Low-Hanging Fruit

Dear Reader,

When I participated in the first Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80), I had lofty goals which you can reference here. On April 4th, we begin the second round.

I’m still a sponsor for ROW80, meaning I’ll be going around to the participating blogs posting encouragement. This time, I’m keeping my goal simple:

I must write at least 750 words each week.

Seriously. I don’t think I can pick lower hanging fruit than that. I have four projects in progress which count toward this oh-so-low goal (as shown in my sketch below):

  • The Rebel’s Hero (a complete re-write of Catching the Rose)
  • My Unwitting Heiress (the new book I haven’t talked about much yet except to say it’s about estranged twins)
  • Love or Lack Thereof (my short story/poetry anthology)
  • Write more Worderella book reviews

I’m a writer, I must write. I’m using this round of ROW80 is remind me of this simple fact. Each week, I’m going to post a sample of what I wrote the week before. Should be fun. Or terrifying. Or both.

Check out the goals other participants have put in place for the second round of ROW80!

Getting Back on the Horse

Dear Reader,

Last week you’ll remember that I announced unplugging to help eliminate stress in my life. Things were getting bad, and with my seasonal affective disorder on top of everything, I was feeling super low, unmotivated, and irritated that I felt that way. I worked from home on Friday both because my car was semi-blocked in by the snowplow and because I didn’t want to leave my bed. It wasn’t until I texted my guy Sweets around noon that I hadn’t left bed yet and I felt crummy about it that I realized what a pathetic waste of space I was being.

And I was tired of it. For about a month, now, I’ve been whinging about how I can’t write but want to, I feel crummy but am afraid to join a gym, etc. Wah-WAH woe is me life is hard what do I do?

I climbed out of bed and took a much-needed shower. I grabbed my computer and took Sweets’ advice to work at a bookstore or coffee shop instead. I finished the work day at Borders because I could walk to it. I walked back to my apartment, dug out my car, and drove to Barnes and Noble for some enforced writing. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to leave B&N until I had written 750 words. This was a big deal because I’m scheduled every Friday night to be at the ceramics studio… that’s $230 telling me I need to be in the studio on time to make the most of it.

Reader, I wrote over 900 words in half an hour.

They were crap. As soon as I glanced over it, I knew they were crap. My mood was plummeting because they were complete and total crap. But I left them, went to the ceramics studio, and had dinner with my friend Adrienne in the desperate hope she would smack some sense into me. On Saturday, the sun was shining, which is always a good sign. I decided I had to move.

An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest is dead.

After running around town doing errands, a skype date with some graduate school friends who helped me work through some things, and a pep talk from Sweets, I wound up at Panera drinking a lovely chai latte and nom-nom-ing on french onion soup. I pulled out my laptop and wrote over 1000 words to replace the 900 from Friday evening. And this time, they weren’t bad. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad.

Yesterday, I met Jen Lane, a fellow local author, at a different Panera, and just being around another writer working on her own project inspired another 830 words. Don’t let these numbers fool you: the words are not flowing. It is a painful process. But at least I’m making progress. I know I said I wanted to write 750 words a day, have an outline for Catching the Rose, and be completed with Love or Lack Thereof by this point. But last week, six different people told me I need to chill the freak out and rest on my laurels a bit. I just published a book in October. No one expects another book so quickly. No one but me, that is.

So even though I am still a part of Round of Words in 80 Days, I need to chill out. Any writing at this point is better than none. I need to be okay if I have to postpone the release of Love or Lack Thereof again, since the words I do have are for the rewrite of Catching the Rose.

Thanks for supporting me last week when I was getting to my really low point. I really appreciated the sentiment. Don’t forget to see how other ROW80 participants are doing.


Frustration, Deadlines, Delays

Dear Reader,

I announced last week through Twitter that I was unplugging from my social networks for a while. I wanted to get Love or Lack Thereof to my editor this past weekend. Did that happen? No, because I have three extended short stories to edit still and I completely underestimated how much time that would take.

What does this mean? It means that my anthology won’t be out in time for Valentine’s Day because my editor is booked through February. To be honest, I am so drained right now that I can’t imagine getting the anthology to her before March anyway.

This does mean I can look forward to a March release. Just in time for the flowers to bloom, the birds to sing, and all you lovebirds to become couples. Spring is the season for love, and that’s what this anthology is about. Well, leaning a bit more on the savory side of things, however.

I didn’t get any writing done last week, or this weekend. I’m not worried about it because I needed the break to get my bearings. Much like Zoe, Kait, and Susan, I’ve been feeling the pressure of the all-encompassing DIY approach for my books. So I’ve failed this week’s ROW80 completely.

I’m thinking what I need to do is just, well, chill the freak out. Re-prioritize, as it were, to feel like I can write again. I need to start haunting book stores and coffee shops to get back into the creative writing mindset.

I am excited about releasing Love or Lack Thereof, and the re-release of Catching the Rose. But holy cow, did I make an aggressive schedule for myself without realizing it.

How are your projects going? Frustrated with how long it is taking things? Wondering if you need to alter your deadlines? Sad that you’re suffering through delays?


Love or Lack Thereof Progresses

Dear Reader,

And so I write my second check-in for Round of Words in 80 Days. I know this is supposed to be the writing exercise that remembers you have a life, but goodness, it’s still tough because I expect so much of myself.

Love or Lack Thereof goals

  • Weeks 1+2: Edit short stories 3, 4, and 5

Over the weekend I completed the edits for another short story for Love or Lack Thereof, the anthology of poems and short stories I will be releasing in February. I’ve determined the book will be in two sections: Sweet and Savory. I determined the order of the stories that are ready for professional editing, etc.

I am starting to kind of freak out because I want the anthology in my editor’s hand by this weekend. I’m participating in a startup weekend event beginning Friday evening which lasts until Sunday afternoon. Which means writing this upcoming weekend is out. Argh! It’s frustrating how my professional life conflicts with my writing life. I have to change my goals for this week yet again.

Fingers crossed I don’t stress myself out trying to get this anthology to Cindy (my editor). She’s already booked for late January and all of February. Gah!

Catching the Rose goals

  • Week 2: Finalize updated blurb, tightened outline

I have completed the blurb, I’m fairly pleased with it. However, I think I’ll have to drop the other goal of writing 750+ words a day until I complete work on Love or Lack Thereof. No outline work will be done until LOLT is done. The new blurb is available below for your enjoyment, however.


Accustomed to getting her way as a privileged southern belle, Veronica Vernon is outraged when her step-father arranges a marriage to her childhood bully. Desperate for a way out, Veronica runs north in search of her childhood love, Jonathan, to convince him to marry her instead.

Intrigued by similarities between her memory of Jonathan and the description of her friend’s cousin, Veronica ventures into Yankee territory only to find Brad Williams is nothing like Jonathan. But that won’t stop Veronica from trying to convince her step-father otherwise!

Refusing to let others run her life for her, Veronica embarks on a headstrong quest to find her Prince Charming before war takes him from her forever.

Belinda Kroll crafts a tale of lost love and determination during the exciting first year of the American Civil War.


Check out how the other Round of Words in 80 Days writers are doing this week.

Rewriting a Back Cover Blurb

Dear Reader,

It’s time for the first check in for Round of Words in 80 Days. I have two projects for this first week:

Catching the Rose goals

  • Week 1: Finalize new blurb

Well, I’m making progress on the new blurb for Catching the Rose. I’ve written and rewritten it four times so far and I’m still not pleased with it. That’s ok though, because I have until Saturday to wrap it up, which I think I’ll be able to do. This has been more difficult than I expected. I haven’t touched this story since I published it seven years ago. As I was in high school when I published it, I never went through the motions of making marketing materials like a tag line or back cover blurb.

At its core, Catching the Rose began with the question, “What happens when a southern belle’s childhood Prince Charming grows up to be a Yankee?” What makes the story fun is that the “Prince Charming” character has no idea he is anyone’s prince charming in the first place, and is fairly resistant to the idea.

The existing tag line is…

It was her responsibility to marry as her family wished, but she never lost hope of finding her childhood love.

That is still true. I want to shift my thinking for the rewrite, though, so I’ve made a tag line just for me…

A southern belle embarks on a headstrong quest to find her lost Prince Charming before war takes him from her forever.

I like this because it has more action, and reveals Veronica to be the assertive young spitfire we all know and love.

The biggest issue with writing back cover blurbs is how to reveal enough—but not too much!—of the plot to intrigue readers. It took me a week to write the back cover blurb for Haunting Miss Trentwood, and we’re only at Wednesday, so I’m fairly confident I’ll have a blurb I like by Saturday for Catching the Rose.

I need to focus on setting the scene and adding intrigue at the end so readers think, “Ooh. Wonder what that means?” So difficult.

Love or Lack Thereof goals

  • Weeks 1+2: Write 750 words a day

I am not writing 750 words a day on the short story anthology because of other things going on in life. I already have first drafts for each of the short stories I want to include in the anthology. So it was perhaps kind of silly to say I want to write 750 words when in actuality, it’s more like I need to be editing the stories. Haha! Week One and I’m already changing my goals.

  • Weeks 1+2: Edit the four new short stories

I don’t know what I was thinking about the 750 words a day since I’m not making new content, I’m cleaning old-ish content.

Check out how the other participants are doing! Since I’m a sponsor, I’ll be checking in on the participants whose submission number ends in a 7 (7, 17, 27, etc).

Touring the Historical Fiction World

Dear Reader,

I hope your holiday season is going well! Those of you who entered the giveaway from last week, you should have received an email with the discount codes. Have you had a chance to listen to my half hour interview on Page Readers? It was a blast, and I’m so glad Nanci had me on the show.

This week, I want to talk about Charlie Courtland’s great idea to take a tour of the subgenres that are popping into historical fiction. The goal of the “tour” is to read six subgenres of historical fiction. Charlie has suggested…

  • Historical Mystery
  • Historical Horror
  • Historical Romance
  • Historical Young Adult
  • Historical Plantation
  • Historical Thriller
  • Historical GLBT
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Historical Western
  • Historical Paranormal
  • Historical True Crime

Given that I am part of the group of authors who are playing with the historical fiction norms, I love this idea. I’ve written in the historical romance and historical gothic-thriller genres. I have no idea what my next genre is going to be, except that it will be historical. This will be a lot of fun!

So with the above genres in mind, what books do you think I should read? I think I’m going to start with Maids of Misfortune. I want to read books by authors I’ve never read before and in genres I’m not familiar with, which means I can’t read Lauren Willig (romance), Philippa Gregory (romance), Amanda Quick (paranormal), Deanna Raybourn (mystery/plantation), Mary Jo Putney (fantasy).

What’s Next?

I’m not happy with the sales for Catching the Rose, so I’m having an editor look at it to see where I can improve the story. I wrote it over seven years ago, meaning I don’t know what to do with it without outside help. I’m looking forward to the results from the editor, especially because the editor, Wulfshado, needs help with finances. This is a good way for both of us to get what we need.

I’m hoping to get the new content out for Catching the Rose in the next couple of months. I’m also working on the short story anthology Love or Lack Thereof; my awesome editor Cindy Sherwood has agreed to help me with that so I can get it out in time for Valentine’s Day.

I’m looking forward to hearing reviews from the giveaway. They are two very different writing styles, but I hope people enjoy them.