Wagon Trail Bride: Flash Fiction (Teaser About Amanda’s Past)

I'll have Stephannie Beman work on the cover to fit it in a series if a series does evolve from this book.

I’ll have Stephannie Beman work on the cover to fit it in a series if a series does evolve from this book.

This is in first draft form so it’s not perfect:

“We’ll stop here for tonight,” Joe called out to the group as he rode by on his horse.

As tired as Amanda was, she wished they could have kept going for another half hour. But he was right. They should stop for the evening. The day had been a long one, and this one seemed especially difficult given the lack of wind as the sun beat down on them. She came to a stop and opened her canteen. There was no more water in it. With a sigh, she put the lid back on and studied her surroundings.

In New York City, she got used to buildings and lots of people. But out here, it seemed like a desolate wilderness. There was the occasional town along the way, but for the most part, it was open land as far as the eye could see. She couldn’t decide if she liked it or not. Omaha was bound to be much different from what she was used to.

“You want to eat with my family tonight?”

She gasped and turned, unaware Richard had come up behind her.

He smiled, his blue eyes twinkling. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Relaxing, she returned his smile. “I don’t know where my mind is.”

“It’s been a long day.” He glanced back at their wagon. “I need to get the animals settled before supper.” He turned his gaze back to her. “My ma asked us if we wanted to eat with them tonight. I told her I’d ask you. I wasn’t sure if you feel up to preparing something or not.” He took his hat off and wiped the sweat from his brow. His blond hair, which was a light shade of blond, appeared darker in the orange and pink hues of the evening sky. Hat still in hand, he continued, “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I can bring something back for you if you’d rather not talk to anyone. I know Laura was giving you a difficult time earlier today.”

She met Richard’s eyes again. They’d gone to school together, but it wasn’t until recently that she got to know him. Their wedding had been so rushed, being that it was done out of necessity. “I’ll be happy to join your family for supper this evening,” she finally said.

After everything he’d done for her, it was the least she could do. And as he’d pointed out, Laura had been unusually annoying that day by coming up to her during the break at the stream. Amanda scanned the area where people were getting settled for the evening. Good. Laura was preoccupied with her mother.

“We’ll go to their wagon in a little bit,” Richard told her, directing her attention back to him.

She nodded then found a private area where she could go to the restroom. Of all the conveniences she missed in New York, this was the one she missed most. Outhouses might have stunk, but they offered a better sense of privacy than a group of bushes did. She had to keep worrying someone would happen to find her like this. Though was it any worse than the condition Richard found her? And had it not been for him, who knew what would have happened to her?

Don’t think about it, she admonished herself.

She left the bushes and returned to her wagon. He’d already unhitched the oxen for the night and was letting them rest with the other animals. “Do you need any help?” she asked as she pulled the strap holding her canteen over her head.

“No. I have it all taken care of.” He held his hand out to her. “I’ll put that in the wagon and fill it up tomorrow.”

She thanked him and handed him the canteen. As he jumped up into the wagon, a movement not too far away caught her attention. The last thing she wanted to do was look over and see what it was. Or rather, who it was. She had an unsettling feeling someone was watching her. And if she guessed right, it was Joe. Forcing her hands into her pockets, she kept her eyes on Richard who was setting the canteen next to the blanket that served as a bed.

Relieved when he returned, she relaxed. But only slightly. Joe was still watching her. She told herself not to think about it. He was a part of her past. Richard was her future. And really, no one could blame her. She had no other choice at the time.

Richard smiled and took her by the arm, gently leading her away from the wagon, away from Joe. She stepped closer to Richard, taking comfort in his silent strength. He’d been there when Joe hadn’t been, and for that, she owed him her life.

“Ma said my brothers caught a couple rabbits earlier today,” Richard said. “She’s going to cook them then put them in stew with the carrots and potatoes they saved from the last town we were in.”

“Your ma’s a good cook,” she replied.

“You are, too.”

She wanted to argue with him but didn’t. He seemed to see only the best in things, and that included her. She wasn’t sure what to make of it. How did someone tell someone they weren’t as perfect as they were made out to be? Would he find out soon enough? And at that time, would he realize he made a mistake?

She forced the questions aside. It’d been a long day. Tomorrow would be just as long. And quite frankly, she was tired. All she wanted to do was eat and go to sleep. Sleeping was her favorite activity because it was in sleep she could forget everything. Then, for a few hours, she had peace.

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His Convenient Wife is Still Due Out January 3

I forgot to mention His Convenient Wife in the last post.  Thanks to the person who brought it to my attention. :)

His Convenient Wife ebook cover

Yes, this is still due out January 3.  

I have it all set and ready to go.  I had to push back the release date because this time of year just sucks for publishing books if you’re self-publishing anything.  No one is buying them.  They’re buying gifts for others.   I’ve decided it’s just better to hold onto a book and wait for the Christmas season to be over.  Then people are settled in and able to do more reading.

This time of year is a hard one for me, too, so I completely understand.  My kids get a lot of breaks from school, and it’s too cold to take them to the pool or park.  So they are usually buzzing around my house, climbing the walls (literally), and getting into lots of fights (since there are four of them).  I do good to get the meals on the table and keep the house clean.  And honestly, I am not the perfect housekeeper.  Even when I clean, I usually forget the small details like dusting.  As for cooking, I’ve been known to burn soup and set the microwave on fire.  I wish I was kidding, but I’m not.

Anyway, this is another excellent reason why pre-orders aren’t working for me.  Once I finish a book, I forget all about it.  I start focusing in on the ones I’m currently working on.  I know I’m supposed to keep promoting books, even after I’m done with them, but I have so many other books I want to do that it’s hard for me to go back and remember those that are out.  Fun for me is working on the current story.

I’ll try to remember to include His Convenient Wife in my update posts until it’s actually available.

Posted in His Convenient Wife | 8 Comments

Updates on What I’m Doing

Done with the First Draft!

Love Lessons with the Duke

Marriage by Deceit: Book 2

This book is finally complete!  A lot of this story entwines with book 3 in that the events that happen in this book lead directly the next book.  This was a fun book.  The hero is intensely shy, and some of the conversations he has with the heroine who is trying to help him find a wife had a humorous note to them.  This book is not a comedy, but it does have some cute moments.  It also has a few serious moments, but I’d say overall, it’s a light-hearted read.

Mr. Christopher Robinson (hero in His Reluctant Lady) and Lord Edon (aka. Ethan who was the hero in A Most Unsuitable Earl) from the Marriage by Scandal series play a big role in the events that transpire in this book because they are up to mischief.  Lord Roderick and Lord Clement in the Marriage by Scandal Series are much too serious, so they would never have worked here.  But for those who enjoy seeing characters from another series, this should be a treat. :)  Personally, Christopher Robinson was my favorite in the Marriage by Scandal Series.

I’m Hoping to Publish Ruined by the Earl in Either March or April

Cover Coming Soon

I’d love to have this out in March, but it depends on how things go.  I had the delay on Love Lessons With the Duke, so it’s possible a snag will develop while writing this that I can’t anticipate ahead of time.   However, my goal is to have it out a month after Love Lessons With the Duke is out so there’s not a long delay between the two books.

So far, the hero in this book is turning out to be just as fun to work with as Christopher Robinson.  In fact, Christopher might find a kindred spirit to be friends with in this book.  I’ll go more into this book later.  Right now, I’m only at chapter 2, so I have yet to see how everything comes together.

But the chemistry between the hero and heroine is already exciting.  She can’t stop crying because he kissed her at a ball, thereby preventing her from marrying the person she wanted.  And while he only did it because he was desperate for the money (there is a good reason behind his actions, but it won’t be revealed until later in the book), the way he reacts to everything is humorous.  He’s got a lot of Christopher in him.  If you read His Reluctant Lady, you know what I mean.

I Just Got to Chapter 2 in This One

The Earl's Stolen Bride

This one has been a long time coming since book 1 in the series (The Earl’s Secret Bargain) when Lord Reddington (Orlando) wanted to marry Chloe, but her father arranged a marriage for her to someone else.  Her husband has just died, and Orlando is going to jump at the chance to marry her before her father pairs her up with someone else.  I am aware there was a mourning period and ladies were expected to go longer than gentleman after the death of a spouse before marrying again.  But Orlando is going to whisk her off to Gretna Green anyway.

I’d love to get this out in either April or May so that the entire series can be complete and out before this summer.

On Chapter 3 in This Anthology

a groom's promise

This is another anthology Janet Syas Nitsick and I are working on.  We did some writing in it this week to get an idea of where both of our stories will go.  The thing is, since the heroes in novella 1 and novella 2 are brothers who are going to the same farm to work, we need to make sure the stories connect.  While her hero is going to end up with one heroine and my hero will end up with another, they are staying at the same place and dealing with the same people.  So it’s important we don’t contradict each other.  The two novellas will be different romances.  They just overlap because of the brothers being so close.

We’ll be submitting this one to our publisher, Parchment & Plume.  We’re hoping it’ll be out before this summer.

Finally Got It!

I'll have Stephannie Beman work on the cover to fit it in a series if a series does evolve from this book.

I’ll have Stephannie Beman work on the cover to fit it in a series if a series does evolve from this book.

I’m glad I waited for the right plot because now I’m excited about this book.  I was never that excited about the original storyline I had, but now I’m totally psyched and have been writing bits of flash fiction pieces.  I’ll be posting a teaser scene in a couple days.

This will be the first book in a series.  I already have three books planned out for it.  I’ll be referring to the series as “Pioneer Series”.  Since my other historical western series have simple titles like like “Nebraska Series” and “South Dakota Series”, I figure it’d be best to keep to the same simplicity in naming this one.

I am going to modify the cover to Wagon Trail Bride, but it won’t be a whole lot.  I plan to contact Stephannie Beman, my cover artist, about giving the title a “zing” to it and setting the series to the title in there somewhere.  I have the basic image already without the text.  I like the people on the cover.  I’m just not thrilled with the way the text looks.

Then I’ll let her do the covers for the next two books in the series so they all match up.

Posted in A Groom's Promise, Ruined by the Earl, The Earl's Stolen Bride, Wagon Trail Bride | 6 Comments

My Thoughts on the Hunger Games Trilogy

This post contains some spoilers, so don’t read this if you hate spoilers.

I’m currently reading the first book.  So this is really about the two movies Hunger Games (movie 1) and Catching Fire (movie 2).

When I saw the first movie was on video, I watched the very beginning and turned it off.  It looked like it had the potential to be a depressing movie.  I’ve seen the movies Brazil and 1984.  Those depressed me for days.  I’m not a fan of movies or books set in some futuristic time where the state controls everything the individual does.  Why?  Because the oppressors win, and the hero/heroine loses the person they love.  I write romance.  I need my happy ending.

But last month I decided to give the series another chance because my husband had watched the first movie and said it wasn’t as depressing as I expected.  He even said there was a satisfactory romance in it, meaning the boy didn’t die like I thought.  Well, a good romance usually pulls me in, so I figured I’d give it another shot.

I looked for the first movie (Hunger Games) but saw the second one pop up in my search on instant video.  Since the second one (Catching Fire) was free, I decided to give that one a shot.  This way I could test the waters without investing too much into it.

So at the very beginning of this second book, I see Katniss with Gale, and more than that, he kisses her.  My initial thought was, “Oh crap.  She is kissing the guy she didn’t go to the games with in the first movie.”

For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Katniss is the main character.  Gale is her longtime friend.  Peeta was the one selected for the games in the first movie, and he’s the one I was rooting for because from the little bit I watched in the first movie, he looked like the underdog and I have a weakness for the underdog.  Usually, it’s the underdog who will lay down his life for the girl he loves, so I want to see the underdog win her.

So when I saw Gale kiss her, it was a major letdown.  Because what if she ends up with Gale?  Peeta was alive in the second movie, but Katniss wasn’t interested in him.

I was ready to turn the movie off when the heroine was told she needed to pretend to be interested in Peeta.  And this is when I paused the movie and did a search for it on the internet to get spoilers about how this movie was going to play out.  Before I was willing to invest any more time into what was a promising premise, I needed to be assured the entire series would end the way I wanted it to.  I checked out all the spoilers I could find and was relieved that she does end up with Peeta in the end.

So you see?  Spoilers can actually help sell books and movies in certain conditions. :D  But it is a good idea to warn the people that the review contains spoilers so those who don’t want to know what happens won’t get upset.  As for me, if the movie or book is not a romance, I love spoilers that let me know how the romance plays out.  If the hero and heroine don’t end up together, I won’t invest my time in it.  This is a personal preference.  I know some people don’t care either way as long as the story is good.

I did watch movie 2 in its entirety.  Then I went back and bought movie 1.  (Later on, I went back and bought movie 2 even though it’s still free.)

Quick side note: There are some people who claim that no one finds value in anything free, but I love these two movies, and I bought the one that was free.  I then went and bought the books and even bought the soundtrack.  If someone loves something enough, they will be willing to buy it or buy things that go along with it.  So this is why I don’t consider “free” a bad thing.  I get a lot of flack (from other writers) for having some of my own books free, but you know what?  Free is an excellent way to let someone test the waters to see if the book (or movie) is a good match for the person who is investing time into it.  Not only have I ended up buying movies and books that were free, but I usually go to You Tube, listen to songs (for free) for the purpose of picking which ones I like enough to buy off iTunes.

Okay.  Back to the post…

I liked the second movie more than the first because in it, Katniss falls in love with Peeta.  Yay!  My favorite part of the whole movie is when she tells him, “I need you” and kisses him.  Of course, then they are separated again.  But I’m okay with this because I read the reviews on the third book and talked to someone who read the whole series.  Peeta ends up with her, and she has children with him.

I do plan to see the last two movies in the series, but I don’t think I’ll read the third book.  It sounds like there isn’t really a lot of Peeta in there (and he’s my favorite character).  It also sounds like it’s a lot more “war intense” than the first two books.  I’m not reading this trilogy for the “we’re going to knock down the tyrannical government” theme; I’m reading it for the romance.  I am reading book 1 right now and will read book 2 next.  The reason I’m even reading the books to get a deeper point of view in what Katniss is thinking about Peeta during the events in the movies.  I will probably skip book 3 except for the epilogue because someone who likes the same kind of romances I do told me it’s worth reading.  Sorry to those of you who love stuff like battle scenes and such.  Those don’t interest me at all.

I’m hoping the last two movies, they’ll 1) let Katniss’ sister live and 2) keep the momentum going between Katniss and Peeta.  Since this isn’t giving in 1st person point of view like the books, there’s a good chance, we’ll get a deeper look at Peeta and what he’ll be going through.  I really hope the last movie ends on a super happy romantic note.  Yes, I know war is terrible and in real life there would be scars from it all, but I’m hoping they’ll be a fairytale-like quality to it, similar to how Return of the Jedi ended for the original Star Wars Trilogy.  *fingers crossed*

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Flash Fiction from Wagon Trail Bride: The Opening Scene

I’m not sure where this is going, but tonight I got an idea for Amanda and Richard Larson and thought I’d run with it to see what happened.  I am a panster, so I have no idea where this will take me.  But since I am dabbling in flash fiction, I thought I’d try my hand at the opening scene in Wagon Trail Bride because I’m hoping it’ll get my brain going.  I do want to write the book.  I’ve been wanting to write it ever since I wrote Sally Larson’s book (Her Heart’s Desire).

I just wasn’t happy with my original attempt.  So I have tossed it all out and am starting over.  Ironically, writing the Regencies has opened my mind for historical westerns.  This is why I write more than one genre.  It helps me stay fresh.

Anyway, here it is.  It’s almost 1000 words long.  It’s not a complete story.  It’s just an opening scene to get the ball rolling.  And, for the first time, I’m excited about telling Amanda and Richard’s tale.

As a side note, I have not done any editing to it.  This is in first draft form.

I'll have Stephannie Beman work on the cover to fit it in a series if a series does evolve from this book.

I’ll have Stephannie Beman work on the cover to fit it in a series if a series does evolve from this book.

****

Amanda bent over the stream and gathered a handful of water then washed her face and the back of her neck the best she could. She knew being on the wagon train heading for Nebraska was going to be rough, but she’d underestimated just how much. Life in New York had been easier than this. The endless days of walking by the wagons beneath the heat of the sun…knowing they had to reach Omaha before the weather turned cold…living off the same staple items or hoping the men would bring back some fresh meat…

But if she’d known it was going to be this difficult, would it have made any difference? She stared at her reflection in the water. Was she a bad person for agreeing to marry Richard? Should she have said no when he asked?

“Amanda Larson, you are a mystery.”

Amanda turned as Laura Rufus knelt beside her, her light blonde hair a stark contrast to Amanda’s dark hair, even though both had their hair pulled back in a bun and were twenty. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she said, “I’m just getting some water to drink.” Then, to demonstrate, she gathered more water in her hands and drank it.

Laura shook her head. “That’s not what I’m talking about, and you know it. You’re so quiet. You keep to yourself. No one really knows you.”

On some days, she could tolerate Laura. On others, all she wanted to do was tell the young woman to mind her own business. At least Richard’s parents left her alone. It helped that Richard had five younger siblings they had to look after. But Laura… Well, she was an only child and—worse—she wasn’t married yet, so she had nothing else to do but follow Amanda around.

Amanda picked up the two canteens from the grass and began filling them up.

“You and Richard don’t act like newlyweds,” Laura continued. “You act more like a brother and sister.”

Biting on her tongue, Amanda willed the water to fill the canteens quicker. Why couldn’t they have found a larger stream?

“Whatever the reason, I bet there’s a good story behind it,” Laura said with a chuckle in her voice. “Why don’t we play a game? I’ll guess what your secret is, and you can give me a nod if I’m right.”

Finally, the canteens were full. Amanda sealed them and stood up. “It’s almost time to walk again. I suggest you fill up your canteen.”

Then she hurried back to the wagon Richard was driving, glad it was two ahead of the one Laura’s family owned. She lowered her gaze as she passed others on her way to Richard. When she reached him, she waited until he finished taking care of the oxen that pulled their wagon before giving him his canteen.

“Thanks,” he said as he set it under his bench. “Do you want to keep walking or take a break and sit for awhile?”

“Walk.”

“Aren’t you tired of walking?”

She slid the strap of the canteen over her head so it hung at her left hip. “I’d rather walk than sit.”

“I don’t understand how you can do it day after day. Don’t your legs ever get tired?”

The prairie wind blew an errant strand of hair in her eyes, and she brushed them away. “I sleep better at night if I walk.” And besides, she got restless when she sat with nothing to do. When she was walking, she was doing something, even if the land spanned for endless miles.

For a moment, she thought he was going to say something, but then he offered a hesitant smile and got up into the seat. She released her breath and started walking, making sure she would have enough distance between herself and the others so she could be alone with her thoughts. Not that she had deep ones. She never let her mind go there. She kept them on pleasant things. The way the sun cast her shadow along the grass, the different flowers she passed by, the sound of the animals that accompanied the group, among other things. Mere distractions. Things to think about to pass the time.

With a glance over her shoulder, she was assured Laura was too far behind her to catch up to her. Of all the people who threatened her peace, it was Laura Rufus. Just what was it about her that made Laura keep talking to her? There were other women in the group. Was it because they were the same age? Or did Laura enjoy watching her squirm?

The leader called out it was time to go, and soon the whole party was moving forward, the mix of oxen, mules and horses going at a steady pace. She pulled the bonnet from her pocket and tied it around her face. If she didn’t, she’d be regretting it that evening. She’d already gotten enough of a sunburn the other day.

Gathering her skirt, she marched forward. From up ahead, Joe Otto, who was riding a horse, looked back at her. Their eyes met for a moment, and her steps slowed, her heart stopping in her throat. She glanced at Richard, but he was too focused on the oxen he was guiding to notice.

Lowering her gaze, she avoided further eye contact with Joe. If she’d known he had taken a job to help lead and protect the wagon train, she never would have agreed to come. So far, he hadn’t approached her, and she could only pray he’d leave her alone for the entire trip. But they still had two months to go, and a lot could happen in that time.

Posted in flash fiction, Wagon Trail Bride | 6 Comments

Updates on What I’m Working On

Hope to Finish the First Draft By November 30

Love Lessons with the Duke

This is book 2 in the Marriage by Deceit series.  (The Earl’s Secret Bargain is book 1.)

I was supposed to already be done with this book, but I’m still working on it.  I reached 62,000 words today.  The goal was 65,000 words, but there’s no way it’ll be done at that word count.  I’m not sure how long it’ll be.  At the moment, my estimate is 70,000 words.

I was hoping to finish the first draft at the beginning of October.  However, I am getting there.  The story is turning out to be longer than I expected, which is fine, but this is why I’m glad I pushed the release date back to February 14.  The story would not be good if I rushed it.

A side benefit to going slower on this book that I didn’t expect is that I got the ideas for books 3 and 4 in this Regency series.  Since I have ideas for these books and these books are ready to be written, I started those.

RUINED BY THE EARL

(Cover Coming Soon)

This is book 3.

I didn’t plan on this book, but while I was writing Love Lessons With the Duke, the idea came to me.  The basic plot is that this self-centered earl (who will learn to care for others by the end of the book) creates a scandal so an unsuspecting young lady has to marry him.  This is Lord Toplyn who made a brief appearance in The Earl’s Secret Bargain.

Ruing by the Earl begins 3/4 into the time line of Love Lessons With the Duke.  There’s a reason for this, but since I don’t want to spoil Love Lessons, I won’t mention it here.  I’m excited about this.  The hero as fun to work with as Christopher Robinson (from His Reluctant Lady).  I loved writing Christopher.  He might have given poor Perry a lot of grief, he didn’t a flipping care about the Ton’s rules, and characters like that are fun to work with.

Since I just started this book, I’m still in chapter 1.

The Earl's Stolen Bride

This is book 4.  This should finish the series.

I’m only at the beginning of chapter 1, so I’m not sure if Lord Reddington (the best friend of the hero in The Earl’s Secret Bargain) will be a goofy character like Lord Toplyn or not.  I’m guessing not.  But he is willing to do whatever it takes to be with the lady he loves because after learning her husband just died, he makes it a point to whisk her away and marry her, even though she should be in mourning.  Her family, needless to say, will not be happy.

This story happens a month or two after Love Lessons With the Duke ends.

A Groom’s Promise Will Go To My Publisher, Parchment & Plume.

a groom's promise

As time permits, I work on my novella in this anthology that I finally decided to call “The Shy Groom”.  I couldn’t come up with any other title.  My hero is terribly shy in this story.  He stutters when nervous, trips, drops things, bumps into people, etc.  He does have a bit of Tom Larson in him, except he’s much worse because instead of seeking a wife, he’s actually going to hide from the heroine.  I expect this book will be a lot of fun.

****

Back to writing multiple books at a time.

I’m back to working on 3-4 books at a time, and it is so much better.  I don’t write as much a day as I did with the sprinting method.  However, I am allowing myself times to slow down in a book if I need to while I focus on others, and I think this way makes my books stronger because I’m more relaxed when writing.  With the sprinting method, I was rushing to make the word count.  Some people are just not meant to write as fast as others.

Future Plans on Pre-Orders….I Think I’ll Pass

I would like to get these four books out before the summer of next year.

In theory, pre-orders are nice, but when I run into problems with the story and have to slow down in writing it, it makes it hard to make a deadline.  I already had to push deadlines back on three books.

Plus, when I’m done with a book, I want to focus on the next one.  Part of being an author is that I’m expected to promote my book after it’s done, but once I finish the book, I want to focus on the next one.  This is why I haven’t done characters interviews or anything with His Convenient Wife.  I’m done with it and have moved on.  This is sad because I love His Convenient Wife.  It’s one of my top favorites.  I should want to talk about it.  But now I’m immersed in the Regencies and A Groom’s Promise, and that’s what I want to focus on.  I don’t know if that makes sense.  Some authors can go over past books, but I find I’m not one of them.  Once a story is done, it’s done.

I’ll leave His Convenient Wife, Love Lessons With the Duke, and Royal Hearts up in pre-order since I already set them up.  But for the rest of them, I’ll just publish them when they’re ready.

Posted in A Groom's Promise, Love Lessons With The Duke, Royal Hearts, Ruined by the Earl, The Earl's Stolen Bride | 4 Comments

What I Got Out of the HACWN Conference This Year

As I’m writing this, I’m getting ready to head back to Nebraska.  I spent the past couple days in Overland Park, Kansas (which is a subdivision of Kansas City) at a writer’s conference.  Here’s a couple pictures on their Facebook page.  Here’s the website.

For the past few years, I’ve gone this conference except for two years when my husband was in Korea and I couldn’t get away.  There’s no way anyone wants to watch four elementary school-aged kids for 3-4 days.  But this is my favorite conference because I feel spiritually and emotionally refreshed.  It reminds me of why I write and, more importantly, why I write what I do.

But there are other takeaways I get from being there, which I’ll share in this post:

1.  I get updates on the changing landscape of publishing.

I do meet editors and publishers and learn about what’s happening in the industry while I’m there.  While I mainly self-publish, I do have four books with a small press, Parchment & Plume, which is an awesome publisher.  I don’t think publishers are going away.  At the moment, they may not seem like an attractive alternative to some (especially when we hear about the success stories of indie authors), but keep in mind, the success stories aren’t really as common as it may seem.  Yes, you might earn more in royalties per book, but it’s possible to sell better with a publisher.  There is no magical formula you can plug in that will guarantee sales.  All you can do is try your best and hope it works.

I think publishers will continue to be important.  They still lead to a great level of credibility (you’ve been vetted), they might have connections you don’t, and they can help with marketing.  Some publishers work with authors on the story, cover concept, etc.  I find a lot of small publishers will work with authors on what they want.  But the key is to find a good, reputable publisher.  For that, you need to do your homework.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to publishing.

Self-publishing offers a lot of freedom.  The author has full control over the content, cover, where the book is sold, what format it’s sold in (ebook, paperback, audio), the description, etc.  However, self-publishing also requires the author to do all the work him/herself.  Whether the author makes their own cover, formats, and edits their own book or hires out for these things, the author still has to make the call.  A publisher is an important assets for authors who’d rather not do it all themselves.

However, it is important that the author make their work as polished as possible before submitting a book to a publisher.  No publisher wants to wade through a ton of errors when working on a book.  Yes, they have an editing team, but a book that is well written and edited prior to submission stands a much better chance of being accepted than a book sent in its first draft form.  The publisher’s job is not to teach a writer how to write.  That is what critique groups, workshops, and books are for.

Also, if you are going to submit to a publisher, make sure you read their guidelines and follow them to a T.  If you don’t do everything they ask, chances are they’ll never look at your proposal or sample.  Plus, keep in mind the audience the publisher targets.  If you write a thriller, why would you submit a book to a romance publisher?  Sure, there might be a romantic subplot in your book, but if it’s not the main focus, then you need to find a publisher who publishes thrillers because that is the audience they are familiar with.

2.  Flash Fiction

Every conference I go to, I learn something new I can take home and apply to what I do.  This time, I learned about flash fiction.  I was familiar with the concept.  I’ve read a couple of flash fiction pieces.  They’re short.  That’s all I knew about it going to the workshop.  From time to time, I like to break out of my comfort zone and try something different.  Flash fiction sounded appealing to me because it’s a break from the full-length novels I usually write.

But what really piqued my interest was the idea of writing flash fiction stories about characters who are in my books or will be in my books.  These would be extras.  Maybe something that happened prior to the book, something that happened during the book but was never revealed, or something after the book ended.  I’m still trying to get ideas on how to approach this.  I definitely have some ideas on some non-romance stories, but since I don’t typically write other genres, it would probably be submitted in a magazine like Splickety.  Ben Wolf, the executive editor, was the one who gave the workshop on writing flash fiction.

Basically, flash fiction are stories that are 1000 words or less.  They have a beginning, middle, and an end.  They have a source of conflict.  This is something that tries to prevent the character from getting what they want.  The conflict can come from within, from another character, from a force in nature, etc.  It has to take place somewhere, of course, but you can’t afford to use too many words to set the stage.

A good example of flash fiction is one Lauralynn Elliott just wrote on her blog called “The Morning Glory”.  It has all the elements Ben Wolf was talking about.  I don’t know about anyone else, but it helps me have an example to get a better idea of how flash fiction works.  I did pick up a couple of the Splikety magazines, but since I know Lauralynn and can easily point to her post, here it is.

Since this post is already long enough, I’ll end things here.  If anyone has questions about conferences, let me know.  There’s stuff I haven’t covered but am not sure what interests you.

Other than that, I would love to know what flash fiction stories would you like to read about characters from my books.  These can be books I already published, books I am working on, or books I will/might write in the future.  So give me an idea of what character(s) you would love to read more about.     :D

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