At Summer’s End

This summer has been…I’m not sure how to describe it. Maybe that’s because the last week has chewed me up and spit me out. If I were more clear headed it would be easier to just label it as busy. It was certainly that. We went. We did. We traveled. We camped. We visited. We were visited by others.

There was lots of family. Lots of friends. Lots of time with our kids in different places.

There were beautiful highs and horrifying lows. It was a summer packed full of busy living. Maybe it was too much for a homebody like me.

While I’m grateful for much of the busyness, and happy that we were able to go and participate and support, I’m ready for the slow down. I’m ready for quiet.

You guys. I get to have quiet. In just a couple weeks, I will have an entire school day’s worth of quiet. All five of my kids will be in school full time. There will be no littles at home. I’ve been deep in the throws of mommihood for nearly sixteen years, and in a couple weeks, there will be quiet.

What in the world am I going to do with myself? I mean, I KNOW what I’ll do. I have plenty of plans for what I might do, most of which center around getting my third fairy tale retelling written and getting the Tales of Winberg series out and into the world and into your hands.

I have hopes that I’ll be disciplined enough to do that in a timely manner, but I also know that I’m fairly distractible and if the creative bug isn’t biting, it will be a challenge to sit my butt in the chair and do the work.

Still. There will be so much more time to do that. Right? I anticipate a lot more time to do that, but people keep telling me that my days alone at home will fill up quickly with other things. So, I’m doing my best to manage my own expectations.

In the meantime, I have to finish school shopping.

And while I shop for school supplies and wait for the quiet to come, I have three different edits that I need to implement. A beta read, a proofread of Hooked, and a developmental of Hunted. If I can get those done before school starts, then I’ll be able to jump straight into drafting my Robin Hood retelling (which was going to be titled HIDDEN, but that title is on the chopping block). I’m fairly certain I have some really helpful notes written down in a notebook somewhere that is supposed to help me figure out the right place to start that story, so here’s hoping I can find said helpful notes when the time comes.

A Not-so-master Class

First, an update, because I realize that’s likely what y’all are most interested in.

My Tales of Winberg series is coming along. The manuscripts for both HOOKED and HUNTED are finished. HIDDEN is giving me a bit of trouble. It’s like a know too many of my plot points, and so I can’t find an entry point to dive into the story. I suppose this is what comes of pantsing eleven manuscripts and then trying to be more of a plotter on the twelfth.

Or, it could just be that I need to sit my butt in my chair and get over my self. It’s one or the other.

I attended a writing conference a couple weeks ago. I ended up attending virtually and I was lucky enough to get together with my writerly sisters, Jana Miller (Springback) and Kimberly Jepson (First book to come, and it’s going to be swashbuckling). We had a grand time taking classes and talking writing. As we were listening to the different presenters, we started to ponder what sort of things we might teach if we wanted to submit a class proposal for such a conference.

One of my critique partners suggested several months ago that I should do a class on writing kissing scenes. Now, I do love the kissing scenes, but I’m not sure I’d be able to stand up and tell people how to write kisses without a fair amount of discomfort and awkwardness.

No, the thing that I ultimately ended up thinking about was how to write emotion. More specifically, writing the physical responses that emotion brings on. And since I likely won’t be brave enough to submit a class proposal that would put me in the position of standing in front of a bunch of strangers and acting like I was qualified to teach said strangers, I decided to cheat. I recorded a little mini presentation in the comfort of my own home.

Enjoy.

Clean Romance Highlights

Sweet Deal

Suffering the Scot by Nicole Van is FREE right now. This is book one of the Brotherhood of the Black Tartan series. The next three are all $.99. I’ve read them all and recommend them all.

Jane sees Andrew as an unmannered eejit. Andrew considers Jane to be a haughty English lady. But, as the saying goes, . . . opposites attract. 

Sweet New Release

A Proper Scoundrel by Esther Hatch released a couple weeks ago. I read it and truly enjoyed it.

His scandals were right on track until she derailed everything.

Tales of Winberg?

With my next series being fairy tale retellings, and a spin-off series from my Dalthia series, I was originally thinking of calling the series Tales from Dalthia, or something similar. However, as I’ve continued to plan out the series, I’ve realized that these books will not take place in Dalthia. They will take place in Winberg, which is the Sovereign Duchy where Saving Marilee takes place.

The reasoning for this?

Not only was I planning to tell both Cecily and Emeline’s stories, who are both from Saving Marilee, but I realized that Marilee, with her fanciful mind and her love of whimsy, had created the perfect jumping off point from which to launch my fairy tale retellings. They will all be interwoven just like the Dalthia books were, building on one another.

The downside? I was originally planning on FINALLY telling Gretchen’s story (Ella’s maid), but alas, with this new plan, I have to put Gretchen on the back burner once again.

The good news? I already have an inkling of an idea for a fourth book. I originally only planned on three, but there’s a fourth that will likely get written, even if it’s not released on the same schedule with the first three.

And what are the first three?

Hooked: A Peter Pan retelling.

Hunted: A Little Red Riding Hood retelling.

Hidden: A Robin Hood retelling.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

The first draft of Hooked is complete. I’m getting close to finishing the rough draft of Hunted. And I have an outline sketched out for Hidden.

Since I’m planning to release these in quick succession (each one month apart), I wanted them all finished and ready to go before I release the first. To prep for that, I’m having my cover artist attack all three covers at the beginning of April. It’s been great to have that soft deadline in place. It’s forced me to be sure that I have a handle on all the characters and major plot lines.

Also, I’m super excited to see what she can do with these covers. (!!)

ALSO! Just Ella will be FREE on Thursday and Friday. So tell a friend. Or buy it for a friend. Or for yourself!


Walking the Tight Trope

I’ve been thinking about character tropes and point of view. What’s the link between the two? Well, that’s the realization I had.

Many of the character tropes—especially in romantic books—are dependent on how other people view that character. And because it’s an outside view, they are flattened to one or two dimensions. The smart girl. The bad boy. The funny friend. The loser. It’s the role that society has assigned them because it’s the easiest box that they fit in.

It’s true that in life, we often view people as a stereotype the first time we meet them. When we are trying to make sense of new people in new situations, it’s easiest if we can quickly categorize people in the file cabinet of our brain. But those preconceived notions and attributes are often heightened in fiction.

So I’ve been studying these romance character tropes, their traits and how they fit in with other types of characters, and that led me to evaluate my own work to see if I have characters that fit into these tropes. There are a few that, yes, I can see how they might fit. Marilee is the pretty girl. She’s frivolous and privileged. She likes pretty things and is used to getting what she wants. But that’s only in Just Ella. When she has her own story, she no longer fits that role, partially because she’s lived a life that crushed that out of her, but mostly because you’re in her head and you can understand who she really is.

We understand a character better when we’re inside their head and can see all their motives, misconceptions and hang-ups. They move beyond a trope and become a full person. But how do we do that with the other characters, especially the love interest?

One way is by using dual point of view.

Adult romance novels are often told from dual point of view. You get to see inside both characters’ heads and understand exactly why they are acting this way and saying that thing. In general, I think this is done so that the reader can get to know both romantic leads and fall for them more easily because we have more to work with than just what we can observe. We get to know both of them as full people.

So then why don’t I do that with my books? The easy answer is that I’ve never wanted to. But I think the underlying reasoning and the one I feel strongly about, is that we experience life from only our point of view.

In real life, we aren’t in our love interest’s head. We can’t fall in love with them because of their inner thoughts and private motivations. We can only fall for them because of what we see, hear and feel from them.

I want my readers to be able to really sympathize with my heroines. I want them to be able to see the heroes the way that my main character sees them. And I want my readers to be able to understand why they fell in love. What did the hero say and do that made their personalities, and their love for the heroine, clear enough that the heroine is willing to fall for them?

Because in life, that’s all we have. We don’t know someone is interested in us until they either SHOW us, or TELL us. And we usually won’t believe it until they have done both consistently for a significant amount of time. If a man says he loves a woman, but then ignores her, it doesn’t matter what’s going on in his head, she’s not going to believe him. And she shouldn’t. Love has to be more than words.

Single point of view also forces our main character to do the hard work of moving from first impressions (character tropes) to seeing them as more than just a general caricature and developing a more complex understanding for that person.

That doesn’t mean my approach is right or wrong. It simply goes about storytelling in a different way. Dual point of view can highlight misunderstandings and why they happen, as well as how they can be conflated and then overcome. It can also help us to see both characters from their own point of view and from the outside. Single point of view forces you to only use the information that one person would have and hopefully cause the reader to buy into that character’s perceptions and decisions. It forces the author to show the love interest falling in love without being in their head.

There are pros and cons to both, but I prefer single point of view because it keeps the mystery alive. If I don’t know what the love interest is thinking, then the inherent suspense of how-will-they-fall-in-love is still there.

But maybe that’s just narrow minded of me. Would y’all prefer that I give in and do a dual point of view book? Or are you a-ok with the way I do things?

Clean Romance Highlights

The Rivals of Rosennor Hall by Rebecca Connolly is free right now.

One estate. Two heirs.
No rules, only battle lines.


Any Happy Little Thought

Hello friends, I hope your Thanksgivings celebrations were lovely and safe.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned my plan to write a trilogy of fairy tale retellings that will take place in the world of Dalthia. So I figured I’d give you a little more info.

Whose story will be first? Cecily’s. We met her in Saving Marilee.

What fairy tale will I be retelling? Peter Pan.

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Dalthia Spin-off?

Another Tuesday. Another newsletter from yours truly.

So, here’s a snippet of news.

My next project will be a spin-off from the Dalthia series. It takes place in the same world. We’ll see some of the princesses. My main characters will be familiar to you because they appeared in the Books of Dalthia.

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Masculinity in Movies

I usually get my newsletters posted and sent out by noon on Tuesdays, but this day got away from me. And while I usually have my post written or at least started long before Tuesday rolls around, that wasn’t the case this week.

And I’m kind of glad. I ran across a series of video essays today, and I’ve been thinking about how I really want to share them with people, because they’re brilliant and well done and vital to the genre of romance.

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The Finished Product

When writing a book, there are a lot of different levels of finished. With Just Ella, the first time that I “finished” it, it wasn’t really finished at all. I’d completed the plot. There was a beginning, a middle, and an end. That’s good. It’s a huge step in the process, but it’s so far from being the end.

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