Saturday, March 29, 2014

Connecting with Readers

          This has been an extremely challenging week.
          I received edits for my historical novella last Friday, just before leaving for a weekend scrapbooking retreat. I got permission to hold off working on the edits while I got caught up on my scrapbooks and had a great time with friends. 
          So then I got home on Sunday afternoon and dived into the week. The first part of the week is always hectic - I took care of my grandkids, went to a band rehearsal, went to make hats with my sewing group, taught classes, went to orchestra rehearsal - all while trying to write and edit. 
          Not much got done.
          For some reason the edits this time were much more difficult for me to do. I’m not sure if it’s because there seemed to be more edits, or if this particular editor and I didn’t see eye to eye on certain things. What should have been a two-day job ended up taking all week. 
          I’d also signed up to host at a facebook event for authors and readers of sweet romance. Since I was still struggling with edits I started to wish I hadn’t made the commitment. But thanks to my writing partner, Stephanie Michels, I had a few gift cards to give away, so I quickly threw together a quick script, and I did my first shift on Thursday evening. 
          What fun! my hour wasn’t well attended, but the half-dozen ladies there were so warm and welcoming and engaged with each other. It was so much fun I was inspired to get a few more prizes together for my second shift on Saturday. Again, interacting with people who loved to read (as well as engage in a lot of my other hobbies) was so uplifting. I actually got my edits done and sent!
I can’t do a facebook party EVERY week, but in this case it did the trick and got me out of my funk. Thank you, ladies.

          Goal time: Other than the hats I hemmed on Tuesday, the only sewing I did was to make these sachets which I gave away on Saturday night. And I’m STILL trying to find time to read - I WILL get Savage Deception read - soon!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rone Award and Not-so-crafty March


          Last week I shared the great news that The Calico Heart was nominated for a RONE award (Reward of Novel Excellence) in the Contemporary-General category. So NOW IS THE TIME TO VOTE! Please go to and cast your vote for The Calico Heart. You'll have to register at the website, but it's free. My co-author Stephanie Michels and I thank you!
          The month of March, according to the craft websites and magazines, is craft month. I’m supposed to be crafting a couple of stories. But after a wonderfully productive first week (I was on spring break from GVSU) things have really gone downhill. The first part of my week is always busy – on Mondays I take care of my two youngest grandkids who are at the ages when I can’t just let them play. Little Mr. T is not quite one year old and loves to put things in his mouth. His sister is three, and she’s a good kid, but I can’t leave her in front of the television all day. On Tuesdays I sew with either my quilting group at church or else my hat making group. And then I go to campus and teach. 
          So it’s usually Wednesday before I can get anything done. But I’ve been busy with marketing and other chores – laundry needs to be folded, my mom’s house had to be checked on a regular basis while she was out of town, and my husband occasionally feels neglected. 
          Anyway, I started the month with a goal of 50,000 words. At the end of the first week I was over one-third of the way there. But after almost three weeks, I’m not quite halfway there. I’m going to have to do some serious typing for the last ten days of the month. 
          As for the rest of my goals: 
Crafting/sewing:  I completed one quilt top at church on Tuesday morning, and that’s ALL I got done so far! But this weekend I’m going to a scrapbooking retreat so I’m going to get a LOT of pages put together for my family scrapbooks.

Reading: not much reading. I manage to read a page or two at a time while I’m waiting for things to happen, so there’s not a lot of progress. Hope to have another title done soon!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

RONE Award Nomination

          Last week one of my publishers notified me that The Calico Heart, the first book in the Stitching Post series, was nominated for a RONE award. RONE stands for Reward of Novel Excellence, and the books are selected from among those read and reviewed by the staff at InD’tale Magazine. 
          Today I received a facebook message from a staff member at InD’tale, asking for my email address so that she could send my nominee badge. Of course I responded right away, and I’m so proud to display it here! What a great honor! My co-author and I are so thrilled, and we’ll be asking all of you to vote, starting next Monday. I’ll have all the details here, as well as on my Facebook page.
          As for my week:
Sewing/crafting - I haven’t managed to do any sewing, except at my bi-weekly hat group. On Wednesday I went to another card-making session at Christi Waite’s home. Here are the cards I made there.
Reading - other than a few minutes here and there on my phone, I haven’t had a chance to sit and read! Still working on RT Wolfe’s Savage Deception. So many books, so little time!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring Break...or Spring Work?

          It has been a busy week! I was on spring break from GVSU, but I was gone almost every day from morning until night. But the great thing is that I was busy doing things I love. On Monday I took care of my grandkids during the day and rehearsed with the Zeeland Community Band at night. On Tuesday, I went to my quilting group at church, then had lunch with them, and  then made cards at Christi Waite’s home. And then I spent my only evening at home. 
          On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I spent the day cooped up in a classroom at GVSU. I participated in a writing retreat - faculty members are encouraged to write - dissertations, articles, and other scholarly tomes - and if seats are left over, other faculty can come and write “other” things, like fiction. I’ve always managed to snag a seat, and in three days (we wrote from 9 am until 5) I cranked out almost 12,000 words! Not enough to finish the Winter NaNo challenge, but good enough that I don't have to be ashamed of my output. Each evening, though, I had a different commitment - but the opera, dinner with my daughters, and watching my grandson perform in the school musical were great ways to spend the time!
          So now it’s Saturday. I got to sleep in, but I’m getting ready to go to my writers’ group meeting. I’m going to learn about marketing and social media. All important things for an author nowadays. I’m going to learn how to put my writing out in front of people who will read it. And then I’m going to come home and write some more. 
         There will be time for resting…eventually!

Sewing/crafting: other than the quilt top (pictured above) and the cards I made on Tuesday, I haven’t been able to get anything done!

Reading: Thanks to my smart phone, I got some reading done in little ten minute increments while waiting for people or events. I started reading Bluebonnets for Ellie by Sandra Nachtlinger. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Romance: Not Just for Valentine's Day!


          I sold my first book to Astraea Press in the spring of 2011. The Legacy was published in July of that year. Since then, writing has consumed more and more of my life. I’d always thought I had one big novel in me, but since The Samurai’s Garden came out in 2012 there has been a constant stream of stories running through my head. Several of them came unexpectedly, such as my short story for the anthology, Love and Diamonds. The process for Operation Rhombus, my offering, went something like this:
          On the facebook page for Astraea Press authors, a tiny announcement went up. It was a call-out for short stories up to 5K in length, around the theme Love and Diamonds. Of course the 100-plus authors went wild. It’s quite an honor to be included in an publisher’s anthology. It means that the publisher acknowledges your writing as representative of their company. So we started speculating about how we could go about accepting this challenge. I knew I wanted my story to be different so it would stand out, so I started looking at the theme from different angles. A baseball diamond? Maybe, but there are other authors who actually coach sports teams and could undoubtedly write a better baseball story. Where else would you find diamonds besides a jewelry store or a diamond mine (which I also don’t know anything about)?
          And then it hit me. 
          I’d spent twenty-eight years teaching elementary school. For thirteen of those years I taught in a regular classroom, and math, especially at the lower grades where I spent my time, included shapes. A quadrilateral with four equal sides is called a rhombus, and I remember one of my students moaning one day, “Why can’t we just call it a diamond like everybody else?”
          And so the story of math teacher Paul Cramer and his lady love, English teacher Ellie Hartwell, was born. And fortunately for me, Astraea Press accepted it! Paul is an absent-minded hero. Ellie loves him, but for some reason he’s hard to find in the days before the big Valentine Dance. He’s busy with a new project called Operation Rhombus. 
          Here’s a short snippet:

          Hey, Miss Hartwell, How are you tonight? It's odd, seeing you here without Mr. Cramer."
          "Yeah, where is Mr. Cramer, anyway?"
          "He said he had to get some supplies for some school project," she told them.
          "School project?" I wonder what project that would be," a girl to her right wondered.
          The boy next to her nudged her. "Don't you remember? He was talking about it yesterday in trig class. Operation Rhombus."
          "Operation Rhom— Oh yeah! I remember now." The girl turned to Ellie. "Yeah, it's really important. But I thought he was going to go get the r- the supplies earlier in the week."
          "He probably forgot until today," another girl said. “You know how Mr. Cramer forgets to do things until the last minute.
          Everyone at the table laughed. Yes, they all knew.

Operation Rhombus and fourteen other stories in the Love and Diamonds anthology are available at Smashwords for half off this week, using code REW50. Here’s the LINK for the book!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snippet Sunday

Photo from Wikipedia Commons
          Welcome back! For the month of March I thought I’d share snippets from Searching for Lady Luck, a novella I submitted just last week. It’s spring, 1936, and artist Charlie Brannigan tries to sell some of his paintings on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey.
          A wind gust blew one of his smaller paintings off its perch and onto the boardwalk. He scrambled after it, but a young woman bent and picked it up before he could reach it. She studied the scene he’d painted on the tiny canvas - a mother robin, tending her eggs in her nest. 
          “Good morning, ma’am. That’s one of my best miniatures. If you like it, I’d be happy to give you a bargain on it.” 
          The woman looked up from the painting and met his gaze. He blinked, wanting to make sure he wasn’t imagining the lovely face. Smoky gray eyes, wide and welcoming, in a heart-shaped face, made her look much younger than her clothing and severe hairstyle suggested.

Searching for Lady Luck has been accepted as part of EsKape Press’s Luck Be a Lady anthology, due to be released this spring.