Metamorphosis of Undying Love #writerslife #amwriting #fiction #books

undying_love_600x900Undying Love has been a real work in progress for me for several years. The story underwent several iterations before the one that will release in January. Curious as to how it morphed into a great paranormal romance? Here’s the skinny.

Back in 2007, I was taking a tech writing class as part of the requirements for earning a Master of Arts in English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I was bored, having been a tech editor/writer for at least fifteen years. When the professor said we had to research and write a paper on a technical topic I groaned inwardly. The only thing I wanted to research and write was a story I had in my head. A ghost story with a romance. So after class, I went to my advisor and talked to him about writing a thesis instead of taking the tech writing course. He helped me find a thesis advisor.

My thesis advisor, it turned out, was willing to consider a unique approach. Specifically, we discussed the novel idea (pun intended) of me researching the tropes and devices employed by two supernatural authors, Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James, and then incorporate them into the first few chapters of the story to demonstrate how to allude to them. Talk about excited! The university had never had a thesis based on fictional techniques before. I set to work, reading all of Poe and James in the process. Noting their devices and determining which of them to incorporate into my story, which I decided to call Traces. By the way, a “trace” is another name for a ghost, but it also referred to memorabilia and photographs as traces of a person’s history.

Now, the thesis version of Traces was the story of an army wife with her two children living in Huntsville, Alabama, while her husband is deployed. They’re living in an old house which proves to be haunted. I created a list of the elements I used and where they came from, for my memory’s sake and for the thesis reader’s information:

Allusion Concordance

Character or Element Title of Work / Author
Camille, character Poe
James, character Named after Henry James
Black kitten “The Black Cat” – Poe
A word signifies the entity but is not the entity itself Poe’s philosophy as stated in Uncanny American Fiction
Name of kitten, Jupiter “The Gold-Bug” – Poe
Mahogany doors and silver-plated doorknobs “The Jolly Corner” – James
“Hants” The Face in the Window and Other Alabama Ghostlore
Sherry (Amontillado) “The Cask of Amontillado” – Poe

 

The thesis ended up being half analysis of James and Poe and half the first three chapters of my story. My advisor’s comment, however, gave me pause when he said I was “brave to start with such a quiet opening.” Can you hear the death knell ringing?

So, I went back to the story and looked at it again, looking for ways to not have a quiet beginning. I pondered and rejected and reconsidered for weeks. Then I saw on the news the horrific shooting in a Colorado movie theater when the movie Dark Knight released. One of the survivor’s stories inspired a major change to my story. A young woman had been saved by her fiancé blocking the shooter from shooting her, but her future husband died in the act of shielding her. I wondered about how would you get through such a tragedy, the weight of survivor guilt? The loss of your future life with a man you loved?

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopThe second edition of Traces took place in a fictional haunted Tennessee plantation and features an architect, widowed and childless, who wants to bury her grief and anger by destroying the manor she inherited from her grandmother. That version was bought by Liquid Silver Books in 2014, my debut novel. I was finally, after 20+ years, published in novel-length fiction.

As the last couple of years have passed, sales of the story didn’t live up to my hopes. I came to realize that the title was the problem since everyone who read the story loved it and told me about it. With the advent of indie publishing, the power to do something about getting the story out to readers rested in my hands. When I received the rights back from the publisher, I decided to revise the story, change the title and cover, and release it again. This time, the architect, still a widow and childless, isn’t determined to destroy the manor at the outset, but is pushed into the idea by a handsome lawyer despite his aversion to the idea.

Undying Love is the last edition of this story (I’m not going to revise it again but move forward to other tales to tell), but the first in a new series, Secrets of Roseville. This paranormal romance series will include haunting, bewitching love stories with ghosts and witches and other supernatural beings. I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts and spells, of hauntings and unexplained happenings. I’ve had some of my own during my life which may or may not find their way into the upcoming series. Only time and characters whispering in my ear will tell…

Undying Love releases January 10, 2017, but is available now for pre-order. I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at how it came to be, and also enjoy reading the story when it releases. That’s always my goal, to write the best tale I can to share with others for their enjoyment.

For my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful to all of you who read my stories and I really enjoy hearing from you. And as always, thanks for reading!

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 before it releases in December 2017. Thanks and happy reading!

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

 

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

Why I Wrote Emily’s Vow (only 99 cents for a limited time) #writerslife #American #historical #romance #kindle #nook

Emily's Vow Finalist SealToday I’m going to talk about the kernel of information that sparked an entire series of books. First, you should know that Emily’s Vow is only $.99 for the Kindle and Nook books! But it’s only for a limited time, through November 18, so grab your copy now so you can sample the series for yourself. Also, I’m one of more than 100 romance authors who are throwing a Romance Writers Gone Wild Facebook party this week. Hop over there to find some new reads and new authors. There will be excerpts, snippets, and giveaways galore! Now on to today’s topic…

Story ideas come from all directions and experiences. They mix and blend into a “what if” kind of thought that then slowly builds into an interesting story to tell. That’s how the idea for the A More Perfect Union series started. Then I had to get to know the ladies and their goals and challenges they had to face and overcome.

Emily’s story is one that loosely mimics the career of an 18th century female writer Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820). Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Judith was fortunate to have highly intelligent and progressive parents who allowed her to be taught alongside her brother by the local clergyman. She learned college prep topics such as Latin, Greek, and mathematics.

This background enabled Judith to argue effectively for the equal education of boys and girls and to advocate for “cultivating independent, intellectually alert women” in her essays and other works. Judith is best known for her compilation of her works, The Gleaner. It’s important to note that she used a pen name, Constantia, to write her essays, plays, and poems, until the release of this book. At the end of the book, she revealed she was a woman, saying she did so to hide her gender because “she feared that if she were known to be a woman, her writing would not be taken seriously.” (1) That last line prompted the idea of women of the late 1700s writing and beginning to turn the tide of opinion. Thus Emily Sullivan was born.

Emily starts out writing her thoughts down as essays in rebellion to the restrictions her father places on her. Her own declaration of independence, but she submits them to the newspaper secretly and using a pen name. Then as the series progresses and the situation becomes more and more unsettled, she ultimately openly submits the essays for printing though continues to use her pen name. I gave her a female pen name, by the way, on purpose so that she would in fact begin to change the way people thought about female intellect and reasoning. However, it was considered disrespectful to use a lady’s name in print, which is why in that time period you rarely see a woman’s name, and then usually only the lower classes. Which is frustrating for someone like me today who is researching for a story about a lady of that time period, but that’s another story.

I wrote Emily’s story to highlight the limitations placed upon females in the colonial and Early American Republic period of American history. The Declaration of Independence prompted everyone to rethink what it meant to be free from dictators and oppression. The American Revolution started, for many people, the push toward equality that America is still struggling with. That is why I write about that time and place, because of its catalyst to change.

What changes happened as a result of women sharing their thoughts in writing? What else needs to change?

(1) Quotes taken from The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume A, Literature to 1820. Sixth Edition. W.W. Norton & Co., New York. 2003. pp782-3.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

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.

Tasty Tuesday: Herbed Green Beans #vegetables #sidedish #recipe from #romance #author Lynn Crandall

Time for another Tasty Tuesday featuring a wonderful and healthy side dish recipe by author Lynn Crandall. I think you’ll really enjoy her alternative to the traditional green bean casserole. I’ll give it a try! Okay, Lynn, you’ve got the floor.

herbed-green-beans


It’s early November, but can you feel it? The winter holidays are coming and what they mean to us individually is beginning to sift through the daily routine of your lives. There may be a tinge of heaviness and dread tinting our emotions about gathering with family. But if you’re lucky, there’s primarily anticipation, joy, and feelings of good will.

For Fierce Hearts series character were-lynx Kennedy Mitchell, the holidays have never meant anything special. Her adoptive parents gave her no sense of a family. Instead, they trained her to follow in their criminal footsteps, robbing her of healthy emotions and trust.

But a year ago, life changed for her when she was rescued by a colony of were-lynxes who now are her made family, who love her and support her for who she is. In Snowbound, a story in the Captured by Christmas anthology, for the present holiday season, Kennedy and fellow were-cat and lover Asher Monroe are planning the holiday of her dreams. In a beautiful cabin in the woods, Kennedy, Asher, and the other colony members are preparing a Christmas with glistening snow, twinkly lights, and delicious Christmas foods prepared together.

In my family, the holiday table is filled with traditional dishes and plenty of sweet treats. But the were-lynxes live very consciously, treating all life with respect. They eat healthy foods and occasionally enjoy the good stuff, such as Christmas cookies with colorful icing, chocolate peanut butter balls, and pumpkin pie. For Kennedy, this Christmas meal is another important aspect of her dream holiday. She and the other were-cats have traditional dishes planned, but some with twists. For instance, the fruit salad will feature persimmons, apples, and pomegranate seeds, sans whip cream and sugar. And instead of the traditional green bean casserole, they’ll eat Green Beans with Herb Dressing. This tasty and healthful version of bean casserole may appeal to your family’s wild side and set a new tradition.

Green Bean with Herb Dressing

Ingredients:

6 green onions, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/3 cup of olive oil

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 teaspoon dry mustard

¼ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dried marjoram

2 pounds of fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped

Directions:

  1. In medium  bowl, mix green onions, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, basil, oregano, marjoram, and pepper.

  2. Place green beans in a steaming basket. Steam in a medium saucepan over boiling water for 5 minutes, or to desired tenderness.

  3. Place green beans in a medium serving dish. Pour dressing mixture over the beans and mix.

You’ll taste the healthy and it will be scrumptious!

captured-by-christmas-cover-ebookAbout Captured by Christmas, a Christmas Anthology

It’s Christmas, and the season of holly, Christmas trees, and goodwill is drifting on the air in merry holiday wishes. Romantic suspense and paranormal author Lynn Crandall and contemporary author Lainee Cole present in their own way two stories of love in Captured by Christmas. However it finds you—under a Christmas tree or drifted in snow in a backwoods cabin—the spirit of the season will wrap you in love.

In Snowbound, Lynn Crandall lets readers check in on favorite Fierce Hearts series were-lynx characters Kennedy Mitchell and Asher Monroe as they uncover the identity of the creature scaring the humans in Octavia, a small rural community in northern Michigan. Plans for an intimate getaway and family-style holiday are crumbling as the snow piles higher and Kennedy and Asher find themselves snowbound with a killer outside their door.

In The Mistletoe Effect, Christmas is second-grade teacher Tess McCall’s least favorite holiday, but she’s doing her best not to let it show. Learning he’s a father to seven-year-old Holly makes Alex Randle anxious about the upcoming holidays. When Tess’s class starts reading to shelter dogs, Holly and the antics of shelter dog Mistletoe lead them all to rediscover the magic of Christmas.

lynn-crandall-picLynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her cat. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don’t back down.

Visit http://lynn-crandall.com/ to get to know Lynn and find out more about her books.

 


The green beans sound really yummy and the stories just as delicious! Thanks, Lynn, for swinging by and jumpstarting the holiday menu planning, around my house at least. What do you all think? Worth a try? Will your family enjoy the switch up for the holiday dinner?

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.

Rediscovering a piece of my own past #writerslife #amwriting #fiction

The mystery of my cedar chest has been solved. I’ve been pondering for months what exactly was in the chest sitting at the foot of my bed. See, I tend to put things in there that I don’t use very often with the intent that the cedar wood will help preserve the items, especially from moths and bugs. So last weekend I lifted the lid.

 

betty-w-teddy-bear
Me and my teddy in the 1960s

I found a lot of what I expected to find. Several crocheted afghans, including the infamous baby blanket that I worked and reworked and reworked when I was expecting our first child. For some reason, I kept dropping stitches so that it narrowed the longer I worked on it. Sigh. So I’d rip it out to the point of less width and try again.

 

There were also some throw pillows and a huge silver platter that won’t fit in any of my cabinets. Some special cloths for wrapping silver plate to prevent corrosion/oxidation, but they had actually blackened with mold. So they got pitched and I cleaned up the bottom of the chest.

But most importantly I rediscovered my “teddy bear.”

I carried this stuffed animal everywhere with me. At least around the house. Probably in the car whenever we left home for other places. I just remember it was always with me. I loved my stuffed bear!

 

bettys-teddy-bear-2016
Still hug worthy today!

Overtime, naturally, it suffered from my little girl hands. Bits and pieces of its expression fell off or wore away. The little peas or beads in the ears to weight them down fell out because I rubbed them around until the fabric wore thin and tore. The many washes faded and softened the fur.

 

Then one day I realized as I grew older that it wasn’t a bear at all. My teddy is actually a long-eared dog! Who knew? <grin>

I laid my teddy bear back inside the cedar chest on top of all the afghans, so he has a nice soft bed to rest on. There is no way that I will ever give him up. He meant safety, security, comfort, and home.

What about you guys? Do you have a treasured childhood stuffed animal or other memory-laden item you hang onto for sentimental reasons?

Thanks for reading!

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.

Where do story ideas come from? #writerslife #amwriting #fiction

ideas-2One question I get asked frequently is where my ideas come from. I’m not alone in being asked this question, either. So, let’s chat today about inspiration for stories in general.

Ideas spring up all around me, every day. But not every idea is created equal. In fact, a lot of individual ideas are too weak to sustain a novel-length story. Sometimes they need to be combined with others in unique ways to make a strong enough hook to hang a book upon.

For example, perhaps a news story about a devastating house fire caused by a gas explosion prompts thoughts of what the family would do to recover and start over. Then I’d play with the “what if” scenarios. What if there was something in the house vital to one of the son’s career? Or future in general? What might it be? While I pondered that, I’d start looking for what that “something” could be that would resonate with the characters and with readers. A family heirloom? Or the design for a new medical breakthrough that the son tinkered with in his spare time and finally gotten a patent for?

Ideas can also be sparked by people I meet, or even just see in a crowd or along the road for that matter. Case in point was the man I saw while I was driving through a Virginia neighborhood recently. He was medium height, sporting a full, white beard, and wearing a tan floppy hat and coveralls as he walked down the sidewalk to get his mail from the rural mailbox. He struck me as a model for a secondary character in a story I’m mulling around.

Another idea generator is reading history books. Really! I read about situations and solutions from the past and imagine how it came about. What were the people involved thinking, feeling, hoping? How can I bring their story to life for a modern day reader, to make it meaningful and interesting? Not every intriguing “scene” from the past will pass the test of being of interest or relevance to today’s readers, but some most definitely do.

I’ll talk later about the specific inspiration for some of my books because they stem from different kinds of sources you all may find interesting.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

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.

When Lunch Is More than a Meal #writerslife #amwriting #fiction

 

11091466_777985818986143_5209770805755604551_n
Celebrating a new release with authors Crystal Lee and Christine Glover

I eat lunch every day like most everyone. Usually alone since I work at home and my husband is at work. My children are grown and have their own busy lives. As a creative person, I don’t mind the quiet to let me concentrate. In fact, I often crave it when I’m not at home in my usual routine. But I also have enough of the extrovert in me that I need to get out of the house and be with people. In particular, I find a working lunch, or even an after work drink, with author friends to be important to me. Why?

 

It’s not just about forcing myself to wear proper clothes for a change. You know, a bra under my shirt, and jeans/slacks in lieu of sweats or capris. The comfy clothes are a big perk about working at home!

It’s not just about eating someone else’s cooking, either. Having something more than leftovers or a sandwich is a nice break in my routine. Even if I do have to be careful as to the nutritional values of the food, especially salt and total calories. Writing is a sedentary activity which I have to balance with exercise and caloric intake. I’m trying to be better to myself… Eating a bit less. Exercising a bit more.

 

12985445_934714343313289_4372036063158206872_n
Sharing lunch with Rhenna Morgan and Gemma Brocato

No, the main reason that I find lunch with author friends valuable is the networking, the sharing of ideas, and the sanity check on other ideas. It’s way too easy to think you have a fantastic new approach only to discover it’s been done. Having another person who understands the character voices in my head, or who can discuss answers to marketing questions, and much more, is what draws me to sharing a meal with a friend. A myriad of concerns swirl in my head every day, from specifics about a new release, deciding which contests to enter, sorting out the motivation for a character, or even what should I fix for dinner. So having a simple meal with a good friend becomes a highlight in my week.

 

I aim for at least once a week, but that doesn’t always happen due to my deadlines and theirs. I also try to ask a variety of friends to meet me over the weeks and months to keep my support network alive and vibrant. I hope that the thoughts and opinions I share with them is of equal value as to what I receive during our chats.

 

13015168_934706756647381_8752504954657010695_n
Me and Collette Cameron finally meeting in person!

After all, writing a book takes a long time – months to a year depending on whether I’m writing a romance or a historical fiction. That’s a lot of time to spend alone at my computer. Then the business side kicks in when it comes to marketing and promoting each new title as well as keeping alive the backlist. As I venture into the world of indie publishing with my next series, the support of my author friends becomes ever more valuable. I’ve run a small business – freelance editing both nonfiction and fiction – but it’s very different from essentially running my own publishing house for my own books. So there has been a lot for me to learn and understand before I publish the next book. Whether to indie publish or traditionally publish each series/story is another decision, and perhaps the topic of a different post.

 

Oops! I’ve got to run. I’m meeting a fellow writer/librarian friend for lunch today. Her view of the world of books is a bit different from mine, which makes our conversation all the more interesting.

Stay tuned for more information about my new haunting, bewitching love story series, Secrets of Roseville, which will be launching soon!

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.