Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year-End Wrap Up

It's time for the year-end recap. The good, the bad, and the oh dear sweet and fluffy lord, why?

I came into 2014 with a really awful sense of dread hanging over me. I was so depressed. I didn't know why, but I was terrified something bad was coming. Surprise! Instead, I got news that seemed freakin' awesome.

Remember, Kensington picked up Lyrical. That was something else. Whoa, big house with my little fish books. The Convict and the Cattleman came out somewhat disastrously in January. The ebook didn't launch the day it was supposed to. Gee, that was a little awkward, but it was one of those shifting houses things. I spent most of January finishing another historical romance. And that nagging fear stayed on.

In February, though, that was when the bad news splatted through the fan. My mom's husband had terminal cancer. Things took a huge nosedive. I was trying to write a contemporary western romance and not having so much luck. I was still really depressed. Like, to the point where everyone was starting to notice and wonder if I'd derailed somewhere along the way. The upside was that Wildwood Spring came out—and sadly, almost no one read it.

He passed away in March and there was a lot of uncertainty about what was going on, because death is a tumultuous thing. I was writing very little although I was editing Eban a bit because I'd finished it too. I'd finished and contracted the historical by the end of March. In April and May, my sense of worth wasn't rising and things were looking pretty dire, really. I was fed up with work and my lack of writing and pretty much the whole world. The bright side: The Wrong Brother's Bride released in April and total strangers had a lot of really nice things to say about it.

Things went downhill for me around the first of June because there were a lot of hiccups in editing and my sense of self-worth and determination to win this publishing game just fell through rock bottom. We vacationed in June and I only did a little writing the very first day we were there. My husband said, “Wow, you needed this. You were actually happy and relaxed.” And very sunburned, but it was so worth it. I hadn't had a vacation in seven years. It was nice to get away from all the rush of social media, especially the BS at work, and life in general.

I started work on another historical romance and on Tell, but neither were working out very well. We actually did a lot more sightseeing and running around to places we'd never been before this summer than usual. It was a year for big adventure, but not in writing. I did write a contemporary western novella and that came out in September with six other authors in the box set Cowboy Up. It was great of my friend D'Ann to invite me to be in it.

I wasn't as excited this year for ORACon as in the past, which was sad. The good news was, I'd found a project I was thrilled to work on—Vikings. It was something new and different and I had a lot of fun with it. I pitched it even though I was barely started and I did a good job. I was proud of that. On the other hand, I submitted the first page of my newest western historical to an editor panel at ORA and they literally had nothing nice to say about it. Ouch.

I lost my SD card with 20k worth of Tell on it, a whole chapter worth of another historical, a chapter of the Viking novel, and all of that contemporary romance I'd started in February. It really sucked, but I was determined to make Tell even better. I set him up again and put him aside for November while I finished up the Vikings and celebrated the release of Wystan (The Heckmasters).

I didn't finish Tell in November. I barely added 15,000 words.

I signed the Viking romance, Her Heart's Surrender, to Three Worlds Press.

I've dabbled at another Viking novel, hemmed and hawed over the historical, added 4,000 more to Tell. I did finish a historical western romance short story right before I got the killer epizootie that's going around.

I lost my data entry sheet for my word count when my SD card went bye-bye, so I don't have a total for the year and that makes me sad. When I lost it, it was around 210,000 or so. Not bad, but not what I'd hoped either. I only finished 4 books this year and one was really a novella. My whip-crackin' inner editor hates me a whole lot for that sad display of wimpy writing. Earn that carpal tunnel, pen monkey, it screams.

So because of this sad excuse for a writing year, I have lofty goals for next: I obviously must finish Tell. I also must finish that historical romance, and I really, really must get to work on another western contemporary novella, like yesterday. Okay, maybe they're not too lofty. The novella needs 20k, Tell needs slightly over 50 for completion, and the HR about 25-30k. Not so bad. Everything else will work out given time. And I have 365 days to work out the rest.

On the super-positive side, that crushing depression isn't hanging around right now. Be gone, devils. Take that annoying inner editor with you.

I'm looking forward to 2015 and as always, I my hope for you is that you're on the path you need to be on. If it's not the path, I hope the path you're on takes you to that path. And if not that path, then the next one will get you on the right one. So on and so forth.

Happy New Year, kids!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Eban is Hot and so is Pre-ordering

I'm sick *cough cough*

Boo, you whore.

But seriously, I am. So you're not getting much out of me today. Friday we did the cover reveal for Eban. Today, in case you missed the notices on the social media, I'm giving you the pre-order links for Eban, because, hooray, pre-order!


Amazon || B&N || Kobo

And don't forget in the post below this one, I'm having a giveaway for a $5 Amazon gift card. so get in on that thing.

Meanwhile, I have to try to feel more like a human and less like a miserable lump before Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cover Reveal & Giveaway - Eban (The Heckmasters)

Drum roll...

Here it is, the cover you've all been waiting for...


Our dark and handsome hero is steaming up the cover of this book, coming from Samhain on April 7, 2015!

About The Book:
Eban (The Heckmasters, Book 2)
Author: Allison Merritt
ISBN13: 978-1-61922-634-0
Length: 70k

If love can’t save them, there will be hell to pay.

Grateful for his mother’s human blood that cools the dark fire of his demon father, Eban Heckmaster has set up a medical practice in New Mexico territory. But there’s no hope of living a normal life until he rids himself of a seductive demon that’s been pursuing him.

Vanquishing it won’t be as simple as sharpening his demon-hunting sword. The clever creature is hiding inside his best friend’s head, and she has no idea of the havoc she’s been wreaking, especially with his body.

Beryl suspects Eban knows why she’s been waking up with no memory of where she’s been or what she’s done, but he’s not talking. But when she inevitably learns what he’s hiding—or rather, what’s hiding inside her—she wonders if her love for him is real, or an illusion created by the demon’s lust.

Eban is losing the battle to hold his rising desire in check. There may be only one way to extricate Beryl from the beast entangling her mind. Call upon his demon blood...and offer it as a sacrifice.

Warning: Contains a half-human, half-demon doctor who can heal anyone except himself, and a woman who’d blush if she could remember the sensuous torture she’s been inflicting on him. Could make you wonder if you should start listening to the voices in your head...

Read the first book in the series:

Wystan (The Heckmasters)
Samhain || Amazon || B&N

Enter the giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And a big, huge thanks to everyone helping share the cover of Eban today! You guys rock!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

Saturday night was a big one. One of my favorite events of the year. The Luminary Ceremony at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. It was a great night for it, not cold like it's been in the past and not snowing and being all nasty like it was last year--they canceled because of it and broke my young heart.

So I have photos of the inside of the Ray House for you!

Lanterns at the foot of the front bedroom.

The candlelit vanity. You have a better chance
of seeing Bloody Mary than yourself in that mirror.

Wanna write a letter or read the newspaper by candlelight?

Festive decorations on the chest of drawers.

At least we can see to cook. *clears throat* By electric lights.

The family dining table with pretty place settings.
I feel bad for the person who had to sit alone at this table.

Union soldiers sitting around the campfire.
Dark as it was inside the front rooms, it had a homey feel. With all those people living inside the house (remember, the Rays had 11 children between them), it might have been more than a little cozy. You can read more about the Ray Homestead here.

It makes me want to write a Christmas story really bad.

The luminaries aren't there just to celebrate Christmas though. There are 2,539 of them placed on the 5 mile road around the battlefield in remembrance of the men wounded and killed at Wilson's Creek (otherwise called the Battle of Oak Hill) on August 10, 1861. It's both eerie and beautiful to follow a road lit only by candles in white paper bags and your driving lights. We've come a long way from traveling on horseback or wagon with only a couple of lanterns to guide us. You can see my previous tour (from 2012) here.

Happy Wednesday. It's only 8 days until Christmas. You ready?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Feature - Scandalous Endeavors by Amanda Marie

I have the pleasure today of introducing you to a book I got to read by my fabulous editor, Amanda.

Blurb:
Lady Amelia’s willing to create a scandal to stay in her beloved England. A Scottish duke ignites her passion, but will she abandon her endeavor for love?

Lady Amelia has only known the comfort of life in mid-nineteenth century English aristocracy. But when first her mother and then her father die, she finds herself alone, grief stricken and….. not of age. Her appointed guardian, an American uncle, has ordered her travel to his plantation where she must remain for at least two years when she will come of age.

With the help of Lady Grace and Lady Sarah, Lady Amelia gets her uncle to agree to give her four weeks to settle her affairs and unbeknownst to him…find an English lord to marry so she can remain in her beloved England. Despite her mourning period she endeavors to trap one of London’s eligible bachelors in matrimony.

Lord Goldstone, Lady Grace’s nephew is devilishly handsome, but a Scottish Duke and so entirely unacceptable as a possible husband. After all Scotland is not her beloved London and environs. He also has a nasty habit of showing up at all the wrong moments and thwarting her carefully laid plans to ensnare a suitable husband. Sparks fly as the pair find themselves at odds with each other and drawn to each other at the same time. Can they find a way to stop arguing long enough to explore their growing passion? Is it strong enough to make Lady Amelia give up her English home after all? Or will Lady Amelia find a suitable English lord and avoid social exile in America? Time is running out.

Excerpt:
Lord Roseington wrapped his arms around her and stood up, setting her on her feet. “Yes, Amelia, everything is okay now.” He reached up and removed her arms from around him, then took a step back. “We must stop winding up in these situations before we cause a scandal.”

She looked at him through hooded eyes. “‘Tis a wonder we haven’t already.”

A man cleared his voice behind her.

Amelia turned her head, already knowing who had caught them. “Lord Goldstone, you mustn’t trouble yourself with keeping our secret.”

“What she means to say is that there is no secret to be kept. Amelia carelessly got close enough to the hearth to catch her skirts ablaze. I could not very well let her burn up.”

“No, Roseington, you were obliged to help. I am glad to know that you were not taking advantage of our dear Amelia.” He glanced at her and flashed a rakish smirk. “Indeed, you are a hero. Let us go share the story while Amelia changes her charred gown.”

She tried her hardest to shoot daggers at him from her narrowed glare. His grin only deepened at the attempt, which increased her ire. “Don’t you dare tell a soul. I would most definitely perish from the embarrassment!” Amelia spat the words out with anger and annoyance. How dare he ruin everything for a second time, and then jest about sharing her humiliation. If he were not Scottish, she would trap him instead. That would teach him a lesson.

“Do not worry your head over it, Lady Amelia. We will not breathe a word of this little mishap,” Lord Roseington said. “Right, Goldstone?”

“Of course not. All of your secrets are safe with me.” He winked.

Amelia blushed at what he had implied. “Thank you. Now that it is settled I am going to retire for the evening. Enjoy the rest of the party. Lord Roseington, Lord Goldstone.” She inclined her head to them before spinning on her heels and speeding from the room.

About the Author:
Amanda Marie dreams of days gone by when life moved at a slower pace. She enjoys taking pen to paper and exploring historical time periods through her imagination and the written word. Her hobbies include reading, writing, crocheting, traveling, photography, and spending time with her family. Some of Amanda Marie's favorite places in the continental U.S. are Harper's Ferry West Virginia and Sea Brook New Hampshire. She loves the history that surrounds them and visits them every chance she gets.

Amanda Marie lives along the Lake Huron shore line in northern Michigan with her husband and two kids. She holds a Master of Liberal Arts Degree with a concentration in literature and has a long standing love affair with sugary junk food.

Join Amanda Marie on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorAmandaMarie1

Visit her blog at http://musingsbymandy.wordpress.com/

Write to Amanda Marie at amandamarieauthor@gmail.com

Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarieAuth

Where to purchase Scandalous Endeavors:
Amazon || B&N || Kobo

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bask In the Glory of My Splendid Tree

Whew! Done with the final proof for Eban and I now have the final books in my hands. Well, on my flash drive. This is the first time since I started getting covers that I haven't immediately revealed a cover. It's coming to some blog near you on December 19th. Are you excited to see the cover for Eban (The Heckmasters)? Of course you are.

I'm currently hard at work (almost 4k) into my second contemporary western novella. I'm feeling pretty good about it. It should round out about 20k or so, maybe a little over. Writing novellas is challenging, because it's important to make the world feel realistic, but not overload the senses with detail because you're limited on the word count.

I also joined tsÅ« this week. You can come friend or follow me over there if you like. I'm liking it a little better than Google Plus, at least for right now. It's a nice change of pace from the FB scene, although the majority of my content is still going there for a while.

In the spirit of giving, I'm sharing my Christmas tree with you. It's a classy tree. You can tell because it's wearing a dapper hat. Bask in it. Bask. It took me about an hour to cut the non-functioning lights out of the branches. It was awful. The end result: pretty tree with a quirkily tilted hat.

It's Friday. Go, be, do.

And read! Yes, read! Do lots of that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jingle, Jingle

But not quite the way you think.

Saturday was the Ozarks Romance Authors Annual Christmas Party. We had a pot luck, a Dirty Santa gift exchange and a super cool new way to celebrate our achievements from this year.

Introducing, my fabulous, extremely jingly new charm bracelet.


I'm not even 1000% sure what all these little jingly things are. Some are for finishing books, some are for publishing books, obvs the letters are for ORA, and the heart is for service because I was the newsletter editor last year. The colored beads are for contest placings. I should have bought another one, because I have four of those, but if I add any more, I might have to add another bracelet. That thing is super noisy and heavy as it is.

Right before January, I'll do a recap of all the things I have accomplished this year, so stayed tuned for that.

We also took a lovely picture (Thanks, Quillen, for taking the pic) with our other accomplished authors. 

We didn't plan that red corner, it just sort of worked out.
It was so much fun, getting together and celebrating the holidays. There was a lot of food, some really good stuff, and lots of laughter, which was really the best part.

Monday, December 8, 2014

On Writing - What's in it for Me?

The fine folks at Webucator have posed a few very important questions about writing. Specifically, why am I doing it? I've elected to answer their questions, because talking about writing is almost as much fun as writing.

What were your goals when you started writing?
I started writing very early, but I was a teenager when I realized this is what I really wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be published in romantic fiction. Romance novels have always been my first love. There was a manuscript that shall-not-be-named that I helped co-write with another author. It was briefly considered by Harlequin. It was rejected when I was 18. I was always writing creative fiction even though I was working toward my degree in mass communications. Up until my dad died, that is. I stopped writing altogether after that. Insert long interlude without any writing. Five years. I wanted to write, I made multiple attempts, but nothing worked. And then one day I realized I was going to die (eventually, not any time soon) without accomplishing my goal of getting published. That was very depressing. It was a life changer. It took nine months, but I did complete my first full-length novel in 2009. The funny thing about it is, I put it in the back recesses of my flash drive. I didn't stop writing, but I didn't do anything with that book for another three years. My third novel was the first one to be published (that happened in 2012) and I did it all myself. Not only had I sought publication, I learned the ins and outs of self-publication too, which is no easy feat.

What are your goals now?
Get books in the the hands of readers. Readers who want them and readers who pick it up and are open-minded enough to say, "I didn't consider reading a book like this before, but I'm so glad I did." I don't care if I sell 10 copies or 100,000 copies, as long as my readers are pleased at the end. 

What pays the bills now?
I work a 40 hour week at a day job because writing isn't paying the bills--yet. There's always the chance for that break-through book, but I'm content pushing my imprint and working with small presses. It was never my goal to make scads of money doing this (see the last question). Happy readers = happy author.

Assuming writing doesn't pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?
I don't know any way to quit. I get frustrated, I have months where very little writing happens. Last year I worked on seven novels and wrote over 300,000 words. This year I've managed to finish one full-length one, write a novella, and the end of a novel I started last year. It's totaled up to a little over 200,000 words. It's frustrating and a little sad given the previous year. But there are some characters who won't be denied and I have to get their stories out. There are stories I have to tell because I can't get them out of my head until they're jotted down. And there are a hundred reasons to keep going when even a simple line from a reader tells me they loved the story and they hope there will be more.

What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?
It can be done. I see authors in my social networks who do it. Or at least they make very good money at it. But it's also a lot of promoting, a lot of finding the right niches, the right audience, good timing. It's a gamble and much of it depends on your willingness to put yourself out there. God knows, I probably don't do enough of it. I sell books without having to do much more than keep up a blog and a Facebook fan page. Not tons, not enough to help me quit my day job, but enough that the extra income makes a small difference. And for me, happy readers are enough. I live for the messages that say, 'I couldn't put it down'.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Big Damn News Time

Yeah. It's that time again.

Big Damn News time.


This isn't the last good news I have for you for the year, but it's pretty exciting. As you know, from September to about the third week of November, I was eyeballs deep in writing on a novel I never dreamed I'd attempt. I love, love historical romances. There aren't many sub-genres I don't pick up. However, I can honestly say, I don't believe I've ever read a Viking romance before. Not that I recall anyway.

So writing one...that required research. It was fun. I do enjoy my research, I love uncovering new facts about old timey times. Well, they're not new to everyone, but they're new to me and I think it's fun to have all this random knowledge on hand.

Funner still to apply it to a novel. The one thing that always blows my mind about writing a historical novel is how everyone seems to assume that because it's history, it's going to bog a story down. Me, I'm a lover of the character driven story, so it matters more to me that the characters take center stage amid history.

Hella and Ealasaid did that for me. They brought a time I was only slightly familiar with to life. I was so excited that this kind of story took me for a ride.

And I'm equally as excited to tell you that Her Heart's Surrender has been accepted at Three Worlds Press for publication next year. Better still, I have the opportunity to work with an editor I love to make the book as perfect as possible. It's a great thing to get on board with editors and other authors you know and have worked with.

So early Christmas present to me! Contract #7 is signed, sealed, delivered.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

They Like Me, They Really Like Me

I got a fantastic email yesterday. I knew it was probably coming soon, but I couldn't help wondering if maybe this year it would be a Dear John letter.

Sometimes the first line of an email doesn't contain the information to get you pumped up. This one, however, began with a 'can you please confirm you received this email', which is always a good sign. In fact, such a good sign, that I'm quite pleased to inform you all that I am once again participating in the Kimberling Area Library's Author Day this February.

I'm trying to get print copies of my books to gussy up the table. Keep your fingers crossed.

I've also got a couple of other good news items up my sleeve, but you'll have to wait a bit. One thing at a time. Teehee. All I can tell you at the moment is that 2015 is going to be another interesting year for Allison Merritt.

P.S. This is also my 100th post for the year. Wow.