Claudia’s story almost didn’t happen.

My “Ladies of the Pen” series was about to go the way of the Duvall sisters’ series. A three book series stopped at two (but I’m not bitter or anything).

My editors weren’t sold on the idea of a trilogy about three writers. They didn’t think that writers were interesting enough…which is why unlike “The Black Stockings Society” there’s no logo or mention of the trilogy name. They just didn’t think it was a strong series idea. Fortunately, the first two proposals intrigued them enough to allow me to write Suzanne and Noreen’s stories, but they passed on Claudia’s. Twice.

First when I offered the series idea and then after I’d finished PAGES OF PASSION and was ready to tell Claudia’s story.

They didn’t like my proposal and said ‘No.’

This is nothing new for me. I had every intention of continuing the Duvall sisters’ series, but it got axed after two books. I still get readers asking about them, but there’s nothing I can do. The series didn’t sell well so Harlequin wasn’t interested.
But this time I wasn’t backing down. I really wanted to complete this trilogy. Claudia deserved to have her story told. (And I wasn’t going to suffer years of readers asking me ‘What about Claudia?’) So I decided to put forth another proposal idea.

Again…’No.’ But this time my editor gave me a few suggestions, effectively leaving the door open. I knew an opportunity when I saw one, so I took her ideas and started to brainstorm. I took out a big yellow notepad (yes, I still write in longhand sometimes) where I scribbled down possible scenarios. Then I took a long walk and listened to some of my favorite music before I returned to my notepad. I circled ideas that seemed promising.

Then I sat in front of the computer and pieced together a new premise—what if two ex-lovers, who’d almost married, were forced to work together on a show for singles?

I fleshed out the story then put it in an email and hit send.

Then I waited.

And got the green light!

That was a great day. And this is another one: The Ladies of the Pen trilogy is finally complete and Claudia and Peter’s story is available for readers to enjoy.

Author Jeannie Lin
April 7th, 2011

Love historicals? Then how about reading one with a twist? Instead of going to Regency England or the Highlands of Scotland be swept away to the Tang Dynasty. Author Jeannie Lin takes you there in her novels Butterfly Swords and The Taming of Mei Lin. Find out more about her and the RT Convention in my interview.

By now you’ve likely heard the news that novelist Connie Brockway is going the indie route for her next novel and perhaps her next two full length historical romance novels. The fact that she’s “going rogue”, as she likes to refer to it, didn’t catch my interest as much as this comment made by Cheryl:

“So sad! I understand the need not to be limited to writing the books the publishers want, but what about all the readers on very small incomes who are big fans? Well…fan no more! We helped make your income lucrative, and now we are being dumped. Forgot what is is to struggle? Connie, I’m getting rid of all your books on my shelves.”

Some people may read this and agree. Others may see this response as childishness, rudeness or foolishness. For me, I saw fear. Fear of change. Fear of being left behind.

Here’s the fact. Change is scary, but it’s also inevitable. Sure Ms. Brockway is thinking solely ebooks now, but in time she may consider going the print on demand route also. If there’s one thing I wish I could eradicate is the “you’re either with us or against us” mentality. Either stay in print or you’re a traitor to your readers. Unfortunately, the “us vs. them” thinking isn’t reserved for just readers; some authors think this way.

A number of authors felt betrayed that Amanda Hocking sought out a traditional contract while others felt betrayed that Barry Eisler struck out on his own. Both authors recently discussed their personal choices in a conversation.

Author Marsha Canham, who was inspired to write a blog because of Cheryl’s quote, explains the math behind the reason why she went the independent route.

I like when people break things down to the bottom line. And I don’t just mean money, but also readership. It’s not a personal betrayal. It’s simple mathematics. Change must happen for new stories to survive. With ebooks, authors who haven’t been traditionally published in seven to ten years can continue their careers. Beloved series can gain new lives. Those who want to write a historical romance novel set in Greece or Ghana can do so without having to worry about the bean counters saying only books set in England or Scotland sell well. Even dead authors can gain new audiences. The estate of Catherine Cookson will publish 100 of her novels as ebooks.

I treasure whatever allows an individual creative freedom. You don’t have to choose. This limited way of thinking is like saying you have to choose between describing yourself as either tall or female. You can be both.

The e-revolution (and its cousin POD) isn’t a betrayal; it’s simply a new distribution model. Readers can now have more stories and as an avid reader, I think that’s a glorious thing.

Who’s That Girl?
March 31st, 2011

Over a year ago I set out to write a series called “Ladies of the Pen” about three women—Suzanne, Noreen and Claudia. As each book featuring a different woman hit the shelves, I was thrilled by the warm reception by readers. Right now I should be talking about Claudia Madison whose book BENEATH THE COVERS is currently out now.

But a strange thing happened after Book #2 PAGES OF PASSION (November 2010) came out. People started asking me about a fourth woman. I didn’t even realize there was a fourth woman, but readers told me there was. Who? I wondered. Then there questions made it clear.

“Are you going to tell Arlene’s story?”

Arlene? Noreen’s wild sister Arlene? The Arlene whose last boyfriend ended up arrested? The woman whose theme song is “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” by Aretha Franklin? That Arlene?

I was amazed. Actually stunned. How had this fourth woman taken center stage in some readers’ mind? But that’s not all. I was even more surprised that people wanted to know more about her. Especially since after years of heartache I thought I’d given her a happy ending at the end of PAGES. She ends up with an attractive, good guy!

That’s the fascinating thing I love about stories, they can take on a life of their own and especially the characters who inhabit them. So to those readers who have queried me I thank you for embracing Arlene. Who knows she may pop up again somewhere…

Aretha Franklin, aka The Queen of Soul, turned sixty-nine last Friday (March 25th) and since she was a major influence on the feel and mood of PAGES OF PASSION, I thought I’d let you listen to the soundtrack I created for this book. Let’s go a little old school.

Noreen’s song at karaoke night:

“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”

Arlene’s theme as she thinks about her boyfriend (who will break her heart):

“I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”

What Michael thinks the moment he meets Noreen:

“You’re All I Need to Get By”

What Noreen thinks when she meets Michael:

“Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”

Joy’s theme when she sees Michael:

“Until You Come Back to Me”

Noreen and Michael’s theme:
“Baby, I Love You”

Extras (not so old school…sorry Aretha):

Noreen’s theme at the start of the book:
“Holding out for a Hero”—Bonnie Tyler

Noreen and Michael on the beach:
“Rain”—Heather Headley featuring Shaggy

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

No need to fear
March 25th, 2011

Amanda Hocking is going to be okay (silly of me to doubt it). In her recent blog post: she explains why she took a traditional deal and it makes perfect sense. She’s clearly a savvy businesswoman and I say Bravo!

Dean Wesley Smith agrees.

It’s wonderful that another author is showing that you can balance going it alone with a traditional contract. Yes, I know there are those who are staunch advocates of either doing it one way or the other, but in time their numbers may dwindle. It’s all about making the right choices for you and getting rid of all the noise.

Authors Gone Wild
March 24th, 2011

You know I had to come back. Especially when such great industry news is swirling. First bestselling author Barry Eisler turns down a $500,000 advance to self publish. (It’s long post so take your time)

Then self publishing phemon Amanda Hocking is looking for a NY publisher (and there are talks of a million dollars).

Has the publishing world gone mad? No. I think authors are waking up to options.

However, guess who I’m a little worried about…Amanda Hocking. Why? Because I’m afraid she might be disappointed. If she’s thinking like a publisher, no problem. She’ll understand that it’s a bottom line business and that if her work doesn’t perform the way the publisher expects it to they’ll drop her and pretend she never existed. Nothing personal.

But if she thinks like a publisher (with a savvy lawyer on the side) she’ll level the playing field somewhat (and the percentage split). She’ll know that ‘getting more time to write’ is a dream we all have both indie and traditional. it’s amazing how if you’re time isn’t filled with one thing, it’s filled with another and publishers demand more from authors than ever before. But it can work, if she knows what she’s getting into and I truly wish her the best. I wish them both the best.

As you know indie publishing is nothing new to me. I started doing it before it became somewhat fashionable. And one thing I saw was how many indie published authors who got traditional deals eventually went back to indie publishing. Not a lot, but an interesting number that made it clear that traditional publishing isn’t the great security blanket or golden ticket everyone wants to think it is.

Dean Wesley Smith writes a great article about The Myth of Security in both indie and traditional publishing. Please note that he’s not against either. Like myself he balances the two in his writing career. However, it’s important to know the pros and cons of both tracks and realize–there’s no guarantee.

Except one– if you know what the publishing business is about (with all its insanity), you can have blast!

I truly believe it’s a great time to be a fiction writer.

A smart fiction writer.

A New Beginning…
June 9th, 2009

I had every intention of returning to this blog after my hiatus, until my to-do list threatened to drown me. So I had to take stock. As I said last year in A time to reflect, it’s good to take time to ask yourself important questions. I learned that my priorities have changed and I want to focus on writing novels, articles and exploring new opportunities. Instead of maintaining a blog, I will be guest blogging elsewhere. So goodbye. I wish you great health, great times and great stories!

April 28th, 2009

I’m taking a break the month of May to focus on a writing deadline and to handle a family situation. So until chaos has turned into a calm sea I’ll be absent here. But I will be back in June. In the meantime enjoy life to the fullest!

April 24th, 2009

I just posted a new jigsaw puzzle for my upcoming release Round the Clock (July 2009) on the Black Stockings Society page. Have fun!

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