Cover Reveal! PANDORA…Tell Me What You Think (And an ARC Giveaway!)

If he wants to get this goddess, he’ll have to break her curse.

Blake Wells seems to have it made: the wealthy bachelor life, Kennedy-esque good looks, rising political star. The tabloids love him. But one barracuda date after another drains his hopes for finding a girl who’s sincere.

So when his Chief of Staff insists he take a beach vacation, Blake doesn’t go expecting to meet Cressida, the perfect girl. Shazam! She’s seriously a goddess. And even though she protests that she’s bad luck, he’s a goner.

But when a string of crazy, albeit hilarious, coincidences threatens sink his career, Blake must choose whether to save his campaign or save the love of his life.

Pandora! A new Rom-Com Fantasy!

Pandora! A new Rom-Com Fantasy!

Way to go, Laura Tolman at CMI Signs for this awesome design. I say it’s her best yet. Who’s with me?

Annnnnnnd…. to go along with this cover reveal, I’m giving away an ARC (advanced reader copy) of the book. Yay! If you want to WIN, just post in the comments below why.

Good luck!

And just so you know, this book will be available for purchase on Kindle and Amazon August 4th. Wahoo!

Cover Reveal! Under the Mistletoe

It’s just plain HOT. And so our thoughts turn to Christmastime.

Okay, maybe they don’t. But maybe they should! At least they could–and they can, since today is the big COVER REVEAL for the Christmas version of the ever-popular “Timeless Romance Anthology” installment coming out this Christmas, of which I’m super honored to be a part. Here’s the cover. What do you think? Does it make YOU feel cooler?

Isn't it holiday romance fantastic?

Isn’t it holiday romance fantastic?

Truth is, I wrote my installment in the hottest week of the year in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a little bit tricky to let my thoughts drift to hot cocoa and cozy sweaters when I couldn’t do anything but swill ice-laced Diet Pepsi and sit under the fan. But I am actually pretty excited about how my little contribution to this turned out. Watch for it later this fall. I’ll keep you posted. Ooh, and look at which other authors are involved! Super fun group of ladies I LOVE. Oh, and they’re amazing writers, too. Feeling pretty lucky and blessed to be involved here.

Summer Belongs to…

If you’re a Phineas and Ferb family like we are, you might have the “Summer Belongs to You” song in your repertoire.

For our family, summer belongs to Otter Pops. I’ve only bought 500 so far this summer, so we’re a little behind, but our oldest has left to do an internship, so there’s one less Otter Popper in the house. Usually we hit about 1200 by the time we have to start buying pencils and hand sanitizer bottles again. I told the missionaries (poor, unacclimatized Idaho and Utah kids) they could stop and get an Otter Pop anytime, but they had to obey the family rule: no more than ten a day. They’re keeping up.

It’s just really hot here.

So. Hot.

And the kids need a lot of my time and attention. Which is good. I like it. Being a mom is my first job. Then wife. Then some other responsibilities. Then writer. So even though I have THREE completed novels that need a little editing and cover designs, I probably won’t be putting out anything new again for a few weeks. And maybe not until August when the kids go back to school. It’s just a matter of priorities.

And I’ll tell ya–with my oldest going off to his internship this summer, it’s the emotional equivalent of an ice bucket challenge, a wakeup call proving just how fast these years go with my kids. BLINK! They’re gone. And even though my youngest just finished first grade, it still feels like so did my oldest.

So, I’m trying to balance the fun of writing with cramming in every possible interaction with my kids (without being the super helicopter mom I am at heart. I’m not sure how that’s working.) Chores, conversations, games, drives–long and short. It’s my time with them. And then, in a few years when they’re gone >sniffle! gasp! gurgle!< I will be writing a lot more books.

Until then, summer belongs to being a mom.

“Now, if I find any more Otter Pop wrappers on the floor, I’m not buying any more.” (The lies we tell.)

Impending Audio and Writer’s Amnesia

It’s finished! The audio of The Lost Art! I’m so excited. Now I’m proofing the audio tracks, and I’m really excited. Natalie Duke did a fantastic job. It sounds exactly like the voice in my head. She hit the right tone so well.

Love it.

Love, love, love it.

I should have it up and ready pretty soon! Just getting the audio cover done and finishing this edit.

Maybe you are doing some kind of long haul driving this summer and need a fluffy novel to keep you awake. If this is the case, give The Lost Art a chance.

Am I the only author who totally  and completely forgets the story after it’s done? Like Men-in-Black-Flashy-Thing mind wipe level? It’s weird. Almost all my books are like that. I remember bits of scenes, the gist of the main characters, and that’s about it. Writer’s amnesia has its pros and cons, believe me. But one of the pros is that I re-read it and find it funny and think, “Who thought of that phrase? Hahaha.”

Anybody else have writer’s amnesia?

It’s even worse with other books. Jane Eyre was my favorite novel for a decade. I read it four times. I was surprised about the lady upstairs EVERY. TIME.

So if I read *your* book and I tell you it stayed with me, take that as a high, high compliment!

 

Cover Reveal: Book 3 in The Blood Moon Trilogy

My friend Teri Harman has some pretty awesome witch stories going–Blood Moon, Black Moon, and now, the climax: Storm Moon! She’s an amazing person and a beautiful writer. Click on her page to get the pre-order links. Woo hoo!

Congrats on this gorgeous cover!

Storm Moon!

Storm Moon!

My Little Pair of Self-Pubbing Tips

So I’ve been working on self-publishing for about a year and a half. I’ve also got a book on spec at a traditional publisher, so I’m not leaving that behind. Just…romance is a good genre to self-pub. Anyway, lately I’ve had quite a few people ask me the difference between putting a book up on Kindle and actually formatting it for Createspace (Amazon’s self-publishing arm for paperbacks.) (A good option for hardbacks is Lulu.com, but that’s a different post.) It’s a valid question. They are NOT the same.

Okay, first, you get your book cover design the right size according to the Kindle Direct Publishing guidelines. Have your designer do that. Or do it yourself. It’s not impossible, just a little tricky. THEN uploading is quite swift and easy. Just follow the directions step by step on KDP. You basically take your Word document, convert it to HTML, make sure all the stuff looks right in their viewer, upload the cover, and POP. You’re done. They give you a 12-24 hour waiting period, and then it’s available on Amazon. com under the author’s name and the name of the book.

Easy peasy lemon cheesy.

Formatting for paperback is a different animal. Createspace is really user friendly, but there are a lot more steps involved–IF you want the book to look professional. If you don’t care, it’s way easy. But if you DO care, then I recommend buying a good little e-book by a girl named Heather Justesen. It’s called POD Like a Pro. The ladies who worked with me on the Ripple Effect Romance Series gave me that tip.

It’s a learning curve, and the first time I did it, it took me about six hours (!), and the second time and third time were also…quite a few hours. But it does get slightly easier. Maybe I just forget stuff in between (which is, okay, totally the reason. I think I lost 20% of my brain with each baby. And I have 5 kids.) But you end up with a great finished product. You can use the same cover as you used for your Kindle version.

Okay, the gist is: KDP=easy. Do it. CreateSpace=takes more time. Do it anyway. Because you can.

Okay. It’s Done. Not Well, But Done.

Apologies to anyone who gets this blog emailed to their in-box. I promise not to be a neurotic in-box clogger in the near future.

But the update is…the book is done. Done oh, so poorly. But it’s done. And now I can go work on some other projects for a couple of weeks and then maybe I can come back to this one and redo it from scratch. Maybe with different characters. Maybe with a reworked plot. Maybe I can just let it stay entombed in my computer files, festering as it deserves to do.

But maybe I’ll remember next year that the windy, windy, windy month of March (I’m not exaggerating about the wind in this place), is not the best time to be writing romantic comedy. I’ll stick to editing. Or come up with something angry or sad to write next year.

I think perhaps I’ll put that as a note on my calendar now as a reminder.

Thanks for the support, friends. Now, back to a new, happier plot. And a happier soul.

Epiphany

It dawned on me this morning, after writing yesterday’s sad sack post, that *this book* might be perpetuating the downer days.
And so I shall finish it, slap together an ending. (I only had two or three potential chapters left to write anyway), and run (not walk) away from this story.
Then in a month I can come back to it, tell the same plot (it’s a good plot!) but with different characters and the little helium balloon of this story can rise again.
Meanwhile, I’m slapping it together and racing away from it.
Then I’ll see how I feel.
Wish me luck.

Something Personal

Man, I guess I’m going to get personal in this post. Don’t read if you can’t bear it.

The month of March was lame. I hated it. I’ve said to a friend or two, “I wish I could just hit the backspace button and erase all of March.”

Nothing awful happened. I don’t even have an excuse. If I did, I think that would make it easier. But, no. On the surface everything was hunky dory. My family was healthy. My community and church responsibilities went along as normal—a little stressful, but nothing I could point to and say was particularly difficult.

Nevertheless, depression slammed me. I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I ate. Everything. And wallowed. Ugh. And I had been so excited for March because it was going to be the first time in half a year where I’d have blocks of time to get a new novel cranked out. It would afford me the weeks I needed to create the draft and so I could have it edited and done to publish before summer and the weeks where my kids are home and I get to really focus on them instead of storytelling.

And then…this.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write romantic comedy when you feel like a black cloud has encased your soul?

If I’d had some kind of depressing cancer drama in my TBW (to be written) lineup, I would have done better.

As it sits, I’ve got 9/10 of a little ought-to-be-frothy romance in my computer, and the characters are dull, lifeless, and coping with mountains of self-doubt. They don’t even have a semblance of witty banter. The helium balloon of a plot I handed them? They took it and sank it like the Hindenberg.

It’s a shame.

So, what do I do with this pile of words? I am not sure. And today, when I went to revisit it after a day off, I saw just how hollow all the characters’ lives are, and how little I like them, and how I’d feel bad asking readers to pay even ninety-nine cents to spend six or seven hours reading about their lives.

Lame.

Which made the whole “bummer” tone in my life resurface. And now I wonder whether I should start just planning a lot of cancer dramas and change my whole genre completely. Will the heavy cloak never lift?

Sigh. I guess it gives me a huge pile of compassion for those who have to deal with this on a more regular basis. But am I the only person for whom depression is actually a cause of guilt? I have no reason to feel down! I am, of all women, most blessed! Life has not handed me a lemon. My blessings are just countless: food on the table, nice shelter with AC, darling and healthy children, a kind and loving husband—the list goes on and on.

Then, how can I let myself feel this way? How ridiculous, how self-centered. I should be able to think or exercise or clean or garden or pray or serve myself out of this muddle.

Or not.

It’s probably something that will lift with time. Soon, right? Seriously? But meanwhile, if I pump out a novel that has less of a lighthearted tone than some of my other books, I fear my readers will abandon me. Because I write for them, and they come to me in times of struggle and expect an uplift. Or so I perceive.

So, now what? Do I just set this novel aside and pretend it never happened? Hit the veritable backspace on my life and pretend that the work I did on this book would’ve been much better spent doing genealogy or weeding the side yard? I don’t know. Or as a writer do I allow myself to show a different facet of myself to my readers?

It’s hard to know. And I don’t know if I publish it, then finally crawl out of this hole, whether I’ll realize how lame the story is and quickly have to unpublish it.

Again, with the backspace key.

Sigh.

Anyway, if there is someone out there who reads this and finds they struggle in similar ways, I hope you know you are not alone. Just like with the characters we write, opposition doesn’t all have to be external. Some has to come from inside. I don’t know why God created things this way, and I may never understand. But I trust He will help me through it–and you as well.

Guest Posting: Jenniffer Wardell “Why Fairy Tales Last”

Jenniffer Wardell: She's got that triple double letter thing going on!

Jenniffer Wardell: She’s got that triple double letter thing going on!

My wonderful friend Jenniffer Wardell just had her second book released, Beast Charming. This comes on the heels of the ever delightful “Fairy Godmothers, Inc.,” which I blogged about here. She’s got such a beautiful mind, and I’m excited to introduce her writing style to you here! Enjoy! (And then I’ll tell you more about her bookssssss!)

 

 

“Why Fairy Tales Last”

By Jenniffer Wardell

 

Stories are alive.

They’re older than vampires and sneakier than pixies, changing their shape just enough to fit in seamlessly with the time and the people who are currently giving them voice. A female hero becomes male, then female again, donning male clothing for protection against a narrow-eyed society. Her weapon moves from a spear to a sword, then into a gun before transforming into a computer virus.  The story adapts. It survives.

Fairy tales are some of the oldest stories out there, only slightly younger than the myths and legends that stretch all the way back to creation. They existed long before some of the famous names associated with them – The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault – put them down on paper, the penned versions merely a snapshot of how the stories looked at a particular point in time.

But oh, they’re so much bigger than that. Nearly every culture there is has a “Cinderella” story, with fishes and trees and dead mothers taking the place of the fairy godmother. “Beauty and the Beast” was “Cupid and Psyche” to the Greeks, the hairy beast secretly a god testing the faithfulness of the lover he’d chosen. The Egyptian goddess Isis loved her husband powerfully enough to bring him back to life (though briefly), from the sleep of death.

They adapt, changing to reflect what matters to the culture of the people telling it. In “Perceforest,” an early version of “Sleeping Beauty,” the sleeping girl’s lover impregnates her to wake her up. These days, we prefer the man confine himself to a simple kiss. In the Algonquin Indian version of “Cinderella,” known as “The Rough-Face Girl,” the scar-faced heroine wins her warrior with honesty, clear vision and a pure heart rather than the size of her shoe.

Through them all, however, you will find the threads that wind back across the centuries. A poor girl can win her own happiness despite her circumstances. You must learn to look past appearances. Love, whether romantic or familial, has a power that can overcome all obstacles. A good heart wins out in the end. No matter what terrible things happen to you, you can survive them.

These threads are the heart of fairy tales, the bits of hope and comfort so important that the stories have clung to them no matter how many times they shed the rest of their skin. They are the things we really dream of, more than castles or handsome princes or piles of gold. These are the prayers every teller of every tale whispers out into the universe.

Are they true? A cynical mind might say no.  Some versions of fairy tales even try to say the same thing, smiling at you with blood in their teeth and whispering the horrors of everything from sex to the trap of romance. But the darkness rises and falls with fashion and the time period, never managing to last quite as long as the hope does.

 

Thank you, Jenniffer! You are awesome. Don’t we all think she’s awesome?

And now, here’s the cover reveal of BEAST CHARMING! Is it not charming?

Beast Charming!

Beast Charming!

You can buy it on Amazon now. You know you want to. :)

She’s also running a rafflecopter giveaway on her website for her online release party! Go enter to win!

Congratulations to Jenniffer for another great book. It just released two weeks ago, so it hadn’t hit the top of my TBR list, but I tell you, reading the blurb and this post and remembering how cute her first book was…let’s just say it skipped up many levels and is at the tippy top of my next read list.

Hey, if you do read this, be a friend and leave her a review. Authors live for them.