The Debut of Writer Wednesdays

A few weeks ago a group Firebirds (2012 Golden Heart finalists) decided to get together for a year-long blog party: one Wednesday a month we’ll all write on the same topic, a bit of show-and-tell about our lives. To start off this month, we’re writing about weddings, in honor of Firebird sister Kat Cantrell’s double release of wedding-themed stories. To visit the rest of my blogging sisters, see the Writer Wednesday Blogs list on the right, and check out Kat’s new books and the schedule of future posts below.

April’s theme is Tell us a highlight of your wedding day. The highlight of mine was probably that it came together at all, when and where it did.

When Jack and I decided to spend Christmas of 1969 in the suburbs of Miami with my parents, we weren’t planning (if you could even call our vague talk on the subject planning) to get married until the following summer, when Jack would graduate from Florida State and move to New Orleans, where I was attending grad school at Tulane. But as soon as my mother heard that idea, she decided we should get married right away, so she’d be sure to be there. (She wasn’t far off on that—some years later my brother was married by a justice of the peace in the Lafayette Parish Courthouse; my parents and I were not there.)

So we bowed to the inevitable, arriving shortly before Christmas and marrying on the evening of the 29th. My mother made me a dress (dark green and very short), Jack found a suit somewhere, and my parents’ back fence neighbors, who owned a small bakery, made us a cake. The church was still decorated for Christmas, all red and green. My best friend, Claudia, was home from Brooklyn for the holidays, as were several of my college buddies. Jack found an acquaintance to act as best man (I think his name was Paul, but I’d have to dig out the paperwork to be sure). My brother, who was about sixteen at the time, was the altar boy.

I lost Jack in 2002, but to this day I have a yellowed clipping on one of my bulletin boards: The success of a marriage is inversely proportional to the amount spent on the wedding. Worked for us, for thirty three years.


Bride: Cara, wedding dress designer
Marital Status: Jilted at the altar
Action Required: Revenge on the runaway groom
From Ex To EternityTwo years after waiting at the altar for Keith Mitchell, Cara isn’t ready to meet him again, much less work with him as the consultant on her bridal fashion show! For his part, a misunderstanding sent him running, but now that he knows the truth, and they’re spending long days working together, he wants her back in his bed. Will Cara use their passion to gain the ultimate revenge? Let the newlywed games begin.

Buy Links:  Amazon   B&N   |   Apple   |   Kobo  |   Google

Bride: Meredith, soon-to-be co-owner, wedding dress business
Marital Status: Victim, Vegas wedding mix-up
Action Required: Divorce, ASAP
From Fake to ForeverAfter one night of tequila and sex, their impromptu Vegas wedding shouldn’t be valid. But Meredith Chandler-Harris just discovered she’s still tied to irresistible businessman Jason Lynhurst. She needs out of their marriage, but to become his company’s new CEO, he needs her as a bride. Let the newlywed games begin.

Buy Links:  Amazon   |   B&N   |   Apple   |   Kobo  |   Google



The Writing Process Blog Hop

Last week my Starcatcher & Lucky 13s sister Nan Dixon tagged me to carry on the Writing Process Blog Hop. Nan is a five-time Golden Heart finalist and has recently made her first sale to Harlequin SuperRomance. Southern Comforts will be published in December 2014.

So on with the blog hop questions:

What Am I Working On?

Jinn on the Rocks is the third book in my Jinn series, following Jinn & Tonic and Bathtub Jinn. Zee, the heroine of this installment, is a changeling, a jinn left in the mortal world as a baby a century or so ago. Curran, the hero, is a jinn cast into the mortal world by the breaking of his bottle—and not, it would seem, by accident. Together with a smart-mouthed goblin and a dog who probably isn’t really a dog, they are trying to figure out how Curran can return to the world of the jinn, who Zee really is, and, of course, the route to a Happy Ending.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

I write Funny. Well, I hope I do. I mean to. But of course humor is a terribly subjective thing, and not everyone will agree on what exactly is funny. If I tried to write vampires, they’d probably be allergic to hemoglobin, and my werewolves would likely have fleas. I can’t help it. I used to slip jokes into environmental impact reports for the Corps of Engineers. But just look around you—love is funny. Every romance needs a generous helping of humor if it’s going to last beyond infatuation.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

I write humor because, well, that’s who I am. I love to make my critique group chuckle. I love to read humor in almost any genre. I have written historical Wizard of Ozand time travel romances because I have some academic and practical background knowledge of nineteenth-century Texas. But mostly I write paranormal, and when I look back I realize that my favorite childhood books included the Oz series, Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle books, and Edward Eager’s Half Magic series. I started reading science fiction when I was about ten years old, and still love the genre. Am I escaping from “reality?” Maybe, but it’s always been a fun trip.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Mechanically: all over the place. I’ve written longhand in spiral notebooks, on typewriters, gone through at least half a dozen word processing programs before settling on Word, and tried too many writing accessory programs to count. About a year and a half ago I fell in love with Scrivener, and now I useScrivener it for nearly everything (including blog posts).

Creatively: I’m more on the pantser end of the scale than the plotter, but that’s not really intentional. I usually have at least two or three chapters ahead plotted, maybe more. I plotted the second half of Bathtub Jinn in order to enter a contest that required a synopsis, and that synopsis allowed me to finish the book (just barely) in time to enter the Golden Heart—and final. But I’m not usually that disciplined. I tend to be a very linear writer (I keep hoping Scrivener will help me loosen up on that a bit), and I find it hard to predict what will happen a hundred pages or more ahead until I get there.

I don’t do character interviews or biographies, and I often have to write several chapters before I have any real idea who my characters are. Sometime I have to write, and throw away, several chapters before I know what my story is, or more to the point, where it starts.

A note on titles: My 2011 historical Golden Heart finalist, Paper Hearts, was simply “the newspaper story” for a long time, until the title popped into my head one day. But the Jinn books have all started with their titles—if you think of any good gin puns, I’d love to hear them. My next Jinn book may be hiding behind one of them.

The Dress ThiefNow I’ll pass the Writing Process baton on to my Firebird sister Natalie Meg Evans, who has promised to post her version next Monday. Natalie’s first novel, The Dress Thief, has just been published in the UK by Quercus Books, and is available from the Book Depository.


Back to the Bookshelf

Yesterday afternoon I fell into a decluttering spiral that quickly spun out of control and kept its grip on me until after midnight.

It started innocently enough when I looked at the long row of neatly labeled brown cardboard magazine boxes on the bottom shelf of the wall-to-wall bookcase in my bedroom.  The magazines were the RWA’s Romance Writers Report, and the labels ended with 2010.  The RWR is an excellent resource, and I didn’t want to throw them away, but I wasn’t using them, either, and they were taking up several feet of potential book space.  And the TBR stacks were sprouting all over the house.

So I found a good-sized carton, broke down the magazine holders, and stacked the copies in the box.  There was a bit of room left, so I went looking for 2011 and 2012 in the living room, where I found them mixed with the last two years’ worth of several other magazines (Smithsonian, Writer’s Digest, Texas Highways, and so on), and phone books.  An amazing number of phone books–I kept five, for Houston and the local suburbs, but there are now seventeen in the garage, waiting for their turn in the recycling bin.  Good thing the bin has wheels, or I’d never get it out to the curb this week.

Now that I had the coffee table mostly visible and the small bookcase in the living room cleared out, I started moving those TBR stacks.  There were still obstructions in the book case (see my last post for a before picture), stray gifts still in their boxes, an extra scale, assorted pillows, an empty box too nice to throw away, so I found myself cleaning out the hall linen closet.  I left the vacuum cleaner on the floor–I haven’t used it in years, but I’m pretty sure it still works–and concentrated on the upper shelves, full of sheets and blankets for beds I no longer own, old curtains, and some rather grungy pillows.  Out those went (straight into the trash, no mulching in the garage), and in went the obstructions from the bookcase.

When I piled all the unread books from various places into the shelves, they fit, more or less, but I shook my head in dismay.  There were a truly embarrassing number of them, and they were shoved in randomly, so I had no idea what I had  or where any individual book might be found.  And my back was beginning to ache.

had been taking breaks. I was doing the laundry.  I watched the news and did the newspaper puzzles.  I watched two episodes of As Time Goes By (a favorite old BritCom) on PBS, and of course Hell on Wheels (lacrosse as a blood sport?  and I knew Eva shouldn’t leave the baby alone!).

Then I turned the TV to a marathon of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and why am I watching that on BBCAmerica?  In honor of Patrick Stewart?) and attacked the books.  After three hours (with breaks for the sake of my back–crawling around on the floor just isn’t as easy as it once was) I had the unread books sorted (romance, science fiction, mystery, general fiction, non-fiction, and in a place of honor above my bed, books by my Golden Heart sisters, the Starcatchers, Firebirds, and Lucky 13s), alphabetized (what, you didn’t think my books would be alphabetized?), and thinned out (I had to admit that any book I’d been passing over for more than a couple of years was probably never going to grab me again, so I now have a carton for my next trip to Half Price Books).

Here’s the result:  a little neater, a little more manageable, and I discovered a few forgotten gems while I was at it.  With a few exceptions, the bottom half contains my To Be Read collection. (I need the stool to reach the top shelf.)

How long do you hang on to an unread book before you admit you’ve lost interest?



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