Adjusting to Post-surgery Limits #writerslife #amwriting #planningfortheworst #hopingforthebest #IARTG

I promised I’d be back, and here I am. The shoulder surgery went well but ended up being more extensive than hoped. The rotator cuff was torn like an onion, one layer at a time, until only 10% of it was intact. The surgeon grafted it back together and otherwise cleaned up the shoulder. I have staples in the outside area of the top of the shoulder and widespread greenish-yellow bruising. Pain was pretty intense to begin with, but has lessened day by day. So instead of wearing a shoulder immobilizer for 1 day I need to wear it for 4-5 weeks. Of course, it’s on my right shoulder/arm, which is my dominant hand. Challenges abound as a result but I’m determined to make some progress with my writing despite the limitations.

It’s amazing how much we use each body part without thinking twice about it. Until it’s injured or unavailable to use, that is. I’ve been on Percocet pain killer and a muscle relaxant since the surgery, but as of today am switching to using Aleve instead to manage the discomfort. I want and need a clear head to write and revise. I think it was Hemingway who once said, “write drunk, revise sober.” I’d rather be sober for both, personally!

I’m going to keep today’s post short so I’m not overdoing my arm and thus my shoulder. I merely wanted to let you all know that I came through the operation without any complications.

One last thing. Thanks for being there and reading my stories as well as my blog. I appreciate it!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Like I said, Evelyn’s Promise is on sale through July 31. Grab your copy today and feel free to share with your friends and family. Evelyn’s story is one of my favorite in the series!

Evelyn's PromiseThe fourth and final story in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series follows the trials and decisions of Evelyn and Nathaniel as they try to adjust to life after the British occupation of Charleston.

Determined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.

B&N: http://bit.ly/1SCcwTJ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1nW5AEd

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1nifyz4

iBooks: http://apple.co/1UVyy1p

Google: http://bit.ly/1XbQsyc

Planning Ahead – Surgically Speaking #writerslife #amwriting #planningfortheworst #hopingforthebest #IARTG

I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal. People who know me well – or probably even casually – know that I look on the bright side as much as possible. But that by no means should suggest that I do not see the other viewpoint and make plans accordingly. Detailed plans at times. I’ve talked before about my business plan and the detailed schedule I have for what I’ll write when, looking years into the future. Plans are not set in stone but on “paper” or computer file, both of which are changeable.

Today, July 17, 2017, I’m having shoulder surgery to remove a bone spur and clean up the bits and pieces it broke or rubbed off the surrounding tissues, like the rotator cuff. The surgeon has performed this procedure many, many times and is highly regarded for his skill. I’ve also had many operations myself and thus know the way it usually works. So I’m really not worried about the surgery and recovery. In fact, I’m anxious to be on the recovery side!

That said, I’ve been working on a 130,000+ word historical women’s fiction story, the first in a series my agent is shopping. One of my goals this week was to finish all revisions to it. I’ve been reading through the main character’s papers (she is a real, well-known, and beloved American woman) and taking notes from her letters as to what she was concerned about when and any other insights her own words might reveal as well as those gleaned from the historical footnotes. Then weaving the relevant tidbits into the story. I’ve finished the major revisions but not all the fine tuning. I’ve printed out the manuscript for a final scrub and assessment but not quite finished like I would have liked. But close.

Why was that my primary goal this week? Because stuff happens. Bad reactions to anesthesia can lead to complications that lead to things I refuse to focus on. But I know it might happen. I wanted to have my story complete enough that an editor could polish it up and it could be published. I haven’t spent years working on it to languish on my laptop unread by my fans!

I fully expect to back at work by Wednesday this week. Tuesday I know I’ll be in an arm sling, and start physical therapy the next day. I’m expecting two sessions of PT each week for 4-6 weeks. Plus the at-home exercise. That’s all I know about my recovery process. Until the surgeon gets in and looks around, he won’t know either.

But just like my hubby and I have set up a trust and wills and such for our personal property and finances, I wanted a plan for when things don’t go as expected for my writing. But stay positive! That’s my focus. I’ll be back in my chair working on my stories very, very soon.

In the meantime, tomorrow’s Tasty Tuesday post is already scheduled to post, so you all won’t miss out on the next adapted and tweaked colonial recipe.

Also, Evelyn’s Promise, A More Perfect Union book 4, is on sale through the end of July, so it’s the perfect time to grab your ebook copy for only 99 pennies! Blurb and links below.

Happy reading, folks! Thanks for following and supporting me in my writing career. And like Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said, “I’ll be back!”

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Like I said, Evelyn’s Promise is on sale for the next week or so. Grab your copy today and feel free to share with your friends and family. Evelyn’s story is one of my favorite in the series! The fourth and final story in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series follows the trials and decisions of Evelyn and Nathaniel as they try to adjust to life after the British occupation of Charleston.

Evelyn's PromiseDetermined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.

B&N: http://bit.ly/1SCcwTJ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1nW5AEd

Amazon ebook: http://amzn.to/1nifyz4

iBooks: http://apple.co/1UVyy1p

Google: http://bit.ly/1XbQsyc

In Honor of July 4th #giveaway #writerslife #readers #swagbag #American #celebration @LJWriter @HODRWA

In honor of America’s Independence Day, July 4, I’m going to give away this packed tote bag full of books and an array of swag. Everything from bookmarks to jewelry to lip balm and pens and much more! (Note: Due to postage costs, I must limit entries to the United States only.)

HOD Luncheon swag bagTo enter to win, be sure to follow my blog and comment below with your favorite couple from one of my books and why they’re special to you. Or follow my blog and comment with your favorite title of my books and why.

As a refresher, here are the titles and main couples in each.

A More Perfect Union historical romance series:

Emily’s Vow: Emily Sullivan and Frank Thomson

Amy’s Choice: Amy Abernathy and Benjamin Hanson

Samantha’s Secret: Samantha McAlester and Trent Cunningham

Evelyn’s Promise: Evelyn Hamilton and Nathaniel Williams

Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series:

Undying Love: Meredith Reed and Max Chandler

Haunted Melody: Paulette O’Connell and Zak Markel

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow: Tara Golden and Grant Markel

And don’t forget Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Daring, Bravery, and Adventure. These real girls from the 1800s really are inspiring to me!

Plus, I’ll choose a second winner to receive this beautiful Bridesmaid gift bag author Linda Joyce handed out at the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon last month with some cool goodies inside. The pretty scented soaps smell really nice! I was tempted to keep it for myself, but want to share the love! And I’ll even let the winner of the gift bag choose any one of my books that I’ll autograph to you or another person of your choice. Sweet, eh?

Linda Joyce gift bagI’ll choose the winners on Friday, July 7, to give people chance to enter since there’s the holiday tomorrow and I’d expect many folks will be outside celebrating rather than on their computers.

Also, look for another Tasty Tuesday post tomorrow on making a really yummy beef entrée you won’t want to miss.

Good luck! Happy Fourth of July!!!!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) is available now! Grab your copy today!

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic.

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

B&N: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Kobo

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-kindle

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-UK

iBooks: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-iBooks

Exploring Russell Cave National Monument #writerslife #history #caving #research

Have you ever driven past a historic site multiple times yet didn’t take the time to find out what the significance of the place might be? I’ve lived in the Tennessee Valley for almost 15 years now and have driven the highway that passes the Russell Cave National Monument countless times in that span. I wanted to visit to see what northern Alabama/southern Tennessee caves looked like since, in The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Grant and Tara end up in one. My hubby and I almost stopped in on a return trip from Virginia a few months ago, but it was a rainy day and we decided to keep going. But we finally had a free Saturday on a beautiful day in June to make the short trip to investigate the monument.

We decided to make a day of it and packed a picnic and our books to read under a shady tree. We set out mid-morning and arrived at the National Park a little after 11:00. On the way in, I saw a sign that read, “Historic Shelter Cave,” and wondered what that meant. I would soon find out.

IMG_2358The cave is named after a Revolutionary War officer, Colonel Thomas Russell, who once owned the land known as the Russell farm where the cave is located. We browsed through the museum in the visitor’s center, learning about the people who once lived there. We saw a likeness of what a man of that period looked like as well as the kinds of weapons and tools they would have used. They mentioned the atlatl, a kind of leveraged spear that increases the speed and force of the thrown weapon. I was reminded of reading of the same kind of hunting spear in Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series and wondered about the linkage. IMG_2362A quick search online revealed the history of the device. According to quart.us, they were first used in Europe (where the Clan books take place) during the Paleolithic or Stone Age around 17,000 BC. People migrating across the Bering Land Bridge brought them around 15,000 BC. The atlatls were used in North America during the Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods. I like to know the linkages between places and times to have a better grasp of the flow of history and how people moved about.

IMG_2366A stream flows into and through the sheltering cave where people lived and worked for thousands of years. That’s a ready supply of water without having to venture out of the cave. There seems to be some uncertainty as to whether people lived in the cave year round or only during the fall and winter, but thousands of artifacts have been IMG_2361found. Including the Russell point arrowhead which is a style only found in this cave. Baskets, pottery, spear points and other cutting and scraping tools, jewelry as well as the charcoal remains of fires were found inside during the archeological dig conducted by first the Tennessee Archeological Society and then by the Smithsonian Institution with support by the National Geographic society. Most if not all of the tools were made using limestone, an abundant kind of stone in the Tennessee Valley.

IMG_2369The cave itself seems to have some structural concerns as there are large bolts spaced across the ceiling to keep it from falling. Indeed it appears some erosion and rock fall has occurred. We saw swallows darting in and out of the shelter but no other wildlife. Overall, it’s a very peaceful place with the merry sound of the river flowing gently by and the birds calling to one another.

We ate our lunch out front of the visitor’s center where picnic tables were situated under several large deciduous trees and pines. We were surprised to be joined by an unexpected companion, an old black dog IMG_2371we later found out is named Scoot and is 17 years old and visits from a neighbor’s property. Scoot looks an awful lot like our Sierra dog, which was rather startling when I first saw him. He kept us company for a time, which was rather sweet of him.

After we’d finished our picnic, we packed up and headed on into Tennessee to the Franklin-Marion State Forest. Why? That’s another story I’ll share next week.

So what historical sites are in your area that you haven’t visited – yet?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic…

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-kindle

B&N: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Kobo

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-UK

iBooks: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-iBooks

Google: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-GoogleBks

Heart of Dixie Luncheon & My Big Surprise #writerslife #mentor #award #HODluncheon #grateful

I had a huge surprise at this year’s annual Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon in Huntsville, Alabama. My chapter celebrated 20 years of luncheons with the fabulous author Brenda Sue Novak as keynote speaker, and she didn’t let us down with her inspiring and touching speech.

As always, we had a room full of readers and authors getting to know each other, talking about their lives and their love of reading. Maybe about a few hunky book boyfriends here and there. Or about books we’ve read, life events that are touched upon in writing Everyone having a good timesome stories, and so much more.

I was happy to share hosting a table again with the awesome contemporary romance author Linda Joyce. She’s a dear friend as well as an award-winning author. Without consciously coordinating our efforts, our gifts for the Me and Lindareaders who shared lunch with us complemented each other. Perhaps we think more alike than I’d realized!

This year I had a few fans return from previous years at this and other reader events where we met and shared a good time. It’s a very flattering statement to have people who have read my stories want to sit with me, to get to know me better. I count those readers as more than fans, but as friends. A few ladies even squealed and hugged me when they saw me, which was a first for me. What a moment for me, to be “fan-girled” by a reader. Makes me smile even days later to think about.

Brenda Novak-Keynote SpeakerBrenda Novak’s speech touched on the lasting and universal feelings you’ll find in the Cinderella story. Specifically a desire to overcome obstacles to be a better person, or to reach your true potential, despite the naysayers in our lives. She emphasized the need to have dreams and to work to make them come true. She also shared the reasons for why she became a writer (her family’s financial crisis), where she gets her ideas for her stories (everywhere), and a few humorous anecdotes related to missteps as an author (her skirt hiked in her undies at one event, for example). Through it all, she showed just how human and down-to-earth of a person she is despite her acclaim as an author and her fundraising to benefit diabetes research to the tune of $2.5 million to date.

Me and Amy-receiving awardThe biggest surprise though for me was when the president of Heart of Dixie went to the podium to announce this year’s Mentor of the Year recipient and called my name. Who me? I couldn’t believe it, let me tell you. Tears threatened as I made my way to the podium to accept this beautiful award. People congratulated me all the way to the front of the room and back. Chapter mates told me how much I deserved this award, for being there to help them whenever needed. I’m honored and humbled as a result.

HOD Mentor of the Year AwardIn truth, helping others comes naturally to me. One of my mottoes has always been, ever since a little girl, “I’m here to help.” I believe in paying it forward by reaching back to give a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen. Whatever I can do, I will.

Next year’s luncheon, our 21st, will feature as keynote speaker the NYT-bestselling author Lilliana Hart. So mark your calendars for June 9, 2018, to journey to the Rocket City, home of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, among other fun attractions. Destination: Huntsville, Alabama, my new hometown. See you then!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) is available now! Grab your copy today!

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic.

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

B&N: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Kobo

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-kindle

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-UK

iBooks: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-iBooks

Serendipity related to writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow #writerslife #newrelease #paranormal #romance

Do you believe in serendipity or coincidence? Do we have a brand new idea, or have we just picked up on a subtle repetition of a word or image that then wiggles into our conscious thought? I’m always intrigued how once you focus on a new topic or area of interest, you start seeing it everywhere. Was it there already surrounding me, or did the new word or image start appearing after the fact?

It’s also true of new places, I have found. As in, if I, out of the blue, need to go to a town or take a different route to go to a familiar place, suddenly I need to go back that same way or to that new place two or three more times in quick succession. I don’t know why, or how that happens, but it’s been true for me all of my life.

For example, when my daughter joined the local Pony Club, the leaders suggested a site for a new competition they wanted to start hosting. I was invited along to visit and assess the suitability the place, a new-to-me part of the area we lived in that was far out in the country northwest of the nearest town. Within a week or two, I had to go back through that same area on an errand. And then I made a friend who happened to live in the same vicinity. I discovered new roads and ways to get from one place to another. After a while, though, I rarely go through there as I have few reasons to do so any longer. Things just seem to come in clusters for me.

The same kind of thing happened while writing my latest release, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow. Once I chose to use ravens in the title, and then in the story as a symbol and allusion to Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” suddenly ravens were everywhere!

One day, while writing Touchstone, an email popped into my inbox from the Audubon Society. Now, I’m not a member and did not subscribe to their mailings, so this was rather surprising to me. Even more so was the fact that the lead article included how to tell the difference between crows and ravens! Naturally, I had to go find out what they had to say, and they even had the sound of the raven’s croak. If you’re curious, you can listen to the difference yourself here. Useful details for my story!

When I settled on the title of The Touchstone of Raven Hollow I didn’t think about whether the state park where the story is set on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee would have a population of ravens. I figured I’d have to make one up as part of the enchantment of the hollow. But then when I was researching the wildlife and birds of the state, I came across the fact that ravens do live there. And in the area of the plateau where Grant takes Tara hiking. How cool, right? I thought I’d have to invent an “unkindness” or flock of ravens living up there. But nope! Hubby and I will go hiking up there this summer when the weather is nicer. I wonder how closely my descriptions match the real hills and vales, based on my memory of hiking in other forests and the online pictures and descriptions. Should be interesting to find out! I’ll probably blog about that trip, so stay tuned.

I know a lot of people do not believe in coincidence. I do to an extent. We open ourselves to a new possibility and then we see/hear the themes and symbols around us through a new filter. How about you? Have you experienced this phenomenon I’m talking about? Do you believe in coincidence?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) is available now! Grab your copy today!

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic.

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

B&N: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Kobo

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-kindle

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-UK

iBooks: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-iBooks

On Birthing a Book #writerslife #newrelease #paranormal #romance

Releasing a new book for sale, which is often likened to a book birthday, involves quite a few moving pieces and many more decisions. When I decided to indie publish my paranormal romance series, Secrets of Roseville, I did so knowing this fact. I’d researched the process, the options, and then discussed the overall concepts and the associated costs involved with my loving hubby.

What I didn’t know was that the choices and decisions never end! <grin> I thought I’d share a bit about how I work through the entire cycle from writing to release. And a few ah-ha moments of my own. Here goes!

The first step for me when beginning a new story project is to create the premise, the characters’ GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) statements for both internal and external GMC. At this point, I also contemplate the title as a focus for the writing. For The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, it took a working lunch with an author friend to nail down the keywords and then the title. I also decided to retell an Irish myth as part of the core to the story, which helped focus the telling of Tara and Grant’s romance and the situations they would face and have to conquer.

With the premise and GMC and title nailed down, then it was on to drafting what I call scene beats, but actually is much more than that. I create a Word document that is an extensive table with columns for Chapter/Scene, Action, Characters & Setting, Relationship & Emotions, and Timeline. The first entry, including the Inciting Incident, for Touchstone looks like this:

Touchstone Scene Beats ImageI drafted the scenes I knew had to be included in the story, and then moved them around to make sense, adding others as I slowly built the story logic. This is not set in stone, however. As I write, the action changes, other scenes are added, some combined. Once I’m satisfied with the overall story, then I ask my critique partner for her opinion and suggestions on upping the tension, the motivation, the action, etc. Then I start writing, one scene each morning until the first draft is completed. Then I start again at the beginning, fleshing out the motivation, the emotional connections, and setting details to weave in the back story and its impact on the characters as they face their challenges.

Then it’s off to beta readers, those handful of readers I ask to be guinea pigs as far as what they like and don’t about the story, the characters, whatever feedback they care to give me. I pick my betas based on whether they are readers only or writers also, choosing some of each. I make sure the people I ask to read enjoy the genre in general, so they have a feel for what is expected in the story. Once I have all their comments, then I do another revision pass before sending it off to my editor.

While the story is being edited, I focus on the business side of the story. For The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, I actually failed to do my normal routine because of the interfering household move from Tennessee to Alabama. A fact I realized while writing this blog, actually. So now that it’s launching this week, I better get busy! So I pulled out a blank Book Launch Checklist and quickly started figuring out what I have done and what I need to do. I’ve done some of it, from memory, but here’s the complete list. The generic checklist is one I created based on a class I took on how to do a book launch, and also from other tips and hints I’ve learned from reading and talking to other indie pubbed authors over the last year. Here’s my list, and if it helps another author prepare for a launch, then that’s cool with me. You’ll note that I’m behind on this schedule, but I’m getting there. I still have a few days, right?

When to Complete Task Completed Notes
6 months prior Establish goals for this book launch 1/5/17
6 months prior Brainstorm what makes this book unique in the marketplace 1/5/17
6 months prior Create the budget (money and time) for this launch 3/19/17
6 months prior Research and schedule advertising opps 1/5/17
3-6 mths before release Create book cover – hired out to cover artist 3/20/17
4 months prior Review and update as necessary online profiles 4/1/17; 5/9/17
4 months prior Query book reviewers 1/5/17 Part of book tour with BPIC Promotions
4 months prior Schedule online book blog tour 1/5/17
4 months prior Schedule a launch party or online event 4/1/17
4 months prior Assign ISBN to digital and print editions 1/5/17
4 months prior Create media kit 1/5/17; updated as info available Include book cover, blurb, description, pre-order/buy links; author pic, author bio, social media links; excerpt
2 months prior Order swag for prizes and giveaways 4/10/17
2 months prior Upload file to IngramSpark and Amazon 5/4/17
2 months prior Format digital and print editions of book 5/4/17 Include teaser scene at end for next/another book at end; also link to newsletter and/or website
1 month prior Create a list of tweets and posts
1 month prior Send out newsletter to announce cover and preorder link 5/10/17
When preorder live Pin cover and buy links on Pinterest 5/11/17
1 month prior Plan a contest or giveaway 4/10/17
3 weeks prior Promote your launch party, blog tour, and/or contests/giveaways 4/6/17
1 week prior By launch day, review and update online profiles again
Release day Send out newsletter to announce release
Release day Celebrate release day!
After release As book goes live on retailer sites, add link to master list, verify book page information accuracy
1 month after Continue launch efforts for up to 30 days
6 months after Monitor book sales or ranking
After release File copyright with LOC

This release is coming quicker than previous ones due to several factors. The primary one is that I had not anticipated moving when I decided to release the book, originally in June. See, hubby and I had thought to put the farm on the market in May, not February, so I had made my plans based on having time between January and May to do all the book launch tasks as laid out. Then we listed the farm February 1, and it sold in 6 weeks, and we moved 6 weeks later. So much for my carefully laid plans, right?

Additionally, my intent to release the first week of June moved back to May 20 so I could make sure to have print copies of Touchstone for the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon which had originally been slated for June 10 had to move to June 3 due to hotel luncheon room availability. I’m in the process of ordering my table gifts for the readers who join me for this annual event in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s always a great time and I hope my table is filled by my readers, so I hope to see some of there!

I managed to finish writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow before we sold the farm, so at least the creative part was done. The business and marketing tasks fell before and during the move. We sold the farm on April 28, and then on May 5 we took a week’s vacation in Maryland. A working vacation, since I had to continue with the release day promo and planning for the Facebook party on May 20. I hope you’ll come join the virtual party and help me celebrate my book’s birthday! The other authors and I are doing 12 Days of Giveaways leading up to the event, and you have time to like and comment and share the posts for a chance to win some pretty cool swag and books in addition to the games and giveaways on the event day itself this coming Saturday afternoon.

Keep in mind that the release tasks are only part of my writerly life. I also have some fiction editing to do this week, and contest entries to judge, as well as my other writing projects and research to get back to. Oh, and I have to organize my new office, which currently is a mess of boxes and piles of swag and miscellaneous other items. (I plan to share more in a future blog on what it looks like after the redecorating and settling is done.) Then there’s the house to clean, and more boxes to unpack, and books to read. <grin> One day at a time. One priority at a time. No matter what else, Touchstone will release on Saturday, and for that I’m very grateful and excited!

Do you have any tips for me on how to juggle multiple priorities? How do you balance work and personal chores and goals? How do you set your priorities?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) is available now for pre-order! Grab your copy today!

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900He dug for the truth and found her magic.

Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

B&N: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Kobo

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-kindle

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Amazon-UK

iBooks: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-iBooks

Surprising Inspiration for Haunted Melody #paranormal #romance #WritersLife #IARTG

Sometimes a story is inspired by true life events. Sometimes by a “what if” pondering. Haunted Melody* sprang into being when my editor at Liquid Silver Books asked for a Halloween story.

At the end of Undying Love**, Paulette is pregnant and expecting a child to arrive around Halloween. So I decided to tell her story as she approached delivering her baby. How she had become somewhat depressed after her boyfriend dumped her and she had lost her joy, expressed through singing.

She needed a nudge to make her realize that she’d stopped singing during her daily activities. But how? Or rather, who would give her the hip-bump toward her happiness? She needed to face her past as she planned her future, so one day she’s exploring the attic and discovers a book of spells. When she reads a “poem” from it, she is surprised to confront her grandfather’s ghost. The spirit refuses to leave until she figures out why she’d summoned him.

Enter Zak Markel, a chemist who is desperate to save his brother Grant’s eyesight. Desperate enough to try a mystical alchemical recipe for the Elixir of Life from an ancient journal even as he knows there’s little hope of succeeding. Then he catches an eyeful of Paulette and his pursuit turns more personal as he endeavors to get to know her despite her reluctance and his brother’s annoyance. <grin> Together they rediscover what’s missing in her life and his, and find their happiness together, though not without a few struggles along the way!

The fun part of telling Paulette and Zak’s story was including an actual play list, which I’ve shared in this earlier post. But also in imagining a fun and chaotic costume party with costumes and themed food. I even tried some of the recipes when the original book* first released in October 2014. Now you can read Haunted Melody (March 2017), to see what fun is had at the party, and the ensuing chaos her grandfather’s ghost causes.

Have you read Haunted Melody yet? I hope you have! But if you haven’t, you may want to before the third book in the Secrets of Roseville series releases on May 20, 2017. The Touchstone of Raven Hollow tells the story of Tara, the midwife/healer, and Grant Markel, Zak’s brother, as they learn a few lessons about life and love. And ravens, too!

Keep an eye out for info about a Facebook release day party I’m throwing with the help of several author friends! Lots of fun, prizes, giveaways, and book talk. More details coming soon…

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

*Haunted Melody originally released as Remnants (October 2014, Liquid Silver Books) and is an updated/revised edition of the story.

**Undying Love originally released as Traces (April 2014, Liquid Silver Books) and is an updated/revised edition of the story.

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Putting Together Gift Baskets for Readers #writerslife #readers #romance #books #readerevents

One of the fun aspects of being an author is attending reader events. I’ve traveled to several over the last few years and met so many avid readers who come out to say hello and talk about books. I especially enjoy seeing my fans and meeting my readers! One annual event I attend most every year, either as a reader or as a hosting author, is the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3 in Huntsville, Alabama. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I need to put together the baskets, but what I didn’t talk about was how I go about doing so.

There are two kinds of baskets featured at the luncheon. Raffle baskets and author door prize baskets.

Golden Owl 2017The raffle baskets each have a unique theme associated with them. Tickets are $1 each, or 6 for $5. This year, I’m doing two. One is the Golden Owl Books and Brews basket, containing items related to the fictional bookstore in my Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series. Obviously, I’ve included several books including Undying Love and Haunted Melody, but also tea, coffee, hot chocolate mix, a decorative owl, and some shortbread. A talented friend donated some notecards she made using her photos and some wire jewelry she made, items also found in the fictional store in my stories. Of course, you get the basket, too, which is made from pretty gold wire and I’ve used a soft pashmina to line it.

Old Tyme Xmas-2017The other raffle basket has the theme of an Old Tyme Christmas and includes several historical romances set during that holiday as well as some old-fashioned types of decorations, a snowman votive candle holder, the Christmasy basket, a crocheted scarf I made as a liner, and some hard candy in stick form and lemon drops. A few items to kick off your holiday season a bit early.

Those two were easy to decide to do, but then I had to figure out what my door prize basket’s theme would be. Stumped, I turned to my fans, Betty’s Novel Ninjas, for inspiration. (If you too are a fan of my stories, you’re welcome to join the Facebook group!) They didn’t fail me, either! This group of people who have read and enjoyed my stories listed several possibilities. Two ideas—Irish basket and a cooking related basket—combined to make my ultimate theme: Irish heritage. I took a white wicker basket, lined it with a shamrock scarf, and filled it with everything I could think of related to Irish cooking, history, Irish Heritage-2017symbols, and foods. Including copies of the first two books in my Secrets of Roseville series, Undying Love and Haunted Melody. See, the O’Connells and Golden families both have Irish ancestors. And I blog on Tuesdays about cooking, so the two ideas merged into one and I’ve put together a jam-packed basket of goodies as a result!

One lucky attendee at the luncheon will have their name drawn to win my door prize basket. There’s no additional expense after you pay the $35 to attend the luncheon. The ticket price includes a $5 coupon you can use when you buy a book at the public signing after the luncheon. Additionally, you get to have lunch with the author of your choice (you can choose up to five, ranked by preference). Each hosting author also will give the people at their table a gift or two for coming out to chat about books and answer any questions you may have. It’s a lot of fun for readers and authors alike!

By the time of the luncheon, the third book in the Secrets series will be available. I’ll have copies of The Touchstone of Raven Hollow among other titles there for purchase and signing, so come on out and see me if you’ll be in the Huntsville area on June 3. I’ll be hosting a table this year, so sign up to come eat lunch with me, too! It will be a fun day all around!

Have you attended reader events like the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon? What was the highlight of the event? Or would you like to attend one?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Easy as Pie Crust #recipe from #romance #author Michele Stegman #dessert #pies

Tasty Tuesday is all about a pie crust recipe by author Michele Stegman. Tell us more, Michele!


All the way home, and while she peeled apples for a pie, Katie wondered just what she had gotten herself into. Adrian seemed to want more than to just pay her back for her help. He wanted a relationship. But did she?

It had been almost three years since Brent died. She had grieved. She missed him, but she was ready to get on with life. But was Adrian the man she wanted to get on with life with?

Well, wasn’t that what the dating process was for? To find out about each other? And no matter how it had come about or how he had phrased it, this was a date.

She had wanted to find out more about Carly’s teacher. Now she had the perfect opportunity. It wasn’t like she was going to walk down the aisle with him next week.

She took two of the frozen balls of pie dough she kept on hand and thawed them in the microwave while she finished cutting up the apples, added flour, sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and nutmeg.

She had wondered about Mr. Adrian Wright. He was attractive enough to be a model for one of those catalogs selling sport clothes. He was lean, black-haired, and had a look in his dark eyes that told every woman who gazed into them they hid some secret only she could unearth.

Adrian’s smile was infectious, especially now that he had quit scowling at her. He was kind to children, and he put himself whole-heartedly into whatever he was doing. But he was old enough to be established in a steady job. Why was he substitute teaching? How could he even live on a substitute teacher’s pay?

Could he really afford to take her out? Maybe that was why he seemed so tense when he asked her.

She rolled out one of the balls of dough and put it into her biggest pie pan, a deep ten inch one, and dumped in the apples. She eyed the second ball of dough wondering what kind of top to put on the pie. Lattice? Cut out leaves and layer them all over the top? A design of an apple tree branch with leaves?

The door bell rang and she heard Carly banging the blinds to look out the window. “It’s Mr. Wright, Mom,” Carly called.

“Open the door for him, Honey.” So much for fancy. Plain would have to do. She was rolling out the crust when Carly shepherded Adrian into the kitchen, hanging onto his hand and bouncing along in her yellow Winnie the Pooh swimsuit.

Adrian smiled and started to say something when he saw what she was doing. “A pie? From scratch? You didn’t have to go to so much trouble,” he said. But the gleam in his eyes told her he was glad.

MrRightsBabyCover-ebookAdrian, the hero of Mr. Right’s Baby, obviously loves pie. So does my own hero, my husband, Ron. When we first got married I made a pie. And it was good. But it was when I tasted one of my new mother-in-law’s pies that I knew I could do better. She graciously gave me her pie crust recipe and I’ve been using it ever since. I have to admit, I make a great pie.

Katie, the heroine of Mr. Right’s Baby, is a lot like me, except for the way she looks! We both love to bake and cook. We both made our kids lunches with homemade bread and cookies and sometimes tucked little love notes in the lunchbox. Her adopted daughter, Carly, is based on my daughter, Shana. Both of them are little balls of sunshine.

 

 

Shana holding pieI included the excerpt from Mr. Right’s Baby because she is baking a pie with my mother-in-law’s recipe. Now I’m going to share that recipe with you. I love it not only because it is so good, but because I can make it into flattened balls and store it in the freezer. Then, like Katie, when I need to make a pie in a hurry, all I have to do is take out a ball of dough, thaw it, and make my pie!

Ginny’s Pie Crust

Mix: 4 ½ cups flour, 1 T sugar, 1 t salt.

Add:  1 ¾ cup Crisco (I use butter flavor)

Mix these together. It is easier if you use a stand mixer.

Separately mix together ½ cup water, 1 T vinegar, 1 egg. Whip together and add to the flour/Crisco mixture.

Chill for 15-30 minutes before using.

This makes 2½ double crust 9 inch pie shells. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge, or you can make it into flattened balls and freeze for later.

10151971_633987283679_4716031159509436_n (2)Thank you so much, Betty, for letting me blog on your site. I love sharing recipes and talking about baking.

Mr. Right’s Baby is available as an ebook or in paperback. Visit www.MicheleStegman.com for information on my other books and to read excerpts. Or connect with me on Twitter or on Facebook.

 


I’ll fess up. I’ve never made a pie crust from scratch. In fact, I usually buy them ready to fill at the grocery store. But I may have to give this recipe a try. What do you think? Do you like to bake pies? How do you make your crust? I’m curious!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.