Greg Wilson Rebels And Patty Dixon Comes In With a Reply

Greg: There is no way Patty’s Gamble can be construed as a romance. Ruth Ann Nordin is warped in the head. What she’s done is created a horror novel and (lucky me), I’m in it.  If I make it out of this alive, I’ll count my blessings.  But as it is, I think my days are numbered.  You see, I’m the very unfortunate male lead in this horror novel called Patty’s Gamble:

The Ebook Cover Greg Wilson Made

The Ebook Cover Greg Wilson Made

Ruth: Whoa, whoa, whoa!  That isn’t the cover.  The cover is this:

patty's gamble ebook cover

The Real Cover

Greg: Granted, Patty does have a glint of evil in her eye in that cover, but it doesn’t adequately portray how scared I am.

Patty: Scared?  Oh please!  You’re not scared.

Greg: Yes, I am.  I’m in fear for my very life.

Ruth: Well, you do seem to be running away from her in the cover I made.

Greg: Your cover isn’t good enough.  It doesn’t convey the sheer terror I have to deal with.  I can’t go to sleep at night unless I lock my bedroom door.

Patty: Because you refuse to have sex with me.

Greg: I have to go without food.

Patty: Because you refuse to eat anything I make.

Greg: And she’s turning all my ranch hands against me.

Patty: Because they realize you marrying me is the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

Greg: You don’t get it, Patty.  I do not want to be married to you.  I don’t want to be married at all.  Period.

Patty: Marriage is good for you, Greg.  Didn’t you know that men who are married live longer than men who don’t?

Greg: Not when you’re walking around the house with a knife.

Patty: How else do you want me to cut into the pie I cook for you?

Greg: You can make it sound as innocent as you want, but the fact remains, I have to be subjected to the horrors you inflict in my once-peaceful home.

Patty: This is a complete misrepresentation of the book.  If anything, this is what the cover should be:

Ebook Cover Patty Dixon Made

Ebook Cover Patty Dixon Made

Greg: No way.  That’s not how it is at all.

Patty: You’re right.  Because in the book, I came to you without any clothes on.  I figured for the sake of this post, I should PG 13 it.

Greg: You should have made it G or PG.

Patty: What’s the fun in that?  G or PG isn’t going to get your attention.  And quite frankly, it’d be boring.

Greg: I could have done a PG 13 cover too, but I was mindful of sensitive eyes and didn’t want to drag in all the blood.

Patty: Oh, good grief!  There’s no blood in this book.

Greg: And there’s not going to be any sex either.

Patty: Yes, there will.  Out of the 40 romances Ruth has written, 38 have sex in them.  That means, there’s a 95% chance of you coming to bed with me.

Ruth: Actually, it’s a 100%, Patty.  I don’t do “sweet” romances these days.  Don’t worry.  Greg will be yours before the end of the book.  In fact, he’ll be yours halfway into it.

Greg: I want to be in a different book. One that’s not yours, Ruth.  No offense, but you’re a terrible writer, putting your characters through all sorts of pain.

Ruth: *yawn* I’ve heard all this before from other characters, and yet they are always happy at the end of the book.

Greg: Well, you haven’t written me yet.

Ruth: The others gave me the same lame threat.  I’m no longer discouraged by such words.  If this was my 20th romance, I might be freaking out, but this is romance #41.  I’ve seen it all and done it all with you characters.  There’s nothing that surprises me anymore.

Greg: We’ll see.

Ruth: Yes, you will.  Now stop wasting my time.  I have your book to write.

*Greg leaves, swearing that he’ll be different from other notable characters who argued with Ruth in the past, like Dave and Joel Larson and Lord Roderick.  But we all know that this is a romance and romances ALWAYS have a happy ending.*

Posted in character interview, Patty's Gamble | 4 Comments

Little Facts About Me (as a Writer)

Today, I tried to come up with an interesting sample from one of my works in progress but was afraid that I’d give away too much from The Mail Order Bride’s Deception, and I’m not close enough to finishing Patty’s Gamble  or to publishing A Royal Engagement to give anything yet.

So I went through posts I had written up but hadn’t published and found this one.  Not sure if this will interest anyone, but at least I’ll have one less post sitting in my “draft” file. :)

1.  It’s hard for me to separate the non-author part of me from the author part of me.

I’m pretty much a writer 100% of the day, even on days when I’m not writing.  This is why it’s hard for me to think in terms of what I do outside of writing.  At my core, I live and breathe what I write, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Writing is my biggest passion.  (And to think when I was a kid, I hated to write.  LOL  That just goes to show your childhood does not have to dictate how your adult life plays out.)

2.  My goal is to write and publish 100 romances.

These are novellas and novels, not short stories.  With The Mail Order Bride’s Deception, I’ll be 40 books into my goal.  I hope to publish 7 books this year.  Usually, I seem to be in the 6 books a year average.  By the end of this month, I’ll have 3 out this year.  I don’t know if I can make the 7 book goal or not.  But I see no reason not to try.  You know what they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. :D

3.  I do spend time with my family.

But…I’m usually thinking about my books in the back of my mind.  (I can’t get away from it completely.)

4.  Sometimes I forget the names of my characters and book titles.

For example, while I was writing Patty’s Gamble, I had to pull up Mitch’s Win because I couldn’t remember the name of the character who gave Patty a hard time in that book.  Turns out it was Evelyn.  But… I had nicknamed her “Eve” in Mitch’s Win.  Thankfully, I had referred her to Evelyn first so I can get away with calling her Evelyn in Patty’s Gamble.  (Otherwise, I’d run into problems since the heroine in Boaz’s Wager was Eva.  See how close those names are and how confusing that could get?)  It’s the details that are tricky.  ;)

I also refer to the timelines I have on this blog often, especially when it comes to the Nebraska romances or Regencies.  As I continue weaving characters with one series into other series, I expect these timelines to become even more important.

5.  I still love historical westerns the most.

I enjoy the Regencies I do because of the characters who are in them and how easy it is to create a scandal.  Lots of neat story ideas come from those.  I also like contemporaries because it’s nice to spend time in “today” once in a while, and I can use all the modern lingo I want.

But there’s something special about the historical western time period.  That’s why I write more historical westerns than any other books.  However, I need a break from the genre once in a while, which is why I write Regencies and contemporaries.  The breaks keep the story ideas and characters fresh.

6.  When I stop working on a book and work on something else, it doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned the book.

I’ve learned that if I stall in a story, it’s because I’m not going in a direction I should go and I need to put it aside.  Most of the time, I know something is “off” but can’t figure out what.  I ended up putting The Earl’s Secret Bargain on hold for the past few months because I need to get from the time Lord Davenport and Lord Pennella made for the hand of Miss Giles to the time when she finds out about the wager.  I needed to establish the chemistry (if you will) between Lord Davenport and Miss Giles.  Now that I finally know how I can do that, I was able to pick up on where I left off.

I was able to write ahead in The Mail Order Bride’s Deception, but that was only because I knew exactly where that book was going.  The last chapters I wrote for that book were 12 and 13.  Most of the time, I have to write the book in order because I’m not sure how things will end.  I write by the seat of my pants, and most of the time, I don’t know what will happen with a scene until I’m writing it and the characters lead me.

I’ve tried plotting, but it doesn’t work until I only have 2-4 chapters left in the book.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Co-Writing with Stephannie Beman (How We Do It)

First of all, there is no wrong or right way to co-author a book with someone.  The key is to figure out the method that works best for you and other person.

Second, I’ve discovered that not all co-writing endeavors are created equal.  While I can write this way with Stephannie Beman, I can’t do the same process with Janet Syas Nitsick.  For Janet and I, the best approach was to do the anthology.

In case anyone is wondering, Janet and I are currently looking into doing a second anthology. :)

Why did Stephannie and I decide to co-write some books?

Stephannie and I don’t live in the same state.  In fact, we have never met in person.  We met back in 2008 on Live Journal.  From there, we moved on to WordPress.  We did work on a book in 2009 (I think) that became My Lord Hades.

Back then, I had done the first draft and she went in to flesh it out.  When I realized I didn’t want to keep writing mythologies, I gave her the book with full rights to do whatever she wanted to.  Back in 2008-2009, I was in the “What kind of writer am I?” stage so I did some experimenting.  In the end, I realized my heart is in romances with ordinary, every day people.  Writing about myths just wasn’t what I wanted to do.

So…

Fast forward to 2013.  Stephannie and I have been chatting on AIM since 2009 (or 2008, I don’t remember).

We decided to write another book together because it was fun doing My Lord Hades.  After brainstorming for a couple days, we settled on writing a historical western romance.  (She let me pick the genre and since it’s my favorite one, it’s what I chose.)

Before we start writing...

1.  Contract

We get a contract written and signed.  After a good year of trying to figure out the best way to co-write a book and consider royalties, we came to the conclusion that we’re better off working on two books at a time.   We are both self-publishing these books, which means these books are potentially forever.  That being the case, we had to consider what would happen to the books, the rights, the royalties, taxes, etc to the books after we die.  The cleanest and easiest solution was to do a barter.

We have decided to write two books at the same time.  One book goes to Stephannie and the other book goes to me.  That makes it a clean, easy trade where the rights and royalties are clearly defined.  The contract spells out all the details.  The idea is to make life as easy as possible for our families who will have to deal with our businesses when we’re dead.

2.  Get a brief description of the books

We brainstorm at the same time we do the contract because we need to state which books we’re working on.  At this stage in the game, we only need the book title (with the option to change it later) and a brief summary of the book.

3.  Setting the stage for the books

Stephannie likes to get a solid understanding of the characters and setting, so she usually does the bulk of the research while I sit back and “look pretty”.  I’m sure my lack of pre-planning drives her crazy because she does more planning than I ever do.  She doesn’t outline her books, but she does like to get a good grasp of the cast of characters and the location where the books take place.

I am very much a “write by the seat of your pants” kind of writer.  I can’t understand a character or know the setting until I’m writing the book.  As long as I know how the first scene starts, I’m good to go.  The rest just develops as I go along.  Characters figure out how they look, what their personalities are, and what happens to them as I write.  It’s rare that I know any of this before I start writing.

And yes, sometimes what Stephannie and I have figured out before we start writing has changed while writing the book because as I write, I realize my character has a different personality than what we originally agreed on.  The nice thing is, Stephannie’s flexible and works with me when this happens.

4.  Writing the book

This is always the fun part.

We each take a main character.  If Stephannie takes the hero’s point of view, I’ll take the heroine’s point of view.  And vice versa.  In The Rancher’s Wife, I am taking the hero’s point of view, so everything he says and thinks comes from me.  Stephannie’s taking the heroine’s point of view, so everything she says and thinks comes from her point of view.

We agree on a time to be on AIM and write the book.

So let’s say today we are at the point in the book where we need the hero’s point of view.  I will pull up my Word document and start writing the scene.  We do agree on what will happen in the scene before we get to it.  For example, let’s say this is a scene where the hero sees the heroine for the first time in women’s clothing.  (In the beginning of the book, he thinks the heroine is a sixteen-year-old boy because she’s dressed up in men’s clothes, is taller than the average woman, has her hair hidden under a hat and is wearing a duster that covers her from head to her mid-calf.)  But today she is going to be clean from her recent bath and will have on women’s clothes.

So here’s an example of how we would work through AIM:

I’ll write this on my Word document: “Thayne turned his attention to the porch when he heard the front door open.” Then I’ll copy what I wrote into AIM.

Stephannie will write this on AIM: “Abby steps onto the porch.”

I will probably ask on AIM: “How does Abby look?  What is she wearing?”

Stephannie might say on AIM: “She’s wearing a shirtwaist but pants because the skirt she’s holding is too short and her ankles will show if she wears it.   She has a good breast size, probably a size C if she wore a bra.  She has a dark shade of red hair that reaches down the middle of her back.”

I might ask on AIM: “Is her hair straight or curly?”

She might say on AIM: “Wavy.”

I will take what she told me and put this into the Word document: “His eyebrows rose in interest as his gaze settled on Abby.  Without all the dirt and grime on her face, it was easier to get a good look at her.  Her dark red hair fell in soft waves down her back.  She wore a green shirtwaist, and he’d be lying if he said her ample bosom didn’t arouse his attention.  Forcing his gaze off the shirtwaist, he noted that she wore pants instead of the skirt she was holding in her arms.” Then I will copy and paste it on AIM so she can see it.

Then I write in the Word document: “He headed over to the porch.  ‘Is something wrong with the skirt?’” And I copy and paste this in AIM so she can see it.

Stephannie will then write in AIM: “‘It’s too short.’  Abby seems like she’s worried she’s inconveniencing him.

So I will put into the Word document: “‘It’s too short,’ Abby said in a cautious tone, indicating that she worried she was asking too much.

So you get the idea.  We go back and forth like that.  When it’s Stephannie’s turn, she’ll write the stuff in the Word document.  When we finish a scene or chapter, we email the other person the work we did.  This way we both have a copy of the book.

5.  After the book is done

Stephannie takes the first draft and fleshes it out.  This is the process where she smooths everything out so the story flows well because when you have two people working on the same story, it can lead to some choppy work.   She also adds in any details that will enhance the story.  She’ll then have a beta reader or two go over it and take their input so she can fix up anything else in the book.

Then I take it and send it off to my editing team since I have an awesome group of people who are good and dependable, two key things that can be hard to find.  It’s also easier to use the same people for the books since they will remember what happened in another book in the series and can help with consistency issues.

Stephannie does the covers, and I do the interior formatting.

6.  Then we each take our own book and publish it.

Then we will figure out what books we want to work on next because we already know we’ll want to work together again. :)

***

Co-authoring doesn’t work for every author, and there needs to be a good blending of the personalities of the writers who do co-author a book.

  • You need someone you trust because you don’t want them to bail on you or break the contract.
  • You need someone you can be honest with because there will be times when the two of you don’t agree on what to do with a scene or a character.  Compromise is big in this area.  You do have to be flexible.  It’s not just your book.
  • You also need someone who is similar enough to you so the storytelling blends well together.  (This is not the case with doing an anthology since you would have your own story and the other author would have theirs.)
Posted in Stephannie Beman | Tagged

Sunday Story Sample: The Mail Order Bride’s Deception

story sample sunday

This week I thought I’d do a sample from The Mail Order Bride’s Deception.  I expect to finish the first draft this week. :)

the mail order bride's deception ebook cover

Rapid City, Dakota Territory

September 1878

Sadie Miller’s heart raced with trepidation as she looked at the letter in her hands from the man who waited for his mail-order bride.  She couldn’t read it.  But she remembered what a kind old lady had read to her at the train station.  It was from a man named Allen Grover who lived in Rapid City who had a six-month-old son named Gilbert.

Allen sounded like a nice man, the kind of man she could enjoy spending the rest of her life with.  Hazel had said he was the kind of man who’d be good to her.  Then she gave Sadie her drawstring purse with the money, letter and ticket. Even now as Sadie held the woman’s things, she couldn’t help the mixture of feelings that the items provoked. What happened to Hazel had been horrible, but it had been the very thing that freed her.  This was her chance.  A new start.  A new life. A chance to put the past behind her.

She peered through the small window of the stagecoach, wondering what Allen Grover looked like.  Her gaze passed over a couple of men before she found one who was holding a baby in one arm. He was in front of the mercantile and he was a handsome man.  Tan from hours spent outdoors, taller than the average man, light brown hair under his hat, and muscular from hard work.  He wore a pair of denims and a faded blue and white plaid shirt that had seen better days.  Yes, that had to be him. No other man had a child with him.

She took a deep breath.  When she stepped out of this stagecoach, she would be Hazel McPherson. Not Sadie Miller. She closed her eyes for a moment and reminded herself that she could do this.  She had to do this.  Because if she didn’t…

Well, it was better if she didn’t think about it.

The horses slowed so she braced herself until the stagecoach came to a stop. She adjusted her hat and patted her auburn hair which she had pulled back into a bun.  Except for an errant curl that fell from the pins, everything was in place.  Keeping the letter out, she closed the drawstring purse and got ready to get out. The moment she set foot on the dirt road, she would be Hazel.

The driver opened the door and held his hand out to help her down. She accepted it. Her legs shook as she took her first tentative step forward.  This was it.  There was no going back. Daring a glance at the young man, her steps slowed when she realized he was already heading in her direction.

Her heartbeat picked up.  Would he believe she was Hazel?  Did Hazel tell him what she looked like in one of her letters?  Did she look enough like Hazel for him to think it was her? Hazel had brown hair with golden highlights, not the reddish tint she did.  And she’d been thinner and taller than Sadie.  But why would Hazel mention something like that?  She might mention her hair color, maybe even her eye color, but she probably wouldn’t go further than that.

“Are you Miss Hazel McPherson?” the young man asked.

Her gaze went to the sleeping child in his arms before going back to him. Nodding, she offered a hopeful smile. “Yes.” She held out the letter to him. “Are you Allen Grover?”

“I am, but you can call me Al.” With a glance at the letter, he chuckled. “And I wrote that letter. I’d recognize my sloppy handwriting anywhere.”

She laughed at his joke.  “I had no trouble figuring out what the letter said.”

“You’re one of the few.” He motioned to the stagecoach where the driver and gunman were tying the horses to a post.  “Don’t you have any luggage?”

“Oh.” Luggage?  “Um, well…” She turned back to him.  “I wanted a fresh start. I thought I’d make my own clothes, especially since the weather is supposed to be colder here.”

Thank goodness she’d taken the time to listen to the couple who spent their whole time chatting about the Black Hills before they got off three hours before she arrived.  But that was neither here nor there.  At the moment, she had more pressing things to deal with.

“I brought some money for the clothes,” she assured Al. Judging by what he was wearing, he didn’t have much to his name, and the last thing she wanted him to do was change his mind and not marry her—or rather Hazel.

“I was afraid I scared you when I warned you about how cold it can get out here in the winter,” he said as he took her by the arm and led her up the platform in front of the mercantile.  “I know it’s nothing like Atlanta.”

She had no idea what Atlanta was like, so she’d just have to take his word for it.  “I appreciated the warning,” she ventured, hoping it was the right thing to say.  “I like to be prepared.” Especially after everything she’d been through.  “I don’t like surprises.”

“You won’t get any from here.  There’s not much to do.  I hope you don’t get bored.”

“Boredom is the least of my concerns.” In fact, she welcomed it. The quiet blessedness of boredom would be wonderful!  Peaceful even.

“You might be saying otherwise after being here a month.”

He shot her a smile that threatened to melt her right on the spot. She had a weakness for dimples and he had such cute ones.  And his green eyes with brown flecks around the pupils twinkled, hinting at the joy in his life. Such joy had eluded her for quite some time.  It’d certainly be nice to be surrounded by it again.

It was on the tip of her tongue to ask about his first wife but she decided against it.  Hazel probably knew the details, and if she asked the wrong questions, he’d know she wasn’t the woman he expected her to be.

Choosing for a safer question, she asked, “May I hold Gilbert?”

“Of course.”

They stopped and he placed Gilbert in her arms.  Afraid she might hurt him, she was careful as she brought him closer to her.  He opened his eyes and glanced back at his father before turning his large brown eyes to her. She offered the boy a tentative smile, wondering if babies picked up on an adult’s uncertainty. All he did was stare up at her as if he’d never seen a woman before.

She knew nothing about caring for babies or children and had no idea if Hazel did or not.  But even so, she guessed that each child was different, just as every person was different. She was going to be his mother now. The sooner she got used to him, the better.

She brushed back one of his blond curls.  “He’s got lovely hair.”

“Yes, he does.”

“Oh?” Did Gilbert take after his first mother?

Unfortunately, he decided not to divulge anything.  He resumed his walk and started telling her where stores were in the town. Despite her curiosity, she didn’t press him for more information.  For all she knew, he’d told Hazel everything already so why would he repeat himself? Besides, he was taking her as his second wife, and that being the case, he’d want to focus on her. Pushing aside the stab of guilt in her gut, she forced her attention to what he was saying.  Hazel was dead.  There was no bringing her back.  And that being the case, all she was doing was filling in for her.  Yes, it was a lie.  Yes, she was deceiving him.  But what harm could possibly come from it?  It wasn’t like anyone from Nebraska was going to come up here to visit Hazel.

“I spent the better part of the day getting the cabin ready for you,” Al said.

“A cabin?”

“I told you it’s only got two bedrooms.  I know you’re used to a large home with servants at your beck and call. This won’t be anything like that.” His steps slowed.  “Are you sure you want to go through with this?  Once we marry, it’s forever.”

Hazel came from a large home with servants?  Sadie had no idea this was the case based on the simple clothing Hazel wore.  But Hazel did have a lot of money in her drawstring purse.  Just what had Hazel’s life been like and why would she leave such luxury to come out here?

“Hazel?” Al asked, drawing her attention back to him.

“I’m sorry.  I got distracted.” No sense in telling him why.  “What is it?”

“I was asking you if you’re sure you want to marry me. Life out here isn’t an easy one. There are bitter winters. You’ll have to cook, clean, and sew. Now, I meant what I said. I want you here, and Aunt Betty is more than happy to teach you what you need to know.  But it’s hard work, especially when you have a child to tend to. You’ve led such a sheltered life. I’m just not sure you’re up to it.”

She thought over his words with interest.  “You accepted my reply to your mail-order bride advertisement.” Or rather, Hazel’s reply.  “Forgive me if you mentioned it and I forgot, but did you not get any other replies?”

“I didn’t mention it,” he quietly replied.  “Because no other replies came.  I had sent out the ad when Gilbert was born.”

So that’s why he jumped at the chance at marrying Hazel. She was the only one who answered and he had a child who needed a mother.  Well, she was nothing like Hazel.  Her life hadn’t been one of luxury.  She’d had to learn to fight and struggle to survive.  She’d known hunger, pain, and loneliness.  These were things Hazel had rescued her from.

“Hazel?”

Tears she’d learned to suppress threatened to expose her weakness. She quickly blinked them away. She focused on the man standing in front of her and the child in her arms.  This was a new beginning.  A new start. She could do this.

“Hard work and cold winters don’t scare me,” she told him.

There were worse things out there.  Monsters that took the form of men.  She rubbed Gilbert’s back and looked at Al.  He wasn’t a monster.  He was a good man—an honest man.  And he was desperate for a wife who’d be a mother to his son.

“I want to marry you, Al.  I wouldn’t have come all this way if I didn’t.  It might take me some time to get used to being here, but I will. I promise you that.”

He relaxed and smiled.  “I wouldn’t have blamed you if you wanted to leave after you saw this place, but I’m glad you’re staying.”

She returned his smile, assured that he really would have let her leave if that was what she wanted.  No man had given her a choice before.  It was nice to control her destiny for a change.  “I am, too.”

Posted in Sunday Story Sample, The Mail Order Bride's Deception | 6 Comments