Box Set Glitch and FIX

**The glitch in the box set is fixed! If you got a faulty version, you should be able to update the book by syncing.**

You cannot imagine how sorry I am about the glitch in the box set version of Just Ella. It was already on sale and selling quite a few when someone brought it to my attention that the last part of chapter one was missing. It just stopped in the middle of a sentence. Those who have read the book will probably realize how significant that is. The end of chapter one is more than a little bit important.

I contacted the woman in charge and she set about fixing the problem right away. (We still don’t know how it got messed up or why.) She uploaded a new, perfect file. The only problem was that though the version now available for purchase was fixed, it was not allowing people who had already bought the book to update their version to include the fixed chapter. Every day for several weeks, I tried to update the version that I had bought and every day I was angry and frustrated that it still.wasn’t.fixed. I felt so bad that people who may have been totally new to my book would be missing a chunk. Not only that, but it made it look like I had screwed up. I certainly hope that it didn’t turn people off to my work. Bad first impression. So sorry.

Hopefully there were some that discovered that if they went to the regular version of Just Ella in the kindle store, they could read the entire first chapter as part of the sample. But I doubt there are many people who would think of it.

Once again, my most sincere apologies. I hope y’all know that any time you find something wrong with any of my books, you can contact me and I will do everything I can to fix it.

Cover Photo Shoot

As always, getting a cover put together for my newest book has been an adventure! At the beginning of January, my husband mentioned that he wanted to go watch our nephew in his wrestling state championship down in Salt Lake. I realized that it would be a great excuse for me to put together a photoshoot down there. My sister, Jennifer, is a superb photographer (Fauset Photography) and lives down that way.

So we put up a casting call and I got to look through pictures of a bunch of lovely women with fabulous long blonde hair and found a model who was perfect.

Then, the hunt for a dress was on. Once again, I relied on the wonderful ladies at In Retrospect in downtown Boise. I couldn’t resist trying on this hat while I was there. I’m ready for tea with the queen.

IMG_6320

I found two dresses that I thought would work and arranged to rent them.

IMG_6405

The next day, I went to the fabric store. Both dresses had skirts that would have fit my height (5’3″), but my model is 5′ 7″. So I whipped up a couple of new skirts (not gonna lie, I’m really proud of those skirts) and had everything squared away for the wardrobe.

And then there was the location. Oh gracious, the location. I had looked for a venue in the Boise area, but couldn’t find anything that I thought would work, which is another reason I decided to drive the five hours with my four children to take a picture. I scoured wedding reception venues in and around Salt Lake for hours, looking through photos and trying to find something that would fit my vision. I had a couple of options that looked like they could work, but then I ran across photos from La Caille. It’s a restaurant in Sandy with pretty extensive grounds. Once I saw pictures from an interior photoshoot, I was sold. I booked it about two minutes later.

Now, I chose La Caille because of a very specific room that I had seen pictures of, but just before we arrived, my sister called to inform me that that room no longer existed.

What?

Turns out, this room was part of a house that is on the grounds, but it isn’t part of the main restaurant. The house is now being lived in, and the rooms are being renovated. I was so sad, but still hopeful. We arrived and I looked around and decided that there were plenty of places that we could make work.

So Jennifer and I and my wonderful model and her mother went to the bride’s room and I handed over the first dress, praying it would fit her. And hallelujah, it did. It was perfect on her.

So, the shooting began. And let’s just say, I was not disappointed.

27

32 35

I won’t show you the photo I picked for the cover yet, but we had so much fun. Mckaiden was wonderful to work with and her mom was a huge help. It was a great experience.

IMG_6375

25

I had to throw on the cape to fit in with the decor. :)

I’m excited to do a cover reveal later on because I’m so happy with how it turned out. I had a great time sitting beside my hubby while he tweaked and fixed and adjusted, turning a gorgeous image into a gorgeous cover.

 

The Rest of the Story – Part 3

I went to see Into the Woods the day after Christmas. I love that musical to the moon and back, and I’m still just a little bitter that I wasn’t cast in it that one time in college. Granted I wasn’t actually enrolled at the time, but still!

Anyway. The hubby and I were driving home and he commented that Into the Woods was a perfect example of what I was talking about in my blog post about The Rest of the Story. Ain’t that the truth. The brilliance of that musical (in addition to the incredible music and lyrics) is that Act I tells the fairy tales so well. They are wrapped up in their neat happily ever afters, and then in the stage production, act II starts with “Once Upon a Time…Later,” and proceeds to tell the story of what happens AFTER the happily ever after. Because once you get what you wish, there will always be another wish to take its place.

Into-the-Woods-Lilla-Crawford

The baker and his wife have a child, but they want a bigger house. Jack has riches but wants to return to the kingdom in the sky. Cinderella is a princess but wants to sponsor a festival. *Though, if you’ve only seen the movie, I suppose you will have missed that bit.*

Contentment isn’t something that humans do well. We’ve trained ourselves to want the next best thing, to keep on reaching farther and higher. That’s not a bad thing (though it can be), but it makes the idea of happily ever after seem more than a little ridiculous. As the princes query in their song, Agony, “What’s as intriguing, or half so fatiguing, as what’s out of reach?” We always want what we can’t have.

We all want something. Characters always want something, which is a good thing to keep in mind. For each scene that we write, we need to know what it is that our characters are trying to accomplish. What’s the goal in each scene? What are our characters’ wishes for the entire book? For the beginning, middle, end, and every scene within? Our characters’ desires are what will propel the plot forward.

Not only do we have constant changing goals and desires, but our lives are filled with opposites, which means they’re filled with opposition. It’s not just that the characters in Into the Woods want more. In life, there will always be some other person who wants the opposite of what we want, someone and something that will knock us off balance, just as soon as we feel we’ve figured something out. A giant will terrorize the village, a spouse will go astray, a reversed curse will rob the witch of her magical powers, a grandmother will die, or the path through the woods will be lost.

And then what? That, my friends, is the right question.

What I’m Working On

I’ve dropped some hints here and there on social media about my next book, but I figured I’d give an official update.

I’m working on Marilee’s story! If you’ve read Just Ella, you’ll remember Marilee as the vibrant, fun, and often silly sister. She is the second youngest and was more than a little bit shallow and naive.

Marilee has her happily ever after. She married the handsome son of a sovereign duke and moved to his picturesque estate. But after eight months of marriage, Marilee has lost her love for life, as it’s been squashed out of her by her domineering husband. He has pushed her to the breaking point. So when he suddenly dies, she is left to rebuild her life and her confidence with the help of a few loyal servants, and her kind neighbor, Mr. Sutton. But reclaiming the ability to love and trust will take time and patience, from both of them.

1969326_10153870893035386_2054243218_n

I wrote the first pages of this book while on a flight to Virginia last April. I was on my way to surprise my youngest sister for her baby shower. We were all sitting around on her front porch when I pulled it out and let several of my sisters (I have 5) read it. I could tell they were as intrigued by it as I was, and I’ve been excited about it ever since. I’ve also been anxious to know what would happen because I always have to wait and see what my characters decide to do. It’s been fun watching Marilee take charge of her life and grow up.

I’ve got a cover photo shoot scheduled! I’m so excited about the location. I saw the pictures of this place and was blown away by the sheer gorgeousness. It made me wish I was planning my wedding so that I could have a party there! I have enlisted the fantastic Fauset Photography (another fabulous sister) and I’m excited to see what we can come up with!

 

The Rest of the Story – Part 2

There’s a flip side to the rest of the story. My last post was about how we often think the worst of people, only to discover they aren’t so terrible. However, we can also think the best of someone, only to be proven wrong.

In high school I had a major crush on a boy. I can’t even remember his name now, but I thought he was a hottie. My best friend was a social butterfly and when we ended up talking to him and his friend, I (not so casually) signaled to Emily that she should introduce me. Some weeks later, a group of us ended up going to six flags one evening for fright fest. That was the night my crush died a rather abrupt death. Not the boy, he was perfectly healthy, but any admiration I had felt for him died that night.

It started when we met up with a couple of other girls. As we stood in line, waiting for a ride, one of them let us know that she had a little bit of marajuana in her purse. Mr. Crush thought this was the coolest thing ever. I thought it was illegal.

Later on we ended up on the ferris wheel. It was one of those that have the big cages that can seat up to 6 people. During a lot of the ride, Mr. Crush was standing up, making really crude comments, full of sexual innuendo, to the people in the cage next to us. I was incredibly uncomfortable, but I was literally stuck in a cage with this boy and our friends. Talk about feeling trapped.

Abandoned-Six-Flags-Amusement-Park29

Once we made it off the ferris wheel, we sat down on some benches. I was well and truly annoyed by this point, but I was putting up with it because I didn’t want to make a scene. Then I caught a flicker at the corner of my eye. I glanced over to see CrushBoy and a couple of his friends lighting cigars.

Keep in mind, we were only 15.

I finally cried foul and my best friend and I, along with a couple other people, ended up leaving the main group and going off to do our own thing. It had been a crappy evening, but looking back, I’m grateful for it. My crush on that man child had to do with nothing but his looks. I found him physically attractive, but once I got to know him—even for one evening—that attraction was gone.

Have you ever read or wrote a character like that? In romance, the easiest way to identify the hero is by his looks. He’s the one the heroine admires, the one she sees from afar and just can’t get her mind off of him. However, it can be a wonderful surprise when we resist stereotypes and break out of the norm. I really enjoy reading about the girl swooning over the guy, only to find out later that he’s a dud. After all, that’s how life goes sometimes.

You can have a character (guy or girl) who is attractive, talented, and charismatic. But what’s the rest of the story? Have their looks gone to their head? Are they just a little too used to getting what they want because of their charisma? Have their parents and teachers excused their bad behavior because they’re just too talented to hold back?

How can we use that in our stories? There are a few options.

1) This perfect-at-first-glance character could be a red herring. A crush/love interest that derails the true love story, until we see their true colors.

2) Turn them into the villain. It can have a lot of impact if readers have almost fallen for the villain before they are revealed to be the source of all evil. Think Hans in Frozen.

Frozen5-updated

3) They really are the hero/heroine, but before they can live up to their roll as hero/heroine, they have to transform. They seem perfect, are revealed to be very flawed, but then decide to rise to the occasion and become a better person.

The unexpected is your friend. The unexpected should be sought after and utilized to create another layer of depth. Layers are good, like a cake! Mmmmm…cake.

The Rest of the Story

I was sitting in church. My toddler had confiscated the iPad, but I wasn’t worried, because you have to have the code to unlock it.

IMG_6148

Turns out I should have been worried.

I looked over and saw that my little beastling had somehow accessed the photos. And the photo that popped up wasn’t really something that I wanted to show off in church. It was a full body shot of a man standing there in nothing but his boxer briefs.

I frantically confiscated it and tried to hide it from view as I turned the dang pictures off.  There were many such pictures on that iPad.

Scandalous, right?

Or was it? Before you declare me a horrible person with a shameful secret, let me tell you the rest of the story:

We got the iPad for my husband’s work. This was several years ago when the iPad first came out. My husband helps develop Apps and as they switched from iPod to iPad, they needed it to test them. They develop acupuncture apps, and these apps need pictures to show where each point is located. The photograph was for work. It was indeed a picture of a man in nothing but his boxer briefs, but it was in no way provocative. These photos had been shot for this specific purpose and had the man standing in many very specific positions that showed off the muscle and bone structure. My husband could then add in dots to represent the acupuncture points.

Unbeknownst to me, the iPad was equipped with a little icon that appeared on the lock screen that allowed you to look at your photos as a slide show while the iPad was still locked. (We later got rid of that feature). So, since the only photos on the iPad were those that my husband used for work, those are the ones that showed up when my toddler touched the icon in church.

So, why am I talking about the (not) scandalous pictures on my iPad?

Because, despite the fact that there was nothing shameful about the photo, I still felt the need to hide it, quickly and quietly, glancing around as I wondered if anyone had seen it, and worrying about what they might think. Because we all make judgments. We use the information that we have and we call it as we see it.

We have to make those judgment calls; those little judgments are often necessary to make daily decisions. But are those judgment calls accurate or fair? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes the situation will be exactly what it seems. Sometimes, no. And I’d venture to guess that most of the time, the answer is no. There is more to the story than what we see. There are reasons, explanations, and history that led up to the moment in time where we step in and make an observation.

I’ve met people (and I would guess that you have too) who have shifted my perspective just by telling me their story. I walk away wanting to write their narrative, to remember the words they used, the emotion exhibited when they gave certain details. I want to share the understanding I’ve gained because before I met them, I didn’t understand. Then suddenly, after hearing them, I get it.

That’s the reason we tell stories. We share our tales of pain or triumph, of fact or fiction, so that we can help each other understand. Oftentimes a book can act like that proverbial pair of shoes. We put on the shoes as we slip into the story, and we go for a walk. Maybe it’s a mile, maybe it’s ten. And hopefully at the end of it, we’ve gained a little bit of compassion and sloughed off one or two of our snap judgments.

There’s always more to the story, and as authors, we can use that. Imagine a character and a situation that interests you, one that’s strange and dramatic and pulls at your heart. Now tell me how they got there. Tell me the rest of the story.

 

Us vs. Them

In books there is almost always an Us and a Them. Us is the perspective the book is told from. It’s the right side, the side that you are supposed to be rooting for. Us is the protagonist, the hero, the heroine. Them is the person or group of people that Us is fighting against. Them is the antagonist, the wrong side, the villain.

Us vs Them creates conflict, which is what stories are built on.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.38.13 PM

Unfortunately, we also have Us vs Them in real life, and real life is rarely as clear cut as books like to show. We have it in religion and politics. We create sides among businesses, between socio-economic classes and between races. We shouldn’t, but we do.

Sometimes I feel like the media is just another author, pitting one group against another for the sake of a riveting story. You want to know which characters are the most fun to write? Villains. What fun the media must have as they take turns casting one side as the villain and then the other.

A grand jury verdict came down yesterday for the case in Ferguson. As with any verdict, one side is relieved, vindicated, the winner. The other side is confused, upset, and left to continue mourning. The law is far from perfect. Law enforcement, lawyers and judges do the best they can. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. And sometimes there may not be a right and wrong, just two sides to a story. I’m not going to speculate on which category the Ferguson verdict falls into. I am in no way qualified to make that judgement.

Now that the verdict has come, those who are dissatisfied are reacting. They are responding with pain and grief. Their pain is real. Their grief is real. I mourn with them, and any who lose loved ones. But does continuing the fight between Us and Them accomplish anything?

I lived in St. Louis. I spent my (awkward and often difficult) high school years there. I have friends and family scattered throughout the city. The conflict between those who agree with yesterday’s verdict and those who don’t has resulted in rioting and violence in a city that I love.

I know that those who mourn feel the pain acutely because from their perspective, it was unjustified violence that caused Michael Brown’s death. They want justice for him. Of course they do. They feel like the law has failed them and they want to do something about it.

I just don’t understand how more unjustified violence will make it right, or do any good at all. The people in Ferguson and the surrounding areas are not the perpetrator, so why are they being punished? Michael’s mother is left without her child. I cannot imagine that pain. But what if this rioting results in more parents losing children? More children losing parents? Will that solve the problem? Will it make anything right?

Becoming the perpetrator of the crime you abhor will never make anything right.

If those who feel that justice has not been served feel the need to strive for a different outcome, I’m in no position to tell them not to. But punishing innocent people is not justice. It makes for a good headline but is that what we want to be?

My wish is that we can all strive for compassion and that we can stop allowing the media to turn us into characters for the stories they sell.

 

*I hope it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. I do not wish to vilify the media. Not all media outlets or journalists are doing this. But the ones that are seem to be the loudest. To the fair and fact-based journalists: keep fighting the good fight.

Clean Romance Box Sets

The fabulous Heather B. Moore has pulled together a project that I am so excited about. It’s called Triple Treat Romances. She has networked with and recruited clean romance writers of all genres and compiled them into multiple box sets. Each box set contains three full length novels. And they are all wonderfully inexpensive!

Check out the Triple Treat Romance website to get a look at all of the box sets. You can see which sets are already available on amazon and see the release dates of those that aren’t.

For example, in December, Just Ella will be released as a part of this box set. :)

TTT Destiny Waiting 3-D

If any of you saw my post on FB about the definition of speculative fiction, this is why. I’ve come to the conclusion that since the world of Just Ella and Missing Lily is entirely made up and therefore does not exist, they do qualify as speculative. That and the fact that they don’t fit into any other genre. See this post for more of my thoughts on that front.

But I digress. I am thrilled to be part of these collections and ridiculously excited for the opportunity to get my hands on so many clean romances.

Clean Romance Authors UNITE!

When Did We Lower the Standard?

I heard a song the other day that started with the lyrics, “Guess it’s true I’m not good at a one-night stand.” The sadness of those lyrics struck me. The assumption that the majority of people are/should be good at having meaningless physical relationships speaks to just how much society has devalued genuine feelings and emotions like love, affection and caring. It’s become the norm to “use it and lose it.” The fact that the word “it” is used in that term should tip us off to just how much we’ve dehumanized each other.

The song is sung by a man and it got me thinking on the condescending remarks people tend to make that “boys will be boys” and “men can’t help themselves.” I’m guessing many of you agree that the latter is bull and that men can and should control themselves. But what of the first one? There is no denying that little girls and little boys tend to have different interests depending on their gender; but what does that have to do with the crippling idea that men have no self-control? Continue reading