Thursday Updates: Indie Publishing’s Reputation, and more.

Lately, I feel like I don’t have time to get anything done. I’ve been doing a lot of vet stuff for my cat–she ended up going to the animal ER because the antibiotics she was on a couple weeks ago didn’t work. She’ll need to be on special food for the rest of her life and that is going to be a long, hard road (especially since she’s only three years old). She’s on pain medication now and another round of antibiotics, but time will only tell if the special diet will take care of her bladder issues. It’s been a little time-consuming, and I haven’t gotten much done on my next project as I’d like.

Here’s a picture of her sleeping after a dose of pain medication. She matches our couch almost perfectly.


In other news, I did start a new project, and I chose the “fake fiancee” trope. He needs a fake fiancee to win a bet, and we’ll see what happens. I’m 10k into it. I wanted to try a fresh take on the trope and tried to think outside the box. I didn’t want my hero to need a fiancee to inherit a boat-load of money, or to appease a dying parent. A bet may not be that original, but with his backstory, and why my heroine needs the cash he’ll pay her, I’m hoping this story will be something new that readers will enjoy.

I’m still not sure if this will be the cover for my ugly duckling romance–I need to work shop it in a covers group on FB and see what people think. I like it, though it’s not exactly what’s out there right now. (Mostly a single guy in a suit looking ticked off with a bold font.) I’ve shown it off before on the blog, but this time I’ve zoomed in on the couple a little more. I love the font, but maybe going with something more easily read will be the end result. Or I could be trolling Deposit Photos and find a completely different couple. Who knows?

While I’m doing that, I sent it to my (paid) beta reader, and she’s going to do her thing. I’ll format it myself in Canva, and I still need to learn MailerLite. I know, I know.

If you want a list of fake relationship books, BookBub put one together, and you can find it here.


I finished reading another billionaire romance the other day, and I have noticed some things that bother me while I’ve been reading through the top 100 on Amazon. For one thing, the characters are really young, and I touched on that subject in a previous blog post. In the book I finished reading, the hero was 28 and the heroine was 21. The book takes place over the time span of a year and a half, which makes the heroine roughly 23 by the end of the book, and at the end, she’s having a baby. I don’t know about you, but at twenty-three, I wasn’t thinking about babies, and the end of the book felt false to me. A happily ever after doesn’t always have to include children. In fact, because of their histories, some of my couples have agreed not to have children, even though they are old enough to want them and afford them. I’ve been guilty of giving my couples pregnancies–she ends up pregnant at the end of The Years Between Us and All of Nothing. There is a lot of baby talk among my characters in my Rocky Point Wedding series, but for the most part, they are agreeing they don’t want (biological) children. I’m not saying couples who want kids at the end of romance books are not to my liking, but when the characters are that young, I’m almost wincing with dismay. Live a little first, figure out who you are as a couple without kids. Sound advice, even in real life. This is only an opinion, but if an author wants their characters to start a family right away, it would be simple to age them up to an appropriate age for that.

My characters fall between 35-45 years of age, for the most part. In The Years Between Us, she was younger, only because the trope was younger woman/older man. The first person present series I finished that I’ve been sitting on for the past few months, they are younger, but they don’t talk about babies. It’s been a bit of resting for me with that story, but if I remember correctly, they don’t talk about babies at all. I like babies, in real life, and in books, but I think it helps the relatability and realistic factors if the characters are actually old enough to want to have them. What do you think?


Just one last thing I’m going to touch on in this blog post. I was on Twitter the other day and came upon this Wall Street Journal article: An Epidemic of Memoir-Writing. The lockdowns have spread of virus of non-memorable life stories, by Peter Funt. It wasn’t that this is ground-breaking news. Even in the fiction community, output of authors rose exponentially during the pandemic and saturated indie publishing. But what I found interesting was this grab from the article: “Andy Ross, an Oakland, Calif., agent, says, ‘I get multiple proposals for memoirs every day of the year, including Christmas. Most of the stuff is terrible, so it ends up with Kindle.'”

Guys, we’re never going to get past the stigma of indie publishing if we don’t start putting some effort into the things we publish. Indie publishing will always look like a last resort for people who don’t take the time to polish what they have before publishing. This is really disheartening to read because most authors I know do put 110% of effort into everything they publish. Writing is hard, and you can’t do it alone. You need critique partners, beta readers, editors. You have be willing to ask for and process feedback, whether it’s negative or positive.

If you want to learn more about writing a memoir, you can look here. Reedsy just happened to pop something into my email today and I’ll share it with you: What is a Memoir? True Life Stories, Minus the Boring Parts.

That’s all I have for today! Enjoy the rest of your week, and have a wonderful weekend!

Cliffhangers. Are they a good thing or do they spell trouble?

Cliffhangers have been on my mind lately. Partly because in the serial I just finished a couple of books within the serial end on cliffhangers–which is why I’m calling it a serial and not a series. A reader has to start at book one. There are no other entry points like a series can have.

Another reason why is because the last Nora Robert’s book, the one that caused a lot of drama over on her blog, ended in a cliffhanger and the fans were both excited for the next installment and appalled they had to wait until Fall of 2021 to see what happens next. (Laura, Nora’s publicist, defended her by saying Nora rarely ends a book with a cliffhanger, which could be why readers were so up in arms about the whole thing.)

One particular cliffhanger that I didn’t appreciate was the cliffhanger season two of Virgin River on Netflix ended with. By now there are spoilers online, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll leave it to you to look it up (or watch the show!). I was wondering why the credits played out when I realized it was because that was the last episode of the season.

Of course cliffhangers have a reason for their existence–they spur readers and viewers on to the next book or season/episode.

While big authors like Nora Roberts can tell readers to wait and not receive too much flak for it (or simply not care), indies aren’t so lucky. Some indies write what they want and only consider the reader or their feelings when they start getting bad reviews. Writing and publishing what you want, your passion project, your project from your heart, whatever you want to call it, is all fine and good. We should be excited about our projects or why bother to write? But you also want your readers to love what you’re writing just as much as you do.

When does a cliffhanger work against you? Here are my thoughts and you can tell me if you agree or not:

*When you know you’re going to have too much time between books. Do you remember a long time ago when Mad Men’s last season was split into two parts? How many people hung around and waited for those last few episodes to drop? I didn’t. If you end your first book with a cliffhanger, and you’re not even writing the second book yet, think about when you should publish the first. You CAN sit on a book. Most indies are too excited to publish to think about hanging onto a book. And as Andrea Pearson likes to say on the Six Figure Author podcast, your book won’t make you money sitting on your computer. But. How worth it is ticking off your first wave of readers, earning some poor reviews (and maybe even some spoilers thrown in). Bad reviews won’t make you write faster–the opposite is probably true. Nothing kills motivation more than a reader saying they hated what you wrote.

*You (maybe) kill off a beloved character. We all know the last scene in the book–will he or won’t he . . . live. He’s lying on the floor, gasping for breath, an arrow sticking out of his ribs just below his heart. Fade to black. And your readers see red. This is especially bad if you don’t know if he’s going to live or die. There’s a big difference between an upbeat cliffhanger and a horrible, horrible readers-are-crying ending to your book.

*Your cliffhanger is too sad and it makes readers angry. Like I explored a little above, if your cliffhanger is devastating and it makes readers mad, that’s a big difference between something happy–like your MMC about to propose to his girlfriend and someone interrupts them. Now you have a “will they or won’t they,” and it’s a different tone, more anticipation rather than dread. Like in the Fifty Shades of Grey (movies, I didn’t read the books) when Ana leaves Christian’s penthouse. They’ve just broken up over his lifestyle choices–but there are two more books in the serial. They will get back together. Readers know it. There’s anticipation in the how. How will they get back together? Will she forgive him? Will he change for her? The second movie ended on a cliffhanger too–but not with such a steep drop. We see Jack Hyde skulking in the shadows planning his revenge against Ana and Christian. Ana and Christian are HFN (happy for now). He’s proposed, she’s said yes. But we want to know, what will Jack do? Will Ana and Christian be okay? We want them to have a HEA.

*If you think you won’t finish at all. There is a surprising amount of unpublishing in the indie community, more than I ever thought I’d see when I first started writing. I can name two of my writing acquaintances off the top of my head who have unpublished incomplete series. Maybe because they think they won’t finish, or maybe their sales weren’t what they thought, or more likely, their writing wasn’t what it could have been. Writers are a neurotic bunch, and we can get hit hard with criticism and scrutiny. But no matter why you choose to unpublish, and unpublish a book with a cliffhanger, it’s a poor business choice that screams unprofessionalism and poor planning. I have read the series that have been unpublished, and yes, maybe I am their only reader, (disappointing one customer is too many as far as I’m concerned) but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I will never know how those stories end. And what’s worse is when I asked, I didn’t get an apology, only a virtual shrug and an “it is what it is.”


In my blog post about Nora Roberts and her readers’ entitlement, I talked a little about how indies are spoiling readers with quick release dates. Traditional publishing is mainly a book a year model, and Nora tried to explain this. As indie writers take more slices of the reader pie, fewer and fewer readers are going to want to wait. Even for their favorite trad pubbed author. It makes me wonder if traditional publishing will finally start making some changes. Quick release dates aside, maybe readers are more tolerant of cliffhangers in traditional publishing because they know the books after will eventually come. Indies, unfortunately, aren’t held to contracts, they only write on their own steam and deadlines. They can unpublish, not finish, or take years on a book, and no one (besides readers) are telling them to get to work.

Is there anything you can do if you have to end your book with a cliffhanger?

*Have the pre-order link set up at the end of the book. Depending on the kind of cliffhanger you write, you’ll either have readers clamoring for the next book or throwing their ereaders across the room. Having a pre-order available won’t ensure you’ll have the book done (I’ve seen plenty of pre-orders canceled) but having a self-imposed deadline will give you a date to shoot for.

*Have an excerpt in the back of the book for the next book. Having an excerpt might cool some tempers if they don’t like the way your book ended. Ideally, you’ll want to include the first scene of the next book but anything that will clear up a question will keep readers interested–especially if you can announce a release date for the next book.

*Offer a newsletter sign in exchange for clues about what will happen next. This is advice I’ve gotten from other authors, and I have no idea if it works. Some say you do get lots of email signups if you can offer a hint at what happens next, or maybe an alternate ending, or an epilogue not available anywhere else. Something that will tie up some loose ends to appease your readers until the next book is done/available.

The bottom line is, when you end a book with a cliffhanger, you need to be professional about how you go about it. The best way is to have the book ready and either rapid release, or offer the book on preorder and make sure you meet the deadline (and don’t schedule it too far out, either). There’s no excuse not finishing a series, especially ones that end in a cliffhanger. We are all in charge of our own careers, and if you mess up, there’s no one to blame but yourself. We’re all adults here.

Here are some more thoughts on ending books with a cliffhanger:

Ask The Writer: Ending on a cliffhanger

https://writing.stackexchange.com/questions/12370/is-it-okay-to-end-a-novel-with-a-cliffhanger

The Pros and Cons of Cliffhangers


Thanks for reading! Until next time!

Getting Stuck and Losing Momentum with your Novel: What you can do to get moving again.

All of us go through slumps. It’s difficult to be creative when we’re stressed out and worried about things. I’ve heard a lot of stories on how writers just have not been able to get the words flowing since COVID. I can’t say as I blame anyone. If you don’t know where your rent is going to come from because you’ve been laid off and the government has stopped the extra funds from coming in, I wouldn’t be able to think about my next project either.

I’ve been stuck working on my book the past few days. I haven’t wanted to work on it, would rather binge Lucifer. But the problem with that is, I enjoy writing, and I also think of my books as a business. If I go through a slump, so does my business. My books aren’t great earners right now. Without any type of ads whatsoever, my books make pennies a day, but I’m definitely not going to make any money on books I don’t write.

My slump, fortunately, has nothing to do with COVID. If you follow my blog at all, you’ll know that I just came up for air after writing six books back to back. I started last year, in December of 2019, and finished them up about two weeks ago. I’m letting them breathe now, which is why I’m starting a different project. Almost 40k into it, I haven’t felt as excited or connected to this book as I have past projects. Wondering why, I came up with this list. If you’re having a problem with connecting your book and your characters give these ideas a try:

Get to know your characters again. When I started writing I only had a shadow of an idea who my characters are. When thinking up a new story, writers will come up with plot first, then characters, or characters, then plot. I try to think of both of them together. The characters, who they are and what they want, drives the plot. I didn’t plan out who they are as carefully as I usually do, and I need to go back over my character notes and familiarize myself with who they are as people. This would maybe be a good time to try to create an aesthetic and dig through stock photos to find models that would remind me of what my characters look like.

Remind yourself of the stakes. Sometimes if you’re struggling with a story, it helps to remind yourself what the stakes are. What do your characters want? How are they going to get it? And what is standing in their way? I write romance, so the characters want each other. But what is standing in their way? A lot of time it’s their own personal demons that prevent them from needing who they need to be to take what they want. It’s no different in my current WIP. Colt’s father abandoned them to live a life Colt doesn’t approve of. Ever since then he’s worked his butt off for what he wants. What he wants prevents him from seeing what he NEEDS. So going over what you have and reminding yourself what the stakes are and what is standing in their way if they can’t have it will help keep your story moving.

Keep your head in the game. Lately because I haven’t felt like writing, I’ve been binge-watching Lucifer on Netflix. It takes a lot to hold my attention (I can list a million TV shows I’ve stopped watching because I got bored) but so far Lucifer has kept me entertained. I suppose it helps that Tom Ellis is hot, and his accent is hotter. The only problem is, when I did take a break from watching Lucifer to write, it wasn’t an accident then that my character started to sound like him. Lucifer is catty, and my character, Colt Jameson, isn’t. So it felt very out of character for him to sound snarky after I watched five episodes of Lucifer. I know lots of people can watch and read books while writing their own work, and I never had a problem with doing that either. But this time around because I don’t know my characters very well, it was easy for me to turn them into people they aren’t supposed to be. That gave me a feeling of disconnect from my book, and in turn that made me wonder if what I’m writing is even any good.

After reacquainting yourself with your characters, reread what you have. It probably won’t be as bad as it seems, and if it is, take a very deep dive into your characters’ personalities and fix it. Whatever your views on editing during writing are, I know that if I don’t feel good about what I’ve written, I can’t write more. I do not like to rewrite. My first drafts, besides minor changes and proofreading, are usually my final drafts when it comes to story/plot, at least. I don’t have GREAT IDEAS I need to implement after my book is done. I don’t think, “THIS STORY WOULD SOUND SO MUCH BETTER IF THE ENDING WENT LIKE THIS!” No, no, and no. I write it how I like the first time around and then, the end. So I can go back and read what I have so far and reshape some of the scenes when the characters don’t sound like themselves, or if they sound like they have forgotten their own stakes.

Don’t worry about word count. This is a major one for me because I’m worried about word count the minute I open a new Word docx. Anyone will tell you that’s a terrible way to write, and I don’t make up scenes to reach a certain goal (and have never needed to). But for some reason I need my manuscripts to fall into the range of about 70-90,000 words. I always worried more when writing third person, and it seemed harder to reach that 70,000 word mark. First person is a lot easier to reach that 70k mark and my six books in my billionaire series, they all fell between 84,000 and 90,000 words. It is a terrible habit of mine to worry. And I shouldn’t. My WIP right now is at 39k, at least half of what this book will turn out to be, and I know every plot thread that needs to be wrapped up before the end.

I didn’t take a long enough break. Six books is a lot. The plot just came to me out of nowhere, and I wrote those books as fast as I could. They consumed me for almost a year, and all I did was live, breathe, and dream about Stella, Zane, Zarah and Gage. They were my entire world for a long time and the minute I finished the first set of edits on those books, I jumped into Colt and Elayna. I started a new project to let those other books breathe and I want to edit them again with fresh eyes in a few months. I should have taken more of a break. Taken some time to read a few books, or go for walks, since the weather right now is actually quite lovely. But I jumped in because it’s not my nature to take a break, and now with that disconnect I described, I am feeling a bit burnt out.

Remember why you started. This sounds trite, but we all started writing for the sheer love of writing. I love to write, to tell my characters’ stories. We can get so swept up in the money, the marketing, our sales rank, what are ads are doing, the newest and best promo sites, and newsletter building that we forget it’s about telling a fabulous story! I want to tell Colt and Elayna’s story. I want them to find their HEA. That’s why I wanted to be a romance writer. I want my characters and their readers to fall in love again and again and again. My characters are my friends and I want to enjoy them.

So what I’m going to do is remember who my characters are and what their stakes are. What is the end game. I don’t have the ending scene in mind yet, and I should figure that out to give me something to write toward. Like I said, I know everything that needs to be included to wrap things up, it’s just a matter of getting it all down on paper. This book also has series potential, and I’ll need to figure that out before I publish if I want to keep going. Elayna’s suitors should each find their own happily ever after, but that would require at least four more books. Since I’ve already created this world, it would make sense to keep going, but that is a blog post for another time.

Do you ever lose momentum? How do you find it? Let me know!


Letting go: stopping the search for perfect.

By the time you read this, I’ll be done going through my backlist. The loss of some of my Vellum files spurred me on to the idea that if I was going to reformat them to get my files back, I might as well re-edit them too.

While I haven’t written anything fresh in quite some time, I’ve re-edited and reconstructed the Vellum files of seven books. It was a lot of work, but I’m glad I took the time. I found tiny inconsistencies, typos, and in some earlier books, hammered out telling, and for some reason in On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton, lots of passive voice. (That is a weird speculative fiction kind of book, and I’m not sure where my mindset was when I wrote it. The other day someone borrowed it in KU, read one page earning me .01 cent, and returned it [I’m assuming they returned it because they didn’t read anymore.] I can’t say that I blame them any.)

I can see how I’ve grown as a writer and where I can still improve.

But probably the hardest thing for me is finally letting these books go. They are the best they are going to be. It’s a little scary because no writer wants to put subpar work out into the world, and when we put out books with spelling errors, typos, or plot holes that’s what we do.

My anxiety comes from thinking my books have them (even though they could be 100% clean) and I need to let that worry go. I had a moment of panic when I was fixing something in Wherever He Goes. I thought I fixed it and moved on. Later, I went back to reread what I had edited and I discovered autocorrect had changed a word I misspelled to something completely different than what I had intended. Even the word misspelled would have been better than what autocorrect inserted instead.

Suddenly, my life flash before my eyes and I envisioned my whole book full of autocorrected words rendering my pages to a book full of gibberish.

That isn’t likely to happen, but it’s enough to give any author hives. But no matter how many times we go over our books with a fine-tooth comb, chances of putting out a 100% error-free book are slim to none.

There will always be something to change and you get to the point where it’s not a change for the better–it’s only different.

There is a certain peace in knowing these books are as good as I can make them for the skills I have right at this minute. I fully believe that as writers we will never stop growing. We’ll try for twistier plots, more points of view, we’ll get better at breadcrumbing backstory and clues, and we won’t info dump at the beginning of stories. Our eyes will get sharper and we’ll catch more of our own mistakes and we’ll realize we have crutch words and weed them out before handing off our stuff to an editor.

We’ll refine our editing process and grow more efficient. Our first drafts will be cleaner.

When I was editing my Tower City trilogy, I came to two realizations: my writing from two years ago wasn’t as bad as I had thought, but my story (particularly the first book) was just as lackluster as I’d try to deny myself.

To be kind, you can call these books “quiet.” Internal conflict, some stuff going on, but not a lot of character growth, if you know what I mean, and if you don’t, in editor-speak that means not completely formed character arcs. I didn’t understand how to tie in past demons with the present story. What I did know came from instinct and a lifetime of reading romances. Sometimes the “beats” are ingrained and you know by feel what needs to go where. Some might say that’s skill, or talent, but I call it luck and it’s what made Don’t Run Away a half-way decent read as my first contemporary romance book.

In the second book, I had “Let’s meet an ex in a public place” scene like in the first book, and I don’t know if it was bad memory, or if I didn’t care, but at least I stopped that in my other books.

Part of the reformatting included doing a new box set for the trilogy and I wrote a “Where are they now” novella for the end. It was easy to write because I was fortunate to have written what I did in the original books. The novella practically wrote itself.

Now, even though the novella won’t make up for the slow start of book one, at least I can confidently brush my hands of that whole thing. They are re-edited, I changed the covers last year, and all the couples have a new happily ever after. There’s nothing more that I can, or even want, to do with those characters.

They are finally on their own.

Chasing perfect will never end well. Sometimes you’re at a point in your writing life where you can’t give it to yourself no matter how hard you try. Sure, I could write a better book one now, but what is the point when I could use my developing skills to write an entirely new book? If it were part of a ten-book series it might be worth it for the read-through, and if that’s you, then maybe it would be worth your time.

Like anything, your mileage may vary.

Some may see the time I took as a waste, but I disagree. If I found peace of mind in these two and a half months of going back and making sure my books were the best I can do as of Spring 2020, then it was worth it to me, but the trick now is to leave them alone and focus on the new.

My books aren’t dumpster fires. Maybe they aren’t 100% perfect, but no book is. I need to accept that, let my anxiety go that there are things that could be fixed. There probably are, but I need to forget about that and market my books with confidence.

Chasing perfect is an unattainable goal.

Maybe there are tiny fires in the form of an errant apostrophe, or a number I typed out that didn’t need to be, but I need to shrug those little things off, pull up a log, and grab my marshmallows.

A little fire doesn’t have to be a bad thing.


If you want to hear a talk about chasing perfection, Kristine Kathyrn Rusch has a great one she gave at 20booksto50k Vegas last year in 2019.


Also, just by chance, my friend Sarah also wrote a post on her blog a few days ago about her own struggles with perfection, and you can find it here: https://sarahkrewis.com/survivingperfectionisminwriting/


A Rocky Point Wedding Update: Drawing to a close.

This will be one of the last blog posts I’m going to write about this series, unless I update you with sales or if any of my advertising stuff works exceptionally well.

Mich and Callie His Frozen Heart Kindle CoverI published book one, His Frozen Heart, yesterday, quietly, and without a lot of fanfare. I posted it on Instagram and that was about it.  I put book two up on preorder, and put the preorder link in the back of book one.

That was one thing I wanted to change this time–optimize my back matter. I’ll link up the other books when the preorders go live, and that will be that. I also blatantly asked for reviews at the end of the books. If I’m not mistaken, though, if you read on a Kindle, Amazon will prompt you to leave a review when you’re done. I don’t read on my Kindle very often because I prefer a paperback, but that helps authors, too.

Going back to fix back matter was kind of a pain in the butt, but if it helps readers find the next book without much work, then I’m all for that. We’ll see if it works.

It’s a bittersweet moment. I started this series in December of 2018 and spent all of 2019 writing them. Almost a year to the day, I completed the four books. I worked on them through one of the crappiest winters we’ve ever had, my carpal tunnel surgery, the adoption of a kitten who turned out to be pretty sick. My other female cat (Harley) didn’t take to her, and it caused her to have stress bladder issues that resulted in surgery. 2019 was a long year, but having my writing made a difference.

2020 has been exceptionally better already, and I’m almost done with a new trilogy writing in first person present. It’s a little different from the 3rd person past stuff that I’ve been writing, and honestly, I can’t say which I like better.  Both have their own challenges, but I have to admit, writing first person present is a lot faster for me for some reason.

Anyway, I kind of missed the boat with the wedding series. They take place in Minnesota in the winter, and the bride featured is having a Christmas-themed ceremony. That might make marketing these a little difficult since everyone now is hoping Punxsutawney Phil is right and we’ll have an early spring. I’ll just have to remember to market these as a Christmas in July thing, and in October when all the holiday books start coming out.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t market these at all. Once they’re all available, I’ll push some ads at them, and hopefully a reader will tear through them in KU.

What did I learn putting these out?

  1. Doing the covers drove me crazy. One hour of looking at stock photos is equal to about a million hours in hell. I played with a few concepts before deciding on the winter scene at the bottom and the couple at the top. There’s no set way small town romance looks, so I was on my own when it came to fitting in. My books are starting to blend together . . . my trilogy looks similar to these . . . but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If your books can possess the same qualities, readers will start to associate the covers with you. A good brand will tell readers they’re your books without even seeing your name on the cover.
  2. I need to get my attention span under control, or I’ll never like writing series. I struggled writing the fourth book. I had already started writing Zane and Stella. That plot kind of plopped into my lap (don’t you love it when that happens?) and I didn’t want to lose the spark. Toward the end of book 4 I had to force myself to finish it, and it was difficult not lose enthusiasm for the series.
  3. Don’t promise something if you won’t deliver. I thought it was a GREAT idea to add some of Autumn’s blog posts to the end of book four. She’s a reporter and blogger for the Rocky Point Daily Journal. I wanted to add some extra content, and I thought that was a great way to go about it. I should have written them while I was writing the books, but I didn’t. So I had blog post promises to fulfill, and my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I did about 10 posts that I published in the back of book four, and I think they turned out well. But truthfully, if hadn’t bleated about it, I probably wouldn’t have written them. It held me accountable though, so maybe in the long run it wasn’t a bad thing. Or maybe they’ll go unappreciated anyway. You never know.
  4. Trust my abilities. It would have been nice to put these out as I had written them, but I didn’t trust myself not to have inconsistencies from book to book. Eventually I’ll be able to put them out as I write them. I’ll need to if I ever want to write more than 4 books in a series. Saving them up made it so I only published one book in 2019, The Years Between Us. And I only published that in May of 2019 because I held onto it. I could have published it long before that.

I guess that’s my wrap-up for this series! I’ll give you advertising updates as I do them, but it’s a relief to move on to something else.

If you’re interested in checking out His Frozen Heart, you can grab it here. This is the link for Kindle, but it’s available in paperback, too. I contacted Amazon to link them up, but it can take a day or so for that to reflect on Amazon.

Have you put out a series? Anything you’d like to share about making things easier? Let me know! Thanks for reading!


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Entering the RITAs. My full circle experience.

I’m not sure if I said anything about entering the RITAs, or the outcome of that contest.

The RITA award is a prestigious award given by the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I didn’t win, nor did I advance, and I did not attend the RWA conference this year that was held in New York City. I didn’t expect to win (though when you enter a contest, there’s a little bit of you that will hope you’ll at least advance.)  Anyway, I didn’t advance, didn’t win, and I didn’t expect to hear anything more about it.

All of Nothing ebook coverBut I received an unexpected email in my inbox today. The email contained my overall score of All of Nothing, something I didn’t know the RWA sent out.

To say that I was stunned would be an understatement, but when I thought about the score, and I mean, really thought about it (meaning, I put away my ego and my pride and honestly evaluated the kind of book All of Nothing is) the score made sense.

I knew a long time ago that All of Nothing didn’t advance to a finalist position. I figured since the contest is open to everyone who wanted to enter, traditional and indie, I had a slim to none chance. After all, when Kristin Higgins and Brenda Novak enter their books, you’re up against talent, several years in the industry, and name recognition. Heck, Nora Roberts has won 21 of them. I won’t disclose whose books I judged, but I will say I judged a big name, too.

I had thought, at least, even if my book didn’t advance, it had receive average scores.

It didn’t.

My book received a 4.33 out of a possible 10.

I don’t know how private the scoring is, so I won’t show you the email contents, but suffice to say, I didn’t make it into the top half, and I didn’t expect that. I also didn’t expect that one judge did not think my novel had a central love story, and a different judge didn’t think it concluded with an HEA. And that makes me wonder if she somehow missed the Epilogue, which clearly shows that they did have a happily ever after.

Anyway, so here’s what I learned entering the RITAs, how I felt, and what I will do differently if I should ever enter again.


What I learned:

  • Your book won’t resonate with everyone.
    You can use this as a way to shake off a bad book, (NO ONE is going to like a book full of plot holes and flat characters, so that reasoning only goes so far) but even a well-written book with amazing characters and the best plot twists known to man won’t appeal to everyone. This is okay, and as authors, something we all deal with. I know All of Nothing is dark. I know Jax is an asshole to the extreme. Maybe even too much. He doesn’t redeem himself until almost the end of the book, and that could have been too long for some readers. Even my reviews on Goodreads are split down the middle. Either readers are blown away or they hate it. There’s not a lot of middle ground in reviews, and I didn’t see any in my scores.
  • You’re forced to read, and that can put you off from the very beginning.
    The RWA has changed this policy for the next contest, but when I entered my book, you had to judge the preliminary round to submit. Being forced to read is akin to being in school and assigned War and Peace. Not everyone wants to read books they are told they must. Also, you were only able to opt out of one genre. My book was in the Contemporary Romance Long category, and it could have been readers didn’t like the genre. Maybe they preferred Romantic Comedy, or Romantic Suspense, or Paranormal. That’s not really an excuse, but it’s natural to not be excited about a genre you don’t care to read in the first place.
  • Have a professional cover.
    This might seem like a no-brainer, or something that you wouldn’t think of for a craft contest, but either way, I have a feeling that somehow the entire package is judged. When I judged and found the author’s name on the title page, you bet I looked on Amazon for the author and what else they had published, and who they were published by. I’m sure the judges did the same for me, and the overall look of my catalog and All of Nothing‘s cover maybe have influenced their feelings toward the book. This is a professional contest put on by a professional organization. Submit a book that is professional from cover to cover.

What I would do differently:

  • Enter something lighter.
    All of Nothing was dark, and it didn’t hit the right notes, obviously. Something lighter might fare better. When you’re reading at the end of the day, and you’re on a deadline to submit your scores, giving your reader something a little more light-hearted may be easier for them to enjoy. Is this playing the system? Nah. I can only think back to the books I particularly enjoyed while judging. I would also offer something with more . . . I don’t know. I don’t want to say chemistry because I think Jax and Raven had chemistry. But maybe a more steamier, sweeter, attraction? Not all of my heroes are jerks. But I would definitely try something not so dark.
  • In that vein, I would enter something shorter.
    All of Nothing was entered into the Contemporary Romance Long category. There’s nothing worse than being forced to read something you don’t like, and having so much of it. I would do the short category. Though I don’t tend to write novellas, so that category may always be out of my reach.
  • Take the contest more seriously.
    I’m a newbie writer. Without written feedback, I can only guess why my book didn’t resonate with readers. Had it been a debut, I would worry that my voice wasn’t strong enough. But I think my voice is strong–I’ve written enough words to find it, and I’ve received compliments on the book. In fact, a woman at my work read it. She’s a prolific reader, and she told me she enjoyed All of Nothing very much and that I was extremely talented. I didn’t know she read it, so I don’t think she said anything because she thought I was expecting it. She didn’t have to say anything at all. I went into that because I’m thinking it was the plot and characters the judges didn’t care for, and not the writing itself. (Which I feel is a very important distinction.) But, I have never worked with a developmental editor or a professional editor of any kind. And if I ever hope to advance in a contest like this, I may have to hire someone who knows the romance market, knows all the tropes involved, and can tell me if I’m on the right track with my writing. I have never queried, have never sent out any of my books on subs, so I don’t even have a line or two from an agent/editor saying I’m on the right track, either. All I have to go on is reviews from my books, and that’s not saying a whole lot because I haven’t put much into marketing preferring to use my time to write instead.

How I felt about the contest:

I don’t feel terrible about my score. You have to face rejection with a thick skin. Since All of Nothing I’ve written five more books. So maybe if my tone or voice missed the mark, at least I’m still working on my craft as it’s natural for every book to be a bit better than the last.

It was interesting being a part of the RITAs. I liked seeing how the process worked and the quality of books entered by my peers.

I may never enter again. Or I may enter a book I haven’t written yet. Something that takes my breath away. Who knows. I do know that if you’re going to compete with the best of the best, you have to take your craft seriously, and if you can do that year after year and get better year after year, then maybe, just maybe, one day, you’ll win.

Have a wonderful week!


Want to try your hand at a contest? Poets and Writers Magazine offers a long list of contests to enter. Everything from poetry to essays. Look here to find out more.

You don’t have to enter the RITAs to enter a contest hosted by the RWA. All the chapters offer some kind of contest, too, though they can be seasonal and not offered at the same time. For a list of contests and chapter events, look here.


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Snow: A short story.

In the spirit of my blog post on Monday, about writing to write vs. writing to publish, I thought I would post a little something I wrote a while back. Four years ago, to be honest, as the properties said the creation date was December 17th, 2015. I gave it a little polish, deleting a word here and there and adding some commas. But I didn’t write this piece with anything in mind, and it hasn’t seen the light of day until now. Nothing more will be done with it, either.


Snow

The engine sputtered, the check engine light blinked on, and she carefully navigated the old car to the side of the gravel road, the vehicle coasting to a smooth stop as it died, she suspected, for good.

She rested her forehead against the steering wheel, the wind whining and whistling before slapping against the car and continuing on its way across the barren North Dakota plain.

There wasn’t much snow for this time of year, and squinting through the passenger’s side window, she could make out the brownish golden hue of the crop that had grown in the field over the summer as the remains poked from beneath a thin crust of dirty ice.

Sitting for a moment before pushing the heavy door open, she pulled on her red and grey gloves, cheerful fox faces grinning at her from the tops of her hands, and she took a sip of the now tepid coffee she had purchased at her last stop.

With nothing keeping her confined to the car, she stepped out, the wind biting into the delicate flesh of her cheeks, and with a loud creak, she slammed the door shut.

Knowing it was futile, but trying anyway, with unsteady hands she pulled her cellphone from the deep pocket of the emerald green coat he had bought for her so long ago saying the color matched her eyes.

The lack of bars proved to her what she already knew, and she slid the black rectangle into her pocket, resisting the overwhelming urge to hurl the device into the dead field with a throw containing all the strength she could muster.

Her fingertips were numb from the cold, the tip of her nose tingling, and she wondered, not for the first time, if dying from hypothermia was as pleasant as people made it sound, if she could lie in the field allowing her worries to drift away in a warm, yet frozen, haze.

Ignoring the wind that blew her black hair in an angry tangle around her head, she stepped off the road and into the crusty snow, her black scuffed boots breaking the grey layer of ice with a crunch, the sound carrying away on the points of snowflakes as they flew into the horizon.

The sky was a whitish-grey that blended into the field far into the distance, and she stared, pushing the hair from her eyes, from her lips coated with Passion Pink, the flavor he chose as his favorite, he said, because it would always remind him of their first kiss.

A rumbling caught her attention and for just one moment she allowed herself to hope he had come for her, but even before the beat-up truck passed her by, her shoulders hunched in disappointment and she pushed down the burning in her throat, blaming the sting in her eyes on the cold.

A single crow cawed overhead as it fought against the northern wind, and she focused on the bird, the solitary figure it made, cutting through the icy air, the black of its feathers in stark contrast to glaring brightness of the winter sky.

She stood in the empty field, the prairie void of life, shivering in the bright green coat that matched her eyes, her pink lips trembling, a useless cellphone sitting in her pocket, a worn out car parked behind her, alone.

dry grass on a background of snow in the winter


Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend planned!

I’ll see you Monday!


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Changing your Point of View: How you write, and thoughts on 1st, 3rd, past and present tense

change pov blog post

Change comes whether we want it to or not. Sometimes change happens so slowly you don’t know it’s happening. Sometimes you’re not paying attention and the old way you’ve taken for granted is suddenly gone.

This happened to me, though I think I was more in denial this was happening than embracing the change. Maybe I was hoping it would go away, or maybe I was hoping the old way would hang in there. The latter may still have a chance, but the former isn’t going to happen.

What am I talking about? The way fiction is being written. Not even by indies, as this change has been happening with the traditionally published books in the past couple of years as well.

To explain, let me go back.

Like all writers, I grew up reading. Nancy Drew, The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High. Slowly, I graduated to Sweet Dreams romances, VC Andrews and Harlequin Desires and Temptations.

And looking back, I realize there is one thing all those books have in common–they were written in third person past tense.

It stands to reason then, that when I began writing my own stories, I too, wrote in third person past since I grew up reading it. Never would I think this way would become outdated, but I’m afraid that it has.

Now books today are written in first person present, and that doesn’t seem like that’s going to change any time soon. Take a look at any new book, especially a romance in Kindle Unlimited, and you’ll see what I mean. I liken this to how Mike Campbell loses all is money in the The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

It seems as if first person snuck up on us, and then suddenly it was everywhere.

And as a writer who writes in third person past, this is troubling because this isn’t about catching a trend or even writing to market, it’s about adapting to change as not to be left behind.

It used to be first person, be it past or present, served one purpose–the sole reason why the writer chose to use first person when writing their novel: to tell the story of “I.”

change pov blog post2

Who was the “I?” A girl with magical powers? A young boy out to seek his fortune? The author chose that way as a device to tell that ONE person’s story through their eyes. Middle grade and YA were (are) written in that fashion so the young readers could more easily envision themselves in that role.

I can’t remember the first person book I ever read–and I must have read some; they weren’t non-existent as I was growing up, but they obviously didn’t make an impact on me. And when I was a young adult, and now a “real” adult myself, I don’t read much YA.

And maybe this is the point.

I’m outdated. At forty-four years old, I’m writing in a way that is being used less and less, except by the authors who have been writing for as long as I’ve been reading. Nora Roberts, Brenda Novak, Robin Carr.

When you read and enjoy first person books, that is what you’ll probably write. Books like the Hunger Games, Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray took the lead of a style of writing that is prominent now. You may be shaking your head, but think to when those books were written and how popular they were. The first book in the Hunger Games Trilogy was published in 2008. Twilight, 2005. Divergent, 2011.

I’m an old lady.

When thrillers and romances are now being written in first person (and present, too) where do you fit in if you like to write in 3rd person past tense, or even 3rd person omniscient?

I write contemporary romance, and when others who write in my genre use first person, it confuses me. There is no “I” in contemporary romance, there are two characters. His and hers. Or his and his. Or hers and hers. Depending on what you write. There is no single “I” on a journey to a happily ever after. Writing a two-sided romance using first person, to me, defeats the purpose of using first person.

Is this an old way of thinking?

Some of the greats still use 3rd person past, Nora Roberts holds true. So does Susan Mallery. Brenda Novak still does, and Robyn Carr as I mentioned above. The Harlequin lines, though they are going through some rearranging at the moment, still seem to publish 3rd person past romances, at least their little pocket romances like their Intrigue and Desire lines.

And to really confuse me, authors are starting to use a mix of points-of-view, and what’s even more mind-numbing is that it’s becoming popular, like The Mister by EL James. Maxim tells his story in first person present, but Alessia shares her story in third person present. I would love to ask Erica why she wrote it this way.

It seems like these days authors use POV as an artistic tool. Does it work, does it not? I have no idea. They say anything that takes your reader out of the story is bad. But what is bad is subjective.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn tells two stories. One story is present day and written in first person past, the other story took place while the female main character was a child and it’s told in third person past. She obviously choose this as a stylistic choice. Does being with the “I” character makes us feel more intimate with her? I don’t feel it would have changed the story much had she written the present day timeline in third person past. But with the popularity of her books, no one seems to mind what tense she chooses.

Have I had any complaints when it comes to my third person books? No, not that I’m aware, but nor would I know how many sales I’m either gaining or losing because of my choice.

So what is a writer to do? Keep writing in a style you like and are good at? Practice a different POV? I’ve tried writing first person present, and I liked writing it as much as I like reading it, and that’s to say, none.

And I will always believe writing a romance in first person POV when the author intends to show both sides of a relationship doesn’t make sense, and you can pry my opinion out of my cold, bloody fist.

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But it’s obvious that what is coming out by younger romance writers that my viewpoint is not shared, and it’s not shared by their readers, either.

We need to adapt with change, though. When will my dislike turn into simple stubbornness? And when will that stubbornness keep me from reading books I may otherwise have enjoyed? I can’t be an old curmudgeon waving my cane hollering “3rd person past” at every writer I meet.

Point of view can bring on choices that you need to make besides just how you want to write your book. If there’s an “anything goes” with what’s between the covers, our blurbs and ads need to reflect that. Blurbs have always been written in third person present. Some unspoken, unwritten rule has ordained this since the beginning of time, and it didn’t matter if your books were written in first, third, or alien.

Now though, if your book is written in first person, blurbs are changing to reflect that. The first book I grabbed off Amazon that is self-published and in KU happens to be written in first person past and the blurb is also written in first person. Maybe a coincidence, maybe not. Is this how blurbs need to be written now? When did the rules change, and where do you read them in the updated Author Handbook?

What about ads? Ad copy isn’t the same as writing your book, though blurbs and ad copy are cousins, I guess. Ad copy is supposed to be snappy, hook your reader into buying the book. If you sell a book with snappy first person ad copy, but your book is written in third person, will that go over well with your reader?

I have no idea. You’ll hear it in reviews though, guaranteed. Or at the very least, wasted ad money for clicks that don’t turn into sales.

Looking at “how it always used to be done” may not help in these quickly changing publishing times. For another look at how to write blurbs and in what POV look at this blog post by Writer Unboxed. The author of the article mulled it over a lot more eloquently than I did. Marketing Copy: The First- Versus Third-Person Debate


I’ll keep writing in 3rd person past. It’s how I write best.

Write how you write at your best because after all, it doesn’t matter if you write in first, third, or alien, it comes down to giving your readers a good story.

But I caution you using POV as a stylistic choice to cover up lazy, or poor, writing. If you’re going to experiment, make sure you have plenty of betas on hand to tell you if it’s working or not.

You can do whatever you want to do with your book, but you still want people to read it too. Even aliens.

change pov blog post4

That was some really bad Sunday night humor. And with that I am going to bed. I hope you all have a lovely week of writing ahead!


thank you for your patince

graphics made with font and photos from canva.com

A Snippet of Book One of my new Wedding Party Quartet

Series sell. Readers get invested, and that can mean the world to an author. Personally, I prefer to write standalones. Maybe because for now, I prefer reading them, too. But I recognize the value in writing a series, and after writing three stand alones,  I planned out a four-book series consisting of full-length novels.

I’m going to write them, edit them, format them, design the covers and drop them all at once. Risky, perhaps. But there are authors who swear by rapid release, and for consistency reasons, I would finish them all before publishing them, anyway.

Because I said I would update you as I write them, here is the first couple scenes of the first book. This was originally the second book in the series, but I felt it was a stronger start. The second book will need a bit of fluffing up, but nothing too terrible, and I’m looking forward to adding to the plot as I learn more and more about my characters.

Book One is about Callie Carter and Mitch Sinclair. Mitch has been in a horrific accident that has left him scarred, both physically and mentally. Callie has been under her father’s thumb for many years and accepted an offer to be a bridesmaid for a chance to breathe and figure out her life. Little did Mitch and Callie know that Marnie Zimmerman and James Fox’s nuptials would be the catalyst for such significant change.

Enjoy this small, kind of edited, excerpt from the first book of the Wedding Party Quartet. It doesn’t have a title yet, but that’s just one more thing I’m working on as I write. 🙂


“You’re here!”

Callie Carter tugged her suitcase into the Rocky Point Resort’s lobby as Marnie Zimmerman’s shriek zinged across the room.

“I told you I would be, but my dad didn’t make it easy,” Callie said, easing her case to a stop in front of the registration desk.

Marnie frowned. “You deserve the break.”

Callie set her purse on the counter next to a display of resort brochures. “No one knows that more than me. I had the time, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.”

Her father didn’t believe in taking a break. Horace “Ace” Carter didn’t believe in down time. Rest. Taking care of her emotional health, her physical health. He believed in getting the job done. And for the past ten years, she had. But rubber bands, stretched too tightly, eventually snap, and Callie was almost there.

“I’ll make sure you have fun . . .” Marnie said, linking her arm through hers while the agent ran her card and handed her a small stack of papers.

“Here’s your key, Miss Carter,” the desk agent—her nametag read Sophia—said, handing her an honest-to-goodness key attached to a maroon keychain with the gold Rocky Point Resort logo stamped into the plastic. “You’re in room two-thirty-one, next door to Marnie and James.”

“. . . Starting tonight.”

Callie pulled her suitcase behind her. She’d left a few dresses hanging in her car, and she’d have go to back for those later. “What’s tonight?”

“I planned a get-to-know-you dinner. Jared is picking up Leah in Marengo, and she’ll be here this afternoon. I can’t wait for you to meet her. Hell, I can’t wait to meet her!”

“You are positively giddy,” Callie said, laughing. She stopped at the base of the short set of stairs that would take them to second floor. Purse hanging from the crook of her elbow, she hugged Marnie. “I’m happy for you.”

Marnie hugged her back so hard her spine cracked. “I am happy, and I’m happy you could be here.”

“I wouldn’t have missed it.”

She’d been honored when Marnie asked her to be a bridesmaid, and hadn’t thought for a second about saying no.

Standing outside Callie’s door, Marnie said, “I know you want time for yourself after that long drive. Take a bath, order a bottle of champagne, whatever you want. We’re meeting downstairs for dinner, and you’ll meet everyone then. I’m so excited!”

Marnie’s platinum blonde hair shimmered in the fluorescent lights, her pin curls, thick red lipstick, and clear skin giving her a Marilyn Monroe glow. She even had the curves to go with it, and Callie had always envied Marnie her softness.

Callie worked out seven days a week, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year. She had to. It was part of her job. Speaking of . . . she might be on vacation, but she still needed to workout. “You said the resort has a workout facility?”

“Yep,” Marnie said. “It’s downstairs by the pool. It’s not as big as the set up in your basement, but it will work.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you tonight, then.”

Callie didn’t feel the need for a bath, but a light nap sounded divine.

She let herself into her room and tucked her suitcase into the closet. The room smelled like any hotel room she’d ever stayed in: air freshener and the scent of recycled air.

A huge gift basket sat on a table tucked under the window that overlooked a thick swatch of trees. A brochure said there were woods to the west, the lake to the north, ski slopes on the east side of the building, and the town of Rocky Point on the south side. The resort offered quite a few amenities, Callie noticed, skimming the resort’s brochure. Maybe she would try her hand at skiing while she stayed there.

Callie washed her face in the sink and dried her skin with the bleached white hand towel. She hung it on the bar over the toilet and frowned at the water pooling at bottom of the bowl. “That’s great,” she muttered.

She needed a working sink. If all the pipes were connected, the bathtub might be affected, too, and she wanted to be able to shower in the morning. Or tonight after dinner.

“I need maintenance,” Callie said, using the landline phone on the nightstand to call the front desk. It wasn’t that late in the day, and she hoped someone would be able to come by her room soon. “My sink is plugged and won’t drain.”

She recognized Sophia’s voice. “We’ll have Mitch up there right away.”

“Thank you.”

Callie should have asked to be transferred to room service but she didn’t want to call back. She could save her appetite for dinner, and even though she was on vacation, she shouldn’t give in to wanting to drink too much. Her father told her she needed to be in control at all times. What if someone needed her? He always had an example at the ready of a time when he’d been able to help someone.

Service was a calling.

Ace Carter spoke of their occupation as if they were ministers or missionaries.

And he expected her to behave as such.

But why did being responsible mean she couldn’t have fun?

Someone knocked on her door, and she pushed the thoughts away. This was supposed to be vacation. A break. She’d fought hard for it and won.

Callie opened the door expecting an older man, balding, wearing a t-shirt and stained overalls carrying a red battered toolbox, and she blinked in surprise at the man a few years older than she standing in the hallway.

Her gaze traveled from his dark brown hair to his green yes. Slim, but strong, with the way he carried an enormous toolbox.

He shifted slightly, and asked, “Did you need maintenance?”

The right side of his face and neck made her hide a gasp behind her hand.

Through the crackling of heat in her ears, her mind whispered, fire.

***

Mitch was used to the wide-eyed stares, the stunned silences, the pity and the sneers. He’d become numb to it, and he ignored the shocked gasp the woman emitted when she saw the right side of his face and the scar that started at the top of his hairline and rippled down his temple and cheek, across his jaw, and into the neckline of his work t-shirt. It spread farther than that, but besides doctors and nurses, few had seen it, and Mitch intended to keep it that way.

“Maintenance?” he asked again.

She moved her hand away from her mouth. “Y-yes. The sink in the bathroom won’t drain.”

“I’ll take a look.”

When she didn’t move, he reached out a hand to nudge her from the door, but she flinched away.

So this was the way it was going to be. When he’d taken the job, the manager of the resort, Desiree Arnold, told him not to put himself into situations that could cause trouble for either party. If he felt the need to have someone with him while he did repairs, then that’s the way it would be. When she offered him the job, Desiree hadn’t brought up his scars at all, but Mitch didn’t need her to point out the obvious. He looked a hell of a lot scarier with his scars than he’d look without them.

“Would you like me to call Sophia and ask her to sit with you while I fix your sink? Or would you like to go to the bar and have a drink while you wait? It’d be on the house.” He carried vouchers in his toolbox to offer guests who didn’t want to be alone with him. A free drink to get them out their room so he could work in peace.

No one turned down free drinks, and her refusal took him aback.

“No, it’s fine. I’m sorry. You took me off-guard.”

“I usually do that to people,” he said mildly, stepping into her room. Before he shut the door, he asked, “Are you sure?”

And that question took him back to the last time he’d tried to make love to a woman. She’d been adamant she could handle the scars.

But it turned out she couldn’t, and he’d never tried again. With anyone.

She nodded. “I’m fine. I, ah, washed my face, and the water didn’t go down.”

“Sounds like an easy fix.” And it did. He’d spent the past seven years as the resort’s maintenance man, drawing on his own experiences fixing things around the house with his dad. Desiree, being in a jam when the current maintenance man quit unexpectedly due to a heart attack, had hired him on the spot, making it clear it was probationary. But there hadn’t been anything in the resort he couldn’t repair. His three month tryout ended with a pay raise and a small room with a twin-sized bed. Mitch didn’t need to stay there, but Desiree liked having on-site maintenance twenty-four/seven, and he didn’t have anything else to do.

The sink sat inside the spacious white-tiled room that held the bathtub, shower stall, and toilet.

Last month, Desiree had warned him that several of his old classmates would be trickling in for Marnie Zimmerman’s wedding and they would be filling the resort for two weeks. At the time he’d wondered why she’d bothered to say anything. It wasn’t like he’d never worked with a full resort before. The resort brought in tourist dollars for Rocky Point, and Desiree and her sales manager worked harder than anyone he knew to keep the rooms full all year round.

It was only after, while he thought about their conversation over a tuna sandwich, that he realized what she’d been getting at.

He didn’t recognize this one though. She hadn’t graduated from Rocky Point. He would have remembered.

Mitch hunkered down onto the floor with his toolbox and removed the extra toilet paper, box of Kleenex, and a hair dryer from under the vanity to reach the pipes.

He didn’t bring  a bucket, and he shoved the wastebasket under the pipe to catch the water as he removed it.

The brunette disappeared, and he worked in silence.

The culprit of the clog was a wad of hair and dirt, and a small diamond ring.

Satisfied he’d fixed the problem, he cleaned up. Dirty water filled the wastebasket, forcing Mitch to take it with him. He couldn’t empty it into her bathtub or sink. Desiree hired only the best housekeepers and Sophia said this woman hadn’t been in her room long. Maybe if she would have gone to the bar he could have dumped the water and cleaned up after himself, but he wouldn’t try it now.

“I’ll have housekeeping bring you another wastebasket for the bathroom. I’m sorry I had to use this one.”

She lay on the kind-sized bed staring at the ceiling. “Did you find what was clogging the sink?”

“Yeah.” Free of dirt, the ring sparkled, a platinum setting hugging the modest diamond. “Did you lose a ring?”

“No. Can I see it?”

Mitch shrugged. He didn’t know why not. He’d only take it to the registration desk so they could research the history of the room and ask if anyone had lost a ring recently. If they couldn’t find anyone who had, the ring would sit in the safe as part of their lost and found.

She rolled off the bed and took the ring when he offered it to her.

“I would be freaked out if I lost something like this.”

“I wouldn’t buy something like this,” he said. He caught the bitterness in his tone and pursed his lips.

Startled, her gaze met his. “You don’t want to get married?”

Mitch took the ring from her fingers, his skin brushing hers.

The way she looked at him, like she didn’t see the scars, not once she moved past her initial reaction, made him think that one day maybe he could find a woman who could see through his injury.

He snorted.

Yeah, when pigs flew.

“I learned a long time ago women want Mr. Perfect, and I have never been, and never will be, that kind of man. Have a good afternoon, miss, and enjoy your stay.”

Mitch dropped his toolbox with a large clatter outside her room, and hugged the wastebasket stinking of dirty water close to his chest.

Closing his eyes, he tried to forget about hers.

Callie and Mitch blog graphic

Can Authors Write Characters They Dislike?

As readers, we read characters we dislike all the time. That’s what villains are for, after all. They are characters we love to hate. They create horrible problems for the characters we love.

We read characters we can’t identify with and that makes us dislike them. Or they make stupid choices we don’t understand. Whatever the reason, as readers, reading about characters we dislike is common. It makes it hard, sometimes, to get into the story because characters we don’t like or can’t understand pull us out of the story and leave us frustrated.

Sometimes this is because they aren’t written well and the author gives them negative character traits in an attempt to make them well-rounded. Other times we can’t identify with characters because they are too young or too old. Not many adults who read Twilight liked Bella Swan. She was a whiny, indecisive 17 year old girl.

So, as a reader, it can happen where you stumble upon a character who is too air-headed, too boring, or just all around unlikable.

As a writer, can this happen to a character in your own story?

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Usually, we love our characters. It’s why writers write series, so they don’t have to say goodbye. Or we edit the same piece over and over again because we don’t know how to let go. It’s common for sequels to be written without being planned because a secondary character steals every scene and demands their own story to be told.

When I was writing book one of my series, Callie Carter started off as any of my female characters. She needed a change. Her backstory wasn’t as horrible as some other characters I’ve created, but she still was unhappy and she was using the two week vacation in Rocky Point to not only be a bridesmaid, but also to take a break from life and figure things out. She’s in-your-face and assertive. She goes after what she wants (unless it has to do with her job and her dad).

When she meets Mitch Sinclair, she knows she wants him. And when she sees how Mitch lives because of something that happened years ago, she promises fix it. Even if he doesn’t want her help–even if he doesn’t want to fix it.

She knows best.

Or she thinks she does.

Mitch falls for her quickly. He falls for her effervescence. He falls for her joy of life. And he falls for her because when she looks at him, she sees him, not the accident that scarred him. He’ll do anything for her.

She asks a lot of him because she wants to help him live a better life, and she pushes him out of his comfort zone.

I hated her for it.

She knew Mitch needed a change, and change can hurt. Bad. While trying to help him, defend him, as no one else had, she hurt him. And I couldn’t make her stop.

I cried for Mitch and what Callie was putting him through. But the story demanded it. Because while I hated Callie for hurting Mitch over and over, she was right, too. He couldn’t keep living that way. And slowly, he realized it, too.

But Mitch and his parents went through a lot to come to that point.

All while I was writing her and what she was doing, I hated her. I kept telling her to leave him alone, that if he was happy with the way things were, why was she picking on him? Making things worse for him?

Their story is done, and they both learned valuable lessons in life and love, but I still don’t like her very much. And I still don’t think she treated Mitch very well, even though he fell in love with her, and she was right about a lot of things in the end.

It made me wonder if other writers are sometimes in the same situation. Writing protagonists they dislike.

And it also made me wonder how that affected my writing. Will it show through that I hated how she treated him? After all, she loved Mitch. She wanted to help him. Everything she did was to help give him the life she thought he deserved to live.

Does her love for him show through? I hope so.

It was a different experience for me, to not be totally enamored by one of my characters. Usually, I love them all.

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As a reader, it also made me wonder about the female characters I’ve read and disliked. I don’t normally like characters who are pig-headed and stubborn. Or make wrongful judgments about people. That seems to be a common trope in romance: female characters jumping to wrongful conclusions about the heroes, and it sets off a chain reaction that doesn’t get resolved until the heroine is proven incorrect about the man she fell in love with despite her attitude. The whole premise of books like that wouldn’t even exist if the heroine hadn’t been so blind in the first place. Plots like that are frustrating.  I also don’t identify with characters who won’t listen to other people’s opinions because I’m open-minded.

Callie was stubborn. She thought she knew best. Even when everyone around her was telling her that she didn’t understand the situation.

Maybe my readers won’t feel the negative emotions I felt writing her. Maybe they’ll understand more where she’s coming from.

We all have good intentions and even the best of us have trouble with the executions of our actions that come from kindness.

“You were only trying to help.” We’ve all heard that a time or two and by the end of the book, Callie has, too.

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Callie is my first character I’ve written I don’t identify with. It’s not a bad thing. Maybe it means as a writer I’m moving out of my comfort zone and that can only help me stretch my wings. All of us writers put pieces of ourselves into our characters and with Callie’s stubbornness and shortsightedness, she’s nothing like me.

I would never ask someone to do things they didn’t want to do. She wasn’t manipulative, though, and she wasn’t using Mitch’s love for her to make him do things he didn’t want to do. She truly cared for him. But she could have gone about helping  him in a different way. But then the story would have been different, and Callie wouldn’t have learned the lessons she learned to help her stand up to her dad. In the end she was finally able living the life she wanted.

I’d like to think my story worked out exactly how it should have.

And I hope that does mean I’m growing as a writer. Callie was who the story needed her to be. I let it happen. I had faith in my writing ability. I had faith Callie would be the character she needed to be. Who Mitch needed her to be.

Had I tried to push her into a mold, maybe she would have read insincere, or maybe she would have read flatter because I would have diluted her spark.

Callie made me uncomfortable, but I hope readers can see the good she was trying to do–the good she did do.

I hope readers love Callie as much as Mitch does.

I’ll keep writing characters I may not like or agree with.

Because it’s not my story I’m writing.

It’s theirs, and I have to trust them to tell it.

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Tell me what you think! Have you written characters you haven’t necessarily identified with? How did it feel? How did you resist rewriting them to fit your preconceived mold?

Let me know!


My books are wide. Find them at your favorite retailer!

Don’t Run Away: books2read.com/dont-run-away
Chasing You: books2read.com/Chasing-You
Running Scared: books2read.com/running-scared

Wherever He Goes: books2read.com/whereverhegoes1
All of Nothing: books2read.com/allofnothing1
The Years Between Us: books2read.com/the-years-between-us

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