Monday, July 30, 2012


When I sold my first book back in the Dark Ages, my editor, Leslie Wainger, asked me if I had tried to have two projects going at the same time. No, I told her, I have to finish one before I start the next.

"Better learn," she told me.

Excellent advice. Some editors are really fast. They can turn around every aspect of a project in a very short time. Others work more at the pace of a hibernating bear. If I hadn't done what Leslie said, I'd be somewhere back around book thirty instead of somewhere around eighty.

It's not always easy. You can't just turn off the faucet on the big-scope, layered women's fiction, then turn on the faucet for the tighter, more intimate romantic suspense and expect it to flow. There's a transition period where the water trickles out about as clear as mud, and I'm pretty much stuck until it runs clear again.

Thank God, eventually it does run clear again!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pets in Books

I don't seem able to write an entire book without a dog in it. Always a dog, rarely a cat, never anything else. Maybe that's because in the last 16 year, we've had anywhere from three to six dogs living in our house at any given time -- all rescues. Since living in the country means a mouse problem, we've tried to have cats, but the first chance they get, they escape and never come back.

I just can't imagine life without animals in it. All my friends have pets. I don't completely trust people who don't have them. The simple fact of caring for a dog tells a lot about you to other people.

My favorite of my own literary pets: Elizabeth and Bear from Criminal Deception. Better known as Olivia and Chance in real life. And yes, they really are that ornery.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mailing Jitters

We were living in San Diego when I wrote my first two manuscripts. When I finished the first one, proofed it about a bajillion times and was finally ready to mail it, I took it across the street to the shopping mall, which had a post office in the basement, went inside and got postage, then took it back upstairs and dropped it in the box.

See, I was a regular at that post office and the clerk knew both me and the kiddo by name. If I'd changed my mind about mailing it and went back inside to ask him to give it back, I knew he would. But the mailbox outside was picked up by strangers, and I didn't think the odds were as good about them giving it back to me.

Trust me -- I would have tried.

Monday, July 23, 2012


You can't have a book without one, right? So you'd think after 25+ years in the business, I would have developed at least a tad bit of talent for them. Uh, no. It's pretty much just courtesy when my editors ask for my input. I'll think until I strain my brain, send them the pathetic few I've come up with, and they say, "Yeah, thanks, but no."

We're at the title-selection phase on the Tuesday Night Margarita Club. I, of course, don't have a clue. On the rare occasion I do think of a title, I don't get attached to it. Except one. The working title for Season for Miracles was Miracle on 3rd or 4th Street. It came from Noelle the cafe angel not being able to remember where the empty house was, so she told Emily it was . . . you get the idea. Loved that title. So did some of the publishing staff. The rest hated it wth a vengeance.

Ah, well . . . sometimes you come up with a winner, and sometimes you don't.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Picking Names, Round Three

After I posted that repeating names don't matter to me in the books I read, I found an instance where it did. I'd finished reading a republished book on the Kindle with a kindly elderly character named something unusual like Bernice or Hortense. The e-book contained an excerpt from the author's newest book, which took place in the same tiny town as the book I'd read, with a kindly elderly character with the same name -- only it wasn't the same character. I dunno . . . two Hortenses in the same tiny town who are the same age, the same personality, but have no connection? I definitely would have preferred a change there.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Picking Names, Part 2

Some writers are very dedicated to their character names. Some of my buds actually can't get a handle on their hero or heroine until they've found the perfect name for them. I used to really focus on them, but in the last twenty books or so, my approach has been much more relaxed. If a character doesn't have a name when he appears and one doesn't come to mind by the end of Chapter 1, I just pick something and write on. Either the name works and grows to fit him, or it doesn't and I change it.

It's a good thing I had and named my kiddo before I got so lax on the names. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Picking Names

Years ago I read a magazine article that commented on the dozens of books Nora Roberts had written at the time and the fact that she didn't reuse the primary character names. For whatever reason, it stuck in my head: reusing a name for different heroes/heroines = bad.

Now that I've written somewhere around 80 books, I keep wondering why that comment made such an impact on me. In my family, we have two Rhondas, four Mikes plus a few other duplicates that escape me. In my small writer/best buds group, we've got two Jackies, and I know bunches of Susans, Margarets, Lindas, Lynns, etc.

So why can't I have two Beaus or Sarahs or Lizzies? Guess I can . . . if I can forget that remark.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Writing Short

Years ago my then-editor, Beth DeGuzman, asked me to take part in an anthology collection with Kay Hooper and several other authors. I jumped at the chance. Then I found out the word count: 15,000 measly little words. I've never been the type to say in one word what I can say in twenty. Gabriel's Angel was the tightest, shortest piece I'd ever had to write, and it just about killed me. It was good preparation, though, for Hostage in Copper Lake, the 10,000-word story I had to do a few years ago.

That's why I try to keep these blogs very short. Time is scarce. I'm learning to say something without saying everything. Hope it's working!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Who's Counting?

I try to write a certain number of words a day when I'm working on deadline. Sometimes I do really great, and sometimes I just suck pond water. I joke that I'm allotted only so many words a day, and conversation counts, so sometimes when I'm in a chatty mood, there's just not enough left over to make my quota.

Sadly, it's not really a joke.

Yesterday: emailed, Facebooked, Tweeted, talked and wrote only 1091 words. Got to increase that with the deadline less than a month away.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing Daze

I've been a storyteller all my life. I used to make my sisters, cousins, anyone available, sit and listen to them until I learned how to write. (My sisters may have forced that on me so they wouldn't be captive audiences anymore.) I never gave any thought to publishing until my cousin told me she was going to write a romance novel. Until then, I only wrote scenes -- the highlights, not all the slower connective stuff in between -- but I decided to give it a shot.

My first manuscript came back with a suggestion that I not bother the editor anymore. After crying for two days, I finished the manuscript I was working on, sent it to a different editor and sold it. Who knew I couldn't resist a challenge?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Copper Lake, Georgia

When I wrote One Stormy Night, it was intended to be a single book, not the start of the never-ending series. But the hero had a half-brother who was bartending at a strip club, and I couldn't help but wonder why. When I began his book, I started calling it the Calloway brothers series and thought four books for the four brothers and it would be done. About eleven stories later, I'm not sure there's an end in sight. After all, those Calloway boys came from a large family, and darned if every single one of them doesn't have friends.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Because the margarita series is set in the fictional Tallgrass, Oklahoma, not far from the Tallgrass Prairie, I wanted to have a prairie shot for the background of this site. My husband searched for hours and found the absolute perfect shot. He sent me the website, and I filled out the form to license the photo . . . which came out to about a thousand bucks a year!! Ouch. Instead I went out before the temp hit triple digits and took some pictures of our own "prairie" -- the field on the way to our pond and (ahem) our front yard. This one is the field, with our road curving around on the right. I'll post the front-yard prairie on the photos page. Um, maybe.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Author Alterations

I'm currently working on the AAs for Holiday Protector, my Christmas novella from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. This is my last chance for making changes/corrections and one I always enjoy. For one thing, I'm compulsive enough that usually there's not much to catch. Two, it means the book is done and will soon be on the shelf. Always a relief!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Margarita Series

Post-holiday malaise. I got up this morning fully intending to write my little fingers off, but instead tinkered with this blog, got a few more pictures up, got the author alterations for Holiday Protector and looked at cover ideas for the first margarita book. I always get excited around cover time. After all the writing, brainstorming, researching, etc., the book always seems real when we get to cover art. I know it'll still be a while, but I can't wait!