Fall Colors

This is my backyard and what I look at when I write. Does it give me inspiration? Sometimes. If I’m stuck I stare out the door at those trees. In the summer they’re lush and green and it seems like the backyard is much closer than it really is. In the spring I love watching the smaller trees bud before the bigger ones and in the winter with snow on the ground it looks like a winter wonderland. But this is when I like to look at it the most. It’s like liquid gold when the sun shines through the trees. Right now the back door is open and a warm, fall-ish breeze is floating in, the smell of autumn circling through the room.

This time of year never lasts long enough for me. Just a few short weeks and the spectacle of color gives way to harsh, bare branches. But I always have next fall to look forward to.

What do you love most about fall?

First Lines

First lines are so important to a story. It’s the reader’s introduction to you, your characters and your story. It has to be just right. Authors struggle over their first lines, sweat over them, lose sleep over them, change them, rework them, rip them apart, rewrite them and, yes, sometimes cry over them.

Below are the first lines from my books. As a reader do you have any favorite first lines? If you’re an author, what’s the first line of your current release or work in progress?

“No good ever came from opening a door without looking through the peephole. Or so Kate’s mom always said.” – From DECEPTION

“I hafta go potty.

Aiden’s alarmed gaze swung down to the China doll standing in front of him. He’d been sitting in the shadows of his porch, so engrossed in studying the fine legs of the woman in the driveway next door that he hadn’t seen the munchkin arrive on his step.” – From NIGHT SONG

“The guy at the convenience store told her to take the old logger’s road. Said it wasn’t marked, but she couldn’t miss it. That had been twenty minutes ago. She hadn’t counted on the steep, winding hill, the sheer drop to nothing or the snow the weathermen were saying was a blizzard in the making.” – From REDEMPTION

“Alex Juran’s breath condensed on the cold night air. He adjusted the brim of his John Deere cap and tucked his chin into his thin coat, straining to hear past the sounds of traffic a few blocks away and the mournful horn of a barge chugging down the river.” – From OBSESSION

“Sizzling heat reached out to her. Retreated, teased, scorched. A horrible shrieking sound filled her head. She tried to cover her ears but her arms wouldn’t move.” – From WHEREVER YOU ARE

“The fever was catching up to him. Slowing him down. Killing him.” – From HER DARK KNIGHT

“The babe was dying.” – From A FOREVER KIND OF THING

Middle of the book panic

<– This is me. I’m in a bit of a panic right now. And really, there should be no reason for this panic but it suddenly came upon me.

I’m writing my second contracted book for Random House’s Loveswept line and I’m about halfway through with it. At least on word count I’m about halfway through. The problem is the story is completely outlined and according to my plot I’m over halfway there. So my word count is behind.

Ack!

But that’s not all. I’m also in the middle-of-the-book slump. That part where I’ve been writing this book for so long I’m beginning to second-guess myself.

“It’s boring!”

“No one will like it!”

Ugh!

The problem is, I do this with every book I write. I go through this entire script of telling myself everyone will hate the book, that I’ll never make my word count, yada yada yada.

In the end, everything always turns out all right. The middle isn’t boring like I’d convinced myself and I always go over my word count. I can’t think of one time when I came in under my word count.

Yet, I feel this is part of the writing process–this insecurity.

You’d think I’d learn, wouldn’t you?

Kitchen, Graduation, Editor meetings and Summer. Life as usual…

I’ve been absent for a few days. Okay, more than a few–more like ten. I’m so, so sorry. Life has been crazy and here are a few reasons why:

The kitchen remodel is finally finished!!! So I’ve been painting. Except we picked a color, began painting, realized we hated the color and had to start all over again. Blech. But the good news is that we love the second color we picked and the entire mess, er, project is complete.

Just in time for….

My beautiful daughter’s high school graduation. Oh, my. What a whirlwind weekend this has been. Graduation was beautiful and very, very emotional for me. I cried, I smiled, I cried some more. Then my lovely husband leaned over in the middle of the ceremony with tears in his eyes and said, “Remember when we sent her off to kindergarten.” That was all it took for me to really cry. But we’re so proud of her and a little relieved that she will be living at home while going to college. I’m not ready to let go just yet.

As if this past weekend wasn’t filled with enough festivities, on Friday I got to meet the wonderful Sue Grimshaw who just happens to be my editor at Random House. We had a lovely chat and talked about books, family, hobbies, books, books and more books.

So today is the first day of summer for the Cullen family. I’m still recuperating from the weekend, but plan on getting back to my blogging schedule.

Happy summer, everyone!!!

 

 

What Do You Like to See in an Author’s Website?

I need a more professional website so I’ve contacted several website designers to get an estimate. Let me tell you, professionally done websites are not cheap. I had a little bit of sticker shock when the estimates started rolling in. But, has my husband says, “You have to spend money to make money.” And, really, I do want to present the most professional face I possibly can to entice people to read my books.

So I’m putting it out there to all you authors and readers: What do you like to see in an author’s website? What makes you keep coming back? What makes you click away from the site and never return?

Six Sentence Sunday

Another one from Deception:

Kate opened her eyes to find Luke lying on the other bed, his head propped on one hand, staring at her.

For a moment, in her sleep-addled mind, time seemed to stand still, then rush backward toward happier, more carefree times. To a place where life had been about as perfect as she could have imagined.

What happened to the man she’d fallen in love with? The guy who’d laughed and loved with her? The man she had known would have never killed someone, then run, stealing a car in the process.

Nook | Kindle

Sweet Saturday Sample

Its been awhile since I’ve taken part in this. Hope you didn’t miss me too much :-)

“So tell me about Jay Lang.”

Okay, maybe one more night would make a difference. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “You went through my wallet.”

“Well, yeah.” She rolled her eyes. “Who are you?” This last was whispered and the tremor in Kate’s voice made his heart do a funny ka-boom.

He settled back in the bed, rearranging the sheets across his legs and lap, trying to figure out what to say, where to start unraveling all the lies. He still couldn’t believe they’d been together for nearly a year while he lived a double life. The guilt, at first, had been incredible, but as time had gone by, it got easier and easier. It’d been for her own good. For her protection. He’d had to keep reminding himself of that.

So, who was he? To be honest, he wished he knew. It depended on what day you asked. He could be anything the organization wanted him to be. In fact, it had been his ability to blend in, to become anonymous, that had gained the notice of Suzanne Carmichael. Who was he? No one good, that was for sure. “I’m Lucas Barone.”

“So who’s Jay Lang?”

“My cover.”

A long pause followed in which Luke debated telling Kate everything, regardless of the consequences or the oaths he’d taken to Uncle Sam. The only thing that stopped him was, once again, his concern for her safety. The less she knew the better.

“What have you gotten yourself into?” she asked and he vaguely recalled she’d asked him that before but he’d been in too much pain to answer.

“I don’t know. But I plan to find out. That’s why I need to get out of here.” Already he could feel his energy waning, the exhaustion pulling him under. It took considerable effort to keep his eyes open and it felt like his body weighed a thousand pounds as it pressed into the softness of the bed. Sleep called to him and he was powerless to stop it.
He cursed his weakness even as he succumbed to it.

Nook | Kindle

 

Unruly Characters

My heroine isn’t cooperating. I pictured her a bit timid at the beginning of the story only to rediscover her feisty side as she progresses through the book, but yesterday she told me something different. “No way am I going to be timid. Not anymore.” Right now she’s irreverent, spontaneous, funny. Nothing at all like I’d planned.

My hero, who I’ve struggled with from the beginning, is showing me a tender side that I hadn’t expected to see until later in the story.

Before I started writing fiction I assumed writers came up with their characters then shaped and molded them to fit the story. Not so much. I’ve been writing for almost a dozen years and my characters still amaze me. Instead of shaping and molding them, they demand that the story line is shaped and molded around them.

Yes, they talk to me. And, yes, I’ve learned to listen to them. More often than not they’re right and I’m wrong.

Does it sound like I’m delusional? Sometimes I think so too.

This writing thing, it’s weird. People talk to you, talk to each other, argue with you, argue with each other. All before one word is written.

To struggle with them, to try to wrestle them into doing something that goes against their personality, is like trying to tell my new dog not to dig holes in the yard.

Even though it’s frustrating, even though I want to pull my hair out and scream, this is exactly what I love about writing–discovering new people and how they interact with the world around them.

So what do you do when your characters won’t cooperate?