Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Do you listen to podcasts?

 Hillendale 5 is currently with the editor! 

I went to lunch with my good buddy, Bobbi, the day I sent it off and was telling her about my editing trials - my struggles getting the book prepared for the editor, and she told me I should do a podcast.  

"Just talking to you today captivated my interest in the book, so now I want to see how they all tie together. I can’t remember if I asked you, but do you or have you thought about doing some podcasts on your books? You really are very engaging and I could listen to you talk for a very long time!"

I did mention she was my good buddy, right? But it sparked my interest. My son is a regular podcast listener, and I've spoken with several other people who are, also. I'm not, although I've tried. I did follow one of my son's podcast options for a while and went through an entire season - something a lot like "Mystery Theater" that I used to listen to on the radio when I was a kid. The one he recommended to me was interesting and engaging, but I was still a little behind the trend. Now that I've left the day job and have more time to focus on my writing, the idea of podcasting isn't quite so overwhelming. In fact, I got a little excited about the prospect. And then I thought about my author friends and the things I'd love to hear from them, and thought about interviewing them, as well. We all have "the inspiration behind the book" and the parts of the story that excited us enough to write it. That excitement comes out more clearly verbally than it does in writing, at least that's my experience. Clearly, my good buddy agrees. Book backstory. What do you think? 

I started playing around with it, and am sharing a link to my test episode with you. Yes, I stumble on a few words, but if I decide to pursue this, I promise to be more enunciative (how's that for a word!).

This is where I ask my author friends if they're interested in an interview spot (assuming I pursue this wild hare). Use the contact form on the right to let me know.

It's my birthday month, and I'm not above soliciting birthday gifts - specifically, supporting my writing habit by buying my books and leaving me a review. You can start with UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES which is on sale! Read one or read the whole series, but don't stop there! I have 25 books to choose from. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Continuing the series

"Between Brynn’s magic and Kyle’s new construction job, or as he says his temporary job, this pair finds they have no together time. To make matters worse, when Brynn tries to help someone, her magic goes awry.

Hillendale, the town where Brynn lives, works, and loves feels less like a friendly place. Troubles keep coming her way and her magic becomes…interrupted. Can Brynn fix her life before its too late?

“Sometimes you just know” is a line from the story, but it applies to this series. I have so enjoyed Brynn’s journey through family, magic, and love.

A wonderful paranormal read with heartfelt emotion and the best kind of personal chemistry!" - Muddy Rose Reviews

I'm busily editing the next installment of The Hillendale Novels, but thought I'd share the review (above) and give you a snippet (below) from INTERRUPTED MAGIC to whet your appetite for what comes next.

I must have fallen asleep in the woods. Ash nudged me awake to a sunny morning. A chill shivered through me and I cuddled my cat for warmth.

As we neared home, Madeleine Stephens came into view, seated on the picnic bench in the park that backed up to my yard. She faced the footpath as if she knew I’d be coming. Ash tensed and snuggled closer.

“I see her,” I said into Ash’s fur.

A low growl emanated from deep in Ash’s throat.

“I’ve got this if you want to go on ahead,” I whispered.

Ash leapt from my arms and dashed for her cat door in the workroom.

I raised my chin and continued on. “You’re here early this morning.”

“In a manner of speaking,” she said.

I wasn’t in the mood for riddles. “Should I assume you’re looking for me?”

Madeleine rose from the park bench, a flash of sunlight sparking her nose ring. “The drug charges against my brother have been dropped. Thank you for asking your boyfriend to intervene.”

“He’s not my boyfriend anymore,” I said.

She smiled, a mysterious sparkle in her eyes. “So I understand. Are you sure you’re done with him?”

“Yes. I’m glad your brother’s been cleared.” I walked past her, into my backyard.

“I canceled the spell,” she called after me.

Which meant my debt to Kyle had been paid. I stopped and bowed my head. Our relationship was officially ended. “Thank you.” I tried to let go of the flood of emotions before I turned to face her once more. “I contacted the woman I told you about, about the Wiccan coven. She’s agreed to meet with you if you still want people to share knowledge with.”

Madeleine took a step back, her eyes widening. “Thank you.” She glanced down the footpath. “I came to tell you about the spell last night, but I couldn’t find you.”

I laughed. “Are you saying you’ve been sitting here all night?”

She blushed. “No, not after I lost you in the woods. When you weren’t home yet this morning, I thought I’d wait. I figured you had to come back the way you left.”

She couldn’t find me? The beech tree must have wrapped me in its enchantment, even if I hadn’t hidden beneath its branches. “Let me get you Hannah’s contact information.”

I retrieved the slip of paper from inside the house and handed it to her.

“Do you mind me asking you about him?” she asked.

“Him, who?”

She nodded across the street. “He seems useful enough.”

I glanced at Kyle’s house, wondering once more how difficult the future would be living across the street from each other. “He’s a good man, but we had different worldviews.”

“Is that so important?”

I laughed. “It is if you hope to build a future together.”

Madeleine shrugged. “Seems you could have managed the situation, if you know what I mean. Take what you want and ignore the rest.”

You can buy INTERRUPTED MAGIC here.

Madeleine steps up in the next book, and I'm expecting an August release. More on that to come!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

On Editing

Yay! I've finished the fifth book in the Hillendale series. Now begins the real work, the various forms of self editing before it goes to a real editor. 

Developmental editing

Does everything make sense? Do my characters start out one place and end up somewhere that doesn’t make sense? Developmental editing is a thorough and in-depth review of the entire story. It examines all the elements of writing, from individual words and sentences to overall structure and style. 


A copy edit will generally address grammatical or punctuation errors, incorrect facts, anomalies, inconsistencies and glaring typos. Have I used the right words in the right places?


Time to double check everything, specifically looking for spelling errors, grammar errors, proper punctuation, misused homophones (everyone familiar with their, they're, there?), layout issues, font issues, and spacing issues. 

As an author, I check all of this as I go, but there are bound to be errors that sneak through, even after multiple passes. I know what the story is supposed to say, so my brain might trick me into what's supposed to be there rather than what is actually on the page. 

And once I’ve finished, I send it to my editor who finds all the things I missed.

Then, after addressing my editor's comments, I proofread again--reading with my computer, reading a "hard copy" and having my computer read it to me while I follow along. The different passes ensure I trick my brain into seeing what's actually there rather than what I expect to read.

And you thought this gig was easy!

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

TFW a Song Stops You Cold

I was short on my word count for the day and scrambling to get more of the story down. We'd finished dinner and the Big Guy turned on the television. The Masked Singer is on. LeAnn Rimes is singing, but I’m powering on with the work in progress until the song she’s singing sneaks it's way into my brain and triggers me. I’m immediately sucked out of The Zone. 

The impact was instantaneous - it made me cry. How Do I Live Without You took me back to "my grand adventure," when my life was at a crossroads. The funny thing is that I wasn't very familiar with the song or the artist (Trisha Yearwood, when I heard it) or even the genre (my country music knowledge is limited), but a good friend of mine had a Trisha Yearwood CD which included another song that goes hand in hand. That friend helped shape my life in ways I'll always be grateful for. You might even say that person saved my life, and that song will forever be a part of that memory.

A song can take me back to the lullabies my mother used to sing to me. I remember singing them to my children and, like a recent video I watched, I remember my babies trying to sing them with me before they could talk. 

I remember the song that was playing when I got my first kiss. I suspect the boy remembered it, too, because he commented on it at the time. 

I remember the song that used to motivate me when I was on the tennis team in high school. 

I remember whole soundtracks from my relationship with my first love, and one song we sang together that tied our hearts together - at least for a time. 

And there is a song that I relate to the man I married. 

That's the thing about music. Once it's tied to a memory or a feeling, it can immediately transport you back to a moment in time, to a special place. Good and bad. At least for most people. 

I've used the music connection in my writing (GATHERING MIST). The main character goes to a summer festival and is caught unaware when she hears a musician performing a song he wrote for her years ago. The impact was immediate, taking her back to happier times, another life. Because sometimes that's what it feels like, right?

Do you have a trigger song? One that puts you in another time and place? 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Books and birdseed

I got a bird feeder for Mother's Day this year. My very first one! We have lots of birds in the neighborhood, but not a convenient place to watch them in our yard. Or at least not one that the Big Guy is on board with using. (We have a lovely deck, but he's very protective of it.) So we went out and bought a shepherd's hook and planted it outside one of the windows. Now, I'm altering my normal patterns and sitting by that window more often so I can watch. It's a hummingbird feeder, and yes, I've seen several! They're hardly there long enough to take a picture (hence the window panes).

The Big Guy and I took a walk through a public garden last week (one that I adapted for THE GARDEN) and found a hummingbird there! It was a fairly windy day and as we walked under the grape arbor, we saw this little thing clinging to one of the branches on the top, letting the breeze do all the flying. The little guy never let go, never flew away.  

As I was contemplating what to write in my blog this week, I got to thinking about how readers can be like birds. Certain birds are drawn to certain feeders (like hummingbirds) the way readers are drawn to certain genres. And then there are those who flit from one feeder to the next in search of something they like, sometimes staying to enjoy the feast, and others taking a bite and moving on, or perhaps coming back at another time to try another taste as they flit by.

For all the "birds" who have stopped by my "bird feeder," thank you for sampling what I have to offer, and I hope you'll keep coming back. I'll try to make sure the birdseed stays fresh. 😁

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Editors and deadlines

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing the fifth Hillendale novel. My editor's schedule filled up, so the release date was going to be later this year. I decided to adjust my writing schedule accordingly. Well, sort of. I always write on a schedule, but with new babies arriving over the next two months, I wasn't going to rush myself. As quickly as I'd decided to slow the pace, she found an opening. Now I'm on deadline!

I've been working with my editor for... I think this might be 18 books now? A bunch of years tied into that. I first started working with her when I wrote LIVING CANVAS.  I'm grateful when she's able to squeeze me into a tight schedule, and part of that comes from her trusting the quality of work she'll get from me (or so she says) and the fact she likes my books (or so she says). I feel very fortunate to have found her. People will tell you when you sign with an agent or an editor that they need to be your advocate, which means you should be "work" friends. I definitely feel that with my editor, and from the very first sample of my work when she pointed out things to work on (and I immediately fixed them), she told me she was impressed that I not only took the notes, but applied them. She's there to make my work better, and I appreciate that. 

So now I'm on deadline. I'm nearly finished with the first draft of Hillendale 5 (as yet untitled), but with my timetable moved up, I need to not only finish it, but make sure it's editor-ready (or at least close!). 

Anyone want to suggest a title? Here's the deal. Brynn got her happily ever after in Hillendale 4: INTERRUPTED MAGIC, and moved away, but Madeleine bought Brynn's house. Seems the people of Hillendale sort of like having a witch around. Madeleine's magic is a little different than Brynn's, including a gift for the power of suggestion. Madeleine has a history as a psychic detective, but a recent incident left her "gun shy." She dips her toes back into the water with a "not really missing" person and sees that investigation through, but the case that scared her off isn't closed yet, and the bad guy is looking for her.

I'm thinking "Forget Me Not" (for a variety of reasons) but not sure that sounds witchy enough. It might work with a witchy cover, though. What do you think? Any alternate ideas? If I choose your title, I'll give you credit in the book and gift you a copy of the finished book!

PS: Don't know who Madeleine is? You can meet her in INTERRUPTED MAGIC!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Cats or Dogs?

I have always been a cat person. Grew up with cats. Adopted cats when I got my own place. In fact, when I bought my first house, my husband wanted a dog. We went to the animal shelter and came home with... A cat. He couldn't decide what dog to take home and the people told him he couldn't take one just to take one. Me, on the other hand, I immediately bonded with Sammy-cat. To restore domestic tranquility, I agreed to adopt a dog, but I got to approve the breed. We got a Sheltie. Which is how I learned that dogs are maybe not so bad. My cat and his dog became fast friends. Fast forward. Three cats later (and no, I never replaced the dog), my children have dogs--my first grandchildren. 

My daughter started with one, and then a second. Then those two dogs had puppies and they kept one. Grand total=three. Her dogs are... high strung. Or low strung, or very family-centric (or one of each). With that being said, now that there are real grandchildren and the dogs are a little older, the dogs are more mellow. The high strung one brings me a ball to play fetch (and how can you resist puppy eyes?) The low strung, family-centric ones still guard the family and keep a watchful eye, although petting is required from time to time. They are part of the family, after all.

Then there's my son. His wife wanted to be sure he would love her dog before she agreed to a serious relationship. She had a black Lab who easily wormed her way into my son's heart--and everyone else's. They've since added a second Lab (chocolate) - a very energetic puppy. I have to say, they are very smart dogs. When you call out a specific toy, they know exactly which one to get. I was visiting over the weekend, and the puppy (who is about a year and a half now) decided we should play a game - a very sneaky game that it took me a minute to catch on to. I wear a scrunchie on my wrist in case I need to put my hair up, say, to eat. It took him a long time to discover this, but once he did, suddenly he was asking for extra pets. Except every time I complied, my scrunchie slid closer to my hand. If you know anything about Labs, they are soft-mouthed dogs, which means he was grabbing that scrunchie very subtly. I have been laughing about his antics for days. 

I see they've caged you while you eat, human.

I, too would like to taste your lunch

This is where I tell you I'm still "not really" a dog person, but after all these grand-dogs, I may have been swayed. Now I find myself smiling over a rambunctious little dog who brings me his ball and gives me puppy eyes asking if I want to play. I chuckle at a sneaky dog who wants something of mine to play with, while he watches to see if I'll notice him trying to take it from me. If I were to adopt another animal, rest assured it would still be a cat, but I do enjoy playing with my granddogs. 

I have lots of inspiration for the dog that shows up in the next Hillendale novel. {grin}

What about you? Most people have definite inclinations one way or the other. Cats? Or Dogs?