Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Starting From Scratch



Part One
Along with some of my Passionate Kisses boxed set sisters, I will be doing #HoNoMo in the month of July. That means HOliday NOvel in a MOnth. In my case, it's a novella not a full-length novel. In order to meet my deadline and not get backed up on my other projects, I need to write the entire first draft in July. I thought you might find it interesting to follow my progress. I will post at least one update a week.

Speaking of serial killers...this one sits on my desk.
Not much in this world is both more terrifying and exciting than starting a new story from scratch. (Well…serial killers, spiders and clowns are more terrifying to me, but they’re not the point of this post.)

I have a Christmas novella to write in July for a boxed set (anthology) with nine other writers that comes out in October. All I have for it is the premise I’ve come up with: “A divorcing couple pretends to be happily married when they go home for Christmas.” I also know Francesca is the heroine and the title of her story is Christmas in Stilettos. (She was a minor character in Dancing in Stilettos, my novella that releases in late July if the sun, moon and stars align.)

That’s pretty much all I know. I am not a plotter. I am not a pantser (someone who writes by the “seat of her pants” without a plan). My process is somewhere in between and it ain’t pretty. Every time I sit down to write a new book, I think it’ll be easier, especially if I’m “just” writing a novella or short story. But it’s not. Every book is harder than the last one to write. Every new book convinces me that I’ve forgotten how to write and will never, ever, EVER figure it out again.
My messy process.
  
If I was a big drinker, I’d be swigging tequila about now. But I’m not. I am a chocolater—and chocolate does nothing for my creativity and only makes my bum bigger. But it does make me happy.  I’m eating a Linder ball as I type this.

Back to the point of this post… Starting a project from scratch. The first thing I do when starting a new story is jot down everything I know, everything that’s been flitting around my head. In this case, it’s not much. I know the heroine’s husband has been deployed in Afghanistan and they decided before he left to split up. I know they have twin toddlers. I don’t know where they’re going “home” for Christmas or why they have to pretend to be happily married.

In my files, I have a bunch of forms I’ve saved over the years from various plotting and character classes I’ve taken. I also have a bazillion books on plotting and characterization (because reading about writing is WAY easier and much more fun than actually writing the damn book). At this point in the process, I use Story Safari and Discovering Story Magic to start figuring out who my characters are. I can’t start writing until I know their basic GMC (goal, motivation, conflict). The problem for me is that I can’t figure out the characters until I’ve written some of the story. See my dilemma? My process is a mess!
The basket I carry my process in...


But it’s my process and I’ll cry if I want to.

The goal is to get to the point where I feel I must begin to write. Once I “see” that opening scene in my head, I’ll start. I’m not there yet, but I hope to be soon, because my calendar says: July—write draft of Christmas in Stilettos.

Anyway… that’s where I am right now. I spend a lot of time staring into space, thinking about my characters.  A lot of time walking my dog, ignoring my neighbors and thinking about my story.  One of these days—I hope!!!—I’ll be ready to start the actual writing because the clock is ticking.

What’s your process? I will love you forever if it’s messier than mine, because it will make me feel slightly superior.




Sunday, June 28, 2015

My apologies and news



Boy, I've been lame-OH! in keeping up on this blog these past few months. I go in spurts where I'm really, really good and devoted to keeping it updated, then spurts where all you hear is crickets when you come on here. Where did everybody go???

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I'll be starting a series of posts called Starting from Scratch, where I'll take you through my totally effed up process of beginning a book/story from scratch until it's ready to go to my editor. For this project, I'll be working on Christmas in Stilettos, which will be part of the Passionate Kisses 3  boxed set (PK 2 hit the USA Today best-seller list, if you remember). I have on my calendar that I'll be writing the first draft in July. Some of my PK sisters and I will be doing #HoNoMo (Holiday Novel in a Month) with Camp NaNoWriMo, to spur each other on, so I'll keep you posted on how that's going, too.

Here's some other news--my new boxed set Summer on Main Street just released with five other authors. It has six sizzling small-town romances. I've include the links if you don't yet have your copy. It's just 99 cents!





Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fabulous Firsts with... KATE HILL



First Five Sentences of... 
STARVING ARTIST


Blair remembered the day he first met Grace. He was working as a stable hand in the home of a wealthy lord. She was the blacksmith’s daughter and had come to the stable to fetch her father because her younger brother had taken ill. Blair had fallen in love with her at first sight, but being a young man and wanting to see the world, he had recently joined the army. They had little time together before he left and was soon sent to war.

Available now!

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FUN FIRST FACTS ABOUT KATE

What was the first romance you ever read?
I was in grammar school and it was an old Harlequin called My Tender Fury. If I remember correctly, the hero was a teacher. Even way back then I thought the romance was a little too sweet, but I enjoyed it. :-)

Tell me about your very first kiss?
I'm afraid this first wasn't so fabulous. :-) My first kiss was so disgusting it almost turned me off ever kissing again. Not the right person, not the right moment. Nothing about it was right, except that it showed me what I didn't want in the future.

What’s the first thing you do when you start writing a new story?
The first thing I do is start getting to know the characters. I spend a lot of time thinking about them, taking notes and imagining how they would react to different situations.

MORE ABOUT KATE
Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she's not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets. Kate also writes under the pen name Saloni Quinby. She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at katehill@sprintmail.com

Find Kate online here


Monday, February 2, 2015

New boxed set available to pre-order!

The same authors from the best-selling Passionate Kisses, 
are proud to present
 Passionate Kisses 2: Love in Bloom. 
Available now to pre-order, 
releases February 17! 
Get your copy now!







Monday, November 3, 2014

Meatless Mondays--Mexican Lasagna


It's not that I don't love a good steak or cheeseburger every now and then, but I just feel better when I eat less meat. So, my family enjoys Meatless Mondays. Here's what we had tonight.


MEXICAN LASAGNA

1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I actually use about four, but I love garlic)
2 tsp olive oil
1 can mexican stewed tomatoes, pureed
1 can black beans, drained
1-2 cups frozen or canned corn (I use frozen)
1 cup salsa
Shredded cheddar cheese (I use lighter fat cheese, made with 2% milk)
Corn tortilla chips (I used baked chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 8x8 pan with cooking spray (I double this recipe and use a cake size pan). Saute onion in the oil until it's translucent. Add garlic. Stir until the room fills with yummy garlic and oniony smells, then add the tomatoes, beans and corn. Cook on low until bubbly.

Sprinkle a layer of crushed tortilla chips on the bottom of the pan. Spoon a layer of the bean mixture on top. Sprinkle light coating of shredded cheese. Repeat layers of chips and beans. Top the whole thing with the salsa, then add another light layer of shredded cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes until it's all bubbly and yummy looking. Serve with a big side of non-starchy vegetables.

You'll never miss the meat. I promise!

Enjoy!

P.S. Trying to fit in exercise to your busy schedule? This is a CXE recipe: Cook. Exercise. Eat. Put dinner in the oven. You have 35 minutes to workout while it cooks. No excuses. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fabulous Firsts with... MYA O'MALLEY


The first few sentences of... WHERE THERE IS LOVE 


We were just finishing up our drinks when Derek slammed me with the inevitable question. The question that has been looming on the horizon for a while now; hanging there like a branch ready to snap if the slightest breeze blows by. It was a shame, too, because I was actually having a great time with Derek, relaxing and sharing a delicious meal.

Celia’s is on the outskirts of town. It’s a dark, romantic restaurant that takes you back to an old romantic era, one where life was simple. Old wine bottles from years ago garnish the walls and add to the old world charm. Sconces with thick, white candles adorn the wall next to our table. I hear Simon, the regular fixture at Celia’s. Simon plays the piano on weekends; I find myself lost in a sobbing rendition of Chopin. Butterflies come to mind, floating, dipping, flying. I shake my head to clear my thoughts as I hear Derek speaking to me.

“What do you think?” Derek gazes at me, grasping my hand tighter, with a hopeful look in his eyes.

“Um, sorry?”

“Mia, will you move in with me?”







* * * * *

FUN FIRST FACTS ABOUT MYA

What was the first Rated R movie you ever saw? The first R-Rated movie that I watched was The Amityville Horror. I can remember being afraid to go to sleep. Several years later, I read the book and it scared me just as much. I really don’t enjoy watching horror movies, so now I pass on most of them.


What was the first romance you ever read? I don’t remember exactly which book it was, but Danielle Steel was definitely the first romance author that I read. At the time, I read one book after the other, she was one of my favorite authors. I have watched the movies of several of her books on television lately and I still enjoy her stories tremendously.

I have always loved the idea of romance, even as a young teen I can remember my aunt commenting that I seemed like a romantic at heart and that I should never change.

Tell me about the first novel you ever wrote? What ever happened to it? There’s something special about an author’s very first novel. The first novel that I ever wrote is Where There is Love. The original version is quite different than the actual novel that is now released with Solstice Publishing. My main character, Mia, struggles with a challenging past which has caused trouble in her relationships years later. Mia becomes a mentor for a student that she teaches and reevaluates her own choices in life. Will Mia open her heart to love or will she continue to repeat past mistakes? The story took me several years to write. I made some major changes in terms of characters and points of view in the story and then even after I received a contract for it, I made significant changes to the story. I love the story as it is now, but I have kept the very first original version, which I will always cherish as well.


MORE ABOUT MYA--Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students. 

Mya currently has two new releases: At First Sight, a contemporary romance about dating in the modern world, published by Astraea Press, and Where There is Love, a contemporary romance in which a woman struggles with past obstacles, ultimately faced with whether or not she will open her heart to love. Where There is Love is published with Solstice Publishing. Mya is excited to say that Astraea Press will be releasing her contemporary holiday paranormal romance titled If You Believe on November 25, 2014.

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her sixth novel. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

FABULOUS FIRSTS WITH... Christina Lorenzen



The first few sentences of... A HUSBAND FOR DANNA

Panting from the short dash from the church to the curb, Danna looked around wild-­eyed, spotting a limo at the curb. The fact that it wasnʹt her bridal partyʹs limousine didnʹt matter. She ran around to the driverʹs side and flung open the door. The sound of her wedding gown tearing broke the silence in the big empty car. Frustrated, she shoved away the seat belt and fumbled with the ignition key.





* * * * *

FUN FIRST FACTS ABOUT CHRISTINA

What was the first romance you ever read?
I actually started with romantic suspense novels by Phyllis Whitney and books by Victoria Holt and Kathleen Woodiwiss. My grandmother was a voracious reader and always had a stack of books from the library. I would read hers and find new authors for myself.

Tell me about the first novel you ever wrote? What ever happened to it?
The first novel I ever wrote was a YA. Actually there were 3 YAs that I wrote but it was long ago and I was a teen. Around senior year I landed a job writing for a local paper and once I saw how writing articles could pay money almost instantly, I packed up my fiction dreams and those 3 manuscripts. To this day I don’t know what happened to them. I’m thinking they’re buried in the attic of my parents’ house never to see the light of day again.

What’s the first thing you do when you start writing a new story?
Like anything else that’s new in life, starting out is the most exciting part. When I’m ready to start a new story the first thing I do is head to my local office supply store to pick out a notebook. For each novel I write I keep a novel notebook. Since I don’t do formal outlines and I’m basically a pantster, the notebook is where I jot down the beginnings of the story. I write out the basic premise, the names of the hero and heroine, the setting and other details that I know at the start. Even when I’m not writing I’m planning that book so the notebook is where I jot down insights and sudden ideas and details. I play with this notebook for quite a while. Then when the actual writing of the first draft begins I keep the notebook next to my laptop. At the end of each writing session I jot down notes about what I wrote that day. If I have concluded a chapter, I write up a summary of what happened and to whom in the notebook. The notebook is also excellent for keeping track of things like days, time, months, hair color, eye color. It’s easy to start out with a blue eyed hero and then suddenly find yourself writing “his chocolate brown eyes” chapters down the road. The notebook helps with continuity, which is vital to authors because readers do notice.

MORE ABOUT CHRISTINA

Christina Lorenzen started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. Her love of writing has sustained her through a myriad of jobs that included hairdresser, legal secretary, waitress and door to door saleswoman. Luckily for her, writing proved to be successful and a lot less walking than going door to door. A Husband for Danna is Christina’s first novel. She is busy working on her next. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family.