrive when I’m in crowds. Even if I’m just sitting quietly, observing, I get energy from being among people. I think that’s why I do so much of my best writing at Starbucks — I can be social and recharge my batteries in the presence of fellow coffee lovers.
I’ve been mistaken for worse!
Now, if only I had a guy like Kristan’s McIrish …
And good riddance to 2016.
It was a hell of a year, claiming, among other greats, Prince, David Bowie and George Michael — so many of my fave ’80s artists. Then Carrie Fisher died, and—a day later—Debbie Reynolds joined her. Every time I turned around, someone else had dropped.
There were some high spots, though. I published Ogling the Outfielder AND Stealing the Southpaw, and re-released Sliding into Home. Sometimes I think Sliding is my favorite—and it’s definitely the most under-performing of my books. Every time I re-read it, I wonder why it doesn’t sell more copies.
I also put the first three Love & Baseball books — Diva in the Dugout, Beauty and the Ballplayer and Sliding into Home — into a boxed set.
I saw some good movies — Rogue One immediately comes to mind — and some not-so-great ones. (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, anyone?) Arrival made my “not sure how to feel about it” list. It held my attention, but the ending was … well, it left much to be desired, for me anyway. As the end credits rolled, I sat there, staring at the screen thinking “What the hell just happened?”
Coming up, I’m looking forward to seeing Hidden Figures and Why Him? I know, I know. Why Him? will undoubtedly join Mike and Dave … in the “full of laughs as the action unfolds but leaves me thinking ‘why did I pay to see this?'” file. (Edited to add: Saw Why Him? and was pleasantly surprised. It DID NOT join Mike and Dave in that category.)
Then, of course, there was THE highlight of 2016:
I doubted it’d happen in my lifetime, but the Cubbies did it. 2016 World Series Champs! The high of that success sustains me as I contemplate the future.
Speaking of what’s to come, I’d like to make 2017 the year I finally get healthy. Yes, I say that every year. But this time I mean it. Been thinking of a way to get (and give) support to like-minded readers. Perhaps a Facebook group? A virtual walking club?
Use the comments to chime in with your thoughts. And if you want the full story of my attempts to lose weight, check out my other blog, Adventures in Weight Loss, Cooking and Life. It, too, has been sadly neglected lately, but I’m thinking it might be time for a reboot. Or maybe I should fold in the healthy living stuff over here? It might give me the impetus to blog more often …
Use the comments to chime in with your thoughts. I’d love to hear them!