Friday, January 23, 2015

First Taste Friday

I should be doing something besides blogging. Yeah, still celebrating that finished contemporary novella (huzzah!), but I'm trying to get back to work on my historical romance now. I feel like I really have to get that finished before I can work on Tell any more.

When I start thinking about the setting of my historical romance--you guessed it, Wilson Township--I think about what it looks like out there, typically in the spring and summer, because I rarely have winter scenes. One of the things I love so much about the area north of my own hometown, is how open it is. See, I live midway up a hill and we basically get to look down into the valley, across the hill, or up at a sky crowded by trees. None of those are bad things, but if you visit Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, in the area where the farmland once was, you begin to notice that the ground there is working its way toward the Ozark Plateau. It's gentle rolling--almost prairie-like--land rather than the steep valleys and bluffs just ten miles to the south.

This is one of my favorite photos of the battlefield. It's next to Wilson's Creek and it shows the slightly slope-y, rolling land. You've still got hills and plenty of trees, but it's so open. To be honest, once I was riding with my husband to a place called Hulston Mill and I was astounded and terrified by how flat it is the father north-east you go in Missouri. Yes, I've been to Kansas and I lived in Oklahoma, but it had been a long time since I witnessed land like that and it just makes me think of how likely you are to get caught in a tornado. Yet, in it's way, it's breath-taking.

I was writing about the land in my WIP, about how sometimes a view will just "take" you. So here's a little snippet from Right Heart, Wrong Groom. The hero came from Tennessee. He lost his parents and some siblings in the yellow fever epidemic. He's pretending to be the heroine's husband--long story about why he's pretending--but he's falling in love with not just her, but the farm she owns too. She's a widow and she's talking about how her former husband also loved it, but his parents, who are still living, hate it. For reasons, the hero has vowed to take care of Abigail and not let anything bad befall the farm if he can help it.

 At the barn door, a wheelbarrow full of used straw waited to be dumped, and somewhere down the aisle, Abigail was tossing new straw into the stalls.
He took the old out to the corner and dumped it with the rest. Come planting time, it would make a good fertilizer.
How long since he'd had his hands in dirt that belonged to his family? It felt like a lifetime. He hadn't plucked an apple or a head of wheat that he could call his own since before the fever struck. There were damn few fields back East planted and growing where any man could find work harvesting.
This place afforded him that chance. It hit him like a punch in the chest. It was late spring and there was little planting to do, but if he held up his end of this game, he could own the next hay crop. He could pick apples from trees all day and taste the sweet juice of something he'd watched grow. He'd witness the first wobbly steps of newborn foals.
He'd be home. With a woman to call a wife. A woman more than willing to lay in his arms.
“It takes you like that sometimes. One minute you're grunting over how much grass horses eat and how bad it smells, then the sun hits the fields just right and every second is worth it.” Abigail stepped up beside him. “Michael and Malissa never understood what I saw in it, but I think you do.”
“It's much different than any place I've known. It's special.” He smiled. “You're right. The way the light hits. Right there, on the creek, breaking through the mist. It's...well, beautiful. Add in the horses and the oaks, then the fields and orchard. I never imagined any place like this.”
“You sound like Isaac. His favorite spot was on the porch, but he always talked about the land like it was a beautiful woman out to seduce anyone who saw it. Except his parents. They couldn't understand why he'd waste his life on hard work when he could put in long hours at a desk. It would have killed him.” She laughed, but it was bitter. “Surer than a copperhead. I must admit, I worried you'd take one look at it and see what they saw—all that back-breaking labor and a silly woman asking you to run yourself into the ground for it.”
“Abigail, I—” He bit his tongue. “I never want to return to an office. This is what I want. Even if it kills me.”

Just like the hero of The Wrong Brother's Bride, the hero sees something special in the farm on Wilson's Creek. I'm so struck by the place, I want to make sure readers see the beauty in it, so I try to express than in each of the books about Wilson.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Live, Write, Edit, Repeat

You may have noticed yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I didn't blog. I didn't blog Friday, but that's a different story. Three-day weekends are usually great for resting up or doing something super-exciting or maybe just regular exciting.

I went to a visitation and a funeral.

My dad's mom died last week. She was 94. I wish I could say it was 94 wonderful years, but hardly anyone gets an entire lifetime of wonderful. Her last few years weren't so great at all. She had Alzheimer's and spent some long hours in that ward. They said the last stroke she had was so bad, it should have killed her, but she lingered on for almost a week. I hope the first heart attack gets me, I don't care how young or old I am. As horrible and surprising as Dad's death was, we have the assurance that he didn't suffer. I want to go like that. On the other hand, I have no interest in going soon.

So it wasn't a weekend full of great times. As mentioned last week, I did go to Use Your Words. That was a good time, although on my way home from work, the truck tried to stop running. I was at my wit's end by then because, kids, I need a vacation in the worst way. The Use Your Words show was a lot of fun. I needed a good laugh.

Um, I also have a great story about garlic. We went to dinner with my writer friends who also went to Use Your Words before the show. We had just got there and I was starving. To my joy, there was bread on the table. In the basket with it was the weirdest looking butter I've ever encountered. When I tried to spread it, it just crumbled. Okay, weird, but I took a bite. And have regretted it ever since. That wasn't butter, friends. It was the hottest, most evilest thing on plant Earth. It was minced garlic and if you put a lot on a small piece of bread, it burns. And because I have better manners than a monkey, I chewed, swallowed and kept eating that bread because I thought surely the whole thing couldn't be that bad. Or I'm exhausted and so dumb, I was on auto-pilot. Seriously. I ate most of it. It was the most awful thing I've ever tasted. Like eating hot tires after a burn out. Yeah, I was still tasting that well into the next day. That night I also fell down and bruised the hell out of my shin. I think I was dizzy from my own breath. *sad face*

I spent a lot of time getting the contemporary novella we've talked about finished. I did about 7000 words on it over the weekend. I wasn't sure it would get finished by yesterday, but I was glad how easily it came along. It obviously needs editing in the worst way, but with a deadline of March 1 so we can get the next Cowboy Up box set up for your reading pleasure, I have a smidge of time to get that editing done. It always feels good to finish a first draft of a project though. And it feels even better to only have two writing projects on my plate instead of three.

I'm way, way behind on my historical romance because of that push to finish Good Ride, Cowboy. My Jano intentions have suffered horribly. Of course, writing the last 4000 words last night wore me out. I didn't have the oomph to get writing on the historical. I thought I'd save it for today. I may not make the 20k goal I had for this month on it, but I've got around 9000 done, which is closer to the end than I was, right? Right. I'll continue to ignore that pulsing burn of pain right below my left elbow. I'm sure it's just my tendons thanking me for using them frequently instead of nagging that they're over-used. Yeah, that's it.

As you might notice, a lot happened over the weekend. I'm whomped and I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Nothing unusual there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rockin' Downtown by Using My Words

Well, it's mid-week. Reckon that means I ought to write a blog post since I didn't manage one on Monday.

Update you on Jano? Sure.

It's not going so well. I haven't written doodle on my historical romance in two--if I don't manage any today, we'll call it three--days. However, I have been zipping right along on that contemporary western novella. I'm up to 12k and the end is drawing closer. I can't wait to have it finished so I can read it all the way through.

I'm super-duper excited about Friday because along with Lisa Medley, Cara Bristol, and Ellen Harger, I'm going to be in downtown Springfield, MO at an improv show called Use Your Words. It's a special Fabio-lous edition featuring--you guessed it, authors whose books definitely have some romance in them.

You can check out the FB event page here.

I used to do improv in high school (and yes, won awards for it). It's hilarious, so this is absolutely worth the price. Another good reason to wish Friday here a little sooner--the other being that Monday is a holiday. Whew! I need one.

I also have a surprise I'll show you in a little while. I can't wait. Are you excited? Of course you are.

Keep chugging along, kids. It's Wednesday. We can make it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jano Update

I'm participating in Jano. No, for real. I'm not even joking this time like I was when Camp NaNo came to town or when full-blown NaNo hit the scene. I'm really doing it.

I'm also not really writing 1600+ words a day. There's no way I'm going to make Jano's 50k goal. I'm shooting for 20-25k. I'll be happy with that and happier still if it goes over a bit.

I do try to average over 1,000, but in the event that I'm totally freakin' exhausted beyond help (which is happening more and more often of late), anything is better than nothing. What am I writing? How about another western historical romance?

But shouldn't I be writing the contemporary western? Yes. Am I? Yes. I'm cruising right along on that too, thank you. As of today, I'm about 40% done with it. I tend to write a few more than a 1000 words at a time when I'm working on it. It's cute and fun to write, so I hope when it makes an appearance, other readers thinks so too. Writing contemporary romance is hard--yet I've just come up with an idea for another one. When it's all said and done, if I have time/motivation to write the third contemp novella, I may put them all together into one book for your reading pleasure.

I'm semi-sort of working on a sooper sekrit historical romance project like that as well. At least, I have one story done. We'll see what else I come up with, but I've got to get the contemp novella done before March 1 and I want to finish the historical romance I'm writing for Jano this month, so those have to be done first. Not to mention...Tell's still hanging out and waiting impatiently.

The historical romance is a personal goal for reasons I can't tell you about, but trust me, it's extremely necessary that I finish this novel. Extremely necessary. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy (Belated) Book Birthday! + Giveaway

It's one year old! How time flies, to be cliche. You may know the story behind The Convict and the Cattleman, which is, this is the book that re-fired my passion for writing. It took nine months (geez, nine months) to complete the very awful first draft. It took several more to work on a second draft, and then with a little over 5k to go, I abandoned it into the dark recesses of my flash drive where I was quite certain no one would ever find it.

If it hadn't been for completing Jano 2013, I might not have ever opened this file again. I was bored, so I tentatively gave it a go. I was kind of disappointed in myself for not finishing it. It took 3 years after that second draft to get the job done. Seriously, it was somewhere around 5k to finish. That's a little sad.

Here it is in all it's shining glory, with that lovely cover by Fiona Jayde. And here is your chance to win a copy on Kindle! Spread the word, lovelies.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't want to win, say, for example, you already own it, you can still help spread the word with these helpful tweets:

The Convict & the Cattleman book birthday ! His love is the key to her release. ?

It's a book birthday giveaway! #historicalromance Down Under - The Convict & the Cattleman by @allison_merritt

A female convict, a handsome grazier, an unexpected chance for love. The Convict & the Cattleman #giveaway

Or, you can buy it at: