Why I write romance: “Oh Sweet Lorraine”

I write romance because of stories like this one. 96-year old Fred Stobaugh’s song “Oh Sweet Lorraine”, written and submitted to a local contest only a month after his wife passed away, became a YouTube sensation and currently holds at #8 on iTunes. This one seriously made me get teary-eyed; seventy-five years together, so very sweet.

*sniff*

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Why I write romance: "Oh Sweet Lorraine"

I write romance because of stories like this one. 96-year old Fred Stobaugh’s song “Oh Sweet Lorraine”, written and submitted to a local contest only a month after his wife passed away, became a YouTube sensation and currently holds at #8 on iTunes. This one seriously made me get teary-eyed; seventy-five years together, so very sweet.

*sniff*

Expectations, and AHW2 future plans

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Expectations can be tricky.

For example, when I first published a short story titled “Anything He Wants”, I never expected it would start this rollercoaster journey through the realm of publishing. I figured, hey, a couple people might read my story and that would be cool – now it’s in languages like French and Portuguese, on shelves across the world. Wow! I never expected that I’d get such an awesome publisher like St. Martin’s to allow me to expand my audience, and yet that’s exactly what happened. I never expected people would be at all interested in a serialized novel, or be so excited about the sequel.

If I’d planned this whole writing thing…wow, I’d never have guessed where I’d be now! The journey has absolutely blown my mind so far.

I had some expectations on how the AHW sequel would be released, but I’m super excited to tell you that the continuation will be coming to you sooner than even I anticipated. Many of you know that AHW was originally released as a serial, or, in other words, a short story/part at a time. This allowed me to get the story out to you as I wrote it. My lovely editor Delta fixed and edited for me as we went, but essentially as I finished each part, I released it to you. I won’t lie, I really enjoyed doing this. Serials, or something very much like it, are commonplace in fan fiction, and I used to avidly follow my favorite authors with baited breath, desperate for the next part. AHW was an experiment to see if a format I loved was viable on the open e-market and, to my pleasant surprise, many of you seemed to enjoy it. So this time, I’ve opted to do the same thing: release each part as it’s finished, then later release it as a novel, both in electronic and paperback format.

Now, a promise to my readers before I go any further.

One of the mistakes I made the first time around was not being transparent enough that the individual parts would eventually be bundled together into a novel. I received many reviews, usually on the novelized version, about how people felt cheated that they’d bought each part of the series when they could have had the book altogether. So I’m going to tell you now, and will remind you in the coming months as each part is put forth: there will be a “novelized” sequel. Each of the individual parts released over the next few months will be bundled together into a “true” sequel, a complete paperback and ebook novel that you can, eventually, hold in your hands (or on your Kindle/Nook/Kobo/etc). So if the thought of having to wait for each part is too difficult, or you only want to pay for the story once, I totally understand. Please don’t feel pressured into buying each individual part as the novel WILL be available, hopefully as soon as this summer.

Another issue I feel obliged to discuss regarding each part: length. The very first serialized part of AHW topped the word-count scales at just over 8k words. Given that a manuscript page is roughly 250 words (Amazon’s ebook calculations are closer to 300 words per “page”), that was only 32 pages. Now, almost a year later, this length isn’t enough for me. The final serial released, AHW5, was a hair over 20k words, two-and-a-half times the length of the first part (~80 pages) and closer to a typical novella-length work like you see in anthologies. I am making a promise to you now that anything I put out story-wise from now on will be at least that long, if not longer. Cross my heart.

I’ve no doubt there will be some people who still don’t approve of this method, and I understand. That is why I’m being as up front as I can regarding the certainty of a novel at the end. AHW2 (which yes, will eventually have its own name lol) will be out in ebook and (in English, I’m not sure yet about the translations) print format by this summer. As we get closer to the end of the book and I know a bit more, I’ll be sure to announce novel release dates and other schedules.

*~*

I’ll try to answer any questions you might have in comments. As before, Facebook and Twitter are the best ways to get ahold of me, but I’ll answer any blog questions sent my way as promptly as I can. There is a good chance you may not see the paperback sequel in stores this summer but it WILL be available online.

Questions? Thoughts?

Snippet Saturday #1

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Inaugural test spin of a (hopefully weekly) new blog feature! For those of you who are keeping up with me on Facebook, most of these small snippets, cookies, excerpts etc are probably familiar to you. Even there however some of these bits were added in comments and may have been overlooked, so here they all are, in one place for easy reference!

(Funny fact: this was supposed to be Snippet Sunday but, hah, I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. 😉 )

*~*~*

I cringed back as he reached for me, prepared to fight tooth and nail, but Lucas stepped forward between us. He moved so quickly I didn’t even see him pull the gun until it was already under Niall’s chin. The big Australian jerked to a stop, rage and sudden fear bursting from his face as he glared at Lucas.

“Ms. Delacourt stays with me.” There was nothing jovial about Lucas’ voice now as he leaned in close to the other man’s face. “My ship, my rules. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Jackson?”

Niall looked like he was sucking on a lemon. Behind him, his men had their guns trained on Lucas and I, and I prayed the gunrunner knew what he was doing.

“They’ll kill you and the girl,” Niall hissed, then grunted as Lucas pushed the gun harder against the tender flesh of his chin.

“Perhaps.” Lucas smiled, a hint of amusement in his tone. “But you’ll still be dead.”

*~*~*

“I’m curious,” Lucas said as if I hadn’t spoken, “what my brother saw in you.”

My smile vanished, as did any patience for dealing with the man in front of me. “You can leave now,” I said, marching across the room and opening the door. “I’d like…”

I broke off in surprise as I turned to see him standing only inches behind me; I hadn’t even heard him move. Startled, I moved back a step and came up flush against the wall between the bathroom and bedroom doors. Lucas stepped forward, far too close for my comfort, and I put a hand against his chest to keep him back.

It was a curious thing, having a man this beautiful standing so close. The smell of alcohol coming from his direction was more like a faint cologne, not at all the cloying odor I would have expected. Beneath my hand, I felt the play of muscles beneath warm skin and silk, and I swallowed.

Fingers pushed a strand of hair out of my face, running along my brow, and I shivered. I pressed back against the wall and he followed, my hand the only thing keeping him at bay. “You’re beautiful,” he murmured, dipping his face down near my temple. Warm breath flowed against my cheek. “And smart. And fearless. Is that what my brother saw?”

*~*~*

A high pitch shrieking woke me from a fitful slumber.

Jolted awake, I scrabbled at my sheets, groping for the edge of the bed. The ground was further away than I thought and I almost tripped as I leaped to my feet, but managed to stay upright as I stumbled to the doorway. Ripping it open, I immediately smelled smoke, and raced toward the stairs, not knowing what to expect.

Lucas looked up at me from the kitchen. Sunglasses covered his eyes, but he gave me a bright smile. “Good morning, sunshine. I’m making some breakfast, care to join?” He had a fork in one hand and an unplugged toaster, the reason for the fire alarm, under his other arm. He set the chrome appliance back onto the counter at my incredulous stare. “How about eggs?” he said, moving over to the refrigerator.

*~*~*

It amazed me how different the two men were. Jeremiah had the broody, tortured thing going for him, while Lucas… I wasn’t sure. He held a different type of mask in place, one that I found hard to pierce. There wasn’t much brooding here, at least not on the surface; his lips seemed locked in a Joker-like smile, as if sarcasm and pleasantries could keep people away.

As much as I enjoyed puzzles, the Hamilton men were a bit out of my league.

*~*~*

“Did you love her?” I asked bluntly, aware of the awkward direction our conversation was taking.

He started to say something, then paused. “Maybe once,” he murmured, not appearing to think this was an odd discussion topic given our current situation. “When I first met her, she was young and naïve. I was angry and selfish; stealing her away from my brother was a way to get back at him for taking over my life.” He sighed, staring blankly beside me. “Times change. People change. I didn’t do enough to keep Anya sheltered from this lifestyle, and now she’s dead.” He met my eyes again. “What about Jeremiah? Do you love him?”

“I…” My heart clenched painfully. “I thought I did.” Right now, my opinions about Jeremiah were all jumbled, due in no small part to the man lying atop me. “He saved my life.”

“I saved your life too. Twice.”

I winced at the reminder, hand going to the bandage at my throat. “Yeah.” A lump formed in my throat and I screwed my face up against tears. “That was the first time I’d said those words to anyone since my parents died,” I mumbled, “and he called them “platitudes”.” The memory was powerful enough to pierce my heart again.

“My brother is an idiot.” Lucas said it in a matter of fact way, like he was talking about the weather. Then he sighed. “Love is a fickle and cruel mistress. Confusing as hell too.”

*~*~*

Jeremiah grunted, and when he shifted I became aware of his proximity. As much as I wanted desperately to touch him, there might as well have been a wall between us. He was less than five feet away from me, but neither one of us would take that first step. Finally, Jeremiah spoke. “When I heard they’d found one of my drivers tied up in the bunkhouse, I knew something had happened. When I was told you weren’t in the house, then Jared was found unconscious, I couldn’t…”

Jeremiah cut himself off, and I saw a myriad of emotions race across his face. The stoic mask was gone, and he seemed to struggle with his next words. “By the time we started tracking the car, it had already stopped moving, and when we got there everyone inside was gone. You were gone.”

“So what did you do?” I whispered, scarcely able to breathe.

He stared down at me, green eyes bright in the dim light. “Moved heaven and earth.”

*~*~*

Stay tuned for more next week!! 😀

Happiness is…

…traveling. 😉 The Dude and I are gearing up for a multi-week motorcycle roadtrip in either September or October and I’m stoked!! Last week we finally found a bike for the Dude: a 2000 BMW police bike that the previous owner had fixed up and repainted (working bikes like this get thrashed) and we got it for a song since it has higher miles. He’s over the moon about it – the bike hadn’t been his original choice but this thing looks so cherry (and has some of the original blue lights!) that after a test ride he caved. He says he’s going to have fun messing with peoples’ heads, and seeing all the brake lights on the freeway when people saw the old police bike in their rear view mirrors did make for some amusement.

I’ve always loved to travel. When I was little my folks packed us up and moved the family near Frankfurt, Germany. In the four years I was there (2nd – 6th grades), we went all over the place and saw many things I didn’t appreciate at the time but long now to see again. I remember driving down the roads in Germany and every single town we passed had a castle – most were up on a local hill and naught but ruins, and I find that incredibly romantic now. So many things I took for granted – all the trips to East Germany through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, climbing the Eiffel Tower leaning tower of Pisa, living in the German countryside, being in Europe at the end of the Cold War, seeing the Eagle’s Nest (without really understanding its significance)…

I’ve spent my adult life dreaming about travelling through Europe but have been quite content with the US. Giant sequoia pine trees, the lava formations at Zion National Park, Utah’s arches, spring break and several Mardi Gras in New Orleans, driving down highway 90 in south Mississippi immediately after Katrina and seeing the devastation to the majestic homes along the coastline. My goodness, there’s so much world to see, so many people to meet even if only for a moment.

Traveling expands the mind. Even if you never make it to see the pyramids – perhaps the farthest you go is the next state/province over – its an incredible way to appreciate where you’re from. I’ll always be a California girl – living everywhere from Mississippi to Idaho has taught me that – but oh, how I love seeing new places, new things. That’s one of the thing I love about writing, the way I can take readers to places they’ve always dreamed of going. The Greek coastline, a pub in Dublin, the moors of Scotland, the man-made islands of Dubai, the glaciers of Alaska. I read about these places and dreamed of visiting them myself someday, and maybe someday I’ll be able to go. In the meantime however, I’ll dream and imagine and write, and visit the wondrous joys of North America.

OMG. I can’t freaking wait!!!!!

(and yes, silly goose, I’ll still be writing on the road.)

Differing ideas on "relaxing"

I had a good relaxing weekend, although I’m not sure some would call it that. 😉 Deciding to take a couple days off from writing and “business pursuits”, I instead went out and did Stuff. Fun Stuff.

In no particular order of importance or chronology:

– visited a local Renaissance Faire; fortunately the day I went (read: NOT TODAY) was fantastic weather and made for fun times. For once I didn’t dress up, preferring this time to enjoy it as a civilian. Yes folks, I do have several costumes and dress up regularly in full pirate gear. Arrr.
– took a nice long motorcycle ride. Initially it was a toss-up for going to the coast or heading to Yosemite (frankly my favorite journey by far although I don’t do it often), but as I hit the metaphorical snooze button too many times and woke up late I just did a few twisties and mountain roads before coming home.
– saw “Cabin In The Woods”. LOVED “Cabin In The Woods”. Considering it was written/directed by Joss Whedon I already knew going in that I would like it, but my face still lights up thinking about certain scenes. Seriously people, the elevators at the end. The elevators.
– had a KDP Select story go free for two days, and watched it rise to top out at #4 on the Free Erotica list on Amazon. That’s all you guys, and THANK YOU for getting me there. To all newcomers to this humble blog (that, I’m realizing suddenly, DESPERATELY needs a facelift), I really hope you enjoyed the story!
– replayed Portal 2, found it just as fun and funny as the first time; if I could be witty and funny off-the-cuff like GlaDOS I’d be a very lucky girl. (and my enemies would be ripped to weeping tatters when I got done. The thought does make me smile.)

All in all, a fun and relaxing weekend. I’d intended to do some work on the old bike but the weather was WAY too nice here to stay cooped up in a garage, so decided to ride instead. Right now I’m propped up on the couch with my laptop, watching the Dude play “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” and trying to find the nerve to start writing again. Yup folks, this post is a handy-dandy procrastination tool and I shall wield it proudly within my golden grasp. Fear my procrastinating skills for they are LEGION!!!

Or, something. 😉

Differing ideas on “relaxing”

I had a good relaxing weekend, although I’m not sure some would call it that. 😉 Deciding to take a couple days off from writing and “business pursuits”, I instead went out and did Stuff. Fun Stuff.

In no particular order of importance or chronology:

– visited a local Renaissance Faire; fortunately the day I went (read: NOT TODAY) was fantastic weather and made for fun times. For once I didn’t dress up, preferring this time to enjoy it as a civilian. Yes folks, I do have several costumes and dress up regularly in full pirate gear. Arrr.
– took a nice long motorcycle ride. Initially it was a toss-up for going to the coast or heading to Yosemite (frankly my favorite journey by far although I don’t do it often), but as I hit the metaphorical snooze button too many times and woke up late I just did a few twisties and mountain roads before coming home.
– saw “Cabin In The Woods”. LOVED “Cabin In The Woods”. Considering it was written/directed by Joss Whedon I already knew going in that I would like it, but my face still lights up thinking about certain scenes. Seriously people, the elevators at the end. The elevators.
– had a KDP Select story go free for two days, and watched it rise to top out at #4 on the Free Erotica list on Amazon. That’s all you guys, and THANK YOU for getting me there. To all newcomers to this humble blog (that, I’m realizing suddenly, DESPERATELY needs a facelift), I really hope you enjoyed the story!
– replayed Portal 2, found it just as fun and funny as the first time; if I could be witty and funny off-the-cuff like GlaDOS I’d be a very lucky girl. (and my enemies would be ripped to weeping tatters when I got done. The thought does make me smile.)

All in all, a fun and relaxing weekend. I’d intended to do some work on the old bike but the weather was WAY too nice here to stay cooped up in a garage, so decided to ride instead. Right now I’m propped up on the couch with my laptop, watching the Dude play “Elder Scrolls: Skyrim” and trying to find the nerve to start writing again. Yup folks, this post is a handy-dandy procrastination tool and I shall wield it proudly within my golden grasp. Fear my procrastinating skills for they are LEGION!!!

Or, something. 😉