Please welcome Susanne Matthews to the blog. While you’re at it, wish her a happy release day for The White Carnation, the first installment in The Harvester Series. Happy book birthday Susanne! Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a cover kind of girl and when I saw Susanne’s cover, I said “Wow!” I’m so excited to share it along with an excerpt and a get-to-know the character, Faye Lewis. Named after Susanne’s own best friend, she sounds like my kind of gal! The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls. For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée. Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize? EXCERPT: Every hair on Faye’s body stood on end as she approached the oak door. It was open. Mrs. Green never left the door open. The woman double- and triple-locked everything. The last time she’d been here—was it really two years ago?—it had taken forever for the woman to undo the locks and let her in. “Mrs. Green, are you there? It’s Faye.” She pushed open the door and the unmistakable scent of blood—that slightly sour, coppery scent she’d never forget—greeted her. She swallowed a scream. The place was a disaster: furniture overturned, papers, books, CDs, and DVDs littering the floor. There, amidst the chaos, lay Mary’s mother, the jagged red line along her throat testifying to her death. Faye dropped the flower and damaged purse, some of the contents spilling out and landing in the pool of blood—a tube of lipstick, a pack of gum, a roll of breath mints—strange sprinkles on the deep red surface. The pristine white petals of the carnation soaked up the redness, adding to the eeriness. She ran to the powder room and threw herself on her knees barely in time to spew what was left of her cucumber and watercress sandwiches into the toilet. The pungent, sour aroma of vomit filled the room. Tears tracked down her cheeks. The gut wrenching heaves that followed brought up bile and left her exhausted. She sat back on her heels, trying to control her anguish. With a shaking hand, she pulled her cell phone out of her jacket pocket and dialed a familiar number. “Homicide, Rob Halliday.” The voice was tired, bored, resigned. “Rob, it’s Faye. She’s dead. Lucy Green’s dead. There’s so much blood. Someone’s murdered Mary’s mother.” “Where are you?” Rob was all business, as if there were no painful history between them. Deep down, she knew this no-nonsense, professional side of him was what she needed, why she’d called him and not 9-1-1. “Third floor, seventeen thirty-seven Marlborough. It’s in Beacon Hill.” “I know where the damn street is, Faye. Stay there, and don’t touch anything. I’m on my way.” Meet Faye Lewis: Creating three dimensional characters the reader will identify with is a challenge faced by most authors, including myself. For Faye to be “real” to the reader, she had to be “real” to me. I wanted my readers to love her, identify with her, and care about her and her struggles the same way I did. Faye Lewis, the heroine in The White Carnation, Book One of The Harvester Series, is named after my best friend, and in writing the story, I tried to give Faye Lewis those qualities I admire most in my friend. With apologies to the real Faye, I’ve tortured my heroine, but she’s a fighter, and believe me, she gets her happily ever after in the end. So what kind of person is Faye Lewis? Dedicated: Faye’s an aspiring journalist who’ll do whatever it takes to get the story. She’ll work long hours, and make whatever personal sacrifices are necessary on the way to her ultimate goals—a Pulitzer Prize and the number one spot on the crime beat at Boston’s most prestigious newspaper. Caring: She has a soft spot for underdogs, and befriends those who are marginalized by others. She also jumps to help those who ask for her help. She accepts people at face value, but if you get on her bad side, forget it. She can and does hold a grudge. Knowledgeable: Faye’s intelligent and well-read, and has done a lot of research on a number of different topics in her quest for the truth in reporting her story, and her search for the story that will win her that Pulitzer Prize. Perceptive: She has the ability to look at a number of seemingly disconnected points and pulling them together so that they make sense. She’s invaluable to Rob as they try to solve the Harvester case. But, in order to be well-rounded, Faye also has her faults. Stubborn: When Faye thinks she’s right, nothing can make her change her mind. Distrustful: Due to her father’s behavior, Faye expects to be let down by people. She doesn’t trust anyone, not even the man she purported to love. Quick-tempered: Irish to the roots of her chestnut hair, she loses her temper quickly, jumps to conclusions and says things she regrets almost as soon as she’s said them. When the story starts, Faye has two fears: clowns and electrical storms. The White Carnation is available for pre-order from most major e-retailers. Visit my website http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/ for direct purchase links to this and the rest of my books. AUTHOR BIO: Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love. WEBSITE/BLOG FACEBOOK TWITTER AMAZON GOODREADS
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” (Little Gidding)” ― T.S. Eliot
If you would have asked me a year ago today what I’d expect to be doing in a year, I can guarantee that my answer wouldn’t have been writing a blog post. I probably would have answered that I’d be enjoying some time off from work with my family, reading or maybe working on some writing-not one of my work in progress, but writings. Because a year ago, I never looked at my work as anything but something I enjoyed doing, nor did I consider myself an author. But here I am!
I have a published book! Some days I’m still awed by the fact. A published book! Yes, I did that! I went out on a limb, took a chance and my dream came true. Drive Me Sane was a story that simply flowed out of me. I immensely enjoyed writing it and my only hope was that a few others would like it just as much as I did. Having 19 five-star reviews, 4 four-star reviews and 1 three-star review on Amazon, has by far surpassed my expectations and I cannot thank you all enough!
I have learned so much along the way. A year ago, I didn’t have a blog. My blog was essentially created so that I could write about my excitement and despair after Kentucky lost to UCONN in the NCAA championship game. Shortly afterwards, I got the news that Crimson Romance wanted to acquire Drive Me Sane and so, I took off trying to transverse the world of marketing (still trying, I’m terrible at it) and geared my post toward more writing/book related topics (I’m terrible at that too.) I now have nearly every social media site available and although I’m better at keeping up with some more than others, I’m getting the hang of things.
It has been an incredible journey and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone. For the friends I’ve made (Bill & E.L, you’re awesome), for those that follow along and listen to me ramble, for anyone who’s read my work or given advise when needed. I truly appreciate it. I’m still learning, but I am moving into 2015 with another finished manuscript that I hope I can sprinkle some magic on and turn it into something that others will also enjoy.
Wishing you all a joy filled New Year! Never give up on your dreams!
P.S. Big rivalry game today when the UK Wildcats take on Louisville Cardinals. Two great teams but only one can win. Go Big Blue!
7 Heartfelt Holiday Romances for only $0.84
(at Amazon for a limited time, prices vary at other e-retailers).
Winter’s crisp cold is the perfect backdrop for holiday lights, snowball fights, and starry nights by the fire, curled up with hunky heroes. Let these seven couples show you how to find the warmth of red-hot romance.
- Christmas Dinner: Amanda dreads returning home single for Christmas, but the only available man is her rival for the TV anchor spot. Can the holiday spirit turn animosity into love?
- The Winter Fairy: Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in her class, but will her magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student?
- Holiday Hoopla: Halle is about to lose her gift shop, until banker Blake walks into her life, dangling an offer that could save it all, or cost her everything.
- Wynter’s Journey: Twelve years after tragedy tore Wynter and Sam apart, can another predicament bring them back together?
- The Winter Promise: War throws Lady Emma and Lord Robert together, where they must decide if they can listen to their hearts – or if they would be wiser never to trust each other.
- Winter Storms: Daniel’s sailing accident cost Carly her shot at Olympic dreams, while his own athletic success was unhindered. Now he’s returned and they’re stuck in the Cornish village where storms lash them from outside – and within.
- Old Christmas: Casey needs help from the magic that walks on Old Christmas Eve to find her way back home, and to the love she left behind.
Sensuality Level: Sensual
READ EXCEPTS & MEET THE AUTHORS
Christmas Dinner by Robyn Neeley
“Arrive at destination on left.” The familiar voice of Tate’s GPS echoed throughout his
Jeep, interrupting the soft sounds of Christmas music.
This couldn’t be right. Could it? He pulled onto the side of the road. His navigation
system had taken him down a dark and twisty path for the last fifteen minutes. There
were few homes on either side. He shook Amanda’s shoulder gently. His eyes focused on
the spectacle in front of him.
“What time is it?” She yawned and sat up. “Are we here already?”
“That’s what I would like to know. Amanda, is this your parents’ house?” He leaned over his steering wheel and peered out the window. In front of him, thousands of decorative red and green lights flickered on rows of Christmas trees at the bottom of a hill, showcasing what he could only describe as a cross between Santa’s Village and the middle of Times Square. A blanket of snow stretched at least a quarter of a mile up the hill. At the top was a beautiful two-story mountain log cabin. Glistening white Christmas lights outlined the house.
Amanda sighed. “Yep. We’re here.”
“This is amazing. Amanda, is your dad Santa Claus?” he asked, half joking.
“They could land 747 jets on your front yard. That tree in the middle has to be over
thirty feet tall.” He pointed to the west side of the lawn. “Is that a horse and sleigh over
“The horse is fake. I’d rather not talk about the sleigh.”
“Then we won’t.” He suspected she might have some unpleasant memories of it
involving the infamous ex. Perhaps it was the scene of the aborted proposal.
Amanda sighed. “Good. Did your parents decorate their lawn for the holidays?” She
reached behind her for her bags.
“No. Well, yeah, I guess. But this, well, this . . . wow . . . It’s just really something.”
Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places, watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit, can’t live without Recess Peanut Butter Cups and has never met a Christmas cookie she didn’t like. (Her favorite cookie made it into Holiday Wedding!) She writes romantic comedy, sometimes with a hint of magic, but always with a happy ending. Visit her at www.robynneeley.com.
Winter Fairy by Lola Karns
The sight of Penelope sitting on his sofa with her long legs tucked up beside her drew his attention as soon as he stepped inside. Her blue eyes blinked at him, giving her an expression that managed to be both innocent and alluring at the same time. He set down the cups he held in his hand, and after a long minute remembered to take off his coat and boots.
“Hi, yourself.” She smiled. “How did your shopping go?” She skeptically eyed the one bag and the cups resting on the entry table.
He approached the couch, carrying the bag and coffees with him, the same time as she stood. “Very good. I’ll have to empty the trunk later. I brought you something.” He waved the coffee cups. “I didn’t know what you like. I got a peppermint mocha and a gingerbread latte. Which would you prefer?” She bit her lip and furled her brow. “Stay for a bit. I can’t drink all this coffee by myself.”
Her gaze slid to the cups, the left side of her mouth raised slightly as she glanced back to him. “I’m such a typical girl. I can’t say no to chocolate.”
He offered her the mocha before sitting beside her. He couldn’t agree with her – she was no typical girl in his book. She unsettled him. “Then I know which piece of cheesecake you’ll want.” He reached into the bag and handed her a box and a fork. “I could get plates if you want.”
She opened the box, revealing chocolate cheesecake decorated with chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle. “This is great. Thank you.”
Her fluttering eyelashes distracted him, but the moan she let out when she took her first bite went straight to his groin. Now he was second-guessing his decision to bring dessert. He’d wanted his grown up company to stay longer – he hadn’t anticipated being reminded of the more carnal pleasures he missed with his self-imposed solitude. Or had he? As he tried to resolve his true motive, she interrupted his thoughts.
“If it’s not too rude, what prompted this delicious treat?”
“I was by the shop and cheesecake sounded good. It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in dessert after Eloise has gone to bed. Dessert always tastes better when…”
He hesitated. Calling her a friend didn’t seem quite right. She seemed more than that, even though he barely knew her.
She looked up, “When it’s shared.”
Having worked as a wide variety of jobs as she moved through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia, Lola decided she needed a more portable career. Writing fit the bill.
Lola currently resides in Minnesota with her husband, two children, two hairless cats, and a fluffy ex-stray cat. When not writing, she enjoys baking, reading and drinking coffee.
She is the author of Bad Traveler and Winter Fairy. Visit Lola at lolakarns.com
Holiday Hoopla by Dana Volney
Blake Ellison continued to watch the woman. Can’t I have a moment of peace? I can’t even Christmas shop without . . . This gal has the right idea, drinking in the afternoon. That’s my kind of day. He wished it was just because of the holidays, but lately his life was complicated with unfair obligations that made him want to drink—a lot . . . a whole lot.
Blake assessed the friendly sales gal. Her blonde hair was tied back in a messy pony tail that was weirdly sensual. Her fresh face was a welcome relief from the overly made up women he usually encountered.
“I’m Blake by the way.” He offered his hand.
“Halle, nice to meet you.” She slipped her hand in his firmly. Strong. Good. Limp fish handshakes were the worst.
“You don’t happen to have another glass or bottle of beer hiding back there, do ya?” He raised an eyebrow again.
Halle laughed and her green eyes danced. He grinned, getting swept up in the moment.
“Tsk, tsk.” She crinkled her nose. “Isn’t it a little early?”
“Well, you made it look so fun.” He cocked his head toward the counter where she’d spilled what smelled like a Zinfandel.
“You, my new friend, are in luck. I happen to have a glass and, better yet, a new bottle.”
She knelt down to fish under the counter and Blake leaned over to check out the view his higher perch now afforded him. Sexy. Halle popped back up and his startled eyes found hers. She fetched a decorated glass off the shelf and waggled it in her hand.
“Convenient.” He nodded toward the spot she’d just made vacant.
“Perk of being the owner.” She winked and headed to the back of her store.
Blake wasn’t sure what do to, but he followed because she had wine. She owns this place? Huh. He couldn’t keep his eyes from roaming. Nice ass.
Halle motioned to a couple of high backed, brightly patterned green and pink chairs. A sitting area had been set up in the middle of the store, complete with an end table between the chairs and a rug. They sat and she poured.
They clinked glasses.
“So, Blake, what drives you to drink in the middle of the day?”
Dana Volney lets her imagination roam free in Wyoming where she writes romances and helps local businesses succeed with her marketing consulting company. Surrounding herself with good friends, family, and boating on the lake whenever she can, she thrives on moments and memories created with loved ones, especially on sun filled days. That’s when Wyoming’s charm really sinks in. Dana is bold, adventurous and–by her own admission–good with plants, having kept a coral cactus alive for more than one year. Visit Dana at www.DanaVolney.com.
Wynter’s Journey by Jennifer DeCuir
Okay, it was go time. What was the first thing they were supposed to do? Sam looked wildly around the room. He kept his voice calm, and hid the tremors that threatened to rattle his teeth loose. Wynter was counting on him.
He got her into bed and rushed to his desk in the corner. Jerking at the mouse to wake up the screen, Sam brought up the website he’d been studying just a few short hours ago. He thought he’d had more time.
Yeah, he’d been anticipating this. It was Vermont–in the dead of winter. Chances were pretty damned good that a snowstorm would make a routine hospital delivery less and less likely. And he’d been right to assume that Wynter wouldn’t take the contractions seriously until it was too late. She was too stubborn for her own good.
So they were doing this. Another scream from the bed had him yanking the power cord from the laptop and carrying it with him back to the other side of the room. The website hadn’t bothered to explain that hearing his best friend’s gut-wrenching cries of pain would push his own stress levels beyond human endurance.
“Amazing what you can learn from the internet.” That ridiculous statement earned him a glare. Yeah, probably best to keep the chatter to a minimum.
“Sam. Call 9-1-1,” she panted.
He was going to do that. It was next on his list. Really. He reached for the cell phone that he kept on the nightstand charger next to his bed. It wasn’t there. He stared frantically at the empty charger.
Wynter watched him closely, her eyes pleading with him.
“Sam, please!” She clutched at the sheets with a white-knuckled grip, her entire body going rigid. Crap.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” Sam spun on his heel and raced for the stairs, taking them two at a time, falling on his butt and sliding down the last few. Not letting it stop his momentum, he ran to his office.
Jennifer DeCuir grew up in a small town in Maine, which provides the basis for Scallop Shores, the fictional town in Drawn to Jonah. She’s busy raising two kids and a husband. She loves including children and babies in her stories, as her own provide endless story ideas. Currently residing in rain-soaked Washington, she can usually be found working on her latest book in a local Starbucks. Visit Jennifer at jenniferdecuir.com.
The Winter Promise by Jenny Jacobs
The painful stirrings of a headache began to throb behind Robert’s temples. He knew he was about to hear a story. He hoped it would at least be entertaining. He very much doubted it would be true.
The foreigner stared at his face with wide violet eyes. He narrowed his own gray eyes at her. He knew he was not the most attractive man to women, but she needn’t gawp at him in such a rude way.
He acknowledged her with a curt nod and seated himself on his chair, rough-hewn from one of the alders that flourished on Athelney, as sturdy and as solid – and as undecorative – as he.
Nettled by her stare, he responded in kind with a thorough and thoroughly offensive inventory of his own. She looked young but must have reached her majority or she would have a guardian to look after her and would not require his generosity. For he had no doubt that was what she was here to obtain. She must be a widow, or at least unmarried, or there would be a husband. Unless – he hoped she didn’t expect him to intervene in a marital dispute. He would never let a wife like this run away, not one with such delicate features and soft unmarred skin, masses of dark hair demurely covered with fine linen, the spark in her eye hinting that her spirits had not been entirely quelled by whatever misfortune had befallen her. Her wide violet eyes were compelling, and he found himself looking into them for a long timeless moment.
He made himself shift his gaze, cataloging all of her failings: the borrowed dress she wore, which could only mean she had arrived at Athelney without personal possessions of any kind; the lack of companions to accompany her, where any lady of quality would have at least one or two trailing after her, annoying his servants; the awkwardness of the curtsy she’d given him, which meant she didn’t care about her manner, and he already had enough of those in his household; the boots on her feet, which meant she would not be the quiet, retiring type who stayed indoors and consoled him with gentle murmurs and warm compresses; the outline of a dagger in her sleeve. He sighed again.
Jenny Jacobs, a writer living in the Midwest, is still kissing frogs, but likes to write about people finding their happily ever after—even if they have to go through some difficulties to get there. She is the author of Sadie’s Story and The Winter Promise. Visit her at www.jennyjacobsbooks.com
Winter Storms by Lucy Oliver
Slinging a rucksack over his shoulder, he stepped across the floating jetty to the sea wall. A rank odour of dead fish, salt water, and rust hit him; scents he remembered from his childhood. Boats creaked at their moorings and faint music drifted over from a pub.
Brick steps led up the harbour wall, slippery with rubbery, rotting seaweed and when he reached the top, he froze, waiting for the bright flash of a camera. It never came and he smiled. Of course in winter, the harbour lay deserted. It was during the summer months that scores of flip-flops struck across the warm cobbled streets, sticky with dropped Cornish ice cream. But he always preferred winter when the pavements were empty and waves hit the harbour walls in powerful green swells.
He strode across the cobbles. A new shop had been set up in his absence, a neat, modern place with a window display lit up by bright fairy lights and filled with sugar mice. Tomorrow he’d come back to buy Christmas presents, since he brought none with him, but now it was time to go home, time to surprise his family, to explain about Imogen and the cancelled wedding. He stepped back into the full force of the wind, striding along the harbour to the main town. Here the buildings caught the worst of the gusts and he moved faster.
A few shops were still open, filling the air with the scent of fresh bread and spicy minced pies, making his stomach rumble. A large fir tree dotted with white lights stood in the central town square surrounded by a band who clutched brass instruments and rattled collection buckets, sleet beading on their blue uniforms. Two younger members grinned at him and he smiled back, dropping a few coins into their pot.
“I know you,” the teenager said. “Your photo’s on the hall of the sailing club, you’re Daniel Edwards.”
Lucy Oliver grew up by the sea and particularly loved walking along the harbor in winter, when the streets were deserted and waves crashed against the seawalls. Now living inshore, she likes to return to those memories by writing passionate romances set against the backdrop of the English countryside. Lucy enjoys writing about characters that like all of us, have flaws, mixed in with her trademark touch of spice. She also writes under the name Lucy Hartbury for higher heat level works, including an exciting and saucy version of Dracula. Join her on Twitter @Writingoliver or check out her blog at lucyoliverwrites.blogspot.co.uk/
Old Christmas by Kathryn Brocato
Casey blinked and shook her head. “Now I know what’s wrong here. This is a dream. All of you except Granny are dead. I knew there was something weird about this.”
Cynthia tilted one hip forward in imitation of a model’s stance. “You’re the one who believes in all Mom’s nonsense about Old Christmas. And they do say spirits walk on Old Christmas Eve.”
“I’m getting out of here.” Casey felt her hair attempting to lift off her scalp. “Come on, Granny.”
Alice chuckled. “No one here means you any harm, Casey. We all want the same thing–your happiness.
Casey reached out tentatively to touch Alice. Alice’s skin was warm and solid, not cool and fragile as it had been in the hospital.
Casey swallowed and regarded her grandmother in shock.
Alice smiled. “Don’t try to hold me, Casey. I’m more than ready to go. It’s Old Christmas Eve, you know. I only came to apologize for teaching you to be ashamed of your mother’s actions. I simply didn’t realize how it would affect you.
Casey squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them again, and forked her hair back to stare wildly around the barn. She couldn’t see two inches in front of her face.
She was alone.
Kathryn Brocato writes contemporary romance with a small-town touch. She is a scientist and business owner who lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, dogs, and chickens. Her first published romance was a Kismet Romance, Storm Warning. She also wrote The Cartwright Heritage, writing as Katy King for White Rose Press. Currently, she writes contemporary romance for the Crimson Romance line. Visit Kathryn at kathrynbrocato.com.
What goes into writing a song? I suppose it’s a lot like writing a book, something sparks the idea and there you go, but I’ll get more into that in a minute. Right now I want to address what’s more important. It’s RELEASE DAY! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Well…if I’m being honest, I haven’t really been sitting around and waiting. It’s something I’ve thought about, but never imagined would happen. I began writing seriously about ten years ago. I dabbled in it as a teen and always loved writing essays for school, but it was never anything I ever considered for a career. My plans included law school, but then I met my husband, moved to Kentucky, had kids and well you get the point. Law school never happened, and I’m thankful for it every day. Because I work closely with the field and know without a doubt that I would have been miserable. Besides, for the most part, I like what I do, even though it isn’t always easy. It’s probably why I read so much-to escape the real lives of everyday people whom I encounter. But that isn’t necessarily true either. I’ve always been a reader. It started when my mom took my sister and I to the library one day and I checked out a book by Christopher Pike. I was about eight, so it’s been a while since I’ve read any of his books and I can’t remember any of their titles, but his name has always stuck with me. Needless to say, my obsession with mystery and suspense was born. I remember the way my heart raced with anticipation and how even though I’d be scared to death, I’d still want to finish the book. From then on I’ve had a love affair with reading and although I haven’t always been faithful, I always seem to come back to it. When marriage, kids, and work took a front seat, it was another trip to the library that again sparked my interest. I took my son to story time and while waiting for it to begin, passed by a rack of paperbacks. A book by the name of Night Sin’s caught my eye. Tami Hoag is now one of my favorite authors. It seems weird that my passion has always been in mystery and suspense and that I write romance, but I’m not particularly choosy in what I read. I love a little bit of everything, but romance for now, is where I’m comfortable.
When I say I began writing seriously ten years ago, everyone automatically assumes Drive Me Sane has been ten years in the making. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first completed novel still sits on my hard drive. I’ve never submitted it to anyone and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever do anything with it. I think the storyline is decent, but it needs a lot of work. I’ve considered turning it into short story for an introduction to another work in progress, but I just can’t seem to get on the ball. It’s like one of my kids that I don’t want to let go. Drive Me Sane is actually a relatively new story for me. It’s not been quite a year since the idea popped into my head, while driving home from a race at two in the morning. Both kids were asleep in the backseat and as usual, I had the music turned up and was singing away. Then a song came on that I didn’t know, so I just listened. I’m not one of those people who hear a song and immediately fall in love with it. I’d never heard of Tyler Farr or his song Redneck Crazy before that night, but the words really drilled inside me and made me think about relationships and how we handle breakups. I know some of you that don’t listen to country music might be turned off by the title, but it’s not a hyped up in your face redneck song. It’s actually a love ballad and the lyrics made me realize that we don’t always react to a breakup the way we’d like to. In fact, we do some silly and sometimes embarrassing things. I went home that night, bought the song and the next morning began what would eventually become Drive Me Sane. I’d like to go ahead and answer what anyone who knows this story asks. Is my hero based on Tyler Farr? No. I do not know, nor have I ever met Mr. Farr-although, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea :). I did catch one of his shows at The Tin Roof in Lexington, but in no way is my hero a reflection of him in anyway. I do enjoy his music though. In fact several of his songs are on my Drive Me Sane playlist, but he as a person was not an inspiration. My hero and him simply share the same first name and profession. In fact, I tried to name my hero anything but Tyler. I toyed around with different names and nothing would stick. Tyler isn’t a name I particularly love. No offense, but it’s not something I’d name one of my boys, but it seemed I kept coming back to it and so I finally gave up. That’s the problem a writer. Sometimes your characters speak to you and you may not always like it or agree, but you have to go with what they want. It’s just the way it is.
It took me five months to get my story at a place I was happy with and confident enough to submit. I was in the process of writing query letters and synoptsis’ when I saw an online pitch opportunity through twitter. Prior to writing Drive Me Sane, I had only submitted one other piece of work. It was declined and looking at it now, I completely understand why. It was rough and like my first finished novel, still needs a lot of work. But I felt good with Drive Me Sane and although apprehensive, I was determined not to let one reject deter me. So I entered the online pitch and had not only one, but two of it’s editors interested. Needless to say, three weeks later, I got a nice email saying your storyline is strong, but there are some issues with the manuscript that don’t make it as strong as we’d like. I’ve done enough research to know that not every publisher gives detailed feedback, but I was lucky enough that I got a few pointers of where my story faltered. So I put my manuscript away, thought about what they said and began working through the suggestions in my head. Two weeks later, I was well into the new edits. And then I saw another twitter pitch for a different publisher. For days leading up, I thought about entering and finally decided I wasn’t ready. I still had some work to do and I’m not the kind that throws things out half finished, but on the day of the pitch, it was still on my mind. I had taken my son to the doctor and we decided to stop by my mom’s work to say hi. Sitting in the car, waiting for her to get off, I scanned through twitter and there it was again. For whatever reason, it was just too tempting. So I typed out my 140 characters and waited. Nothing came quick, but then I got a response asking for more detail. I’m not good at being put on the spot, so I nervously typed out something and waited. My next response was, “I’m not sure I understand the plot, but I like the characters.” Then they asked for the first five chapters. Two day’s later, after frantically combing through those first five, I sent them along with a query letter and synoptsis to Crimson Romance. A week went by and I didn’t hear anything. But, I did see a post advertising an online editing workshop. It was a three week course and it covered the topics that were what I had been initially told was wrong with my manuscript. So I decided to give it a go. It’s been the best thing (as far as my writing is concerned), that I’ve done. It not only taught me about dialogue tags and comma splices, it let me know that I had no clue what an editor was looking for. A great idea and a terrible manuscript will not get you published. A decent idea with a decently edited manuscript, might. Three weeks, $75.00 and no word from Crimson (I assumed they weren’t interested), I began a major overhaul of Drive Me Sane. I completely tore it apart. And then one day, in the midst of doing this, I woke up to an email that said, “I’m really intrigued by Sera and Tyler’s reunion. Could you please send me the full manuscript.” My exact words were “OH SHIT!” Remember me telling you about the adrenaline I felt as a kid when I read Christopher Pike’s books? Yeah, it came back except that it was much worse. I was excited and scared at the same time. My husband said, “That’s good.” But it wasn’t. Drive Me Sane was in a state of complete mess. I had about thirty five thousand words in a novel I submitted as having fifty-six. So for two weeks, I threw myself into getting it together. I worked on it through lunch, I shut myself in my room after work and barely came out. I lived on coffee and whatever I could find left over to eat. I did it, but it wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without my husband who stepped up to the plate and took over at home. I added about fifteen thousand words and completely rewrote the ending, but I wasn’t all that hopeful when I sent in my full manuscript ten days later. I still wasn’t up to the word count they required and my story had changed so much, it didn’t coincide with the synopsis I’d sent them, but I was honest and up front. I explained what I had done and that I understood if it was no longer something that they were interested in. Five days later, I got the news. They wanted to acquired my manuscript.
So here we are five months down the road and I have a published book. Yes, it was fast and crazy. It’s been thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. It’s even been scary, but it’s also been an experience that I’ll cherish forever. If I never get the opportunity again, at least I can say I accomplished what I set out to do. Thanks Crimson for taking a chance on me and Jess, my editor, for truly understanding my characters. I hope I don’t disappoint.
So what goes into a song? I really don’t know, but I can tell you want comes out of one. Sometimes it’s a mended heart or the strength to carry on. Sometimes it’s a memory of a good time. And sometimes it’s the idea for a book.
The full playlist of Drive Me Sane can be heard here: http://open.spotify.com/user/1235812/playlist/2HJxkCYiejpa4DZGpaov8B
I can officially say Drive Me Sane is a finished novel. Yep, it’s a completed project. No more editing, no more pondering whether everything runs smoothly or if my editor is going to like my changes. I received an ARC copy last night and got the high resolution copy of the cover today. It’s even listed as an upcoming release on Crimson Romance’s website (July 28th). All I’m left with, is one final chance to look at it in egalley form before it’s sent off. And so, the hard part now starts. Getting it out there for people to see and hopefully read (and enjoy!).
I keep saying that I’m going to write a post on things I’ve learned (because I’ve learned a lot), and I will. At some point when all the hoopla wears off. But I will go ahead and throw this out there. I’m a loner. When I say that, I mean, no one other than my husband and one close friend knew I was writing a book. I think my mom and sister knew I was playing around with it, but really didn’t grasp that I was taking it serious until I got the request to send in my manuscript (that’s a whole other story that I’d like to tell). Co-workers were shocked and I think I really threw my boss for a loop when I took my contract in for him to review. So essentially, no one has read my novel, except the editors I’ve worked with and that is one of my biggest regrets. I do wish I had shared it with at least one person. Because there is a lot of personal information you need to give about yourself through this process and also points you need to make about your book and it would have greatly helped if I’d had another set of eyes that could have given me some input. Now I’m on the brink of it being released and I’m a nervous wreck about how it’s going to be perceived. So I broke down and sent my ARC copy to my mom. She’s not a reader and she loves me, so I’m not all that hopeful that I’ll get an honest review. And to be honest, I ‘m a little nervous about her reading it (not sure how she’s going to like some of the language and sexy scenes). So learning to share and making some contacts that are willing to give me early reviews are two of the things I’ve learned that I need to do differently next time. Again, it’s been an experience and I know a little about what to expect.
But what do I do now? Now, I finish up one of my other WIP and hope I get lucky enough again to have someone interested in it.
Unfortunately it’s true! But I’m not complaining. It’s the way I work. When I have something on my mind, it goes in a hundred different directions until I sort it all out. Right now, I’m sorting a lot out. Working full-time, the end of the school year for my boys, race season for my husband, vacation at the end of the month and putting the final touches on Drive Me Sane.
I turned in the requested edits last Saturday. It’s now in the hands of a copy editor, who will go over it with a fine tooth comb. I’m always a little nervous when I know someone else is looking at it. I have the compulsion to read it over again to see if I can spot any mistakes and as hard as it is, I don’t. The desire is still there though, which I guess is a good thing. In an editing workshop I took, the instructor said “you must love your story.” That’s the truth, because you’ll be reading it a lot. Last week alone, I read it five times. It was many late nights, quick dinners and days were my husband really stepped up to the plate. I’m roughly seven weeks out from the release date. I got a peek at the cover today and while I can’t share it just yet, I’m pleased with how it looks. The hard part starts now. Getting the word out. This more than anything makes my stomach knot. My husband keeps saying “Writing the book was the hard part.” No! No! That was easy. All I had to do was satisfy myself. Now I’m hoping that I can satisfy and bring enjoyment to others. This has been a learning experience for sure (A post on that to come later.) Some good, some bad. However, seeing my name on the bottom of the cover today, made it all worth while. I wrote a book. A book that’s going to be published and that’s something to be proud of.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The past week and a half has been a wirlwind for me. I got the best Mothers Day news. Well it was a day late, but I’m still counting it as a gift; because anytime one of your dreams come true, it is a gift. I haven’t shared much of my personal life. Among many other things, I write. I’ve never used the term author (it feels funny), but I’m happy to say that I can now add that to my list of titles. My first novel, Drive Me Sane, was acquired by Crimson Romance and already has a tentative eBook release date of July 28th. So yeah, it’s been a week of contracts and edits and updating profiles. This has come at me a little quicker than I anticipated. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time. I’m still living on cloud nine- actually hope to come down soon so that I can accomplish some much needed work 🙂
So to celebrate my new adventure and the support that I’ve already received from friends and family on my new author facebook page, I’ve doing a little giveaway. Check out the page for rules and details. www.facebook.com/denarogerswrites
And for any of my author friends that may be interested, Crimson Romance is currently accepting submissions. They’re looking for talented authors with fresh voices and engaging stories. Check out thieir submission guidelines: http://www.crimsonromance.com/submissions/